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25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing:

e ch. 26. 15, 18, 20, 21, 22.

e

neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to-day.

27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech: and both of them made a covenant.

f

f ch. 26. 31.

come earlier to my ears justice should have been done before. This was undoubtedly the drift of Abimelech's reply, in which he fairly and fully exonerates himself from blame. The wrong had not been done by him nor with his consent; it was the act of his servants, that is, his officers, who perhaps had

25. Abraham reproved Abimelech, &c. That is, argued and expostulated with him. As they were now formally entering into closer terms of amity, it was proper that if there were any cause of complaint on either side, it should be mentioned and adjusted, that nothing which was past, at least, might interrupt their future harmony. Abraham | pretended his authority for their unjust accordingly akes mention of a 'well spoliation, than which nothing is more of water' which Abimelech's servants common among the minions and creahad violently taken away. In the hot tures of sovereignty. Subjects are and thirsty countries of the East, and wronged, oppressed, despoiled, and yet to a man whose substance consisted their grievances never reach the ears of much in cattle, a spring or well of wa- rulers, because the oppressors find it ter was of the utmost consequence; for their interest to bar access to all and to have it taken away by mere vio- voices but their own. Too often are lence, though it might be borne from not only the consciences, but the very an enemy, yet it was not to be over- senses of princes taken into the keeping looked, where there was professed of corrupt and unprincipled officials.friendship. Happily, however, the good 'Public characters cannot always be feelings and good sense of both parties accountable for the misdeeds of those prevented this offence from coming to who act under them, they had need an open rupture. The moderation of take care, however, what sort of serthe patriarch appears plainly from the vants they employ, as while matters fact, that he had hitherto borne patient- are unexplained, that which is wrong, ly with the grievance without attempt- is commonly placed to their account.' ing to right himself by force, although Fuller. it is perhaps to be inferred from the emphatic term 'reproved' that he supposed the wrong had been at least connived at by the king. When men are disposed to peace, slight grounds of variance are easily overlooked; but where there is a disposition to quarrel, it is easy to magnify the most petty neglect into a gross affront, and to make even an unmeaning look the occasion of a breach.

27. Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech. That these animals were intended for sacrifice seems probable from the last clause of the verse, which informs us that they both made, or, as the Hebrew has it, cut a covenant, i. e. made a covenant by cutting the victims in pieces. But why the sheep and oxen are said first to have been presented to Abimelech is not so clear, unless it were, that Abraham designed to do him greater honour by giving him the animals to

26. I wot not, &c. This is the first time I have heard of the affair; had it

28 And Abraham set seven ewe-lambs of the flock by themselves.

29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe-lambs, which thou hast set by themselves?

30 And he said, For these sev

g ch. 33. 8.

h

en ewe-lambs shalt thou take of mine hand that they may be a witness unto me that I have digged this well.

31 Wherefore he i called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them.

offer before the Lord. As if duly mindful of his rank as a subject and desirous of showing a proper respect to the king, he seems to have studied to give him the precedency in the whole transaction.

29-30. Abraham set seven ewe-lambs by themselves, &c. Mr. Bruce, relating the manner in which the compact before mentioned (on v. 24), was made between his party and some shepherds in Abyssinia says, 'Medicines and advice being given on my part, faith and protection pledged on theirs, two bushels of wheat and seven sheep were carried down to the boat;' on which the Editor of the Pict. Bible remarks, that 'Although he seems to have received this merely as a present, yet it is not unlikely that the Arabs intended it as a ratification of the preceding covenant. At any rate there is throughout considerable analogy between the covenant of Abraham and Abimelech, and that of Bruce and the Arabs. The details of the remarkable transactions between Abraham and Abimelech which this chapter contains will be considered with the more interest when it is recollected that it affords the earliest recorded instance of a treaty of peace. Its terms and forms seem to show that such treaties were not then newly invented. The inability of nations or tribes to maintain a continual hostility with their neighbours must have rendered the necessity of such engagements apparent to the earliest generations of mankind. It has been suggested that the practice of giving and receiving belts, pipes, &c. when treaties

h ch. 31. 48, 52. ich. 26. 33.

are made among the Indians of our continent, is a relic of this oriental custom. -T That they may be a witness, &c. That is, thine acceptance of these seven lambs shall be an acknowledgment on thy part that this well, which I have digged, belongs to me.

(

31. Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba. Or perhaps more correctly to be understood impersonally, one called,' i. e. the name of the place was called, as the same phraseology evidently implies elsewhere. See Note on Gen. 2. 20. Heb. the well of the oath, or, the well of the seven ; from the seven lambs above mentioned. The Heb. word for swearing or taking an oath ( shaba), comes from the same root with the word which signifies seven, the reason of which some think to be that an oath was confirmed as by seven, that is, many, witnesses. The connection however between these two terms rests upon grounds difficult to be determined. As the original root for seven has the import of fulness, satiety, satisfaction, it may be that it is applied to an oath, as the completion or perfection, the sufficient security, of a covenant, that which made it binding and satisfactory to each of the parties. For a geographical account of Beersheba see on v. 14.-¶ There they swear both of them. Heb. 1 were sworn. Swearing in Hebrew is always expressed in a passive form of speech, as if it were an act in which one is supposed not to engage voluntarily, but only as he is adjured, or has an oath imposed upon him by another.

32 Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

33 And Abraham planted a

grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.

34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.

k ch. 4. 26. 1 Deut. 33. 27. Is. 40. 28. Rom. 16. 26. 1 Tim. 1. 17.

33. And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba. Gr. Planted a field.' Jerus. Targ. 'Planted a paradise or orchard.' The Heb. term 3 eshel is supposed by Rosenmuller and others to signify the tamarisk-tree and to be used here in a collective sense for a grove of tamarisks. Among the ancient versions some render it by oak or oak-grove, and others, like the English, simply a grove. It was probably designed in the first instance for the shading of his tent, and implied the hope of a peaceful, and the purpose of a pro-elech, a grove was planted on the spot tracted, residence at that place. But which became a usual resort for relifrom the ensuing clause it would seem gious worship, a place of the same kind that it was employed also for religious with the Proseuchæ, i. e. oratorics or purposes. The practice of using groves praying-places, which were afterwards and forests as places of worship seems so common among the Jews. It is to have been common among all na- perhaps some slight confirmation of tions. The deep silence and solitude this view of the passage that Abraham of forests render them peculiarly conge- is said v. 34, to have sojourned many nial to feelings connected with religious days in the Philistines' land; but Beerdevotion. As the abominations, how- sheba was not in the land of the Philever, that characterized idolatrous wor- istines, and why should his planting a ship might easily be concealed in groves, grove in Beer-sheba be connected at we find that the practice of offering all with his sojourning in another part sacrifices in such places was forbidden of Canaan? Let the 33d verse be conby the Mosaic law, Deut. 16. 21. Ac- strued as we propose and included in cordingly during various reformations a parenthesis, and the narrative runs which occurred under the reign of pious free and unembarrassed. And callkings in Israel, they signalized their zeal ed on the name of the Lord. Heb. by cutting down the groves where the kara beshem Yehovah, people burnt incense to idols. It seems which Shuckförd maintains should be to have been an object of peculiar inter- rendered 'invoked in the name of the est in the Mosaic law, to render every Lord.' This however is not an unact of social worship a public transac- questionable construction, and it will be tion. No mysterious or secret rite, like sufficient to remark of the import of those of the Egyptians or Greeks, was the phrase here, as elsewhere, that it is allowed. Every religious act was per- equivalent to saying, that public wor

formed in the open view of the world.-ship in general was performed in this The above remarks have been predica- I grove.

ted upon the correctness of our present translation, which makes Abraham the planter of the grove. But it will be observed, his name being in Italics, that the original is indefinite, and we incline to the opinion that it is one of those impersonal expressions alluded to above v. 31, and which are of such frequent occurrence in the Hebrew Scriptures. The writer's design, if we mistake not, was to say that in process of time, in consequence of the transaction above recorded between Abraham and Abim

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