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THE JEWISH ADVOCATE.
BIBLE HISTORY OF THE JEWS.
That once he his birthright despised,
And none could recall it again.”—NEWTON. ISAAC and Rebekah had two sons, and of them it had been said before they were born that each should be a great people, but that the elder should serve the younger. The boys differed greatly in temper and disposition. Esau, the elder, was a hunter, “a man of the field,". Jacob, the younger, was a plain man, “ dwelling in tents."
Now in those days there were peculiar rights belonging to the first-born. He inherited a double portion of his father's estate, and the right of exercising the office of priesthood. But Esau began to fulfil the prophecy by forfeiting this; for coming in one day spent and weary from hunting, he sold his birthright to Jacob for so paltry a compensation as a mess of pottage. And this, foolish as it seems to us,
is really the folly which most of us are about now- and that not on any one day of our lives, but all our lives long; selling away our inheritance to eternal happiness for the poor bargain of a little worldly indulgence.
But this was not all. Beside this birthright of the elder son, it was believed that a father had the power of calling down the peculiar blessing of God on any one of his children. And this belief abides among us also in some
So long as the fifth commandment stands among the ten, few hearts will be indifferent to a father's blessing, or a father's curse. But that larger blessing of the patriarchs Esau lost. By the counsel of his mother, Jacob disguised himself like to Esau ; and presented himself to Isaac with a mess of savoury meat, such as Esau used to bring his father from hunting, and such as Isaac's heart loved. Isaac was deceived; and he blessed Jacob with the blessing of the first-born: not only that God should give “him of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine," but; moreover, and in chief, he prayed, “Let the people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee; be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee; cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be every one that blesseth thee."
He had scarce finished speaking, Jacob was scarce gone out of his presence, when Esau came in with his mess of meat for his father, and prepared to receive his blessing. It was too late, the blessing could not be recalled. Isaac said to “ Esau, Behold I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have. I given to
him for servants, and with corn and wine have I sustained him. And what shall I do now unto thee, my son ? And Esau, said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father ? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice and wept."
Then Isaac prayed also for him of the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven; he prophesied over him, “By thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck." Esau now hated Jacob, and said in his heart, “ The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob.” He thought he would kill him as soon as Isaac died. But Rebekah prevented this. suaded Isaac to send Jacob to Padan-aran to the house of Bethuel, that he might take to wife one of the daughters of Laban, his mother's brother. For Esau had grieved the hearts of Rebekah and Isaac by marrying from among the idolatrous Hittites.
In reading the history of the Patriarchs we are to remember that their lives are not recorded as models for our imitation, in all their doings. There is but one life on record, that of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, that we may follow in all His steps. A record of man's doings is more or less a record of frailty. Even the faithful Abraham fell into sin: Moses, that meek and holy man, offended with his lips : Aaron, the priest of the Most High God countenanced the idolatry of the Israelites: Elijah gave way to anger and impatience : Peter, the ardent and devoted Peter, in a moment of dismay denied his And now,
Lord and Master. We are not to think more lightly of sin because the mark of it is found upon these servants of God; but it should make us see what a broken reed man is, unless he be strong in the strength of God. Man is at best but as a reed shaken in the wind.
The history of the Israelitish people does shew most plainly that the Lord did not choose them because they were a more faithful people than others: but because He would have a people that might keep alive His name upon the earth : a people, in whose history, as it should be gradually developed through all time, might be seen God's promises of justice and mercy to man. Therefore, notwithstanding their perverseness, He did not cast them off, but “led them, and bore with them all the days of old.” broken and dispersed, with the veil yet upon their hearts, without a king and without a prince, without a sacrifice, and exiles from their temple worship, they remain a standing miracle in all ages, of the truth of prophecy.
“Oh ! that some Angel might a trumpet sound : At which the Church, falling upon her face, Should cry so loud, until the trump were drown’d; And, by that cry, of her dear Lord obtain, That their sweet sap might come again ! "* Having left his father's house, Jacob "lighted upon a certain place,” where he purposed to tarry all night, because the sun was set. A stone served him for a pillow, and he lay down to sleep. “ And he dreamed, and, behold, a ladder set up upon the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and, behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it."
* George Herbert.
Though his pillow was a stone,
Yet he was not left alone.” Above it stood the Lord himself, who in most explicit terms renewed the promises made to Abraham and to Isaac, and entered into covenant with Jacob; promising to keep him in all places whither he went, and to bring him back into that land. Jacob awaked out of sleep, and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.” And he was afraid, and said, “How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” That first communication, to him, of the Angel of the covenant, might well startle the. wanderer.
“Kings are often waking kept,
For he lay at heaven's gate.” He arose early in the morning, but, before he left the place, he set up the stone that he had put for a pillow, as a memorial of that night of wonders : pouring oil upon it, and calling the name of the place Beth-el. There he vowed upto the Lord, that if He would indeed be with him and keep him in the way that he should go, and give him bread to eat, and raiment to put on: and bring him again to his father's house in peace: then should the Lord be his God, and, to Him would he give a tenth part of all that He should bless him with.
(Continued from page 54.) In our number for August, we gave some