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ABRAM DWELLING IN CANAAN, AND REMOVING TO EGYPT ON ACCOUNT
OF THE FAMINE.
Gen. xii. 6—20.
Ver. 6. Abram and his company having entered the country, at its north-eastern quarter, penetrate as far southward as Sichem; where, meeting with a spacious plain, the plain of Moreh, they pitched their tents. This place was afterwards much accounted of. Jacob came thither on his return from Haran, and bought of the Shechemites a parcel of a field. It might be the same spot where Abram dwelt, and perhaps on that account. After this it seems to have been taken from him by the Amorités, the descendants of Hamor, of whom he had bought it; and he was obliged to recover it by the sword and by the bow. This was the portion which be
gave to his son Joseph. There seems to be something in the history of this place very much resembling that of the country in general. In the grand division of the earth, this whole land was assigned to the posterity of Shem: but the Canaanites had seized on it, and as is here noticed, dwelt in the land. As soon therefore as the rightful owners are in a capacity to make use of the sword and the bow, they must be dispossessed of it.*
Ver. 7. Abram having pitched his tent at Sichem, the Lord renews to him the promise of the whole land, or rather to his seed after him; for with respect to himself, he was never given to expect any higher character than that of a sojourner. But considering the great ends to be answered by his seed possessing it, he is
well satisfied, and rears an altar to Jehovah. One sees here the difference between the conduct of the men of this world, and that of the Lord's servants. The former no sooner tind a fruitful plain, than they fall to building a city and a tower, to perpetuate their fame. The first concern of the latter is to raise an altar to God. It was thus that the new world was consecrated by Noah, and now the land of promise by Abram. The rearing of an altar in the land was like taking possession of it, in right, for Jehovah.
Ver. 3, 9. The patriarchs seldom continued long at a place, for they were sojourners. Abram removes from the plain of Moreh, to a mountain on the east of what was afterwards called Bethel; and here he built an altar, and called upon the name of the Lord. This place was also much accounted of, in after times. It was not far from hence that Jacob slept and dreamed, and anointed the pillar. We may on various occasions change places, provided we carry the true religion with us: in this we must never change.
Ver. 10–20. Abram was under the necessity of removing again, and that on account of a grievous famine in the land. He must now leave Canaan for awhile, and journey into Egypt; where corn, it seems, was generally plentiful, even when it was scarce in other countries, because that country was watered, not so much by rain as by the waters of the Nile. Hither therefore the patriarch repaired with his little company. And here we see new trials for bis faith. Observe,
1 The famine itself being in the land of promise must be a trial to him. Had he been of the spirit of the unbelieving spies, in the times of Moses, he would have said, “Would God we had stayed at Harap, if not at Ur! Surely this is a land that eateth up the inhabitants. But thus far Abram sinned not.
2. The beauty of Sarai was another trial to him; and here he fell into the sin of dissimulation, or at least of equivocation. She was half-sister to him, it seems but not in such a sense as he meant to convey. This was one of the first faults we read of in Abram's life ; and the worst of it is, it was repeated, as we shall see hereafter. It is remarkable, that there is only one faultless
* See on Gen. xi. 27–29. pp. 111, 112..
character on record ; and more so, that in several instances of persons who have been distinguished for some one excellency, their principal failure has been in that particular. Thus Peter the bold, sins through fear ; Solomon the wise, by folly ; Moses the meek, by speaking unadvisedly with his lips ; and Abram the faithful, by a kind of dissimulation arising from timid distrust. Such things would almost seem designed of God to stain the pride of all flesh, and to check all dependance upon the most eminent or confirmed babits of godliness.
3. Yet from these trials, and from the difficulties into which he had brought himself by his own misconduct, the Lord mercifully delivered him. He feared they would kill him for his wife's sake ; but God, by introducing plagues among them, inspired them with fear, and induced them to send him and his wife away in safety. It was thus that he rebuked kings for their sakes, and suffered no man to hurt them. In how many instances has God, by his kind providence, extricated us from situations into which our own sin and folly had plunged us !
THE SEPARATION OF ABRAM AND LOT.
Ver. 1-4. Till now, we have heard nothing of Lot, since he left Haran; but he appears to have been one of Abram's family, and to have gone with him whithersoever he went. find him returning with him from Egypt, first to the south of Canaan, and afterwards to Bethel, the place of his second residence, where he had before built an altar. The manner in which the place of the altar is mentioned, seems to intimate that he chose to go thither, in preference to another place, on this account. It is very natural that he should do so; for the places where we have called upon the name of the Lord, and enjoyed communion with him are, by association, endeared to us above all others. There Abram again called on the name of the Lord, and the present exercises of grace, we may suppose, were aided by the remembrance of the past. It is an important rule in choosing our babitations, to have an eye to the place of the altar. If Lot had acted upon this principle, he would not have done as is bere related of him. Ver. 5, 6. We find by the second verse, that Abram was very
and here we see that Lot also had flocks, and herds, and tents ! so that the land was not able to bear them, that they should dwell together. It is pleasing to see how the blessing of the Lord attends these two sojourners : but it is painful to find that prosperity should become the occasion of their separation. It is pity that those whom grace unites, and who are fellow-heirs of eternal life, should be parted by the lumber of this world. Yet so it is. A