and the clans of the scribes who lived at Jabez--the Tirathites, Shimeathites, and Sucathites. These are the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.
I. Observe the OCCUPATION of the scribes. It was to study and to expound the sacred books of the nation, to read these writings in public, and to write - probably to write copies of the Law, and commentaries upon its letter and spirit. The civil and sacred Law were alike their theme. All legal and religious documents were entrusted to their care.
II. Remark the PROFESSIONAL POSITION Of the scribes. The text speaks of "the families of the scribes." Occupations have a tendency to transmit themselves from father to son. Hereditary pursuits are observable in all communities. Traditions and habits are thus maintained and perpetuated. These learned Hebrew families seem to have dwelt in certain fixed places, forming, it may be, colleges of studious, scholarly, literary men.
III. Notice the GROWTH AND PROGRESS AND HISTORY Of the scribes. As a class they date from the close of the Captivity; and from that time onward they appear to have exercised great and growing influence over the national life and religion. In the time of our Saviour they were evidently a very important class of the community. In their two grades - the lower, the interpreters of the classic Hebrew into the colloquial Aramaic; the higher, the doctors learned in the Pentateuch - they supplied to Israel much of the intellectual and moral element in the national life. Jesus admitted the excellence of their work when he denominated his ministers "scribes instructed unto the kingdom of heaven;" he pointed out their defects when he required of his followers a higher righteousness than theirs. And the Evangelists contrast the professional formalism of the Jewish scholars with the freshness and authority of the Great and Divine Teacher.
1. A literary profession may be of great service to the cause of religion. Ignorance is a foe to truth. Christianity will be the more appreciated the more it is studied, the more the light of cultivated intellects is brought to bear upon it.
2. A profession devoted to the advancement of religious learning is not without its perils. There is danger lest the form displace the substance, and the letter the spirit. True and fervent piety alone can correct these tendencies and avert these perils. - T.
And the families of the Scribes which dwelt at Jabez: —
I. A NOBLE CALLING. To study and expound sacred books, inform society, and spread the will of God.
II. A FAMILY CALLING. "The families of the scribes." mere ditary pursuits in all communities.
III. A NEEDFUL CALLING. A literary profession useful to society. A learned ministry the want of the times.
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