(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 18)

suppose, must have happened to others who might seem, from the very
first, to have been emancipated from this service? Hence truly appears,
not only the prodigious wickedness and depravity, but also the inflexible
hardness of the human mind. Noah and his sons, who had been eye-witnesses
of the deluge, were yet living: the narration of that history ought to
have inspired men with not less terror than the visible appearance of God
himself: from infancy they had been imbued with those elements of
religious instruction, which relate to the manner in which God was to be
worshipped, the reverence with which his word was to be obeyed, and the
severe vengeance which remains for those who should violate the order
prescribed by him: yet they could not be restrained from being so
corrupted by their vanity, that they entirely apostatized. In the
meantime, there is no doubt that holy Noah, according to his
extraordinary zeal and heroic fortitude, would contend in every way for
the maintenance of God's glory: and that he sharply and severely
inveighed, yea, fulminated against the perfidious apostasy of his
descendants; and whereas all ought to have trembled at his very look,
they are yet moved by no chidings, however loud, from proceeding in the
course into which their own fury has hurried them. From this mirror,
rather than from the senseless flatteries of sophists, let us learn how
fruitful is the corruption of our 
nature. But if Noah and Shem, and other such eminent teachers could not,
by contending most courageously, prevent the prevalence of impiety in the
world; let us not wonder, if at this day also, the unbridled lust of the
world rushes to impious and perverse modes of worship, against all the
obstacles interposed by sound doctrine, admonition, and threats. Here,
however, we must observe, in these holy men, how firm was the strength of
their faith, how indefatigable their patience, how persevering their
cultivation of piety; since they never gave way, on account of the many
occasions of offense with which they had to contend. Luther very properly
compares the incredible torments, by which they were necessarily
afflicted, to many martyrdoms. For such an alienation of their
descendants from God did not less affect their minds than if they had
seen their own bowels not only lacerated and torn, but cast into the mire
of Satan, and into hell itself. But while the world was thus filled with
ungodly men, God wonderfully retained a few under obedience to his word,
that he might preserve the Church from destruction. And although we have
said that the father and grandfather of Abraham were apostates, and that,
probably, the defection did not first begin with them; yet, because the
Church by the election of God, was included in that race, and because God
had some who worshipped him in purity, and who survived even to the time
of Abraham. Moses deduces a continuous line of descent, and thus enroll
them in the catalogue of saints. Whence we infer, (as I have a little
before observed,) in what high estimation God holds the Church, which,
though so small in numbers is yet preferred to the whole world.
  "Shem was an hundred years old." Since Moses has placed Arphaxad the
third in order among the sons of Shem, it is asked how this agrees with
his having been born in the second year after the deluge? The answer is
easy. It cannot be exactly ascertained, from the catalogues which Moses
recites, at what time each was born; because sometimes the priority of
place is assigned to one, who yet was posterior in the order of birth.
Others answer, that there is nothing absurd in supposing Moses to declare
that, after the completion of two years, a third son was born. But the
solution I have given is more genuine.

27. "Terah begat Abram." Here also Abram is placed first among his
brethren, not (as I suppose) because he was the firstborn; but because
Moses, intent on the scope of his history, was not very careful in the
arrangement of the sons of Terah. It is also possible that he had other
sons. For, the reason why Moses speaks especially of them is obvious;
namely, on account of Lot, and of the wives of Isaac and Jacob. I will
now briefly state why I think Abram was not the first born. Moses shortly
afterwards says, that Haran died in his own country, before his father
left Chaldea, and went to Charran. But Abram was seventy-five years old
when he departed from Charran to dwell in the land of Canaan. And this
number of seventy-five years is expressly given after the death of Terah.
Now, if we suppose that Abram was born in his father's seventieth year,
we must also allow that we have lost sixty years of Terah's age; which is
most absurd. The conjecture of Luther, that God buried that time in
oblivion, in order to hide from us the end of the world, in the first
place is frivolous, and in the next, may be refuted by solid and
convincing arguments. Others violently wrest the words to apply them to a
former egress; and think that he lived together with his father at
Charran for sixty years; which is most improbable. For to what end should
they have protracted their stay so long in the midst of their journey?
But there is no need of labourious discussion. Moses is silent respecting
the age of Abraham when he left his own country; but says, that in the
seventy-fifth year of his age, he came into the land of Canaan, when his
father, having reached the two hundredth and fifth year of his life, had
died. Who will not hence infer that he was born when his father had
attained his one hundredth and thirtieth year? But he is named first
among those sons whom Terah is said to have begotten, when he himself was
seventy years old. I grant it; but this order of recital does nothing
towards proving the order of birth, as we have already said. Nor, indeed,
does Moses declare in what year of his life Terah begat sons; but only
that he had passed the above age before he begat the three sons here
mentioned. Therefore, the age of Abraham is to be ascertained by another
mode of computation, namely, from the fact that Moses assigns to him the
age of seventy-five when his father died, whose life had reached to two
hundred and five years. A firm arid valid argument is also deduced from
the age of Sarai. It appears that she was not more than ten years younger
than Abraham. If she was the daughter of his younger brother, she would
necessarily have equalled her own father in age. They who raise an
objection, to the effect that she was the daughter-in-law, or only the
adopted daughter of Nahor, produce nothing beyond a sheer cavil.

28. "And Haran died."  Haran is said to have died before the face of his
father; because he left his father the survivor. It is also said that he
died in his country, that is, in Ur. The Jews turn the proper name into
an appellative, and say that he died in the fire. For, as they are bold
in forging fables, they pretend that he, with his brother Abram, were
thrown by the Chaldeans into the fire, because they shunned idolatry; but
that Abram escaped by the constancy of his faith. The twenty-fourth
chapter of Joshua, however, which I have cited above, openly declares,
that this whole family was not less infected with superstition9 than the
country itself. I confess, indeed, that the name Ur is derived from fire:
names, however, are wont to be assigned to cities, either from their
situation, or from some particular event. It is possible that they there
cherished the sacred fire, or that the splendour of the sun was more
conspicuous than in other places. Others will have it, that the city was
so named, because it was situated in a valley, for the Hebrews call
valleys "uraim". But there is no reason why we should be very anxious
about such a matter: let it suffice, that Moses, speaking of the country
of Abram immediately afterwards declares it to have been Ur of the

30. "But Sarai was barren." Not on]y does he say that Abram was without
children, but he states the reasons namely, the sterility of his wife; in
order to show that it was by nothing short of an extraordinary miracle
that she afterwards bare Isaac, as we shall declare more fully in its
proper place. Thus was God pleased to humble his servant; and we cannot
doubt that Abram would suffer severe pain through this privation. He sees
the wicked springing up everywhere, in great numbers, to cover the earth;
he alone is deprived of children. And although hitherto he was ignorant
of his own future vocation; yet God designed in his person, as in a
mirror, to make it evident, whence and in what manner his Church should
arise; for at that time it lay hid, as in a dry root under the earth.

31. "And Terah took Abram his son." Here the next chapter ought to
commence; because Moses begins to treat of one of the principal subjects
of his book; namely, the calling of Abram. For he not only relates that
Terah changed his country, but he also explains the design and the end of
his departure, that he left his native soils and entered on his journey,
in order to come to the land of Canaan. Whence the inference is easily
drawn, that he was not so much the leader or author of the journey, as
the companion of his son.
  And it is no obstacle to this inference, that Moses assigns the
priority to Terah, as if Abram had departed under his auspices and
direction, rather than by the command of God: for this is an honour
conferred upon the father's name. Nor do I doubt that Abram, when he saw
his father willingly obeying the calling of God, became in return the
more obedient to him. Therefore, it is ascribed to the authority of the
father, that he took his son with him. For, that Abram had been called of
God before he moved a foot from his native soil, will presently appear
too plain to be denied. We do not read that his father had been called.
It may therefore be conjectured, that the oracle of God had been made
known to Terah by the relation of his son. For the divine command to
Abram respecting his departure, did not prohibit him from informing his
father, that his only reason for leaving him was, that he preferred the
command of God to all human obligations. These two things, indeed without
controversy, we gather from the words of Moses; that Abram was divinely
called, before Terah left his own country: and that Terah had no other
design than that of coming into the land of Canaan; that is, of joining
his son as a voluntary companion. Therefore, I conclude, that he had left
his country a short time before his death. For it is absurd to suppose,
that when he departed from his own country, to go directly to the land of
Canaan, he should have remained sixty years a stranger in a foreign land.
It is more probable, that being an old man worn out with years he was
carried off by disease and weariness. And yet it may be, that God held
them a little while in suspense, because Moses says he dwelt in Charran;
but from what follows, it appears that the delay was not long: since, in
the seventy-fifth year of his age, Abram departed thence; and he had gone
thither already advanced in age, and knowing that his wife was barren.
Moreover, the town which by the Hebrews is called Charran, is declared by
all writers, with one consent, to be Charran, situated in Mesopotamia;
although Lucas, poetically rather than truly, places it in Assyria. The
place was celebrated for the destruction of Crassus, and the overthrow of
the Roman army.

Chapter XII.

1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from
thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make
thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:
and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with
him: and Abram [was] seventy and five years old when he departed out of
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their
substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in
Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the
land of Canaan they came.
6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the
plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite [was] then in the land.
7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give
this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and
pitched his tent, [having] Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and
there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the
9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to
sojourn there; for the famine [was] grievous in the land.
11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that
he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou [art] a fair
woman to look upon:
12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee,
that they shall say, This [is] his wife: and they will kill me, but they
will save thee alive.
13 Say, I pray thee, thou [art] my sister: that it may be well with me
for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the
Egyptians beheld the woman that she [was] very fair.
15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh:
and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.
16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen,
and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and
17 And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because
of Sarai Abram's wife.
18 And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What [is] this [that] thou hast
done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she [was] thy wife?
19 Why saidst thou, She [is] my sister? so I might have taken her to me
to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take [her], and go thy way.
20 And Pharaoh commanded [his] men concerning him: and they sent him
away, and his wife, and all that he had.

1. "Now the Lord had said unto Abram." That an absurd division of these
chapters may not trouble the readers, let them connect this sentence with
the last two verses of the previous chapter. Moses had before said, that
Terah and Abram had departed from their country to dwell in the land of
Canaan. He now explains that they had not been impelled by levity as rash
and fickle men are wont to be; nor had been drawn to other regions by
disgust with their own country, as morose persons frequently are; nor
were fugitives on account of crime; nor were led away by any foolish
hope, or by any allurements, as many are hurried hither and thither by
their own desires; but that Abram had been divinely commanded to go forth
and had not moved a foot but as he was guided by the word of God. They
who explain the passage to mean, that God spoke to Abram after the death
of his father, are easily refuted by the very words of Moses: for if
Abram was already without a country, and was sojourning as a stranger
elsewhere, the command of God would have been superfluous, 'Depart from
thy land, from thy country, and from thy father's house.' The authority
of Stephen is also added, who certainly deserves to be accounted a
suitable interpreter of this passage: now he plainly testifies, that God
appeared to Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in
Charran; he then recites this oracle which we are now explaining; and at
length concludes, that, for this reason, Abraham migrated from Chaldea.
Nor is that to be overlooked which God afterwards repeats, (15: 7,) 'I am
the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees;' for we thence
infer, that the Divine Hand was not for the first time stretched out to
him after he had dwelt in Charran, but while he yet remained at home in
Chaldea. Truly this command of Gods respecting which doubts are foolishly
entertained, ought to be deemed by us sufficient to disprove the contrary
error. For God could not have spoken thus, except to a man who had been,
up to that time, settled in his nest, having his affairs underanged, and
living quietly and tranquilly among his relatives, without any change in
his mode of life; otherwise, the answer would have been readily given 'I
have left my country, I am far removed from my kindred.' In short, Moses
records this oracle, in order that we may know that this long journey was
undertaken by Abram, and his father Terah, at the command of God. Whence
it also appears, that Terah was not so far deluded by superstitions as to
be destitute of the fear of God. It was difficult for the old man,
already broken and failing in health, to tear himself away from his own
country. Some true religion, therefore, although smothered, still
remained in his mind. Therefore, when he knew that the place, from which
his son was commanded to depart, was accursed, it was his wish not to
perish there; but he joined himself as an associate with him whom the
Lord was about to deliver. What a witness, I demand, will he prove, in
the last day, to condemn our indolence! Easy and plausible was the excuse
which he might have alleged; namely that he would remain quietly at home,
because he had received no command. But he, though blind in the darkness
of unbelief, yet opened his eyes to the beam of light which shot across
his path; while we remain unmoved when the Divine vocation directly
shines upon us. Moreover, this calling of Abram is a signal instance of
the gratuitous mercy of God. Had Abram been beforehand with God by any
merit of works? Had Abram come to him, or conciliated his favour? Nay, we
must ever recall to mind, (what I have before adduced from the passage in
Joshua,) that he was plunged in the filth of idolatry; and now God freely
stretches forth his hand to bring back the wanderer. He deigns to open
his sacred mouth, that he may show to one, deceived by Satan's wiles, the
way of salvation. And it is wonderful, that a man, miserable and lost,
should have the preference given him, over so many holy worshippers of
God; that the covenant of life should be placed in his possession; that
the Church should be revived in him, and he himself constituted the
father of all the faithful. But this is done designedly, in order that
the manifestation of the grace of God might become the more conspicuous
in his person. For he is an example of the vocation of us all; for in him
we perceive, that, by the mere mercy of God, those things which are not
are raised from nothing, in order that they may begin to be something.
  "Get thee out of thy country." This accumulation of words may seem to
be superfluous. To which also may be added, that Moses, in other places
so concise, here expresses a plain and easy matter in three different
forms of speech. But the case is quite otherwise. For since exile is in
itself sorrowful, and the sweetness of their native soil holds nearly all
men bound to itself, God strenuously persists in his command to leave the
country, for the purpose of thoroughly penetrating the mind of Abram. If
he had said in a single word, Leave thy country, this indeed would not
lightly have pained his mind; but Abram is still more deeply affected,
when he hears that he must renounce his kindred and his father's house.
Yet it is not to be supposed, that God takes a cruel pleasure in the
trouble of his servants; but he thus tries all their affections, that he
may not leave any lurking-places undiscovered in their hearts. We see
many persons zealous for a short time, who afterwards become frozen;
whence is this, but because they build without a foundation? Therefore
God determined, thoroughly to rouse all the senses of Abram, that he
might undertake nothing rashly or inconsiderately; lest, repenting soon
afterwards, he should veer with the wind, and return. Wherefore, if we
desire to follow God with constancy, it behaves us carefully to meditate
on all the inconveniences, all the difficulties, all the dangers which
await us; that not only a hasty zeal may produce fading flowers, but that
from a deep and well-fixed root of piety, we may bring forth fruit in our
whole life.
  "Unto a land that I will show thee." This is another test to prove the
faith of Abram. For why does not God immediately point out the land,
except for the purpose of keeping his servant in suspense, that he may
the better try the truth of his attachment to the word of God? As if he
would say, 'I command thee to go forth with closed eyes, and forbid thee
to inquire whither I am about to lead thee, until, having renounced thy
country, thou shalt have given thyself wholly to me.' And this is the
true proof of our obedience, when we are not wise in our own eyes, but
commit ourselves entirely unto the Lord. Whensoever, therefore, he
requires anything of us, we must not be so solicitous about success, as
to allow fear and anxiety to retard our course. For it is better, with
closed eyes, to follow God as our guide, than, by relying on our own
prudence, to wander through those circuitous paths which it devises for
us. Should any one object, that this statement is at variance with the
former sentence, in which Moses declared that Terah and Abram departed
from their own country, that they might come into the land of Canaan: the
solution is easy, if we admit a prolepsis (that is, an anticipation on
something still future) in the expression of Moses; such as follows in
this very chapter, in the use of the name Bethel; and such as frequently
occurs in the Scriptures. They knew not whither they were going; but
because they had resolved to go whithersoever God might call them, Moses,
speaking in his own person, mentions the land, which, though hitherto
unknown to them both, was afterwards revealed to Abram alone. It is
therefore true, that they departed with the design of coming to the land
of Canaan; because, having received the promise concerning a land which
was to be shown them, they suffered themselves to be governed by God,
until he should actually bestow what he had promised. Nevertheless it may
be, that God, having proved the devotedness of Abram, soon afterwards
removed all doubt from his mind. For we do not know at what precise
moment of time, God would intimate to him what it was his will to conceal
only for a season. It is enough that Abram declared himself to be truly
obedient to God, when, having cast all his care on God's providence, and
having discharged, as it were, into His bosom, whatever might have
impeded him, he did not hesitate to leave his own country, uncertain
where, at length, he might plant his foot; for, by this method, the
wisdom of the flesh was reduced to order, and all his affections, at the
same time, were subdued. Yet it may be asked, why God sent his servant
into the land of Canaan rather than into the East, where he could have
lived with some other of the holy fathers? Some (in order that the change
may not seem to have been made for the worse) will have it, that he was
led thither, for the purpose of dwelling with his ancestor Shem, whom
they imagine to have been Melchizedek. But if such were the counsel of
God, it is strange that Abram bent his steps in a different direction;
nay, we do not read that he met with Melchizedek, till he was returning
from the battle in the plain of Sodom. But, in its proper place, we shall
see how frivolous is the imagination, that Melchizedek was Shem. As it
concerns the subject now in hand, we infer, from the result which at
length followed, that God's design was very different from what these men
suppose. The nations of Canaan, on account of their deplorable
wickedness, were devoted to destruction. God required his servant to
sojourn among them for a time, that, by faith, he might perceive himself
to be the heir of that land, the actual possession of which was reserved
for his posterity to a long period after his own death. Wherefore he was
commanded to cross over into that country, for this sole reason, that it
was to be evacuated by its inhabitants, for the purpose of being given to
his seed for a possession. And it was of great importance, that Abram,
Isaac, and Jacob, should be strangers in that land, and should by faith
embrace the dominion over it, which had been divinely promised them, in
order that their posterity might, with the greater courage, gird
themselves to take possession of it.

2. "And I will make of thee a great nation." Hitherto Moses has related
what Abram had been commanded to do; now he annexes the promise of God to
the command; and that for no light cause. For as we are slothful to obey,
the Lord would command in vain, unless we are animated by a superadded
confidence in his grace and benediction. Although I have before alluded
to this, in the history of Noah, it will not be useless to inculcate it
again, for the passage itself requires something to be said; and the
repetition of a doctrine of such great moment ought not to seem
superfluous. For it is certain that faith cannot stand, unless it be
founded on the promises of God. But faith alone produces obedience.
Therefore in order that our minds may be disposed to follow God, it is
not sufficient for him simply to command what he pleases, unless he also
promises his blessing. We must mark the promise, that Abram, whose wife
was still barren, should become a great nation. This promise might have
been very efficacious, if God, by the actual state of things, had
afforded ground of hope respecting its fulfilment; but now, seeing that
the barrenness of his wife threatened him with perpetual privation of
offspring, the bare promise itself would have been cold, if Abram had not
wholly depended upon the word of God; wherefore, though he perceives the
sterility of his wife, he yet apprehends, by hope, that great nation
which is promised by the word of God. And Isaiah greatly extols this act
of favour, that God, by his blessing, increased his servant Abram whom he
found alone and solitary to so great a nations (Isaiah 51: 2.) The noun
"goi", "my nation," (ver. 4,) though detestable to the Jews,' is in this
place, and in many others, taken as a term of honour. And it is here used
emphatically, to show that he should not only have posterity from his own
seed in great number, but a peculiar people, separated from others, who
should be called by his own name.
  "I will bless thee." This is partly added, to explain the preceding
sentence. For, lest Abram should despair, God offers his own blessing,
which was able to effect more in the way of miracle, than is seen to be
effected, in other cases, by natural means. The benediction, however,
here pronounced, extends farther than to offspring; and implies, that he
should have a prosperous and joyous issue of all his affairs; as appears
from the succeeding context, "And will make thy name great, and thou
shalt be a bleeping." For such happiness is promised him, as shall fill
all men everywhere with admiration, so that they shall introduce the name
of Abram, as an example, into their formularies of pronouncing
benediction. Others use the term in the sense of augmentation, 'Thou
shalt be a blessing,' that is, 'All shall bless thee.' But the former
sense is the more suitable. Some also expound it actively, as if it had
been said, 'My grace shall not reside in thee, so that thou alone mayest
enjoy it, but it shall flow far unto all nations. I therefore now so
deposit it with thee, that it may overflow into all the world.' But God
does not yet proceed to that communication, as I shall show presently.

3. "And I will bless them that bless thee." Here the extraordinary
kindness of God manifests itself, in that he familiarly makes a covenant
with Abram, as men are wont to do with their companions and equals. For
this is the accustomed form of covenants between kings and others, that
they mutually promise to have the same enemies and the same friends. This
certainly is an inestimable pledge of special love, that God should so
greatly condescend for our sake. For although he here addresses one man
only, he elsewhere declares the same affection towards his faithful
people. We may therefore infer this general doctrine, that God so
embraced us with his favour, that he will bless our friends, and take
vengeance on our enemies. We are, moreover, warned by this passage, that
however desirous the sons of God may be of peace, they will never want
enemies. Certainly, of all persons who ever conducted themselves so
peaceably among men as to deserve the esteem of all, Abram might be
reckoned among the chief, yet even he was not without enemies; because he
had the devil for his adversary, who holds the wicked in his hand, whom
he incessantly impels to molest the good. There is then, no reason why
the ingratitude of the world should dishearten us, even though many hate
us without cause, and, when provoked by no injury, study to do us harm;
but let us be content with this single consolation, that God engages on
our side in the war. Besides, God exhorts his people to cultivate
fidelity and humanity with all good men, and, further, to abstain from
all injury. For this is no common inducement to excite us to assist the
faithful, that if we discharge any duty towards them, God will repay it;
nor ought it less to alarm us, that he denounces war against us, if we
hurt any one belonging to him.
  "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." Should any one
choose to understand this passage in a restricted sense, as if, by a
proverbial mode of speech, they who shall bless their children or their
friends, shall be called after the name of Abram, let him enjoy his
opinion; for the Hebrew phrase will bear the interpretation, that Abram
shall be called a signal example of happiness. But I extend the meaning
further; because I suppose the same thing to be promised in this place,
which God afterwards repeats more clearly, (22: 18.) And the authority of
Paul brings me to this point; who says, that the promise to the seed of
Abraham, that is, to Christ, was given four hundred and thirty years
before the law, (Gal. 3: 17.) But the computation of years requires us to
understand, that the blessing was promised him in Christ, when he was
coming into the land of Canaan. Therefore God (in my judgment) pronounces
that all nations should be blessed in his servant Abram because Christ
was included in his loins. In this manner, he not only intimates that
Abram would be an example, but a cause of blessing; so that there should
be an understood antithesis between Adam and Christ. For whereas, from
the time of the first man's alienation from God, we are all born
accursed, here a new remedy is offered unto us. Nor is there any thing
contrary to this in the assertion, that we must by no means seek a
blessing in Abram himself, inasmuch as the expression is used in
reference to Christ. Here the Jews petulantly object, and heap together
many testimonies of Scripture, from which it appears that to bless or
curse in any one, is nothing else than to wish good or evil to another,
according to him as a pattern. But their cavil may be set aside without
difficulty. I acknowledge, that what they say is often, but not always
true. For when it is said, that the tribe of Levi shall bless in the name
of God, in Deut. 10: 8; Isa. 65: 16, and in similar passages, it is
sufficiently evident, that God is declared to be the fountain of all
good, in order that Israel may not seek any portion of good elsewhere
Seeing, therefore, that the language is ambiguous, let them grant the
necessity of choosing this, or the other sense, as may be most suitable
to the subject and the occasion. Now Paul assumes it as an axiom which is
received among all the pious, and which ought to be taken for granted,
that the whole human race is obnoxious to a curse, and therefore that the
holy people are blessed only through the grace of the Mediator. Whence he
concludes, that the covenant of salvation which God made with Abram, is
neither stable nor firm except in Christ. I therefore thus interpret the
present place; that God promises to his servant Abram that blessing which
shall afterwards flow down to all people. But because this subject will
be more amply explained else where, I now only briefly touch upon it.

4. "So Abram departed." They who suppose that God was now speaking to
Abram in Charran, lay hold of these words in support of their error. But
the cavil is easily refuted; for after Moses has mentioned the cause of
their departure, namely, that Abram had been constrained by the command
of God to leave his native soil, he now returns to the thread of the
history. Why Abram for a time should have remained in Charran, we do not
know, except that God laid his hand upon him, to prevent him from
immediately obtaining a sight of the land, which, although yet unknown,
he had nevertheless preferred to his own country. He is now said to have
departed from Charran, that he might complete the journey he had begun;
which also the next verse confirms, where it is said, that he took Sarai
his wife and Lot his nephew with him. As under the conduct and auspices
of his father Terah, they had departed from Chaldea; so now when Abram is
become the head of the family, he pursues and completes what his father
had begun. Still it is possible, that the Lord again exhorted him to
proceed, the death of his father having intervened, and that he confirmed
his former call by a second oracle. It is however certain, that in this
place the obedience of faith is commended, and not as one act simply, but
as a constant and perpetual course of life. For I do not doubt, but Moses
intended to say, that Abram remained in Charran, not because he repented,
as if he was inclined to swerve from the straight course of his vocation,
but as having the command of God always fixed in his mind. And therefore
I would rather refer the clause, "As the Lord had spoken to him" to the
first oracle; so that Moses should say, 'he stood firmly in his purpose,
and his desire to obey God was not broken by the death of his father.'
Moreover, we have here in one word, a rule prescribed to us, for the
regulation of our whole life, which is to attempt nothing but by Divine
authority. For, however men may dispute concerning virtues and duties, no
work is worthy of praise, or deserves to be reckoned among virtues,
except what is pleasing to God. And he himself testifies, that he makes

(continued in part 19...)

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