Genesis 12:5
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Their substance that they had gathered.—Not cattle only, but wealth of every kind. As we have no data about the migration of Terah, except that it was after the death of Haran, and that Haran left children, we cannot tell how long the family rested at their first halting place, but it was probably a period of several years; and as Abram was “very rich in silver and in gold,” he had apparently engaged there in trade, and thus possibly knew the course which the caravans took.

The souls that they had gotten.—Heb., had made. Onkelos and the Jewish interpreters explain this of proselytes, and persons whom they had converted to the faith in one God. Such might probably be in Abram’s company; but the most part were his dependents and slaves (comp. Genesis 14:14,), though the word “slave” suggests a very different relation to us than that which existed between Abram and his household. Their descendants were most certainly incorporated into the Israelitish nation, and we have direct testimony that Abram gave them careful religious training (Genesis 18:19). Thus the Jewish traditions record a fact, and by acknowledging Abram’s household as proselytes admit their claim to incorporation with the race.

Into the land of Canaan they came.—Slowly and leisurely as the cattle with their young and the women and children could travel, Abram would take his way along the 300 miles which separated him from Canaan. The ford by which he crossed the Euphrates was probably that at Jerabolus, the ancient Carchemish, as the route this way is both more direct and more fertile than either that which leads to the ferry of Bir or that by Thapsacus. The difficulty of passing so great a river with so much substance, and people, and cattle would give fresh importance to his title of “the Hebrew,” the passer over, already his by right of descent from Eber, so named from the passage of the Tigris. More correctly, these names are ‘Eber and ‘Ebrew, and have nothing in common with “Heber the Kenite” (Judges 4:11). From Carchemish Abram’s route would lie to the south-west, by Tadmor and Damascus; and Josephus (Antiq., i. 7) has preserved the legend that “Abram came with an army from the country beyond Babylon, and conquered Damascus, and reigned there for a short time, after which he migrated into the land of Canaan.” In Eliezer of Damascus we have a reminiscence of Abram’s halt there (Genesis 15:2). But it could not have been long, for Mr. Malan (Philosophy or Truth, pp. 98-143) has conclusively shown by the dates in Holy Scripture that only about a year elapsed between Abram’s departure from Kharan and his settlement in Canaan.

Genesis

AN EXAMPLE OF FAITH

GOING FORTH

Genesis 12:5
.

I

The reference of these words is to Abram’s act of faith in leaving Haran and setting out on his pilgrimage. It is a strange narrative of a journey, which omits the journey altogether, with its weary marches, privations, and perils, and notes but its beginning and its end. Are not these the main points in every life, its direction and its attainment? There are-

‘Two points in the adventure of the diver,

One-when, a beggar, he prepares to plunge,

One-when, a prince, he rises with his pearl.’

Abram and his company had a clear aim. But does not the Epistle to the Hebrews magnify him precisely because he ‘went out, not knowing whither he went’? Both statements are true, for Abram had the same combination of knowledge and ignorance as we all have. He knew that he was to go to a land that he should afterwards inherit, and he knew that, in the first place, Canaan was to be his ‘objective point,’ but he did not know, till long after he had crossed the Euphrates and pitched his tent by Bethel, that it was the land. The ultimate goal was clear, and the first step towards it was plain, but how that first step was related to the goal was not plain, and all the steps between were unknown. He went forth with sealed orders, to go to a certain place, where he would have further instructions. He knew that he was to go to Canaan, and beyond that point all was dark, except for the sparkle of the great hope that gleamed on the horizon in front, as a sunlit summit rises above a sea of mist between it and the traveller. Like such a traveller, Abram could not accurately tell how far off the shining peak was, nor where, in the intervening gorges full of mist, the path lay; but he plunged into the darkness with a good heart, because he had caught a glimpse of his journey’s end. So with us. We may have clear before us the ultimate aim and goal of our lives, and also the step which we have to take now, in pressing towards it, while between these two there stretches a valley full of mist, the breadth of which may be measured by years or by hours, for all that we know, and the rough places and green pastures of which are equally hidden from us. We have to be sure that the mountain peak far ahead, with the sunshine bathing it, is not delusive cloud but solid reality, and we have to make sure that God has bid us step out on the yard of path which we can see, and, having secured these two certainties, we are to cast ourselves into the obscurity before us, and to bear in our hearts the vision of the end, to cheer us amid the difficulties of the road.

Life is strenuous, fruitful, and noble, in the measure in which its ultimate aim is kept clearly visible throughout it all. Nearer aims, prescribed by physical necessities, tastes, circumstances, and the like, are clear enough, but a melancholy multitude of us have never reflected on the further question: ‘What then?’ Suppose I have made my fortune, or won my wife, or established my position, or achieved a reputation, behind all these successes lies the larger question. These are not ends but means, and it is fatal to treat them as being the goal of our efforts or the chief end of our being. There would be fewer wrecked lives, and fewer bitter and disappointed old men, if there were more young ones who, at starting, put clearly before themselves the question: ‘What am I living for? and what am I going to do when I have secured the nearer aims necessarily prescribed to me?’

What that aim should be is not doubtful. The only worthy end befitting creatures with hearts, minds, consciences, and wills like ours is God Himself. Abram’s ‘Canaan’ is usually regarded as an emblem of heaven, and that is correct, but the land of our inheritance is not wholly beyond the river, for God is the portion of our hearts. He is heaven. To dwell with Him, to have all the current of our being running towards Him, to set Him before us in the strenuous hours of effort and in the quiet moments of repose, in the bright and in the dark days, are the conditions of blessedness, strength, and peace.

That aim clearly apprehended and persistently pursued gives continuity to life, such as nothing else can do. How many of the things that drew us to themselves, and were for a while the objects of desire and effort, have sunk below the horizon! The lives that are not directed to God as their chief end are like the voyages of old-time sailors, who had to creep from one headland to another, and steer for points which, one after another, were reached, left behind, and forgotten. There is only one aim so great, so far in advance that we can never reach, and therefore can never pass and drop it. Life then becomes a chain, not a heap of unrelated fragments. That aim made ours, stimulates effort to its highest point, and therefore secures blessedness. It emancipates from many bonds, and takes the poison out of the mosquito bites of small annoyances, and the stings of great sorrows. It gleams ever before a man, sufficiently attained to make him at rest, sufficiently unattained to give the joy of progress. The pilgrims who had but one single aim, ‘to go to the land of Canaan,’ were delivered from the miseries of conflicting desires, and with simplicity of aim came concentration of force and calm of spirit.

COMING IN

II

If life has a clear, definite aim, and especially if its aim is the highest, there will be detachment from, and abandonment of, many lower ones. Nothing worth doing is done, and nothing worth being is realised in ourselves, except on condition of resolutely ignoring much that attracts. ‘They went forth’; Haran must be given up if Canaan is to be reached. Artists are content to pay the price for mastery in their art, students think it no hardship to remain ignorant of much in order to know their own subject thoroughly; men of business feel it no sacrifice to give up culture, leisure, and sometimes still higher things, such as love and purity, to win wealth. And we shall not be Christians after Christ’s heart unless we practise similar restrictions. The stream that is to flow with impetus sufficient to scour its bed clear of obstructions must not be allowed to meander in side branches, but be banked up in one channel. Sometimes there must be actual surrender and outward withdrawal from lower aims which, by our weakness, have become rival aims; always there must be subordination and detachment in heart and mind. The compass in an iron ship is disturbed by the iron, unless it has been adjusted; the golden apples arrest the runner, and there are clogs and weights in every life, which have to be laid aside if the race is to be won. The old pilgrim fashion is still the only way. We must do as Abram did: leave Haran and its idols behind us, and go forth, ready to dwell, if need be, in deserts, and as sojourners even when among cities, or we shall not reach the ‘land that is very far off.’ It is near us if we forsake self and the ‘things seen and temporal,’ but it recedes when we turn our hearts to these.

‘Into the land of Canaan they came.’ No man honestly and rightly seeks God and fails to find Him. No man has less goodness and Christ-likeness than he truly desires and earnestly pursues. Nearer aims are often missed, and it is well that they should be. We should thank God for disappointments, for hopes unfulfilled, or proving still greater disappointments when fulfilled. It is mercy that often makes the harvest from our sowing a scanty one, for so we are being taught to turn from the quest in which searching has no assurance of finding, to that in which to seek is to find. ‘I have never said to any of the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain.’ We may not reach other lands which seem to us to be lands of promise, or when we do, may find that the land is ‘evil and naughty,’ but this land we shall reach, if we desire it, and if, desiring it, we go forth from this vain world. The Christian life is the only one which has no failures, no balked efforts, no frustrated aims, no brave settings out and defeated returnings. The literal meaning of one of the Old Testament words for sin is missing the mark, and that embodies the truth that no man wins what he seeks who seeks satisfaction elsewhere than in God. Like the rivers in Asiatic deserts, which are lost in the sand and never reach the sea, all lives which flow towards anything but God are dissipated and vain.

But the supreme realisation of an experience like Abram’s is reserved for another life. No pilgrim Zion-ward perishes in the wilderness, or loses his way or fails to come to ‘the city of habitation.’ ‘They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appeareth before God.’ And when they appear there, they will think no more, just as this narrative says nothing, of the sandy, salt, waterless wildernesses, or the wearinesses, dangers, and toils of the road. The experience of the happy travellers, who have found all which they sought and are at home for ever in the fatherland towards which they journeyed, will all be summed up in this, that ‘they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came.’Genesis 12:5. They took with them the souls that they had gotten — That is, the proselytes they had made, and persuaded to worship the true God, and to go with them to Canaan; the souls which (as one of the rabbis expresseth it) they had “gathered under the wings of the Divine Majesty.”12:4,5 Abram believed that the blessing of the Almighty would make up for all he could lose or leave behind, supply all his wants, and answer and exceed all his desires; and he knew that nothing but misery would follow disobedience. Such believers, being justified by faith in Christ, have peace with God. They hold on their way to Canaan. They are not discouraged by the difficulties in their way, nor drawn aside by the delights they meet with. Those who set out for heaven must persevere to the end. What we undertake, in obedience to God's command, and in humble attendance on his providence, will certainly succeed, and end with comfort at last. Canaan was not, as other lands, a mere outward possession, but a type of heaven, and in this respect the patriarchs so earnestly prized it.This is the record of what is presumed in the close of Genesis 12:4; namely, the second setting out for Kenaan. "Abram took." He is now the leader of the little colony, as Terah was before his death. Sarai, as well as Lot, is now named. "The gaining they had gained" during the five years of their residence in Haran. If Jacob became comparatively rich in six years Genesis 30:43, so might Abram, with the divine blessing, in five. "The souls they had gotten" - the bondservants they had acquired. Where there is a large stock of cattle, there must be a corresponding number of servants to attend to them. Abram and Lot enter the land as men of substance. They are in a position of independence. The Lord is realizing to Abram the blessing promised. They start for the land of Kenaan, and at length arrive there. This event is made as important as it ought to be in our minds by the mode in which it is stated.5. into the land of Canaan … they came—with his wife and an orphan nephew. Abram reached his destination in safety, and thus the first promise was made good. 1921

The souls, i.e. the persons, as the word souls is oft used, as Genesis 14:21 17:14 Exodus 12:15 Leviticus 5:1 Numbers 23:10 Deu 24:7 Mark 3:4, &c.

That they had gotten; Heb. made, i.e. either.

1. Begotten; for though Abram had yet no children, Lot had, and both their servants had children by their fellow servants born in their house, which might well be numbered among Abram’s and Lot’s persons, because they had an absolute dominion over them. Or,

2. Instructed, i.e. turned from idolatry, and taught in the true religion, as the Chaldee expounds it; for such were most proper for Abram to take along with him out of his father’s house in this expedition. Or,

3. Gotten, i.e. procured either by conquest or purchase, or any other lawful and usual way. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son,.... The son of Haran his brother, not against their wills, but with their full consent: Sarai went readily with him, not only as being his wife, and so obliged by the law of marriage and tie of relation, but on the score of religion; and Lot as being a good man, and so willing to go with him, as his near relation too, for the sake of religion.

And all their substance that they had gathered; either in Ur of the Chaldees, or in Haran, and indeed in both; which, as it was their own property, they had a right to take with them, and it was their wisdom so to do, both for the support of their families, and for the service of religion; and it appears from hence that they were not slothful, but industrious persons, and by the blessing of God were succeeded in their employments:

and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; the more excellent part of man being put for the whole; and the meaning is, either that were procreated (a), as some render it, or begotten by them; for, though Abram had no children, Lot had, and possibly some that might be begotten while there; and their servants might have children by their fellow servants, and to which Abram and Lot had a right, and therefore took them with them; or rather it means servants which they had bought with their money there, and so had gotten or obtained them as their own property: some understand it of the proselytes made during their stay there; and no doubt they were as industrious in spreading and propagating the true religion, as in acquiring substance and servants; and to this sense are the several Chaldee paraphrases; that of Onkelos is,"and the souls which they made subject to the law in Haran;''the Targums of Jerusalem and Jonathan are,"and the souls of the proselytes, or which they proselyted in Haran;''and with this agrees the note of Jarchi,"which they brought under the wings of the Shechinah; Abram proselyted the men, and Sarai the women;''though in the literal sense he takes it to be the acquiring of servants and handmaids; there might be of both sorts, both proselytes and servants bought with money, which made up the number of three hundred and eighteen trained servants, Genesis 14:14 how long Abram stayed in Haran is not certain, it must be some time, to gather more substance, increase servants, and make proselytes; the Jews (b) generally say he was there five years.

And they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and into the land of Canaan they came: which last clause is very fitly added, since, when they came out of Ur, they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, Genesis 11:31 but they did not then come into it, but stopped by the way at Haran; but now, when they went out from thence, they proceeded on in their journey, and made no stay any where of any length, until they came into the land of Canaan; which is reckoned to be three hundred miles from the one to the other, and by some four hundred to Sichem, and a troublesome way through the deserts of Palmyrene, and over the mountains of Lebanon and Hermon (c): of Ura, Pliny says (d), which seems to be the same with Ur, it is a place where, turning to the east, we leave the Palmyrene deserts of Syria, which belong to the city Petra, and the country called Arabia Felix; and, as it was at the northern part of Canaan they entered, they must come over Lebanon, which was the northern border of it.

(a) "procreaverant", Piscator. (b) Seder Olam Rabba, Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 5. 2.((c) See Sir Walter Raleigh's History of the World, par. 1. b. 2. sect. 3. p. 130. and Bunting's Travels, p. 56. (d) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 24.

And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the {d} souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

(d) Meaning servants as well as cattle.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. substance] or goods. A characteristic word in P (cf. Genesis 13:6, Genesis 31:18, Genesis 36:7, Genesis 46:6).

souls] i.e. the slaves and retainers. The movement of Abram out of Haran was evidently on the scale of a large migration, such as was not infrequent among the nomad peoples of Western Asia.

into the land of Canaan] The journey from Haran to Canaan would entail (1) the crossing of the river Euphrates, (2) the traversing of Hamath and Syria, (3) the entrance into N. Palestine. On an ancient tradition that, on the way, Abram conquered Damascus, see Josephus who quotes Nicolaus of Damascus: “Abraham reigned in Damascus, having come with an army from the country beyond Babylon, called the land of the Chaldaeans.”Verse 5. - And Abram took (an important addition to the foregoing statement, intimating that Abram did not go forth as a lonely wanderer, but accompanied by) Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all the substance - recush, acquired wealth, from racash, to gain (cf. Genesis 14:11, 16, 21; Genesis 15:14), which consisted chiefly in cattle, Lot and Abram being nomads - that they had gathered (not necessarily implying a protracted stay, as some allege), and the souls - here slaves and their children (cf. Ezekiel 27:13) - that they had gotten - "not only as secular property for themselves, but as brethren to themselves, and as children of the one heavenly Father" (Wordsworth); that they had converted to the law (Onkelos); that they had proselyted (Raschi, Targam Jonathan, and Jerusalem Targum) - in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; - a prolepsis (cf. Genesis 11:31, q.v.) - and into the land of Canaan they came - a distance of 300 miles from Haran, from which their course must have been across the Euphrates in one of its higher affluent, over the Syrian desert, southwards to Lebanon and Damascus (cf. Genesis 15:2), where, according to Josephus, the patriarch reigned for some considerable time, "being come with an army from the land of the Chaldaeans" ('Ant.,' 1:07), and a village survived to his day called "Abraham's habitation." According to the partitionists (Tuch, Bleek, Colenso, Davidson) this verse belongs to the Elohist or fundamental document; but if so, then the Jehovist represents Abram (ver. 6) as journeying through the land without having previously mentioned what land (cf. Quarry, p. 420).

The genealogical data in Genesis 11:27-32 prepare the way for the history of the patriarchs. The heading, "These are the generations of Terah," belongs not merely to Genesis 11:27-32, but to the whole of the following account of Abram, since it corresponds to "the generations" of Ishmael and of Isaac in Genesis 25:12 and Genesis 25:19. Of the three sons of Terah, who are mentioned again in Genesis 11:27 to complete the plan of the different Toledoth, such genealogical notices are given as are of importance to the history of Abram and his family. According to the regular plan of Genesis, the fact that Haran the youngest son of Terah begat Lot, is mentioned first of all, because the latter went with Abram to Canaan; and then the fact that he died before his father Terah, because the link which would have connected Lot with his native land was broken in consequence. "Before his father," פּני על lit., upon the face of his father, so that he saw and survived his death. Ur of the Chaldees is to be sought either in the "Ur nomine persicum castellum" of Ammian (25, 8), between Hatra and Nisibis, near Arrapachitis, or in Orhoi, Armenian Urrhai, the old name for Edessa, the modern Urfa. - Genesis 11:29. Abram and Nahor took wives from their kindred. Abram married Sarai, his half-sister (Genesis 20:12), of whom it is already related, in anticipation of what follows, that she was barren. Nahor married Milcah, the daughter of his brother Haran, who bore to him Bethuel, the father of Rebekah (Genesis 22:22-23). The reason why Iscah is mentioned is doubtful. For the rabbinical notion, that Iscah is another name for Sarai, is irreconcilable with Genesis 20:12, where Abram calls Sarai his sister, daughter of his father, though not of his mother; on the other hand, the circumstance that Sarai is introduced in Genesis 11:31 merely as the daughter-in-law of Terah, may be explained on the ground that she left Ur, not as his daughter, but as the wife of his son Abram. A better hypothesis is that of Ewald, that Iscah is mentioned because she was the wife of Lot; but this is pure conjecture. According to Genesis 11:31, Terah already prepared to leave Ur of the Chaldees with Abram and Lot, and to remove to Canaan. In the phrase "they went forth with them," the subject cannot be the unmentioned members of the family, such as Nahor and his children; though Nahor must also have gone to Haran, since it is called in Genesis 24:10 the city of Nahor. For if he accompanied them at this time, there is no perceptible reason why he should not have been mentioned along with the rest. The nominative to the verb must be Lot and Sarai, who went with Terah and Abram; so that although Terah is placed at the head, Abram must have taken an active part in the removal, or the resolution to remove. This does not, however, necessitate the conclusion, that he had already been called by God in Ur. Nor does Genesis 15:7 require any such assumption. For it is not stated there that God called Abram in Ur, but only that He brought him out. But the simple fact of removing from Ur might also be called a leading out, as a work of divine superintendence and guidance, without a special call from God. It was in Haran that Abram first received the divine call to go to Canaan (Genesis 12:1-4), when he left not only his country and kindred, but also his father's house. Terah did not carry out his intention to proceed to Canaan, but remained in Haran, in his native country Mesopotamia, probably because he found there what he was going to look for in the land of Canaan. Haran, more properly Charan, חרן, is a place in north-western Mesopotamia, the ruins of which may still be seen, a full day's journey to the south of Edessa (Gr. Κάῤῥαι, Lat. Carrae), where Crassus fell when defeated by the Parthians. It was a leading settlement of the Ssabians, who had a temple there dedicated to the moon, which they traced back to Abraham. There Terah died at the age of 205, or sixty years after the departure of Abram for Canaan; for, according to Genesis 11:26, Terah was seventy years old when Abram was born, and Abram was seventy-five years old when he arrived in Canaan. When Stephen, therefore, placed the removal of Abram from Haran to Canaan after the death of his father, he merely inferred this from the fact, that the call of Abram (Genesis 12) was not mentioned till after the death of Terah had been noticed, taking the order of the narrative as the order of events; whereas, according to the plan of Genesis, the death of Terah is introduced here, because Abram never met with his father again after leaving Haran, and there was consequently nothing more to be related concerning him.

Character of the Patriarchal History

The dispersion of the descendants of the sons of Noah, who had now grown into numerous families, was necessarily followed on the one hand by the rise of a variety of nations, differing in language, manners, and customs, and more and more estranged from one another; and on the other by the expansion of the germs of idolatry, contained in the different attitudes of these nations towards God, into the polytheistic religions of heathenism, in which the glory of the immortal God was changed into an image made like to mortal man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things (Romans 1:23 cf. Wis. 13-15). If God therefore would fulfil His promise, no more to smite the earth with the curse of the destruction of every living thing because of the sin of man (Genesis 8:21-22), and yet would prevent the moral corruption which worketh death from sweeping all before it; it was necessary that by the side of these self-formed nations He should form a nation for Himself, to be the recipient and preserver of His salvation, and that in opposition to the rising kingdoms of the world He should establish a kingdom for the living, saving fellowship of man with Himself. The foundation for this was laid by God in the call and separation of Abram from his people and his country, to make him, by special guidance, the father of a nation from which the salvation of the world should come. With the choice of Abram and revelation of God to man assumed a select character, inasmuch as God manifested Himself henceforth to Abram and his posterity alone as the author of salvation and the guide to true life; whilst other nations were left to follow their own course according to the powers conferred upon them, in order that they might learn that in their way, and without fellowship with the living God, it was impossible to find peace to the soul, and the true blessedness of life (cf. Acts 17:27). But this exclusiveness contained from the very first the germ of universalism. Abram was called, that through him all the families of the earth might be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). Hence the new form which the divine guidance of the human race assumed in the call of Abram was connected with the general development of the world, - in the one hand, by the fact that Abram belonged to the family of Shem, which Jehovah had blessed, and on the other, by his not being called alone, but as a married man with his wife. But whilst, regarded in this light, the continuity of the divine revelation was guaranteed, as well as the plan of human development established in the creation itself, the call of Abram introduced so far the commencement of a new period, that to carry out the designs of God their very foundations required to be renewed. Although, for example, the knowledge and worship of the true God had been preserved in the families of Shem in a purer form than among the remaining descendants of Noah, even in the house of Terah and worship of God was corrupted by idolatry (Joshua 24:2-3); and although Abram was to become the father of the nation which God was about to form, yet his wife was barren, and therefore, in the way of nature, a new family could not be expected to spring from him.

As a perfectly new beginning, therefore, the patriarchal history assumed the form of a family history, in which the grace of God prepared the ground for the coming Israel. For the nation was to grow out of the family, and in the lives of the patriarchs its character was to be determined and its development foreshadowed. The early history consists of three stages, which are indicated by the three patriarchs, peculiarly so called, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and in the sons of Jacob the unity of the chosen family was expanded into the twelve immediate fathers of the nation. In the triple number of the patriarchs, the divine election of the nation on the one hand, and the entire formation of the character and guidance of the life of Israel on the other, were to attain to their fullest typical manifestation. These two were the pivots, upon which all the divine revelations made to the patriarchs, and all the guidance they received, were made to turn. The revelations consisted almost exclusively of promises; and so far as these promises were fulfilled in the lives of the patriarchs, the fulfilments themselves were predictions and pledges of the ultimate and complete fulfilment, reserved for a distant, or for the most remote futurity. And the guidance vouchsafed had for its object the calling forth of faith in response to the promise, which should maintain itself amidst all the changes of this earthly life. "A faith, which laid hold of the word of promise, and on the strength of that word gave up the visible and present for the invisible and future, was the fundamental characteristic of the patriarchs" (Delitzsch). This faith Abram manifested and sustained by great sacrifices, by enduring patience, and by self-denying by great sacrifices, by enduring patience, and by self-denying obedience of such a kind, that he thereby became the father of believers (πατὴρ πάντων τῶν πιστευόντων, Romans 4:11). Isaac also was strong in patience and hope; and Jacob wrestled in faith amidst painful circumstances of various kinds, until he had secured the blessing of the promise. "Abraham was a man of faith that works; Isaac, of faith that endures; Jacob, of faith that wrestles" (Baumgarten). - Thus, walking in faith, the patriarchs were types of faith for all the families that should spring from them, and be blessed through them, and ancestors of a nation which God had resolved to form according to the election of His grace. For the election of God was not restricted to the separation of Abram from the family of Shem, to be the father of the nation which was destined to be the vehicle of salvation; it was also manifest in the exclusion of Ishmael, whom Abram had begotten by the will of man, through Hagar the handmaid of his wife, for the purpose of securing the promised seed, and in the new life imparted to the womb of the barren Sarai, and her consequent conception and birth of Isaac, the son of promise. And lastly, it appeared still more manifestly in the twin sons born by Rebekah to Isaac, of whom the first-born, Esau, was rejected, and the younger, Jacob, chosen to be the heir of the promise; and this choice, which was announced before their birth, was maintained in spite of Isaac's plans, or that Jacob, and not Esau, received the blessing of the promise. - All this occurred as a type for the future, that Israel might know and lay to heart the fact, that bodily descent from Abraham did not make a man a child of God, but that they alone were children of God who laid hold of the divine promise in faith, and walked in the steps of their forefather's faith (cf. Romans 9:6-13).

If we fix our eyes upon the method of the divine revelation, we find a new beginning in this respect, that as soon as Abram is called, we read of the appearing of God. It is true that from the very beginning God had manifested Himself visibly to men; but in the olden time we read nothing of appearances, because before the flood God had not withdrawn His presence from the earth. Even to Noah He revealed Himself before the flood as one who was present on the earth. But when He had established a covenant with him after the flood, and thereby had assured the continuance of the earth and of the human race, the direct manifestations ceased, for God withdrew His visible presence from the world; so that it was from heaven that the judgment fell upon the tower of Babel, and even the call to Abram in his home in Haran was issued through His word, that is to say, no doubt, through an inward monition. But as soon as Abram had gone to Canaan, in obedience to the call of God, Jehovah appeared to him there (Genesis 12:7). These appearances, which were constantly repeated from that time forward, must have taken place from heaven; for we read that Jehovah, after speaking with Abram and the other patriarchs, "went away" (Genesis 18:33), or "went up" (Genesis 17:22; Genesis 35:13); and the patriarchs saw them, sometimes while in a waking condition, in a form discernible to the bodily senses, sometimes in visions, in a state of mental ecstasy, and at other times in the form of a dream (Genesis 28:12.). On the form in which God appeared, in most instances, nothing is related. But in Genesis 18:1. it is stated that three men came to Abram, one of whom is introduced as Jehovah, whilst the other two are called angels (Genesis 19:1). Beside this, we frequently read of appearances of the "angel of Jehovah" (Genesis 16:7; Genesis 22:11, etc.), or of "Elohim," and the "angel of Elohim" (Genesis 21:17; Genesis 31:11, etc.), which were repeated throughout the whole of the Old Testament, and even occurred, though only in vision, in the case of the prophet Zechariah. The appearances of the angel of Jehovah (or Elohim) cannot have been essentially different from those of Jehovah (or Elohim) Himself; for Jacob describes the appearances of Jehovah at Bethel (Genesis 28:13.) as an appearance of "the angel of Elohim," and of "the God of Bethel" (Genesis 31:11, Genesis 31:13); and in his blessing on the sons of Joseph (Genesis 48:15-16), "The God (Elohim) before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God (Elohim) which fed me all my life long unto this day, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads," he places the angel of God on a perfect equality with God, not only regarding Him as the Being to whom he has been indebted for protection all his life long, but entreating from Him a blessing upon his descendants.

The question arises, therefore, whether the angel of Jehovah, or of God, was God Himself in one particular phase of His self-manifestation, or a created angel of whom God made use as the organ of His self-revelation.

(Note: In the old Jewish synagogue the Angel of Jehovah was regarded as the Shechinah, the indwelling of God in the world, i.e., the only Mediator between God and the world, who bears in the Jewish theology the name Metatron. The early Church regarded Him as the Logos, the second person of the Deity; and only a few of the fathers, such as Augustine and Jerome, thought of a created angel (vid., Hengstenberg, Christol. vol. 3, app.). This view was adopted by many Romish theologians, by the Socinians, Arminians, and others, and has been defended recently by Hoffmann, whom Delitzsch, Kurtz, and others follow. But the opinion of the early Church has been vindicated most thoroughly by Hengstenberg in his Christology.)

The former appears to us to be the only scriptural view. For the essential unity of the Angel of Jehovah with Jehovah Himself follows indisputably from the following facts. In the first place, the Angel of God identifies Himself with Jehovah and Elohim, by attributing to Himself divine attributes and performing divine works: e.g., Genesis 22:12, "Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me" (i.e., hast been willing to offer him up as a burnt sacrifice to God); again (to Hagar) Genesis 16:10, "I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude;" Genesis 21, "I will make him a great nation,"-the very words used by Elohim in Genesis 17:20 with reference to Ishmael, and by Jehovah in Genesis 13:16; Genesis 15:4-5, with regard to Isaac; also Exodus 3:6., "I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry, and I am come down to deliver them" (cf. Judges 2:1). In addition to this, He performs miracles, consuming with fire the offering placed before Him by Gideon, and the sacrifice prepared by Manoah, and ascending to haven in the flame of the burnt-offering (Judges 6:21; Judges 13:19-20).

Secondly, the Angel of God was recognised as God by those to whom He appeared, on the one hand by their addressing Him as Adonai (i.e., the Lord God; Judges 6:15), declaring that they had seen God, and fearing that they should die (Genesis 16:13; Exodus 3:6; Judges 6:22-23; Judges 13:22), and on the other hand by their paying Him divine honour, offering sacrifices which He accepted, and worshipping Him (Judges 6:20; Judges 13:19-20, cf. Genesis 2:5). The force of these facts has been met by the assertion, that the ambassador perfectly represents the person of the sender; and evidence of this is adduced not only from Grecian literature, but from the Old Testament also, where the addresses of the prophets often glide imperceptibly into the words of Jehovah, whose instrument they are. But even if the address in Genesis 22:16, where the oath of the Angel of Jehovah is accompanied by the words, "saith the Lord," and the words and deeds of the Angel of God in certain other cases, might be explained in this way, a created angel sent by God could never say, "I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," or by the acceptance of sacrifices and adoration, encourage the presentation of divine honours to himself. How utterly irreconcilable this fact is with the opinion that the Angel of Jehovah was a created angel, is conclusively proved by Revelation 22:9, which is generally regarded as perfectly corresponding to the account of the "Angel of Jehovah" of the Old Testament. The angel of God, who shows the sacred seer the heavenly Jerusalem, and who is supposed to say, "Behold, I come quickly" (Revelation 22:7), and "I am Alpha and Omega" (Revelation 22:13), refuses in the most decided way the worship which John is about to present, and exclaims, "See I am thy fellow-servant: worship God."

Thirdly, the Angel of Jehovah is also identified with Jehovah by the sacred writers themselves, who call the Angel Jehovah without the least reserve (cf. Exodus 3:2 and Exodus 3:4, Judges 6:12 and Judges 6:14-16, but especially Exodus 14:19, where the Angel of Jehovah goes before the host of the Israelites, just as Jehovah is said to do in Exodus 13:21). - On the other hand, the objection is raised, that ἄγγελος κυρίου in the New Testament, which is confessedly the Greek rendering of יהוה מלאך, is always a created angel, and for that reason cannot be the uncreated Logos or Son of God, since the latter could not possibly have announced His own birth to the shepherds at Bethlehem. But this important difference has been overlooked, that according to Greek usage, ἄγγελος κυρίου denotes an (any) angel of the Lord, whereas according to the rules of the Hebrew language יהוה מלאך means the angel of the Lord; that in the New Testament the angel who appears is always described as ἄγγελος κυρίου without the article, and the definite article is only introduced in the further course of the narrative to denote the angel whose appearance has been already mentioned, whereas in the Old Testament it is always "the Angel of Jehovah" who appears, and whenever the appearance of a created angel is referred to, he is introduced first of all as "an angel" (vid., 1 Kings 19:5 and 1 Kings 19:7).

(Note: The force of this difference cannot be set aside by the objection that the New Testament writers follow the usage of the Septuagint, where יהוה מלאך is rendered ἄγγελος κυρίου. For neither in the New Testament nor in the Alex. version of the Old is ἄγγελος κυρίου used as a proper name; it is a simple appellative, as is apparent from the fact that in every instance, in which further reference is made to an angel who has appeared, he is called ὀ ἄγγελος, with or without κυρίου. All that the Septuagint rendering proves, is that the translators supposed "the angel of the Lord" to be a created angel; but it by no means follows that their supposition is correct.)

At the same time, it does not follow from this use of the expression Maleach Jehovah, that the (particular) angel of Jehovah was essentially one with God, or that Maleach Jehovah always has the same signification; for in Malachi 2:7 the priest is called Maleach Jehovah, i.e., the messenger of the Lord. Who the messenger or angel of Jehovah was, must be determined in each particular instance from the connection of the passage; and where the context furnishes no criterion, it must remain undecided. Consequently such passages as Psalm 34:7; Psalm 35:5-6, etc., where the angel of Jehovah is not more particularly described, or Numbers 20:16, where the general term angel is intentionally employed, or Acts 7:30; Galatians 3:19, and Hebrews 2:2, where the words are general and indefinite, furnish no evidence that the Angel of Jehovah, who proclaimed Himself in His appearances as one with God, was not in reality equal with God, unless we are to adopt as the rule for interpreting Scripture the inverted principle, that clear and definite statements are to be explained by those that are indefinite and obscure.

In attempting now to determine the connection between the appearance of the Angel of Jehovah (or Elohim) and the appearance of Jehovah or Elohim Himself, and to fix the precise meaning of the expression Maleach Jehovah, we cannot make use, as recent opponents of the old Church view have done, of the manifestation of God in Genesis 18 and 19, and the allusion to the great prince Michael in Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; just because neither the appearance of Jehovah in the former instance, nor that of the archangel Michael in the latter, is represented as an appearance of the Angel of Jehovah. We must confine ourselves to the passages in which "the Angel of Jehovah" is actually referred to. We will examine these, first of all, for the purpose of obtaining a clear conception of the form in which the Angel of Jehovah appeared. Genesis 16, where He is mentioned for the first time, contains no distinct statement as to His shape, but produces on the whole the impression that He appeared to Hagar in a human form, or one resembling that of man; since it was not till after His departure that she drew the inference from His words, that Jehovah had spoken with her. He came in the same form to Gideon, and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah with a staff in His hand (Judges 6:11 and Judges 6:21); also to Manoah's wife, for she took Him to be a man of God, i.e., a prophet, whose appearance was like that of the Angel of Jehovah (Judges 13:6); and lastly, to Manoah himself, who did not recognise Him at first, but discovered afterwards, from the miracle which He wrought before his eyes, and from His miraculous ascent in the flame of the altar, that He was the Angel of Jehovah (Judges 13:9-20). In other cases He revealed Himself merely by calling and speaking from heaven, without those who heard His voice perceiving any form at all; e.g., to Hagar, in Genesis 21:17., and to Abraham, Genesis 22:11. On the other hand, He appeared to Moses (Exodus 3:2) in a flame of fire, speaking to him from the burning bush, and to the people of Israel in a pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 14:19, cf. Exodus 13:21.), without any angelic form being visible in either case. Balaam He met in a human or angelic form, with a drawn sword in His hand (Numbers 22:22-23). David saw Him by the threshing-floor of Araunah, standing between heaven and earth, with the sword drawn in His hand and stretched out over Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 21:16); and He appeared to Zechariah in a vision as a rider upon a red horse (Zechariah 1:9.). - From these varying forms of appearance it is evident that the opinion that the Angel of the Lord was a real angel, a divine manifestation, "not in the disguise of angel, but through the actual appearance of an angel," is not in harmony with all the statements of the Bible. The form of the Angel of Jehovah, which was discernible by the senses, varied according to the purpose of the appearance; and, apart from Genesis 21:17 and Genesis 22:11, we have a sufficient proof that it was not a real angelic appearance, or the appearance of a created angel, in the fact that in two instances it was not really an angel at all, but a flame of fire and a shining cloud which formed the earthly substratum of the revelation of God in the Angel of Jehovah (Exodus 3:2; Exodus 14:19), unless indeed we are to regard natural phenomena as angels, without any scriptural warrant for doing so.

(Note: The only passage that could be adduced in support of this, viz., Psalm 104:4, does not prove that God makes natural objects, winds and flaming fire, into forms in which heavenly spirits appear, or that He creates spirits out of them. Even if we render this passage, with Delitzsch, "making His messengers of winds, His servants of flaming fire," the allusion, as Delitzsch himself observes, is not to the creation of angels; nor can the meaning be, that God gives wind and fire to His angels as the material of their appearance, and as it were of their self-incorporation. For עה, constructed with two accusatives, the second of which expresses the materia ex qua, is never met with in this sense, not even in 2 Chronicles 4:18-22. For the greater part of the temple furniture summed up in this passage, of which it is stated that Solomon made them of gold, was composed of pure gold; and if some of the things were merely covered with gold, the writer might easily apply the same expression to this, because he had already given a more minute account of their construction (e.g., Genesis 3:7). But we neither regard this rendering of the psalm as in harmony with the context, nor assent to the assertion that עשׂה with a double accusative, in the sense of making into anything, is ungrammatical.)<

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