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12. The Call of Abram

Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4So 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. 5And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

6And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. 8And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord. 9And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

10And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. 11And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 12Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.

14And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. 15The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. 17And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife. 18And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. 20And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

8. And he removed from thence. When we hear that Abram moved from the place where he had built an altar to God, we ought not to doubt that he was, by some necessity, compelled to do so. He there found the inhabitants unpropitious; and therefore transfers his tabernacle elsewhere. But if Abram bore his continual wanderings patiently, our fastidiousness is utterly inexcusable, when we murmur against God, if he does not grant us a quiet nest. Certainly, when Christ has opened heaven to us, and daily invites us thither to dwell with himself; we should not take it amiss, if he chooses that we should be strangers in the world. The sum of the passage is this, that Abram was without a settled residence:347347     Αστατόυμενος which title Paul assigns to Christians, (1Corinthians 4:11.) Moreover, there is a manifest prolepsis in the word Bethel; for Moses gives the place this name, to accommodate his discourse to the men of his own age.

And there he builded an altar. Moses commends in Abram his unwearied devotedness to piety: for by these words, he intimates, that whatever place he visited, he there exercised himself in the external worship of God; both that he might have no religious rites in common with the wicked, and that he might retain his family in sincere piety. And it is probable, that, from this cause, he would be the object of no little enmity; because there is nothing which more enrages the wicked, than religion different from their own, in which they conceive themselves to be not only despised, but altogether condemned as blind. And we know that the Canaanites were cruel and proud, and too ready to avenge insults. This was perhaps the reason of Abram’s frequent removals: that his neighbors regarded the altars which he built, as a reproach to themselves. It ought indeed to be referred to the wonderful favor of God, that he was not often stoned. Nevertheless, since the holy man knows that he is justly required to bear testimony that he has a God peculiarly his own, whom he must not, by dissimulation, virtually deny,348348     Ut testetur se peculiarem habere Deum.” — “Qu’il testife avoir un autre Dieu que celui qui estoit la adore:” to testify that he has another God than that which was there adored. — French Tr he therefore does not hesitate to prefer the glory of God to his own life.

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