And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if you be able to number them…
That the Lord assumed any visible form is not likely, and it would lessen the sweetness, solitude, and sublimity of the incident. No! Abraham stands there alone, like a grey granite rock glimmering in the light of stars. Behind him are his tents, where every eye is closed in slumber. Around stretches the wide solitary plain, with the hills of Hebron in the distance. Above is the illimitable firmament, not, as in this climate, spotted here and there with patches and streaks, and points of splendour, but hanging down like a roof of solid and compacted gold; the points, and streaks, and patches being those of the darkness, and serving to relieve the intensity, and to measure the depth of the surrounding glory. In the clear air of the Eastern night, the breeze of midnight blowing and increasing the transparency, as well as the coolness of the atmosphere, the stars look myriads and millions, the Pleiades appear, not as to us, "a nest of fireflies tangled in a silver braid," but a hundred distinct particles of glowing light; Orion seems not to us a giant half seen through wisps of mist, but like Nebuchadnezzar's golden image in the plain of Dura, blazing equally from every limb; constellations unknown to, or dimly seen in our latitudes, here sparkle like gems of various colours, red, blue, purple, and green; and although only a section of the Great Bear looms above the northern horizon, the southern man is not conscious of the mutilation, and sees instead — oh! rapturous object to the Christian heart, although Abraham is not yet aware of the import of the solemn symbol — the Cross of the South, with its unequal and tremulous, but beautiful angles, appearing like a tree of glory on the remotest verge of the horizon. And while Abraham is gazing at this mass of heavenly splendour, and vainly trying to number its bright atoms, there comes a whisper from above the stars, which, as it passes along, hushes the breeze of night, the voice of distant streams, and the roar of wandering lions, and pierces the very core of his heart — "So shall thy seed be. There are their numbers already registered in the book of heaven."
Parallel VersesKJV: And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.