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and dreamed. Jacob has a dream from God concerning speckled and ring-streaked sheep.* Jacob also dreams that God wrestles with him during the night. Jacob prevails, which is a pledge to him that he shall prevail over his brother Esau ; that the narrator intended this matter to be regarded as a dream seems probable, from its being clearly stated that “ it was night,” and that, “ when Jacob was left alone, there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”+
Attributes of God. God is represented as omnipotent : His omnipotence is displayed in the creation.
God is holy and just : He is acquainted with the actions of men, has displeasure in wickedness, and punishes iniquity. The earth is become corrupt : "all flesh has corrupted his way:" " the earth is filled with violence." God sees this, and cannot endure the sight; he therefore brings a flood upon the earth, and destroys man and beast. He gives commands to man: forbids him to murder his fellow beings (because “man is the image of God''), and desires him not to eat the blood of animals. I It was an ancient notion that the principle of life resided in the blood.
God rewards the righteous, and gives evidences of his favour. Enoch walks with (or before) God; that is, Enoch serves God. It was customary to say of a person who fulfilled the commands of another, that he stood or went before him.
“ Enoch was not; for God took him.”—Gen. v. 24. It was a common opinion among the ancients, if any person suddenly disappeared, and no one knew what had become of him, that the gods had taken him away. God loves Enoch because he worships him faithfully ; he suddenly perishes, and nothing more is heard or seen of him; it is therefore concluded that God has taken him.
* See Gen. xxxi, 9-13 and 42. + See Gen. xxxii. 25-33.
From the permission to eat the flesh of beasts, being joined with the command not to murder, it seems probable that this command was intended to prevent cannibalism, and this opinion is strengthened by the expression “ the earth was filled with violence."
It is because Noah is righteous that God esteems him worthy to converse with him, and he rewards his righteous servant by saving him and his family from the flood. God recompenses Abraham's fidelity with his choicest blessings, long life, temporal prosperity, and a seed which shall be as the sand on the sea-shore for multitude. God also preserves Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, for the sake of his favourite Abraham.
“ And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.”—Gen. xix. 29. The notions of God's moral attributes are, of course, very imperfect. God tempts his chosen servant, and commands the sacrifice of a human victim. Abraham dreams that God requires him to offer his son, his only son Isaac, as a burnt offering The Phænicians, Abraham's near neighbours, offered the most beautiful, the most beloved, and the eldest of their children, as propitiatory sacrifices to their gods. And we cannot suppose that Abraham had much higher notions of the God he worshipped than the Phænicians had of their Gods, when we find him regarding a dream as a divine vision, imagining that his God will be pleased with a human sacrifice, and believing that he requires him to put forth his hand and murder the child of his bosom on the altar. Abraham would have executed this command, which is attributed to the Infinite God, had not some accident said to be an angel from heaven), the particulars of which are not recorded, prevented him, at the moment he had raised the knife to slay his son.
God gives assistance in a fraudulent transaction. He, in a dream, suggests a deceit to Jacob, by which he may obtain large flocks from Laban.
“ Thus God hath taken away the cattle of your father, and given them to me.”
“ Except the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty. God hath seen mine affliction and the labour of my hands, and rebuked thee yesternight."
Gen. xxxi. 9 and 42.
Government and Providence of God. The Elohim are also mentioned in this Record as being with Jehovah, and sharing in the creation and government of the world.
“ Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
Gen. i. 26." and again
" Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language."--Gen. xi. 7. It is said
“ The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”
Gen. vi. 2. The offspring of this union are giants, mighty men, men of renown."*
These notions correspond with the age to which they belong. We find similar traditions among the Greeks and Romans. Their gods had sons by the daughters of men, and these sons were giants and heroes.
For a while God carries on his government by means of personal intercourse with his creatures; subsequently, the angel of God is introduced as the minister of his providence, and his messenger to man.
The angel of God comforts Hagar, and speaks to her from heaven.
“ And God heard the voice of the lad ; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven,” &c.—Gen. xxi. 17. Jacob, who is a timid man, is continually seeing angels; they constantly accompany him on his way. The angels of God meet him as he parts from Laban.
“ Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him.
Gen. xxxii. 1, 2.
. “ The angel of God speaks to Jacob in a dream” respecting Laban's flocks; yet immediately he is represented as saying of himself
* See Gen. vi. 4.
“I am the God of Beth-el, where thou anointedst the pillar,
with Gen. xxxi. from the Record Elohim. God's providence is continually watching over his people. All blessings come from him; all evils are from him ; but these are his punishments for sin.
God enters into covenant with his favourite servants. He makes a covenant with Noah, and confirms it by a visible sign, or token, in order that God may remember it!
“ And the bow shall be in the cloud ; and I will look upon it, that I
may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.”—Gen. ix. 16, 17. In the East, where every spring and autumn periodical rains fall without intermission during many weeks, the rainbow is joyfully hailed as the welcome presage of the return of fair weather. After the alarming inundation which deluged Mesopotamia, the rainbow probably showed itself in the cloud, and was observed with inexpressible delight, since its appearance would inspire the almost abandoned hope, that God would again be gracious and send the bright sunshine upon the earth. For many succeeding years, perhaps ages, the sight of the rainbow could not fail to recall this fearful deluge, and its appearance would be regarded as a sign that the rainy season was nearly over, and the recurrence of a flood no longer to be apprehended. This circumstance may possibly have given rise to the history of God's covenant with Noah.
God establishes an everlasting covenant with Abraham, promising to be a God to him and to his seed after him. Abraham is circumcised. This is the visible sign that he, on his part, engages to serve God. The covenant is renewed between God and Isaac.
“ I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his ce: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, Behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of
" And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
“ The uncircumcised man child shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
“And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him."-Gen. xvii. 1-4, 6, 7, 14, 19. Altars are erected and sacrifices are offered to God. Abraham builds an altar, on which he proposed to sacrifice
Jacob erects altars to his God.* The whole religious worship of the ancient world consisted in sacrifices and in calling upon the God at the time of offering. The father of the household was the sacrificer or priest: he built an altar of turf or stones on the spot where he happened to be, though a grove, if near, was preferred. On this altar he slaughtered and sacrificed the choicest of his cattle, partly in testimony of his homage and gratitude, but chiefly because he hoped by means of gifts and adulation to propitiate his God, to ingratiate himself with him, and to secure his protection.
* See Gen. xxxv. 1-7, 14.