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intended to be carried out in a figurative and spiritual sense only. The explanation given by our author is undoubtedly the true one, that the command was intended only as a trial. God never designed to allow it to be carried out to full accomplishment. It was his purpose from the first to interfere just as he did interfere in the decisive moment. It was to discover the strength of Abraham's faith and the steadfastness of his obedience. And as soon as this was evidenced, and it was seen that the patriarch's faith did not stagger, and his unflinching obedience was made to appear, then the trial was complete. Isaac was already sacrificed in purpose; to slay him could have answered no further end.

But why was exactly this trial selected? Kurtz answers, it was that Abraham might be taught by his receiving Isaac back as it were from the dead, yet more than by the long delay of his birth, that he was the child not of natural descent but of the gracious promise. It was that he and Isaac might both be taught that all their possessions, even a dearest and bestloved child, and life itself, are the Lord's, and must be surrendered at his bidding; and what was thus inculcated upon the first father and first son of the chosen race, was through them impressed upon all their posterity. But there was a deeper reason for it than these. The Canaanites, on every hill and under every green tree, sacrificed their children in the service of their idols; and now it should be made to appear, both to the patriarch and to others, whether he had as earnest an attachment to the true God as they do to their miserable idols; whether he would make such sacrifices for the cause of the God he worshipped as they for their cruel superstitions. There was a truth, too, obscured and mingled as it was with horrid error, in the human sacrifices practised by the Canaanites, and indeed to a greater or less extent by almost every ancient heathen nation. This should here be sifted out and handed over to Abraham and his posterity, to be a seed whence might spring anticipations and longings after that for whose full and complete revelation the world was not yet prepared. Human sacrifice was the convulsive effort of heathenism in its despair of finding an adequate mode of appeasing the anger of God. Men felt, and rightly felt, that some expiation was necessary. They felt, and this, too, rightly, that the sacrifice of animals presented no adequate atonement for offences, in which man's life was the forfeit. They felt, and rightly again, that nothing in the wide world was too dear, nothing too precious, to give for regaining the favour of God. And in their desperation they offer up a human life as the costliest thing they knew, not heeding that they are offering to God an unwilling and therefore valueless victim, and a life which, itself

sinful, cannot atone for sin, besides bringing on themselves the guilt of murder. This was man's solution, false and inhuman, as it was offensive to the Most High, of that dread question which agitates every conscience, How shall I be just with God? The true solution was not yet given to the world. It should not be until the time appointed in the divine plan of saving mercy had arrived. Meanwhile it should be intimated that such a solution would be given, though for the present it was withheld. In the direction to offer Isaac it was evidently implied that the dearest and the best must be given unto God -that something more valuable than the life of an animal is needed as an atonement for human guilt; while in the staying Abraham's hand from giving the fatal stroke, it was declared that Isaac was not the sacrifice which was demanded; it was something more precious, something more pure than that beloved child; what it should be was left for God to reveal. And in the pointing out of the ram to be placed upon the altar in the stead of Isaac, it was declared that until the true sacrifice should appear, animal sacrifices, though in themselves inoperative and insufficient to wash away sin, received the divine sanction and would be admitted as prefiguring that which was to come. The disclosing, therefore, as is here done, of the imperfection that inhered in animal sacrifices, and that there was nothing then adequate to take their place, was equivalent to a pledge on the part of a gracious God, that there should be a perfect sacrifice provided and offered, and that its sovereign efficacy should even then be reckoned unto those who in faith and pious fear offered up what was temporarily, and until its appearing, admitted to its place. And now it is easy to sce why Abraham was directed to go to the mountains of Moriah to offer up his son, where subsequently in the temple were to be offered those animal sacrifices, which here received a divine legitimation for their temporary purpose, and where, too, that offering-the end of all sacrifice-was in the fulness of time to be presented unto God on behalf of a guilty world.

We shall not pursue the history further; but we cannot pass by the blessing of Jacob without presenting our author's views upon that most interesting and important passage.

This is the last instance of a patriarchal blessing, because Jacob was the last single head of the chosen race. And this paternal blessing is not, as those of Abraham and Isaac had been, repeated and confirmed to the sons by God himself, probably because none were to be set aside here as Ishmael or Esau, so that there was needed no fresh divine investiture for the rightful heir. Since all the sons were together partakers of the promise, the divine ratification of this already made to the parent was valid for all coming generations.

The patriarch's time had come to be gathered to his fathers. He had summoned his sons around his bedside to see their father die; and as he looked upon them, his eye ranges forward in prophetic vision to the time when all would be fulfilled, which God had promised to Abraham, and to Isaac, and repeated likewise to himself. The departing seer beholds, in faith and by the spirit of inspiration, all accomplished which he had been taught to expect, and all those hindrances and evils removed, in which the present came sensibly short of its realization. Israel, no longer a single family, or a few families, is swollen to a great nation; the period of their wanderings and their exile has given place to the confirmed possession of the promised land; and the expected salvation has come, and makes its victorious way of blessing over all the earth. Enraptured by the sight, he feels impelled to tell his sons what shall befall them "in the last days."

The period thus fixed in the outset as the one traversed by the prediction, is not the future indefinitely. The same expression occurs in fifteen other passages in the Old Testament, and one corresponding to it occurs several times in the New. Its meaning invariably is the ultimate future, the period of complete accomplishment; in a word, the Messianic period. It must mean the same here. That the prophecy is principally employed upon the occupation of the promised land, is not inconsistent with this interpretation. That was to Jacob's view the time of the end. The promises of God, and the leadings of his providence, Jacob's expectations and hopes, were all directed to this-a numerous posterity possessing the land of Canaan, as a medium of blessing to the race. The point of Israel's settlement in Canaan was presented to the eye of the patriarch as lying precisely on a range with the salvation of the world; and without marking the chronological interval which separates them, he sees them both together. This representation is imperfect, but it is not false. It does not disclose all that God's omniscience might have revealed about the times and the periods. But all that it does. disclose finds its complete and accurate fulfilment either in one event or in the other of those contemplated, or perhaps in both. These events do not synchronise in actual fact, it is true; but there is a bond which links them together sufficient to justify the intimate connection in which they here appear. The possession of Canaan by a great nation of Israel's descendants was in order to the salvation of the world. The former was an important step in the unfolding of that gracious plan by which the latter was to be secured. Yet, when that step came to be taken, it would be found that the point of ultimate accomplishment lay still far in the distance; other necessities

will have to be met, and other obstacles to be taken out of the way; much will still remain to be done in preparation before the blessing on all nations can be realised. But this interval is not revealed to Jacob. The salvation of the world lies to him immediately behind the possession of Canaan, and the two things appear to coalesce. Without being conscious, apparently, of any abruptness of transition or of intermingling separate events, he passes readily from one to the other, or speaks indifferently of either, or even of both at once.

The passage of most interest in this prophecy is the blessing pronounced upon Judah. That we have here a prediction of the peaceful dominion of the Redeemer to be established over all nations, has almost the united weight of all the interpreters of Scripture in its favour. This is the ancient Jewish understanding of the passage, and the one which has always prevailed among Christian writers. That it is in fact Messianic, and was so intended by the patriarch himself, appears not only from the way in which it has been commonly understood, from the scope of the entire prophecy in which it stands, from the introductory words which distinctly mark it as having in view the last days or the Messianic period, but also from the impossibility of inventing any other meaning, which can, with even tolerable plausibility, be put upon it. The one which has most pretensions in its favour, understands by Shiloh (v. 10), the place of that name where the tabernacle was pitched by Joshua, and where it still abode in the days of Eli, and so translates the verse as to read, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, &c., until he comes to Shiloh." But besides the grammatical difficulties which might be urged, and besides the fact that there is no evidence that such a place as Shiloh existed in the time of Jacob, and that it is highly probable that it derived both its origin and its name from the host of Israel encamping there temporarily after the subjugation of the land was completed, there would be a great incongruity in connecting this prophecy with a place which, even if it existed, was so inconsiderable as never once to be mentioned in the sojourning of either Jacob or his fathers in the land of Canaan, and that, too, while the rest of the prophecy enters into no such minute detail, but spends itself rather upon the great outlines of future destiny. But without delaying to mention other grounds by which this interpretation may be shown to be untenable, there is one farther consideration which is of itself sufficient to establish its unsoundness, and that is, it absolutely divests the prediction of all its meaning. What sense would there be in saying that the sceptre should not depart from Judah until he comes to Shiloh, when in fact he had never then received the sceptre at all? The only thing which can in that case be

pointed out as its fulfilment is, that Judah went first in the order of the tribes as they marched through the wilderness. But that was no such pre-eminence as is here asserted. The sceptre and the lawgiver belonged to a different tribe from that of Judah. It was first Moses a Levite, and then Joshua an Ephraimite, who led them. And although there were things which might be gathered under the general head of the fulfilment of this prediction before the days of David, it was not until in him Judah attained the sovereignty that the superiority here assigned that tribe received any marked accomplishment. The denial of the genuineness of the prophecy even furnishes no escape from this difficulty; for no one in the time of David or of the Judges could have written this, supposing it to describe what had in his days already occurred. Nor does Tuch mend the matter, by translating "as long as they shall come to Shiloh" in their annual festivals, i. e., in the writer's intention, for ever; for besides violating the grammatical construction, and giving to the words a sense wholly inadmissible, he obtrudes upon the writer the expectation that the sanctuary would be for ever without a fixed place of abode, and makes the future rule of Judah dependent on the continuance of a state of things, with the cessation of which Asaph, on the other hand, links the commencement of the sovereignty of that tribe.-(Ps. lxxviii. 60, 67–72.)

What, then, does Shiloh here mean? Calvin follows some Jewish interpreters, in supposing it to be an obsolete word meaning his (Judah's) son. But of the existence of such a word, or of its having this sense, there is no evidence. A large number of the ancient and most valuable versions render it "he to whom it belongs," or "for whom it is reserved." This passage would then find a parallel in Ezek. xxi. 27, “until he come, whose right it is." The chief, in fact the decisive objection against this explanation of the word is, that it not only assumes an unusual grammatical form, and an unusual and harsh ellipsis, but it requires an unwarranted alteration of the text. The true meaning of Shiloh, according to its derivation, is rest or peace. This is, by the majority of commentators, taken as the abstract for the concrete, and understood as a personal designation of the Messiah, equivalent to the Peacemaker. To this Kurtz objects that Shiloh must, for grammatical reasons, be the object, and not the subject of the verb; and that the expectation of a personal Messiah was foreign to the patriarchal period. The promises and hopes of that period, and the immediate wants that were felt, all related to the expansion from one to a great people. The introduction of the future good was as yet revealed only in the indefinite form, which made this people in their totality the medium of bless

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