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oldest son of Terah, died before his father; Terah then, and Abraham, with Lot, Haran's son, migrated towards Canaan and stopped in Haran, where Terah died at the age of 295 years. After Terah died Abraham left Haran, at which time we are positively informed he was 75 years old. This settles the point, demonstrating that Abraham was 75 years old when his father died, consequently he was born in the year of his father 130, and in that of the world 2009.
William. But, father, you differ from the popular age of the world one year; for all our Bibles make Abraham to have been born in the year of the world 2008.
Olympas. True; for they do not count the year of the flood. I do, when I compute with accuracy. We agree that the world was 1656 years old at the deluge; and we are positively told that Arphaxad was born two years after the flood. Well, the flood counted one year; and certainly Abraham was born in 2009, and not in 2008. This is something, indeed, in chronology, but it is not much as respects the meaning of scripture.
William. Allow me, father, to ask, How do you show for certain that Abraham left Haran just when his father died? Might he not, for all that Moses says, have lived some years in Haran before his migration?
Olympas. Whatever might be imagined from the narrative of Moses, we are freed from all dubiety by the declaration of Stephen, Acts vii. 4. His words are, "When his father was dead he removed from Haran into the land of Canaan," This places the matter on a clear foundation. So much for Bible chronology, a subject which I hope to make you understand as we proceed-a subject, too, of much importance, though much neglected by students of the Bible. Having got the history correctly drawn from Adam to Abraham, we shall dismiss it for the present. Why did Abraham, Thomas, migrate from Haran after the death of his father?
Thomas. Because he was called by God to forsake his kindred and to become a pilgrim in a foreign land.
Olympas How old was Abraham at this time, Sarah?
Sarah. He was 75 years old.
Olympas. In what year of the world was this, James?
Olympas. What, and how many promises were tendered to Abraham at this time, as inducements to obedience, Eliza?
Eliza. There were two at least-Abraham should become a great, mighty, and renowned nation; and that by a descendant of his all the families of the earth should be blessed. Besides the special care and blessing of God was promised to himself.
Olympas. To what principle, Reuben, does Paul attribute this obedence of Abraham?
Reuben. To faith. His words are, Hebrews xi., "By faith Abraham when he was called obeyed, and went out not knowing whither he was going."
Olympas. Faith, then, is a strong principle of action when it can, on the strength of God's promise, induce a person to forego friends, country, relations, and all natural endearments. Who were his companions in the undertaking, Edward?
Edward. Sarah his wife, Lot his nephew, and their servants and cattle.
Olympas. Was there any remarkable incident on this journey? Edward. Yes; at Moreh, on his way, the Lord actually appeared to him, and added a new promise, saying, "Unto thy seed will I give this land."
Olympas. And what did Abraham then?
Edward. He builded an altar to the Lord who appeared to him. Olympas. Was this the only altar Abraham reared, Thomas?
Thomas. No: journeying thence to a mountain between Bethel and Hai, the place of the first altar, he pitched his tent, reared an altar, and prayed to the Lord.
Olympas. In what course did Abraham travel from this mountain, Mary?
Mary. He went on to the South; but finding a grievous famine in Canaan, he went into Egypt for bread.
Olympas. A famine in the land of Canaan, the most fertile of all lands! Alas for those who confide in a rich soil, when so early as the year 2084, four centuries from the flood, the iniquities of Canaan had brought a famine on the land! What, Mary, is the most remarkable incident in this tour of Abraham and Sarah to Egypt?
Mary. The trouble that Abraham had to save his life and his wife. Olympas. Narrate the circumstances, Edward, as you have learned them.
Edward. The Egyptians being swarthy, and Sarah being fair, it occurred to Abraham that his wife, always beautiful, but more so in contrast with the women of Egypt, would become an object of attraction among the princes of Egypt. It seems also that the Egyptians were very licentious, and consequently human life was very insecure when it came in the way of their passions. Abraham knowing all this, was alarmed for his personal safety; and thinking that his life would be more secure in company with Sarah as a sister than as a wife, persuaded her to pass herself off as his sister only, preferring the risk of losing his wife to that of losing his life.
Olympas. Think you, Edward, that was all just what it ought to have been?
Edward. He told the truth, or at least would have her to do it; for she was the daughter of the same father, though not of the same mother. She was what we usually call a step-sister. The fault was that of suppressing a part of the truth, not that of falsification. On another occasion he did the same, and justified himself by saying, "She is, indeed, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother." Gen xx. 12.
Olympas. Did this expedient greatly benefit the Patriarch?
Edward. She was, as expected, much admired by the Egyptians, and commended to Pharaoh, who took her to his house. But the Lord having plagued the king and his house because of Abraham's wife, the king restored her to her husband.
Olympas. Thomas, how old was Sarah at this time?
Thomas. I conclude she was about 65 years old.
Olympas. How do you prove this?
Thomas. I learn she was 90 when Abraham was 100. This makes her ten years younger than Abraham, who was certainly 5 years old at this time.
Olympas. Would not a lady of 65 appear somewhat faded, think you, William?
William. Yes; but when ladies lived to 127, as did Sarah, they were just in the prime of life and beauty at 65.
Olympas. True, very true, William. She was as young and beautiful at 65 as the American ladies are at 25 or 30.
The Lord saved Abraham's life and wife according to his promise, and Abraham was put to shame for his want of confidence in his Lord: he was, like many of his children, who can trust the general covenants and promises of God, but cannot commit their present business, protection, and property into his hands. This was a great weakness in Father Abraham, and demonstrates that the best of men are only men at the best. It is the grace of God that makes and keeps a man holy, good, and greatly noble. Without this, they are frail as other men. Truly, it is hard to learn the lesson which our blessed Saviour taught his disciples, saying, "Without me you can do nothing." You will observe, my dear children, that the knowledge of God and the primeval institutions of religion and morality were not yet forgotten in Egypt, else the plagues laid upon Pharaoh would not so soon have convicted him of sinning against those sacred ordinances of God.
William. Did the same family of Pharaoh continue on the throne of Egppt from Abraham to Moses?
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Olympas. All the kings of Egypt were called Pharaoh, from the days of the Cushite shepherd kings till the Grecian monarchy.Afterwards they were called Ptolemies.
William. When did they commence?
Olympas. About the time of Abraham's birth. The earliest origin that tradition gives these shepherd kings is about 72 years before Abraham went down into Egypt. The meaning of the word Pharaoh in Hebrew is radically a free-booter-a pilgrim plunderer; but its Egyptian signification is most probably sovereign, or king. Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities says, "The title of Pharaoh was applied to the kings of Egypt from Menas to Solomon's time, but not afterwards, and that it is an Egyptian word signifying king. But it is found later than Solomon's time in cther records; and it is also affirmed by some historians that there were not less than three hundred and forty-one kings who wore the name of Pharaoh during a period of fourteen hundred years. The Egyptian mythologists say that Egypt was under three different dynasties of kings. The first was the immortal gods, of the highest class; the second, the demigods, or heroes; and the third, mortal kings-the Pharaohs.
William. Why so much more said in Genesis about Abraham than Adam?
Olympus. Six chapters record creation and the antediluvian age, while nineteen are chiefly employed in the history of Abraham. The reason I presume is, that with Abraham commences the history of the Jews, and the special history of the ancestry of the Messiah. Abraham was a person of the highest renown, a prince, the progenitor of the Israelites, the father of the faithful, the friend of God, and the benefactor of the world. We must then, my dear children, study with great care the history of Abraham. Its details include both law and gospel; faith and works; circumcision and baptism; a temporal and an eternal inheritance.
As the land of Canaan was the grand theatre of Abraham's renown, and as its position is most conspicuous in the Bible, I will require of the senior class that they repeat the description of it at our next lesson so far as its geographical position is concerned, as you will find it in Stackhouse's Introduction. A. C.
THE PAST AND THE PRESENT.
WHEN We look around us, and to the history of events which have transpired since our boyhood, how rapid and astonishing the changes! It was but yesterday that a travel across the Allegany, whether East
or West, was considered the labor of weeks; and then only in the company of one or more in order to make it safe and agreeable; but now a trip to London or Paris is considered a journey of far less hazard and undertaken with less precaution. The march of civilization and science with the religion of Jesus, and all that can improve the moral and intellectual condition of mankind during the last three centuries, is more like magic than reality. And to what are we to attribute all this wonderful and astonishing improvement? There must be some cause or causes most active in this mighty revolution; and what are they but the art of printing and the manufacture of paper, which, like the hands and feet, are dependent on one another? Before their discovery knowledge of any kind was in the possession of the few, and the intercourse which is now so great between nations far distant from each other, was but comparatively a mere name.-But notwithstanding ancient difficulties, it is astonishing that so much learning and genius was displayed for more than three thousand years before the discovery of either art. Without dwelling upon this subject, we wish to trace the history of writing and the means of imparting knowledge before the origin of either paper or type.
That God was the author of language as originally given to man, I presume none will deny; but who was the inventor of letters and writing we know not. Some attribute it to God; and Josephus speaks of certain columns erected before the deluge by the sons of Seth, upon which they had written astronomical observations and inventions; but he could only speak of it as a tradition, and not from the existence of any certain information we presume. But amidst the diversity of opinion upon this subject, it is, I believe, the more gener. ally received opinion that the credit should be given to the Pheni cians: while others, says Calmet, more rationally divide the honor among several, and acknowledge that they had their origin among the people of the East.
The writing of the Egyptians is well known to have been originally that of hieroglyphics, or figures of animals and other things engraven upon stone or painted on wood. It is more than probable that this way of writing was most ancient because more natural.
Marsham is of opinion that this way of writing was invented by the second king of Memphis, Thauth, whom the Greeks call their first Mercury; and that another, or second Mercury, put into common characters what the first had written in hieroglyphics. If this be true, and Menes, the first king of Memphis, was Ham the son of Noah, we must date its origin immediately after the flood. Lucan affirms that the Phenicians invented the common letters before the Egyptians were acquainted with the use of paper or the art of writing in hieroglyphical characters. Lib. iii.
It was probable, says Calmet, that it was in imitation of the Phenicians, therefore, that the Egyptians used letters in their writing. Of this we cannot be certain; but two things we know-First, that there were great resemblances of the ancient character of the two people; and, second, that Moses, who was instructed in all the learning of the Egyptians, wrote in the Phenician characters.
The Phenicians spread the use of their letters throughout all their colonies. Cadmus carried them into Greece. They perfected them,