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to be written out “aforetime and for our learning," a single case of parental partiality, in both its first facts, and in its consequences. Under these two divisions we will study the case.
1. The Facts.
Nothing is said of partiality in this family prior to the text, though Esau and Jacob are now about thirty years old. Probably it had been practiced from early childhood, but now was 80 marked as to become a leading historical feature in the family. Ten years later Esau, alienated from the confidence and sympathies of his mother, marries Canaanitish wives, and she says: “I am weary
my life, because of the daughters of Heth,” Esau's wives. If she had loved Esau as much as Jacob, she might have had daughters-in-law more to her liking.
The favoritism runs on, till Isaac seems about to die, and so the will is drawn. He is then one hundred and thirty and seven years old, and his two sons are seventy and seven. The trick, the plot, the treachery of Rebekah, and the crowning of her long struggle, in the matter of the savory meat and the dying blessing, are familiar facts. But what a family scene! An old mau, blind, helpless and apparently dying; the wife practicing the basest arts of deception; and one son, a man of four score and venerable, by her aid, putting on deceit as a garment, to gain treacherously his brother's inheritance. Esau discovers the plot, is enraged. His wives and children see and know it ! All this is done to secure wealth and power and favor, for one child, to the injury and neglect of another. Death the while seems standing at the door. Do
such family scene, a dying old man, and a scheming wife and mother, intriguing with her favorite child about the will, and the quarrelling sons ?
2. We pass on to notice the consequences.
“And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him. And Esau said, in his heart : The days of mourning for my father are at hand, then will I slay my brother Jacob.” A result so natural, inevitable and sinful; and the more natural, as Esau had previously lost his birthright by most unjust means, in which, no doubt, the hand of Rebekah, his mother, was very powerful.
To save his life Jacob flees to a foreign land, and so, as a first fruit of her favoritism and plotting, Rebekah has a murderous son and his strange wives, with her, and her favorite in exile. The funeral does not come so soon.
Isaac revived and lived yet forty-four years, and Esau's anger had time to cool, and his hatred to deepen. Twenty-one years Jacob does not dare go home, and so the brothers do not meet, or their parents see them together. Jacob
lives with his uncle Laban, when, deceived in turn, as to a wife, and deceiving his uncle in business, like his own mother, and watching for the main chance, he gets rich, and then steals away.
In his flight he has occasion to pass through the country of Esau. There is a timid, cold meeting between the brothers, and a partial and formal reconciliation. It is more diplomatic than fraternal, and as between twin brothers it lacks heart. The bitter memories, heart burnings and self-reproach of that interview, after twenty one years' separation, we will not dwell on. There is yet more fruit of the paternal partiality.
So far as we can know the brothers did not meet again till their father's funeral, twenty three years after. What were Rebekah's views then of her favoritism and treachery, what her fears of Esau's anger, and how much comfort and honor and hope she had from this leading policy of her life, we are not told. How the brothers felt or conducted we know not. There is no record of explanations, concessions, or restitution. Hatred remained and stinging recollections, and hot passion had settled into a principle and habit of hostility, as we learn from events following:
Rebekah has her reward in the wealth and preëminence of the favorite son, but how much of self-respect, of joy in her children, or of happy anticipations for them, or for her own lonely, widow's life, we need not inquire.
Isaac is dead. Rebekah dies, and also Esau and Jacob. Has the unhallowed favoritism spent itself, and are the grudges and feuds growing out of it, dead too and buried ?
We pass along about two centuries and a half, and is all smooth and pleasant between the descendants of the unwise parents and quarrelling brothers ?
“And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the King of Edom, [the tribe of Esau). Thus saith thy brother Israel
Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country. And Edom said : Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword. And the children of Israel said unto liim: We will go by the highways, and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it. I will only, without' anything else, go through on my feet. And he said: Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border. Wherefore Israel turned away from him.”
This is three hundred and seven years after the trick and treachery of Rebekah with the savory meat, and the implanted feud between her two sons. “Israel turned away" to those terrible wan
derings of thirty and nine years in the desert, before entering Ca
The favorite child and the partial mother have their reward.
pass on more than four hundred years, and find Israel under David slaying eighteen thousand of the children of Esau. “For six months did Job remain there with all Israel, until he had cut off every male in Edom.”
After a hundred and fifty years more the children of Esau again revolted from the rule of the sons of Jacob, and ten thousand of them were slain, and as many more thrown down the rocks of Petra.
But recovering a national name and spirit afterward they joined with Nebuchadnezzar in the seige of Jerusalem. Hence the bitter prayer against them in the 137th Psalm. This act of Esau, and this
prayer of the house of Jacob are the last account the Bible gives of the two brothers and their descendants together.
Thus for about twelve hundred years, this parental partiality showed its fruit. For so long time the plot of Rebekah worked evil between her twin sons. Later record, sacred and profane, shows the decrease of the children of Esau under the persecuting hatred of Jacob, till about the opening of the Christian era, when the name and race of Esau are lost to history. So much did it cost to love one chiid to partiality, and to the neglect and abuse of the other.
“O that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and their children forever.”—Deut. v. 29.
God has long had a beloved people in Egypt, but, in the circumstances, he could not give them a code of laws, and an order of life. So with great power he brings them out of Egypt, and they are now as far as Sinai toward their home. Valley and hill, ravine and plain are covered with them there, and the Law is given, the law moral and ceremonial, social, private and international. L is a sublime sight, for here are a people of one blood, with one God, one religion, and one destiny.
It is a time for God to reveal himself in a declaration of principles, and the declaration is made, by the text, in four points.
1. The intense compassion of God is declared.
We recall his majesty and glory at Sinai, as the legislator and governor. The scenery surrounding is rough and wild. The mountain is burning, smoking and trembling. Yet the leading desire of God is, love for this people: “That it might be well with them.”
The words are full of sympathy, tenderness and anxiety. A father's heart is in them.
Divine benevolence, for its best exercise, must take the form of law.
It is a human notion and a weakness to let those we love, and should control, have always their own way. Some parents, and all non-resistants and anti-prisop theorists indulge 'in this folly. But not so God. He loves man too truly for this : “Keep my commandments always,” “that it may be well with them.". Our sinfulness, weakness, ignorance, and desire
desire for happiness, necessitate the law of God. The highest benevolence, the purest philanthropy takes the form of the most careful legislation, and Sinai shows as true a love for man as Calvary.
3. God would secure human happiness through the free action of
No almighty, irresistible force compels man to virtue and happi
“O that there were such a heart in them." All the means' of grace assume our freedom, so that our spiritual joys and our salvation are in our own seeking and keeping, the grace of God being always offered and aiding.
4. The well-being of children is wrapped up in the obedience and disobedience of their parents. "Keep all my commandments ... that it might be well with
.. their children forever.” And so "for the fathers' sake" the children of Achan and of the drunkard have woes, while Samuel and Timothy enter into mercies prepared of God for them through devout mothers in Israel. . There are laws of physical and moral inheritance, and parents constitute their children heirs by a kind of necessity, and without any last will and testament.
From all which we see :
2. · The Law of God is not the stern and severe code that some call it.
3. Lost men destroy themselves despite the compassion and good endeavors of God to the contrary.
4. Parental disobedience to God is cruelty to children.
1.-Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical Commentary on the Holy Scriptures. By John PETER LANGE, D.D., Vol. II. The Gospel of Mark, by J. P. Lange, D.D., edited by W. G. T. Shedd, D.D. The Gospel of Luke by J. J. Van Oosterzee, D.D., edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., and Rev. Charles C. Starbuck. Royal 8vo. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1866.
The full year which has elapsed since the issue of the first volume of the American edition of this work, has given ample opportunity to test its merits, and to determine whether the cordial welcome which it generally received was well grounded and hestowed. Our own trial of the volume, thus laid before the public, has been satisfactory. We have found it a real help toward a richer possessing of the treasure stored in the word of God. We do not mean by this that, here and there, we have not come upon some paragraph which is, in our judgment, fanciful or otherwise superfluous. The German mind is not like ours in some particulars. We occasionally observe, for instance, both in the chief conductor of this Bibelwerk and in his American editor in chief, a tinge of mysticism, and an over refinement of interpretation, which fails to carry our more matter of fact common sense along with it. We are hardly used, moreover, to that freedom of illustration, in a staid and critical work like this, which brings in a long quotation from Professor Schaff's diary, descriptive of Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania in 1863, to explain "the wars and rumors of wars” in Matthew xiv. So, it is more pleasing than altogether important, to be informed in the present volume, that the American editor hopes to see his transatlantic co-laborers this summer (1865) which hope, we are subsequently informed (Feb. 1866) was only partially gratified. This gossippy kind of footnotes and postscripts in a commentary, on the Holy Scriptures, is not quite American. Still, it may have a use in showing our public more fully how thoroughly this great work is entitled to their confidence as representing and reproducing the views of the eminent scholars abroad, with whom we are thus forming a more intimate acquaintance. We gather from these confidences that both Drs. Lange and Schaff are highly gratified with the marked success of this publication on our side the ocean, to which we join the hearty expression of our own satisfaction.