the whole of practical piety (1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Pet. 1:6). "It
supposes knowledge, veneration, affection, dependence,
submission, gratitude, and obedience." In 1 Tim. 3:16 it denotes
the substance of revealed religion.
in Rom. 2:27, 29 means the outward form. The "oldness of the
letter" (7:6) is a phrase which denotes the old way of literal
outward obedience to the law as a system of mere external rules
of conduct. In 2 Cor. 3:6, "the letter" means the Mosaic law as
a written law. (See WRITING ¯T0003841.)
Works, Covenant of
entered into by God with Adam as the representative of the human
race (comp. Gen. 9:11, 12; 17:1-21), so styled because perfect
obedience was its condition, thus distinguishing it from the
covenant of grace. (See COVENANT OF WORKS ¯T0000916.)
obedience, a town in the mountains of Judah (Josh. 21:14; 1 Chr.
6:57), which was allotted, with the land round it, to the
priests. It was frequented by David and his followers during
their wanderings; and he sent presents of the spoil of the
Amalekites to his friends there (1 Sam. 30:28). It is identified
with es-Semu'a, a village about 3 1/2 miles east of Socoh, and 7
or 8 miles south of Hebron, around which there are ancient
remains of the ruined city. It is the centre of the "south
country" or Negeb. It is also called "Eshtemoh" (Josh. 15:50).
John, First Epistle of
the fourth of the catholic or "general" epistles. It was
evidently written by John the evangelist, and probably also at
Ephesus, and when the writer was in advanced age. The purpose of
the apostle (1:1-4) is to declare the Word of Life to those to
whom he writes, in order that they might be united in fellowship
with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. He shows that the
means of union with God are, (1) on the part of Christ, his
atoning work (1:7; 2:2; 3:5; 4:10, 14; 5:11, 12) and his
advocacy (2:1); and (2), on the part of man, holiness (1:6),
obedience (2:3), purity (3:3), faith (3:23; 4:3; 5:5), and love
(2:7, 8; 3:14; 4:7; 5:1).
one who intervenes between two persons who are at variance, with
a view to reconcile them. This word is not found in the Old
Testament; but the idea it expresses is found in Job 9:33, in
the word "daysman" (q.v.), marg., "umpire."
This word is used in the New Testament to denote simply an
internuncius, an ambassador, one who acts as a medium of
communication between two contracting parties. In this sense
Moses is called a mediator in Gal. 3:19.
Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man (1
Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24). He makes reconciliation
between God and man by his all-perfect atoning sacrifice. Such a
mediator must be at once divine and human, divine, that his
obedience and his sufferings might possess infinite worth, and
that he might possess infinite wisdom and knowlege and power to
direct all things in the kingdoms of providence and grace which
are committed to his hands (Matt. 28:18; John 5:22, 25, 26, 27);
and human, that in his work he might represent man, and be
capable of rendering obedience to the law and satisfying the
claims of justice (Heb. 2:17, 18; 4:15, 16), and that in his
glorified humanity he might be the head of a glorified Church
This office involves the three functions of prophet, priest,
and king, all of which are discharged by Christ both in his
estate of humiliation and exaltation. These functions are so
inherent in the one office that the quality appertaining to each
gives character to every mediatorial act. They are never
separated in the exercise of the office of mediator.
Fishing, the art of
was prosecuted with great industry in the waters of Israel.
It was from the fishing-nets that Jesus called his disciples
(Mark 1:16-20), and it was in a fishing-boat he rebuked the
winds and the waves (Matt. 8:26) and delivered that remarkable
series of prophecies recorded in Matt. 13. He twice miraculously
fed multitudes with fish and bread (Matt. 14:19; 15:36). It was
in the mouth of a fish that the tribute-money was found (Matt.
17:27). And he "ate a piece of broiled fish" with his disciples
after his resurrection (Luke 24:42, 43; comp. Acts 1:3). At the
Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-14), in obedience to his direction,
the disciples cast their net "on the right side of the ship,"
and enclosed so many that "they were not able to draw it for the
multitude of fishes."
Two kinds of fishing-nets are mentioned in the New Testament:
(1.) The casting-net (Matt. 4:18; Mark 1:16).
(2.) The drag-net or seine (Matt. 13:48).
Fish were also caught by the fishing-hook (Matt. 17:27). (See
expulsion. (1.) The eldest son of Levi (1 Chr. 6:16, 17, 20, 43,
62, 71; 15:7)=GERSHON (q.v.).
(2.) The elder of the two sons of Moses born to him in Midian
(Ex. 2:22; 18:3). On his way to Egypt with his family, in
obedience to the command of the Lord, Moses was attacked by a
sudden and dangerous illness (4:24-26), which Zipporah his wife
believed to have been sent because he had neglected to
circumcise his son. She accordingly took a "sharp stone" and
circumcised her son Gershom, saying, "Surely a bloody husband
art thou to me", i.e., by the blood of her child she had, as it
were, purchased her husband, had won him back again.
(3.) A descendant of Phinehas who returned with Ezra from
Babylon (Ezra 8:2).
(4.) The son of Manasseh (Judg. 18:30), in R.V. "of Moses."
This word does not occur in the Authorized Version of the New
Testament except in Rom. 5:11, where in the Revised Version the
word "reconciliation" is used. In the Old Testament it is of
The meaning of the word is simply at-one-ment, i.e., the state
of being at one or being reconciled, so that atonement is
reconciliation. Thus it is used to denote the effect which flows
from the death of Christ.
But the word is also used to denote that by which this
reconciliation is brought about, viz., the death of Christ
itself; and when so used it means satisfaction, and in this
sense to make an atonement for one is to make satisfaction for
his offences (Ex. 32:30; Lev. 4:26; 5:16; Num. 6:11), and, as
regards the person, to reconcile, to propitiate God in his
By the atonement of Christ we generally mean his work by which
he expiated our sins. But in Scripture usage the word denotes
the reconciliation itself, and not the means by which it is
effected. When speaking of Christ's saving work, the word
"satisfaction," the word used by the theologians of the
Reformation, is to be preferred to the word "atonement."
Christ's satisfaction is all he did in the room and in behalf of
sinners to satisfy the demands of the law and justice of God.
Christ's work consisted of suffering and obedience, and these
were vicarious, i.e., were not merely for our benefit, but were
in our stead, as the suffering and obedience of our vicar, or
substitute. Our guilt is expiated by the punishment which our
vicar bore, and thus God is rendered propitious, i.e., it is now
consistent with his justice to manifest his love to
transgressors. Expiation has been made for sin, i.e., it is
covered. The means by which it is covered is vicarious
satisfaction, and the result of its being covered is atonement
or reconciliation. To make atonement is to do that by virtue of
which alienation ceases and reconciliation is brought about.
Christ's mediatorial work and sufferings are the ground or
efficient cause of reconciliation with God. They rectify the
disturbed relations between God and man, taking away the
obstacles interposed by sin to their fellowship and concord. The
reconciliation is mutual, i.e., it is not only that of sinners
toward God, but also and pre-eminently that of God toward
sinners, effected by the sin-offering he himself provided, so
that consistently with the other attributes of his character his
love might flow forth in all its fulness of blessing to men. The
primary idea presented to us in different forms throughout the
Scripture is that the death of Christ is a satisfaction of
infinite worth rendered to the law and justice of God (q.v.),
and accepted by him in room of the very penalty man had
incurred. It must also be constantly kept in mind that the
atonement is not the cause but the consequence of God's love to
guilty men (John 3:16; Rom. 3:24, 25; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:9;
4:9). The atonement may also be regarded as necessary, not in an
absolute but in a relative sense, i.e., if man is to be saved,
there is no other way than this which God has devised and
carried out (Ex. 34:7; Josh. 24:19; Ps. 5:4; 7:11; Nahum 1:2, 6;
Rom. 3:5). This is God's plan, clearly revealed; and that is
enough for us to know.
strengthened by Jehovah. (1.) A Levite, son of Hilkiah, of the
descendants of Ethan the Merarite (1 Chr. 6:45).
(2.) The son and successor of Joash, and eighth king of the
separate kingdom of Judah (2 Kings 14:1-4). He began his reign
by punishing the murderers of his father (5-7; 2 Chr. 25:3-5).
He was the first to employ a mercenary army of 100,000 Israelite
soldiers, which he did in his attempt to bring the Edomites
again under the yoke of Judah (2 Chr. 25:5, 6). He was commanded
by a prophet of the Lord to send back the mercenaries, which he
did (2 Chr. 25:7-10, 13), much to their annoyance. His obedience
to this command was followed by a decisive victory over the
Edomites (2 Chr. 25:14-16). Amaziah began to worship some of the
idols he took from the Edomites, and this was his ruin, for he
was vanquished by Joash, king of Israel, whom he challenged to
battle. The disaster he thus brought upon Judah by his
infatuation in proclaiming war against Israel probably
occasioned the conspiracy by which he lost his life (2 Kings
14:8-14, 19). He was slain at Lachish, whither he had fled, and
his body was brought upon horses to Jerusalem, where it was
buried in the royal sepulchre (2 Kings 14:19, 20; 2 Chr. 25:27,
(3.) A priest of the golden calves at Bethel (Amos 7:10-17).
(4.) The father of Joshah, one of the Simeonite chiefs in the
time of Hezekiah (1 Chr. 4:34).
The resurrection of Jesus (Acts 17:31) is the "assurance" (Gr.
pistis, generally rendered "faith") or pledge God has given that
his revelation is true and worthy of acceptance. The "full
assurance [Gr. plerophoria, 'full bearing'] of faith" (Heb.
10:22) is a fulness of faith in God which leaves no room for
doubt. The "full assurance of understanding" (Col. 2:2) is an
entire unwavering conviction of the truth of the declarations of
Scripture, a joyful steadfastness on the part of any one of
conviction that he has grasped the very truth. The "full
assurance of hope" (Heb. 6:11) is a sure and well-grounded
expectation of eternal glory (2 Tim. 4:7, 8). This assurance of
hope is the assurance of a man's own particular salvation.
This infallible assurance, which believers may attain unto as
to their own personal salvation, is founded on the truth of the
promises (Heb. 6:18), on the inward evidence of Christian
graces, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption (Rom.
8:16). That such a certainty may be attained appears from the
testimony of Scripture (Rom. 8:16; 1 John 2:3; 3:14), from the
command to seek after it (Heb. 6:11; 2 Pet. 1:10), and from the
fact that it has been attained (2 Tim. 1:12; 4:7, 8; 1 John 2:3;
This full assurance is not of the essence of saving faith. It
is the result of faith, and posterior to it in the order of
nature, and so frequently also in the order of time. True
believers may be destitute of it. Trust itself is something
different from the evidence that we do trust. Believers,
moreover, are exhorted to go on to something beyond what they at
present have when they are exhorted to seek the grace of full
assurance (Heb. 10:22; 2 Pet. 1:5-10). The attainment of this
grace is a duty, and is to be diligently sought.
"Genuine assurance naturally leads to a legitimate and abiding
peace and joy, and to love and thankfulness to God; and these
from the very laws of our being to greater buoyancy, strength,
and cheerfulness in the practice of obedience in every
department of duty."
This assurance may in various ways be shaken, diminished, and
intermitted, but the principle out of which it springs can never
be lost. (See FAITH ¯T0001302.)
This word has considerable latitude of meaning in Scripture.
Thus Joseph is called a child at the time when he was probably
about sixteen years of age (Gen. 37:3); and Benjamin is so
called when he was above thirty years (44:20). Solomon called
himself a little child when he came to the kingdom (1 Kings
The descendants of a man, however remote, are called his
children; as, "the children of Edom," "the children of Moab,"
"the children of Israel."
In the earliest times mothers did not wean their children till
they were from thirty months to three years old; and the day on
which they were weaned was kept as a festival day (Gen. 21:8;
Ex. 2:7, 9; 1 Sam. 1:22-24; Matt. 21:16). At the age of five,
children began to learn the arts and duties of life under the
care of their fathers (Deut. 6:20-25; 11:19).
To have a numerous family was regarded as a mark of divine
favour (Gen. 11:30; 30:1; 1 Sam. 2:5; 2 Sam. 6:23; Ps. 127:3;
Figuratively the name is used for those who are ignorant or
narrow-minded (Matt. 11:16; Luke 7:32; 1 Cor. 13:11). "When I
was a child, I spake as a child." "Brethren, be not children in
understanding" (1 Cor. 14:20). "That we henceforth be no more
children, tossed to and fro" (Eph. 4:14).
Children are also spoken of as representing simplicity and
humility (Matt. 19:13-15; Mark 10:13-16; Luke 18:15-17).
Believers are "children of light" (Luke 16:8; 1 Thess. 5:5) and
"children of obedience" (1 Pet. 1:14).
a mountain of Samaria, about 3,000 feet above the Mediterranean.
It was on the left of the valley containing the ancient town of
Shechem (q.v.), on the way to Jerusalem. It stood over against
Mount Ebal, the summits of these mountains being distant from
each other about 2 miles (Deut. 27; Josh. 8:30-35). On the
slopes of this mountain the tribes descended from the handmaids
of Leah and Rachel, together with the tribe of Reuben, were
gathered together, and gave the responses to the blessing
pronounced as the reward of obedience, when Joshua in the valley
below read the whole law in the hearing of all the people; as
those gathered on Ebal responded with a loud Amen to the
rehearsal of the curses pronounced on the disobedient. It was
probably at this time that the coffin containing the embalmed
body of Joseph was laid in the "parcel of ground which Jacob
bought of the sons of Hamor" (Gen. 33:19; 50:25).
Josephus relates (Ant. 11:8, 2-4) that Sanballat built a
temple for the Samaritans on this mountain, and instituted a
priesthood, as rivals to those of the Jews at Jerusalem. This
temple was destroyed after it had stood two hundred years. It
was afterwards rebuilt by Herod the Great. There is a Samaritan
tradition that it was the scene of the incident recorded in Gen.
22. There are many ruins on this mountain, some of which are
evidently of Christian buildings. To this mountain the woman of
Sychar referred in John 4:20. For centuries Gerizim was the
centre of political outbreaks. The Samaritans (q.v.), a small
but united body, still linger here, and keep up their ancient
flight, or, according to others, stranger, an Egyptian, Sarah's
handmaid (Gen. 16:1; 21:9, 10), whom she gave to Abraham (q.v.)
as a secondary wife (16:2). When she was about to become a
mother she fled from the cruelty of her mistress, intending
apparently to return to her relatives in Egypt, through the
desert of Shur, which lay between. Wearied and worn she had
reached the place she distinguished by the name of
Beer-lahai-roi ("the well of the visible God"), where the angel
of the Lord appeared to her. In obedience to the heavenly
visitor she returned to the tent of Abraham, where her son
Ishmael was born, and where she remained (16) till after the
birth of Isaac, the space of fourteen years. Sarah after this
began to vent her dissatisfaction both on Hagar and her child.
Ishmael's conduct was insulting to Sarah, and she insisted that
he and his mother should be dismissed. This was accordingly
done, although with reluctance on the part of Abraham (Gen.
21:14). They wandered out into the wilderness, where Ishmael,
exhausted with his journey and faint from thirst, seemed about
to die. Hagar "lifted up her voice and wept," and the angel of
the Lord, as before, appeared unto her, and she was comforted
and delivered out of her distresses (Gen. 21:18, 19).
Ishmael afterwards established himself in the wilderness of
Paran, where he married an Egyptian (Gen. 21:20,21).
"Hagar" allegorically represents the Jewish church (Gal.
4:24), in bondage to the ceremonial law; while "Sarah"
represents the Christian church, which is free.
Jonah, Book of
This book professes to give an account of what actually took
place in the experience of the prophet. Some critics have sought
to interpret the book as a parable or allegory, and not as a
history. They have done so for various reasons. Thus (1) some
reject it on the ground that the miraculous element enters so
largely into it, and that it is not prophetical but narrative in
its form; (2) others, denying the possibility of miracles
altogether, hold that therefore it cannot be true history.
Jonah and his story is referred to by our Lord (Matt. 12:39,
40; Luke 11:29), a fact to which the greatest weight must be
attached. It is impossible to interpret this reference on any
other theory. This one argument is of sufficient importance to
settle the whole question. No theories devised for the purpose
of getting rid of difficulties can stand against such a proof
that the book is a veritable history.
There is every reason to believe that this book was written by
Jonah himself. It gives an account of (1) his divine commission
to go to Nineveh, his disobedience, and the punishment following
(1:1-17); (2) his prayer and miraculous deliverance (1:17-2:10);
(3) the second commission given to him, and his prompt obedience
in delivering the message from God, and its results in the
repentance of the Ninevites, and God's long-sparing mercy toward
them (ch. 3); (4) Jonah's displeasure at God's merciful
decision, and the rebuke tendered to the impatient prophet (ch.
4). Nineveh was spared after Jonah's mission for more than a
century. The history of Jonah may well be regarded "as a part of
that great onward movement which was before the Law and under
the Law; which gained strength and volume as the fulness of the
times drew near.", Perowne's Jonah.
a forensic term, opposed to condemnation. As regards its nature,
it is the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins
of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and
treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as
conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon (q.v.)
of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law
are satisfied in respect of the justified. It is the act of a
judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set
aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense;
and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all
the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the
law (Rom. 5:1-10).
It proceeds on the imputing or crediting to the believer by
God himself of the perfect righteousness, active and passive, of
his Representative and Surety, Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:3-9).
Justification is not the forgiveness of a man without
righteousness, but a declaration that he possesses a
righteousness which perfectly and for ever satisfies the law,
namely, Christ's righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21; Rom. 4:6-8).
The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or
credited to the believer is faith in or on the Lord Jesus
Christ. Faith is called a "condition," not because it possesses
any merit, but only because it is the instrument, the only
instrument by which the soul appropriates or apprehends Christ
and his righteousness (Rom. 1:17; 3:25, 26; 4:20, 22; Phil.
3:8-11; Gal. 2:16).
The act of faith which thus secures our justification secures
also at the same time our sanctification (q.v.); and thus the
doctrine of justification by faith does not lead to
licentiousness (Rom. 6:2-7). Good works, while not the ground,
are the certain consequence of justification (6:14; 7:6). (See
GALATIANS, EPISTLE TO ¯T0001413.)
smiths, the name of a tribe inhabiting the desert lying between
southern Israel and the mountains of Sinai. Jethro was of
this tribe (Judg. 1:16). He is called a "Midianite" (Num.
10:29), and hence it is concluded that the Midianites and the
Kenites were the same tribe. They were wandering smiths, "the
gipsies and travelling tinkers of the old Oriental world. They
formed an important guild in an age when the art of metallurgy
was confined to a few" (Sayce's Races, etc.). They showed
kindness to Israel in their journey through the wilderness. They
accompanied them in their march as far as Jericho (Judg. 1:16),
and then returned to their old haunts among the Amalekites, in
the desert to the south of Judah. They sustained afterwards
friendly relations with the Israelites when settled in Canaan
(Judg. 4:11, 17-21; 1 Sam. 27:10; 30:29). The Rechabites
belonged to this tribe (1 Chr. 2:55) and in the days of Jeremiah
(35:7-10) are referred to as following their nomad habits. Saul
bade them depart from the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:6) when, in
obedience to the divine commission, he was about to "smite
Amalek." And his reason is, "for ye showed kindness to all the
children of Israel when they came up out of Egypt." Thus "God is
not unrighteous to forget the kindnesses shown to his people;
but they shall be remembered another day, at the farthest in the
great day, and recompensed in the resurrection of the just" (M.
Henry's Commentary). They are mentioned for the last time in
Scripture in 1 Sam. 27:10; comp. 30:20.
Kingly office of Christ
one of the three special relations in which Christ stands to his
people. Christ's office as mediator comprehends three different
functions, viz., those of a prophet, priest, and king. These are
not three distinct offices, but three functions of the one
office of mediator.
Christ is King and sovereign Head over his Church and over all
things to his Church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; Col. 1:18; 2:19). He
executes this mediatorial kingship in his Church, and over his
Church, and over all things in behalf of his Church. This
royalty differs from that which essentially belongs to him as
God, for it is given to him by the Father as the reward of his
obedience and sufferings (Phil. 2:6-11), and has as its especial
object the upbuilding and the glory of his redeemed Church. It
attaches, moreover, not to his divine nature as such, but to his
person as God-man.
Christ's mediatorial kingdom may be regarded as comprehending,
(1) his kingdom of power, or his providential government of the
universe; (2) his kingdom of grace, which is wholly spiritual in
its subjects and administration; and (3) his kingdom of glory,
which is the consummation of all his providential and gracious
Christ sustained and exercised the function of mediatorial
King as well as of Prophet and Priest, from the time of the fall
of man, when he entered on his mediatorial work; yet it may be
said that he was publicly and formally enthroned when he
ascended up on high and sat down at the Father's right hand (Ps.
2:6; Jer. 23:5; Isa. 9:6), after his work of humiliation and
suffering on earth was "finished."
involves more than a mere moral reformation of character,
brought about by the power of the truth: it is the work of the
Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the
influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul
in regeneration. In other words, sanctification is the carrying
on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends
to the whole man (Rom. 6:13; 2 Cor. 4:6; Col. 3:10; 1 John 4:7;
1 Cor. 6:19). It is the special office of the Holy Spirit in the
plan of redemption to carry on this work (1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Thess.
2:13). Faith is instrumental in securing sanctification,
inasmuch as it (1) secures union to Christ (Gal. 2:20), and (2)
brings the believer into living contact with the truth, whereby
he is led to yield obedience "to the commands, trembling at the
threatenings, and embracing the promises of God for this life
and that which is to come."
Perfect sanctification is not attainable in this life (1 Kings
8:46; Prov. 20:9; Eccl. 7:20; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). See Paul's
account of himself in Rom. 7:14-25; Phil. 3:12-14; and 1 Tim.
1:15; also the confessions of David (Ps. 19:12, 13; 51), of
Moses (90:8), of Job (42:5, 6), and of Daniel (9:3-20). "The
more holy a man is, the more humble, self-renouncing,
self-abhorring, and the more sensitive to every sin he becomes,
and the more closely he clings to Christ. The moral
imperfections which cling to him he feels to be sins, which he
laments and strives to overcome. Believers find that their life
is a constant warfare, and they need to take the kingdom of
heaven by storm, and watch while they pray. They are always
subject to the constant chastisement of their Father's loving
hand, which can only be designed to correct their imperfections
and to confirm their graces. And it has been notoriously the
fact that the best Christians have been those who have been the
least prone to claim the attainment of perfection for
themselves.", Hodge's Outlines.
(1.) Trial; a being put to the test. Thus God "tempted [Gen. 22:
1; R.V., 'did prove'] Abraham;" and afflictions are said to
tempt, i.e., to try, men (James 1:2, 12; comp. Deut. 8:2),
putting their faith and patience to the test. (2.) Ordinarily,
however, the word means solicitation to that which is evil, and
hence Satan is called "the tempter" (Matt. 4:3). Our Lord was in
this way tempted in the wilderness. That temptation was not
internal, but by a real, active, subtle being. It was not
self-sought. It was submitted to as an act of obedience on his
part. "Christ was led, driven. An unseen personal force bore him
a certain violence is implied in the words" (Matt. 4:1-11).
The scene of the temptation of our Lord is generally supposed
to have been the mountain of Quarantania (q.v.), "a high and
precipitous wall of rock, 1,200 or 1,500 feet above the plain
west of Jordan, near Jericho."
Temptation is common to all (Dan. 12:10; Zech. 13:9; Ps.
66:10; Luke 22:31, 40; Heb. 11:17; James 1:12; 1 Pet. 1:7;
4:12). We read of the temptation of Joseph (Gen. 39), of David
(2 Sam. 24; 1 Chr. 21), of Hezekiah (2 Chr. 32:31), of Daniel
(Dan. 6), etc. So long as we are in this world we are exposed to
temptations, and need ever to be on our watch against them.
The old objection against the doctrine of salvation by grace,
that it does away with the necessity of good works, and lowers
the sense of their importance (Rom. 6), although it has been
answered a thousand times, is still alleged by many. They say if
men are not saved by works, then works are not necessary. If the
most moral of men are saved in the same way as the very chief of
sinners, then good works are of no moment. And more than this,
if the grace of God is most clearly displayed in the salvation
of the vilest of men, then the worse men are the better.
The objection has no validity. The gospel of salvation by
grace shows that good works are necessary. It is true,
unchangeably true, that without holiness no man shall see the
Lord. "Neither adulterers, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor
drunkards" shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Works are "good" only when, (1) they spring from the principle
of love to God. The moral character of an act is determined by
the moral principle that prompts it. Faith and love in the heart
are the essential elements of all true obedience. Hence good
works only spring from a believing heart, can only be wrought by
one reconciled to God (Eph. 2:10; James 2:18:22). (2.) Good
works have the glory of God as their object; and (3) they have
the revealed will of God as their only rule (Deut. 12:32; Rev.
Good works are an expression of gratitude in the believer's
heart (John 14:15, 23; Gal. 5:6). They are the fruits of the
Spirit (Titus 2:10-12), and thus spring from grace, which they
illustrate and strengthen in the heart.
Good works of the most sincere believers are all imperfect,
yet like their persons they are accepted through the mediation
of Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17), and so are rewarded; they have no
merit intrinsically, but are rewarded wholly of grace.
the third book of the Pentateuch; so called in the Vulgate,
after the LXX., because it treats chiefly of the Levitical
In the first section of the book (1-17), which exhibits the
worship itself, there is, (1.) A series of laws (1-7) regarding
sacrifices, burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and thank-offerings
(1-3), sin-offerings and trespass-offerings (4; 5), followed by
the law of the priestly duties in connection with the offering
of sacrifices (6; 7). (2.) An historical section (8-10), giving
an account of the consecration of Aaron and his sons (8);
Aaron's first offering for himself and the people (9); Nadab and
Abihu's presumption in offering "strange fire before Jehovah,"
and their punishment (10). (3.) Laws concerning purity, and the
sacrifices and ordinances for putting away impurity (11-16). An
interesting fact may be noted here. Canon Tristram, speaking of
the remarkable discoveries regarding the flora and fauna of the
Holy Land by the Israel Exploration officers, makes the
following statement:, "Take these two catalogues of the clean
and unclean animals in the books of Leviticus  and
Deuteronomy . There are eleven in Deuteronomy which do not
occur in Leviticus, and these are nearly all animals and birds
which are not found in Egypt or the Holy Land, but which are
numerous in the Arabian desert. They are not named in Leviticus
a few weeks after the departure from Egypt; but after the people
were thirty-nine years in the desert they are named, a strong
proof that the list in Deuteronomy was written at the end of the
journey, and the list in Leviticus at the beginning. It fixes
the writing of that catalogue to one time and period only, viz.,
that when the children of Israel were familiar with the fauna
and the flora of the desert" (Palest. Expl. Quart., Jan. 1887).
(4.) Laws marking the separation between Israel and the heathen
(17-20). (5.) Laws about the personal purity of the priests, and
their eating of the holy things (20; 21); about the offerings of
Israel, that they were to be without blemish (22:17-33); and
about the due celebration of the great festivals (23; 25). (6.)
Then follow promises and warnings to the people regarding
obedience to these commandments, closing with a section on vows.
The various ordinances contained in this book were all
delivered in the space of a month (comp. Ex. 40:17; Num. 1:1),
the first month of the second year after the Exodus. It is the
third book of Moses.
No book contains more of the very words of God. He is almost
throughout the whole of it the direct speaker. This book is a
prophecy of things to come, a shadow whereof the substance is
Christ and his kingdom. The principles on which it is to be
interpreted are laid down in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It
contains in its complicated ceremonial the gospel of the grace
is used in the LXX. for "stranger" (1 Chr. 22:2), i.e., a comer
to Israel; a sojourner in the land (Ex. 12:48; 20:10; 22:21),
and in the New Testament for a convert to Judaism. There were
such converts from early times (Isa. 56:3; Neh. 10:28; Esther
8:17). The law of Moses made specific regulations regarding the
admission into the Jewish church of such as were not born
Israelites (Ex. 20:10; 23:12; 12:19, 48; Deut. 5:14; 16:11, 14,
etc.). The Kenites, the Gibeonites, the Cherethites, and the
Pelethites were thus admitted to the privileges of Israelites.
Thus also we hear of individual proselytes who rose to positions
of prominence in Israel, as of Doeg the Edomite, Uriah the
Hittite, Araunah the Jebusite, Zelek the Ammonite, Ithmah and
Ebedmelech the Ethiopians.
In the time of Solomon there were one hundred and fifty-three
thousand six hundred strangers in the land of Israel (1 Chr.
22:2; 2 Chr. 2:17, 18). And the prophets speak of the time as
coming when the strangers shall share in all the privileges of
Israel (Ezek. 47:22; Isa. 2:2; 11:10; 56:3-6; Micah 4:1).
Accordingly, in New Testament times, we read of proselytes in
the synagogues, (Acts 10:2, 7; 13:42, 43, 50; 17:4; 18:7; Luke
7:5). The "religious proselytes" here spoken of were proselytes
of righteousness, as distinguished from proselytes of the gate.
The distinction between "proselytes of the gate" (Ex. 20:10)
and "proselytes of righteousness" originated only with the
rabbis. According to them, the "proselytes of the gate" (half
proselytes) were not required to be circumcised nor to comply
with the Mosaic ceremonial law. They were bound only to conform
to the so-called seven precepts of Noah, viz., to abstain from
idolatry, blasphemy, bloodshed, uncleaness, the eating of blood,
theft, and to yield obedience to the authorities. Besides these
laws, however, they were required to abstain from work on the
Sabbath, and to refrain from the use of leavened bread during
the time of the Passover.
The "proselytes of righteousness", religious or devout
proselytes (Acts 13:43), were bound to all the doctrines and
precepts of the Jewish economy, and were members of the
synagogue in full communion.
The name "proselyte" occurs in the New Testament only in Matt.
23:15; Acts 2:10; 6:5; 13:43. The name by which they are
commonly designated is that of "devout men," or men "fearing
God" or "worshipping God."
a contract or agreement between two parties. In the Old
Testament the Hebrew word _berith_ is always thus translated.
_Berith_ is derived from a root which means "to cut," and hence
a covenant is a "cutting," with reference to the cutting or
dividing of animals into two parts, and the contracting parties
passing between them, in making a covenant (Gen. 15; Jer. 34:18,
The corresponding word in the New Testament Greek is
_diatheke_, which is, however, rendered "testament" generally in
the Authorized Version. It ought to be rendered, just as the
word _berith_ of the Old Testament, "covenant."
This word is used (1) of a covenant or compact between man and
man (Gen. 21:32), or between tribes or nations (1 Sam. 11:1;
Josh. 9:6, 15). In entering into a convenant, Jehovah was
solemnly called on to witness the transaction (Gen. 31:50), and
hence it was called a "covenant of the Lord" (1 Sam. 20:8). The
marriage compact is called "the covenant of God" (Prov. 2:17),
because the marriage was made in God's name. Wicked men are
spoken of as acting as if they had made a "covenant with death"
not to destroy them, or with hell not to devour them (Isa.
(2.) The word is used with reference to God's revelation of
himself in the way of promise or of favour to men. Thus God's
promise to Noah after the Flood is called a covenant (Gen. 9;
Jer. 33:20, "my covenant"). We have an account of God's
covernant with Abraham (Gen. 17, comp. Lev. 26:42), of the
covenant of the priesthood (Num. 25:12, 13; Deut. 33:9; Neh.
13:29), and of the covenant of Sinai (Ex. 34:27, 28; Lev.
26:15), which was afterwards renewed at different times in the
history of Israel (Deut. 29; Josh. 1:24; 2 Chr. 15; 23; 29; 34;
Ezra 10; Neh. 9). In conformity with human custom, God's
covenant is said to be confirmed with an oath (Deut. 4:31; Ps.
89:3), and to be accompanied by a sign (Gen. 9; 17). Hence the
covenant is called God's "counsel," "oath," "promise" (Ps. 89:3,
4; 105:8-11; Heb. 6:13-20; Luke 1:68-75). God's covenant
consists wholly in the bestowal of blessing (Isa. 59:21; Jer.
The term covenant is also used to designate the regular
succession of day and night (Jer. 33:20), the Sabbath (Ex.
31:16), circumcision (Gen. 17:9, 10), and in general any
ordinance of God (Jer. 34:13, 14).
A "covenant of salt" signifies an everlasting covenant, in the
sealing or ratifying of which salt, as an emblem of perpetuity,
is used (Num. 18:19; Lev. 2:13; 2 Chr. 13:5).
COVENANT OF WORKS, the constitution under which Adam was
placed at his creation. In this covenant, (1.) The contracting
parties were (a) God the moral Governor, and (b) Adam, a free
moral agent, and representative of all his natural posterity
(Rom. 5:12-19). (2.) The promise was "life" (Matt. 19:16, 17;
Gal. 3:12). (3.) The condition was perfect obedience to the law,
the test in this case being abstaining from eating the fruit of
the "tree of knowledge," etc. (4.) The penalty was death (Gen.
This covenant is also called a covenant of nature, as made
with man in his natural or unfallen state; a covenant of life,
because "life" was the promise attached to obedience; and a
legal covenant, because it demanded perfect obedience to the
The "tree of life" was the outward sign and seal of that life
which was promised in the covenant, and hence it is usually
called the seal of that covenant.
This covenant is abrogated under the gospel, inasmuch as
Christ has fulfilled all its conditions in behalf of his people,
and now offers salvation on the condition of faith. It is still
in force, however, as it rests on the immutable justice of God,
and is binding on all who have not fled to Christ and accepted
CONVENANT OF GRACE, the eternal plan of redemption entered
into by the three persons of the Godhead, and carried out by
them in its several parts. In it the Father represented the
Godhead in its indivisible sovereignty, and the Son his people
as their surety (John 17:4, 6, 9; Isa. 42:6; Ps. 89:3).
The conditions of this covenant were, (1.) On the part of the
Father (a) all needful preparation to the Son for the
accomplishment of his work (Heb. 10:5; Isa. 42:1-7); (b) support
in the work (Luke 22:43); and (c) a glorious reward in the
exaltation of Christ when his work was done (Phil. 2:6-11), his
investiture with universal dominion (John 5:22; Ps. 110:1), his
having the administration of the covenant committed into his
hands (Matt. 28:18; John 1:12; 17:2; Acts 2:33), and in the
final salvation of all his people (Isa. 35:10; 53:10, 11; Jer.
31:33; Titus 1:2). (2.) On the part of the Son the conditions
were (a) his becoming incarnate (Gal. 4:4, 5); and (b) as the
second Adam his representing all his people, assuming their
place and undertaking all their obligations under the violated
covenant of works; (c) obeying the law (Ps. 40:8; Isa. 42:21;
John 9:4, 5), and (d) suffering its penalty (Isa. 53; 2 Cor.
5:21; Gal. 3:13), in their stead.
Christ, the mediator of, fulfils all its conditions in behalf
of his people, and dispenses to them all its blessings. In Heb.
8:6; 9:15; 12:24, this title is given to Christ. (See
In all the Hebrew manuscripts the Pentateuch (q.v.) forms one
roll or volume divided into larger and smaller sections called
_parshioth_ and _sedarim_. It is not easy to say when it was
divided into five books. This was probably first done by the
Greek translators of the book, whom the Vulgate follows. The
fifth of these books was called by the Greeks Deuteronomion,
i.e., the second law, hence our name Deuteronomy, or a second
statement of the laws already promulgated. The Jews designated
the book by the two first Hebrew words that occur, _'Elle
haddabharim_, i.e., "These are the words." They divided it into
eleven _parshioth_. In the English Bible it contains thirty-four
It consists chiefly of three discourses delivered by Moses a
short time before his death. They were spoken to all Israel in
the plains of Moab, in the eleventh month of the last year of
The first discourse (1-4:40) recapitulates the chief events of
the last forty years in the wilderness, with earnest
exhortations to obedience to the divine ordinances, and warnings
against the danger of forsaking the God of their fathers.
The seond discourse (5-26:19) is in effect the body of the
whole book. The first address is introductory to it. It contains
practically a recapitulation of the law already given by God at
Mount Sinai, together with many admonitions and injunctions as
to the course of conduct they were to follow when they were
settled in Canaan.
The concluding discourse (ch. 27-30) relates almost wholly to
the solemn sanctions of the law, the blessings to the obedient,
and the curse that would fall on the rebellious. He solemnly
adjures them to adhere faithfully to the covenant God had made
with them, and so secure for themselves and their posterity the
These addresses to the people are followed by what may be
called three appendices, namely (1), a song which God had
commanded Moses to write (32:1-47); (2) the blessings he
pronounced on the separate tribes (ch. 33); and (3) the story of
his death (32:48-52) and burial (ch. 34), written by some other
hand, probably that of Joshua.
These farewell addresses of Moses to the tribes of Israel he
had so long led in the wilderness "glow in each line with the
emotions of a great leader recounting to his contemporaries the
marvellous story of their common experience. The enthusiasm they
kindle, even to-day, though obscured by translation, reveals
their matchless adaptation to the circumstances under which they
were first spoken. Confidence for the future is evoked by
remembrance of the past. The same God who had done mighty works
for the tribes since the Exodus would cover their head in the
day of battle with the nations of Israel, soon to be invaded.
Their great lawgiver stands before us, vigorous in his hoary
age, stern in his abhorrence of evil, earnest in his zeal for
God, but mellowed in all relations to earth by his nearness to
heaven. The commanding wisdom of his enactments, the dignity of
his position as the founder of the nation and the first of
prophets, enforce his utterances. But he touches our deepest
emotions by the human tenderness that breathes in all his words.
Standing on the verge of life, he speaks as a father giving his
parting counsels to those he loves; willing to depart and be
with God he has served so well, but fondly lengthening out his
last farewell to the dear ones of earth. No book can compare
with Deuteronomy in its mingled sublimity and tenderness."
Geikie, Hours, etc.
The whole style and method of this book, its tone and its
peculiarities of conception and expression, show that it must
have come from one hand. That the author was none other than
Moses is established by the following considerations: (1.) The
uniform tradition both of the Jewish and the Christian Church
down to recent times. (2.) The book professes to have been
written by Moses (1:1; 29:1; 31:1, 9-11, etc.), and was
obviously intended to be accepted as his work. (3.) The
incontrovertible testimony of our Lord and his apostles (Matt.
19:7, 8; Mark 10:3, 4; John 5:46, 47; Acts 3:22; 7:37; Rom.
10:19) establishes the same conclusion. (4.) The frequent
references to it in the later books of the canon (Josh. 8:31; 1
Kings 2:9; 2 Kings 14:6; 2 Chr. 23:18; 25:4; 34:14; Ezra 3:2;
7:6; Neh. 8:1; Dan. 9:11, 13) prove its antiquity; and (5) the
archaisms found in it are in harmony with the age in which Moses
lived. (6.) Its style and allusions are also strikingly
consistent with the circumstances and position of Moses and of
the people at that time.
This body of positive evidence cannot be set aside by the
conjectures and reasonings of modern critics, who contended that
the book was somewhat like a forgery, introduced among the Jews
some seven or eight centuries after the Exodus.
Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a certain
statement is true (Phil. 1:27; 2 Thess. 2:13). Its primary idea
is trust. A thing is true, and therefore worthy of trust. It
admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in
accordance with the evidence on which it rests.
Faith is the result of teaching (Rom. 10:14-17). Knowledge is
an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of as
an equivalent to faith (John 10:38; 1 John 2:3). Yet the two are
distinguished in this respect, that faith includes in it assent,
which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the
understanding. Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith,
and the ultimate ground on which our assent to any revealed
truth rests is the veracity of God.
Historical faith is the apprehension of and assent to certain
statements which are regarded as mere facts of history.
Temporary faith is that state of mind which is awakened in men
(e.g., Felix) by the exhibition of the truth and by the
influence of religious sympathy, or by what is sometimes styled
the common operation of the Holy Spirit.
Saving faith is so called because it has eternal life
inseparably connected with it. It cannot be better defined than
in the words of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism: "Faith in
Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon
him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel."
The object of saving faith is the whole revealed Word of God.
Faith accepts and believes it as the very truth most sure. But
the special act of faith which unites to Christ has as its
object the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (John
7:38; Acts 16:31). This is the specific act of faith by which a
sinner is justified before God (Rom. 3:22, 25; Gal. 2:16; Phil.
3:9; John 3:16-36; Acts 10:43; 16:31). In this act of faith the
believer appropriates and rests on Christ alone as Mediator in
all his offices.
This assent to or belief in the truth received upon the divine
testimony has always associated with it a deep sense of sin, a
distinct view of Christ, a consenting will, and a loving heart,
together with a reliance on, a trusting in, or resting in
Christ. It is that state of mind in which a poor sinner,
conscious of his sin, flees from his guilty self to Christ his
Saviour, and rolls over the burden of all his sins on him. It
consists chiefly, not in the assent given to the testimony of
God in his Word, but in embracing with fiducial reliance and
trust the one and only Saviour whom God reveals. This trust and
reliance is of the essence of faith. By faith the believer
directly and immediately appropriates Christ as his own. Faith
in its direct act makes Christ ours. It is not a work which God
graciously accepts instead of perfect obedience, but is only the
hand by which we take hold of the person and work of our
Redeemer as the only ground of our salvation.
Saving faith is a moral act, as it proceeds from a renewed
will, and a renewed will is necessary to believing assent to the
truth of God (1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:4). Faith, therefore, has
its seat in the moral part of our nature fully as much as in the
intellectual. The mind must first be enlightened by divine
teaching (John 6:44; Acts 13:48; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 1:17, 18)
before it can discern the things of the Spirit.
Faith is necessary to our salvation (Mark 16:16), not because
there is any merit in it, but simply because it is the sinner's
taking the place assigned him by God, his falling in with what
God is doing.
The warrant or ground of faith is the divine testimony, not
the reasonableness of what God says, but the simple fact that he
says it. Faith rests immediately on, "Thus saith the Lord." But
in order to this faith the veracity, sincerity, and truth of God
must be owned and appreciated, together with his
unchangeableness. God's word encourages and emboldens the sinner
personally to transact with Christ as God's gift, to close with
him, embrace him, give himself to Christ, and take Christ as
his. That word comes with power, for it is the word of God who
has revealed himself in his works, and especially in the cross.
God is to be believed for his word's sake, but also for his
Faith in Christ secures for the believer freedom from
condemnation, or justification before God; a participation in
the life that is in Christ, the divine life (John 14:19; Rom.
6:4-10; Eph. 4:15,16, etc.); "peace with God" (Rom. 5:1); and
sanctification (Acts 26:18; Gal. 5:6; Acts 15:9).
All who thus believe in Christ will certainly be saved (John
6:37, 40; 10:27, 28; Rom. 8:1).
The faith=the gospel (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; Gal. 1:23; 1 Tim.
3:9; Jude 1:3).
Resurrection of Christ
one of the cardinal facts and doctrines of the gospel. If Christ
be not risen, our faith is vain (1 Cor. 15:14). The whole of the
New Testament revelation rests on this as an historical fact. On
the day of Pentecost Peter argued the necessity of Christ's
resurrection from the prediction in Ps. 16 (Acts 2:24-28). In
his own discourses, also, our Lord clearly intimates his
resurrection (Matt. 20:19; Mark 9:9; 14:28; Luke 18:33; John
The evangelists give circumstantial accounts of the facts
connected with that event, and the apostles, also, in their
public teaching largely insist upon it. Ten different
appearances of our risen Lord are recorded in the New Testament.
They may be arranged as follows:
(1.) To Mary Magdalene at the sepulchre alone. This is
recorded at length only by John (20:11-18), and alluded to by
(2.) To certain women, "the other Mary," Salome, Joanna, and
others, as they returned from the sepulchre. Matthew (28:1-10)
alone gives an account of this. (Comp. Mark 16:1-8, and Luke
(3.) To Simon Peter alone on the day of the resurrection. (See
Luke 24:34; 1 Cor. 15:5.)
(4.) To the two disciples on the way to Emmaus on the day of
the resurrection, recorded fully only by Luke (24:13-35. Comp.
Mark 16:12, 13).
(5.) To the ten disciples (Thomas being absent) and others
"with them," at Jerusalem on the evening of the resurrection
day. One of the evangelists gives an account of this appearance,
(6.) To the disciples again (Thomas being present) at
Jerusalem (Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:33-40; John 20:26-28. See also
1 Cor. 15:5).
(7.) To the disciples when fishing at the Sea of Galilee. Of
this appearance also John (21:1-23) alone gives an account.
(8.) To the eleven, and above 500 brethren at once, at an
appointed place in Galilee (1 Cor. 15:6; comp. Matt. 28:16-20).
(9.) To James, but under what circumstances we are not
informed (1 Cor. 15:7).
(10.) To the apostles immediately before the ascension. They
accompanied him from Jerusalem to Mount Olivet, and there they
saw him ascend "till a cloud received him out of their sight"
(Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-52; Acts 1:4-10).
It is worthy of note that it is distinctly related that on
most of these occasions our Lord afforded his disciples the
amplest opportunity of testing the fact of his resurrection. He
conversed with them face to face. They touched him (Matt. 28:9;
Luke 24:39; John 20:27), and he ate bread with them (Luke 24:42,
43; John 21:12, 13).
(11.) In addition to the above, mention might be made of
Christ's manifestation of himself to Paul at Damascus, who
speaks of it as an appearance of the risen Saviour (Acts 9:3-9,
17; 1 Cor. 15:8; 9:1).
It is implied in the words of Luke (Acts 1:3) that there may
have been other appearances of which we have no record.
The resurrection is spoken of as the act (1) of God the Father
(Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:24; 3:15; Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12;
Heb. 13:20); (2) of Christ himself (John 2:19; 10:18); and (3)
of the Holy Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).
The resurrection is a public testimony of Christ's release
from his undertaking as surety, and an evidence of the Father's
acceptance of his work of redemption. It is a victory over death
and the grave for all his followers.
The importance of Christ's resurrection will be seen when we
consider that if he rose the gospel is true, and if he rose not
it is false. His resurrection from the dead makes it manifest
that his sacrifice was accepted. Our justification was secured
by his obedience to the death, and therefore he was raised from
the dead (Rom. 4:25). His resurrection is a proof that he made a
full atonement for our sins, that his sacrifice was accepted as
a satisfaction to divine justice, and his blood a ransom for
sinners. It is also a pledge and an earnest of the resurrection
of all believers (Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:47-49; Phil. 3:21;
1 John 3:2). As he lives, they shall live also.
It proved him to be the Son of God, inasmuch as it
authenticated all his claims (John 2:19; 10:17). "If Christ did
not rise, the whole scheme of redemption is a failure, and all
the predictions and anticipations of its glorious results for
time and for eternity, for men and for angels of every rank and
order, are proved to be chimeras. 'But now is Christ risen from
the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept.'
Therefore the Bible is true from Genesis to Revelation. The
kingdom of darkness has been overthrown, Satan has fallen as
lightning from heaven, and the triumph of truth over error, of
good over evil, of happiness over misery is for ever secured."
With reference to the report which the Roman soldiers were
bribed (Matt. 28:12-14) to circulate concerning Christ's
resurrection, "his disciples came by night and stole him away
while we slept," Matthew Henry in his "Commentary," under John
20:1-10, fittingly remarks, "The grave-clothes in which Christ
had been buried were found in very good order, which serves for
an evidence that his body was not 'stolen away while men slept.'
Robbers of tombs have been known to take away 'the clothes' and
leave the body; but none ever took away 'the body' and left the
clothes, especially when they were 'fine linen' and new (Mark
15:46). Any one would rather choose to carry a dead body in its
clothes than naked. Or if they that were supposed to have stolen
it would have left the grave-clothes behind, yet it cannot be
supposed they would find leisure to 'fold up the linen.'"
father of a multitude, son of Terah, named (Gen. 11:27) before
his older brothers Nahor and Haran, because he was the heir of
the promises. Till the age of seventy, Abram sojourned among his
kindred in his native country of Chaldea. He then, with his
father and his family and household, quitted the city of Ur, in
which he had hitherto dwelt, and went some 300 miles north to
Haran, where he abode fifteen years. The cause of his migration
was a call from God (Acts 7:2-4). There is no mention of this
first call in the Old Testament; it is implied, however, in Gen.
12. While they tarried at Haran, Terah died at the age of 205
years. Abram now received a second and more definite call,
accompanied by a promise from God (Gen. 12:1,2); whereupon he
took his departure, taking his nephew Lot with him, "not knowing
whither he went" (Heb. 11:8). He trusted implicitly to the
guidance of Him who had called him.
Abram now, with a large household of probably a thousand
souls, entered on a migratory life, and dwelt in tents. Passing
along the valley of the Jabbok, in the land of Canaan, he formed
his first encampment at Sichem (Gen. 12:6), in the vale or
oak-grove of Moreh, between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the
south. Here he received the great promise, "I will make of thee
a great nation," etc. (Gen. 12:2,3,7). This promise comprehended
not only temporal but also spiritual blessings. It implied that
he was the chosen ancestor of the great Deliverer whose coming
had been long ago predicted (Gen. 3:15). Soon after this, for
some reason not mentioned, he removed his tent to the mountain
district between Bethel, then called Luz, and Ai, towns about
two miles apart, where he built an altar to "Jehovah." He again
moved into the southern tract of Israel, called by the
Hebrews the Negeb; and was at length, on account of a famine,
compelled to go down into Egypt. This took place in the time of
the Hyksos, a Semitic race which now held the Egyptians in
bondage. Here occurred that case of deception on the part of
Abram which exposed him to the rebuke of Pharaoh (Gen. 12:18).
Sarai was restored to him; and Pharaoh loaded him with presents,
recommending him to withdraw from the country. He returned to
Canaan richer than when he left it, "in cattle, in silver, and
in gold" (Gen. 12:8; 13:2. Comp. Ps. 105:13, 14). The whole
party then moved northward, and returned to their previous
station near Bethel. Here disputes arose between Lot's shepherds
and those of Abram about water and pasturage. Abram generously
gave Lot his choice of the pasture-ground. (Comp. 1 Cor. 6:7.)
He chose the well-watered plain in which Sodom was situated, and
removed thither; and thus the uncle and nephew were separated.
Immediately after this Abram was cheered by a repetition of the
promises already made to him, and then removed to the plain or
"oak-grove" of Mamre, which is in Hebron. He finally settled
here, pitching his tent under a famous oak or terebinth tree,
called "the oak of Mamre" (Gen. 13:18). This was his third
resting-place in the land.
Some fourteen years before this, while Abram was still in
Chaldea, Israel had been invaded by Chedorlaomer, King of
Elam, who brought under tribute to him the five cities in the
plain to which Lot had removed. This tribute was felt by the
inhabitants of these cities to be a heavy burden, and after
twelve years they revolted. This brought upon them the vengeance
of Chedorlaomer, who had in league with him four other kings. He
ravaged the whole country, plundering the towns, and carrying
the inhabitants away as slaves. Among those thus treated was
Lot. Hearing of the disaster that had fallen on his nephew,
Abram immediately gathered from his own household a band of 318
armed men, and being joined by the Amoritish chiefs Mamre, Aner,
and Eshcol, he pursued after Chedorlaomer, and overtook him near
the springs of the Jordan. They attacked and routed his army,
and pursued it over the range of Anti-Libanus as far as to
Hobah, near Damascus, and then returned, bringing back all the
spoils that had been carried away. Returning by way of Salem,
i.e., Jerusalem, the king of that place, Melchizedek, came forth
to meet them with refreshments. To him Abram presented a tenth
of the spoils, in recognition of his character as a priest of
the most high God (Gen. 14:18-20).
In a recently-discovered tablet, dated in the reign of the
grandfather of Amraphel (Gen. 14:1), one of the witnesses is
called "the Amorite, the son of Abiramu," or Abram.
Having returned to his home at Mamre, the promises already
made to him by God were repeated and enlarged (Gen. 13:14). "The
word of the Lord" (an expression occurring here for the first
time) "came to him" (15:1). He now understood better the future
that lay before the nation that was to spring from him. Sarai,
now seventy-five years old, in her impatience, persuaded Abram
to take Hagar, her Egyptian maid, as a concubine, intending that
whatever child might be born should be reckoned as her own.
Ishmael was accordingly thus brought up, and was regarded as the
heir of these promises (Gen. 16). When Ishmael was thirteen
years old, God again revealed yet more explicitly and fully his
gracious purpose; and in token of the sure fulfilment of that
purpose the patriarch's name was now changed from Abram to
Abraham (Gen. 17:4,5), and the rite of circumcision was
instituted as a sign of the covenant. It was then announced that
the heir to these covenant promises would be the son of Sarai,
though she was now ninety years old; and it was directed that
his name should be Isaac. At the same time, in commemoration of
the promises, Sarai's name was changed to Sarah. On that
memorable day of God's thus revealing his design, Abraham and
his son Ishmael and all the males of his house were circumcised
(Gen. 17). Three months after this, as Abraham sat in his tent
door, he saw three men approaching. They accepted his proffered
hospitality, and, seated under an oak-tree, partook of the fare
which Abraham and Sarah provided. One of the three visitants was
none other than the Lord, and the other two were angels in the
guise of men. The Lord renewed on this occasion his promise of a
son by Sarah, who was rebuked for her unbelief. Abraham
accompanied the three as they proceeded on their journey. The
two angels went on toward Sodom; while the Lord tarried behind
and talked with Abraham, making known to him the destruction
that was about to fall on that guilty city. The patriarch
interceded earnestly in behalf of the doomed city. But as not
even ten righteous persons were found in it, for whose sake the
city would have been spared, the threatened destruction fell
upon it; and early next morning Abraham saw the smoke of the
fire that consumed it as the "smoke of a furnace" (Gen.
After fifteen years' residence at Mamre, Abraham moved
southward, and pitched his tent among the Philistines, near to
Gerar. Here occurred that sad instance of prevarication on his
part in his relation to Abimelech the King (Gen. 20). (See
ABIMELECH ¯T0000040.) Soon after this event, the patriarch left
the vicinity of Gerar, and moved down the fertile valley about
25 miles to Beer-sheba. It was probably here that Isaac was
born, Abraham being now an hundred years old. A feeling of
jealousy now arose between Sarah and Hagar, whose son, Ishmael,
was no longer to be regarded as Abraham's heir. Sarah insisted
that both Hagar and her son should be sent away. This was done,
although it was a hard trial to Abraham (Gen. 21:12). (See HAGAR
¯T0001583; ISHMAEL ¯T0001903.)
At this point there is a blank in the patriarch's history of
perhaps twenty-five years. These years of peace and happiness
were spent at Beer-sheba. The next time we see him his faith is
put to a severe test by the command that suddenly came to him to
go and offer up Isaac, the heir of all the promises, as a
sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah. His faith stood the
test (Heb. 11:17-19). He proceeded in a spirit of unhesitating
obedience to carry out the command; and when about to slay his
son, whom he had laid on the altar, his uplifted hand was
arrested by the angel of Jehovah, and a ram, which was entangled
in a thicket near at hand, was seized and offered in his stead.
From this circumstance that place was called Jehovah-jireh,
i.e., "The Lord will provide." The promises made to Abraham were
again confirmed (and this was the last recorded word of God to
the patriarch); and he descended the mount with his son, and
returned to his home at Beer-sheba (Gen. 22:19), where he
resided for some years, and then moved northward to Hebron.
Some years after this Sarah died at Hebron, being 127 years
old. Abraham acquired now the needful possession of a
burying-place, the cave of Machpelah, by purchase from the owner
of it, Ephron the Hittite (Gen. 23); and there he buried Sarah.
His next care was to provide a wife for Isaac, and for this
purpose he sent his steward, Eliezer, to Haran (or Charran, Acts
7:2), where his brother Nahor and his family resided (Gen.
11:31). The result was that Rebekah, the daughter of Nahor's son
Bethuel, became the wife of Isaac (Gen. 24). Abraham then
himself took to wife Keturah, who became the mother of six sons,
whose descendants were afterwards known as the "children of the
east" (Judg. 6:3), and later as "Saracens." At length all his
wanderings came to an end. At the age of 175 years, 100 years
after he had first entered the land of Canaan, he died, and was
buried in the old family burying-place at Machpelah (Gen.
The history of Abraham made a wide and deep impression on the
ancient world, and references to it are interwoven in the
religious traditions of almost all Eastern nations. He is called
"the friend of God" (James 2:23), "faithful Abraham" (Gal. 3:9),
"the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16).