It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood. — James Madison

Stories from the Old Testament Told to the Children - Louey Chisholm




Abraham

Now it came to pass that God spake to Abraham, and said, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, and go into a land that I will show thee. And thy children's children will be many, they shall be a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing to many. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee."

So Abraham went out from his home, not knowing whither God would lead him; and he was seventy and five years old when God spoke to him.

And Abraham took with him Sarah his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all the flocks and herds and servants that belonged to them, and went forth to go into the land of Canaan. And into the land of Canaan they came.

Then God again spake to Abraham, and said, "Unto thy children will I give this land." And Abraham builded an altar unto God, who had appeared unto him.

Afterwards Abraham journeyed to Bethel, and there pitched his tent, and builded an altar, and called upon the name of the Lord.

And there was a famine in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went down into Egypt, but returned again to Bethel with Lot, his nephew, and with their household, and with all their flocks and herds. And Abraham was very rich in gold, in silver, and in cattle; and Lot also had flocks, and herds, and tents. And it came to pass that the number of their cattle was so great that there was not food enough for them, and Abraham's herdsmen quarrelled with Lot's herdsmen.

Then Abraham said unto Lot, "Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdsmen and thy herdsmen; for we are brethren. Behold, the whole land is open to thee: separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if thou choosest the right hand, I will go to the left."

And Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well-watered everywhere, even as the garden of the Lord. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan. But the men who lived in Sodom and other cities of the plain of Jordan, were wicked, and great sinners.

And the Lord said unto Abraham after Lot had gone away from him, "Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art, northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward, for all the land that thou seest, to thee will I give it and to thy children for ever."

Now it came to pass that certain kings of the land made war against Sodom, where Lot was; and the king of Sodom fled, and the kings took Lot and all that he had away to their own country. And they came and told Abraham, and when Abraham heard that Lot was taken prisoner, he armed his servants, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them. And at night he attacked the kings and smote them, and brought back again Lot and his goods, and all his people. And the king of Sodom went out to meet Abraham as he returned, and offered him gifts. But Abraham said, "I will not take anything that is thine."

After these things the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision, saying, "Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield."

And Abraham said, "Behold, Lord God, to me thou hast given no children."

And God brought Abraham out of his tent, and said, "Look now toward heaven and tell the stars if thou be able to number them. And yet as many as the stars shall thy children and thy children's children be?

And Abraham believed God.

Sarah, Abraham's wife, had no child. And Abraham took Sarah's handmaid, Hagar, and made her his wife (for it was the custom long ago in that country for rich men to have more than one wife). And Sarah was jealous and unkind to Hagar, and dealt so hardly with her that Hagar fled.

And the angel of the Lord found her in the wilderness beside a fountain of water, and he said, "Hagar, whence camest thou, and whither wilt thou go?"

She said, "I flee from the face of Sarah, my mistress."

The angel of the Lord said, "Return to thy mistress, and be obedient to her. Behold, thou shalt have a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael. But he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him."

And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, "Thou God seest me."

And Hagar did as the angel commanded her. And it came to pass that she had a son; and Abraham called his son's name Ishmael.

And the Lord appeared again unto Abraham as he sat in the tent-door in the heat of the day. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and to! three men stood by him

and when he saw them he ran to meet them from the tent-door, and bowed himself towards the ground. And he said, "Pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant. Let a little water, I pray thee, be fetched, and wash your feet and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts."

And they said, "So do as thou hast said."

Then Abraham took cakes, and butter, and milk, and meat, and set these before them: and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

And the men said to Abraham, "Where is Sarah, thy wife?"

He said, "Behold, in the tent."

And one of the men said, "Lo, I will certainly fulfil my promise, and Sarah thy wife shall have a son." And Sarah heard it in the tent-door, and she laughed within herself, saying, "Shall I have a son now that I am old?"

And the Lord said to Abraham, "Wherefore did Sarah laugh? Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

Then Sarah denied, saying, "I laughed not," for she was afraid.

But he said, "Nay, but thou didst laugh."

Abraham and Sarah
AND SARAH HEARD IT IN THE TENT DOOR.


And the men rose up and looked towards Sodom; and Abraham went with them to bring them on their way.

And the Lord said to Abraham, "I shall not hide from thee the thing I am about to do. Behold, the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is very grievous. I will go down now and see whether they do as great evil as I have heard, and if the evil is very great, I will destroy these wicked cities."

But Abraham drew near and said, "Wilt thou destroy the good with the wicked? If there be fifty good men in the cities, wilt thou not spare the place for their sakes?"

And the Lord said, "If I find in Sodom fifty good men, then I will spare all the place for their sakes:

Abraham said, "Behold, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord. If there shall lack five of the fifty good men, wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five?"

And the Lord said, "If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it."

Then Abraham spake yet again, and said, "If there be forty there?"

And the Lord said, "I will not do it for forty's sake."

Again Abraham said, "Let not my Lord be angry, and I will speak. If now thirty be found there?"

And the Lord said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."

And Abraham once more said, "Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord. If there shall twenty be found there?"

And the Lord said, "I will not destroy it for twenty's sake."

Even again Abraham said, "Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but this once. If ten shall be found there?"

And the Lord said, "I will not destroy it for ten's sake."

Then came two angels to Sodom at even, and Lot sat at the door of his house, and seeing them rose up to meet them.

And Lot said, "Turn in now, I pray you, my lords, into your servant's house, and tarry all night and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early and go on your way."

But they said, "Nay, but we will abide in the street all night."

Then Lot pressed them greatly, and they entered into his house, and he did make them a feast, and they did eat.

But before they lay down, the men of Sodom surrounded the house, and called to Lot to bring them out to them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, and said, "I pray you, brethren, do no evil to these men, for they are my guests."

And the men of Sodom were angry, and said, "Stand back, or we will deal worse with thee than with them." And they pressed sore upon Lot, and came near to break the door. But the angels put forth their hand and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door with blindness, so that they wearied themselves to find the door.

Then the angels said unto Lot, "Get ready your goods and your family, and prepare to leave this place, for God has seen their great wickedness, and hath sent us to destroy the city." And when the morning was come the angels hastened Lot, saying, "Arise, take thy wife and thy daughters, lest thou be burned up in the city." And while Lot lingered, the angels laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters, and brought them forth and set them without the city.

Then said they to Lot, "Escape for thy life, look not behind thee; escape to the mountains lest thou be burned up."

And Lot said, "Oh, not so, my Lord. I cannot escape to the mountains lest some evil take me and I die; behold now, let me escape unto the city of Zoar, for it is near to flee to." The angel said, "Haste thee, escape to that city, and for thy sake it shall not be overthrown."

Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire out of heaven, and utterly destroyed the cities and the people in them. But for Abraham's sake the Lord spared Lot, and he escaped with his family to Zoar. But Lot's wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.

Now it came to pass that Sarah had a son, as God had promised. And Abraham was glad, and Sarah said, "God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me." And they called the boy Isaac.

But now that Sarah had a son of her own, she hated more bitterly Hagar and her son Ishmael. So she said to Abraham, "Cast out now Hagar and her son, for Ishmael shall not be heir with my son." And what she said grieved Abraham sore, because of Ishmael.

Then God said to Abraham, "Do as Sarah asks, for Ishmael shall yet become the head of a great nation."

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and sent her away with the child. And Hagar wandered in the desert, and the water in the bottle was spent. So she cast the child under one of the shrubs, and she herself sat down a good way off, for she said,

"Let me not see the death of the child." And Hagar lifted up her voice and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad, and the 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. Arise, lift up the lad, for I will make him a great nation." And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water, and she went and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad, and he grew, and he lived in the wilderness and became an archer.

And it came to pass that God did try Abraham to prove him. And God said unto him, "Abraham."

He said, "Behold, here I am."

And God said, "Take now thy son, thine own son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer up thy son there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of."

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave wood for the burnt-offering, and rose up and went unto the place of which God had told him. Then in 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 for 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.

And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, "My father."

Abraham said, "Here am I, my son."

And Isaac said, "Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for the 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, "Abraham, Abraham."

And Abraham said, "Here am I."

Then the angel said, "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that thou dost obey God, for thou hast not kept back from me thy son."

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.

Then the angel of the Lord called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, saying, "Because thou hast done this thing, and hast not kept back from me thine own son, behold I will bless thee, and thy children shall become a great nation, as many as the stars in heaven and as the sand which is upon the seashore in number. And a blessing shall come to all nations from one of thy children's children."

Abraham and Isaac
AND ABRAHAM STRETCHED FORTH HIS HAND AND TOOK THE KNIFE TO SLAY HIS SON.


And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old; and Sarah died at Hebron, 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. For the land there belonged to the sons of Heth. And Abraham said, "I am a stranger and a sojourner with you; give me a burying-place that I may bury my dead out of my sight."

And the children of Heth answered, saying, "Hear us, my lord. Thou art a mighty prince amongst us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead."

So Abraham communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead, 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 to me."

And Ephron answered Abraham, "Nay, my lord, the field I give thee, and the cave that is therein I give it thee; bury thy dead."

Then Abraham bowed down himself before the people of the land, and spake unto Ephron, 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."

But Ephron answered, "My lord, hearken unto me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver: what is that between me and thee?" Yet Abraham weighed to Ephron the silver which he had named, and the field of Ephron and cave which was in it was made sure to Abraham for a burying-place.

And Abraham was one hundred and seventy-five years old, and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things. Then Abraham died, an old man, and was buried in the cave of Machpelah.