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1920.

possessions, and how he agreed to separate from B. c. his kinsman Lot Lot chose the fruitful vale around Sodom and Gomorrah, which shortly afterwards, from the effects of subterranean volcanic fire (for such the secondary cause is supposed to have been), subsided, and the place where these cities stood was occupied by a sea, to this day called the Dead Sea. Lot was, however, preserved from the fiery vengeance which the Lord rained down on the guilty city. In those days the nations of the earth worshipped more gods than one; they made molten images, and offered up prayers to beasts, and plants, and the heavenly bodies. But Abraham abhorred the worship of idols, and adhered to the belief in the one true God, who created heaven and earth, and who had shown himself in a wonderful manner the God of his fathers. In God Abraham believed and trusted, and that with so firm a faith, that he even made himself ready to offer up his son Isaac when that sacrifice was required of him. But the Lord was pleased to spare Isaac, being satisfied of the piety and faith of his servant Abraham.

Israel, the grandson of Abraham, had twelve sons, who, after the custom of their fathers, kept flocks and herds. Of these sons Joseph was the father's favourite, which caused his brothers to envy and to hate him, and ultimately to sell him as a slave to some merchants, who conveyed him to Egypt.

In the service of Pharaoh he was accused of a crime of which he was wholly innocent,

B.c. and thrown into prison : but by the protection of 1730.

his Heavenly Father he was enabled to vindicate the purity of his heart, and through his prophetic interpretation of a dream, he was released from prison, and raised to a position second only to that of Pharaoh himself. By the continued care of Providence, and the foreknowledge vouchsafed him, he was enabled to save Egypt at a most critical juncture, and to provide for the wants of his own family. In the years of abundance Joseph bought up corn in store for the years of famine which he saw were threatening the land; and when, afterward, the land was suffering from this predicted famine, he sold the corn to the Egyptians and surrounding people. Among others who came to Egypt to buy the corn were Joseph's brethren. Joseph recognises them: at first he excites their fears by his stern reception; but when his youngest brother, Benjamin, came down to him, Joseph made himself known unto his brethren, and at the same time quieted their apprehensions, for they naturally dreaded the resentment of a brother they had so cruelly injured. Joseph also obtained for his family the fruitful territory of Goshen, that they might dwell near him in the land of Egypt; this occurred about B.C. 1800. After Joseph's death, the Israelites were cruelly oppressed, and at last an order was issued that all their male children should be destroyed. Upon this, Moses, a man wise in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, was mercifully raised up for their des liverance; and when, at last, the rebellious obsti- B.c.

1550. nacy of Pharaoh had yielded to the seven plagues of an offended God, Moses led his people miraculously through the Red Sea, and gave them laws received from God himself amidst thunder and lightning from Mount Sinai, and by encouraging implicit faith and dependence on their Almighty Father, he sought to procure for his people the abiding protection of an All-wise Providence. Moses also endeavoured to awaken their courage and a feeling of mutual dependence, and, by the utmost severity, to restrain the instinctive obstinacy of man's unruly will and inclination. Moses died before the Israelites entered the promised land. Joshua was then their leader, and the greater part of Canaan yielded to their arms. The Israelites did not all devote themselves to husbandry, as Moses had commanded them ; some continued to lead the unsettled life of herdsmen. One tribe, the tribe of Levi, had no separate inheritance, but were distributed among the other tribes, that they might with more advantage discharge the sacred function of the ministry to the children of Israel.

CHAP. XIII.

CONQUEST OF CANAAN — SAMUEL --SAUL

DAVID- JUDAH AND ISRAEL.

1550.

B. c. The Israelites still had frequently to carry on

war with the original inhabitants of Canaan, especially with the Philistines, who several times conquered them and held them in subjection. When thus defeated, they sometimes had recourse to strange gods, and in the season of their despondency they placed not their trust in their Heavenly Father. Then were raised up for their deliverance the Judges and the Prophets, who, under divine inspiration, delivered the people from bondage, and brought them back to the worship of the One true God. One of these Judges was named Samson, a man of miraculous strength, who enabled the Israelites to throw off the yoke of the Philistines, 1150 B.C. After the death of Samson, the people grew faint-hearted, and fell once more under the yoke: then Samuel, another brave Judge and inspired prophet, was vouchsafed them, and he a second time reanimated their courage and repulsed their enemies, 1120 B.C. But as Samuel waxed old and new wars were threatening, the people implored him to give them a king. Much against his own convictions, Samuel consented, and Saul was made king, 1100 B.C.;

B, C

* and if any one will refer to the 8th chapter of the First Book of Samuel, he will be surprised 1100. to find an exact description of the service and the homage ever exacted by oriental monarchs. Samuel here warns the people that the kind of king they would appoint, would take their “sons for his chariots and his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots : ” and how the king would take their “daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers ;” and how he would practice a system of favouritism at the expense of “their fields and their vineyards, and their olive-yards," taking "your men-servants and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men to do his work.'

Differences soon arose between Saul and Samuel, because Saul was resolved to make himself an absolute monarch, and would not submit to the sacerdotal orders of Samuel. In consequence of this, Samuel secretly anointed David as king, who soon won the hearts of the people by his noble conduct on various occasions. Saul, suspicious and resentful, made several attempts on David's life; yet David, on two occasions, generously spared the life of Saul, when accidentally, as it seemed, at his mercy. Saul, however, had not the heart to preserve an amicable feeling towards David many days together; 8o David fled from the land, and Saul, after losing a battle with the Philistines, committed suicide.

[N.B. Any paragraph not in the original has an asterisk before and after.]

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