Genesis 17:3
And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
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Genesis 17:3. And Abram fell on his face while God talked with him — Either, 1st, As one overcome by the brightness of the divine glory; as Daniel and John also were. Or, 2d, As one ashamed of himself, and blushing to think of the honours done to one so unworthy. He looks upon himself with humility, and upon God with reverence; and, in token of both, falls on his face.17:1-6 The covenant was to be accomplished in due time. The promised Seed was Christ, and Christians in him. And all who are of faith are blessed with faithful Abram, being partakers of the same covenant blessings. In token of this covenant his name was changed from Abram, a high father, to Abraham, the father of a multitude. All that the Christian world enjoys, it is indebted for to Abraham and his Seed.Abram fell on his face. - This is the lowliest form of reverence, in which the worshipper leans on his knees and elbows, and his forehead approaches the ground. Prostration is still customary in the East. Abram has attained to loftier notions of God. "God talked with him." Yahweh, El Shaddai, is here called God. The Supreme appears as the Author of existence, the Irresistible and Everlasting, in this stage of the covenant relation.3. Abram fell on his face—the attitude of profoundest reverence assumed by Eastern people. It consists in the prostrate body resting on the hands and knees, with the face bent till the forehead touches the ground. It is an expression of conscious humility and profound reverence. Abram fell on his face, partly in self-abasement, and a humble sense of his own undeservedness of such favours; and partly in reverence and worship to God, and a thankful acknowledgment of his marvellous kindness. Compare Leviticus 9:24 Ezekiel 43:3. And Abram fell on his face,.... At the sight of so glorious a Person that appeared to him, and in reverence of his majesty, and as sensible of his unworthiness of such a visit, and of having such favours bestowed upon him; and not because he was not as yet circumcised, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it; and so other Jewish (f) writers observe, that before he was circumcised he fell, when God spoke to him, but afterwards he sat and stood, Genesis 18:1; but it may be observed, that not only uncircumcised persons, as Balaam, Numbers 22:31, in whom Jarchi instances, but circumcised ones, as Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:28, Joshua, Joshua 5:14, and others, have fallen on their faces at a divine appearance:

and God talked with him; after he was raised up, and was strengthened and encouraged to stand up before God, and hear what he had to say to him; for after this we read of his falling on his face again, Genesis 17:17; which shows that he had been erect, after he first fell on his face: saying; as follows.

(f) Jarchi in loc. Pirke Eliezer, ut supra. (c. 29.)

And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
Verse 3. - And Abram fell on his face - in reverential awe and worship (vide Ver. 17; cf. Genesis 24:52; Numbers 16:22; Mark 14:35). Other attitudes of devotion are mentioned (1 Kings 8:54; Mark 4:25; 1 Timothy 2:8). And God - Elohim, the third name for the Deity within the compass of as many verses, thus indicating identity of being - talked with him, saying - In the angel, Hagar recognised God manifesting Himself to her, the presence of Jehovah, and called Him, "Thou art a God of seeing; for she said, Have I also seen here after seeing?" Believing that a man must die if he saw God (Exodus 20:19; Exodus 33:20), Hagar was astonished that she had seen God and remained alive, and called Jehovah, who had spoken to her, "God of seeing," i.e., who allows Himself to be seen, because here, on the spot where this sight was granted her, after seeing she still saw, i.e., remained alive. From this occurrence the well received the name of "well of the seeing alive," i.e., at which a man saw God and remained alive. Beer-lahai-roi: according to Ewald, ראי חי is to be regarded as a composite noun, and ל as a sign of the genitive; but this explanation, in which ראי is treated as a pausal form of ראי, does not suit the form ראי with the accent upon the last syllable, which points rather to the participle ראה with the first pers. suffix. On this ground Delitzsch and others have decided in favour of the interpretation given in the Chaldee version, "Thou art a God of seeing, i.e., the all-seeing, from whose all-seeing eye the helpless and forsaken is not hidden even in the farthest corner of the desert." "Have I not even here (in the barren land of solitude) looked after Him, who saw me?" and Beer-lahai-roi, "the well of the Living One who sees me, i.e., of the omnipresent Providence." But still greater difficulties lie in the way of this view. It not only overthrows the close connection between this and the similar passages Genesis 32:31; Exodus 33:20; Judges 13:22, where the sight of God excites a fear of death, but it renders the name, which the well received from this appearance of God, an inexplicable riddle. If Hagar called the God who appeared to her ראי אל because she looked after Him whom she saw, i.e., as we must necessarily understand the word, saw not His face, but only His back; how could it ever occur to her or to any one else, to call the well Beer-lahai-roi, "well of the Living One, who sees me," instead of Beer-el-roi? Moreover, what completely overthrows this explanation, is the fact that neither in Genesis nor anywhere in the Pentateuch is God called "the Living One;" and throughout the Old Testament it is only in contrast with the dead gods of idols of the heathen, a contrast never thought of here, that the expressions חי אלהים and חי אל occur, whilst החי is never used in the Old Testament as a name of God. For these reasons we must abide by the first explanation, and change the reading ראי into ראי.

(Note: The objections to this change in the accentuation are entirely counterbalanced by the grammatical difficulty connected with the second explanation. If, for example, ראי is a participle with the 1st pers. suff., it should be written ראני (Isaiah 29:15) or ראני (Isaiah 47:10). ראי cannot mean, "who sees me," but "my seer," an expression utterly inapplicable to God, which cannot be supported by a reference to Job 7:8, for the accentuation varies there; and the derivation of ראי from ראי "eye of the seeing," for the eye which looks after me, is apparently fully warranted by the analogous expression לדה אשׁת in Jeremiah 13:21.)

With regard to the well, it is still further added that it was between Kadesh (Genesis 14:7) and Bered. Though Bered has not been discovered, Rowland believes, with good reason, that he has found the well of Hagar, which is mentioned again in Genesis 24:62; Genesis 25:11, in the spring Ain Kades, to the south of Beersheba, at the leading place of encampment of the caravans passing from Syria to Sinai, viz., Moyle, or Moilahi, or Muweilih (Robinson, Pal. i. p. 280), which the Arabs call Moilahi Hagar, and in the neighbourhood of which they point out a rock Beit Hagar. Bered must lie to the west of this.

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