James Comper Gray.

The Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 1) online

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with his
dying- father

a Ge. xxviii. 19;
! XXXV. 6, 9.
I " Friend to the
j wretch whom
; every f nend for-
jsr, kes, 1 woo
I thee Death!
I Life find its joys
I leave to those
that prize tbem.
Hear me, O gra-
cious God ! At
Thy good time let
Death apiToach;
I reck not, let him
ineform, not with
Thy vengeance
armed, too much
for man to bear."
— Hp. Porteus.
" All that rature
has prescribed
must be good ;
and as death is
natural to us it is
a^'^urdity to fetMF
It."— Steele.



[Cap. xlviii. 5-11.

B.C. cir. 16S9.
I H. Vf. Beecher.

Jacob adopts
the sons of

• Jo£. xiiL7; xiv^.

h Dr. Lange.

"There is not a
more repulsive
epectacle thauan
old man who will
not forsake the
world, w^iieh has
alrea ly forsaken
him:'— Tholuck.

"I Ihir.k that to
have known one
good old man-
one man who,
through the
chancea and mis-
chances of along
life, has carried
his hoart in his
hand, like a
palm -branch,
waving all dis-
cords into peace
— helps our faith
in God, in our-
selves, and in
each other more
than many ser-
mons." — G. W.

"There is nothing
more disgraceful
than that an old
m n -hunkl have
nothing to pro-
duce as a proof
that he has lived
long except his
years." — Seneca.

e Rogers.

and proposes
to bless them'

"O, the eyes'
light is a noble
gift of heaven I
All beings 'ive
from li^ht: each
fair created
thing, the very
plants, turn with
ajoyful transport
to ihe light." —

" Sight is by
much the noblest
of the senses.
Wo receive our

hig:lier and transcendent experiences, that seem not to have come
from natural causes, but to have been let down from above by
Divine inspiration.^

5—7. (5) mine, as if lit. so. as . . mine," shall share
equally with my own children in patrimonial rights. (6)
issue . . thine, if Joseph had any we do not hear of it. (7)
Rachel, etc., the old man recounts to his son the story of his
mother's death and burial.

The settlement of the birthright in Israel (v. 5.) — Settled — I.
In correspondence with the facts, or the diverse gifts of God.
II. As a prevention of envy on the one side, or of pride on the
other. III. As an indication of the Divine source of the true, or
spiritual birthright. IV. As a preparation for the universal
priesthood of the people of God.*
Age rejoicing with youth. —

" Stamped with its signet, that ingennons brow,
And 'mid his old hereditary trees,
Trees he has climbed so oft, he sits and sees
His children's children playing round his knees.
Then happiest, youngest, when the quoit is flung',
When side by side the archers' bows are strung :
His to prescribe the place, adjudge the prize,
Envying no more the young their energies
Than they an old man, when his words are wise;
His a delight how pure, wdthout alloy :
Strong in their strength, rejoicing in their joy 1
Now in their turn assisting, they repay
The anxious cares of many and many a day;
And now by those he loves relieved, restored,
His very wants and weaknesses afford
A feeling of enjoyment. In his walks,
Leaning on them, how oft he stops and talks,
While they look up 1 Their questions, their repliei^
Fresh as the welling waters, round him rise,
Gladdening his spirit : and, his theme the past.
How eloquent he is ! His thoughts flow fast :
And while his heart (oh, can the heart grow old f
False are the tales that in the world are told 1)
Swells in his voice, he knows not where to end ;
Like one discoursing of an absent friend."*'

8 — 11. (8) behold, as he was blind this prob. means that he
understood others to be present. (9) bring" . . them, did this
remind Jacob of the time when he obtained the blessing fr. his
blind father. (10) dim . . see, but the inner man was full of
light. (11) and lo, etc., God is better to us than our hopes.

Ancient aids to vision. — Cicero said that he had seen the entire
Iliad, which is a poem as large as the New Testament, written
on skin so that it could be rolled up in the compass of a nutshell.
Now, this is imperceptible to the ordinary eye. Very recently
the whole contents of a London newspaper were photographed
on a paper half as long as the hand. It was put under a dove's
wing and sent into Paris, where they enlarged it and read the
news. This copy of the Iliad must have been made by some
such process. Pliny says that Nero, the tyrant, had a ring with
a gem in it wMch he looked through and watched the sword

Cap. xlviii. 12—14.]



play of the gladiators more clearly than with the naked eye. So
Nero had an opera glass. Mauritius, the Italian, stood on the
promontory of his island, and could sweep over the entire sea to
the coast of Africa with his naiisenjJitc, which is a word derived
from two Greek words, meaning- to see a ship. Evidently
Mauritius, who was a pirate, had a marine telescope. The
sig-net of a ring" in Dr. Abbott's museum, said to belong to
Cheops, who lived five hundred years before Christ, is about the
size of a quarter of a dollar, and the engraving is invisible with-
out the aid of glasses. In Parma is shown a gem once worn on
the finger of Michael Angelo, of which the engraving is two
thousand years old, in which there are the figures of seven
women. A glass is needed to distinguish the forms at all.
Layard says he would be unable to read the engravings on
Nineveh without sti'ong spectacles, they are so extremely small.
Bawlinson brought home a stone about twenty inches long and
ten wide, containing an entire treatise on mathematics. It
would be perfectly illegible without glasses. Now, if we are
unable to read it without the aid of glasses, you may suppose
that the man who engraved it had pretty strong spectacles. So,
the microscope, instead of dating from our time, finds its brothers
in the Books of Moses.<»

12 — 14. (12) brougM . .knees, {.^.Jacob's, he . . earth,
in respect to his father, and in reverence to the blessing. (13)
Ephraim . . him, the eldest son to Jacob's right hand. Joseph
assigned them to their proper places as the adopted sons of
Jacob, giving to Manasseh his proper place as the eldest. (14)
stretched . . head, passing Ej)hraim. left . . head, crossing
the other hand, -witting-ly, knowingly, intentionally, for . ,
born, therefore a strange act but with a purpose.

The blessing of Jaeoh as given to Ephraim and ManasseTi (v. 14).
— I. The nanies. II. The fulness. III. The certainty. — Lange. —
The precedence of Ephraim (v. 14). — How God sometimes prefers
the younger to the elder, we may see in the case of Shem pre-
ferred to Japheth, in the case of Isaac who was preferred to
Ishmael, of Jacob who was preferred to Esau, of Judah and
Joseph who were preferred to Reuben, of Moses who was pre-
ferred to Aaron, and, finally, of David who was preferred to aU
his brethren."

Laying 07i of hands. — Imposition of hands was a Jewish cere-
mony, introduced, not by any Divine authority, but by custom ;
it weing the practice among those people whenever they } rayed
to God for any person, to lay their hands on his head ; it was
also employed as a mark of favour. The right hand was re-
garded as the more honourable of the two ; thus, when Jacob
laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it was expressive
of what he designed. The priests attended to the same practice
when anyone was received into their body. The form of blessing
the people used by Aaron and his sons is recorded, Numb. vi.
23 — 27. 3Iaimomdes says that " The priests go up into the desk
after they have finished the morning daily service, and lift up
their hands above, over their heads ; except the high priest, who
does not lift up his hands above the plate of gold on his fore-
head ; and one pronounces the blessings word for word." Our
Saviour observed the same custom when conferring His blessing
on children, but when healing the sick, sometimes added pi-ayers


B.C. 1GS9.

notices from 1h«
other four,
through the or-
gans of sensation
only "We hear,
we feel, we smell,
we taste, by
touch. Put sight
rises JnCnitely
higher. It is re-
fined above mat-
ter, ai d equals
the faculty of
h^iiiiy— Sterne.

" The balls of
sight are so
formed that ore
man's eyes are
spe tacles to an-
other to read hia
heart with." —

a 0. W. Eolnm.

brings his
sons to Jacob
a Starcke.

" Notwithetand -
ing the precau-
tion Joseph took,
Jacob designed-
ly shifted hia
hands, so as to
confer the
greater honour
on the younger
son." — Philipp-

'God, from
whom the Mess-
ing proceeded,
directed him in
this case to
cross hands.
Nor is this the
only instance in
which the order
of nature la
made to give
way to that of
grace ; for of this
Jacob himself
had been an ex-
ample." — A. Ful-

"We, like Jo-
seph, are for seS
tirg Manasseh
before Ephraim ;
but God, like
Jacob, puts Hia
hands across,
and lays Hia
right hand upon
the worst man's
head, aad Hil



tCap.xlviii. 15-lS.

B.C. 16S9.

Ipffc hand upon
the best, to the
wonder and
aiuazeaieot even
oi' the t'cst of
men" — B.-m^an.
b Bibl. Tieas.



to the ceremony. The Apostles likewise laid lia.nds on tliosQ
upon wliom they bestowed the Holy Ghost ; and th\ y themselvea
underwent the imposition of hands afresh, when c\itering- upon
any new design. In the ancient church, imposition of hands
was even practised on persons when they married, and the same
custom is still observed by the Abyssinians.^

15—18. (15) he . . Joseph., in blessing- his sons. God . .

day,« ///. who acted as the sheiiherd towards me, feeding- and

leading-. (16) ang-el . . evil,^ the Ang-el of the covenant, let

. . them, let them be called by my name.'^ let . . earth, Ut.

... let them multiplv like fish.'* (17) displeased, men often dis-

pleased with what they do not understand, held , . head, aa
men sometimes think to improve upon the Divine will. (IS)
put . . head, he perh. thought that through blindness his father
had made a mistake.

Jacob's ackno7vled(i merit af the B'tvine care, and Messing Ms
grandchildren, recommended to the imitation of aged Christimis
(v. 15). — We shall — I. Illustrate the words of the text. Here
are two things observable. 1. Jacob's recollection and acknow-
ledgment of the Divine goodness and care. He acknowledges
God as the God of His pious ancestors, and as his own constant
preserver and benefactor ; 2. His prayer for his grandchildren.
^^^g^^° ^^ I He blessed Joseph ; either himself, beside his children, or in his
the "time of i children. II. Consider what lessons of instruction aged Chris-
Jloses to 85,-200, 1 tians may draw from them. It is their duty — 1, To recollect
a number /^«r-|and acknowledge their long experience of God's goodness and
rasMUfr la o ^^^.^ Acknowledge His goodness in providing a supply for all
your wants, and in raising you up friends. Such a course will
— (1) Promote and cherish your gratitude to God ; (2) Tend to
prevent your murmuring under the burdens and infirmities of
age; (3) Promote your continual activity in God's service; (4)
Encourage your prayers and your hope. 2. To bless and pray for
their descendants. This — (1) Is a becoming expression of your

Ma. vi. 31, 32; 1
Ti vi. 8.

b Ge. xvi. 7;
XXX ii. 24—30;
Mai iii. 1.

e " Considered as
my son s." —

d "The issue of
Joseph by his
two son


passing that
any of the rest
of the tribes." —
Nu. xxvii. 34, 37.

"May they be
worthy of hav-
ing their namf'S
coupled with my

^^r^^.'^'l'^ t^'^'^'i faith and trust in God. and regard for your children; (2) Will
of Abraham anal ,., , , , , . ^ . ^ .i • i . i

Israel." -/^aMa/^! he likely to make a good impression upon their hearts, and so

"May my name j qualify them for the Divine blessing : (8) Is the way to procure

be named ^.j^g Divine blessing for them, Eeflections : (1) Let children

through them,

desire and value the prayers and blessing of their aged, dying
parents ; (2) Let the children of good men labour to secure the
" A. proper se- blessing for themselves.*

crecy is the only Fecundity of fJshes.—Yi^Yi are the most prolific of all creatures,
mv stery of aule — . . -j ■ • . _ _ . ^ . _

men ; mysterv

the only secrecy
of weak and cud-
n i n g one s." —

e Job Orton.

V. 15. 18. D. 8.

M.A.,\. 20; /. P.
Hewlett, 3."i9; Dr.
C. ./. Vauyhan,
199 (1851).

Tills is, of course, more noticeable in some species than in
others, and is more obvious to our notice in the immense shoals
of herrings, pilchards, and mackerel, upon our owni shores.
Many other species are probably equally prolific : but not being
of gregarious habits, are not seen together in such vast numbers,
and are in consequence less easily taken. But any one who
attempts to estimate the number of eggs in the roes of various
kinds of fish may form some faint conception of the degree in
Deyjim, Obx n ^yj^ich the sea generates '- reptiles with spawn abundant." The
' ' ■ " ' "^' ' old microscopist, Leuwenhock, gave estimates which the mind
could scarcely grasp. The greater accuracy of modern research
has somewhat moderated his statements ; but enough remains to
fill the mind with astonishment. Thus, the roe of a codfish has
V 16 E. MUkr ^^6n found to contain nine millions of eggs : of a flounder,
844. * ' nearly a million and a half ; of a mackerel, half a million j <rf

Cap. Xlviii. 19—22.)



tenches, three liundred an3 fifty thousand ; of the carp, from one B.C. 1GS9.
to six hundred thousand ; of the roach and sole, a hundred
thousand; of herrings, perches, and smelts, twenty and thu't^ fDr.KUio,
thousand ; lobsters, from seven to twenty thousand ; shrimps
and prawns, above three thousand./"

19 — 22. (19) said, etc., i.e. this act is intentional, not acci-
dental or an error, lie . . great, i.e. Manasseh is not forgotten.
but . . nations, « he spoke with prophetic light. (20) set . .
Manasseh, assigning the pre-eminence to Ephraim. (21)
behold . . you,* earthly fathers die, the Heavenly Father lives.
bring- . . fathers, whither the earthly father cannot guide.
(22) g-iven . . brethren,*^ i.e. Josejjh had a double portion in
the persons of his sons, which. . . bow,"* inexplainable ; perh.
Jacob had to recover it after purchase by force of arms ; or by i
faith he realised the future conquest of Canaan. *"

Death eontenijdated (v. 21).— What do these words, "Behold, I
die," thus uttered, imply ? They imply — I. An absorbing crisis.
Death is an absorbing crisis, if you consider — 1. Its nature ; 2.
Its cause : it is the result of sin ; 3. Its consequences : at death, the
death of grace is over. II. An awakening consideration. "Behold."
That word suggests to us suitable preparation. In prospect, then,
of that amazing hour, we ought — 1 . To review our past lives ;
2. To realise our dying hour : 3. To think of our future prospects.*

Imperfectwii of lilstorij. — Nothing is more delusive, or at least
more wof ully imperfect, than the suggestions of authentic his-
tory, as it is generally, or rather universally, written ; and no-
thing more exaggerated than the impressions it conveys of the
actual state and condition of those who live in its most agitated
periods. The great public events of which alone it takes cogni-
sance, have but little direct influence ripon the body of the
people ; and do not, in general, form the principal business or
happiness or misery even of those who are in some measure con-
cerned in them. Even in the worst and most disastrous times —
in periods of 'civil war and revolution, and public discord and
oppression, a great part of the time of a great part of the people \ Sedgwick.
is spent in making love and money— in social amusement or pro-
fessional industry — in schemes for worldly advancement or per-
sonal distinction, just as in periods of general peace and
prosperity. Men court and "many very nearly as much in the
one season as in the other, and are as meny at weddings andj™*^° patnmouy
christenings — as gallant at balls and races — as busy in their i jjg®j^"^|.'^" ^l^^"
studies and counting-houses — eat as heartily, in short, and sleep' awe foreign
as soundly — prattle with their children as pleasantly — and thin j powers, they
their plantations and scold their servants as zealously, as if their ! ai'ouse and an^
contemporaries were not furnishing materials thus abundantly j ^e o p l^.''— H.
for the tragic muse of history. Tlie quiet under-current of life. ; ciay.
in short, keeps its deep and steady course in its eternal channel, j "National pro-
unaffected or bub elightly disturbed by the storms that agitate I gress is tlie sum
its surface ; and while long tracts of time, in the history of every I Sust"'^''"'e" er™^
country, seem to the distant student of its annals to be darkened janfi upr'ch^nelsl
over v.dth one thick and oppressive cloud of unbroken misery, i as national de-
the greater part of those who have lived through the whole actsi^^^^ /^ ^^'eness'
of the tragedy will be found to have enjoyed a fair ave-rage ! scia hnftKs.^^and
share of felicity, and to have been much less affected by the i vice."— *S. hmiies.
shocking events of their day, than those who know no'^ihing else e C. Ciayion, MJk
of it than that such events took place in its covu-se./ fJ\jfrey.

Ephraim and

aNu. i. S3, 35;
De. xxxiii. 17;
Ke. vii. 4.
b Ge. xxviii. 15;
xlvi. 4; De. xxiii.
14; Ge. 1. 24;De.
xxxi. 8; Josh,
xxiii. 14,

c\ Ch. V. 2; Ea.
xlvii. 13.

c?Ge. XV. 16; Ju.
xi. 20— :i3; Josh,
xvii. 14—18; Aoa.
ii. 9, 10.

"Talent and
worth are the
only eternal
grounds of dis-
tinction. To
these the Al-
mighty has af-
IJxed His ever-
lasting patent of
nobility. Know-
ledge and good-
ness, — thp,«
njake degrees ia
heaven, and they
must be the
graduating scale
of a true demo-
c racy." — Mist

A r at ion's cha-
racter i.s the sum
of its splendid
deeds ; they con-
stitute one com-



[Cap. xlxix. 1—7.

B.C. 1689.


blesses Ms
other sons

a He. i. I, 2 ; Am,
iii. 7; Nu. xxiv
14; Ac. u. 17.
6 Spk. Comm,
c " Tbe flg. is
taken fr. water I
;q a boiIiu» cal- |
dron, foaming i
and bursting
over its bomids."
— Knobel.
rfDe. xxvli. 20;
Ju. V. 15.
♦'The character-
istic peculiarity
of the founder of |
each tribe was to
find its reflectioa
in his posterity."
— Have/nick.
•' I hate to see
things done by-
halves. If it be
right, do it bold-
ly; if it be wrong,
lea-e it undone."
$ Spurgeon.
" There is noth-
ing more to be :
esteemed than a \
manly firmness j
and decision of i
character. I like j
a person who '
knows his own !
mind and sticks I
_to it ; who sees j
" at once what is |
to be done in
given circum-
stances, and does
f Roberts.


a Ge. xxxiT. 25 —

»N"u. xxvl. 14.

Simeon not men-
tioned in Moses"
blessing, De.
"xxxiii.; Nu. xviii.
23; Josh. xxi. 3.



1 — 4. (1) Jacob . . sons, by messengers, last days," "in

the future generally, but with special ref . to tinaes of Messiah." *
(2) gather . . Jacob, imagine the scene, hearken . . father,
a father's dying words, benediction and prophecy. (3) the . .
strength, i.e. the first-fruits of my vigour. (4) unstable as
water, <^ lit. thou boilest over like water, i.e. a man of sudden
passions, impetuous, thou . . excel, go beyond thy brethren in
power, because, etc.,<^ see xxxv. 22.

Instabxlify (v. 4). — I propose briefly to notice — I. The common
and unavoidable instabilities, which necessarily attach themselves
to the,best of Christians. How unstable are we in — 1 . Our frames
of mind ; 2. Our faith ; 3. Our love. II. The character of a
Christian who is noted for glaring instability ; but who, notwith-
standing, has sufficient of godliness to bid us hope that he is a
child of God. Such as he are "unstable as water" in— 1. Doc-
trine : they believe the last man they hear ; 2. All religious
enterprise ; 3. Their friendships ; 4. Their moral character. III.
The mere professor, who cannot excel in any way whatever. H'\
is the most pious, formalistic hypocrite all the world over. IV.
The Tinstable sinner, who makes no pretension of religion what-
ever. Let me remind him that though he makes no profession of
religion now, there was a time when he did.«

Tlie firstborn. — " It is generally believed that the firstborn
son is the strongest ; and he is always placed over his brethren.
To him the others must give great honour, and they must not sit
in his presence without his permission, and then only hch'ind
him. When the younger visits the elder, he goes with great
respect, and the conversation is soon closed. Should there be
anything of a particular nature, on which he desires the senti-
ments of his elder brother, he sends a friend to converse with
him. The younger brother will not enter the door at the same
time with the elder ; he must always follow. Should they both
be invited to a marriage, care will be taken that the oldest shall
go in the first. The younger will never approach him with his
wooden sandals on : he must take them off. He will not venture
to speak to the wife of the elder, except on some special occasion.
When the father thinks his end is approaching, he caUs his
children, and, addressing himself to the eldest, says, ' My strength,
my glory, my all is in thee.' From this may be gained an idea
of the importance which was attached to the ' birthright.' "/

6—7. (5) instruments . . habitations,'^ i.e. prob. their
swords are instruments of violence. (6) secret, council : he
disclaims any participation in their act. digged . . wall, ham-
strung an ox. (7) divide . . scatter,^ i.e. I predict their decision.
The folly and n'iel'ediiess of anyer (v. 7). — Consider — I. The
nature of this passion. It is — 1. Foolish; 2. Sinful; 3. The
I prelude to great crimes. II. The effects which followed it in this
particular case. 1. The desti-uction of a city; 2. The massacre
of a tribe. III. The punishment which the cruel ^\Tath of the
brothers brought upon themselves. 1. Loss of blessing ; 2. Divi-
sion among the tribes."

Cajn-iclous anger. — Kichard II. showed his affection as a hus-

Cap. xlxix. 8—15.]



band, and his weakness as a man, in cursing the palace of Sheene.
and ordering- it to be destroyed, merely because it was the place
of his amiable queen's death.**

8—12. (8) Judah. . . praise,** lit. Judah, thou, thy brethren
ehall praise thee. Jacob speaks to Judah and of the others.
hand . . enemies,* victorious warriors, father's . . thee/
Judah elevated to be the royal tribe. (9) Judah . . whelp, ''
lion, the king- of beasts. (10) sceptre,* king-ly office, law-
giver/ scribe, from . . feet, i.e. fr. among- his posterity.
Shiloh, the pacificator, the giver of peace, unto . . he, 9 lit.
unto him shall be the obedience of the nations. (11) foal . .
"vine, the fathers said that the vine =^ the Jews, and the wild
ass the Gentile converts ; prob. this is a picture of the peace and
plenty of Messiah's days. (12) red . . milk,'' lit. his eyes shall
be redder than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk : by some
thought to be a ref . to the land flowing with milk and honey,
and abounding in vineyards.

Shiloh (v. 10). — I. Using the word prophecy in its predictive
sense, this ia the language of unquestionable projihecy. II. This
prophecy contains a revelation of Christ. The name here given
to the Saviour we understand to signify " The Peaceful One."
III. This revelation of Christ is connected with the announce-
ment of the particular time ^^hen He was to appear. IV. This
announcement is connected with a statement showing m what
way His people will come to Him. " To Him shall the gathering
of the people be." This is at once predictive and descriptive.
1. It predicts the allegiance Christ will certainly receive ; 2. It
describes the quality of this allegiance. V. This statement
suggests an inquiry into the design of Christ in gathering
the people to Himself. In harmony with His title as " Ihe
Peaceful One," His grand design is to give them rest. Rest, by- —
1. Reconciling them to God ; 2. Effecting the spiritual union of
man with man ; 3. Leading us to perfect rest in another world.'
Sceptre. — A staff of authority which kings, governors, and
rulers of provinces held in their hands as emblems of authority.

Online LibraryJames Comper GrayThe Biblical museum : a collection of notes, explanatory, homiletic, and illustrative, on the Holy Scriptures, especially designed for the use of ministers, Bible students, and Sunday school teachers (Volume 1) → online text (page 37 of 67)