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    Genesis - Deuteronomy!
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    Published 1915, Amplified & Edited 2000;

    Letter ""


    Deuter-canonical Books are included as references, and less often, the Pseudoe-pigraphia (extra-biblical New Testament Era writings - such as the Gospel of Barnabas - used for over 300 years by the early Church.

    Though these are not Inerrant Scripture, they are very important as geographical and historical references, and helping to understand how particular Hebrew and Greek words were used.

    Since the Deuter-canonical Books were part of the Jewish Bible that Jesus and Paul used, they have great value for understanding the era between the Covenants, and all things Jewish.

    Many will be surprised to know they were in the Geneva Bible of Calvin and Knox - and the Puritan Pilgrims - and included in the King James for over 275 years . . .

    . . . and left out in later versions - ONLY to make the Bible MORE PROFITABLE, by selling at the usual price, while being much smaller to print!

    No wonder Paul said the "love of money is the root of all evil!"

    Further know, that that these books are rejected by most Bible Preachers today, BECAUSE the Jews of Jesus' Day rejected them for the Jewish Canon at the Council of Jamnia after the fall of Jerusalem.

    This seems reasonable enough, and though these Scribes and Lawyers SHOULD have had superior knowledge in ALL THINGS JEWISH . . . in their Jewish wisdom, THEY ALSO REJECTED JESUS AS THE MESSIAH!!!

    TheDeuter-canonical Books are very "Kingdom of God" and "Messianic" Oriented, thus the Jews sis NOT want any writings confirming that Jesus WAS the Jewish Messiah.

    The wise "Students-N-Scholars" will know them, as they provide light on New Testament Scripture that are NOT understood otherwise;

    Quick Example:

    In Luke 3:36 YOUR Bible reads as follows:

      "Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem (Shem), which was the son of Noe (Noah), which was the son of Lamech;"

    This ancestor of Jesus named "Cainan, son of Arphaxad": where is he in YOUR Bible/ (Check Genesis 11:13, and other genealogies).

    This dilemma - which the WORLD calls a great contradiction in the linage of Jesus as the Christ - can ONLY be solved by the Bible Jesus used, which included the Deuter-canonical Books.

    Do you suppose Jesus knew more about the "Correct Books" of the Bible than your Denomination?


    International Standard Bible Commentary;

    Matthew Henry's: Edited, Annotated by NewtonStein;

    "Genesis 1"



      We have now before us the holy Bible, or book, for so bible signifies. We call it the book, by way of eminency; for it is incomparably the best book that ever was written, the book of books,shining like the sun in the firmament of learning, other valuable and useful books, like the moon and stars, borrowing their light from it.

      We call it the holy book, because it was written by holymen, and indited by the Holy Ghost; it is perfectly pure from all falsehood and corrupt intention; and the manifest tendency of it is to promote holiness among men.

      The great things of God's law and gospel are here written to us, that they might be reduced to a greater certainty, might spread further, remain longer, and be transmitted to distant places and ages more pure and entire than possibly they could be by report and tradition: and we shall have a great deal to answer for if these things which belong to our peace, being thus committed to us in black and white, be neglected by us as a strange and foreign thing, Hos 8:12.

      The scriptures, or writings of the several inspired penmen, from Moses down to Apostle John, in which divine light, like that of the morning, shone gradually (the sacred canon being now completed), are all put together in this blessed Bible, which, thanks be to God, we have in our hands, and they make as perfect a day as we are to expect on thisside of heaven. Every part was good, but all together very good.

      This is the light that shines in adark place (2 Pet 1:19), and a dark place indeed the world would be without the Bible.We have before us that part of the Bible which we call the Old Testament, containing the actsand monuments of the church from the creation almost to the coming of Christ in the flesh, whichwas about four thousand years—the truths then revealed, the laws then enacted, the devotions thenpaid, the prophecies then given, and the events which concerned that distinguished body, so far asGod saw fit to preserve to us the knowledge of them.

      This is called a testament, or covenant(Diatheke), because it was a settled declaration of the will of God concerning man in a federal way,and had its force from the designed death of the great testator, the Lamb slain from the foundationof the world, (Rev. xiii. 8.) It is called the Old Testament, with relation to the New, which does notcancel and supersede it, but crown and perfect it, by the bringing in of that better hope which wastypified and foretold in it; the Old Testament still remains glorious, though the New far exceeds inglory, (2 Cor. iii. 9.)We have before us that part of the Old Testament which we call the Pentateuch, or five booksof Moses, that servant of the Lord who excelled all the other prophets, and typified the great prophet.


      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)

      In our Saviour's distribution of the books of the Old Testament into the law, the prophets, and thepsalms, or Hagiographa, these are the law; for they contain not only the laws given to Israel, inthe last four, but the laws given to Adam, to Noah, and to Abraham, in the first. These five bookswere, for aught we know, the first that ever were written; for we have not the least mention of anywriting in all the book of Genesis, nor till God bade Moses write (Exod. xvii. 14); and some thinkMoses himself never learned to write till God set him his copy in the writing of the TenCommandments upon the tables of stone. However, we are sure these books are the most ancientwritings now extant, and therefore best able to give us a satisfactory account of the most ancientthings.

      We have before us the first and longest of those five books, which we call Genesis, written,some think, when Moses was in Midian, for the instruction and comfort of his suffering brethrenin Egypt: I rather think he wrote it in the wilderness, after he had been in the mount with God,where, probably, he received full and particular instructions for the writing of it. And, as he framedthe tabernacle, so he did the more excellent and durable fabric of this book, exactly according tothe pattern shown him in the mount, into which it is better to resolve the certainty of the thingsherein contained than into any tradition which possibly might be handed down from Adam toMethuselah, from him to Shem, from him to Abraham, and so to the family of Jacob. Genesis is aname borrowed from the Greek.

      It signifies the original, or generation: fitly is this book so called,for it is a history of originals—the creation of the world, the entrance of sin and death into it, theinvention of arts, the rise of nations, and especially the planting of the church, and the state of it inits early days. It is also a history of generations—the generations of Adam, Noah, Abraham, &c.,not endless, but useful genealogies. The beginning of the New Testament is called Genesis too(Matt. i. 1,) Biblos geneseos, the book of the genesis, or generation, of Jesus Christ.

      Blessed beGod for that book which shows us our remedy, as this opens our wound. Lord, open our eyes, thatwe may see the wondrous things both of thy law and gospel!2

      G E N E S I S CHAP. I.

      The foundation of all religion being laid in our relation to God as our Creator, it was fit thatthe book of divine revelations which was intended to be the guide, support, and rule, of religion inthe world, should begin, as it does, with a plain and full account of the creation of the world—inanswer to that first enquiry of a good conscience, "Where is God my Maker?" (Job xxxv. 10).

      Concerning this the pagan philosophers wretchedly blundered, and became vain in their imaginations,some asserting the world's eternity and self-existence, others ascribing it to a fortuitous concourseof atoms: thus "the world by wisdom knew not God," but took a great deal of pains to lose him.

      The holy scripture therefore, designing by revealed religion to maintain and improve natural religion,to repair the decays of it and supply the defects of it, since the fall, for the reviving of the preceptsof the law of nature, lays down, at first, this principle of the unclouded light of nature, That thisworld was, in the beginning of time, created by a Being of infinite wisdom and power, who was


      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)

      himself before all time and all worlds. The entrance into God's word gives this light, Ps. cxix. 130..The first verse of the Bible gives us a surer and better, a more satisfying and useful, knowledge ofthe origin of the universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humbleChristians understands this matter better than the elevated fancy of the greatest wits, Heb. xi. 3.

      We have three things in this chapter:—I. A general idea given us of the work of creation ver.1, 2. II. A particular account of the several days' work, registered, as in a journal, distinctly and inorder. The creation of the light the first day, ver. 3-5; of the firmament the second day, ver. 6-8; ofthe sea, the earth, and its fruits, the third day, ver. 9-13; of the lights of heaven the fourth day, ver.14-19; of the fish and fowl the fifth day, ver. 20-23; of the beasts, ver. 24, 25; of man, ver. 26-28;and of food for both the sixth day, ver. 29, 30. III. The review and approbation of the whole work,ver. 31.

      The Creation. (Dateless Past; Eden, About 7,500 years ago, according to the Chronoligy of the Bible Jesus used, the Septuagint!)

      1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. 2 And the earth waswithout form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spiritof God moved upon the face of the waters.In these verses we have the work of creation in its epitome and in its embryo.

      I. In its epitome, v. 1, where we find, to our comfort, the first article of our creed, that God theFather Almighty is the Maker of heaven and earth, and as such we believe in him.

      1. Observe, in this verse, four things:—(1.) The effect produced—the heaven and the earth, that is, the world, including the wholeframe and furniture of the universe, the world and all things therein, Acts xvii. 24. The world is agreat house, consisting of upper and lower stories, the structure stately and magnificent, uniformand convenient, and every room well and wisely furnished. It is the visible part of the creation thatMoses here designs to account for; therefore he mentions not the creation of angels.

      But the earth as not only its surface adorned with grass and flowers, but also its bowels enriched with metalsand precious stones (which partake more of its solid nature and more valuable, though the creationof them is not mentioned here), so the heavens are not only beautified to our eye with gloriouslamps which garnish its outside, of whose creation we here read, but they are within replenishedwith glorious beings, out of our sight, more celestial, and more surpassing them in worth andexcellency than the gold or sapphires surpass the lilies of the field.

      In the visible world it is easy to observe,

      [1.] Great variety, several sorts of beings vastly differing in their nature and constitutionfrom each other. Lord, how manifold are thy works, and all good!

      [2.] Great beauty. The azure skyand verdant earth are charming to the eye of the curious spectator, much more the ornaments ofboth. How transcendent then must the beauty of the Creator be!

      [3.] Great exactness and accuracy.To those that, with the help of microscopes, narrowly look into the works of nature, they appearfar more fine than any of the works of art.

      [4.] Great power. It is not a lump of dead and inactivematter, but there is virtue, more or less, in every creature: the earth itself has a magnetic power.

      [5.] Great order, a mutual dependence of beings, an exact harmony of motions, and an admirablechain and connection of causes.

      [6.] Great mystery. There are phenomena in nature which cannotbe solved, secrets which cannot be fathomed nor accounted for. But from what we see of heavenand earth we may easily enough infer the eternal power and Godhead of the great Creator, and mayfurnish ourselves with abundant matter for his praises. And let our make and place, as men, remind


      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)

      us of our duty as Christians, which is always to keep heaven in our eye and the earth under ourfeet.(2.) The author and cause of this great work—GOD. The Hebrew word is Elohim, whichbespeaks, [1.] The power of God the Creator. El signifies the strong God; and what less thanalmighty strength could bring all things out of nothing? [2.] The plurality of persons in the Godhead,Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This plural name of God, in Hebrew, which speaks of him as manythough he is one, was to the Gentiles perhaps a savour of death unto death, hardening them in theiridolatry; but it is to us a savour of life unto life, confirming our faith in the doctrine of the Trinity,which, though but darkly intimated in the Old Testament, is clearly revealed in the New. The Sonof God, the eternal Word and Wisdom of the Father, was with him when he made the world (Prov.viii. 30), nay, we are often told that the world was made by him, and nothing made without him,John i. 3, 10; Eph. iii. 9; Col. i. 16; Heb. 1. 2. O what high thoughts should this form in our mindsof that great God whom we draw nigh to in religious worship, and that great Mediator in whosename we draw nigh!(3.) The manner in which this work was effected: God created it, that is, made it out of nothing.There was not any pre-existent matter out of which the world was produced. The fish and fowlwere indeed produced out of the waters and the beasts and man out of the earth; but that earth andthose waters were made out of nothing. By the ordinary power of nature, it is impossible that anything should be made out of nothing; no artificer can work, unless he has something to work on.But by the almighty power of God it is not only possible that something should be made of nothing(the God of nature is not subject to the laws of nature), but in the creation it is impossible it should3

      be otherwise, for nothing is more injurious to the honour of the Eternal Mind than the suppositionof eternal matter. Thus the excellency of the power is of God and all the glory is to him.(4.) When this work was produced: In the beginning, that is, in the beginning of time, whenthat clock was first set a going: time began with the production of those beings that are measuredby time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity.Should we ask why God made the world no sooner, we should but darken counsel by words withoutknowledge; for how could there be sooner or later in eternity? And he did make it in the beginningof time, according to his eternal counsels before all time. The Jewish Rabbies have a saying, thatthere were seven things which God created before the world, by which they only mean to expressthe excellency of these things:—The law, repentance, paradise, hell, the throne of glory, the houseof the sanctuary, and the name of the Messiah. But to us it is enough to say, In the beginning wasthe Word, John i. 1.2. Let us learn hence, (1.) That atheism is folly, and atheists are the greatest fools in nature;for they see there is a world that could not make itself, and yet they will not own there is a Godthat made it. Doubtless, they are without excuse, but the god of this world has blinded their minds.(2.) That God is sovereign Lord of all by an incontestable right. If he is the Creator, no doubt he isthe owner and possessor of heaven and earth. (3.) That with God all things are possible, and thereforehappy are the people that have him for their God, and whose help and hope stand in his name, Ps.cxxi. 2; cxxiv. 8. (4.) That the God we serve is worthy of, and yet is exalted far above, all blessingand praise, Neh. ix. 5, 6. If he made the world, he needs not our services, nor can be benefited bythem (Acts xvii. 24, 25), and yet he justly requires them, and deserves our praise, Rev. iv. 11. Ifall is of him, all must be to him.13

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. Here is the work of creation in its embryo, v. 2, where we have an account of the first matterand the first mover.1. A chaos was the first matter. It is here called the earth (though the earth, properly taken,was not made till the third day v. 10), because it did most resemble that which afterwards was calledearth, mere earth, destitute of its ornaments, such a heavy unwieldy mass was it; it is also calledthe deep, both for its vastness and because the waters which were afterwards separated from theearth were now mixed with it. This immense mass of matter was it out of which all bodies, eventhe firmament and visible heavens themselves, were afterwards produced by the power of theEternal Word. The Creator could have made his work perfect at first, but by this gradual proceedinghe would show what is, ordinarily, the method of his providence and grace. Observe the descriptionof this chaos. (1.) There was nothing in it desirable to be seen, for it was without form and void.Tohu and Bohu, confusion and emptiness; so these words are rendered, Isa. xxxiv. 11. It wasshapeless, it was useless, it was without inhabitants, without ornaments, the shadow or rough draughtof things to come, and not the image of the things, Heb. x. 1. The earth is almost reduced to thesame condition again by the sin of man, under which the creation groans. See Jer. iv. 23, I beheldthe earth, and lo it was without form, and void. To those who have their hearts in heaven this lowerworld, in comparison with that upper, still appears to be nothing but confusion and emptiness. Thereis no true beauty to be seen, no satisfying fulness to be enjoyed, in this earth, but in God only. (2.)If there had been any thing desirable to be seen, yet there was no light to see it by; for darkness,thick darkness, was upon the face of the deep. God did not create this darkness (as he is said tocreate the darkness of affliction, Isa. xlv. 7), for it was only the want of light, which yet could notbe said to be wanted till something was made that might be seen by it; nor needs the want of it bemuch complained of, when there was nothing to be seen but confusion and emptiness. If the workof grace in the soul is a new creation, this chaos represents the state of an unregenerate gracelesssoul: there is disorder, confusion, and every evil work; it is empty of all good, for it is without God;it is dark, it is darkness itself. This is our condition by nature, till almighty grace effects a blessedchange.2. The Spirit of God was the first mover: He moved upon the face of the waters. When weconsider the earth without form and void, methinks it is like the valley full of dead and dry bones.Can these live? Can this confused mass of matter be formed into a beautiful world? Yes, if a spiritof life from God enter into it, Ezek. xxxvii. 9. Now there is hope concerning this thing; for theSpirit of God begins to work, and, if he work, who or what shall hinder? God is said to make theworld by his Spirit, Ps. xxxiii. 6; Job xxvi. 13; and by the same mighty worker the new creation iseffected. He moved upon the face of the deep, as Elijah stretched himself upon the dead child,—asthe hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and hovers over them, to warm and cherish them,Matt. xxiii. 37,—as the eagle stirs up her nest, and flutters over her young (it is the same word thatis here used), Deut. xxxii. 11. Learn hence, That God is not only the author of all being, but thefountain of life and spring of motion. Dead matter would be for ever dead if he did not quicken it.And this makes it credible to us that God should raise the dead. That power which brought such a4

      world as this out of confusion, emptiness, and darkness, at the beginning of time, can, at the endof time, bring our vile bodies out of the grave, though it is a land of darkness as darkness itself,and without any order (Job x. 22), and can make them glorious bodies.


      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. 4 And God saw thelight, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 And Godcalled the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and themorning were the first day.

      We have here a further account of the first day's work, in which observe, 1. That the first ofall visible beings which God created was light; not that by it he himself might see to work (for thedarkness and light are both alike to him), but that by it we might see his works and his glory inthem, and might work our works while it is day. The works of Satan and his servants are works ofdarkness; but he that doeth truth, and doeth good, cometh to the light, and coveteth it, that his deedsmay be made manifest, John iii. 21. Light is the great beauty and blessing of the universe. Like thefirst-born, it does, of all visible beings, most resemble its great Parent in purity and power, brightnessand beneficence; it is of great affinity with a spirit, and is next to it; though by it we see other things,and are sure that it is, yet we know not its nature, nor can describe what it is, or by what way thelight is parted, Job xxxviii. 19, 24. By the sight of it let us be led to, and assisted in, the believingcontemplation of him who is light, infinite and eternal light (1 John i. 5), and the Father of lights(Jam. i. 17), and who dwells in inaccessible light, 1 Tim. vi. 16. In the new creation, the first thingwrought in the soul is light: the blessed Spirit captives the will and affections by enlightening theunderstanding, so coming into the heart by the door, like the good shepherd whose own the sheepare, while sin and Satan, like thieves and robbers, climb up some other way. Those that by sin weredarkness by grace become light in the world. 2. That the light was made by the word of God'spower. He said, Let there be light; he willed and appointed it, and it was done immediately: therewas light, such a copy as exactly answered the original idea in the Eternal Mind. O the power ofthe word of God! He spoke, and it was done, done really, effectually, and for perpetuity, not inshow only, and to serve a present turn, for he commanded, and it stood fast: with him it was dictum,factum—a word, and a world. The world of God (that is, his will and the good pleasure of it) isquick and powerful. Christ is the Word, the essential eternal Word, and by him the light wasproduced, for in him was light, and he is the true light, the light of the world, John i. 9; ix. 5.. Thedivine light which shines in sanctified souls is wrought by the power of God, the power of his wordand of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, opening the understanding, scattering the mists ofignorance and mistake, and giving the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ, as atfirst, God commanded the light to shine out of darkness, 2 Cor. iv. 6. Darkness would have beenperpetually upon the face of fallen man if the Son of God had not come, and given us anunderstanding, 1 John v. 20. 3. That the light which God willed, when it was produced, he approvedof: God saw the light that it was good. It was exactly as he designed it, and it was fit to answer theend for which he designed it. It was useful and profitable; the world, which now is a palace, wouldhave been a dungeon without it. It was amiable and pleasant. Truly the light is sweet (Eccl. xi. 7);it rejoiceth the heart, Prov. xv. 30. What God commands he will approve and graciously accept;he will be well pleased with the work of his own hands. That is good indeed which is so in the sightof God, for he sees not as man sees. If the light is good, how good is he that is the fountain of light,from whom we receive it, and to whom we owe all praise for it and all the services we do by it! 4.That God divided the light from the darkness, so put them asunder as that they could never be joinedtogether, or reconciled; for what fellowship has light with darkness? 2 Cor. vi. 14. And yet hedivided time between them, the day for light and the night for darkness, in a constant and regular15

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)succession to each other. Though the darkness was now scattered by the light, yet it was notcondemned to a perpetual banishment, but takes its turn with the light, and has its place, becauseit has its use; for, as the light of the morning befriends the business of the day, so the shadows ofthe evening befriend the repose of the night, and draw the curtains about us, that we may sleep thebetter. See Job vii. 2. God has thus divided time between light and darkness, because he woulddaily remind us that this is a world of mixtures and changes. In heaven there is perfect and perpetuallight, and no darkness at all; in hell, utter darkness, and no gleam of light. In that world betweenthese two there is a great gulf fixed; but, in this world, they are counterchanged, and we pass dailyfrom one to another, that we may learn to expect the like vicissitudes in the providence of God,peace and trouble, joy and sorrow, and may set the one over-against the other, accommodatingourselves to both as we do to the light and darkness, bidding both welcome, and making the bestof both. 5. That God divided them from each other by distinguishing names: He called the light5

      day, and the darkness he called night. He gave them names, as the Lord of both; for the day is his,the night also is his, Ps. lxxiv. 16. He is the Lord of time, and will be so, till day and night shallcome to an end, and the stream of time be swallowed up in the ocean of eternity. Let us acknowledgeGod in the constant succession of day and night, and consecrate both to his honour, by working forhim every day and resting in him every night, and meditating in his law day and night. 6. That thiswas the first day's work, and a good day's work it was. The evening and the morning were the firstday. The darkness of the evening was before the light of the morning, that it might serve for a foilto it, to set it off, and make it shine the brighter. This was not only the first day of the world, butthe first day of the week. I observe it to the honour of that day, because the new world began onthe first day of the week likewise, in the resurrection of Christ, as the light of the world, early inthe morning. In him the day-spring from on high has visited the world; and happy are we, for everhappy, if that day-star arise in our hearts.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let itdivide the waters from the waters. 7 And God made the firmament, and dividedthe waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above thefirmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the eveningand the morning were the second day.We have here an account of the second day's work, the creation of the firmament, in whichobserve, 1. The command of God concerning it: Let there be a firmament, an expansion, so theHebrew word signifies, like a sheet spread, or a curtain drawn out. This includes all that is visibleabove the earth, between it and the third heavens: the air, its higher, middle, and lower, regions—thecelestial globe, and all the spheres and orbs of light above: it reaches as high as the place wherethe stars are fixed, for that is called here the firmament of heaven (v. 14, 15), and as low as theplace where the birds fly, for that also is called the firmament of heaven, v. 20. When God hadmade the light, he appointed the air to be the receptacle and vehicle of its beams, and to be as amedium of communication between the invisible and the visible world; for, though between heavenand earth there is an inconceivable distance, yet there is not an impassable gulf, as there is betweenheaven and hell. This firmament is not a wall of partition, but a way of intercourse. See Job xxvi.7; xxxvii. 18; Ps. civ. 3; Amos ix. 6. 2. The creation of it. Lest it should seem as if God had only16

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)commanded it to be done, and some one else had done it, he adds, And God made the firmament.What God requires of us he himself works in us, or it is not done. He that commands faith, holiness,and love, creates them by the power of his grace going along with his word, that he may have allthe praise. Lord, give what thou commandest, and then command what thou pleasest. The firmamentis said to be the work of God's fingers, Ps. viii. 3. Though the vastness of its extent declares it tobe the work of his arm stretched out, yet the admirable fineness of its constitution shows that it isa curious piece of art, the work of his fingers. 3. The use and design of it—to divide the watersfrom the waters, that is, to distinguish between the waters that are wrapped up in the clouds andthose that cover the sea, the waters in the air and those in the earth. See the difference betweenthese two carefully observed, Deut. xi. 10, 11, where Canaan is upon this account preferred toEgypt, that Egypt was moistened and made fruitful with the waters that are under the firmament,but Canaan with waters from above, out of the firmament, even the dew of heaven, which tarriethnot for the sons of men, Mic. v. 7. God has, in the firmament of his power, chambers, store-chambers,whence he watereth the earth, Ps. civ. 13; lxv. 9, 10. He has also treasures, or magazines, of snowand hail, which he hath reserved against the day of battle and war, Job xxxviii. 22, 23. O what agreat God is he who has thus provided for the comfort of all that serve him and the confusion ofall that hate him! It is good having him our friend, and bad having him our enemy. 4. The namingof it: He called the firmament heaven. It is the visible heaven, the pavement of the holy city; abovethe firmament God is said to have his throne (Ezek. i. 26), for he has prepared it in the heavens;the heavens therefore are said to rule, Dan. iv. 26. Is not God in the height of heaven? Job xxii. 12.Yes, he is, and we should be led by the contemplation of the heavens that are in our eye to considerour Father who is in heaven. The height of the heavens should remind us of God's supremacy andthe infinite distance there is between us and him; the brightness of the heavens and their purityshould remind us of his glory, and majesty, and perfect holiness; the vastness of the heavens, theirencompassing of the earth, and the influence they have upon it, should remind us of his immensityand universal providence.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto oneplace, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. 10 And God called the dry landEarth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it6

      was good. 11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed,and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth:and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed afterhis kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and Godsaw that it was good. 13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.The third day's work is related in these verses—the forming of the sea and the dry land, andthe making of the earth fruitful. Hitherto the power of the Creator had been exerted and employedabout the upper part of the visible word; the light of heaven was kindled, and the firmament ofheaven fixed: but now he descends to this lower world, the earth, which was designed for thechildren of men, designed both for their habitation and for their maintenance; and here we have anaccount of the fitting of it for both, and building of their house and the spreading of their table.Observe,17

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)I. How the earth was prepared to be a habitation for man, by the gathering of the waters together,and the making of the dry land to appear. Thus, instead of the confusion which there was (v. 2)when earth and water were mixed in one great mass, behold, now, there is order, by such a separationas rendered them both useful. God said, Let it be so, and it was so; no sooner said than done. 1.The waters which had covered the earth were ordered to retire, and to gather into one place, namely,those hollows which were fitted and appointed for their reception and rest. The waters, thus cleared,thus collected, and thus lodged, in their proper place, he called seas. Though they are many, indistant regions, and washing several shores, yet, either above ground or under ground, they havecommunication with each other, and so they are one, and the common receptacle of waters, intowhich all the rivers flow, Eccl. i. 7. Waters and seas often, in scripture, signify troubles andafflictions, Ps. xlii. 7; lxix. 2, 14, 15. God's own people are not exempted from these in this world;but it is their comfort that they are only waters under the heaven (there are none in heaven), andthat they are all in the place that God has appointed them and within the bounds that he has set forthem. How the waters were gathered together at first, and how they are still bound and limited bythe same Almighty had that first confined them, are elegantly described, Ps. civ. 6-9, and are therementioned as matter of praise. Those that go down to the sea in ships ought to acknowledge dailythe wisdom, power, and goodness, of the Creator, in making the great waters serviceable to manfor trade and commerce; and those that tarry at home must own themselves indebted to him thatkeeps the sea with bars and doors in its decreed place, and stays its proud waves, Job xxxviii. 10,11. 2. The dry land was made to appear, and emerge out of the waters, and was called earth, andgiven to the children of men. The earth, it seems, was in being before; but it was of no use, becauseit was under water. Thus many of God's gifts are received in vain, because they are buried; makethem to appear, and they become serviceable. We who, to this day, enjoy the benefit of the dry land(though, since this, it was once deluged, and dried again) must own ourselves tenants to, anddependents upon, that God whose hands formed the dry land, Ps. xcv. 5; Jonah i. 9.II. How the earth was furnished for the maintenance and support of man, v. 11, 12. Presentprovision was now made, by the immediate products of the upstart earth, which, in obedience toGod's command, was no sooner made than it became fruitful, and brought forth grass for the cattleand herb for the service of man. Provision was likewise made for time to come, by the perpetuatingof the several kinds of vegetables, which are numerous, various, and all curious, and every onehaving its seed in itself after its kind, that, during the continuance of man upon the earth, food mightbe fetched out of the earth for his use and benefit. Lord, what is man, that he is thus visited andregarded—that such care should be taken, and such provision made, for the support and preservationof those guilty and obnoxious lives which have been a thousand times forfeited! Observe here, 1.That not only the earth is the Lord's, but the fulness thereof, and he is the rightful owner andsovereign disposer, not only of it, but of all its furniture. The earth was emptiness (v. 2), but now,by a word's speaking, it has become full of God's riches, and his they are still—his corn and hiswine, his wool and his flax, Hos. ii. 9. Though the use of them is allowed to us, the property stillremains in him, and to his service and honour they must be used. 2. That common providence is acontinued creation, and in it our Father worketh hitherto. The earth still remains under the efficacyof this command, to bring forth grass, and herbs, and its annual products; and though, being accordingto the common course of nature, these are not standing miracles, yet they are standing instances ofthe unwearied power and unexhausted goodness of the world's great Maker and Master. 3. Thatthough God, ordinarily, makes use of the agency of second causes, according to their nature, yet18

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)he neither needs them nor is tied to them; for, though the precious fruits of the earth are usuallybrought forth by the influences of the sun and moon (Deut. xxxiii. 14), yet here we find the earth7

      bearing a great abundance of fruit, probable ripe fruit, before the sun and moon were made. 4. Thatit is good to provide things necessary before we have occasion to use them: before the beasts andman were made, here were grass and herbs prepared for them. God thus dealt wisely and graciouslywith man; let not man then be foolish and unwise for himself. 5. That God must have the glory ofall the benefit we receive from the products of the earth, either for food or physic. It is he that hearsthe heavens when they hear the earth, Hos. ii. 21, 22. And if we have, through grace, an interest inhim who is the fountain, when the streams are dried up and the fig-tree doth not blossom we mayrejoice in him.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide theday from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, andyears: 15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give lightupon the earth: and it was so. 16 And God made two great lights; the greater lightto rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. 17 AndGod set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, 18 Andto rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness:and God saw that it was good. 19 And the evening and the morning were the fourthday.This is the history of the fourth day's work, the creating of the sun, moon, and stars, which arehere accounted for, not as they are in themselves and in their own nature, to satisfy the curious, butas they are in relation to this earth, to which they serve as lights; and this is enough to furnish uswith matter for praise and thanksgiving. Holy Job mentions this as an instance of the glorious powerof God, that by the Spirit he hath garnished the heavens (Job xxvi. 13); and here we have an accountof that garniture which is not only so much the beauty of the upper world, but so much the blessingof this lower; for though heaven is high, yet has it respect to this earth, and therefore should haverespect from it. Of the creation of the lights of heaven we have an account,I. In general, v. 14, 15, where we have 1. The command given concerning them: Let there belights in the firmament of heaven. God had said, Let there be light (v. 3), and there was light; butthis was, as it were, a chaos of light, scattered and confused: now it was collected and modelled,and made into several luminaries, and so rendered both more glorious and more serviceable. Godis the God of order, and not of confusion; and, as he is light, so he is the Father and former of lights.Those lights were to be in the firmament of heaven, that vast expanse which encloses the earth, andis conspicuous to all; for no man, when he has lighted a candle, puts it under a bushel, but on acandlestick (Luke viii. 16), and a stately golden candlestick the firmament of heaven is, from whichthese candles give light to all that are in the house. The firmament itself is spoken of as having abrightness of its own (Dan. xii. 3), but this was not sufficient to give light to the earth; and perhapsfor this reason it is not expressly said of the second day's work, in which the firmament was made,that it was good, because, till it was adorned with these lights on the fourth day, it had not becomeserviceable to man. 2. The use they were intended to be of to this earth. (1.) They must be for the19

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)distinction of times, of day and night, summer and winter, which are interchanged by the motionof the sun, whose rising makes day, his setting night, his approach towards our tropic summer, hisrecess to the other winter: and thus, under the sun, there is a season to every purpose, Eccl. iii. 1.(2.) They must be for the direction of actions. They are for signs of the change of weather, that thehusbandman may order his affairs with discretion, foreseeing, by the face of the sky, when secondcauses have begun to work, whether it will be fair or foul, Matt. xvi. 2, 3. They do also give lightupon the earth, that we may walk (John xi. 9), and work (John ix. 4). according as the duty of everyday requires. The lights of heaven do not shine for themselves, nor for the world of spirits above,who need them not; but they shine for us, for our pleasure and advantage. Lord, what is man, thathe should be thus regarded! Ps. viii. 3, 4. How ungrateful and inexcusable are we, if, when Godhas set up these lights for us to work by, we sleep, or play, or trifle away the time of business, andneglect the great work we were sent into the world about! The lights of heaven are made to serveus, and they do it faithfully, and shine in their season, without fail: but we are set as lights in thisworld to serve God; and do we in like manner answer the end of our creation? No, we do not, ourlight does not shine before God as his lights shine before us, Matt. v. 14. We burn our Master'scandles, but do not mind our Master's work.II. In particular, v. 16-18.1. Observe, The lights of heaven are the sun, moon, and stars; and all these are the work ofGod's hands. (1.) The sun is the greatest light of all, more than a million times greater than theearth, and the most glorious and useful of all the lamps of heaven, a noble instance of the Creator'swisdom, power, and goodness, and an invaluable blessing to the creatures of this lower world. Let8

      us learn from Ps. xix. 1-6 how to give unto God the glory due unto his name, as the Maker of thesun. (2.) The moon is a less light, and yet is here reckoned one of the greater lights, because though,in regard to its magnitude and borrowed light, it is inferior to many of the stars, yet, by virtue ofits office, as ruler of the night, and in respect of its usefulness to the earth, it is more excellent thanthey. Those are most valuable that are most serviceable; and those are the greater lights, not thathave the best gifts, but that humbly and faithfully do the most good with them. Whosoever will begreat among you, let him be your minister, Matt. xx. 26. (3.) He made the stars also, which arehere spoken of as they appear to vulgar eyes, without distinguishing between the planets and thefixed stars, or accounting for their number, nature, place, magnitude, motions, or influences; forthe scriptures were written, not to gratify our curiosity and make us astronomers, but to lead us toGod, and make us saints. Now these lights are said to rule (v. 16, 18); not that they have a supremedominion, as God has, but they are deputy-governors, rulers under him. Here the less light, themoon, is said to rule the night; but in Ps. cxxxvi. 9 the stars are mentioned as sharers in thatgovernment; The moon and stars to rule by night. No more is meant than that they give light, Jer.xxxi. 35. The best and most honourable way of ruling is by giving light and doing good: thosecommand respect that live a useful life, and so shine as lights.2. Learn from all this, (1.) The sin and folly of that ancient idolatry, the worshipping of thesun, moon, and stars, which, some think, took rise, or countenance at least, from some brokentraditions in the patriarchal age concerning the rule and dominion of the lights of heaven. But theaccount here given of them plainly shows that they are both God's creatures and man's servants;and therefore it is both a great affront to God and a great reproach to ourselves to make deities ofthem and give them divine honours. See Deut. iv. 19. (2.) The duty and wisdom of daily worshippingthat God who made all these things, and made them to be that to us which they are. The revolutions20

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of the day and night oblige us to offer the solemn sacrifice of prayer and praise every morning andevening.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature thathath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which thewaters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after hiskind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful,and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. 23And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.Each day, hitherto, has produced very noble and excellent beings, which we can neversufficiently admire; but we do not read of the creation of any living creature till the fifth day, ofwhich these verses give us an account. The work of creation not only proceeded gradually fromone thing to another, but rose and advanced gradually from that which was less excellent to thatwhich was more so, teaching us to press towards perfection and endeavour that our last works maybe our best works. It was on the fifth day that the fish and fowl were created, and both out of thewaters. Though there is one kind of flesh of fishes, and another of birds, yet they were made together,and both out of the waters; for the power of the first Cause can produce very different effects fromthe same second causes. Observe, 1. The making of the fish and fowl, at first, v. 20, 21. Godcommanded them to be produced. He said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly; not as if thewaters had any productive power of their own, but, "Let them be brought into being, the fish in thewaters and the fowl out of them." This command he himself executed: God created great whales,&c. Insects, which perhaps are as various and as numerous as any species of animals, and theirstructure as curious, were part of this day's work, some of them being allied to the fish and othersto the fowl. Mr. Boyle (I remember) says he admires the Creator's wisdom and power as much inan ant as in an elephant. Notice is here taken of the various sorts of fish and fowl, each after theirkind, and of the great numbers of both that were produced, for the waters brought forth abundantly;and particular mention if made of great whales, the largest of fishes, whose bulk and strength,exceeding that of any other animal, are remarkable proofs of the power and greatness of the Creator.The express notice here taken of the whale, above all the rest, seems sufficient to determine whatanimal is meant by the Leviathan, Job xli. :1. The curious formation of the bodies of animals, theirdifferent sizes, shapes, and natures, with the admirable powers of the sensitive life with which theyare endued, when duly considered, serve, not only to silence and shame the objections of atheistsand infidels, but to raise high thoughts and high praises of God in pious and devout souls, Ps. civ.25, &c. 2. The blessing of them, in order to their continuance. Life is a wasting thing. Its strengthis not the strength of stones. It is a candle that will burn out, if it be not first blown out; and therefore9

      the wise Creator not only made the individuals, but provided for the propagation of the severalkinds; God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, v. 22. God will bless his own works, andnot forsake them; and what he does shall be for a perpetuity, Eccl. iii. 14. The power of God'sprovidence preserves all things, as at first his creating power produced them. Fruitfulness is theeffect of God's blessing and must be ascribed to it; the multiplying of the fish and fowl, from yearto year, is still the fruit of this blessing. Well, let us give to God the glory of the continuance of21

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)these creatures to this day for the benefit of man. See Job xii. 7, 9. It is a pity that fishing andfowling, recreations innocent in themselves, should ever be abused to divert any from God andtheir duty, while they are capable of being improved to lead us to the contemplation of the wisdom,power, and goodness, of him that made all these things, and to engage us to stand in awe of him,as the fish and fowl do of us.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle,and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. 25 And Godmade the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thingthat creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.We have here the first part of the sixth day's work. The sea was, the day before, replenishedwith its fish, and the air with its fowl; and this day were made the beasts of the earth, the cattle,and the creeping things that pertain to the earth. Here, as before, 1. The Lord gave the word; hesaid, Let the earth bring forth, not as if the earth had any such prolific virtue as to produce theseanimals, or as if God resigned his creating power to it; but, "Let these creatures now come intobeing upon the earth, and out of it, in their respective kinds, conformable to the ideas of them inthe divine counsels concerning their creation." 2. He also did the work; he made them all after theirkind, not only of divers shapes, but of divers natures, manners, food, and fashions—some to betame about the house, others to be wild in the fields—some living upon grass and herbs, othersupon flesh—some harmless, and others ravenous—some bold, and others timorous—some forman's service, and not his sustenance, as the horse—others for his sustenance, and not his service,as the sheep—others for both, as the ox—and some for neither, as the wild beasts. In all this appearsthe manifold wisdom of the Creator.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let themhave dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over thecattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon theearth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created hehim; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God saidunto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and havedominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every livingthing that moveth upon the earth.We have here the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man, which we are, in aspecial manner, concerned to take notice of, that we may know ourselves. Observe,I. That man was made last of all the creatures, that it might not be suspected that he had been,any way, a helper to God in the creation of the world: that question must be for ever humbling andmortifying to him, Where wast thou, or any of thy kind, when I laid the foundations of the earth?Job xxxviii. 4. Yet it was both an honour and a favour to him that he was made last: an honour, forthe method of the creation was to advance from that which was less perfect to that which was moreso; and a favour, for it was not fit he should be lodged in the palace designed for him till it was22

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)completely fitted up and furnished for his reception. Man, as soon as he was made, had the wholevisible creation before him, both to contemplate and to take the comfort of. Man was made thesame day that the beasts were, because his body was made of the same earth with theirs; and, whilehe is in the body, he inhabits the same earth with them. God forbid that by indulging the body andthe desires of it we should make ourselves like the beasts that perish!II. That man's creation was a more signal and immediate act of divine wisdom and power thanthat of the other creatures. The narrative of it is introduced with something of solemnity, and amanifest distinction from the rest. Hitherto, it had been said, "Let there be light," and "Let there bea firmament," and "Let the earth, or waters, bring forth" such a thing; but now the word of commandis turned into a word of consultation, "Let us make man, for whose sake the rest of the creatureswere made: this is a work we must take into our own hands." In the former he speaks as one havingauthority, in this as one having affection; for his delights were with the sons of men, Prov. viii. 31.It should seem as if this were the work which he longed to be at; as if he had said, "Having at lastsettled the preliminaries, let us now apply ourselves to the business, Let us make man." Man was10

      to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth,must be put together in him, and he must be allied to both worlds. And therefore God himself notonly undertakes to make him, but is pleased so to express himself as if he called a council to considerof the making of him: Let us make man. The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and HolyGhost, consult about it and concur in it, because man, when he was made, was to be dedicated anddevoted to Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Into that great name we are, with good reason, baptized,for to that great name we owe our being. Let him rule man who said, Let us make man.III. That man was made in God's image and after his likeness, two words to express the samething and making each other the more expressive; image and likeness denote the likest image, thenearest resemblance of any of the visible creatures. Man was not made in the likeness of any creaturethat went before him, but in the likeness of his Creator; yet still between God and man there is aninfinite distance. Christ only is the express image of God's person, as the Son of his Father, havingthe same nature. It is only some of God's honour that is put upon man, who is God's image only asthe shadow in the glass, or the king's impress upon the coin. God's image upon man consists inthese three things:—1. In his nature and constitution, not those of his body (for God has not a body),but those of his soul. This honour indeed God has put upon the body of man, that the Word wasmade flesh, the Son of God was clothed with a body like ours and will shortly clothe ours with aglory like that of his. And this we may safely say, That he by whom God made the worlds, not onlythe great world, but man the little world, formed the human body, at the first, according to theplatform he designed for himself in the fulness of time. But it is the soul, the great soul, of man,that does especially bear God's image. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent immortal spirit, aninfluencing active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of Spirits, and the soul of the world.The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. The soul of man, considered in its three noble faculties,understanding, will, and active power, is perhaps the brightest clearest looking-glass in nature,wherein to see God. 2. In his place and authority: Let us make man in our image, and let him havedominion. As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is, as it were, God's representative,or viceroy, upon earth; they are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has appointedthem to fear and serve man. Yet his government of himself by the freedom of his will has in it moreof God's image than his government of the creatures. 3. In his purity and rectitude. God's imageupon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Eph. iv. 24; Col. iii. 10. He was23

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)upright, Eccl. vii. 29. He had an habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the whole will ofGod. His understanding saw divine things clearly and truly, and there were no errors nor mistakesin his knowledge. His will complied readily and universally with the will of God, without reluctancyor resistance. His affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate appetites or passions. Histhoughts were easily brought and fixed to the best subjects, and there was no vanity norungovernableness in them. All the inferior powers were subject to the dictates and directions of thesuperior, without any mutiny or rebellion. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in havingthe image of God upon them. And this honour, put upon man at first, is a good reason why weshould not speak ill one of another (Jam. iii. 9), nor do ill one to another (Gen. ix. 6), and a goodreason why we should not debase ourselves to the service of sin, and why we should devote ourselvesto God's service. But how art thou fallen, O son of the morning! How is this image of God uponman defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew itupon our souls by his sanctifying grace!IV. That man was made male and female, and blessed with the blessing of fruitfulness andincrease. God said, Let us make man, and immediately it follows, So God created man; he performedwhat he resolved. With us saying and doing are two things; but they are not so with God. He createdhim male and female, Adam and Eve—Adam first, out of earth, and Eve out of his side, ch. ii. Itshould seem that of the rest of the creatures God made many couples, but of man did not he makeone? (Mal. ii. 15), though he had the residue of the Spirit, whence Christ gathers an argumentagainst divorce, Matt. xix. 4, 5. Our first father, Adam, was confined to one wife; and, if he hadput her away, there was no other for him to marry, which plainly intimated that the bond of marriagewas not to be dissolved at pleasure. Angels were not made male and female, for they were not topropagate their kind (Luke xx. 34-36); but man was made so, that the nature might be propagatedand the race continued. Fires and candles, the luminaries of this lower world, because they waste,and go out, have a power to light more; but it is not so with the lights of heaven: stars do not kindlestars. God made but one male and one female, that all the nations of men might know themselvesto be made of one blood, descendants from one common stock, and might thereby be induced tolove one another. God, having made them capable of transmitting the nature they had received,said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Here he gave them, 1. A large11

      inheritance: Replenish the earth; it is this that is bestowed upon the children of men. They weremade to dwell upon the face of all the earth, Acts xvii. 26. This is the place in which God has setman to be the servant of his providence in the government of the inferior creatures, and, as it were,the intelligence of this orb; to be the receiver of God's bounty, which other creatures live upon, butdo not know it; to be likewise the collector of his praises in this lower world, and to pay them intothe exchequer above (Ps. cxlv. 10); and, lastly, to be a probationer for a better state. 2. A numerouslasting family, to enjoy this inheritance, pronouncing a blessing upon them, in virtue of which theirposterity should extend to the utmost corners of the earth and continue to the utmost period of time.Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God: Obed-edom had eight sons, for Godblessed him, 1 Chron. xxvi. 5. It is owing to this blessing, which God commanded at first, that therace of mankind is still in being, and that as one generation passeth away another cometh.V. That God gave to man, when he had made him, a dominion over the inferior creatures, overthe fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air. Though man provides for neither, he has power overboth, much more over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, which are more under his careand within his reach. God designed hereby to put an honour upon man, that he might find himself24

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)the more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker. This dominion is very much diminishedand lost by the fall; yet God's providence continues so much of it to the children of men as isnecessary to the safety and support of their lives, and God's grace has given to the saints a new andbetter title to the creature than that which was forfeited by sin; for all is ours if we are Christ's, 1Cor. iii. 22.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which isupon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yieldingseed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to everyfowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life,I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.We have here the third part of the sixth day's work, which was not any new creation, but agracious provision of food for all flesh, Ps. cxxxvi. 25. He that made man and beast thus took careto preserve both, Ps. xxxvi. 6. Here is,I. Food provided for man, v. 29. Herbs and fruits must be his meat, including corn and all theproducts of the earth; these were allowed him, but (it should seem) not flesh, till after the flood,ch. ix. 3. And before the earth was deluged, much more before it was cursed for man's sake, itsfruits, no doubt, were more pleasing to the taste and more strengthening and nourishing to the bodythan marrow and fatness, and all the portion of the king's meat, are now. See here, 1. That whichshould make us humble. As we were made out of the earth, so we are maintained out of it. Onceindeed men did eat angels' food, bread from heaven; but they died (John vi. 49); it was to them butas food out of the earth, Ps. civ. 14. There is meat that endures to everlasting life; the Lord evermoregive us this. 2. That which should make us thankful. The Lord is for the body; from him we receiveall the supports and comforts of this life, and to him we must give thanks. He gives us all thingsrichly to enjoy, not only for necessity, but plenty, dainties, and varieties, for ornament and delight.How much are we indebted! How careful should we be, as we live upon God's bounty, to live tohis glory! 3. That which should make us temperate and content with our lot. Though Adam haddominion given him over fish and fowl, yet God confined him, in his food, to herbs and fruits; andhe never complained of it. Though afterwards he coveted forbidden fruit, for the sake of the wisdomand knowledge he promised himself from it, yet we never read that he coveted forbidden flesh. IfGod give us food for our lives, let us not, with murmuring Israel, ask food for our lusts, Ps. lxxviii.18; see Dan. i. 15.II. Food provided for the beasts, v. 30. Doth God take care for oxen? Yes, certainly, he providesfood convenient for them, and not for oxen only, which were used in his sacrifices and man's service,but even the young lions and the young ravens are the care of his providence; they ask and havetheir meat from God. Let us give to God the glory of his bounty to the inferior creatures, that allare fed, as it were, at his table, every day. He is a great housekeeper, a very rich and bountiful one,that satisfies the desire of every living thing. Let this encourage God's people to cast their care uponhim, and not to be solicitous respecting what they shall eat and what they shall drink. He thatprovided for Adam without his care, and still provides for all the creatures without their care, willnot let those that trust him want any good thing, Matt. vi. 26. He that feeds his birds will not starvehis babes.25

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.We have here the approbation and conclusion of the whole work of creation. As for God, hiswork is perfect; and if he begin he will also make an end, in providence and grace, as well as herein creation. Observe,12

      I. The review God took of his work: He saw every thing that he had made. So he does still; allthe works of his hands are under his eye. He that made all sees all; he that made us sees us, Ps.cxxxix. 1-16. Omniscience cannot be separated from omnipotence. Known unto God are all hisworks, Acts xv. 18. But this was the Eternal Mind's solemn reflection upon the copies of its ownwisdom and the products of its own power. God has hereby set us an example of reviewing ourworks. Having given us a power of reflection, he expects we should use that power, see our way(Jer. ii. 23), and think of it, Ps. cxix. 59. When we have finished a day's work, and are enteringupon the rest of the night, we should commune with our own hearts about what we have been doingthat day; so likewise when we have finished a week's work, and are entering upon the sabbath-rest,we should thus prepare to meet our God; and when we are finishing our life's work, and are enteringupon our rest in the grave, that is a time to bring to remembrance, that we may die repenting, andso take leave of it.II. The complacency God took in his work. When we come to review our works we find, toour shame, that much has been very bad; but, when God reviewed his, all was very good. He didnot pronounce it good till he had seen it so, to teach us not to answer a matter before we hear it.The work of creation was a very good work. All that God made was well-made, and there was noflaw nor defect in it. 1. It was good. Good, for it is all agreeable to the mind of the Creator, just ashe would have it to be; when the transcript came to be compared with the great original, it wasfound to be exact, no errata in it, not one misplaced stroke. Good, for it answers the end of itscreation, and is fit for the purpose for which it was designed. Good, for it is serviceable to man,whom God had appointed lord of the visible creation. Good, for it is all for God's glory; there isthat in the whole visible creation which is a demonstration of God's being and perfections, andwhich tends to beget, in the soul of man, a religious regard to him and veneration of him. 2. It wasvery good. Of each day's work (except the second) it was said that it was good, but now, it is verygood. For, (1.) Now man was made, who was the chief of the ways of God, who was designed tobe the visible image of the Creator's glory and the mouth of the creation in his praises. (2.) Nowall was made; every part was good, but all together very good. The glory and goodness, the beautyand harmony, of God's works, both of providence and grace, as this of creation, will best appearwhen they are perfected. When the top-stone is brought forth we shall cry, Grace, grace, unto it,Zech. iv. 7. Therefore judge nothing before the time.III. The time when this work was concluded: The evening and the morning were the sixth day;so that in six days God made the world. We are not to think but that God could have made the worldin an instant. He said that, Let there be light, and there was light, could have said, "Let there be aworld," and there would have been a world, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, as at theresurrection, 1 Cor. xv. 52. But he did it in six days, that he might show himself a free-agent, doinghis own work both in his own way and in his own time,—that his wisdom, power, and goodness,might appear to us, and be meditated upon by us, the more distinctly,—and that he might set us an26

      Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)example of working six days and resting the seventh; it is therefore made the reason of the fourthcommandment. So much would the sabbath conduce to the keeping up of religion in the world thatGod had an eye to it in the timing of his creation. And now, as God reviewed his work, let us reviewour meditations upon it, and we shall find them very lame and defective, and our praises low andflat; let us therefore stir up ourselves, and all that is within us, to worship him that made the heaven,earth, and sea, and the fountains of waters, according to the tenour of the everlasting gospel, whichis preached to every nation, Rev. xiv. 6, 7. All his works, in all places of his dominion, do blesshim; and, therefore, bless thou the Lord, O my soul!


    International Standard Bible Commentary;

    Original Matthew Henry's: Edited, Annotated by NewtonStein;

    "Genesis Chapter 2"

    This chapter is an appendix to the history of the creation, more particularly explaining andenlarging upon that part of the history which relates immediately to man, the favourite of this lowerworld. We have in it, I. The institution and sanctification of the sabbath, which was made for man,to further his holiness and comfort (ver. 1-3). II. A more particular account of man's creation, asthe centre and summary of the whole work (ver. 1-7). III. A description of the garden of Eden, andthe placing of man in it under the obligations of a law and covenant (ver. 8-17). IV. The creationof the woman, her marriage to the man, and the institution of the ordinance of marriage (ver. 18,&c.).The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 Andon the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on theseventh day from all his work which he had made. 3 And God blessed the seventhday, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which Godcreated and made.We have here, I. The settlement of the kingdom of nature, in God's resting from the work ofcreation, v. 1, 2. Here observe, 1. The creatures made both in heaven and earth are the hosts orarmies of them, which denotes them to be numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and undercommand. How great is the sum of them! And yet every one knows and keeps his place. God usesthem as his hosts for the defence of his people and the destruction of his enemies; for he is the Lordof hosts, of all these hosts, Dan. iv. 35. 2. The heavens and the earth are finished pieces, and so are13

    all the creatures in them. So perfect is God's work that nothing can be added to it nor taken fromit, Eccl. iii. 14. God that began to build showed himself well able to finish. 3. After the end of thefirst six days God ceased from all works of creation. He has so ended his work as that though, inhis providence, he worketh hitherto (John v. 17), preserving and governing all the creatures, andparticularly forming the spirit of man within him, yet he does not make any new species of creatures.In miracles, he has controlled and overruled nature, but never changed its settled course, nor repealednor added to any of its establishments. 4. The eternal God, though infinitely happy in the enjoyment27

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest, as one weary, butas one well-pleased with the instances of his own goodness and the manifestations of his own glory.II. The commencement of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification of the sabbath day, v. 3.He rested on that day, and took a complacency in his creatures, and then sanctified it, and appointedus, on that day, to rest and take a complacency in the Creator; and his rest is, in the fourthcommandment, made a reason for ours, after six days' labour. Observe, 1. The solemn observanceof one day in seven, as a day of holy rest and holy work, to God's honour, is the indispensable dutyof all those to whom God has revealed his holy sabbaths. 2. The way of sabbath-sanctification isthe good old way, Jer. vi. 16. Sabbaths are as ancient as the world; and I see no reason to doubtthat the sabbath, being now instituted in innocency, was religiously observed by the people of Godthroughout the patriarchal age. 3. The sabbath of the Lord is truly honourable, and we have reasonto honour it—honour it for the sake of its antiquity, its great Author, the sanctification of the firstsabbath by the holy God himself, and by our first parents in innocency, in obedience to him. 4. Thesabbath day is a blessed day, for God blessed it, and that which he blesses is blessed indeed. Godhas put an honour upon it, has appointed us, on that day, to bless him, and has promised, on thatday, to meet us and bless us. 5. The sabbath day is a holy day, for God has sanctified it. He hasseparated and distinguished it from the rest of the days of the week, and he has consecrated it andset it apart to himself and his own service and honour. Though it is commonly taken for grantedthat the Christian sabbath we observe, reckoning from the creation, is not the seventh but the firstday of the week, yet being a seventh day, and we in it, celebrating the rest of God the Son, and thefinishing of the work of our redemption, we may and ought to act faith upon this original institutionof the sabbath day, and to commemorate the work of creation, to the honour of the great Creator,who is therefore worthy to receive, on that day, blessing, and honour, and praise, from all religiousassemblies.The Creation. (b. c. 4004.)4 These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they werecreated, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 And everyplant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew:for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a manto till the ground. 6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the wholeface of the ground. 7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, andbreathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.In these verses, I. Here is a name given to the Creator which we have not yet met with, andthat is Jehovah—the LORD, in capital letters, which are constantly used in our English translationto intimate that in the original it is Jehovah. All along, in the first chapter, he was called Elohim—aGod of power; but now Jehovah Elohim—a God of power and perfection, a finishing God. As wefind him known by his name Jehovah when he appeared to perform what he had promised ( 3), so now we have him known by that name, when he had perfected what he had begun. Jehovahis that great and incommunicable name of God which denotes his having his being of himself, andhis giving being to all things; fitly therefore is he called by that name now that heaven and earthare finished.28

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. Further notice taken of the production of plants and herbs, because they were made andappointed to be food for man, v. 5, 6. Here observe, 1. The earth did not bring forth its fruits ofitself, by any innate virtue of its own but purely by the almighty power of God, which formed everyplant and every herb before it grew in the earth. Thus grace in the soul, that plant of renown, growsnot of itself in nature's soil, but is the work of God's own hands. 2. Rain also is the gift of God; itcame not till the Lord God caused it to rain. If rain be wanted, it is God that withholds it; if raincome plentifully in its season, it is God that sends it; if it come in a distinguishing way, it is Godthat causeth it to rain upon one city and not upon another, Amos iv. 7. 3. Though God, ordinarily,works by means, yet he is not tied to them, but when he pleases he can do his own work withoutthem. As the plants were produced before the sun was made, so they were before there was eitherrain to water the earth or man to till it. Therefore though we must not tempt God in the neglect ofmeans, yet we must trust God in the want of means. 4. Some way or other God will take care to14

    water the plants that are of his own planting. Though as yet there was no rain, God made a mistequivalent to a shower, and with it watered the whole face of the ground. Thus he chose to fulfilhis purpose by the weakest means, that the excellency of the power might be of God. Divine gracedescends like a mist, or silent dew, and waters the church without noise, Deut. xxxii. 2.III. A more particular account of the creation of man, v. 7. Man is a little world, consisting ofheaven and earth, soul and body. Now here we have an account of the origin of both and the puttingof both together: let us seriously consider it, and say, to our Creator's praise, We are fearfully andwonderfully made, Ps. cxxxix. 14. Elihu, in the patriarchal age, refers to this history when he says(Job xxxiii. 6), I also am formed out of the clay, and (v. 4), The breath of the Almighty hath givenme life, and (ch. xxxii. 8), There is a spirit in man. Observe then,1. The mean origin, and yet the curious structure, of the body of man. (1.) The matter wasdespicable. He was made of the dust of the ground, a very unlikely thing to make a man of; but thesame infinite power that made the world of nothing made man, its master-piece, of next to nothing.He was made of the dust, the small dust, such as is upon the surface of the earth. Probably, not drydust, but dust moistened with the mist that went up, v. 6. He was not made of gold-dust, powderof pearl, or diamond dust, but common dust, dust of the ground. Hence he is said to be of the earth,choikos—dusty, 1 Cor. xv. 47. And we also are of the earth, for we are his offspring, and of thesame mould. So near an affinity is there between the earth and our earthly parents that our mother'swomb, out of which we were born, is called the earth (Ps. cxxxix. 15), and the earth, in which wemust be buried, is called our mother's womb, Job i. 21. Our foundation is in the earth, Job iv. 19.Our fabric is earthly, and the fashioning of it like that of an earthen vessel, Job x. 9. Our food isout of the earth, Job xxviii. 5. Our familiarity is with the earth, Job xvii. 14. Our fathers are in theearth, and our own final tendency is to it; and what have we then to be proud of? (2.) Yet the Makerwas great, and the make fine. The Lord God, the great fountain of being and power, formed man.Of the other creatures it is said that they were created and made; but of man that he was formed,which denotes a gradual process in the work with great accuracy and exactness. To express thecreation of this new thing, he takes a new word, a word (some think) borrowed from the potter'sforming his vessel upon the wheel; for we are the clay, and God the potter, Isa. lxiv. 8. The bodyof man is curiously wrought, Ps. cxxxix. 15, 16. Materiam superabat opus—The workmanshipexceeded the materials. Let us present our bodies to God as living sacrifices (Rom. xii. 1), as livingtemples (1 Cor. vi. 19), and then these vile bodies shall shortly be new-formed like Christ's gloriousbody, Phil. iii. 21.29

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)2. The high origin and the admirable serviceableness of the soul of man. (1.) It takes its risefrom the breath of heaven, and is produced by it. It was not made of the earth, as the body was; itis a pity then that it should cleave to the earth, and mind earthly things. It came immediately fromGod; he gave it to be put into the body (Eccl. xii. 7), as afterwards he gave the tables of stone ofhis own writing to be put into the ark, and the urim of his own framing to be put into the breast-plate.Hence God is not only the former but the Father of spirits. Let the soul which God has breathedinto us breathe after him; and let it be for him, since it is from him. Into his hands let us commitour spirits, for from his hands we had them. (2.) It takes its lodging in a house of clay, and is thelife and support of it. It is by it that man is a living soul, that is, a living man; for the soul is theman. The body would be a worthless, useless, loathsome carcase, if the soul did not animate it. ToGod that gave us these souls we must shortly give an account of them, how we have employedthem, used them, proportioned them, and disposed of them; and if then it be found that we havelost them, though it were to gain the world, we shall be undone for ever. Since the extraction of thesoul is so noble, and its nature and faculties are so excellent, let us not be of those fools that despisetheir own souls, by preferring their bodies before them, Prov. xv. 32. When our Lord Jesus anointedthe blind man's eyes with clay perhaps he intimated that it was he who at first formed man out ofthe clay; and when he breathed on his disciples, saying, Receive you the Holy Ghost, he intimatedthat it was he who at first breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life. He that made the soul isalone able to new-make it.The Garden of Eden. (b. c. 4004.)8 And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the manwhom he had formed. 9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow everytree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midstof the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 10 And a river went outof Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into fourheads. 11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole landof Havilah, where there is gold; 12 And the gold of that land is good; there isbdellium and the onyx stone. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: thesame is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. 14 And the name of the thirdriver is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourthriver is Euphrates. 15 And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the gardenof Eden to dress it and to keep it.Man consisting of body and soul, a body made out of the earth and a rational immortal soulthe breath of heaven, we have, in these verses, the provision that was made for the happiness ofboth; he that made him took care to make him happy, if he could but have kept himself so andknown when he was well off. That part of man by which he is allied to the world of sense was madehappy; for he was put in the paradise of God: that part by which he is allied to the world of spiritswas well provided for; for he was taken into covenant with God. Lord, what is man that he shouldbe thus dignified—man that is a worm! Here we have,I. A description of the garden of Eden, which was intended for the mansion and demesne ofthis great lord, the palace of this prince. The inspired penman, in this history, writing for the Jews30

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)first, and calculating his narratives for the infant state of the church, describes things by theiroutward sensible appearances, and leaves us, by further discoveries of the divine light, to be ledinto the understanding of the mysteries couched under them. Spiritual things were strong meat,which they could not yet bear; but he writes to them as unto carnal, 1 Cor. iii. 1. Therefore he doesnot so much insist upon the happiness of Adam's mind as upon that of his outward state. The Mosaichistory, as well as the Mosaic law, has rather the patterns of heavenly things than the heavenlythings themselves, Heb. ix. 23. Observe,1. The place appointed for Adam's residence was a garden; not an ivory house nor a palaceoverlaid with gold, but a garden, furnished and adorned by nature, not by art. What little reasonhave men to be proud of stately and magnificent buildings, when it was the happiness of man ininnocency that he needed none! As clothes came in with sin, so did houses. The heaven was theroof of Adam's house, and never was any roof so curiously ceiled and painted. The earth was hisfloor, and never was any floor so richly inlaid. The shadow of the trees was his retirement; underthem were his dining-rooms, his lodging-rooms, and never were any rooms so finely hung as these:Solomon's, in all their glory, were not arrayed like them. The better we can accommodate ourselvesto plain things, and the less we indulge ourselves with those artificial delights which have beeninvented to gratify men's pride and luxury, the nearer we approach to a state of innocency. Natureis content with a little and that which is most natural, grace with less, but lust with nothing.2. The contrivance and furniture of this garden were the immediate work of God's wisdom andpower. The Lord God planted this garden, that is, he had planted it—upon the third day, when thefruits of the earth were made. We may well suppose to have been the most accomplished place forpleasure and delight that ever the sun saw, when the all-sufficient God himself designed it to bethe present happiness of his beloved creature, man, in innocency, and a type and a figure of thehappiness of the chosen remnant in glory. No delights can be agreeable nor satisfying to a soul butthose that God himself has provided and appointed for it; no true paradise, but of God's planting.The light of our own fires, and the sparks of our own kindling, will soon leave us in the dark, Isa.l. 11. The whole earth was now a paradise compared with what it is since the fall and since theflood; the finest gardens in the world are a wilderness compared with what the whole face of theground was before it was cursed for man's sake: yet that was not enough; God planted a garden forAdam. God's chosen ones shall have distinguishing favours shown them.3. The situation of this garden was extremely sweet. It was in Eden, which signifies delightand pleasure. The place is here particularly pointed out by such marks and bounds as were sufficient,I suppose, when Moses wrote, to specify the place to those who knew that country; but now, itseems, the curious cannot satisfy themselves concerning it. Let it be our care to make sure a placein the heavenly paradise, and then we need not perplex ourselves with a search after the place ofthe earthly paradise. It is certain that, wherever it was, it had all desirable conveniences, and (whichnever any house nor garden on earth was) without any inconvenience. Beautiful for situation, thejoy and the glory of the whole earth, was this garden: doubtless it was earth in its highest perfection.4. The trees with which this garden was planted. (1.) It had all the best and choicest trees incommon with the rest of the ground. It was beautiful and adorned with every tree that, for its heightor breadth, its make or colour, its leaf or flower, was pleasant to the sight and charmed the eye; itwas replenished and enriched with every tree that yielded fruit grateful to the taste and useful tothe body, and so good for food. God, as a tender Father, consulted not only Adam's profit, but hispleasure; for there is a pleasure consistent with innocency, nay, there is a true and transcendent31

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)16

    pleasure in innocency. God delights in the prosperity of his servants, and would have them easy;it is owing to themselves if they be uneasy. When Providence puts us into an Eden of plenty andpleasure, we ought to serve him with joyfulness and gladness of heart, in the abundance of the goodthings he gives us. But, (2.) It had two extraordinary trees peculiar to itself; on earth there were nottheir like. [1.] There was the tree of life in the midst of the garden, which was not so much amemorandum to him of the fountain and author of his life, nor perhaps any natural means to preserveor prolong life; but it was chiefly intended to be a sign and seal to Adam, assuring him of thecontinuance of life and happiness, even to immortality and everlasting bliss, through the grace andfavour of his Maker, upon condition of his perseverance in this state of innocency and obedience.Of this he might eat and live. Christ is now to us the tree of life (Rev. ii. 7; xxii. 2), and the breadof life, John vi. 48, 53. [2.] There was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, so called, notbecause it had any virtue in it to beget or increase useful knowledge (surely then it would not havebeen forbidden), but, First, Because there was an express positive revelation of the will of Godconcerning this tree, so that by it he might know moral good and evil. What is good? It is good notto eat of this tree. What is evil? It is evil to eat of this tree. The distinction between all other moralgood and evil was written in the heart of man by nature; but this, which resulted from a positivelaw, was written upon this tree. Secondly, Because, in the event, it proved to give Adam anexperimental knowledge of good by the loss of it and of evil by the sense of it. As the covenant ofgrace has in it, not only Believe and be saved, but also, Believe not and be damned (Mark xvi. 16),so the covenant of innocency had in it, not only "Do this and live," which was sealed and confirmedby the tree of life, but, "Fail and die," which Adam was assured of by this other tree: "Touch it atyour peril;" so that, in these two trees, God set before him good and evil, the blessing and the curse,Deut. xxx. 19. These two trees were as two sacraments.5. The rivers with which this garden was watered, v. 10-14. These four rivers (or one riverbranched into four streams) contributed much both to the pleasantness and the fruitfulness of thisgarden. The land of Sodom is said to be well watered every where, as the garden of the Lord, ch.xiii. 10. Observe, That which God plants he will take care to keep watered. The trees of righteousnessare set by the rivers, Ps. i. 3. In the heavenly paradise there is a river infinitely surpassing these;for it is a river of the water of life, not coming out of Eden, as this, but proceeding out of the throneof God and of the Lamb (Rev. xxii. 1), a river that makes glad the city of our God, Ps. xlvi. 4.Hiddekel and Euphrates are rivers of Babylon, which we read of elsewhere. By these the captiveJews sat down and wept, when they remembered Sion (Ps. cxxxvii. 1); but methinks they had muchmore reason to weep (and so have we) at the remembrance of Eden. Adam's paradise was theirprison; such wretched work has sin made. Of the land of Havilah it is said (v. 12), The gold of thatland is good, and there is bdellium and the onyx-stone: surely this is mentioned that the wealth ofwhich the land of Havilah boasted might be as foil to that which was the glory of the land of Eden.Havilah had gold, and spices, and precious stones; but Eden had that which was infinitely better,the tree of life, and communion with God. So we may say of the Africans and Indians: "They havethe gold, but we have the gospel. The gold of their land is good, but the riches of ours are infinitelybetter."II. The placing of man in this paradise of delight, v. 15, where observe,1. How God put him in possession of it: The Lord God took the man, and put him into thegarden of Eden; so v. 8, 15. Note here, (1.) Man was made out of paradise; for, after God hadformed him, he put him into the garden: he was made of common clay, not of paradise-dust. He32

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)lived out of Eden before he lived in it, that he might see that all the comforts of his paradise-statewere owing to God's free grace. He could not plead a tenant-right to the garden, for he was notborn upon the premises, nor had any thing but what he received; all boasting was hereby for everexcluded. (2.) The same God that was the author of his being was the author of his bliss; the samehand that made him a living soul planted the tree of life for him, and settled him by it. He that madeus is alone able to make us happy; he that is the former of our bodies and the Father of our spirits,he, and none but he, can effectually provide for the felicity of both. (3.) It adds much to the comfortof any condition if we have plainly seen God going before us and putting us into it. If we have notforced providence, but followed it, and taken the hints of direction it has given us, we may hopeto find a paradise where otherwise we could not have expected it. See Ps. xlvii. 4.2. How God appointed him business and employment. He put him there, not like Leviathaninto the waters, to play therein, but to dress the garden and to keep it. Paradise itself was not a placeof exemption from work. Note, here, (1.) We were none of us sent into the world to be idle. He thatmade us these souls and bodies has given us something to work with; and he that gave us this earthfor our habitation has made us something to work on. If a high extraction, or a great estate, or alarge dominion, or perfect innocency, or a genius for pure contemplation, or a small family, could17

    have given a man a writ of ease, Adam would not have been set to work; but he that gave us beinghas given us business, to serve him and our generation, and to work out our salvation: if we do notmind our business, we are unworthy of our being and maintenance. (2.) Secular employments willvary well consist with a state of innocency and a life of communion with God. The sons and heirsof heaven, while they are here in this world, have something to do about this earth, which musthave its share of their time and thoughts; and, if they do it with an eye to God, they are as trulyserving him in it as when they are upon their knees. (3.) The husbandman's calling is an ancientand honourable calling; it was needful even in paradise. The garden of Eden, though it needed notto be weeded (for thorns and thistles were not yet a nuisance), yet must be dressed and kept. Nature,even in its primitive state, left room for the improvements of art and industry. It was a calling fitfor a state of innocency, making provision for life, not for lust, and giving man an opportunity ofadmiring the Creator and acknowledging his providence: while his hands were about his trees, hisheart might be with his God. (4.) There is a true pleasure in the business which God calls us to, andemploys us in. Adam's work was so far from being an allay that it was an addition to the pleasuresof paradise; he could not have been happy if he had been idle: it is still a law, He that will not workhas no right to eat, 2 Thess. iii. 10; Prov. xxvii. 23.III. The command which God gave to man in innocency, and the covenant he then took himinto. Hitherto we have seen God as man's powerful Creator and his bountiful Benefactor; now heappears as his Ruler and Lawgiver. God put him into the garden of Eden, not to live there as hemight list, but to be under government. As we are not allowed to be idle in this world, and to donothing, so we are not allowed to be wilful, and do what we please. When God had given man adominion over the creatures, he would let him know that still he himself was under the governmentof his Creator.The Tree of Knowledge Prohibited. (b. c. 4004.)16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the gardenthou mayest freely eat: 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thoushalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.33

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Observe here, I. God's authority over man, as a creature that had reason and freedom of will.The Lord God commanded the man, who stood now as a public person, the father and representativeof all mankind, to receive law, as he had lately received a nature, for himself and all his. Godcommanded all the creatures, according to their capacity; the settled course of nature is a law, Ps.cxlviii. 6; civ. 9. The brute-creatures have their respective instincts; but man was made capable ofperforming reasonable service, and therefore received, not only the command of a Creator, but thecommand of a Prince and Master. Though Adam was a very great man, a very good man, and avery happy man, yet the Lord God commanded him; and the command was no disparagement tohis greatness, no reproach to his goodness, nor any diminution at all to his happiness. Let usacknowledge God's right to rule us, and our own obligations to be ruled by him; and never allowany will of our own in contradiction to, or competition with, the holy will of God.II. The particular act of this authority, in prescribing to him what he should do, and upon whatterms he should stand with his Creator. Here is,1. A confirmation of his present happiness to him, in that grant, Of every tree in the gardenthou mayest freely eat. This was not only an allowance of liberty to him, in taking the deliciousfruits of paradise, as a recompence for his care and pains in dressing and keeping it (1 Cor. ix. 7,10), but it was, withal, an assurance of life to him, immortal life, upon his obedience. For the treeof life being put in the midst of the garden (v. 9), as the heart and soul of it, doubtless God had aneye to that especially in this grant; and therefore when, upon his revolt, this grant is recalled, nonotice is taken of any tree of the garden as prohibited to him, except the tree of life (ch. iii. 22), ofwhich it is there said he might have eaten and lived for ever, that is, never died, nor ever lost hishappiness. "Continue holy as thou art, in conformity to thy Creator's will, and thou shalt continuehappy as thou art in the enjoyment of thy Creator's favour, either in this paradise or in a better."Thus, upon condition of perfect personal and perpetual obedience, Adam was sure of paradise tohimself and his heirs for ever.2. A trial of his obedience, upon pain of the forfeiture of all his happiness: "But of the othertree which stood very near the tree of life (for they are both said to be in the midst of the garden),and which was called the tree of knowledge, in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;"as if he had said, "Know, Adam, that thou art now upon thy good behaviour, thou art put intoparadise upon trial; be observant, be obedient, and thou art made for ever; otherwise thou wilt beas miserable as now thou art happy." Here,(1.) Adam is threatened with death in case of disobedience: Dying thou shalt die, denoting asure and dreadful sentence, as, in the former part of this covenant, eating thou shalt eat, denotes afree and full grant. Observe [1.] Even Adam, in innocency, was awed with a threatening; fear is18

    one of the handles of the soul, by which it is taken hold of and held. If he then needed this hedge,much more do we now. [2.] The penalty threatened is death: Thou shalt die, that is, "Thou shalt bedebarred from the tree of life, and all the good that is signified by it, all the happiness thou hast,either in possession or prospect; and thou shalt become liable to death, and all the miseries thatpreface it and attend it." [3.] This was threatened as the immediate consequence of sin: In the daythou eatest, thou shalt die, that is, "Thou shalt become mortal and capable of dying; the grant ofimmortality shall be recalled, and that defence shall depart from thee. Thou shalt become obnoxiousto death, like a condemned malefactor that is dead in the law" (only, because Adam was to be theroot of mankind, he was reprieved); "nay, the harbingers and forerunners of death shall immediately34

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)seize thee, and thy life, thenceforward, shall be a dying life: and this, surely; it is a settled rule, thesoul that sinneth, it shall die."(2.) Adam is tried with a positive law, not to eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Now itwas very proper to make trial of his obedience by such a command as this, [1.] Because the reasonof it is fetched purely from the will of the Law-maker. Adam had in his nature an aversion to thatwhich was evil in itself, and therefore he is tried in a thing which was evil only because it wasforbidden; and, being in a small thing, it was the more fit to prove his obedience by. [2.] Becausethe restraint of it is laid upon the desires of the flesh and of the mind, which, in the corrupt natureof man, are the two great fountains of sin. This prohibition checked both his appetite towardssensitive delights and his ambitions of curious knowledge, that his body might be ruled by his souland his soul by his God.Thus easy, thus happy, was man in a state of innocency, having all that heart could wish tomake him so. How good was God to him! How many favours did he load him with! How easy werethe laws he gave him! How kind the covenant he made with him! Yet man, being in honour,understood not his own interest, but soon became as the beasts that perish.Adam's Dominion. (b. c. 4004.)18 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I willmake him an help meet for him. 19 And out of the ground the Lord God formedevery beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam tosee what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature,that was the name thereof. 20 And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowlof the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an helpmeet for him.Here we have, I. An instance of the Creator's care of man and his fatherly concern for hiscomfort, v. 18. Though God had let him know that he was a subject, by giving him a command,(v. 16, 17), yet here he lets him know also, for his encouragement in his obedience, that he was afriend, and a favourite, and one whose satisfaction he was tender of. Observe,1. How God graciously pitied his solitude: It is not good that man, this man, should be alone.Though there was an upper world of angels and a lower world of brutes, and he between them, yetthere being none of the same nature and rank of beings with himself, none that he could conversefamiliarly with, he might be truly said to be alone. Now he that made him knew both him and whatwas good for him, better than he did himself, and he said, "It is not good that he should continuethus alone." (1.) It is not for his comfort; for man is a sociable creature. It is a pleasure to him toexchange knowledge and affection with those of his own kind, to inform and to be informed, tolove and to be beloved. What God here says of the first man Solomon says of all men (Eccl. iv. 9,&c.), that two are better than one, and woe to him that is alone. If there were but one man in theworld, what a melancholy man must he needs be! Perfect solitude would turn a paradise into adesert, and a palace into a dungeon. Those therefore are foolish who are selfish and would be placealone in the earth. (2.) It is not for the increase and continuance of his kind. God could have madea world of men at first, to replenish the earth, as he replenished heaven with a world of angels: butthe place would have been too strait for the designed number of men to live together at once;35

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)therefore God saw fit to make up that number by a succession of generations, which, as God hadformed man, must be from two, and those male and female; one will be ever one.2. How God graciously resolved to provide society for him. The result of this reasoningconcerning him was this kind resolution, I will make a help-meet for him; a help like him (so someread it), one of the same nature and the same rank of beings; a help near him (so others), one tocohabit with him, and to be always at hand; a help before him (so others), one that he should lookupon with pleasure and delight. Note hence, (1.) In our best state in this world we have need of oneanother's help; for we are members one of another, and the eye cannot say to the hand, I have noneed of thee, 1 Cor. xii. 21. We must therefore be glad to receive help from others, and give helpto others, as there is occasion. (2.) It is God only who perfectly knows our wants, and is perfectly19

    able to supply them all, Phil. iv. 19. In him alone our help is, and from him are all our helpers. (3.)A suitable wife is a help-meet, and is from the Lord. The relation is then likely to be comfortablewhen meetness directs and determines the choice, and mutual helpfulness is the constant care andendeavour, 1 Cor. vii. 33, 34. (4.) Family-society, if it is agreeable, is a redress sufficient for thegrievance of solitude. He that has a good God, a good heart, and a good wife, to converse with, andyet complains he wants conversation, would not have been easy and content in paradise; for Adamhimself had no more: yet, even before Eve was created, we do not find that he complained of beingalone, knowing that he was not alone, for the Father was with him. Those that are most satisfiedin God and his favour are in the best way, and in the best frame, to receive the good things of thislife, and shall be sure of them, as far as Infinite Wisdom sees good.II. An instance of the creatures' subjection to man, and his dominion over them (v. 19, 20):Every beast of the field and every fowl of the air God brought to Adam, either by the ministry ofangels, or by a special instinct, directing them to come to man as their master, teaching the oxbetimes to know his owner. Thus God gave man livery and seisin of the fair estate he had grantedhim, and put him in possession of his dominion over the creatures. God brought them to him, thathe might name them, and so might give, 1. A proof of his knowledge, as a creature endued withthe faculties both of reason and speech, and so taught more than the beasts of the earth and madewiser than the fowls of heaven, Job xxxv. 11. And, 2. A proof of his power. It is an act of authorityto impose names (Dan. i. 7), and of subjection to receive them. The inferior creatures did now, asit were, do homage to their prince at his inauguration, and swear fealty and allegiance to him. IfAdam had continued faithful to his God, we may suppose the creatures themselves would so wellhave known and remembered the names Adam now gave them as to have come at his call, at anytime, and answered to their names. God gave names to the day and night, to the firmament, to theearth, and to the sea; and he calleth the stars by their names, to show that he is the supreme Lordof these. But he gave Adam leave to name the beasts and fowls, as their subordinate lord; for, havingmade him in his own image, he thus put some of his honour upon him.III. An instance of the creatures' insufficiency to be a happiness for man: But (among them all)for Adam there was not found a help meet for him. Some make these to be the words of Adamhimself; observing all the creatures come to him by couples to be named, he thus intimates hisdesire to his Maker:—"Lord, these have all helps meet for them; but what shall I do? Here is nevera one for me." It is rather God's judgment upon the review. He brought them all together, to see ifthere were ever a suitable match for Adam in any of the numerous families of the inferior creatures;but there was none. Observe here, 1. The dignity and excellency of the human nature. On earththere was not its like, nor its peer to be found among all visible creatures; they were all looked36

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)over, but it could not be matched among them all. 2. The vanity of this world and the things of it;put them all together, and they will not make a help-meet for man. They will not suit the nature ofhis soul, nor supply its needs, nor satisfy its just desires, nor run parallel with its never-failingduration. God creates a new thing to be a help-meet for man—not so much the woman as the seedof the woman.The Formation of Eve; Marriage Instituted. (b. c. 4004.)21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: andhe took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; 22 And the rib,which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her untothe man. 23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh:she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shalla man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shallbe one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were notashamed.Here we have, I. The making of the woman, to be a help-meet for Adam. This was done uponthe sixth day, as was also the placing of Adam in paradise, though it is here mentioned after anaccount of the seventh day's rest; but what was said in general (ch. i. 27), that God made man maleand female, is more distinctly related here. Observe, 1. That Adam was first formed, then Eve (1Tim. ii. 13), and she was made of the man, and for the man (1 Cor. xi. 8, 9), all which are urgedthere as reasons for the humility, modesty, silence, and submissiveness, of that sex in general, andparticularly the subjection and reverence which wives owe to their own husbands. Yet man beingmade last of the creatures, as the best and most excellent of all, Eve's being made after Adam, andout of him, puts an honour upon that sex, as the glory of the man, 1 Cor. xi. 7. If man is the head,she is the crown, a crown to her husband, the crown of the visible creation. The man was dustrefined, but the woman was dust double-refined, one remove further from the earth. 2. That Adam20

    slept while his wife was in making, that no room might be left to imagine that he had herein directedthe Spirit of the Lord, or been his counsellor, Isa. xl. 13. He had been made sensible of his want ofa meet help; but, God having undertaken to provide him one, he does not afflict himself with anycare about it, but lies down and sleeps sweetly, as one that had cast all his care on God, with acheerful resignation of himself and all his affairs to his Maker's will and wisdom. Jehovah-jireh,let the Lord provide when and whom he pleases. If we graciously rest in God, God will graciouslywork for us and work all for good. 3. That God caused a sleep to fall on Adam, and made it a deepsleep, that so the opening of his side might be no grievance to him; while he knows no sin, Godwill take care he shall feel no pain. When God, by his providence, does that to his people which isgrievous to flesh and blood, he not only consults their happiness in the issue, but by his grace hecan so quiet and compose their spirits as to make them easy under the sharpest operations. 4. Thatthe woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him,nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under hisarm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved. Adam lost a rib, and without any diminutionto his strength or comeliness (for, doubtless, the flesh was closed without a scar); but in lieu thereofhe had a help meet for him, which abundantly made up his loss: what God takes away from hispeople he will, one way or other, restore with advantage. In this (as in many other things) Adam37

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)was a figure of him that was to come; for out of the side of Christ, the second Adam, his spousethe church was formed, when he slept the sleep, the deep sleep, of death upon the cross, in orderto which his side was opened, and there came out blood and water, blood to purchase his churchand water to purify it to himself. See Eph. v. 25, 26.II. The marriage of the woman to Adam. Marriage is honourable, but this surely was the mosthonourable marriage that ever was, in which God himself had all along an immediate hand. Marriages(they say) are made in heaven: we are sure this was, for the man, the woman, the match, were allGod's own work; he, by his power, made them both, and now, by his ordinance, made them one.This was a marriage made in perfect innocency, and so was never any marriage since, 1. God, asher Father, brought the woman to the man, as his second self, and a help-meet for him. When hehad made her, he did not leave her to her own disposal; no, she was his child, and she must notmarry without his consent. Those are likely to settle to their comfort who by faith and prayer, anda humble dependence upon providence, put themselves under a divine conduct. That wife that isof God's making by special grace, and of God's bringing by special providence, is likely to provea help-meet for a man. 2. From God, as his Father, Adam received her (v. 23): "This is now boneof my bone. Now I have what I wanted, and which all the creatures could not furnish me with, ahelp meet for me." God's gifts to us are to be received with a humble thankful acknowledgment ofhis wisdom in suiting them to us, and his favour in bestowing them on us. Probably it was revealedto Adam in a vision, when he was asleep, that this lovely creature, now presented to him, was apiece of himself, and was to be his companion and the wife of his covenant. Hence some havefetched an argument to prove that glorified saints in the heavenly paradise shall know one another.Further, in token of his acceptance of her, he gave her a name, not peculiar to her, but common toher sex: She shall be called woman, Isha, a she-man, differing from man in sex only, not innature—made of man, and joined to man.III. The institution of the ordinance of marriage, and the settling of the law of it, v. 24. Thesabbath and marriage were two ordinances instituted in innocency, the former for the preservationof the church, the latter for the preservation of the world of mankind. It appears (by Matt. xix. 4,5) that it was God himself who said here, "A man must leave all his relations, to cleave to his wife;"but whether he spoke it by Moses, the penman, or by Adam (who spoke, v. 23), is uncertain. Itshould seem, they are the words of Adam, in God's name, laying down this law to all his posterity.1. See here how great the virtue of a divine ordinance is; the bonds of it are stronger even thanthose of nature. To whom can we be more firmly bound than the fathers that begat us and themothers that bore us? Yet the son must quit them, to be joined to his wife, and the daughter forgetthem, to cleave to her husband, Ps. xlv. 10, 11. 2. See how necessary it is that children should taketheir parents' consent along with them in their marriage, and how unjust those are to their parents,as well as undutiful, who marry without it; for they rob them of their right to them, and interest inthem, and alienate it to another, fraudulently and unnaturally. 3. See what need there is both ofprudence and prayer in the choice of this relation, which is so near and so lasting. That had needbe well done which is to be done for life. 4. See how firm the bond of marriage is, not to be dividedand weakened by having many wives (Mal. ii. 15) nor to be broken or cut off by divorce, for anycause but fornication, or voluntary desertion. 5. See how dear the affection ought to be betweenhusband and wife, such as there is to our own bodies, Eph. v. 28. These two are one flesh; let themthen be one soul.38

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)21

    IV. An evidence of the purity and innocency of that state wherein our first parents were created,v. 25. They were both naked. They needed no clothes for defense against cold nor heat, for neithercould be injurious to them. They needed none for ornament. Solomon in all his glory was notarrayed like one of these. Nay, they needed none for decency; they were naked, and had no reasonto be ashamed. They knew not what shame was, so the Chaldee reads it. Blushing is now the colourof virtue, but it was not then the colour of innocency. Those that had no sin in their consciencemight well have no shame in their faces, though they had no clothes to their backs.

    International Standard Bible Commentary;

    Original Matthew Henry's: Edited, Annotated by NewtonStein;

    "Genesis Chapter 3"

    The story of this chapter is perhaps as sad a story (all things considered) as any we have in allthe Bible. In the foregoing chapters we have had the pleasant view of the holiness and happinessof our first parents, the grace and favour of God, and the peace and beauty of the whole creation,all good, very good; but here the scene is altered. We have here an account of the sin and miseryof our first parents, the wrath and curse of God against them, the peace of the creation disturbed,and its beauty stained and sullied, all bad, very bad. "How has the gold become dim, and the mostfine gold changed!" O that our hearts were deeply affected with this record! For we are all nearlyconcerned in it; let it not be to us as a tale that is told. The general contents of this chapter we have(Rom. v. 12), "By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed uponall men, for that all have sinned." More particularly, we have here, I. The innocent tempted, ver.1-5. II. The tempted transgressing, ver. 6-8. III. The transgressors arraigned, ver. 9, 10. IV. Upontheir arraignment, convicted, ver. 11-13. V. Upon their conviction, sentenced, ver. 14-19. VI. Aftersentence, reprieved, ver. 20, 21. VII. Notwithstanding their reprieve, execution in part done, ver.22-24. And, were it not for the gracious intimations here given of redemption by the promised seed,they, and all their degenerate guilty race, would have been left to endless despair.The Tempter's Subtlety; The Tempter's Importunity (b. c. 4004.)1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LordGod had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eatof every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eatof the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in themidst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it,lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 ForGod doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, andye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.We have here an account of the temptation with which Satan assaulted our first parents, todraw them into sin, and which proved fatal to them. Here observe,I. The tempter, and that was the devil, in the shape and likeness of a serpent.39

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)1. It is certain it was the devil that beguiled Eve. The devil and Satan is the old serpent (Rev.xii. 9), a malignant spirit, by creation an angel of light and an immediate attendant upon God'sthrone, but by sin become an apostate from his first state and a rebel against God's crown anddignity. Multitudes of the angels fell; but this that attacked our first parents was surely the princeof the devils, the ring-leader in the rebellion: no sooner was he a sinner than he was a Satan, nosooner a traitor than a tempter, as one enraged against God and his glory and envious of man andhis happiness. He knew he could not destroy man but by debauching him. Balaam could not curseIsrael, but he could tempt Israel, Rev. ii. 14. The game therefore which Satan had to play was todraw our first parents to sin, and so to separate between them and their God. Thus the devil was,from the beginning, a murderer, and the great mischief-maker. The whole race of mankind hadhere, as it were, but one neck, and at that Satan struck. The adversary and enemy is that wickedone.2. It was the devil in the likeness of a serpent. Whether it was only the visible shape andappearance of a serpent (as some think those were of which we read, Exod. vii. 12), or whether itwas a real living serpent, actuated and possessed by the devil, is not certain: by God's permissionit might be either. The devil chose to act his part in a serpent, (1.) Because it is a specious creature,has a spotted dappled skin, and then went erect. Perhaps it was a flying serpent, which seemed tocome from on high as a messenger from the upper world, one of the seraphim; for the fiery serpentswere flying, Isa. xiv. 29. Many a dangerous temptation comes to us in gay fine colours that are butskin-deep, and seems to come from above; for Satan can seem an angel of light. And, (2.) Becauseit is a subtle creature; this is here taken notice of. Many instances are given of the subtlety of theserpent, both to do mischief and to secure himself in it when it is done. We are directed to be wiseas serpents. But this serpent, as actuated by the devil, was no doubt more subtle than any other; forthe devil, though he has lost the sanctity, retains the sagacity of an angel, and is wise to do evil. Heknew of more advantage by making use of the serpent than we are aware of. Observe, There is notany thing by which the devil serves himself and his own interest more than by unsanctified subtlety.What Eve thought of this serpent speaking to her we are not likely to tell, when I believe she herselfdid not know what to think of it. At first, perhaps, she supposed it might be a good angel, and yet,afterwards, she might suspect something amiss. It is remarkable that the Gentile idolaters did manyof them worship the devil in the shape and form of a serpent, thereby avowing their adherence tothat apostate spirit, and wearing his colours.II. The person tempted was the woman, now alone, and at a distance from her husband, butnear the forbidden tree. It was the devil's subtlety, 1. To assault the weaker vessel with his22

    temptations. Though perfect in her kind, yet we may suppose her inferior to Adam in knowledge,and strength, and presence of mind. Some think Eve received the command, not immediately fromGod, but at second hand by her husband, and therefore might the more easily be persuaded todiscredit it. 2. It was his policy to enter into discourse with her when she was alone. Had she keptclose to the side out of which she was lately taken, she would not have been so much exposed.There are many temptations, to which solitude gives great advantage; but the communion of saintscontributes much to their strength and safety. 3. He took advantage by finding her near the forbiddentree, and probably gazing upon the fruit of it, only to satisfy her curiosity. Those that would not eatthe forbidden fruit must not come near the forbidden tree. Avoid it, pass not by it, Prov. iv. 15. 4.Satan tempted Eve, that by her he might tempt Adam; so he tempted Job by his wife, and Christ40

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)by Peter. It is his policy to send temptations by unsuspected hands, and theirs that have most interestin us and influence upon us.III. The temptation itself, and the artificial management of it. We are often, in scripture, toldof our danger by the temptations of Satan, his devices (2 Cor. ii. 11), his depths (Rev. ii. 24), hiswiles, Eph. vi. 11. The greatest instances we have of them are in his tempting of the two Adams,here, and Matt. iv. In this he prevailed, but in that he was baffled. What he spoke to them, of whomhe had no hold by any corruption in them, he speaks in us by our own deceitful hearts and theircarnal reasonings; this makes his assaults on us less discernible, but not less dangerous. That whichthe devil aimed at was to persuade Eve to cut forbidden fruit; and, to do this, he took the samemethod that he does still. He questioned whether it was a sin or no, v. 1. He denied that there wasany danger in it, v. 4. He suggested much advantage by it, v. 5. And these are his common topics.1. He questioned whether it was a sin or no to eat of this tree, and whether really the fruit ofit was forbidden. Observe,(1.) He said to the woman, Yea, hath God said, You shall not eat? The first word intimatedsomething said before, introducing this, and with which it is connected, perhaps some discourseEve had with herself, which Satan took hold of, and grafted this question upon. In the chain ofthoughts one thing strangely brings in another, and perhaps something bad at last. Observe here,[1.] He does not discover his design at first, but puts a question which seemed innocent: "I hear apiece of news, pray is it true? has God forbidden you to eat of this tree?" Thus he would begin adiscourse, and draw her into a parley. Those that would be safe have need to be suspicious, andshy of talking with the tempter. [2.] He quotes the command fallaciously, as if it were a prohibition,not only of that tree, but of all. God had said, Of every tree you may eat, except one. He, byaggravating the exception, endeavours to invalidate the concession: Hath God said, You shall noteat of every tree? The divine law cannot be reproached unless it be first misrepresented. [3.] Heseems to speak it tauntingly, upbraiding the woman with her shyness of meddling with that tree;as if he had said, "You are so nice and cautious, and so very precise, because God has said, Youshall not eat." The devil, as he is a liar, so he is a scoffer, from the beginning: and the scoffers ofthe last days are his children. [4.] That which he aimed at in the first onset was to take off her senseof the obligation of the command. "Surely you are mistaken, it cannot be that God should tie youout from this tree; he would not do so unreasonable a thing." See here, That it is the subtlety ofSatan to blemish the reputation of the divine law as uncertain or unreasonable, and so to drawpeople to sin; and that it is therefore our wisdom to keep up a a firm belief of, and a high respectfor, the command of God. Has God said, "You shall not lie, nor take his name in vain, nor be drunk,"&c.? "Yes, I am sure he has, and it is well said, and by his grace I will abide by it, whatever thetempter suggests to the contrary."(2.) In answer to this question the woman gives him a plain and full account of the law theywere under, v. 2, 3. Here observe, [1.] It was her weakness to enter into discourse with the serpent.She might have perceived by his question that he had no good design, and should therefore havestarted back with a Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence to me. But her curiosity, andperhaps her surprise, to hear a serpent speak, led her into further talk with him. Note, It is a dangerousthing to treat with a temptation, which ought at first to be rejected with disdain and abhorrence.The garrison that sounds a parley is not far from being surrendered. Those that would be kept fromharm must keep out of harm's way. See Prov. xiv. 7; xix. 27. [2.] It was her wisdom to take noticeof the liberty God had granted them, in answer to his sly insinuation, as if God has put them into41

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)paradise only to tantalize them with the sight of fair but forbidden fruits. "Yea," says she, "we mayeat of the fruit of the trees, thanks to our Maker, we have plenty and variety enough allowed us."Note, To prevent our being uneasy at the restraints of religion, it is good often to take a view of theliberties and comforts of it. [3.] It was an instance of her resolution that she adhered to the command,and faithfully repeated it, as of unquestionable certainty: "God hath said, I am confident he hathsaid it, You shall not eat of the fruit of this tree;" and that which she adds, Neither shall you touchit, seems to have been with a good intention, not (as some think) tacitly to reflect upon the command23

    as too strict (Touch not, taste not and handle not), but to make a fence about it: "We must not eat,therefore we will not touch. It is forbidden in the highest degree, and the authority of the prohibitionis sacred to us." [4.] She seems a little to waver about the threatening, and is not so particular andfaithful in the repetition of that as of the precept. God has said, In the day thou eatest thereof thoushalt surely die; all she makes of that is, Lest you die. Note, Wavering faith and wavering resolutionsgive great advantage to the tempter.2. He denies that there was any danger in it, insisting that, though it might be the transgressingof a precept, yet it would not be the incurring of a penalty: You shall not surely die, v. 4. "You shallnot dying die," so the word is, in direct contradiction to what God had said. Either, (1.) "It is notcertain that you shall die," so some. "It is not so sure as you are made to believe it is." Thus Satanendeavours to shake that which he cannot overthrow, and invalidates the force of divine threateningsby questioning the certainty of them; and, when once it is supposed possible that there may befalsehood or fallacy in any word of God, a door is then opened to downright infidelity. Satan teachesmen first to doubt and then to deny; he makes them sceptics first, and so by degrees makes thematheists. Or, (2.) "It is certain you shall not die," so others. He avers his contradiction with the samephrase of assurance that God had used in ratifying the threatening. He began to call the precept inquestion (v. 1), but, finding that the woman adhered to that, he quitted that battery, and made hissecond onset upon the threatening, where he perceived her to waver; for he is quick to spy alladvantages, and to attack the wall where it is weakest: You shall not surely die. This was a lie, adownright lie; for, [1.] It was contrary to the word of God, which we are sure is true. See 1 Johnii. 21, 27. It was such a lie as gave the lie to God himself. [2.] It was contrary to his own knowledge.When he told them there was no danger in disobedience and rebellion he said that which he knew,by woeful experience, to be false. He had broken the law of his creation, and had found, to his cost,that he could not prosper in it; and yet he tells our first parents they shall not die. He concealed hisown misery, that he might draw them into the like: thus he still deceives sinners into their own ruin.He tells them that, though they sin, they shall not die; and gains credit rather than God, who tellsthem, The wages of sin is death. Note, Hope of impunity is a great support to all iniquity, andimpenitency in it. I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my heart, Deut. xxix. 19.3. He promises them advantage by it, v. 5. Here he follows his blow, and it was a blow at theroot, a fatal blow to the tree we are branches of. He not only would undertake that they should beno losers by it, thus binding himself to save them from harm; but (if they would be such fools asto venture upon the security of one that had himself become a bankrupt) he undertakes they shallbe gainers by it, unspeakable gainers. He could not have persuaded them to run the hazard of ruiningthemselves if he had not suggested to them a great probability of bettering themselves.(1.) He insinuates to them the great improvements they would make by eating of this fruit.And he suits the temptation to the pure state they were now in, proposing to them, not any carnalpleasures or gratifications, but intellectual delights and satisfactions. These were the baits with42

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)which he covered his hook. [1.] "Your eyes shall be opened; you shall have much more of the powerand pleasure of contemplation than now you have; you shall fetch a larger compass in yourintellectual views, and see further into things than now you do." He speaks as if now they were butdim-sighted, and short-sighted, in comparison of what they would be then. [2.] "You shall be asgods, as Elohim, mighty gods; not only omniscient, but omnipotent too;" or, "You shall be as Godhimself, equal to him, rivals with him; you shall be sovereigns and no longer subjects, self-sufficientand no longer dependent." A most absurd suggestion! As if it were possible for creatures of yesterdayto be like their Creator that was from eternity. [3.] "You shall know good and evil, that is, everything that is desirable to be known." To support this part of the temptation, he abuses the namegiven to this tree: it was intended to teach the practical knowledge of good and evil, that is, of dutyand disobedience; and it would prove the experimental knowledge of good and evil, that is, ofhappiness and misery. In these senses, the name of the tree was a warning to them not to eat of it;but he perverts the sense of it, and wrests it to their destruction, as if this tree would give them aspeculative notional knowledge of the natures, kinds, and originals, of good and evil. And, [4.] Allthis presently: "In the day you eat thereof you will find a sudden and immediate change for thebetter." Now in all these insinuations he aims to beget in them, First, Discontent with their presentstate, as if it were not so good as it might be, and should be. Note, No condition will of itself bringcontentment, unless the mind be brought to it. Adam was not easy, no, not in paradise, nor theangels in their first state, Jude 6. Secondly, Ambition of preferment, as if they were fit to be gods.Satan had ruined himself by desiring to be like the Most High (Isa. xiv. 14), and therefore seeks toinfect our first parents with the same desire, that he might ruin them too.(2.) He insinuates to them that God had no good design upon them, in forbidding them thisfruit: "For God doth know how much it will advance you; and therefore, in envy and ill-will to you,24

    he hath forbidden it:" as if he durst not let them eat of that tree because then they would know theirown strength, and would not continue in an inferior state, but be able to cope with him; or as if hegrudged them the honour and happiness to which their eating of that tree would prefer them. Now,[1.] This was a great affront to God, and the highest indignity that could be done him, a reproachto his power, as if he feared his creatures, and much more a reproach to his goodness, as if he hatedthe work of his own hands and would not have those whom he has made to be made happy. Shallthe best of men think it strange to be misrepresented and evil spoken of, when God himself is so?Satan, as he is the accuser of the brethren before God, so he accuses God before the brethren; thushe sows discord, and is the father of those that do so. [2.] It was a most dangerous snare to our firstparents, as it tended to alienate their affections from God, and so to withdraw them from theirallegiance to him. Thus still the devil draws people into his interest by suggesting to them hardthoughts of God, and false hopes of benefit and advantage by sin. Let us therefore, in oppositionto him, always think well of God as the best good, and think ill of sin as the worst of evils: thus letus resist the devil, and he will flee from us.The Fall of Man. (b. c. 4004.)6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it waspleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruitthereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. 7And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and43

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard thevoice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam andhis wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of thegarden.Here we see what Eve's parley with the tempter ended in. Satan, at length, gains his point, andthe strong-hold is taken by his wiles. God tried the obedience of our first parents by forbiddingthem the tree of knowledge, and Satan does, as it were, join issue with God, and in that very thingundertakes to seduce them into a transgression; and here we find how he prevailed, God permittingit for wise and holy ends.I. We have here the inducements that moved them to transgress. The woman, being deceivedby the tempter's artful management, was ringleader in the transgression, 1 Tim. ii. 14. She was firstin the fault; and it was the result of her consideration, or rather her inconsideration. 1. She saw noharm in this tree, more than in any of the rest. It was said of all the rest of the fruit-trees with whichthe garden of Eden was planted that they were pleasant to the sight, and good for food, ch. ii. 9.Now, in her eye, this was like all the rest. It seemed as good for food as any of them, and she sawnothing in the colour of its fruit that threatened death or danger; it was as pleasant to the sight asany of them, and therefore, "What hurt could it do them? Why should this be forbidden them ratherthan any of the rest?" Note, When there is thought to be no more harm in forbidden fruit than inother fruit sin lies at the door, and Satan soon carries the day. Nay, perhaps it seemed to her to bebetter for food, more grateful to the taste, and more nourishing to the body, than any of the rest,and to her eye it was more pleasant than any. We are often betrayed into snares by an inordinatedesire to have our senses gratified. Or, if it had nothing in it more inviting than the rest, yet it wasthe more coveted because it was prohibited. Whether it was so in her or not, we find that in us (thatis, in our flesh, in our corrupt nature) there dwells a strange spirit of contradiction. Nitimur invetitum—We desire what is prohibited. 2. She imagined more virtue in this tree than in any of therest, that it was a tree not only not to be dreaded, but to be desired to make one wise, and thereinexcelling all the rest of the trees. This she saw, that is, she perceived and understood it by what thedevil had said to her; and some think that she saw the serpent eat of that tree, and that he told herhe thereby had gained the faculties of speech and reason, whence she inferred its power to makeone wise, and was persuaded to think, "If it made a brute creature rational, why might it not makea rational creature divine?" See here how the desire of unnecessary knowledge, under the mistakennotion of wisdom, proves hurtful and destructive to many. Our first parents, who knew so much,did not know this—that they knew enough. Christ is a tree to be desired to make one wise, Col. ii.3; 1 Cor. i. 30. Let us, by faith, feed upon him, that we may be wise to salvation. In the heavenlyparadise, the tree of knowledge will not be a forbidden tree; for there we shall know as we areknown. Let us therefore long to be there, and, in the mean time, not exercise ourselves in thingstoo high or too deep for us, nor covet to be wise above what is written.II. The steps of the transgression, not steps upward, but downward towards the pit—steps thattake hold on hell. 1. She saw. She should have turned away her eyes from beholding vanity; butshe enters into temptation, by looking with pleasure on the forbidden fruit. Observe, A great deal25

    of sin comes in at the eyes. At these windows Satan throws in those fiery darts which pierce andpoison the heart. The eye affects the heart with guilt as well as grief. Let us therefore, with holyJob, make a covenant with our eyes, not to look on that which we are in danger of lusting after,44

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Prov. xxiii. 31; Matt. v. 28. Let the fear of God be always to us for a covering of the eyes, ch. xx.16. 2. She took. It was her own act and deed. The devil did not take it, and put it into her mouth,whether she would or no; but she herself took it. Satan may tempt, but he cannot force; may persuadeus to cast ourselves down, but he cannot cast us down, Matt. iv. 6. Eve's taking was stealing, likeAchan's taking the accursed thing, taking that to which she had no right. Surely she took it with atrembling hand. 3. She did eat. Perhaps she did not intend, when she looked, to take, nor, when shetook, to eat; but this was the result. Note, The way of sin is downhill; a man cannot stop himselfwhen he will. The beginning of it is as the breaking forth of water, to which it is hard to say,"Hitherto thou shalt come and no further." Therefore it is our wisdom to suppress the first emotionsof sin, and to leave it off before it be meddled with. Obsta principiis—Nip mischief in the bud. 4.She gave also to her husband with her. It is probable that he was not with her when she was tempted(surely, if he had, he would have interposed to prevent the sin), but came to her when she had eaten,and was prevailed upon by her to eat likewise; for it is easier to learn that which is bad than to teachthat which is good. She gave it to him, persuading him with the same arguments that the serpenthad used with her, adding this to all the rest, that she herself had eaten of it, and found it so far frombeing deadly that it was extremely pleasant and grateful. Stolen waters are sweet. She gave it tohim, under colour of kindness—she would not eat these delicious morsels alone; but really it wasthe greatest unkindness she could do him. Or perhaps she gave it to him that, if it should provehurtful, he might share with her in the misery, which indeed looks strangely unkind, and yet may,without difficulty, be supposed to enter into the heart of one that had eaten forbidden fruit. Note,Those that have themselves done ill are commonly willing to draw in others to do the same. Aswas the devil, so was Eve, no sooner a sinner than a tempter. 5. He did eat, overcome by his wife'simportunity. It is needless to ask, "What would have been the consequence if Eve only hadtransgressed?" The wisdom of God, we are sure, would have decided the difficulty, according toequity; but, alas! the case was not so; Adam also did eat. "And what great harm if he did?" say thecorrupt and carnal reasonings of a vain mind. What harm! Why, this act involved disbelief of God'sword, together with confidence in the devil's, discontent with his present state, pride in his ownmerits, and ambition of the honour which comes not from God, envy at God's perfections, andindulgence of the appetites of the body. In neglecting the tree of life of which he was allowed toeat, and eating of the tree of knowledge which was forbidden, he plainly showed a contempt of thefavours God had bestowed on him, and a preference given to those God did not see fit for him. Hewould be both his own carver and his own master, would have what he pleased and do what hepleased: his sin was, in one word, disobedience (Rom. v. 19), disobedience to a plain, easy, andexpress command, which probably he knew to be a command of trial. He sinned against greatknowledge, against many mercies, against light and love, the clearest light and the dearest love thatever sinner sinned against. He had no corrupt nature within him to betray him; but had a freedomof will, not enslaved, and was in his full strength, not weakened or impaired. He turned asidequickly. Some think he fell the very day on which he was made; but I see not how to reconcile thiswith God's pronouncing all very good in the close of the day. Others suppose he fell on the sabbathday: the better day the worse deed. However, it is certain that he kept his integrity but a very littlewhile: being in honour, he continued not. But the greatest aggravation of his sin was that he involvedall his posterity in sin and ruin by it. God having told him that his race should replenish the earth,surely he could not but know that he stood as a public person, and that his disobedience would befatal to all his seed; and, if so, it was certainly both the greatest treachery and the greatest cruelty45

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that ever was. The human nature being lodged entirely in our first parents, henceforward it couldnot but be transmitted from them under an attainder of guilt, a stain of dishonour, and an hereditarydisease of sin and corruption. And can we say, then, that Adam's sin had but little harm in it?III. The ultimate consequences of the transgression. Shame and fear seized the criminals, ipsofacto—in the fact itself; these came into the world along with sin, and still attend it.1. Shame seized them unseen, v. 7, where observe,(1.) The strong convictions they fell under, in their own bosoms: The eyes of them both wereopened. It is not meant of the eyes of the body; these were open before, as appears by this, that thesin came in at them. Jonathan's eyes were enlightened by eating forbidden fruit (1 Sam. xiv. 27),that is, he was refreshed and revived by it; but theirs were not so. Nor is it meant of any advancesmade hereby in true knowledge; but the eyes of their consciences were opened, their hearts smote26

    them for what they had done. Now, when it was too late, they saw the folly of eating forbiddenfruit. They saw the happiness they had fallen from, and the misery they had fallen into. They sawa loving God provoked, his grace and favour forfeited, his likeness and image lost, dominion overthe creatures gone. They saw their natures corrupted and depraved, and felt a disorder in their ownspirits of which they had never before been conscious. They saw a law in their members warringagainst the law of their minds, and captivating them both to sin and wrath. They saw, as Balaam,when his eyes were opened (Num. xxii. 31), the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and hissword drawn in his hand; and perhaps they saw the serpent that had abused them insulting overthem. The text tells us that they saw that they were naked, that is, [1.] That they were stripped,deprived of all the honours and joys of their paradise-state, and exposed to all the miseries thatmight justly be expected from an angry God. They were disarmed; their defence had departed fromthem. [2.] That they were shamed, for ever shamed, before God and angels. They saw themselvesdisrobed of all their ornaments and ensigns of honour, degraded from their dignity and disgracedin the highest degree, laid open to the contempt and reproach of heaven, and earth, and their ownconsciences. Now see here, First, What a dishonour and disquietment sin is; it makes mischiefwherever it is admitted, sets men against themselves disturbs their peace, and destroys all theircomforts. Sooner or later, it will have shame, either the shame of true repentance, which ends inglory, or that shame and everlasting contempt to which the wicked shall rise at the great day. Sinis a reproach to any people. Secondly, What deceiver Satan is. He told our first parents, when hetempted them, that their eyes should be opened; and so they were, but not as they understood it;they were opened to their shame and grief, not to their honour nor advantage. Therefore, when hespeaks fair, believe him not. The most malicious mischievous liars often excuse themselves withthis, that they only equivocate; but God will not so excuse them.(2.) The sorry shift they made to palliate these convictions, and to arm themselves againstthem: They sewed, or platted, fig-leaves together; and to cover, at least, part of their shame fromone another, they made themselves aprons. See here what is commonly the folly of those that havesinned. [1.] That they are more solicitous to save their credit before men than to obtain their pardonfrom God; they are backward to confess their sin, and very desirous to conceal it, as much as maybe. I have sinned, yet honour me. [2.] That the excuses men make, to cover and extenuate their sins,are vain and frivolous. Like the aprons of fig-leaves, they make the matter never the better, but theworse; the shame, thus hidden, becomes the more shameful. Yet thus we are all apt to cover ourtransgressions as Adam, Job xxxi. 33.46

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)2. Fear seized them immediately upon their eating the forbidden fruit, v. 8. Observe here, (1.)What was the cause and occasion of their fear: They heard the voice of the Lord God walking inthe garden in the cool of the day. It was the approach of the Judge that put them into a fright; andyet he came in such a manner as made it formidable only to guilty consciences. It is supposed thathe came in a human shape, and that he who judged the world now was the same that shall judgethe world at the last day, even that man whom God has ordained. He appeared to them now (itshould seem) in no other similitude than that in which they had seen him when he put them intoparadise; for he came to convince and humble them, not to amaze and terrify them. He came intothe garden, not descending immediately from heaven in their view, as afterwards on mount Sinai(making either thick darkness his pavilion or the flaming fire his chariot), but he came into thegarden, as one that was still willing to be familiar with them. He came walking, not running, notriding upon the wings of the wind, but walking deliberately, as one slow to anger, teaching us,when we are ever so much provoked, not to be hot nor hasty, but to speak and act consideratelyand not rashly. He came in the cool of the day, not in the night, when all fears are doubly fearful,nor in the heat of day, for he came not in the heat of his anger. Fury is not in him, Isa. xxvii. 4. Nordid he come suddenly upon them; but they heard his voice at some distance, giving them notice ofhis coming, and probably it was a still small voice, like that in which he came to enquire afterElijah. Some think they heard him discoursing with himself concerning the sin of Adam, and thejudgment now to be passed upon him, perhaps as he did concerning Israel, Hos. xi. 8, 9. How shallI give thee up? Or, rather, they heard him calling for them, and coming towards them. (2.) Whatwas the effect and evidence of their fear: They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God—asad change! Before they had sinned, if they had heard the voice of the Lord God coming towardsthem, they would have run to meet him, and with a humble joy welcomed his gracious visits. But,now that it was otherwise, God had become a terror to them, and then no marvel that they hadbecome a terror to themselves, and were full of confusion. Their own consciences accused them,and set their sin before them in its proper colours. Their fig-leaves failed them, and would do themno service. God had come forth against them as an enemy, and the whole creation was at war withthem; and as yet they knew not of any mediator between them and an angry God, so that nothing27

    remained but a certain fearful looking for of judgment. In this fright they hid themselves amongthe bushes; having offended, they fled for the same. Knowing themselves guilty, they durst notstand a trial, but absconded, and fled from justice. See here, [1.] The falsehood of the tempter, andthe frauds and fallacies of his temptations. He promised them they should be safe, but now theycannot so much as think themselves so; he said they should not die, and yet now they are forced tofly for their lives; he promised them they should be advanced, but they see themselves abased—never did they seem so little as now; he promised them they should be knowing, but theysee themselves at a loss, and know not so much as where to hide themselves; he promised themthey should be as gods, great, and bold, and daring, but they are as criminals discovered, trembling,pale, and anxious to escape: they would not be subjects, and so they are prisoners. [2.] The follyof sinners, to think it either possible or desirable to hide themselves from God: can they concealthemselves from the Father of lights? Ps. cxxxix. 7, &c.; Jer. xxiii. 24. Will they withdraw themselvesfrom the fountain of life, who alone can give help and happiness? Jon. ii. 8. [3.] The fear that attendssin. All that amazing fear of God's appearances, the accusations of conscience, the approaches oftrouble, the assaults of inferior creatures, and the arrests of death, which is common among men,is the effect of sin. Adam and Eve, who were partners in the sin, were sharers in the shame and fear47

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that attended it; and though hand joined in hand (hands so lately joined in marriage), yet could theynot animate nor fortify one another: miserable comforters they had become to each other!9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? 10And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked;and I hid myself.We have here the arraignment of these deserters before the righteous Judge of heaven andearth, who, though he is not tied to observe formalities, yet proceeds against them with all possiblefairness, that he may be justified when he speaks. Observe here,I. The startling question with which God pursued Adam and arrested him: Where art thou?Not as if God did not know where he was; but thus he would enter the process against him. "Come,where is this foolish man?" Some make it a bemoaning question: "Poor Adam, what has becomeof thee?" "Alas for thee!" (so some read it) "How art thou fallen, Lucifer, son of the morning! Thouthat wast my friend and favourite, whom I had done so much for, and would have done so muchmore for; hast thou now forsaken me, and ruined thyself? Has it come to this?" It is rather anupbraiding question, in order to his conviction and humiliation: Where art thou? Not, In whatplace? but, In what condition? "Is this all thou hast gotten by eating forbidden fruit? Thou thatwouldest vie with me, dost thou now fly from me?" Note, 1. Those who by sin have gone astrayfrom God should seriously consider where they are; they are afar off from all good, in the midst oftheir enemies, in bondage to Satan, and in the high road to utter ruin. This enquiry after Adam maybe looked upon as a gracious pursuit, in kindness to him, and in order to his recovery. If God hadnot called to him, to reclaim him, his condition would have been as desperate as that of fallenangels; this lost sheep would have wandered endlessly, if the good Shepherd had not sought afterhim, to bring him back, and, in order to that, reminded him where he was, where he should not be,and where he could not be either happy or easy. Note, 2. If sinners will but consider where theyare, they will not rest till they return to God.II. The trembling answer which Adam gave to this question: I heard thy voice in the garden,and I was afraid, v. 10. He does not own his guilt, and yet in effect confesses it by owning hisshame and fear; but it is the common fault and folly of those that have done an ill thing, when theyare questioned about it, to acknowledge no more than what is so manifest that they cannot deny it.Adam was afraid, because he was naked; not only unarmed, and therefore afraid to contend withGod, but unclothed, and therefore afraid so much as to appear before him. We have reason to beafraid of approaching to God if we be not clothed and fenced with the righteousness of Christ, fornothing but this will be armour of proof and cover the shame of our nakedness. Let us thereforeput on the Lord Jesus Christ, and then draw near with humble boldness.11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree,whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? 12 And the man said, Thewoman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. 13And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And thewoman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.We have here the offenders found guilty by their own confession, and yet endeavouring toexcuse and extenuate their fault. They could not confess and justify what they had done, but theyconfess and palliate it. Observe,48

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)28

    I. How their confession was extorted from them. God put it to the man: Who told thee thatthou wast naked? v. 11. "How camest thou to be sensible of thy nakedness as thy shame?" Hastthou eaten of the forbidden tree? Note, Though God knows all our sins, yet he will know themfrom us, and requires from us an ingenuous confession of them; not that he may be informed, butthat we may be humbled. In this examination, God reminds him of the command he had given him:"I commanded thee not to eat of it, I thy Maker, I thy Master, I thy benefactor; I commanded theeto the contrary." Sin appears most plain and most sinful in the glass of the commandment, thereforeGod here sets it before Adam; and in it we should see our faces. The question put to the womanwas, What is this that thou hast done? v. 13. "Wilt thou also own thy fault, and make confessionof it? And wilt thou see what an evil thing it was?" Note, It concerns those who have eaten forbiddenfruit themselves, and especially those who have enticed others to eat it likewise, seriously to considerwhat they have done. In eating forbidden fruit, we have offended a great and gracious God, brokena just and righteous law, violated a sacred and most solemn covenant, and wronged our own precioussouls by forfeiting God's favour and exposing ourselves to his wrath and curse: in enticing othersto eat of it, we do the devil's work, make ourselves guilty of other men's sins, and accessory to theirruin. What is this that we have done?II. How their crime was extenuated by them in their confession. It was to no purpose to pleadnot guilty. The show of their countenances testified against them; therefore they become their ownaccusers: "I did eat," says the man, "And so did I," says the woman; for when God judges he willovercome. But these do not look like penitent confessions; for instead of aggravating the sin, andtaking shame to themselves, they excuse the sin, and lay the shame and blame on others. 1. Adamlays all the blame upon his wife. "She gave me of the tree, and pressed me to eat of it, which I did,only to oblige her"—a frivolous excuse. He ought to have taught her, not to have been taught byher; and it was no hard matter to determine which of the two he must be ruled by, his God or hiswife. Learn, hence, never to be brought to sin by that which will not bring us off in the judgment;let not that bear us up in the commission which will not bear us out in the trial; let us thereforenever be overcome by importunity to act against our consciences, nor ever displease God, to pleasethe best friend we have in the world. But this is not the worst of it. He not only lays the blame uponhis wife, but expresses it so as tacitly to reflect on God himself: "It is the woman whom thou gavestme, and gavest to be with me as my companion, my guide, and my acquaintance; she gave me ofthe tree, else I had not eaten of it." Thus he insinuates that God was accessory to his sin: he gavehim the woman, and she gave him the fruit; so that he seemed to have it at but one remove fromGod's own hand. Note, There is a strange proneness in those that are tempted to say that they aretempted of God, as if our abusing God's gifts would excuse our violation of God's laws. God givesus riches, honours, and relations, that we may serve him cheerfully in the enjoyment of them; but,if we take occasion from them to sin against him, instead of blaming Providence for putting us intosuch a condition, we must blame ourselves for perverting the gracious designs of Providence therein.2. Eve lays all the blame upon the serpent: The serpent beguiled me. Sin is a brat that nobody iswilling to own, a sign that it is a scandalous thing. Those that are willing enough to take the pleasureand profit of sin are backward enough to take the blame and shame of it. "The serpent, that subtlecreature of thy making, which thou didst permit to come into paradise to us, he beguiled me," ormade me to err; for our sins are our errors. Learn hence, (1.) That Satan's temptations are allbeguilings, his arguments are all fallacies, his allurements are all cheats; when he speaks fair, believehim not. Sin deceives us, and, by deceiving, cheats us. It is by the deceitfulness of sin that the heart49

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)is hardened. See Rom. vii. 11; Heb. iii. 13. (2.) That though Satan's subtlety drew us into sin, yetit will not justify us in sin: though he is the tempter, we are the sinners; and indeed it is our ownlust that draws us aside and entices us, Jam. i. 14. Let it not therefore lessen our sorrow andhumiliation for sin that we are beguiled into it; but rather let it increase our self-indignation thatwe should suffer ourselves to be beguiled by a known cheat and a sworn enemy. Well, this is allthe prisoners at the bar have to say why sentence should not be passed and execution awarded,according to law; and this all is next to nothing, in some respects worse than nothing.Sentence Passed on the Serpent; Intimation of Messiah. (b. c. 4004.)14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thouart cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shaltthou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmitybetween thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thyhead, and thou shalt bruise his heel.The prisoners being found guilty by their own confession, besides the personal and infallible29

    knowledge of the Judge, and nothing material being offered in arrest of judgment, God immediatelyproceeds to pass sentence; and, in these verses, he begins (where the sin began) with the serpent.God did not examine the serpent, nor ask him what he had done nor why he did it; but immediatelysentenced him, 1. Because he was already convicted of rebellion against God, and his malice andwickedness were notorious, not found by secret search, but openly avowed and declared as Sodom's.2. Because he was to be for ever excluded from all hope of pardon; and why should any thing besaid to convince and humble him who was to find no place for repentance? His wound was notsearched, because it was not to be cured. Some think the condition of the fallen angels was notdeclared desperate and helpless, until now that they had seduced man into the rebellion.I. The sentence passed upon the tempter may be considered as lighting upon the serpent, thebrute-creature which Satan made use of which was, as the rest, made for the service of man, butwas now abused to his hurt. Therefore, to testify a displeasure against sin, and a jealousy for theinjured honour of Adam and Eve, God fastens a curse and reproach upon the serpent, and makesit to groan, being burdened. See Rom. viii. 20. The devil's instruments must share in the devil'spunishments. Thus the bodies of the wicked, though only instruments of unrighteousness, shallpartake of everlasting torments with the soul, the principal agent. Even the ox that killed a manmust be stoned, Exod. xxi. 28, 29. See here how God hates sin, and especially how much displeasedhe is with those who entice others into sin. It is a perpetual brand upon Jeroboam's name that hemade Israel to sin. Now, 1. The serpent is here laid under the curse of God: Thou art cursed aboveall cattle. Even the creeping things, when God made them, were blessed of him (ch. i. 22), but sinturned the blessing into a curse. The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field (v. 1), andhere, cursed above every beast of the field. Unsanctified subtlety often proves a great curse to aman; and the more crafty men are to do evil the more mischief they do, and, consequently, theyshall receive the greater damnation. Subtle tempters are the most accursed creatures under the sun.2. He is here laid under man's reproach and enmity. (1.) He is to be for ever looked upon as a vileand despicable creature, and a proper object of scorn and contempt: "Upon thy belly thou shalt go,no longer upon feet, or half erect, but thou shalt crawl along, thy belly cleaving to the earth," anexpression of a very abject miserable condition, Ps. xliv. 25; "and thou shalt not avoid eating dust50

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)with thy meat." His crime was that he tempted Eve to eat that which she should not; his punishmentwas that he was necessitated to eat that which he would not: Dust thou shalt eat. This denotes notonly a base and despicable condition, but a mean and pitiful spirit; it is said of those whose couragehas departed from them that they lick the dust like a serpent, Mic. vii. 17. How sad it is that theserpent's curse should be the covetous worldling's choice, whose character it is that he pants afterthe dust of the earth! Amos ii. 7. These choose their own delusions, and so shall their doom be.(2.) He is to be for ever looked upon as a venomous noxious creature, and a proper object of hatredand detestation: I will put enmity between thee and the woman. The inferior creatures being madefor man, it was a curse upon any of them to be turned against man and man against them; and thisis part of the serpent's curse. The serpent is hurtful to man, and often bruises his heel, because itcan reach no higher; nay, notice is taken of his biting the horses' heels, ch. xlix. 17. But man isvictorious over the serpent, and bruises his head, that is, gives him a mortal wound, aiming todestroy the whole generation of vipers. It is the effect of this curse upon the serpent that, thoughthat creature is subtle and very dangerous, yet it prevails not (as it would if God gave it commission)to the destruction of mankind. This sentence pronounced upon the serpent is much fortified by thatpromise of God to his people, Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder (Ps. xci. 13), and thatof Christ to his disciples, They shall take up serpents (Mark xvi. 18), witness Paul, who was unhurtby the viper that fastened upon his hand. Observe here, The serpent and the woman had just nowbeen very familiar and friendly in discourse about the forbidden fruit, and a wonderful agreementthere was between them; but here they are irreconcilably set at variance. Note, Sinful friendshipsjustly end in mortal feuds: those that unite in wickedness will not unite long.II. This sentence may be considered as levelled at the devil, who only made use of the serpentas his vehicle in this appearance, but was himself the principal agent. He that spoke through theserpent's mouth is here struck at through the serpent's side, and is principally intended in the sentence,which, like the pillar of cloud and fire, has a dark side towards the devil and a bright side towardsour first parents and their seed. Great things are contained in these words.1. A perpetual reproach is here fastened upon that great enemy both to God and man. Underthe cover of the serpent, he is here sentenced to be, (1.) Degraded and accursed of God. It is supposedthat the sin which turned angels into devils was pride, which is here justly punished by a greatvariety of mortifications couched under the mean circumstances of a serpent crawling on his bellyand licking the dust. How art thou fallen, O Lucifer! He that would be above God, and would head30

    a rebellion against him, is justly exposed here to contempt and lies to be trodden on; a man's pridewill bring him low, and God will humble those that will not humble themselves. (2.) Detested andabhorred of all mankind. Even those that are really seduced into his interest yet profess a hatredand abhorrence of him; and all that are born of God make it their constant care to keep themselves,that this wicked one touch them not, 1 John v. 18. He is here condemned to a state of war andirreconcilable enmity. (3.) Destroyed and ruined at last by the great Redeemer, signified by thebreaking of his head. His subtle politics shall all be baffled, his usurped power shall be entirelycrushed, and he shall be for ever a captive to the injured honour of divine sovereignty. By beingtold of this now he was tormented before the time.2. A perpetual quarrel is here commenced between the kingdom of God and the kingdom ofthe devil among men; war is proclaimed between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.That war in heaven between Michael and the dragon began now, Rev. xii. 7. It is the fruit of thisenmity, (1.) That there is a continual conflict between grace and corruption in the hearts of God's51

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)people. Satan, by their corruptions, assaults them, buffets them, sifts them, and seeks to devourthem; they, by the exercise of their graces, resist him, wrestle with him, quench his fiery darts,force him to flee from them. Heaven and hell can never be reconciled, nor light and darkness; nomore can Satan and a sanctified soul, for these are contrary the one to the other. (2.) That there islikewise a continual struggle between the wicked and the godly in this world. Those that love Godaccount those their enemies that hate him, Ps. cxxxix. 21, 22. And all the rage and malice ofpersecutors against the people of God are the fruit of this enmity, which will continue while thereis a godly man on this side heaven, and a wicked man on this side hell. Marvel not therefore if theworld hate you, 1 John iii. 13.3. A gracious promise is here made of Christ, as the deliverer of fallen man from the power ofSatan. Though what was said was addressed to the serpent, yet it was said in the hearing of our firstparents, who, doubtless, took the hints of grace here given them, and saw a door of hope openedto them, else the following sentence upon themselves would have overwhelmed them. Here wasthe dawning of the gospel day. No sooner was the wound given than the remedy was provided andrevealed. Here, in the head of the book, as the word is (Heb. x. 7), in the beginning of the Bible, itis written of Christ, that he should do the will of God. By faith in this promise, we have reason tothink, our first parents, and the patriarchs before the flood, were justified and saved and to thispromise, and the benefit of it, instantly serving God day and night, they hoped to come. Notice ishere given them of three things concerning Christ:—(1.) His incarnation, that he should be the seedof the woman, the seed of that woman; therefore his genealogy (Luke iii.) goes so high as to showhim to be the son of Adam, but God does the woman the honour to call him rather her seed, becauseshe it was whom the devil had beguiled, and on whom Adam had laid the blame; herein Godmagnifies his grace, in that, though the woman was first in the transgression, yet she shall be savedby child-bearing (as some read it), that is, by the promised seed who shall descend from her, 1 Tim.ii. 15. He was likewise to be the seed of a woman only, of a virgin, that he might not be taintedwith the corruption of our nature; he was sent forth, made of a woman (Gal. iv. 4), that this promisemight be fulfilled. It is a great encouragement to sinners that their Saviour is the seed of the woman,bone of our bone, Heb. ii. 11, 14. Man is therefore sinful and unclean, because he is born of awoman (Job xxv. 4), and therefore his days are full of trouble, Job xiv. 1. But the seed of the womanwas made sin and a curse for us, so saving us from both. (2.) His sufferings and death, pointed atin Satan's bruising his heel, that is, his human nature. Satan tempted Christ in the wilderness, todraw him into sin; and some think it was Satan that terrified Christ in his agony, to drive him todespair. It was the devil that put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ, of Peter to deny him, ofthe chief priests to prosecute him, of the false witnesses to accuse him, and of Pilate to condemnhim, aiming in all this, by destroying the Saviour, to ruin the salvation; but, on the contrary, it wasby death that Christ destroyed him that had the power of death, Heb. ii. 14. Christ's heel was bruisedwhen his feet were pierced and nailed to the cross, and Christ's sufferings are continued in thesufferings of the saints for his name. The devil tempts them, casts them into prison, persecutes andslays them, and so bruises the heel of Christ, who is afflicted in their afflictions. But, while the heelis bruised on earth, it is well that the head is safe in heaven. (3.) His victory over Satan thereby.Satan had now trampled upon the woman, and insulted over her; but the seed of the woman shouldbe raised up in the fulness of time to avenge her quarrel, and to trample upon him, to spoil him, tolead him captive, and to triumph over him, Col. ii. 15. He shall bruise his head, that is, he shalldestroy all his politics and all his powers, and give a total overthrow to his kingdom and interest.52

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Christ baffled Satan's temptations, rescued souls out of his hands, cast him out of the bodies of31

    people, dispossessed the strong man armed, and divided his spoil: by his death, he gave a fatal andincurable blow to the devil's kingdom, a wound to the head of this beast, that can never be healed.As his gospel gets ground, Satan falls (Luke x. 18) and is bound, Rev. xx. 2. By his grace, he treadsSatan under his people's feet (Rom. xvi. 20) and will shortly cast him into the lake of fire, Rev. xx.10. And the devil's perpetual overthrow will be the complete and everlasting joy and glory of thechosen remnant.Sentence Passed on Eve. (b. c. 4004.)16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, andhe shall rule over thee.We have here the sentence passed upon the woman for her sin. Two things she is condemnedto: a state of sorrow, and a state of subjection, proper punishments of a sin in which she had gratifiedher pleasure and her pride.I. She is here put into a state of sorrow, one particular of which only is specified, that in bringingforth children; but it includes all those impressions of grief and fear which the mind of that tendersex is most apt to receive, and all the common calamities which they are liable to. Note, Sin broughtsorrow into the world; it was this that made the world a vale of tears, brought showers of troubleupon our heads, and opened springs of sorrows in our hearts, and so deluged the world: had weknown no guilt, we should have known no grief. The pains of child-bearing, which are great to aproverb, a scripture proverb, are the effect of sin; every pang and every groan of the travailingwoman speak aloud the fatal consequences of sin: this comes of eating forbidden fruit. Observe,1. The sorrows are here said to be multiplied, greatly multiplied. All the sorrows of this presenttime are so; many are the calamities which human life is liable to, of various kinds, and oftenrepeated, the clouds returning after the rain, and no marvel that our sorrows are multiplied whenour sins are: both are innumerable evils. The sorrows of child-bearing are multiplied; for theyinclude, not only the travailing throes, but the indispositions before (it is sorrow from the conception),and the nursing toils and vexations after; and after all, if the children prove wicked and foolish,they are, more than ever, the heaviness of her that bore them. Thus are the sorrows multiplied; asone grief is over, another succeeds in this world. 2. It is God that multiplies our sorrows: I will doit. God, as a righteous Judge, does it, which ought to silence us under all our sorrows; as many asthey are, we have deserved them all, and more: nay, God, as a tender Father, does it for our necessarycorrection, that we may be humbled for sin, and weaned from the world by all our sorrows; andthe good we get by them, with the comfort we have under them, will abundantly balance our sorrows,how greatly soever they are multiplied.II. She is here put into a state of subjection. The whole sex, which by creation was equal withman, is, for sin, made inferior, and forbidden to usurp authority, 1 Tim. ii. 11, 12. The wifeparticularly is hereby put under the dominion of her husband, and is not sui juris—at her owndisposal, of which see an instance in that law, Num. xxx. 6-8, where the husband is empowered,if he please, to disannul the vows made by the wife. This sentence amounts only to that command,Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; but the entrance of sin has made that duty apunishment, which otherwise it would not have been. If man had not sinned, he would always haveruled with wisdom and love; and, if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed53

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)with humility and meekness; and then the dominion would have been no grievance: but our ownsin and folly make our yoke heavy. If Eve had not eaten forbidden fruit herself, and tempted herhusband to eat it, she would never have complained of her subjection; therefore it ought never tobe complained of, though harsh; but sin must be complained of, that made it so. Those wives whonot only despise and disobey their husbands, but domineer over them, do not consider that they notonly violate a divine law, but thwart a divine sentence.III. Observe here how mercy is mixed with wrath in this sentence. The woman shall havesorrow, but it shall be in bringing forth children, and the sorrow shall be forgotten for joy that achild is born, John xvi. 21. She shall be subject, but it shall be to her own husband that loves her,not to a stranger, or an enemy: the sentence was not a curse, to bring her to ruin, but a chastisement,to bring her to repentance. It was well that enmity was not put between the man and the woman,as there was between the serpent and the woman.Sentence Passed on Adam; Consequences of the Fall. (b. c. 4004.)17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thywife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt noteat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the daysof thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalteat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thoureturn unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dustshalt thou return.32

    We have here the sentence passed upon Adam, which is prefaced with a recital of his crime:Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, v. 17. He excused the fault, by laying it onhis wife: She gave it me. But God does not admit the excuse. She could but tempt him, she couldnot force him; though it was her fault to persuade him to eat, it was his fault to hearken to her. Thusmen's frivolous pleas will, in the day of God's judgment, not only be overruled, but turned againstthem, and made the grounds of their sentence. Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee. Observe,I. God put marks of his displeasure on Adam in three instances:—1. His habitation is, by this sentence, cursed: Cursed is the ground for thy sake; and the effectof that curse is, Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto thee. It is here intimated that hishabitation should be changed; he should no longer dwell in a distinguished, blessed, paradise, butshould be removed to common ground, and that cursed. The ground, or earth, is here put for thewhole visible creation, which, by the sin of man, is made subject to vanity, the several parts of itbeing not so serviceable to man's comfort and happiness as they were designed to be when theywere made, and would have been if he had not sinned. God gave the earth to the children of men,designing it to be a comfortable dwelling to them. But sin has altered the property of it. It is nowcursed for man's sin; that is, it is a dishonourable habitation, it bespeaks man mean, that hisfoundation is in the dust; it is a dry and barren habitation, its spontaneous productions are nowweeds and briers, something nauseous or noxious; what good fruits it produces must be extortedfrom it by the ingenuity and industry of man. Fruitfulness was its blessing, for man's service (ch.i. 11, 29), and now barrenness was its curse, for man's punishment. It is not what it was in the dayit was created. Sin turned a fruitful land into barrenness; and man, having become as the wild ass'scolt, has the wild ass's lot, the wilderness for his habitation, and the barren land his dwelling, Job54

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)xxxix. 6; Ps. lxviii. 6. Had not this curse been in part removed, for aught I know, the earth wouldhave been for ever barren, and never produced any thing but thorns and thistles. The ground iscursed, that is, doomed to destruction at the end of time, when the earth, and all the works that aretherein, shall be burnt up for the sin of man, the measure of whose iniquity will then be full, 2 Pet.iii. 7, 10. But observe a mixture of mercy in this sentence. (1.) Adam himself is not cursed, as theserpent was (v. 14), but only the ground for his sake. God had blessings in him, even the holy seed:Destroy it not, for that blessing is in it, Isa. lxv. 8. And he had blessings in store for him; thereforehe is not directly and immediately cursed, but, as it were, at second hand. (2.) He is yet aboveground. The earth does not open and swallow him up; only it is not what it was: as he continuesalive, notwithstanding his degeneracy from his primitive purity and rectitude, so the earth continuesto be his habitation, notwithstanding its degeneracy from its primitive beauty and fruitfulness. (3.)This curse upon the earth, which cut off all expectations of a happiness in things below, mightdirect and quicken him to look for bliss and satisfaction only in things above.2. His employments and enjoyments are all embittered to him.(1.) His business shall henceforth become a toil to him, and he shall go on with it in the sweatof his face, v. 19. His business, before he sinned, was a constant pleasure to him, the garden wasthen dressed without any uneasy labour, and kept without any uneasy care; but now his labour shallbe a weariness and shall waste his body; his care shall be a torment and shall afflict his mind. Thecurse upon the ground which made it barren, and produced thorns and thistles, made his employmentabout it much more difficult and toilsome. If Adam had not sinned, he had not sweated. Observehere, [1.] That labour is our duty, which we must faithfully perform; we are bound to work, not ascreatures only, but as criminals; it is part of our sentence, which idleness daringly defies. [2.] Thatuneasiness and weariness with labour are our just punishment, which we must patiently submit to,and not complain of, since they are less than our iniquity deserves. Let not us, by inordinate careand labour, make our punishment heavier than God has made it; but rather study to lighten ourburden, and wipe off our sweat, by eyeing Providence in all and expecting rest shortly.(2.) His food shall henceforth become (in comparison with what it had been) unpleasant tohim. [1.] The matter of his food is changed; he must now eat the herb of the field, and must nolonger be feasted with the delicacies of the garden of Eden. Having by sin made himself like thebeasts that perish, he is justly turned to be a fellow-commoner with them, and to eat grass as oxen,till he know that the heavens do rule. [2.] There is a change in the manner of his eating it: In sorrow(v. 17). and in the sweat of his face (v. 19) he must eat of it. Adam could not but eat in sorrow allthe days of his life, remembering the forbidden fruit he had eaten, and the guilt and shame he hadcontracted by it. Observe, First, That human life is exposed to many miseries and calamities, whichvery much embitter the poor remains of its pleasures and delights. Some never eat with pleasure(Job xxi. 25), through sickness or melancholy; all, even the best, have cause to eat with sorrow forsin; and all, even the happiest in this world, have some allays to their joy: troops of diseases,33

    disasters, and deaths, in various shapes, entered the world with sin, and still ravage it. Secondly,That the righteousness of God is to be acknowledged in all the sad consequences of sin. Whereforethen should a living man complain? Yet, in this part of the sentence, there is also a mixture ofmercy. He shall sweat, but his toil shall make his rest the more welcome when he returns to hisearth, as to his bed; he shall grieve, but he shall not starve; he shall have sorrow, but in that sorrowhe shall eat bread, which shall strengthen his heart under his sorrows. He is not sentenced to eatdust as the serpent, only to eat the herb of the field.55

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)3. His life also is but short. Considering how full of trouble his days are, it is in favour to himthat they are few; yet death being dreadful to nature (yea, even though life be unpleasant) thatconcludes the sentence. "Thou shalt return to the ground out of which thou wast taken; thy body,that part of thee which was taken out of the ground, shall return to it again; for dust thou art." Thispoints either to the first original of his body; it was made of the dust, nay it was made dust, andwas still so; so that there needed no more than to recall the grant of immortality, and to withdrawthe power which was put forth to support it, and then he would, of course, return to dust. Or to thepresent corruption and degeneracy of his mind: Dust thou art, that is, "Thy precious soul is nowlost and buried in the dust of the body and the mire of the flesh; it was made spiritual and heavenly,but it has become carnal and earthly." His doom is therefore read: "To dust thou shalt return. Thybody shall be forsaken by thy soul, and become itself a lump of dust; and then it shall be lodged inthe grave, the proper place for it, and mingle itself with the dust of the earth," our dust, Ps. civ. 29.Earth to earth, dust to dust. Observe here, (1.) That man is a mean frail creature, little as dust, thesmall dust of the balance—light as dust, altogether lighter than vanity—weak as dust, and of noconsistency. Our strength is not the strength of stones; he that made us considers it, and remembersthat we are dust, Ps. ciii. 14. Man is indeed the chief part of the dust of the world (Prov. viii. 26),but still he is dust. (2.) That he is a mortal dying creature, and hastening to the grave. Dust may beraised, for a time, into a little cloud, and may seem considerable while it is held up by the wind thatraised it; but, when the force of that is spent, it falls again, and returns to the earth out of which itwas raised. Such a thing is man; a great man is but a great mass of dust, and must return to hisearth. (3.) That sin brought death into the world. If Adam had not sinned, he would not have died,Rom. v. 12. God entrusted Adam with a spark of immortality, which he, by a patient continuancein well-doing, might have blown up into an everlasting flame; but he foolishly blew it out by wilfulsin: and now death is the wages of sin, and sin is the sting of death.II. We must not go off from this sentence upon our first parents, which we are all so nearlyconcerned in, and feel from, to this day, till we have considered two things:—1. How fitly the sad consequences of sin upon the soul of Adam and his sinful race wererepresented and figured out by this sentence, and perhaps were more intended in it than we areaware of. Though that misery only is mentioned which affected the body, yet that was a pattern ofspiritual miseries, the curse that entered into the soul. (1.) The pains of a woman in travail representthe terrors and pangs of a guilty conscience, awakened to a sense of sin; from the conception oflust, these sorrows are greatly multiplied, and, sooner or later, will come upon the sinner like painupon a woman in travail, which cannot be avoided. (2.) The state of subjection to which the womanwas reduced represents that loss of spiritual liberty and freedom of will which is the effect of sin.The dominion of sin in the soul is compared to that of a husband (Rom. vii. 1-5), the sinner's desireis towards it, for he is fond of his slavery, and it rules over him. (3.) The curse of barrenness whichwas brought upon the earth, and its produce of briars and thorns, are a fit representation of thebarrenness of a corrupt and sinful soul in that which is good and its fruitfulness in evil. It is allovergrown with thorns, and nettles cover the face of it; and therefore it is nigh unto cursing, 8. (4.) The toil and sweat bespeak the difficulty which, through the infirmity of the flesh, manlabours under, in the service of God and the work of religion, so hard has it now become to enterinto the kingdom of heaven. Blessed be God, it is not impossible. (5.) The embittering of his foodto him bespeaks the soul's want of the comfort of God's favour, which is life, and the bread of life.56

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)(6.) The soul, like the body, returns to the dust of this world; its tendency is that way; it has anearthy taint, John iii. 31.2. How admirably the satisfaction our Lord Jesus made by his death and sufferings answeredto the sentence here passed upon our first parents. (1.) Did travailing pains come in with sin? Weread of the travail of Christ's soul (Isa. liii. 11); and the pains of death he was held by are calledodinai (Acts ii. 24), the pains of a woman in travail. (2.) Did subjection come in with sin? Christwas made under the law, Gal. iv. 4. (3.) Did the curse come in with sin? Christ was made a cursefor us, died a cursed death, Gal. iii. 13. (4.) Did thorns come in with sin? He was crowned withthorns for us. (5.) Did sweat come in with sin? He for us did sweat as it were great drops of blood.(6.) Did sorrow come in with sin? He was a man of sorrows, his soul was, in his agony, exceedingly34

    sorrowful. (7.) Did death come in with sin? He became obedient unto death. Thus is the plaster aswide as the wound. Blessed be God for Jesus Christ!20 And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of allliving.God having named the man, and called him Adam, which signifies red earth, Adam, in furthertoken of dominion, named the woman, and called her Eve, that is, life. Adam bears the name of thedying body, Eve that of the living soul. The reason of the name is here given (some think, by Mosesthe historian, others, by Adam himself): Because she was (that is, was to be) the mother of all living.He had before called her Ishah—woman, as a wife; here he calls her Evah—life, as a mother. Now,1. If this was done by divine direction, it was an instance of God's favour, and, like the new namingof Abraham and Sarah, it was a seal of the covenant, and an assurance to them that, notwithstandingtheir sin and his displeasure against them for it, he had not reversed that blessing wherewith he hadblessed them: Be fruitful and multiply. It was likewise a confirmation of the promise now made,that the seed of the woman, of this woman, should break the serpent's head. 2. If Adam did it ofhimself, it was an instance of his faith in the word of God. Doubtless it was not done, as some havesuspected, in contempt or defiance of the curse, but rather in a humble confidence and dependenceupon the blessing. (1.) The blessing of a reprieve, admiring the patience of God, that he shouldspare such sinners to be the parents of all living, and that he did not immediately shut up thosefountains of the human life and nature, because they could send forth no other than polluted,poisoned, streams. (2.) The blessing of a Redeemer, the promised seed, to whom Adam had an eye,in calling his wife Eve—life; for he should be the life of all the living, and in him all the familiesof the earth should be blessed, in hope of which he thus triumphs.21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, andclothed them.We have here a further instance of God's care concerning our first parents, notwithstandingtheir sin. Though he corrects his disobedient children, and put them under the marks of hisdispleasure, yet he does not disinherit them, but, like a tender father, provides the herb of the fieldfor their food and coats of skins for their clothing. Thus the father provided for the returning prodigal,Luke xv. 22, 23. If the Lord had been pleased to kill them, he would not have done this for them.Observe, 1. That clothes came in with sin. We should have had no occasion for them, either fordefence or decency, if sin had not made us naked, to our shame. Little reason therefore we have tobe proud of our clothes, which are but the badges of our poverty and infamy. 2. That when Godmade clothes for our first parents he made them warm and strong, but coarse and very plain: not57

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)robes of scarlet, but coats of skin. Their clothes were made, not of silk and satin, but plain skins;not trimmed, nor embroidered, none of the ornaments which the daughters of Sion afterwardsinvented, and prided themselves in. Let the poor, that are meanly clad, learn hence not to complain:having food and a covering, let them be content; they are as well done to as Adam and Eve were.And let the rich, that are finely clad, learn hence not to make the putting on of apparel their adorning,1 Pet. iii. 3. 3. That God is to be acknowledged with thankfulness, not only in giving us food, butin giving us clothes also, ch. xxviii. 20. The wool and the flax are his, as well as the corn and thewine, Hos. ii. 9. 4. These coats of skin had a significancy. The beasts whose skins they were mustbe slain, slain before their eyes, to show them what death is, and (as it is Eccl. iii. 18) that they maysee that they themselves were beasts, mortal and dying. It is supposed that they were slain, not forfood, but for sacrifice, to typify the great sacrifice, which, in the latter end of the world, should beoffered once for all. Thus the first thing that died was a sacrifice, or Christ in a figure, who istherefore said to be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. These sacrifices were dividedbetween God and man, in token of reconciliation: the flesh was offered to God, a wholeburnt-offering; the skins were given to man for clothing, signifying that, Jesus Christ having offeredhimself to God a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, we are to clothe ourselves with hisrighteousness as with a garment, that the shame of our nakedness may not appear. Adam and Evemade for themselves aprons of fig-leaves, a covering too narrow for them to wrap themselves in,Isa. xxviii. 20. Such are all the rags of our own righteousness. But God made them coats of skins;large, and strong, and durable, and fit for them; such is the righteousness of Christ. Therefore puton the Lord Jesus Christ.Adam and Eve Expelled from Eden. (b. c. 4004.)22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to knowgood and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life,and eat, and live for ever: 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the gardenof Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man;and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming swordwhich turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.35

    Sentence being passed upon the offenders, we have here execution, in part, done upon themimmediately. Observe here,I. How they were justly disgraced and shamed before God and the holy angels, by the ironicalupbraiding of them with the issue of their enterprise: "Behold, the man has become as one of us,to know good and evil! A goodly god he makes! Does he not? See what he has got, what preferments,what advantages, by eating forbidden fruit!" This was said to awaken and humble them, and tobring them to a sense of their sin and folly, and to repentance for it, that, seeing themselves thuswretchedly deceived by following the devil's counsel, they might henceforth pursue the happinessGod should offer in the way he should prescribe. God thus fills their faces with shame, that theymay seek his name, Ps. lxxxiii. 16. He puts them to this confusion, in order to their conversion.True penitents will thus upbraid themselves: "What fruit have I now by sin? Rom. vi. 21. Have Igained what I foolishly promised myself in a sinful way? No, no, it never proved what it pretendedto, but the contrary."58

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. How they were justly discarded, and shut out of paradise, which was a part of the sentenceimplied in that, Thou shalt eat the herb of the field. Here we have,1. The reason God gave why he shut man out of paradise; not only because he had put forthhis hand, and taken of the tree of knowledge, which was his sin, but lest he should again put forthhis hand, and take also of the tree of life (now forbidden him by the divine sentence, as before thetree of knowledge was forbidden by the law), and should dare to eat of that tree, and so profane adivine sacrament and defy a divine sentence, and yet flatter himself with a conceit that thereby heshould live forever. Observe, (1.) There is a foolish proneness in those that have rendered themselvesunworthy of the substance of Christian privileges to catch at the signs and shadows of them. Manythat like not the terms of the covenant, yet, for their reputation's sake, are fond of the seals of it.(2.) It is not only justice, but kindness, to such, to be denied them; for, by usurping that to whichthey have no title, they affront God and make their sin the more heinous, and by building theirhopes upon a wrong foundation they render their conversion the more difficult and their ruin themore deplorable.2. The method God took, in giving him this bill of divorce, and expelling and excluding himfrom this garden of pleasure. He turned him out, and kept him out.(1.) He turned him out, from the garden to the common. This is twice mentioned: He sent himforth v. 23), and then he drove him out, v. 24. God bade him go out, told him that that was no placefor him, he should no longer occupy and enjoy that garden; but he liked the place too well to bewilling to part with it, and therefore God drove him out, made him go out, whether he would or no.This signified the exclusion of him, and all his guilty race, from that communion with God whichwas the bliss and glory of paradise. The tokens of God's favour to him and his delight in the sonsof men, which he had in his innocent estate, were now suspended; the communications of his gracewere withheld, and Adam became weak, and like other men, as Samson when the Spirit of the Lordhad departed from him. His acquaintance with God was lessened and lost, and that correspondencewhich had been settled between man and his Maker was interrupted and broken off. He was drivenout, as one unworthy of this honour and incapable of this service. Thus he and all mankind, by thefall, forfeited and lost communion with God. But whither did he send him when he turned him outof Eden? He might justly have chased him out of the world (Job xviii. 18), but he only chased himout of the garden. He might justly have cast him down to hell, as he did the angels that sinned whenhe shut them out from the heavenly paradise, 2 Pet. ii. 4. But man was only sent to till the groundout of which he was taken. He was sent to a place of toil, not to a place of torment. He was sent tothe ground, not to the grave,—to the work-house, not to the dungeon, not to the prison-house,—tohold the plough, not to drag the chain. His tilling the ground would be recompensed by his eatingof its fruits; and his converse with the earth whence he was taken was improvable to good purposes,to keep him humble, and to remind him of his latter end. Observe, then, that though our first parentswere excluded from the privileges of their state of innocency, yet they were not abandoned todespair, God's thoughts of love designing them for a second state of probation upon new terms.(2.) He kept him out, and forbade him all hopes of a re-entry; for he placed at the east of thegarden of Eden a detachment of cherubim, God's hosts, armed with a dreadful and irresistiblepower, represented by flaming swords which turned every way, on that side the garden which laynext to the place whither Adam was sent, to keep the way that led to the tree of life, so that he couldneither steal nor force an entry; for who can make a pass against an angel on his guard or gain apass made good by such force? Now this intimated to Adam, [1.] That God was displeased with59

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)him. Though he had mercy in store for him, yet at present he was angry with him, was turned tobe his enemy and fought against him, for here was a sword drawn (Num. xxii. 23); and he was tohim a consuming fire, for it was a flaming sword. [2.] That the angels were at war with him; nopeace with the heavenly hosts, while he was in rebellion against their Lord and ours. [3.] That theway to the tree of life was shut up, namely, that way which, at first, he was put into, the way of36

    spotless innocency. It is not said that the cherubim were set to keep him and his for ever from thetree of life (thanks be to God, there is a paradise set before us, and a tree of life in the midst of it,which we rejoice in the hopes of); but they were set to keep that way of the tree of life which hithertothey had been in; that is, it was henceforward in vain for him and his to expect righteousness, life,and happiness, by virtue of the first covenant, for it was irreparably broken, and could never bepleaded, nor any benefit taken by it. The command of that covenant being broken, the curse of itis in full force; it leaves no room for repentance, but we are all undone if we be judged by thatcovenant. God revealed this to Adam, not to drive him to despair, but to oblige and quicken himto look for life and happiness in the promised seed, by whom the flaming sword is removed. Godand his angels are reconciled to us, and a new and living way into the holiest is consecrated andlaid open for us.36

    International Standard Bible Commentary;

    Original Matthew Henry's: Edited, Annotated by NewtonStein;

    "Genesis Chapter 4"

    In this chapter we have both the world and the church in a family, in a little family, in Adam'sfamily, and a specimen given of the character and state of both in after-ages, nay, in all ages, to theend of time. As all mankind were represented in Adam, so that great distinction of mankind intosaints and sinners, godly and wicked, the children of God and the children of the wicked one, washere represented in Cain and Abel, and an early instance is given of the enmity which was latelyput between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. We have here, I. The birth, names,and callings, of Cain and Abel, ver. 1, 2. II. Their religion, and different success in it, ver. 3, 4, andpart of ver. 5. III. Cain's anger at God and the reproof of him for that anger, ver. 5-7. IV. Cain'smurder of his brother, and the process against him for that murder. The murder committed, ver. 8.The proceedings against him. 1. His arraignment, ver. 9, former part. 2. His plea, ver. 9, latter part.3. His conviction, ver. 10. 4. The sentence passed upon him, ver. 11, 12. 5. His complaint againstthe sentence, ver. 13, 14. 6. The ratification of the sentence, ver. 15. 7. The execution of the sentence,ver. 15, 16. V. The family and posterity of Cain, ver. 17-24. VI. The birth of another son andgrandson of Adam, ver. 25, 26.Cain and Abel. (b. c. 3875.)1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, Ihave gotten a man from the Lord. 2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abelwas a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.60

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Adam and Eve had many sons and daughters, ch. v. 4. But Cain and Abel seem to have beenthe two eldest. Some think they were twins, and, as Esau and Jacob, the elder hated and the youngerloved. Though God had cast our first parents out of paradise, he did not write them childless; but,to show that he had other blessings in store for them, he preserved to them the benefit of that firstblessing of increase. Though they were sinners, nay, though they felt the humiliation and sorrowof penitents, they did not write themselves comfortless, having the promise of a Saviour to supportthemselves with. We have here,I. The names of their two sons. 1. Cain signifies possession; for Eve, when she bore him, saidwith joy, and thankfulness, and great expectation, I have gotten a man from the Lord. Observe,Children are God's gifts, and he must be acknowledged in the building up of our families. It doublesand sanctifies our comfort in them when we see them coming to us from the hand of God, who willnot forsake the works and gifts of his own hand. Though Eve bore him with the sorrows that werethe consequence of sin, yet she did not lose the sense of the mercy in her pains. Comforts, thoughalloyed, are more than we deserve; and therefore our complaints must not drown our thanksgivings.Many suppose that Eve had a conceit that this son was the promised seed, and that therefore shethus triumphed in him, as her words may be read, I have gotten a man, the Lord, God-man. If so,she was wretchedly mistaken, as Samuel, when he said, Surely the Lord's anointed is before me, 1Sam. xvi. 6. When children are born, who can foresee what they will prove? He that was thoughtto be a man, the Lord, or at least a man from the Lord, and for his service as priest of the family,became an enemy to the Lord. The less we expect from creature s, the more tolerable willdisappointments be. 2. Abel signifies vanity. When she thought she had obtained the promised seedin Cain, she was so taken up with that possession that another son was as vanity to her. To thosewho have an interest in Christ, and make him their all, other things are as nothing at all. It intimateslikewise that the longer we live in this world the more we may see of the vanity of it. What, at first,we are fond of, as a possession, afterwards we see cause to be dead to, as a trifle. The name givento this son is put upon the whole race, Ps. xxxix. 5. Every man is at his best estate Abel—vanity.Let us labour to see both ourselves and others so. Childhood and youth are vanity.II. The employments of Cain and Abel. Observe, 1. They both had a calling. Though they wereheirs apparent to the world, their birth noble and their possessions large, yet they were not broughtup in idleness. God gave their father a calling, even in innocency, and he gave them one. Note, Itis the will of God that we should every one of us have something to do in this world. Parents oughtto bring up their children to business. "Give them a Bible and a calling (said good Mr. Dod), andGod be with them." 2. Their employments were different, that they might trade and exchange withone another, as there was occasion. The members of the body politic have need one of another, andmutual love is helped by mutual commerce. 3. Their employments belonged to the husbandman'scalling, their father's profession—a needful calling, for the king himself is served of the field, buta laborious calling, which required constant care and attendance. It is now looked upon as a meancalling; the poor of the land serve for vine-dressers and husbandmen, Jer. lii. 16. But the calling37

    was far from being a dishonour to them; rather, they were an honour to it. 4. It should seem, bythe order of the story, that Abel, though the younger brother, yet entered first into his calling, andprobably his example drew in Cain. 5. Abel chose that employment which most befriendedcontemplation and devotion, for to these a pastoral life has been looked upon as being peculiarlyfavourable. Moses and David kept sheep, and in their solitudes conversed with God. Note, That61

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)calling or condition of life is best for us, and to be chosen by us, which is best for our souls, thatwhich least exposes us to sin and gives us most opportunity of serving and enjoying God.3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of theground an offering unto the Lord. 4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings ofhis flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to hisoffering: 5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was verywroth, and his countenance fell.Here we have, I. The devotions of Cain and Abel. In process of time, when they had madesome improvement in their respective callings (Heb. At the end of days, either at the end of theyear, when they kept their feast of in-gathering or perhaps an annual fast in remembrance of thefall, or at the end of the days of the week, the seventh day, which was the sabbath)—at some settime, Cain and Abel brought to Adam, as the priest of the family, each of them an offering to theLord, for the doing of which we have reason to think there was a divine appointment given to Adam,as a token of God's favour to him and his thoughts of love towards him and his, notwithstandingtheir apostasy. God would thus try Adam's faith in the promise and his obedience to the remediallaw; he would thus settle a correspondence again between heaven and earth, and give shadows ofgood things to come. Observe here, 1. That the religious worship of God is no novel invention, butan ancient institution. It is that which was from the beginning (1 John i. 1); it is the good old way,Jer. vi. 16. The city of our God is indeed that joyous city whose antiquity is of ancient days, Isa.xxiii. 7. Truth got the start of error, and piety of profaneness. 2. That is a good thing for childrento be well taught when they are young, and trained up betimes in religious services, that when theycome to be capable of acting for themselves they may, of their own accord, bring an offering toGod. In this nurture of the Lord parents must bring up their children, ch. xviii. 19; Eph. vi. 4. 3.That we should every one of us honour God with what we have, according as he has prospered us.According as their employments and possessions were, so they brought their offering. See 1 Cor.xvi. 1, 2. Our merchandize and our hire, whatever they are, must be holiness to the Lord, Isa. xxiii.18. He must have his dues of it in works of piety and charity, the support of religion and the reliefof the poor. Thus we must now bring our offering with an upright heart; and with such sacrificesGod is well pleased. 4. That hypocrites and evil doers may be found going as far as the best ofGod's people in the external services of religion. Cain brought an offering with Abel; nay, Cain'soffering is mentioned first, as if he were the more forward of the two. A hypocrite may possiblyhear as many sermons, say as many prayers, and give as much alms, as a good Christian, and yet,for want of sincerity, come short of acceptance with God. The Pharisee and the publican went tothe temple to pray, Luke xviii. 10.II. The different success of their devotions. That which is to be aimed at in all acts of religionis God's acceptance: we speed well if we attain this, but in vain do we worship if we miss of it, 2Cor. v. 9. Perhaps, to a stander-by, the sacrifices of Cain and Abel would have seemed both alikegood. Adam accepted them both, but God, who sees not as man sees, did not. God had respect toAbel and to his offering, and showed his acceptance of it, probably by fire from heaven; but to Cainand his offering he had not respect. We are sure there was a good reason for this difference; theGovernor of the world, though an absolute sovereign, does not act arbitrarily in dispensing hissmiles and frowns.62

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)1. There was a difference in the characters of the persons offering. Cain was a wicked man,led a bad life, under the reigning power of the world and the flesh; and therefore his sacrifice wasan abomination to the Lord (Prov. xv. 8); a vain oblation, Isa. i. 13. God had no respect to Cainhimself, and therefore no respect to his offering, as the manner of the expression intimates. ButAbel was a righteous man; he is called righteous Abel (Matt. xxiii. 35); his heart was upright andhis life was pious; he was one of those whom God's countenance beholds (Ps. xi. 7) and whoseprayer is therefore his delight, Prov. xv. 8. God had respect to him as a holy man, and therefore tohis offering as a holy offering. The tree must be good, else the fruit cannot be pleasing to theheart-searching God.2. There was a difference in the offerings they brought. It is expressly said (Heb. xi. 4), Abel'swas a more excellent sacrifice than Cain's: either, (1.) In the nature of it. Cain's was only a sacrificeof acknowledgment offered to the Creator; the meat-offerings of the fruit of the ground were no38

    more, and, for aught I know, they might be offered in innocency. But Abel brought a sacrifice ofatonement, the blood whereof was shed in order to remission, thereby owning himself a sinner,deprecating God's wrath, and imploring his favour in a Mediator. Or, (2.) In the qualities of theoffering. Cain brought of the fruit of the ground, any thing that came next to hand, what he had notoccasion for himself or what was not marketable. But Abel was curious in the choice of his offering:not the lame, nor the lean, nor the refuse, but the firstlings of the flock—the best he had, and thefat thereof—the best of those best. Hence the Hebrew doctors give it for a general rule that everything that is for the name of the good God must be the goodliest and best. It is fit that he who is thefirst and best should have the first and best of our time, strength, and service.3. The great difference was this, that Abel offered in faith, and Cain did not. There was adifference in the principle upon which they went. Abel offered with an eye to God's will as his rule,and God's glory as his end, and in dependence upon the promise of a Redeemer; but Cain did whathe did only for company's sake, or to save his credit, not in faith, and so it turned into sin to him.Abel was a penitent believer, like the publican that went away justified: Cain was unhumbled; hisconfidence was within himself; he was like the Pharisee who glorified himself, but was not so muchas justified before God.III. Cain's displeasure at the difference God made between his sacrifice and Abel's. Cain wasvery wroth, which presently appeared in his very looks, for his countenance fell, which bespeaksnot so much his grief and discontent as his malice and rage. His sullen churlish countenance, anda down-look, betrayed his passionate resentments: he carried ill-nature in his face, and the show ofhis countenance witnessed against him. This anger bespeaks, 1. His enmity to God, and theindignation he had conceived against him for making such a difference between his offering andhis brother's. He should have been angry at himself for his own infidelity and hypocrisy, by whichhe had forfeited God's acceptance; and his countenance should have fallen in repentance and holyshame, as the publican's, who would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, Luke xviii. 13. But,instead of this, he flies out against God, as if he were partial and unfair in distributing his smilesand frowns, and as if he had done him a deal of wrong. Note, It is a certain sign of an unhumbledheart to quarrel with those rebukes which we have, by our own sin, brought upon ourselves. Thefoolishness of man perverteth his way, and then, to make bad worse, his heart fretteth against theLord, Prov. xix. 3. 2. His envy of his brother, who had the honour to be publicly owned. Thoughhis brother had no thought of having any slur put upon him, nor did now insult over him to provokehim, yet he conceived a hatred of him as an enemy, or, which is equivalent, a rival. Note, (1.) It is63

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)common for those who have rendered themselves unworthy of God's favour by their presumptuoussins to have indignation against those who are dignified and distinguished by it. The Phariseeswalked in this way of Cain, when they neither entered into the kingdom of God themselves norsuffered those that were entering to go in, Luke xi. 52. Their eye is evil, because their master's eyeand the eye of their fellow-servants are good. (2.) Envy is a sin that commonly carries with it bothits own discovery, in the paleness of the looks, and its own punishment, in the rottenness of thebones.6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenancefallen? 7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well,sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.God is here reasoning with Cain, to convince him of the sin and folly of his anger and discontent,and to bring him into a good temper again, that further mischief might be prevented. It is an instanceof God's patience and condescending goodness that he would deal thus tenderly with so bad a man,in so bad an affair. He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.Thus the father of the prodigal argued the case with the elder son (Luke xv. 28, &c.), and God withthose Israelites who said, The way of the Lord is not equal, Ezek. xviii. 25.I. God puts Cain himself upon enquiring into the cause of his discontent, and consideringwhether it were indeed a just cause: Why is thy countenance fallen? Observe, 1. That God takesnotice of all our sinful passions and discontents. There is not an angry look, an envious look, nora fretful look, that escapes his observing eye. 2. That most of our sinful heats and disquietudeswould soon vanish before a strict and impartial enquiry into the cause of them. "Why am I wroth?Is there a re al cause, a just cause, a proportionable cause for it? Why am I so soon angry? Why sovery angry, and so implacable?"II. To reduce Cain to his right mind again, it is here made evident to him,1. That he had no reason to be angry at God, for that he had proceeded according to the settledand invariable rules of government suited to a state of probation. He sets before men life and death,the blessing and the curse, and then renders to them according to their works, and differences themaccording as they difference themselves—so shall their doom be. The rules are just, and thereforehis ways, according to those rules, must needs be equal, and he will be justified when he speaks.39

    (1.) God sets before Cain life and a blessing: "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?No doubt thou shalt, nay, thou knowest thou shalt;" either, [1.] "If thou hadst done well, as thybrother did, thou shouldst have been accepted, as he was." God is no respecter of persons, hatesnothing that he had made, denies his favour to none but those who have forfeited it, and is an enemyto none but those who by sin have made him their enemy: so that if we come short of acceptancewith him we must thank ourselves, the fault is wholly our own; if we had done our duty, we shouldnot have missed of his mercy. This will justify God in the destruction of sinners, and will aggravatetheir ruin; there is not a damned sinner in hell, but, if he had done well, as he might have done, hadbeen a glorious saint in heaven. Every mouth will shortly be stopped with this. Or, [2.] "If nowthou do well, if thou repent of thy sin, reform thy heart and life, and bring thy sacrifice in a bettermanner, if thou not only do that which is good but do it well, thou shalt yet be accepted, thy sinshall be pardoned, thy comfort and honour restored, and all shall be well." See here the effect of aMediator's interposal between God and man; we do not stand upon the footing of the first covenant,which left no room for repentance, but God had come upon new terms with us. Though we have64

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)offended, if we repent and return, we shall find mercy. See how early the gospel was preached, andthe benefit of it here offered even to one of the chief of sinners.(2.) He sets before him death and a curse: But if not well, that is, "Seeing thou didst not dowell, didst not offer in faith and in a right manner, sin lies at the door," that is, "sin was imputedto thee, and thou wast frowned upon and rejected as a sinner. So high a charge had not been laidat thy door, if thou hadst not brought it upon thyself, by not doing well." Or, as it is commonlytaken, "If now thou wilt not do well, if thou persist in this wrath, and, instead of humbling thyselfbefore God, harden thyself against him, sin lies at the door," that is, [1.] Further sin. "Now thatanger is in thy heart, murder is at the door." The way of sin is down-hill, and men go from bad toworse. Those who do not sacrifice well, but are careless and remiss in their devotion to God, exposethemselves to the worst temptations; and perhaps the most scandalous sin lies at the door. Thosewho do not keep God's ordinances are in danger of committing all abominations, Lev. xviii. 30.Or, [2.] The punishment of sin. So near akin are sin and punishment that the same word in Hebrewsignifies both. If sin be harboured in the house, the curse waits at the door, like a bailiff, ready toarrest the sinner whenever he looks out. It lies as if it slept, but it lies at the door where it will besoon awaked, and then it will appear that the damnation slumbered not. Sin will find thee out, Num.xxxii. 23. Yet some choose to understand this also as an intimation of mercy. "If thou doest notwell, sin (that is, the sin-offering), lies at the door, and thou mayest take the benefit of it." The sameword signifies sin and a sacrifice for sin. "Though thou hast not done well, yet do not despair; theremedy is at hand; the propitiation is not far to seek; lay hold on it, and the iniquity of thy holythings shall be forgiven thee." Christ, the great sin-offering, is said to stand at the door, Rev. iii.20. And those well deserve to perish in their sins that will not go to the door for an interest in thesin-offering. All this considered, Cain had no reason to be angry at God, but at himself only.2. That he had no reason to be angry at his brother: "Unto thee shall be his desire, he shallcontinue his respect to thee as an elder brother, and thou, as the first-born, shalt rule over him asmuch as ever." God's acceptance of Abel's offering did not transfer the birth-right to him (whichCain was jealous of), nor put upon him that excellency of dignity and of power which is said tobelong to it, ch. xlix. 3. God did not so intend it; Abel did not so interpret it; there was no dangerof its being improved to Cain's prejudice; why then should he be so much exasperated? Observehere, (1.) That the difference which God's grace makes does not alter the distinctions which God'sprovidence makes, but preserves them, and obliges us to do the duty which results from them:believing servants must be obedient to unbelieving masters. Dominion is not founded in grace, norwill religion warrant disloyalty or disrespect in any relation. (2.) That the jealousies which civilpowers have sometimes conceived of the true worshippers of God as dangerous to their government,enemies to Cæsar, and hurtful to kings and provinces (on which suspicion persecutors have groundedtheir rage against them) are very unjust and unreasonable. Whatever may be the case with somewho call themselves Christians, it is certain that Christians indeed are the best subjects, and thequiet in the land; their desire is towards their governors, and these shall rule over them.8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were inthe field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.We have here the progress of Cain's anger, and the issue of it in Abel's murder, which may beconsidered two ways:—65

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)I. As Cain's sin; and a scarlet, crimson, sin it was, a sin of the first magnitude, a sin against thelight and law of nature, and which the consciences even of bad men have startled at. See in it, 1.40

    The sad effects of sin's entrance into the world and into the hearts of men. See what a root ofbitterness the corrupt nature is, which bears this gall and wormwood. Adam's eating forbidden fruitseemed but a little sin, but it opened the door to the greatest. 2. A fruit of the enmity which is inthe seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman. As Abel leads the van in the noble army ofmartyrs (Matt. xxiii. 35), so Cain stand in the front of the ignoble army of persecutors, Jude 11. Soearly did he that was after the flesh persecute him that was after the Spirit; and so it is now, moreor less (Gal. iv. 29), and so it will be till the war shall end in the eternal salvation of all the saintsand the eternal perdition of all that hate them. 3. See also what comes of envy, hatred, malice, andall uncharitableness; if they be indulged and cherished in the soul, they are in danger of involvingmen in the horrid guilt of murder itself. Rash anger is heart-murder, Matt. v. 21, 22. Much more ismalice so; he that hates his brother is already a murderer before God; and, if God leave him tohimself, he wants nothing but an opportunity to render him a murderer before the world. Manywere the aggravations of Cain's sin. (1.) It was his brother, his own brother, that he murdered, hisown mother's son (Ps. l. 20), whom he ought to have loved, his younger brother, whom he oughtto have protected. (2.) He was a good brother, one who had never done him any wrong, nor givenhim the least provocation in word or deed, but one whose desire had been always towards him, andwho had been, in all instances, dutiful and respectful to him. (3.) He had fair warning given him,before, of this. God himself had told him what would come of it, yet he persisted in his barbarousdesign. (4.) It should seem that he covered it with a show of friendship and kindness: He talkedwith Abel his brother, freely and familiarly, lest Abel should suspect danger, and keep out of hisreach. Thus Joab kissed Abner, and then killed him. Thus Absalom feasted his brother Amnon andthen killed him. According to the Septuagint [a Greek version of the Old Testament, supposed tohave been translated by seventy-two Jews, at the desire of Ptolemy Philadelphus, above 200 yearsbefore Christ], Cain said to Abel, Let us go into the field; if so, we are sure Abel did not understandit (according to the modern sense) as a challenge, else he would not have accepted it, but as abrotherly invitation to go together to their work. The Chaldee paraphrast adds that Cain, when theywere in discourse in the field, maintained that there was no judgment to come, no future state, norewards and punishments in the other world, and that when Abel spoke in defence of the truth Caintook that occasion to fall upon him. However, (5.) That which the scripture tells us was the reasonwhy he slew him was a sufficient aggravation of the murder; it was because his own works wereevil and his brother's righteous, so that herein he showed himself to be of that wicked one (1 Johniii. 12), a child of the devil, as being an enemy to all righteousness, even in his own brother, and,in this, employed immediately by the destroyer. Nay, (6.) In killing his brother, he directly struckat God himself; for God's accepting Abel was the provocation pretended, and for this very reasonhe hated Abel, because God loved him. (7.) The murder of Abel was the more inhuman becausethere were now so few men in the world to replenish it. The life of a man is precious at any time;but it was in a special manner precious now, and could ill be spared.II. As Abel's suffering. Death reigned ever since Adam sinned, but we read not of any takencaptive by him till now; and now, 1. The first that dies is a saint, one that was accepted and belovedof God, to show that, though the promised seed was so far to destroy him that had the power ofdeath as to save believers from its sting, yet still they should be exposed to its stroke. The first thatwent to the grave went to heaven. God would secure to himself the first-fruits, the first-born to the66

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)dead, that first opened the womb into another world. Let this take off the terror of death, that it wasbetimes the lot of God's chosen, which alters the property of it. Nay, 2. The first that dies is a martyr,and dies for his religion; and of such it may more truly be said than of soldiers that they die on thebed of honour. Abel's death has not only no curse in it, but it has a crown in it; so admirably wellis the property of death altered that it is not only rendered innocent and inoffensive to those thatdie in Christ, but honourable and glorious to those that die for him. Let us not think it strangeconcerning the fiery trial, nor shrink if we be called to resist unto blood; for we know there is acrown of life for all that are faithful unto death.Cain's Punishment. (b. c. 3875.)9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I knownot: Am I my brother's keeper? 10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice ofthy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. 11 And now art thou cursedfrom the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood fromthy hand; 12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto theeher strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.We have here a full account of the trial and condemnation of the first murderer. Civil courtsof judicature not being yet erected for this purpose, as they were afterwards (ch. ix. 6), God himself41

    sits Judge; for he is the God to whom vengeance belongs, and who will be sure to make inquisitionfor blood, especially the blood of saints. Observe,I. The arraignment of Cain: The Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? Some thinkCain was thus examined the next sabbath after the murder was committed, when the sons of Godcame, as usual, to present themselves before the Lord, in a religious assembly, and Abel was missing,whose place did not use to be empty; for the God of heaven takes notice who is present at and whois absent from public ordinances. Cain is asked, not only because there is just cause to suspect him,he having discovered a malice against Abel and having been last with him, but because God knewhim to be guilty; yet he asks him, that he may draw from him a confession of his crime, for thosewho would be justified before God must accuse themselves, and the penitent will do so.II. Cain's plea: he pleads not guilty, and adds rebellion to his sin. For, 1. He endeavours tocover a deliberate murder with a deliberate lie: I know not. He knew well enough what had becomeof Abel, and yet had the impudence to deny it. Thus, in Cain, the devil was both a murderer and aliar from the beginning. See how sinners' minds are blinded, and their hearts hardened by thedeceitfulness of sin: those are strangely blind that think it possible to conceal their sins from a Godthat sees all, and those are strangely hard that think it desirable to conceal them from a God whopardons those only that confess. 2. He impudently charges his Judge with folly and injustice, inputting this question to him: Am I my brother's keeper? He should have humbled himself, and havesaid, Am not I my brother's murderer? But he flies in the face of God himself, as if he had askedhim an impertinent question, to which he was no way obliged to give an answer: "Am I my brother'skeeper? Surely he is old enough to take care of himself, nor did I ever take any charge of him."Some think he reflects on God and his providence, as if he had said, "Art not thou his keeper? Ifhe be missing, on thee be the blame, and not on me, who never undertook to keep him." Note, Acharitable concern for our brethren, as their keepers, is a great duty, which is strictly required ofus, but is generally neglected by us. Those who are unconcerned in the affairs of their brethren,67

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)and take no care, when they have opportunity, to prevent their hurt in their bodies, goods, or goodname, especially in their souls, do, in effect, speak Cain's language. See Lev. xix. 17; Phil. ii. 4.III. The conviction of Cain, v. 10. God gave no direct answer to his question, but rejected hisplea as false and frivolous: "What hast thou done? Thou makest a light matter of it; but hast thouconsidered what an evil thing it is, how deep the stain, how heavy the burden, of this guilt is? Thouthinkest to conceal it, but it is to no purpose, the evidence against thee is clear and incontestable:The voice of thy brother's blood cries." He speaks as if the blood itself were both witness andprosecutor, because God's own knowledge testified against him and God's own justice demandedsatisfaction. Observe here, 1. Murder is a crying sin, none more so. Blood calls for blood, the bloodof the murdered for the blood of the murderer; it cries in the dying words of Zechariah (2 Chron.xxiv. 22), The Lord look upon it and require it; or in those of the souls under the altar (Rev. vi.10), How long, Lord, holy, and true? The patient sufferers cried for pardon (Father, forgive them),but their blood cries for vengeance. Though they hold their peace, their blood has a loud and constantcry, to which the ear of the righteous God is always open. 2. The blood is said to cry from theground, the earth, which is said to open her mouth to receive his brother's blood from his hand, v.11. The earth did, as it were, blush to see her own face stained with such blood, and thereforeopened her mouth to hide that which she could not hinder. When the heaven revealed Cain's iniquity,the earth also rose up against him (Job xx. 27), and groaned on being thus made subject to vanity,Rom. viii. 20, 22. Cain, it is likely, buried the blood and the body, to conceal his crime; but "murderwill out." He did not bury them so deep but the cry of them reached heaven. 3. In the original theword is plural, thy brother's bloods, not only his blood, but the blood of all those that might havedescended from him; or the blood of all the seed of the woman, who should, in like manner, sealthe truth with their blood. Christ puts all on one score (Matt. xxiii. 35); or because account waskept of every drop of blood shed. How well is it for us that the blood of Christ speaks better thingsthan that of Abel! Heb. xii. 24. Abel's blood cried for vengeance, Christ's blood cries for pardon.IV. The sentence passed upon Cain: And now art thou cursed from the earth, v. 11. Observehere,1. He is cursed, separated to all evil, laid under the wrath of God, as it is revealed from heavenagainst all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, Rom. i. 18. Who knows the extent and weightof a divine curse, how far it reaches, how deep it pierces? God's pronouncing a man cursed makeshim so; for those whom he curses are cursed indeed. The curse for Adam's disobedience terminatedon the ground: Cursed is the ground for thy sake; but that for Cain's rebellion fell immediatelyupon himself: Thou art cursed; for God had mercy in store for Adam, but none for Cain. We haveall deserved this curse, and it is only in Christ that believers are saved from it and inherit the blessing,Gal. iii. 10, 13.42

    2. He is cursed from the earth. Thence the cry came up to God, thence the curse came up toCain. God could have taken vengeance by an immediate stroke from heaven, by the sword of anangel, or by a thunderbolt; but he chose to make the earth the avenger of blood, to continue himupon the earth, and not immediately to cut him off, and yet to make even this his curse. The earthis always near us, we cannot fly from it; so that, if this is made the executioner of divine wrath, ourpunishment is unavoidable: it is sin, that is, the punishment of sin, lying at the door. Cain foundhis punishment where he chose his portion and set his heart. Two things we expect from the earth,and by this curse both are denied to Cain and taken from him: sustenance and settlement. (1.)Sustenance out of the earth is here withheld from him. It is a curse upon him in his enjoyments,68

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)and particularly in his calling: When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto theeits strength. Note, Every creature is to us what God makes it, a comfort or a cross, a blessing or acurse. If the earth yield not her strength to us, we must therein acknowledge God's righteousness;for we have not yielded our strength to him. The ground was cursed before to Adam, but it wasnow doubly cursed to Cain. That part of it which fell to his share, and of which he had the occupation,was made unfruitful and uncomfortable to him by the blood of Abel. Note, The wickedness of thewicked brings a curse upon all they do and all they have (Deut. xxviii. 15, &c.), and this curseembitters all they have and disappoints them in all they do. (2.) Settlement on the earth is heredenied him: A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth. By this he was condemned, [1.]To perpetual disgrace and reproach among men. It should be ever looked upon as a scandalousthing to harbour him, converse with him, or show him any countenance. And justly was a man thathad divested himself of all humanity abhorred and abandoned by all mankind, and made infamous.[2.] To perpetual disquietude and horror in his own mind. His own guilty conscience should haunthim wherever he went, and make him Magormissabib, a terror round about. What rest can thosefind, what settlement, that carry their own disturbance with them in their bosoms wherever theygo? Those must needs be fugitives that are thus tossed. There is not a more restless fugitive uponearth than he that is continually pursued by his own guilt, nor a viler vagabond than he that is atthe beck of his own lusts.This was the sentence passed upon Cain; and even in this there was mercy mixed, inasmuchas he was not immediately cut off, but had space given him to repent; for God is long-suffering tous-ward, not willing that any should perish.Cain's Complaint. (b. c. 3875.)13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thyface shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shallcome to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. 15 And the Lord saidunto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on himsevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.We have here a further account of the proceedings against Cain.I. Here is Cain's complaint of the sentence passed upon him, as hard and severe. Some makehim to speak the language of despair, and read it, My iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven;and so what he says is a reproach and affront to the mercy of God, which those only shall have thebenefit of that hope in it. There is forgiveness with the God of pardons for the greatest sins andsinners; but those forfeit it who despair of it. Just now Cain made nothing of his sin, but now he isin the other extreme: Satan drives his vassals from presumption to despair. We cannot think too illof sin, provided we do not think it unpardonable. But Cain seems rather to speak the language ofindignation: My punishment is greater than I can bear; and so what he says is a reproach and affrontto the justice of God, and a complaint, not of the greatness of his sin, but of the extremity of hispunishment, as if this were disproportionable to his merits. Instead of justifying God in the sentence,he condemns him, not accepting the punishment of his iniquity, but quarrelling with it. Note,Impenitent unhumbled hearts are therefore not reclaimed by God's rebukes because they thinkthemselves wronged by them; and it is an evidence of great hardness to be more concerned about69

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)our sufferings than about our sins. Pharaoh's care was concerning this death only, not this sin (Exod.x. 17); so was Cain's here. He is a living man, and yet complains of the punishment of his sin, Lam.iii. 39. He thinks himself rigorously dealt with when really he is favourably treated; and he criesout of wrong when he has more reason to wonder that he is out of hell. Woe unto him that thusstrives with his Maker, and enters into judgment with his Judge. Now, to justify this complaint,Cain descants upon the sentence. 1. He sees himself excluded by it from the favour of his God, andconcludes that, being cursed, he is hidden from God's face, which is indeed the true nature of God'scurse; damned sinners find it so, to whom it is said, Depart from me you cursed. Those are cursed43

    indeed that are forever shut out from God's love and care and from all hopes of his grace. 2. Hesees himself expelled from all the comforts of this life, and concludes that, being a fugitive, he is,in effect, driven out this day from the face of the earth. As good have no place on earth as not havea settled place. Better rest in the grave than not rest at all. 3. He sees himself excommunicated byit, and cut off from the church, and forbidden to attend on public ordinances. His hands being fullof blood, he must bring no more vain oblations, Isa. i. 13, 15. Perhaps this he means when hecomplains that he is driven out from the face of the earth; for being shut out of the church, whichnone had yet deserted, he was hidden from God's face, being not admitted to come with the sonsof God to present himself before the Lord. 4. He seen himself exposed by it to the hatred and ill-willof all mankind: It shall come to pass that every one that finds me shall slay me. Wherever hewanders, he goes in peril of his life, at least he thinks so; and, like a man in debt, thinks every onehe meets a bailiff. There were none alive but his near relations; yet even of them he is justly afraidwho had himself been so barbarous to his brother. Some read it, Whatsoever finds me shall slayme; not only, "Whosoever among men," but, "Whatsoever among all the creatures." Seeing himselfthrown out of God's protection, he sees the whole creation armed against him. Note, Unpardonedguilt fills men with continual terrors, Prov. xxviii. 1; Job xv. 20, 21; Ps. liii. 5. It is better to fearand not sin than to sin and then fear. Dr. Lightfoot thinks this word of Cain should be read as awish: Now, therefore, let it be that any that find me may kill me. Being bitter in soul, he longs fordeath, but it comes not (Job iii. 20-22), as those under spiritual torments do, Rev. ix. 5, 6.II. Here is God's confirmation of the sentence; for when he judges he will overcome, v. 15.Observe, 1. How Cain is protected in wrath by this declaration, notified, we may suppose, to allthat little world which was then in being: Whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken onhim seven-fold, because thereby the sentence he was under (that he should be a fugitive and avagabond) would be defeated. Condemned prisoners are under the special protection of the law;those that are appointed sacrifices to public justice must not be sacrificed to private revenge. Godhaving said in Cain's case, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, it would have been a daring usurpationfor any man to take the sword out of God's hand, a contempt put upon an express declaration ofGod's mind, and therefore avenged seven-fold. Note, God has wise and holy ends in protecting andprolonging the lives even of very wicked men. God deals with some according to that prayer, Slaythem not, lest my people forget; scatter them by thy power, Ps. lix. 11. Had Cain been slainimmediately, he would have been forgotten (Eccl. viii. 10); but now he lives a more fearful andlasting monument of God's justice, hanged in chains, as it were. 2. How he is marked in wrath: TheLord set a mark upon Cain, to distinguish him from the rest of mankind and to notify that he wasthe man that murdered his brother, whom nobody must hurt, but every body must hoot at. Godstigmatized him (as some malefactors are burnt in the cheek), and put upon him such a visible and70

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)indelible mark of infamy and disgrace as would make all wise people shun him, so that he couldnot be otherwise than a fugitive and a vagabond, and the off-scouring of all things.The Family of Cain. (b. c. 3875.)16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land ofNod, on the east of Eden. 17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bareEnoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of hisson, Enoch. 18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: andMehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.We have here a further account of Cain, and what became of him after he was rejected of God.I. He tamely submitted to that part of his sentence by which he was hidden from God's face;for (v. 16) he went out from the presence of the Lord, that is, he willingly renounced God andreligion, and was content to forego its privileges, so that he might not be under its precepts. Heforsook Adam's family and altar, and cast off all pretensions to the fear of God, and never cameamong good people, nor attended on God's ordinances, any more. Note, Hypocritical professors,that have dissembled and trifled with God Almighty, are justly left to themselves, to do somethingthat is grossly scandalous, and so to throw off that form of godliness to which they have been areproach, and under colour of which they have denied the power of it. Cain went out now from thepresence of the Lord, and we never find that he came into it again, to his comfort. Hell is destructionfrom the presence of the Lord, 2 Thess. i. 9. It is a perpetual banishment from the fountain of allgood. This is the choice of sinners; and so shall their doom be, to their eternal confusion.II. He endeavoured to confront that part of the sentence by which he was made a fugitive anda vagabond; for,1. He chose his land. He went and dwelt on the east of Eden, somewhere distant from the placewhere Adam and his religious family resided, distinguishing himself and his accursed generationfrom the holy seed, his camp from the camp of the saints and the beloved city, Rev. xx. 9. On theeast of Eden, the cherubim were, with the flaming sword, ch. iii. 24. There he chose his lot, as if44

    to defy the terrors of the Lord. But his attempt to settle was in vain; for the land he dwelt in wasto him the land of Nod (that is, of shaking or trembling), because of the continual restlessness anduneasiness of his own spirit. Note, Those that depart from God cannot find rest any where else.After Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, he never rested. Those that shut themselves outof heaven abandon themselves to a perpetual trembling. "Return therefore to thy rest, O my soul,to thy rest in God; else thou art for ever restless."2. He built a city for a habitation, v. 17. He was building a city, so some read it, ever buildingit, but, a curse being upon him and the work of his hands, he could not finish it. Or, as we read it,he built a city, in token of a fixed separation from the church of God, to which he had no thoughtsof ever returning. This city was to be the head-quarters of the apostasy. Observe here, (1.) Cain'sdefiance of the divine sentence. God said he should be a fugitive and a vagabond. Had he repentedand humbled himself, this curse might have been turned into a blessing, as that of the tribe of Leviwas, that they should be divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel; but his impenitent unhumbledheart walking contrary to God, and resolving to fix in spite of heaven, that which might have beena blessing was turned into a curse. (2.) See what was Cain's choice, after he had forsaken God; hepitched upon a settlement in this world, as his rest for ever. Those who looked for the heavenly71

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)city chose, while on earth, to dwell in tabernacles; but Cain, as one that minded not that city, builthimself one on earth. Those that are cursed of God are apt to seek their settlement and satisfactionhere below, Ps. xvii. 14. (3.) See what method Cain took to defend himself against the terrors withwhich he was perpetually haunted. He undertook this building, to divert his thoughts from theconsideration of his own misery, and to drown the clamours of a guilty conscience with the noiseof axes and hammers. Thus many baffle their convictions by thrusting themselves into a hurry ofworldly business. (4.) See how wicked people often get the start of God's people, and out-go themin outward prosperity. Cain and his cursed race dwell in a city, while Adam and his blessed familydwell in tents. We cannot judge of love or hatred by all that is before us, Eccl. ix. 1, 2.3. His family also was built up. Here is an account of his posterity, at least the heirs of hisfamily, for seven generations. His son was Enoch, of the same name, but not of the same character,with that holy man that walked with God, ch. v. 22. Good men and bad may bear the same names:but God can distinguish between Judas Iscariot and Judas not Iscariot, John xiv. 22. The names ofmore of his posterity are mentioned, and but just mentioned; not as those of the holy seed (ch. v.),where we have three verses concerning each, whereas here we have three or four in one verse. Theyare numbered in haste, as not valued or delighted in, in comparison with God's chosen.The Family of Lamech. (b. c. 3875.)19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, andthe name of the other Zillah. 20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such asdwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. 21 And his brother's name was Jubal: hewas the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. 22 And Zillah, she alsobare Tubal-cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron: and the sister ofTubal-cain was Naamah.We have here some particulars concerning Lamech, the seventh from Adam in the line of Cain.Observe,I. His marrying two wives. It was one of the degenerate race of Cain who first transgressedthat original law of marriage that two only should be one flesh. Hitherto one man had but one wifeat a time; but Lamech took two. From the beginning it was not so. Mal. ii. 15; Matt. xix. 5. Seehere, 1. Those who desert God's church and ordinances lay themselves open to all manner oftemptation. 2. When a bad custom is begun by bad men sometimes men of better characters are,through unwariness, drawn in to follow them. Jacob, David, and many others, who were otherwisegood men, were afterwards ensnared in this sin which Lamech begun.II. His happiness in his children, notwithstanding this. Though he sinned, in marrying twowives, yet he was blessed with children by both, and those such as lived to be famous in theirgeneration, not for their piety, no mention is made of this (for aught that appears they were theheathen of that age), but for their ingenuity. They were not only themselves men of business, butmen that were serviceable to the world, and eminent for the invention, or at least the improvement,of some useful arts. 1. Jabal was a famous shepherd; he delighted much in keeping cattle himself,and was so happy in devising methods of doing it to the best advantage, and instructing others inthem, that the shepherds of those times, nay, the shepherds of after-times, called him father; orperhaps, his children after him being brought up to the same employment, the family was a familyof shepherds. 2. Jubal was a famous musician, and particularly an organist, and the first that gave72

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)rules for the noble art or science of music. When Jabal had set them in a way to be rich, Jubal putthem in a way to be merry. Those that spend their days in wealth will not be without the timbrel45

    and harp, Job xxi. 12, 13. From his name, Jubal, probably the jubilee-trumpet was so called; forthe best music was that which proclaimed liberty and redemption. Jabal was their Pan and Jubaltheir Apollo. 3. Tubal Cain was a famous smith, who greatly improved the art of working in brassand iron, for the service both of war and husbandry. He was their Vulcan. See here, (1.) That worldlythings are the only things that carnal wicked people set their hearts upon and are most ingeniousand industrious about. So it was with this impious race of cursed Cain. Here were a father ofshepherds and a father of musicians, but not a father of the faithful. Here was one to teach in brassand iron, but none to teach the good knowledge of the Lord. Here were devices how to be rich, andhow to be mighty, and how to be merry, but nothing of God, nor of his fear and service, amongthem. Present things fill the heads of most people. (2.) That even those who are destitute of theknowledge and grace of God may be endued with many excellent and useful accomplishments,which may make them famous and serviceable in their generation. Common gifts are given to badmen, while God chooses to himself the foolish things of the world.23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wivesof Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and ayoung man to my hurt. 24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventyand sevenfold.By this speech of Lamech, which is here recorded, and probably was much talked of in thosetimes, he further appears to have been a wicked man, as Cain's accursed race generally were.Observe, 1. How haughtily and imperiously he speaks to his wives, as one that expected a mightyregard and observance: Hear my voice, you wives of Lamech. No marvel that he who had brokenone law of marriage, by taking two wives, broke another, which obliged him to be kind and tenderto those he had taken, and to give honour to the wife as to the weaker vessel. Those are not alwaysthe most careful to do their own duty that are highest in their demands of respect from others, andmost frequent in calling upon their relations to know their place and do their duty. 2. How bloodyand barbarous he was to all about him: I have slain, or (as it is in the margin) I would slay a manin my wound, and a young man in my hurt. He owns himself a man of a fierce and cruel disposition,that would lay about him without mercy, and kill all that stood in his way; be it a man, or a youngman, nay, though he himself were in danger to be wounded and hurt in the conflict. Some think,because (v. 24) he compares himself with Cain, that he had murdered some of the holy seed, thetrue worshippers of God, and that he acknowledged this to be the wounding of his conscience andthe hurt of his soul; and yet that, like Cain, he continued impenitent, trembling and yet unhumbled.Or his wives, knowing what manner of spirit he was of, how apt both to give and to resentprovocation, were afraid lest somebody or other would be the death of him. "Never fear," says he,"I defy any man to set upon me; whosoever does, let me alone to make my part good with him; Iwill slay him, be he a man or a young man." Note, It is a common thing for fierce and bloody mento glory in their shame (Phil. iii. 19), as if it were both their safety and their honour that they carenot how many lives are sacrificed to their angry resentments, nor how much they are hated, providedthey may be feared. Oderint, dum metuant—Let them hate, provided they fear. 3. How impiouslyhe presumes even upon God's protection in his wicked way, v. 24. He had heard that Cain shouldbe avenged seven-fold (v. 15), that is, that if any man should dare to kill Cain he should be severely73

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)reckoned with and punished for so doing, though Cain deserved to die a thousand deaths for themurder of his brother, and hence he infers that if any one should kill him for the murders he hadcommitted God would much more avenge his death. As if the special care God took to prolong andsecure the life of Cain, for special reasons peculiar to his case (and indeed for his sorer punishment,as the beings of the damned are continued) were designed as a protection to all murderers. ThusLamech perversely argues, "If God provided for the safety of Cain, much more for mine, who,though I have slain many, yet never slew my own brother, and upon no provocation, as he did."Note, The reprieve of some sinners, and the patience God exercises towards them, are often abusedto the hardening of others in the like sinful ways, Eccl. viii. 11. But, though justice strike someslowly, others cannot therefore be sure but that they may be taken away with a swift destruction.Or, if God should bear long with those who thus presume upon his forbearance, they do but herebytreasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath.Now this is all we have upon record in scripture concerning the family and posterity of cursedCain, till we find them all cut off and perishing in the universal deluge.The Birth of Seth. (b. c. 3874.)25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth:For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cainslew. 26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his nameEnos: then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.46

    This is the first mention of Adam in the story of this chapter. No question, the murder of Abel,and the impenitence and apostasy of Cain, were a very great grief to him and Eve, and the morebecause their own wickedness did now correct them and their backslidings did reprove them. Theirfolly had given sin and death entrance into the world; and now they smarted by it, being, by meansthereof, deprived of both their sons in one day, ch. xxvii. 45. When parents are grieved by theirchildren's wickedness they should take occasion thence to lament that corruption of nature whichwas derived from them, and which is the root of bitterness. But here we have that which was arelief to our first parents in their affliction.I. God gave them to see the re-building of their family, which was sorely shaken and weakenedby that sad event. For, 1. They saw their seed, another seed instead of Abel, v. 25. Observe God'skindness and tenderness towards his people, in his providential dealings with them; when he takesaway one comfort from them, he gives them another instead of it, which may prove a greater blessingto them than that was in which they thought their lives were bound up. This other seed was he inwhom the church was to be built up and perpetuated, and he comes instead of Abel, for the successionof confessors is the revival of the martyrs and as it were the resurrection of God's slain witnesses.Thus we are baptized for the dead (1 Cor. xv. 29), that is, we are, by baptism, admitted into thechurch, for or instead of those who by death, especially by martyrdom, are removed out of it; andwe fill up their room. Those who slay God's servants hope by this means to wear out the saints ofthe Most High; but they will be deceived. Christ shall still see his seed; God can out of stones raiseup children for him, and make the blood of the martyrs the seed of the church, whose lands, we aresure, shall never be lost for want of heirs. This son, by a prophetic spirit, they called Seth (that is,set, settled, or placed), because, in his seed, mankind should continue to the end of time, and fromhim the Messiah should descend. While Cain, the head of the apostasy, is made a wanderer, Seth,74

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)from whom the true church was to come, is one fixed. In Christ and his church is the only truesettlement. 2. They saw their seed's seed, v. 26. To Seth was born a son called Enos, that generalname for all men, which bespeaks the weakness, frailty, and misery, of man's state. The best menare most sensible of these, both in themselves and their children. We are never so settled but wemust remind ourselves that we are frail.II. God gave them to see the reviving of religion in their family: Then began men to call uponthe name of the Lord, v. 26. It is small comfort to a good man to see his children's children, if hedo not, withal, see peace upon Israel, and those that come of him walking in the truth. DoubtlessGod's name was called upon before, but now, 1. The worshippers of God began to stir up themselvesto do more in religion than they had done; perhaps not more than had been done at first, but morethan had been done of late, since the defection of Cain. Now men began to worship God, not onlyin their closets and families, but in public and solemn assemblies. Or now there was so great areformation in religion that it was, as it were, a new beginning of it. Then may refer, not to the birthof Enos, but to the whole foregoing story: then, when men saw in Cain and Lamech the sad effectsof sin by the workings of natural conscience,—when they saw God's judgments upon sin andsinners,—then they were so much the more lively and resolute in religion. The worse others arethe better we should be, and the more zealous. 2. The worshippers of God began to distinguishthemselves. The margin reads it, Then began men to be called by the name of the Lord, or to callthemselves by it. Now that Cain and those that had deserted religion had built a city, and begun todeclare for impiety and irreligion, and called themselves the sons of men, those that adhered to Godbegan to declare for him and his worship, and called themselves the sons of God. Now began thedistinction between professors and profane, which has been kept up ever since, and will be whilethe world stands.46 G E N E S I SCHAP. V.This chapter is the only authentic history extant of the first age of the world from the creationto the flood, containing (according to the verity of the Hebrew text) 1656 years, as may easily becomputed by the ages of the patriarchs, before they begat that son through whom the line wentdown to Noah. This is one of those which the apostle calls "endless genealogies" (1 Tim. i. 4), forChrist, who was the end of the Old-Testament law, was also the end of the Old-Testamentgenealogies; towards him they looked, and in him they centered. The genealogy here recorded isinserted briefly in the pedigree of our Saviour (Luke iii. 36-38), and is of great use to show thatChrist was the "seed of the woman" that was promised. We have here an account, I. ConcerningAdam, ver. 1-5. II. Seth, ver. 6-8. III. Enos, ver. 9-11. IV. Cainan, ver. 12-14. V. Mahalaleel, ver.15-17. VI. Jared, ver. 18-20. VII. Enoch, ver. 21-24. VIII. Methuselah, ver. 25-27. IX. Lamech andhis son Noah, ver. 28-32. All scripture, being given by inspiration of God, is profitable, though notall alike profitable.75

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Genealogies. (b. c. 3852.)1 This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man,in the likeness of God made he him; 2 Male and female created he them; and blessedthem, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. 3 And Adamlived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image;and called his name Seth: 4 And the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth wereeight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: 5 And all the days that Adamlived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.47

    The first words of the chapter are the title or argument of the whole chapter: it is the book ofthe generations of Adam; it is the list or catalogue of the posterity of Adam, not of all, but only ofthe holy seed who were the substance thereof (Isa. vi. 13), and of whom, as concerning the flesh,Christ came (Rom. ix. 5), the names, ages, and deaths, of those that were the successors of the firstAdam in the custody of the promise, and the ancestors of the second Adam. The genealogy beginswith Adam himself. Here is,I. His creation, v. 1, 2, where we have a brief rehearsal of what was before at large relatedconcerning the creation of man. This is what we have need frequently to hear of and carefully toacquaint ourselves with. Observe here, 1. That God created man. Man is not his own maker, thereforehe must not be his own master; but the Author of his being must be the director of his motions andthe centre of them. 2. That there was a day in which God created man. He was not from eternity,but of yesterday; he was not the first-born, but the junior of the creation. 3. That God made him inhis own likeness, righteous and holy, and therefore, undoubtedly, happy. Man's nature resembledthe divine nature more than that of any of the creatures of this lower world. 4. That God createdthem male and female (v. 2), for their mutual comfort as well as for the preservation and increaseof their kind. Adam and Eve were both made immediately by the hand of God, both made in God'slikeness; and therefore between the sexes there is not that great distance and inequality which someimagine. 5. That God blessed them. It is usual for parents to bless their children; so God, the commonFather, blessed his. But earthly parents can only beg a blessing; it is God's prerogative to commandit. It refers chiefly to the blessing of increase, not excluding other blessings. 6. That he called theirname Adam. Adam signifies earth, red earth. Now, (1.) God gave him this name. Adam had himselfnamed the rest of the creatures, but he must not choose his own name, lest he should assume someglorious pompous title. But God gave him a name which would be a continual memorandum tohim of the meanness of his original, and oblige him to look unto the rock whence he was hewn andthe hole of the pit whence he was digged, Isa. li. 1. Those have little reason to be proud who are sonear akin to dust. (2.) He gave this name both to the man and to the woman. Being at first one bynature, and afterwards one by marriage, it was fit they should both have the same name, in tokenof their union. The woman is of the earth earthy as well as the man.II. The birth of his son Seth, v. 3. He was born in the hundred and thirtieth year of Adam's life;and probably the murder of Abel was not long before. Many other sons and daughters were bornto Adam, besides Cain and Abel, before this; but no notice is taken of them, because an honourablemention must be made of his name only in whose loins Christ and the church were. But that whichis most observable here concerning Seth is that Adam begat him in his own likeness, after his image.Adam was made in the image of God; but, when he was fallen and corrupt, he begat a son in his76

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)own image, sinful and defiled, frail, mortal, and miserable, like himself; not only a man like himself,consisting of body and soul, but a sinner like himself, guilty and obnoxious, degenerate and corrupt.Even the man after God's own heart owns himself conceived and born in sin, Ps. li. 5. This wasAdam's own likeness, the reverse of that divine likeness in which Adam was made; but, havinglost it himself, he could not convey it to his seed. Note, Grace does not run in the blood, butcorruption does. A sinner begets a sinner, but a saint does not beget a saint.III. His age and death. He lived, in all, nine hundred and thirty years, and then he died, accordingto the sentence passed upon him, To dust thou shalt return. Though he did not die in the day he ateforbidden fruit, yet in that very day he became mortal. Then he began to die; his whole life afterwardswas but a reprieve, a forfeited condemned life; nay, it was a wasting dying life: he was not onlylike a criminal sentenced, but as one already crucified, that dies slowly and by degrees.6 And Seth lived a hundred and five years, and begat Enos: 7 And Seth livedafter he begat Enos eight hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters:8 And all the days of Seth were nine hundred and twelve years: and he died. 9 AndEnos lived ninety years, and begat Cainan: 10 And Enos lived after he begat Cainaneight hundred and fifteen years, and begat sons and daughters: 11 And all the daysof Enos were nine hundred and five years: and he died. 12 And Cainan lived seventyyears, and begat Mahalaleel: 13 And Cainan lived after he begat Mahalaleel eighthundred and forty years, and begat sons and daughters: 14 And all the days ofCainan were nine hundred and ten years: and he died. 15 And Mahalaleel livedsixty and five years, and begat Jared: 16 And Mahalaleel lived after he begat Jaredeight hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters: 17 And all the days48

    of Mahalaleel were eight hundred ninety and five years: and he died. 18 And Jaredlived a hundred sixty and two years, and he begat Enoch: 19 And Jared lived afterhe begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: 20 And all thedays of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.We have here all that the Holy Ghost thought fit to leave upon record concerning five of thepatriarchs before the flood, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, and Jared. There is nothing observableconcerning any of these particularly, though we have reason to think they were men of eminence,both for prudence and piety, in their day: but in general,I. Observe how largely and expressly their generations are recorded. This matter, one wouldthink, might have been delivered in fewer words; but it is certain that there is not one idle word inGod's books, whatever there is in men's. It is thus plainly set down, 1. To make it easy and intelligibleto the meanest capacity. When we are informed how old they were when they begat such a son,and how many years they lived afterwards, a very little skill in arithmetic will enable a man to tellhow long they lived in all; yet the Holy Ghost sets down the sum total, for the sake of those thathave not even so much skill as this. 2. To show the pleasure God takes in the names of his people.We found Cain's generation numbered in haste (ch. iv. 18), but this account of the holy seed isenlarged upon, and given in words at length, and not in figures; we are told how long those livedthat lived in God's fear, and when those died that died in his favour; but as for others it is no matter.The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot.77

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. Their life is reckoned by days (v. 8): All the days of Seth, and so of the rest, which intimatesthe shortness of the life of man when it is at the longest, and the quick revolution of our times onearth. If they reckoned by days, surely we must reckon by hours, or rather make that our frequentprayer (Ps. xc. 12), Teach us to number our days.III. Concerning each of them, except Enoch, it is said, and he died. It is implied in the numberingof the years of their life that their life, when those years were numbered and finished, came to anend; and yet it is still repeated, and he died, to show that death passed upon all men withoutexception, and that it is good for us particularly to observe and improve the deaths of others forour own edification. Such a one was a strong healthful man, but he died; such a one was a greatand rich man, but he died; such a one was a wise politic man, but he died; such a one was a verygood man, perhaps a very useful man, but he died, &c.IV. That which is especially observable is that they all lived very long; not one of them diedtill he had seen the revolution of almost eight hundred years, and some of them lived much longer,a great while for an immortal soul to be imprisoned in a house of clay. The present life surely wasnot to them such a burden as commonly it is now, else they would have been weary of it; nor wasthe future life so clearly revealed then as it is now under the gospel, else they would have beenimpatient to remove to it: long life to the pious patriarchs was a blessing and made them blessings.1. Some natural causes may be assigned for their long life in those first ages of the world. It is veryprobable that the earth was more fruitful, that the productions of it were more strengthening, thatthe air was more healthful, and that the influences of the heavenly bodies were more benign, beforethe flood, than afterwards. Though man was driven out of paradise, yet the earth itself was thenparadisiacal—a garden in comparison with its present wilderness-state: and some think that theirgreat knowledge of the creatures, and of their usefulness both for food and medicine, together withtheir sobriety and temperance, contributed much to it; yet we do not find that those who wereintemperate, as many were (Luke xvii. 27), were as short-lived as intemperate men generally arenow. 2. It must chiefly be resolved into the power and providence of God. He prolonged their lives,both for the more speedy replenishing of the earth and for the more effectual preservation of theknowledge of God and religion, then, when there was no written word, but tradition was the channelof its conveyance. All the patriarchs here, except Noah, were born before Adam died; so that fromhim they might receive a full and satisfactory account of the creation, paradise, the fall, the promise,and those divine precepts which concerned religious worship and a religious life: and, if any mistakearose, they might have recourse to him while he lived, as to an oracle, for the rectifying of it, andafter his death to Methuselah, and others, that had conversed with him: so great was the care ofAlmighty God to preserve in his church the knowledge of his will and the purity of his worship.Translation of Enoch. (b. c. 3017.)21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah: 22 And Enochwalked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons anddaughters: 23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.78

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)The accounts here run on for several generations without any thing remarkable, or any variation49

    but of the names and numbers; but at length there comes in one that must not be passed over so,of whom special notice must be taken, and that is Enoch, the seventh from Adam: the rest, we maysuppose, did virtuously, but he excelled them all, and was the brightest star of the patriarchal age.It is but little that is recorded concerning him; but this little is enough to make his name great,greater than the name of the other Enoch, who had a city called by his name. Here are two thingsconcerning him:—I. His gracious conversation in this world, which is twice spoken of: Enoch walked with Godafter he begat Methuselah (v. 22), and again, Enoch walked with God, v. 24. Observe,1. The nature of his religion and the scope and tenour of his conversation: he walked with God,which denotes, (1.) True religion; what is godliness, but walking with God? The ungodly andprofane are without God in the world, they walk contrary to him: but the godly walk with God,which presupposes reconciliation to God, for two cannot walk together except they be agreed (Amosiii. 3), and includes all the parts and instances of a godly, righteous, and sober life. To walk withGod is to set God always before us, and to act as those that are always under his eye. It is to live alife of communion with God both in ordinances and providences. It is to make God's word our ruleand his glory our end in all our actions. It is to make it our constant care and endeavour in everything to please God, and nothing to offend him. It is to comply with his will, to concur with hisdesigns, and to be workers together with him. It is to be followers of him as dear children. (2.)Eminent religion. He was entirely dead to this world, and did not only walk after God, as all goodmen do, but he walked with God, as if he were in heaven already. He lived above the rate, not onlyof other men, but of other saints: not only good in bad times, but the best in good times. (3.) Activityin promoting religion among others. Executing the priest's office is called walking before God, 1Sam. ii. 30, 35, and see Zech. iii. 7. Enoch, it should seem, was a priest of the most high God, andlike Noah, who is likewise said to walk with God, he was a preacher of righteousness, and prophesiedof Christ's second coming. Jude 14, Behold, the Lord cometh with his holy myriads. Now the HolySpirit, instead of saying, Enoch lived, says, Enoch walked with God; for it is the life of a good manto walk with God. This was, [1.] The business of Enoch's life, his constant care and work; whileothers lived to themselves and the world, he lived to God. [2.] It was the joy and support of his life.Communion with God was to him better than life itself. To me to live is Christ, Phil. i. 21.2. The date of his religion. It is said (v. 21), he lived sixty-five years, and begat Methuselah;but (v. 22) he walked with God after he begat Methuselah, which intimates that he did not beginto be eminent for piety till about that time; at first he walked but as other men. Great saints arriveat their eminence by degrees.3. The continuance of his religion: he walked with God three hundred years, as long as hecontinued in this world. The hypocrite will not pray always; but the real saint that acts from aprinciple, and makes religion his choice, will persevere to the end, and walk with God while helives, as one that hopes to live for ever with him, Ps. civ. 33.II. His glorious removal to a better world. As he did not live like the rest, so he did not die likethe rest (v. 24): He was not, for God took him; that is, as it is explained (Heb. xi. 5), He wastranslated that he should not see death, and was not found, because God had translated him.Observe,1. When he was thus translated. (1.) What time of his life. It was when he had lived but threehundred and sixty-five years (a year of years), which, as men's ages went then, was in the midst of79

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)his days; for there was none of the patriarchs before the flood that did not more than double thatage. But why did God take him so soon? Surely, because the world, which had now grown corrupt,was not worthy of him, or because he was so much above the world, and so weary of it, as to desirea speedy removal out of it, or because his work was done, and done the sooner for his minding itso closely. Note, God often takes those soonest whom he loves best, and the time they lose on earthis gained in heaven, to their unspeakable advantage. (2.) What time of the world. It was when allthe patriarchs mentioned in this chapter were living, except Adam, who died fifty-seven yearsbefore, and Noah, who was born sixty-nine years after; those two had sensible confirmations totheir faith other ways, but to all the rest, who were or might have been witnesses of Enoch'stranslation, it was a sensible encouragement to their faith and hope concerning a future state.2. How his removal is expressed: He was not, for God took him. (1.) He was not any longer inthis world; it was not the period of his being, but of his being here: he was not found, so the apostleexplains it from the LXX.; not found by his friends, who sought him as the sons of the prophetssought Elijah (2 Kings ii. 17); not found by his enemies, who, some think, were in quest of him, toput him to death in their rage against him for his eminent piety. It appears by his prophecy thatthere were then many ungodly sinners, who spoke hard speeches, and probably did hard things too,against God's people (Jude 15), but God hid Enoch from them, not under heaven, but in heaven.(2.) God took him body and soul to himself in the heavenly paradise, by the ministry of angels, asafterwards he took Elijah. He was changed, as those saints will be that shall be found alive at Christ's50

    second coming. Whenever a good man dies God takes him, fetches him hence, and receives himto himself. The apostle adds concerning Enoch that, before his translation, he had this testimony,that he pleased God, and this was the good report he obtained. Note, [1.] Walking with God pleasesGod. [2.] We cannot walk with God so as to please him, but by faith. [3.] God himself will put anhonour upon those that by faith walk with him so as to please him. He will own them now, andwitness for them before angels and men at the great day. Those that have not this testimony beforethe translation, yet shall have it afterwards. [4.] Those whose conversation in the world is trulyholy shall find their removal out of it truly happy. Enoch's translation was not only an evidence tofaith of the reality of a future state, and of the possibility of the body's existing in glory in that state;but it was an encouragement to the hope of all that walk with God that they shall be for ever withhim: signal piety shall be crowned with signal honours.25 And Methuselah lived a hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:26 And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and twoyears, and begat sons and daughters: 27 And all the days of Methuselah were ninehundred sixty and nine years: and he died.Concerning Methuselah observe, 1. The signification of his name, which some think wasprophetical, his father Enoch being a prophet. Methuselah signifies, he dies, or there is a dart, or,a sending forth, namely, of the deluge, which came the very year that Methuselah died. If indeedhis name was so intended and so explained, it was fair warning to a careless world, a long timebefore the judgment came. However, this is observable, that the longest liver that ever was carrieddeath in his name, that he might be reminded of its coming surely, though it came slowly. 2. Hisage: he lived nine hundred and sixty-nine years, the longest we read of that ever any man lived onearth; and yet he died. The longest liver must die at last. Neither youth nor age will discharge fromthat war, for that is the end of all men: none can challenge life by long prescription, nor make that80

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)a plea against the arrests of death. It is commonly supposed that Methuselah died a little before theflood; the Jewish writers say, "seven days before," referring to ch. vii. 10, and that he was takenaway from the evil to come, which goes upon this presumption, which is generally received, thatall the patriarchs mentioned in this chapter were holy good men. I am loth to offer any surmise tothe contrary; and yet I see not that this can be any more inferred from their enrollment here amongthe ancestors of Christ than that all those kings of Judah were so whose names are recorded in hisgenealogy, many of whom, we are sure, were much otherwise: and, if this be questioned, it maybe suggested as probable that Methuselah was himself drowned with the rest of the world; for it iscertain that he died that year.Account of Noah. (b. c. 2448.)28 And Lamech lived a hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son: 29 Andhe called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our workand toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed. 30 AndLamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sonsand daughters: 31 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy andseven years: and he died. 32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begatShem, Ham, and Japheth.Here we have the first mention of Noah, of whom we shall read much in the following chapters.Observe,I. His name, with the reason of it: Noah signifies rest; his parents gave him that name, with aprospect of his being a more than ordinary blessing to his generation: This same shall comfort usconcerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed.Here is, 1. Lamech's complaint of the calamitous state of human life. By the entrance of sin, andthe entail of the curse for sin, our condition has become very miserable: our whole life is spent inlabour, and our time filled up with continual toil. God having cursed the ground, it is as much assome can do, with the utmost care and pains, to fetch a hard livelihood out of it. He speaks as onefatigued with the business of this life, and grudging that so many thoughts and precious minutes,which otherwise might have been much better employed, are unavoidably spent for the support ofthe body. 2. His comfortable hopes of some relief by the birth of this son: This same shall comfortus, which denotes not only the desire and expectation which parents generally have concerningtheir children (that, when they grow up, they will be comforts to them and helpers in their business,though they often prove otherwise), but an apprehension and prospect of something more. Veryprobably there were some prophecies that went before of him, as a person that should be wonderfullyserviceable to his generation, which they so understood as to conclude that he was the promisedseed, the Messiah that should come; and then it intimates that a covenant-interest in Christ as ours,51

    and the believing expectation of his coming, furnish us with the best and surest comforts, both inreference to the wrath and curse of God which we have deserved and to the toils and troubles ofthis present time of which we are often complaining. "Is Christ ours? Is heaven ours? This sameshall comfort us."II. His children, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. These Noah begat (the eldest of these) when he was500 years old. It should seem that Japheth was the eldest (ch. x. 21), but Shem is put first becauseon him the covenant was entailed, as appears by ch. ix. 26, where God is called the Lord God of81

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Shem. To him, it is probable, the birth-right was given, and from him, it is certain, both Christ thehead, and the church the body, were to descend. Therefore he is called Shem, which signifies aname, because in his posterity the name of God should always remain, till he should come out ofhis loins whose name is above every name; so that in putting Shem first Christ was, in effect, putfirst, who in all things must have the pre-eminence.51 G E N E S I SCHAP. VI.The most remarkable thing we have upon record concerning the old world is the destructionof it by the universal deluge, the account of which commences in this chapter, wherein we have,I. The abounding iniquity of that wicked world, ver. 1-5, and ver. 11, 12. II. The righteous God'sjust resentment of that abounding iniquity, and his holy resolution to punish it, ver. 6, 7. III. Thespecial favour of God to his servant Noah. 1. In the character given of him, ver. 8-10. 2. In thecommunication of God's purpose to him, ver. 13, 17. 3. In the directions he gave him to make anark for his own safety, ver. 14-16. 4. In the employing of him for the preservation of the rest of thecreatures, ver. 18-21. Lastly, Noah's obedience to the instructions given him, ver. 22. And thisconcerning the old world is written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the new world havecome.Depravity of the World. (b. c. 2469.)1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, anddaughters were born unto them, 2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of menthat they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.For the glory of God's justice, and for warning to a wicked world, before the history of theruin of the old world, we have a full account of its degeneracy, its apostasy from God and rebellionagainst him. The destroying of it was an act, not of an absolute sovereignty, but of necessary justice,for the maintaining of the honour of God's government. Now here we have an account of two thingswhich occasioned the wickedness of the old world:—1. The increase of mankind: Men began tomultiply upon the face of the earth. This was the effect of the blessing (ch. i. 28), and yet man'scorruption so abused and perverted this blessing that it was turned into a curse. Thus sin takesoccasion by the mercies of God to be the more exceedingly sinful. Prov. xxix. 16, When the wickedare multiplied, transgression increaseth. The more sinners the more sin; and the multitude ofoffenders emboldens men. Infectious diseases are most destructive in populous cities; and sin is aspreading leprosy. Thus in the New-Testament church, when the number of the disciples wasmultiplied, there arose a murmuring (Acts vi. 1), and we read of a nation that was multiplied, notto the increase of their joy, Isa. ix. 3. Numerous families need to be well-governed, lest they becomewicked families. 2. Mixed marriages (v. 2): The sons of God (that is, the professors of religion,who were called by the name of the Lord, and called upon that name), married the daughters ofmen, that is, those that were profane, and strangers to God and godliness. The posterity of Seth did82

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)not keep by themselves, as they ought to have done, both for the preservation of their own purityand in detestation of the apostasy. They intermingled themselves with the excommunicated raceof Cain: They took them wives of all that they chose. But what was amiss in these marriages? (1.)They chose only by the eye: They saw that they were fair, which was all they looked at. (2.) Theyfollowed the choice which their own corrupt affections made: they took all that they chose, withoutadvice and consideration. But, (3.) That which proved of such bad consequence to them was thatthey married strange wives, were unequally yoked with unbelievers, 2 Cor. vi. 14. This was forbiddento Israel, Deut. vii. 3, 4. It was the unhappy occasion of Solomon's apostasy (1 Kings xi. 1-4), andwas of bad consequence to the Jews after their return out of Babylon, Ezra ix. 1, 2. Note, Professorsof religion, in marrying both themselves and their children, should make conscience of keepingwithin the bounds of profession. The bad will sooner debauch the good than the good reform thebad. Those that profess themselves the children of God must not marry without his consent, whichthey have not if they join in affinity with his enemies.3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he alsois flesh: yet his days shall be a hundred and twenty years.This comes in here as a token of God's displeasure at those who married strange wives; hethreatens to withdraw from them his Spirit, whom they had grieved by such marriages, contrary totheir convictions: fleshly lusts are often punished with spiritual judgments, the sorest of all judgments.Or as another occasion of the great wickedness of the old world; the Spirit of the Lord, beingprovoked by their resistance of his motions, ceased to strive with them, and then all religion wassoon lost among them. This he warns them of before, that they might not further vex his Holy Spirit,but by their prayers might stay him with them. Observe in this verse,I. God's resolution not always to strive with man by his Spirit. The Spirit then strove by Noah'spreaching (1 Pet. iii. 19, 20) and by inward checks, but it was in vain with the most of men; therefore,52

    says God, He shall not always strive. Note, 1. The blessed Spirit strives with sinners, by theconvictions and admonitions of conscience, to turn them from sin to God. 2. If the Spirit be resisted,quenched, and striven against, though he strive long, he will not strive always, Hos. iv. 17. 3. Thoseare ripening apace for ruin whom the Spirit of grace has left off striving with.II. The reason of this resolution: For that he also is flesh, that is, incurably corrupt, and carnal,and sensual, so that it is labour lost to strive with him. Can the Ethiopian change his skin? He also,that is, All, one as well as another, they have all sunk into the mire of flesh. Note, 1. It is the corruptnature, and the inclination of the soul towards the flesh, that oppose the Spirit's strivings and renderthem ineffectual. 2. When a sinner has long adhered to that interest, and sided with the flesh againstthe Spirit, the Spirit justly withdraws his agency, and strives no more. None lose the Spirit's strivingsbut those that have first forfeited them.III. A reprieve granted, notwithstanding: Yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years;so long I will defer the judgment they deserve, and give them space to prevent it by their repentanceand reformation. Justice said, Cut them down; but mercy interceded, Lord, let them alone this yearalso; and so far mercy prevailed, that a reprieve was obtained for six-score years. Note, The timeof God's patience and forbearance towards provoking sinners is sometimes long, but always limited:reprieves are not pardons; though God bear a great while, he will not bear always.4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sonsof God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same83

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. 5 And God saw that thewickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughtsof his heart was only evil continually.We have here a further account of the corruption of the old world. When the sons of God hadmatched with the daughters of men, though it was very displeasing to God, yet he did notimmediately cut them off, but waited to see what would be the issue of these marriages, and whichside the children would take after; and it proved (as usually it does), that they took after the worstside. Here is,I. The temptation they were under to oppress and do violence. They were giants, and they weremen of renown; they became too hard for all about them, and carried all before them, 1. With theirgreat bulk, as the sons of Anak, Num. xiii. 33. 2. With their great name, as the king of Assyria, Isa.xxxvii. 11. These made them the terror of the mighty in the land of the living; and, thus armed,they daringly insulted the rights of all their neighbours and trampled upon all that is just and sacred.Note, Those that have so much power over others as to be able to oppress them have seldom somuch power over themselves as not to oppress; great might is a very great snare to many. Thisdegenerate race slighted the honour their ancestors had obtained by virtue and religion, and madethemselves a great name by that which was the perpetual ruin of their good name.II. The charge exhibited and proved against them, v. 5. The evidence produced wasincontestable. God saw it, and that was instead of a thousand witnesses. God sees all the wickednessthat is among the children of men; it cannot be concealed from him now, and, if it be not repentedof, it shall not be concealed by him shortly. Now what did God take notice of? 1. He observed thatthe streams of sin that flowed along in men's lives, and the breadth and depth of those streams: Hesaw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Observe the connection of this with whatgoes before: the oppressors were mighty men and men of renown; and, then, God saw that thewickedness of man was great. Note, The wickedness of a people is great indeed when the mostnotorious sinners are men of renown among them. Things are bad when bad men are not onlyhonoured notwithstanding their wickedness, but honoured for their wickedness, and the vilest menexalted. Wickedness is then great when great men are wicked. Their wickedness was great, that is,abundance of sin was committed in all places, by all sorts of people; and such sin as was in its ownnature most gross, and heinous, and provoking; it was committed daringly, and with a defiance ofheaven, nor was any care taken by those that had power in their hands to restrain and punish it.This God saw. Note, All the sins of sinners are known to God the Judge. Those that are mostconversant in the world, though they see much wickedness in it, yet they see but little of that whichis; but God sees all, and judges aright concerning it, how great it is, nor can he be deceived in hisjudgment. 2. He observed the fountain of sin that was in men's hearts. Any one might see that thewickedness of man was great, for they declared their sin as Sodom; but God's eye went further: Hesaw that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually—a sad sight, andvery offensive to God's holy eye! This was the bitter root, the corrupt spring: all the violence andoppression, all the luxury and wantonness, that were in the world, proceeded from the corruption53

    of nature; lust conceived them, Jam. i. 15. See Matt. xv. 19. (1.) The heart was naught; it wasdeceitful and desperately wicked. The principles were corrupt, and the habits and dispositions evil.(2.) The thoughts of the heart were so. Thought is sometimes taken for the settled judgment oropinion, and this was bribed, and biased, and misled; sometimes it signifies the workings of the84

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)fancy, and these were always either vain or vile, either weaving the spider's web or hatching thecockatrice's egg. (3.) The imagination of the thoughts of the heart was so, that is, their designs anddevices were wicked. They did not do evil through mere carelessness, as those that walk at alladventures, not heeding what they do; but they did evil deliberately and designedly, contriving howto do mischief. It was bad indeed; for it was only evil, continually evil, and every imagination wasso. There was no good to be found among them, no, not at any time: the stream of sin was full, andstrong, and constant; and God saw it; see Ps. xiv. 1-3.Mankind Threatened with Destruction. (b. c. 2469.)6 And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved himat his heart. 7 And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from theface of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of theair; for it repenteth me that I have made them.Here is, I. God's resentment of man's wickedness. He did not see it as an unconcerned spectator,but as one injured and affronted by it; he saw it as a tender father sees the folly and stubbornnessof a rebellious and disobedient child, which not only angers him, but grieves him, and makes himwish he had been written childless. The expressions here used are very strange: It repented the Lordthat he had made man upon the earth, that he had made a creature of such noble powers and faculties,and had put him on this earth, which he built and furnished on purpose to be a convenient,comfortable, habitation for him; and it grieved him at his heart. These are expressions after themanner of men, and must be understood so as not to reflect upon the honour of God's immutabilityor felicity. 1. This language does not imply any passion or uneasiness in God (nothing can createdisturbance to the Eternal Mind), but it expresses his just and holy displeasure against sin andsinners, against sin as odious to his holiness and against sinners as obnoxious to his justice. He ispressed by the sins of his creatures (Amos ii. 13), wearied (Isa. xliii. 24), broken (Ezek. vi. 9),grieved (Ps. cxv. 10), and here grieved to the heart, as men are when they are wronged and abusedby those they have been very kind to, and therefore repent of their kindness, and wish they hadnever fostered that snake in their bosom which now hisses in their face and stings them to the heart.Does God thus hate sin? And shall we not hate it? Has our sin grieved him to the heart? And shallwe not be grieved and pricked to the heart for it? O that this consideration may humble us andshame us, and that we may look on him whom we have thus grieved, and mourn! Zech. xii. 10. 2.It does not imply any change of God's mind; for he is in one mind, and who can turn him? Withhim there is not variableness. But it expressed a change of his way. When God had made manupright, he rested and was refreshed (Exod. xxxi. 17), and his way towards him was such as showedhe was pleased with the work of his own hands; but, now that man had apostatized, he could notdo otherwise than show himself displeased; so that the change was in man, not in God. God repentedthat he had made man; but we never find him repenting that he redeemed man (though that was awork of much greater expense), because special and effectual grace is given to secure the greatends of redemption; so that those gifts and callings are without repentance, Rom. xi. 29.II. God's resolution to destroy man for his wickedness, v. 7. Observe, 1. When God repentedthat he had made man, he resolved to destroy man. Thus those that truly repent of sin will resolve,in the strength of God's grace, to mortify sin and to destroy it, and so to undo what they have doneamiss. We do but mock God in saying that we are sorry for our sin, and that it grieves us to the85

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)heart, if we continue to indulge it. In vain do we pretend a change of our mind if we do not evidenceit by a change of our way. 2. He resolves to destroy man. The original word is very significant: Iwill wipe off man from the earth (so some), as dirt or filth is wiped off from a place which shouldbe clean, and is thrown to the dunghill, the proper place for it. See 2 Kings xxi. 13. Those that arethe spots of the places they live in are justly wiped away by the judgments of God. I will blot outman from the earth (so others), as those lines which displease the author are blotted out a book, oras the name of a citizen is blotted out of the rolls of the freemen, when he is dead or disfranchised.3. He speaks of man as his own creature even when he resolves upon his ruin: Man whom I havecreated. "Though I have created him, this shall not excuse him," Isa. xxvii. 11. He that made himwill not save him; he that is our Creator, if he be not our ruler, will be our destroyer. Or, "BecauseI have created him, and he has been so undutiful and ungrateful to his Creator, therefore I willdestroy him:" those forfeit their lives that do not answer the end of their living. 4. Even the54

    brute-creatures were to be involved in this destruction—Beasts, and creeping things, and the fowlsof the air. These were made for man, and therefore must be destroyed with man; for it follows: Itrepenteth me that I have made them; for the end of their creation also was frustrated. They weremade that man might serve and honour God with them; and therefore were destroyed because hehad served his lusts with them, and made them subject to vanity. 5. God took up this resolutionconcerning man after his Spirit had been long striving with him in vain. None are ruined by thejustice of God but those that hate to be reformed by the grace of God.8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. 9 These are the generations ofNoah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked withGod. 10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.We have here Noah distinguished from the rest of the world, and a peculiar mark of honourput upon him. 1. When God was displeased with the rest of the world, he favoured Noah: But Noahfound grace in the eyes of the Lord, v. 8. This vindicates God's justice in his displeasure againstthe world, and shows that he had strictly examined the character of every person in it before hepronounced it universally corrupt; for, there being one good man, he found him out, and smiledupon him. It also magnifies his grace towards Noah that he was made a vessel of God's mercy whenall mankind besides had become the generation of his wrath: distinguishing favours bring underpeculiarly strong obligations. Probably Noah did not find favour in the eyes of men; they hated andpersecuted him, because both by his life and preaching he condemned the world. But he found gracein the eyes of the Lord, and this was honour and comfort enough. God made more account of Noahthan of all the world besides, and this made him greater and more truly honourable than all thegiants that were in those days, who became mighty men and men of renown. Let this be the summitof our ambition, to find grace in the eyes of the Lord; herein let us labour, that, present or absent,we may be accepted of him, 2 Cor. v. 9. Those are highly favoured whom God favours. 2. Whenthe rest of the world was corrupt and wicked, Noah kept his integrity: These are the generationsof Noah (this is the account we have to give of him), Noah was a just man, v. 9. This character ofNoah comes in here either, (1.) As the reason of God's favour to him; his singular piety qualifiedhim for singular tokens of God's loving-kindness. Those that would find grace in the eyes of theLord must be as Noah was and do as Noah did; God loves those that love him: or, (2.) As the effectof God's favour to him. It was God's good-will to him that produced this good work in him. He wasa very good man, but he was no better than the grace of God made him, 1 Cor. xv. 10. Now observe86

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)his character. [1.] He was a just man, that is, justified before God by faith in the promised seed;for he was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith, Heb. xi. 7. He was sanctified, and hadright principles and dispositions implanted in him; and he was righteous in his conversation, onethat made conscience of rendering to all their due, to God his due and to men theirs. Note, Nonebut a downright honest man can find favour with God. That conversation which will be pleasingto God must be governed by simplicity and godly sincerity, not by fleshly wisdom, 2 Cor. i. 12. Godhas sometimes chosen the foolish things of the world, but he never chose the knavish things of it.[2.] He was perfect, not with a sinless perfection, but a perfection of sincerity; and it is well for usthat by virtue of the covenant of grace, upon the score of Christ's righteousness, sincerity is acceptedas our gospel perfection. [3.] He walked with God, as Enoch had done before him. He was not onlyhonest, but devout; he walked, that is, he acted with God, as one always under his eye. He lived alife of communion with God; it was his constant care to conform himself to the will of God, toplease him, and to approve himself to him. Note, God looks down upon those with an eye of favourwho sincerely look up to him with an eye of faith. But, [4.] That which crowns his character is thatthus he was, and thus he did, in his generation, in that corrupt degenerate age in which his lot wascast. It is easy to be religious when religion is in fashion; but it is an evidence of strong faith andresolution to swim against a stream to heaven, and to appear for God when no one else appears forhim: so Noah did, and it is upon record, to his immortal honour.Depravity of the World. (b. c. 2448.)11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.12 And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh hadcorrupted his way upon the earth.The wickedness of that generation is here again spoken of, either as a foil to Noah's piety—hewas just and perfect, when all the earth was corrupt; or as a further justification of God's resolutionto destroy the world, which he was now about to communicate to his servant Noah. 1. All kinds ofsin was found among them, for it is said (v. 11) that the earth was, (1.) Corrupt before God, thatis, in the matters of God's worship; either they had other gods before him, or they worshipped him55

    by images, or they were corrupt and wicked in despite and contempt of God, daring him and defyinghim to his face. (2.) The earth was also filled with violence and injustice towards men. There wasno order nor regular government; no man was safe in the possession of that which he had the mostclear and incontestable right to, no, not the most innocent life; there was nothing but murders, rapes,and rapine. Note, Wickedness, as it is the shame of human nature, so it is the ruin of human society.Take away conscience and the fear of God, and men become beasts and devils to one another, likethe fishes of the sea, where the greater devour the less. Sin fills the earth with violence, and so turnsthe world into a wilderness, into a cock-pit. 2. The proof and evidence of it were undeniable; forGod looked upon the earth, and was himself an eye-witness of the corruption that was in it, ofwhich before, v. 5. The righteous Judge in all his judgments proceeds upon the infallible certaintyof his own omniscience, Ps. xxxiii. 13. 3. That which most aggravated the matter was the universalspreading of the contagion: All flesh had corrupted his way. It was not some particular nations orcities that were thus wicked, but the whole world of mankind were so; there was none that did good,no, not one besides Noah. Note, When wickedness has become general and universal ruin is notfar off; while there is a remnant of praying people in a nation, to empty the measure as it fills,judgments may be kept off a great while; but when all hands are at work to pull down the fences87

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)by sin, and none stand in the gap to make up the breach, what can be expected but an inundationof wrath?Prediction of the Deluge. (b. c. 2448.)13 And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earthis filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.14 Make thee an ark of gopher wood; rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shaltpitch it within and without with pitch. 15 And this is the fashion which thou shaltmake it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fiftycubits, and the height of it thirty cubits. 16 A window shalt thou make to the ark,and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in theside thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it. 17 And,behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh,wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earthshall die. 18 But with thee will I establish my covenant; and thou shalt come intothe ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee. 19 And ofevery living thing of all flesh, two of every sort shalt thou bring into the ark, to keepthem alive with thee; they shall be male and female. 20 Of fowls after their kind,and of cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the earth after his kind, twoof every sort shall come unto thee, to keep them alive. 21 And take thou unto theeof all food that is eaten, and thou shalt gather it to thee; and it shall be for food forthee, and for them.Here it appears indeed that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. God's favour to him wasplainly intimated in what he said of him, v. 8-10, where his name is mentioned five times in fivelines, when once might have served to make the sense clear, as if the Holy Ghost took a pleasurein perpetuating his memory; but it appears much more in what he says to him in these verses—theinformations and instructions here given him.I. God here makes Noah the man of his counsel, communicating to him his purpose to destroythis wicked world by water. As, afterwards, he told Abraham his resolution concerning Sodom (ch.xviii. 17, Shall I hide from Abraham?) so here "Shall I hide from Noah the thing that I do, seeingthat he shall become a great nation?" Note, The secret of the Lord is with those that fear him (Ps.xxv. 14); it was with his servants the prophets (Amos iii. 7), by a spirit of revelation, informingthem particularly of his purposes; it is with all believers by a spirit of wisdom and faith, enablingthem to understand and apply the general declarations of the written word, and the warnings theregiven. Now,1. God told Noah, in general, that he would destroy the world (v. 13): The end of all flesh hascome before me; I will destroy them; that is, the ruin of this wicked world is decreed and determined;it has come, that is, it will come surely, and come quickly. Noah, it is likely, in preaching to hisneighbours, had warned them, in general, of the wrath of God that they would bring upon themselvesby their wickedness, and now God seconds his endeavours by a particular denunciation of wrath,that Noah might try whether this would work upon them. Hence observe, (1.) That God confirmeth88

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)the words of his messengers, Isa. xliv. 26. (2.) That to him that has, and uses what he has for thegood of others, more shall be given, more full instructions.56

    2. He told him, particularly, that he would destroy the world by a flood of waters: And behold,I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, v. 17. God could have destroyed all mankindby the sword of an angel, a flaming sword turning every way, as he destroyed all the first-born ofthe Egyptians and the camp of the Assyrians; and then there needed no more than to set a markupon Noah and his family for their preservation. But God chose to do it by a flood of waters, whichshould drown the world. The reasons, we may be sure, were wise and just, though to us unknown.God has many arrows in his quiver, and he may use which he please: as he chooses the rod withwhich he will correct his children, so he chooses the sword with which he will cut off his enemies.Observe the manner of expression: "I, even I, do bring a flood; I that am infinite in power, andtherefore can do it, infinite in justice, and therefore will do it." (1.) It intimates the certainty of thejudgment: I, even I, will do it. That cannot but be done effectually which God himself undertakesthe doing of. See Job xi. 10. (2.) It intimates the tendency of it to God's glory and the honour of hisjustice. Thus he will be magnified and exalted in the earth, and all the world shall be made to knowthat he is the God to whom vengeance belongs; methinks the expression here is somewhat like that,Isa. i. 24, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries.II. God here makes Noah the man of his covenant, another Hebrew periphrasis of a friend (v.18): But with thee will I establish my covenant. 1. The covenant of providence, that the course ofnature shall be continued to the end of time, notwithstanding the interruption which the flood wouldgive to it. This promise was immediately made to Noah and his sons, ch. ix. 8, &c. They were astrustees for all this part of the creation, and a great honour was thereby put upon him and his. 2.The covenant of grace, that God would be to him a God and that out of his seed God would taketo himself a people. Note, (1.) When God makes a covenant, he establishes it, he makes it sure, hemakes it good; his are everlasting covenants. (2.) The covenant of grace has in it the recompenceof singular services, and the fountain and foundation of all distinguishing favours; we need desireno more, either to make up our losses for God or to make up a happiness for us in God, than tohave his covenant established with us.III. God here makes Noah a monument of sparing mercy, by putting him in a way to securehimself in the approaching deluge, that he might not perish with the rest of the world: I will destroythem, says God, with the earth, v. 13. "But make thee an ark; I will take care to preserve thee alive."Note, Singular piety shall be recompensed with distinguishing salvations, which are in a specialmanner obliging. This will add much to the honour and happiness of glorified saints, that they shallbe saved when the greatest part of the world is left to perish. Now,1. God directs Noah to make an ark, v. 14-16. This ark was like the hulk of a ship, fitted notto sail upon the waters (there was no occasion for that, when there should be no shore to sail to),but to float upon the waters, waiting for their fall. God could have secured Noah by the ministrationof angels, without putting him to any care, or pains, or trouble, himself; but he chose to employhim in making that which was to be the means of his preservation, both for the trial of his faith andobedience and to teach us that none shall be saved by Christ but those only that work out theirsalvation. We cannot do it without God, and he will not without us. Both the providence of God,and the grace of God, own and crown the endeavours of the obedient and diligent. God gave himvery particular instructions concerning this building, which could not but be admirably well fittedfor the purpose when Infinite Wisdom itself was the architect. (1.) It must be made of gopher-wood.89

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Noah, doubtless, knew what sort of wood that was, though we now do not, whether cedar, or cypress,or what other. (2.) He must make it three stories high within. (3.) He must divide it into cabins,with partitions, places fitted for the several sorts of creatures, so as to lose no room. (4.) Exactdimensions were given him, that he might make it proportionable, and might have room enoughin it to answer the intention and no more. Note, Those that work for God must take their measuresfrom him and carefully observe them. Note, further, It is fit that he who appoints us our habitationshould fix the bounds and limits of it. (5.) He must pitch it within and without—without, to shedoff the rain, and to prevent the water from soaking in—within, to take away the bad smell of thebeasts when kept close. Observe, God does not bid him paint it, but pitch it. If God gives ushabitations that are safe, and warm, and wholesome, we are bound to be thankful, though they arenot magnificent or nice. (6.) He must make a little window towards the top, to let in light, and (somethink) that through that window he might behold the desolations to be made in the earth. (7.) Hemust make a door in the side of it, by which to go in and out.2. God promises Noah that he and his shall be preserved alive in the ark (v. 18): Thou shaltcome into the ark. Note, What we do in obedience to God, we ourselves are likely to have thecomfort and benefit of. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself. Nor was he himself onlysaved in the ark, but his wife, and his sons, and his sons' wives. Observe, (1.) The care of good57

    parents; they are solicitous not only for their own salvation, but for the salvation of their families,and especially their children. (2.) The happiness of those children that have godly parents. Theirparents' piety often procures them temporal salvation, as here; and it furthers them in the way toeternal salvation, if they improve the benefit of it.IV. God here makes Noah a great blessing to the world, and herein makes him an eminent typeof the Messiah, though not the Messiah himself, as his parents expected, ch. v. 29. 1. God madehim a preacher to the men of that generation. As a watchman, he received the word from God'smouth, that he might give them warning, Ezek. iii. 17. Thus, while the long-suffering of God waited,by his Spirit in Noah, he preached to the old world, who, when Peter wrote, were spirits in prison(1 Pet. iii. 18-20), and herein he was a type of Christ, who, in a land and age wherein all flesh hadcorrupted their way, went about preaching repentance and warning men of a deluge of wrath coming.2. God made him a saviour to the inferior creatures, to keep the several kinds of them from perishingand being lost in the deluge, v. 19-21. This was a great honour put upon him, that not only in himthe race of mankind should be kept up, and that from him should proceed a new world, the church,the soul of the world, and Messiah, the head of that church, but that he should be instrumental topreserve the inferior creatures, and so mankind should in him acquire a new title to them and theirservice. (1.) He was to provide shelter for them, that they might not be drowned. Two of every sort,male and female, he must take with him into the ark; and lest he should make any difficulty ofgathering them together, and getting them in, God promises (v. 20) that they shall of their ownaccord come to him. He that makes the ox to know his owner and his crib then made him know hispreserver and his ark. (2.) He was to provide sustenance for them, that they might not be starved,v. 21. He must victual his ship according to the number of his crew, that great family which he hadnow the charge of, and according to the time appointed for his confinement. Herein also he was atype of Christ, to whom it is owing that the world stands, by whom all things consist, and whopreserves mankind from being totally cut off and ruined by sin; in him the holy seed is saved alive,and the creation rescued from the vanity under which it groans. Noah saved those whom he was torule, so does Christ, Heb. v. 9.90

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.Noah's care and diligence in building the ark may be considered, 1. As an effect of his faith inthe word of God. God had told him he would shortly drown the world; he believed it, feared thethreatened deluge, and, in that fear, prepared the ark. Note, We ought to mix faith with the revelationGod has made of his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men; the threateningsof the word are not false alarms. Much might have been objected against the credibility of thiswarning given to Noah. "Who could believe that the wise God, who made the world, should sosoon unmake it again, that he who had drawn the waters off the dry land (ch. i. 9, 10) should causethem to cover it again? How would this be reconciled with the mercy of God, which is over all hisworks, especially that the innocent creatures should die for man's sin? Whence could water be hadsufficient to deluge the world? And, if it must be so, why should notice be given of it to Noahonly?" But Noah's faith triumphed over all these corrupt reasonings. 2. As an act of obedience tothe command of God. Had he consulted with flesh and blood, many objections would have beenraised against it. To rear a building, such a one as he never saw, so large, and of such exactdimensions, would put him upon a great deal of care, and labour, and expense. It would be a workof time; the vision was for a great while to come. His neighbours would ridicule him for his credulity,and he would be the song of the drunkards; his building would be called Noah's folly. If the worstcame to the worst, as we say, each would fare as well as his neighbours. But these, and a thousandsuch objections, Noah by faith got over. His obedience was ready and resolute: Thus did Noah,willingly and cheerfully, without murmuring and disputing. God says, Do this, and he does it. Itwas also punctual and persevering: he did all exactly according to the instructions given him, and,having begun to build, did not leave off till he had finished it; so did he, and so must we do. 3. Asan instance of wisdom for himself, thus to provide for his own safety. He feared the deluge, andtherefore prepared the ark. Note, When God gives warning of approaching judgments, it is ourwisdom and duty to provide accordingly. See Exod. ix. 20, 21; Ezek. iii. 18. We must prepare tomeet the Lord in his judgments on earth, flee to his name as a strong tower (Prov. xviii. 10), enterinto our chambers (Isa. xxvi. 20, 21), especially prepare to meet him at death and in the judgmentof the great day, build upon Christ the Rock (Matt. vii. 24), go into Christ the Ark. 4. As intendedfor warning to a careless world; and it was fair warning of the deluge coming. Every blow of hisaxes and hammers was a call to repentance, a call to them to prepare arks too. But, since by it hecould not convince the world, by it he condemned the world, Heb. xi. 7.57 G E N E S I SCHAP. VII.In this chapter we have the performance of what was foretold in the foregoing chapter, both58

    concerning the destruction of the old world and the salvation of Noah; for we may be sure that noword of God shall fall to the ground. There we left Noah busy about his ark, and full of care to getit finished in time, while the rest of his neighbours were laughing at him for his pains. Now herewe see what was the end thereof, the end of his care and of their carelessness. And this famous91

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)period of the old world gives us some idea of the state of things when the world that now is shallbe destroyed by fire, as that was by water. See 2 Pet. iii. 6, 7. We have, in this chapter, I. God'sgracious call to Noah to come into the ark (ver. 1), and to bring the creatures that were to be preservedalive along with him (ver. 2, 3), in consideration of the deluge at hand, ver. 4. II. Noah's obedienceto this heavenly vision, ver. 5. When he was six hundred years old, he came with his family intothe ark (ver. 6, 7), and brought the creatures along with him (ver. 8, 9), an account of which isrepeated (ver. 13-16), to which is added God's tender care to shut him in. III. The coming of thethreatened deluge (ver. 10); the causes of it (ver. 11, 12): the prevalency of it, ver. 17-20. IV. Thedreadful desolations that were made by it in the death of every living creature upon earth, exceptthose that were in the ark, ver. 21-23. V. The continuance of it in full sea, before it began to ebb,one hundred and fifty days, ver. 24.Noah Invited into the Ark. (b. c. 2349.)1 And the Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; forthee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. 2 Of every clean beast thoushalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not cleanby two, the male and his female. 3 Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male andthe female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth. 4 For yet seven days,and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every livingsubstance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.Here is, I. A gracious invitation of Noah and his family into a place of safety, now that theflood of waters was coming, v. 1.1. The call itself is very kind, like that of a tender father to his children, to come in doors, whenhe sees night or a storm coming: Come thou, and all thy house, that small family that thou hast,into the ark. Observe, (1.) Noah did not go into the ark till God bade him; though he knew it wasdesigned for his place of refuge, yet he waited for a renewed command, and had it. It is verycomfortable to follow the calls of Providence, and to see God going before us in every step wetake. (2.) God does not bid him go into the ark, but come into it, implying that God would go withhim, would lead him into it, accompany him in it, and in due time bring him safely out of it. Note,Wherever we are, it is very desirable to have the presence of God with us, for this is all in all to thecomfort of every condition. It was this that made Noah's ark, which was a prison, to be to him notonly a refuge, but a palace. (3.) Noah had taken a great deal of pains to build the ark, and now hewas himself preserved alive in it. Note, What we do in obedience to the command of God, and infaith, we ourselves shall certainly have the comfort of, first or last. (4.) Not he only, but his housealso, his wife and children, are called with him into the ark. Note, It is good to belong to the familyof a godly man; it is safe and comfortable to dwell under such a shadow. One of Noah's sons wasHam, who proved afterwards a bad man, yet he was saved in the ark, which intimates, [1.] Thatwicked children often fare the better for the sake of their godly parents. [2.] That there is a mixtureof bad with good in the best societies on earth, and we are not to think it strange. In Noah's familythere was a Ham, and in Christ's family there was a Judas. There is no perfect purity on this sideheaven. (5.) This call to Noah was a type of the call which the gospel gives to poor sinners. Christis an ark already prepared, in whom alone we can be safe when death and judgment come. Now92

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)the burden of the song is, "Come, come;" the word says, "Come;" ministers say, "Come;" the Spiritsays, "Come, come into the ark."2. The reason for this invitation is a very honourable testimony to Noah's integrity: For theehave I seen righteous before me in this generation. Observe, (1.) Those are righteous indeed thatare righteous before God, that have not only the form of godliness by which they appear righteousbefore men, who may easily be imposed upon, but the power of it by which they approve themselvesto God, who searches the heart, and cannot be deceived in men's characters. (2.) God takes noticeof and is pleased with those that are righteous before him: Thee have I seen. In a world of wickedpeople God could see one righteous Noah; that single grain of wheat could not be lost, no, not inso great a heap of chaff. The Lord knows those that are his. (3.) God, that is a witness to, will shortlybe a witness for, his people's integrity; he that sees it will proclaim it before angels and men, totheir immortal honour. Those that obtain mercy to be righteous shall obtain witness that they arerighteous. (4.) God is, in a special manner, pleased with those that are good in bad times and places.Noah was therefore illustriously righteous, because he was so in that wicked and adulterousgeneration. (5.) Those that keep themselves pure in times of common iniquity God will keep safein times of common calamity; those that partake not with others in their sins shall not partake withthem in their plagues; those that are better than others are, even in this life, safer than others, andit is better with them.II. Here are necessary orders given concerning the brute-creatures that were to be preservedalive with Noah in the ark, v. 2, 3. They were not capable of receiving the warning and directionsthemselves, as man was, who herein is taught more than the beasts of the earth, and made wiserthan the fowls of heaven—that he is endued with the power of foresight; therefore man is chargedwith the care of them: being under his dominion, they must be under his protection; and, though59

    he could not secure every individual, yet he must carefully preserve every species, that no tribe,no, not the least considerable, might entirely perish out of the creation. Observe in this, 1. God'scare for man, for his comfort and benefit. We do not find that Noah was solicitous of himself aboutthis matter; but God consults our happiness more than we do ourselves. Though God saw that theold world was very provoking, and foresaw that the new one would be little better, yet he wouldpreserve the brute creatures for man's use. Doth God take care for oxen? 1 Cor. ix. 9. Or was it notrather for man's sake that this care was taken? 2. Even the unclean beasts, which were least valuableand profitable, were preserved alive in the ark; for God's tender mercies are over all his works, andnot over those only that are of most eminence and use. 3. Yet more of the clean were preservedthan of the unclean. (1.) Because the clean were most for the service of man; and therefore, infavour to him, more of them were preserved and are still propagated. Thanks be to God, there arenot herds of lions as there are of oxen, nor flocks of tigers as there are of sheep. (2.) Because theclean were for sacrifice to God; and therefore, in honour to him, more of them were preserved,three couple for breed, and the odd seventh for sacrifice, ch. viii. 20. God gives us six for one inearthly things, as in the distribution of the days of the week, that in spiritual things we should beall for him. What is devoted to God's honour, and used in his service, is particularly blessed andincreased.III. Here is notice given of the now imminent approach of the flood: Yet seven days, and I willcause it to rain, v. 4. 1. "It shall be seven days yet, before I do it." After the hundred and twentyyears had expired, God grants them a reprieve of seven days longer, both to show how slow he isto anger and that punishing work is his strange work, and also to give them some further space for93

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)repentance: but all in vain; these seven days were trifled away, after all the rest; they continuedsecure and sensual until the day that the flood came. 2. "It shall be but seven days." While Noahtold them of the judgment at a distance, they were tempted to put off their repentance, because thevision was for a great while to come; but now he is ordered to tell them that it is at the door, thatthey have but one week more to turn them in, but one sabbath more to improve, to see if that willnow, at last, awaken them to consider the things that belong to their peace, which otherwise willsoon be hidden from their eyes. But it is common for those that have been careless of their soulsduring the years of their health, when they have looked upon death at a distance, to be as carelessduring the days, the seven days, of their sickness, when they see it approaching, their hearts beinghardened by the deceitfulness of sin.The Deluge. (b. c. 2349.)5 And Noah did according unto all that the Lord commanded him. 6 And Noahwas six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth. 7 AndNoah went in, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him, into the ark,because of the waters of the flood. 8 Of clean beasts, and of beasts that are notclean, and of fowls, and of every thing that creepeth upon the earth, 9 There wentin two and two unto Noah into the ark, the male and the female, as God hadcommanded Noah. 10 And it came to pass after seven days, that the waters of theflood were upon the earth.Here is Noah's ready obedience to the commands that God gave him. Observe, 1. He went intothe ark, upon notice that the flood would come after seven days, though probably as yet thereappeared no visible sign of its approach, no cloud arising that threatened it, nothing done towardsit, but all continued serene and clear; for, as he prepared the ark by faith in the warning given thatthe flood would come, so he went into it by faith in this warning that it would come quickly, thoughhe did not see that the second causes had yet begun to work. In every step he took, he walked byfaith, and not by sense. During these seven days, it is likely, he was settling himself and his familyin the ark, and distributing the creatures into their several apartments. This was the conclusion ofthat visible sermon which he had long been preaching to his careless neighbours, and which, onewould think, might have awakened them; but, not obtaining that desired end, it left their blood upontheir own heads. 2. He took all his family along with him, his wife, to be his companion and comfort(though it should seem that, after this, he had no children by her), his sons, and his sons' wives,that by them not only his family, but the world of mankind, might be built up. Observe, Thoughmen were to be reduced to so small a number, and it would be very desirable to have the worldspeedily repeopled, yet Noah's sons were each of them to have but one wife, which strengthens theargument against having many wives; for from the beginning of this new world it was not so: as,at first, God made, so now he kept alive, but one woman for one man. See Matt. xix. 4, 8. 3. Thebrute creatures readily went in with him. The same hand that at first brought them to Adam to benamed now brought them to Noah to be preserved. The ox now knew his owner, and the ass his94

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)protector's crib, nay, even the wildest creatures flocked to it; but man had become more brutish60

    than the brutes themselves, and did not know, did not consider, Isa. i. 3.11 In the six hundredth year of Noah's life, in the second month, the seventeenthday of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up,and the windows of heaven were opened. 12 And the rain was upon the earth fortydays and forty nights.Here is, I. The date of this great event; this is carefully recorded, for the greater certainty ofthe story.1. It was in the 600th year of Noah's life, which, by computation, appears to be 1656 yearsfrom the creation. The years of the old world are reckoned, not by the reigns of the giants, but thelives of the patriarchs; saints are of more account with God than princes. The righteous shall behad in everlasting remembrance. Noah was now a very old man, even as men's years went then.Note, (1.) The longer we live in this world the more we see of the miseries and calamities of it; itis therefore spoken of as the privilege of those that die young that their eyes shall not see the evilwhich is coming, 2 Kings xxii. 20. (2.) Sometimes God exercises his old servants with extraordinarytrials of obedient patience. The oldest of Christ's soldiers must not promise themselves a dischargefrom their warfare till death discharge them. Still they must gird on their harness, and not boast asthough they had put it off. As the year of the deluge is recorded, so,2. We are told that it was in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, which isreckoned to be about the beginning of November; so that Noah had had a harvest just before, fromwhich to victual his ark.II. The second causes that concurred to this deluge. Observe,1. In the self-same day that Noah was fixed in the ark, the inundation began. Note, (1.)Desolating judgments come not till God has provided for the security of his own people; see ch.xix. 22, I can do nothing till thou be come thither: and we find (Rev. vii. 3) that the winds are heldtill the servants of God are sealed. (2.) When good men are removed judgments are not far off; forthey are taken away from the evil to come, Isa. lvii. 1. When they are called into the chambers,hidden in the grave, hidden in heaven, then God is coming out of his place to punish, Isa. xxvi. 20,21.2. See what was done on that day, that fatal day to the world of the ungodly. (1.) The fountainsof the great deep were broken up. Perhaps there needed no new creation of waters; what werealready made to be, in the common course of providence, blessings to the earth, were now, by anextraordinary act of divine power, made the ruin of it. God has laid up the deep in storehouses (Ps.xxxiii. 7), and now he broke up those stores. As our bodies have in themselves those humourswhich, when God pleases, become the seeds and springs of mortal diseases, so the earth had in itbowels those waters which, at God's command, sprang up and flooded it. God had, in the creation,set bars and doors to the waters of the sea, that they might not return to cover the earth (Ps. civ.9; Job xxxviii. 9-11); and now he only removed those ancient land-marks, mounds, and fences, andthe waters of the sea returned to cover the earth, as they had done at first, ch. i. 9. Note, All thecreatures are ready to fight against sinful man, and any of them is able to be the instrument of hisruin, if God do but take off the restraints by which they are held in during the day of God's patience.(2.) The windows of heaven were opened, and the waters which were above the firmament werepoured out upon the world; those treasures which God has reserved against the time of trouble, the95

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)day of battle and war, Job xxxviii. 22, 23. The rain, which ordinarily descends in drops, then camedown in streams, or spouts, as they call them in the Indies, where clouds have been often knownto burst, as they express it there, when the rain descends in a much more violent torrent than wehave ever seen in the greatest shower. We read (Job xxvi. 8) that God binds up the waters in histhick clouds, and the cloud is not rent under them; but now the bond was loosed, the cloud wasrent, and such rains descended as were never known before nor since, in such abundance and ofsuch continuance: the thick cloud was not, as ordinarily it is, wearied with waterings (Job xxxvii.11), that is, soon spent and exhausted; but still the clouds returned after the rain, and the divinepower brought in fresh recruits. It rained, without intermission or abatement, forty days and fortynights (v. 12), and that upon the whole earth at once, not, as sometimes, upon one city and not uponanother. God made the world in six days, but he was forty days in destroying it; for he is slow toanger: but, though the destruction came slowly and gradually, yet it came effectually.3. Now learn from this, (1.) That all the creatures are at God's disposal, and that he makes whatuse he pleases of them, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy, as Elihu speaks of therain, Job xxxvii. 12, 13. (2.) That God often makes that which should be for our welfare to becomea trap, Ps. lxix. 22. That which usually is a comfort and benefit to us becomes, when God pleases,a scourge and a plague to us. Nothing is more needful nor useful than water, both the springs ofthe earth and the showers of heaven; and yet now nothing was more hurtful, nothing more destructive:every creature is to us what God makes it. (3.) That it is impossible to escape the righteous judgments61

    of God when they come against sinners with commission; for God can arm both heaven and earthagainst them; see Job xx. 27. God can surround men with the messengers of his wrath, so that, ifthey look upwards, it is with horror and amazement, if they look to the earth, behold, trouble anddarkness, Isa. viii. 21, 22. Who then is able to stand before God, when he is angry? (4.) In thisdestruction of the old world by water God gave a specimen of the final destruction of the worldthat now is by fire. We find the apostle setting the one of these over against the other, 2 Pet. iii. 6,7. As there are waters under the earth, so Ætna, Vesuvius, and other volcanoes, proclaim to theworld that there are subterraneous fires too; and fire often falls from heaven, many desolations aremade by lightning; so that, when the time predetermined comes, between these two fires the earthand all the works therein shall be burnt up, as the flood was brought upon the old world out of thefountains of the great deep and through the windows of heaven.13 In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sonsof Noah, and Noah's wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;14 They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and everycreeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after hiskind, every bird of every sort. 15 And they went in unto Noah into the ark, twoand two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life. 16 And they that went in, wentin male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the Lord shut himin.Here is repeated what was related before of Noah's entrance into the ark, with his family andcreatures that were marked for preservation. Now,96

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)I. It is thus repeated for the honour of Noah, whose faith and obedience herein shone so brightly,by which he obtained a good report, and who herein appeared so great a favourite of Heaven andso great a blessing to this earth.II. Notice is here taken of the beasts going in each after his kind, according to the phrase usedin the history of the creation (ch. i. 21-25), to intimate that just as many kinds as were created atfirst were saved now, and no more; and that this preservation was as a new creation: a life remarkablyprotected is, as it were, a new life.III. Though all enmities and hostilities between the creatures ceased for the present, and ravenouscreatures were not only so mild and manageable as that the wolf and the lamb lay down together,but so strangely altered as that the lion did eat straw like an ox (Isa. xi. 6, 7), yet, when this occasionwas over, the restraint was taken off, and they were still of the same kind as ever; for the ark didnot alter their constitution. Hypocrites in the church, that externally conform to the laws of thatark, may yet be unchanged, and then it will appear, one time or other, what kind they are after.IV. It is added (and the circumstance deserves our notice), The Lord shut him in, v. 16. AsNoah continued his obedience to God, so God continued his care of Noah: and here it appeared tobe a very distinguishing care; for the shutting of this door set up a partition wall between him andall the world besides. God shut the door, 1. To secure him, and keep him safe in the ark. The doormust be shut very close, lest the waters should break in and sink the ark, and very fast, lest anywithout should break it down. Thus God made up Noah, as he makes up his jewels, Mal. iii. 17. 2.To exclude all others, and keep them for ever out. Hitherto the door of the ark stood open, and ifany, even during the last seven days, had repented and believed, for aught I know they might havebeen welcomed into the ark; but now the door was shut, and they were cut off from all hopes ofadmittance: for God shutteth, and none can open.V. There is much of our gospel duty and privilege to be seen in Noah's preservation in the ark.The apostle makes it a type of our baptism, that is, our Christianity, 1 Pet. iii. 20, 21. Observe then,1. It is our great duty, in obedience to the gospel call, by a lively faith in Christ, to come into thatway of salvation which God has provided for poor sinners. When Noah came into the ark, he quittedhis own house and lands; so must we quit our own righteousness and our worldly possessions,whenever they come into competition with Christ. Noah must, for a while, submit to the confinementsand inconveniences of the ark, in order to his preservation for a new world; so those that come intoChrist to be saved by him must deny themselves, both in sufferings and services. 2. Those thatcome into the ark themselves should bring as many as they can in with them, by good instructions,by persuasions, and by a good example. What knowest thou, O man, but thou mayest thus save thywife (1 Cor. vii. 16), as Noah did his? There is room enough in Christ for all comers. 3. Those thatby faith come into Christ, the ark, shall by the power of God be shut in, and kept as in a strong-holdby the power of God, 1 Pet. i. 5. God put Adam into paradise, but he did not shut him in, and so hethrew himself out; but when he put Noah into the ark he shut him in, and so when he brings a soulto Christ he ensures its salvation: it is not in our own keeping, but in the Mediator's hand. 4. The62

    door of mercy will shortly be shut against those that now make light of it. Now, knock and it shallbe opened; but the time will come when it shall not, Luke xiii. 25.17 And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, andbare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth. 18 And the waters prevailed, andwere increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark went upon the face of the waters.97

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)19 And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, thatwere under the whole heaven, were covered. 20 Fifteen cubits upward did thewaters prevail; and the mountains were covered.We are here told,I. How long the flood was increasing—forty days, v. 17. The profane world, who believed notthat it would come, probably when it came flattered themselves with hopes that it would soon abateand never come to extremity; but still it increased, it prevailed. Note, 1. When God judges he willovercome. If he begin, he will make an end; his way is perfect, both in judgment and mercy. 2. Thegradual approaches and advances of God's judgments, which are designed to bring sinners torepentance, are often abused to the hardening of them in their presumption.II. To what degree they increased: they rose so high that not only the low flat countries weredeluged, but to make sure work, and that none might escape, the tops of the highest mountains wereoverflowed—fifteen cubits, that is, seven yards and a half; so that in vain was salvation hoped forfrom hills or mountains, Jer. iii. 23. None of God's creatures are so high but his power can overtopthem; and he will make them know that wherein they deal proudly he is above them. Perhaps thetops of the mountains were washed down by the strength of the waters, which helped much towardsthe prevailing of the waters above them; for it is said (Job xii. 15), He sends out the waters, andthey not only overflow, but overturn, the earth. Thus the refuge of lies was swept away, and thewaters overflowed the hiding-place of those sinners (Isa. xxviii. 17), and in vain they fly to themfor safety, Rev. vi. 16. Now the mountains departed, and the hills were removed, and nothing stooda man in stead but the covenant of peace, Isa. liv. 10. There is no place on earth so high as to setmen out of the reach of God's judgments, Jer. xlix. 16; Obad. 3, 4. God's hand will find out all hisenemies, Ps. xxi. 8. Observe how exactly they are fathomed (fifteen cubits), not by Noah's plummet,but by his knowledge who weighs the waters by measure, Job xxviii. 25.III. What became of Noah's ark when the waters thus increased: It was lifted up above the earth(v. 17), and went upon the face of the waters, v. 18. When all other buildings were demolished bythe waters, and buried under them, the ark alone subsisted. Observe, 1. The waters which brokedown every thing else bore up the ark. That which to unbelievers is a savour of death unto deathis to the faithful a savour of life unto life. 2. The more the waters increased the higher the ark waslifted up towards heaven. Thus sanctified afflictions are spiritual promotions; and as troubles aboundconsolations much more abound.21 And all flesh died that moved upon the earth, both of fowl, and of cattle, andof beast, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth, and every man:22 All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died.23 And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of theground, both man, and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven;and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and theythat were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed upon the earth a hundredand fifty days.Here is, I. The general destruction of all flesh by the waters of the flood. Come, and see thedesolations which God makes in the earth (Ps. xlvi. 8), and how he lays heaps upon heaps. Never98

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)did death triumph, from its first entrance unto this day, as it did then. Come, and see Death uponhis pale horse, and hell following with him, Rev. vi. 7, 8.1. All the cattle, fowl, and creeping things, died, except the few that were in the ark. Observehow this is repeated: All flesh died, v. 21. All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all thatwas on the dry land, v. 22. Every living substance, v. 23. And why so? Man only had done wickedly,and justly is God's hand against him; but these sheep, what have they done? I answer, (1.) We aresure God did them no wrong. He is the sovereign Lord of all life, for he is the sole fountain andauthor of it. He that made them as he pleased might unmake them when he pleased; and who shallsay unto him, What doest thou? May he not do what he will with his own, which were created forhis pleasure? (2.) God did admirably serve the purposes of his own glory by their destruction, aswell as by their creation. Herein his holiness and justice were greatly magnified; by this it appearsthat he hates sin, and is highly displeased with sinners, when even the inferior creatures, becausethey are the servants of man and part of his possession, and because they have been abused to be63

    the servants of sin, are destroyed with him. This makes the judgment the more remarkable, themore dreadful, and, consequently, the more expressive of God's wrath and vengeance. The destructionof the creatures was their deliverance from the bondage of corruption, which deliverance the wholecreation now groans after, Rom. viii. 21, 22. It was likewise an instance of God's wisdom. As thecreatures were made for man when he was made, so they were multiplied for him when he wasmultiplied; and therefore, now that mankind was reduced to so small a number, it was fit that thebeasts should proportionably be reduced, otherwise they would have had the dominion, and wouldhave replenished the earth, and the remnant of mankind that was left would have been overpoweredby them. See how God considered this in another case, Exod. xxiii. 29, Lest the beast of the fieldmultiply against thee.2. All the men, women, and children, that were in the world (except that were in the ark) died.Every man (v. 21 and v. 23), and perhaps they were as many as are now upon the face of the earth,if not more. Now, (1.) We may easily imagine what terror and consternation seized on them whenthey saw themselves surrounded. Our Saviour tells us that till the very day that the flood came theywere eating and drinking (Luke xvii. 26, 27); they were drowned in security and sensuality beforethey were drowned in those waters, crying Peace, peace, to themselves, deaf and blind to all divinewarnings. In this posture death surprised them, as 1 Sam. xxx. 16, 17. But O what an amazementwere they in then! Now they see and feel that which they would not believe and fear, and areconvinced of their folly when it is too late; now they find no place for repentance, though they seekit carefully with tears. (2.) We may suppose that they tried all ways and means possible for theirpreservation, but all in vain. Some climb to the tops of trees or mountains, and spin out their terrorsthere awhile. But the flood reaches them, at last, and they are forced to die with the more deliberation.Some, it is likely, cling to the ark, and now hope that this may be their safety which they had solong made their sport. Perhaps some get to the top of the ark, and hope to shift for themselves there;but either they perish there for want of food, or, by a speedier despatch, a dash of rain washes themoff that deck. Others, it may be, hoped to prevail with Noah for admission into the ark, and pleadedold acquaintance, Have we not eaten and drunk in thy presence? Hast thou not taught in our streets?"Yes," might Noah say, "that I have, many a time, to little purpose. I called but you refused; youset at nought all my counsel (Prov. i. 24, 25), and now it is not in my power to help you: God hasshut the door, and I cannot open it." Thus it will be at the great day. Neither climbing high in anoutward profession, nor claiming relation to good people, will bring men to heaven, Matt. vii. 22;99

    Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)xxv. 8, 9. Those that are not found in Christ, the ark, are certainly undone, undone for ever; salvationitself cannot save them. See Isa. x. 3. (3.) We may suppose that some of those that perished in thedeluge had themselves assisted Noah, or were employed by him, in the building of the ark, and yetwere not so wise as by repentance to secure themselves a place in it. Thus wicked ministers, thoughthey may have been instrumental to help others to heaven, will themselves be thrust down to hell.Let us now pause awhile and consider this tremendous judgment! Let our hearts meditate terror,the terror of this destruction. Let us see, and say, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of theliving God; who can stand before him when he is angry? Let us see and say, It is an evil thing, anda bitter, to depart from God. The sin of sinners will, without repentance, be their ruin, first or last;if God be true, it will. Though hand join in hand, yet the wicked shall not go unpunished. Therighteous God knows how to bring a flood upon the world of the ungodly, 2 Pet. ii. 5. Eliphazappeals to this story as a standing warning to a careless world (Job xxii. 15, 16), Hast thou markedthe old way, which wicked men have trodden, who were cut down out of time, and sent into eternity,whose foundation was overflown with the flood?II. The special preservation of Noah and his family: Noah only remained alive, and those thatwere with him in the ark, v. 23. Observe, 1. Noah lives. When all about him were monuments ofjustice, thousands falling on his right hand and ten thousands on his left, he was a monument ofmercy. Only with his eyes might he behold and see the reward of the wicked, Ps. xci. 7, 8. In thefloods of great waters, they did not come nigh him, Ps. xxxii. 6. We have reason to think that, whilethe long-suffering of God waited, Noah not only preached to, but prayed for, that wicked world,and would have turned away the wrath; but his prayers return into his own bosom, and are answeredonly in his own escape, which is plainly referred to, Ezek. xiv. 14, Noah, Daniel, and Job, shallbut deliver their own souls. A mark of honour shall be set on intercessors. 2. He but lives. Noahremains alive, and this is all; he is, in effect, buried alive—cooped up in a close place, alarmed withthe terrors of the descending rain, the increasing flood, and the shrieks and outcries of his perishingneighbours, his heart overwhelmed with melancholy thoughts of the desolations made. But hecomforts himself with this, that he is in the way of duty and in the way of deliverance. And we aretaught (Jer. xlv. 4, 5) that when desolating judgments are abroad we must not seek great nor pleasantthings to ourselves, but reckon it an unspeakable favour if we have our lives given us for a prey.64 G E N E S I SCHAP. VIII.In the close of the foregoing chapter we left the world in ruins and the church in straits; but inthis chapter we have the repair of the one and the enlargement of the other. Now the scene alters,and another face of things begins to be presented to us, and the brighter side of that cloud whichthere appeared so black and dark; for, though God contend long, he will not contend for ever, norbe always wrath. We have here, I. The earth made anew, by the recess of the waters, and theappearing of the dry land, now a second time, and both gradual. 1. The increase of the waters isstayed, ver. 1, 2. 2. They begin sensibly to abate, ver. 3. 3. After sixteen days' ebbing, the ark rests,100Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)ver. 4. 4. After sixty days' ebbing, the tops of the mountains appeared above water, ver. 5. 5. Afterforty days' ebbing, and twenty days before the mountains appeared, Noah began to send out hisspies, a raven and a dove, to gain intelligence, ver. 6-12. 6. Two months after the appearing of thetops of the mountains, the waters had gone, and the face of the earth was dry (ver. 13), though notdried so as to be fit for man till almost two months after, ver. 14. II. Man placed anew upon theearth, in which, 1. Noah's discharge and departure out of the ark, ver. 15-19. 2. His sacrifice ofpraise, which he offered to God upon his enlargement, ver. 20. 3. God's acceptance of his sacrifice,and the promise he made thereupon not to drown the world again, ver. 21, 22. And thus, at length,mercy rejoices against judgment.The Earth Becomes Dry. (b. c. 2349.)1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that waswith him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the watersassuaged; 2 The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped,and the rain from heaven was restrained; 3 And the waters returned from off theearth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters wereabated.Here is, I. An act of God's grace: God remembered Noah and every living thing. This is anexpression after the manner of men; for not any of his creatures (Luke xii. 6), much less any of hispeople, are forgotten of God, Isa. xlix. 15, 16. But, 1. The whole race of mankind, except Noahand his family, was now extinguished, and driven into the land of forgetfulness, to be rememberedno more; so that God's remembering Noah was the return of his mercy to mankind, of whom hewould not make a full end. It is a strange expression, Ezek. v. 13, When I have accomplished myfury in them, I will be comforted. The demands of divine justice had been answered by the ruin ofthose sinners; he had eased him of his adversaries (Isa. i. 24), and now his spirit was quieted ( 8), and he remembered Noah and every living thing. He remembered mercy in wrath (Hab. iii.2), remembered the days of old (Isa. lxiii. 11), remembered the holy seed, and then rememberedNoah. 2. Noah himself, though one that had found grace in the eyes of the Lord, yet seemed to beforgotten in the ark, and perhaps began to think himself so; for we do not find that God had toldhim how long he should be confined and when he should be released. Very good men have sometimesbeen ready to conclude themselves forgotten of God, especially when their afflictions have beenunusually grievous and long. Perhaps Noah, though a great believer, yet when he found the floodcontinuing so long after it might reasonably be presumed to have done its work, was tempted tofear lest he that shut him in would keep him in, and began to expostulate. How long wilt thou forgetme? But at length God returned in mercy to him, and this is expressed by remembering him. Note,Those that remember God shall certainly be remembered by him, how desolate and disconsolatesoever their condition may be. He will appoint them a set time and remember them, Job xiv. 13. 3.With Noah, God remembered every living thing; for, though his delight is especially in the sonsof men, yet he rejoices in all his works, and hates nothing that he has made. He takes special care,not only of his people's persons, but of their possessions—of them and all that belongs to them. Heconsidered the cattle of Nineveh, Jon. iv. 11.II. An act of God's power over wind and water, both of which are at his beck, though neitherof them is under man's control. Observe,101Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)1. He commanded the wind, and said to that, Go, and it went, in order to the carrying off ofthe flood: God made a wind to pass over the earth. See here, (1.) What was God's remembranceof Noah: it was his relieving him. Note, Those whom God remembers he remembers effectually,for good; he remembers us to save us, that we may remember him to serve him. (2.) What a sovereigndominion God has over the winds. He has them in his fist (Prov. xxx. 4) and brings them out of histreasuries, Ps. cxxxv. 7. He sends them when, and whither, and for what purposes, he pleases. Evenstormy winds fulfil his word, Ps. cxlviii. 8. It should seem, while the waters increased, there wasno wind; for that would have added to the toss of the ark; but now God sent a wind, when it wouldnot be so troublesome. Probably, it was a north wind, for that drives away rain. However, it was adrying wind, such a wind as God sent to divide the Red Sea before Israel, Exod. xiv. 21.2. He remanded the waters, and said to them, Come, and they came. (1.) He took away thecause. He sealed up the springs of those waters, the fountains of the great deep, and the windowsof heaven. Note, [1.] As God has a key to open, so he has a key to shut up again, and to stay theprogress of judgments by stopping the causes of them: and the same hand that brings the desolationmust bring the deliverance; to that hand therefore our eye must ever be. He that wounds is aloneable to heal. See Job xii. 14, 15. [2.] When afflictions have done the work for which they are sent,whether killing work or curing work, they shall be removed. God's word shall not return void, 10, 11. (2.) Then the effect ceased; not all at once, but by degrees: The waters abated (v. 1),returned from off the earth continually, Heb. they were going and returning (v. 3), which denotes65

    a gradual departure. The heat of the sun exhaled much, and perhaps the subterraneous cavernssoaked in more. Note, As the earth was not drowned in a day, so it was not dried in a day. In thecreation, it was but one day's work to clear the earth from the waters that covered it, and to makeit dry land; nay, it was but half a day's work, ch. i. 9, 10. But, the work of creation being finished,this work of providence was effected by the concurring influence of second causes, yet thus enforcedby the almighty power of God. God usually works deliverance for his people gradually, that theday of small things may not be despised, nor the day of great things despaired of, Zech. iv. 10. SeeProv. iv. 18.4 And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month,upon the mountains of Ararat. 5 And the waters decreased continually until thetenth month: in the tenth month, on the first day of the month, were the tops of themountains seen.Here we have the effects and evidences of the ebbing of the waters. 1. The ark rested. Thiswas some satisfaction to Noah, to feel the house he was in upon firm ground, and no longer movable.It rested upon a mountain, whither it was directed, not by Noah's prudence (he did not steer it), butby the wise and gracious providence of God, that it might rest the sooner. Note, God has times andplaces of rest for his people after their tossings; and many a time he provides for their seasonableand comfortable settlement without their own contrivance and quite beyond their own foresight.The ark of the church, though sometimes tossed with tempests, and not comforted (Isa. liv. 11),yet has its rests, Acts ix. 31. 2. The tops of the mountains were seen, like little islands, appearingabove the water. We must suppose that they were seen by Noah and his sons; for there were nonebesides to see them. It is probable that they had looked through the window of the ark every day,like the longing mariners, after a tedious voyage, to see if they could discover land, or as theprophet's servant (1 Kings xviii. 43, 44), and at length they spy ground, and enter the day of the102Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)discovery in their journal. They felt ground above forty days before they saw it, according to Dr.Lightfoot's computation, whence he infers that, if the waters decreased proportionably, the ark dreweleven cubits in water.6 And it came to pass at the end of forty days, that Noah opened the window ofthe ark which he had made: 7 And he sent forth a raven, which went forth to andfro, until the waters were dried up from off the earth. 8 Also he sent forth a dovefrom him, to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground; 9 Butthe dove found no rest for the sole of her foot, and she returned unto him into theark, for the waters were on the face of the whole earth: then he put forth his hand,and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark. 10 And he stayed yet otherseven days; and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; 11 And the dove camein to him in the evening; and, lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf plucked off: so Noahknew that the waters were abated from off the earth. 12 And he stayed yet otherseven days; and sent forth the dove; which returned not again unto him any more.We have here an account of the spies which Noah sent forth to bring him intelligence fromabroad, a raven and a dove. Observe here,I. That though God had told Noah particularly when the flood would come, even to a day (ch.vii. 4), yet he did not give him a particular account by revelation at what times, and by what steps,it should go away, 1. Because the knowledge of the former was necessary to his preparing the ark,and settling himself in it; but the knowledge of the latter would serve only to gratify his curiosity,and the concealing of it from him would be the needful exercise of his faith and patience. And, 2.He could not foresee the flood, but by revelation; but he might, by ordinary means, discover thedecrease of it, and therefore God was pleased to leave him to the use of them.II. That though Noah by faith expected his enlargement, and by patience waited for it, yet hewas inquisitive concerning it, as one that thought it long to be thus confined. Note, Desires of releaseout of trouble, earnest expectations of it, and enquiries concerning its advances towards us, willvery well consist with the sincerity of faith and patience. He that believes does not make haste torun before God, but he does make haste to go forth to meet him, Isa. xxviii. 16. Particularly, 1.Noah sent forth a raven through the window of the ark, which went forth, as the Hebrew phrase is,going forth and returning, that is, flying about, and feeding on the carcases that floated, but returningto the ark for rest; probably not in it, but upon it. This gave Noah little satisfaction; therefore, 2.He sent forth a dove, which returned the first time with no good news, but probably wet and dirty;66

    but, the second time, she brought an olive-leaf in her bill, which appeared to be first plucked off,a plain indication that now the trees, the fruit-trees, began to appear above water. Note here, (1.)That Noah sent forth the dove the second time seven days after the first time, and the third timewas after seven days too; and probably the first sending of her out was seven days after the sendingforth of the raven. This intimates that it was done on the sabbath day, which, it should seem, Noahreligiously observed in the ark. Having kept the sabbath in a solemn assembly of his little church,he then expected special blessings from heaven, and enquired concerning them. Having directedhis prayer, he looked up, Ps. v. 3. (2.) The dove is an emblem of a gracious soul, which finding norest for its foot, no solid peace or satisfaction in this world, this deluged defiling world, returns toChrist as to its ark, as to its Noah. The carnal heart, like the raven, takes up with the world, and103Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)feeds on the carrions it finds there; but return thou to thy rest, O my soul, to thy Noah, so the wordis, Ps. cxvi. 7. O that I had wings like a dove, to flee to him! Ps. lv. 6. And as Noah put forth hishand, and took the dove, and pulled her in to him, into the ark, so Christ will graciously preserve,and help, and welcome, those that fly to him for rest. (3.) The olive-branch, which was an emblemof peace, was brought, not by the raven, a bird of prey, nor by a gay and proud peacock, but by amild, patient, humble dove. It is a dove-like disposition that brings into the soul earnests of restand joy. (4.) Some make these things an allegory. The law was first sent forth like the raven, butbrought no tidings of the assuaging of the waters of God's wrath, with which the world of mankindwas deluged; therefore, in the fulness of time, God sent forth his gospel, as the dove, in the likenessof which the Holy Spirit descended, and this presents us with an olive-branch and brings in a betterhope.13 And it came to pass in the six hundredth and first year, in the first month, thefirst day of the month, the waters were dried up from off the earth: and Noah removedthe covering of the ark, and looked, and, behold, the face of the ground was dry.14 And in the second month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, was theearth dried.Here is, 1. The ground dry (v. 13), that is, all the water carried off it, which, upon the first dayof the first month (a joyful new-year's-day it was), Noah was himself an eye-witness of. He removedthe covering of the ark, not the whole covering, but so much as would suffice to give him a prospectof the earth about it; and a most comfortable prospect he had. For behold, behold and wonder, theface of the ground was dry. Note, (1.) It is a great mercy to see ground about us. Noah was moresensible of it than we are; for mercies restored are much more affecting than mercies continued.(2.) The divine power which now renewed the face of the earth can renew the face of an afflictedtroubled soul and of a distressed persecuted church. He can make dry ground to appear even whereit seemed to have been lost and forgotten, Ps. xviii. 16. 2. The ground dried (v. 14), so as to be afit habitation for Noah. Observe, Though Noah saw the ground dry the first day of the first month,yet God would not suffer him to go out of the ark till the twenty-seventh day of the second month.Perhaps Noah, being somewhat weary of his restraint, would have quitted the ark at first; but God,in kindness to him, ordered him to stay so much longer. Note, God consults our benefit rather thanour desires; for he knows what is good for us better than we do for ourselves, and how long it is fitour restraints should continue and desired mercies should be delayed. We would go out of the arkbefore the ground is dried: and perhaps, if the door be shut, are ready to remove the covering, andto climb up some other way; but we should be satisfied that God's time of showing mercy is certainlythe best time, when the mercy is ripe for us and we are ready for it.15 And God spake unto Noah, saying, 16 Go forth of the ark, thou, and thywife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee. 17 Bring forth with thee everyliving thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of everycreeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in theearth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth. 18 And Noah went forth, andhis sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him: 19 Every beast, every creeping104Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)thing, and every fowl, and whatsoever creepeth upon the earth, after their kinds,went forth out of the ark.Here is, I. Noah's dismission out of the ark, v. 15-17. Observe, 1. Noah did not stir till Godbade him. As he had a command to go into the ark (ch. vii. 1), so, how tedious soever his confinementthere was, he would wait for a command to go out of it again. Note, We must in all our waysacknowledge God, and set him before us in all our removes. Those only go under God's protectionthat follow God's direction and submit to his government. Those that steadily adhere to God's wordas their rule, and are guided by his grace as their principle, and take hints from his providence to67

    assist them in their application of general directions to particular cases, may in faith see him guidingtheir motions in their march through this wilderness. 2. Though God detained him long, yet at lasthe gave him his discharge; for the vision is for an appointed time, and at the end it shall speak, itshall speak truth (Hab. ii. 3), it shall not lie. 3. God had said, Come into the ark which he says, not,Come forth, but, Go forth, which intimates that God, who went in with him, staid with him all thewhile, till he sent him out safely; for he has said, I will not leave thee. 4. Some observe that, whenthey were ordered into the ark, the men and the women were mentioned separately (ch. vi. 18):Thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and thy sons' wives; hence they infer that, during the time ofmourning, they were apart, and their wives apart, Zech. xii. 12. But now God did as it werenew-marry them, sending out Noah and his wife together, and his sons and their wives together,that they might be fruitful and multiply. 5. Noah was ordered to bring the creatures out with him,that having taken the care of feeding them so long, and been at so much pains about them, he mighthave the honour of leading them forth by their armies, and receiving their homage.II. Noah's departure when he had his dismission. As he would not go out without leave, so hewould not, out of fear or humour, stay in when he had leave, but was in all points observant of theheavenly vision. Though he had been now a full year and ten days a prisoner in the ark, yet whenhe found himself preserved there, not only for a new life, but for a new world, he saw no reason tocomplain of his long confinement. Now observe, 1. Noah and his family came out alive, thoughone of them was a wicked Ham, whom, though he escaped the flood, God's justice could have takenaway by some other stroke. But they are all alive. Note, When families have been long continuedtogether, and no breaches made among them, it must be looked upon as a distinguishing favour,and attributed to the Lord's mercies. 2. Noah brought out all the creatures that went in with him,except the raven and the dove, which, probably, were ready to meet their mates at their comingout. Noah was able to give a very good account of his charge; for of all that were given to him hehad lost none, but was faithful to him that appointed him, pro hac vice—on this occasion, highsteward of his household.Noah's Sacrifice. (b. c. 2348.)20 And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, andof every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. 21 And the Lordsmelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse theground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from hisyouth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. 22105Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summerand winter, and day and night shall not cease.Here is, I. Noah's thankful acknowledgment of God's favour to him, in completing the mercyof his deliverance, v. 20. 1. He built an altar. Hitherto he had done nothing without particularinstructions and commands from God. He had a particular call into the ark, and another out of it;but, altars and sacrifices being already of divine institution for religious worship, he did not stayfor a particular command thus to express his thankfulness. Those that have received mercy fromGod should be forward in returning thanks, and do it not of constraint, but willingly. God is pleasedwith free-will offerings, and praises that wait for him. Noah was now turned out into a cold anddesolate world, where, one would have thought, his first care would have been to build a house forhimself; but, behold, he begins with an altar for God: God, that is the first, must be first served;and he begins well that begins with God. 2. He offered a sacrifice upon his altar, of every cleanbeast, and of every clean fowl—one, the odd seventh that we read of, ch. vii. 2, 3. Here observe,(1.) He offered only those that were clean; for it is not enough that we sacrifice, but we must sacrificethat which God appoints, according to the law of sacrifice, and not a corrupt thing. (2.) Though hisstock of cattle was so small, and that rescued from ruin at so great an expense of care and pains,yet he did not grudge to give God his dues out of it. He might have said, "Have I but seven sheepto begin the world with, and must one of these seven be killed and burnt for sacrifice? Were it notbetter to defer it till we have greater plenty?" No, to prove the sincerity of his love and gratitude,he cheerfully gives the seventh to his God, as an acknowledgment that all was his, and owing tohim. Serving God with our little is the way to make it more; and we must never think that wastedwith which God is honoured. (3.) See here the antiquity of religion: the first thing we find done inthe new world was an act of worship, Jer. vi. 16. We are now to express our thankfulness, not byburnt-offerings, but by the sacrifices of praise and the sacrifices of righteousness, by pious devotionsand a pious conversation.II. God's gracious acceptance of Noah's thankfulness. It was a settled rule in the patriarchalage: If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? Noah was so. For,68

    1. God was well pleased with the performance, v. 21. He smelt a sweet savour, or, as it is inthe Hebrew, a savour of rest, from it. As, when he had made the world at first on the seventh day,he rested and was refreshed, so, now that he had new-made it, in the sacrifice of the seventh herested. He was well pleased with Noah's pious zeal, and these hopeful beginnings of the new world,as men are with fragrant and agreeable smells; though his offering was small, it was according tohis ability, and God accepted it. Having caused his anger to rest upon the world of sinners, he herecaused his love to rest upon this little remnant of believers.2. Hereupon, he took up a resolution never to drown the world again. Herein he had an eye,not so much to Noah's sacrifice as to Christ's sacrifice of himself, which was typified and representedby it, and which was indeed an offering of a sweet-smelling savour, Eph. v. 2. Good security is heregiven, and that which may be relied upon,(1.) That this judgment should never be repeated. Noah might think, "To what purpose shouldthe world be repaired, when, in all probability, for the wickedness of it, it will quickly be in likemanner ruined again?" "No," says God, "it never shall." It was said (ch. vi. 6), It repented the Lordthat he had made man; now here he speaks as if it repented him that he had destroyed man: neithermeans a change of his mind, but both a change of his way. It repented him concerning his servants,106Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Deut. xxxii. 36. Two ways this resolve is expressed:—[1.] I will not again curse the ground, Heb.I will not add to curse the ground any more. God had cursed the ground upon the first entrance ofsin (ch. iii. 17), when he drowned it he added to that curse; but now he determines not to add to itany more. [2.] Neither will I again smite any more every living thing; that is, it was determined thatwhatever ruin God might bring upon particular persons, or families, or countries, he would neveragain destroy the whole world till the day shall come when time shall be no more. But the reasonof this resolve is very surprising, for it seems the same in effect with the reason given for thedestruction of the world: Because the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth, ch. vi. 5.But there is this difference—there it is said, The imagination of man's heart is evil continually, thatis, "his actual transgressions continually cry against him;" here it is said, It is evil from his youthor childhood. It is bred in the bone; he brought it into the world with him; he was shapen andconceived in it. Now, one would think it should follow, "Therefore that guilty race shall be whollyextinguished, and I will make a full end." No, "Therefore I will no more take this severe method;for," First, "He is rather to be pitied, for it is all the effect of sin dwelling in him; and it is but whatmight be expected from such a degenerate race: he is called a transgressor from the womb, andtherefore it is not strange that he deals so very treacherously," Isa. xlviii. 8. Thus God remembersthat he is flesh, corrupt and sinful, Ps. lxxviii. 39. Secondly, "He will be utterly ruined; for, if hebe dealt with according to his deserts, one flood must succeed another till all be destroyed." Seehere, 1. That outward judgments, though they may terrify and restrain men, yet cannot of themselvessanctify and renew them; the grace of God must work with those judgments. Man's nature was assinful after the deluge as it had been before. 2. That God's goodness takes occasion from man'ssinfulness to magnify itself the more; his reasons of mercy are all drawn from himself, not fromany thing in us.(2.) That the course of nature should never be discontinued (v. 22): "While the earth remaineth,and man upon it, there shall be summer and winter (not all winter as had been this last year), dayand night," not all night, as probably it was while the rain was descending. Here, [1.] It is plainlyintimated that this earth is not to remain always; it, and all the works in it, must shortly be burntup; and we look for new heavens and a new earth, when all these things must be dissolved. But,[2.] As long as it does remain God's providence will carefully preserve the regular succession oftimes and seasons, and cause each to know its place. To this we owe it that the world stands, andthe wheel of nature keeps it track. See here how changeable the times are and yet how unchangeable.First, The course of nature always changing. As it is with the times, so it is with the events of time,they are subject to vicissitudes—day and night, summer and winter, counterchanged. In heavenand hell it is not so, but on earth God hath set the one over against the other. Secondly, Yet neverchanged. It is constant in this inconstancy. These seasons have never ceased, nor shall cease, whilethe sun continued such a steady measurer of time and the moon such a faithful witness in heaven.This is God's covenant of the day and of the night, the stability of which is mentioned for theconfirming of our faith in the covenant of grace, which is no less inviolable, Jer. xxxiii. 20, 21. Wesee God's promises to the creatures made good, and thence may infer that his promises to all believersshall be so.107Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)68 G E N E S I SCHAP. IX.Both the world and the church were now again reduced to a family, the family of Noah, of theaffairs of which this chapter gives us an account, of which we are the more concerned to takecognizance because from this family we are all descendants. Here is, I. The covenant of providencesettled with Noah and his sons, ver. 1-11. In this covenant, 1. God promises them to take care oftheir lives, so that, (1.) They should replenish the earth, ver. 1, 7. (2.) They should be safe from theinsults of the brute-creatures, which should stand in awe of them, ver. 2. (3.) They should be allowedto eat flesh for the support of their lives; only they must not eat blood, ver. 3, 4. (4.) The worldshould never be drowned again, ver. 8-11. 2. God requires of them to take care of one another'slives, and of their own, ver. 5, 6. II. The seal of that covenant, namely, the rainbow, ver. 12-17. III.A particular passage of story concerning Noah and his sons, which occasioned some propheciesthat related to after-times, 1. Noah's sin and shame, ver. 20, 21. 2. Ham's impudence and impiety,69

    ver. 22. 3. The pious modesty of Shem and Japheth, ver. 23. 4. The curse of Canaan, and theblessing of Shem and Japheth, ver. 21-27. IV. The age and death of Noah, ver. 28, 29.Blessing of Noah and His Sons. (b. c. 2348.)1 And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, andmultiply, and replenish the earth. 2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shallbe upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that movethupon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb haveI given you all things. 4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof,shall ye not eat. 5 And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the handof every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man'sbrother will I require the life of man. 6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shallhis blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. 7 And you, be ye fruitful,and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.We read, in the close of the foregoing chapter, the very kind things which God said in his heart,concerning the remnant of mankind which was now left to be the seed of a new world. Now herewe have these kind things spoken to them. In general, God blessed Noah and his sons (v. 1), thatis, he assured them of his good-will to them and his gracious intentions concerning them. Thisfollows from what he said in his heart. Note, All God's promises of good flow from his purposesof love and the counsels of his own will. See Eph. i. 11; iii. 11. and compare Jer. xxix. 11. I knowthe thoughts that I think towards you. We read (ch. viii. 20) how Noah blessed God, by his altarand sacrifice. Now here we find God blessing Noah. Note, God will graciously bless (that is, dowell for) those who sincerely bless (that is, speak well of) him. Those that are truly thankful forthe mercies they have received take the readiest way to have them confirmed and continued tothem.108Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Now here we have the Magna Charta—the great charter of this new kingdom of nature whichwas now to be erected, and incorporated, the former charter having been forfeited and seized.I. The grants of this charter are kind and gracious to men. Here is,1. A grant of lands of vast extent, and a promise of a great increase of men to occupy and enjoythem. The first blessing is here renewed: Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth (v. 1),and repeated (v. 7), for the race of mankind was, as it were, to begin again. Now, (1.) God sets thewhole earth before them, tells them it is all their own, while it remains, to them and their heirs.Note, The earth God has given to the children of men, for a possession and habitation, Ps. cxv. 16.Though it is not a paradise, but a wilderness rather; yet it is better than we deserve. Blessed be God,it is not hell. (2.) He gives them a blessing, by the force and virtue of which mankind should beboth multiplied and perpetuated upon earth, so that in a little time all the habitable parts of the earthshould be more or less inhabited; and, though one generation should pass away, yet anothergeneration should come, while the world stands, so that the stream of the human race should besupplied with a constant succession, and run parallel with the current of time, till both should bedelivered up together into the ocean of eternity. Though death should still reign, and the Lord wouldstill be known by his judgments, yet the earth should never again be dispeopled as now it was, butstill replenished, Acts xvii. 24-26.2. A grant of power over the inferior creatures, v. 2. He grants, (1.) A title to them: Into yourhands they are delivered, for your use and benefit. (2.) A dominion over them, without which thetitle would avail little: The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast. This revivesa former grant (ch. i. 28), only with this difference, that man in innocence ruled by love, fallen manrules by fear. Now this grant remains in force, and thus far we have still the benefit of it, [1.] Thatthose creatures which are any way useful to us are reclaimed, and we use them either for serviceor food, or both, as they are capable. The horse and ox patiently submit to the bridle and yoke, andthe sheep is dumb both before the shearer and before the butcher; for the fear and dread of man areupon them. [2.] Those creatures that are any way hurtful to us are restrained, so that, though nowand then man may be hurt by some of them, they do not combine together to rise up in rebellionagainst man, else God could by these destroy the world as effectually as he did by a deluge; it isone of God's sore judgments, Ezek. xiv. 21. What is it that keeps wolves out of our towns, and lionsout of our streets, and confines them to the wilderness, but this fear and dread? Nay, some havebeen tamed, Jas. iii. 7.3. A grant of maintenance and subsistence: Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat foryou, v. 3. Hitherto, most think, man had been confined to feed only upon the products of the earth,fruits, herbs, and roots, and all sorts of corn and milk; so was the first grant, ch. i. 29. But the flood70

    having perhaps washed away much of the virtue of the earth, and so rendered its fruits less pleasingand less nourishing, God now enlarged the grant, and allowed man to eat flesh, which perhaps manhimself never thought of, till now that God directed him to it, nor had any more desire to than asheep has to suck blood like a wolf. But now man is allowed to feed upon flesh, as freely and safelyas upon the green herb. Now here see, (1.) That God is a good master, and provides, not only thatwe may live, but that we may live comfortably, in his service; not for necessity only, but for delight.(2.) That every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, 1 Tim. iv. 4. Afterwards somemeats that were proper enough for food were prohibited by the ceremonial law; but from thebeginning, it seems, it was not so, and therefore is not so under the gospel.109Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. The precepts and provisos of this character are no less kind and gracious, and instances ofGod's good-will to man. The Jewish doctors speak so often of the seven precepts of Noah, or ofthe sons of Noah, which they say were to be observed by all nations, that it may not be amiss toset them down. The first against the worship of idols. The second against blasphemy, and requiringto bless the name of God. The third against murder. The fourth against incest and all uncleanness.The fifth against theft and rapine. The sixth requiring the administration of justice. The seventhagainst eating of flesh with the life. These the Jews required the observance of from the proselytesof the gate. But the precepts here given all concern the life of man.1. Man must not prejudice his own life by eating that food which is unwholesome and prejudicialto his health (v. 4): "Flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof (that is, raw flesh), shallyou not eat, as the beasts of prey do." It was necessary to add this limitation to the grant of libertyto eat flesh, lest, instead of nourishing their bodies by it, they should destroy them. God wouldhereby show, (1.) That though they were lords of the creatures, yet they were subjects to the Creator,and under the restraints of his law. (2.) That they must not be greedy and hasty in taking their food,but stay the preparing of it; not like Saul's soldiers (1 Sam. xiv. 32), nor riotous eaters of flesh,Prov. xxiii. 20. (3.) That they must not be barbarous and cruel to the inferior creatures. They mustbe lords, but not tyrants; they might kill them for their profit, but not torment them for their pleasure,nor tear away the member of a creature while it was yet alive, and eat that. (4.) That during thecontinuance of the law of sacrifices, in which the blood made atonement for the soul (Lev. xvii.11), signifying that the life of the sacrifice was accepted for the life of the sinner, blood must notbe looked upon as a common thing, but must be poured out before the Lord (2 Sam. xxiii. 16),either upon his altar or upon his earth. But, now that the great and true sacrifice has been offered,the obligation of the law ceases with the reason of it.2. Man must not take away his own life: Your blood of your lives will I require, v. 5. Our livesare not so our own as that we may quit them at our own pleasure, but they are God's and we mustresign them at his pleasure; if we in any way hasten our own deaths, we are accountable to Godfor it.3. The beasts must not be suffered to hurt the life of man: At the hand of every beast will Irequire it. To show how tender God was of the life of man, though he had lately made suchdestruction of lives, he will have the beast put to death that kills a man. This was confirmed by thelaw of Moses (Exod. xxi. 28), and I think it would not be unsafe to observe it still. Thus God showedhis hatred of the sin of murder, that men might hate it the more, and not only punish, but preventit. And see Job v. 23.4. Wilful murderers must be put to death. This is the sin which is here designed to be restrainedby the terror of punishment (1.) God will punish murderers: At the hand of every man's brotherwill I require the life of man, that is, "I will avenge the blood of the murdered upon the murderer."2 Chron. xxiv. 22. When God requires the life of a man at the hand of him that took it away unjustly,the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his own in lieu of it, which is the onlyway left of making restitution. Note, The righteous God will certainly make inquisition for blood,though men cannot or do not. One time or other, in this world or in the next, he will both discoverconcealed murders, which are hidden from man's eye, and punish avowed and justified murders,which are too great for man's hand. (2.) The magistrate must punish murderers (v. 6): Whososheddeth man's blood, whether upon a sudden provocation or having premeditated it (for rash angeris heart-murder as well as malice prepense, Matt. v. 21, 22), by man shall his blood be shed, that110Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)is, by the magistrate, or whoever is appointed or allowed to be the avenger of blood. There arethose who are ministers of God for this purpose, to be a protection to the innocent, by being a terrorto the malicious and evildoers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, Rom. xiii. 4. Before theflood, as it should seem by the story of Cain, God took the punishment of murder into his ownhands; but now he committed this judgment to men, to masters of families at first, and afterwardsto the heads of countries, who ought to be faithful to the trust reposed in them. Note, Wilful murderought always to be punished with death. It is a sin which the Lord would not pardon in a prince (2Kings xxiv. 3, 4), and which therefore a prince should not pardon in a subject. To this law there isa reason annexed: For in the image of God made he man at first. Man is a creature dear to his71

    Creator, and therefore ought to be so to us. God put honour upon him, let not us then put contemptupon him. Such remains of God's image are still even upon fallen man as that he who unjustly killsa man defaces the image of God and does dishonour to him. When God allowed men to kill theirbeasts, yet he forbade them to kill their slaves; for these are of a much more noble and excellentnature, not only God's creatures, but his image, Jam. iii. 9. All men have something of the imageof God upon them; but magistrates have, besides, the image of his power, and the saints the imageof his holiness, and therefore those who shed the blood of princes or saints incur a double guilt.God's Covenant with Noah. (b. c. 2347.)8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, 9 And I, behold,I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; 10 And with everyliving creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of theearth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. 11 AndI will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more bythe waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.Here is, I. The general establishment of God's covenant with this new world, and the extent ofthat covenant, v. 9, 10. Here observe, 1. That God is graciously pleased to deal with man in theway of a covenant, wherein God greatly magnifies his condescending favour, and greatly encouragesman's duty and obedience, as a reasonable and gainful service. 2. That all God's covenants withman are of his own making: I, behold, I. It is thus expressed both to raise our admiration—"Behold,and wonder, that though God be high yet he has this respect to man," and to confirm our assurancesof the validity of the covenant—"Behold and see, I make it; I that am faithful and able to make itgood." 3. That God's covenants are established more firmly than the pillars of heaven or thefoundations of the earth, and cannot be disannulled. 4. That God's covenants are made with thecovenanters and with their seed; the promise is to them and their children. 5. That those may betaken into covenant with God, and receive the benefits of it, who yet are not capable of restipulating,or giving their own consent. For this covenant is made with every living creature, every beast ofthe earth.II. The particular intention of this covenant. It was designed to secure the world from anotherdeluge: There shall not any more be a flood. God had drowned the world once, and still it was asfilthy and provoking as ever, and God foresaw the wickedness of it, and yet promised he wouldnever drown it any more; for he deals not with us according to our sins. It is owing to God's goodnessand faithfulness, not to any reformation of the world, that it has not often been deluged and that itis not deluged now. As the old world was ruined to be a monument of justice, so this world remains111Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)to this day, a monument of mercy, according to the oath of God, that the waters of Noah should nomore return to cover the earth, Isa. liv. 9. This promise of God keeps the sea and clouds in theirdecreed place, and sets them gates and bars; hitherto they shall come, Job xxxviii. 10, 11. If thesea should flow but for a few days, as it does twice every day for a few hours, what desolationwould it make! And how destructive would the clouds be, if such showers as we have sometimesseen were continued long! But God, by flowing seas and sweeping rains, shows what he could doin wrath; and yet, by preserving the earth from being deluged between both, shows what he can doin mercy and will do in truth. Let us give him the glory of his mercy in promising and of his truthin performing. This promise does not hinder, 1. But that God may bring other wasting judgmentsupon mankind; for, though he has here bound himself not to use this arrow any more, yet he hasother arrows in his quiver. 2. Nor but that he may destroy particular places and countries by theinundations of the sea or rivers. 3. Nor will the destruction of the world at the last day by fire beany breach of his promise. Sin which drowned the old world will burn this.12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between meand you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations: 13 Ido set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between meand the earth. 14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth,that the bow shall be seen in the cloud: 15 And I will remember my covenant,which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the watersshall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 And the bow shall be in thecloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant betweenGod and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth. 17 And God said72

    unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between meand all flesh that is upon the earth.Articles of agreement among men are usually sealed, that the covenants may be the moresolemn, and the performances of the covenants the more sure, to mutual satisfaction. God therefore,being willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of his councils, hasconfirmed his covenant by a seal (Heb. vi. 17), which makes the foundations we build on standsure, 2 Tim. ii. 19. The seal of this covenant of nature was natural enough; it was the rainbow,which, it is likely, was seen in the clouds before, when second causes concurred, but was never aseal of the covenant till now that it was made so by a divine institution. Now, concerning this sealof the covenant, observe, 1. This seal is affixed with repeated assurances of the truth of that promiseof which it was designed to be the ratification: I do set my bow in the cloud (v. 13); it shall be seenin the cloud (v. 14), that the eye may affect the heart and confirm the faith; and it shall be the tokenof the covenant (v. 12, 13), and I will remember my covenant, that the waters shall no more becomea flood, v. 15. Nay, as if the Eternal Mind needed a memorandum, I will look upon it, that I mayremember the everlasting covenant, v. 16. Thus here is line upon line, that we might have sure andstrong consolation who have laid hold of this hope. 2. The rainbow appears when the clouds aremost disposed to wet, and returns after the rain; when we have most reason to fear the rain prevailing,then God shows this seal of the promise that it shall not prevail. Thus God obviates our fears withsuch encouragements as are both suitable and seasonable. 3. The thicker the cloud the brighter thebow in the cloud. Thus, as threatening afflictions abound, encouraging consolations much more112Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)abound, 2 Cor. i. 5. 4. The rainbow appears when one part of the sky is clear, which intimates mercyremembered in the midst of wrath; and the clouds are hemmed as it were with the rainbow, thatthey may not overspread the heavens, for the bow is coloured rain or the edges of a cloud gilded.5. The rainbow is the reflection of the beams of the sun, which intimates that all the glory andsignificancy of the seals of the covenant are derived from Christ the Sun of righteousness, who isalso described with a rainbow about his throne (Rev. iv. 3), and a rainbow upon his head (Rev. x.1), which intimates, not only his majesty, but his mediatorship. 6. The rainbow has fiery coloursin it, to signify that though God will not again drown the world, yet, when the mystery of God shallbe finished, the world shall be consumed by fire. 7. A bow bespeaks terror, but this bow has neitherstring nor arrow, as the bow ordained against the persecutors has (Ps. vii. 12, 13), and a bow alonewill do little execution. It is a bow, but it is directed upwards, not towards the earth; for the sealsof the covenant were intended to comfort, not to terrify. 8. As God looks upon the bow, that hemay remember the covenant, so should we, that we also may be ever mindful of the covenant, withfaith and thankfulness.Sin of Ham. (b. c. 2347.)18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, andJapheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. 19 These are the three sons of Noah:and of them was the whole earth overspread. 20 And Noah began to be ahusbandman, and he planted a vineyard: 21 And he drank of the wine, and wasdrunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan,saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. 23 And Shemand Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward,and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and theysaw not their father's nakedness.Here is, I. Noah's family and employment. The names of his sons are again mentioned (v. 18,19) as those from whom the whole earth was overspread, by which it appears that Noah, after theflood, had no more children: all the world came from these three. Note, God, when he pleases, canmake a little one to become a thousand, and greatly increase the latter end of those whose beginningwas small. Such are the power and efficacy of a divine blessing. The business Noah applied himselfto was that of a husbandman, Heb. a man of the earth, that is, a man dealing in the earth, that keptground in his hand, and occupied it. We are all naturally men of the earth, made of it, living on it,and hastening to it: many are sinfully so, addicted to earthly things. Noah was by his calling led totrade in the fruits of the earth. He began to be a husbandman, that is, some time after his departureout of the ark, he returned to his old employment, from which he had been diverted by the buildingof the ark first, and probably afterwards by the building of a house on dry land for himself andfamily. For this good while he had been a carpenter, but now he began again to be a husbandman.Observe, Though Noah was a great man and a good man, an old man and a rich man, a man greatlyfavoured by heaven and honoured on earth, yet he would not live an idle life, nor think the73

    husbandman's calling below him. Note, Though God by his providence may take us off from ourcallings for a time, yet when the occasion is over we ought with humility and industry to apply113Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)ourselves to them again, and, in the calling wherein we are called, faithfully to abide with God, 1Cor. vii. 24.II. Noah's sin and shame: He planted a vineyard; and, when he had gathered his vintage,probably he appointed a day of mirth and feasting in his family, and had his sons and their childrenwith him, to rejoice with him in the increase of his house as well as in the increase of his vineyard;and we may suppose he prefaced his feast with a sacrifice to the honour of God. If this was omitted,it was just with God to leave him to himself, that he who did not begin with God might end withthe beasts; but we charitably hope that it was not: and perhaps he appointed this feast with a design,at the close of it, to bless his sons, as Isaac, ch. xxvii. 3, 4, That I may eat, and that my soul maybless thee. At this feast he drank of the wine; for who planteth a vineyard and eateth not of the fruitof it? But he drank too liberally, more than his head at this age would bear, for he was drunk. Wehave reason to think he was never drunk before nor after; observe how he came now to be overtakenin this fault. It was his sin, and a great sin, so much the worse for its being so soon after a greatdeliverance; but God left him to himself, as he did Hezekiah (2 Chron. xxxii. 31), and has left thismiscarriage of his upon record, to teach us, 1. That the fairest copy that ever mere man wrote sincethe fall had its blots and false strokes. It was said of Noah that he was perfect in his generations(ch. vi. 9), but this shows that it is meant of sincerity, not a sinless perfection. 2. That sometimesthose who, with watchfulness and resolution, have, by the grace of God, kept their integrity in themidst of temptation, have, through security, and carelessness, and neglect of the grace of God, beensurprised into sin, when the hour of temptation has been over. Noah, who had kept sober in drunkencompany, is now drunk in sober company. Let him that thinks he stands take heed. 3. That we haveneed to be very careful, when we use God's good creatures plentifully, lest we use them to excess.Christ's disciples must take heed lest at any time their hearts be overcharged, Luke xxi. 34. Nowthe consequence of Noah's sin was shame. He was uncovered within his tent, made naked to hisshame, as Adam when he had eaten forbidden fruit. Yet Adam sought concealment; Noah is sodestitute of thought and reason that he seeks no covering. This was a fruit of the vine that Noahdid not think of. Observe here the great evil of the sin of drunkenness. (1.) It discovers men. Whatinfirmities they have, they betray when they are drunk, and what secrets they are entrusted withare then easily got out of them. Drunken porters keep open gates. (2.) It disgraces men, and exposesthem to contempt. As it shows them, so it shames them. Men say and do that when drunk whichwhen they are sober they would blush at the thoughts of, Hab. ii. 15, 16.III. Ham's impudence and impiety: He saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren,v. 22. To see it accidentally and involuntarily would not have been a crime; but, 1. He pleasedhimself with the sight, as the Edomites looked up on the day of their brother (Obad. 12), pleased,and insulting. Perhaps Ham had sometimes been himself drunk, and reproved for it by his goodfather, whom he was therefore pleased to see thus overcome. Note, It is common for those whowalk in false ways themselves to rejoice at the false steps which they sometimes see others make.But charity rejoices not in iniquity, nor can true penitents that are sorry for their own sins rejoicein the sins of others. 2. He told his two brethren without (in the street, as the word is), in a scornfulderiding manner, that his father might seem vile unto them. It is very wrong, (1.) To make a jestof sin (Prov. xiv. 9), and to be puffed up with that for which we should rather mourn, 1 Cor. v. 2.And, (2.) To publish the faults of any, especially of parents, whom it is our duty to honour. Noahwas not only a good man, but had been a good father to him; and this was a most base disingenuous114Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)requital to him for his tenderness. Ham is here called the father of Canaan, which intimates thathe who was himself a father should have been more respectful to him that was his father.IV. The pious care of Shem and Japheth to cover their poor father's shame, v. 23. They notonly would not see it themselves, but provided that no one else might see it, herein setting us anexample of charity with reference to other men's sin and shame; we must not only not say, Aconfederacy, with those that proclaim it, but we must be careful to conceal it, or at least to makethe best of it, so doing as we would be done by. 1. There is a mantle of love to be thrown over thefaults of all, 1 Pet. iv. 8. 2. Besides this, there is a robe of reverence to be thrown over the faults ofparents and other superiors.Noah's Prophecy. (b. c. 2347.)24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had doneunto him. 25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be untohis brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shallbe his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents ofShem; and Canaan shall be his servant.74

    Here, I. Noah comes to himself: He awoke from his wine. Sleep cured him, and, we maysuppose, so cured him that he never relapsed into that sin afterwards. Those that sleep as Noah didshould awake as he did, and not as that drunkard (Prov. xxiii. 35) who says when he awakes, I willseek it yet again.II. The spirit of prophecy comes upon him, and, like dying Jacob, he tells his sons what shallbefal them, ch. xlix. 1.1. He pronounces a curse on Canaan the son of Ham (v. 25), in whom Ham is himself cursed,either because this son of his was now more guilty than the rest, or because the posterity of thisson was afterwards to be rooted out of their land, to make room for Israel. And Moses here recordsit for the animating of Israel in the wars of Canaan; though the Canaanites were a formidable people,yet they were of old an accursed people, and doomed to ruin. The particular curse is, A servant ofservants (that is, the meanest and most despicable servant) shall he be, even to his brethren. Thosewho by birth were his equals shall by conquest be his lords. This certainly points at the victoriesobtained by Israel over the Canaanites, by which they were all either put to the sword or put undertribute (Josh. ix. 23; Judg. i. 28, 30, 33, 35), which happened not till about 800 years after this.Note, (1.) God often visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, especially when the childreninherit the fathers' wicked dispositions, and imitate the fathers' wicked practices, and do nothingto cut off the entail of the curse. (2.) Disgrace is justly put upon those that put disgrace upon others,especially that dishonour and grieve their own parents. An undutiful child that mocks at his parentsis no more worthy to be called a son, but deserves to be made as a hired servant, nay, as a servantof servants, among his brethren. (3.) Though divine curses operate slowly, yet, first or last, theywill take effect. The Canaanites were under a curse of slavery, and yet, for a great while, had thedominion; for a family, a people, a person, may lie under the curse of God, and yet may long prosperin the world, till the measure of their iniquity, like that of the Canaanites, be full. Many are markedfor ruin that are not yet ripe for ruin. Therefore, Let not thy heart envy sinners.2. He entails a blessing upon Shem and Japheth.115Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)(1.) He blesses Shem, or rather blesses God for him, yet so that it entitles him to the greatesthonour and happiness imaginable, v. 26. Observe, [1.] He calls the Lord the god of Shem; andhappy, thrice happy, is that people whose God is the Lord, Ps. cxliv. 15. All blessings are includedin this. This was the blessing conferred on Abraham and his seed; the God of heaven was notashamed to be called their God, Heb. xi. 16. Shem is sufficiently recompensed for his respect tohis father by this, that the Lord himself puts this honour upon him, to be his God, which is a sufficientrecompence for all our services and all our sufferings for his name. [2.] He gives to God the gloryof that good work which Shem had done, and, instead of blessing and praising him that was theinstrument, he blesses and praises God that was the author. Note, The glory of all that is at any timewell done, by ourselves or others, must be humbly and thankfully transmitted to God, who worksall our good works in us and for us. When we see men's good works we should glorify, not them,but our Father, Matt. v. 16. Thus David, in effect, blessed Abigail, when he blessed God that senther (1 Sam. xxv. 32, 33), for it is an honour and a favour to be employed for God and used by himin doing good. [3.] He foresees and foretels that God's gracious dealings with Shem and his familywould be such as would evidence to all the world that he was the God of Shem, on which behalfthanksgivings would by many be rendered to him: Blessed be the Lord God of Shem. [4.] It isintimated that the church should be built up and continued in the posterity of Shem; for of himcame the Jews, who were, for a great while, the only professing people God had in the world. [5.]Some think reference is here had to Christ, who was the Lord God that, in his human nature, shoulddescend from the loins of Shem; for of him, as concerning the flesh, Christ came. [6.] Canaan isparticularly enslaved to him: He shall be his servant. Note, Those that have the Lord for their Godshall have as much of the honour and power of this world as he sees good for them.(2.) He blesses Japheth, and, in him, the isles of the Gentiles, which were peopled by his seed:God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, v. 27. Now, [1.] Some makethis to belong wholly to Japheth, and to denote either, First, His outward prosperity, that his seedshould be so numerous and so victorious that they should be masters of the tents of Shem, whichwas fulfilled when the people of the Jews, the most eminent of Shem's race, were tributaries to theGrecians first and afterwards to the Romans, both of Japheth's seed. Note, Outward prosperity isno infallible mark of the true church: the tents of Shem are not always the tents of the conqueror.Or, Secondly, It denotes the conversion of the Gentiles, and the bringing of them into the church;and then we should read it, God shall persuade Japheth (for so the word signifies), and then, beingso persuaded, he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, that is, Jews and Gentiles shall be united togetherin the gospel fold. After many of the Gentiles shall have been proselyted to the Jewish religion,75

    both shall be one in Christ (Eph. ii. 14, 15), and the Christian church, mostly made up of theGentiles, shall succeed the Jews in the privileges of church-membership; the latter having first castthemselves out by their unbelief, the Gentiles shall dwell in their tents, Rom. xi. 11, &c. Note, Itis God only that can bring those again into the church who have separated themselves from it. It isthe power of God that makes the gospel of Christ effectual to salvation, Rom. i. 16. And again,Souls are brought into the church, not by force, but by persuasion, Ps. cx. 3. They are drawn by thecords of a man, and persuaded by reason to be religious. [2.] Others divide this between Japhethand Shem, Shem having not been directly blessed, v. 26. First, Japheth has the blessing of the earthbeneath: God shall enlarge Japheth, enlarge his seed, enlarge his border. Japheth's prosperitypeopled all Europe, a great part of Asia, and perhaps America. Note, God is to be acknowledgedin all our enlargements. It is he that enlarges the coast and enlarges the heart. And again, many116Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)dwell in large tents that do not dwell in God's tents, as Japheth did. Secondly, Shem has the blessingof heaven above: He shall (that is, God shall) dwell in the tents of Shem, that is "From his loinsChrist shall come, and in his seed the church shall be continued." The birth-right was now to bedivided between Shem and Japheth, Ham being utterly discarded. In the principality which theyequally share Canaan shall be servant to both. The double portion is given to Japheth, whom Godshall enlarge; but the priesthood is given to Shem, for God shall dwell in the tents of Shem: andcertainly we are more happy if we have God dwelling in our tents than if we had there all the silverand gold in the world. It is better to dwell in tents with God than in palaces without him. In Salem,where is God's tabernacle, there is more satisfaction than in all the isles of the Gentiles. Thirdly,They both have dominion over Canaan: Canaan shall be servant to them; so some read it. WhenJapheth joins with Shem, Canaan falls before them both. When strangers become friends, enemiesbecome servants.28 And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. 29 And all thedays of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years: and he died.Here see, 1. How God prolonged the life of Noah; he lived 950 years, twenty more than Adamand but nineteen less than Methuselah: this long life was a further reward of his signal piety, anda great blessing to the world, to which no doubt he continued a preacher of righteousness, withthis advantage, that now all he preached to were his own children. 2. How God put a period to hislife at last. Though he lived long, yet he died, having probably first seen many that descended fromhim dead before him. Noah lived to see two worlds, but, being an heir of the righteousness whichis by faith, when he died he went to see a better than either.75 G E N E S I SCHAP. X.This chapter shows more particularly what was said in general (ch. ix. 19), concerning thethree sons of Noah, that "of them was the whole earth overspread;" and the fruit of that blessing(ch. ix. 1, 7), "replenish the earth." Is is the only certain account extant of the origin of nations; andyet perhaps there is no nation but that of the Jews that can be confident from which of these seventyfountains (for so many there are here) it derives its streams. Through the want of early records, themixtures of people, the revolutions of nations, and distance of time, the knowledge of the linealdescent of the present inhabitants of the earth is lost; nor were any genealogies preserved but thoseof the Jews, for the sake of the Messiah, only in this chapter we have a brief account, I. Of theposterity of Japheth, ver. 2-5. II. The posterity of Ham (ver. 6-20), and in this particular notice istaken of Nimrod, ver. 8-10. III. The posterity of Shem, ver. 21, &c.The Generations of Noah. (b. c. 2347.)1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth:and unto them were sons born after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, andMagog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. 3 And the sons117Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah,and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles dividedin their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.Moses begins with Japheth's family, either because he was the eldest, or because his familylay remotest from Israel and had least concern with them at the time when Moses wrote, andtherefore he mentions that race very briefly, hastening to give an account of the posterity of Ham,who were Israel's enemies and of Shem, who were Israel's ancestors; for it is the church that thescripture is designed to be the history of, and of the nations of the world only as they were someway or other related to Israel and interested in the affairs of Israel. Observe, 1. Notice is taken thatthe sons of Noah had sons born to them after the flood, to repair and rebuild the world of mankindwhich the flood had ruined. He that had killed now makes alive. 2. The posterity of Japheth wereallotted to the isles of the Gentiles (v. 5), which were solemnly, by lot, after a survey, divided amongthem, and probably this island of ours among the rest; all places beyond the sea from Judea arecalled isles (Jer. xxv. 22), and this directs us to understand that promise (Isa. xlii. 4), the isles shallwait for his law, of the conversion of the Gentiles to the faith of Christ.6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. 7 And thesons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha: and the76

    sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. 8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be amighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it issaid; Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. 10 And the beginning ofhis kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth,and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.13 And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, 14And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.That which is observable and improvable in these verses is the account here given of Nimrod,v. 8-10. He is here represented as a great man in his day: He began to be a mighty one in the earth,that is, whereas those that went before him were content to stand upon the same level with theirneighbours, and though every man bore rule in his own house yet no man pretended any further,Nimrod's aspiring mind could not rest here; he was resolved to tower above his neighbours, notonly to be eminent among them, but to lord it over them. The same spirit that actuated the giantsbefore the flood (who became mighty men, and men of renown, ch. vi. 4), now revived in him, sosoon was that tremendous judgment which the pride and tyranny of those mighty men brought uponthe world forgotten. Note, There are some in whom ambition and affectation of dominion seem tobe bred in the bone; such there have been and will be, notwithstanding the wrath of God oftenrevealed from heaven against them. Nothing on this side hell will humble and break the proudspirits of some men, in this like Lucifer, Isa. xiv. 14, 15. Now,I. Nimrod was a great hunter; with this he began, and for this became famous to a proverb.Every great hunter is, in remembrance of him, called a Nimrod. 1. Some think he did good withhis hunting, served his country by ridding it of the wild beasts which infested it, and so insinuatedhimself into the affections of his neighbours, and got to be their prince. Those that exercise authority118Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)either are, or at least would be called, benefactors, Luke xxii. 25. 2. Others think that under pretenceof hunting he gathered men under his command, in pursuit of another game he had to play, whichwas to make himself master of the country and to bring them into subjection. He was a mightyhunter, that is, he was a violent invader of his neighbours' rights and properties, and a persecutorof innocent men, carrying all before him, and endeavouring to make all his own by force andviolence. He thought himself a mighty prince, but before the Lord (that is, in God's account) hewas but a mighty hunter. Note, Great conquerors are but great hunters. Alexander and Cesar wouldnot make such a figure in scripture-history as they do in common history; the former is representedin prophecy but as a he-goat pushing, Dan. viii. 5. Nimrod was a mighty hunter against the Lord,so the LXX; that is, (1.) He set up idolatry, as Jeroboam did, for the confirming of his usurpeddominion. That he might set up a new government, he set up a new religion upon the ruin of theprimitive constitution of both. Babel was the mother of harlots. Or, (2.) He carried on his oppressionand violence in defiance of God himself, daring Heaven with his impieties, as if he and his huntsmencould out-brave the Almighty, and were a match for the Lord of hosts and all his armies. As if itwere a small thing to weary men, he thinks to weary my God also, Isa. vii. 13.II. Nimrod was a great ruler: The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, v. 10. Some way orother, by arts or arms, he got into power, either being chosen to it or forcing his way to it; and solaid the foundations of a monarchy, which was afterwards a head of gold, and the terror of themighty, and bade fair to be universal. It does not appear that he had any right to rule by birth; buteither his fitness for government recommended him, as some think, to an election, or by power andpolicy he advanced gradually, and perhaps insensibly, into the throne. See the antiquity of civilgovernment, and particularly that form of it which lodges the sovereignty in a single person. IfNimrod and his neighbours began, other nations soon learned to incorporate under one head fortheir common safety and welfare, which, however it began, proved so great a blessing to the worldthat things were reckoned to go ill indeed when there was no king in Israel.III. Nimrod was a great builder. Probably he was architect in the building of Babel, and therehe began his kingdom; but, when his project to rule all the sons of Noah was baffled by the confusionof tongues, out of that land he went forth into Assyria (so the margin reads it, v. 11) and builtNineveh, &c., that, having built these cities, he might command them and rule over them. Observe,in Nimrod, the nature of ambition. 1. It is boundless. Much would have more, and still cries, Give,give. 2. It is restless. Nimrod, when he had four cities under his command, could not be content tillhe had four more. 3. It is expensive. Nimrod will rather be at the charge of rearing cities than not77

    have the honour of ruling them. The spirit of building is the common effect of a spirit of pride. 4.It is daring, and will stick at nothing. Nimrod's name signifies rebellion, which (if indeed he didabuse his power to the oppression of his neighbours) teaches us that tyrants to men are rebels toGod, and their rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.15 And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, 16 And the Jebusite, andthe Amorite, and the Girgasite, 17 And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite,18 And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were thefamilies of the Canaanites spread abroad. 19 And the border of the Canaanites wasfrom Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and119Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. 20 These are the sons ofHam, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.Observe here, 1. The account of the posterity of Canaan, of the families and nations thatdescended from him, and of the land they possessed, is more particular than of any other in thischapter, because these were the nations that were to be subdued before Israel, and their land wasin process of time to become the holy land, Immanuel's land; and this God had an eye to when, inthe mean time, he cast the lot of that accursed devoted race in that spot of ground which he hadselected for his own people; this Moses takes notice of, Deut. xxxii. 8, When the Most High dividedto the nations their inheritance, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of thechildren of Israel. 2. By this account it appears that the posterity of Canaan were numerous, andrich, and very pleasantly situated; and yet Canaan was under a curse, a divine curse, and not a cursecauseless. Note, Those that are under the curse of God may yet perhaps thrive and prosper greatlyin this world; for we cannot know love or hatred, the blessing or the curse, by what is before us,but by what is within us, Eccl. ix. 1. The curse of God always works really and always terribly: butperhaps it is a secret curse, a curse to the soul, and does not work visibly, or a slow curse, and doesnot work immediately; but sinners are by it reserved for, and bound over to, a day of wrath. Canaanhere has a better land than either Shem or Japheth, and yet they have a better lot, for they inheritthe blessing.21 Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheththe elder, even to him were children born. 22 The children of Shem; Elam, andAsshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. 23 And the children of Aram; Uz, andHul, and Gether, and Mash. 24 And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber.25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his dayswas the earth divided; and his brother's name was Joktan. 26 And Joktan begatAlmodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, 27 And Hadoram, and Uzal,and Diklah, 28 And Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, 29 And Ophir, and Havilah,and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan. 30 And their dwelling was from Mesha,as thou goest unto Sephar a mount of the east. 31 These are the sons of Shem, aftertheir families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. 32 These arethe families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by thesewere the nations divided in the earth after the flood.Two things especially are observable in this account of the posterity of Shem:—I. The description of Shem, v. 21. We have not only his name, Shem, which signifies a name,but two titles to distinguish him by:—1. He was the father of all the children of Eber. Eber was his great grandson; but why shouldhe be called the father of all his children, rather than of all Arphaxad's, or Salah's, &c.? Probablybecause Abraham and his seed, God's covenant-people, not only descended from Heber, but fromhim were called Hebrews; ch. xiv. 13, Abram the Hebrew. Paul looked upon it as his privilege thathe was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, Phil. iii. 5. Eber himself, we may suppose, was a man eminentfor religion in a time of general apostasy, and a great example of piety to his family; and, the holytongue being commonly called from him the Hebrew, it is probable that he retained it in his family,120Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)in the confusion of Babel, as a special token of God's favour to him; and from him the professorsof religion were called the children of Eber. Now, when the inspired penman would give Shem anhonourable title, he calls him the father of the Hebrews. Though when Moses wrote this, they werea poor despised people, bond-slaves in Egypt, yet, being God's people, it was an honour to a manto be akin to them. As Ham, though he had many sons, is disowned by being called the father of78

    Canaan, on whose seed the curse was entailed (ch. ix. 22), so Shem, though he had many sons, isdignified with the title of the father of Eber, on whose seed the blessing was entailed. Note, a familyof saints is more truly honourable than a family of nobles, Shem's holy seed than Ham's royal seed,Jacob's twelve patriarchs than Ishmael's twelve princes, ch. xvii. 20. Goodness is true greatness.2. He was the brother of Japheth the elder, by which it appears that, though Shem is commonlyput first, he was not Noah's first-born, but Japheth was older. But why should this also be put aspart of Shem's title and description, that he was the brother of Japheth, since it had been, in effect,said often before? And was he not as much brother to Ham? Probably this was intended to signifythe union of the Gentiles with the Jews in the church. The sacred historian had mentioned it asShem's honour that he was the father of the Hebrews; but, lest Japheth's seed should therefore belooked upon as for ever shut out from the church, he here reminds us that he was the brother ofJapheth, not in birth only, but in blessing; for Japheth was to dwell in the tents of Shem. Note, (1.)Those are brethren in the best manner that are so by grace, and that meet in the covenant of Godand in the communion of saints. (2.) God, in dispensing his grace, does not go by seniority, but theyounger sometimes gets the start of the elder in coming into the church; so the last shall be firstand the first last.II. The reason of the name of Peleg (v. 25): Because in his days (that is, about the time of hisbirth, when his name was given him), was the earth divided among the children of men that wereto inhabit it; either when Noah divided it by an orderly distribution of it, as Joshua divided the landof Canaan by lot, or when, upon their refusal to comply with that division, God, in justice, dividedthem by the confusion of tongues: whichsoever of these was the occasion, pious Heber saw causeto perpetuate the remembrance of it in the name of his son; and justly may our sons be called bythe same name, for in our days, in another sense, is the earth, the church, most wretchedly divided.78 G E N E S I SCHAP. XI.The old distinction between the sons of God and the sons of men (professors and profane)survived the flood, and now appeared again, when men began to multiply: according to thisdistinction we have, in this chapter, I. The dispersion of the sons of men at Babel (ver. 1-9), wherewe have, 1. Their presumptuous provoking design, which was to build a city and a tower, ver. 1-4.2. The righteous judgment of God upon them in disappointing their design, by confounding theirlanguage, and so scattering them, ver. 5-9. II. The pedigree of the sons of God down to Abraham(ver. 10-26), with a general account of his family, and removal out of his native country, ver. 27,&c.121Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)The Confusion of Tongues. (b. c. 2247.)1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it cameto pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar;and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, andburn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reachunto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the faceof the whole earth.The close of the foregoing chapter tells us that by the sons of Noah, or among the sons of Noah,the nations were divided in the earth after the flood, that is, were distinguished into several tribesor colonies; and, the places having grown too strait for them, it was either appointed by Noah, oragreed upon among his sons, which way each several tribe or colony should steer its course,beginning with the countries that were next them, and designing to proceed further and further, andto remove to a greater distance from each other, as the increase of their several companies shouldrequire. Thus was the matter well settled, one hundred years after the flood, about the time of Peleg'sbirth; but the sons of men, it should seem, were loth to disperse into distant places; they thoughtthe more the merrier and the safer, and therefore they contrived to keep together, and were slackto go to possess the land which the Lord God of their fathers had given them (Josh. xviii. 3), thinkingthemselves wiser than either God or Noah. Now here we have,I. The advantages which befriended their design of keeping together, 1. They were all of onelanguage, v. 1. If there were any different languages before the flood, yet Noah's only, which it islikely was the same with Adam's, was preserved through the flood, and continued after it. Now,while they all understood one another, they would be the more likely to love one another, and themore capable of helping one another, and the less inclinable to separate one from another. 2. Theyfound a very convenient commodious place to settle in (v. 2), a plain in the land of Shinar, a spaciousplain, able to contain them all, and a fruitful plain, able, according as their present numbers were,to support them all, though perhaps they had not considered what room there would be for themwhen their numbers should be increased. Note, Inviting accommodations, for the present, oftenprove too strong temptations to the neglect of both duty and interest, as it respects futurity.II. The method they took to bind themselves to one another, and to settle together in one body.Instead of coveting to enlarge their borders by a peaceful departure under the divine protection,they contrived to fortify them, and, as those that were resolved to wage war with Heaven, they put79

    themselves into a posture of defence. Their unanimous resolution is, Let us build ourselves a cityand a tower. It is observable that the first builders of cities, both in the old world (ch. iv. 17), andin the new world here, were not men of the best character and reputation: tents served God's subjectsto dwell in; cities were first built by those that were rebels against him and revolters from him.Observe here,1. How they excited and encouraged one another to set about this work. They said, Go to, letus make brick (v. 3), and again, (v. 4), Go to, let us build ourselves a city; by mutual excitementsthey made one another more daring and resolute. Note, Great things may be brought to pass whenthe undertakers are numerous and unanimous, and stir up one another. Let us learn to provoke one122Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)another to love and to good works, as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works.See Ps. cxxii. 1; Isa. ii. 3, 5; Jer. l. 5.2. What materials they used in their building. The country, being plain, yielded neither stonenor mortar, yet this did not discourage them from their undertaking, but they made brick to serveinstead of stone, and slime or pitch instead of mortar. See here, (1.) What shift those will make thatare resolute in their purposes: were we but zealously affected in a good thing, we should not stopour work so often as we do, under pretence that we want conveniences for carrying it on. (2.) Whata difference there is between men's building and God's; when men build their Babel, brick andslime are their best materials; but, when God builds his Jerusalem, he lays even the foundations ofit with sapphires, and all its borders with pleasant stones, Isa. liv. 11, 12; Rev. xxi. 19.3. For what ends they built. Some think they intended hereby to secure themselves against thewaters of another flood. God had told them indeed that he would not again drown the world; butthey would trust to a tower of their own making, rather than to a promise of God's making or anark of his appointing. If, however, they had had this in their eye, they would have chosen to buildtheir tower upon a mountain rather than upon a plain, but three things, it seems, they aimed at inbuilding this tower:—(1.) It seems designed for an affront to God himself; for they would build a tower whose topmight reach to heaven, which bespeaks a defiance of God, or at least a rivalship with him. Theywould be like the Most High, or would come as near him as they could, not in holiness but in height.They forgot their place, and, scorning to creep on the earth, resolved to climb to heaven, not by thedoor or ladder, but some other way.(2.) They hoped hereby to make themselves a name; they would do something to be talked ofnow, and to give posterity to know that there had been such men as they in the world. Rather thandie and leave no memorandum behind them, they would leave this monument of their pride, andambition, and folly. Note, [1.] Affectation of honour and a name among men commonly inspireswith a strange ardour for great and difficult undertakings, and often betrays to that which is eviland offensive to God. [2.] It is just with God to bury those names in the dust which are raised bysin. These Babel-builders put themselves to a great deal of foolish expense to make themselves aname; but they could not gain even this point, for we do not find in any history the name of so muchas one of these Babel-builders. Philo Judæus says, They engraved every one his name upon a brick,in perpetuam rei memoriam—as a perpetual memorial; yet neither did this serve their purpose.(3.) They did it to prevent their dispersion: Lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of theearth. "It was done" (says Josephus) "in disobedience to that command (ch. ix. 1), Replenish theearth." God orders them to disperse. "No," say they, "we will not, we will live and die together."In order hereunto, they engage themselves and one another in this vast undertaking. That they mightunite in one glorious empire, they resolve to build this city and tower, to be the metropolis of theirkingdom and the centre of their unity. It is probable that the band of ambitious Nimrod was in allthis. He could not content himself with the command of a particular colony, but aimed at universalmonarchy, in order to which, under pretence of uniting for their common safety, he contrives tokeep them in one body, that, having them all under his eye, he might not fail to have them underhis power. See the daring presumption of these sinners. Here is, [1.] A bold opposition to God:"You shall be scattered," says God. "But we will not," say they. Woe unto him that thus strives withhis Maker. [2.] A bold competition with God. It is God's prerogative to be universal monarch, Lord123Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of all, and King of kings; the man that aims at it offers to step into the throne of God, who will notgive his glory to another.5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children ofmen builded. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all onelanguage; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them,which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound theirlanguage, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the Lord scatteredthem abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the80

    city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confoundthe language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad uponthe face of all the earth.We have here the quashing of the project of the Babel-builders, and the turning of the counselof those froward men headlong, that God's counsel might stand in spite of them. Here is,I. The cognizance God took of the design that was on foot: The Lord came down to see thecity, v. 5. It is an expression after the manner of men; he knew it as clearly and fully as men knowthat which they come to the place to view. Observe, 1. Before he gave judgment upon their cause,he enquired into it; for God is incontestably just and fair in all his proceedings against sin andsinners, and condemns none unheard. 2. It is spoken of as an act of condescension in God to takenotice even of this building, which the undertakers were so proud of; for he humbles himself tobehold the transactions, even the most considerable ones, of this lower world, Ps. cxiii. 6.. 3. It issaid to be the tower which the children of men built, which intimates, (1.) Their weakness and frailtyas men. It was a very foolish thing for the children of men, worms of the earth, to defy Heaven,and to provoke the Lord to jealousy. Are they stronger than he? (2.) Their sinfulness andobnoxiousness. They were the sons of Adam, so it is in the Hebrew; nay, of that Adam, that sinfuldisobedient Adam, whose children are by nature children of disobedience, children that arecorrupters. (3.) Their distinction from the children of God, the professors of religion, from whomthese daring builders had separated themselves, and built this tower to support and perpetuate theseparation. Pious Eber is not found among this ungodly crew; for he and his are called the childrenof God, and therefore their souls come not into the secret, nor unite themselves to the assembly, ofthese children of men.II. The counsels and resolves of the Eternal God concerning this matter; he did not come downmerely as a spectator, but as a judge, as a prince, to look upon these proud men, and abase them,Job xl. 11-14. Observe,1. He suffered them to proceed a good way in their enterprise before he put a stop to it, thatthey might have space to repent, and, if they had so much consideration left, might be ashamed ofit and weary of it themselves; and if not that their disappointment might be the more shameful, andevery one that passed by might laugh at them, saying, These men began to build, and were not ableto finish, that so the works of their hands, from which they promised themselves immortal honour,might turn to their perpetual reproach. Note, God has wise and holy ends in permitting the enemiesof his glory to carry on their impious projects a great way, and to prosper long in their enterprises.2. When they had, with much care and toil, made some considerable progress in their building,then God determined to break their measures and disperse them. Observe,124Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)(1.) The righteousness of God, which appears in the considerations upon which he proceededin this resolution, v. 6. Two things he considered:—[1.] Their oneness, as a reason why they mustbe scattered: "Behold, the people are one, and they have all one language. If they continue one,much of the earth will be left uninhabited; the power of their prince will soon be exorbitant;wickedness and profaneness will be insufferably rampant, for they will strengthen one another'shands in it; and, which is worst of all, there will be an overbalance to the church, and these childrenof men, if thus incorporated, will swallow up the little remnant of God's children." Therefore it isdecreed that they must not be one. Note, Unity is a policy, but it is not the infallible mark of a truechurch; yet, while the builders of Babel, though of different families, dispositions, and interests,were thus unanimous in opposing God, what a pity is it, and what a shame, that the builders ofSion, though united in one common head and Spirit, should be divided, as they are, in serving God!But marvel not at the matter. Christ came not to send peace. [2.] Their obstinacy: Now nothing willbe restrained from them; and this is a reason why they must be crossed and thwarted in their design.God had tried, by his commands and admonitions, to bring them off from this project, but in vain;therefore he must take another course with them. See here, First, The sinfulness of sin, and thewilfulness of sinners; ever since Adam would not be restrained from the forbidden tree, hisunsanctified seed have been impatient of restraint and ready to rebel against it. Secondly, See thenecessity of God's judgments upon earth, to keep the world in some order and to tie the hands ofthose that will not be checked by law.(2.) The wisdom and mercy of God in the methods that were taken for the defeating of thisenterprise (v. 7): Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language. This was not spokento the angels, as if God needed either their advice or their assistance, but God speaks it to himself,or the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost. They said, Go to, let us make brick, and Go to, let us builda tower, animating one another to the attempt; and now God says, Go to, let us confound theirlanguage; for, if men stir up themselves to sin, God will stir up himself to take vengeance, Isa. lix.17, 18. Now observe here, [1.] The mercy of God, in moderating the penalty, and not making itproportionable to the offence; for he deals not with us according to our sins. He does not say, "Letus go down now in thunder and lightning, and consume those rebels in a moment;" or, "Let the81

    earth open, and swallow up them and their building, and let those go down quickly into hell whoare climbing to heaven the wrong way." No; only, "Let us go down, and scatter them." They deserveddeath, but are only banished or transported; for the patience of God is very great towards a provokingworld. Punishments are chiefly reserved for the future state. God's judgments on sinners in this life,compared with those which are reserved, are little more than restraints. [2.] The wisdom of God,in pitching upon an effectual expedient to stay proceedings, which was the confounding of theirlanguage, that they might not understand one another's speech, nor could they well join hands whentheir tongues were divided; so that this would be a very proper method both for taking them offfrom their building (for, if they could not understand one another, they could not help one another)and also for disposing them to scatter; for, when they could not understand one another, they couldnot take pleasure in one another. Note, God has various means, and effectual ones, to baffle anddefeat the projects of proud men that set themselves against him, and particularly to divide themamong themselves, either by dividing their spirits (Judg. ix. 23), or by dividing their tongues, asDavid prays, Ps. lv. 9.III. The execution of these counsels of God, to the blasting and defeating of the counsels ofmen, v. 8, 9. God made them know whose word should stand, his or theirs, as the expression is,125Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Jer. xliv. 28. Notwithstanding their oneness and obstinacy, God was too hard for them, and whereinthey dealt proudly he was above them; for who ever hardened his heart against him and prospered?Three things were done:—1. Their language was confounded. God, who, when he made man, taught him to speak, andput words into his mouth fit to express the conceptions of his mind by, now caused these buildersto forget their former language, and to speak and understand a new one, which yet was commonto those of the same tribe or family, but not to others: those of one colony could converse together,but not with those of another. Now, (1.) This was a great miracle, and a proof of the power whichGod has upon the minds and tongues of men, which he turns as the rivers of water. (2.) This wasa great judgment upon these builders; for, being thus deprived of the knowledge of the ancient andholy tongue, they had become incapable of communicating with the true church, in which it wasretained, and probably it contributed much to their loss of the knowledge of the true God. (3.) Weall suffer by it, to this day. In all the inconveniences we sustain by the diversity of languages, andall the pains and trouble we are at to learn the languages we have occasion for, we smart for therebellion of our ancestors at Babel. Nay, and those unhappy controversies which are strifes ofwords, and arise from our misunderstanding one another's language, for aught I know are owingto this confusion of tongues. (4.) The project of some to frame a universal character, in order to auniversal language, how desirable soever it may seem, is yet, I think, but a vain thing to attempt;for it is to strive against a divine sentence, by which the languages of the nations will be dividedwhile the world stands. (5.) We may here lament the loss of the universal use of the Hebrew tongue,which from this time was the vulgar language of the Hebrews only, and continued so till the captivityin Babylon, where, even among them, it was exchanged for the Syriac. (6.) As the confounding oftongues divided the children of men and scattered them abroad, so the gift of tongues, bestowedupon the apostles (Acts ii.), contributed greatly to the gathering together of the children of God,who were scattered abroad, and the uniting of them in Christ, that with one mind and one mouththey might glorify God, Rom. xv. 6.2. Their building was stopped: They left off to build the city. This was the effect of the confusionof their tongues; for it not only incapacitated them for helping one another, but probably strucksuch a damp upon their spirits that they could not proceed, since they saw, in this, the hand of theLord gone out against them. Note, (1.) It is wisdom to leave off that which we see God fightsagainst. (2.) God is ale to blast and bring to nought all the devices and designs of Babel-builders.He sits in heaven, and laughs at the counsels of the kings of the earth against him and his anointed;and will force them to confess that there is no wisdom nor counsel against the Lord, Prov. xxi. 30;Isa. viii. 9, 10.3. The builders were scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth, v. 8, 9. They departedin companies, after their families, and after their tongues (ch. x. 5, 20, 31), to the several countriesand places allotted to them in the division that had been made, which they knew before, but wouldnot go to take possession of till now that they were forced to it. Observe here, (1.) The very thingwhich they feared came upon them. That dispersion which sought to evade by an act of rebellionthey by this act brought upon themselves; for we are most likely to fall into that trouble which weseek to evade by indirect and sinful methods. (2.) It was God's work: The Lord scattered them.God's hand is to be acknowledged in all scattering providences; if the family be scattered, relationsscattered, churches scattered, it is the Lord's doing. (3.) Though they were as firmly in league withone another as could be, yet the Lord scattered them; for no man can keep together what God will126Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)put asunder. (4.) Thus God justly took vengeance on them for their oneness in that presumptuous82

    attempt to build their tower. Shameful dispersions are the just punishment of sinful unions. Simeonand Levi, who had been brethren in iniquity, were divided in Jacob, ch. xlix. 5, 7; Ps. lxxxiii. 3-13.(5.) They left behind them a perpetual memorandum of their reproach, in the name given to theplace. It was called Babel, confusion. Those that aim at a great name commonly come off with abad name. (6.) The children of men were now finally scattered, and never did, nor ever will, comeall together again, till the great day, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, andall nations shall be gathered before him, Matt. xxv. 31, 32.10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was a hundred years old, and begatArphaxad two years after the flood: 11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxadfive hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 12 And Arphaxad lived five andthirty years, and begat Salah: 13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah fourhundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. 14 And Salah lived thirtyyears, and begat Eber: 15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred andthree years, and begat sons and daughters. 16 And Eber lived four and thirty years,and begat Peleg: 17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirtyyears, and begat sons and daughters. 18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begatReu: 19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begatsons and daughters. 20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: 21And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sonsand daughters. 22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: 23 And Seruglived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. 24And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: 25 And Nahor lived afterhe begat Terah a hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.We have here a genealogy, not an endless genealogy, for here it ends in Abram, the friend ofGod, and leads further to Christ, the promised seed, who was the son of Abram, and from Abramthe genealogy of Christ is reckoned (Matt. i. 1, &c.); so that put ch. v., ch. xi., and Matt. i, together,and you have such an entire genealogy of Jesus Christ as cannot be produced, for aught I know,concerning any person in the world, out of his line, and at such a distance from the fountain-head.And, laying these three genealogies together, we shall find that twice ten, and thrice fourteen,generations or descents, passed between the first and second Adam, making it clear concerningChrist that he was not only the Son of Abraham, but the Son of man, and the seed of woman.Observe here, 1. Nothing is left upon record concerning those of this line but their names and ages,the Holy Ghost seeming to hasten through them to the story of Abram. How little do we know ofthose that have gone before us in this world, even those that lived in the same places where we live,as we likewise know little of those that are our contemporaries in distant places! we have enoughto do to mind the work of our own day, and let God alone to require that which is past, Eccl. iii.15. 2. There was an observable gradual decrease in the years of their lives. Shem reached to 600years, which yet fell short of the age of the patriarchs before the flood; the next three came shortof 500; the next three did not reach to 300; after them we read not of any that attained to 200, except127Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Terah; and, not many ages after this, Moses reckoned seventy, or eighty, to be the utmost menordinarily arrive at. When the earth began to be replenished, men's lives began to shorten; so thatthe decrease is to be imputed to the wise disposal of Providence, rather than to any decay of nature.For the elect's sake, men's days are shortened; and, being evil, it is well they are few, and attainnot to the years of the lives of our fathers, ch. xlvii. 9. 3. Eber, from whom the Hebrews weredenominated, was the longest-lived of any that was born after the flood, which perhaps was thereward of his singular piety and strict adherence to the ways of God.The Generations of Terah. (b. c. 1921.)27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, andHaran; and Haran begat Lot. 28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the landof his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. 29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives:the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, thedaughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. 30 But Sarai wasbarren; she had no child. 31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son ofHaran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they83

    went forth with them from Ur, of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; andthey came unto Haran, and dwelt there. 32 And the days of Terah were two hundredand five years: and Terah died in Haran.Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous, henceforward, in both Testaments.We have here,I. His country: Ur of the Chaldees. This was the land of his nativity, an idolatrous country,where even the children of Eber themselves had degenerated. Note, Those who are, through grace,heirs of the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of their nativity, what was theircorrupt and sinful state by nature, the rock out of which they were hewn.II. His relations, mentioned for his sake, and because of their interest in the following story.1. His father was Terah, of whom it is said (Josh. xxiv. 2) that he served other gods, on the otherside of the flood, so early did idolatry gain footing in the world, and so hard is it even for those thathave some good principles to swim against the stream. Though it is said (v. 26) that when Terahwas seventy years old he begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran (which seems to tell us that Abram wasthe eldest son of Terah, and was born in his seventieth year), yet, by comparing v. 32, which makesTerah to die in his 205th year, with Acts vii. 4 (where it is said that he was but seventy-five yearsold when he removed from Haran), it appears that he was born in the 130th year of Terah, andprobably was his youngest son; for, in God's choices, the last are often first and the first last. Wehave, 2. Some account of his brethren. (1.) Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and Jacob hadtheir wives. (2.) Haran, the father of Lot, of whom it is here said (v. 28) that he died before hisfather Terah. Note, Children cannot be sure that they shall survive their parents; for death does notgo by seniority, taking the eldest first. The shadow of death is without any order, Job x. 22. It islikewise said that he died in Ur of the Chaldees, before the happy removal of the family out of thatidolatrous country. Note, It concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death surprise us init. 3. His wife was Sarai, who some think, was the same with Iscah, the daughter of Haran. Abram128Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)himself says of her that she was the daughter of his father, but not the daughter of his mother, ch.xx. 12. She was ten years younger than Abram.III. His departure out of Ur of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and therest of his family, in obedience to the call of God, of which we shall read more, ch. xii. 1, &c. Thischapter leaves them in Haran, or Charran, a place about mid-way between Ur and Canaan, wherethey dwelt till Terah's head was laid, probably because the old man was unable, through theinfirmities of age, to proceed in his journey. Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan;they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.83 G E N E S I SCHAP. XII.The pedigree and family of Abram we had an account of in the foregoing chapter; here theHoly Ghost enters upon his story, and henceforward Abram and his seed are almost the only subjectof the sacred history. In this chapter we have, I. God's call of Abram to the land of Canaan, ver.1-3. II. Abram's obedience to this call, ver. 4, 5. III. His welcome to the land of Canaan, ver. 6-9.IV. His journey to Egypt, with an account of what happened to him there. Abram's flight and fault,ver. 10-13. Sarai's danger and deliverance, ver. 14-20.The Call of Abram. (b. c. 1921.)1 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thykindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: 2 And I willmake of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thoushalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him thatcurseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.We have here the call by which Abram was removed out of the land of his nativity into theland of promise, which was designed both to try his faith and obedience and also to separate himand set him apart for God, and for special services and favours which were further designed. Thecircumstances of this call we may be somewhat helped to the knowledge of from Stephen's speech,Acts vii. 2, where we are told, 1. That the God of glory appeared to him to give him this call,appeared in such displays of his glory as left Abram no room to doubt the divine authority of thiscall. God spoke to him afterwards in divers manners; but this first time, when the correspondencewas to be settled, he appeared to him as the God of glory, and spoke to him. 2. That this call wasgiven him in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran; therefore we rightly read it, The Lord hadsaid unto Abram, namely, in Ur of the Chaldees; and, in obedience to this call, as Stephen furtherrelates the story (Acts vii. 4), he came out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran, orHaran, about five years, and thence, when his father was dead, by a fresh command, pursuant tothe former, God removed him into the land of Canaan. Some think that Haran was in Chaldea, andso was still a part of Abram's country, or that Abram, having staid there five years, began to call ithis country, and to take root there, till God let him know this was not the place he was intended129Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)for. Note, If God loves us, and has mercy in store for us, he will not suffer us to take up our restany where short of Canaan, but will graciously repeat his calls, till the good work begun be84

    performed, and our souls repose in God only. In the call itself we have a precept and a promise.I. A trying precept: Get thee out of thy country, v. 1. Now,1. By this precept he was tried whether he loved his native soil and dearest friends, and whetherhe could willingly leave all, to go along with God. His country had become idolatrous, his kindredand his father's house were a constant temptation to him, and he could not continue with themwithout danger of being infected by them; therefore Get thee out, lk-lk—Vade tibi, Get thee gone,with all speed, escape for thy life, look not behind thee, ch. xix. 17. Note, Those that are in a sinfulstate are concerned to make all possible haste out of it. Get out for thyself (so some read it), thatis, for thy own good. Note, Those who leave their sins, and turn to God, will themselves beunspeakable gainers by the change, Prov. ix. 12. This command which God gave to Abram is muchthe same with the gospel call by which all the spiritual seed of faithful Abram are brought intocovenant with God. For, (1.) Natural affection must give way to divine grace. Our country is dearto us, our kindred dearer, and our father's house dearest of all; and yet they must all be hated (Lukexiv. 26), that is, we must love them less than Christ, hate them in comparison with him, and,whenever any of these come in competition with him, they must be postponed, and the preferencegiven to the will and honour of the Lord Jesus. (2.) Sin, and all the occasions of it, must be forsaken,and particularly bad company; we must abandon all the idols of iniquity which have been set upin our hearts, and get out of the way of temptation, plucking out even a right eye that leads us tosin (Matt. v. 29), willingly parting with that which is dearest to us, when we cannot keep it withouthazard of our integrity. Those that resolve to keep the commandments of God must quit the societyof evil doers, Ps. cxix. 115; Acts ii. 40. (3.) The world, and all our enjoyments in it, must be lookedupon with a holy indifference and contempt; we must no longer look upon it as our country, orhome, but as our inn, and must accordingly sit loose to it and live above it, get out of it in affection.2. By this precept he was tried whether he could trust God further than he saw him; for he mustleave his own country, to go to a land that God would show him. He does not say, "It is a land thatI will give thee," but merely, "a land that I will show thee." Nor does he tell him what land it was,nor what kind of land; but he must follow God with an implicit faith, and take God's word for it,in the general, though he had no particular securities given him that he should be no loser by leavinghis country, to follow God. Note, Those that will deal with God must deal upon trust; we must quitthe things that are seen for things that are not seen, and submit to the sufferings of this present timein hopes of a glory that is yet to be revealed (Rom. viii. 18); for it doth not yet appear what weshall be (1 John iii. 2), any more than it did to Abram, when God called him to a land he wouldshow him, so teaching him to live in a continual dependence upon his direction, and with his eyeever towards him.II. Here is an encouraging promise, nay, it is a complication of promises, many, and exceedinglygreat and precious. Note, All God's precepts are attended with promises to the obedient. When hemakes himself known also as a rewarder: if we obey the command, God will not fail to performthe promise. Here are six promises:—1. I will make of thee a great nation. When God took him from his own people, he promisedto make him the head of another; he cut him off from being the branch of a wild olive, to make himthe root of a good olive. This promise was, (1.) A great relief to Abram's burden; for he had nowno child. Note, God knows how to suit his favours to the wants and necessities of his children. He130Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that has a plaster for every sore will provide one for that first which is most painful. (2.) A greattrial to Abram's faith; for his wife had been long barren, so that, if he believe, it must be againsthope, and his faith must build purely upon that power which can out of stones raise up childrenunto Abraham, and make them a great nation. Note, [1.] God makes nations: by him they are bornat once (Isa. lxvi. 8), and he speaks, to build and plant them, Jer. xviii. 9. And, [2.] If a nation bemade great in wealth and power, it is God that makes it great. [3.] God can raise great nations outof dry ground, and can make a little one to be a thousand.2. I will bless thee, either particularly with the blessing of fruitfulness and increase, as he hadblessed Adam and Noah, or, in general, "I will bless thee with all manner of blessings, both of theupper and the nether springs. Leave thy father's house, and I will give thee a father's blessing, betterthan that of they progenitors." Note, Obedient believers will be sure to inherit the blessing.3. I will make thy name great. By deserting his country, he lost his name there. "Care not forthat," says God, "but trust me, and I will make thee a greater name than ever thou couldst have hadthere." Having no child, he feared he should have no name; but God will make him a great nation,and so make him a great name. Note, (1.) God is the fountain of honour, and from him promotioncomes, 1 Sam. ii. 8. (2.) The name of obedient believers shall certainly be celebrated and madegreat. The best report is that which the elders obtained by faith, Heb. xi. 2.4. Thou shalt be a blessing; that is, (1.) "Thy happiness shall be a sample of happiness, so that85

    those who would bless their friends shall only pray that God would make them like Abram;" asRuth iv. 11. Note, God's dealings with obedient believers are so kind and gracious that we neednot desire for ourselves or our friends to be any better dealt with: to have God for our friend isblessedness enough. (2.) "Thy life shall be a blessing to the places where thou shalt sojourn." Note,Good men are the blessings of their country, and it is their unspeakable honour and happiness tobe made so.5. I will bless those that bless thee and curse him that curseth thee. This made it a kind of aleague, offensive and defensive, between God and Abram. Abram heartily espoused God's cause,and here God promises to interest himself in his. (1.) He promises to be a friend to his friends, totake kindnesses shown to him as done to himself, and to recompense them accordingly. God willtake care that none be losers, in the long run, by any service done for his people; even a cup of coldwater shall be rewarded. (2.) He promises to appear against his enemies. There were those thathated and cursed even Abram himself; but, while their causeless curses could not hurt Abram, God'srighteous curse would certainly overtake and ruin them, Num. xxiv. 9. This is a good reason whywe should bless those that curse us, because it is enough that God will curse them, Ps. xxxviii.13-15.6. In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed. This was the promise that crowned allthe rest; for it points at the Messiah, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. Note, (1.) JesusChrist is the great blessing of the world, the greatest that ever the world was blessed with. He is afamily blessing, by him salvation is brought to the house (Luke xix. 9); when we reckon up ourfamily blessings, let us put Christ in the imprimis—the first place, as the blessing of blessings. Buthow are all the families of the earth blessed in Christ, when so many are strangers to him? Answer,[1.] All that are blessed are blessed in him, Acts iv. 12. [2.] All that believe, of what family soeverthey shall be, shall be blessed in him. [3.] Some of all the families of the earth are blessed in him.[4.] There are some blessings which all the families of the earth are blessed with in Christ; for thegospel salvation is a common salvation, Jude 3. (2.) It is a great honour to be related to Christ; this131Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)made Abram's name great, that the Messiah was to descend from his loins, much more than thathe should be the father of many nations. It was Abram's honour to be his father by nature; it willbe ours to be his brethren by grace, Matt. xii. 50.Arrival of Abram in Canaan. (b. c. 1920.)4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him:and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5 AndAbram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance thatthey had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forthto go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.Here is, I. Abraham's removal out of his country, out of Ur first and afterwards out of Haran,in compliance with the call of God: So Abram departed; he was not disobedient to the heavenlyvision, but did as he was bidden, not conferring with flesh and blood, Gal. i. 15, 16. His obediencewas speedy and without delay, submissive and without dispute; for he went out, not knowing whitherhe went (Heb. xi. 8), but knowing whom he followed and under whose direction he went. ThusGod called him to his foot, Isa. xli. 2.II. His age when he removed: he was seventy-five years old, an age when he should rather havehad rest and settlement; but, if God will have him to begin the world again now in his old age, hewill submit. Here is an instance of an old convert.III. The company and cargo that he took with him.1. He took his wife, and his nephew Lot, with him; not by force and against their wills, but bypersuasion. Sarai, his wife, would be sure to go with him; God had joined them together, and nothingshould put them asunder. If Abram leave all, to follow God, Sarai will leave all, to follow Abram,though neither of them knew whither. And it was a mercy to Abram to have such a companion inhis travels, a help meet for him. Note, It is very comfortable when husband and wife agree to gotogether in the way to heaven. Lot also, his kinsman, was influenced by Abram's good example,who was perhaps his guardian after the death of his father, and he was willing to go along with himtoo. Note, Those that go to Canaan need not go alone; for, though few find the strait gate, blessedbe God, some do; and it is our wisdom to go with those with whom God is (Zech. viii. 23), whereverthey go.2. They took all their effects with them—all their substance and movable goods, that they hadgathered. For, (1.) With themselves they would give up their all, to be at God's disposal, wouldkeep back no part of the price, but venture all in one bottom, knowing it was a good bottom. (2.)They would furnish themselves with that which was requisite, both for the service of God and thesupply of their family, in the country whither they were going. To have thrown away his substance,because God had promised to bless him, would have been to tempt God, not to trust him. (3.) Theywould not be under any temptation to return; therefore they leave not a hoof behind, lest that shouldmake them mindful of the country from which they came out.86

    3. They took with them the souls that they had gotten, that is, (1.) The servants they had bought,which were part of their substance, but are called souls, to remind masters that their poor servantshave souls, precious souls, which they ought to take care of and provide food convenient for. (2.)The proselytes they had made, and persuaded to attend the worship of the true God, and to go withthem to Canaan: the souls which (as one of the rabbin expresses it) they had gathered under the132Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)wings of the divine Majesty. Note, Those who serve and follow God themselves should do all theycan to bring others to serve and follow him too. These souls they are said to have gained. We mustreckon ourselves true gainers if we can but win souls to Christ.IV. Here is their happy arrival at their journey's end: They went forth to go into the land ofCanaan; so they did before (ch. xi. 31), and then took up short, but now they held on their way,and, by the good hand of their God upon them, to the land of Canaan they came, where by a freshrevelation they were told that this was the land God promised to show them. They were notdiscouraged by the difficulties they met with in their way, nor diverted by the delights they metwith, but pressed forward. Note, 1. Those that set out for heaven must persevere to the end, stillreaching forth to those things that are before. 2. That which we undertake in obedience to God'scommand, and a humble attendance upon his providence, will certainly succeed, and end withcomfort at last.Abram's Devotion. (b. c. 1921.)6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plainof Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7 And the Lord appeared untoAbram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altarunto the Lord, who appeared unto him. 8 And he removed from thence unto amountain on the east of Beth-el, and pitched his tent, having Beth-el on the west,and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon thename of the Lord. 9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.One would have expected that Abram having had such an extraordinary call to Canaan somegreat event should have followed upon his arrival there, that he should have been introduced withall possible marks of honour and respect, and that the kings of Canaan should immediately havesurrendered their crowns to him, and done him homage. But no; he comes not with observation,little notice is taken of him, for still God will have him to live by faith, and to look upon Canaan,even when he was in it, as a land of promise; therefore observe here,I. How little comfort he had in the land he came to; for, 1. He had it not to himself: TheCanaanite was then in the land. He found the country peopled and possessed by Canaanites, whowere likely to be but bad neighbours and worse landlords; and, for aught that appears, he could nothave ground to pitch his tent on but by their permission. Thus the accursed Canaanites seemed tobe in better circumstances than blessed Abram. Note, The children of this world have commonlymore of it than God's children. 2. He had not a settlement in it. He passed through the land, v. 6.He removed to a mountain, v. 8. He journeyed, going on still, v. 9. Observe here, (1.) Sometimesit is the lot of good men to be unsettled, and obliged often to remove their habitation. Holy Davidhad his wanderings, his flittings, Ps. lvi. 8. (2.) Our removes in this world are often into variousconditions. Abram sojourned, first in a plain v. 6, then in a mountain, v. 8. God has set the oneover-against the other. (3.) All good people must look upon themselves as strangers and sojournersin this world, and by faith sit loose to it as a strange country. So Abram did, Heb. xi. 8-14. (4.)While we are here in this present state, we must be journeying, and going on still from strength tostrength, as having not yet attained.II. How much comfort he had in the God he followed; when he could have little satisfactionin converse with the Canaanites whom he found there, he had abundance of pleasure in communion133Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)with that God who brought him thither, and did not leave him. Communion with God is kept upby the word and by prayer, and by these, according to the methods of that dispensation, Abram'scommunion with God was kept up in the land of his pilgrimage.1. God appeared to Abram, probably in a vision, and spoke to him good words and comfortablewords: Unto thy seed will I give this land. Note, (1.) No place nor condition of life can shut us outfrom the comfort of God's gracious visits. Abram is a sojourner, unsettled among Canaanites; andyet here also he meets with him that lives and sees him. Enemies may part us and our tents, us andour altars, but not us and our God. Nay, (2.) With respect to those that faithfully follow God in away of duty, though he lead them from their friends, he will himself make up that loss by hisgracious appearances to them. (3.) God's promises are sure and satisfying to all those whoconscientiously observe and obey his precepts; and those who, in compliance with God's call, leaveor lose any thing that is dear to them, shall be sure of something else abundantly better in lieu of87

    it. Abram had left the land of his nativity: "Well," says God, "I will give thee this land," Matt. xix.29. (4.) God reveals himself and his favours to his people by degrees; before he had promised toshow him this land, now to give it to him: as grace is growing, so is comfort. (5.) It is comfortableto have land of God's giving, not by providence only, but by promise. (6.) Mercies to the childrenare mercies to the parents. "I will give it, not to thee, but to thy seed;" it is a grant in reversion tohis seed, which yet, it should seem, Abram understood also as a grant to himself of a better land inreversion, of which this was a type; for he looked for a heavenly country, Heb. xi. 16.2. Abram attended on God in his instituted ordinances. He built an altar unto the Lord whoappeared to him, and called on the name of the Lord, v. 7, 8. Now consider this, (1.) As done upona special occasion. When God appeared to him, then and there he built an altar, with an eye to theGod who appeared to him. Thus he returned God's visit, and kept up his correspondence withheaven, as one that resolved it should not fail on his side; thus he acknowledged, with thankfulness,God's kindness to him in making him that gracious visit and promise; and thus he testified hisconfidence in and dependence upon the word which God had spoken. Note, An active believer canheartily bless God for a promise the performance of which he does not yet see, and build an altarto the honour of God who appears to him, though he does not yet appear for him. (2.) As his constantpractice, whithersoever he removed. As soon as Abram had got to Canaan, though he was but astranger and sojourner there, yet he set up, and kept up, the worship of God in his family; andwherever he had a tent God had an altar, and that an altar sanctified by prayer. For he not onlyminded the ceremonial part of religion, the offering of sacrifice, but made conscience of the naturalduty of seeking to his God, and calling on his name, that spiritual sacrifice with which God is wellpleased. He preached concerning the name of the Lord, that is, he instructed his family andneighbours in the knowledge of the true God and his holy religion. The souls he had gotten inHaran, being discipled, must be further taught. Note, Those that would approve themselves thechildren of faithful Abram, and would inherit the blessing of Abram, must make conscience ofkeeping up the solemn worship of God, particularly in their families, according to the example ofAbram. The way of family worship is a good old way, is no novel invention, but the ancient usageof all the saints. Abram was very rich and had a numerous family, was now unsettled and in themidst of enemies, and yet, wherever he pitched his tent, he built an altar. Wherever we go, let usnot fail to take our religion along with us.Abram's Removal into Egypt. (b. c. 1920.)134Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt tosojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. 11 And it came to pass,when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Beholdnow, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 12 Therefore it shall cometo pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: andthey will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13 Say, I pray thee, thou art mysister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because ofthee.Here is, I. A famine in the land of Canaan, a grievous famine. That fruitful land was turnedinto barrenness, not only to punish the iniquity of the Canaanites who dwelt therein, but to exercisethe faith of Abram who sojourned therein; and a very sore trial it was; it tried what he would think,1. Of God that brought him thither, whether he would not be ready to say with his murmuring seedthat he was brought forth to be killed with hunger, Exod. xvi. 3. Nothing short of a strong faithcould keep up good thoughts of God under such a providence. 2. Of the land of promise, whetherhe would think the grant of it worth the accepting, and a valuable consideration for the relinquishingof his own country, when, for aught that now appeared, it was a land that ate up the inhabitants.Now he was tried whether he could preserve an unshaken confidence that the God who broughthim to Canaan would maintain him there, and whether he could rejoice in him as the God of hissalvation when the fig-tree did not blossom, Hab. iii. 17, 18. Note, (1.) Strong faith is commonlyexercised with divers temptations, that it may be found to praise, and honour, and glory, 1 Pet. i.6, 7. (2.) It pleases God sometimes to try those with great afflictions who are but young beginnersin religion. (3.) It is possible for a man to be in the way of duty, and in the way to happiness, andyet meet with great troubles and disappointments.II. Abram's removal into Egypt, upon occasion of this famine. See how wisely God providesthat there should be plenty in one place when there was scarcity in another, that, as members of thegreat body, we may not say to one another, I have no need of you. God's providence took care thereshould be a supply in Egypt, and Abram's prudence made use of the opportunity; for we tempt God,and do not trust him, if, in the time of distress, we use not the means he has graciously provided88

    for our preservation: We must not expect needless miracles. But that which is especially observablehere, to the praise of Abram, is that he did not offer to return, upon this occasion, to the countryfrom which he came out, nor so much as towards it. The land of his nativity lay north-east fromCanaan; and therefore, when he must, for a time, quit Canaan, he chooses to go to Egypt, whichlay south-west, the contrary way, that he might not so much as seem to look back. See Heb. xi. 15,16. Further observe, When he went down into Egypt, it was to sojourn there, not to dwell there.Note, 1. Though Providence, for a time, may cast us into bad places, yet we ought to tarry there nolonger than needs must; we may sojourn where we may not settle. 2. A good man, while he is onthis side heaven, wherever he is, is but a sojourner.III. A great fault which Abram was guilty of, in denying his wife, and pretending that she washis sister. The scripture is impartial in relating the misdeeds of the most celebrated saints, whichare recorded, not for our imitation, but for our admonition, that he who thinks he stands may takeheed lest he fall. 1. His fault was dissembling his relation to Sarai, equivocating concerning it, andteaching his wife, and probably all his attendants, to do so too. What he said was, in a sense, true135Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)(ch. xx. 12), but with a purpose to deceive; he so concealed a further truth as in effect to deny it,and to expose thereby both his wife and the Egyptians to sin. 2. That which was at the bottom ofit was a jealous timorous fancy he had that some of the Egyptians would be so charmed with thebeauty of Sarai (Egypt producing few such beauties) that, if they should know he was her husband,they would find some way or other to take him off, that they might marry her. He presumes theywould rather be guilty of murder than adultery, such a heinous crime was it then accounted andsuch a sacred regard was paid to the marriage bond; hence he infers, without any good reason, Theywill kill me. Note, The fear of man brings a snare, and many are driven to sin by the dread of death,Luke xii. 4, 5. The grace Abram was most eminent for was faith; and yet he thus fell throughunbelief and distrust of the divine Providence, even after God had appeared to him twice. Alas!what will become of the willows, when the cedars are thus shaken?Abram's Denial of His Wife. (b. c. 1920.)14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptiansbeheld the woman that she was very fair. 15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her,and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and heasses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. 17 And theLord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram'swife. 18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast doneunto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19 Why saidst thou,She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thywife, take her, and go thy way. 20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerninghim: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.Here is, I. The danger Sarai was in of having her chastity violated by the king of Egypt: andwithout doubt the peril of sin is the greatest peril we can be in. Pharaoh's princes (his pimps rather)saw her, and, observing what a comely woman she was, they commended her before Pharaoh, notfor that which was really her praise—her virtue and modesty, her faith and piety (these were noexcellencies in their eyes), but for her beauty, which they thought too good for the embraces of asubject. They recommended her to the king, and she was presently taken into Pharaoh's house, asEsther into the seraglio of Ahasuerus (Esth. ii. 8), in order to her being taken into his bed. Now wemust not look upon Sarai as standing fair for preferment, but as entering into temptation; and theoccasions of it were her own beauty (which is a snare to many) and Abram's equivocation, whichis a sin that commonly is an inlet to much sin. While Sarai was in this danger, Abram fared thebetter for her sake. Pharaoh gave him sheep, oxen, &c. (v. 16), to gain his consent, that he mightthe more readily prevail with her whom he supposed to be his sister. We cannot think that Abramexpected this when he came down into Egypt, much less that he had an eye to it when he deniedhis wife; but God brought good out of evil. And thus the wealth of the sinner proves, in some wayor other, to be laid up for the just.II. The deliverance of Sarai from this danger. For if God did not deliver us, many a time, byprerogative, out of those straits and distresses which we bring ourselves into by our own sin andfolly, and which therefore we could not expect any deliverance from by promise, we should soon136Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)be ruined, nay, we should have been ruined long before this. He deals not with us according to ourdeserts.1. God chastised Pharaoh, and so prevented the progress of his sin. Note, Those are happychastisements that hinder us in a sinful way, and effectually bring us to our duty, and particularly89

    to the duty of restoring that which we have wrongfully taken and detained. Observe, Not Pharaohonly, but his house, was plagued, probably those princes especially that had commended Sarai toPharaoh. Note, Partners in sin are justly made partners in the punishment. Those that serve others'lusts must expect to share in their plagues. We are not told particularly what these plagues were;but doubtless there was something in the plagues themselves, or some explication added to them,sufficient to convince them that it was for Sarai's sake that they were thus plagued.2. Pharaoh reproved Abram, and then dismissed him with respect.(1.) The reproof was calm, but very just: What is this that thou hast done? What an improperthing! How unbecoming a wise and good man! Note, If those that profess religion do that whichis unfair and disingenuous, especially if they say that which borders upon a lie, they must expectto hear of it, and have reason to thank those that will tell them of it. We find a prophet of the Lordjustly reproved and upbraided by a heathen ship-master, Jon. i. 6. Pharaoh reasons with him: Whydidst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? intimating that, if he had known this, he would nothave taken her into his house. Note, It is a fault too common among good people to entertainsuspicions of others beyond what there is cause for. We have often found more of virtue, honour,and conscience, in some people than we thought they possessed; and it ought to be a pleasure tous to be thus disappointed, as Abram was here, who found Pharaoh to be a better man than heexpected. Charity teaches us to hope the best.(2.) The dismission was kind and very generous. He restored him his wife without offeringany injury to her honour: Behold thy wife, take her, v. 19. Note, Those that would prevent sin mustremove the temptation, or get out of the way of it. He also sent him away in peace, and was so farfrom any design to kill him, as he apprehended, that he took particular care of him. Note, We oftenperplex and ensnare ourselves with fears which soon appear to have been altogether groundless.We often fear where no fear is. We fear the fury of the oppressor, as though he were ready todestroy, when really there is no danger, Isa. li. 13. It would have been more for Abram's credit andcomfort to have told the truth at first; for, after all, honesty is the best policy. Nay, it is said (v. 20),Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him, that is, [1.] He charged them not to injure him inany thing. Note, It is not enough for those in authority to do no hurt themselves, but they mustrestrain their servants, and those about them, from doing hurt. Or, [2.] He appointed them, whenAbram was disposed to return home, after the famine, to conduct him safely out of the country, ashis convoy. Probably he was alarmed by the plagues (v. 17), and inferred from them that Abramwas a particular favourite of Heaven, and therefore, through fear of their return, took special carehe should receive no injury in his country. Note, God has often raised up friends for his people, bymaking men know that it is at their peril if they hurt them. It is a dangerous thing to offend Christ'slittle ones. Matt. xviii. 6. To this passage, among others, the Psalmist refers, Ps. cv. 13-15, Hereproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not my anointed. Perhaps if Pharaoh had not sent himaway, he would have been tempted to stay in Egypt and to forget the land of promise. Note,Sometimes God makes use of the enemies of his people to convince them, and remind them, thatthis world is not their rest, but that they must think of departing.137Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Lastly, Observe a resemblance between this deliverance of Abram out of Egypt and thedeliverance of his seed thence: 430 years after Abram went into Egypt on occasion of a faminethey went thither on occasion of a famine also; he was fetched out with great plagues on Pharaoh,so were they; as Abram was dismissed by Pharaoh, and enriched with the spoil of the Egyptians,so were they. For God's care of his people is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.89 G E N E S I SCHAP. XIII.In this chapter we have a further account concerning Abram. I. In general, of his condition andbehaviour in the land of promise, which was now the land of his pilgrimage. 1. His removes, ver.1, 3, 4, 18. 2. His riches, ver. 2. 3. His devotion, ver. 4, 18. II. A particular account of a quarrel thathappened between him and Lot. 1. The unhappy occasion of their strife ver. 5, 6. 2. The partiesconcerned in the strife, with the aggravation of it, ver. 7. III. The making up of the quarrel, by theprudence of Abram ver. 8, 9. IV. Lot's departure from Abram to the plain of Sodom, ver. 10-13.V. God's appearance to Abram, to confirm the promise of the land of Canaan to him, ver. 14, &c.Abram's Removal to Canaan. (b. c. 1918.)1 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lotwith him, into the south. 2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and ingold. 3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth-el, unto the placewhere his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai; 4 Unto theplace of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called onthe name of the Lord.I. Here is Abram's return out of Egypt, v. 1. He came himself and brought all his with himback again to Canaan. Note, Though there may be occasion to go sometimes into places oftemptation, yet we must hasten out of them as soon as possible. See Ruth i. 6.II. His wealth: He was very rich, v. 2. He was very heavy, so the Hebrew word signifies; forriches are a burden, and those that will be rich do but load themselves with thick clay, Hab. ii. 6.90

    There is a burden of care in getting them, fear in keeping them, temptation in using them, guilt inabusing them, sorrow in losing them, and a burden of account, at last, to be given up concerningthem. Great possessions do but make men heavy and unwieldy. Abram was not only rich in faithand good works, and in the promises, but he was rich in cattle, and in silver and gold. Note, 1.God, in his providence, sometimes makes good men rich men, and teaches them how to abound,as well as how to suffer want. 2. The riches of good men are the fruits of God's blessing. God hassaid to Abram, I will bless thee; and that blessing made him rich without sorrow, Prov. x. 22. 3.True piety will very well consist with great prosperity. Though it is hard for a rich man to get toheaven, yet it is not impossible, Mark x. 23, 24. Abram was very rich and yet very religious. Nay,138Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)as piety is a friend to outward prosperity (1 Tim. iv. 8), so outward prosperity, if well-managed, isan ornament to piety, and furnishes an opportunity of doing so much the more good.III. His removal to Beth-el, v. 3, 4. Thither he went, not only because there he had formerlyhad his tent, and he was willing to go among his old acquaintance, but because there he had formerlyhad his altar: and, though the altar was gone (probably he himself having taken it down, when heleft the place, lest it should be polluted by the idolatrous Canaanites), yet he came to the place ofthe altar, either to revive the remembrance of the sweet communion he had had with God in thatplace, or perhaps to pay the vows he had there made to God when he undertook his journey intoEgypt. Long afterwards God sent Jacob to this same place on that errand (ch. xxxv. 1), Go up toBeth-el, where thou vowedst the vow. We have need to be reminded, and should take all occasionsto remind ourselves, of our solemn vows; and perhaps the place where they were made may helpto bring them afresh to mind, and it may therefore do us good to visit it.IV. His devotion there. His altar was gone, so that he could not offer sacrifice; but he calledon the name of the Lord, as he had done, ch. xii. 8. Note, 1. All God's people are praying people.You may as soon find a living man without breath as a living Christian without prayer. 2. Thosethat would approve themselves upright with their God must be constant and persevering in theservices of religion. Abram did not leave his religion behind him in Egypt, as many do in theirtravels. 3. When we cannot do what we would we must make conscience of doing what we can inthe acts of devotion. When we want an altar, let us not be wanting in prayer, but, wherever we are,call on the name of the Lord.Lot's Separation from Abram. (b. c. 1917.)5 And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. 6And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for theirsubstance was great, so that they could not dwell together. 7 And there was a strifebetween the herdmen of Abram's cattle and the herdmen of Lot's cattle: and theCanaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. 8 And Abram said unto Lot,Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmenand thy herdmen; for we be brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before thee? separatethyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to theright; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.We have here an unhappy falling out between Abram and Lot, who had hitherto been inseparablecompanions (see v. 1, and ch. xii. 4), but now parted.I. The occasion of their quarrel was their riches. We read (v. 2) how rich Abram was; now herewe are told (v. 5) that Lot, who went with Abram, was rich too; and therefore God blessed him withriches because he went with Abram. Note, 1. It is good being in good company, and going withthose with whom God is, Zech. viii. 23. 2. Those that are partners with God's people in theirobedience and sufferings shall be sharers with them in their joys and comforts, Isa. lxvi. 10. Now,they both being very rich, the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell comfortablyand peaceably together. So that their riches may be considered, (1.) As setting them at a distanceone from another. Because the place was too strait for them, and they had not room for their stock,it was necessary they should live asunder. Note, Every comfort in this world has its cross attending139Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)it. Business is a comfort; but it has this inconvenience in it, that it allows us not the society of thosewe love, so often, nor so long, as we could wish. (2.) As setting them at variance one with another.Note, Riches are often an occasion of strife and contention among relations and neighbours. Thisis one of those foolish and hurtful lusts which those that will be rich fall into, 1 Tim. vi. 9. Richesnot only afford matter for contention, and are the things most commonly striven about, but theyalso stir up a spirit of contention, by making people proud and covetous. Meum and tuum—Mineand thine, are the great make-bates of the world. Poverty and travail, wants and wanderings, could91

    not separate between Abram and Lot; but riches did. Friends are soon lost; but God is a friendfrom whose love neither the height of prosperity nor the depth of adversity shall separate us.II. The immediate instruments of the quarrel were their servants. The strife began between theherdsmen of Abram's cattle and the herdsmen of Lot's cattle, v. 7. They strove, it is probable, whichshould have the better pasture or the better water; and both interested their masters in the quarrel.Note, Bad servants often make a great deal of mischief in families, by the pride and passion, theirlying slandering, and tale-bearing. It is a very wicked thing for servants to do ill offices betweenrelations and neighbours, and to sow discord; those that do so are the devil's agents and their masters'worst enemies.III. The aggravation of the quarrel was that the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelt then in theland; this made the quarrel, 1. Very dangerous. If Abram and Lot cannot agree to feed their flockstogether, it is well if the common enemy do not come upon them and plunder them both. Note, Thedivision of families and churches often proves the ruin of them. 2. Very scandalous. No doubt theeyes of all the neighbours were upon them, especially because of the singularity of their religion,and the extraordinary sanctity they professed; and notice would soon be taken of this quarrel, andimprovement made of it, to their reproach, by the Canaanites and Perizzites. Note, The quarrels ofprofessors are the reproach of profession, and give occasion, as much as any thing, to the enemiesof the Lord to blaspheme.IV. The making up of this quarrel was very happy. It is best to preserve the peace, that it benot broken; but the next best is, if differences do happen, with all speed to accommodate them, andquench the fire that has broken out. The motion for staying this strife was made by Abram, thoughhe was the senior and superior relation, v. 8.1. His petition for peace was very affectionate: Let there be not strife, I pray thee. Abram hereshows himself to be a man, (1.) Of a cool spirit, that had the command of his passion, and knewhow to turn away wrath with a soft answer. Those that would keep the peace must never renderrailing for railing. (2.) Of a condescending spirit; he was willing to beseech even his inferior to beat peace, and made the first overture of reconciliation. Conquerors reckon it their glory to givepeace by power; and it is no less so to give peace by the meekness of wisdom. Note, The peopleof God should always approve themselves a peaceable people; whatever others are for, they mustbe for peace.2. His plea for peace was very cogent. (1.) "Let there be no strife between me and thee. Letthe Canaanites and Perizzites contend about trifles; but let not thee and me fall out, who knowbetter things, and look for a better country." Note, Professors of religion should, of all others, becareful to avoid contention. You shall not be so, Luke xxii. 26. We have no such custom, 1 Cor. xi.16. "Let there be no strife between me and thee, who have lived together and loved one another solong." Note, The remembrance of old friendships should quickly put an end to new quarrels whichat any time happen. (2.) Let it be remembered that we are brethren, Heb. we are men brethren; a140Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)double argument. [1.] We are men; and, as men, we are mortal creatures—we may die to-morrow,and are concerned to be found in peace. We are rational creatures, and should be ruled by reason.We are men, and not brutes, men, and not children; we are sociable creatures, let us be so to theuttermost. [2.] We are brethren. Men of the same nature, of the same kindred and family, of thesame religion, companions in obedience, companions in patience. Note, The consideration of ourrelation to each other, as brethren, should always prevail to moderate our passions, and either toprevent or put an end to our contentions. Brethren should love as brethren.3. His proposal for peace was very fair. Many who profess to be for peace yet will do nothingtowards it; but Abram hereby approved himself a real friend to peace that he proposed anunexceptionable expedient for the preserving of it: Is not the whole land before thee? v. 9. As ifhe had said, "Why should we quarrel for room, while there is room enough for us both?" (1.) Heconcludes that they must part, and is very desirous that they should part friends: Separate thyself,I pray thee, from me. What could be expressed more affectionately? He does not expel him, andforce him away, but advises that he should separate himself. Nor does he charge him to depart, buthumbly desires him to withdraw. Note, Those that have power to command, yet sometimes, forlove's sake, and peace' sake, should rather beseech as Paul besought Philemon, v. 8, 9. When thegreat God condescends to beseech us, we may well afford to beseech one another, to be reconciled,2 Cor. v. 20. (2.) He offers him a sufficient share of the land they were in. Though God had promisedAbram to give this land to his seed (ch. xii. 7), and it does not appear that ever any such promisewas made to Lot, which Abram might have insisted on, to the total exclusion of Lot, yet he allowshim to come in partner with him, and tenders an equal share to one that had not an equal right, andwill not make God's promise to patronise his quarrel, nor, under the protection of that, put anyhardship on his kinsman. (3.) He gives him his choice, and offers to take up with his leavings: Ifthou wilt take the left hand, I will go to the right. There was all the reason in the world that Abramshould choose first; yet he recedes from his right. Note, It is a noble conquest to be willing to yield92

    for peace' sake; it is the conquest of ourselves, and our own pride and passion, Matt. v. 39, 40. Itis not only the punctilios of honour, but even interest itself, that in many cases must be sacrificedto peace.Lot's Removal to Sodom. (b. c. 1917.)10 And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was wellwatered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as thegarden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. 11 Then Lotchose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separatedthemselves the one from the other. 12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, andLot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. 13 Butthe men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly.We have here the choice that Lot made when he parted from Abram. Upon this occasion, onewould have expected, 1. That he should have expressed an unwillingness to part from Abram, andthat, at least, he should have done it with reluctancy. 2. That he should have been so civil as to haveremitted the choice back again to Abram. But we find not any instance of deference or respect tohis uncle in the whole management. Abram having offered him the choice, without compliment he141Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)accepted it, and made his election. Passion and selfishness make men rude. Now, in the choicewhich Lot made, we may observe,I. How much he had an eye to the goodness of the land. He beheld all the plain of Jordan, theflat country in which Sodom stood, that it was admirably well watered every where (and perhapsthe strife had been about water, which made him particularly fond of that convenience), and so Lotchose all that plain, v. 10, 11. That valley, which was like the garden of Eden itself, now yieldedhim a most pleasant prospect. It was, in his eye, beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth;and therefore he doubted not but that it would yield him a comfortable settlement, and that in sucha fruitful soil he should certainly thrive, and grow very rich: and this was all he looked at. But whatcame of it? Why, the next news we hear of him is that he is in the briars among them, he and hiscarried captive. While he lived among them, he vexed his righteous soul with their conversation,and never had a good day with them, till, at last, God fired the town over his head, and forced himto the mountain for safety who chose the plain for wealth and pleasure. Note, Sensual choices aresinful choices, and seldom speed well. Those who in choosing relations, callings, dwellings, orsettlements are guided and governed by the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, or the pride oflife, and consult not the interests of their souls and their religion, cannot expect God's presencewith them, nor his blessing upon them, but are commonly disappointed even in that which theyprincipally aimed at, and miss of that which they promised themselves satisfaction in. In all ourchoices this principle should overrule us, That that is best for us which is best for our souls.II. How little he considered the wickedness of the inhabitants: But the men of Sodom werewicked, v. 13. Note, 1. Though all are sinners, yet some are greater sinners than others. The menof Sodom were sinners of the first magnitude, sinners before the Lord, that is, impudent daringsinners; they were so to a proverb. Hence we read of those that declare their sin as Sodom, theyhide it not, Isa. iii. 9. 2. That some sinners are the worse for living in a good land. So the Sodomiteswere: for this was the iniquity of Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness; andall these were supported by the great plenty their country afforded, Ezek. xvi. 49. Thus the prosperityof fools destroys them. 3. That God often gives great plenty to great sinners. Filthy Sodomites dwellin a city, in a fruitful plain, while faithful Abram and his pious family dwell in tents upon the barrenmountains. 4. When wickedness has come to the height, ruin is not far off. Abounding sins are surepresages of approaching judgments. Now Lot's coming to dwell among the Sodomites may beconsidered, (1.) As a great mercy to them, and a likely means of bringing them to repentance; fornow they had a prophet among them and a preacher of righteousness, and, if they had hearkenedto him, they might have been reformed, and the ruin prevented. Note, God sends preachers, beforehe sends destroyers; for he is not willing that any should perish. (2.) As a great affliction to Lot,who was not only grieved to see their wickedness (2 Pet. ii. 7, 8), but was molested and persecutedby them, because he would not do as they did. Note, It has often been the vexatious lot of goodmen to live among wicked neighbours, to sojourn in Mesech (Ps. cxx. 5), and it cannot but be themore grievous, if, as Lot here, they have brought it upon themselves by an unadvised choice.God Confirms His Promise to Abram. (b. c. 1917.)14 And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Liftup now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward,and eastward, and westward: 15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I142Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)give it, and to thy seed for ever. 16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of theearth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be93

    numbered. 17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadthof it; for I will give it unto thee. 18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came anddwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto theLord.We have here an account of a gracious visit which God paid to Abram, to confirm the promiseto him and his. Observe,I. When it was that God renewed and ratified the promise: After that Lot was separated fromhim, that is, 1. After the quarrel was over; for those are best prepared for the visits of divine gracewhose spirits are calm and sedate, and not ruffled with any passion. 2. After Abram's humbleself-denying condescensions to Lot for the preserving of peace. It was then that God came to himwith this token of his favour. Note, God will abundantly make up in spiritual peace what we losefor the preservation of neighbourly peace. When Abram had willingly offered Lot one-half of hisright, God came, and confirmed the whole to him. 3. After he had lost the comfortable society ofhis kinsman, by whose departure his hands were weakened and his heart was saddened, then Godcame to him with these good words and comfortable words. Note, Communion with God may, atany time, serve to make up the want of conversation with our friends; when our relations areseparated from us, yet God is not. 4. After Lot had chosen that pleasant fruitful vale, and had goneto take possession of it, lest Abram should be tempted to envy him and to repent that he had givenhim the choice, God comes to him, and assures him that what he had should remain to him and hisheirs for ever; so that, though Lot perhaps had the better land, yet Abram had the better title. Lothad the paradise, such as it was, but Abram had the promise; and the event soon made it appearthat, however it seemed now, Abram had really the better part. See Job xxii. 20. God owned Abramafter his strife with Lot, as the churches owned Paul after his strife with Barnabas, Acts xv. 39, 40.II. The promises themselves with which God now comforted and enriched Abram. Two thingshe assures him of—a good land, and a numerous issue to enjoy it.1. Here is the grant of a good land, a land famous above all lands, for it was to be the holyland, and Immanuel's land; this is the land here spoken of. (1.) God here shows Abram the land, ashe had promised (ch. xii. 1), and afterwards he showed it to Moses from the top of Pisgah. Lot hadlifted up his eyes and beheld the plain of Jordan (v. 10), and he had gone to enjoy what he saw:"Come," says God to Abram, "now lift thou up thy eyes, and look, and see thy own." Note, Thatwhich God has to show us is infinitely better and more desirable than any thing that the world hasto offer our view. The prospects of an eye of faith are much more rich and beautiful than those ofan eye of sense. Those for whom the heavenly Canaan is designed in the other world have sometimes,by faith, a comfortable prospect of it in their present state; for we look at the things that are notseen, as real, though distant. (2.) He secures this land to him and his seed for ever (v. 15): To theewill I give it; and again (v. 17) I will give it unto thee; every repetition of the promise is a ratificationof it. To thee and thy seed, not to Lot and his seed; they were not to have their inheritance in thisland, and therefore Providence so ordered it that Lot should be separated from Abram first, andthen the grant should be confirmed to him and his seed. Thus God often brings good out of evil,and makes men's sins and follies subservient to his own wise and holy counsels. To thee and thyseed—to thee to sojourn in as a stranger, to thy seed to dwell and rule in as proprietors. To thee,143Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that is, to thy seed. The granting of it to him and his for ever intimates that it was typical of theheavenly Canaan, which is given to the spiritual seed of Abram for ever, Heb. xi. 14. (3.) He giveshim livery and seisin of it, though it was a reversion: "Arise, walk through the land, v. 17. Enter,and take possession, survey the parcels, and it will appear better than upon a distant prospect."Note, God is willing more abundantly to show to the heirs of promise the immutability of hiscovenant, and the inestimable worth of covenant blessings. Go, walk about Sion, Ps. xlviii. 12.2. Here is the promise of a numerous issue to replenish this good land, so that it should neverbe lost for want of heirs (v. 16): I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, that is, "They shallincrease incredibly, and, take them altogether, they shall be such a great multitude as no man cannumber." They were so in Solomon's time, 1 Kings iv. 20, Judah and Israel were many as the sandwhich is by the sea in multitude. This God here gives him the promise of. Note, The same God thatprovides the inheritance provides the heirs. He that has prepared the holy land prepares the holyseed; he that gives glory gives grace to make meet for glory.Lastly, We are told what Abram did when God had thus confirmed the promise to him, v. 18.1. He removed his tent. God bade him walk through the land, that is, "Do not think of fixing in it,but expect to be always unsettled, and walking through it to a better Canaan:" in compliance withGod's will herein, he removes his tent, confirming himself to the condition of a pilgrim. 2. He builtthere an altar, in token of his thankfulness to God for the kind visit he had paid him. Note, WhenGod meets us with gracious promises, he expects that we should attend him with our humble praises.94 G E N E S I SCHAP. XIV.We have four things in the story of this chapter. I. A war with the king of Sodom and his allies,ver. 1-11. II. The captivity of Lot in that war, ver. 12. III. Abram's rescue of Lot from that captivity,with the victory he obtained over the conquerors, ver. 13-16. IV. Abram's return from the expedition,(ver. 17), with an account of what passed, 1. Between him and the king of Salem, ver. 18-20. 2.Between him and the king of Sodom, ver. 21-24. So that here we have that promise to Abram inpart fulfilled, that God would make his name great.Lot Taken Captive. (b. c. 1913.)1 And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king ofEllasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations; 2 That these madewar with Bera king of Sodom, and with Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king ofAdmah, and Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, which is Zoar. 3 Allthese were joined together in the vale of Siddim, which is the salt sea. 4 Twelveyears they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. 5 And inthe fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smotethe Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim, and the Zuzims in Ham, and the Emims in144Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Shaveh Kiriathaim, 6 And the Horites in their mount Seir, unto El-paran, which isby the wilderness. 7 And they returned, and came to En-mishpat, which is Kadesh,and smote all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites, that dwelt inHazezontamar. 8 And there went out the king of Sodom, and the king of Gomorrah,and the king of Admah, and the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (the same isZoar;) and they joined battle with them in the vale of Siddim; 9 With Chedorlaomerthe king of Elam, and with Tidal king of nations, and Amraphel king of Shinar, andArioch king of Ellasar; four kings with five. 10 And the vale of Siddim was full ofslimepits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, and fell there; and they thatremained fled to the mountain. 11 And they took all the goods of Sodom andGomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12 And they took Lot, Abram'sbrother's son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.We have here an account of the first war that ever we read of in scripture, which (though thewars of the nations make the greatest figure in history) we should not have had the history of ifAbram and Lot had not been concerned in it. Now, concerning this war, we may observe,I. The parties engaged in it. The invaders were four kings, two of them no less than kings ofShinar and Elam (that is, Chaldea and Persia), yet probably not the sovereign princes of those greatkingdoms in their own persons, but either officers under them, or rather the heads and leaders ofsome colonies which came out of those great nations, and settled themselves near Sodom, butretained the names of the countries from which they had their origin. The invaded were the kingsof five cities that lay near together in the plain of Jordan, namely, Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah,Zeboiim, and Zoar. Four of them are named, but not the fifth, the king of Zoar or Bela, eitherbecause he was much more mean and inconsiderable or because he was much more wicked andinglorious than the rest, and worthy to be forgotten.II. The occasion of this war was the revolt of the five kings from under the government ofChedorlaomer. Twelve years they served him. Small joy they had of their fruitful land, while thusthey were tributaries to a foreign power, and could not call what they had their own. Rich countriesare a desirable prey, and idle luxurious countries are an easy prey, to growing greatness. TheSodomites were the posterity of Canaan whom Noah had pronounced a servant to Shem, fromwhom Elam descended; thus soon did that prophecy begin to e fulfilled. In the thirteenth year,beginning to be weary of their subjection, they rebelled, denied their tribute, and attempted to shakeoff the yoke and retrieve their ancient liberties. In the fourteenth year, after some pause andpreparation, Chedorlaomer, in conjunction with his allies, set himself to chastise and reduce therebels, and, since he could not have it otherwise, to fetch his tribute from them on the point of hissword. Note, Pride, covetousness, and ambition, are the lusts from which wars and fightings come.To these insatiable idols the blood of thousands has been sacrificed.III. The progress and success of the war. The four kings laid the neighbouring countries wasteand enriched themselves with the spoil of them (v. 5-7), upon the alarm of which it had been thewisdom of the king of Sodom to submit, and desire conditions of peace; for how could he grapplewith an enemy thus flushed with victory? But he would rather venture the utmost extremity thanyield, and it sped accordingly. Quos Deus destruet eos dementat—Those whom God means todestroy he delivers up to infatuation. 1. The forces of the king of Sodom and his allies were routed;145Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)and, it should seem, many of them perished in the slime-pits who had escaped the sword, v. 10. In95

    all places we are surrounded with deaths of various kinds, especially in the field of battle. 2. Thecities were plundered, v. 11. All the goods of Sodom, and particularly their stores and provisionsof victuals, were carried off by the conquerors. Note, When men abuse the gifts of a bountifulprovidence to gluttony and excess, it is just with God, and his usual way, by some judgment orother to strip them of that which they have so abused, Hos. ii. 8, 9. 3. Lot was carried captive, v.12. They took Lot among the rest, and his goods. Now Lot may here be considered, (1.) As sharingwith his neighbours in this common calamity. Though he was himself a righteous man, and (whichis here expressly noticed) Abram's brother's son, yet he was involved with the rest in all this trouble.Note, All things come alike to all, Eccl. ix. 2. The best of men cannot promise themselves anexemption from the greatest troubles in this life; neither from our own piety nor our relation tothose that are the favourites of heaven will be our security, when God's judgments are abroad. Note,further, Many an honest man fares the worse for his wicked neighbours. It is therefore our wisdomto separate ourselves, or at least to distinguish ourselves, from them (2 Cor. vi. 17), and so deliverourselves, Rev. xviii. 4. (2.) As smarting for the foolish choice he made of a settlement here. Thisis plainly intimated when it is said, They took Abram's brother's son, who dwelt in Sodom. So neara relation of Abram should have been a companion and disciple of Abram, and should have abodeby his tents; but, if he choose to dwell in Sodom, he must thank himself if he share in Sodom'scalamities. Note, When we go out of the way of our duty we put ourselves from under God'sprotection, and cannot expect that the choices which are made by our lusts should issue to ourcomfort. Particular mention is made of their taking Lot's goods, those goods which had occasionedhis contest with Abram and his separation from him. Note, It is just with God to deprive us of thoseenjoyments by which we have suffered ourselves to be deprived of our enjoyment of him.Lot Taken Captive, and Rescued. (b. c. 1913.)13 And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for hedwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner:and these were confederate with Abram. 14 And when Abram heard that his brotherwas taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundredand eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15 And he divided himself against them,he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, whichis on the left hand of Damascus. 16 And he brought back all the goods, and alsobrought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people.We have here an account of the only military action we ever find Abram engaged in, and thishe was prompted to, not by his avarice or ambition, but purely by a principle of charity; it was notto enrich himself, but to help his friend. Never was any military expedition undertaken, prosecuted,and finished, more honourably than this of Abram's. Here we have,I. The tidings brought him of his kinsman's distress. Providence so ordered it that he nowsojourned not far off, that he might be a very present help. 1. He is here called Abram the Hebrew,that is, the son and follower of Heber, in whose family the profession of the true religion was keptup in that degenerate age. Abram herein acted like a Hebrew—in a manner not unworthy of thename and character of a religious professor. 2. The tidings were brought by one that had escapedwith his life for a prey. Probably he was a Sodomite, and as bad as the worst of them; yet knowing146Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Abram's relation to Lot, and concern for him, he implores his help, and hopes to speed for Lot'ssake. Note, The worst of men, in the day of their trouble, will be glad to claim acquaintance withthose that are wise and good, and so get an interest in them. The rich man in hell called AbramFather; and the foolish virgins made court to the wise for a share of their oil.II. The preparations he made for this expedition. The cause was plainly good, his call to engagein it was clear, and therefore, with all speed, he armed his trained servants, born in his house, tothe number of three hundred and eighteen—a great family, but a small army, about as many asGideon's that routed the Midianites, Judg. vii. 7. He drew out his trained servants, or his catechisedservants, not only instructed in the art of war, which was then far short of the perfection which laterand worse ages have improved it to, but instructed in the principles of religion; for Abramcommanded his household to keep the way of the Lord. This shows that Abram was, 1. A greatman, who had so many servants depending upon him, and employed by him, which was not onlyhis strength and honour, but gave him a great opportunity of doing good, which is all that is trulyvaluable and desirable in great places and great estates. 2. A good man, who not only served Godhimself, but instructed all about him in the service of God. Note, Those that have great familieshave not only many bodies, but many souls besides their own, to take care of and provide for. Thosethat would be found the followers of Abram must see that their servants be catechised servants. 3.96

    A wise man for, though he was a man of peace, yet he disciplined his servants for war, not knowingwhat occasion he might have, some time or other, so to employ them. Note, Though our holyreligion teaches us to be for peace, yet it does not forbid us to provide for war.III. His allies and confederates in this expedition. He prevailed with his neighbours, Aner,Eshcol, and Mamre (with whom he kept up a fair correspondence) to go along with him. It was hisprudence thus to strengthen his own troops with their auxiliary forces; and probably they sawthemselves concerned, in interest, to act, as they could, against this formidable power, lest theirown turn should be next. Note, 1. It is our wisdom and duty to behave ourselves so respectfullyand obligingly towards all men as that, whenever there is occasion, they may be willing and readyto do us a kindness. 2. Those who depend on God's help, yet, in times of distress, ought to makeuse of men's help, as Providence offers it; else they tempt God.IV. His courage and conduct were very remarkable. 1. There was a great deal of bravery inthe enterprise itself, considering the disadvantages he lay under. What could one family ofhusbandmen and shepherds do against the armies of four princes, who now came fresh from bloodand victory? It was not a vanquished, but a victorious army, that he was to pursue; nor was heconstrained by necessity to this daring attempt, but moved to it by generosity; so that, all thingsconsidered, it was, for aught I know, as great an instance of true courage as ever Alexander orCaesar was celebrated for. Note, Religion tends to make men, not cowardly, but truly valiant. Therighteous is bold as a lion. The true Christian is the true hero. 2. There was a great deal of policyin the management of it. Abram was no stranger to the stratagems of war: He divided himself, asGideon did his little army (Judg. vii. 16), that he might come upon the enemy from several quartersat once, and so make his few seem a great many; he made his attack by night, that he might surprisethem. Note, Honest policy is a good friend both to our safety and to our usefulness. The serpent'shead (provided it be nothing akin to the old serpent) may well become a good Christian's body,especially if it have a dove's eye in it, Matt. x. 16.V. His success was very considerable, v. 15, 16. He defeated his enemies, and rescued hisfriends; and we do not find that he sustained any loss. Note, Those that venture in a good cause,147Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)with a good heart, are under the special protection of a good God, and have reason to hope for agood issue. Again, It is all one with the Lord to save by many or by few, 1 Sam. xiv. 6. Observe,1. He rescued his kinsman; twice here he is called his brother Lot. The remembrance of therelation that was between them, both by nature and grace, made him forget the little quarrel thathad been between them, in which Lot had by no means acted well towards Abram. Justly mightAbram have upbraided Lot with his folly in quarrelling with him and removing from him, and havetold him that he was well enough served, he might have known when he was well off; but, in thecharitable breast of pious Abram, it is all forgiven and forgotten, and he takes this opportunity togive a real proof of the sincerity of his reconciliation. Note, (1.) We ought to be ready, wheneverit is in the power of our hands, to succour and relieve those that are in distress, especially ourrelations and friends. A brother is born for adversity, Prov. xvii. 17. A friend in need is a friendindeed. (2.) Though others have been wanting in their duty to us, yet we must not therefore denyour duty to them. Some have said that they can more easily forgive their enemies than their friends;but we shall see ourselves obliged to forgive both if we consider, not only that our God, when wewere enemies, reconciled us, but also that he passeth by the transgression of the remnant of hisheritage, Mic. vii. 18.2. He rescued the rest of the captives, for Lot's sake, though they were strangers to him andsuch as he was under no obligation to at all; nay, though they were Sodomites, sinners before theLord exceedingly, and though, probably, he might have recovered Lot alone by ransom, yet hebrought back all the women, and the people, and their goods, v. 16. Note, As we have opportunitywe must do good to all men. Our charity must be extensive, as opportunity offers itself. WhereverGod gives life, we must not grudge the help we can give to support it. God does good to the justand unjust, and so must we, Matt. v. 45. This victory which Abram obtained over the kings theprophet seems to refer to, Isa. xli. 2, Who raised up the righteous man from the east, and made himrule over kings? And some suggest that, as before he had a title to this land by grant, so now byconquest.Abram's Interview with Melchizedek. (b. c. 1913.)17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughterof Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, whichis the king's dale. 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine:and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said,Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 Andblessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.And he gave him tithes of all.97

    This paragraph begins with the mention of the respect which the king of Sodom paid to Abramat his return from the slaughter of the kings; but, before a particular account is given of this, thestory of Melchizedek is briefly related, concerning whom observe,I. Who he was. He was king of Salem and priest of the most high God; and other glorious thingsare said of him, Heb. vii. 1, &c. 1. The rabbin, and most of our rabbinical writers, conclude thatMelchizedek was Shem the son of Noah, who was king and priest to those that descended fromhim, according to the patriarchal model. But this is not at all probable; for why should his name bechanged? And how came he to settle in Canaan? 2. Many Christian writers have thought that this148Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)was an appearance of the Son of God himself, our Lord Jesus, known to Abram, at this time, bythis name, as, afterwards, Hagar called him by another name, ch. xvi. 13. He appeared to him as arighteous king, owning a righteous cause, and giving peace. It is difficult to imagine that any mereman should be said to be without father, without mother, and without descent, having neitherbeginning of days nor end of life, Heb. vii. 3. It is witnessed of Melchizedek that he liveth, and thathe abideth a priest continually (v. 3, 8); nay (v. 13, 14), the apostle makes him of whom these thingsare spoken to be our Lord who sprang out of Judah. It is likewise difficult to think that any mereman should, at this time, be greater than Abram in the things of God, that Christ should be a priestafter the order of any mere man, and that any human priesthood should so far excel that of Aaronas it is certain that Melchizedek's did. 3. The most commonly received opinion is that Melchizedekwas a Canaanitish prince, that reigned in Salem, and kept up the true religion there; but, if so, whyhis name should occur here only in all the story of Abram, and why Abram should have altars ofhis own and not attend the altars of his neighbour Melchizedek who was greater than he, seemunaccountable. Mr. Gregory of Oxford tells us that the Arabic Catena, which he builds much uponthe authority of, gives this account of Melchizedek, That he was the son of Heraclim, the son ofPeleg, the son of Eber, and that his mother's name was Salathiel, the daughter of Gomer, the sonof Japheth, the son of Noah.II. What he did. 1. He brought forth bread and wine, for the refreshment of Abram and hissoldiers, and in congratulation of their victory. This he did as a king, teaching us to do good andto communicate, and to be given to hospitality, according to our ability; and representing the spiritualprovisions of strength and comfort which Christ has laid up for us in the covenant of grace for ourrefreshment, when we are wearied with our spiritual conflicts. 2. As priest of the most high God,he blessed Abram, which we may suppose a greater refreshment to Abram than his bread and winewere. Thus God, having raised up his Son Jesus, has sent him to bless us, as one having authority;and those whom he blesses are blessed indeed. Christ went to heaven when he was blessing hisdisciples (Luke xxiv. 51); for this is what he ever lives to do.III. What he said, v. 19, 20. Two things were said by him:—1. He blessed Abram from God:Blessed be Abram, blessed of the most high God, v. 19. Observe the titles he here gives to God,which are very glorious. (1.) The most high God, which bespeaks his absolute perfections in himselfand his sovereign dominion over all the creatures; he is King of kings. Note, It will greatly helpboth our faith and our reverence in prayer to eye God as the most high God, and to call him so. (2.)Possessor of heaven and earth, that is, rightful owner, and sovereign Lord, of all the creatures,because he made them. This bespeaks him a great God, and greatly to be praised (Ps. xxiv. 1), andthose a happy people who have an interest in his favour and love. 2. He blessed God for Abram (v.20): and blessed be the most high God. Note, (1.) In all our prayers, we must praise God, and joinhallelujahs with all our hosannahs. These are the spiritual sacrifices we must offer up daily, andupon particular occasions. (2.) God, as the most high God, must have the glory of all our victories,Exod. xvii. 15; 1 Sam. vii. 10, 12; Judg. v. 1, 2; 2 Chron. xx. 21. In them he shows himself higherthan our enemies (Exod. xviii. 11), and higher than we; for without him we could do nothing. (3.)We ought to give thanks for others' mercies as for our own, triumphing with those that triumph.(4.) Jesus Christ, our great high priest, is the Mediator both of our prayers and praises, and not onlyoffers up ours, but his own for us. See Luke x. 21.IV. What was done to him: Abram gave him tithes of all, that is, of the spoils, Heb. vii. 4. Thismay be looked upon, 1. As a gratuity presented to Melchizedek, by way of return for his tokens of149Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)respect. Note, Those that receive kindness should show kindness. Gratitude is one of nature's laws.2. As an offering vowed and dedicated to the most high God, and therefore put into the hands ofMelchizedek his priest. Note, (1.) When we have received some signal mercy from God, it is veryfit that we should express our thankfulness by some special act of pious charity. God must alwayshave his dues out of our substance, especially when, by any particular providence, he has eitherpreserved or increased it to us. (2.) That the tenth of our increase is a very fit proportion to be setapart for the honour of God and the service of his sanctuary. (3.) That Jesus Christ, our greatMelchizedek, is to have homage done him, and to be humbly acknowledged by every one of us asour king and priest; and not only the tithe of all, but all we have, must be surrendered and given upto him.Abram's Disinterestedness. (b. c. 1913.)98

    21 And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take thegoods to thyself. 22 And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up minehand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23 ThatI will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thingthat is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: 24 Save only thatwhich the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me,Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.We have here an account of what passed between Abram and the king of Sodom, who succeededhim that fell in the battle (v. 10), and thought himself obliged to do this honour to Abram, in returnfor the good services he had done him. Here is,I. The king of Sodom's grateful offer to Abram (v. 21): Give me the soul, and take thou thesubstance; so the Hebrew reads it. Here he fairly begs the persons, but as freely bestows the goodson Abram. Note, 1. Where a right is dubious and divided, it is wisdom to compound the matter bymutual concessions rather than to contend. The king of Sodom had an original right both to thepersons and to the goods, and it would bear a debate whether Abram's acquired right by rescuewould supersede his title and extinguish it; but, to prevent all quarrels, the king of Sodom makesthis fair proposal. 2. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power those that haveundergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense for our service and benefit. Who goes awarfare at his own charges? 1 Cor. ix. 7. Soldiers purchase their pay dearer than any labourers,and are well worthy of it, because they expose their lives.II. Abram's generous refusal of this offer. He not only resigned the persons to him, who, beingdelivered out of the hand of their enemies, ought to have served Abram, but he restored all thegoods too. He would not take from a thread to a shoe-latchet, not the least thing that had everbelonged to the king of Sodom or any of his. Note, A lively faith enables a man to look upon thewealth of this world with a holy contempt, 1 John v. 4. What are all the ornaments and delights ofsense to one that has God and heaven ever in his eye? He resolves even to a thread and a shoe-latchet;for a tender conscience fears offending in a small matter. Now,1. Abram ratifies this resolution with a solemn oath: I have lifted up my hand to the Lord thatI will not take any thing, v. 22. Here observe, (1.) The titles he gives to God, The most high God,the possessor of heaven and earth, the same that Melchizedek had just now used, v. 19. Note, It isgood to learn of others how to order our speech concerning God, and to imitate those who speak150Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)well in divine things. This improvement we are to make of the conversation of devout good men,we must learn to speak after them. (2.) The ceremony used in this oath: I have lifted up my hand.In religious swearing we appeal to God's knowledge of our truth and sincerity and imprecate hiswrath if we swear falsely, and the lifting up of the hand is very significant and expressive of both.(3.) The matter of the oath, namely, that he would not take any reward from the king of Sodom,was lawful, but what he was not antecedently obliged to. [1.] Probably Abram vowed, before hewent to the battle, that, if God would give him success, he would, for the glory of God and thecredit of his profession, so far deny himself and his own right as to take nothing of the spoils tohimself. Note, the vows we have made when we are in pursuit of a mercy must be carefully andconscientiously kept when we have obtained the mercy, though they were made against our interest.A citizen of Zion, if he has sworn, whether it be to God or man, though it prove to his own hurt,yet he changeth not, Ps. xv. 4. Or, [2.] Perhaps Abram, now when he saw cause to refuse the offermade him, at the same time confirmed his refusal with this oath, to prevent further importunity.Note, First, There may be good reason sometimes why we should debar ourselves of that which isour undoubted right, as St. Paul, 1 Cor. viii. 13; ix. 12. Secondly, That strong resolutions are ofgood use to put by the force of temptations.2. He backs his refusal with a good reason: Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich,which would reflect reproach, (1.) Upon the promise and covenant of God, as if they would nothave enriched Abram without the spoils of Sodom. And, (2.) Upon the piety and charity of Abram,as if all he had in his eye, when he undertook that hazardous expedition, was to enrich himself.Note, [1.] We must be very careful that we give no occasion to others to say things which theyought not. [2.] The people of God must, for their credit's sake, take heed of doing any thing thatlooks mean or mercenary, or that savours of covetousness and self-seeking. Probably Abram knewthe king of Sodom to be a proud and scornful man, and one that would be apt to turn such a thingas this to his reproach afterwards, though most unreasonably. When we have to do with such men,we have need to act with particular caution.3. He limits his refusal with a double proviso, v. 24. In making vows, we ought carefully toinsert the necessary exceptions, that we may not afterwards say before the angel, It was an error,99

    Eccl. v. 6. Abram here excepts, (1.) The food of his soldiers; they were worthy of their meat whilethey trod out the corn. This would give no colour to the king of Sodom to say that he had enrichedAbram. (2.) The shares of his allies and confederates: Let them take their portion. Note, Those whoare strict in restraining their own liberty yet ought not to impose those restraints upon the libertiesof others, nor to judge of them accordingly. We must not make ourselves the standard to measureothers by. A good man will deny himself that liberty which he will not deny another, contrary tothe practice of the Pharisees, Matt. xxiii. 4. There was not the same reason why Aner, Eshcol, andMamre, should quit their right, that there was why Abram should. They did not make the professionthat he made, nor were they, as he was, under the obligation of a vow. They had not the hopes thatAbram had of a portion in the other world, and therefore, by all means, let them take their portionof this.151Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)99 G E N E S I SCHAP. XV.In this chapter we have a solemn treaty between God and Abram concerning a covenant thatwas to be established between them. In the former chapter we had Abram in the field with kings;here we find him in the mount with God; and, though there he looked great, yet, methinks, here helooks much greater: that honour have the great men of the world, but "this honour have all thesaints." The covenant to be settled between God and Abram was a covenant of promises; accordingly,here is, I. A general assurance of God's kindness and good-will to Abram, ver. 1. II. A particulardeclaration of the purposes of his love concerning him, in two things:—1. That he would give hima numerous issue, ver. 2-6. 2. That he would give him Canaan for an inheritance, ver. 7-21. Eitheran estate without an heir, or an heir without an estate, would have been but a half comfort to Abram.But God ensures both to him; and that which made these two, the promised seed and the promisedland, comforts indeed to this great believer was that they were both typical of those two invaluableblessings, Christ and heaven; and so, we have reason to think, Abram eyed them.God's Covenant with Abram. (b. c. 1913.)1 After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying,Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.Observe here, I. The time when God made this treaty with Abram: After these things. 1. Afterthat famous act of generous charity which Abram had done, in rescuing his friends and neighboursout of distress, and that, not for price nor reward. After this, God made him this gracious visit.Note, Those that show favour to men shall find favour with God. 2. After that victory which hehad obtained over four kings. Lest Abram should be too much elevated and pleased with that, Godcomes to him, to tell him he had better things in store for him. Note, A believing converse withspiritual blessings is an excellent means to keep us from being too much taken up with temporalenjoyments. The gifts of common providence are not comparable to those of covenant love.II. The manner in which God conversed with Abram: The word of the Lord came unto Abram(that is, God manifested himself and his will to Abram) in a vision, which supposes Abram awake,and some visible appearances of the Shechinah, or some sensible token of the presence of the divineglory. Note, The methods of divine revelation are adapted to our state in a world of sense.III. The gracious assurance God gave him of his favour to him.1. He called him by name—Abram, which was a great honour to him, and made his name great,and was also a great encouragement and assistance to his faith. Note, God's good word does usgood when it is spoken by his Spirit to us in particular, and brought to our hearts. The word says,Ho, every one (Isa. lv. 1), the Spirit says, Ho, such a one.2. He cautioned him against being disquieted and confounded: Fear not, Abram. Abram mightfear lest the four kings he had routed should rally again, and fall upon him to his ruin: "No," saysGod, "Fear not. Fear not their revenges, nor thy neighbour's envy; I will take care of thee." Note,(1.) Where there is great faith, yet there may be many fears, 2 Cor. vii. 5. (2.) God takes cognizanceof his people's fears though ever so secret, and knows their souls, Ps. xxxi. 7. (3.) It is the will of152Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)God that his people should not give way to prevailing fears, whatever happens. Let the sinners inSion be afraid, but fear not, Abram.3. He assured him of safety and happiness, that he should for ever be, (1.) As safe as Godhimself could keep him: I am thy shield, or, somewhat more emphatically, I am a shield to thee,present with thee, actually caring for thee. See 1 Chron. xvii. 24. Not only the God of Israel, but aGod to Israel. Note, The consideration of this, that God himself is, and will be, a shield to his peopleto secure them from all destructive evils, a shield ready to them and a shield round about them,should be sufficient to silence all their perplexing tormenting fears. (2.) As happy as God himselfcould make him: I will be thy exceedingly great reward; not only thy rewarder, but thy reward.Abram had generously refused the rewards which the king of Sodom offered him, and here Godcomes, and tells him he shall be no loser by it. Note, [1.] The rewards of believing obedience andself-denial are exceedingly great, 1 Cor. ii. 9. [2.] God himself is the chosen and promised felicityof holy souls—chosen in this world, promised in a better. He is the portion of their inheritance andtheir cup.2 And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, andthe steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? 3 And Abram said, Behold,to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. 4 And,behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir;100but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. 5 And hebrought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, ifthou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. 6 And hebelieved in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.We have here the assurance given to Abram of a numerous offspring which should descendfrom him, in which observe,I. Abram's repeated complaint, v. 2, 3. This was that which gave occasion to this promise. Thegreat affliction that sat heavy upon Abram was the want of a child; and the complaint of this hehere pours out before the Lord, and shows before him his trouble, Ps. cxlii. 2. Note, Though wemust never complain of God, yet we have leave to complain to him, and to be large and particularin the statement of our grievances; and it is some ease to a burdened spirit to open its case to afaithful and compassionate friend: such a friend God is, whose ear is always open. Now his complaintis four-fold:—1. That he had no child (v. 3): Behold, to me thou hast given no seed; not only noson, but no seed; if he had had a daughter, from her the promised Messiah might have come, whowas to be the seed of the woman; but he had neither son nor daughter. He seems to lay an emphasison that, to me. His neighbours were full of children, his servants had children born in his house."But to me," he complains, "thou hast given none;" and yet God had told him he should be a favouriteabove all. Note, Those that are written childless must see God writing them so. Again, God oftenwithholds those temporal comforts from his own children which he gives plentifully to others thatare strangers to him. 2. That he was never likely to have any, intimated in that I go, or "I am going,childless, going into years, going down the hill apace; nay, I am going out of the world, going theway of all the earth. I die childless," so the LXX. "I leave the world, and leave no child behind me."3. That his servants were for the present and were likely to be to him instead of sons. While helived, the steward of his house was Eliezer of Damascus; to him he committed the care of his family153Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)and estate, who might be faithful, but only as a servant, not as a son. When he died, one born inhis house would be his heir, and would bear rule over all that for which he had laboured, Eccl. ii.18, 19, 21. God had already told him that he would make of him a great nation (ch. xii. 2), and hisseed as the dust of the earth (ch. xiii. 16); but he had left him in doubt whether it should be his seedbegotten or his seed adopted, by a son of his loins or only a son of his house. "Now, Lord," saysAbram, "if it be only an adopted son, it must be one of my servants, which will reflect disgraceupon the promised seed, that is to descend from him." Note, While promised mercies are delayedour unbelief and impatience are apt to conclude them denied. 4. That the want of a son was so greata trouble to him that it took away the comfort of all his enjoyments: "Lord, what wilt thou give me?All is nothing to me, if I have not a son." Now, (1.) If we suppose that Abram looked no furtherthan a temporal comfort, this complaint was culpable. God had, by his providence, given him somegood things, and more by his promise; and yet Abram makes no account of them, because he hasnot a son. It did very ill become the father of the faithful to say, What wilt thou give me, seeing Igo childless, immediately after God had said, I am thy shield, and thy exceedingly great reward.Note, Those do not rightly value the advantages of their covenant-relation to God and interest inhim who do not think them sufficient to balance the want of any creature-comfort whatever. But,(2.) If we suppose that Abram, herein, had a eye to the promised seed, the importunity of his desirewas very commendable: all was nothing to him, if he had not the earnest of that great blessing, andan assurance of his relation to the Messiah, of which God had already encouraged him to maintainthe expectation. He has wealth, and victory, and honour; but, while he is kept in the dark about themain matter, it is all nothing to him. Note, Till we have some comfortable evidence of our interestin Christ and the new covenant, we should not rest satisfied with any thing else. "This, and theother, I have; but what will all this avail me, if I go Christless?" Yet thus far the complaint wasculpable, that there was some diffidence of the promise at the bottom of it, and a weariness ofwaiting God's time. Note, True believers sometimes find it hard to reconcile God's promises andhis providences, when they seem to disagree.II. God's gracious answer to this complaint. To the first part of the complaint (v. 2) God gaveno immediate answer, because there was something of fretfulness in it; but, when he renews hisaddress somewhat more calmly (v. 3), God answered him graciously. Note, If we continue instantin prayer, and yet pray with a humble submission to the divine will, we shall not seek in vain. 1.God gave him an express promise of a son, v. 4. This that is born in thy house shall not be thy heir,as thou fearest, but one that shall come forth out of thy own bowels shall be thy heir. Note, (1.) Godmakes heirs; he says, "This shall not, and this shall;" and whatever men devise and design, in settlingtheir estates, God's counsel shall stand. (2.) God is often better to us than our own fears, and gives101the mercy we had long despaired of. 2. To affect him the more with this promise, he took him out,and showed him the stars (this vision being early in the morning, before day), and then tells him,So shall thy seed be, v. 5. (1.) So numerous; the stars seem innumerable to a common eye: Abramfeared he should have no child at all, but God assured him that the descendants from his loins shouldbe so many as not to be numbered. (2.) So illustrious, resembling the stars in splendour; for to thempertained the glory, Rom. ix. 4. Abram's seed, according to his flesh, were like the dust of the earth(ch. xiii. 16), but his spiritual seed are like the stars of heaven, not only numerous, but glorious,and very precious.III. Abram's firm belief of the promise God now made him, and God's favourable acceptanceof his faith, v. 6. 1. He believed in the Lord, that is, he believed the truth of that promise which God154Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)had now made him, resting upon the irresistible power and the inviolable faithfulness of him thatmade it. Hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Note, Those who would have the comfortof the promises must mix faith with the promises. See how the apostle magnifies this faith of Abram,and makes it a standing example, Rom. iv. 19-21. He was not weak in faith; he staggered not atthe promise; he was strong in faith; he was fully persuaded. The Lord work such a faith in everyone of us! Some think that his believing in the Lord respected, not only the Lord promising, butthe Lord promised, the Lord Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant. He believed in him, that is,received and embraced the divine revelation concerning him, and rejoiced to see his day, thoughat so great a distance, John viii. 56. 2. God counted it to him for righteousness; that is, upon thescore of this he was accepted of God, and, as the rest of the patriarchs, by faith he obtained witnessthat he was righteous, Heb. xi. 4. This is urged in the New Testament to prove that we are justifiedby faith without the works of the law (Rom. iv. 3; Gal. iii. 6); for Abram was so justified while hewas yet uncircumcised. If Abram, that was so rich in good works, was not justified by them, butby his faith, much less can we, that are so poor in them. This faith, which was imputed to Abramfor righteousness, had lately struggled with unbelief (v. 2), and, coming off a conqueror, it wasthus crowned, thus honoured. Note, A fiducial practical acceptance of, and dependence upon, God'spromise of grace and glory, in and through Christ, is that which, according to the tenour of the newcovenant, gives us a right to all the blessings contained in that promise. All believers are justifiedas Abram was, and it was his faith that was counted to him for righteousness.7 And he said unto him, I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees,to give thee this land to inherit it. 8 And he said, Lord God, whereby shall I knowthat I shall inherit it? 9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old,and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, anda young pigeon. 10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst,and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not. 11 And whenthe fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.We have here the assurance given to Abram of the land of Canaan for an inheritance.I. God declares his purpose concerning it, v. 7. Observe here, Abram made no complaint inthis matter, as he had done for the want of a child. Note, Those that are sure of an interest in thepromised seed will see no reason to doubt of a title to the promised land. If Christ is ours, heavenis ours. Observe again, When he believed the former promise (v. 6) then God explained and ratifiedthis to him. Note, To him that has (improves what he has) more shall be given. Three things Godhere reminds Abram of, for his encouragement concerning the promise of this good land:—1. What God is in himself: I am the Lord Jehovah; and therefore, (1.) "I may give it to thee,for I am sovereign Lord of all, and have a right to dispose of the whole earth." (2.) "I can give it tothee, whatever opposition may be made, though by the sons of Anak." God never promises morethan he is able to perform, as men often do. (3.) "I will make good my promise to thee." Jehovahis not a man that he should lie.2. What he had done for Abram. He had brought him out of Ur of the Chaldees, out of the fireof the Chaldees, so some, that is, either from their idolatries (for the Chaldeans worshipped thefire), or from their persecutions. The Jewish writers have a tradition that Abram was cast into afiery furnace for refusing to worship idols, and was miraculously delivered. It is rather a place of155Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that name. Thence God brought him by an effectual call, brought him with a gracious violence,snatched him as a brand out of the burning. This was, (1.) A special mercy: "I brought thee, andleft others, thousands, to perish there." God called him alone, Isa. li. 2. (2.) A spiritual mercy, amercy to his soul, a deliverance from sin and its fatal consequences. If God save our souls, we shallwant nothing that is good for us. (3.) A fresh mercy, lately bestowed, and therefore should be the102more affecting, as that in the preface to the commandments, I am the Lord that brought thee outof Egypt lately. (4.) A foundation mercy, the beginning of mercy, peculiar mercy to Abram, andtherefore a pledge and earnest of further mercy, Isa. lxvi. 9. Observe how God speaks of it as thatwhich he gloried in: I am the Lord that brought thee out. He glories in it as an act both of powerand grace; compare Isa. xxix. 22, where he glories in it, long afterwards. Thus saith the Lord whoredeemed Abraham, redeemed him from sin.3. What he intended to do yet further for him: "I brought thee hither, on purpose to give theethis land to inherit it, not only to possess it, but to possess it as an inheritance, which is the sweetestand surest title." Note, (1.) The providence of God has secret but gracious designs in all its variousdispensations towards good people; we cannot conceive the projects of Providence, till the eventshows them in all their mercy and glory. (2.) The great thing God designs in all his dealings withhis people is to bring them safely to heaven. They are chosen to salvation (2 Thess. ii. 13), calledto the kingdom (1 Thess. ii. 12), begotten to the inheritance (1 Pet. i. 3, 4), and by all made meetfor it, Col. i. 12, 13; 2 Cor. iv. 17.II. Abram desires a sign: Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it? v. 8. This did not proceedfrom distrust of God's power or promise, as that of Zacharias; but he desired this, 1. For thestrengthening and confirming of his own faith; he believed (v. 6), but here he prays, Lord, help meagainst my unbelief. Now he believed, but he desired a sign to be treasured up against an hour oftemptation, not knowing how his faith might, by some event or other, be shocked and tried. Note,We all need, and should desire, helps from heaven for the confirming of our faith, and shouldimprove sacraments, which are instituted signs, for that purpose. See Judg. vi. 36-40; 2 Kings xx.8-10; Isa. vii. 11, 12. 2. For the ratifying of the promise to his posterity, that they also might bebrought to believe it. Note, Those that are satisfied themselves should desire that others also maybe satisfied of the truth of God's promises. John sent his disciples to Christ, not so much for hisown satisfaction as for theirs, Matt. xi. 2, 3. Canaan was a type of heaven. Note, It is a very desirablething to know that we shall inherit the heavenly Canaan, that is, to be confirmed in our belief ofthe truth of that happiness, and to have the evidences of our title to it more and more cleared up tous.III. God directs Abram to make preparations for a sacrifice, intending by that to give him asign, and Abram makes preparation accordingly (v. 9-11): Take me a heifer, &c. Perhaps Abramexpected some extraordinary sign from heaven; but God gives him a sign upon a sacrifice. Note,Those that would receive the assurances of God's favour, and would have their faith confirmed,must attend instituted ordinances, and expect to meet with God in them. Observe, 1. God appointedthat each of the beasts used for this service should be three years old, because then they were attheir full growth and strength: God must be served with the best we have, for he is the best. 2. Wedo not read that God gave Abram particular directions how to manage these beasts and fowls,knowing that he was so well versed in the law and custom of sacrifices that he needed not anyparticular directions; or perhaps instructions were given him, which he carefully observed, thoughtthey are not recorded: at least it was intimated to him that they must be prepared for the solemnity156Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of ratifying a covenant; and he well knew the manner of preparing them. 3. Abram took as Godappointed him, though as yet he knew not how these things should become a sign to him. This wasnot the first instance of Abram's implicit obedience. He divided the beasts in the midst, accordingto the ceremony used in confirming covenants, Jer. xxxiv. 18, 19, where it is said, They cut the calfin twain, and passed between the parts. 4. Abram, having prepared according to God's appointment,now set himself to wait for the sign God might give him by these, like the prophet upon hiswatch-tower, Hab. ii. 1. While God's appearing to own his sacrifice was deferred, Abram continuedwaiting, and his expectations were raised by the delay; when the fowls came down upon the carcasesto prey upon them, as common and neglected things, Abram drove them away (v. 11), believingthat the vision would, at the end, speak, and not lie. Note, A very watchful eye must be kept uponour spiritual sacrifices, that nothing be suffered to prey upon them and render them unfit for God'sacceptance. When vain thoughts, like these fowls, come down upon our sacrifices, we must drivethem away, and not suffer them to lodge within us, but attend on God without distraction.12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, anhorror of great darkness fell upon him. 13 And he said unto Abram, Know of asurety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall servethem; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; 14 And also that nation, whomthey shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of theAmorites is not yet full.We have here a full and particular discovery made to Abram of God's purposes concerning hisseed. Observe,I. The time when God came to him with this discovery: When the sun was going down, ordeclining, about the time of the evening oblation, 1 Kings xviii. 36; Dan. ix. 21. Early in the morning,before day, while the stars were yet to be seen, God had given him orders concerning the sacrifices(v. 5), and we may suppose it was, at least, his morning's work to prepare them and set them inorder; when he had done this, he abode by them, praying and waiting till towards evening. Note,God often keeps his people long in expectation of the comforts he designs them, for the confirmationof their faith; but though the answers of prayer, and the performance of promises, come slowly,yet they come surely. At evening time it shall be light.II. The preparatives for this discovery. 1. A deep sleep fell upon Abram, not a common sleepthrough weariness or carelessness, but a divine ecstasy, like that which the Lord God caused to fallupon Adam (ch. ii. 21), that, being hereby wholly taken off from the view of things sensible, hemight be wholly taken up with the contemplation of things spiritual. The doors of the body werelocked up, that the soul might be private and retired, and might act the more freely and like itself.2. With this sleep, a horror of great darkness fell upon him. How sudden a change! But just beforewe had him solacing himself in the comforts of God's covenant, and in communion with him; andhere a horror of great darkness falls upon him. Note, The children of light do not always walk inthe light, but sometimes clouds and darkness are round about them. This great darkness, whichbrought horror with it, was designed, (1.) To strike an awe upon the spirit of Abram, and to possesshim with a holy reverence, that the familiarity to which God was pleased to admit him might not157Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)breed contempt. Note, Holy fear prepares the soul for holy joy; the spirit of bondage makes wayfor the spirit of adoption. God wounds first, and then heals; humbles first, and then lifts up, Isa. vi.5, 6, &c. (2.) To be a specimen of the methods of God's dealings with his seed. They must first bein the horror and darkness of Egyptian slavery, and then enter with joy into the good land; andtherefore he must have the foretaste of their sufferings, before he had the foresight of their happiness.(3.) To be an indication of the nature of that covenant of peculiarity which God was now about tomake with Abram. The Old-Testament dispensation, which was founded on that covenant, was adispensation, [1.] Of darkness and obscurity, 2 Cor. iii. 13, 14. [2.] Of dread and horror, Heb. xii.18, &c.III. The prediction itself. Several things are here foretold.1. The suffering state of Abram's seed for a long time, v. 13. Let not Abram flatter himselfwith the hopes of nothing but honour and prosperity in his family; no, he must know, of a surety,that which he was loth to believe, that the promised seed should be a persecuted seed. Note, Godsends the worst first; we must first suffer, and then reign. He also lets us know the worst before itcomes, that when it comes it may not be a surprise to us, John xvi. 4. Now we have here,(1.) The particulars of their sufferings. [1.] They shall be strangers; so they were, first in Canaan(Ps. cv. 12) and afterwards in Egypt; before they were lords of their own land they were strangersin a strange land. The inconveniences of an unsettled state make a happy settlement the morewelcome. Thus the heirs of heaven are first strangers on earth, a land that is not theirs. [2.] Theyshall be servants; so they were to the Egyptians, Exod. i. 13. See how that which was the doom ofthe Canaanites (ch. ix. 25), proves the distress of Abram's seed: they are made to serve, but withthis difference, the Canaanites serve under a curse, the Hebrews under a blessing; and the uprightshall have dominion in the morning, Ps. xlix. 14. [3.] They shall be suffers. Those whom they serveshall afflict them; see Exod. i. 11. Note, Those that are blessed and beloved of God are often sorelyafflicted by wicked men; and God foresees it, and takes cognizance of it.(2.) The continuance of their sufferings—four hundred years. This persecution began withmocking, when Ishmael, the son of an Egyptian, persecuted Isaac, who was born after the Spirit,ch. xxi. 9; Gal. iv. 29. It continued in loathing; for it was an abomination to the Egyptians to eatbread with the Hebrews, ch. xliii. 32; and it came at last to murder, the basest of murders, that oftheir new-born children; so that, more or less, it continued 400 years, though, in extremity, not somany. This was a long time, but a limited time.2. The judgment of the enemies of Abram's seed: That nation whom they shall serve, even theEgyptians, will I judge, v. 14. This points at the plagues of Egypt, by which God not only constrainedthe Egyptians to release Israel, but punished them for all the hardships they had put upon them.Note, (1.) Though God may suffer persecutors and oppressors to trample upon his people a greatwhile, yet he will certainly reckon with them at last; for his day is coming, Ps. xxxvii. 12, 13. (2.)The punishing of persecutors is the judging of them: it is a righteous thing with God, and a particular104act of justice, to recompense tribulations to those that trouble his people. The judging of the church'senemies is God's work: I will judge. God can do it, for he is the Lord; he will do it, for he is hispeople's God, and he has said, Vengeance is mine, I will repay. To him therefore we must leave it,to be done in his way and time.3. The deliverance of Abram's seed out of Egypt. That great event is here foretold: Afterwardsshall they come out with great substance. It is here promised, (1.) That they should be enlarged:Afterwards they shall come out; that is, either after they have been afflicted 400 years, when the158Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)days of their servitude are fulfilled, or after the Egyptians are judged and plagued, then they mayexpect deliverance. Note, The destruction of oppressors is the redemption of the oppressed; theywill not let God's people go till they are forced to it. (2.) That they should be enriched: They shallcome out with great substance; this was fulfilled, Exod. xii. 35, 36. God took care they shouldhave, not only a good land to go to, but a good stock to carry with them.4. Their happy settlement in Canaan, v. 16. They shall not only come out of Egypt, but theyshall come hither again, hither to the land of Canaan, wherein thou now art. The discontinuanceof their possession shall be no defeasance of their right: we must not reckon those comforts lostfor ever that are intermitted for a time. The reason why they must not have the land of promise inpossession till the fourth generation was because the iniquity of the Amorites was not yet full. Israelcannot be possessed of Canaan till the Amorites be dispossessed; and they are not yet ripe for ruin.The righteous God has determined that they shall not be cut off till they have persisted in sin solong, and arrived at such a pitch of wickedness, that there may appear some equitable proportionbetween their sin and their ruin; and therefore, till it come to that, the seed of Abram must be keptout of possession. Note, (1.) The measure of sin fills gradually. Those that continue impenitent inwicked ways are treasuring up unto themselves wrath. (2.) Some people's measure of sin fills slowly.The Sodomites, who were sinners before the Lord exceedingly, soon filled their measure; so didthe Jews, who were, in profession, near to God. But the iniquity of the Amorites was long in thefilling up. (3.) That this is the reason of the prosperity of wicked people; the measure of their sinsis not yet full. The wicked live, become old, and are mighty in power, while God is laying up theiriniquity for their children, Job xxi. 7, 19. See Matt. xxiii. 32; Deut. xxxii. 34.5. Abram's peaceful quiet death and burial, before these things should come to pass, v. 15. Ashe should not live to see that good land in the possession of his family, but must die, as he lived, astranger in it, so, to balance this, he should not live to see the troubles that should come upon hisseed, much less to share in them. This is promised to Josiah, 2 Kings xxii. 20. Note, Good men aresometimes greatly favoured by being taken away from the evil to come, Isa. lvii. 1. Let this satisfyAbram, that, for his part,(1.) He shall go to his fathers in peace. Note, [1.] Even the friends and favourites of Heavenare not exempted from the stroke of death. Are we greater than our father Abram, who is dead?John viii. 53. [2.] Good men die willingly; they are not fetched, they are not forced, but they go;their soul is not required, as the rich fool's (Luke xii. 20), but cheerfully resigned: they would notlive always. [3.] At death we go to our fathers, to all our fathers that have gone before us to thestate of the dead (Job xxi. 32, 33), to our godly fathers that have gone before us to the state of theblessed, Heb. xii. 23. The former thought helps to take off the terror of death, the latter puts comfortinto it. [4.] Whenever a godly man dies, he dies in peace. If the way be piety, the end is peace, Ps.xxxvii. 37. Outward peace, to the last, is promised to Abram, peace and truth is his days, whatevershould come afterwards (2 Kings xx. 19); peace with God, and everlasting peace, are sure to allthe seed.(2.) He shall be buried in a good old age. Perhaps mention is made of his burial here, wherethe land of Canaan is promised him, because a burying place was the first possession he had in it.He shall not only die in peace, but die in honour, die, and be buried decently; not only die in peace,but die in season, Job v. 26. Note, [1.] Old age is a blessing. It is promised in the fifth commandment;it is pleasing to nature; and it affords a great opportunity for usefulness. [2.] Especially, if it be agood old age. Theirs may be called a good old age, First, That are old and healthful, not loaded159Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)with such distempers as make them weary of life. Secondly, That are old and holy, old disciples(Acts xxi. 16), whose hoary head is found in the way of righteousness (Prov. xvi. 31), old and useful,old and exemplary for godliness; theirs is indeed a good old age.17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, beholda smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces. 18 In thesame day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I giventhis land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: 19 TheKenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites, 20 And the Hittites, and thePerizzites, and the Rephaims, 21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and theGirgashites, and the Jebusites.Here is, I. The covenant ratified (v. 17); the sign which Abram desired was given, at length,when the sun had gone down, so that it was dark; for that was a dark dispensation.1. The smoking furnace signified the affliction of his seed in Egypt. They were there in theiron furnace (Deut. iv. 20), the furnace of affliction (Isa. xlviii. 10), labouring in the very fire. Theywere there in the smoke, their eyes darkened, that they could not see to the end of their troubles,and themselves at a loss to conceive what God would do with them. Clouds and darkness wereround about them.2. The burning lamp denotes comfort in this affliction; and this God showed to Abram, at thesame time that he showed him the smoking furnace. (1.) Light denotes deliverance out of the furnace;their salvation was as a lamp that burneth, Isa. lxii. 1. When God came down to deliver them, heappeared in a bush that burned, and was not consumed, Exod. iii. 2. (2.) The lamp denotes directionin the smoke. God's word was their lamp: this word to Abram was so, it was a light shining in adark place. Perhaps this burning lamp prefigured the pillar of cloud and fire, which led them outof Egypt, in which God was. (3.) The burning lamp denotes the destruction of their enemies whokept them so long in the furnace. See Zech. xii. 6. The same cloud that enlightened the Israelitestroubled and burned the Egyptians.3. The passing of these between the pieces was the confirming of the covenant God now madewith him, that he might have strong consolation, being fully persuaded that what God promised hewould certainly perform. It is probable that the furnace and lamp, which passed between the pieces,burnt and consumed them, and so completed the sacrifice, and testified God's acceptance of it, asof Gideon's (Judg. vi. 21), Manoah's (Judg. xiii. 19, 20), and Solomon's, 2 Chron. vii. 1. So itintimates, (1.) That God's covenants with man are made by sacrifice (Ps. l. 5), by Christ, the greatsacrifice: no agreement without atonement. (2.) God's acceptance of our spiritual sacrifices is atoken for good and an earnest of further favours. See Judg. xiii. 23. And by this we may know thathe accepts our sacrifices if he kindle in our souls a holy fire of pious and devout affections in them.II. The covenant repeated and explained: In that same day, that day never to be forgotten, theLord made a covenant with Abram, that is, gave a promise to Abram, saying, Unto thy seed haveI given this land, v. 18. Here is,1. A rehearsal of the grant. He had said before, To thy seed will I give this land, ch. xii. 7; xiii.15. But here he says, I have given it; that is, (1.) I have given the promise of it, the charter is sealedand delivered, and cannot be disannulled. Note, God's promises are God's gifts, and are so to beaccounted. (2.) The possession is as sure, in due time, as if it were now actually delivered to them.160Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)What God has promised is as sure as if it were already done; hence, it is said, He that believes hatheverlasting life (John iii. 36), for he shall as surely go to heaven as if he were there already.2. A recital of the particulars granted, such as is usual in the grants of lands. He specifies theboundaries of the land intended hereby to be granted, v. 18. And then, for the greater certainty, asis usual in such cases, he mentions in whose tenure and occupation these lands now were. Tenseveral nations, or tribes, are here spoken of (v. 19-21) that must be cast out, to make room for theseed of Abram. They were not possessed of all these countries when God brought them into Canaan.The bounds are fixed much narrower, Num. xxxiv. 2, 3. &c. But, (1.) In David's time, and Solomon's,their jurisdiction extended to the utmost of these limits, 2 Chron. ix. 26. (2.) It was their own faultthat they were not sooner and longer in possession of all these territories. They forfeited their rightby their sins, and by their own sloth and cowardice kept themselves out of possession. (3.) Theland granted is here described in its utmost extent because it was to be a type of the heavenlyinheritance, where there is room enough: in our father's house are many mansions. The presentoccupants are named, because their number, and strength, and long prescription, should be nohindrance to the accomplishment of this promise in its season, and to magnify God's love to Abramand his seed, in giving to that one nation the possessions of many nations, so precious were theyin his sight, and so honourable, Isa. xliii. 4.105 G E N E S I SCHAP. XVI.Hagar is the person mostly concerned in the story of this chapter, an obscure Egyptian woman,whose name and story we never should have heard of if Providence had not brought her into thefamily of Abram. Probably she was one of those maid-servants whom the king of Egypt, amongother gifts, bestowed upon Abram, ch. xiv. 16. Concerning her, we have four things in thischapter:—I. Her marriage to Abram her master, ver. 1-3. II. Her misbehaviour towards Sarai hermistress, ver. 4-6. III. Her discourse with an angel that met her in her flight, ver. 7-14. IV. Herdelivery of a son, ver. 15, 16.Abram, Sarai, and Hagar. (b. c. 1911.)1 Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had a handmaid, anEgyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, theLord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may bethat I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dweltten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.106We have here the marriage of Abram to Hagar, who was his secondary wife. Herein, thoughsome excuse may be made for him, he cannot be justified, for from the beginning it was not so;and, when it was so, it seems to have proceeded from an irregular desire to build up families for161Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)the speedier peopling of the world and the church. Certainly it must not be so now. Christ hasreduced this matter to the first institution, and makes the marriage union to be between one manand one woman only. Now,I. The maker of this match (would one think it?) was Sarai herself: she said to Abram, I praythee, go in unto my maid, v. 2. Note, 1. It is the policy of Satan to tempt us by our nearest anddearest relations, or those friends that we have an opinion of and an affection for. The temptationis most dangerous when it is sent by a hand that is least suspected: it is our wisdom therefore toconsider, not so much who speaks as what is spoken. 2. God's commands consult our comfort andhonour much better than our own contrivances do. It would have been much more for Sarai's interestif Abram had kept to the rule of God's law instead of being guided by her foolish projects; but weoften do ill for ourselves.II. The inducement to it was Sarai's barrenness.1. Sarai bare Abram no children. She was very fair (ch. xii. 14), was a very agreeable, dutifulwife, and a sharer with him in his large possessions; and yet written childless. Note, (1.) Goddispenses his gifts variously, loading us with benefits, but not overloading us: some cross or otheris appointed to be an alloy to great enjoyments. (2.) The mercy of children is often given to thepoor and denied to the rich, given to the wicked and denied to good people, though the rich havemost to leave them and good people would take most care of their education. God does herein asit has pleased him.2. She owned God's providence in this affliction: The Lord hath restrained me from bearing.Note, (1.) As, where children are, it is God that gives them (ch. xxxiii. 5), so where they are wantedit is he that withholds them, ch. xxx. 2. This evil is of the Lord. (2.) It becomes us to acknowledgethis, that we may bear it, and improve it, as an affliction of his ordering for wise and holy ends.3. She used this as an argument with Abram to marry his maid; and he was prevailed upon bythis argument to do it. Note, (1.) When our hearts are too much set upon any creature-comfort, weare easily put upon the use of indirect methods for the obtaining of it. Inordinate desires commonlyproduce irregular endeavours. If our wishes be not kept in a submission to God's providence, ourpursuits will scarcely be kept under the restraints of his precepts. (2.) It is for want of a firmdependence upon God's promise, and a patient waiting for God's time, that we go out of the wayof our duty to catch at expected mercy. He that believes does not make haste.4. Abram's compliance with Sarai's proposal, we have reason to think, was from an earnestdesire of the promised seed, on whom the covenant should be entailed. God had told him that hisheir should be a son of his body, but had not yet told him that it should be a son by Sarai; thereforehe thought, "Why not by Hagar, since Sarai herself proposed it?" Note, (1.) Foul temptations mayhave very fair pretences, and be coloured with that which is very plausible. (2.) Fleshly wisdom,as it anticipates God's time of mercy, so it puts us out of God's way. (3.) This would be happilyprevented if we would ask counsel of God by the word and by prayer, before we attempt that whichis important and suspicious. Herein Abram was wanting; he married without God's consent. Thispersuasion came not of him that called him.4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she hadconceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. 5 And Sarai said unto Abram,My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she sawthat she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and162Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)thee. 6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as itpleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.We have here the immediate bad consequences of Abram's unhappy marriage to Hagar. Agreat deal of mischief it made quickly. When we do not well both sin and trouble lie at the door;and we may thank ourselves for the guilt and grief that follow us when we go out of the way of ourduty. See it in this story.I. Sarai is despised, and thereby provoked and put into a passion, v. 4. Hagar no sooner perceivesherself with child by her master than she looks scornfully upon her mistress, upbraids her perhapswith her barrenness, insults over her, to make her to fret (as 1 Sam. i. 6), and boasts of the prospectshe had of bringing an heir to Abram, to that good land, and to the promise. Now she thinks herselfa better woman than Sarai, more favoured by Heaven, and likely to be better beloved by Abram;and therefore she will not submit as she has done. Note, 1. Mean and servile spirits, when favouredand advanced either by God or man, are apt to grow haughty and insolent, and to forget their placeand origin. See Prov. xxix. 21; xxx. 21-23. It is a hard thing to bear honour aright. 2. We justly107suffer by those whom we have sinfully indulged, and it is a righteous thing with God to make thoseinstruments of our trouble whom we have made instruments of our sin, and to ensnare us in ourown evil counsels: this stone will return upon him that rolleth it.II. Abram is clamoured upon, and cannot be easy while Sarai is out of humour; she upbraidshim vehemently, and very unjustly charges him with the injury (v. 5): My wrong be upon thee, witha most unreasonable jealousy suspecting that he countenanced Hagar's insolence; and, as one notwilling to hear what Abram had to say for the rectifying of the mistake and the clearing of himself,she rashly appeals to God in the case: The Lord judge between me and thee; as if Abram had refusedto right her. Thus does Sarai, in her passion, speak as one of the foolish women speaketh. Note, 1.It is an absurdity which passionate people are often guilty of to quarrel with others for that of whichthey themselves must bear the blame. Sarai could not but own that she had given her maid to Abram,and yet she cries out, My wrong be upon thee, when she should have said, What a fool was I to doso! That is never said wisely which pride and anger have the inditing of; when passion is upon thethrone, reason is out of doors, and is neither heard nor spoken. 2. Those are not always in the rightwho are most loud and forward in appealing to God. Rash and bold imprecations are commonlyevidences of guilt and a bad cause.III. Hagar is afflicted, and driven from the house, v. 6. Observe, 1. Abram's meekness resignsthe matter of the maid-servant to Sarai, whose proper province it was to rule that part of the family:Thy maid is in thy hand. Though she was his wife, he would not countenance nor protect her in anything that was disrespectful to Sarai, for whom he still retained the same affection that ever he had.Note, Those who would keep up peace and love must return soft answers to hard accusations.Husbands and wives particularly should agree, and endeavour not to be both angry together. Yieldingpacifies great offenses. See Prov. xv. 1. 2. Sarai's passion will be revenged upon Hagar: She dealthardly with her, not only confining her to her usual place and work as a servant, but probablymaking her to serve with rigour. Note, God takes notice of, and is displeased with, the hardshipswhich harsh masters unreasonably put upon their servants. They ought to forbear threatening, withJob's thought, Did not he that made me make him? Job xxxi. 15. 3. Hagar's pride cannot bear it,her high spirit having become impatient of rebuke: She fled from her face. She not only avoidedher wrath for the present, as David did Saul's, but she totally deserted her service, and ran away163Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)from the house, forgetting, (1.) What wrong she hereby did to her mistress, whose servant she was,and to her master, whose wife she was. Note, Pride will hardly be restrained by any bonds of duty,no, not by many. (2.) That she herself had first given the provocation, by despising her mistress.Note, Those that suffer for their faults ought to bear their sufferings patiently, 1 Pet. ii. 20.7 And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness,by the fountain in the way to Shur. 8 And he said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, whencecamest thou? and whither wilt thou go? And she said, I flee from the face of mymistress Sarai. 9 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Return to thy mistress,and submit thyself under her hands.Here is the first mention we have in scripture of an angel's appearance. Hagar was a type ofthe law, which was given by the disposition of angels; but the world to come is not put in subjectionto them, Heb. ii. 5. Observe,I. How the angel arrested her in her flight, v. 7. It should seem, she was making towards herown country; for she was in the way to Shur, which lay towards Egypt. It were well if our afflictionswould make us think of our home, the better country. But Hagar was now out of her place, and outof the way of her duty, and going further astray, when the angel found her. Note, 1. It is a greatmercy to be stopped in a sinful way either by conscience or by Providence. 2. God suffers thosethat are out of the way to wander awhile, that when they see their folly, and what a loss they havebrought themselves to, they may be the better disposed to return. Hagar was not stopped till shewas in the wilderness, and had set down, weary enough, and glad of clear water to refresh herselfwith. God brings us into a wilderness, and there meets us, Hos. ii. 14.II. How he examined her, v. 8. Observe,1. He called her Hagar, Sarai's maid, (1.) As a check to her pride. Though she was Abram'swife, and, as such, was obliged to return, yet he calls her Sarai's maid, to humble her. Note, Thoughcivility teaches us to call others by their highest titles, yet humility and wisdom teach us to callourselves by the lowest. (2.) As a rebuke to her flight. Sarai's maid ought to be in Sarai's tent, andnot wandering in the wilderness and sauntering by a fountain of water. Note, It is good for us oftento call to mind what our place and relation are. See Eccl. x. 4.2. The questions the angel put to her were proper and very pertinent. (1.) "Whence comestthou? Consider that thou art running away both from the duty thou wast bound to and the privilegesthou wast blessed with in Abram's tent." Note, It is a great advantage to live in a religious family,108which those ought to consider who have that advantage, yet upon every slight inducement areforward to quit it. (2.) "Whither wilt thou go? Thou art running thyself into sin, in Egypt" (if shereturn to that people, she will return to their gods), "and into danger, in the wilderness," throughwhich she must travel, Deut. viii. 15. Note, Those who are forsaking God and their duty would dowell to remember not only whence they have fallen, but whither they are falling. See Jer. ii. 18,What hast thou to do (with Hagar) in the way of Egypt? John vi. 68.3. Her answer was honest, and a fair confession: I flee from the face of my mistress. In this,(1.) She acknowledges her fault in fleeing from her mistress, and yet, (2.) Excuses it, that it wasfrom the face, of displeasure, of her mistress. Note, Children and servants must be treated withmildness and gentleness, lest we provoke them to take any irregular courses and so become accessoryto their sins, which will condemn us, though it will not justify them.164Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)4. How he sent her back, with suitable and compassionate counsel: "Return to thy mistress,and submit thyself under her hand, v. 9. Go home, and humble thyself for what thou hast doneamiss, and beg pardon, and resolve for the future to behave thyself better." He makes no questionbut she would be welcome, though it does not appear that Abram sent after her. Note, Those thathave gone away from their place and duty, when they are convinced of their error, must hastentheir return and reformation, how mortifying soever it may be.The Promise Concerning Ishmael. (b. c. 1911.)10 And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly,that it shall not be numbered for multitude. 11 And the angel of the Lord said untoher, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael;because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. 12 And he will be a wild man; his handwill be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell inthe presence of all his brethren. 13 And she called the name of the Lord that spakeunto her, Thou God seest me: for she said, Have I also here looked after him thatseeth me? 14 Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is betweenKadesh and Bered.We may suppose that the angel having given Hagar that good counsel (v. 9) to return to hermistress she immediately promised to do so, and was setting her face homeward; and then the angelwent on to encourage her with an assurance of the mercy God had in store for her and her seed: forGod will meet those with mercy that are returning to their duty. I said, I will confess, and thouforgavest, Ps. xxxii. 5. Here is,I. A prediction concerning her posterity given her for her comfort in her present distress. Noticeis taken of her condition: Behold, thou art with child; and therefore this is not a fit place for theeto be in. Note, It is a great comfort to women with child to think that they are under the particularcognizance and care of the divine Providence. God graciously considers their case and suits supportsto it. Now, 1. The angel assures her of a safe delivery, and that of a son, which Abram desired. Thisfright and ramble of hers might have destroyed her hope of an offspring; but God dealt not withher according to her folly: Thou shalt bear a son. She was saved in child-bearing, not only byprovidence, but by promise. 2. He names her child, which was an honour both to her and it: Callhim Ishmael, God will hear; and the reason is, because the Lord has heard; he has, and thereforehe will. Note, The experience we have had of God's seasonable kindness to us in distress wouldencourage us to hope for similar help in similar exigencies, Ps. x. 17. He has heard thy affliction,v. 11. Note, Even where there is little cry of devotion, the God of pity sometimes graciously hearsthe cry of affliction. Tears speak as well as prayers. This speaks comfort to the afflicted, that Godnot only sees what their afflictions are, but hears what they say. Note, further, Seasonable succours,in a day of affliction, ought always to be remembered with thankfulness to God. Such a time, insuch a strait, the Lord heard the voice of my affliction, and helped me. See Deut. xxvi. 7; Ps. xxxi.22. 3. He promises her a numerous offspring, (v. 10): I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, Heb.multiplying, I will multiply it, that is, multiply it in every age, so as to perpetuate it. It is supposedthat the Turks at this day descend from Ishmael; and they are a great people. This was in pursuanceof the promise made to Abram: I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth, ch. xiii. 16. Note, Many165Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that are children of godly parents have, for their sakes, a very large share of outward commonblessings, though, like Ishmael, they are not taken into covenant: many are multiplied that are notsanctified. 4. He gives a character of the child she should bear, which, however it may seem to us,perhaps was not very disagreeable to her (v. 12): He will be a wild man; a wild ass of a man (sothe word is), rude, and bold, and fearing no man—untamed, untractable living at large, and impatientof service and restraint. Note, The children of the bondwoman, who are out of covenant with God,are, as they were born, like the wild ass's colt; it is grace that reclaims men, civilizes them, and109makes them wise, and good for something. It is foretold, (1.) That he should live in strife, and ina state of war: His hand against every man—this is his sin; and every man's hand against him—thisis his punishment. Note, Those that have turbulent spirits have commonly troublesome lives; thosethat are provoking, vexatious, and injurious to others, must expect to be repaid in their own coin.He that has his hand and tongue against every man shall have every man's hand and tongue againsthim, and he has no reason to complain of it. And yet, (2.) That he should live in safety, and holdhis own against all the world: He shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren; though threatenedand insulted by all his neighbours, yet he shall keep his ground, and for Abram's sake, more thanhis own, shall be able to make his part good with them. Accordingly we read (ch. xxv. 18), that hedied, as he lived, in the presence of all his brethren. Note, Many that are much exposed by theirown imprudence are yet strangely preserved by the divine Providence, so much better is God tothem than they deserve, when they not only forfeit their lives by sin, but hazard them.II. Hagar's pious reflection upon this gracious appearance of God to her, v. 13, 14. Observe inwhat she said,1. Her awful adoration of God's omniscience and providence, with application of it to herself:She called the name of the Lord that spoke unto her, that is, thus she made confession of his name,this she said to his praise, Thou God seest me: this should be, with her, his name for ever, and thishis memorial, by which she will know him and remember him while she lives, Thou God seest me.Note, (1.) The God with whom we have to do is a seeing God, and all-seeing God. God is (as theancients express it) all eye. (2.) We ought to acknowledge this with application to ourselves. Hethat sees all sees me, as David (Ps. cxxxix. 1), O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. (3.)A believing regard to God, as a God that sees us, will be of great use to us in our returns to him. Itis a proper word for a penitent:—[1.] "Thou seest my sin and folly." I have sinned before thee, saysthe prodigal; in thy sight, says David. [2.] "Thou seest my sorrow and affliction;" this Hagarespecially refers to. When we have brought ourselves into distress by our own folly, yet God hasnot forsaken us. [3.] "Thou seest the sincerity and seriousness of my return and repentance. Thouseest my secret mournings for sin, and secret motions towards thee." [4.] "Thou seest me, if in anyinstance I depart from thee," Ps. xliv. 20, 21. This thought should always restrain us from sin andexcite us to duty: Thou God seest me.2. Her humble admiration of God's favour to her: "Have I here also looked after him that seethme? Have I here seen the back parts of him that seeth me?" so it might be read, for the word ismuch the same with that, Exod. xxxiii. 23. She saw not face to face, but as through a glass darkly,1 Cor. xiii. 12. Probably she knew not who it was that talked with her, till he was departing (asJudg. vi. 21, 22; xiii. 21), and then she looked after him, with a reflection like that of the twodisciples, Luke xxiv. 31, 32. Or, Have I here seen him that sees me? Note, (1.) The communionwhich holy souls have with God consists in their having an eye of faith towards him, as a God thathas an eye of favour towards them. The intercourse is kept up by the eye. (2.) The privilege of our166Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)communion with God is to be looked upon with wonder and admiration, [1.] Considering what weare who are admitted to this favour. "Have I? I that am so mean, I that am so vile?" 2 Sam. vii. 18.[2.] Considering the place where we are thus favoured—"here also? Not only in Abram's tent andat his altar, but here also, in this wilderness? Here, where I never expected it, where I was out ofthe way of my duty? Lord, how is it?" John xiv. 22. Some make the answer to this question to benegative, and so look upon it as a penitent reflection: "Have I here also, in my distress and affliction,looked after God? No, I was a careless and unmindful of him as ever I used to be; and yet he hasthus visited and regarded me:" for God often anticipates us with his favours, and is found of thosethat seek him not, Isa. lxv. 1.III. The name which this gave to the place: Beer-lahai-roi, The well of him that liveth and seethme, v. 14. It is probable that Hagar put this name upon it; and it was retained long after, in perpetuamrei memoriam—a lasting memorial of this event. This was a place where the God of glory manifestedthe special cognizance and care he took of a poor woman in distress. Note, 1. He that is all-seeingis ever-living; he lives and sees us. 2. Those that are graciously admitted into communion withGod, and receive seasonable comforts from him, should tell others what he has done for their souls,that they also may be encouraged to seek him and trust in him. 3. God's gracious manifestations ofhimself to us are to be had in everlasting remembrance by us, and should never be forgotten.The Birth of Ishmael. (b. c. 1911.)15 And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagarbare, Ishmael. 16 And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bareIshmael to Abram.It is here taken for granted, though not expressly recorded, that Hagar did as the angelcommanded her, returning to her mistress and submitting herself; and then, in the fulness of time,she brought forth her son. Note, Those who obey divine precepts shall have the comfort of divine110promises. This was the son of the bond-woman that was born after the flesh (Gal. iv. 23),representing the unbelieving Jews, v. 25. Note, 1. Many who can call Abraham father are yet bornafter the flesh, Matt. iii. 9. 2. The carnal seed in the church are sooner brought forth than the spiritual.It is an easier thing to persuade men to assume the form of godliness than to submit to the powerof godliness.110 G E N E S I SCHAP. XVII.This chapter contains articles of agreement covenanted and concluded upon between the greatJehovah, the Father of mercies, on the one part, and pious Abram, the father of the faithful, on theother part. Abram is therefore called "the friend of God," not only because he was the man of hiscounsel, but because he was the man of his covenant; both these secrets were with him. Mentionwas made of this covenant (ch. xv. 18), but here it is particularly drawn up, and put into the formof a covenant, that Abram might have strong consolation. Here are, I. The circumstances of the167Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)making of this covenant, the time and manner (ver. 1), and the posture Abram was in, ver. 3. II.The covenant itself. In the general scope of it, ver. 1. And, afterwards, in the particular instances.1. That he should be the father of many nations (ver. 4, 6), and, in token of this, his name waschanged, ver. 5. 2. That God would be a God to him and his seed, and would give them the landof Canaan, ver. 7, 8. And the seal of this part of the covenant was circumcision, ver. 9-14. 3. Thathe should have a son by Sarai, and, in token thereof, her name was changed, ver. 15, 16. Thispromise Abram received, ver. 17. And his request for Ishmael, (ver. 18) was answered, abundantlyto his satisfaction, ver. 19-22. III. The circumcision of Abram and his family, according to God'sappointment, ver. 23, &c.The Covenant with Abraham Renewed. (b. c. 1898.)1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram,and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply theeexceedingly. 3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,Here is, I. The time when God made Abram this gracious visit: When he was ninety-nine yearsold, full thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael. 1. So long, it should seem, God's extraordinaryappearances to Abram were intermitted; and all the communion he had with God was only in theusual was of ordinances and providences. Note, There are some special comforts which are not thedaily bread, no, not of the best saints, but they are favoured with them now and then. On this sideheaven they have convenient food, but not a continual feast. 2. So long the promise of Isaac wasdeferred. (1.) Perhaps to correct Abram's over-hasty marrying of Hagar. Note, The comforts wesinfully anticipate are justly delayed. (2.) That Abram and Sarai being so far stricken in age God'spower, in this matter, might be the more magnified, and their faith the more tried. See Deut. xxxii.36; John xi. 6, 15. (3.) That a child so long waited for might be an Isaac, a son indeed, Isa. liv. 1.II. The way in which God made this covenant with him: The Lord appeared to Abram, in theshechinah, some visible display of God's immediate glorious presence with him. Note, God firstmakes himself known to us, and gives us a sight of him by faith, and then takes us into his covenant.III. The posture Abram put himself into upon this occasion: He fell on his face while Godtalked with him, v. 3. 1. As one overcome by the brightness of the divine glory, and unable to bearthe sight of it, though he had seen it several times before. Daniel and John did likewise, thoughthey were also acquainted with the visions of the Almighty, Dan. viii. 17; x. 9, 15; Rev. i. 17. Or,2. As one ashamed of himself, and blushing to think of the honours done to one so unworthy. Helooks upon himself with humility, and upon God with reverence, and, in token of both, falls on hisface, putting himself into a posture of adoration. Note, (1.) God graciously condescends to talkwith those whom he takes into covenant and communion with himself. He talks with them by hisword, Prov. vi. 22. He talks with them by his Spirit, John xiv. 26. This honour have all his saints.(2.) Those that are admitted into fellowship with God are, and must be, very humble and veryreverent in their approaches to him. If we say we have fellowship with him, and the familiaritybreeds contempt, we deceive ourselves. (3.) Those that would receive comfort from God must setthemselves to give glory to God and to worship at his footstool.168Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)IV. The general scope and summary of the covenant laid down as the foundation on which allthe rest was built; it is no other than the covenant of grace still made with all believers in JesusChrist, v. 1. Observe here,1. What we may expect to find God to us: I am the Almighty God. By this name he chose tomake himself known to Abram rather than by his name Jehovah, Exod. vi. 3. He used it to Jacob,ch. xxviii. 3; xliii. 14; xlviii. 3. It is the name of God that is mostly used throughout the book ofJob, at least in the discourses of that book. After Moses, Jehovah is more frequently used, and this,El-shaddai, very rarely; it bespeaks the almighty power of God, either, (1.) As an avenger, fromsdh he laid waste, so some; and they think God took this title from the destruction of the old world.This is countenanced by Isa. xiii. 6, and Joel i. 15. Or, (2.) As a benefactor s for asr who, and dysufficient. He is a God that is enough; or, as our old English translation reads it here verysignificantly, I am God all-sufficient. Note, The God with whom we have to do is a God that isenough. [1.] He is enough in himself; he is self-sufficient; he has every thing, and he needs not anything. [2.] He is enough to us, if we be in covenant with him: we have all in him, and we haveenough in him, enough to satisfy our most enlarged desires, enough to supply the defect of everything else, and to secure to us a happiness for our immortal souls. See Ps. xvi. 5, 6; lxxiii. 25.1112. What God requires that we should be to him. The covenant is mutual: Walk before me, andbe thou perfect, that is, upright and sincere; for herein the covenant of grace is well-ordered thatsincerity is our gospel perfection. Observe, (1.) That to be religious is to walk before God in ourintegrity; it is to set God always before us, and to think, and speak, and act, in every thing, as thosethat are always under his eye. It is to have a constant regard to his word as our rule and to his gloryas our end in all our actions, and to be continually in his fear. It is to be inward with him, in all theduties of religious worship, for in them particularly we walk before God (1 Sam. ii. 30), and to beentire for him, in all holy conversation. I know no religion but sincerity. (2.) That upright walkingwith God is the condition of our interest in his all-sufficiency. If we neglect him, or dissemble withhim, we forfeit the benefit and comfort of our relation to him. (3.) A continual regard to God'sall-sufficiency will have a great influence upon our upright walking with him.4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of manynations. 5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shallbe Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. 6 And I will make theeexceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.The promise here is introduced with solemnity: "As for me," says the great God, "behold,behold and admire it, behold and be assured of it, my covenant is with thee;" as before (v. 2), I willmake my covenant. Note, The covenant of grace is a covenant of God's own making; this he gloriesin (as for me), and so may we. Now here,I. It is promised to Abraham that he should be a father of many nations; that is, 1. That hisseed after the flesh should be very numerous, both in Isaac and Ishmael, as well as in the sons ofKeturah: something extraordinary is doubtless included in this promise, and we may suppose thatthe event answered to it, and that there have been, and are, more of the children of men descendedfrom Abraham than from any one man at an equal distance with him from Noah, the common root.2. That all believers in every age should be looked upon as his spiritual seed, and that he should becalled, not only the friend of God, but the father of the faithful. In this sense the apostle directs usto understand this promise, Rom. iv. 16, 17. He is the father of those in every nation that by faith169Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)enter into covenant with God, and (as the Jewish writers express it) are gathered under the wingsof the divine Majesty.II. In token of this his name was changed from Abram, a high father, to Abraham, the fatherof a multitude. This was, 1. To put an honour upon him. It is spoken of as the glory of the churchthat she shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name, Isa. lxii. 2. Princesdignify their favourites by conferring new titles upon them; thus was Abraham dignified by himthat is indeed the fountain of honour. All believers have a new name, Rev. ii. 17. Some think itadded to the honour of Abraham's new name that a letter of the name Jehovah was inserted into it,as it was a disgrace to Jeconiah to have the first syllable of his name cut off, because it was thesame as the first syllable of the sacred name, Jer. xxii. 28. Believers are named from Christ, Eph.iii. 15. 2. To encourage and confirm the faith of Abraham. While he was childless perhaps evenhis own name was sometimes an occasion of grief to him: why should he be called a high fatherwho was not a father at all? But now that God had promised him a numerous issue, and had givenhim a name which signified so much, that name was his joy. Note, God calls things that are not asthough they were. It is the apostle's observation upon this very thing, Rom. iv. 17. He called Abrahamthe father of a multitude because he should prove to be so in due time, though as yet he had butone child.7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after theein their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thyseed after thee. 8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the landwherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession;and I will be their God. 9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenanttherefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. 10 This is my covenant,which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man childamong you shall be circumcised. 11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of yourforeskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. 12 And hethat is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in yourgenerations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger,which is not of thy seed. 13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with112thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh foran everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of hisforeskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath brokenmy covenant.Here is, I. The continuance of the covenant, intimated in three things:—1. It is established; notto be altered nor revoked. It is fixed, it is ratified, it is made as firm as the divine power and truthcan make it. 2. It is entailed; it is a covenant, not with Abraham only (then it would die with him),but with his seed after him, not only his seed after the flesh, but his spiritual seed. 3. It is everlastingin the evangelical sense and meaning of it. The covenant of grace is everlasting. It is from everlastingin the counsels of it, and to everlasting in the consequences of it; and the external administrationof it is transmitted with the seal of it to the seed of believers, and the internal administration of itby the Spirit of Christ's seed in every age.170Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. The contents of the covenant: it is a covenant of promises, exceedingly great and preciouspromises. Here are two which indeed are all-sufficient:—1. That God would be their God, v. 7, 8.All the privileges of the covenant, all its joys and all its hopes, are summed up in this. A man needsdesire no more than this to make him happy. What God is himself, that he will be to his people:his wisdom theirs, to guide and counsel them; his power theirs, to protect and support them; hisgoodness theirs, to supply and comfort them. What faithful worshippers can expect from the Godthey serve believers shall find in God as theirs. This is enough, yet not all. 2. That Canaan shouldbe their everlasting possession, v. 8. God had before promised this land to Abraham and his seed,ch. xv. 18. But here, where it is promised for an everlasting possession, surely it must be lookedupon as a type of heaven's happiness, that everlasting rest which remains for the people of God,Heb. iv. 9. This is that better country to which Abraham had an eye, and the grant of which wasthat which answered to the vast extent and compass of that promise, that God would be to them aGod; so that, if God had not prepared and designed this, he would have been ashamed to be calledtheir God, Heb. xi. 16. As the land of Canaan was secured to the seed of Abraham according to theflesh, so heaven is secured to all his spiritual seed, by a covenant, and for a possession, trulyeverlasting. The offer of this eternal life is made in the word, and confirmed by the sacraments, toall that are under the external administration of the covenant; and the earnest of it is given to allbelievers, Eph. i. 14. Canaan is here said to be the land wherein Abraham was a stranger; and theheavenly Canaan is a land to which we are strangers, for it does not yet appear what we shall be.III. The token of the covenant, and that is circumcision, for the sake of which the covenant isitself called the covenant of circumcision, Acts vii. 8. It is here said to be the covenant whichAbraham and his seed must keep, as a copy or counterpart, v. 9, 10. It is called a sign and seal(Rom. iv. 11), for it was, 1. A confirmation to Abraham and his seed of those promises which wereGod's part of the covenant, assuring them that they should be fulfilled, that in due time Canaanwould be theirs: and the continuance of this ordinance, after Canaan was theirs, intimates that thesepromises looked further to another Canaan, which they must still be in expectation of. See Heb. iv.8. 2. An obligation upon Abraham and his seed to that duty which was their part of the covenant;not only to the duty of accepting the covenant and consenting to it, and putting away the corruptionof the flesh (which were more immediately and primarily signified by circumcision), but, in general,to the observance of all God's commands, as they should at any time hereafter be intimated andmade known to them; for circumcision made men debtors to do the whole law, Gal. v. 3. Thosewho will have God to be to them a God must consent and resolve to be to him a people. Now, (1.)Circumcision was a bloody ordinance; for all things by the law were purged with blood, Heb. ix.22. See Exod. xxiv. 8. But, the blood of Christ being shed, all bloody ordinances are now abolished;circumcision therefore gives way to baptism. (2.) It was peculiar to the males, though the womenwere also included in the covenant, for the man is the head of the woman. In our kingdom, the oathof allegiance is required only from men. Some think that the blood of the males only was shed incircumcision because respect was had in it to Jesus Christ and his blood. (3.) It was the flesh of theforeskin that was to be cut off, because it is by ordinary generation that sin is propagated, and withan eye to the promised seed, who was to come from the loins of Abraham. Christ having not yetoffered himself to us, God would have man to enter into covenant by the offering of some part ofhis own body, and no part could be better spared. It is a secret part of the body; for the truecircumcision is that of the heart: this honour God put upon an uncomely part, 1 Cor. xii. 23, 24.(4.) The ordinance was to be administered to children when they were eight days old, and not171Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)sooner, that they might gather some strength, to be able to undergo the pain of it, and that at leastone sabbath might pass over them. (5.) The children of the strangers, of whom the master of the113family was the true domestic owner, were to be circumcised (v. 12, 13), which looked favourablyupon the Gentiles, who should in due time be brought into the family of Abraham, by faith. SeeGal. iii. 14. (6.) The religious observance of this institution was required under a very severe penalty,v. 14. The contempt of circumcision was a contempt of the covenant; if the parents did not circumcisetheir children, it was at their peril, as in the case of Moses, Exod. iv. 24, 25. With respect to thosethat were not circumcised in their infancy, if, when they grew up, they did not themselves comeunder this ordinance, God would surely reckon with them. If they cut not off the flesh of theirforeskin, God would cut them off from their people. It is a dangerous thing to make light of divineinstitutions, and to live in the neglect of them.15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call hername Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16 And I will bless her, and give thee ason also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings ofpeople shall be of her. 17 Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and saidin his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? and shallSarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18 And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmaelmight live before thee! 19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a sonindeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant withhim for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20 And as for Ishmael,I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and willmultiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a greatnation. 21 But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear untothee at this set time in the next year. 22 And he left off talking with him, and Godwent up from Abraham.Here is, I. The promise made to Abraham of a son by Sarai, that son in whom the promisemade to him should be fulfilled, that he should be the father of many nations; for she also shall bea mother of nations, and kings of people shall be of her, v. 16. Note, 1. God reveals the purposesof his good-will to his people by degrees. God had told Abraham long before that he should havea son, but never till now that he should have a son by Sarai. 2. The blessing of the Lord makesfruitful, and adds no sorrow with it, no such sorrow as was in Hagar's case. "I will bless her withthe blessing of fruitfulness, and then thou shalt have a son of her." 3. Civil government and orderare a great blessing to the church. It is promised, not only that people, but kings of people, shouldbe of her; not a headless rout, but a well-modelled well-governed society.II. The ratification of this promise was the change of Sarai's name into Sarah (v. 15), the sameletter being added to her name that was to Abraham's, and for the same reasons. Sarai signifies myprincess, as if her honour were confined to one family only. Sarah signifies a princess—namely,of multitudes, or signifying that from her should come the Messiah the prince, even the prince ofthe kings of the earth.III. Abraham's joyful, thankful, entertainment of this gracious promise, v. 17. Upon this occasionhe expressed, 1. Great humility: He fell on his face. Note, The more honours and favours God172Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)confers upon us the lower we should be in our own eyes, and the more reverent and submissivebefore God. 2. Great joy: He laughed. It was a laughter of delight, not of distrust. Note, Even thepromises of a holy God, as well as his performances, are the joys of holy souls; there is the joy offaith as well as the joy of fruition. Now it was that Abraham rejoiced to see Christ's day. Now hesaw it and was glad (John viii. 56); for, as he saw heaven in the promise of Canaan, so he saw Christin the promise of Isaac. 3. Great admiration: Shall a child be born to him that is a hundred yearsold? He does not here speak of it as at all doubtful (for we are sure that he staggered not at thepromise, Rom. iv. 20), but as very wonderful and that which could not be effected but by thealmighty power of God, and as very kind, and a favour which was the more affecting and obligingfor this, that it was extremely surprising, Ps. cxxvi. 1, 2.IV. Abraham's prayer for Ishmael: O that Ishmael might live before thee! v. 18. This he speaks,not as desiring that Ishmael might be preferred before the son he should have by Sarah; but, dreadinglest he should be abandoned and forsaken of God, he puts up this petition on his behalf. Now thatGod is talking with him he thinks he has a very fair opportunity to speak a good word for Ishmael,and he will not let it slip. Note, 1. Though we ought not to prescribe to God, yet he gives us leave,in prayer, to be humbly free with him, and particular in making known our requests, Phil. iv. 6.Whatever is the matter of our care and fear should be spread before God in prayer. 2. It is the duty114of parents to pray for their children, for all their children, as Job, who offered burnt offeringsaccording to the number of them all, Job i. 5. Abraham would not have it thought that, when Godpromised him a son by Sarah, which he so much desired, then his son by Hagar was forgotten; no,still he bears him upon his heart, and shows a concern for him. The prospect of further favoursmust not make us unmindful of former favours. 3. The great thing we should desire of God for ourchildren is that they may live before him, that is, that they may be kept in covenant with him, andmay have grace to walk before him in their uprightness. Spiritual blessings are the best blessings,and those for which we should be most earnest with God, both for ourselves and others. Those livewell that live before God.V. God's answer to his prayer; and it is an answer of peace. Abraham could not say that hesought God's face in vain.1. Common blessings are secured to Ishmael (v. 20): As for Ishmael, whom thou art in so muchcare about, I have heard thee; he shall find favour for thy sake; I have blessed him, that is, I havemany blessings in store for him. (1.) His posterity shall be numerous: I will multiply him exceedingly,more than his neighbours. This is the fruit of the blessing, as that, ch. i. 28. (2.) They shall beconsiderable: Twelve princes shall he beget. We may charitably hope that spiritual blessings alsowere bestowed upon him, though the visible church was not brought out of his loins and the covenantwas not lodged in his family. Note, Great plenty of outward good things is often given to thosechildren of godly parents who are born after the flesh, for their parents' sake.2. Covenant blessings are reserved for Isaac, and appropriated to him, v. 19, 21. If Abraham,in his prayer for Ishmael, meant that he would have the covenant made with him, and the promisedseed to come from him, then God did not answer him in the letter, but in that which was equivalent,nay, which was every way better. (1.) God repeats to him the promise of a son by Sarah: She shallbear thee a son indeed. Note, Even true believers need to have God's promises doubled and repeatedto them, that they may have strong consolation, Heb. vi. 18. Again, Children of the promise arechildren indeed. (2.) He names that child—calls him Isaac, laughter, because Abraham rejoicedin spirit when this son was promised him. Note, If God's promises be our joy, his mercies promised173Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)shall in due time be our exceeding joy. Christ will be laughter to those that look for him; those thatnow rejoice in hope shall shortly rejoice in having that which they hope for: this is laughter that isnot mad. (3.) He entails the covenant upon that child: I will establish my covenant with him. Note,God takes whom he pleases into covenant with himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.See Rom. ix. 8, 18. Thus was the covenant settled between God and Abraham, with its severallimitations and remainders, and then the conference ended: God left off talking with him, and thevision disappeared, God went up from Abraham. Note, Our communion with God here is brokenand interrupted; in heaven it will be a continual and everlasting feast.Circumcision of Abraham, &c. (b. c. 1898.)23 And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, andall that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham's house;and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said untohim. 24 And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised inthe flesh of his foreskin. 25 And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when hewas circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26 In the selfsame day was Abrahamcircumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27 And all the men of his house, born in thehouse, and bought with money of the stranger, were circumcised with him.We have here Abraham's obedience to the law of circumcision. He himself and all his familywere circumcised, so receiving the token of the covenant and distinguishing themselves from otherfamilies, that had no part nor lot in the matter. 1. It was an implicit obedience: He did as God hadsaid to him, and did not ask why or wherefore. God's will was not only a law to him, but a reason;he did it because God told him. 2. It was a speedy obedience: In the self-same day, v. 23, 26. Sincereobedience is not dilatory, Ps. cxix. 60. While the command is yet sounding in our ears, and thesense of duty is fresh, it is good to apply ourselves to it immediately, lest we deceive ourselves byputting it off to a more convenient season. 3. It was a universal obedience: He did not circumcisehis family and excuse himself, but set them an example; nor did he take the comfort of the seal ofthe covenant to himself only, but desired that all his might share with him in it. This is a goodexample to masters of families; they and their houses must serve the Lord. Though God's covenantwas not established with Ishmael, yet he was circumcised; for children of believing parents, assuch, have a right to the privileges of the visible church, and the seals of the covenant, whateverthey may prove afterwards. Ishmael is blessed, and therefore circumcised. 4. Abraham did thisthough much might be objected against it. Though circumcision was painful,—though to grown115men it was shameful,—though, while they were sore and unfit for action, their enemies might takeadvantage against them, as Simeon and Levi did against the Shechemites,—though Abraham wasninety-nine years old, and had been justified and accepted of God long since,—though so strangea thing done religiously might be turned to his reproach by the Canaanite and the Perizzite thatdwelt then in the land,—yet God's command was sufficient to answer these and a thousand suchobjections: what God requires we must do, not conferring with flesh and blood.174Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)115 G E N E S I SCHAP. XVIII.We have an account in this chapter of another interview between God and Abraham, probablywithin a few days after the former, as the reward of his cheerful obedience to the law of circumcision.Here is, I. The kind visit which God made him, and the kind entertainment which he gave to thatvisit, ver. 1-8. II. The matters discoursed of between them. 1. The purposes of God's love concerningSarah, ver. 9-15. 2. The purposes of God's wrath concerning Sodom. (1.) The discovery God madeto Abraham of his design to destroy Sodom, ver. 16-22. (2.) The intercession Abraham made forSodom, ver. 23, &c.).Abraham's Interview with the Angels. (b. c. 1898.)1 And the Lord appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tentdoor in the heat of the day; 2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three menstood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent-door, andbowed himself toward the ground, 3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favourin thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: 4 Let a little water, I prayyou, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: 5 And Iwill fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on:for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quicklythree measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. 7 AndAbraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto ayoung man; and he hasted to dress it. 8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calfwhich he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree,and they did eat.The appearance of God to Abraham seems to have had in it more of freedom and familiarity,and less of grandeur and majesty, than those we have hitherto read of; and therefore more resemblesthat great visit which, in the fullness of time, the Son of God was to make to the world, when theWord would be flesh, and appear as one of us. Observe here,I. How Abraham expected strangers, and how richly his expectations were answered (v. 1):He sat in the tent-door, in the heat of the day; not so much to repose or divert himself as to seekan opportunity of doing good, by giving entertainment to strangers and travellers, there beingperhaps no inns to accommodate them. Note, 1. We are likely to have the most comfort of thosegood works to which we are most free and forward. 2. God graciously visits those in whom he hasfirst raised the expectation of him, and manifests himself to those that wait for him. When Abrahamwas thus sitting, he saw three men coming towards him. These three men were three spiritualheavenly beings, now assuming human bodies, that they might be visible to Abraham, andconversable with him. Some think that they were all created angels, others that one of them was175Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)the Son of God, the angel of the covenant, whom Abraham distinguished from the rest (v. 3), andwho is called Jehovah, v. 13. The apostle improves this for the encouragement of hospitality, Heb.xiii. 2. Those that have been forward to entertain strangers have entertained angels, to theirunspeakable honour and satisfaction. Where, upon a prudent and impartial judgment, we see nocause to suspect ill, charity teaches us to hope well and to show kindness accordingly. It is betterto feed five drones, or wasps, than to starve one bee.II. How Abraham entertained those strangers, and how kindly his entertainment was accepted.The Holy Ghost takes particular notice of the very free and affectionate welcome Abraham gaveto the strangers. 1. He was very complaisant and respectful to them. Forgetting his age and gravity,he ran to meet them in the most obliging manner, and with all due courtesy bowed himself towardsthe ground, though as yet he knew nothing of them but that they appeared graceful respectablemen. Note, Religion does not destroy, but improve, good manners, and teaches us to honour allmen. Decent civility is a great ornament to piety. 2. He was very earnest and importunate for theirstay, and took it as a great favour, v. 3, 4. Note, (1.) It becomes those whom God has blessed withplenty to be liberal and open-hearted in their entertainments, according to their ability, and (not incompliment, but cordially) to bid their friends welcome. We should take a pleasure in showingkindness to any; for both God and man love a cheerful giver. Who would eat the bread of him thathas an evil eye? Prov. xxiii. 6, 7. (2.) Those that would have communion with God must earnestlydesire it and pray for it. God is a guest worth entertaining. 3. His entertainment, though it was veryfree, was yet plain and homely, and there was nothing in it of the gaiety and niceness of our times.116His dining-room was an arbour under a tree; no rich table-linen, no side-board set with plate. Hisfeast was a joint or two of veal, and some cakes baked on the hearth, and both hastily dressed up.Here were no dainties, no varieties, no forced-meats, no sweet-meats, but good, plain, wholesomefood, though Abraham was very rich and his guests were very honourable. Note, We ought not tobe curious in our diet. Let us be thankful for food convenient, though it be homely and common;and not be desirous of dainties, for they are deceitful meat to those that love them and set theirhearts upon them. 4. He and his wife were both of them very attentive and busy, in accommodatingtheir guests with the best they had. Sarah herself is cook and baker; Abraham runs to fetch the calf,brings out the milk and butter, and thinks it not below him to wait at table, that he might show howheartily welcome his guests were. Note, (1.) Those that have real merit need not take state uponthem, nor are their prudent condescensions any disparagement to them. (2.) Hearty friendship willstoop to any thing but sin. Christ himself has taught us to wash one another's feet, in humble love.Those that thus abase themselves shall be exalted. Here Abraham's faith showed itself in goodworks; and so must ours, else it is dead, Jam. ii. 21, 26. The father of the faithful was famous forcharity, and generosity, and good house-keeping; and we must learn of him to do good and tocommunicate. Job did not eat his morsel alone, Job xxxi. 17.9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in thetent. 10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life;and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent-door, whichwas behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age;and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. 12 Therefore Sarahlaughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord176Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)being old also? 13 And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh,saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14 Is any thing too hard forthe Lord? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life,and Sarah shall have a son. 15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for shewas afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.These heavenly guests (being sent to confirm the promise lately made to Abraham, that heshould have a son by Sarah), while they are receiving Abraham's kind entertainment, they returnhis kindness. He receives angels, and has angels' rewards, a gracious message from heaven, Matt.x. 41.I. Care is taken that Sarah should be within hearing. She must conceive by faith, and thereforethe promise must be made to her, Heb. xi. 11. It was the modest usage of that time that the womendid not sit at meat with men, at least not with strangers, but confined themselves to their ownapartments; therefore Sarah is here out of sight: but she must not be out of hearing. The angelsenquire (v. 9), Where is Sarah thy wife? By naming her, they gave intimation enough to Abrahamthat, though they seemed strangers, yet they very well knew him and his family. By enquiring afterher, they showed a friendly kind concern for the family and relations of one whom they foundrespectful to them. It is a piece of common civility, which ought to proceed from a principle ofChristian love, and then it is sanctified. And, by speaking of her (she over-hearing it), they drewher to listen to what was further to be said. Where is Sarah thy wife? say the angels. "Behold in thetent," says Abraham. "Where should she be else? There she is in her place, as she uses to be, andis now within call." Note, 1. The daughters of Sarah must learn of her to be chaste, keepers at home,Tit. ii. 5. There is nothing got by gadding. 2. Those are most likely to receive comfort from Godand his promises that are in their place and in the way of their duty, Luke ii. 8.II. The promise is then renewed and ratified, that she should have a son (v. 10): "I will certainlyreturn unto thee, and visit thee next time with the performance, as now I do with the promise." Godwill return to those that bid him welcome, that entertain his visits: "I will return thy kindness, Sarahthy wife shall have a son;" it is repeated again, v. 14. Thus the promises of the Messiah were oftenrepeated in the Old Testament, for the strengthening of the faith of God's people. We are slow ofheart to believe, and therefore have need of line upon line to the same purport. This is that word ofpromise which the apostle quotes (Rom. ix. 9), as that by the virtue of which Isaac was born. Note,1. The same blessings which others have from common providence believers have from the promise,which makes them very sweet and very sure. 2. The spiritual seed of Abraham owe their life, andjoy, and hope, and all, to the promise. They are born by the word of God, 1 Pet. i. 23.III. Sarah thinks this too good news to be true, and therefore cannot as yet find in her heart tobelieve it: Sarah laughed within herself, v. 12. It was not a pleasing laughter of faith, like Abraham's(ch. xvii. 17), but it was a laughter of doubting and mistrust. Note, The same thing may be done117from very different principles, of which God only, who knows the heart, can judge. The greatobjection which Sarah could not get over was her age: "I am waxed old, and past childbearing inthe course of nature, especially having been hitherto barren, and (which magnifies the difficulty)my lord is old also." Observe here, 1. Sarah calls Abraham her lord; it was the only good word inthis saying, and the Holy Ghost takes notice of it to her honour, and recommends it to the imitationof all Christian wives. 1 Pet. iii. 6, Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, in token of respectand subjection. Thus must the wife reverence her husband, Eph. v. 33. And thus must we be apt to177Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)take notice of what is spoken decently and well, to the honour of those that speak it, though it maybe mixed with that which is amiss, over which we should cast a mantle of love. 2. Humanimprobability often sets up in contradiction to the divine promise. The objections of sense are veryapt to stumble and puzzle the weak faith even of true believers. It is hard to cleave to the first Cause,when second causes frown. 3. Even where there is true faith, yet there are often sore conflicts withunbelief, Sarah could say, Lord, I believe (Heb. xi. 11), and yet must say, Lord, help my unbelief.IV. The angel reproves the indecent expressions of her distrust, v. 13, 14. Observe, 1. ThoughSarah was now most kindly and generously entertaining these angels, yet, when she did amiss, theyreproved her for it, as Christ reproved Martha in her own house, Luke x. 40, 41. If our friends bekind to us, we must not therefore be so unkind to them as to suffer sin upon them. 2. God gave thisreproof to Sarah by Abraham her husband. To him he said, Why did Sarah laugh? perhaps becausehe had not told her of the promise which had been given him some time before to this purport, andwhich, if he had communicated it to her with its ratifications, would have prevented her from beingso surprised now. Or Abraham was told of it that he might tell her of it. Mutual reproof, when thereis occasion for it, is one of the duties of the conjugal relation. 3. The reproof itself is plain, andbacked with a good reason: Wherefore did Sarah laugh? Note, It is good to enquire into the reasonof our laughter, that it may not be the laughter of the fool, Eccl. vii. 6. "Wherefore did I laugh?"Again, Our unbelief and distrust are a great offence to the God of heaven. He justly takes it ill tohave the objections of sense set up in contradiction to his promise, as Luke i. 18. 4. Here is a questionasked which is enough to answer all the cavils of flesh and blood: Is any thing too hard for theLord? (Heb. too wonderful), that is, (1.) Is any thing so secret as to escape his cognizance? No, notSarah's laughing, though it was only within herself. Or, (2.) Is any thing so difficult as to exceedhis power? No, not the giving of a child to Sarah in her old age.V. Sarah foolishly endeavours to conceal her fault (v. 15): She denied, saying, I did not laugh,thinking nobody could contradict her: she told this lie, because she was afraid; but it was in vainto attempt concealing it from an all-seeing eye; she was told, to her shame, Thou didst laugh. Now,1. There seems to be in Sarah a retraction of her distrust. Now she perceived, by laying circumstancestogether, that it was a divine promise which had been made concerning her, she renounced alldoubting distrustful thoughts about it. But, 2. There was withal a sinful attempt to cover a sin witha lie. It is a shame to do amiss, but a greater shame to deny it; for thereby we add iniquity to ouriniquity. Fear of a rebuke often betrays us into this snare. See Isa. lvii. 11, Whom hast thou feared,that thou hast lied? But we deceive ourselves if we think to impose upon God; he can and willbring truth to light, to our shame. He that covers his sin cannot prosper, for the day is coming whichwill discover it.Abraham's Interview with God. (b. c. 1898.)16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abrahamwent with them to bring them on the way. 17 And the Lord said, Shall I hide fromAbraham that thing which I do; 18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become agreat and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him,and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lordmay bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. 20 And the Lord said,178Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is verygrievous; 21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogetheraccording to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. 22 Andthe men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stoodyet before the Lord.The messengers from heaven had now despatched one part of their business, which was anerrand of grace to Abraham and Sarah, and which they delivered first; but now they have beforethem work of another nature. Sodom is to be destroyed, and they must do it, ch. xix. 13. Note, Aswith the Lord there is mercy, so he is the God to whom vengeance belongs. Pursuant to theircommission, we here find, 1. That they looked towards Sodom (v. 16); they set their faces against118it in wrath, as God is said to look unto the host of the Egyptians, Exod. xiv. 24. Note, Though Godhas long seemed to connive at sinners, from which they have inferred that the Lord does not see,does not regard, yet, when the day of his wrath comes, he will look towards them. 2. That they wenttowards Sodom (v. 22), and accordingly we find two of them at Sodom, ch. xix. 1. Whether thethird was the Lord, before whom Abraham yet stood, and to whom he drew near (v. 23), as mostthink, or whether the third left them before they came to Sodom, and the Lord before whom Abrahamstood was the shechinah, or that appearance of the divine glory which Abraham had formerly seenand conversed with, is uncertain. However, we have here,I. The honour Abraham did to his guests: He went with them to bring them on the way, as onethat was loth to part with such good company, and was desirous to pay his utmost respects to them.This is a piece of civility proper to be shown to our friends; but it must be done as the apostle directs(3 John 6), after a godly sort.II. The honour they did to him; for those that honour God he will honour. God communicatedto Abraham his purpose to destroy Sodom, and not only so, but entered into a free conference withhim about it. Having taken him, more closely than before, into covenant with himself (ch. xvii.),he here admits him into more intimate communion with himself than ever, as the man of his counsel.Observe here,1. God's friendly thoughts concerning Abraham, v. 17-19, where we have his resolution tomake known to Abraham his purpose concerning Sodom, with the reasons of it. If Abraham hadnot brought them on their way, perhaps he would not have been thus favoured; but he that loves towalk with wise men shall be wise, Prov. xiii. 20. See how God is pleased to argue with himself:Shall I hide from Abraham (or, as some read it, Am I concealing from Abraham) that thing whichI do? "Can I go about such a thing, and not tell Abraham?" Thus does God, in his counsels, expresshimself, after the manner of men, with deliberation. But why must Abraham be of thecabinet-council? The Jews suggest that because God had granted the land of Canaan to Abrahamand his seed therefore he would not destroy those cities which were a part of that land, without hisknowledge and consent. But God here gives two other reasons:—(1.) Abraham must know, for he is a friend and a favourite, and one that God has a particularkindness for and great things in store for. He is to become a great nation; and not only so, but inthe Messiah, who is to come from his loins, All nations of the earth shall be blessed. Note, Thesecret of the Lord is with those that fear him, Ps. xxv. 14; Prov. iii. 32. Those who by faith live alife of communion with God cannot but know more of his mind than other people, though not witha prophetical, yet with a prudential practical knowledge. They have a better insight than others into179Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)what is present (Hos. xiv. 9; Ps. cvii. 43), and a better foresight of what is to come, at least so muchas suffices for their guidance and for their comfort.(2.) Abraham must know, for he will teach his household: I know Abraham very well, that hewill command his children and his household after him, v. 19. Consider this, [1.] As a very brightpart of Abraham's character and example. He not only prayed with his family, but he taught themas a man of knowledge, nay, he commanded them as a man in authority, and was prophet and king,as well as priest, in his own house. Observe, First, God having made the covenant with him andhis seed, and his household being circumcised pursuant to that, he was very careful to teach andrule them well. Those that expect family blessings must make conscience of family duty. If ourchildren be the Lord's, they must be nursed for him; if they wear his livery, they must be trainedup in his work. Secondly, Abraham took care not only of his children, but of his household; hisservants were catechized servants. Masters of families should instruct and inspect the manners ofall under their roof. The poorest servants have precious souls that must be looked after. Thirdly,Abraham made it his care and business to promote practical religion in his family. He did not filltheir heads with matters of nice speculation, or doubtful disputation; but he taught them to keepthe way of the Lord, and to do judgment and justice, that is, to be serious and devout in the worshipof God and to be honest in their dealings with all men. Fourthly, Abraham, herein, had an eye toposterity, and was in care not only that his household with him, but that his household after him,should keep the way of the Lord, that religion might flourish in his family when he was in his grave.Fifthly, His doing this was the fulfilling of the conditions of the promises which God had madehim. Those only can expect the benefit of the promises that make conscience of their duty. [2.] Asthe reason why God would make known to him his purpose concerning Sodom, because he wascommunicative of his knowledge, and improved it for the benefit of those that were under hischarge. Note, To him that hath shall be given, Matt. xiii. 12; xxv. 29. Those that make a good useof their knowledge shall know more.2. God's friendly talk with Abraham, in which he makes known to him purpose concerningSodom, and allows him a liberty of application to him about the matter. (1.) He tells him of theevidence there was against Sodom: The cry of Sodom is great, v. 20. Note, Some sins, and the sinsof some sinners, cry aloud to heaven for vengeance. The iniquity of Sodom was crying iniquity,119that is, it was so very provoking that it even urged God to punish. (2.) The enquiry he would makeupon this evidence: I will go down now and see, v. 21. Not as if there were any thing concerningwhich God is in doubt, or in the dark; but he is pleased thus to express himself after the manner ofmen, [1.] To show the incontestable equity of all his judicial proceedings. Men are apt to suggestthat his way is not equal; but let them know that his judgments are the result of an eternal counsel,and are never rash or sudden resolves. He never punishes upon report, or common fame, or theinformation of others, but upon his own certain and infallible knowledge. [2.] To give example tomagistrates, and those in authority, with the utmost care and diligence to enquire into the merits ofa cause, before they give judgment upon it. [3.] Perhaps the decree is here spoken of as not yetperemptory, that room and encouragement might be given to Abraham to make intercession forthem. Thus God looked if there were any to intercede, Isa. lix. 16.Abraham's Intercession for Sodom. (b. c. 1898.)23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous withthe wicked? 24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also180Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? 25 That befar from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and thatthe righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge ofall the earth do right? 26 And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous withinthe city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. 27 And Abraham answeredand said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am butdust and ashes: 28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wiltthou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five,I will not destroy it. 29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventurethere shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake. 30And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventurethere shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord:Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it fortwenty's sake. 32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yetbut this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroyit for ten's sake. 33 And the Lord went his way, as soon as he had left communingwith Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.Communion with God is kept up by the word and by prayer. In the word God speaks to us; inprayer we speak to him. God had revealed to Abraham his purposes concerning Sodom; now fromthis Abraham takes occasion to speak to God on Sodom's behalf. Note, God's word then does usgood when it furnishes us with matter for prayer and excites us to it. When God has spoken to us,we must consider what we have to say to him upon it. Observe,I. The solemnity of Abraham's address to God on this occasion: Abraham drew near, v. 23.The expression intimates, 1. A holy concern: He engaged his heart to approach to God, Jer. xxx.21. "Shall Sodom be destroyed, and I not speak one good word for it?" 2. A holy confidence: Hedrew near with an assurance of faith, drew near as a prince, Job xxxi. 37. Note, When we addressourselves to the duty of prayer, we ought to remember that we are drawing near to God, that wemay be filled with a reverence of him, Lev. x. 3.II. The general scope of this prayer. It is the first solemn prayer we have upon record in theBible; and it is a prayer for the sparing of Sodom. Abraham, no doubt, greatly abhorred thewickedness of the Sodomites; he would not have lived among them, as Lot did, if they would havegiven him the best estate in their country; and yet he prayed earnestly for them. Note, Though sinis to be hated, sinners are to be pitied and prayed for. God delights not in their death, nor shouldwe desire, but deprecate, the woeful day. 1. He begins with a prayer that the righteous among themmight be spared, and not involved in the common calamity, having an eye particularly to just Lot,whose disingenuous carriage towards him he had long since forgiven and forgotten, witness hisfriendly zeal to rescue him before by his sword and now by his prayers. 2. He improves this into apetition that all might be spared for the sake of the righteous that were among them, God himselfcountenancing this request, and in effect putting him upon it by his answer to his first address, v.181Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)26. Note, We must pray, not only for ourselves, but for others also; for we are members of the samebody, at least of the same body of mankind. All we are brethren.III. The particular graces eminent in this prayer.1201. Here is great faith; and it is the prayer of faith that is the prevailing prayer. His faith pleadswith God, orders the cause, and fills his mouth with arguments. He acts faith especially upon therighteousness of God, and is very confident.(1.) That God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked, v. 23. No, that be far from thee,v. 25. We must never entertain any thought that derogates from the honour of God's righteousness.See Rom. iii. 5, 6. Note, [1.] The righteous are mingled with the wicked in this world. Among thebest there are, commonly, some bad, and among the worst some good: even in Sodom, one Lot.[2.] Though the righteous be among the wicked, yet the righteous God will not, certainly he willnot, destroy the righteous with the wicked. Though in this world they may be involved in the samecommon calamities, yet in the great day a distinction with be made.(2.) That the righteous shall not be as the wicked, v. 25. Though they may suffer with them,yet they do not suffer like them. Common calamities are quite another thing to the righteous thanwhat they are to the wicked, Isa. xxvii. 7.(3.) That the Judge of all the earth will do right; undoubtedly he will, because he is the Judgeof all the earth; it is the apostle's argument, Rom. iii. 5, 6. Note, [1.] God is the Judge of all theearth; he gives charge to all, takes cognizance of all, and will pass sentence upon all. [2.] That GodAlmighty never did nor ever will do any wrong to any of the creatures, either by withholding thatwhich is right or by exacting more than is right, Job xxxiv. 10, 11.2. Here is great humility.(1.) A deep sense of his own unworthiness (v. 27): Behold now, I have taken upon me to speakunto the Lord, who am but dust and ashes; and again, v. 31. He speaks as one amazed at his ownboldness, and the liberty God graciously allowed him, considering God's greatness—he is the Lord;and his own meanness—but dust and ashes. Note, [1.] The greatest of men, the most considerableand deserving, are but dust and ashes, mean and vile before God, despicable, frail, and dying. [2.]Whenever we draw near to God, it becomes us reverently to acknowledge the vast distance thatthere is between us and God. He is the Lord of glory, we are worms of the earth. [3.] The accesswe have to the throne of grace, and the freedom of speech allowed us, are just matter of humblewonder, 2 Sam. vii. 18.(2.) An awful dread of God's displeasure: O let not the Lord be angry (v. 30), and again, v. 32.Note, [1.] The importunity which believers use in their addresses to God is such that, if they weredealing with a man like themselves, they could not but fear that he would be angry with them. Buthe with whom we have to do is God and not man; and, whoever he may seem, is not really angrywith the prayers of the upright (Ps. lxxx. 4), for they are his delight (Prov. xv. 8), and he is pleasedwhen he is wrestled with. [2.] That even when we receive special tokens of the divine favour weought to be jealous over ourselves, lest we make ourselves obnoxious to the divine displeasure;and therefore we must bring the Mediator with us in the arms of our faith, to atone for the iniquityof our holy things.3. Here is great charity. (1.) A charitable opinion of Sodom's character: as bad as it was, hethought there were several good people in it. It becomes us to hope the best of the worst places. Ofthe two it is better to err in that extreme. (2.) A charitable desire of Sodom's welfare: he used all182Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)his interest at the throne of grace for mercy for them. We never find him thus earnest in pleadingwith God for himself and his family, as here for Sodom.4. Here are great boldness and believing confidence. (1.) He took the liberty to pitch upon acertain number of righteous ones which he supposed might be in Sodom. Suppose there be fifty,v. 24. (2.) He advanced upon God's concessions, again and again. As God granted much, he stillbegged more, with the hope of gaining his point. (3.) He brought the terms as low as he could forshame (having prevailed for mercy if there were but ten righteous ones in five cities), and perhapsso low that he concluded they would have been spared.IV. The success of the prayer. He that thus wrestled prevailed wonderfully; as a prince he hadpower with God: it was but ask and have. 1. God's general good-will appears in this, that he consentedto spare the wicked for the sake of the righteous. See how swift God is to show mercy; he evenseeks a reason for it. See what great blessings good people are to any place, and how little thosebefriend themselves that hate and persecute them. 2. His particular favour to Abraham appeared inthis, that he did not leave off granting till Abraham left off asking. Such is the power of prayer.Why then did Abraham leave off asking, when he had prevailed so far as to get the place spared itthere were but ten righteous in it? Either, (1.) Because he owned that it deserved to be destroyedif there were not so many; as the dresser of the vineyard, who consented that the barren tree shouldbe cut down if one year's trial more did not make it fruitful, Luke xiii. 9. Or, (2.) Because Godrestrained his spirit from asking any further. When God has determined the ruin of a place, heforbids it to be prayed for, Jer. vii. 16; xi. 14; xiv. 11.V. Here is the breaking up of the conference, v. 33. 1. The Lord went his way. The visions ofGod must not be constant in this world, where it is by faith only that we are to set God before us.121God did not go away till Abraham had said all he had to say; for he is never weary of hearingprayer, Isa. lix. 1. 2. Abraham returned unto his place, not puffed up with the honour done him,nor by these extraordinary interviews taken off from the ordinary course of duty. He returned tohis place to observe what that event would be; and it proved that his prayer was heard, and yetSodom was not spared, because there were not ten righteous in it. We cannot expect too little fromman nor too much from God.121 G E N E S I SCHAP. XIX.The contents of this chapter we have, 2 Pet. ii. 6-8, where we find that "God, turning the citiesof Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, and delivered just Lot."It is the history of Sodom's ruin, and Lot's rescue from that ruin. We read (ch. xviii) of God's comingto take a view of the present state of Sodom, what its wickedness was, and what righteous personsthere were in it: now here we have the result of that enquiry. I. It was found, upon trial, that Lotwas very good (ver. 1-3), and it did not appear that there was any more of the same character. II.It was found that the Sodomites were very wicked and vile, ver. 4-11. III. Special care was thereforetaken for the securing of Lot and his family, in a place of safety, ver. 12-23. IV. Mercy having183Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)rejoiced therein, justice shows itself in the ruin of Sodom and the death of Lot's wife (ver. 24-26),with a general repetition of the story, ver. 27-29. V. A foul sin that Lot was guilty of, in committingincest with his two daughters, ver. 30, &c.Assault on the House of Lot. (b. c. 1898.)1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom:and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face towardthe ground; 2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into yourservant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early,and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered intohis house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they dideat.These angels, it is likely, were two of the three that had just before been with Abraham, thetwo created angels that were sent to execute God's purpose concerning Sodom. Observe here, 1.There was but one good man in Sodom, and these heavenly messengers soon found him out.Wherever we are, we should enquire out those of the place that live in the fear of God, and shouldchoose to associate ourselves with them. Matt. x. 11, Enquire who is worthy, and there abide. Thoseof the same country, when they are in a foreign country, love to be together. 2. Lot sufficientlydistinguished himself from the rest of his neighbours, at this time, which plainly set a mark uponhim. He that did not act like the rest must not fare like the rest. (1.) Lot sat in the gate of Sodom ateven. When the rest, it is likely, were tippling and drinking, he sat alone, waiting for an opportunityto do good. (2.) He was extremely respectful to men whose mien and aspect were sober and serious,though they did not come in state. He bowed himself to the ground, when he met them, as if, uponthe first view, he discerned something divine in them. (3.) He was hospitable, and very free andgenerous in his invitations and entertainments. He courted these strangers to his house, and to thebest accommodations he had, and gave them all the evidences that he could of his sincerity; for,[1.] When the angels, to try whether he was hearty in the invitation, declined the acceptance of it,at first (which is the common usage of modesty, and no reproach at all to truth and honesty), theirrefusal did not make him more importunate; for he pressed upon them greatly (v. 3), partly becausehe would by no means have them to expose themselves to the inconveniences and perils of lodgingin the street of Sodom, and partly because he was desirous of their company and converse. He hadnot seen two such honest faces in Sodom this great while. Note, Those that live in bad places shouldknow how to value the society of those that are wise and good, and earnestly desire it. [2.] Whenthe angels accepted his invitation, he treated them nobly; he made a feast for them, and thought itwell-bestowed on such guests. Note, Good people should be (with prudence) generous people.4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom,compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came into thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. 6 And Lot wentout at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, 7 And said, I pray you,brethren, do not so wickedly. 8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not184Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as isgood in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they underthe shadow of my roof. 9 And they said, Stand back. And they said again, Thisone fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worsewith thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and camenear to break the door. 10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the122house to them, and shut to the door. 11 And they smote the men that were at thedoor of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they weariedthemselves to find the door.Now it appeared, beyond contradiction, that the cry of Sodom was no louder than there wascause for. This night's work was enough to fill the measure. For we find here,I. That they were all wicked, v. 4. Wickedness had become universal, and they were unanimousin any vile design. Here were old and young, and all from every quarter, engaged in this riot; theold were not past it, and the young had soon come up to it. Either they had no magistrates to keepthe peace, and protect the peaceable, or their magistrates were themselves aiding and abetting.Note, When the disease of sin has become epidemical, it is fatal to any place, Isa. i. 5-7.II. That they had arrived at the highest pitch of wickedness; they were sinners before the Lordexceedingly (ch. xiii. 13); for, 1. It was the most unnatural and abominable wickedness that theywere now set upon, a sin that still bears their name, and is called Sodomy. They were carriedheadlong by those vile affections (Rom. i. 26, 27), which are worse than brutish, and the eternalreproach of the human nature, and which cannot be thought of without horror by those that havethe least spark of virtue and any remains of natural light and conscience. Note, Those that allowthemselves in unnatural uncleanness are marked for the vengeance of eternal fire. See Jude 7. 2.They were not ashamed to own it, and to prosecute their design by force and arms. The practicewould have been bad enough if it had been carried on by intrigue and wheedling; but they proclaimedwar with virtue, and bade open defiance to it. Hence daring sinners are said to declare their sin asSodom, Isa. iii. 9. Note, Those that have become impudent in sin generally prove impenitent in sin;and it will be their ruin. Those have hard hearts indeed that sin with a high hand, Jer. vi. 15. 3.When Lot interposed, with all the mildness imaginable, to check the rage and fury of their lust,they were most insolently rude and abusive to him. He ventured himself among them, v. 6. Hespoke civilly to them, called them brethren (v. 7), and begged of them not to do so wickedly; and,being greatly disturbed at their vile attempt, he unadvisedly and unjustifiably offered to prostitutehis two daughters to them, v. 8. It is true, of two evils we must choose the less; but of two sins wemust choose neither, nor ever do evil that good may come of it. He reasoned with them, pleadedthe laws of hospitality and the protection of his house which his guests were entitled to; but hemight as well have offered reason to a roaring lion and a raging bear as to these head-strong sinners,who were governed only by lust and passion. Lot's arguing with them does but exasperate them;and, to complete their wickedness, and fill up the measure of it, they fall foul upon him. (1.) Theyridicule him, charge him with the absurdity of pretending to be a magistrate, when he was not somuch as a free-man of their city, v. 9. Note, It is common for a reprover to be unjustly upbraidedas a usurper; and, while offering the kindness of a friend, to be charged with assuming the authorityof a judge: as if a man might not speak reason without taking too much upon him. (2.) They threaten185Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)him, and lay violent hands upon him; and the good man is in danger of being pulled in pieces bythis outrageous rabble. Note, [1.] Those that hate to be reformed hate those that reprove them,though with ever so much tenderness. Presumptuous sinners do by their consciences as the Sodomitesdid by Lot, baffle their checks, stifle their accusations, press hard upon them, till they have searedthem and quite stopped their mouths, and so made themselves ripe for ruin. [2.] Abuses offered toGod's messengers and to faithful reprovers soon fill the measure of a people's wickedness, andbring destruction without remedy. See Prov. xxix. 1, and 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16. If reproofs remedynot, there is no remedy. See 2 Chron. xxv. 16.III. That nothing less than the power of an angel could save a good man out of their wickedhands. It was now past dispute what Sodom's character was and what course must be taken withit, and therefore the angels immediately give a specimen of what they further intended. 1. Theyrescue Lot, v. 10. Note, He that watereth shall be watered also himself. Lot was solicitous to protectthem, and now they take effectual care for his safety, in return for his kindness. Note further, Angelsare employed for the special preservation of those that expose themselves to danger by well-doing.The saints, at death, are pulled like Lot into a house of perfect safety, and the door shut for everagainst those that pursue them. 2. They chastise the insolence of the Sodomites: They smote themwith blindness, v. 11. This was designed, (1.) To put an end to their attempt, and disable them frompursuing it. Justly were those struck blind who had been deaf to reason. Violent persecutors areoften infatuated so that they cannot push on their malicious designs against God's messengers, Jobv. 14, 15. Yet these Sodomites, after they were struck blind, continued seeking the door, to breakit down, till they were tired. No judgments will, of themselves, change the corrupt natures andpurposes of wicked men. If their minds had not been blinded as well as their bodies, they wouldhave said, as the magicians, This is the finger of God, and would have submitted. (2.) It was to bean earnest of their utter ruin, the next day. When God, in a way of righteous judgment, blinds men,their condition is already desperate, Rom. xi. 8, 9.123Rescue of Lot out of Sodom. (b. c. 1898.)12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thysons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of thisplace: 13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen greatbefore the face of the Lord; and the Lord hath sent us to destroy it. 14 And Lotwent out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up,get you out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city. But he seemed as onethat mocked unto his sons in law.We have here the preparation for Lot's deliverance.I. Notice is given him of the approach of Sodom's ruin: We will destroy this place, v. 13. Note,The holy angels are ministers of God's wrath for the destruction of sinners, as well as of his mercyfor the preservation and deliverance of his people. In this sense, the good angels become evil angels,Ps. lxxviii. 49.II. He is directed to give notice to his friends and relations, that they, it they would, might besaved with him (v. 12): "Hast thou here any besides, that thou art concerned for? If thou hast, gotell them what is coming." Now this implies, 1. The command of a great duty, which was to do allhe could for the salvation of those about him, to snatch them as brands out of the fire. Note, Those186Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)who through grace are themselves delivered out of a sinful state should do what they can for thedeliverance of others, especially their relations. 2. The offer of great favour. They do not ask whetherhe knew any righteous ones in the city fit to be spared: no, they knew there were none; but theyask what relations he had there, that, whether righteous or unrighteous, they might be saved withhim. Note, Bad people often fare the better in this world for the sake of their good relations. It isgood being akin to a godly man.III. He applies himself accordingly to his sons-in-law, v. 14. Observe, 1. The fair warning thatLot gave them: Up, get you out of this place. The manner of expression is startling and quickening.It was no time to trifle when the destruction was just at the door. They had not forty days to repentin, as the Ninevites had. Now or never they must make their escape. At midnight this cry was made.Such as this is our call to the unconverted, to turn and live. 2. The slight they put upon this warning:He seemed to them as one that mocked. They thought, perhaps, that the assault which the Sodomiteshad just now made upon his house had disturbed his head, and put him into such a fright that heknew not what he said; or they thought that he was not in earnest with them. Those who lived amerry life, and made a jest of everything, made a jest of this warning, and so they perished in theoverthrow. Thus many who are warned of the misery and danger they are in by sin make a lightmatter of it, and think their ministers do but jest with them; such will perish with their blood upontheir own heads.15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise,take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in theiniquity of the city. 16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand,and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the Lordbeing merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said,Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escapeto the mountain, lest thou be consumed. 18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so,my Lord: 19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hastmagnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life; and Icannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: 20 Behold now,this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it nota little one?) and my soul shall live. 21 And he said unto him, See, I have acceptedthee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thouhast spoken. 22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou become thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. 23 The sun was risenupon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.Here is, I. The rescue of Lot out of Sodom. Though there were not ten righteous men in Sodom,for whose sakes it might be spared, yet that one righteous man that was among them delivered hisown soul, Ezek. xiv. 14. Early in the morning his own guests, in kindness to him, turned him outof doors, and his family with him, v. 15. His daughters that were married perished with theirunbelieving husbands; but those that continued with him were preserved with him. Observe,187Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)1241. With what a gracious violence Lot was brought out of Sodom, v. 16. It seems, though hedid not make a jest of the warning given, as his sons-in-law did, yet he lingered, he trifled, he didnot make so much haste as the case required. Thus many that are under some convictions about themisery of their spiritual state, and the necessity of a change, yet defer that needful work, and foolishlylinger. Lot did so, and it might have been fatal to him it the angels had not laid hold of his hand,and brought him forth, and saved him with fear, Jude 23. Herein it is said, The Lord was mercifulto him; otherwise he might justly have left him to perish, since he was so loth to depart. Note, (1.)The salvation of the most righteous men must be attributed to God's mercy, not to their own merit.We are saved by grace. (2.) God's power also must be acknowledged in the bringing of souls outof a sinful state. If God had not brought us forth, we had never come forth. (3.) If God had not beenmerciful to us, our lingering had been our ruin.2. With what a gracious vehemence he was urged to make the best of his way, when he wasbrought forth, v. 17. (1.) He must still apprehend himself in danger of being consumed, and bequickened by the law of self-preservation to flee for his life. Note, A holy fear and trembling arefound necessary to the working out of our salvation. (2.) He must therefore mind his business withthe utmost care and diligence. He must not hanker after Sodom: Look not behind thee. He must notloiter by the way: Stay not in the plain; for it would all be made one dead sea. He must not take upshort of the place of refuge appointed him: Escape to the mountain. Such as these are the commandsgiven to those who through grace are delivered out of a sinful state. [1.] Return not to sin and Satan,for that is looking back to Sodom. [2.] Rest not in self and the world, for that is staying in the plain.And, [3.] Reach towards Christ and heaven, for that is escaping to the mountain, short of which wemust not take up.II. The fixing of a place of refuge for him. The mountain was first appointed for him to fleeto, but, 1. He begged for a city of refuge, one of the five that lay together, called Bela, ch. xiv. 2,xix. 18-20. It was Lot's weakness to think a city of his own choosing safer than the mountain ofGod's appointing. And he argued against himself when he pleaded, Thou hast magnified thy mercyin saving my life, and I cannot escape to the mountain; for could not he that plucked him out ofSodom, when he lingered, carry him safely to the mountain, though he began to tire? Could not hethat saved him from greater evils save him from the less? He insists much in his petition upon thesmallness of the place: It is a little one, it is not? therefore, it was to be hoped, not so bad as therest. This gave a new name to the place; it was called Zoar, a little one. Intercessions for little onesare worthy to be remembered. 2. God granted him his request, though there was much infirmity init, v. 21, 22. See what favour God showed to a true saint, though weak. (1.) Zoar was spared, togratify him. Though his intercession for it was not, as Abraham's for Sodom, from a principle ofgenerous charity, but merely from self-interest, yet God granted him his request, to show how muchthe fervent prayer of a righteous man avails. (2.) Sodom's ruin was suspended till he was safe: Icannot do any thing till thou shalt have come thither. Note, The very presence of good men in aplace helps to keep off judgments. See what care God takes for the preservation of his people. Thewinds are held till God's servants are sealed, Rev. vii. 3; Ezek. ix. 4.III. It is taken notice of that the sun had risen when Lot entered into Zoar; for when a goodman comes into a place he brings light along with him, or should do.Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. (b. c. 1898.)188Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)24 Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and firefrom the Lord out of heaven; 25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain,and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.Then, when Lot had got safely into Zoar, then this ruin came; for good men are taken awayfrom the evil to come. Then, when the sun had risen bright and clear, promising a fair day, thenthis storm arose, to show that it was not from natural causes. Concerning this destruction observe,1. God was the immediate author of it. It was destruction from the Almighty: The Lord rained—fromthe Lord (v. 24), that is, God from himself, by his own immediate power, and not in the commoncourse of nature. Or, God the Son from God the Father; for the Father has committed all judgmentto the Son. Note, He that is the Saviour will be the destroyer of those that reject the salvation. 2. Itwas a strange punishment, Job xxxi. 3. Never was the like before nor since. Hell was rained fromheaven upon them. Fire, and brimstone, and a horrible tempest, were the portion of their cup (Ps.xi. 6); not a flash of lightning, which is destructive enough when God gives it commission, but ashower of lightning. Brimstone was scattered upon their habitation (Job xviii. 15), and then the firesoon fastened upon them. God could have drowned them, as he did the old world; but he wouldshow that he has many arrows in his quiver, fire as well as water. 3. It was a judgment that laid allwaste: It overthrew the cities, and destroyed all the inhabitants of them, the plain, and all that grewupon the ground, v. 25. It was an utter ruin, and irreparable. That fruitful valley remains to this day125a great lake, or dead sea; it is called the Salt Sea, Num. xxxiv. 12. Travellers say that it is aboutthirty miles long and ten miles broad; it has no living creature in it; it is not moved by the wind;the smell of it is offensive; things do not easily sink in it. The Greeks call it Asphaltites, from a sortof pitch which it casts up. Jordan falls into it, and is lost there. 4. It was a punishment that answeredto their sin. Burning lusts against nature were justly punished with this preternatural burning. Thosethat went after strange flesh were destroyed by strange fire, Jude 7. They persecuted the angelswith their rabble, and made Lot afraid; and now God persecuted them with his tempest, and madethem afraid with his storm, Ps. lxxxiii. 15. 5. It was designed for a standing revelation of the wrathof God against sin and sinners in all ages. It is, accordingly, often referred to in the scripture, andmade a pattern of the ruin of Israel (Deut. xxix. 23), of Babylon (Isa. xiii. 19), of Edom (Jer. xlix.17, 18), of Moab and Ammon, Zep. ii. 9. Nay, it was typical of the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude7), and the ruin of all that live ungodly (2 Pet. ii. 6), especially that despise the gospel, Matt. x. 15.It is in allusion to this destruction that the place of the damned is often represented by a lake thatburns, as Sodom did, with fire and brimstone. Let us learn from it, (1.) The evil of sin, and thehurtful nature of it. Iniquity tends to ruin. (2.) The terrors of the Lord. See what a fearful thing itis to fall into the hands of the living God!26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.This also is written for our admonition. Our Saviour refers to it (Luke xvii. 32), RememberLot's wife. As by the example of Sodom the wicked are warned to turn from their wickedness, soby the example of Lot's wife the righteous are warned not to turn from their righteousness. SeeEzek. iii. 18, 20. We have here,I. The sin of Lot's wife: She looked back from behind him. This seemed a small thing, but weare sure, by the punishment of it, that it was a great sin, and exceedingly sinful. 1. She disobeyedan express command, and so sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression, which ruined usall. 2. Unbelief was at the bottom of it; she questioned whether Sodom would be destroyed, and189Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)thought she might still have been safe in it. 3. She looked back upon her neighbours whom she hadleft behind with more concern than was fit, now that their day of grace was over, and divine justicewas glorifying itself in their ruin. See Isa. lxvi. 24. 4. Probably she hankered after her house andgoods in Sodom, and was loth to leave them. Christ intimates this to be her sin (Luke xvii. 31, 32);she too much regarded her stuff. 5. Her looking back evinced an inclination to go back; and thereforeour Saviour uses it as a warning against apostasy from our Christian profession. We have allrenounced the world and the flesh, and have set our faces heaven-ward; we are in the plain, uponour probation; and it is at our peril if we return into the interests we profess to have abandoned.Drawing back is to perdition, and looking back is towards it. Let us therefore fear, Heb. iv. 1.II. The punishment of Lot's wife for this sin. She was struck dead in the place; yet her bodydid not fall down, but stood fixed and erect like a pillar, or monument, not liable to waste nor decay,as human bodies exposed to the air are, but metamorphosed into a metallic substance which wouldlast perpetually. Come, behold the goodness and severity of God (Rom. xi. 22), towards Lot, whowent forward, goodness; towards his wife, who looked back, severity. Though she was nearlyrelated to a righteous man, though better than her neighbours, and though a monument ofdistinguishing mercy in her deliverance out of Sodom, yet God did not connive at her disobedience;for great privileges will not secure us from the wrath of God if we do not carefully and faithfullyimprove them. This pillar of salt should season us. Since it is such a dangerous thing to look back,let us always press forward, Phil. iii. 13, 14.27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood beforethe Lord: 28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the landof the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke ofa furnace. 29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, thatGod remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, whenhe overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.Our communion with God consists in our gracious regard to him and his gracious regard tous; we have here therefore the communion that was between God and Abraham, in the eventconcerning Sodom, as before in the consultation concerning it, for communion with God is to bekept up in providences as well as in ordinances.I. Here is Abraham's pious regard to God in this event, in two things:—1. A careful expectationof the event, v. 27. He got up early to look towards Sodom; and, to intimate that his design hereinwas to see what became of his prayers, he went to the very place where he had stood before theLord, and set himself there, as upon his watch tower, Hab. ii. 1. Note, When we have prayed wemust look after our prayers, and observe the success of them. We must direct our prayer as a letter,and then look up for an answer, direct our prayer as an arrow, and then look up to see whether itreach the mark, Ps. v. 3. Our enquiries after news must be in expectation of an answer to our prayers.2. An awful observation of it: He looked towards Sodom (v. 28), not as Lot's wife did, tacitlyreflecting upon the divine severity, but humbly adoring it and acquiescing in it. Thus the saints,when they see the smoke of Babylon's torment rising up for ever (like Sodom's here), will say againand again, Alleluia, Rev. xix. 3. Those that have, in the day of grace, most earnestly interceded forsinners, will, in the day of judgment, be content to see them perish, and will glorify God in theirdestruction.190Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. Here is God's favourable regard to Abraham, v. 29. As before, when Abraham prayed forIshmael, God heard him for Isaac, so now, when he prayed for Sodom, he heard him for Lot. Heremembered Abraham, and, for his sake, sent Lot out of the overthrow. Note, 1. God will certainlygive an answer of peace to the prayer of faith, in his own way and time; though, for a while, it seemto be forgotten, yet, sooner or later, it will appear to be remembered. 2. The relations and friendsof godly people fare the better for their interest in God and intercessions with him; it was out ofrespect to Abraham that Lot was rescued: perhaps this word encouraged Moses long afterwards topray (Exod. xxxii. 13), Lord, remember Abraham; and see Isa. lxiii. 11.Lot's Disgrace. (b. c. 1898.)30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughterswith him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his twodaughters. 31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and thereis not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: 32Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we maypreserve seed of our father. 33 And they made their father drink wine that night:and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when shelay down, nor when she arose. 34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that thefirstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us makehim drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserveseed of our father. 35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: andthe younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, norwhen she arose. 36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the fatherof the Moabites unto this day. 38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and calledhis name Ben-ammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.Here is, I. The great trouble and distress that Lot was brought into after his deliverance, v. 30.1. He was frightened out of Zoar, durst not dwell there; probably because he was conscious tohimself that it was a refuge of his own choosing and that herein he had foolishly prescribed to God,and therefore he could not but distrust his safety in it; or because he found it as wicked as Sodom,and therefore concluded it could not long survive it; or perhaps he observed the rise and increaseof those waters which after the conflagration, perhaps from Jordan, began to overflow the plain,and which, mixing with the ruins, by degrees made the Dead Sea; in those waters he concludedZoar must needs perish (though it had escaped the fire) because it stood upon the same flat. Note,Settlements and shelters of our own choosing, and in which we do not follow God, commonlyprove uneasy to us. 2. He was forced to betake himself to the mountain, and to take up with a cavefor his habitation there. Methinks it was strange that he did not return to Abraham, and put himselfunder his protection, to whom he had once and again owed his safety: but the truth is there are somegood men that are not wise enough to know what is best for themselves. Observe, (1.) He was nowglad to go to the mountain, the place which God had appointed for his shelter. Note, It is well ifdisappointment in our way drive us at last to God's way. (2.) He that, awhile ago, could not find191Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)room enough for himself and his stock in the whole land, but must jostle with Abraham, and getas far from him as he could, is now confined to a hole in a hill, where he has scarcely room to turnhimself, and there he is solitary and trembling. Note, It is just with God to reduce those to povertyand restraint who have abused their liberty and plenty. See also in Lot what those bring themselvesto, at last, that forsake the communion of saints for secular advantages; they will be beaten withtheir own rod.II. The great sin that Lot and his daughters were guilty of, when they were in this desolateplace. It is a sad story.1. His daughters laid a very wicked plot to bring him to sin; and theirs was, doubtless, the127greater guilt. They contrived, under pretence of cheering up the spirits of their father in his presentcondition, to make him drunk, and then to lie with him, v. 31, 32. (1.) Some think that their pretencewas plausible. Their father had no sons, they had no husbands, nor knew they where to have anyof the holy seed, or, if they had children by others, their father's name would not be preserved inthem. Some think that they had the Messiah in their eye, who, they hoped, might descend formtheir father; for he came from Terah's elder son, who separated from the rest of Shem's posterityas well as Abraham, and was now signally delivered out of Sodom. Their mother, and the rest ofthe family, were gone; they might not marry with the cursed Canaanites; and therefore they supposedthat the end they aimed at and the extremity they were brought to, would excuse the irregularity.Thus the learned Monsieur Allix. Note, Good intentions are often abused to patronise bad actions.But, (2.) Whatever their pretence was, it is certain that their project was very wicked and vile, andan impudent affront to the very light and law of nature. Note, [1.] The sight of God's most tremendousjudgments upon sinners will not of itself, without the grace of God, restrain evil hearts from evilpractices: one would wonder how the fire of lust could possibly kindle upon those, who had solately been the eye-witnesses of Sodom's flames. [2.] Solitude has its temptations as well as company,and particularly to uncleanness. When Joseph was alone with his mistress he was in danger, ch.xxxix. 11. Relations that dwell together, especially if solitary, have need carefully to watch evenagainst the least evil thought of this kind, lest Satan get an advantage.2. Lot himself, by his own folly and unwariness, was wretchedly overcome, and sufferedhimself so far to be imposed upon by his own children as, two nights together, to be drunk, and tocommit incest, v. 33, &c. Lord, what is man! What are the best of men, when God leaves them tothemselves! See here, (1.) The peril of security. Lot, who not only kept himself sober and chastein Sodom, but was a constant mourner for the wickedness of the place and a witness against it, wasyet, in the mountain, where he was alone, and as he thought quite out of the way of temptation,shamefully overtaken. Let him therefore that thinks he stands, stands high and stands firm, takeheed lest he fall. No mountain, on this side the holy hill above, can set us out of the reach of Satan'sfiery darts. (2.) The peril of drunkenness. It is not only a great sin itself, but it is the inlet of manysins; it may prove the inlet of the worst and most unnatural sins, which may be a perpetual woundand dishonour. Excellently does Mr. Herbert describe it,"He that is drunken may his mother killBig with his sister."—————————A man may do that without reluctance, when he is drunk, which, when he is sober, he couldnot think of without horror. (3.) The peril of temptation from our dearest relations and friends,whom we love, and esteem, and expect kindness from. Lot, whose temperance and chastity were192Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)impregnable against the batteries of foreign force, was surprised into sin and shame by the basetreachery of his own daughters: we must dread a snare wherever we are, and be always upon ourguard.3. In the close we have an account of the birth of the two sons, or grandsons (call them whichyou will), of Lot, Moab and Ammon, the fathers of two nations, neighbours to Israel, and whichwe often read of in the Old Testament; both together are called the children of Lot, Ps. lxxxiii. 8.Note, Though prosperous births may attend incestuous conceptions, yet they are so far from justifyingthem that they rather perpetuate the reproach of them and entail infamy upon posterity; yet the tribeof Judah, of which our Lord sprang, descended from such a birth, and Ruth, a Moabitess, has aname in his genealogy, Matt. i. 3, 5.Lastly, Observe that, after this, we never read any more of Lot, nor what became of him: nodoubt he repented of his sin, and was pardoned; but from the silence of the scripture concerninghim henceforward we may learn that drunkenness, as it makes men forgetful, so it makes themforgotten; and many a name, which otherwise might have been remembered with respect, is buriedby it in contempt and oblivion.127 G E N E S I SCHAP. XX.We are here returning to the story of Abraham; yet that part of it which is here recorded is notto his honour. The fairest marbles have their flaws, and, while there are spots in the sun, we mustnot expect any thing spotless under it. The scripture, it should be remarked, is impartial in relatingthe blemishes even of its most celebrated characters. We have here, I. Abraham's sin in denyinghis wife, and Abimelech's sin thereupon in taking her, ver. 1, 2. II. God's discourse with Abimelechin a dream, upon this occasion, wherein he shows him his error (ver. 3), accepts his plea (ver. 4-6),and directs him to make restitution, ver. 7. III. Abimelech's discourse with Abraham, wherein hechides him for the cheat he had put upon him (ver. 8-10), and Abraham excuses it as well as hecan, ver. 11-13. IV. The good issue of the story, in which Abimelech restores Abraham his wife(ver. 14-16), and Abraham, by prayer, prevails with God for the removal of the judgment Abimelechwas under, ver. 17, 18.Abraham's Denial of His Wife. (b. c. 1898.)1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelledbetween Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. 2 And Abraham said of Sarahhis wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.Here is, 1. Abraham's removal from Mamre, where he had lived nearly twenty years, into thecountry of the Philistines: He sojourned in Gerar, v. 1. We are not told upon what occasion heremoved, whether terrified by the destruction of Sodom, or because the country round was for thepresent prejudiced by it, or, as some of the Jewish writers say, because he was grieved at Lot'sincest with his daughters, and the reproach which the Canaanites cast upon him and his religion,193Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)128for his kinsman's sake: doubtless there was some good cause for his removal. Note, In a worldwhere we are strangers and pilgrims we cannot expect to be always in the same place. Again,Wherever we are, we must look upon ourselves but as sojourners. 2. His sin in denying his wife,as before (ch. xii. 13), which was not only in itself such an equivocation as bordered upon a lie,and which, if admitted as lawful, would be the ruin of human converse and an inlet to all falsehood,but was also an exposing of the chastity and honour of his wife, of which he ought to have beenthe protector. But, besides this, it had here a two-fold aggravation:— (1.) He had been guilty ofthis same sin before, and had been reproved for it, and convinced of the folly of the suggestionwhich induced him to it; yet he returns to it. Note, It is possible that a good man may, not only fallinto sin, but relapse into the same sin, through the surprise and strength of temptation and theinfirmity of the flesh. Let backsliders repent then, but not despair, Jer. iii. 22. (2.) Sarah, as it shouldseem, was now with child of the promised seed, or, at least, in expectation of being so quickly,according to the word of God; he ought therefore to have taken particular care of her now, as Judg.xiii. 4. 3. The peril that Sarah was brought into by this means: The king of Gerar sent, and took herto his house, in order to the taking of her to his bed. Note, The sin of one often occasions the sinof others; he that breaks the hedge of God's commandments opens a gap to he knows not how many;the beginning of sin is as the letting forth of water.3 But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thouart but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.4 But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also arighteous nation? 5 Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herselfsaid, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands haveI done this. 6 And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst thisin the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: thereforesuffered I thee not to touch her. 7 Now therefore restore the man his wife; for heis a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore hernot, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.It appears by this that God revealed himself by dreams (which evidenced themselves to bedivine and supernatural) not only to his servants the prophets, but even to those who were out ofthe pale of the church and covenant; but then, usually, it was with some regard to God's own peopleas in Pharaoh's dream, to Joseph, in Nebuchadnezzar's, to Daniel, and here, in Abimelech's, toAbraham and Sarah, for he reproved this king for their sake, Ps. cv. 14, 15.I. God gives him notice of his danger (v. 3), his danger of sin, telling him that the woman is aman's wife, so that if he take her he will wrong her husband; his danger of death for this sin: Thouart a dead man; and God's saying so of a man makes him so. Note, Every wilful sinner ought tobe told that he is a dead man, as the condemned malefactor, and the patient whose disease is mortal,are said to be so. If thou art a bad man, certainly thou art a dead man.II. He pleads ignorance that Abraham and Sarah had agreed to impose upon him, and not tolet him know that they were any more than brother and sister, v. 6. See what confidence a man mayhave towards God when his heart condemns him not, 1 John iii. 21. If our consciences witness toour integrity, and that, however we may have been cheated into a snare, we have not knowinglyand wittingly sinned against God, it will be our rejoicing in the day of evil. He pleads with God as194Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Abraham had done, ch. xviii. 23. Wilt thou slay a righteous nation? v. 4. Not such a nation asSodom, which was indeed justly destroyed, but a nation which, in this matter, was innocent.III. God gives a very full answer to what he had said.1. He allows his plea, and admits that what he did he did in the integrity of his heart: Yea, Iknow it, v. 6. Note, It is matter of comfort to those that are honest that God knows their honesty,and will acknowledge it, though perhaps men that are prejudiced against them either cannot beconvinced of it or will not own that they are.2. He lets him know that he was kept from proceeding in the sin merely by the good hand ofGod upon him: I withheld thee from sinning against me. Abimelech was hereby kept from doingwrong, Abraham from suffering wrong, and Sarah from both. Note, (1.) There is a great deal of sindevised and designed that is never executed. As bad as things are in the world, they are not so badas the devil and wicked men would have them. (2.) It is God that restrains men from doing the illthey would do. It is not from him that there is sin, but it is from him that there is not more sin, eitherby his influence upon men's minds, checking their inclination to sin, or by his providence, takingaway the opportunity to sin. (3.) It is a great mercy to be hindered from committing sin; of this Godmust have the glory, whoever is the instrument, 1 Sam. xxv. 32, 33.1293. He charges him to make restitution: Now therefore, not that thou art better informed, restorethe man his wife, v. 7. Note, Ignorance will excuse no longer than it continues. If we have enteredupon a wrong course through ignorance this will not excuse our knowingly persisting in it, Lev. v.3-5. The reasons why he must be just and kind to Abraham are, (1.) Because he is a prophet, nearand dear to God, for whom God does in a particular manner concern himself. God highly resentsthe injuries done to his prophets, and takes them as done to himself. (2.) Being a prophet, he shallpray for thee; this is a prophet's reward, and a good reward it is. It is intimated that there was greatefficacy in the prayers of a prophet, and that good men should be ready to help those with theirprayers that stand in need of them, and should make, at least, this return for the kindnesses that aredone them. Abraham was accessory to Abimelech's trouble, and therefore was obliged in justiceto pray for him. (3.) It is at thy peril if thou do not restore her: Know thou that thou shalt surelydie. Note, He that does wrong, whoever he is, prince or peasant, shall certainly receive for thewrong which he has done, unless he repent and make restitution, Col. iii. 25. No injustice can bemade passable with God, no, not by Caesar's image stamped upon it.Abimelech's Conduct Towards Abraham. (b. c. 1898.)8 Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, andtold all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. 9 Then Abimelechcalled Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have Ioffended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thouhast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. 10 And Abimelech said untoAbraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? 11 And Abraham said,Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay mefor my wife's sake. 12 And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of myfather, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And it cameto pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her,195Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)This is thy kindness which thou shalt show unto me; at every place whither we shallcome, say of me, He is my brother.Abimelech, being thus warned of God in a dream, takes the warning, and, as one truly afraidof sin and its consequences, he rises early to obey the directions given him.I. He has a caution for his servants, v. 8. Abraham himself could not be more careful than hewas to command his household in this matter. Note, Those whom God has convinced of sin anddanger ought to tell others what God has done for their souls, that they also may be awakened andbrought to a like holy fear.II. He has a chiding for Abraham. Observe,1. The serious reproof which Abimelech gave to Abraham, v. 9, 10. His reasoning with Abrahamupon this occasion was very strong, and yet very mild. Nothing could be said better; he does notreproach him, nor insult over him, does not say, "Is this your profession? I see, though you will notswear, you will lie. If these be prophets, I will beg to be freed from the sight of them:" but he fairlyrepresents the injury Abraham had done him, and calmly signifies his resentment of it. (1.) He callsthat sin which he now found he had been in danger of a great sin. Note, Even the light of natureteaches men that the sin of adultery is a very great sin: be it observed, to the shame of many whocall themselves Christians, and yet make a light matter of it. (2.) He looks upon it that both himselfand his kingdom would have been exposed to the wrath of God if he had been guilty of this sin,though ignorantly. Note, The sins of kings often prove the plagues of kingdoms; rulers shouldtherefore, for their people's sake, dread sin. (3.) He charges Abraham with doing that which wasnot justifiable, in disowning his marriage. This he speaks of justly, and yet tenderly; he does notcall him a liar and cheat, but tells him he had done deeds that ought not to be done. Note,Equivocation and dissimulation, however they may be palliated, are very bad things, and by nomeans to be admitted in any case. (4.) He takes it as a very great injury to himself and his familythat Abraham had thus exposed them to sin: "What have I offended thee? If I had been thy worstenemy, thou couldst not have done me a worse turn, nor taken a more effectual course to be revengedon me." Note, We ought to reckon that those do us the greatest unkindness in the world that anyway tempt us or expose us to sin, though they may pretend friendship, and offer that which isgrateful enough to corrupt nature. (5.) He challenges him to assign a cause for his suspecting themas a dangerous people for an honest man to live among: "What sawest thou, that thou hast donethis thing? v. 10. What reason hadst thou to think that if we had known her to be thy wife thouwouldst have been exposed to any danger by it?" Note, A suspicion of our goodness is justlyreckoned a greater affront than a slight upon our greatness.1302. The poor excuse that Abraham made for himself.(1.) He pleaded the bad opinion he had of the place, v. 11. He thought within himself (thoughhe could not give any good reason for his thinking so), "Surely the fear of God is not in this place,and then they will slay me." [1.] Little good is to be expected where no fear of God is. See Ps.xxxvi. 1. [2.] There are many places and persons that have more of the fear of God in them thanwe think they have: perhaps they are not called by our dividing name, they do not wear our badges,they do not tie themselves to that which we have an opinion of; and therefore we conclude theyhave not the fear of God in their hearts, which is very injurious both of Christ and Christians, andmakes us obnoxious to God's judgment, Matt. vii. 1. [3.] Uncharitableness and censoriousness aresins that are the cause of many other sins. When men have once persuaded themselves concerning196Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)such and such that they have not the fear of God, they think this will justify them in the most unjustand unchristian practices towards them. Men would not do ill if they did not first think ill.(2.) He excused it from the guilt of a downright lie by making it out that, in a sense, she washis sister, v. 12. Some think she was own sister to Lot, who is called his brother Lot (ch. xiv. 16),though he was his nephew; so Sarah is called his sister. But those to whom he said, She is my sister,understood that she was so his sister as not to be capable of being his wife; so that it was anequivocation, with an intent to deceive.(3.) He clears himself from the imputation of an affront designed to Abimelech in it by allegingthat it had been his practice before, according to an agreement between him and his wife, whenthey first became sojourners (v. 13): "When God caused me to wander from my father's house, thenwe settled this matter." Note, [1.] God is to be acknowledged in all our wanderings. [2.] Those thattravel abroad, and converse much with strangers, as they have need of the wisdom of the serpent,so it is requisite that that wisdom be ever tempered with the innocence of the dove. It may, foraught I know, be suggested that God denied to Abraham and Sarah the blessing of children so longto punish them for this sinful compact if they will not own their marriage, why should God ownit? But we may suppose that, after this reproof which Abimelech gave them, they agreed never todo so again, and then presently we read (ch. xxi. 1, 2) that Sarah conceived.14 And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants,and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. 15 And Abimelechsaid, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. 16 And untoSarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold,he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other:thus she was reproved. 17 So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healedAbimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. 18 For theLord had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of SarahAbraham's wife.Here is, I. The kindness of a prince which Abimelech showed to Abraham. See how unjustAbraham's jealousies were. He fancied that if they knew that Sarah was his wife they would killhim; but, when they did know it, instead of killing him they were kind to him, frightened at leastto be so by the divine rebukes they were under. 1. He gives him his royal licence to dwell wherehe pleased in his country, courting his stay because he gives him his royal gifts (v. 14), sheep andoxen, and (v. 16) a thousand pieces of silver. This he gave when he restored Sarah, either, [1.] Byway of satisfaction for the wrong he had offered to do, in taking her to his house: when the Philistinesrestored the ark, being plagued for detaining it, they sent a present with it. The law appointed thatwhen restitution was made something should be added to it, Lev. vi. 5. Or, [2.] To engage Abraham'sprayers for him; not as if prayers should be bought and sold, but we should endeavour to be kindto those of whose spiritual things we reap, 1 Cor. ix. 11. Note, It is our wisdom to get and keep aninterest with those that have an interest in heaven, and to make those our friends who are the friendsof God. [3.] He gives to Sarah good instruction, tells her that her husband (her brother he calls him,to upbraid her with calling him so) must be to her for a covering of the eyes, that is, she must lookat no other, nor desire to be looked at by any other. Note, Yoke-fellows must be to each other fora covering of the eyes. The marriage-covenant is a covenant with the eyes, like Job's, ch. xxxi. 1.197Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)II. The kindness of a prophet which Abraham showed to Abimelech: he prayed for him, v. 17,18. This honour God would put upon Abraham that, though Abimelech had restored Sarah, yet thejudgment he was under should be removed upon the prayer of Abraham, and not before. Thus Godhealed Miriam, when Moses, whom she had most affronted, prayed for her (Num. xii. 13), and was131reconciled to Job's friends when Job, whom they had grieved, prayed for them (Job xlii. 8-10), andso did, as it were, give it under his hand that he was reconciled to them. Note, The prayers of goodmen may be a kindness to great men, and ought to be valued.131 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXI.In this chapter we have, I. Isaac, the child of promise born into Abraham's family, ver. 1-8. II.Ishmael, the son of the bondwoman, cast out of it, ver. 9-21. III. Abraham's league with his neighbourAbimelech, ver. 22-32. IV. His devotion to his God, ver. 33.The Birth of Isaac. (b. c. 1897.)1 And the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as hehad spoken. 2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at theset time of which God had spoken to him. 3 And Abraham called the name of hisson that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. 4 And Abrahamcircumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. 5And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh withme. 7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should havegiven children suck? for I have borne him a son in his old age. 8 And the childgrew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac wasweaned.Long-looked-for comes at last. The vision concerning the promised seed is for an appointedtime, and now, at the end, it speaks, and does not lie; few under the Old Testament were broughtinto the world with such expectation as Isaac was, not for the sake of any great person eminenceat which he was to arrive, but because he was to be, in this very thing, a type of Christ, that seedwhich the holy God had so long promised and holy men so long expected. In this account of thefirst days of Isaac we may observe,I. The fulfilling of God's promise in the conception and birth of Isaac, v. 1, 2. Note, God'sprovidences look best and brightest when they are compared with his word, and when we observehow God, in them all, acts as he has said, as he has spoken. 1. Isaac was born according to thepromise. The Lord visited Sarah in mercy, as he had said. Note, No word of God shall fall to theground; for he is faithful that has promised, and God's faithfulness is the stay and support of his198Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)people's faith. He was born at the set time of which God had spoken, v. 2. Note, God is alwayspunctual to his time; though his promised mercies come not at the time we set, they will certainlycome at the time he sets, and that is the best time. 2. He was born by virtue of the promise: Sarahby faith received strength to conceive Heb. xi. 11. God therefore by promise gave that strength. Itwas not by the power of common providence, but by the power of a special promise, that Isaac wasborn. A sentence of death was, as it were, passed upon the second causes: Abraham was old, andSarah old, and both as good as dead; and then the word of God took place. Note, True believers,by virtue of God's promises, are enabled to do that which is above the power of human nature, forby them they partake of a divine nature, 2 Pet. i. 4.II. Abraham's obedience to God's precept concerning Isaac.1. He named him, as God commanded him, v. 3. God directed him to a name for a memorial,Isaac, laughter; and Abraham, whose office it was, gave him that name, though he might havedesigned him some other name of a more pompous signification. Note, It is fit that the luxuriancyof human invention should always yield to the sovereignty and plainness of divine institution; yetthere was good reason for the name, for, (1.) When Abraham received the promise of him he laughedfor joy, ch. xvii. 17. Note, When the sun of comfort has risen upon the soul it is good to rememberhow welcome the dawning of the day was, and with what exultation we embraced the promise. (2.)When Sarah received the promise she laughed with distrust and diffidence. Note, When God givesus the mercies we began to despair of we ought to remember with sorrow and shame our sinfuldistrusts of God's power and promise, when we were in pursuit of them. (3.) Isaac was himself,afterwards, laughed at by Ishmael (v. 9), and perhaps his name bade him expect it. Note, God'sfavourites are often the world's laughing-stocks. (4.) The promise which he was not only the son,but the heir of, was to be the joy of all the saints in all ages, and that which would fill their mouthswith laughter.2. He circumcised him, v. 4. The covenant being established with him, the seal of the covenantwas administered to him; and though a bloody ordinance, and he a darling, yet it must not be omitted,no, nor deferred beyond the eighth day. God had kept time in performing the promise, and thereforeAbraham must keep time in obeying the precept.III. The impressions which this mercy made upon Sarah.1. It filled her with joy (v. 6): "God has made me to laugh; he has given me both cause torejoice and a heart to rejoice." Thus the mother of our Lord, Luke i. 46, 47. Note, (1.) God bestowsmercies upon his people to encourage their joy in his work and service; and, whatever is the matter132of our joy, God must be acknowledged as the author of it, unless it be the laughter of the fool. (2.)When mercies have been long deferred they are the more welcome when they come. (3.) It addsto the comfort of any mercy to have our friends rejoice with us in it: All that hear will laugh withme; for laughing is catching. See Luke i. 58. Others would rejoice in this instance of God's powerand goodness, and be encouraged to trust in him. See Ps. cxix. 74.2. It filled her with wonder, v. 7. Observe here, (1.) What it was she thought so wonderful:That Sarah should give children suck, that she should, not only bear a child, but be so strong andhearty at the age as to give it suck. Note, Mothers, if they be able, ought to be nurses to their ownchildren. Sarah was a person of quality, was aged; nursing might be thought prejudicial of herself,or to the child, or to both; she had choice of nurses, no doubt, in her own family: and yet she woulddo her duty in this matter; and her daughters the good wives are while they thus do well, 1 Pet. iii.5, 6. See Lam. iv. 3. (2.) How she expressed her wonder: "Who would have said it? The thing was199Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)so highly improbable, so near to impossible, that if any one but God had said it we could not havebelieved it." Note, God's favours to his covenant-people are such as surpass both their own andothers' thoughts and expectations. Who could imagine that God should do so much for those thatdeserve so little, nay, for those that deserve so ill? See Eph. iii. 20; 2 Sam. vii. 18, 19. Who wouldhave said that God should send his Son to die for us, his Spirit to sanctify us, his angels to attendus? Who would have said that such great sins should be pardoned, such mean services accepted,and such worthless worms taken into covenant and communion with the great and holy God?IV. A short account of Isaac's infancy: The child grew, v. 8. Special notice is taken of this,though a thing of course, to intimate that the children of the promise are growing children. SeeLuke i. 80; ii. 40. Those that are born of God shall increase of God, Col. ii. 19. He grew so as notalways to need milk, but was able to bear strong meat, and then he was weaned. See Heb. v. 13,14. And then it was that Abraham made a great feast for his friends and neighbours, in thankfulnessto God for his mercy to him. He made this feast, not on the day that Isaac was born, that wouldhave been too great a disturbance to Sarah; nor on the day that he was circumcised, that would havebeen too great a diversion from the ordinance; but on the day that he was weaned, because God'sblessing upon the nursing of children, and the preservation of them throughout the perils of theinfant age, are signal instances of the care and tenderness of the divine providence, which ought tobe acknowledged, to its praise. See Ps. xxii. 9, 10; Hos. xi. 1.Hagar and Ishmael Expelled. (b. c. 1892.)9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had borne untoAbraham, mocking. 10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwomanand her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even withIsaac. 11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of thelad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearkenunto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. 13 And also of the son of thebondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.The casting out of Ishmael is here considered of, and resolved on.I. Ishmael himself gave the occasion by some affronts he gave to Isaac his little brother, somethink on the day that Abraham made the feast for joy that Isaac was safely weaned, which the Jewssay was not till he was three years old, others say five. Sarah herself was an eye-witness of theabuse: she saw the son of the Egyptian mocking (v. 9), mocking Isaac, no doubt, for it is said, withreference to this (Gal. iv. 29), that he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was bornafter the Spirit. Ishmael is here called the son of the Egyptian, because, as some think, the 400years' affliction of the seed of Abraham by the Egyptians began now, and was to be dated hence,ch. xv. 13. She saw him playing with Isaac, so the LXX., and, in play, mocking him. Ishmael wasfourteen years older than Isaac; and, when children are together, the elder should be careful andtender of the younger: but it argued a very base and sordid disposition in Ishmael to be abusive toa child that was no way a match for him. Note, 1. God takes notice of what children say and do intheir play, and will reckon with them if they say or do amiss, though their parents do not. 2. Mockingis a great sin, and very provoking to God. 3. There is a rooted remaining enmity in the seed of theserpent against the seed of the woman. The children of promise must expect to be mocked. This is200Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)persecution, which those that will live godly must count upon. 4. None are rejected and cast outfrom God but those who have first deserved it. Ishmael is continued in Abraham's family till hebecomes a disturbance, grief, and scandal to it.133II. Sarah made the motion: Cast out this bond-woman, v. 10. This seems to be spoken in someheat, yet it is quoted (Gal. iv. 30) as if it had been spoken by a spirit of prophecy; and it is thesentence passed on all hypocrites and carnal people, though they have a place and a name in thevisible church. All that are born after the flesh and not born again, that rest in the law and rejectthe gospel promise, shall certainly be cast out. It is made to point particularly at the rejection of theunbelieving Jews, who, though they were the seed of Abraham, yet, because they submitted not tothe gospel covenant, were unchurched and disfranchised: and that which, above any thing, provokedGod to cast them off was their mocking and persecuting the gospel church, God's Isaac, in itsinfancy, 1 Thess. ii. 16. Note, There are many who are familiarly conversant with the children ofGod in this world, and yet shall not partake with them in the inheritance of sons. Ishmael might beIsaac's play-fellow and school-fellow, yet not his fellow-heir.III. Abraham was averse to it: The thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight, v. 11. 1. Itgrieved him that Ishmael had given such a provocation. Note, Children ought to consider that themore their parents love them the more they are grieved at their misconduct, and particularly at theirquarrels among themselves. 2. It grieved him that Sarah insisted upon such a punishment. "Mightit not suffice to correct him? would nothing less serve than to expel him?" Note, Even the needfulextremities which must be used with wicked and incorrigible children are very grievous to tenderparents, who cannot thus afflict willingly.IV. God determined it, v. 12, 13. We may well suppose Abraham to be greatly agitated aboutthis matter, loth to displease Sarah, and yet loth to expel Ishmael; in this difficulty God tells himwhat his will is, and then he is satisfied. Note, A good man desires no more in doubtful cases thanto know his duty, and what God would have him do; and, when he is clear in this, he is, or shouldbe, easy. To make Abraham so, God sets this matter before him in a true light, and shows him, 1.That the casting out of Ishmael was necessary to the establishment of Isaac in the rights and privilegesof the covenant: In Isaac shall thy seed be called. Both Christ and the church must descend fromAbraham through the loins of Isaac; this is the entail of the promise upon Isaac, and is quoted bythe apostle (Rom. ix. 7) to show that not all who come from Abraham's loins were the heirs ofAbraham's covenant. Isaac, the promised son, must be the father of the promised seed; therefore,"Away with Ishmael, send him far enough, lest he corrupt the manners or attempt to invade therights of Isaac." It will be his security to have his rival banished. The covenant seed of Abrahammust be a peculiar people, a people by themselves, from the very first, distinguished, not mingledwith those that were out of covenant; for this reason Ishmael must be separated. Abraham wascalled alone, and so must Isaac be. See Isa. li. 2. It is probable that Sarah little thought of this (Johnxi. 51), but God took what she said, and turned it into an oracle, as afterwards, ch. xxvii. 10. 2. Thatthe casting out of Ishmael should not be his ruin, v. 13. He shall be a nation, because he is thy seed.We are not sure that it was his eternal ruin. It is presumption to say that all those who are left outof the external dispensation from all his mercies: those may be saved who are not thus honoured.However, we are sure it was not his temporal ruin. Though he was chased out of the church, hewas not chased out of the world. I will make him a nation. Note, (1.) Nations are of God's making:he founds them, he forms them, he fixes them. (2.) Many are full of the blessings of God's providence201Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that are strangers to the blessings of his covenant. (3.) The children of this world often fare thebetter, as to outward things, for their relation to the children of God.God's Mercy to Hagar and Ishmael. (b. c. 1892.)14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle ofwater, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent heraway: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba. 15 Andthe water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were abowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over againsthim, and lift up her voice, and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the lad; andthe angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee,Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18 Arise, liftup the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. 19 AndGod opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottlewith water, and gave the lad drink. 20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, anddwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. 21 And he dwelt in the wildernessof Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.134Here is, I. The casting out of the bond-woman, and her son from the family of Abraham, v.14. Abraham's obedience to the divine command in this matter was speedy—early in the morning,we may suppose immediately after he had, in the night's visions, received orders to do this. It wasalso submissive; it was contrary to his judgment, at least to his own inclination, to do it; yet as soonas he perceives that it is the mind of God he makes no objections, but silently does as he is bidden,as one trained up to an implicit obedience. In sending them away without any attendants, on foot,and slenderly provided for, it is probable that he observed the directions given him. If Hagar andIshmael had conducted themselves well in Abraham's family, they might have continued there; butthey threw themselves out by their own pride and insolence, which were thus justly chastised. Note,By abusing our privileges we forfeit them. Those that know not when they are well off, in such adesirable place as Abraham's family, deserve to be cashiered, and to be made to know the worthof mercies by the want of them.II. Their wandering in the wilderness, missing their way to the place Abraham designed themfor a settlement.1. They were reduced to great distress there. Their provisions were spent, and Ishmael wassick. He that used to be full fed in Abraham's house, where he waxed fat and kicked, now faintedand sunk, when he was brought to short allowance. Hagar is in tears, and sufficiently mortified.Now she wishes for the crumbs she had wasted and made light of at her master's table. Like oneunder the power of the spirit of bondage, she despairs of relief, counts upon nothing but the deathof the child (v. 15, 16), though God had told her, before he was born, that he should live to be aman, a great man. We are apt to forget former promises, when present providences seem to contradictthem; for we live by sense.2. In this distress, God graciously appeared for their relief: he heard the voice of the lad, v. 17.We read not of a word he said; but his sighs, and groans, and calamitous state, cried aloud in the202Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)ears of mercy. An angel was sent to comfort Hagar, and it was not the first time that she had metwith God's comforts in a wilderness; she had thankfully acknowledged the former kind visit whichGod made his in such a case (ch. xvi. 13), and therefore God now visited her again with seasonablesuccours. (1.) The angel assures her of the cognizance God took of her distress: God has heard thevoice of the lad where he is, though he is in a wilderness (for, wherever we are, there is a way openheaven-ward); therefore lift up the lad, and hold him in thy hand, v. 18. Note, God's readiness tohelp us when we are in trouble must not slacken, but quicken, our endeavours to help ourselves.(2.) He repeats the promise concerning her son, that he should be a great nation, as a reason whyshe should bestir herself to help him. Note, It should engage our care and pains about children andyoung people to consider that we know not what God has designed them for, nor what great useProvidence may make of them. (3.) He directs her to a present supply (v. 19): He opened her eyes(which were swollen and almost blinded with weeping), and then she saw a well of water. Note,Many that have reason enough to be comforted go mourning from day to day, because they do notsee the reason they have for comfort. There is a well of water by them in the covenant of grace,but they are not aware of it; they have not the benefit of it, till the same God that opened their eyesto see their wound opens them to see their remedy, John xvi. 6, 7. Now the apostle tells us thatthose things concerning Hagar and Ishmael are allegoroumena (Gal. iv. 24), they are to beallegorized; this then will serve to illustrate the folly, [1.] Of those who, like the unbelieving Jews,seek for righteousness by the law and the carnal ordinances of it, and not by the promise made inChrist, thereby running themselves into a wilderness of want and despair. Their comforts are soonexhausted, and if God save them not by his special prerogative, and by a miracle of mercy opentheir eyes and undeceive them, they are undone. [2.] Of those who seek for satisfaction and happinessin the world and the things of it. Those that forsake the comforts of the covenant and communionwith God, and choose their portion in this earth, take up with a bottle of water, poor and slenderprovision, and that soon spent; they wander endlessly in pursuit of satisfaction, and, at length, sitdown short of it.III. The settlement of Ishmael, at last, in the wilderness of Paran (v. 20, 21), a wild place, fittestfor a wild man; and such a one he was, ch. xvi. 12. Those that are born after the flesh take up withthe wilderness of this world, while the children of the promise aim at the heavenly Canaan, andcannot be at rest till they are there. Observe, 1. He had some tokens of God's presence: God waswith the lad; his outward prosperity was owing to this. 2. By trade he was an archer, which intimatesthat craft was his excellency and sport his business: rejected Esau was a cunning hunter. 3. Hematched among his mother's relations; she took him a wife out of Egypt: as great an archer as hewas, he did not think he could take his aim well, in the business of marriage, if he proceeded withouthis mother's advice and consent.Abimelech's Covenant with Abraham. (b. c. 1892.)22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captainof his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: 23135Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me,nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I havedone unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.24 And Abraham said, I will swear. 25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because203Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away. 26 AndAbimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neitheryet heard I of it, but to day. 27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave themunto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. 28 And Abraham set sevenewe 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 hesaid, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be awitness unto me, that I have digged this well. 31 Wherefore he called that placeBeer-sheba; because there they sware both of them. 32 Thus they made a covenantat Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host,and they returned into the land of the Philistines.We have here an account of the treaty between Abimelech and Abraham, in which appears theaccomplishment of that promise (ch. xii. 2) that God would make his name great. His friendshipis valued, is courted, though a stranger, though a tenant at will to the Canaanites and Perizzites.I. The league is proposed by Abimelech, and Phichol his prime-minister of state and generalof his army.1. The inducement to it was God's favour to Abraham (v. 22): "God is with thee in all that thoudoest, and we cannot but take notice of it." Note, (1.) God in his providence sometimes shows hispeople such tokens for good that their neighbours cannot but take notice of it, Ps. lxxxvi. 17. Theiraffairs do so visibly prosper, and they have such remarkable success in their undertakings, that aconfession is extorted from all about them of God's presence with them. (2.) It is good being infavour with those that are in favour with God, and having an interest in those that have an interestin heaven, Zech. viii. 23. We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you. We do wellfor ourselves if we have fellowship with those that have fellowship with God, 1 John i. 3.2. The tenour of it was, in general, that there should be a firm and constant friendship betweenthe two families, which should not upon any account be violated. This bond of friendship must bestrengthened by the bond of an oath, in which the true God was appealed to, both as a witness oftheir sincerity and an avenger in case either side were treacherous, v. 23. Observe, (1.) He desiresthe entail of this league upon his posterity and the extension of it to his people. He would have hisson, and his son's son, and his land likewise, to have the benefit of it. Good men should secure analliance and communion with the favourites of Heaven, not for themselves only, but for theirs also.(2.) He reminds Abraham of the fair treatment he had found among them: According to the kindnessI have done unto thee. As those that have received kindness must return it, so those that have shownkindness may expect it.II. It is consented to by Abraham, with a particular clause inserted about a well. In Abraham'spart of this transaction observe,1. He was ready to enter into this league with Abimelech, finding him to be a man of honourand conscience, and that had the fear of God before his eyes: I will swear, v. 24. Note, (1.) Religiondoes not make men morose and unconversable; I am sure it ought not. We must not, under colourof shunning bad company, be sour to all company, and jealous of every body. (2.) An honest minddoes not startle at giving assurances: if Abraham say that he will be true to Abimelech, he is notafraid to swear it; an oath is for confirmation.204Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)2. He prudently settled the matter concerning a well, about which Abimelech's servants hadquarrelled with him. Wells of water, it seems, were choice goods in that country: thanks be to God,that they are not so scarce in ours. (1.) Abraham mildly told Abimelech of it, v. 25. Note, If ourbrother trespass against us, we must, with the meekness of wisdom, tell him his fault, that the mattermay be fairly accommodated and an end made of it, Matt. xviii. 15. (2.) He acquiesced inAbimelech's justification of himself in this matter: I wot not who has done this thing, v. 26. Manyare suspected of injustice and unkindness that are perfectly innocent, and we ought to be glad whenthey clear themselves. The faults of servants must not be imputed to their masters, unless they knowof them and justify them; and no more can be expected from an honest man than that he be readyto do right as soon as he knows that he has done wrong. (3.) He took care to have his title to thewell cleared and confirmed, to prevent any disputes or quarrels for the future, v. 30. It is justice,as well as wisdom, to do thus, in perptuam rei memoriam—that the circumstance may be perpetuallyremembered.1363. He made a very handsome present to Abimelech, v. 27. It was not any thing curious or finethat he presented to him, but that which was valuable and useful—sheep and oxen, in gratitude forAbimelech's kindness to him, and in token of hearty friendship between them. The interchangingof kind offices is the improving of love: that which is mine is my friend's.4. He ratified the covenant by an oath, and registered it by giving a new name to the place (v.31), Beer-sheba, the well of the oath, in remembrance of the covenant they swore to, that they mightbe ever mindful of it; or the well of seven, in remembrance of the seven lambs given to Abimelech,as a consideration for his confirming Abraham's title to that well. Note, Bargains made must beremembered, that we may make them good, and may not break our word through oversight.33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name ofthe Lord, the everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' landmany days.Observe, 1. Abraham, having got into a good neighbourhood, knew when he was well off, andcontinued a great while there. There he planted a grove for a shade to his tent, or perhaps an orchardof fruit-trees; and there, though we cannot say he settled, for God would have him, while he lived,to be a stranger and a pilgrim, yet he sojourned many days, as many as would consist with hischaracter, as Abraham the Hebrew, or passenger. 2. There he made, not only a constant practice,but an open profession, of his religion: There he called on the name of the Lord, the everlastingGod, probably in the grove he planted, which was his oratory or house of prayer. Christ prayed ina garden, on a mountain. (1.) Abraham kept up public worship, to which, probably, his neighboursresorted, that they might join with him. Note, Good men should not only retain their goodnesswherever they go, but do all they can to propagate it, and make others good. (2.) In calling on theLord, we must eye him as the everlasting God, the God of the world, so some. Though God hadmade himself known to Abraham as his God in particular, and in covenant with him, yet he forgetsnot to give glory to him as the Lord of all: The everlasting God, who was, before all worlds, andwill be, when time and days shall be no more. See Isa. xl. 28.205Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)136 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXII.We have here the famous story of Abraham's offering up his son Isaac, that is, his offering tooffer him, which is justly looked upon as one of the wonders of the church. Here is, I. The strangecommand which God gave to Abraham concerning it, ver. 1, 2. II. Abraham's strange obedienceto this command, ver. 3-10. III. The strange issue of this trial. 1. The sacrificing of Isaac wascountermanded, ver. 11, 12. 2. Another sacrifice was provided, ver. 13, 14. 3. The covenant wasrenewed with Abraham hereupon, ver. 15-19. Lastly, an account of some of Abraham's relations,ver. 20, &c.Abraham Commanded to Offer Isaac. (b. c. 1872.)1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and saidunto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thyson, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah;and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tellthee of.Here is the trial of Abraham's faith, whether it continued so strong, so vigorous, so victorious,after a long settlement in communion with God, as it was at first, when by it he left his country:then it was made to appear that he loved God better than his father; now that he loved him betterthan his son. Observe here,I. The time when Abraham was thus tried (v. 1): After these things, after all the other exerciseshe had had, all the hardships and difficulties he had gone through. Now, perhaps, he was beginningto think the storms had all blown over; but, after all, this encounter comes, which is sharper thanany yet. Note, Many former trials will not supersede nor secure us from further trials; we have notyet put off the harness, 1 Kings xx. 11. See Ps. xxx. 6, 7.II. The author of the trial: God tempted him, not to draw him to sin, so Satan tempts (if Abrahamhad sacrificed Isaac, he would not have sinned, his orders would have justified him, and borne himout), but to discover his graces, how strong they were, that they might be found to praise, andhonour, and glory, 1 Pet. i. 7. Thus God tempted Job, that he might appear not only a good man,but a great man. God did tempt Abraham; he did lift up Abraham, so some read it; as a scholar thatimproves well is lifted up, when he is put into a higher form. Note, Strong faith is often exercisedwith strong trials and put upon hard services.III. The trial itself. God appeared to him as he had formerly done, called him by name, Abraham,that name which had been given him in ratification of the promise. Abraham, like a good servant,readily answered, "Here am I; what says my Lord unto his servant?" Probably he expected somerenewed promise like those, ch. xv. 1, and ch. xvii. 1. But, to his great amazement, that which Godhas to say to him is, in short, Abraham, Go kill thy son; and this command is given him in suchaggravating language as makes the temptation abundantly more grievous. When God speaks,Abraham, no doubt, takes notice of every word, and listens attentively to it; and every word hereis a sword in his bones: the trial is steeled with trying phrases. Is it any pleasure to the Almighty206Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)that he should afflict? No, it is not; yet, when Abraham's faith is to be tried, God seems to takepleasure in the aggravation of the trial, v. 2. Observe,1. The person to be offered. (1.) "Take thy son, not thy bullocks and thy lambs;" how willingly137would Abraham have parted with them by thousands to redeem Isaac! "No, I will take no bullockout of thy house, Ps. l. 9. I must have thy son: not thy servant, no, not the steward of thy house, thatshall not serve the turn; I must have thy son." Jephthah, in pursuance of a vow, offered a daughter;but Abraham must offer his son, in whom the family was to be built up. "Lord, let it be an adoptedson;" "No, (2.) Thy only son; thy only son by Sarah." Ishmael was lately cast out, to the grief ofAbraham; and now Isaac only was left, and must he go too? Yes, (3.) "Take Isaac, him, by name,thy laughter, that son indeed," ch. xvii. 19. Not "Send for Ishmael back, and offer him;" no, it mustbe Isaac. "But, Lord, I love Isaac, he is to me as my own soul. Ishmael is not, and wilt thou takeIsaac also? All this is against me:" Yea, (4.) That son whom thou lovest. It was a trial of Abraham'slove to God, and therefore it must be in a beloved son, and that string must be touched most upon:in the Hebrew it is expressed more emphatically, and, I think, might very well be read thus: Takenow that son of thine, that only one of thine, whom thou lovest, that Isaac. God's command mustoverrule all these considerations.2. The place: In the land of Moriah, three days' journey off; so that he might have time toconsider it, and, if he did it, must do it deliberately, that it might be a service the more reasonableand the more honourable.3. The manner: Offer him for a burnt-offering. He must not only kill his son, but kill him as asacrifice, kill him devoutly, kill him by rule, kill him with all that pomp and ceremony, with allthat sedateness and composure of mind, with which he used to offer his burnt-offerings.Abraham's Obedience. (b. c. 1872.)3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took twoof his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burntoffering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4 Thenon the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5 AndAbraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the ladwill go yonder and worship, and come again to you. 6 And Abraham took the woodof the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand,and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac spake unto Abrahamhis father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Beholdthe fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8 And Abrahamsaid, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they wentboth of them together. 9 And they came to the place which God had told him of;and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac hisson, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth hishand, and took the knife to slay his son.We have here Abraham's obedience to this severe command. Being tried, he offered up Isaac,Heb. xi. 17. Observe,207Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)I. The difficulties which he broke through in this act of obedience. Much might have beenobjected against it; as, 1. It seemed directly against an antecedent law of God, which forbids murder,under a severe penalty, ch. ix. 5, 6. Now can the unchangeable God contradict himself? He thathates robbery for burnt-offering (Isa. lxi. 8) cannot delight in murder for it. 2. How would it consistwith natural affection to his own son? It would be not only murder, but the worst of murders. CannotAbraham be obedient but he must be unnatural? If God insist upon a human sacrifice, is there nonebut Isaac to be the offering, and none but Abraham to be the offerer? Must the father of the faithfulbe the monster of all fathers? 3. God gave him no reason for it. When Ishmael was to be cast out,a just cause was assigned, which satisfied Abraham; but here Isaac must die, and Abraham mustkill him, and neither the one nor the other must know why or wherefore. If Isaac had been to die amartyr for the truth, or his life had been the ransom of some other life more precious, it would havebeen another matter; of if he had died as a criminal, a rebel against God or his parents, as in thecase of the idolater (Deut. xiii. 8, 9), or the stubborn son (Deut. xxi. 18, 19), it might have passedas a sacrifice to justice. But the case is not so: he is dutiful, obedient, hopeful, son. "Lord, whatprofit is there in his blood?" 4. How would this consist with the promise? Was it not said that inIsaac shall thy seed be called? But what comes of that seed, if this pregnant bud be broken off sosoon? 5. How should he ever look Sarah in the face again? With what face can he return to her andhis family with the blood of Isaac sprinkled on his garments and staining all his raiment? "Surelya bloody husband hast thou been to me" would Sarah say (as Exod. iv. 25, 26), and it would belikely to alienate her affections for ever both from him and from his God. 6. What would theEgyptians say, and the Canaanites and the Perizzites who dwelt then in the land? It would be aneternal reproach to Abraham, and to his altars. "Welcome nature, if this be grace." These and many138similar objection might have been made; but he was infallibly assured that it was indeed a commandof God and not a delusion, and this was sufficient to answer them all. Note, God's commands mustnot be disputed, but obeyed; we must not consult with flesh and blood about them (Gal. i. 15, 16),but with a gracious obstinacy persist in our obedience to them.II. The several steps of obedience, all which help to magnify it, and to show that he was guidedby prudence, and governed by faith, in the whole transaction.1. He rises early, v. 3. Probably the command was given in the visions of the night, and earlythe next morning he set himself about the execution of it—did not delay, did not demur, did nottake time to deliberate; for the command was peremptory, and would not admit a debate. Note,Those that do the will of God heartily will do it speedily; while we delay, time is lost and the hearthardened.2. He gets things ready for a sacrifice, and, as if he himself had been a Gibeonite, it shouldseem, with his own hands he cleaves the wood for the burnt-offering, that it might not be to seekwhen the sacrifice was to be offered. Spiritual sacrifices must thus be prepared for.3. It is very probable that he said nothing about it to Sarah. This is a journey which she mustknow nothing of, lest she prevent it. There is so much in our own hearts to hinder our progress induty that we have need, as much as may be, to keep out of the way of other hindrances.4. He carefully looked about him, to discover the place appointed for this sacrifice, to whichGod had promised by some sign to direct him. Probably the direction was given by an appearanceof the divine glory in the place, some pillar of fire reaching from heaven to earth, visible at adistance, and to which he pointed when he said (v. 5), "We will go yonder, where you see the light,and worship."208Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)5. He left his servants at some distance off (v. 5), lest they should interpose, and create himsome disturbance in his strange oblation; for Isaac was, no doubt, the darling of the whole family.Thus, when Christ was entering upon his agony in the garden, he took only three of his discipleswith him, and left the rest at the garden door. Note, It is our wisdom and duty, when we are goingto worship God, to lay aside all those thoughts and cares which may divert us from the service,leave them at the bottom of the hill, that we may attend on the Lord without distraction.6. He obliged Isaac to carry the wood (both to try his obedience in a smaller matter first, andthat he might typify Christ, who carried his own cross, John xix. 17), while he himself, though heknew what he did, with a steady and undaunted resolution carried the fatal knife and fire, v. 6. Note,Those that through grace are resolved upon the substance of any service or suffering for God mustoverlook the little circumstances which make it doubly difficult to flesh and blood.7. Without any ruffle or disorder, he talks it over with Isaac, as if it had been but a commonsacrifice that he was going to offer, v. 7, 8.(1.) It was a very affecting question that Isaac asked him, as they were going together: Myfather, said Isaac; it was a melting word, which, one would think, would strike deeper into thebreast of Abraham than his knife could into the breast of Isaac. He might have said, or thought, atleast, "Call me not thy father who am now to be thy murderer; can a father be so barbarous, soperfectly lost to all the tenderness of a father?" Yet he keeps his temper, and keeps his countenance,to admiration; he calmly waits for his son's question, and this is it: Behold the fire and the wood,but where is the lamb? See how expert Isaac was in the law and custom of sacrifices. This it is tobe well-catechised: this is, [1.] A trying question to Abraham. How could he endure to think thatIsaac was himself the lamb? So it is, but Abraham, as yet, dares not tell him so. Where God knowsthe faith to be armour of proof, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent, Job ix. 23. [2.] It is ateaching question to us all, that, when we are going to worship God, we should seriously considerwhether we have every thing ready, especially the lamb for a burnt-offering. Behold, the fire isready, the Spirit's assistance and God's acceptance; the wood is ready, the instituted ordinancesdesigned to kindle our affections (which indeed, without the Spirit, are but like wood without fire,but the Spirit works by them); all things are now ready, but where is the lamb? Where is the heart?Is that ready to be offered up to God, to ascend to him as a burnt-offering?(2.) It was a very prudent answer which Abraham gave him: My son, God will provide himselfa lamb. This was the language, either, [1.] Of his obedience. "We must offer the lamb which Godhas appointed now to be offered;" thus giving him this general rule of submission to the divinewill, to prepare him for the application of it to himself very quickly. Or, [2.] Of his faith. Whetherhe meant it so or not, this proved to be the meaning of it; a sacrifice was provided instead of Isaac.Thus, First, Christ, the great sacrifice of atonement, was of God's providing; when none in heavenor earth could have found a lamb for that burnt-offering, God himself found the ransom, Ps. lxxxix.20. Secondly, All our sacrifices of acknowledgment are of God's providing too. It is he that preparesthe heart, Ps. x. 17. The broken and contrite spirit is a sacrifice of God (Ps. li. 17), of his providing.8. With the same resolution and composedness of mind, after many thoughts of heart, he applies139himself to the completing of this sacrifice, v. 9, 10. He goes on with a holy wilfulness, after manya weary step, and with a heavy heart he arrives at length at the fatal place, builds the altar (an altarof earth, we may suppose, the saddest that ever he built, and he had built many a one), lays thewood in order for his Isaac's funeral pile, and now tells him the amazing news: "Isaac, thou art thelamb which God has provided." Isaac, for aught that appears, is as willing as Abraham; we do not209Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)find that he raised any objection against it, that he petitioned for his life, that he attempted to makehis escape, much less that he struggled with his aged father, or made any resistance: Abraham doesit, God will have it done, and Isaac has learnt to submit to both, Abraham no doubt comforting himwith the same hopes with which he himself by faith was comforted. Yet it is necessary that a sacrificebe bound. The great sacrifice, which in the fullness of time was to be offered up, must be bound,and therefore so must Isaac. But with what heart could tender Abraham tie those guiltless hands,which perhaps had often been lifted up to ask his blessing, and stretched out to embrace him, andwere now the more straitly bound with the cords of love and duty! However, it must be done.Having bound him, he lays him upon the altar, and his hand upon the head of his sacrifice; andnow, we may suppose, with floods of tears, he gives, and takes, the final farewell of a parting kiss:perhaps he takes another for Sarah from her dying son. This being done, he resolutely forgets thebowels of a father, and puts on the awful gravity of a sacrificer. With a fixed heart, and an eye liftedup to heaven, he takes the knife, and stretches out his hand to give a fatal cut to Isaac's throat. Beastonished, O heavens! at this; and wonder, O earth! Here is an act of faith and obedience, whichdeserves to be a spectacle to God, angels, and men. Abraham's darling, Sarah's laughter, the church'shope, the heir of promise, lies ready to bleed and die by his own father's hand, who never shrinksat the doing of it. Now this obedience of Abraham in offering up Isaac is a lively representation,(1.) Of the love of God to us, in delivering up his only-begotten Son to suffer and die for us, as asacrifice. It pleased the Lord himself to bruise him. See Isa. liii. 10; Zech. xiii. 7. Abraham wasobliged, both in duty and gratitude, to part with Isaac, and parted with him to a friend; but God wasunder no obligations to us, for we were enemies. (2.) Of our duty to God, in return for that love.We must tread in the steps of this faith of Abraham. God, by his word, calls us to part with all forChrist,—all our sins, though they have been as a right hand, or a right eye, or an Isaac—all thosethings that are competitors and rivals with Christ for the sovereignty of the heart (Luke xiv. 26);and we must cheerfully let them all go. God, by his providence, which is truly the voice of God,calls us to part with an Isaac sometimes, and we must do it with a cheerful resignation and submissionto his holy will, 1 Sam. iii. 18.Isaac Rescued. (b. c. 1872.)11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham,Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad,neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeingthou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13 And Abraham lifted uphis eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns:and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in thestead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: asit is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.Hitherto this story has been very melancholy, and seemed to hasten towards a most tragicalperiod; but here the sky suddenly clears up, the sun breaks out, and a bright and pleasant sceneopens. The same hand that had wounded and cast down here heals and lifts up; for, though he causegrief, he will have compassion. The angel of the Lord, that is, God himself, the eternal Word, theangel of the covenant, who was to be the great Redeemer and comforter, he interposed, and gavea happy issue to this trial.210Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)I. Isaac is rescued, v. 11, 12. The command to offer him was intended only for trial, and itappearing, upon trial, that Abraham did indeed love God better than he loved Isaac, the end of thecommand was answered; and therefore the order is countermanded, without any reflection at allupon the unchangeableness of the divine counsels: Lay not thy hand upon the lad. Note, 1. Ourcreature-comforts are most likely to be continued to us when we are most likely to be continued tous when we are most willing to resign them up to God's will. 2. God's time to help and relieve hispeople is when they are brought to the greatest extremity. The more imminent the danger is, andthe nearer to be put in execution, the more wonderful and the more welcome is the deliverance.II. Abraham is not only approved, but applauded. He obtains an honourable testimony that heis righteous: Now know I that thou fearest God. God knew it before, but now Abraham had givena most memorable evidence of it. He needed do no more; what he had done was sufficient to provethe religious regard he had to God and his authority. Note, 1. When God, by his providence, hinders140the performance of our sincere intentions in his services, he graciously accepts the will for thedeed, and the honest endeavour, though it come short of finishing. 2. The best evidence of ourfearing God is our being willing of serve and honour him with that which is dearest to us, and topart with all to him or for him.III. Another sacrifice is provided instead of Isaac, v. 13. Now that the altar was built, and thewood laid in order, it was necessary that something should be offered. For, 1. God must beacknowledged with thankfulness for the deliverance of Isaac; and the sooner the better, when hereis an altar ready. 2. Abraham's words must be made good: God will provide himself a lamb. Godwill not disappoint those expectations of his people which are of his own raising; but according totheir faith it is to them. Thou shalt decree a thing, and it shall be established. 3. Reference mustbe had to the promised Messiah, the blessed seed. (1.) Christ was sacrificed in our stead, as thisram instead of Isaac, and his death was our discharge. "Here am I (said he,) let these go their way."(2.) Though that blessed seed was lately promised, and now typified by Isaac, yet the offering ofhim up should be suspended till the latter end of the world: and in the mean time the sacrifice ofbeasts should be accepted, as this ram was, as a pledge of that expiation which should one day bemade by that great sacrifice. And it is observable that the temple, the place of sacrifice, wasafterwards built upon this mount Moriah (2 Chron. iii. 1); and mount Calvary, where Christ wascrucified, was not far off.IV. A new name is given to the place, to the honour of God, and for the encouragement of allbelievers, to the end of the world, cheerfully to trust in God in the way of obedience: Jehovah-jireh,The Lord will provide (v. 14), probably alluding to what he had said (v. 8), God will provide himselfa lamb. It was not owing to any contrivance of Abraham, nor was it in answer to his prayer, thoughhe was a distinguished intercessor; but it was purely the Lord's doing. Let it be recorded for thegenerations to come, 1. That the Lord will see; he will always have his eye upon his people in theirstraits and distresses, that he may come in with seasonable succour in the critical juncture. 2. Thathe will be seen, be seen in the mount, in the greatest perplexities of his people. He will not onlymanifest, but magnify, his wisdom, power, and goodness, in their deliverance. Where God seesand provides, he should be seen and praised. And, perhaps, it may refer to God manifest in theflesh.Abraham's Blessing Confirmed. (b. c. 1872.)211Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)15 And the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast donethis thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I willbless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, andas the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of hisenemies; 18 And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; becausethou hast obeyed my voice. 19 So Abraham returned unto his young men, and theyrose up and went together to Beer-sheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba.Abraham's obedience was graciously accepted; but this was not all: here we have it recompensed,abundantly recompensed, before he stirred from the place; probably while the ram he had sacrificedwas yet burning God sent him this gracious message, renewed and ratified his covenant with him.All covenants were made by sacrifice, so was this by the typical sacrifices of Isaac and the ram.Very high expressions of God's favour to Abraham are employed in this confirmation of the covenantwith him, expressions exceeding any he had yet been blessed with. Note, Extraordinary servicesshall be crowned with extraordinary honours and comforts; and favours in the promise, though notyet performed, ought to be accounted real and valuable recompences. Observe, 1. God is pleasedto make mention of Abraham's obedience as the consideration of the covenant; and he speaks of itwith an encomium: Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine onlyson, v. 16. He lays a strong emphasis on this, and (v. 18) praises it as an act of obedience: in it thouhast obeyed my voice, and to obey is better than sacrifice. Not that this was a proportionableconsideration, but God graciously put this honour upon that by which Abraham had honoured him.2. God now confirmed the promise with an oath. It was said and sealed before; but now it is sworn:By myself have I sworn; for he could swear by no greater, Heb. vi. 13. Thus he interposed himselfby an oath, as the apostle expresses it, Heb. vi. 17. He did (to speak with reverence) even pawn hisown life and being upon it (As I live,) that by all those immutable things, in which it was impossiblefor God to lie, he and his might have strong consolation. Note, If we exercise faith, God willencourage it. Improve the promises, and God will ratify them. 3. The particular promise hererenewed is that of a numerous offspring: Multiplying, I will multiply thee, v. 17. Note, Those thatare willing to part with any thing for God shall have it made up to them with unspeakable advantage.141Abraham has but one son, and is willing to part with that one, in obedience to God. "Well," saidGod, "thou shalt be recompensed with thousands and millions." What a figure does the seed ofAbraham make in history! How numerous, how illustrious, were his known descendants, who, tothis day, triumph in this, that they have Abraham to their father! Thus he received a thousand-foldin this life, Matt. xix. 29. 4. The promise, doubtless, points at the Messiah, and the grace of thegospel. This is the oath sworn to our father Abraham, which Zacharias refers to, Luke i. 73, &c.And so here is a promise, (1.) Of the great blessing of the Spirit: In blessing, I will bless thee,namely, with that best of blessings the gift of the Holy Ghost; the promise of the Spirit was thatblessing of Abraham which was to come upon the Gentiles through Jesus Christ, Gal. iii. 14. (2.)Of the increase of the church, that believers, his spiritual seed, should be numerous as the stars ofheaven. (3.) Of spiritual victories: Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. Believers, bytheir faith, overcome the world, and triumph over all the powers of darkness, and are more thanconquerors. Probably Zacharias refers to this part of the oath (Luke i. 74), That we, being delivered212Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear. But the crown of all is the last promise.(4.) Of the incarnation of Christ: In thy seed, one particular person that shall descend from thee (forhe speaks not of many, but of one, as the apostle observes, Gal. iii. 16), shall all the nations of theearth be blessed, or shall bless themselves, as the phrase is, Isa. lxv. 16. In him all may be happyif they will, and all that belong to him shall be so, and shall think themselves so. Christ is the greatblessing of the world. Abraham was ready to give up his son for a sacrifice to the honour of God,and, on that occasion, God promised to give his Son a sacrifice for the salvation of man.20 And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying,Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor; 21 Huz hisfirst born, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 And Chesed,and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel. 23 And Bethuel begat Rebekah:these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham's brother. 24 And his concubine,whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, andMaachah.This is recorded here, 1. To show that though Abraham saw his own family highly dignifiedwith peculiar privileges, admitted into covenant, and blessed with the entail of the promise, yet hedid not look with contempt and disdain upon his relations, but was glad to hear of the increase andprosperity of their families. 2. To make way for the following story of the marriage of Isaac toRebekah, a daughter of this family.141 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXIII.Here is, I. Abraham a mourner for the death of Sarah, ver. 1, 2. II. Abraham a purchaser of aburying-place for Sarah. 1. The purchase humbly proposed by Abraham, ver. 3, 4. 2. Fairly treatedof, and agreed to, with a great deal of mutual civility and respect, ver. 5-16. 3. The purchase-moneypaid, ver. 16. 4. The premises conveyed and secured to Abraham, ver. 17, 18, 20. 5. Sarah's funeral,ver. 19.The Death of Sarah. (b. c. 1857.)1 And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were theyears of the life of Sarah. 2 And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same is Hebron inthe land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.We have here, 1. Sarah's age, v. 1. Almost forty years before, she had called herself old, ch.xviii. 12. Old people will die never the sooner, but may die the better, for reckoning themselvesold. 2. Her death, v. 2. The longest liver must die at last. Abraham and Sarah had lived comfortablytogether many years; but death parts those whom nothing else could part. The special friends andfavourites of Heaven are not exempted from the stroke of death. She died in the land of Canaan,where she had been above sixty years a sojourner. 3. Abraham's mourning for her; and he was a213Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)true mourner. He did not only perform the ceremonies of mourning according to the custom ofthose time, as the mourners that go about the streets, but he did sincerely lament the great loss hehad of a good wife, and gave proof of the constancy of his affection to her to the last. Two wordsare used: he came both to mourn and to weep. His sorrow was not counterfeit, but real. He cameto her tent, and sat down by the corpse, there to pay the tribute of his tears, that his eye might affecthis heart, and that he might pay the greater respect to the memory of her that was gone. Note, It isnot only lawful, but it is a duty, to lament the death of our near relations, both in compliance withthe providence of God, who thus calls to weeping and mourning, and in honour to those to whomhonour is due. Tears are a tribute due to our deceased friends. When a body is sown, it must bewatered. But we must not sorrow as those that have no hope; for we have a good hope throughgrace both concerning them and concerning ourselves.The Cave of Machpelah. (b. c. 1857.)3 And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth,saying, 4 I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of aburyingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. 5 And the children142of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him, 6 Hear us, my lord: thou art a mightyprince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shallwithhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. 7 AndAbraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the childrenof Heth. 8 And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I shouldbury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son ofZohar, 9 That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is inthe end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for apossession of a buryingplace amongst you. 10 And Ephron dwelt among the childrenof Heth: and Ephron the Hittite answered Abraham in the audience of the childrenof Heth, even of all that went in at the gate of his city, saying, 11 Nay, my lord,hear me: the field give I thee, and the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in thepresence of the sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead. 12 And Abrahambowed down himself before the people of the land. 13 And he spake unto Ephronin the audience of the people of the land, saying, But if thou wilt give it, I pray thee,hear me: I will give thee money for the field; take it of me, and I will bury my deadthere. 14 And Ephron answered Abraham, saying unto him, 15 My lord, hearkenunto me: the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver; what is that betwixt meand thee? bury therefore thy dead.Here is, I. The humble request which Abraham made to his neighbours, the Hittites, for aburying-place among them, v. 3, 4. It was strange he had this to do now; but we are to impute itrather to God's providence than to his improvidence, as appears Acts vi. 5, where it is said, Godgave him no inheritance in Canaan. It were well if all those who take care to provide burying-placesfor their bodies after death were as careful to provide a resting-place for their souls. Observe here,214Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)1. The convenient diversion which this affair gave, for the present, to Abraham's grief: He stoodup from before his dead. Those that find themselves in danger of over-grieving for their deadrelations, and are entering into that temptation, must take heed of poring upon their loss and sittingalone and melancholy. There must be a time of standing up from before their dead, and ceasing tomourn. For, thanks be to God, our happiness is not bound up in the life of any creature. Care of thefuneral may, as here, be improved to divert grief for the death at first, when it is most in danger oftyrannizing. Weeping must not hinder sowing. 2. The argument he used with the children of Heth,which was this: "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you, therefore I am unprovided, and mustbecome a humble suitor to you for a burying-place." This was one occasion which Abraham tookto confess that he was a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth; he was not ashamed to own it thuspublicly, Heb. xi. 13. Note, The death of our relations should effectually remind us that we are notat home in this world. When they are gone, say, "We are going." 3. His uneasiness till this affairwas settled, intimated in that word, that I may bury my dead out of my sight. Note, Death will makethose unpleasant to our sight who while they lived were the desire of our eyes. The countenancethat was fresh and lively becomes pale and ghastly, and fit to be removed into the land of darkness.While she was in his sight, it renewed his grief, which he would prevent.II. The generous offer which the children of Heth made to him, v. 5, 6. They compliment him,1. With a title of respect: Thou art a prince of God among us, so the word is; not only great, butgood. He called himself a stranger and a sojourner; they call him a great prince; for those thathumble themselves shall be exalted. God had promised to make Abraham's name great. 2. With atender of the best of their burying-places. Note, Even the light of nature teaches us to be civil andrespectful towards all, though they be strangers and sojourners. The noble generosity of theseCanaanites shames and condemns the closeness, and selfishness, and ill-humour, of many that callthemselves Israelites. Observe, These Canaanites would be glad to mingle their dust with Abraham'sand to have their last end like his.III. The particular proposal which Abraham made to them, v. 7-9. He returns them his thanksfor their kind offer with all possible decency and respect; though a great man, an old man, and nowa mourner, yet he stands up, and bows himself humbly before them, v. 7. Note, Religion teachesgood manners; and those abuse it that place it in rudeness and clownishness. He then pitches uponthe place he thinks most convenient, namely, the cave of Machpelah, which probably lay near him,143and had not yet been used for a burying-place. The present owner was Ephron. Abraham cannotpretend to any interest in him, but he desires that they would improve theirs with him to get thepurchase of that cave, and the field in which it was. Note, A moderate desire to obtain that whichis convenient for us, by fair and honest means, is not such a coveting of that which is our neighbour'sas is forbidden in the tenth commandment.IV. The present which Ephron made to Abraham of his field: The field give I thee, v. 10, 11.Abraham thought he must be entreated to sell it; but, upon the first mention of it, without entreaty,Ephron freely gives it. Some men have more generosity than they are thought to have. Abraham,no doubt, had taken all occasions to oblige his neighbours, and do them any service that lay in hispower; and now they return his kindness: for he that watereth shall be watered also himself. Note,If those that profess religion adorn their profession by eminent civility and serviceableness to all,they shall find it will rebound to their own comfort and advantage, as well as to the glory of God.V. Abraham's modest and sincere refusal of Ephron's kind offer, v. 12, 13. Abundance of thankshe returns him for it (v. 12), makes his obeisance to him before the people of the land, that they215Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)might respect Ephron the more for the respect they saw Abraham give him (1 Sam. xv. 30), butresolves to give him money for the field, even the full value of it. It was not in pride that Abrahamrefused the gift, or because he scorned to be beholden to Ephron; but, 1. In justice. Abraham wasrich in silver and gold (ch. xiii. 2) and was able to pay for the field, and therefore would not takeadvantage of Ephron's generosity. Note, Honesty, as well as honour, forbids us to sponge upon ourneighbours and to impose upon those that are free. Job reflected upon it with comfort, when he waspoor, that he had not eaten the fruits of his land without money, Job xxxi. 39. 2. In prudence. Hewould pay for it lest Ephron, when this good humour was over, should upbraid him with it, andsay, I have made Abraham rich (ch. xiv. 23), or lest the next heir should question Abraham's title(because that grant was made without any consideration), and claim back the field. Thus Davidafterwards refused Araunah's offer, 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. We know not what affronts we may hereafterreceive from those that are now most kind and generous.VI. The price of the land fixed by Ephron but not insisted on: The land is worth four hundredshekels of silver (about fifty pounds of our money), but what is that between me and thee? v. 14,15. He would rather oblige his friend than have so much money in his pocket. Herein Ephrondiscovers, 1. A great contempt of worldly wealth. "What is that between me and thee? It is a smallmatter, not worth speaking of." Many a one would have said, "It is a deal of money; it will go farin a child's portion." But Ephron says, "What is that?" Note, It is an excellent thing for people tohave low and mean thoughts of all the wealth of this world; it is that which is not, and in theabundance of which a man's life does not consist, Luke xii. 15. 2. Great courtesy, and obligingnessto his friend and neighbour. Ephron was not jealous of Abraham as a resident foreigner, nor enviousat him as a man likely to thrive and grow rich. He bore him no ill-will for his singularity in religion,but was much kinder to him than most people now-a-days are to their own brothers: What is thatbetween me and thee? Note, No little thing should occasion demurs and differences between truefriends. When we are tempted to be hot in resenting affronts, high in demanding our rights, or hardin denying a kindness, we should answer the temptation with this question: "What is that betweenme and my friend?"Sarah's Funeral. (b. c. 1857.)16 And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to Ephron thesilver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekelsof silver, current money with the merchant. 17 And the field of Ephron, which wasin Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field, and the cave which was therein,and all the trees that were in the field, that were in all the borders round about, weremade sure 18 Unto Abraham for a possession in the presence of the children ofHeth, before all that went in at the gate of his city. 19 And after this, Abrahamburied Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the sameis Hebron in the land of Canaan. 20 And the field, and the cave that is therein, weremade sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.We have here the conclusion of the treaty between Abraham and Ephron about theburying-place. The bargain was publicly made before all the neighbours, in the presence andaudience of the sons of Heth, v. 16, 17. Note, Prudence, as well as justice, directs us to be fair, and216Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)open, and above-board, in our dealings. Fraudulent contracts hate the light, and choose to beclandestine; but those that design honestly in their bargains care not who are witnesses to them.Our law countenances sales made in market-overt, and by deed enrolled. Observe, 1. Abraham,144without fraud, covin, or further delay, pays the money, v. 16. He pays it readily, withouthesitation,—pays it in full, without diminution,—and pays it by weight, current money with themerchant, without deceit. See how anciently money was used for the help of commerce; and seehow honestly money should be paid where it is due. Observe, Though all the land of Canaan wasAbraham's by promise, yet, the time of his possessing not having come, what he had now occasionfor he bought and paid for. Note, Dominion is not founded in grace. The saints' title to an eternalinheritance does not entitle them to the possessions of this world, nor justify them in doing wrong.2. Ephron honestly and fairly makes him a good title to the land, v. 17, 18, 20. The field, with allits appurtenances, is conveyed to Abraham and his heirs for ever, in open court, not by writing (itdoes not appear that writing was then used), but by such a public solemn declaration before witnessesas was sufficient to pass it. Note, As that which is bought must be honestly paid for, so that whichis sold must be honestly delivered and secured. 3. Abraham, thereupon, takes possession, and buriesSarah in the cave or vault (whether framed by nature or art is not certain) which was in the purchasedfield. It is probable that Abraham had buried servants out of his family since he came to Canaan,but the graves of the common people (2 Kings xxiii. 6) might suffice for them; now that Sarah wasdead a peculiar place must be found for her remains. It is worth noting, (1.) That a burying-placewas the first spot of ground Abraham possessed in Canaan. Note, When we are entering into theworld it is good to think of our going out of it; for, as soon as we are born, we begin to die. (2.)That it was the only piece of land he ever possessed, though the country was all his own in reversion.Those that have least of this earth find a grave in it. Abraham provided, not cities, as Cain andNimrod, but a sepulchre, [1.] To be a constant memorandum of death to himself and his posterity,that he and they might learn to die daily. This sepulchre is said to be at the end of the field (v. 9);for, whatever our possessions are, there is a sepulchre at the end of them. [2.] To be a token of hisbelief and expectation of the resurrection; for why should such care be taken of the body if it bethrown away for ever, and must not rise again? Abraham, in this, said plainly that he sought a bettercountry, that is, a heavenly. Abraham is content to be still flitting, while he lives, but secures aplace where, when he dies his flesh may rest in hope.144 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXIV.Marriages and funerals are the changes of families, and the common news among the inhabitantsof the villages. In the foregoing chapter we had Abraham burying his wife, here we have himmarrying his son. These stories concerning his family, with their minute circumstances, are largelyrelated, while the histories of the kingdoms of the world then in being, with their revolutions, areburied in silence; for the Lord knows those that are his. The subjoining of Isaac's marriage to Sarah'sfuneral (with a particular reference to it, ver. 67) shows us that as "one generation passes away217Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)another generation comes;" and thus the entail both of the human nature, and of the covenant, ispreserved. Here is, I. Abraham's care about the marrying of his son, and the charge he gave to hisservant about it, ver. 1-9. II. His servant's journey into Abraham's country, to seek a wife for hisyoung master among his own relations, ver. 10-14. III. The kind providence which brought himacquainted with Rebekah, whose father was Isaac's cousin-german, ver. 15-28. IV. The treaty ofmarriage with her relations, ver. 29-49. V. Their consent obtained, ver. 50-60. VI. The happymeeting and marriage between Isaac and Rebekah, ver. 61, &c.).Abraham's Charges to His Servant. (b. c. 1857.)1 And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the Lord had blessedAbraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house,that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And Iwill make thee swear by the Lord, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, thatthou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, amongwhom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and takea wife unto my son Isaac. 5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the womanwill not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son againunto the land from whence thou camest? 6 And Abraham said unto him, Bewarethou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7 The Lord God of heaven, whichtook me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spakeunto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shallsend his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear fromthis my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his handunder the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.Three things we may observe here concerning Abraham:—I. The care he took of a good son, to get him married, well married. It was high time to thinkof it now, for Isaac was about forty years old, and it had been customary with his ancestors to marryat thirty, or sooner, ch. xi. 14, 18, 22, 24. Abraham believed the promise of the building up of hisfamily, and therefore did not make haste; not more haste than good speed. Two considerationsmoved him to think of it now (v. 1):—1. That he himself was likely to leave the world quickly, forhe was old, and well-stricken in age, and it would be a satisfaction to him to see his son settled145before he died; and, 2. That he had a good estate to leave behind him, for the Lord had blessedhim in all things; and the blessing of the Lord makes rich. See how much religion and piety befriendoutward prosperity. Now Abraham's pious care concerning his son was, (1.) That he should notmarry a daughter of Canaan, but one of his kindred. He saw that the Canaanites were degeneratinginto great wickedness, and knew by revelation that they were designed for ruin, and therefore hewould not marry his son among them, lest they should be either a snare to his soul, or at least a blotto his name. (2.) That yet he should not leave the land of Canaan, to go himself among his kindred,not even for the purpose of choosing a wife, lest he should be tempted to settle there. This cautionis given v. 6, and repeated, v. 8. "Bring not my son thither again, whatever comes of it. Let him218Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)rather want a wife than expose himself to that temptation." Note, Parents in disposing of theirchildren, should carefully consult the welfare of their souls, and their furtherance in the way toheaven. Those who through grace have escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust, andhave brought up their children accordingly, should take heed of doing any thing by which they maybe again entangled therein and overcome, 2 Pet. ii. 20. Beware that you bring them not thitheragain, Heb. xi. 15.II. The charge he gave to a good servant, probably Eliezer of Damascus, one of whose conduct,fidelity, and affection to him and his family, he had had long experience. He trusted him with thisgreat affair, and not Isaac himself, because he would not have Isaac go at all into that country, butmarry there by proxy; and no proxy so fit as this steward of his house. This matter is settled betweenthe master and the servant with a great deal of care and solemnity. 1. The servant must be boundby an oath to do his utmost to get a wife for Isaac from among his relations, v. 2-4. Abraham swearshim to it, both for his own satisfaction and for the engagement of his servant to all possible careand diligence in this matter. Thus God swears his servants to their work, that, having sworn, theymay perform it. Honour is here done to the eternal God; for he it is that is sworn by, to whom alonethese appeals ought to be made. And some think honour is done to the covenant of circumcisionby the ceremony here used of putting his hand under his thigh. Note, Swearing being an ordinancenot peculiar to the church, but common to mankind, is to be performed by such signs as are theappointments and common usages of our country, for binding the person sworn. 2. He must beclear of this oath if, when he had done his utmost, he could not prevail. This proviso the servantprudently inserted (v. 5), putting the case that the woman would not follow him; and Abrahamallowed the exception, v. 8. Note, Oaths are to be taken with great caution, and the matter swornto should be rightly understood and limited, because it is a snare to devour that which is holy, and,after vows, to make the enquiry which should have been made before.III. The confidence he put in a good God, who, he doubts not, will give his servant success inthis undertaking, v. 7. He remembers that God had wonderfully brought him out of the land of hisnativity, by the effectual call of his grace; and therefore doubts not but he will succeed him in hiscare not to bring his son thither again. He remembers also the promise God had made and confirmedto him that he would give Canaan to his seed, and thence infers that God would own him in hisendeavours to match his son, not among those devoted nations, but to one that was fit to be themother of such a seed. "Fear not therefore; he shall send his angel before thee to make thy wayprosperous." Note, 1. Those that carefully keep in the way of duty, and govern themselves by theprinciples of their religion in their designs and undertakings, have good reason to expect prosperityand success in them. God will cause that to issue in our comfort in which we sincerely aim at hisglory. 2. God's promises, and our own experiences, are sufficient to encourage our dependenceupon God, and our expectations from him, in all the affairs of this life. 3. God's angels are ministeringspirits, sent forth, not only for the protection, but for the guidance, of the heirs of promise, Heb. i.14. "He shall send his angel before thee, and then thou wilt speed well."Journey of Abraham's Servant. (b. c. 1857.)10 And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed;for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went toMesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. 11 And he made his camels to kneel down219Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time thatwomen go out to draw water. 12 And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham,I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my masterAbraham. 13 Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of themen of the city come out to draw water: 14 And let it come to pass, that the damselto whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and sheshall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou146hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast showedkindness unto my master. 15 And it came to pass, before he had done speaking,that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wifeof Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. 16 And the damselwas very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she wentdown to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. 17 And the servant ran tomeet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. 18 Andshe said, Drink, my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand,and gave him drink. 19 And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I willdraw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 20 And she hasted,and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water,and drew for all his camels. 21 And the man wondering at her held his peace, towit whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not. 22 And it came topass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half ashekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; 23And said, Whose daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father'shouse for us to lodge in? 24 And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuelthe son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. 25 She said moreover unto him, Wehave both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in. 26 And the manbowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. 27 And he said, Blessed be theLord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercyand his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master's brethren.28 And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things.Abraham's servant now begins to make a figure in this story; and, though he is not named, yetmuch is here recorded to his honour, and for an example to all servants, who shall be honoured if,by faithfully serving God and their masters, they adorn the doctrine of Christ (compare Prov. xxvii.18 with Titus ii. 10); for there is no respect of persons with God, Col. iii. 24, 25. A good servantthat makes conscience of the duty of his place, and does it in the fear of God, though he make nota figure in the world nor have praise of men, yet shall be owned and accepted of God and havepraise of him. Observe here,220Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)I. How faithful Abraham's servant approved himself to his master. Having received his charge,he with all expedition set out on his journey, with an equipage suitable to the object of his negotiation(v. 10), and he had all the goods of his master, that is, a schedule or particular account of them, inhis hand, to show to those with whom he was to treat; for, from first to last, he consulted his master'shonour. Isaac being a type of Christ, some make this fetching of a wife for him to signify theespousing of the church by the agency of his servants the ministers. The church is the bride, theLamb's wife, Rev. xxi. 9. Christ is the bridegroom, and ministers are the friends of the bridegroom(John iii. 29), whose work it is to persuade souls to consent to him, 2 Cor. xi. 2. The spouse ofChrist must not be of the Canaanites, but of his own kindred, born again from above. Ministers,like Abraham's servant, must lay out themselves with the utmost wisdom and care to serve theirmaster's interest herein.II. How devoutly he acknowledged God in this affair, like one of that happy household whichAbraham had commanded to keep the way of the Lord, &c., ch. xviii. 19. He arrived early in theevening (after many days' journeying) at the place of his destination, and reposed himself by a wellof water, to consider how he might manage his business for the best. And,1. He acknowledges God by a particular prayer (v. 12-14), wherein, (1.) He petitions forprosperity and good success in this affair: Send me good speed, this day. Note, We have leave tobe particular in recommending our affairs to the conduct and care of the divine Providence. Thosethat would have good speed must pray for it. This day, in this affair; thus we must, in all our ways,acknowledge God, Prov. iii. 6. And, if we thus look up to God in every undertaking which we arein care about, we shall have the comfort of having done our duty, whatever the issue be. (2.) Hepleads God's covenant with his master Abraham: O God of my master Abraham, show kindness tohim. Note, As the children of good parents, so the servants of good masters, have peculiarencouragement in the prayers they offer to God for prosperity and success. (3.) He proposes a sign(v. 14), not by it to limit God, nor with a design to proceed no further if he were not gratified in it;147but it is a prayer, [1.] That God would provide a good wife for his young master, and this was agood prayer. He knew that a prudent wife is from the Lord (Prov. xix. 14), and therefore that forthis he will be enquired of. He desires that his master's wife might be humble and industriouswoman, bred up to care and labour, and willing to put her hand to any work that was to be done;and that she might be of a courteous disposition, and charitable to strangers. When he came to seeka wife for his master, he did not go to the playhouse or the park, and pray that he might meet onethere, but to the well of water, expecting to find one there well employed. [2.] That he would pleaseto make his way, in this matter, plain and clear before him, by the concurrence of minutecircumstances in his favour. Note, First, It is the comfort, as well as the belief, of a good man, thatGod's providence extends itself to the smallest occurrences and admirably serves its own purposesby them. Our times are in God's hand; not only events themselves, but the times of them. Secondly,It is our wisdom, in all our affairs, to follow Providence, and folly to force it. Thirdly, It is verydesirable, and that which we may lawfully pray for, while in the general we set God's will beforeus as our rule, that he will, by hints of providence, direct us in the way of our duty, and give usindications what his mind it. Thus he guides his people with his eye (Ps. xxxii. 8), and leads themin a plain path, Ps. xxvii. 11.2. God owns him by a particular providence. He decreed the thing, and it was established tohim, Job xxii. 28. According to his faith, so was it unto him. The answer to this prayer was, (1.)Speedy—before he had made an end of speaking (v. 15), as it is written (Isa. lxv. 24), While they221Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)are yet speaking, I will hear. Though we are backward to pray, God is forward to hear prayer. (2.)Satisfactory: the first that came to draw water was, and did, in every thing, according to his ownheart. [1.] She was so well qualified that in all respects she answered the characters he wished forin the woman that was to be his master's wife, handsome and healthful, humble and industrious,very courteous and obliging to a stranger, and having all the marks of a good disposition. Whenshe came to the well (v. 16), she went down and filled her pitcher, and came up to go home withit. She did not stand to gaze upon the strange man and his camels, but minded her business, andwould not have been diverted from it but by an opportunity of doing good. She did not curiouslynor confidently enter into discourse with him, but modestly answered him, with all the decorumthat became her sex. What a degenerate age do we live in, in which appear all the instances of pride,luxury, and laziness, the reverse of Rebekah's character, whose daughters few are! Those instancesof goodness which were then in honour are now in contempt. [2.] Providence so ordered it that shedid that which exactly answered to his sign, and was wonderfully the counterpart of his proposal:she not only gave him drink, but, which was more than could have been expected, she offered herservices to give his camels drink, which was the very sign he proposed. Note, First, God, in hisprovidence, does sometimes wonderfully own the prayer of faith, and gratify the innocent desiresof his praying people, even in little things, that he may show the extent of his care, and mayencourage them at all times to seek to him and trust in him; yet we must take heed of being over-boldin prescribing to God, lest the event should weaken our faith rather than strengthen it. Secondly, Itis good to take all opportunities of showing a humble, courteous, charitable, disposition, because,some time or other, it may turn more to our honour and benefit than we think of; some hereby haveentertained angels, and Rebekah hereby, quite beyond her expectation at this time, was broughtinto the line of Christ and the covenant. Thirdly, There may be a great deal of obliging kindness inthat which costs but little: our Saviour has promised a reward for a cup of cold water, Matt. x. 42.Fourthly, The concurrence of providences and their minute circumstances, for the furtherance ofour success in any business, ought to be particularly observed, with wonder and thankfulness, tothe glory of God: The man wondered, v. 21. We have been wanting to ourselves, both in duty andin comfort, by neglecting to observe Providence. [3.] Upon enquiry he found, to his great satisfaction,that she was a near relation to his master, and that the family she was of was considerable, and ableto give him entertainment, v. 23-25. Note, Providence sometimes wonderfully directs those thatby faith and prayer seek direction from heaven in the choice of suitable yoke-fellows: happymarriages those are likely to be that are made in the fear of God; and these, we are sure, are madein heaven.3. He acknowledges God in a particular thanksgiving. He first paid his respects to Rebekah,in gratitude for her civility (v. 22), obliging her with such ornaments and attire as a maid, especiallya bride, cannot forget (Jer. ii. 32), which yet, we should think, ill suited the pitcher of water; butthe ear-rings and bracelets she sometimes wore did not make her think herself above the laboursof a virtuous woman (Prov. xxxi. 13), who works willingly with her hands; nor the services of achild, who, while under age, differs nothing from a servant, Gal. iv. 1. Having done this, he turnshis wonder (v. 21) into worshipping: Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, v. 26, 27.Observe here, (1.) He had prayed for good speed (v. 12), and now that he had sped well he givesthanks. Note, What we win by prayer we must wear with praise; for mercies in answer to prayer222Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)148lay us under particular obligations. (2.) He had as yet but a comfortable prospect of mercy, andwas not certain what the issue might prove; yet he gives thanks. Note, When God's favours arecoming towards us we must meet them with our praises. (3.) He blesses God for success when hewas negotiating for his master. Note, We should be thankful for our friend's mercies as for our own.(4.) He gives thanks that, being in the way, at a loss what course to steer, the Lord had led him.Note, In doubtful cases, it is very comfortable to see God leading us, as he led Israel in the wildernessby the pillar of cloud and fire. (5.) He thinks himself very happy, and owns God in it, that he wasled to the house of his master's brethren, those of them that had come out of Ur of the Chaldees,though they had not come to Canaan, but remained in Haran. They were not idolaters, butworshippers of the true God, and inclinable to the religion of Abraham's family. Note, God is tobe acknowledged in providing suitable yoke-fellows, especially such as are agreeable in religion.(6.) He acknowledges that God, herein, had not left his master destitute of his mercy and truth. Godhad promised to build up Abraham's family, yet it seemed destitute of the benefit of that promise;but now Providence is working towards the accomplishing of it. Note, [1.] God's faithful ones, howdestitute soever they may be of worldly comforts, shall never be left destitute of God's mercy andtruth; for God's mercy is an inexhaustible fountain, and his truth an inviolable foundation. [2.] Itadds much to the comfort of any blessing to see in it the continuance of God's mercy and truth.Abraham's Servant Entertained by Laban; Errand of Abraham's Servant. (b. c. 1857.)29 And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out untothe man, unto the well. 30 And it came to pass, when he saw the earring andbracelets upon his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister,saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, hestood by the camels at the well. 31 And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the Lord;wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for thecamels. 32 And the man came into the house: and he ungirded his camels, and gavestraw and provender for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men's feetthat were with him. 33 And there was set meat before him to eat: but he said, I willnot eat, until I have told mine errand. And he said, Speak on. 34 And he said, I amAbraham's servant. 35 And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly; and he isbecome great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, andmenservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses. 36 And Sarah my master'swife bare a son to my master when she was old: and unto him hath he given all thathe hath. 37 And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife tomy son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: 38 But thou shaltgo unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son. 39 AndI said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not follow me. 40 And he saidunto me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send his angel with thee, and prosperthy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my son of my kindred, and of my father'shouse: 41 Then shalt thou be clear from this my oath, when thou comest to my223Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)kindred; and if they give not thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. 42 And Icame this day unto the well, and said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, if nowthou do prosper my way which I go: 43 Behold, I stand by the well of water; andit shall come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say toher, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; 44 And she say tome, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let the same be the womanwhom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's son. 45 And before I had donespeaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder;and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink,I pray thee. 46 And she made haste, and let down her pitcher from her shoulder,and said, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: so I drank, and she made thecamels drink also. 47 And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou? Andshe said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto him: and I149put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her hands. 48 And I boweddown my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed the Lord God of my masterAbraham, which had led me in the right way to take my master's brother's daughterunto his son. 49 And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me:and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left. 50 Then Labanand Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord: we cannotspeak unto thee bad or good. 51 Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go,and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken. 52 And it came topass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord,bowing himself to the earth. 53 And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, andjewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brotherand to her mother precious things.We have here the making up of the marriage between Isaac and Rebekah. It is related verylargely and particularly, even to the minute circumstances, which, we should think, might havebeen spared, while other things of great moment and mystery (as the story of Melchizedek) arerelated in few words. Thus God conceals that which is curious from the wise and prudent, revealsto babes that which is common and level to their capacity (Matt. xi. 25), and rules and saves theworld by the foolishness of preaching, 1 Cor. i. 21. Thus also we are directed to take notice of God'sprovidence in the little common occurrences of human life, and in them also to exercise our ownprudence and other graces; for the scripture was not intended for the use of philosophers andstatesmen only, but to make us all wise and virtuous in the conduct of ourselves and families. Hereis,I. The very kind reception given to Abraham's servant by Rebekah's relations. Her brotherLaban went to invite and conduct him in, but not till he saw the ear-rings and the bracelets uponhis sister's hands, v. 30. "O," thinks Laban, "here is a man that there is something to be got by, aman that is rich and generous; we will be sure to bid him welcome!" We know so much of Laban's224Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)character, by the following story, as to think that he would not have been so free of his entertainmentif he had not hoped to be well paid for it, as he was, v. 53. Note, A man's gift maketh room for him(Prov. xviii. 16), which way soever it turneth, it prospereth, Prov. xvii. 8. 1. The invitation waskind: Come in, thou blessed of the Lord, v. 31. They saw he was rich, and therefore pronouncedhim blessed of the Lord; or, perhaps, because they heard from Rebekah (v. 28) of the graciouswords which proceeded out of his mouth, they concluded him a good man, and therefore blessedof the Lord. Note, Those that are blessed of God should be welcome to us. It is good owning thosewhom God owns. 2. The entertainment was kind, v. 32, 33. Both the house and stable were wellfurnished, and Abraham's servant was invited to the free use of both. Particular care was taken ofthe camels; for a good man regardeth the life of his beast, Prov. xii. 10. If the ox knows his ownerto serve him, the owner should know his ox to provide for him that which is fitting for him.II. The full account which he gave them of his errand, and the court he made to them for theirconsent respecting Rebekah. Observe,1. How intent he was upon his business; though he had come off a journey, and come to a goodhouse, he would not eat, till he had told his errand, v. 33. Note, The doing of our work, and thefulfilling of our trusts, either for God or man, should be preferred by us before our necessary food:it was our Saviour's meat and drink, John iv. 34.2. How ingenious he was in the management of it; he approved himself, in this matter, both aprudent man and a man of integrity, faithful to his master by whom he was trusted, and just to thosewith whom he now treated.(1.) He gives a short account of the state of his master's family, v. 34-36. He was welcomebefore, but we may suppose him doubly welcome when he said, I am Abraham's servant. Abraham'sname, no doubt, was well known among them and respected, and we might suppose them notaltogether ignorant of his state, for Abraham knew theirs, ch. xxii. 20-24. Two things he suggests,to recommend his proposal:—[1.] That his master Abraham, through the blessing of God, had avery good estate; and, [2.] That he had settled it all upon Isaac, for whom he was now a suitor.(2.) He tells them the charge his master had given him, to fetch a wife for his son from amonghis kindred, with the reason of it, v. 37, 38. Thus he insinuates a pleasing hint, that, though Abrahamhad removed to a country at so great a distance, yet he still retained the remembrance of his relationsthat he had left behind, and a respect for them. The highest degrees of divine affection must notdivest us of natural affection. He likewise obviates an objection, That, if Isaac were deserving, heneeded not send so far off for a wife: why did he not marry nearer home? "For a good reason," says150he; "my master's son must not match with a Canaanite." He further recommends his proposal, [1.]From the faith his master had that it would succeed, v. 40. Abraham took encouragement from thetestimony of his conscience that he walked before God in a regular course of holy living, and thenceinferred that God would prosper him; probably he refers to that covenant which God had madewith him (ch. xvii. 1), I am God, all-sufficient, walk before me. Therefore, says he the God beforewhom I walk will send his angel. Note, While we make conscience of our part of the covenant, wemay take the comfort of God's part of it; and we should learn to apply general promises of particularcases, as there is occasion. [2.] From the care he himself had taken to preserve their liberty of givingor refusing their consent, as they should see cause, without incurring the guilt of perjury (v. 39-41),which showed him, in general, to be a cautious man, and particularly careful that their consentmight not be forced, but be either free or not at all.225Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)(3.) He relates to them the wonderful concurrence of providences, to countenance and furtherthe proposal, plainly showing the finger of God in it. [1.] He tells them how he had prayed fordirection by a sign, v. 42-44. Note, It is good dealing with those who by prayer take God alongwith them in their dealings. [2.] How God had answered his prayer in the very letter of it. Thoughhe did but speak in his heart (v. 45), which perhaps he mentions, lest it should be suspected thatRebekah had overheard his prayer and designedly humoured it. "No," says he, "I spoke it in myheart, so that none heard it but God, to whom thought are word, and from him the answer came,"v. 46, 47. [3.] How he had immediately acknowledged God's goodness to him therein, leading him,as he here expresses it, in the right way. Note, God's way is always the right way (Ps. cvii. 7), andthose are well led whom he leads.(4.) He fairly refers the matter to their consideration, and waits their decision (v. 49): "If youwill deal kindly and truly with my master, well and good: if you will be sincerely kind, you willaccept the proposal, and I have what I came for; if not, do not hold me in suspense." Note, Thosewho deal fairly have reason to expect fair dealing.(5.) They freely and cheerfully close with the proposal upon a very good principle (v. 50):"The thing proceedeth from the Lord, Providence smiles upon it, and we have nothing to say againstit." They do not object distance of place, Abraham's forsaking them, or his having no land inpossession, but personal estate only: they do not question the truth of what this man said; but, [1.]They trust much to his integrity. It were well if honesty did so universally prevail among men thatit might be as much an act of prudence as it is of good nature to take a man's word. [2.] They trustmore to God's providence, and therefore by silence give consent, because it appears to be directedand disposed by Infinite Wisdom. Note, A marriage is then likely to be comfortable when it appearsto proceed from the Lord.(6.) Abraham's servant makes a thankful acknowledgment of the good success he had metwith, [1.] To God: He worshipped the Lord, v. 52. Observe, First, As his good success went on,he went on to bless God. Those that pray without ceasing should in every thing give thanks, andown God in every step of mercy. Secondly, God sent his angel before him, and so gave him success,v. 7, 40. But when he has the desired success, he worships God, not the angel. Whatever benefitwe have by the ministration of angels, all the glory must be given to the Lord of the angels, Rev.xxii. 9. [2.] He pays his respects to the family also, and particularly to the bride, v. 53. He presentedher, and her mother, and brother, with many precious things, both to give a real proof of his master'sriches and generosity and in gratitude for their civility to him, and further to ingratiate himself withthem.Rebekah's Departure. (b. c. 1857.)54 And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarriedall night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto mymaster. 55 And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with us afew days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. 56 And he said unto them, Hinderme not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me away that I may go to mymaster. 57 And they said, We will call the damsel, and enquire at her mouth. 58And they called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? And shesaid, I will go. 59 And they sent away Rebekah their sister, and her nurse, and226Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Abraham's servant, and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her,Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seedpossess the gate of those which hate them. 61 And Rebekah arose, and her damsels,and they rode upon the camels, and followed the man: and the servant took Rebekah,and went his way.Rebekah is here taking leave of her father's house; and 1. Abraham's servant presses for adismission. Though he and his company were very welcome, and very cheerful there, yet he said,Send me away (v. 54), and again, v. 56. He knew his master would expect him home with some151impatience; he had business to do at home which wanted him, and therefore, as one that preferredhis work before his pleasure, he was for hastening home. Note, Lingering and loitering no waybecome a wise and good man; when we have despatched our business abroad we must not delayour return to our business at home, nor be longer from it than needs must; for as a bird that wandersfrom her nest so is he that wanders from his place, Prov. xxvii. 8. 2. Rebekah's relations, fromnatural affection and according to the usual expression of kindness in that case, solicit for her staysome time among them, v. 55. They could not think of parting with her on a sudden, especially asshe was about the remove so far off and it was not likely that they would ever see one another again:Let her stay a few days, at least ten, which makes it as reasonable a request as the reading in themargin seems to make it unreasonable, a year, or at least ten months. They had consented to themarriage, and yet were loth to part with her. Note, It is an instance of the vanity of this world thatthere is nothing in it so agreeable but it has its alloy. Nulla est sincera voluptas—There is nounmingled pleasure. They were pleased that they had matched a daughter of their family so well,and yet, when it came to the last, it was with great reluctance that they sent her away. 3. Rebekahherself determined the matter. To her they appealed, as it was fit they should (v. 57): Call the damsel(who had retired to her apartment with a modest silence) and enquire at her mouth. Note, As childrenought not to marry without their parents' consent, so parents ought not to marry them without theirown. Before the matter is resolved on, "Ask at the damsel's mouth;" she is a party principallyconcerned, and therefore ought to be principally consulted. Rebekah consented, not only to go, butto go immediately: I will go, v. 58. We may hope that the notice she had taken of the servant's pietyand devotion gave her such an idea of the prevalence of religion and godliness in the family shewas to go to made her desirous to hasten thither, and willing to forget her own people and herfather's house, where religion had not so much the ascendant. 4. Hereupon she is sent away withAbraham's servant; not, we may suppose, the very next day after, but very quickly: her friends seethat she has a good heart on it, and so they dismiss her, (1.) With suitable attendants—her nurse(v. 59), her damsels, v. 61. It seems, then, that when she went to the well for water it was not becauseshe had not servants at command, but because she took a pleasure in works of humble industry.Now that she was going among strangers, it was fit she should take those with her with whom shewas acquainted. Here is nothing said of her portion. Her personal merits were a portion in her, sheneeded none with her, nor did that ever come into the treaty of marriage. (2.) With hearty goodwishes: They blessed Rebekah, v. 60. Note, When our relations are entering into a new condition,we ought by prayer to recommend them to the blessing and grace of God. Now that she was goingto be a wife, they prayed that she might be a mother both of a numerous and of a victorious progeny.Perhaps Abraham's servant had told them of the promise God had lately made to his master, whichit is likely, Abraham acquainted his household with, that God would multiply his seed as the stars227Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of heaven, and that they should possess the gate of their enemies (ch. xxii. 17), to which promisethey had an eye in this blessing, Be thou the mother of that seed.Isaac's Marriage. (b. c. 1857.)62 And Isaac came from the way of the well Lahai-roi; for he dwelt in the southcountry. 63 And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he liftedup his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. 64 And Rebekah liftedup her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. 65 For she had saidunto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And theservant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a veil, and covered herself. 66And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done. 67 And Isaac brought herinto his mother Sarah's tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and heloved her: and Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.Isaac and Rebekah are, at length, happily brought together. Observe,I. Isaac was well employed when he met Rebekah: He went out to meditate, or pray, in thefield, at the even-tide, v. 62, 63. Some think he expected the return of his servants about this time,and went out on purpose to meet them. But, it should seem, he went out on another errand, to takethe advantage of a silent evening and a solitary field for meditation and prayer, those divine exercisesby which we converse with God and our own hearts. Note, 1. Holy souls love retirement. It willdo us good to be often left alone, walking alone and sitting alone; and, if we have the art of improvingsolitude, we shall find we are never less alone than when alone. 2. Meditation and prayer ought tobe both our business and our delight when we are alone; while we have a God, a Christ, and aheaven, to acquaint ourselves with, and to secure our interest in, we need not want matter eitherfor meditation or prayer, which, if they go together, will mutually befriend each other. 3. Our walks152in the field are then truly pleasant when in them we apply ourselves to meditation and prayer. Wethere have a free and open prospect of the heavens above us and the earth around us, and the hostand riches of both, by the view of which we should be led to the contemplation of the Maker andowner of all. 4. The exercises of devotion should be the refreshment and entertainment of theevening, to relieve us from the fatigue occasioned by the care and business of the day, and to prepareus for the repose and sleep of the night. 5. Merciful providences are then doubly comfortable whenthey find us well employed and in the way of our duty. Some think Isaac was now praying for goodsuccess in this affair that was depending, and meditating upon that which was proper to encouragehis hope in God concerning it; and now, when he sets himself, as it were, upon his watch-tower,to see what God would answer him, as the prophet (Hab. ii. 1), he sees the camels coming. SometimesGod sends in the mercy prayed for immediately, Acts xii. 12.II. Rebekah behaved herself very becomingly, when she met Isaac: understanding who he was,she alighted off her camel (v. 64), and took a veil, and covered herself (v. 65), in token of humility,modesty, and subjection. She did not reproach Isaac for not coming himself to fetch her, or, at least,to meet her a day's journey or two, did not complain of the tediousness of her journey, or thedifficulty of leaving her relations, to come into a strange place; but, having seen Providence goingbefore her in the affair, she accommodates herself with cheerfulness to her new relation. Those thatby faith are espoused to Christ, and would be presented as chaste virgins to him, must, in conformity228Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)to his example, humble themselves, as Rebekah, who alighted when she saw Isaac on foot, andmust put themselves into subjection to him who is their head (Eph. v. 24), as Rebekah, signifyingit by the veil she put on, 1 Cor. xi. 10.III. They were brought together (probably after some further acquaintance), to their mutualcomfort, v. 67. Observe here, 1. What an affectionate son he was to his mother: it was about threeyears since her death, and yet he was not, till now, comforted concerning it; the wound which thataffliction gave to his tender spirit bled so long, and was never healed till God brought him into thisnew relation. Thus crosses and comforts are balances to each other (Eccl. vii. 14), and help to keepthe scale even. 2. What an affectionate husband he was to his wife. Note, Those that have approvedthemselves well in one relation, it may be hoped, will do so in another: She became his wife, andhe loved her; there was all the reason in the world why he should, for so ought men to love theirwives even an themselves. The duty of the relation is then done, and the comfort of the relation isthen enjoyed, when mutual love governs; for there the Lord commands the blessing.152 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXV.The sacred historian, in this chapter, I. Takes his leave of Abraham, with an account, 1. Of hischildren by another wife, ver. 1-4. 2. Of his last will and testament, ver. 5, 6. 3. Of his age, death,and burial, ver. 7-10. II. He takes his leave of Ishmael, with a short account, 1. Of his children, ver.12-16. 2. Of his age and death, ver. 17, 18. III. He enters upon the history of Isaac. 1. His prosperity,ver. 11. 2. The conception and birth of his two sons, with the oracle of God concerning them, ver.19-26. 3. Their different characters, ver. 27, 28. 4. Esau's selling his birthright to Jacob, ver. 29-34.Abraham's Death. (b. c. 1822.)1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. 2 And she barehim Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 AndJokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, andLetushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch,and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5 And Abrahamgave all that he had unto Isaac. 6 But unto the sons of the concubines, whichAbraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, whilehe yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. 7 And these are the days of the yearsof Abraham's life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years. 8 ThenAbraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full ofyears; and was gathered to his people. 9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buriedhim in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite,229Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)which is before Mamre; 10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons ofHeth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.Abraham lived, after the marriage of Isaac, thirty-five years, and all that is recorded concerninghim during the time lies here in a very few verses. We hear no more of God's extraordinaryappearances to him or trials of him; for all the days, even of the best and greatest saints, are noteminent days, some slide on silently, and neither come nor go with observation; such were theselast days of Abraham. We have here,I. An account of his children by Keturah, another wife whom he married after the death ofSarah. He had buried Sarah and married Isaac, the two dear companions of his life, and was nowsolitary. He wanted a nurse, his family wanted a governess, and it was not good for him to be thusalone. He therefore marries Keturah, probably the chief of his maid-servants, born in his house or153bought with money. Marriage is not forbidden to old age. By her he had six sons, in whom thepromise made to Abraham concerning the great increase of his posterity was in part fulfilled, which,it is likely, he had an eye to this marriage. The strength he received by the promise still remainedin him, to show how much the virtue of the promise exceeds the power of nature.II. The disposition which Abraham made of his estate, v. 5, 6. After the birth of these sons, heset his house in order, with prudence and justice. 1. He made Isaac his heir, as he was bound to do,in justice to Sarah his first and principal wife, and to Rebekah who married Isaac upon the assuranceof it, ch. xxiv. 36. In this all, which he settled upon Isaac, are perhaps included the promise of theland of Canaan, and the entail of the covenant. Or, God having already made him the heir of thepromise, Abraham therefore made him heir of his estate. Our affection and gifts should attendGod's. 2. He gave portions to the rest of his children, both to Ishmael, though at first he was sentempty away, and to his sons by Keturah. It was justice to provide for them; parents that do notimitate him in this are worse than infidels. It was prudence to settle them in places distant fromIsaac, that they might not pretend to divide the inheritance with him, nor be in any way a care orexpense to him. Observe, He did this while he yet lived, lest it should not be done, or not so welldone, afterwards. Note, In many cases it is wisdom for men to make their own hands their executors,and what they find to do to do it while they live, as far as they can. These sons of the concubineswere sent into the country that lay east from Canaan, and their posterity were called the childrenof the east, famous for their numbers, Judg. vi. 5, 33. Their great increase was the fruit of thepromise made to Abraham, that God would multiply his seed. God, in dispensing his blessings,does as Abraham did; common blessings he gives to the children of this world, as to the sons ofthe bond-woman, but covenant-blessings he reserves for the heirs of promise. All that he has istheirs, for they are his Isaacs, from whom the rest shall be for ever separated.III. The age and death of Abraham, v. 7, 8. He lived 175 years, just 100 years after he cameto Canaan; so long he was a sojourner in a strange country. Though he lived long and lived well,though he did good and could ill be spared, yet he died at last. Observe how his death is heredescribed. 1. He gave up the ghost. His life was not extorted from him, but he cheerfully resignedit; into the hands of the Father of spirits he committed his spirit. 2. He died in a good old age, anold man; so God had promised him. His death was his discharge from the burdens of his age: anold man would not so live always. It was also the crown of the glory of his old age. 3. He was fullof years, or full of life (as it might be supplied), including all the conveniences and comforts oflife. He did not live till the world was weary of him, but till he was weary of the world; he had had230Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)enough of it, and desired no more. Vixi quantum satis est—I have lived long enough. A good man,though he should not die old, dies full of days, satisfied with living here, and longing to live in abetter place. 4. He was gathered to his people. His body was gathered to the congregation of thedead, and his soul to the congregation of the blessed. Note, Death gathers us to our people. Thosethat are our people while we live, whether the people of God or the children of this world, are thepeople to whom death will gather us.IV. His burial, v. 9, 10. Here is nothing recorded of the pomp or ceremony of his funeral; onlywe are told, 1. Who buried him: His sons Isaac and Ishmael. It was the last office of respect theyhad to pay to their good father. Some distance there had formerly been between Isaac and Ishmael;but it seems either that Abraham had himself brought them together while he lived, or at least thathis death reconciled them. 2. Where they buried him: in his own burying-place, which he hadpurchased, and in which he had buried Sarah. Note, Those that in life have been very dear to eachother may not only innocently, but laudably, desire to be buried together, that in their deaths theymay not be divided, and in token of their hopes of rising together.Genealogy of Ishmael. (b. c. 1822.)11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his sonIsaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahai-roi. 12 Now these are the generations ofIshmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare untoAbraham: 13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names,according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, andAdbeel, and Mibsam, 14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15 Hadar, andTema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and theseare their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according totheir nations. 17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred andthirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered untohis people. 18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, asthou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren.154Immediately after the account of Abraham's death, Moses begins the story of Isaac (v. 11),and tells us where he dwelt and how remarkably God blessed him. Note, The blessing of Abrahamdid not die with him, but survived to all the children of the promise. But he presently digressesfrom the story of Isaac, to give a short account of Ishmael, forasmuch as he also was a son ofAbraham, and God had made some promises concerning him, which it was requisite we shouldknow the accomplishment of. Observe here what is said, 1. Concerning his children. He had twelvesons, twelve princes they are called (v. 16), heads of families, which in process of time becamenations, distinct tribes, numerous and very considerable. They peopled a very large continent, thatlay between Egypt and Assyria, called Arabia. The names of his twelve sons are recorded. Midianand Kedar we often read of in scripture. And some very good expositors have taken notice of thesignification of those three names which are put together (v. 14), as containing good advice to usall, Mishma, Dumah, and Massa, that is, hear, keep silence, and bear; we have them together inthe same order, Jam. i:19, Be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. The posterity of Ishmaelhad not only tents in the fields, wherein they grew rich in times of peace; but they had towns and231Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)castles (v. 16), wherein they fortified themselves in time of war. Now the number and strength ofthis family were the fruit of the promise made to Hagar concerning Ishmael (ch. xvi. 10), and toAbraham, ch. xvii. 20 and xxi. 13. Note, Many that are strangers to the covenants of promise areyet blessed with outward prosperity for the sake of their godly ancestors. Wealth and riches shallbe in their house. 2. Concerning himself. Here is an account of his age: He lived 137 years (v. 17)which is recorded to show the efficacy of Abraham's prayer for him (ch. xvii. 18), O that Ishmaelmight live before thee! Here is also an account of his death; he too was gathered to his people; butit is not said that he was full of days, though he lived to so great an age: he was not so weary of theworld, nor so willing to leave it, as his good father was. Those words, he fell in the presence of allhis brethren, whether they mean, as we take them, he died, or, as others, his lot fell, are designedto show the fulfilling of that word to Hagar (ch. xvi. 12), He shall dwell in the presence of all hisbrethren, that is, he shall flourish and be eminent among them, and shall hold his own to the last.Or he died with his friends about him, which is comfortable.Birth of Esau and Jacob. (b. c. 1837.)19 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac:20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter ofBethuel the Syrian of Padan-aram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. 21 And Isaacintreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreatedof him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 And the children struggled togetherwithin her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of theLord. 23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two mannerof people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be strongerthan the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24 And when her daysto be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 And thefirst came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and hisname was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.27 And the boys grew: and Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacobwas a plain man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat ofhis venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.We have here an account of the birth of Jacob and Esau, the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah:their entrance into the world was (which is not usual) one of the most considerable parts of theirstory; nor is much related concerning Isaac but what had reference to his father while he lived andto his sons afterwards. For Isaac seems not to have been a man of action, nor much tried, but tohave spent his days in quietness and silence. Now concerning Jacob and Esau we are here told,I. That they were prayed for. Their parents, after they had been long childless, obtained themby prayer, v. 20, 21. Isaac was forty years old when he was married; though he was an only son,and the person from whom the promised seed was to come, yet he made no haste to marry. He wassixty years old when his sons were born (v. 26), so that, after he was married, he had no child fortwenty years. Note, Though the accomplishment of God's promise is always sure, yet it is often232Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)slow, and seems to be crossed and contradicted by Providence, that the faith of believers may betried, their patience exercised, and mercies long waited for may be the more welcome when theycome. While this mercy was delayed, Isaac did not approach to a handmaid's bed, as Abraham had155done, and Jacob afterwards; for he loved Rebekah, ch. xxiv. 67. But, 1. He prayed: he entreatedthe Lord for his wife. Though God had promised to multiply his family, he prayed for its increase;for God's promises must not supersede, but encourage, our prayers, and be improved as the groundof our faith. Though he had prayed for this mercy very often, and had continued his supplicationmany years, and it was not granted, yet he did not leave off praying for it; for men ought alwaysto pray, and not to faint (Luke xviii. 1), to pray without ceasing, and knock till the door be opened,He prayed for his wife; some read it with his wife. Note, Husbands and wives should pray together,which is intimated in the apostle's caution, that their prayers be not hindered, 1 Pet. iii. 7. The Jewshave a tradition that Isaac, at length, took his wife with him to mount Moriah, where God hadpromised that he would multiply Abraham's seed (ch. xxii. 17), and there, in his prayer with herand for her, pleaded the promise made in that very place. 2. God heard his prayer, and was entreatedof him. Note, Children are the gift of God. Those that continue instant in prayer, as Isaac did, shallfind, at last, that they did not seek in vain, Isa. xlv. 19.II. That they were prophesied of before they were born, and great mysteries were wrapped upin the prophecies which went before of them, v. 22, 23. Long had Isaac prayed for a son; and nowhis wife is with child of two, to recompense him for his long waiting. Thus God often outdoes ourprayers, and gives more than we are able to ask or think. Now Rebekah being with child of thesetwo sons, observe here,1. How she was perplexed in her mind concerning her present case: The children struggledtogether within her. The commotion she felt was altogether extraordinary and made her very uneasy.Whether she was apprehensive that the birth would be her death, or whether she was weary of theintestine tumult, or whether she suspected it to be an ill omen, it seems she was ready to wish thateither she had not been with child or that she might die immediately, and not bring forth such astruggling brood: If it be so, or, since it is so, Why am I thus? Before, the want of children was hertrouble, now, the struggle of the children is no less so. Note, (1.) The comforts we are most desirousof are sometimes found to bring along with them more occasion of trouble and uneasiness that wethought of; vanity being written upon all things under the sun, God thus teaches us to read it. (2.)We are too apt to be discontented with our comforts, because of the uneasiness that attends them.We know not when we are pleased; we know neither how to want nor how to abound. This strugglebetween Jacob and Esau in the womb represents the struggle that is maintained between the kingdomof God and the kingdom of Satan, [1.] In the world. The seed of the woman and the seed of theserpent have been contending ever since the enmity was put between them (ch. iii. 15), and thishas occasioned a constant uneasiness among men. Christ himself came to send fire on earth, andthis division, Luke xii. 49, 51. But let not this be offence to us. A holy war is better than the peaceof the devil's palace. [2.] In the hearts of believers. No sooner is Christ formed in the soul thanimmediately there begins a conflict between the flesh and spirit, Gal. v. 17. The stream is not turnedwithout a mighty struggle, which yet ought not to discourage us. It is better to have a conflict withsin than tamely to submit to it.2. What course she took for her relief: She went to enquire of the Lord. Some think Melchizedekwas now consulted as an oracle, or perhaps some Urim or Teraphim were now used to enquire ofGod by, as afterwards in the breast-plate of judgment. Note, The word and prayer, by both which233Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)we now enquire of the Lord, give great relief to those that are upon any account perplexed. It is agreat relief to the mind to spread our case before the Lord, and ask counsel at his mouth. Go intothe sanctuary, Ps. lxxiii. 17.3. The information given her, upon her enquiry, which expounded the mystery: Two nationsare in thy womb, v. 23. She was now pregnant, not only with two children, but two nations, whichshould not only in their manners and dispositions greatly differ from each other, but in their interestsclash and contend with each other; and the issue of the contest should be that the elder should servethe younger, which was fulfilled in the subjection of the Edomites, for many ages, to the house ofDavid, till they revolted, 2 Chron. xxi. 8. Observe here, (1.) God is a free agent in dispensing hisgrace; it is his prerogative to make a difference between those who have not as yet themselves doneeither good or evil. This the apostle infers hence, Rom. ix. 12. (2.) In the struggle between graceand corruption in the soul, grace, the younger, shall certainly get the upper hand at last.III. That when they were born there was a great difference between them, which served toconfirm what had been foretold (v. 23), was presage of the accomplishment of it, and served greatlyto illustrate the type.1. There was a great difference in their bodies, v. 25. Esau, when he was born, was rough andhairy, as if he had been already a grown man, whence he had his name Esau, made, reared already.This was an indication of a very strong constitution, and gave cause to expect that he would be avery robust, daring, active man. But Jacob was smooth and tender as other children. Note, (1.) Thedifference of men's capacities, and consequently of their condition in the world, arises very muchfrom the difference of their natural constitution; some are plainly designed by nature for activity156and honour, others as manifestly marked for obscurity. This instance of the divine sovereignty inthe kingdom of providence may perhaps help to reconcile us to the doctrine of the divine sovereigntyin the kingdom of grace. (2.) It is God's usual way to choose the weak things of the world, and topass by the mighty, 1 Cor. i. 26, 27.2. There was a manifest contest in their births. Esau, the stronger, came forth first; but Jacob'shand took hold of his heel, v. 26. This signified, (1.) Jacob's pursuit of the birthright and blessing;from the first, he reached forth to catch hold of it, and, if possible, to prevent his brother. (2.) Hisprevailing for it at last, that, in process of time, he should undermine his brother, and gain his point.This passage is referred to (Hos. xii. 8), and hence he had his name, Jacob, a supplanter.3. They were very unlike in the temper of their minds, and the way of living they chose, v. 27.They soon appeared to be of very different dispositions. (1.) Esau was a man for this world. Hewas a man addicted to his sports, for he was a hunter; and a man who knew how to live by his wits,for he was a cunning hunter. Recreation was his business; he studied the art of it, and spent all histime in it. He never loved a book, nor cared for being within doors; but he was a man of the field,like Nimrod and Ishmael, all for the game, and never well but when he was upon the stretch inpursuit of it: in short, he set up for a gentleman and a soldier. (2.) Jacob was a man for the otherworld. He was not cut out for a statesman, nor did he affect to look great, but he was a plain man,dwelling in tents, an honest man that always meant well, and dealt fairly, that preferred the truedelights of solitude and retirement to all the pretended pleasure of busy noisy sports: he dwelt intents, [1.] As a shepherd. He was attached to that safe and silent employment of keeping sheep, towhich also he bred up his children, ch. xlvi. 34. Or, [2.] As a student. He frequented the tents ofMelchizedek, or Heber, as some understand it, to be taught by them divine things. And this wasthat son of Isaac on whom the covenant was entailed.234Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)4. Their interest in the affections of their parents was likewise different. They had but thesetwo children, and, it seems, one was the father's darling and the other the mother's, v. 28. (1.) Isaac,though he was not a stirring man himself (for when he went into the fields he went to meditate andpray, not to hunt), yet loved to have his son active. Esau knew how to please him, and showed agreat respect for him, by treating him often with venison, which gained him the affections of thegood old man, and won upon him more than one would have thought. (2.) Rebekah was mindfulof the oracle of God, which had given the preference to Jacob, and therefore she preferred him inher love. And, if it be lawful for parents to make a difference between their children upon anyaccount, doubtless Rebekah was in the right, that loved him whom God loved.Esau Sells His Birthright. (b. c. 1805.)29 And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I amfaint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31 And Jacob said, Sell me this daythy birthright. 32 And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profitshall this birthright do to me? 33 And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and hesware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esaubread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went hisway: thus Esau despised his birthright.We have here a bargain made between Jacob and Esau about the birthright, which was Esau'sby providence but Jacob's by promise. It was a spiritual privilege, including the excellency ofdignity and the excellency of power, as well as the double portion, ch. xlix. 3. It seemed to be sucha birthright as had then the blessing annexed to it, and the entail of the promise. Now see,I. Jacob's pious desire of the birthright, which yet he sought to obtain by indirect courses, notagreeable to his character as a plain man. It was not out of pride or ambition that he coveted thebirthright, but with an eye to spiritual blessings, which he had got well acquainted with in his tents,while Esau had lost the scent of them in the field. For this he is to be commended, that he covetedearnestly the best gifts; yet in this he cannot be justified, that he took advantage of his brother'snecessity to make him a very hard bargain (v. 31): Sell me this day thy birthright. Probably therehad formerly been some communication between them about this matter, and then it was not sogreat a surprise upon Esau as here it seems to be; and, it may be, Esau had sometimes spokenslightly of the birthright and its appurtenances, which encouraged Jacob to make this proposal tohim. And, if so, Jacob is, in some measure, excusable in what he did to gain his point. Note, Plainmen that have their conversation in simplicity and godly sincerity, and without worldly wisdom,are often found wisest of all for their souls and eternity. Those are wise indeed that are wise foranother world. Jacob's wisdom appeared in two things:—1. He chose the fittest time, took theopportunity when it offered itself, and did not let it slip. 2. Having made the bargain, he made it157sure, and got it confirmed by Esau's oath: Swear to me this day, v. 33. He took Esau when he wasin the mind, and would not leave him a power of revocation. In a case of this nature, it is good tobe sure.II. Esau's profane contempt of the birthright, and the foolish sale he made of it. He is calledprofane Esau for it (Heb. xii. 16), because for one morsel of meat he sold his birthright, as dear amorsel as ever was eaten since the forbidden fruit; and he lived to regret it when it was too late.235Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Never was there such a foolish bargain as this which Esau now made; and yet he valued himselfupon his policy, and had the reputation of a cunning man, and perhaps had often bantered his brotherJacob as a weak and simple man. Note, There are those that are penny-wise and pound-foolish,cunning hunters that can out-wit others and draw them into their snares, and yet are themselvesimposed upon by Satan's wiles and led captive by him at his will. Again, God often chooses thefoolish things of the world, by them to confound the wise. Plain Jacob makes a fool of cunningEsau. Observe the instances of Esau's folly.1. His appetite was very strong, v. 29, 30. Poor Jacob had got some bread and pottage (v. 29)for his dinner, and was sitting down to it contentedly enough, without venison, when Esau camefrom hunting, hungry and weary, and perhaps had caught nothing. And now Jacob's pottage pleasedhis eye better than ever his game had done. Give me (says he) some of that red, that red, as it is inthe original; it suited his own colour (v. 25), and, in reproach to him for this, he was ever afterwardscalled Edom, red. Nay, it should seem, he was so faint that he could not feed himself, nor had hea servant at hand to help him, but entreats his brother to feed him. Note, (1.) Those that addictthemselves to sport weary themselves for very vanity, Hab. ii. 13. They might do the most needfulbusiness, and gain the greatest advantages, with half the pains they take, and half the perils theyrun into, in pursuit of their foolish pleasures. (2.) Those that work with quietness are more constantlyand comfortably provided for than those that hunt with noise: bread is not always to the wise, butthose that trust in the Lord and do good, verily they shall be fed, fed with daily bread; not as Esau,sometimes feasting and sometimes fainting. (3.) The gratifying of the sensual appetite is that whichruins thousands of precious souls: surely, if Esau was hungry and faint, he might have got a meal'smeat cheaper than at the expense of his birthright; but he was unaccountably fond of the colour ofthis pottage, and could not deny himself the satisfaction of a mess of it, whatever it cost him. Neverbetter can come of it, when men's hearts walk after their eyes (Job xxxi. 7), and when they servetheir own bellies: therefore look not thou upon the wine, or, as Esau, upon the pottage, when it isred, when it gives that colour in the cup, in the dish, which is most inviting, Prov. xxiii. 31. If weuse ourselves to deny ourselves, we break the forces of most temptations.2. His reasoning was very weak (v. 32): Behold, I am at the point to die; and, if he were, wouldnothing serve to keep him alive but this pottage? If the famine were now in the land (ch. xxvi. 1),as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, we cannot suppose Isaac so poor, or Rebekah so bad a house-keeper,but that he might have been supplied with food convenient, other ways, and might have saved hisbirthright: but his appetite has the mastery of him; he is in a longing condition, nothing will pleasehim but this red this red pottage, and, to palliate his desire, he pretends he is at the point to die. Ifit had been so, was it not better for him to die in honour than to live in disgrace, to die under ablessing than to live under a curse? The birthright was typical of spiritual privileges, those of thechurch of the first-born. Esau was now tried how he would value them, and he shows himselfsensible only of present grievances; may he but get relief against them, he cares not for his birthright.Better principled was Naboth, who would lose his life rather than sell his vineyard, because hispart in the earthly Canaan signified his part in the heavenly, 1 Kings xxi. 3. (1.) If we look on Esau'sbirthright as only a temporal advantage, what he said had something of truth in it, namely, that ourworldly enjoyments, even those we are most fond of, will stand us in no stead in a dying hour (Ps.xlix. 6-8); they will not put by the stroke of death, nor ease the pangs nor remove the sting: yetEsau, who set up for a gentleman, should have had a greater and more noble spirit than to sell evensuch an honour so cheaply. (2.) But, being of a spiritual nature, his undervaluing it was the greatest236Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)profaneness imaginable. Note, It is egregious folly to part with our interest in God, and Christ, andheaven, for the riches, honours, and pleasures, of this world, as bad a bargain as his that sold abirthright for a dish of broth.3. Repentance was hidden from his eyes (v. 34): He did eat and drink, pleased his palate,satisfied his cravings, congratulated himself on the good meal's meat he had had, and then carelesslyrose up and went his way, without any serious reflections upon the bad bargain he had made, orany show of regret. Thus Esau despised his birthright; he used no means at all to get the bargainrevoked, made no appeal to his father about it, nor proposed to his brother to compound the matter;but the bargain which his necessity had made (supposing it were so) his profaneness confirmed expost facto—after the deed; and by his subsequent neglect and contempt he did, as it were,158acknowledge a fine, and by justifying himself in what he had done he put the bargain past recall.Note, People are ruined, not so much by doing what is amiss, as by doing it and not repenting ofit, doing it and standing to it.158 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXVI.In this chapter we have, I. Isaac in adversity, by reason of a famine in the land, which, 1.Obliges him to change his quarters, ver. 1. But, 2. God visits him with direction and comfort, ver.2-5. 3. He foolishly denies his wife, being in distress and is reproved for it by Abimelech, ver. 6-11.II. Isaac in prosperity, by the blessing of God upon him, ver. 12-14. And, 1. The Philistines wereenvious at him, ver. 14-17. 2. He continued industrious in his business, ver. 18-23. 3. God appearedto him, and encouraged him, and he devoutly acknowledged God, ver. 24, 25. 4. The Philistines,at length, made court to him, and made a covenant with him, ver. 26-33. 5. The disagreeable marriageof his son Esau was an alloy to the comfort of his prosperity, ver. 34, 35.Removal of Isaac to Gerar. (b. c. 1804.)1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the daysof Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in theland which I shall tell thee of: 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, andwill bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, andI will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will makethy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all thesecountries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5 Becausethat Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes,and my laws.Here, I. God tried Isaac by his providence. Isaac had been trained up in a believing dependenceupon the divine grant of the land of Canaan to him and his heirs; yet now there is a famine in the237Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)land, v. 1. What shall he think of the promise when the promised land will not find him bread? Issuch a grant worth accepting, upon such terms, and after so long a time? Yes, Isaac will still cleaveto the covenant; and the less valuable Canaan in itself seems to be the better he is taught to valueit, 1. As a token of God's everlasting kindness to him; and, 2. As a type of heaven's everlastingblessedness. Note, The intrinsic worth of God's promises cannot be lessened in a believer's eye byany cross providences.II. He directed him under this trial by his word. Isaac finds himself straitened by the scarcityof provisions. Somewhere he must go for supply; it should seem, he set out for Egypt, whither hisfather went in the like strait, but he takes Gerar in his way, full of thoughts, no doubt, which wayhe had best steer his course, till God graciously appeared to him, and determined him, abundantlyto his satisfaction. 1. God bade him stay where he was, and not go down into Egypt: Sojourn in thisland, v. 2, 3. There was a famine in Jacob's days, and God bade him go down into Egypt (ch. xlvi.3, 4), a famine in Isaac's days, and God bade him not to go down, a famine in Abraham's days, andGod left him to his liberty, directing him neither way. This variety in the divine procedure(considering that Egypt was always a place of trial and exercise to God's people) some ground uponthe different characters of these three patriarchs. Abraham was a man of very high attainments, andintimate communion with God; and to him all places and conditions were alike. Isaac was a verygood man, but not cut out for hardship; therefore he is forbidden to go to Egypt. Jacob was inuredto difficulties, strong and patient; and therefore he must go down into Egypt, that the trial of hisfaith might be to praise, and honour, and glory. Thus God proportions his people's trials to theirstrength. 2. He promised to be with him, and bless him, v. 3. As we may go any where with comfortwhen God's blessing goes with us, so we may stay any where contentedly if that blessing rest uponus. 3. He renewed the covenant with him, which had so often been made with Abraham, repeatingand ratifying the promises of the land of Canaan, a numerous issue, and the Messiah, v. 3, 4. Note,Those that must live by faith have need often to review, and repeat to themselves, the promisesthey are to live upon, especially when they are called to any instance of suffering or self-denial. 4.He recommended to him the good example of his father's obedience, as that which had preservedthe entail of the covenant in his family (v. 5): "Abraham obeyed my voice; do thou do so too, andthe promise shall be sure to thee." Abraham's obedience is here celebrated, to his honour; for by ithe obtained a good report both with God and men. A great variety of words is here used to expressthe divine will, to which Abraham was obedient (my voice, my charge, my commandments, mystatutes, and my laws), which may intimate that Abraham's obedience was universal; he obeyedthe original laws of nature, the revealed laws of divine worship, particularly that of circumcision,and all the extraordinary precepts God gave him, as that of quitting his country, and that (whichsome think is more especially referred to) of the offering up of his son, which Isaac himself hadreason enough to remember. Note, Those only shall have the benefit and comfort of God's covenantwith their godly parents that tread in the steps of their obedience.Isaac's Denial of His Wife. (b. c. 1840.)6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife;and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the238Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)159men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king ofthe Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sportingwith Rebekah his wife. 9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a suretyshe is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him,Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10 And Abimelech said, What is this thou hastdone unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thoushouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11 And Abimelech charged all hispeople, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.Isaac had now laid aside all thoughts of going to Egypt, and, in obedience to the heavenlyvision, sets up his staff in Gerar, the country in which he was born (v. 6), yet there he enters intotemptation, the same temptation that his good father had been once and again surprised and overcomeby, namely, to deny his wife, and to give out that she was his sister. Observe,I. How he sinned, v. 7. Because his wife was handsome, he fancied the Philistines would findsome way or other to take him off, that some of them might marry her; and therefore she must passfor his sister. It is an unaccountable thing that both these great and good men should be guilty ofso strange a piece of dissimulation, by which they so much exposed both their own and their wives'reputation. But we see, 1. That very good men have sometimes been guilty of very great faults andfollies. Let those therefore that stand take heed lest they fall, and those that have fallen not despairof being helped up again. 2. That there is an aptness in us to imitate even the weaknesses andinfirmities of those we have a value for. We have need therefore to keep our foot, lest, while weaim to tread in the steps of good men, we sometimes tread in their by-steps.II. How he was detected, and the cheat discovered, by the king himself. Abimelech (not thesame that was in Abraham's days, ch. 20, for this was nearly 100 years after that, but this was thecommon name of the Philistine kings, as Cæsar of the Roman emperors) saw Isaac more familiarand pleasant with Rebekah than he knew he would be with his sister (v. 8): he saw him sportingwith her, or laughing; it is the same word with that from which Isaac had his name. He was rejoicingwith the wife of his youth, Prov. v. 18. It becomes those in that relation to be pleasant with oneanother, as those that are pleased with one another. Nowhere may a man more allow himself to beinnocently merry than with his own wife and children. Abimelech charged him with the fraud (v.9), showed him how frivolous his excuse was and what might have been the bad consequences ofit (v. 10), and then, to convince him how groundless and unjust his jealousy of them was, took himand his family under his particular protection, forbidding any injury to be done to him or his wifeupon pain of death, v. 11. Note, 1. A lying tongue is but for a moment. Truth is the daughter oftime; and, in time, it will out. 2. One sin is often the inlet to many, and therefore the beginnings ofsin ought to be avoided. 3. The sins of professors shame them before those that are without. 4. Godcan make those that are incensed against his people, though there may be some colour of cause forit, to know that it is at their peril if they do them any hurt. See Ps. cv. 14, 15.Isaac's Removal to Beersheba. (b. c. 1804.)12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold:and the Lord blessed him: 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and239Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possessionof herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 15 For all thewells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, thePhilistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech saidunto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. 17 And Isaac departedthence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18 And Isaacdigged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham hisfather; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he calledtheir names after the names by which his father had called them. 19 And Isaac'sservants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 Andthe herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: andhe called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 21 And theydigged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove160not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hathmade room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. 23 And he went up fromthence to Beer-sheba. 24 And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said,I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee,and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. 25 And he builded an altarthere, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there: and thereIsaac's servants digged a well.Here we have,I. The tokens of God's good-will to Isaac. He blessed him, and prospered him, and made allthat he had to thrive under his hands. 1. His corn multiplied strangely, v. 12. He had no land of hisown, but took land of the Philistines, and sowed it; and (be it observed for the encouragement ofpoor tenants, that occupy other people's lands, and are honest and industrious) God blessed himwith a great increase. He reaped a hundred fold; and there seems to be an emphasis laid upon thetime: it was that same year when there was a famine in the land; while others scarcely reaped atall, he reaped thus plentifully. See Isa. lxv. 13, My servants shall eat, but you shall be hungry, Ps.xxxvii. 19, In the days of famine they shall be satisfied. 2. His cattle also increased, v. 14. And then,3. He had great store of servants, whom he employed and maintained. Note, As goods are increasedthose are increased that eat them, Eccl. v. 11.II. The tokens of the Philistines' ill-will to him. They envied him, v. 14. It is an instance, 1. Ofthe vanity of the world that the more men have of it the more they are envied, and exposed tocensure and injury. Who can stand before envy? Prov. xxvii. 4. See Eccl. iv. 4. 2. Of the corruptionof nature; for that is a bad principle indeed which makes men grieve at the good of others, as if itmust needs be ill with me because it is well with my neighbor. (1.) They had already shown theirill-will to his family, by stopping up the wells which his father had digged, v. 15. This was spitefullydone. Because they had not flocks of their own to water at these wells, they would not leave themfor the use of others; so absurd a thing is malice. And it was perfidiously done, contrary to the240Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)covenant of friendship they had made with Abraham, ch. xxi. 31, 32. No bonds will hold ill-nature.(2.) They expelled him out of their country, v. 16, 17. The king of Gerar began to look upon himwith a jealous eye. Isaac's house was like a court, and his riches and retinue eclipsed Abimelech's;and therefore he must go further off. They were weary of his neighbourhood, because they sawthat the Lord blessed him; whereas, for that reason, they should the rather have courted his stay,that they also might be blessed for his sake. Isaac does not insist upon the bargain he had madewith them for the lands he held, nor upon his occupying and improving them, nor does he offer tocontest with them by force, though he had become very great, but very peaceably departs thencefurther from the royal city, and perhaps to a part of the country less fruitful. Note, We should denyourselves both in our rights and in our conveniences, rather than quarrel: a wise and a good manwill rather retire into obscurity, like Isaac here into a valley, than sit high to be the butt of envy andill-will.III. His constancy and continuance in his business still.1. He kept up his husbandry, and continued industrious to find wells of water, and to fit themfor his use, v. 18, &c. Though he had grown very rich, yet he was as solicitous as ever about thestate of his flocks, and still looked well to his herds; when men grow great, they must take heed ofthinking themselves too big and too high for their business. Though he was driven from theconveniences he had had, and could not follow his husbandry with the same ease and advantageas before, yet he set himself to make the best of the country he had come into, which it is everyman's prudence to do. Observe,(1.) He opened the wells that his father had digged (v. 18), and out of respect to his fathercalled them by the same names that he had given them. Note, In our searches after truth, that fountainof living water, it is good to make use of the discoveries of former ages, which have been cloudedby the corruptions of later times. Enquire for the old way, the wells which our fathers digged, whichthe adversaries of truth have stopped up: Ask thy elders, and they shall teach thee.(2.) His servants dug new wells, v. 19. Note, Though we must use the light of former ages, itdoes not therefore follow that we must rest in it, and make no advances. We must still be buildingupon their foundation, running to and fro, that knowledge may be increased, Dan. xii. 4.(3.) In digging his wells he met with much opposition, v. 20, 21. Those that open the fountainsof truth must expect contradiction. The first two wells which they dug were called Esek and Sitnah,contention and hatred. See here, [1.] What is the nature of worldly things; they are make-bates andoccasions of strife. [2.] What is often the lot even of the most quiet and peaceable men in this world;those that avoid striving yet cannot avoid being striven with, Ps. cxx. 7. In this sense, Jeremiah wasa man of contention (Jer. xv. 10), and Christ himself, though he is the prince of peace. [3.] What a161mercy it is to have plenty of water, to have it without striving for it. The more common this mercyis the more reason we have to be thankful for it.(4.) At length he removed to a quiet settlement, cleaving to his peaceable principle, rather tofly than fight, and unwilling to dwell with those that hated peace, Ps. cxx. 6. He preferred quietnessto victory. He dug a well, and for this they strove not, v. 22. Note, Those that follow peace, sooneror later, shall find peace; those that study to be quiet seldom fail of being so. How unlike was Isaacto his brother Ishmael, who, right or wrong, would hold what he had, against all the world! ch. xvi.12. And which of these would we be found the followers of? This well they called Rehoboth,enlargements, room enough: in the two former wells we may see what the earth is, straitness and241Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)strife; men cannot thrive, for the throng of their neighbours. This well shows us what heaven is; itis enlargement and peace, room enough there, for there are many mansions.2. He continued firm to his religion, and kept up his communion with God. (1.) God graciouslyappeared to him, v. 24. When the Philistines expelled him, forced him to remove from place toplace, and gave him continual molestation, then God visited him, and gave him fresh assurancesof his favour. Note, When men are found false and unkind, we may comfort ourselves that God isfaithful and gracious; and his time to show himself so is when we are most disappointed in ourexpectations from men. When Isaac had come to Beer-sheba (v. 23) it is probable that it troubledhim to think of his unsettled condition, and that he could not be suffered to stay long in a place;and, in the multitude of these thoughts within him, that same night that he came weary and uneasyto Beer-sheba God brought him his comforts to delight his soul. Probably he was apprehensive thatthe Philistines would not let him rest there: Fear not, says God to him, I am with thee, and willbless thee. Those may remove with comfort that are sure of God's presence with them whereverthey go. (2.) He was not wanting in his returns of duty to God; for there he built an altar, and calledupon the name of the Lord, v. 25. Note, [1.] Wherever we go, we must take our religion along withus. Probably Isaac's altars and his religious worship gave offence to the Philistines, and provokedthem to be the more troublesome to him; yet he kept up his duty, whatever ill-will he might beexposed to by it. [2.] The comforts and encouragements God gives us by his word should exciteand quicken us to every exercise of devotion by which God may be honoured and our intercoursewith heaven maintained.Isaac's Covenant with Abimelech. (b. c. 1760.)26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends,and Phichol the chief captain of his army. 27 And Isaac said unto them, Whereforecome ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 28 And theysaid, We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee: and we said, Let there be nowan oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee;29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have doneunto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now theblessed of the Lord. 30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sentthem away, and they departed from him in peace. 32 And it came to pass the sameday, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they haddigged, and said unto him, We have found water. 33 And he called it Shebah:therefore the name of the city is Beer-sheba unto this day.We have here the contests that had been between Isaac and the Philistines issuing in a happypeace and reconciliation.I. Abimelech pays a friendly visit to Isaac, in token of the respect he had for him, v. 26. Note,When a man's ways please the Lord he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him, Prov. xvi.7. Kings' hearts are in his hands, and when he pleases he can turn them to favour his people.II. Isaac prudently and cautiously questions his sincerity in this visit, v. 27. Note, In settlingfriendships and correspondences, there is need of the wisdom of the serpent, as well as the innocence242Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of the dove; nor is it any transgression of the law of meekness and love plainly to signify our strongperception of injuries received, and to stand upon our guard in dealing with those that have actedunfairly.III. Abimelech professes his sincerity, in this address to Isaac, and earnestly courts his friendship,v. 28, 29. Some suggest that Abimelech pressed for this league with him because he feared lestIsaac, growing rich, should, some time or other, avenge himself upon them for the injuries he hadreceived. However, he professes to do it rather from a principle of love. 1. He makes the best oftheir behaviour towards him. Isaac complained they had hated him, and sent him away. No, saidAbimelech, we sent thee away in peace. They turned him off from the land he held of them; butthey suffered him to take away his stock, and all his effects, with him. Note, The lessening of162injuries is necessary to the preserving of friendship; for the aggravating of them exasperates andwidens breaches. The unkindness done to us might have been worse. 2. He acknowledges the tokenof God's favour to him, and makes this the ground of their desire to be in league with him: TheLord is with thee, and thou art the blessed of the Lord. As if he had said, "Be persuaded to overlookand pass by the injuries offered thee; for God had abundantly made up to thee the damage thoureceivedst." Note, Those whom God blesses and favours have reason enough to forgive those whohate them, since the worst enemy they have cannot do them any real hurt. Or, "For this reason wedesire thy friendship, because God is with thee." Note, It is good to be in covenant and communionwith those who are in covenant and communion with God, 1 John i. 3; present address to him wasthe result of mature deliberation: We said, Let there be an oath between us. Whatever some of hispeevish envious subjects might mean otherwise, he and his prime-ministers of state, whom he hadnow brought with him, designed no other than a cordial friendship. Perhaps Abimelech had received,by tradition, the warning God gave to his predecessor not to hurt Abraham (ch. xx. 7), and thismade him stand in such awe of Isaac, who appeared to be as much the favourite of Heaven asAbraham was.IV. Isaac entertains him and his company, and enters into a league of friendship with him, v.30, 31. Here see how generous the good man was, 1. In giving: He made them a feast, and badethem welcome. (2.) In forgiving. He did not insist upon the unkindnesses they had done him, butfreely entered into a covenant of friendship with them, and bound himself never to do them anyinjury. Note, Religion teaches us to be neighbourly, and, as much as in us lies, to live peaceablywith all men.V. Providence smiled upon what Isaac did; for the same day that he made this covenant withAbimelech his servants brought him the tidings of a well of water they had found, v. 32, 33. Hedid not insist upon the restitution of the wells which the Philistines had unjustly taken from him,lest this should break off the treaty, but sat down silent under the injury; and, to recompense himfor this, immediately he is enriched with a new well, which, because it suited so well to theoccurrence of the day, he called by an old name, Beer-sheba, The well of the oath.Esau's Foolish Marriage. (b. c. 1760.)34 And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter ofBeeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35 Which werea grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.Here is, 1. Esau's foolish marriage—foolish, some think, in marrying two wives together, forwhich perhaps he is called a fornicator (Heb. xii. 16), or rather in marrying Canaanites, who were243Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)strangers to the blessing of Abraham, and subject to the curse of Noah, for which he is calledprofane; for hereby he intimated that he neither desired the blessing nor dreaded the curse of God.2. The grief and trouble it created to his tender parents. (1.) It grieved them that he married withoutasking, or at least without taking, their advice and consent: see whose steps those children tread inwho either contemn or contradict their parents in disposing of themselves. (2.) It grieved them thathe married the daughters of Hittites, who had no religion among them; for Isaac remembered hisfather's care concerning him, that he should by no means marry a Canaanite. (3.) It should seem,the wives he married were provoking in their conduct towards Isaac and Rebekah; those childrenhave little reason to expect the blessing of God who do that which is a grief of mind to their goodparents.162 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXVII.In this chapter we return to the typical story of the struggle between Esau and Jacob. Esau hadprofanely sold the birthright to Jacob; but Esau hopes he shall be never the poorer, nor Jacob thericher, for that bargain, while he preserves his interest in his father's affections, and so secures theblessing. Here therefore we find how he was justly punished for his contempt of the birthright (ofwhich he foolishly deprived himself) with the loss of the blessing, of which Jacob fraudulentlydeprives him. Thus this story is explained, Heb. xii. 16, 17, "Because he sold the birthright, whenhe would have inherited the blessing he was rejected." For those that make light of the name andprofession of religion, and throw them away for a trifle, thereby forfeit the powers and privilegesof it. We have here, I. Isaac's purpose to entail the blessing upon Esau, ver. 1-5. II. Rebekah's plotto procure it for Jacob, ver. 6-17. III. Jacob's successful management of the plot, and his obtainingthe blessing, ver. 18-29. IV. Esau's resentment of this, in which, 1. His great importunity with hisfather to obtain a blessing, ver. 30-40. 2. His great enmity to his brother for defrauding him of thefirst blessing, ver. 41, &c.Rebekah's Contrivance. (b. c. 1760.)1 And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so thathe could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and hesaid unto him, Behold, here am I. 2 And he said, Behold now, I am old, I knownot the day of my death: 3 Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiverand thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; 4 And make mesavoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul maybless thee before I die. 5 And Rebekah heard when Isaac spake to Esau his son.And Esau went to the field to hunt for venison, and to bring it.Here is, I. Isaac's design to make his will, and to declare Esau his heir. The promise of theMessiah and the land of Canaan was a great trust, first committed to Abraham, inclusive and typical244Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)of spiritual and eternal blessings; this, by divine direction, he transmitted to Isaac. Isaac, being now163old, and not knowing, or not understanding, or not duly considering, the divine oracle concerninghis two sons, that the elder should serve the younger, resolves to entail all the honour and powerthat were wrapped up in the promise upon Esau his eldest son. In this he was governed more bynatural affection, and the common method of settlements, than he ought to have been, if he knew(as it is probable he did) the intimations God had given of his mind in this matter. Note, We arevery apt to take our measures rather from our own reason than from divine revelation, and therebyoften miss our way; we think the wise and learned, the mighty and noble, should inherit the promise;but God sees not as man sees. See 1 Sam. xvi. 6, 7.II. The directions he gave to Esau, pursuant to this design. He calls him to him, v. 1. For Esau,though married, had not yet removed; and, though he had greatly grieved his parents by his marriage,yet they had not expelled him, but it seems were pretty well reconciled to him, and made the bestof it. Note, Parents that are justly offended at their children yet must not be implacable towardsthem.1. He tells him upon what considerations he resolved to do this now (v. 2): "I am old, andtherefore must die shortly, yet I know not the day of my death, nor when I must die; I will thereforedo that at this time which must be done some time." Note, (1.) Old people should be reminded bythe growing infirmities of age to do quickly, and with all the little might they have, what their handfinds to do. See Josh. xiii. 1. (2.) The consideration of the uncertainty of the time of our departureout of the world (about which God has wisely kept us in the dark) should quicken us to do the workof the day in its day. The heart and the house should both be set, and kept, in order, because at suchan hour as we think not the Son of man comes; because we know not the day of our death, we areconcerned to mind the business of life.2. He bids him to get things ready for the solemnity of executing his last will and testament,by which he designed to make him his heir, v. 3, 4. Esau must go a hunting, and bring some venison,which his father will eat of, and then bless him. In this he designed, not so much the refreshmentof his own spirits, that he might give the blessing in a lively manner, as it is commonly taken, butrather the receiving of a fresh instance of his son's filial duty and affection to him, before he bestowedthis favour upon him. Perhaps Esau, since he had married, had brought his venison to his wives,and seldom to his father, as formerly (ch. xxv. 28), and therefore Isaac, before he would bless him,would have him show this piece of respect to him. Note, It is fit, if the less be blessed of the greater,that the greater should be served and honoured by the less. He says, That my soul may bless theebefore I die. Note, (1.) Prayer is the work of the soul, and not of the lips only; as the soul must beemployed in blessing God (Ps. ciii. 1), so it must be in blessing ourselves and others: the blessingwill not come to the heart if it do not come from the heart. (2.) The work of life must be done beforewe die, for it cannot be done afterwards (Eccl. ix. 10); and it is very desirable, when we come todie, to have nothing else to do but to die. Isaac lived above forty years after this; let none thereforethink that they shall die the sooner for making their wills and getting ready for death.6 And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speakunto Esau thy brother, saying, 7 Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat,that I may eat, and bless thee before the Lord before my death. 8 Now therefore,my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. 9 Go now to theflock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them245Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: 10 And thou shalt bring it to thyfather, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death. 11 And Jacobsaid to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am asmooth man: 12 My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as adeceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. 13 And his mothersaid unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch methem. 14 And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mothermade savoury meat, such as his father loved. 15 And Rebekah took goodly raimentof her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacobher younger son: 16 And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands,and upon the smooth of his neck: 17 And she gave the savoury meat and the bread,which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob.Rebekah is here contriving to procure for Jacob the blessing which was designed for Esau; andhere,164I. The end was good, for she was directed in this intention by the oracle of God, by which shehad been governed in dispensing her affections. God had said it should be so, that the elder shouldserve the younger; and therefore Rebekah resolves it shall be so, and cannot bear to see her husbanddesigning to thwart the oracle of God. But,II. The means were bad, and no way justifiable. If it was not a wrong to Esau to deprive himof the blessing (he himself having forfeited it by selling the birthright), yet it was a wrong to Isaac,taking advantage of his infirmity, to impose upon him; it was a wrong to Jacob too, whom shetaught to deceive, by putting a lie into his mouth, or at least by putting one into his right hand. Itwould likewise expose him to endless scruples about the blessing, if he should obtain it thusfraudulently, whether it would stand him or his in any stead, especially if his father should revokeit, upon the discovery of the cheat, and plead, as he might, that it was nulled by an error personæ—amistake of the person. He himself also was aware of the danger, lest (v. 12), if he should miss ofthe blessing, as he might probably have done, he should bring upon himself his father's curse, whichhe dreaded above any thing; besides, he laid himself open to that divine curse which is pronouncedupon him that causeth the blind to wander out of the way, Deut. xxvii. 18. If Rebekah, when sheheard Isaac promise the blessing to Esau, had gone, at his return from hunting, to Isaac, and, withhumility and seriousness, put him in remembrance of that which God had said concerning theirsons,—if she further had shown him how Esau had forfeited the blessing both by selling his birthrightand by marrying strange wives, it is probable that Isaac would have been prevailed upon knowinglyand wittingly to confer the blessing upon Jacob, and needed not thus to have been cheated into it.This would have been honourable and laudable, and would have looked well in the history; butGod left her to herself, to take this indirect course, that he might have the glory of bringing goodout of evil, and of serving his own purposes by the sins and follies of men, and that we might havethe satisfaction of knowing that, though there is so much wickedness and deceit in the world, Godgoverns it according to his will, to his own praise. See Job xii. 16, With him are strength andwisdom, the deceived and the deceiver are his. Isaac had lost the sense of seeing, which, in thiscase, could not have been imposed upon, Providence having so admirably well ordered the differenceof features that no two faces are exactly alike: conversation and commerce could scarcely be246Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)maintained if there were not such a variety. Therefore she endeavours to deceive, 1. His sense oftasting, by dressing some choice pieces of kid, seasoning them, serving them up, so as to make himbelieve they were venison: this it was no hard matter to do. See the folly of those that are nice andcurious in their appetite, and take a pride in humouring it. It is easy to impose upon them with thatwhich they pretend to despise and dislike, so little perhaps does it differ from that to which theygive a decided preference. Solomon tells us that dainties are deceitful meat; for it is possible for usto be deceived by them in more ways than one, Prov. xxiii. 32. 2. His sense of feeling and smelling.She put Esau's clothes upon Jacob, his best clothes, which, it might be supposed, Esau would puton, in token of joy and respect to his father, when he was to receive the blessing. Isaac knew these,by the stuff, shape, and smell, to be Esau's. If we would obtain a blessing from our heavenly Father,we must come for it in the garments of our elder brother, clothed with his righteousness, who isthe first-born among many brethren. Lest the smoothness and softness of Jacob's hands and neckshould betray him, she covered them, and probably part of his face, with the skins of the kids thatwere newly killed, v. 16. Esau was rough indeed when nothing less than these would serve to makeJacob like him. Those that affect to seem rough and rugged in their carriage put the beast upon theman, and really shame themselves, by thus disguising themselves. And, lastly, it was a very rashword which Rebekah spoke, when Jacob objected the danger of a curse: Upon me be thy curse, myson, v. 13. Christ indeed, who is mighty to save, because mighty to bear, has said, Upon me be thecurse, only obey my voice; he has borne the burden of the curse, the curse of the law, for all thosethat will take upon them the yoke of the command, the command of the gospel. But it is too daringfor any creature to say, Upon me be the curse, unless it be that curse causeless which we are sureshall not come, Prov. xxvi. 2.The Fraud of Jacob. (b. c. 1760.)18 And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; whoart thou, my son? 19 And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I havedone according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, thatthy soul may bless me. 20 And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hastfound it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the Lord thy God brought it tome. 21 And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, myson, whether thou be my very son Esau or not. 22 And Jacob went near unto Isaachis father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are165the hands of Esau. 23 And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, ashis brother Esau's hands: so he blessed him. 24 And he said, Art thou my very sonEsau? And he said, I am. 25 And he said, Bring it near to me, and I will eat of myson's venison, that my soul may bless thee. And he brought it near to him, and hedid eat: and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26 And his father Isaac said untohim, Come near now, and kiss me, my son. 27 And he came near, and kissed him:and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smellof my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed: 28 Therefore Godgive thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and247Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)wine: 29 Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thybrethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one thatcurseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.Observe here, I. The art and assurance with which Jacob managed this intrigue. Who wouldhave thought that this plain man could have played his part so well in a design of this nature? Hismother having put him in the way of it, and encouraged him in it, he dexterously applied himselfto those methods which he had never accustomed himself to, but had always conceived an abhorrenceof. Note, Lying is soon learnt. The psalmist speaks of those who, as soon as they are born, speaklies, Ps. lviii. 3; Jer. ix. 5. I wonder how honest Jacob could so readily turn his tongue to say (v.19), I am Esau thy first-born; nor do I see how the endeavour of some to bring him off with thatequivocation, I am made thy first-born, namely by purchase, does him any service; for when hisfather asked him (v. 24), Art thou my very son Esau? he said, I am. How could he say, I have doneas thou badest me, when he had received no command from his father, but was doing as his motherbade him? How could he say, Eat of my venison, when he knew it came, not from the field, butfrom the fold? But especially I wonder how he could have the assurance to father it upon God, andto use his name in the cheat (v. 20): The Lord thy God brought it to me. Is this Jacob? Is this Israelindeed, without guile? It is certainly written, not for our imitation, but for our admonition. Let himthat thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. Good men have sometimes failed in the exercise of thosegraces for which they have been most eminent.II. The success of this management. Jacob with some difficulty gained his point, and obtainedthe blessing.1. Isaac was at first dissatisfied, and would have discovered the fraud if he could have trustedhis own ears; for the voice was Jacob's voice, v. 22. Providence has ordered a strange variety ofvoices as well as faces, which is also of use to prevent our being imposed upon; and the voice is athing not easily disguised nor counterfeited. This may be alluded to to illustrate the character of ahypocrite. His voice is Jacob's voice, but his hands are Esau's. He speaks the language of a saint,but does the works of a sinner; but the judgment will be, as here, by the hands.2. At length he yielded to the power of the cheat, because the hands were hairy (v. 23), notconsidering how easy it was to counterfeit that circumstance; and now Jacob carries it on dexterously,sets his venison before his father, and waits at table very officiously, till dinner is done, and theblessing comes to be pronounced in the close of this solemn feast. That which in some small degreeextenuates the crime of Rebekah and Jacob is that the fraud was intended, not so much to hastenthe fulfilling, as to prevent the thwarting, of the oracle of God: the blessing was just going to beput upon the wrong head, and they thought it was time to bestir themselves. Now let us see howIsaac gave Jacob his blessing, v. 26-29. (1.) He embraced him, in token of a particular affection tohim. Those that are blessed of God are kissed with the kisses of his mouth, and they do, by loveand loyalty, kiss the Son, Ps. ii. 12. (2.) He praised him. He smelt the smell of his raiment, and said,See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed, that is, like that ofthe most fragrant flowers and spices. It appeared that God had blessed him, and therefore Isaacwould bless him. (3.) He prayed for him, and therein prophesied concerning him. It is the duty ofparents to pray for their children, and to bless them in the name of the Lord. And thus, as well asby their baptism, to do what they can to preserve and perpetuate the entail of the covenant in theirfamilies. But this was an extraordinary blessing; and Providence so ordered it that Isaac should248Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)bestow it upon Jacob ignorantly and by mistake, that it might appear he was beholden to God forit, and not to Isaac. Three things Jacob is here blessed with:—[1.] Plenty (v. 28), heaven and earthconcurring to make him rich. [2.] Power (v. 29), particularly dominion over his brethren, namely,Esau and his posterity. [3.] Prevalency with God, and a great interest in Heaven: "Cursed by everyone that curseth thee and blessed be he that blesseth thee. Let God be a friend to all thy friends,and an enemy to all thy enemies." More is certainly comprised in this blessing than appears prima166facie—at first sight. It must amount to an entail of the promise of the Messiah, and of the church;this was, in the patriarchal dialect, the blessing: something spiritual, doubtless, is included in it.First, That from him should come the Messiah, who should have a sovereign dominion on earth.It was that top-branch of his family which people should serve and nations bow down to. See Num.xxiv. 19, Out of Jacob shall come he that shall have dominion, the star and sceptre, v. 17. Jacob'sdominion over Esau was to be only typical of this, ch. xlix. 10. Secondly, That from him shouldcome the church, which should be particularly owned and favoured by Heaven. It was part of theblessing of Abraham, when he was first called to be the father of the faithful ch. xii. 3), I will blessthose that bless thee; therefore, when Isaac afterwards confirmed the blessing to Jacob, he calledit the blessing of Abraham, ch. xxviii. 4. Balaam explains this too, Num. xxiv. 9. Note, It is the bestand most desirable blessing to stand in relation to Christ and his church, and to be interested inChrist's power and the church's favours.The Blessing Pronounced on Jacob and Esau. (b. c. 1760.)30 And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, andJacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau hisbrother came in from his hunting. 31 And he also had made savoury meat, andbrought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat ofhis son's venison, that thy soul may bless me. 32 And Isaac his father said untohim, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau. 33 And Isaactrembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, andbrought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him?yea, and he shall be blessed. 34 And when Esau heard the words of his father, hecried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, evenme also, O my father. 35 And he said, Thy brother came with subtlety, and hathtaken away thy blessing. 36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for hehath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, nowhe hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing forme? 37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord,and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine haveI sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? 38 And Esau said untohis father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O myfather. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. 39 And Isaac his father answeredand said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the249Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)dew of heaven from above; 40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt servethy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thoushalt break his yoke from off thy neck.Here is, I. The covenant-blessing denied to Esau. He that made so light of the birthright wouldnow have inherited the blessing, but he was rejected, and found no place of repentance in his father,though he sought it carefully with tears, Heb. xii. 17. Observe, 1. How carefully he sought it. Heprepared the savoury meat, as his father had directed him, and then begged the blessing which hisfather had encouraged him to expect, v. 31. When he understood that Jacob had obtained itsurreptitiously, he cried with a great and exceedingly bitter cry, v. 34. No man could have laid thedisappointment more to heart than he did; he made his father's tent to ring with his grief, and again(v. 38) lifted up his voice and wept. Note, The day is coming when those that now make light ofthe blessings of the covenant, and sell their title to them for a thing of nought, will in vain beimportunate for them. Those that will not so much as ask and seek now will knock shortly, and cry,Lord, Lord. Slighters of Christ will then be humble suitors to him. 2. How he was rejected. Isaac,when first made sensible of the imposition that had been practised on him, trembled exceedingly,v. 33. Those that follow the choice of their own affections, rather than the dictates of the divinewill, involve themselves in such perplexities as these. But he soon recovers himself, and ratifiesthe blessing he had given to Jacob: I have blessed him, and he shall be blessed; he might, uponvery plausible grounds, have recalled it, but now, at last, he is sensible that he was in an error whenhe designed it for Esau. Either himself recollecting the divine oracle, or rather having found himselfmore than ordinarily filled with the Holy Ghost when he gave the blessing to Jacob, he perceivedthat God did, as it were, say Amen to it. Now, (1.) Jacob was hereby confirmed in his possessionof the blessing, and abundantly satisfied of the validity of it, though he obtained it fraudulently;167hence too he had reason to hope that God graciously overlooked and pardoned his misconduct.(2.) Isaac hereby acquiesced in the will of God, though it contradicted his own expectations andaffection. He had a mind to give Esau the blessing, but, when he perceived the will of God wasotherwise, he submitted; and this he did by faith (Heb. xi. 20), as Abraham before him, when hehad solicited for Ishmael. May not God do what he will with his own? (3.) Esau hereby was cut offfrom the expectation of that special blessing which he thought to have preserved to himself whenhe sold his birthright. We, by this instance, are taught, [1.] That it is not of him that willeth, nor ofhim that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy, Rom. ix. 16. The apostle seems to allude to thisstory. Esau had a good will to the blessing, and ran for it; but God that showed mercy designed itfor Jacob, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, v. 11. The Jews, like Esau,hunted after the law of righteousness (v. 31), yet missed of the blessing of righteousness, becausethey sought it by the works of the law (v. 32); while the Gentiles, who, like Jacob, sought it by faithin the oracle of God, obtained it by force, with that violence which the kingdom of heaven suffers.See Matt. xi. 12. [2.] That those who undervalue their spiritual birthright, and can afford to sell itfor a morsel of meat, forfeit spiritual blessings, and it is just with God to deny them those favoursthey were careless of. Those that will part with their wisdom and grace, with their faith and a goodconscience, for the honours, wealth, or pleasures, of this world, however they may pretend a zealfor the blessing, have already judged themselves unworthy of it, and so shall their doom be. [3.]That those who lift up hands in wrath lift them up in vain. Esau, instead of repenting of his ownfolly, reproached his brother, unjustly charged him with taking away the birthright which he had250Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)fairly sold to him (v. 36), and conceived malice against him for what he had now done, v. 41. Thoseare not likely to speed in prayer who turn those resentments upon their brethren which they shouldturn upon themselves, and lay the blame of their miscarriages upon others, when they should takeshame to themselves. [4.] That those who seek not till it is too late will be rejected. This was theruin of Esau, he did not come in time. As there is an accepted time, a time when God will be found,so there is a time when he will not answer those that call upon him, because they neglected theappointed season. See Prov. i. 28. The time of God's patience and our probation will not last always;the day of grace will come to an end, and the door will be shut. Then many that now despise theblessing will seek it carefully; for then they will know how to value it, and will see themselvesundone, for ever undone, without it, but to no purpose, Luke xiii. 25-27. O that we would therefore,in this our day, know the things that belong to our peace!II. Here is a common blessing bestowed upon Esau.1. This he desired: Bless me also, v. 34. Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? v. 36. Note,(1.) The worst of men know how to wish well to themselves; and even those who profanely selltheir birthright seem piously to desire the blessing. Faint desires of happiness, without a right choiceof the end and a right use of the means, deceive many into their own ruin. Multitudes go to hellwith their mouths full of good wishes. The desire of the slothful and unbelieving kills them. Manywill seek to enter in, as Esau, who shall not be able, because they do not strive, Luke xiii. 24. (2.)It is the folly of most men that they are willing to take up with any good (Ps. iv. 6), as Esau here,who desired but a second-rate blessing, a blessing separated from the birthright. Profane heartsthink any blessing as good as that from God's oracle: Hast thou but one? As if he had said, "I willtake up with any: though I have not the blessing of the church, yet let me have some blessing."2. This he had; and let him make his best of it, v. 39, 40.(1.) It was a good thing, and better than he deserved. It was promised him, [1.] That he shouldhave a competent livelihood—the fatness of the earth, and the dew of heaven. Note, Those thatcome short of the blessings of the covenant may yet have a very good share of outward blessings.God gives good ground and good weather to many that reject his covenant, and have no part norlot in it. [2.] That by degrees he should recover his liberty. If Jacob must rule (v. 29), Esau mustserve; but he has this to comfort him, he shall live by his sword. He shall serve, but he shall notstarve; and, at length, after much skirmishing, he shall break the yoke of bondage, and wear marksof freedom. This was fulfilled (2 Kings viii. 20, 22) when the Edomites revolted.(2.) Yet it was far short of Jacob's blessing. For him God had reserved some better thing. [1.]In Jacob's blessing the dew of heaven is put first, as that which he most valued, and desired, anddepended upon; in Esau's the fatness of the earth is put first, for it was this that he had the first andprincipal regard to. [2.] Esau has these, but Jacob has them from God's hand: God give thee thedew of heaven, v. 28. It was enough to Esau to have the possession; but Jacob desired it by promise,and to have it from covenant-love. [3.] Jacob shall have dominion over his brethren: hence theIsraelites often ruled over the Edomites. Esau shall have dominion, that is, he shall gain some powerand interest, but shall never have dominion over his brother: we never find that the Jews were sold168into the hands of the Edomites, or that they oppressed them. But the great difference in that thereis nothing in Esau's blessing that points at Christ, nothing that brings him or his into the church andcovenant of God, without which the fatness of the earth, and the plunder of the field, will standhim in little stead. Thus Isaac by faith blessed them both according as their lot should be. Someobserve that Jacob was blessed with a kiss (v. 27), so was not Esau.251Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Jacob's Life Threatened by Esau. (b. c. 1760.)41 And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessedhim: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand;then will I slay my brother Jacob. 42 And these words of Esau her elder son weretold to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him,Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to killthee. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban mybrother to Haran; 44 And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother's fury turnaway; 45 Until thy brother's anger turn away from thee, and he forget that whichthou hast done to him: then I will send, and fetch thee from thence: why should I bedeprived also of you both in one day? 46 And Rebekah said to Isaac, I am wearyof my life because of the daughters of Heth: if Jacob take a wife of the daughters ofHeth, such as these which are of the daughters of the land, what good shall my lifedo me?Here is, I. The malice Esau bore to Jacob upon account of the blessing which he had obtained,v. 41. Thus he went in the way of Cain, who slew his brother because he had gained that acceptancewith God of which he had rendered himself unworthy. Esau's hatred of Jacob was, 1. A causelesshatred. He hated him for no other reason but because his father blessed him and God loved him.Note, The happiness of saints is the envy of sinners. Whom Heaven blesses, hell curses. 2. It wasa cruel hatred. Nothing less would satisfy him than to slay his brother. It is the blood of the saintsthat persecutors thirst after: I will slay my brother. How could he say that word without horror?How could he call him brother, and yet vow his death? Note, The rage of persecutors will not betied up by any bonds, no, not the strongest and most sacred. 3. It was a politic hatred. He expectedhis father would soon die, and then titles must be tried and interests contested between the brothers,which would give him a fair opportunity for revenge. He thinks it not enough to live by his swordhimself (v. 40), unless his brother die by it. He is loth to grieve his father while he lives, and thereforeputs off the intended murder till his death, not caring how much he then grieved his survivingmother. Note, (1.) Those are bad children to whom their good parents are a burden, and who, uponany account, long for the days of mourning for them. (2.) Bad men are long held in by externalrestraints from doing the mischief they would do, and so their wicked purposes come to nought.(3.) Those who think to defeat God's purposes will undoubtedly be disappointed themselves. Esauaimed to prevent Jacob, or his seed, from having the dominion, by taking away his life before hewas married; but who can disannul what God has spoken? Men may fret at God's counsels, butcannot change them.II. The method Rebekah took to prevent the mischief.1. She gave Jacob warning of his danger, and advised him to withdraw for a while, and shiftfor his own safety. She tells him what she heard of Esau's design, that he comforted himself withthe hope of an opportunity to kill his brother, v. 42. Would one think that such a bloody barbarousthought as this could be a comfort to a man? If Esau could have kept his design to himself hismother would not have suspected it; but men's impudence in sin is often their infatuation; and theycannot accomplish their wickedness because their rage is too violent to be concealed, and a bird of252Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)the air carries the voice. Observe here, (1.) What Rebekah feared—lest she should be deprived ofthem both in one day (v. 45), deprived, not only of the murdered, but of the murderer, who eitherby the magistrate, or by the immediate hand of God, would by sacrificed to justice, which sheherself must acquiesce in, and not obstruct: or, if not so, yet thenceforward she would be deprivedof all joy and comfort in him. Those that are lost to virtue are in a manner lost to all their friends.With what pleasure can a child be looked upon that can be looked upon as no other than a child ofthe devil? (2.) What Rebekah hoped—that, if Jacob for a while kept out of sight, the affront whichhis brother resented so fiercely would by degrees go out of mind. The strength of passions isweakened and taken off by the distances both of time and place. She promised herself that hisbrother's anger would turn away. Note, Yielding pacifies great offences; and even those that havea good cause, and God on their side, must yet use this with other prudent expedients for their ownpreservation.2. She impressed Isaac with an apprehension of the necessity of Jacob's going among herrelations upon another account, which was to take a wife, v. 46. She would not tell him of Esau's169wicked design against the life of Jacob, lest it should trouble him; but prudently took another wayto gain her point. Isaac saw as uneasy as he was to Esau's being unequally yoked with Hittites; andtherefore, with a very good colour of reason, she moves to have Jacob married to one that wasbetter principled. Note, One miscarriage should serve as a warning to prevent another; those arecareless indeed that stumble twice at the same stone. Yet Rebekah seems to have expressed herselfsomewhat too warmly in the matter, when she said, What good will my life do me if Jacob marrya Canaanite? Thanks be to God, all our comfort is not lodged in one hand; we may do the work oflife, and enjoy the comforts of life, though every thing do not fall out to our mind, and though ourrelations be not in all respects agreeable to us. Perhaps Rebekah spoke with this concern becauseshe saw it necessary, for the quickening of Isaac, to give speedy orders in this matter. Observe,Though Jacob was himself very towardly, and well fixed in his religion, yet he had need to be putout of the way of temptation. Even he was in danger both of following the bad example of hisbrother and of being drawn into a snare by it. We must not presume too far upon the wisdom andresolution, no, not of those children that are most hopeful and promising; but care must be takento keep them out of harm's way.169 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXVIII.We have here, I. Jacob parting with his parents, to go to Padan-aram; the charge his fathergave him (ver. 1, 2), the blessing he sent him away with (ver. 3, 4), his obedience to the ordersgiven him (ver. 5, 10), and the influence this had upon Esau, ver. 6-9. II. Jacob meeting with God,and his communion with him by the way. And there, 1. His vision of the ladder, ver. 11, 12. 2. Thegracious promises God made him, ver. 13-15. 3. The impression this made upon him, ver. 16-19.4. The vow he made to God, up on this occasion, ver. 20, &c.253Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Jacob Dismissed with a Blessing. (b. c. 1760.)1 And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him,Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2 Arise, go to Padan-aram,to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of thedaughters of Laban thy mother's brother. 3 And God Almighty bless thee, and makethee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 4 Andgive thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thoumayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.5 And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padan-aram unto Laban, son of Bethuelthe Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.Jacob had no sooner obtained the blessing than immediately he was forced to flee from hiscountry; and, as it if were not enough that he was a stranger and sojourner there, he must go to bemore so, and no better than an exile, in another country. Now Jacob fled into Syria, Hos. xii. 12.He was blessed with plenty of corn and wine, and yet he went away poor, was blessed withgovernment, and yet went out to service, a hard service. This was, 1. Perhaps to correct him for hisdealing fraudulently with his father. The blessing shall be confirmed to him, and yet he shall smartfor the indirect course he took to obtain it. While there is such an alloy as there is of sin in ourduties, we must expect an alloy of trouble in our comforts. However, 2. It was to teach us that thosewho inherit the blessing must expect persecution; those who have peace in Christ shall havetribulation in the world, John xvi. 33. Being told of this before, we must not think it strange, and,being assured of a recompence hereafter, we must not think it hard. We may observe, likewise, thatGod's providences often seem to contradict his promises, and to go cross to them; and yet, whenthe mystery of God shall be finished, we shall see that all was for the best, and that cross providencesdid but render the promises and the accomplishment of them the more illustrious. Now Jacob ishere dismissed by his father,I. With a solemn charge: He blessed him, and charged him, v. 1, 2. Note, Those that have theblessing must keep the charge annexed to it, and not think to separate what God has joined. Thecharge is like that in 2 Cor. vi. 14, Be not unequally yoked with unbelievers; and all that inherit thepromises of the remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, must keep this charge, whichfollows those promises, Save yourselves from this untoward generation, Acts ii. 38-40. Those thatare entitled to peculiar favours must be a peculiar people. If Jacob be an heir of promise, he mustnot take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; those that profess religion should not marry those thatare irreligious.II. With a solemn blessing, v. 3, 4. He had before blessed him unwittingly; now he does itdesignedly, for the greater encouragement of Jacob in that melancholy condition to which he wasnow removing. This blessing is more express and full than the former; it is an entail of the blessingof Abraham, that blessing which was poured on the head of Abraham like the anointing oil, thenceto run down to his chosen seed, as the skirts of his garments. It is a gospel blessing, the blessing ofchurch-privileges, that is the blessing of Abraham, which upon the Gentiles through faith, Gal. iii.14. It is a blessing from God Almighty, by which name God appeared to the patriarchs, Exod. vi.254Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)3. Those are blessed indeed whom God Almighty blesses; for he commands and effects the blessing.Two great promises Abraham was blessed with, and Isaac here entails them both upon Jacob.1701. The promise of heirs: God make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, v. 3. (1.) Through his loinsshould descend from Abraham that people who should be numerous as the stars of heaven, and thesand of the sea, and who should increase more than the rest of the nations, so as to be an assemblyof people, as the margin reads it. And never was such a multitude of people so often gathered intoone assembly as the tribes of Israel were in the wilderness, and afterwards. (2.) Through his loinsshould descend from Abraham that person in whom all the families of the earth should be blessed,and to whom the gathering of the people should be. Jacob had in him a multitude of people indeed,for all things in heaven and earth are united in Christ (Eph. i. 10), all centre in him, that corn ofwheat, which falling to the ground, produced much fruit, John xii. 24.2. The promise of an inheritance for those heirs: That thou mayest inherit the land of thysojournings, v. 4. Canaan was hereby entailed upon the seed of Jacob, exclusive of the seed ofEsau. Isaac was now sending Jacob away into a distant country, to settle there for some time; and,lest this should look like disinheriting him, he here confirms the settlement of it upon him, that hemight be assured that the discontinuance of his possession should be no defeasance of his right.Observe, He is here told that he should inherit the land wherein he sojourned. Those that aresojourners now shall be heirs for ever: and, even now, those do most inherit the earth (though theydo not inherit most of it) that are most like strangers in it. Those have the best enjoyment of presentthings that sit most loose to them. This promise looks as high as heaven, of which Canaan was atype. This was the better country, which Jacob, with the other patriarchs, had in his eye, when heconfessed himself a stranger and pilgrim upon the earth, Heb. xi. 13.Jacob, having taken leave of his father, was hastened away with all speed, lest his brothershould find an opportunity to do him a mischief, and away he went to Padan-aram, v. 5. How unlikewas his taking a wife thence to his father's! Isaac had servants and camels sent to fetch his; Jacobmust go himself, go alone, and go afoot, to fetch his: he must go too in a fright from his father'shouse, not knowing when he might return. Note, If God, in his providence, disable us, we must becontent, though we cannot keep up the state and grandeur of our ancestors. We should be more incare to maintain their piety than to maintain their dignity, and to be as good as they were than tobe as great. Rebekah is here called Jacob's and Esau's mother. Jacob is named first, not only becausehe had always been his mother's darling, but because he was now make his father's heir, and Esauwas, in this sense, set aside. Note, The time will come when piety will have precedency, whateverit has now.6 When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padan-aram,to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge,saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; 7 And that Jacobobeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padan-aram; 8 And Esau seeingthat the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; 9 Then went Esau untoIshmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of IshmaelAbraham's son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.This passage concerning Esau comes in in the midst of Jacob's story, either, 1. To show theinfluence of a good example. Esau, though the greater man, now begins to think Jacob the better255Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)man, and disdains not to take him for his pattern in this particular instance of marrying with adaughter of Abraham. The elder children should give to the younger an example of tractablenessand obedience; it is bad if they do not: but it is some alleviation if they take the example of it fromthem, as Esau here did from Jacob. Or, 2. To show the folly of an after-wit. Esau did well, but hedid it when it was too late, He saw that the daughters of Canaan pleased not his father, and hemight have seen that long ago if he had consulted his father's judgment as much as he did his palate.And how did he now mend the matter? Why, truly, so as to make bad worse. (1.) He married adaughter of Ishmael, the son of the bond-woman, who was cast out, and was not to inherit withIsaac and his seed, thus joining with a family which God had rejected, and seeking to strengthenhis own pretensions by the aid of another pretender. (2.) He took a third wife, while, for aught thatappears, his other two were neither dead nor divorced. (3.) He did it only to please his father, notto please God. Now that Jacob was sent into a far country Esau would be all in all at home, and hehoped so to humour his father as to prevail with him to make a new will, and entail the promiseupon him, revoking the settlement lately made upon Jacob. And thus, [1.] He was wise when it wastoo late, like Israel that would venture when the decree had gone forth against them (Num. xiv.40), and the foolish virgins, Matt. xxv. 11. [2.] He rested in a partial reformation, and thought, bypleasing his parents in one thing, to atone for all his other miscarriages. It is not said that when hesaw how obedient Jacob was, and how willing to please his parents, he repented of his malicious171design against him: no, it appeared afterwards that he persisted in that, and retained his malice.Note, Carnal hearts are apt to think themselves as good as they should be, because perhaps, in someone particular instance, they are not so bad as they have been. Thus Micah retains his idols, butthinks himself happy in having a Levite to be his priest, Judg. xvii. 13.Jacob's Vision at Bethel. (b. c. 1760.)10 And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. 11 And helighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; andhe took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down inthat place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth,and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending anddescending on it. 13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the LordGod of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, tothee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth,and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to thesouth: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, andwill bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done thatwhich I have spoken to thee of.We have here Jacob upon his journey towards Syria, in a very desolate condition, like one thatwas sent to seek his fortune; but we find that, though he was alone, yet he was not alone, for theFather was with him, John xvi. 32. If what is here recorded happened (as it should seem it did) thefirst night, he had made a long day's journey from Beersheba to Bethel, above forty miles. Providence256Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)brought him to a convenient place, probably shaded with trees, to rest himself in that night; andthere he had,I. A hard lodging (v. 11), the stones for his pillows, and the heavens for his canopy and curtains.As the usage then was, perhaps this was not so bad as it seems how to us; but we should think, 1.He lay very cold, the cold ground for his bed, and, which one would suppose made the matterworse, a cold stone for his pillow, and in the cold air. 2. Very uneasy. If his bones were sore withhis day's journey, his night's rest would but make them sorer. 3. Very much exposed. He forgotthat he was fleeing for his life; or had his brother, in his rage, pursued, or sent a murderer after him,here he lay ready to be sacrificed, and destitute of shelter and defence. We cannot think it was byreason of his poverty that he was so ill accommodated, but, (1.) It was owing to the plainness andsimplicity of those times, when men did not take so much state, and consult their ease so much, asin these later times of softness and effeminacy. (2.) Jacob had been particularly used to hardships,as a plain man dwelling in tents; and, designing now to go to service, he was the more willing toinure himself to them; and, as it proved, it was well, ch. xxxi. 40. (3.) His comfort in the divineblessing, and his confidence in the divine protection, made him easy, even when he lay thus exposed;being sure that his God made him to dwell in safety, he could lie down and sleep upon a stone.II. In his hard lodging he had a pleasant dream. Any Israelite indeed would be willing to takeup with Jacob's pillow, provided he might but have Jacob's dream. Then, and there, he heard thewords of God, and saw the visions of the Almighty. It was the best night's sleep he ever had in hislife. Note, God's time to visit his people with his comforts is when they are most destitute of othercomforts, and other comforters; when afflictions in the way of duty (as these were) do abound, thenshall consolations so much the more abound. Now observe here,1. The encouraging vision Jacob saw, v. 12. He saw a ladder which reached from earth toheaven, the angels ascending and descending upon it, and God himself at the head of it. Now thisrepresents the two things that are very comfortable to good people at all times, and in allconditions:—(1.) The providence of God, by which there is a constant correspondence kept upbetween heaven and earth. The counsels of heaven are executed on earth, and the actions and affairsof this earth are all known in heaven are executed on earth, and the actions and affairs of this earthare all known in heaven and judged there. Providence does its work gradually, and by steps. Angelsare employed as ministering spirits, to serve all the purposes and designs of Providence, and thewisdom of God is at the upper end of the ladder, directing all the motions of second causes to theglory of the first Cause. The angels are active spirits, continually ascending and descending; theyrest not, day nor night, from service, according to the posts assigned them. They ascend, to giveaccount of what they have done, and to receive orders; and then descend, to execute the orders theyhave received. Thus we should always abound in the work of the Lord, that we may do it as theangels do it, Ps. ciii. 20, 21. This vision gave very seasonable comfort to Jacob, letting him knowthat he had both a good guide and a good guard, in his going out and coming in,—that, though hewas made to wander from his father's house, yet still he was the care of a kind Providence, and the172charge of the holy angels. This is comfort enough, though we should not admit the notion whichsome have, that the tutelar angels of Canaan were ascending, having guarded Jacob out of theirland, and the angels of Syria descending to take him into their custody. Jacob was now the typeand representative of the whole church, with the guardianship of which the angels are entrusted.(2.) The mediation of Christ. He is this ladder, the foot on earth in his human nature, the top inheaven in his divine nature: or the former in his humiliation, the latter in his exaltation. All the257Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)intercourse between heaven and earth, since the fall, is by this ladder. Christ is the way; all God'sfavours come to us, and all our services go to him, by Christ. If God dwell with us, and we withhim, it is by Christ. We have no way of getting to heaven, but by this ladder; if we climb up anyother way we are thieves and robbers. To this vision our Saviour alludes when he speaks of theangels of God ascending and descending upon the son of man (John i. 51); for the kind offices theangels do us, and the benefits we receive by their ministration, are all owing to Christ, who hasreconciled things on earth and things in heaven (Col. i. 20), and made them all meet in himself,Eph. i. 10.2. The encouraging words Jacob heard. God now brought him into the wilderness, and spokecomfortably to him, spoke from the head of the ladder; for all the glad tidings we receive fromheaven come through Jesus Christ.(1.) The former promises made to his father were repeated and ratified to him, v. 13, 14. Ingeneral, God intimated to him that he would be the same to him that he had been to Abraham andIsaac. Those that tread in the steps of their godly parents are interested in their covenant and entitledto their privileges. Particularly, [1.] The land of Canaan is settled upon him, the land whereon thouliest; as if by his lying so contentedly upon the bare ground he had taken livery and seisin of thewhole land. [2.] It is promised him that his posterity should multiply exceedingly as the dust of theearth—that, though he seemed now to be plucked off as a withered branch, yet he should becomea flourishing tree, that should send out his boughs unto the sea. These were the blessings with whichhis father had blessed him (v. 3, 4), and God here said Amen to them, that he might have strongconsolation. [3.] It is added that the Messiah should come from his loins, in whom all the familiesof the earth should be blessed. Christ is the great blessing of the world. All that are blessed, whateverfamily they are of, are blessed in him, and none of any family are excluded from blessedness inhim, but those that exclude themselves.(2.) Fresh promises were made him, accommodated to his present condition, v. 15. [1.] Jacobwas apprehensive of danger from his brother Esau; but God promises to keep him. Note, Those aresafe whom god protects, whoever pursues them. [2.] He had now a long journey before him, hadto travel alone, in an unknown road, to an unknown country; but, behold, I am with thee, says God.Note, Wherever we are, we are safe, and may be easy, if we have God's favourable presence withus. [3.] He knew not, but God foresaw, what hardships he should meet with in his uncle's service,and therefore promises to preserve him in all places. Note, God knows how to give his peoplegraces and comforts accommodated to the events that shall be, as well as to those that are. [4.] Hewas now going as an exile into a place far distant, but God promises him to bring him back againto this land. Note, He that preserves his people's going out will also take care of their coming in,Ps. cxxi. 8. [5.] He seemed to be forsaken of all his friends, but God here gives him this assurance,I will not leave thee. Note, Whom God loves he never leaves. This promise is sure to all the seed,Heb. xiii. 5. [6.] Providences seemed to contradict the promises; he is therefore assured of theperformance of them in their season: All shall be done that I have spoken to thee of. Note, Sayingand doing are not two things with God, whatever they are with us.Jacob's Vow. (b. c. 1760.)16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in thisplace; and I knew it not. 17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. 18 And Jacob258Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, andset it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19 And he called the nameof that place Beth-el: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. 20 AndJacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this waythat I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21 So that I comeagain to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: 22 And thisstone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shaltgive me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.God manifested himself and his favour to Jacob when he was asleep and purely passive; forthe spirit, like the wind, blows when and where he listeth, and God's grace, like the dew, tarrieth173not for the sons of men, Mic. v. 7. But Jacob applied himself to the improvement of the visit Godhad made him when he was awake; and we may well think he awaked, as the prophet did (Jer. xxxi.26), and behold his sleep was sweet to him. Here is much of Jacob's devotion on this occasion.I. He expressed a great surprise at the tokens he had of God's special presence with him in thatplace: Surely the Lord is in this place and I knew it not, v. 16. Note, 1. God's manifestations ofhimself to his people carry their own evidence along with them. God can give undeniabledemonstrations of his presence, such as give abundant satisfaction to the souls of the faithful thatGod is with them of a truth, satisfaction not communicable to others, but convincing to themselves.2. We sometimes meet with God where we little thought of meeting with him. He is where we didnot think he had been, is found where we asked not for him. No place excludes divine visits (ch.xvi. 13, here also); wherever we are, in the city or in the desert, in the house or in the field, in theshop or in the street, we may keep up our intercourse with Heaven if it be not our own fault.II. It struck an awe upon him (v. 17): He was afraid; so far was he from being puffed up, andexalted above measure, with the abundance of the revelations (2 Cor. xii. 7), that he was afraid.Note, The more we see of God the more cause we see for holy trembling and blushing before him.Those to whom God is pleased to manifest himself are thereby laid, and kept, very low in their owneyes, and see cause to fear even the Lord and his goodness, Hos. iii. 5. He said, How dreadful isthis place! that is, "The appearance of God in this place is never to be thought of, but with a holyawe and reverence. I shall have a respect for this place, and remember it by this token, as long asI live:" not that he thought the place itself any nearer the divine visions than other places; but whathe saw there at this time was, as it were, the house of God, the residence of the divine Majesty, andthe gate of heaven, that is, the general rendezvous of the inhabitants of the upper world, as themeetings of a city were in their gates; or the angels ascending and descending were like travellerspassing and re-passing through the gates of a city. Note, 1. God is in a special manner present wherehis grace is revealed and where his covenants are published and sealed, as of old by the ministryof angels, so now by instituted ordinances, Matt. xxviii. 20. 2. Where God meets us with his specialpresence we ought to meet him with the most humble reverence, remembering his justice andholiness, and our own meanness and vileness.III. He took care to preserve the memorial of it two ways: 1. He set up the stone for a pillar (v.18); not as if he thought the visions of his head were any way owing to the stone on which it lay,but thus he would mark the place against he came back, and erect a lasting monument of God'sfavour to him, and because he had not time now to build an altar here, as Abraham did in the places259Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)where God appeared to him, ch. xii. 7. He therefore poured oil on the top of this stone, whichprobably was the ceremony then used in dedicating their altars, as an earnest of his building analtar when he should have conveniences for it, as afterwards he did, in gratitude to God for thisvision, ch. xxxv. 7. Note, Grants of mercy call for returns of duty, and the sweet communion wehave with God ought ever to be remembered. 2. He gave a new name to the place, v. 19. It hadbeen called Luz, an almond-tree; but he will have it henceforward called Beth-el, the house of God.This gracious appearance of God to him put a greater honour upon it, and made it more remarkable,than all the almond-trees that flourished there. This is that Beth-el where, long after, it is said, Godfound Jacob, and there (in what he said to him) he spoke with us, Hos. xii. 4. In process of time,this Beth-el, the house of God, became Beth-aven, a house of vanity and iniquity, when Jeroboamset up one of his calves there.IV. He made a solemn vow upon this occasion, v. 20-22. By religious vows we give glory toGod, own our dependence upon him, and lay a bond upon our own souls to engage and quickenour obedience to him. Jacob was now in fear and distress; and it is seasonable to make vows intimes of trouble, or when we are in pursuit of any special mercy, Jon. i. 16; Ps. lxvi. 13, 14; 1 Sam.i. 11; Num. xxi. 1-3. Jacob had now had a gracious visit from heaven. God had renewed his covenantwith him, and the covenant is mutual. When God ratifies his promises to us, it is proper for us torepeat our promises to him. Now in this vow observe, 1. Jacob's faith. God had said (v. 15), I amwith thee, and will keep thee. Jacob takes hold of this, and infers, "Seeing God will be with me, andwill keep me, as he hath said, and (which is implied in that promise) will provide comfortably forme,—and seeing he has promised to bring me again to this land, that is, to the house of my father,whom I hope to find alive at my return in peace" (so unlike was he to Esau who longed for the daysof mourning for his father),—"I depend upon it." Note, God's promises are to be the guide andmeasure of our desires and expectations. 2. Jacob's modesty and great moderation in his desires.He will cheerfully content himself with bread to eat, and raiment to put on; and, though God'spromise had now made him heir to a very great estate, yet he indents not for soft clothing and daintymeat. Agur's wish is his, Feed me with food convenient for me; and see 1 Tim. vi. 8. Nature iscontent with a little, and grace with less. Those that have most have, in effect, no more for themselvesthan food and raiment; of the overplus they have only either the keeping or the giving, not theenjoyment: if God give us more, we are bound to be thankful, and to use it for him; if he give usbut this, we are bound to be content, and cheerfully to enjoy him in it. 3. Jacob's piety, and hisregard to God, which appear here, (1.) In what he desired, that God would be with him and keephim. Note, We need desire no more to make us easy and happy, wherever we are, than to haveGod's presence with us and to be under his protection. It is comfortable, in a journey, to have aguide in an unknown way, a guard in a dangerous way, to be well carried, well provided for, andto have good company in any way; and those that have God with them have all this in the bestmanner. (2.) In what he designed. His resolution is, [1.] In general, to cleave to the Lord, as hisGod in covenant: Then shall the Lord be my God. Not as if he would disown him and cast him offif he should want food and raiment; no, though he slay us, we must cleave to him; but "then I willrejoice in him as my God; then I will more strongly engage myself to abide with him." Note, Everymercy we receive from God should be improved as an additional obligation upon us to walk closelywith him as our God. [2.] In particular, that he would perform some special acts of devotion, intoken of his gratitude. First, "This pillar shall keep possession here till I come back in peace, andthen it shall be God's house," that is, "an altar shall be erected here to the honour of God." Secondly,260Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)"The house of god shall not be unfurnished, nor his altar without a sacrifice: Of all that thou shaltgive me I will surely give the tenth unto thee, to be spent either upon God's altars or upon his poor,"both which are his receivers in the world. Probably it was according to some general instructionsreceived from heaven that Abraham and Jacob offered the tenth of their acquisitions to God. Note,1. God must be honoured with our estates, and must have his dues out of them. When we receivemore than ordinary mercy from God we should study to give some signal instances of gratitude tohim. 2. The tenth is a very fit proportion to be devoted to God and employed for him, though, ascircumstances vary, it may be more or less, as God prospers us, 1 Cor. xvi. 2; 2 Cor. ix. 7.174 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXIX.This chapter gives us an account of God's providences concerning Jacob, pursuant to thepromises made to him in the foregoing chapter. I. How he was brought in safety to his journey'send, and directed to his relations there, who bade him welcome, ver. 1-14. II. How he wascomfortably disposed of in marriage, ver. 15-30. III. How his family was built up in the birth offour sons, ver. 31-35. The affairs of princes and mighty nations that were then in being are notrecorded in the book of God, but are left to be buried in oblivion; while these small domesticconcerns of holy Jacob are particularly recorded with their minute circumstances, that they may bein everlasting remembrance. For "the memory of the just is blessed."Jacob's Arrival at Padan-aram. (b. c. 1760.)1 Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of the people of theeast. 2 And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there were three flocksof sheep lying by it; for out of that well they watered the flocks: and a great stonewas upon the well's mouth. 3 And thither were all the flocks gathered: and theyrolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the stoneagain upon the well's mouth in his place. 4 And Jacob said unto them, My brethren,whence be ye? And they said, Of Haran are we. 5 And he said unto them, Knowye Laban the son of Nahor? And they said, We know him. 6 And he said unto them,Is he well? And they said, He is well: and, behold, Rachel his daughter cometh withthe sheep. 7 And he said, Lo, it is yet high day, neither is it time that the cattleshould be gathered together: water ye the sheep, and go and feed them. 8 And theysaid, We cannot, until all the flocks be gathered together, and till they roll the stonefrom the well's mouth; then we water the sheep.All the stages Israel's march to Canaan are distinctly noticed, but no particular journal is keptof Jacob's expedition further than Beth-el; no, he had no more such happy nights as he had atBeth-el, no more such visions of the Almighty. That was intended for a feast; he must not expect261Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)it to be his daily bread. But, 1. We are here told how cheerfully he proceeded in his journey afterthe sweet communion he had with God at Beth-el: Then Jacob lifted up his feet; so the margin readsit, v. 1. Then he went on with cheerfulness and alacrity, not burdened with his cares, nor crampedwith his fears, being assured of God's gracious presence with him. Note, After the visions we havehad of God, and the vows we have made to him in solemn ordinances, we should run the way ofhis commandments with enlarged hearts, Heb. xii. 1. 2. How happily he arrived at his journey'send. Providence brought him to the very field where his uncle's flocks were to be watered, andthere he met with Rachel, who was to be his wife. Observe, (1.) The divine Providence is to beacknowledged in all the little circumstances which concur to make a journey, or other undertaking,comfortable and successful. If, when we are at a loss, we meet seasonably with those that can directus—if we meet with a disaster, and those are at hand that will help us—we must not say that it wasby chance, nor that fortune therein favoured us, but that it was by Providence, and that God therein175favoured us. Our ways are ways of pleasantness, if we continually acknowledge God in them. (2.)Those that have flocks must look well to them, and be diligent to know their state, Prov. xxvii. 23.What is here said of the constant care of the shepherds concerning their sheep (v. 2, 3, 7, 8) mayserve to illustrate the tender concern which our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, hasfor his flock, the church; for he is the good Shepherd, that knows his sheep, and is known of them,John x. 14. The stone at the well's mouth, which is so often mentioned here, was either to securetheir property in it (for water was scarce, it was not there usus communis aquarum—for every one'suse), or it was to save the well from receiving damage from the heat of the sun, or from any spitefulhand, or to prevent the lambs of the flock from being drowned in it. (3.) Separate interests shouldnot take us from joint and mutual help; when all the shepherds came together with their flocks,then, like loving neighbours, at watering-time, they watered their flocks together. (4.) It becomesus to speak civilly and respectfully to strangers. Though Jacob was no courtier, but a plain man,dwelling in tents, and a stranger to compliment, yet he addresses himself very obligingly to thepeople he met with, and calls them his brethren, v. 4. The law of kindness in the tongue has acommanding power, Prov. xxxi. 26. Some think he calls them brethren because they were of thesame trade, shepherds like him. Though he was now upon his preferment, he was not ashamed ofhis occupation. (5.) Those that show respect have usually respect shown to them. As Jacob wascivil to these strangers, so he found them civil to him. When he undertook to teach them how todespatch their business (v. 7), they did not bid him meddle with his own concerns and let themalone; but, though he was a stranger, they gave him the reason of their delay, v. 8. Those that areneighbourly and friendly shall have neighbourly and friendly usage.Rachel's Humility and Industry. (b. c. 1760.)9 And while he yet spake with them, Rachel came with her father's sheep: forshe kept them. 10 And it came to pass, when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter ofLaban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacobwent near, and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Labanhis mother's brother. 11 And Jacob kissed Rachel, and lifted up his voice, and wept.12 And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother, and that he was Rebekah'sson: and she ran and told her father. 13 And it came to pass, when Laban heard thetidings of Jacob his sister's son, that he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and262Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)kissed him, and brought him to his house. And he told Laban all these things. 14And Laban said to him, Surely thou art my bone and my flesh. And he abode withhim the space of a month.Here we see, 1. Rachel's humility and industry: She kept her father's sheep (v. 9), that is, shetook the care of them, having servants under her that were employed about them. Rachel's namesignifies a sheep. Note, Honest useful labour is that which nobody needs be ashamed of, nor oughtit to be a hindrance to any one's preferment. 2. Jacob's tenderness and affection. When he understoodthat this was his kinswoman (probably he had heard of her name before), knowing what his errandwas into that country, we may suppose it struck his mind immediately that his must be his wife.Being already smitten with her ingenuous comely face (though it was probably sun-burnt, and shewas in the homely dress of a shepherdess), he is wonderfully officious, and anxious to serve her(v. 10), and addresses himself to her with tears of joy and kisses of love, v. 11. She runs with allhaste to tell her father; for she will by no means entertain her kinsman's address without her father'sknowledge and approbation, v. 12. These mutual respects, at their first interview, were good presagesof their being a happy couple. 3. Providence made that which seemed contingent and fortuitous togive speedy satisfaction to Jacob's mind, as soon as ever he came to the place which he was boundfor. Abraham's servant, when he came upon a similar errand, met with similar encouragement.Thus God guides his people with his eye, Ps. xxxii. 8. It is a groundless conceit which some of theJewish writers have, that Jacob, when he kissed Rachel, wept because he had been set upon in hisjourney by Eliphaz the eldest son of Esau, at the command of his father, and robbed of all his moneyand jewels, which his mother had given him when she sent him away. It was plain that it was hispassion for Rachel, and the surprise of this happy meeting, that drew these tears from his eyes. 4.Laban, though none of the best-humoured men, bade him welcome, was satisfied in the accounthe gave of himself, and of the reason of his coming in such poor circumstances. While we avoidthe extreme, on the one hand, of being foolishly credulous, we must take heed of falling into theother extreme, of being uncharitably jealous and suspicious. Laban owned him for his kinsman:Thou art my bone and my flesh, v. 14. Note, Those are hard-hearted indeed that are unkind to theirrelations, and that hide themselves from their own flesh, Isa. lviii. 7.Jacob's Marriage. (b. c. 1753.)17615 And Laban said unto Jacob, Because thou art my brother, shouldest thoutherefore serve me for nought? tell me, what shall thy wages be? 16 And Labanhad two daughters: the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the youngerwas Rachel. 17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured.18 And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thyyounger daughter. 19 And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than thatI should give her to another man: abide with me. 20 And Jacob served seven yearsfor Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.21 And Jacob said unto Laban, Give me my wife, for my days are fulfilled, that Imay go in unto her. 22 And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, andmade a feast. 23 And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter,263Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. 24 And Laban gave unto hisdaughter Leah Zilpah his maid for a handmaid. 25 And it came to pass, that in themorning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done untome? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?26 And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger beforethe firstborn. 27 Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the servicewhich thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. 28 And Jacob did so, andfulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. 29 And Labangave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid. 30 And he wentin also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah, and served with himyet seven other years.Here is, I. The fair contract made between Laban and Jacob, during the month that Jacob spentthere as a guest, v. 14. It seems he was not idle, nor did he spend his time in sport and pastime; butlike a man of business, though he had no stock of his own, he applied himself to serve his uncle,as he had begun (v. 10) when he watered his flock. Note, Wherever we are, it is good to be employingourselves in some useful business, which will turn to a good account to ourselves or others. Laban,it seems, was so taken with Jacob's ingenuity and industry about his flocks that he was desirous heshould continue with him, and very fairly reasons thus: "Because thou art my brother, shouldstthou therefore serve me for nought? v. 15. No, what reason for that?" If Jacob be so respectful tohis uncle as to give him his service without demanding any consideration for it, yet Laban will notbe so unjust to his nephew as to take advantage either of his necessity or of his good-nature. Note,Inferior relations must not be imposed upon; if it be their duty to serve us, it is our duty to rewardthem. Now Jacob had a fair opportunity to make known to Laban the affection he had for hisdaughter Rachel; and, having no worldly goods in his hand with which to endow her, he promiseshim seven years' service, upon condition that, at the end of the seven years, he would bestow herupon him for his wife. It appears by computation that Jacob was now seventy-seven years old whenhe bound himself apprentice for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep, Hos. xii. 12. His posterity arethere reminded of it long afterwards, as an instance of the meanness of their origin: probably Rachelwas young, and scarcely marriageable, when Jacob first came, which made him the more willingto stay for her till his seven years' service had expired.II. Jacob's honest performance of his part of the bargain, v. 20. He served seven years forRachel. If Rachel still continued to keep her father's sheep (as she did, v. 9), his innocent andreligious conversation with her, while they kept the flocks, could not but increase their mutualacquaintance and affection (Solomon's song of love is a pastoral); if she now left it off, his easingher of that care was very obliging. Jacob honestly served out his seven years, and did not forfeithis indentures, though he was old; nay, he served them cheerfully: They seemed to him but a fewdays, for the love he had to her, as if it were more his desire to earn her than to have her. Note,Love makes long and hard services short and easy; hence we read of the labour of love, Heb. vi.10. If we know how to value the happiness of heaven, the sufferings of this present time will be asnothing to us in comparison of it. An age of work will be but as a few days to those that love Godand long for Christ's appearing.264Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)III. The base cheat which Laban put upon him when he was out of his time: he put Leah intohis arms instead of Rachel, v. 23. This was Laban's sin; he wronged both Jacob and Rachel, whoseaffections, doubtless, were engaged to each other, and, if (as some say) Leah was herein no better177than an adulteress, it was no small wrong to her too. But it was Jacob's affliction, a damp to themirth of the marriage-feast, when in the morning behold it was Leah, v. 25. It is easy to observehere how Jacob was paid in his own coin. He had cheated his own father when he pretended to beEsau, and now his father-in-law cheated him. Herein, how unrighteous soever Laban was, the Lordwas righteous; as Judges i. 7. Even the righteous, if they take a false step, are sometimes thusrecompensed on the earth. Many that are not, like Jacob, disappointed in the person, soon findthemselves, as much to their grief, disappointed in the character. The choice of that relation therefore,on both sides, ought to be made with good advice and consideration, that, if there should be adisappointment, it may not be aggravated by a consciousness of mismanagement.IV. The excuse and atonement Laban made for the cheat. 1. The excuse was frivolous: It mustnot be so done in our country, v. 26. We have reason to think there was no such custom of hiscountry as he pretends; only he banters Jacob with it, and laughs at his mistake. Note, Those thatcan do wickedly and then think to turn it off with a jest, though they may deceive themselves andothers, will find at last that God is not mocked. But if there had been such a custom, and he hadresolved to observe it, he should have told Jacob so when he undertook to serve him for his youngerdaughter. Note, As saith the proverb of the ancients, Wickedness proceeds from the wicked, 1 Sam.xxiv. 13. Those that deal with treacherous men must expect to be dealt treacherously with. 2. Hiscompounding the matter did but make bad worse: We will give thee this also, v. 27. Hereby he drewJacob into the sin, and snare, and disquiet, of multiplying wives, which remains a blot in hisescutcheon, and will be so to the end of the world. Honest Jacob did not design it, but to have keptas true to Rachel as his father had done to Rebekah. He that had lived without a wife to theeighty-fourth year of his age could then have been very well content with one; but Laban, to disposeof his two daughters without portions, and to get seven years' service more out of Jacob, thusimposes upon him, and draws him into such a strait by his fraud, that (the matter not being yetsettled, as it was afterwards by the divine law, Lev. xviii. 18, and more fully since by our Saviour,Matt. xix. 5) he had some colourable reasons for marrying them both. He could not refuse Rachel,for he had espoused her; still less could he refuse Leah, for he had married her; and therefore Jacobmust be content, and take two talents, 2 Kings v. 23. Note, One sin is commonly the inlet of another.Those that go in by one door of wickedness seldom find their way out but by another. The polygamyof the patriarchs was, in some measure, excusable in them, because, though there was a reasonagainst it as ancient as Adam's marriage (Mal. ii. 15), yet there was no express command againstit; it was in them a sin of ignorance. It was not the product of any sinful lust, but for the buildingup of the church, which was the good that Providence brought out of it; but it will by no meansjustify the like practice now, when God's will is plainly made known, that one man and one womanonly must be joined together, 1 Cor. vii. 2. The having of many wives suits well enough with thecarnal sensual spirit of the Mahomedan imposture, which allows it; but we have not so learnedChrist. Dr. Lightfoot makes Leah and Rachel to be figures of the two churches, the Jews under thelaw and the Gentiles under the gospel: the younger the more beautiful, and more in the thoughtsof Christ when he came in the form of a servant; but he other, like Leah, first embraced: yet in thisthe allegory does not hold, that the Gentiles, the younger, were more fruitful, Gal. iv. 27.265Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)Increase of Jacob's Family. (b. c. 1749.)31 And when the Lord saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachelwas barren. 32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his nameReuben: for she said, Surely the Lord hath looked upon my affliction; now thereforemy husband will love me. 33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said,Because the Lord hath heard that I was hated, he hath therefore given me this sonalso: and she called his name Simeon. 34 And she conceived again, and bare a son;and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have bornhim three sons: therefore was his name called Levi. 35 And she conceived again,and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the Lord: therefore she called hisname Judah; and left bearing.We have here the birth of four of Jacob's sons, all by Leah. Observe, 1. That Leah, who wasless beloved, was blessed with children, when Rachel was denied that blessing, v. 31. See howProvidence, in dispensing its gifts, observes a proportion, to keep the balance even, setting crossesand comforts one over-against another, that none may be either too much elevated or too muchdepressed. Rachel wants children, but she is blessed with her husband's love; Leah wants that, butshe is fruitful. Thus it was between Elkana's two wives (1 Sam. i. 5); for the Lord is wise andrighteous. When the Lord saw that Leah was hated, that is, loved less than Rachel, in which senseit is required that we hate father and mother, in comparison with Christ (Luke xiv. 26), then the178Lord granted her a child, which was a rebuke to Jacob, for making so great a difference betweenthose that he was equally related to,—a check to Rachel, who perhaps insulted over her sister uponthat account,—and a comfort to Leah, that she might not be overwhelmed with the contempt putupon her: thus God giveth abundant honour to that which lacked, 1 Cor. xii. 24. 2. The names shegave her children were expressive of her respectful regards both to God and to her husband. (1.)She appears very ambitious of her husband's love: she reckoned the want of it her affliction (v. 32);not upbraiding him with it as his fault, nor reproaching him for it, and so making herself uneasy tohim, but laying it to heart as her grief, which yet she had reason to bear with the more patiencebecause she herself was consenting to the fraud by which she became his wife; and we may wellbear that trouble with patience which we bring upon ourselves by our own sin and folly. Shepromised herself that the children she bore him would gain her the interest she desired in hisaffections. She called her first-born Reuben (see a son), with this pleasant thought, Now will myhusband love me; and her third son Levi (joined), with this expectation, Now will my husband byjoined unto me, v. 34. Mutual affection is both the duty and comfort of that relation; and yoke-fellowsshould study to recommend themselves to each other, 1 Cor. vii. 33, 34. (2.) She thankfullyacknowledges the kind providence of God in it: The Lord hath looked upon my affliction, v. 32."The Lord hath heard, that is, taken notice of it, that I was hated (for our afflictions, as they arebefore God's eyes, so they have a cry in his ears), he has therefore given me this son." Note, Whateverwe have that contributes either to our support and comfort under our afflictions or to our deliverancefrom them, God must be owned in it, especially his pity and tender mercy. Her fourth she calledJudah (praise), saying, Now will I praise the Lord, v. 35. And this was he of whom, as concerningthe flesh, Christ came. Note, [1.] Whatever is the matter of our rejoicing ought to be the matter of266Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume I (Genesis to Matthew HenryDeuteronomy)our thanksgiving. Fresh favours should quicken us to praise God for former favours. Now will Ipraise the Lord more and better than I have done. [2.] All our praises must centre in Christ, bothas the matter of them and as the Mediator of them. He descended from him whose name was praise,for he is our praise. Is Christ formed in my heart? Now will I praise the Lord.178 G E N E S I SCHAP. XXX.In this chapter we have an account of the increase, I. Of Jacob's family. Eight children morewe find registered in this chapter; Dan and Naphtali by Bilhah, Rachel's maid, ver. 1-8. Gad andAsher by Zilpah, Leah's maid, ver. 9-13. Issachar, Zebulun, and Dinah, by Leah, ver. 14-21. And,last of all, Joseph, by Rachel, ver. 22-24. II. Of Jacob's estate. He makes a new bargain with Laban,ver. 25-34. And in the six years' further service he did to Laban God wonderfully blessed him, sothat his stock of cattle became very considerable, ver. 35-43. Herein was fulfilled the blessing withwhich Isaac dismissed him (ch. xxviii. 3), "God make thee fruitful, and multiply thee." Even thesesmall matters concerning Jacob's house and field, though they seem inconsiderable, are improvablefor our learning. For the scriptures were written, not for princes and statesmen, to instruct them inpolitics; but for all people, even the meanest, to direct them in their families and callings: yet somethings are here recorded concerning Jacob, not for imitation, but for admonition.Increase of Jacob's Family. (b. c. 1745.)1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister;and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 2 And Jacob's anger waskindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God's stead, who hath withheld fromthee the fruit of the womb? 3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in untoher; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. 4 Andshe gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. 5 AndBilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me,and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his nameDan. 7 And Bilhah Rachel's maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son.8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I haveprevailed: and she called his name Na