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tawney) as the tents of Kedar, but comely (or beautiful) as the curtains of Solomon.” And even, as the sons of Ishmael are at this day, such as it was prophesied from the beginning they should be, so may the tents they dwell in be like those which Ishmael himself set up. The habits of the desert are least of all liable to change. The Arabian tents are of an oblong figure, supported according to their size, some with one pillar, others with two or three, while a curtain or carpet, occasionally let down from each of these divisions, converts the whole into so many separate apartments. These tents are kept firm and steady, by bracing or stretching down their eaves with cords, tied to hooked wooden pins, well pointed, which they drive into the ground with a mallet; one of these pins answering to the nail, as the mallet does to the hammer, which Jael used. (Judges iv, 21.) In these dwellings the Arabian shepherds and their families repose upon the bare ground, or with only a mat or carpet beneath them. Those who are married have each of them a portion of the tent to themselves, separated by a curtain. The richer Arabs have always two tents, one for themselves, and another for their wives ;- in like manner a particular tent was allotted to Sarah, (Gen. xxiv. 67.)—besides others for their servants. ** Thus when we read (Gen, xiv. 14.) of Abraham's servants, 318 born in his own house, we do not picture to ourselves an ancient castle of stone, such as our feudal lords dwelt in, but a succession of dusky tents lying along some fertile valley of Canaan, and occupied by that large household whom Abraham
* Hartwell Horne.
ruled as master, provided for as father, and interceded with God for as priest.
Sheltered from the scorching sun by a widespreading tree, these eastern chiefs frequently sit in the tent door in the heat of the day. Abraham, so sitting, beheld three men standing before him, to whom he hastened to offer the hospitality so welcome to travellers in a warm climate, and esteemed a sacred duty in a country where there are no inns, or places of public refreshment. There is something remarkable in Abraham's greetings to these mysterious personages, three of whom stood before him. “My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant; let a little water, I pray you, 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; after that
shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant.” And Abraham hastened into the tent, and told Sarah to make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. Abraham ran to the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, which, when it was dressed, he set before them, with butter and milk, and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat. Having partaken of Abraham's bounty, and renewed the promise of a son to Sarah, the Divine messengers passed on. They went towards the doomed cities of the plain, and Abraham went with them to bring them on their way. Two of them went to Sodom, but Abraham stood yet before the Lord, the Messenger of the Covenant, who had just made known to him the judgment which threatened the dwelling-place of Lot, because of the grievous sin of its inhabitants. Abraham pleaded for the innocent, that they might not perish with the guilty, and the Lord promised that the city should be spared if it contained fifty righteous! Successively did he plead for forty-five, thirty, twenty, yet once more did he entreat that it might be spared for the sake of ten, and God was merciful ; “ Ten righteous would have saved the city,” but ten righteous people were not to be found in Sodom ! And in the evening of that day, as Lot was sitting in the gate of the city, there came two angels, who, for Abraham's sake, warned him of the city's overthrow. They took him by the hand, and, early in the morning, led him away, with as many of his family as could be persuaded to go with him, saying, “ Escape for thy life ; look not behind thee, stay not, lest thou be consumed." " The last moments of Sodom were measuring out by the steps of the fugitives across the plain.” As soon as they were in safety “the Lord rained down upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah, brimstone and fire out of heaven; and he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground.” Contrary to the angel's bidding, Lot's wife looked behind her, and she hecame a pillar of salt.
Abraham went early the next day to the place where he had stood before the Lord; but he saw nothing in all the rich valley of Jordan but the smoke of the cities, which went up as the smoke of a furnace. “ Such evil Sin hath wrought, and such a flame
Kindled in Heaven, that it burns down to earth,
The sea, or lake, which fills up that once fertile valley is called in Scripture the Sea of the Plain (Deut. iii. 17; iv. 49.); the Salt Sea (Numb. xxxiv. 3.); and, with reference to Jerusalem, the East Sea. (Ezek. xlvii. 18; Joel ii. 20.) St. Jerome calls it the Dead Sea. The Arabs call it, El Amout (the dead), and Bahr Louth, or the Sea of Lot.
There it lies, enclosed in mountains to the east and west ; the Jordan flows into it from the north, pouring in daily, as is computed, 6,090,000 tuns of water, and there stops ! East, west, and south no channel carries off this vast accumulation of waters, which is swelled by the Arnon, and other tributary streams. It was once thought they escaped under ground; but it is now known that this Dead Lake, unlike all other lakes in other respects, is unlike also in this, that it discharges its overplus by no downward precipitation, but upward, in gross evaporations of salt and pitch. Such, a traveller saw rising, “in broad transparent columns of vapour, not unlike waterspouts in appearance, but much larger.” So the smoke of that great sacrifice rises up perpetually before the Lord; and so the Dead Sea keeps her bounds. Dead it is, and dead are all about it. Its waters so dense that a man must float in them whether he will or no; the tumultuous rushing waters of the Jordan are borne some way distinct into the bosom of the lake, before they mix in its waters, and subside in the universal stillness; no fish can live in it; a bird may fly over it and not perish. Only what dies beside those waters does not dissolve, but endures encrusted in the salt which saturates the place.
Masses of pitch, the fragments of those accursed
cities, continually and for ever wash up upon the shores. The ground all about is marshy and rotten, and bare of any verdure save the tamarisk and cane, whose branches reek with that salt slime. A deadly silence hangs over all. There, in her ancient place among the mountains, where those proud cities once were, lies the Dead Sea, an everlasting witness of the just judgment of God upon unrepenting wickedness.
ENCOURAGEMENT FOR THE YOUNG.
The following beautiful passage is extracted from Edwards' “ History of Redemption." It presents God's dealings with the younger generation of Israel, who passed out of the wilderness into Canaan, as an encouragement to the young in all ages. May our youthful readers so regard it. Thus they will perceive how much, even in a national point of view, depends upon early piety, and whilst, through the grace of God in Christ Jesus, they escape the pollution that is in the world; they may, as the salt of the earth, preserve and bless their native land :
“ Another thing by which God carried on the work (of redemption) at this time, was remarkable pouring out of his Spirit on the young generation in the wilderness. The generation that was grown up when they came out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upwards, was a very froward and perverse generation. They were tainted with the idolatry and wickedness of Egypt. (Ezek. xx. 6-8.) Hence they