(Calvin, Genesis 2. part 2) sum, or five shekels. For since nothing is added after the word "bekah," it has reference to the greater number. Otherwise here is no suitable proportion between the bracelets and the ornaments for the head. Moreover, if we take the shekel for four Attic drachms, the value is trifling; therefore I think the weight of gold is indicated, which makes the sum much greater than the piece of money called a shekel. 26. "And the man bowed down his head." When the servant of Abraham hears that he had alighted upon the daughter of Bethel, he is more and more elated with hope. Yet he does not exult, as profane men are wont to do, as if the occurrence were fortuitous; but he gives thanks to God, regarding it, as the result of Providence, that he had been thus opportunely led straight to the place he had wished. He does not, therefore, boast of his good fortune; but he declares that God had dealt kindly and faithfully with Abraham; or, in other words, that, for his own mercy's sake, God had been faithful in fulfilling his promises. It is true that the same form of speech is applied to the persons present; just as it follows soon after in the same chapter, (ver. 49,) "If ye will deal kindly and truly with my master tell me." The language is, however, peculiarly suitable to the character of God, both because he gratuitously confers favours upon men, and is specially inclined to beneficence: and also, by never frustrating their hope, he proves himself to be faithful and true. This thanksgiving, therefore, teaches us always to have the providence of God before our eyes, in order that we may ascribe to him whatever happens prosperously to us. 28. "And the damsel ran and told them of her mother's house." It is possible, that the mother of Rebekah occupied a separate house; not that she had a family divided from that of her husband, but for the purpose of keeping her daughters and maidens under her own custody. The expression may, however, be more simply explained to mean, that she came directly to her mother's chamber; because she could more easily relate the matter to her than to her father. It is also probable, that when Bethuel was informed of the fact, by the relation of his wife, their son Laban was sent by both of them to introduce the stranger. Other explanations are needless. 33. "I will not eat until I have told my errand." Moses begins to show by what means the parents of Rebekah were induced to give her in marriage to their nephew. That the servant, when food was set before him, should refuse to eat till he had completed his work is a proof of his diligence and fidelity; and it may with propriety be regarded as one of the benefits which God had vouchsafed to Abraham, that he should have a servant so faithful, and so intent upon his duty. Since, however, this was the reward of the holy discipline which Abraham maintained, we cannot wonder that very few such servants are to be found, seeing that everywhere they are so ill-governed. Moreover, although the servant seems to weave a superfluous story, yet there is nothing in it which is not available to his immediate purpose. He knew that it was a feeling naturally inherent in parents, not willingly to send away their children to a distance. He therefore first commemorates Abraham's riches, that they might not hesitate to connect their daughter with a husband so wealthy. He secondly explains that Isaac was born of his mother in her old age; not merely for the purpose of informing them that he had been miraculously given to his father, whence they might infer that he had been divinely appointed to this greatness and eminence; but that an additional commendation might be given on account of Isaac's age. In the third place, he affirms that Isaac would be the sole heir of his father. Fourthly, he relates that he had been bound by an oath to seek a wife for his master Isaac, from among his own kindred; which special choice on the part of Abraham was very effectual in moving them to compliance. Fifthly, he states that Abraham, in full confidence that God would be the leader of his journey, had committed the whole business to him. Sixthly, he declares, that whatever he had asked in prayer he had obtained from the Lord; whence it appeared that the marriage of which he was about to treat was according to the will of God. We now see the design of his narration: First, to persuade the parents of Rebekah that he had not been sent for the purpose of deceiving them, that he had not in anything acted craftily, or by oblique methods, but in the fear of the Lord, as the religious obligation of marriage requires. Secondly, that he was desiring nothing which would not be profitable and honorable for them. And lastly, that God had been the director of the whole affair. Moreover, since the servant of Abraham, though persuaded that the angel of God would be the guide of his journey, yet neither directs his prayers nor his thanksgivings to him, we may hence learn that angels are not, in such a sense, constituted the ministers of God to us, as that they should be invoked by us, or should transfer to themselves the worship due to God; a superstition which prevails nearly over the whole world to such a degree, that men turn aside a portion of their faith from the only fountain of all good to the rivulets which flow from it. The clause, "the Lord, before whom I walk," (ver. 40,) which some refer to the probity and good conscience of Abraham, I rather explain as applying to the faith, by which he set God before him, as the governor of his life, being confident that he was the object of God's care, and dependent upon his grace. "If ye will deal kindly." I have lately related the force of this expression; namely, to act with humanity and good faith. He thus modestly and suppliantly asks them to consent to the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah: should he meet with a repulse from them, he says, he will go either to the right hand or to the left; that is, he will look around elsewhere. For he places the right hand and the left in contrast with the straight way in which he had been led to them. It is, however, with fertile ingenuity that some of the Hebrews explain the words as meaning, that he would go to Lot, or to Ishmael. 50. "The thing proceedeth from the Lord." Whereas they are convinced by the discourse of the man, that God was the Author of this marriage, they avow that it would be unlawful for them to offer anything in the way of contradiction. They declare that the thing proceedeth from the Lord; because he had, by the clearest signs, made his will manifest. Hence we perceive, that although the true religion was in part observed among them, and in part infected with vicious errors, yet the fear of God was never so utterly extinguished, but this axiom remained firmly fixed in all their minds, that God must be obeyed. If, then, wretched idolaters, who had almost fallen away from religion, nevertheless so subjected themselves to God, as to acknowledge it to be unlawful for them to swerve from his will, how much more prompt ought our obedience to be? Therefore, as soon as the will of God is made known to us, not only let our tongues be silent, but let all our senses be still; because it is an audacious profanation to admit any thought which is opposed to that will. 52. "He worshipped." Moses again repeats that Abraham's servant gave thanks to God; and it is not without reason that he so often inculcates this religious duty; because, since God requires nothing greater from us, the neglect of it betrays the most shameful indolence. The acknowledgment of God's kindness is a sacrifice of sweet-smelling savour; yea, it is a more acceptable service than all sacrifices. God is continually heaping innumerable benefits upon men. Their ingratitude, therefore, is intolerable, if they fail to exercise themselves in celebrating those benefits. 54. "And they rose up in the morning." On this point Moses insists the more particularly; partly, for the purpose of commending the faithful industry of the servant in fulfilling his master's commands; partly, for that of teaching, that his mind was inflamed by the Spirit of God, for he is so ardent as to allow no truce to others, and no relaxation to himself. Thus, although he conducted himself as became an honest and prudent servant, it is still not to be doubted that the Lord impelled him, for Isaac's sake, to act as he did. So the Lord watches over his own people while they sleep, expedites and accomplishes their affairs in their absence, and influences the dispositions of all, so far as is expedient, to render them assistance. It is by a forced interpretation, that some would explain the ten days, during which Laban and his mother desire the departure of Rebekah to be deferred, as meaning years or months. For it was merely the tender wish of the mother, who could ill bear that her daughter should thus suddenly be torn away from her bosom. 57. "We will call the damsel." Bethuel, who had before unreservedly given his daughter in marriage, now seems to adhere, with but little constancy, to his purpose. When, however, he had previously offered his daughter, without making any exception, he is to be understood as having done it, only so far as he was able. But now, Moses declares that he did not exercise tyranny over his daughter, so as to thrust her out reluctantly, or to compel her to marry against her will, but left her to her own free choice. Truly, in this matter, the authority of parents ought to be sacred: but a middle course is to be pursued, so that the parties concerned may make their contract spontaneously, and with mutual consent. It is not right to understand that Rebekah in answering so explicitly, showed contempt for the paternal roof, or too anxiously desired a husband; but since she saw that the affair was transacted by the authority of her father, and with the consent of her mother, she also herself acquiesced in it. 59. "And they sent away Rebekah." Moses first relates, that Rebekah was honorably dismissed; because her nurse was given unto her. Moreover, I doubt not that they had domestic nurses, who were their handmaidens; not that mothers entirely neglected that duty, but that they committed the care of education to one particular maid. They therefore who assisted mothers with subsidiary service were called nurses. Moses afterwards adds, that Rebekah's relatives "blessed her," (verse 60,) by which expression he means, that they prayed that her condition might be a happy one. We know that it was a solemn custom, in all ages, and among all people, to accompany marriages with all good wishes. And although posterity has greatly degenerated from the pure and genuine method of celebrating marriages used by the fathers; yet it is God's will that some public testimony should stand forth, by which men may be admonished, that no nuptials are lawful, except those which are rightly consecrated. Now, the particular form of benediction which is here related, was probably in common use, because nature dictates that the propagation of offspring is the special end of marriage. Under the notion of victory (ver. 60) is comprehended a prosperous state of life. The Lord, however, directed their tongues to utter a prophecy of which they themselves were ignorant. "To possess the gates of enemies," means to obtain dominion over them; because judgment was administered in the gates, and the bulwarks of the city were placed there. 63. "And Isaac went out." It appears that Isaac dwelt apart from his father; either because the family was too large, or because such was the custom. And perhaps Abraham had already married another wife; so that, for the sake of avoiding contentions, it would seem more convenient for him to have a house of his own. Thus great wealth has its attendant troubles. Doubtless, of all earthly blessings granted by God, none would have been sweeter to Abraham than that of living with his son. However, I by no means think that he was deprived of his society and assistance. For such was the piety of Isaac, that he undoubtedly studied to discharge every duty towards his father: this alone was wanting, that they did not live in the same house. Moses also relates how it happened that Isaac met with his wife before she reached his home. For he says, that Isaac went out in the evening to meditate or to pray. For the Hebrew word "suach" may mean either. It is probable that he did this according to his custom, and that he sought a place of retirement for prayer, in order that his mind, being released from all avocations, might be the more at liberty to serve God. Whether, however, he was giving his mind to meditation or to prayer, the Lord granted him a token of his own presence in that joyful meeting. 64. "And Rebekah lifted up her eyes." We may easily conjecture that Isaac, when he saw the camels, turned his steps towards them, from the desire of seeing his bride; this gave occasion to the inquiry of Rebekah. Having received the answer, she immediately, for the sake of doing honour to her husband, dismounted her camel to salute him. For that she fell, struck with fear, as some suppose, in no way agrees with the narrative. She had performed too long a journey, under the protection of many attendants, to be so greatly afraid at the sight of one man. But these interpreters are deceived, because they do not perceive, that in the words of Moses, the reason is afterwards given to this effect, that when Rebekah saw Isaac, she alighted from her camel; because she had inquired of the servant who he was, and had been told that he was the son of his master Abraham. It would not have entered into her mind to make such inquiry respecting any person whom she might accidentally meet: but seeing she had been informed that Abraham's house was not far distant, she supposes him at least to be one of the domestics. Moses also says that she took a veil: which was a token of shame and modesty. For hence also, the Latin word which signifies "to marry," is derived, because it was the custom to give brides veiled to their husbands. That the same rite was also observed by the fathers, I have no doubt. So much the more shameful, and the less capable of excuse, is the licentiousness of our own age; in which the apparel of brides seems to be purposely contrived for the subversion of all modesty. 67. "And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent." He first brought her into the tent, then took her as his wife. By the very arrangement of his words, Moses distinguishes between the legitimate mode of marriage and barbarism. And certainly the sanctity of marriage demands that man and woman should not live together like cattle; but that, having pledged their mutual faith, and invoked the name of God, they might dwell with each other. Besides, it is to be observed, that Isaac was not compelled, by the tyrannical command of his father, to marry; but after he had given his mind to her he took her freely, and cordially gave her the assurance of conjugal fidelity. "And Isaac was comforted after his mother's death." Since his grief for the death of his mother was now first assuaged, we infer how great had been its vehemence; for a period sufficiently long had already elapsed. We may also hence infer, that the affection of Isaac was tender and gentle: and that his love to his mother was of no common kind, seeing he had so long lamented her death. And the knowledge of this fact is useful to prevent us from imagining that the holy patriarchs were men of savage manners and of iron hardness of heart, and from becoming like those who conceive fortitude to consist in brutality. Only care must be taken that grief should be duly mitigated; lest it burst forth in impious murmurings, or subvert the hope of a future resurrection. I do not however entirely excuse the sorrow of Isaac; I only advise, that what belongs to humanity, ought not to be altogether condemned. And although it was culpable not to be able to efface grief from the mind, until the opposite joy of marriage prevailed over it; Moses still reckons it among the benefits conferred by God, that he applies a remedy of any kind to his servant. Chapter XXV. 1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name [was] Keturah. 2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these [were] the children of Keturah. 5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. 6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. 7 And these [are] the days of the years of Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. 8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full [of years]; and was gathered to his people. 9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which [is] before Mamre; 10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife. 11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi. 12 Now these [are] the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: 13 And these [are] the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, 14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 16 These [are] the sons of Ishmael, and these [are] their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. 17 And these [are] the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. 18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that [is] before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: [and] he died in the presence of all his brethren. 19 And these [are] the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac: 20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. 21 And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she [was] barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If [it be] so, why [am] I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations [are] in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and [the one] people shall be stronger than [the other] people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, [there were] twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac [was] threescore years old when she bare them. 27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob [was] a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of [his] venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he [was] faint: 30 And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red [pottage]; for I [am] faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I [am] at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised [his] birthright. 1. "Then again Abrahaqn took a wife." It seems very absurd that Abraham, who is said to have been dead in his own body thirty-eight years before the decease of Sarah, should, after her death, marry another wife. such an act was, certainly, unworthy of his gravity. Besides, when Paul commends his faith, (Rom. 4: 19,) he not only asserts that the womb of Sarah was dead, when Isaac was about to be born, but also that the body of the father himself was dead. Therefore Abraham acted most foolishly, if, after the loss of his wife, he, in the decrepitude of old age, contracted another marriage. Further, it is at variance with the language of Paul, that he, who in his hundredth year was cold and impotent, should, forty years afterwards, have many sons. Many commentators, to avoid this absurdity, suppose Keturah to have been the same person as Hagar. But their conjecture is immediately refuted in the context; where Moses says, Abraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines. The same point is clear]y established from 1 Chron. 1: 32. Others conjecture that, while Sarah was yet living, he took another wife. This, although worthy of grave censure, is however not altogether incredible. We know it to be not uncommon for men to be rendered bold by excessive license. Thus Abraham having once transgressed the law of marriage, perhaps, after the dispute respecting Hagar, did not desist from the practice of polygamy. It is also probable that his mind had been wounded, by the divorce which Sarah had compelled him to make with Hagar. Such conduct indeed was disgraceful, or, at least, unbecoming in the holy patriarch. Nevertheless no other, of all the conjectures which have been made, seems to me more probable. If it be admitted, the narrative belongs to another place; but Moses is frequently accustomed to place those things which have precedence in time, in a different order. And though this reason should not be deemed conclusive, yet the fact itself shows an inverted order in the history. Sarah had passed her ninetieth year, when she brought forth her son Isaac; she died in the hundred and twenty-seventh year of her age; and Isaac married when he was forty years old. Therefore, nearly four years intervened between the death of his mother and his nuptials. If Abraham took a wife after this, what was he thinking of, seeing that he had been during so many years accustomed to a single life? It is therefore lawful to conjecture that Moses, in writing the life of Abraham, when he approached the closing scene, inserted what he had before omitted. The difficulty, however, is not yet solved. For whence proceeded Abraham's renovated vigour, since Paul testifies that his body had long ago been withered by age? Augustine supposes not only that strength was imparted to him for a short space of time, which might suffice for Isaac's birth; but that by a divine restoration, it flourished again during the remaining term of his life. Which opinion, both because it amplifies the glory of the miracle, and for other reasons, I willingly embrace. And what I have before said, namely, that Isaac was miraculously born, as being a spiritual seed, is not opposed to this view; for it was especially on his account that the failing body of Abraham was restored to vigour. That others were afterwards born was, so to speak, adventitious. Thus the blessing of God pronounced in the words, "Increase and multiply," which was annexed expressly to marriage, is also extended to unlawful connexions. Certainly, if Abraham married a wife while Sarah was yet alive, (as I think most probable,) his adulterous connexion was unworthy of the divine benediction. But although we know not why this addition was made to the just measure of favour granted to Abraham, yet the wonderful providence of God appears in this, that while many nations of considerable importance descended from his other sons, the spiritual covenant, of which the rest also bore the sign in their flesh, remained in the exclusive possession of Isaac. 6. "But unto the sons of the concubines." Moses relates, that when Abraham was about to die, he formed the design of removing all cause of strife among his sons after his death, by constituting Isaac his sole heir, and dismissing the rest with suitable gifts. This dismissal was, indeed, apparently harsh and cruel; but it was agreeable to the appointment and decree of God, in order that the entire possession of the land might remain for the posterity of Isaac. For it was not lawful for Abraham to divide, at his own pleasure, that inheritance which had been granted entire to Isaac. Wherefore, no course was left to him but to provide for the rest of his sons in the manner here described. If any person should now select one of his sons as his heir, to the exclusion of the others, he would do them an injury; and, by applying the torch of injustice, in disinheriting a part of his children, he would light up the flame of pernicious strifes in his family. Wherefore, we must note the special reason by which Abraham was not only induced, but compelled, to deprive his sons of the inheritance, and to remove them to a distance; namely, lest by their intervention, the grant which had been divinely made to Isaac should, of necessity, be disturbed. We have elsewhere said that, among the Hebrews, she who is a partaker of the bed, but not of all the goods, is styled a concubine. The same distinction has been adopted into the customs, and sanctioned by the laws of all nations. So, we shall afterwards see, that Leah and Rachel were principal wives, but that Bilhah and Zilpah were in the second rank; so that their condition remained servile, although they were admitted to the conjugal bed. Since Abraham had made Hagar and Keturah his wives on this condition, it seems that he might lawfully bestow on their sons, only a small portion of his goods; to have transferred, however, from his only heir to them, equal portions of his property, would have been neither just nor right. It is probable that no subsequent strife or contention took place respecting the succession; but by sending the sons of the concubines far away, he provides against the danger of which I have spoken, lest they should occupy a part of the land which God had assigned to the posterity of Isaac alone. 7. "And these are the days." Moses now brings us down to the death of Abraham; and the first thing to be noticed concerning his age is the number of years during which he lived as a pilgrim; for he deserves the praise of wonderful and incomparable patience, for having wandered through the space of a hundred years, while God led him about in various directions, contented, both in life and death, with the bare promise of God. Let those be ashamed who find it difficult to bear the disquietude of one, or of a few years, since Abraham, the father of the faithful, was not merely a stranger during a hundred years, but was also often cast forth into exile. Meanwhile, however, Moses expressly shows that the Lord had fulfilled his promise, "Thou shalt die in a good old age:" for although he fought a hard and severe battle, yet his consolation was neither light nor small; because he knew that, amidst so many sufferings, his life was the object of Divine care. But if this sole looking unto God sustained him through his whole life, amidst the most boisterous waves, amidst many bitter griefs, amidst tormenting cares, and in short an accumulated mass of evils; let us also learn--that we may not become weary in our course--to rely on this support, that the Lord has promised us a happy issue of life, and one truly far more glorious than that of our father Abraham. 8. "Then Abraham gave up the ghost." They are mistaken who suppose that this expression denotes sudden death, as intimating that he had not been worn out by long disease, but expired without pain. Moses rather means to say that the father of the faithful was not exempt from the common lot of men, in order that our minds may not languish when the outward man is perishing; but that, by meditating on that renovation which is laid up as the object of our hope, we may, with tranquil minds, suffer this frail tabernacle to be dissolved. There is therefore no reason why a feeble, emaciated body, failing eyes, tremulous hands, and the lost use of all our members, should so dishearten us, that we should not hasten, after the example of our father, with joy and alacrity to our death. But although Abraham had this in common with the human race, that he grew old and died; yet Moses, shortly afterwards, puts a difference between him and the promiscuous multitude of men as to manner of dying; namely, that he should "die in a good old age, and satisfied with life." Unbelievers, indeed, often seem to participate in the same blessing; yea, David complains that they excelled in this kind of privilege; and a similar complaint occurs in the book of Job, namely, that they fill up their time happily, till in a moment they descend into the grave. But what I said before must be remembered, that the chief part of a good old age consists in a good conscience and in a serene and tranquil mind. Whence it follows, that what God promises to Abraham, can only apply to those who truly cultivate righteousness: for Plato says, with equal truth and wisdom, that a good hope is the nutriment of old age; and therefore old men who have a guilty conscience are miserably tormented, and are inwardly racked as by a perpetual torture. But to this we must add, what Plato knew not, that it is godliness which causes a good old age to attend us even to the grave, because faith is the preserver of a tranquil mind. To the same point belongs what is immediately added, "he was full of days," so that he did not desire a prolongation of life. We see how many are in bondage to the desire of life; yea, nearly the whole world languishes between a weariness of the present life and an inexplicable desire for its continuance. That satiety of life, therefore, which shall cause us to be ready to leave it, is a singular favour from God. "And was gathered to his people." I gladly embrace the opinion of those who believe the state of our future life to be pointed out in this form of expression; provided we do not restrict it, as these expositors do, to the faithful only; but understand by it that mankind are associated together in death as well as in life. It may seem absurd to profane men, for David to say, that the reprobate are gathered together like sheep into the grave; but if we examine the expression more closely, this gathering together will have no existence if their souls are annihilated. The mention of Abraham's burial will presently follow. Now he is said to be gathered to his fathers, which would be inconsistent with fact if human life vanished, and men were reduced to annihilation: wherefore the Scripture, in speaking thus, shows that another state of life remains after death, so that a departure out of the world is not the destruction of the whole man. 9. "And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him." Hence it appears, that although Ishmael had long ago been dismissed, he was not utterly alienated from his father, because he performed the office of a son in celebrating the obsequies of his deceased parent. Ishmael, rather than the other sons did this, as being nearer. 12. "Now these are the generations of Ishmael." This narration is not superfluous. In the commencement of the chapter, Moses alludes to what was done for the sons of Keturah. Here he speaks designedly more at large, for the purpose of showing that the promise of God, given in the seventeenth chapter, was confirmed by its manifest accomplishment. In the first place, it was no common gift of God that Ishmael should have twelve sons who should possess rank and authority over as many tribes; but inasmuch as the event corresponded with the promise, we must chiefly consider the veracity of God, as well as the singular benevolence and honour which he manifested towards his servant Abraham, when, even in those benefits which were merely adventitious, he dealt so kindly and liberally with him; for that may rightly be regarded as adventitious which was superadded to the spiritual covenant: therefore Moses, after he has enumerated the towns in which the posterity of Ishmael was distributed, buries that whole race in oblivion, that substantial perpetuity may remain only in the Church, according to the declaration in Psalm 102: 28, "the sons of sons shall inhabit." Further, Moses, as with his finger, shows the wonderful counsel of God, because, in assigning a region distinct from the land of Canaan to the sons of Ishmael, he has both provided for them in future, and kept the inheritance vacant for the sons of Isaac. 18. "He died in the presence of all his brethren." The major part of commentators understand this of his death; as if Moses had said that the life of Ishmael was shorter than that of his brethren, who long survived him: but because the word "naphal" is applied to a violent death, and Moses testifies that Ishmael died a natural death, this exposition cannot be approved. The Chaldean Paraphrast supposes the word "lot" to be understood, and elicits this sense, that the lot fell to him, so as to assign him a habitation not far from his brethren. Although I do not greatly differ in this matter, I yet think that the words are not to be thus distorted. The word "naphal" sometimes signifies to lie down, or to rest, and also to dwell. The simple assertion therefore of Moses is, that a habitation was given to Ishmael opposite his brethren, so that he should indeed be a neighbour to them, and yet should have his distinct boundaries: for I do not doubt that he referred to the oracle contained in the sixteenth chapters where, among other things, the angel said to his mother Hagar, "He shall remain, or pitch his tents in the presence of his brethren." Why does he rather speak thus of Ishmael than of the others, except for this reason, that whereas they migrated towards the eastern region, Ishmael, although the head of a nation, separated from the sons of Abraham, yet retained his dwelling in their neighbourhood? Meanwhile the intention of God is also to be observed, namely, that Ishmael, though living near his brethren, was yet placed apart in an abode of his own, that he might not become mingled with them, but might dwell in their presence, or opposite to them. Moreover, it is sufficiently obvious that the prediction is not to be restricted personally to Ishmael. 19. "These are the generations of Isaac." Because what Moses has said concerning the Ishmaelites was incidental, he now returns to the principal subject of the history, for the purpose of describing the progress of the Church. And in the first place, he repeats that Isaac's wife was taken from Mesopotamia. He expressly calls her the sister of Laban the Syrian, who was hereafter to become the father-in-law of Jacob, and concerning whom he had many things to relate. But it is chiefly worthy of observation that he declares Rebekah to have been barren during the early years of her marriage. And we shall afterwards (continued in part 3...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-02: cvgn2-02.txt .