Page images
PDF
EPUB

a bait to luxury, but use them so as not to abuse them, and show our gratitude to God for them. We should be thankful that God hath given to some a taste for navigation and the sea, and to others for the labours and pleasures of a country life: that we have. the produce of our own land in such abundance, and the produce of other countries, and of foreign climes, brought to our shores. God is to be owned and honoured in all this. • 5. Let us be thankful that God hath raised us up so many judg es, who have judged the people in equity, and formed wise and good laws ; so many deliverers, who have rescued us from tyranny, slavery, and sin, and overthrown those who would have trampled upon us, saying to our souls, Bow down, that we may go over you ; who have confounded our enemies amidst their most sanguine prospects, and established our civil and religious liberties.

6. Let us, like the good patriarch, be waiting for God's salvation; and thankful that we have so much clearer discoveries of it than he had : it is a salvation worth waiting for. Aged christians, especially, should cultirate this temper ; they have seen much of the goodness of God to them, and experienced his faithfulness and care. Trust him then, in the last stages of your journey ; and patiently wait all the days of your appointed time, till your great change shall come. Be assured that God's time is the best ; wait cheerfully for so glorious an event ; it is the best frame to be found in when your Lord comes ; and you will find it good indeed to hope and quietly wait for the salvation of God.

CHAP. XLIX. 19, to the end. Jacob having recovered a little strength, and being revived, pro

ceeds to bless the other tribes. 19 M AD, a troop shall overcome him : but he shall overcome

U at the last.*

Out of Asher his bread [shall be] fat, and he shall yield royal dainties ; his corn land shall be very rich, and his bread corn of the cho cest sort, fit for princes. They dwelt near mount Carmel, which was a very rich country.

Naphtali [is] a hind let loose : he giveth goodly words. Some think this refers to his temper, that he should be amiable and gentle, and his descendants remarkable for eloquence.t

• Here is an illusion to his name, which signifies a troop; many enemies shallovercome him : the Ammonites and Moabites did so: see Ter. xlix i. but he shall overcome at the basi. So he did under Jephtha, and kept possession of the country till the captivity. 1 Chron. V. 18.-22. Deut. xxxii. 20.

** I rather think it means they should live in a large and plentiful country, be lovers of liberty, like a hind let loose ; and, being of a courteous, friendly disposition, should live in peace with their neighbours. Accordingly, we read of few wars along the Inselves, or op. pression from others.

Vol. I.

Cc

22 Joseph, whose name significs fruitful [is] a fruitful bough,

[even) a fruitful bough by a well ; (whose] branches run over the wall ; his posterity spread themselves to a great distance's

we read of the thousands of Manasseh, and ten thousands of 23 Ephraim. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at

him,] and hated him ; many set themselves against him, his

brethren, mistress, master, and Pharaoh's courtiers, as the rabbies 24 say, and endeavoured to ruin him : But his bow abode in

strength ; he stood against all, like a tough bow, which neither breaks nor is weakened by use : his virtue was strong and unconquerable ; and the arms of his hands were made strong, to draw his bow and stand his ground, by the hands of the mighty God) of Jacob, who laid his hand on Joseph's arm; while he was drawing the bow, and enabled him to conquer ; (from thence, that is, from God, [is] the shepherd, the stone of Israel ; from God's power and providence it was that Joseph became the shepherd, to feed me and my family in the famine :

or, the rock of Israel, to support us ; he was the feeder and 25 supporter of the whole family :) (Even) by, or from, the God

of thy father, who shall help thee : and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, rain and dew, which shall make thy land fruitful, blessings of the deep that lieth under, springs of water, blessings of the breasts, and of

the womb, multitudes both of children and cattle, and those well 26 nourished : The blessings of thy father have prevailed above

the blessings of my progenitors ; I tenderly blessed thee when a child, and prayed for thee ; and now I have the pleasure to see my prayers have been heard for thee, more than my father's for me, in the extent of the blessings, which are unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills ; of large extent and long continuance, even unto Bashan, and Tabor, and Hermon, and they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren, when he was sold into Egypt, and afterward was there highly advanced to a sin gular degree of honour.

Benjamin shall ravin [as] a wolf, be strong, fierce, and warlike ; in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil. This was the case at the beginning and end of that tribe ; when ten were lost, this returned with Judah, and mingled with it,

All these [are] the twelve tribes of Israel, the state and condition of the twelve tribes : and this [is it] that their father spake unto them, and blessed them ; every one according to his blessing he blessed them, with such a blessing as God

saw fit for them, and his spirit dictated to Jacob. 29 And he charged them, and said unto them, I am to be

gathered unto my people : bury me with my fathers in the 30 cave that [is] in the field of Ephron the Hittite, In the cave

· that [is] in the field of Macbpelah, which [is] before Mam.

re, in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought with the field of Ephron the Hittite for a possession of a burying place,

Hereby he designed to withdraw their minds from Egyht, and 31 to fix them upon Canaan. There they buried Abraham and

Sarah his wife ; there they buried Isaac and Rebekah his, 32 wife ; and there I buried Leah. The purchase of the field,

and of the cave that [is] therein (was) from the children of 33 Heth. And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his

sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people, to his pious anccs. tors in another world. Thus peaceful and happy was the death of this friend of God!

REFLECTIONS.

1. THE lot of Gad is an emblem of the state of true

I christians ; Gad, a troop shall overcome him ; but he shall overcome at the last. They are often overcome in this world, by afflictions and temptations ; but at length they shall be con. querors, and more than conquerors. It is an emblem of the state of the church ; which has often been overcome and brought low, but not destroyed ; and at length it shall triumph gloriously, and vanquish all opposition. Great is the truth, and will prevail ; even the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

2. Let us imitate the sweetness of disposition that is celebrated in Naphtali ; as a loving hind, who giveth goodly words. Good words are cheap ; it is easy to behave with civility and respect, and to secure the friendship of, and an interest in, those around us. It is not in our power to do service to every body ; but we may use kind and respectful words to every one. The poor may do this ; and if the rich will not add this to their other gifts, they will signify little. On our tongue let there be the law of kind. ne88. Yet we should not be content with this, but love, not in word or tongue only, but in deed and in truth.

3. Let us pray that the power which strengthened Joseph, may also strengthen us under our difficulties and temptations. The archers have shot at us ; many are tempting us to sin; there is a busy adversary who is shooting his fiery darts. Let us pray, that the Lord would be our shield ; our strength is from him ; he makes our bow to abide in strength; and the arms of our hands are made strong, by the hand of the mighty God of Jacob. What an amiable idea does this give us of divine assistance, and how suitable a prayer is this for all christians, and ministers especially! They draw the bow ; God must put his hand on theirs, if they desire success. They must aim right; but it is God alone that can give their words force and strength. Let us pray for this, and remember, that our strength to bear afflictions, and to vanquish temptations, is all from God. Lord, make thy strength perfect in our weakness, and thy grace şufficient for us.

4. In whatever instances we find support or esteem, learn from whence it proceeds, and to whom we are to give the praise. If we meet with those who are friends, either to body or soul, that feed the one or the other, on whose friendship or affection we can build a sure foundation, remember from whence it proceeds, even from the mighty God of Jacob. This made Joseph strong against temptations ; gave him favour in the sight of men, and prosperity in all that he set his hand unto. Though the archers shot at him, his bow abode in strength. This was especially true of our Lord Jesus Christ; the archers shot at him, the scribes and pharisees, and Herod and Pilate ; Satan tempted him, but he avercame all. Now, he is the shepherd of his church; he feeds his people with knowledge and understanding ; leads them in the right way ; secures them from danger, and causes them to lie down in green pastures. He is the foundation stone ; the chief corner stone ; the support of the whole spiritual building ; all this is owing to the hand of the Lord that was with him. Let us ascribe praise to God, who delivered his dear Son, and made him such a blessing to the world ; thanks be to God for this unspeakable gift,

5. Learn to adore the perfect knowledge of God, that points out such a variety of events ; that foretells the condition of each tribe so long before, and exactly corresponded with their circum. stances, though determined afterward by lot. Let us reverence and adore so wise and glorious a God, and the spirit of prophecy. which he gave to Jacob.

6. Let us choose our lot among God's people, that we may be gathered to them at last. Jacob had followed the faith of Abraham and Isaac, and others of the patriarchs, holy men that went before him, and at death he was gathered to them, and joined to their society. Let us also be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Let us join our souls to God, and walk in his ways ; and at length we shall be joined to the general assembly of the church of the firstborn, and to the spirits of just men made perfect ; to enjoy all those blessings which God hath prepared for them that love him.

CHAP. L.

This chapter gives an account of Jacob's funeral ; of the friendship

renewed between Joseph and his brethren ; and of Joseph's death. Į A ND Joseph, who exceeded his brethren, as in piety to

A ward God, 80 in filial affection and duty to his father, fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him,

and thus paid his last respects to so pious and tender a parent. 2 And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to em3 balm his father :* and the physicians embalmed Israel.t

And forty days were fulfilled for him ; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed ; and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days, thirty days more

than the forty for embalming. dy And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph

spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have

found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of 5 Pharaoh, I saying, My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I

die : in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore, let me go

up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again. 6 And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as

he made thee swear. 7 And Joseph went up to bury his father : and with him

went up all, or many of the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, the consider

able persons of the king's household, and officers, civil and mili8 tary, to show respect to Joseph and Jacob; And all the house

of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house : only their

little ones, and their flocks, and their herds they left in the 9 land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots

and horsemen, to be a defence, and drive away the Canaanites, if

they had taken possession of the place : and it was a very great 10 company, and a grand procession. And they came to the

threshing floor of Atad, which [is] beyond Jordan, that is, from Egypt ; and there they mourned with a great and very sore

. It was a piece of state to have physicians in the house, who performed the necessary acts of surgery, and embalmed the dead.

+ This was done by washing the body with oil of cinnamon, myrrh, and other rich spi. ces, for forty days, and by putting some of tbese ingredients into the body. It then lay in pickle, in nitre or salt petre, til seventy days were completed from the time they began their work'; and thus the body would keep for many centuries, as we know the mummies do. Thus Joseph complied with the Egyptian custom out of respect to his father, and to preserve the body for burial in Canaan.

It was respectful to Pharaoh not to go without his leave; and he set some of the courtiers to ask for it; because, as Herodotus tells us, it was not permitted for any in mourn. ing to come into the presence of the prince; therefore he desires them to tell Pharaoh of his eath.

« PreviousContinue »