William L. (William Loring) Worcester.

On holy ground : Bible stories with pictures of Bible lands online

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old wells have been dis-
covered. Some of them
are still in use, and to-
wards evening hundreds
of sheep are led in from
the pastures, and water
is poured for them into
little stone troughs which
stand near. Wheels have




A Beersheba well, with stone watering
troughs.



been put over some of the wells, and a camel is harnessed to
draw water. One well, as seen some years ago, was about
twelve feet across and forty feet deep. The stones around
the mouth were deeply grooved by the rubbing of ropes, like
the dressmaker's wax. This may be one of the very wells

that Abraham dug, for
he lived here at Beer-
sheba and dug a well
and planted a tamarisk
tree (Gen. xxi. 25-33,
Revised Version), per-
haps by his altar. The
tamarisk is a graceful,
plumy tree.

Abraham and Sarah
dearly loved their son
Isaac, and now Abra-
ham was to offer him as
a sacrifice to the Lord.
The people in the country that Abraham came from, and the
people of Canaan about him, thought that their gods were
pleased with such a sacrifice, and Abraham knew no better.
You will see how the Lord taught him that it is right to be




(Photograph by G. L. Robinson.)

A grain pit of Abimelech, at Gerar, in the
South Country.



24



ON HOLY GROUND.



faithful and willing in obeying the Lord, no matter how
hard it is, but He did not let him kill his son.

We see the old man Abraham and Isaac with two young
men and the ass taking the path from the pastures up
into the hills, by the old home at Hebron, to the land of
Moriah. It was probably the hill of Moriah, which stands
across the Kedron valley from the Mount of Olives, the
same hill on which the temple at Jerusalem was afterwards
built.

When we go to Jerusalem to-day, we see inside the
pretty mosque of Omar the old worn rock, which is the
natural top of the hill. As we look at it, we think of the
time when a great temple stood here, and the Lord Himself
walked in its courts. Longer ago Solomon's temple was in
this place, and it may have been on this very rock that the
great altar stood before the temple door. And still longer
ago there was no building here, but it was a wild hill-top.
We think of Abraham and Isaac climbing up through the
thickets to this very rock. Let us read the story.

And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and
said unto him, Abraham : and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said,

Take now thy son, 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 tell
thee of. And Abraham
rose up early in the morn-
ing, and saddled his ass,
and took two of his young
men with him, and Isaac
his son, and clave the
wood for the burnt offer-
ing, and rose up, and went
unto the place of which
God had told him. Then
on the third day Abraham
lifted up his eyes, and saw
the place afar off. And
Abraham said unto his
young men, Abide ye here
with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again
to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon




(Copyright, 1903, by William H. Ran, Phila.)

The top of the rock, covered by the Mosque of Omar.



BUYING A BURIAL-PLACE. 25

Isaac his son ; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife ; and they went
both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said,
My father : and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire
and the wood : but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham
said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering : so they
went both of them together. 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 his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And
Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abra-
ham, Abraham : and he said, Here am I. 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, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son,
from me. And Abraham lifted up his 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 the stead of his son.
And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh : as it is said
to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.* And the angel
of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said,
By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this
thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will
bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the
heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall
possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the
earth be blessed ; because thou hast obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned
unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beer-sheba;
and Abraham dwelt at Beer-sheba. — Genesis XXII. 1~19.



BUYING A BUEIAL-PLACE.

Some twenty years passed by, and Abraham was living
again in Hebron where he had made his home by the oaks
of Mamre. Here Sarah died when she was a hundred and
twenty-seven years old, and Abraham bought the cave of
Machpelah for a family burial-place.

Hebron is not on a hill-top, like so many towns in that
country, still, it is a mountain town, high above the sea.
The valleys and hill-sides about Hebron are very rich and
fruitful ; and it was a very old city, and perhaps the most
important city of the land, in the days of Abraham. The
children of Heth, or Hittites, whom Abraham found living
in Hebron were kind to him. The Hittites lived mostly to

* Or " it shall be provided."



26



ON HOLY GROUND.



the north of Canaan, but were also scattered through many
towns of the land. They belonged to an ancient people who
kept some simple goodness from long ago.

Abraham bought the burial-place of Ephron the Hittite,
in the gate of the town. There was perhaps a wall about
the city, with a large guarded gate-way, with chambers at
the sides. Kings and judges used to sit in the gate to hear
and settle disputes among the people. And bargains were
made in the gate ; for in days when writing was not common
as it is now, instead of writing and sealing a paper, business
was done publicly in the hearing of all the people, so that
they might all be witnesses and make sure that an agreement
was faithfully carried out.

The bargain was made between Abraham and Ephron
in the real Eastern way. If one wants to buy something




Hebron : the large building with towers is the mosque covering the
cave of Machpelah.

from another, the owner may very politely give everything
as a present, but it is expected that the buyer, with equal
politeness, will insist on paying its value. So Ephron gave
Abraham the field and cave, but Abraham paid him silver
for it, — a generous price.

Gold and silver were not coined in those days. The
shekel became afterwards the name of a coin, but in Abra-
ham's time it was only a certain weight of silver. He



BUYING A BURIAL-PLACE. 27

weighed it out in the presence of the people, that every one
might know that the payment was made. At the same time
it was understood by everybody what he was buying; the
field and the cave and the trees in the field and in its borders
were made sure unto him. This is also like the Eastern
people, to mention every thing and part of a thing in a
bargain, so that there can be no deception or mistake.

The field and cave were before Mamre or Hebron, which
means to the east of the town. The present town is built
all about the cave, and the cave itself is covered by a mosque
with high walls and towers. You see this building in every
picture of Hebron. The Mohammedans guard it very



on I




(Copyright, 1903, by William H. Kuu, Phila.)
An old pool at Hebron.

strictly and let very few people see anything of the cave;
but there is every reason to believe that it is truly the old
cave which Abraham bought, where the body of Sarah was
buried, and afterwards, as we shall learn, the bodies of Abra-
ham himself, of Isaac and Rebekah, and of Jacob and Leah.
Now listen to the story.

And Sarah was a hundred and seven and twenty years old : these were
the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjath-arba; the same
is Hebron in the land of Canaan : and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah,
and to weep for her. And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and
spake unto the sons of Heth, saying, I am a stranger and a sojourner with



28 ON HOLY GROUND.

you : give me a possession of a buryingplaee with you, that I may bury my
dead out of my sight. And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying
unto him, Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the
choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from
thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead. And Abraham
stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children
of Heth. And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I
should bury my dead out of my sight, hear me, and entreat for me to
Ephron the son of Zohar, that he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which
he hath, which is in the end of his field ; for as much money as it is worth
he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplaee amongst you. And
Ephron dwelt among the children of Heth : and Ephron the Hittite answered
Abraham in the audience of the children of Heth, even of all that went
in at the gate of his city, saying, Nay, my lord, hear me : the field give I
thee, and "the cave that is therein, I give it thee; in the presence of the
sons of my people give I it thee: bury thy dead. And Abraham bowed




Hebron, and mosque over cave of Machpelah.

down himself before the people of the land. And he spake unto Ephron
in 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 dead there. And Ephron answered Abraham, saying
unto him, My lord, hearken unto me: the land is worth four hundred
shekels of silver; what is that betwixt me and thee? bury therefore thy
dead. And Abraham hearkened unto Ephron; and Abraham weighed to
Ephron the silver, which he had named in the audience of the sons of Heth,
four hundred shekels of silver, current money with the merchant. And the
field of Ephron, which was in 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, were made sure unto Abraham for a
possession in the presence of the children of Heth, before all that went in
at the gate of his city. And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in
the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in



REBEKAH AT THE WELL. 29

the land of Canaan. And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made
sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplaee by the sons of Heth.
— Genesis XXIII.



REBEKAH AT THE WELL.

To-day we have a most beautiful story. Let us talk a
little about it aud theu we will read it. It is a long chapter,
but I think you will want to hear it all without skipping any
of the verses.

Abraham was old: he was a hundred years old when
Isaac was born, and forty years had passed since then. The
Lord had made him rich in flocks and herds and gold. Isaac
was still unmarried. His wife must not be of the Canaanites,




Caravan of camels.

the native people of the plains, but the old faithful servant
was sent to bring a wife from Abraham's family. Remem-
ber how Abraham had come from Ur to Haran, and then
from Haran into the land of Canaan. Abraham's brother
Nahor stayed in Haran, and his family were still living
there. We remember the place, in the "land between the
rivers," called in Greek Mesopotamia.

The old servant swore a solemn oath that he would do as
Abraham said. He took ten camels, for it was a long jour-
ney of perhaps a month. We see the camels in the East to-
day swinging along in line, sometimes richly harnessed and
trimmed with bright tassels, and perhaps a sweet-toned bell
tinkles on the leader's neck. The camels carried the servant
and the men that went with him and rich presents, and
probably one bore the beautiful seat on which the "bride



30



ON HOLY GROUND.



should ride. The camels kneel to be loaded and unloaded.
At night after a long day's march they are very ready to
drop down to rest.

Towards sunset after their long journey of many days
the camels of Abraham came to the well outside the gate of
Haran. It seems to have been not a deep well like that at
Beersheba, but a large spring walled in, with steps by which
the women went down to fill their jars. At every Eastern
town the women come to the spring, which is often outside
the town, especially morning and evening, to get water for
their homes. They balance the large jar on their heads,
resting it in a little ring-shaped cushion, but sometimes,

perhaps especially in north-
ern Syria, they rest the jar
on the shoulder as Rebekah
did. The daughters of the
chief people did their share
of work in the fields and in
bringing water.

See the camels resting
by the well, the women
coming .and going with
their jars, the old servant
praying in his heart to the
Lord that He would show
him the one who should be
the wife of his master's
son.

The Lord put into the
servant's heart the sign by
which lie should know her.
He should ask for water to
drink, and the maiden who should give it and draw for the
camels also should be the one. So it was. Rebekah let down
her jar upon her hand for the man to drink, and poured into
the little troughs for the camels. The servant knew in his
heart that this was the maiden. He asked about her family.
She was indeed the daughter of Bethuel the son of Nahor,
Abraham's brother. He gave her presents of gold, brace-
lets and a golden ring, perhaps to be worn on the forehead.
He asked to stay at her father's house. There was prov-




Syrian girl with water jar.



REBEKAH AT THE WELL.



31



ender — that is, grain — for the camels, and chopped straw
which is used as we use hay.

Rebekah ran to tell her parents that the stranger would
lodge with them, and to show the jewels and to say that he
had spoken of his master Abraham. Her brother Laban ran
out and made the stranger welcome. We see the tired camels
unharnessed and fed, and the servant and his men refreshed
with water and brought into the house. You will learn the
rest as you read the beautiful story.

And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age : and the Lord had
blessed Abraham in all things. 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: and I will make thee swear by the Lord, the God of
heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son
of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: but thou shalt
go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.




EaS ; zf- ; "-



Halt of the caravan.



And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing
to follow me unto this land : must I needs bring thy son again unto the
land from whence thou earnest? And Abraham said unto him, Beware
thou that thou bring not my son thither again. The Lord God of heaven,
which took me from my father's house, and from the land of my kindred,
and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed
will I give this land ; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt
take a wife unto my son from thence. And if the woman will not be willing
to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath : only bring not
my son thither again. And the servant put his hand under the thigh of
Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter. 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 to Meso-



32



ON HOLY GROUND.



potarnia, unto the city of Nahor. And he made his camels to kneel down
without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the
time that women go out to draw water. And he said, Lord God of my
master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kind-
ness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water;
and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: and
let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy
pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I
will give thy camels drink also : let the same be she that thou hast appointed
for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed
kindness unto my master. And it came to pass, before he had done speak-
ing, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of
Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her
shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon . . . and she went
down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant
ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy
pitcher. And she said, Drink, my lord : and she hasted, and let down her
pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving

him drink, she said, I will
' 1 draw water for thy camels
also, until they have done
drinking. And she hasted,
and emptied her pitcher
into the trough again, and
ran again unto the well to
draw water, and drew for
all his camels. And the
man wondering at her held
his peace, to wit * whether
the Lord had made his
journey prosperous or not.
And it came to pass, as
the camels had done drink-
ing, that the man took a
golden earring of half a
shekel weight, and two
bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold; and said, Whose
daughter art thou? tell me, I pray thee : is there room in thy father's house
for us to lodge in"? And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel,
the son of Milcah, which she bare unto Nahor. She said moreover unto
him, We have both straw and provender enough, and room to lodge in.
And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the Lord. And he
said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left
destitute my master of his mercy and his truth : I being in the way, the
Lord led me to the house of my master's brethren. And the damsel ran,
and told them of her mother's house these things. And Rebekah had a
brother, and his name was Laban : and Laban ran out unto the man unto




(Copyright, 1903, by William H. Rau, Phila.)
At a village fountain.



* " To wit" means " to know."



REBEKAH AT THE WELL. 33

the well. And it came to pass, when he saw the earring, and bracelets upon
his sister's hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, say-
ing, Thus spake the man unto me, that he came unto the man; and, behold,
he stood by the camels at the well. And he said, Come in, thou blessed of
the Lord; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house,
and room for the camels. And the man came into the house : and he un-
girded his camels, and gave straw and provender for the camels, and water
to wash his feet, and the men's feet that were with him. And there was set
meat before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine
errand. And he said, Speak on. And he said, I am Abraham's servant.
And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly, and he is become great : and
he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants,
and maidservants, and camels, and asses. And Sarah my master's wife bare
a son to my master when she was old : and unto him hath he given all that
he hath. And my master made me swear, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife
to my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I dwell: but
thou shalt go unto my father's house, and to my kindred, and take a wife
unto my son. And I said unto my master, Peradventure the woman will not
follow me. And he said unto me, The Lord, before whom I walk, will send
his angel with thee, and prosper thy way; and thou shalt take a wife for my
son of my kindred, and of my father's house: then shalt thou be clear
from this my oath, when thou comest to my kindred; and if they give not
thee one, thou shalt be clear from my oath. And I came this day unto the
well, and said, Lord God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper
my way which I go: behold, I stand by the well of water; and it shall
come to pass, that when the virgin cometh forth to draw water, and I say
to her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water of thy pitcher to drink; and
she say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for thy camels: let
the same be the woman whom the Lord hath appointed out for my master's
son. And before I had done speaking 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. 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 the camels
drink also. And I asked her, and said, Whose daughter art thou 1 ? And
she said, The daughter of Bethuel, Nahor's son, whom Milcah bare unto
him : and I put the earring upon her face, and the bracelets upon her
hands. And I bowed down my head, and worshipped the Lord, and blessed
the Lord God of my master Abraham, which had led me in the right way
to take my master's brother's daughter unto his son. 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. Then Laban and Bethuel
answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the Lord : we cannot speak
unto thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before thee; take her, and go,
and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the Lord hath spoken. And it
came to pass, that, when Abraham's servant heard their words, he worshipped
the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. And the servant brought forth
jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah :
he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things. And they

3



34



ON HOLY GROUND.



did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night ;
and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my
master. And her brother and her mother said, Let the damsel abide with
us a few days, at the least ten; after that she shall go. And he said unto
them, Hinder me not, seeing the Lord hath prospered my way; send me

away that I may go to my master.
And they said, We will call the
damsel, and enquire at her mouth.
And they called Rebekah, and said
unto her, Wilt thou go with this
man? And she said, I will go.
And they sent away Rebekah their
sister, and her nurse, and Abra-
ham's servant, and his men. And
they blessed Rebekah, and said
unto her, Thou art our sister;
be thou the mother of thousands
of millions, and let thy seed pos-
sess the gate of those which hate
them. 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. And Isaac came
from the way of the well Lahai-
roi; for he dwelt in the south
country. And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide : and
he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And
Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the
camel. For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh
in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: there-
fore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all
things that he had done. And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's
tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife; and he loved her; and
Isaac was comforted after his mother's death. — Genesis XXIV.




(Copyright, 1903, by William H. Rau, Phila.)
Camels resting.



ESAU AND JACOB.



Isaac's home was in the South Country all his life. He
had two sons who were twins, Esau and Jacob. Esau, the
elder, was his father's favorite. He was a rough man of
the field, with a hairy skin; he became a cunning hunter.



Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Loring) WorcesterOn holy ground : Bible stories with pictures of Bible lands → online text (page 3 of 42)