About twenty years after the marriage of Isaac to Rebekah (her barrenness being removed), she brought forth twins, Esau (hairy) or Edom (red) and Jacob (the supplanter). Perhaps no twin brothers were ever more dissimilar in appearance and character than these. There was commotion in the womb, and at birth the hand of Jacob grasped the heel of the first born, Esau, denoting that craft by which he should eventually supplant his brother, and gain the birthright.* They were unlike each other mentally and physically. Esau was ruddy and hairy, and became a wild hunter; while Jacob was a smooth man and became a quiet denizen of the tent. These differences of character were fostered by the improper partiality of the parents, which always produces unhappiness in the family circle. “Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison; but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Gen. xxv. 21-28).
Esau parted with his birthright, and thereby became a “profane person,” according to the Apostle Paul (Heb. xii. 16), and he was not in the regular line of succession from Abraham to Christ. On returning from hunting once, very much fatigued and quite hungry, he discovered Jacob preparing some red pottage of lentils, and quickly asked for “some of that red, red.” Being impatient for it, his brother seized on the occasion to buy his birthright, and Esau readily promised it to him for the sake of the pottage. He parted with a great deal for a very little. By right of birth he was the head of the family and entitled to be its prophet, priest and king. By birthright he was the head of the chosen family; on him devolved the blessing of Abraham, that in his seed all families of the earth should be blessed (Gen. xxii. 18). By "despising his birthright” he “despised” those rich provisions and great temporal and spiritual blessings which God had in store for the family of Abraham.
When the time came, therefore, for his father Isaac to impart the patriarchal blessing to his first son, Jacob, + at the command of Rebekah, served the savory meat to his father, and received the blessing before Esau came with his venison. Isaac was deceived, but would not recant or change his blessing, believing it to be God's will that Jacob should have it; and Esau could not obtain it though he sought it with tears (Gen. xxvii. 34). Isaac dwelt quietly in the land of Palestine, his life forming a great contrast to that of his father, Abraham. About Beersheba he resided mostly, and was not allowed to go down into Egypt or out of the promised land. He was much mortified at the marriage of Esau to his two Hittite wives, and favored the errand of Jacob into the land of Padan-aram (Mesopotamia) in search of a wife from among his own kindred. Many years afterward, when Jacob visited him at Hebron, he died, at the age of 180 years.
* "As Jacob took his brother by the heel in the womb (Hos. xii 3), so the spiritual Israel, every believer, having no right in himself to the inheritance, yet by faith, when being born again of the Spirit, takes hold of the bruised heel, the Divine humanity, of Christ crucified, the firstborn of many brethren."--A. R. Fausset.
+ “Jacob’s seeking a right end by wrong means entailed unpon him a lifelong retribution in kind. Instead of occupying the first place of honor in the family, he had to flee for his life; instead of a double portion, he fled with only a staff in his hand.” And, as he had deceived Isaac, so Laban deceived him in regard to Leah and his wages; and his other sons cruelly deceived him in regard to Joseph, pretanding that he had been slain by wild beasts, when they had sold him into bondage.
Jacob pursued his journey toward the land of Padan-aram, with staff in hand, a solitary wanderer, along the path by which Abraham had traversed Canaan. Proceeding northward he lighted on a place, the site, doubtless, of Abraham's encampment near Bethel, twelve miles north of Jerusalem, where he found some stones which probably belonged to the altar set up by Abraham, one of which he made his pillow. Though a poor, selfish sinner and an outcast, in a “waste, howling wilderness” (Deut. xxxii. 9, 10), a covenant-keeping God graciously visited him in a dream,* showed him a ladder + reaching from earth to Heaven, upon which the angels of God were ascending and descending, and he heard the voice of God renewing His promises of protection. Jacob concluded that place to be the house of God and the gate of Heaven. He set up his pillow for a monument, consecrating it with oil, and called the place Bethel--the house of God. He is thought at this time to have been in his seventy-seventh year. Jacob arrived at length at Padan-aram, and there the pastoral scenes are revived that were presented to Abraham's servant when he reached there in search of a wife for Isaac.
*Among the most insoluble mysteries, and among the strongest proofs of human ignorance, are the phenomena of dreams, hypnotism, somnambulism and insanity. This strange reagion is not accessible to accurate and adequate scientific observation; and therefore numerous conflicting opinions prevail in regard to it. The Scriptures, as well as physiology and psychology, prove that many, if not most, dreams have a natural origin, being due to some peculiar conditions of the body or mind (Eccles. v. 3; Isaiah xxix. 8; Jude 8); they seem to be broken fragments of former thoughts revived, and heterogeneously brought together, well compared to "chaff" by the Lord to the prophet Jeremiah (xxiii. 28). Some think that the mind is always active, whether asleep or awake; others think that, during profound sleep, all the mental powers are dormant. It is agreed that, during dreams, the reason, is nearly always, and the will is always dormant or asleep, and the mind is therefore passive or receptive. On this account it is, as Elihu says (Job xxxiii. 15-17), that in dreams God sometimes "opens the ears of men, and seals their instruction, that He may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man." When man's reason and will are asleep, he can take no credit to himself for the impressions on his mind. This was to be, not only under the old, but also under the new, dispensation (Joel ii. 28; Acts ii. 17). And we know from the direct testimony of Scripture that some dreams, under both dispensations, have had a supernatural, a Divine, origin. God sent instructive dreams to Abimelech (Gen. xx. 3), to Jacob (Gen. xxviii. 12-15), to Laban (Gen. xxxi. 24), to Joseph (Gen. xxxvii. 5), to Pharaoh's butler and baker (Gen. xl. 5), to Pharaoh (Gen. xli. 1-32), to a Midianite (Judges vii. 13), to Solomon (1 Kings iii. 5), to Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel ii. and iv.), to Daniel (vii. 1), to Joseph, the husband of Mary (Matt. i.20; ii. 22), to the wise men from the East (Matt. ii. 12), and to Pilate's wife (Matt. xxvii. 19). Visionsof the night are identified in the Bible with dreams (Gen. xlvi. 2; Num. xii. 6: Job xx. 8; xxxiii. 14, 15; Daniel ii. 28; vii. 1). Not only Abraham, Jacob, Balaam, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and Zechariah had visions from God, but also Peter and Cornelius (Acts x.), Paul (Acts xxi. 9, 10; 2 Cor. xii. 1-4) and John (Rev.). It thus appears that unregenerate as well as regenerate men have had dreams and visions from God. A religion, therefore, based entirely upon dreams, is worthless. Instead of placing our chief dependence upon such uncertainties, we should remember that "we have a more sure word of prophecy [the Holy Scriptures], whereunto we do well to take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place" (2 Peter i. 19). Yet we know, from Acts ii. 17, and from Christian experience, that God still comforts, warns and instructs, and humbles His people in dreams, according to His sovereign will.
+The ladder in Jacob's dream seems first to have represented "God's grace and providence arranging all things for His people's good through the ministry of angels (Gen. xxxii. 1, 2; Heb. i. 14); but chiefly typified the Messiah through whom Heaven is opened and also joined to earth, and angels minister with ceaseless activity to Him first, then to His people (John i. 51: xiv. 6; Heb. x. 19, 20). Jacob, the man of guile, saw Him at a distance, at the top of the ladder; Nathanael, an Israelite without guile, saw Him near him at the bottom in His humiliation, which was the necessary first step upward to glory."--A. R. Fausset.
Rachel, the daughter of his uncle Laban, comes with her sheep to the well, like her aunt Rebekah just a century before, and brings him to the house. Jacob remained with Laban twenty years--fourteen of them for his daughter Rachel, and six on wages. It cannot be said that he served a day for Leah, but she was imposed on him by the craft and deception of her father. During the second seven years Jacob had born to him, by his two* wives and their handmaids, eleven sons and one daughter. Benjamin was born on his return to Palestine, near Bethlehem, and his mother died from the effect of giving him birth, and called him Ben-oni (son of my sorrow). But his fond father changed his name to Ben-jamin (son of the right hand).
The following is a list of the twelve sons and a daughter:
"(I.) The sons of Leah: Reuben (see! a son), Simeon (hearing), Levi (joined), Judah (praise), Issachar (hire), Zebulon (dwelling).
"(II.) The sons of Rachel: Joseph (adding), Benjamin (son of the right hand).
"(III.) The sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid: Dan (judging), Naphtali (my wrestling).
"(IV.) The sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid: Gad (a troop), Asher (happy). Besides Dinah (judgment), the daughter of Leah (Gen. xxxv. 23-26)." --W. Smith.
After twenty years, absence from Canaan, and just after escaping from his avaricious father-in-law--Laban--Jacob, returning to Palestine, has to meet his dreaded brother Esau, whom he had defrauded of his birthright and his blessing. The God of Bethel comforts Jacob again with a vision of angels at Mahanaim. But Jacob learns that Esau is approaching him with four hundred men. What shall he do with his large and helpless family and flocks? Defenseless, distressed and terrified, poor Jacob betakes himself to his only possible resort, a covenant God, and utters the first recorded prayer of Scripture (Gen. xxxii. 9-12), a prayer most remarkable for faith, fervor, humility and tenderness. Feeling unworthy of the least of all God's manifold mercies and truth, he implores the God of the covenant to deliver him and his family from the hand of his brother Esau; and he pleads the Divine promises in his behalf. Rising up the next morning, he sends his brother a present of five hundred and fifty cattle to appease his anger; he takes his family across the brook Jabbok, and returns himself alone to the north bank of the stream. That night--the most solemn of Jacob's life--the angel.of Jehovah (Christ) appears to him in human form, and Jacob wrestles with him until the break of day, for a blessing (compare Luke vi. 12).
*Jacob’s polygamy was contrary to the original law of (Gen. ii. 23, 24: Matt. xix. 5).
Leah was imposed on him, when he had designed to marry Rachel only; and the maids were given him by his wives to obtain offspring. The times of ignorance, when the gospel had not yet restored the original standard, tolerated evils which would be inexcusable now. Jealousies were the result of polygamy in Jacob’s case, as was sure to happen."--Fausset.
“God frequently does not answer the prayer of His people till the last moment--till, by the very delay--strengthening the spirit of prayer, and by the continued exercise of it--their hearts are brought into such a state of submission and of faith that they become suitable recipients of the blessing." Then, to show that the blessing is all of grace, the angel touches Jacob's thigh and puts it out of joint, and, when the poor man is able to put forth no more strength of his own, he still hangs upon the angel with supplication and tears (Hosea xii. 3, 4; Heb. v. 7); and thus "not by might or power, but by the indwelling Spirit of the Lord of hosts," (Zech. iv. 6) he prevails at last, "teaching us the irresistible might of conscious weakness, hanging on Almighty strength" (Job xxiii. 6; Isaiah xxvii. 5; xl. 29-31; 2 Cor. xii. 9, 10). Jacob's name is changed by the angel to Israel, wrestler with God, because he has been permitted by grace (Zech. iv. 7) to struggle with God and prevail. He asks God's name, and the only reply is, God "blessed him there." Blessing is God's name or character wherein He reveals Himself to His people (Ex. xxxiv. 5-7). Jacob called the place Peniel, the face of God. The sun arises upon him, naturally and spiritually, and he rejoices in its beams; but, stripped of vain self-confidence, he goes a poor cripple--a poor sinner saved by grace--all the remainder of his life. When Jacob meets Esau the next day, the anger of the latter is all gone, and the occasion is one of tenderness, and weeping, and love (Prov. xvi. 7).
Abraham bought only a burial place in Canaan; Jacob bought a dwelling-place near Shechem (or Sychar), and in his field dug a deep well, through the rocks, where Christ afterwards rested (John iv. 6). He erected an altar for the worship of God, and soon after was greatly troubled because of the sins of Dinah, Simeon and Levi. By God's direction he removed to Bethel, and there also raised an altar to God, and purged his house of idols; and God again appeared to him and renewed the covenant of promise. Soon after, he lost his beloved Rachel, and he and Esau buried their father Isaac, who died at the age of one hundred and eighty years.
The vision of Abraham, notifying him of the sojourn of his posterity in the land of Egypt four hundred years, as in a house of bondage, must be verified, and the envy of Joseph’s brethren made way for it. Joseph was the favorite son of his father, and this partiality was so clearly seen that it produced envy in the minds of his ten older brethren. This was the fault of his father, but none of Joseph's. The character of Joseph is one of the purest in the Bible; his history one of the most interesting, and his life one of the most forcible types * of the Messiah. His dreams predicted the superiority of his position to theirs, and they but hated him the more for his dreams, and they resolved to kill him. On being sent by his father to see how they fared while watching their sheep, he found them at Dothan, and there they designed to destroy him, but were diverted from their purpose, and they finally sold to a company of Midianites that were passing by on their way to Egypt, bearing spices and gums from the Syrian desert. They sold him for twenty pieces of silver, and the purchasers took him into Egypt and resold him to Potiphar, captain of the king’s guard. Everything prospered in the house of Potiphar for Joseph’s sake, and his wife became so enamored with him that she assalted his virtue, unsuccessfully, however, and then became his bitter enemy and accused him to her husband, who thrust him into prison. Things in the prison prospered under his management, and he became an interpreter of dreams. Pharaoh had dreams, and Joseph was taken to his presence to interpret them. He did so under the enlightening influence of God's Spirit; and told the king that there would be in Egypt seven years of plenty, to be immediately followed by seven years of famine; and advised him to appoint some one to superintend the matter, and gather up in store a sufficiency during the plentiful years to support the people during the seven years of scarcity.
*Joseph was a type of Christ in his father's special love for him, in his being sent to his brethren, rejected by them, sold to the Gentiles, delivered to death in the sanctity of his life, in his humiliation, in his exaltation to be a prince and a savior, in the bowing down of his kindred before him, in his first speaking to them harshly to humble them but all the while loving them, and dealing kindly towards them, not taking their money for his corn, and finally settling all of them in the goodly land of Goshen, for which they paid nothing. He was a prophetic interpreter of dreams, married in a priestly family, and ruled as a king over Egypt. He was thirty years old when he entered on his public ministry. He was the first-born son of Jacob and his favorite wife, Rachel, and received a double portion of his father's inheritance for Manasseh and Ephraim; and had from his father the blessings of the everlasting hills.
Pharaoh wisely concluded that he who interpreted the dreams was the most suitable person to entrust the business with, and appointed Joseph second ruler in his kingdom. He made him his vicegerent over Egypt, and gave him his own signet, the indisputable mark of royal power. Clothed with fine linen robes, wearing a collar of gold, and riding in the second royal chariot, before which the people were bidden to fall prostrate, Joseph was proclaimed, with all the ceremonies which we still see represented on the monuments, prime minister of Egypt. He was only then about thirty years old, being seventeen when sold by his brethren. “The Coptic name which Pharaoh gave him was Zaphnath-paaneah (a revealer of secrets). He also gave him for wife Asenath, the daughter of Poti-pherah, priest or prince of On (Heliopolis), who bore him two sons during the seven years of plenty. As a token of oblivion of his former life he named his elder son Manasseh (forgetting), and he called the younger son Ephraim (double fruitfulness), in grateful commemoration of his blessings. When Joseph afterward became his father's heir, the double share of inheritance which fell to him was indicated by each of his sons ranking with the sons of Jacob as the head of a distinct tribe."
When the years of famine set in and the corn in Canaan was exhausted, Jacob sent his ten sons down to buy corn in Egypt. Joseph spake harshly to them, but let them have the corn without charge. The second time they went he was made known to them, and they returned home with the glad tidings to their father that Joseph was alive. The incidents of these two visits are, we have thought, among the most interesting and thrilling in history; and the pathetic appeal of Judah before Joseph in behalf of Benjamin's release is, for pathos and true merit, we think, unsurpassed by any oration ever committed to record.
At the urgent request of Joseph, Jacob and his family went down into Egypt and settled in the goodly land of Goshen. Thus we find the church in Egypt, in the year of the world 2294, B.C. 1706, to be nursed by the Almighty, and to multiply until it became a nation to vindicate its own rights and march through unfriendly nations to the promised land again.
The number is made up as follows:
The number is made up as follows:
I.- The children of Leah, 32, viz.:
(1.) Reuben and four sons,.............................................................................5
(2.) Simeon and six sons, ..............................................................................7
(3.) Levi and three sons, ...............................................................................4
(4.) Judah and five sons (of whom 2 were dead) and two grandsons, .............6
(5.) Issachar and four sons, ...........................................................................5
(6.) Zebulon and three sons, ..........................................................................4
II.- The children of Zilpah, considered as Leah’s, 16, viz.:
(7.) Gad and seven sons, ...............................................................................8
(8.) Asher, four sons, one daughter, and two grandsons,..................................8
III.- The children of Rachel, 14, viz.:
(9.) Joseph (see below) .................................................................................
(10.) Benjamin and ten sons, .........................................................................11
IV.- The children of Bilhah, considered as Rachel’s, 7, viz.:
(11.) Dan and one son, ..................................................................................2
(12.) Naphtali and four sons, ..........................................................................5
Total of those that came with Jacob into Egypt, ......................66
To these must be added Jacob, Joseph, and two sons, .............4
Total of Israel’s house, ...........................................................70
These are the numbers of the Hebrew text (Gen. xlvi.; Deut. x. 22), but the Septuagint completes the genealogy by adding the children of Manasseh and Ephraim, who of course ranked with those of the sons of Jacob, namely, Machir, the son of Manasseh, and Galeed (Gilead), the son of Machir (2), Sutalaam (Shutelah) and Taam (Tathath), the sons of Ephraim, and Edom, the son of Sutalaam (3), making five in all. These five added to the seventy makes seventy-five in all, the number mentioned by Stephen in his defense before the Sanhedrim, quoting from the Septuagint--the version commonly used then, especially by the Hellenistic Jews, with whom his discussion began (Acts vii. 14). Wonderful is the comparison between this handful of persons and that vast multitude who left Egypt under Moses, when the day of their bondage had ended. Moses then estimated them to be six hundred thousand men, able to bear arms, from twenty years old and upward, besides women of a corresponding age and all minors, both male and female.
Four hundred and thirty years are reckoned from the promise made to Abraham to the giving of the law at Sinai (B.C. 1921--B.C. 1491), according to the received chronology (Gal. iii. 17). This period of time was about equally divided by Abraham and his descendants--say 215 years in Egypt.
From the death of Joseph to the exodus was 144 years, and we may conclude that the length of rigorous oppression was only about 100 years. Their increase in numbers was perhaps unprecedented, as it is said of them, before another king arose who knew not Joseph: “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Ex. i. 7). And when oppression came, their increase was not much retarded, but went on almost miraculously.
The patriarch Jacob dwelt in Egypt seventeen years, and then, yielding up the ghost, was gathered to his fathers, and buried by Joseph and his brethren, the elders both of Israel and Egypt and a great military retinue, in the cave of Machpelah in the land of Canaan. He lived to the age of 147 years.
Before dying, he called his sons to his bedside and told them what should befall them in the last days. He describes their characters and predicts their future tribal careers. This is a very interesting portion of Scripture, even to our dull understanding, and if we could exactly understand all that is said, it would be more so.
In the prophetic scene opened to the dying patriarch, Judah is the central figure (Gen. xlix. 8-12). He was to be the praise of his brethren, and the conqueror of his enemies. Jacob likens him to a lion; the standard of this tribe afterwards was a lion. Jacob adds: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” All Jewish and Christian antiquity understood this to be a prophecy of the Messiah, or Christ. Judah was to be the chief or ruling tribe (as it indeed proved to be--all the descendants of Jacob now in the world being called Jews, from Judah); and Judah was not to lose its political existence and supremacy until Shiloh, or the Peace-giver, should appear out of that tribe, and unto Him should the obedience of the nations be. “Judah never ceased to be a tribe with at least a tribal sceptre and lawgiver, Sanhedrim or Senators, until the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70. The power of life and death is said to have been taken by the Roman procurators, or governors, about A.D. 30, or the time of the crucifixion of Christ (John xxiii. 31, 32). The Idumean, Herod the Great, though appointed by the Roman Senate king of Judah, B. C. 40, ruled as a native sovereign, even rebuilding or extensively repairing and beautifying the temple, until his death, B.C. 4. A short time before his death, in the same year, Christ was born. Archelaus, Herod's son and successor, was deposed A.D. 6. Then Rome appointed foreign procurators over Judea in the following order: Sabinus, Coponius, Ambivius, Rufus, Valerius, Grams, and Pontius Pilate. This is the first of four Old Testament prophecies of the very time of the coming of Christ, the other three being Daniel ii. 44; ix. 24-27; Haggai ii. 6-9).
Joseph survived his father fifty-four years; no doubt he remained in favor at the Court of Pharaoh while he lived. Before dying he took an oath of his brethren, that they would carry his bones for burial into the land of Canaan, when the Lord should visit them with deliverance. He died at the age of 110. His remains were embalmed and preserved in Egypt until the Israelites left it, and were then taken along with them and buried at last in Canaan.
When there arose a new king over Egypt which knew not Joseph (Ex. i. 8), then the afflictions of the Israelites began in earnest. He was afraid of their numbers and doubted their allegiance. In case of a foreign war he apprehended they might takes sides with the enemy and thereby achieve their own independence. Said he to his people, They "are more and mightier than we." "Let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply," etc. (Gen. i. 9, 10). Task-masters were placed over them, heavy burdens imposed, and they were made to serve with rigor. They still increased. The king commanded the midwives to destroy their male children at birth. This command was disregarded, because the midwives feared God more than they did the king. Then he ordained that every male child should be thrown into the river, and charged all his people to carry into execution this edict. In this he overreached himself, as Satan often does; for a Hebrew child thrown into the river was instrumental in plaguing his people, leading off every Israelite from his dominions, and spoiling the glory of his empire.
"Amram, the son of Kohath, son of Levi, had espoused Jochebed, who was also of the tribe of Levi, and they had already two children, a daughter called Miriam (the same name as the Mary of the New Testament), and a son named Aaron. Another son was born soon after the king's edict. With maternal fondness increased by the boy's beauty, and in faith (as it seems) on a prophetic intimation of his destiny, his mother hid him for three months (Ex. ii. 2). When concealment was no longer possible, Jochebed prepared a covered basket of papyrus, daubed with bitumen to make it water-tight, and placed it among the rushes on the banks of the Nile, or one of the canals, leaving Miriam to watch the result at a distance. To that very spot the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe. She saw the ark, and sent one of the maidens to fetch it. As she opened it the babe wept, and touched with pity she said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ At this moment Miriam came forward, and having received the princess’s permission to find a nurse, she went and fetched the child's mother. While she reared him as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, she doubtless taught him the knowledge of the true God and the history of the chosen race. In all other respects Moses was brought up as an Egyptian prince, and ‘he was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.’ Stephen adds that ‘he was mighty in words and in deeds;’ and whatever we may think of the traditions about this period of his life, it was certainly a part of his training for his great mission (Acts vii. 22)." --W. Smith.
When Moses was grown he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. xi. 24-26).
He went out to see how his brethren were faring under their grievous oppressions. He saw an Egyptian task-master beating one of them. He slew the oppressor and hid him in the sand. The second day he went out to see them, and found two of them striving together; and said to him that did his neighbor wrong, "Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?" And he said, “Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me as thou killedst the Egyptian?” And Moses feared and said, “Surely this thing is known." When Pharaoh heard of it he sought to slay Moses, but Moses fled from his face and dwelt in the land of Midian (Ex. ii. 11-15). The Midianites were, no doubt, descendants of Abraham and Keturah, and at that time inhabited the desert which surrounded the head of the Red Sea. He made the acquaintance of Jethro (also called Reuel and Hobab), the priest or prince of Midian, who had seven daughters, one of whom (Zipporah) was given to Moses in marriage. Moses dwelt in Midian forty years. His life may be said to have been divided into three equal parts, viz.: 1st, forty years an Egyptian; 2d, forty years an Arabian; and 3d, forty years the leader of Israel; making one hundred and twenty years in all. His long and splendid human training in Egypt had not corrected his natural rashness and self-confidence; therefore God disciplines him in humility forty years in the wildernss, apart from human habitations; and, as the result of his Divine schooling, Moses becomes the most meek, patient and self-distrustful of men, feeling himself, when he was really most qualified, to be least qualified for the great work of delivering and leading Israel (Num. xii. 3; Ex. iv. 1-17). And so, about 1500 years afterwards, the rash and self-confident Saul of Tarsus, who was to become the great Apostle of the Gentiles, was led by the providence and Spirit of God into this same Arabian desert, far from flesh and blood, and there effectually taught, not by men, but by God, the utter insufficiency of all human learning and all legal righteousness--even the strictest obedience to the law given by Moses--and the glorious freeness and almighty power of the gospel of the Son of God (Gal. i. 1-24; Phil. iii. 3-11; Rom, i. 15, 16).
At the end of forty years in the desert, God appeared to Moses in the back side of the desert, on the mountain of God, even Horeb, and there gave him an unmistakable call as the leader of His people out of Egypt. The burning bush, which was not consumed, gave him a striking figure of the afflictions of the Israelites in Egypt, and also was a forcible type of God’s people in all ages of the world. Like the thorn-bush of the desert, they are lowly and poor and naturally unattractive (Zeph. iii. 12; Isaiah liii. 2; Rom. viii. 29; 1 Cor. i. 27, 28); and they have been burning, and burning, and burning, under the cruel hand of oppression, throughout every dispensation to the present time, and are even yet not consumed. The promise of Christ has hitherto been fulfilled, and will be to the end of the world: “Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. xvi. 18). The flame in the bush also represents that God dwells in His people (Ex. iii. 2; Zech. ii. 5; Isaiah iv. 4; lvii. 15; Mal. iii. 2; Matt. iii. 11; Acts ii. 3, 4).
God assured Moses that he had seen the afflictions of His people in Egypt, had heard their cry and had come down to deliver them. Moses pleaded his want of eloquence and his slowness of speech, and wished to be excused from making the announcement to Israel, and from appearing before Pharaoh. But Jehovah was not to be put off with excuses. Moses was the chosen vessel of God to demand the release of His people from Pharaoh, and to lead them out of Egypt, and he must obey the call. His brother Aaron was to accompany him as the more fluent speaker. The former king had died, and Moses ventured to approach his successor. But he found two obstacles in the way; first, the unwillingness of Pharaoh, and afterwards, the unwillingness of the Israelites because of their increased burdens; for, as the demands were repeated, their burdens were increased.
Pharaoh refused to let the people go three days into the wilderness and worship their God, and the Almighty began to afflict Egypt. Sometimes the heart of Pharaoh would begin to relent, but soon was hardened again, so that he would recall his promise and bid the task-masters increase their abuses of, and augment the heavy tasks imposed on, the poor afflicted people of God.
The plagues came in this order: 1. The plague of blood; 2, the plague of frogs; 3, the plague of lice; 4, the plague of flies; 5, the plague of the murrain of beasts; 6, the plague of boils and blains; 7, the plague of hail; 8, the plague of locusts; 9, the plague of darkness; and 10, the plague of slaying the first-born in every house. The last plague sufficed, and Pharaoh and his people rose up and urged the Israelites to leave their land.
The Israelites were prepared to go; having borrowed (or rather requested) what they would of the Egyptians--having killed the paschal lamb, sprinkled the lintels of their doors with its blood, and eaten its flesh as their paschal supper--with loins girded and staff in hand, they awaited the command to march. God gave the command through Moses, and His presence in the pillar of cloud to direct their course encouraged their hearts, and they moved out of the land of Goshen toward the Red Sea. It was a vast multitude, and, although so numerous, order was preserved and no stragglers left behind. Their number is estimated to have been 2,500,000. They went out on the fourteenth day of the Jewish month Nisan or Abib (March to April), Which begun about the time of the vernal equinox, and which thus made the first month of the ecclesiastical year. This was the great day of the feast when the paschal supper was eaten, but the preparations had already been made by the command of God. Seven days afterwards the Israelites were to eat unleavened bread, and no leaven was to be found in their houses.
This paschal lamb typified the Savior of sinners, “the Lamb of God who taketh away the sin of the world” (John i. 29). The wrath of God passed over the houses of those whose door-posts were sprinkled with the blood of the lamb; and so does the wrath of God pass over the souls of those the door-posts of whose hearts are sprinkled with the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. xiii. 8). Says Paul to the Corinthians: “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. v. 7, 8).
“This exodus or departure of the Israelites from Egypt closed the four hundred and thirty years of their pilgrimage, which began from the call of Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees. Having learned the discipline of God's chosen family, and having been welded by the hammer of affliction into a nation, they were now called forth under the prophet of Jehovah, alike from the bondage and the sensual pleasures of Egypt, to receive the laws of their new state, amid the awful solitudes of Sinai.”--W. Smith.
Pharaoh, who is a type of Satan, after being compelled to let the people go, repented of his lenity, and grieved at the loss of his slaves. That he might be entirely overthrown, he gathered six hundred of his chosen chariots and all his military array, and pursued after them. He overtook them at Pi-hahiroth, about thirty miles in a direct line from where they started. They had gone three days’ journey, and in doing so turned aside from the apparent direct course, and encamped before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon. This apparently strange and unexpected route pleased Pharaoh well--the sea on their east, the mountains on their south and west, and the wilderness in their rear, with the pursuing army pressing on to cut off their retreat. Well might the king say, “They are entangled in the wilderness; the sea hath shut them in” (Ex. xiv. 3). At the command of God, Moses commanded the people to hush their murmuring--to stand still and see the salvation of God. He stretched his rod over the sea, and then urged them to go forward, when the waters divided, standing up on the right hand and on the left, and the entire host passed over dry-shod, and rested on the opposite shore. The Egyptian army, though so near them, could not trouble the hosts of Israel, because the pillar of cloud went back, and stood at the rear of the Israelite army and in front of Pharaoh's, presenting darkness to the latter and light to the former, until the peril was over. Then the army of Pharaoh pursued along the same path in the sea, making slow progress, until their entire number was situated between the two shores; when, at the command of God, Moses again lifted up his rod over the sea, and the waters returned to their original bed, drowning every man and beast of the entire Egyptian host.
This was one of the most celebrated miracles ever performed and recorded in the history of the chosen family of God since the flood. And, like that wonderful phenomenon, the remembrance of it hath run down the generations of man among contiguous and distant nations, outside the chosen family, to the present period, as well as having been noted and extolled, in song and sermon, by Jews and Christians, through all the past ages since its occurrence, and will be to the end of time.
The Israelites, after giving thanks to God for their deliverance, took up their line of march for the mount of God. They thirsted and complained, and found the waters of Marah, which, being bitter and unpalatable, they murmured the more. These were sweetened by a tree which Moses threw into the waters, and then the people became contented.* But great was their delight when they reached the beautiful oasis of Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and three score and ten palm trees, the trees to afford them shelter and the wells to afford them water, as a recompense for their weary journey over thirsty land and in the heat of the sun. These were figurative of the twelve tribes and seventy elders, in the old dispensation, and the twelve apostles and seventy ministers of the gospel, in the new. Their food brought from Egypt failing them, God rained down manna from Heaven to them, which they only had to gather and eat, and this continued during their stay in the wilderness. The Sabbath may have been disregarded to some extent while they were in Egypt, and if so it was now revived and its observance enforced by the prohibition to gather any manna on that day, a double quantity being gathered on the day previous (Ex. xvi. 4, 35). The manna is a forcible type of Christ, who is the bread that cometh down from Heaven, of which, if a man partake, he shall never die (John vii. 50). They next march to Rephidim, where they become thirsty, and break out in an angry rebellion against Moses. God commanded Moses to smite the rock in Horeb, which he did, and the waters gushed out in sufficient quantity to supply all their need. And not only so, but it continued to supply them during their journeyings in the wilderness. Hence the Apostle considers this the rock that followed them, and that it was a type of Christ (1 Cor. x. 4; Ex. xvii. 2-7; Psalm lxxviii. 16). It was at Rephidim that Israel fought his first great battle, and gained the victory. It was against his kinsman Amalek, a nomad tribe, descended from Eliphaz, the son of Esau. The Amalekites seem to have inhabited the southern part of Palestine and all Arabia Petrea, so as to command the routes leading from Egypt into Asia. The cause for attacking Israel is not stated; whether for plunder or hatred we cannot determine. Israel prevailed by the sign of their lawgiver holding up and having his hands held up till the evening (probably representing “the efficacy of intercessory prayer”). When his hands were up, holding the rod, Israel prevailed; and when his hands were down, Amalek prevailed. In order to victory, Moses was seated on a rock, and beside him on the mountain stood his brother Aaron, and Hur, the husband of Miriam, one on either side, supporting his hands until the going down of the sun. This battle was representative of all the others fought by them before their entrance into Canaan. For, in all the others, they sometimes lost and sometimes gained the victory, but finally gained until they crossed the Jordan in triumph. Joshua was chosen leader of the host. Moses was commanded of God to write this battle and triumph in a book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua. “For,” said he, “I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi” (Jehovah is my banner), as though he had held up his God to the Amalekites when the battle was raging (Ex. xvii. 8-15). About this time Moses’ father-in-law Jethro visited him, and brought Moses’ wife and children to him, and advised him to share his labors with others--to ordain captains over tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands, which he did.
*Even so, as it has been beautifully remarked, the bitter waters of affliction are always sweetened by casting into them the tree of the cross.
The Israelites next halt at the wilderness of Sinai on the first day of the third month--Sivan, June (Ex. xix. 1,2), and present themselves before the Lord. God had said to Moses, “When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain” (Ex. iii. 12). They had now reached the place, and they awaited in awful adoration what was to follow. Thus we behold a nation, at the foot of a mountain in a waste howling wilderness, preparing to sacrifice to and worship God! What a sublime spectacle! History furnishes no parallel. Four hundred and thirty years before, one man was called out of Ur of the Chaldees and a numerous seed promised him. Two-and-a-half millions of his posterity (large numbers having died in Canaan and Egypt in the interim) appear before Him this day, A.M. 2513, B. C. 1491. Here God was to address them from the mountain, and tell them what to do and what not to do. Here was a nation, as one man, looking up to God for direction, and promising obedience to His commands.
The lightnings and thunderings, the noise of the trumpet, the shaking of the mountain, the smoke on its crest, the voice of God addressed to them, all produced such dread and consternation that they were overwhelmed with fear; and they stood afar off beseeching Moses that they might not hear that voice again. The Ten Commandments were proclaimed by the voice of the Almighty, and then written on two tablets of stone by Him, and entrusted to the care of Moses. The first four declared the duty of the people to God, and the remaining six their duty to each other (Ex. xx. 1-17). The Savior reduced them to two, and said, On these two hang all the Law and the Prophets--viz.: Love to God and love to man (Matt. xxii. 37-40). Moses was then taken into thick darkness on the mountain, where God spake with him so long, even forty days, imposing the observances of the judicial and ceremonial law, that the people lost their patience, and requested Aaron to make them gods to go before them, for “as for this man Moses, they wist not what had become of him.”
This was on the fortieth day of his absence. They gave their jewelry to Aaron, who threw it into the fire, and out came the likeness of a calf, the image of the Egyptian god, Apis, unto which they made an altar, before which they feasted and rose up to play, crying, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up0 out of the land of Egypt” (Ex. xxxii. 1-6).
Moses and Joshua, coming down the mountain, saw what the people were doing, and Moses was so filled with anger that he threw down and broke* the two tables of stone on which God had written the Ten Commandments. He reproved Aaron and the people for this idolatrous proceeding--burnt the calf--made a powder of it--put it in water and compelled them to drink the mixture, and sent volunteers of the tribe of Levi through the camps slaying in all directions, until three thousand fell before the terrible sword in one day, as a punishment for this great transgression.
The nation of Israelites at this time contained vast numbers within its limits that were not spiritual members of the mystical body of Christ --did not belong to His spiritual kingdom--by living faith in Him as their Redeemer to come. It is true that the nation was typical of the church of God under the Christian dispensation, in many respects; yet there were those among them who were only children of the flesh and not the children of promise. “For they are not all Israel which are of Israel” (Rom. ix. 6).
* Typifing that the first use which man makes of God's law is to break it.
As a nation they were in covenant relation to God; but many among them were continually breaking the covenant and rendering themselves obnoxious to His displeasure. Their wanderings in the wilderness are typical of the peculiar experience of God's people in their pilgrimage from bondage to rest--rest in the gospel church, and rest in Heaven, of both of which Canaan is, in some respects, a type (Heb. iii. and iv.).
God gave to Moses other tables of stone, like unto the first, and required him to deposit them in the ark for safe keeping. The first represented our safety in Adam, which failed; the second represented our safety in Christ, which cannot fail.
Moses was commanded to make a tabernacle and its furniture; and he did so according to the pattern shown him in the mount. This was set up for the worship of God; in it were placed the ark of the covenant and all the vessels necessary for use in the worship of God. Aaron and his sons were anointed to the priesthood; and God manifested His approval and presence by the cloud which rested upon the tabernacle and the fire that descended from Heaven on the sacred altar. This tabernacle was to be used in all their wanderings and wars until the temple of Solomon should be built, of which this was a model, and then its contents were to be placed within that magnificent structure, and the priests find rest for the soles of their feet.
The court, or outer inclosure, of the tabernacle was surrounded by canvas screens, and inclosed a space of fifty cubits (about 75 feet) north and south, and a hundred cubits (150 feet) east and west. The entrance was at the eastern end. Between the entrance and the tabernacle proper was the brazen altar of burnt offering; and between the altar and the tabernacle was the laver, at which the priests washed their hands and feet on entering the tabernacle. At the western end of the court or inclosure was the tabernacle proper, an oblong rectangular tent-covered structure, thirty cubits long by ten broad and ten high, open at the eastern end, and divided internally into two apartments. The central ridge-pole of the tent was fifteen cubits high. The first or eastern apartment of the tabernacle was twenty cubits long, and was called the first or outer or anterior tabernacle, or the sanctuary, or the holy place; the second or western apartment was a cube of ten cubits each way, and was called the second or inner or interior tabernacle, or the oracle, or the sanctum sanctorum, or the Holy of Holies, or the Most Holy Place. Between these two apartments hung a veil of blue and purple and scarlet and white linen, the predominating color being blue. To every part of the tabernacle and its furniture was applied the holy anointing oil. On the south side of the Holy Place stood the seven-branched golden candlestick, supplied with pure olive oil every day, burning all night long, and snuffed with golden snuffers every morning, and the snuff carried off in golden dishes. Opposite the golden candlestick, on the north side of the Holy Place, stood the gold-overlaid table of show-bread, on which were twelve cakes of unleavened bread, arranged in two piles, with a golden cup of frankincense on each, and two bowls of wine between the piles, the loaves being renewed.every Sabbath, and the stale loaves with the frankincense being eaten by the priests. Between the table and the candlestick, in the Holy Place, just before the veil, stood the golden altar of incense, on which incense of a peculiar, rare, and sacred composition was offered every morning and evening by the priests, the fire being always taken from the altar of burnt-offering. In the Most Holy Place, just within the veil, and in front of the altar of incense, was placed the ark of the covenant, containing the two tables of the law, the golden pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and covered by the golden lid called the mercy-seat, on each end of which stood the figure of a cherub, with outstretched wings, and with faces inclined toward each other, and toward the mercy-seat. Between the cherubim, and just above the mercy-seat, was the golden cloud of the Divine Presence, called the Shekinah, (or dwelling). The cost of the tabernacle and its furniture is estimated to have been a million and a quarter of dollars. In Solomon’s temple, the general proportions of the tabernacle were doubled, the length being sixty cubits, the width twenty, and the height of the Holy Place thirty cubits, of the Most Holy Place twenty cubits, making the latter a perfect cube, as in the tabernacle; there was no window in the Most Holy Place. The estimates of the cost of Solomon’s temple range from half a billion to five billion dollars, there being such a vast quantity of gold used in its construction. It was small but very costly. The court of Solomon’s temple is thought to have been one hundred cubits north and south, and two hundred east and west. The temple of Zerubbabel was one hundred cubits long, sixty broad and sixty high; and this temple, as thoroughly repaired by Herod, had an inclosure four hundred cubits square (about a furlong square), containing three courts, those of the Gentiles, of women, and of Israelites. The dimensions of Ezekiel's ideal (millennial) temple at Jerusalem were the same as those of Solomon's temple; but it had an outer court measuring five hundred reeds on each of its sides; that is, about a mile square, which is larger than the entire area of ancient Jerusalem.
Some of the spiritual lessons which God teaches Israel by the tabernacle we will now endeavor briefly to indicate. The tabernacle represents Christ's mystical body, the church, in which God dwells, and Israel draws nigh to God through atonement and regeneration, and with offerings, prayers and praises. The court represents the Jewish dispensation; the Holy Place, the Christian dispensation; the Most Holy Place, the glorified church. In the world's great wilderness, the church is a little garden inclosed by divine grace. Its aspect is toward the rising Sun of Righteousness. Every one who enters the true church must have the saving application of the Holy Spirit, represented by the holy anointing oil, and must pass by the altar of burnt-offering, and with the eye of faith behold the Lamb of God atoning thereon for his sins; and he must be washed in the laver of His precious blood--cleansed by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost. The blood comes first, and then the water; so faith in Christ's blood should come first, and then the water of baptism, and then admission into the church. In the midst of the spiritual darkness of this world, the child of God should let his light shine--that light proceeding entirely, not from the candlestick, but from the oil of the grace and Spirit of Christ in his heart. In order for that light to burn well, the snuffs of carnal thoughts, words and deeds will frequently have to be trimmed off with the snuffers of trial, reproof and admonition, and, so as not to defile the sanctuary, be carried off with the snuff-dishes of either repentance or church censure. Having the old leaven of malice and wickedness thus purged out, he is prepared to approach the table of the Lord, and celebrate that sacred and solemn feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, and thus from Sabbath to Sabbath have his spiritual grace renewed. Though a poor sinner, and feeling himself to be such, he is yet a priest unto God, and therefore every morning and evening, and indeed evermore, should he desire to approach the golden altar, and draw as near as he may to the blessed mercy-seat, and, through the medium of Christ's prevailing atonement and intercession, pour out his fervent supplications and thanksgivings to the God of his salvation. His great High Priest and Mediator, after having made a real, an agonizing and an efficacious atonement for him, passed beyond the veil of the white, scarlet and purple clouds, and the blue heavens, and entered the true Holy of Holies, and there now successfully pleads the merit of His blood for every member of His mystical body. The seven branches of the candlestick represent all the different churches of Christ at different times and places, each independent of the other in its local government, but all united to one stem, Christ, and pervaded by the oil or grace of one Spirit, having one Lord, one faith and one baptism. The twelve loaves of bread represent the twelve tribes of Israel, continually shown or presented before the Lord, dedicated to Him, and accepted, with all their offerings, by Him, through the sweet frankincense of Christ's mediation, and ever partaking of His blessings. The profusion of gold represents the preciousness, beauty, solidity and purity of the church of Christ. The perfect cube of the Holy of Holies, 10 by 10 by 10, with squares in every direction, containing the Shekinah in the midst of darkness, symbolizes the perfection, order and stability of the Divine Trinity, dwelling in inaccessible light, enveloped with impenetrable darkness. It is the parable of God's presence and nature in creation, in providence and in grace. The cherubim represent the highest creaturely life, at once manifesting and concealing God, and glorying in loving submission to Him, and interested in His wonderful plan of redemption. The ark of the covenant is Christ Jesus, who above all others has ever kept the holy law of God, and who has kept that law for His people, so that the mercy of God covers all the violations of the law, and God always looks down upon them in mercy; and Christ also has in His hand the rod of universal and eternal power, and an everlasting sufficiency of heavenly provision for all the needs of His covenant people. The perpetual preservation of the law in this innermost shrine of the Divine worship represents the infinite and unchangeable holiness of God, also requiring perfect holiness in all those who abide in His presence. None can so abide except the living, as indicated by the blood brought annually into the Most Holy Place by the High Priest; for the blood is the life; and yet, separated from the animal, it also represents death, signifying that, in order to worship God aright, the flesh must be slain, the heart must be dead to all creature-worship, and alive unto God. The duplication of the tabernacle in Solomon’s temple represented the double emphasizing of all these momentous truths.
The priests typified all spiritual Israelites, while the High Priest typified Christ. The priests (the family of Aaron) were especially chosen of God; the peculiar property of God; holy to God; and offered gifts to God, and received gifts from God. Their ceremonial holiness was indicated by their original consecration by the holy anointing oil (representing the Holy Spirit in every believer); by their constant purification by water; by their cleanly linen robes; by the completeness of their bodily parts, and by their avoidance of bodily defilement. They were to devote themselves to the service of the Lord, and were to have no earthly inheritance, but the Lord was to be their portion, and to supply all their needs. All elect saints are priests unto God (1 Peter ii. 5, 9; Rev. i. 6; v. 10), specially chosen by the Father, specially redeemed by the Son, and specially purified by the Spirit; qualified to offer up to God the acceptable sacrifices of humble, broken and thankful hearts, and to receive assurances of His pardoning love; and they should always keep their garments unspotted from the world; and feel deeply to rejoice, whatever temporal ills may betide them, that the Lord is their all-sufficient and everlasting portion.
The High Priest was anointed far more abundantly than the priests with the holy anointing oil, which was poured upon his head, so that it ran down upon his beard, and even to the skirts of his garments; just as Christ was anointed (the very name means anointed) with the Holy Spirit without measure, and this Spirit of holiness and love streams down from Him upon all, even the lowest members of His mystical body (John iii. 34; Psalm cxxxviii.; Matt. ix. 20; John i. 16). The rich, gorgeous, variegated ephod of the High Priest, with its sky-blue robe, typified the glorious, heavenly righteousness of Christ. “The skirt of the robe was ornamented with pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet, a small golden bell being attached between each two of the pomegranates; the bells' sound heard from within the veil by those outside assured them that the High Priest, though out of sight, was still alive, and was ministering in their behalf acceptably before God. These sweet-sounding bells typified the gospel's joyful sound (Psalm 1xxxix. 15); and the pomegranates represented the spiritual fruits which accompany gospel preaching (Eph. v. 22, 23). On the two shoulders of the High Priest were two onyx stones engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel; and on his breastplate were twelve precious stones, in four rows, also engraved with the names of the twelve tribes; just as the names of the twelve tribes are on the twelve pearl gates of the New Jerusalem, and the names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb in the twelve foundations of precious stones. Thus was it forcibly declared that the weight of our salvation, if we are spiritual Israelites, rests upon the shoulders of Christ, and our names are always on His heart before God, not one name being wanting (Isaiah xlix. 16; John x. 3; Rev. ii. 17; iii. 12).” If any of our readers wish to know whether their names are on the jewelled breastplate and shoulder of the antitypical High Priest, in the Lamb's Book of Life, let them tremblingly and prayerfully read the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth verses of the third chapter of the prophecy of Malachi. In the breastplate of judgment were the Urim and Thummim (lights and perfections), by which the High Priest consulted the will of God in reference to Israel (Ex. xxviii. 30; Lev. viii. 8; Deut. xxxiii. 8). It is not known what these were. Some suppose that they were two stones, engraved with these two Divine attributes and placed in the folds of the breastplate, by gazing upon which the High Priest was absorbed in heavenly ecstatic contemplation, and enabled to declare the Divine will; others think that one of these stones taken out by him at random indicated the answer of God; others, that the High Priest heard the voice of God from within the veil; and others think that the Urim and Thummim were simply a change in the appearance of the twelve stones in the breastplate, indicating the Divine answer. After David's time the higher revelation by prophets superseded the Urim and Thummim. Christ is the perfect revelation of God's will. “Like the High Priest, Christ sacrificed for, prays for, blesses, instructs, oversees the service of His people in the spiritual temple, blows the gospel trumpet, and judges. Having such a ‘High Priest passed into the Heavens,’ ‘over the house of God,’ we ought to ‘hold fast our profession,’ ‘without wavering,’ ever ‘drawing near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience’ (Heb. iv. 14; x. 21-23).” During 1560 years, from 1491 B C. to 70 A.D., there were seventy-six High Priests. Then, at the destruction of Jerusalem, the God of providence removes the needless type, as the God of grace had already sent the eternal antitype in the person of His Son.
As it has been well said, the key-note of the whole sacrificial system is the same--self-abdication and a sense of dependence on God. Every sacrifice was assumed to have a vital connection with the spirit of the worshiper. The offering, unless accompanied with the heart of the offerer, was rejected by God (Psalm xl. 6; 1. 8-15; Prov. xxi. 3; Isaiah i. 11-15; Jer. vii. 21-23; Hosea vi. 6; Micah vi. 7, 8; 1 Sam. xv. 22; Matt. v. 23, 24). There were three kinds of offerings for the altar, in the following historical order: 1st, The burnt-offering, which, throughout Genesis, seems the only offering made by the people of God; 2d, the meat-offering (un-bloody), or the peace-offering (bloody); and 3d, the sin or trespass-offering (Lev. i., ii., iii., iv.). The legal or ritual order was: 1st, The sin-offering; 2d, the burnt-offering; and 3d, the peace-offering (Lev. viii.). The idea of sacrifice was complex, involving three elements, the expiatory, the self-dedicatory, and the eucharistic. All these three ideas entered into every sacrifice; but expiation or propitiation or atonement was the predominating element in the sin or trespass-offering; and thanksgiving in the meat or peace-offering. The spiritual order corresponds to the ritual; the sin of the worshiper must first be taken away by an atonement; then he must be consecrated to God; and then he can offer up acceptable sacrifices of praise and love. The sin-offering was in part burnt upon the altar, in part given to the priests, or burnt outside the camp; the burnt-offering was wholly burnt upon the altar; the peace-offering was shared between the altar, the priests and the sacrificer. The incense offered, after sacrifice, in the Holy Place, and (on the day of atonement) in the Holy of Holies, was a symbol of the intercession of the priest (as a type of the great High Priest), accompanying and making efficacious the prayer of the people.
The same five animals that God commanded Abraham to offer in the sacrifice of the covenant (Gen. xv. 9) are the five alone named in the law for sacrifice: The ox, sheep, goat, dove and pigeon (the ancient Jews kept no home-bred fowls or chickens). These animals fulfilled the three legal conditions; they were legally clean, were commonly used for food, and formed a part of the home wealth of the sacrificers, who thus offered up the support of their life for that life itself. Every sacrificial animal was to be perfect, without spot or blemish, neither diseased nor deformed; except that a victim with a disproportioned limb was allowed in a freewill peace-offering. A male animal was generally required; and the age was from a week to three years old. “Such animals only were allowed in sacrifice as are most useful and valuable to man, and such as are most domestic (or nearest to man), harmless, patient and cleanly. Neither filthy swine, nor devouring lions, nor the warlike horse, nor the subtle fox, nor the voracious dog, nor any creature that subsists on animal food, was appointed for sacrifice; but, in general, those alone which represent most aptly what Christ would be, and what His people ought to be; as the laborious, patient ox; the gentle, harmless and cleanly sheep; and the tender, loving, mourning dove; for even the useful goat was sacrificed far less frequently than sheep and oxen.”--T. Scott.
The unbloody offerings are generally acknowledged to have been expressions of dependence, thankfulness, and homage to God; but it is impossible to explain satisfactorily the bloody offerings except as originating by Divine appointment, and pointing forward to the one great spotless antitypical Victim who was to come in the fullness of time, and suffer for the sins of the spiritual Israel. Life was the divinely appointed forfeit of sin (Gen. ii. 17; Ezek. xxiii. 20; Rom. vi. 23); the blood contains the life, according to both Scripture (Lev. xvii. 11) and science; and, therefore, for the remission of sins, the life-blood must be taken (Lev. xvii. 11; Heb. ix. 22). But the victim must be more closely related to us than are the inferior animals; he must be, according to the first proclamation of the gospel, in Eden (Gen. iii. 15), a “seed of the woman;” and yet he must be without any blemish or sin of his own, as typified by the legal sacrifices; and he must be able to bruise the head of the serpent, or conquer Satan; in other words, he must be a holy, omnipotent man, one partaking of the nature both of God and of man, the Son of God and the Son of man; in order that, in His human capacity, He may render all the active and passive obedience that the law required, even unto death; and that, in His Divine capacity, He may rise again, re-enter Heaven, and ever live to make efficacious intercession for the purchase of His blood. In the mind of every spiritual Israelite, even under the old dispensation, "the lessons conveyed in the symbols of the altar must have all converged, with more or less distinctness, towards the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. xiii. 8), who was to come at the appointed time, that he might fulfill all righteousness (Matt. iii. 15), and realize in the eyes of men the true sin-offering, burnt-offering and peace-offering; who has now been made sin for us, though He knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Cor. v. 21); who has given Himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savor (Eph. v. 2); who is our peace, that He might bring us nigh by His blood (Eph. ii. 18, 14); our true paschal lamb which has been slain for us (1 Cor. v. 7), to the end that by eating His flesh and drinking His blood we might have eternal life (John vi. 54”).--S. Clark. The nature and effect of Christ’s atoning sacrifice was forcibly illustrated by the ritual of the Day of Atonement (Lev. xvi.; xxiii. 26-32; Num. xxix. 7-11; Heb. ix.). This was the tenth day of the seventh month (third of October), five days before the Feast of Tabernacles. It was the only day of fasting and humiliation enjoined in the law. It was a Sabbath, a day of holy convocation or assembly, on which the children of Israel were to afflict their souls, and do no manner of work, under penalty of being cut off from the Lord’s congregation. “The one absorbing thought of all was to be the great atonement by the High Priest on that day. No other priest was allowed to be in or about the sanctuary on that solemn day, teaching that his antitype, the Messiah, has a priesthood exclusively His own, and no work of another is to be added to His complete work of atonement. The High Priest bathed and dressed himself in white linen garments, symbolizing the holiness required for the admission into God's presence--the holiness of Christ. This was the only day in the year on which the High Priest, even, entered the Holy of Holies. Taking a censer with burning coals from the brazen altar, and applying a handful of incense, he entered the Most Holy Place, where the mercy-seat became enveloped in the cloud of smoke from the incense, typifying Christ's merits incensing our prayers, so as to make them a sweet-smelling savor to God (Rev. viii. 3, 4). Then, being a sinner himself, the Jewish High Priest atoned for himself and family; the true High Priest, being sinless, has to make no atonement for himself. Afterwards the High Priest offered an atonement for Israel. This consisted of two goats, on one being written ‘For Jehovah,’ on the other ‘For Azazel’ (or ‘‑For Complete ‑Removal’). The lots were cast, and one goat (that for Jehovah) was slain, and its blood was sprinkled upon and before the mercy-seat, typifying Jesus’ vicarious bearing of our sins' penalty, death; and the other, or scape-goat, after the High Priest had laid his hands upon its head and confessed over it all the sins of Israel, was sent away by a fit man into the wilderness, a land not inhabited, and there let loose, typifying the complete removal of our sins out of sight to where no witness will rise in judgment against us, ‘as far as the east is from the west’ (Psalm ciii. 12), ‘Christ's rising again for our justification’ (Rom. iv. 25), so that, being dead to sin and the law, we live by union with His resurrection life, sin being utterly put away in proportion as that life works in us (John xiv. 19; Rom. vi.; Col. iii.). Death and life are marvelously united alike in Christ and His people. The same fact was symbolized by the slain bird and the bird let loose after having been dipped in the blood of the killed bird (Lev. xix. 4-7). The Jewish High Priest entered the Most Holy Place once every year to repeat his typical atonement; but the true High Priest infinitely transcends the type, for He entered Heaven, the Most Holy Place, not made with hands, once for all, having ‘by one offering forever perfected them that are sanctified,’ and ‘obtained eternal redemption for us,’ so that ‘there is no more offering for sin’ (which condemns the Roman Catholic notion of the Lord's supper being a sacrifice). After the typical High Priest's atonement, the veil between the Holy and the Most Holy Place continued as before to preclude access to priests and people a!ike; but the veil was rent at Christ's death, throwing open the holiest Heaven continually to all believers through faith in His sacrifice. The Jewish Gemara states that the High Priest tied a tongue-shaped piece of scarlet cloth on the scape-goat, and that as the goat was led away, the red cloth turned white as a token of God's acceptance of the atonement, illustrating Isaiah i. 18, ‘Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;’ but that no such change took place for forty years before the destruction of Jerusalem--a singular testimony from Jewish authority to Christ, as He was crucified, or made the true atonement, just forty years before the destruction of the holy city; the type ceased when the antitype was realized. The day of atonement was the indispensable preparation for the joy that followed in the Feast of Tabernacles; and so we can only truly ‘joy in God’ when ‘through our Lord Jesus Christ we have received the atonement’ (Rom. v. ll).”--A. R. Fausset.
Including the Day of Atonement, the Jews, before the Babylonian captivity, had nine sacred seasons, five connected with the Sabbath--the weekly Sabbath itself, the Feast of the New Moon, the Sabbatical Month and Feast of Trumpets, the Sabbatical Year, and the Year of Jubilee; and three great annual festivals--the Passover, the Feast of Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles or Ingathering. After the captivity they had also the Feast of Purim and the Feast of Dedication.
The Weekly Sabbath was a day of rest and recreation and mercy after six days of labor, in celebration of God's completion of creation, and also of His deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. It was a day of holy convocation; the morning and evening sacrifices were doubled; the show bread was renewed; in later times the worship of the sanctuary was enlivened by sacred music; the people consulted the prophets; and instructed their children in sacred things. After the Babylonian captivity, and in the New Testament times, the Jews had public worship in their synagogues on the Sabbath day. Christ and His Apostles occasionally attended such worship. The monthly feast of the New Moon was announced at the first sight of her new crescent by the sounding of two sacred silver trumpets; the day, though not kept as a Sabbath, had special sacrifices. The Sabbatical Month was the month of Tisri, being the seventh of the ecclesiastical, and the first of the civil year; its first day fell on a Sabbath, and this, the civil new year's day, was ushered in by the blowing of trumpets, and was called the Feast of Trumpets. It was a holy convocation, and had special sacrifices. The tenth of this month was the great Day of Atonement; and from the fifteenth to the twenty-second of the month was the Feast of the Tabernacles. The Sabbatical Year was each seventh year; and God, the proprietor of the land, required His people not to sow the land that year, nor even to gather the spontaneous fruits, but to leave such for the poor, the slave, the stranger and the cattle, and to release all Hebrew slaves and debtors. Treble fertility in the sixth year was promised for the support of the people in the seventh, eighth and ninth years. They could in this year make their clothing, fish, hunt, take care of their bees and flocks, and repair their buildings and furniture; and, especially in the Sabbatical year, were men, women, children and strangers to be gathered and taught the law. The non-observance of the Sabbatical year was one of the chief national sins punished by the Babylonian captivity, during which the land was left desolate for seventy years, that it might enjoy its Sabbaths. The Year of Jubilee came after a Sabbatic series of Sabbatic years, and was every fiftieth or pentecostal year. It began with the great Day of Atonement, the tenth day of the seventh month (Tisri). After the sacrifices of that solemn day the trumpet of jubilee pealed forth its joyful notes, proclaiming liberty to the captive prisoner and slave, and the restoration of land to its original proprietors--a great protection to the poor, and an effectual safeguard against the accumulation of vast estates. This year completed the great Sabbatic cycle, and made all things new. It was a year of rest from labor, and of religious worship. The very existence of these Sabbatical laws, so uncommon in the world, and so irksome to the covetous nature of man, proves the reality of the miracles wrought by God through Moses; for nothing else could have made an unspiritual people willing to submit to such restraining laws. All the Sabbatical seasons typified Christ, the true rest of spiritual Israel; for He it is who, by virtue of His great atonement, has been anointed with the Spirit of the Lord, above measure, to preach the gospel to the poor, healing to the broken-hearted, deliverance to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, liberty to the bruised, and comfort to all that mourn in Zion, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified (Isaiah lxi. 1-3; Luke iv. 16-21; Matt. xi. 28-30; Heb. iv. 3). Thus, by these constantly recurring seventh periods of rest, would God perpetually remind His spiritual people of their only true source of perfect rest, CHRIST JESUS. This glorious rest will not be fully realized by the people of God until the heavenly jubilee of the resurrection trumpet is sounded, when every redeemed man, with reunited and incorruptible soul and body, shall enter upon his eternal possession in the antitypical Canaan (Lev. xxv. 13; Isaiah xxxv. 10; 1 Cor. xv. 58-57; 1 Thess. iv. 16-18; Heb. iv. 9; 1 Peter i. 1-5).
Three times every year, at the three great annual festivals, Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles, all the Hebrew males were required to appear together before the Lord, at the tabernacle or temple, and make an offering with a joyful heart. God's object was to promote, in this way, the religious zeal and knowledge and union of His covenant people, to bring them frequently together in loving brotherly fellowship for the worship of God--the very same object that is now beautifully and pleasantly subserved by the frequent assemblies of the people of God in their quarterly, yearly, union, corresponding, and associational meetings. Devout women often attended these sacred festivals. Not only from all parts of Palestine, but, after the captivity, from all parts of the civilized world, the people of God assembled at these meetings (Acts ii. 5-11). The three great annual feasts had a three-fold bearing--natural, historical and spiritual (or typical or prophetical); "the thing that hath been is that which shall be," says Solomon (Eccles. i. 9); or, as Bacon expresses it, "All history is prophecy."
The Passover was about the first of April, and marked the beginning of the grain harvest; the first green ears of barley were cut, a handful presented to the Lord, and others were parched and eaten by the people. It was a memorial of the nation's birth, when the destroying angel passed over the houses of the Israelites, whose door-posts were sprinkled with the blood of the paschal lamb, while he destroyed the first-born in every Egyptian family, thus delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. For each family a lamb was slain and roasted entire, and eaten, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, by the members of the family, standing, with loins girt, feet shod, and staff in hand; and if any of the lamb remained till the morning it was to be consumed with fire. The first-born thus specially delivered by the Lord were specially devoted to Him, and specially redeemed (Ex. xi. 5, 7; xiii. 2, 13; Heb. xii. 23). Christ is the true paschal lamb sacrificed for spiritual Israel (1 Cor. v. 7). By His death, and His blood being applied by the Holy Spirit to our hearts, we are delivered from ruin. In celebrating the Christian Passover, or the Lord's Supper, we are to put away the leaven of hypocrisy and wickedness and eat the bitter herb of godly sorrow for our sins, and remember that we are pilgrims here, just ready, at any time, to depart to a better, even a heavenly country (Heb. xi. 13-16). We should be devoutly thankful and consecrated to God for being specially redeemed by the precious blood of the Lamb (1 Peter i. 15-21; Rev. v. 9). The body of the paschal lamb was cooked entire, no bone being broken, to denote the completeness of the redemption of Christ, and the indissoluble oneness of His mystical body; and it was roasted, and not boiled in water and wasted, to indicate the preciousness of Christ's salvation and of His people; and, if any remained till morning, it was consumed by purifying fire, to prevent it from seeing corruption or from being put to a common use--indicating that God's people are never to become reprobates. In later times, the Israelites, at the Passover, sang the Hallel, or Psalms cxiii.-cxviii. It is believed that this was the hymn sung by Christ and His Apostles after the Supper.
The Pentecost, or Harvest Feast, or Feast of Weeks or First-Fruits, was about the last of May, fifty days or a week of weeks after the Passover, of which it was the supplement, and therefore was called by the Jews Atzereth, or the concluding assembly. As the Passover began, the Pentecost ended, the grain harvest, the wheat now being ripe, and two loaves of fine flour, were offered to the Lord, as a joyful dedication of the whole harvest to Him as the Giver--both the land and the people belonging to Him. Pentecost was a social thanksgiving feast, and the Levite, stranger, fatherless, and widow, were invited. Historically, it is believed to have been a memorial of the giving of the law from Sinai, the second great era in the history of the elect nation--the fiftieth day after the deliverance from Egypt (Ex. xii. and xix). The second chapter of Acts explains the typical significance of the Feast of Pentecost. As God descended in consuming fire on Mount Sinai to give the moral law to national Israel, so He descended in the purifying fire of the Holy Ghost upon His disciples in Jerusalem, and wrote the new law of love upon the fleshly tablets of the hearts of His covenant people (Acts ii.; John xvi. 7-11; 2 Cor. iii.; Heb. viii.; Matt. xxii. 36-40). And, just as certaintly as the Pentecost was the supplement or conclusion of the Passover, just so certainly will the Holy Ghost descend upon all the purchase of Christ’s blood, and consecrate them to the service of God (Psalm cx.; cvii. 1-31; Isaiah xxxv. 10; xli. 14-20; liii.-lv.; lxi. 1-3; Jer. xxxi. 1-9, 31-37; Ezek. xxxvi., xxxvii.; Daniel vii. 13, 14; Zech. xii. 10-14; xiii.; Matt. i. 21; xi. 27; xvi. 16-18; xxviii. 18; John i. 17, 29; v. 25; vi. 37, 44; x. 11, 14-16, 27-30; xvii. 2, 3, 6, 9, 10, 24-26; Rom. v. 19-21; vi. 23; viii. 29- 39; 1 Cor. i. 30; xv. 22, 23, 57; 2 Cor. iv. 6; v. 17-21 ;. Gal. i. 4, 12, 15, 16; ii. 20; iii. 13, 17-29; iv. 4-6; Eph. i., ii.; Philip. i. 6; I Thess. v. 9, 10; 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14; 2 Tim. i. 9, 10; Titus iii. 4-7; Heb. i. 3; viii. 8-12; ix. 14; x. 10, 14-18; xii. 2; xiii. 20, 21; 1 Peter i. 1-5; 2 Peter i. 1-4; Rev. i. 5, 6; v. 9, 10; xiv. 1-5; xxi. 27). Like the sure following of the Pentecost upon the Passover, these Scriptures establish the reality and the efficacy of Christ's atonement.
The Feast of Tabernacles, or Ingathering, was about the first of October, after the oil and wine had been gathered in; and it was a great and joyful thanksgiving for all the harvests of the year. It was also a commemoration of the time when the Israelites dwelt in tents during their passage through the wilderness, and called forth the gratitude of the people to God for their settled homes in a land of plenty. The people took boughs of palm and willows of the brook, and made temporary huts of the branches, and sat under the booths, during this festival. The weeping willow (Salix Babylonica, Psalm cxxxvii.) was an emblem of sorrow; but the willow of the brook (Salix Alba), because of its vigor, was a symbol of joyful prosperity (Isaiah xliv. 4). The palm was also an emblem of joy, because of its erect growth, its usefulness, and its rich foliage (Psalm xcii: 12-14; John xii. 13; Rev. vii. 9). In later times, at the hour of morning sacrifice, during the Feast of Tabernacles, water was drawn from the Pool of Siloam in a golden goblet, and poured into one of the two silver basins on the west side of the altar of burnt-offering, and wine into the other, while the words of Isaiah xii. 3 were repeated, in commemoration of the water drawn from the rock in the desert; the choir sang the great Hallel, and waved branches of palm. It was in allusion to this ceremony that Christ stood and cried in the last day of this feast, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink” (John vii. 2, 37). “Coming next day at day-break to the temple court, as they were extinguishing the artificial lights, two colossal golden candlesticks in the centre of the temple court, recalling the pillar of fire in the wilderness, Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world’ (John viii. 1, 2, 12). As the sun by its natural light was eclipsing the artificial lights, so Jesus implies, I, the Sun of Righteousness, am superseding your typical light. The believer having received redemption and the Holy Ghost, waits still for his inheritance and abiding home. The Feast of Tabernacles points him to the heavenly Canaan, the everlasting inheritance, of which the Holy Spirit is the earnest (Eph. i. 18, 14; Heb. iv. 9). There shall the true church ever hold with her Divine Head a Feast of Tabernacles, rejoicing in His presence, satisfied with His fullness, and her rest and pleasure will be heightened and enhanced by the remembrance of her toils and tribulations in this wilderness world forever past.”
“There was in the Three Feasts a clear prefigurement of the Three Persons of the Godhead; the Father, in the work of Creation, specially adored in the Feast of Tabernacles; the Son, in the Passover sacrifice; and the Spirit, in the Pentecostal Feast.”
The Feast of Purim, or Lots, was an annual commemoration of the deliverance of the Jews in Persia from the massacre plotted for them by Haman (see the book of Esther); it took place the last of February. The Feast of Dedication (mentioned in John x. 22) was instituted by Judas Maccabeus to commemorate the purification of the temple from the profanations to which it had been subjected by Antiochus Epiphanes (B.C. 165); it occurred about the twentieth of December.
We have thus gone through the books of Exodus and Leviticus, and found the ceremonies and institutions of the Mosaic law replete with gospel truth. To every child of God the marvelous correspondence of these manifold types and antitypes is an unanswerable demonstration of the Divine origin and the plenary inspiration of the Pentateuch. A careful perusal of the book of Leviticus will convince every unprejudiced mind that not a single atonement, redemption, intercession, or purification therein mentioned was indefinite or conditional; but every one was special and effectual-- every offering and cleansing was for a particular person or persons, and it was ceremonially effective; in a ritual sense, the sin was actually forgiven, the person was clean, the property was restored. The Arminian notion, therefore, that the atonement of Christ was indefinite and conditional, is annihilated by the divinely established legal types of that atonement.
We proceed now with the historical narrative. God commanded Moses to number the men of war, and he still found the number to be about 600,000, viz.: Reuben, 46,500; Judah, 74,600; (Joseph) Ephraim, 40,509; Simeon, 59,300; Issachar, 54,400; (Joseph) Manasseh, 32,200; Gad, 45,650; Zebulon, 57,400; Benjamin, 35,400; Dan, 62,700; Asher, 41,500; Naphthali, 53,400; making all of the military array 603,550.
The tribe of Levi is omitted because of the priesthood; and the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh are each included, which makes up the number twelve.
In order to aid Moses in the government of the people, God directed him to appoint seventy men, who should be constituted into a Senate or Sanhedrim, and whose office continued until the time of Moses' death, after which we hear no more of it until the return from the Babylonish captivity.
The wanderings of the Israelites were singular in consequence of the many different directions which they were compelled to take before reaching the promised land. Sometimes they came very near to it, and then went directly from it. For their murmurings and faithlessness, God punished them in various ways, and kept them in the wilderness forty years. Those twenty years old and upwards who came out of Egypt died in the wilderness, save Caleb and Joshua, who were two of the twelve spies sent into Canaan and reported favorably, while the other ten, distrusting the power and faithfulness of a covenant God, were destroyed by the plague. The manna was given them until they entered the promised land, then ceased. The manna was a double miracle inasnmch as, in its falling, none came on the Sabbath, and a double quantity on the day previous; and, if gathered on any other day except the day preceding the Sabbath, it would spoil if kept over.
The time for entering the promised land approached. Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, died. Aaron was taken to the top of Mount Hor and stripped of his garments by Moses, who placed them on Aaron's son Eleazar, and there Aaron died. The Israelites designed crossing the river Jordan into the promised land a little above the Dead Sea; and sought permission of the Amorites to pass through their country peaceably. Their king not only refused the request, but marched out all his forces to give Israel battle. He was slain, with his two sons, at Jahaz, and all his people, even to the women and children, were destroyed. Israel took possession of his land and dwelt in his cities from the Aroer and Arnon to the Jabbok. Thus fell Sihon, king of the Amorites. They followed up their victory by taking Jaazer, a stronghold of the Amorites in Mount Gilead; and then they crossed the Jabbok into the district of Bashan. There they encountered the giant king Og, who ruled over sixty fenced cities in the district of Argob. He was defeated at Edrei, and slain with his sons and his people, as had been done to Sihon. The whole territory of these two kings, therefore, fell into the possession of the Israelites, unexpectedly to them. They supposed their inheritance was to be on the west side of Jordan only; but, as these kings opposed their progress to the river, they were compelled to make war with them, and the result was their extermination and the addition of their territory to the land of Canaan. So goodly was this land that the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh applied for it as their portion of the inheritance, and Moses gave it to them. At last the Israelites made their encampment on the east side of Jordan in "the desert plains of Moab," supposing that all opposition to their crossing the river was at an end. But there still remained work for them to do on the east side of the river. The hills of Abarim, which rose close behind them, were seen occupied by a watchful and wily enemy. “The conquest of the Amorites had roused the Moabites from their doubtful neutrality. Their king, Balak, the son of Zippor (the king who had been defeated and despoiled of part of his territory by Sihon), seeing that Israel was too strong for him in the field, made a confederacy with the sheikhs of Midian, several of whom appear to have led their Bedouin life within the territories of Moab, owing a certain allegiance to the king. The united forces encamped on the heights of Abarim; while Balak sought mightier help from another quarter. There was living at Pethor, in Mesopotamia, a prophet named Balaam, the son of Beor; one of those who still retained (some) knowledge of the true God, by whom he was favored with prophetic visions. He seems, however, to have practiced the more questionable arts of divination, and to have made gain of his supernatural knowledge. His fame was spread far and wide among the tribes of the desert. ‘I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed’ (Num. xii. 6), is the belief in which Balak grounded his invitation to Balaam to come and curse Israel, after which he hoped he might prevail against them and drive them out of the land. The message was carried by the elders, both of Moab and Midian, with the reward for his divinations in their hand. The temptation was too great for the prophet's integrity, and ‘he forsook the right way and went astray,’ into that which the Apostle Peter calls ‘the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness’ (2 Peter ii. 15). In Jude 11 Balaam is ranked with Cain and Korah as types of the wickedness of the last days. Both as a prophet, and from the fame which had spread over all the surrounding countries, he must have known that Israel were the people of God, and that he had nothing to do with the messengers of Balak. He hesitated, and was lost, but not without repeated warnings. Instead of dismissing the messengers, he invited them to remain for the night, while he consulted God. He received the plain answer: ‘Thou shalt not go with them; thou shalt not curse the people, for they are blessed;’ and in the morning he sent them away (Num. xxii. 1-14).
“Balak again sent more numerous and more honorable envoys, with a more pressing message, and promises of great honors and rewards. Balaam declared his inability, for all the wealth of Balak--not to entertain the proposal for a moment, but--to go beyond the word of the Lord his God, to whom he again referred the case. And this time God visited him with the severest punishment, which He reserves for the willful sinner: He ‘gave him his own desire’ (Psalm lxxviii. 29); but, while delivering him to the destruction he courted, He made him the instrument of blessing Israel in strains among the sublimest in sacred poetry. Balaam was commanded to go with the men, but--as he himself had already said--to utter only the words that God should put in his mouth; and, in all that follows, we see how vainly he strove to break through the prescribed limit and to earn the wages of his apostasy (Num. xxii. 15-21).
“He received one last warning in a prodigy that befell him on the road. The beast that bore him swerved twice from the way, and saved him from the uplifted sword of the Angel-Jehovah, who had come out to withstand him; and the third time, where the pass was too narrow to escape, she fell down beneath him, and, on his smiting her again, ‘the dumb ass, with man’s voice, forbade the madness of the prophet’ (2 Peter ii. 16). His eyes were now opened, and he beheld the Angel, who refused the offer which he now made to turn back, and repeated the injunction to go with the men, but to speak only what He should say to him (Num. xxii. 22-35.
"Balak went to meet Balaam at a city on the Arnon (perhaps Aroer), and brought him to the city of Kirjath-huzoth (commonly interpreted a city of streets or of visions: it may have been a sacred city, and therefore fit for the prophet’s residence), where the king held a great feast in the prophet’s honor. On the morrow Balak and Balaam began their unhallowed ceremonies (Num. xxii. 41-xxiii. 26). Thrice they ascended those eminences, which were consecrated to the worship of the heathen deities (compare Deut. xii. 2), as places whence the prophet might see and curse the people, and thrice did ‘Jehovah their God turn the curse into a blessing, because Jehovah loved them.’ Lest Balaam's courage should fail him at the sight of the vast encampment surrounding the tabernacle, with its sign of Jehovah's presence in the cloud, Balak took him first to a hill sacred to Baal, whence he could see the utmost part of the people. Here Balaam bade Balak prepare seven altars, on each of which he offered a bullock and a ram, and then retired to another hill to consult Jehovah. From His mouth the prophet received the word; and he returned to confound Balak and his princes by asking, ‘How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy whom Jehovah had not defied?’ --at the same time prophesying Israel's separation from all nations, and their countless numbers; and concluded by the oft-quoted ejaculation, ‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!’
“The experiment was repeated from another eminence, ‘The field of Zophim on the top of the Pisgah,’ a more elevated point of observation, but still not commanding the great body of the camp. Here the same ceremonies were repeated, with the same result; and God’s message by the prophet declared His own eternal truth; His forgiving love to His people; His perpetual presence among them, making them proof against enchantment; and their future career of lion-like prowess against their enemies. Balak vented his disappointment in the cry, ‘Neither curse them at all, nor bless them at all ;’ but he would not give up without a last trial (Num. xxiii. 14-26).
“This time he brought Balaam up to the very sanctuary of the national deity Peor, the same topmost summit--Nebo, the head of Pisgah --from which Moses soon after viewed the promised land. The seven-fold sacrifice was repeated, but Balaam laid aside his arts of divination, for he saw that it pleased Jehovah to bless Israel. His view embraced the whole camp of Israel spread out among the acacia groves by the river at his feet; it ranged over their promised possessions in the hills of Judah, Ephraim, and Gilead; and as ‘he saw Israel abiding in their tents, according to their tribes, the Spirit of God came upon him, and he took up his parable,’ the prophecy of the man whose eyes were at length opened. In the goodly array of their tents he saw the omen of destruction of the nations around: and ended, ‘Blessed is he that blesseth thee; and cursed is he that curseth thee’ (Num. xxiii. 27-xxiv. 9). Heedless of the rage of Balak or of his cruel sarcasms, ‘I thought to promote thee to great honor; but, lo, Jehovah hath kept thee back from honor,’ Balaam declared that, before returning to his home, he must complete his prophecy of what the people should do to the heathen in the last days (Num. xxiv. 10-14). For the fourth time he opened his mouth and proclaimed his distant vision of the ‘Star of Jacob,’ the ‘Sceptre of Israel,’ who should smite Moab--a prophecy in part fulfilled by the victories of David; but, as the titles plainly show, pointing forward to the kingdom of Messiah over the outcast branches of the chosen family. Then, as his eye ranged over the distant mountains of Serf, the home of Edom, and the table-land of the desert, over which the children of Amalek wandered, and the home of the Kenites full in his sight, among the rocks of Engedi, on the farther shores of the Dead Sea, he predicted their destruction; till the vision carried him back to the banks of his native Euphrates, and he saw the conquests of Asshur overturned by ships coming from the coasts of Chit-tim, the unknown lands beyond the Western Sea, and he exclaimed, ‘Alas! who shall live when God doeth this!’ And he rose up, and returned to the place assigned for his abode (Num. xxiv. 15-25).
“Balaam remained among the Moabites and Midianites, clinging doubtless to the chance of reward; and provoked his fate by a new and more effectual plot against Israel. By his advice the people were tempted to share in the lascivious rites of Peor, and to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab (Num. xxv. 1-8; xxi. 16). The wrath of Jehovah was shown in a plague which broke out in the camp, and destroyed 24,000 men. Moses doomed all the offenders to death, and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the high priest, set an example of zeal by transfixing with a javelin a man of Israel in the arms of a woman of Moab, whom he had brought into his tent in the face of the congregation as they wept before Jehovah. The plague was stayed, and the covenant of Jehovah was renewed with the house of Eleazar, assuring him a perpetual priesthood (Num. xxv. 4-15).
“For these plots against Israel, as well as for their former inthospitality, the Moabites were excluded from the congregation to the tenth generation (Deut. xxi. 3-16); and the Midianites were doomed to destruction (Num. xxv. 16-18). The execution of this sentence was the last act of the government of Moses. All the men of Midian were slain, with the princes who had been allied with Balak, and Balaam* died in the general slaughter. Their cities were burnt and their spoil taken, and the women who had been saved alive were slain by the command of Moses, the female children only being spared. At the same time a law was made for the equitable division of the spoil between those who went forth to battle and those who remained in the camp” (Num. xxi.)--W. Smith.
We have dwelt at an unusual length on this item in the Old Testament history wherein Balaam was called in by Balak to curse Israel. It is an interesting and remarkable circumstance, showing hte corrupt nature of man, even of a prophet of God, and the superabounding influence of God’s Spirit over the venal propensities of His professed servants.
God told Balaam emphatically not to go to Balak--not to curse Israel, because Israel was already blessed. But his hankering after gold inclined him to go; and when he asked God the second time, He told him to go--that he might have his own way and be destroyed, literally. He compelled him, however, even against his natural will, to declare glorious things concerning Israel, and also the setting up of the gospel kingdom in the world.
Moses delivered a series of addresses to Israel, encouraging them to obedience, warning them against evils of rebellion and disobedience, and pronounced his last blessing on the twelve tribes. Joshua was consecrated by the high preist Eleazar to be the successor of Moses, and Moses was summoned away into the immediate presence of his Maker. He “went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the tip of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the Lord shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan, and all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the alnd of Judah, unto the utmost sea, and the south, and the plain of the balley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. And Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim not his natural force abated” (Deut. xxxiv. 1-7.)
* From such wonderful and sad cases as those of Balaam theProphet, Saul the King, and Judas the Apostle, we learn--not that the child of God can eternally perish (John x. 281 Rom. viii. 38, 39; 1 Peter i. 1-5)--but that any amount of religion in the head, even though accompanied with high religious office, will avail us nothing without the grace of God’s love in our hearts (1 Cor. xiii. 1-13; Matt. xxii. 36-40; 1 John iii. 14).
The secrecy of his interment, in the wisdom of God, was perhaps to prevent the Israelites from gathering his bones to keep as sacred relics, which might lead to idolatry, and also to designate the end of the legal dispensation.*
Joshua, as the leader of Israel, began his march from Shittim towards the Jordan, which allowed him to cross it dry shod, even as their fathers had done in crossing the Red Sea. As soon as the feet of the priests bearing the ark touched the water it abated and was piled up below and above, and they stood in the midst of the bed of the river until all the people had crossed over; then they passed to the west bank of the river and the waters returned totheir original condition. The host then encamped in Gilgal, where Joshua set up twelve stones taken from the bed of the river as a memorial of the event. The Red Sea was divided to allow Israel to pass out of Egypt, and the Jordan also, to allow them to pass into Canaan, without wetting their garments or having to build bridges. It was according to Divine arrangement.
They entered Canaan on the tenth day of the first month (Nisan-April B.C. 1451: Joshua iv. 19). This was the day appointed for the selection of the paschal lamb, and on the evening of the fourteenth day the people kept the Passover for the first time on the soil of their own inheritance, exactly forty years after their fathers had first kept it before leaving Egypt.
The forty years are made up about as follows:
Years. Months. Days. In Egypt before the Passover, 14
From Egypt to Sinai, 1 16
Encampment at Sinai, 11 20
March to Kadesh, 4 10
Wandering in wi!derness, .37 6 ..
Marcti from Kad(,sh to the plains of Moab, ' . ' . 10 ..
Encampment there to tile passage of the Jordan, 2 ..
Thus with a high hand and a stretched out arm the God of Israel had brought him out of Egypt and planted him in Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey. Wonderful must have been the change to the tribes, when contrasting their goodly heritage with the barren wilderness through which they had been wandering for such a great length of time. The manna ceased to fall, and they ate of the fruits of the earth thereafter.
To the people of God, whose citizenship is in Heaven, this world is a wilderness land. During all the weary years of their sojourn here they are poor sinners, and are visited with the rod for their transgressions. Sometimes they go, as at first, directly toward Canaan, but sometimes “toward the Egypt of the world, and sometimes toward the Sinai of legalism, Jehovah, however, still not withdrawing His pillar of cloud and fire.” The Lord is peculiarly their God all the while. When they could not deliver themselves, their covenant God delivered them from the terrible bondage of sin and Satan, and He loves them to the end. He writes His holy law upon the spiritual tablets of their hearts. He sustains their inner life with heavenly food and living water. He guides them every moment of the day and of the night. He defends them from their enemies. He teaches them their absolute dependence upon Him. He dwells above the mercy-seat for them evermore, and will never leave them nor forsake them; but will assuredly at last conduct them across the Jordan of death into the glorious land of everlasting rest. Then let them repose continual and unfaltering trust in the God of their salvation.
It is the omnipotent, eternal and unchangeable God of nature, of providence and of grace, who thus, by the events of a nation's history, illustrates His holy and merciful dealings with His spiritual people through all the generations of the world.
Joshua was about twenty-five years (B.C. 1451-1426) in destroying and overcoming all the nations of the Canaanites and dividing their lands among the children of Israel; the number of whom, when entering Canaan, was supposed to be about equal to the number that marched out of Egypt, viz., two-and-a-half-millions. The first attack was made on Jericho, a well-fortified, populous and wealthy city that was situated in a grove of palm trees about six miles from the river Jordan, and ruled by a king.
The manner of attack was of divine arrangement. Thc entire host was to encompass the city seven days. For six days they were to march around it once, the chosen warriors marching in front of the ark, before which seven priests were to bear seven trumpets of rams' horns; the rest of the people were to follow in silence, while the trumpets alone made noise, sounding a continual defiance. And on the seventh day they were to encompass it seven times, and at the end thereof to give one long, loud blast with the trumpets. All this was done according to direction; and at the close of the seventh blast on the seventh day the walls of Jericho fell down flat, and all Israel went from where each man stood directly into the city, took the spoil and destroyed the people, not one of whom escaped except Rahab the harlot and her family, who were saved alive because she, believing in the God of Israel, protected the two men sent by Joshua, previously to spy out the land. The fall of Jericho affords proof of miraculous interposition, equal to that of the plagues in Egypt, the crossing of the Red Sea or Jordan, or any of the wonders in the wilderness. The city fell an easy prey to the invaders, and the curse of God rested upon it thenceforward. The city of Ai was next captured and the inhabitants destroyed, but the main camp of Joshua remained at Gilgal. These victories secured the passes of the Jordan, and gave the Israelites access to the open country in the centre of Palestine. Terror had already seized the Canaanites before Joshua crossed the Jordan, but, after the fall of Jericho and Ai, all the tribes were greatly alarmed and feared annihilation. The Gibeonites alone sought protection by submission and deceit. They succeeded, and saved themselves thereby from the general overthrow, but became slaves to Israel, mere “hewers of wood and drawers of water” the remnant of their days. By reason of the oath which Joshua and the princes made to them, while under deception, their lives were spared, but they had to be kept in subjection by the public authorities; so that it became a proverb-- “The Canaanite is still in the land.” This was typical of the experience of God's spiritual Israel; by reason of indwelling sin, they have to acknowledge “the Canaanite to be still in the land.” They perpetually harassed, but never could dispossess Israel. The other kings west of Jordan formed a league to resist Joshua and punish the Gibeonites. And, as they appeared before Gibeon, Joshua attacked them, took them by surprise, and utterly routed them near Beth-horon. He pursued them down the steep from the upper to the lower Beth-horon, and, as the Canaanites fled, they were overtaken by a hail storm, which slew more than had fallen in battle. Such was the success of the Israelites that Joshua desired the day lengthened, and commanded the sun and moon to stand still, that the victory might be complete before night. Thc Lord granted his request, “so that the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day.”*
* Like Judges v. 20--”the stars in their courses fought against Sisera,” meaning that a terrific storm, as if from the stars, burst upon Simera--so Joshua x. 12-14 is poetical and optical (being a quotation from an ancient anthology, “the book of Jasher” ), meaning that “the light of the sun and moon was supernaturally prolonged by the same laws of refraction and reflection that ordinarily cause the sun to appear above the horizon, when he is in reality below it.”--Jamieson. Pfeiffer connects the long day of Joshua and of Hezekiah (2 Kines xx. 11) with the Egyptian tradition of two strange days mentioned by Herodotus, ii. 142. Compare Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book ii. God may have actually stopped, for a while, the daily rotation of the earth upon its axis, and thus stopped the motion of the sun and moon in their apparent daily orbits, and He may have prevented all the natural evil consequences of such stoppage, for all things are possible to omnipotence.
Joshua pursued them to Makkedah, where the five kings hid themselves in a cave; he bade stones to be rolled to its mouth, and pursued his victory. Upon the return of the victorious army to Makkedah, Joshua caused the five kings to be brought out, and ordered the captains to place their feet upon their necks, as a sign that a like conquest should be gained over all their enemies; and then he slew them and hanged them on five trees till the evening. Their bodies were then taken down and thrown into the same cave, and its mouth was closed with great stones.
This great victory was followed by the conquest of the seven kings of Makkedah, Libnah, Lachish, Gezer, Eglon, Hebron and Debir. These were taken and utterly destroyed, together with all their people, and everything that had life, within their jurisdiction. Joshua again returned to his camp at Gilgal, in the valley of the Jordan.
The Israelites were the chosen instruments of God (as the waters of the flood and the fire and brimstone from Heaven had been His chosen instruments in former times) to execute His righteous vengeance upon the idolatrous and sensual Canaanitish tribes; to become themselves thoroughly convinced of the unity, spirituality and holiness of God, and to transmit this pure monotheistic faith to coming generations. The miraculous separation of the waters of the Jordan, and prostration of the walls of Jericho, and prolongation of the day at Joshua's command, showed the world that the extirpation of the wicked Canaanites was the work of a holy and sin-avenging God, who, having mercifully sent these people such spiritual teachers and examples as Abraham and Melchizedek, and then given them a most solenm warning in His fiery overthrow of the corrupt cities of the plain, was now about to visit them with utter destruction, as He will the finally impenitent of all nations on the last day, when His people are gathered into the heavenly Canaan. The corrupting influence of the few Canaanites left in the land proves the extreme importance of the destruction of those wicked idolaters for the preservation of a true faith and a pure worship on earth. “To the doomed nations it was an act of just severity; to the world at large, of unspeakable mercy.”
Joshua next turned his attention to the nations in the northern part of Palestine, where many kings and tribes were leagued against him, whose numbers were reckoned “as the sand of the seashore for multitude,” besides chariots and horses. Josephus estimates them at 300,000 foot, 10,000 horse, and 20,000 chariots. Joshua routed this great army by the waters of Merom, and chased them as far as “great Zidon” and the valley of Mizpeh.
Joshua cut the hoof sinews of the horses and burnt the chariots, in obedience to God's command (Joshua xi. 9). He next took Hazor, putting its king and inhabitants to the sword, with some other cities of the confederates. Israel was now master of a large portion of the country. But some kings held out in their fenced cities for a number of years, and it was a long time before the land rested from war.
The result of the conquest up to this time, say B.C. 1445, was about as follows, viz.: Two kings, Sihon and Og, on the east of Jordan, and thirty-one kings on the west of that river, including the seven nations mentioned in the first promise to Abraham--the Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites, Hivites, Hittites, Jebusites and Perizzites (Josh. xii.) “The defeat of these thirty-one kings did not involve in every case the capture of their cities. Jerusalem, for example, was not taken till after the death of Joshua (Judges i. 8), and its citadel remained in the hands of the Jebusites till the time of David. Many other cities held out for a long time.”
And, besides these cities, there were yet whole tracts of country promised to Abraham yet unsubdued, and which were not to be included in the conquests of Joshua (Josh. xiii. 1). They were reserved for his successors to subdue, but Joshua included them in the division of land among the twelve tribes.
Joshua becoming old and well stricken in years, he calls the tribes together and gives them the last warning and word of encouragement. It was a solenm scene. He recounts to them much of the dealings of the Lord with them, and with their fathers before them, and urges them to obedience and the true service of God. Said he, “Be ye therefore very courageous, to keep and do all that is written in the book of the law of Moses.” And he finally ends with an appeal that strikes them forcibly: “If it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood [the Euphrates], or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua xxiv. 15). The people responded with a great deal of earnestness that they would serve God only and discard all idols. And they kept their word and remained faithful* to God during the life of Joshua, “and all the days of the elders that overlived Joshua, and which had known all the works of the Lord that He had done for Israel.” Joshua died at the age of one hundred and ten years, and was buried “in the border of his inheritance in Timnath-serah, which is in Mount Ephraim on the north side of the hill of Gaash.” “And the bones of Joseph which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem for a hundred pieces of silver (supposed to be about $62.50); and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.” Eleazar also died about the same time of Joshua’s decease (Joshua xxiv. 29-33).
*Typifying the zeal and carefulness of the soul in its early love.