John Lord.

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Abraham the spiritual father of nations
General forgetfulness of God when Abraham arose
Civilization in his age
Ancestors of Abram
His settlement in Haran
His moral courage
The call of Abram
His migrations
The Canaanites
Abram in Egypt
Separation between Abram and Lot
Abram covenants with God
The mission of the Hebrews
The faith of Abram
Its peculiarities
Trials of faith
God's covenant with Abram
The sacrifice of Isaac
Paternal rights among Oriental nations
Universality of sacrifice
Had Abram a right to sacrifice Isaac?
Supreme test of his faith
His obedience to God
His righteousness
Supremacy of religious faith
Abraham's defects
The most favored of mortals
The boons he bestowed



Early days of Joseph
Envy of his brethren
Sale of Joseph
Its providential results
Fortunes of Joseph in Egypt
The imprisonment of Joseph
Favor with the king
Joseph prime minister
The Shepherd kings
The service of Joseph to the king
Famine in Egypt
Power of Pharaoh
Power of the priests
Character of the priests
Knowledge of the priests
Teachings of the priests
Egyptian gods
Antiquity of sacrifices
Civilization of Egypt
Initiation of Joseph in Egyptian knowledge
Austerity to his brethren
Grief of Jacob
Severity of the famine in Canaan
Jacob allows the departure of Benjamin
Joseph's partiality to Benjamin
His continued austerity to his brethren
Joseph at length reveals himself
The kindness of Pharaoh
Israel in Egypt
Prosperity of the Israelites
Old age of Jacob
His blessing to Joseph's sons
Jacob's predictions
Death of Jacob
Death of Joseph
Character of Joseph
Condition of the Israelites in Egypt
Rameses the Great
Acquisitions of the Israelites in Egypt
Influence of Egyptian civilization on the Israelites



Exalted mission of Moses
His appearance at a great crisis
His early advantages and education
His premature ambition
His retirement to the wilderness
Description of the land of Midian
Studies and meditations of Moses
The Book of Genesis
Call of Moses and return to Egypt
Appearance before Pharaoh
Miraculous deliverance of the Israelites
Their sojourn in the wilderness
The labors of Moses
His Moral Code
Universality of the obligations
General acceptance of the Ten Commandments
The foundation of the ritualistic laws
Utility of ritualism in certain states of society
Immortality seemingly ignored
The possible reason of Moses
Its relation to the religion of Egypt
The Civil Code of Moses
Reasons for the isolation of the Israelites
The wisdom of the Civil Code
Source of the wisdom of Moses
The divine legation of Moses
Logical consequences of its denial
General character of Moses
His last days
His influence



Condition of the Israelites on the death of Joshua
The Judges
Birth and youth of Samuel
The Jewish Theocracy
Eli and his sons
Samuel called to be judge
His efforts to rekindle religious life
The school of the prophets
The people want a king
Views of Samuel as to a change of government
He tells the people the consequences
Persistency of the Israelites
Condition of the nation
Saul privately anointed king
Clothed with regal power
Mistakes and wars of Saul
Spares Agag
Rebuked by Samuel
Samuel withdraws into retirement
Seeks a successor to Saul
Jehovah indicates the selection of David
Saul becomes proud and jealous
His wars with the Philistines
Great victory at Michmash
Death of Samuel
Universal mourning
His character as Prophet
His moral greatness
His transcendent influence



David as an historical study
Early days of David
His accomplishments
His connection with Saul
His love for Jonathan
Death of Saul
David becomes king
Death of Abner
David generally recognized as king
Makes Jerusalem his capital
Alliance with Hiram
Transfer of the Sacred Ark
Folly of David's Wife
Organization of the kingdom
Joab Commander-in-chief of the army
The court of David
His polygamy
War with Moab
War with the Ammonites
Conquest of the Edomites
David's shame and repentance
Edward Irving on David's fall
Its causes
Census of the people
Why this was a folly
Wickedness of David's children
Alienation of David's subjects
The famine in Judah
Revolt of Sheba
Adonijah seeks to steal the sceptre
Troubles and trials of David
Preparation for building the Temple
David's wealth
His premature old age
Absalom's rebellion and death
David's final labors
His character as a man and a monarch
Why he was a man after God's own heart
David's services
His Psalms
Their mighty influence



Early years of Solomon
His first acts as monarch
The prosperity of his kingdom
Glory of Solomon
His mistakes
His marriage with an Egyptian princess
His harem
Building of the Temple
Its magnificence
The treasures accumulated in it
Its dedication
The sacrifices in its honor
Extraordinary celebration of the Festivals
The royal palace in Jerusalem
The royal palace on Mount Lebanon
Excessive taxation of the people
Forced labor
Change of habits and pursuits
Solomon's effeminacy and luxury
His unpopularity
His latter days of shame
His death
Influence of his reign
His writings
Their great value
The Canticles
The Proverbs
Praises of wisdom and knowledge
Ecclesiastes contrasted with Proverbs
Cynicism of Ecclesiastes
Hidden meaning of the book
The writing of Solomon rich in moral wisdom
His wisdom confirmed by experience
Lessons to be learned by the career of Solomon



Evil days fall on Israel
Division of the kingdom under Rehoboam
Jeroboam of Israel sets up golden calves
Other innovations
Egypt attacks Jerusalem
City saved only by immense contribution
Interest centres in the northern kingdom
Ruled by bad kings
Given to idolatry under Ahab
Influence of Jezebel
The priests of Baal
The apostasy of Israel
The prophet Elijah
His extraordinary appearance
Appears before Ahab
Announces calamities
Flight of Elijah
The drought
The woman of Zarephath
Shields and feeds Elijah
He restores her son to life
Miseries of the drought
Elijah confronts Ahab
Assembly of the people at Mount Carmel
Presentation of choice between Jehovah and Baal
Elijah mocks the priests of Baal
Triumphs, and slays them
Elijah promises rain
The tempest
Ahab seeks Jezebel
She threatens Elijah in her wrath
Second flight of Elijah
His weakness and fear
The still small voice
Selection of Elisha to be prophet
He becomes the companion of Elijah
Character and appearance of Elisha
War between Ahab and Benhadad
Naboth and his vineyard
Chagrin and melancholy of Ahab
Wickedness and cunning of Jezebel
Murder of Naboth
Dreadful rebuke of Elijah
Despair of Ahab
Athaliah and Jehoshaphat
Death of Ahab
Regency of Jezebel
Ahaziah and Elijah
Fall of Ramoth-Gilead
Reaction to idolatry
Death of Jezebel
Death of Ahaziah
The massacres and reforms of Jehu
Extermination of idolatry
Last days of Elijah
His translation



Superiority of Judah to Israel
A succession of virtuous princes
Syrian wars
The prophet Joel
Outward prosperity of the kingdom of Judah
Internal decay
Assyrian conquests
Fall of Damascus
Fall of Samaria
Demoralization of Jerusalem
Birth of Isaiah
His exalted character
Invasion of Judah by the Assyrians
Hezekiah submits to Sennacherib
Rebels anew
Renewed invasion of Judah
Signal deliverance
The warnings and preaching of Isaiah
His terrible denunciations of sin
Retribution the spirit of his preaching
Holding out hope by repentance
Absence of art in his writings
National wickedness ending in calamities
God's moral government
Isaiah's predictions fulfilled
Woes denounced on Judah
Fall of Babylon foretold
Predicted woes of Moab
Woes denounced on Egypt
Calamities of Tyre
General predictions of woe on other nations
End and purpose of chastisements
Isaiah the Prophet of Hope
The promised glories of the Chosen People
Messianic promises
Exultation of Isaiah
His catholicity
The promised reign of peace
The future glories of the righteous
Glad tidings declared to the whole world
Messianic triumphs



Sadness and greatness of Jeremiah
Second as a prophet only to Isaiah
Jeremiah the Prophet of Despair
Evil days in which he was born
National misfortunes predicted
Idolatry the crying sin of the times
Discovery of the Book of Deuteronomy
Renewed study of the Law
The reforms of Josiah
The greatness of Josiah
Inability to stem prevailing wickedness
Incompleteness of Josiah's reforms
Necho II. extends his conquests
Death of Josiah
Lamentations on the death of Josiah
Rapid decline of the kingdom
The voice of Jeremiah drowned
Invasion of Assyria by Necho
Shallum succeeds Josiah
Eliakim succeeds Shallum
His follies
Judah's relapse into idolatry
Neglect of the Sabbath
Jeremiah announces approaching calamity
His voice unheeded
His despondency
Fall of Nineveh
Defeat and retreat of Necho
Greatness of Nebuchadnezzar
Appears before Jerusalem
Fall of Jerusalem, but destruction delayed
Folly and infatuation of the people of Jerusalem
Revolt of the city
Zedekiah the king temporizes
Expostulations of Jeremiah
Nebuchadnezzar loses patience
Second fall of Jerusalem
The captivity
Weeping by the river of Babylon



Eventful career of Judas Maccabaeus
Condition of the Jews after their return from Babylon
Condition of Jerusalem
Fanatical hatred of idolatry
Severe morality of the Jews after the captivity
The Pharisees
The Sadducees
Synagogues, their number and popularity
The Jewish Sanhedrim
Advance in sacred literature
Apocryphal Books
Isolation of the Jews
Dark age of Jewish history
Power of the high priests
The Persian Empire
Judaea a province of the Persian Empire
Jews at Alexandria
Judaea the battle-ground of Egyptians and Syrians
The Syrian kings
Antiochus Epiphanes
His persecution of the Jews
Helplessness of the Jews
Sack of Jerusalem
Desecration of the Temple
His piety and bravery
Revolt of Mattathias
Slaughter of the Jews
Death of Mattathias
His gallant sons
Judas Maccabaeus
His military genius
The Syrian generals
Wrath of Antiochus
Desolation of Jerusalem
Judas defeats the Syrian general
Judas cleanses and dedicates the Temple
Fortifies Jerusalem
The Feast of Dedication
Renewed hostilities
Successes of Judas
Death of Antiochus
Deliverance of the Jews
Rivalry between Lysias and Philip
Death of Eleazer
Embassy to Rome
Death of Judas Maccabaeus
Judas succeeded by his brother Jonathan
Heroism of Jonathan
His death by treachery
Jonathan succeeded by his brother Simon
Simon's military successes
His prosperous administration
Succeeded by John Hyrcanus
The great talents and success of John Hyrcanus
The Asmonean princes
Pompey takes Jerusalem
Accession of Herod the Great
He destroys the Asmonean princes
His prosperous reign
Foundation of Caesarea
Latter days of Herod
Loathsome death of Herod
Birth of Jesus, the Christ



Birth and early days of Saul
His Phariseeism
His persecution of the Christians
His wonderful conversion
His leading idea
Saul a preacher at Damascus
Saul's visit to Jerusalem
Saul in Tarsus
Saul and Barnabas at Antioch
Description of Antioch
Contribution of the churches for Jerusalem
Saul and Barnabas at Jerusalem
Labors and discouragements
Saul and Barnabas at Cyprus
Saul smites Elymas the sorcerer
Missionary travels of Paul
Paul converts Timothy
Paul at Lystra and Derbe
Return of Paul to Antioch
Controversy about circumcision
Bigotry of the Jewish converts
Paul again visits Jerusalem
Paul and Barnabas quarrel
Paul chooses Silas for a companion
Paul and Silas visit the infant churches
Tact of Paul
Paul and Luke
The missionaries at Philippi
Paul and Silas at Thessalonica
Paul at Athens
Character of the Athenians
The success of Paul at Athens
Paul goes to Corinth
Paul led before Gallio
Mistake of Gallio
Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians
Paul at Ephesus
The Temple of Diana
Excessive labors of Paul at Ephesus
Paul's first Epistle to the Corinthians
Popularity of Apollos
Second Epistle to the Corinthians
Paul again at Corinth
Epistles to the Galatians and to the Romans
The Pauline theology
Paul's last visit to Jerusalem
His cold reception
His arrest and imprisonment
The trial of Paul before Felix
Character of Felix
Paul kept a prisoner by Felix
Paul's defence before Festus
Paul appeals to Caesar
Paul preaches before Agrippa
His voyage to Italy
Paul's life at Rome
Character of Paul
His magnificent services
His triumphant death



The Wailing Wall of the Jews
_After the painting by J.L. Gerome_.

Abraham and Hagar
_After the painting by Adrian van der Werff_.

Joseph Sold by His Brethren.
_After the painting by H.F. Schopin_.

Erection of Public Building in the Time of Rameses
_After the painting by Sir Edward J. Poynter_.

Pharaoh Pursues the Israelites Across the Red Sea
_After the painting by F.A. Bridgman_.

_From the statue by Michael Angelo, Rome_.

David Kills Goliath
_After the painting by W.L. Dodge_.

_From the statue by Michael Angelo, Florence_.

Elijah's Sacrifice Consumed by Fire from Heaven
_After the painting by C.G. Pfannschmidt_.

_From the fresco in the Sistine Chapel, by Michael Angelo_.

A Sacrifice to Baal
_After the painting by Henri Motte_.

The Jews Led Into Babylonian Captivity
_After the painting by E. Bendeman_.

St. Paul Preaching at the Foot of the Acropolis
_After the painting by Gebhart F├╝gel_.



From a religious point of view, Abraham appears to us, after the lapse
of nearly four thousand years, as the most august character in history.
He may not have had the genius and learning of Moses, nor his executive
ability; but as a religious thinker, inspired to restore faith in the
world and the worship of the One God, it would be difficult to find a
man more favored or more successful. He is the spiritual father equally
of Jews, Christians, and Mohammedans, in their warfare with idolatry. In
this sense, he is the spiritual progenitor of all those nations, tribes,
and peoples who now acknowledge, or who may hereafter acknowledge, a
personal God, supreme and eternal in the universe which He created.
Abraham is the religious father of all those who associate with this
personal and supreme Deity a providential oversight of this world, - a
being whom all are required to worship, and alone to worship, as the
only true God whose right it is to reign, and who does reign, and will
reign forever and ever over everything that exists, animate or
inanimate, visible or invisible, known or unknown, in the mighty
universe of whose glory and grandeur we have such overwhelming yet
indefinite conceptions.

When Abraham appeared, whether four thousand or five thousand years ago,
for chronologists differ in their calculations, it would seem that the
nations then existing had forgotten or ignored this great cardinal and
fundamental truth, and were more or less given to idolatry, worshipping
the heavenly bodies, or the forces of Nature, or animals, or heroes, or
graven images, or their own ancestors. There were but few and feeble
remains of the primitive revelation, - that is, the faith cherished by
the patriarchs before the flood, and which it would be natural to
suppose Noah himself had taught to his children.

There was even then, however, a remarkable material civilization,
especially in Egypt, Palestine, and Babylon; for some of the pyramids
had been built, the use of the metals, of weights and measures, and of
textile fabrics was known. There were also cities and fortresses,
cornfields and vineyards, agricultural implements and weapons of war,
commerce and arts, musical instruments, golden vessels, ornaments for
the person, purple dyes, spices, hand-made pottery, stone-engravings,
sundials, and glass-work, and even the use of letters, or something
similar, possibly transmitted from the antediluvian civilization. Even
the art of printing was almost discovered, as we may infer from the
stamping of letters on tiles. With all this material progress, however,
there had been a steady decline in spiritual religion as well as in
morals, - from which fact we infer that men if left to themselves,
whatever truth they may receive from ancestors, will, without
supernatural influences, constantly decline in those virtues on which
the strength of man is built, and without which the proudest triumphs of
the intellect avail nothing. The grandest civilization, in its material
aspects, may coexist with the utmost debasement of morals, - as seen
among the Greeks and Romans, and in the wicked capitals of modern
Europe. "There is no God!" or "Let there be no God!" has been the cry in
all ages of the world, whenever and wherever an impious pride or a low
morality has defied or silenced conscience. Tell me, ye rationalists and
agnostics! with your pagan sympathies, what mean ye by laws of
development, and by the _necessary_ progress of the human race, except
in the triumphs of that kind of knowledge which is entirely disconnected
with virtue, and which has proved powerless to prevent the decline and
fall of nations? Why did not art, science, philosophy, and literature
save the most lauded nations of the ancient world? Why so rapid a
degeneracy among people favored not only with a primitive revelation,
but by splendid triumphs of reason and knowledge? Why did gross
superstition so speedily obscure the intellect, and infamous vices so
soon undermine the moral health, if man can elevate himself by his
unaided strength? Why did error seemingly prove as vital as truth in all
the varied forms of civilization in the ancient world? Why did even
tradition fail to keep alive the knowledge of God, at least among
the people?

Now, among pagans and idolaters Abram (as he was originally called)
lived until he was seventy-five. His father, Terah, was a descendant of
Shem, of the eleventh generation, and the original seat of his tribe was
among the mountains of Southern Armenia, north of Assyria. From thence
Terah migrated to the plains of Mesopotamia, probably with the desire to
share the rich pastures of the lowlands, and settled in Ur of the
Chaldeans. Ur was one of the most ancient of the Chaldean cities and one
of the most splendid, where arts and sciences were cultivated, where
astronomers watched the heavens, poets composed hymns, and scribes
stamped on clay tablets books which, according to Geikie, have in part
come down to our own times. It was in this pagan city that Abram was
born, and lived until the "call." His father was a worshipper of the
tutelary gods of his tribe, of which he was the head; but his idolatry
was not so degrading as that of the Chaldeans, who belonged to a
different race from his own, being the descendants of Ham, among whom
the arts and sciences had made considerable progress, - as was natural,
since what we call civilization arose, it is generally supposed, in the
powerful monarchies founded by Assyrian and Egyptian warriors, although
it is claimed that both China and India were also great empires at this
period. With the growth of cities and the power of kings idolatry
increased, and the knowledge of the true God declined. From such
influences it was necessary that Abram should be removed if he was to
found a nation with a monotheistic belief. So, in obedience to a call
from God, he left the city of his birthplace, and went toward the land
of Canaan and settled in Haran, where he remained until the death of his
father, who it seems had accompanied him in his wanderings, but was
probably too infirm to continue the fatiguing journey. Abram, now the
head of his tribe and doubtless a powerful chieftain, received another
call, and with it the promise that he should be the founder of a great
nation, and that in him all the families of the earth should be blessed.

What was that call, coupled with such a magnificent and cheering
promise? It was the voice of God commanding Abram to leave country and
kindred and go to a country utterly unknown to him, not even indicated
to him, but which in due time should be revealed to him. He is not
called to repudiate idolatry, but by divine command to go to an unknown
country. He must have been already a believer in the One Supreme God, or
he would not have felt the command to be imperative. Unless his belief
had been monotheistic, we must attribute to him a marvellous genius and
striking originality of mind, together with an independence of character
still more remarkable; for it requires not only original genius to soar
beyond popular superstitions, but also great force of will and lofty
intrepidity to break away from them, - as when Buddha renounced
Brahmanism, or Socrates ridiculed the Sophists of Attica. Nothing
requires more moral courage than the renunciation of a popular and
generally received religious belief. It was a hard struggle for Luther
to give up the ideas of the Middle Ages in reference to self-expiation.
It is exceedingly rare for any one to be emancipated from the tyranny of
prevailing dogmas.

So, if Abram was not divinely instructed in a way that implies
supernatural illumination, he must have been the most remarkable sage of
all antiquity to found a religion never abrogated by succeeding
revelations, which has lasted from his time to ours, and is to-day
embraced by so large a part of the human race, including Christians,
Mohammedans, and Jews. Abram must have been more gifted than the whole
school of Ionian philosophers united, from Thales downward, since after
three hundred years of speculation and lofty inquiries they only arrived
at the truth that the being who controls the universe must be
intelligent. Even Socrates, Plato, and Cicero - the most gifted men of
classical antiquity - had very indefinite notions of the unity and
personality of God, while Abram distinctly recognized this great truth
even amid universal idolatry and a degrading polytheism.

Yet the Bible recognizes in Abram moral rather than intellectual
greatness. He was distinguished for his faith, and a faith so exalted
and pure that it was accounted unto him for righteousness. His faith in
God was so profound that it was followed by unhesitating obedience to
God's commands. He was ready to go wherever he was sent, instantly,
without conditions or remonstrance.

In obedience to the divine voice then, Abram, after the death of his
father Terah, passed through the land of Canaan unto Sichem, or Shechem,
afterward a city of Samaria. He then went still farther south, and
pitched his tent on a mountain having Bethel on the west and Hai on the
east, and there he built an altar unto the Lord. After this it would
appear that he proceeded still farther to the south, probably near the
northern part of Idumaea.

Wherever Abram journeyed he found the Canaanites - descendants of
Ham - petty tribes or nations, governed by kings no more powerful than
himself. They are supposed in their invasions to have conquered the
aboriginal inhabitants, whose remote origin is veiled in impenetrable
obscurity, but who retained some principles of the primitive religion.
It is even possible that Melchizedek, the unconquered King of Salem, who
blessed Abram, belonged to those original people who were of Semitic
origin. Nevertheless the Canaanites, or Hametic tribes, were at this
time the dominant inhabitants.

Of these tribes or nations the Sidonians, or Phoenicians, were the most
powerful. Next to them, according to Ewald, "were three nations living
toward the South, - the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites; then
two in the most northerly country conquered by Israel, - the Girgashites
and the Hivites; then four in Phoenicia; and lastly, the most northern
of all, the well known kingdom of Hamath on the Orontes." The Jebusites
occupied the country around Jerusalem; the Amorites also dwelt in the
mountainous regions, and were warlike and savage, like the ancient

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Online LibraryJohn LordBeacon Lights of History, Volume 02 Jewish Heroes and Prophets → online text (page 1 of 23)