Page:A Brief Bible History (Boyd and Machen, 1922).djvu/17

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OLD TESTAMENT TIMES

Moses delivered it in memorable poetic form to the nation to retain and rehearse forever. Deut., ch. 32,

When Abraham, the son of Terah, entered Canaan with Sarah his wife and Lot his nephew and their great company of servants and followers, he was obeying the command of his God. He no sooner enters it than God gives him a promise that binds up this land with him and his descendants. Gen. 13 : 14-17. Yet we must not suppose that Abraham settled down in this Promised Land in the way that the Pilgrim Fathers settled in the Old Colony. Although Canaan is promised to the "seed" of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a possession, they did not themselves obtain a foothold in it. Apart from the field of the cave Machpelah, at Hebron in the south, Gen., ch. 23, and a "shoulder" (shechem) or fragment of land near Shechem ("Jacob's Well"), in the center of Canaan, the patriarchs did not acquire a foot of the soil of what was to become "the Holy Land." Abraham wandered about, even going down to Egypt and back. Isaac was sometimes at Hebron and sometimes at Beer-sheba on the extreme southern verge of the land. Jacob spent much of his manhood in Mesopotamia, and of his old age in Egypt. For after divine Providence in a remarkable manner had transplanted one of Jacob's sons, Joseph, into new soil, Gen, ch. 37, his father and his brothers were drawn after him, with the way for their long Egyptian residence providentially prepared for them, Gen, 50 : 20.

Side by side with the growth of a nation out of an individual we find God's choice of the direction which that growth should take. Not all, even of Abraham's family, were to become part of the future people of God. So Lot, Abraham's nephew, separates from him, and thereafter he and his descendants, the Ammonites and the Moabites, go their own way. As between Abraham's sons, Ishmael is cast out, and Isaac, Sarah's son, is selected. And between Isaac's two sons, Esau and Jacob, the choice falls on Jacob. All twelve of Jacob's sons are included in the purpose of God, and for this reason the nation is called after Jacob, though usually under his name "Israel," which God gave him after his experience of wrestling with "the angel of the Lord" at the river Jabbok. Gen. 32 : 22. Those sons of his are to become the heads of the future nation of the "twelve tribes", Acts 26: 7.

Even while Lot, Ishmael, and Esau are thus being cut off, the greatest care is taken to keep the descent of the future nation pure to the blood of Terah's house. Those three men all married alien wives: