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THE DEATH OF ABRAHAM.
THREE years after the marriage of his son Isaac, Abraham took another wife named Keturah, and God gave him more sons, whom he blessed for the sake of their father. Yet upon these were not bestowed those full and rich blessings which were reserved for the child of the promise-Isaac. In the purposes of God they were not ordained to so bigh a position as he was ; and Abraham, knowing this, would not suffer them to dwell or inherit with him, but gave them gifts and sent them away eastward whilst he lived. But still God was with them, and made of them also the heads of nations.
Isaac had been now married to Rebekah nineteen years; but they had as yet no children. Though Jehovah had promised to make this son of promise the father of countless multitudes, he did not choose at once to give him children, but as he had before done with Abraham, he made trial of his servant's faith before fulfilling his desire by giving him children.
At length the Lord graciously heard the prayer of Isaac, and removed the barrenness of Rebekah. Before the birth of her twin children she went to enquire of the Lord concerning them ; and in reply it was revealed to her that of the two sons which God would give her, one, and he the younger, should be the chosen of Jehovah ; that he should rule over his elder brother ; and at through him alone should the blessings promised to Abraham be carried down to his posterity.
When the babes were born, the elder was covered with hair, and they called his name Esau ; to the younger and fairer one they gave the name of Jacob. With what delight and thankfulness did Isaac receive these children from the hand of the Almighty, after so many long years of anxious but trustful expectation! And Abraham too lived to bless his son's children, to see them smile upon him in infancy, cling to his knees, and with all childhood's
warm tenderness return his caresses.
He saw the fair and delicate babes advance to boyhood, and marked the difference in the habits and dispositions of the lads, and often would he bless God who had spared him to see the happiness of his son. As they grew up, though born upon the same day, their tempers and pursuits were very different.
Esau's young mind delighted to seek out and encounter daring adventures; he loved to escape alone to the rocks or forests, and bring home a wild kid or a deer which his bow had brought down, and then with triumph he would cast it at his grandfather's feet; and when his more gentle brother shrank from the bleeding carcase, and turned to caress a lamb of his father's flock, a look of pride and a scornful laugh would be his only reply.
But Jacob loved not to listen to the achievements of mighty hunters, or to the daring adventures of his brother. His days were spent in assisting to tend the flocks; and in the soft sweet twilight he would joyfully hasten towards his home, where he knew his fond mother was waiting to receive and lavish upon
her gentle and best loved boy all the deep tenderness of her heart. And then he would seat himself, on the ground at his grandfather's feet, and with one hand clasped within that of his mother, listen to the evening orisons of the birds and insects and the soft murmuring of the breeze. And sometimes the sweet and tender voice of the child would burst forth in hymns of praise as he gazed up into the clear blue heavens, and saw the bright and beautiful stars appearing one after another until the skies were filled with their beauty. Sometimes, too, Abraham would relate some event in his past life ; and then with what deep attention did he hang upon each word, whilst his young heart turned with awe and adoration towards the all-powerful and all-faithful Jehovah, who had performed such great wonders, and shewn such mercy towards the venerated being who was speaking to him.
Now that Abraham had seen Jehovah's promises so far fulfilled, he received a summons to quit his earthly tenement, and receive the full reward of his faith. Isaac and Rebekah, with their brother Ishmael, and their two boys, stood
about the dying bed of the Patriarch ; and with tearful eyes, but hearts submissive to the Heavenly will, listened to his parting exhortations, and received his final blessing, and then his spirit passed to God who gave it.
“Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years; and was gathered to his people. And his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, buried him in the cave of Machpelah.
At this time Esau and Jacob were of the age of sixteen years.