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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Hebrews 11

 

 

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Verse 1

Hebrews 11:1. ἔστι δὲ πίστις, now faith is) This is resumed from ch. Hebrews 10:39. And the apostle gives in this passage that definition of faith, which is most suitable to his purpose of confirming the minds of the brethren.— ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις, πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων, the substance of those things which are hoped for, the proof of things which are not seen) Things which are hoped for, are the species; things which are not seen, are the genus: for the former are merely future and pleasant to us; the latter also are past or present, and either pleasant or painful to ourselves or others, Hebrews 11:3; Hebrews 11:7-8; Hebrews 11:27; Hebrews 11:29. Whence the two clauses of this verse, in which there is an Asyndeton (absence of the copulative conjunction), have a gradation. Moreover, as the things which are not seen are to the things which are hoped for, so is the proof of the things to the substance; and therefore faith is the substance by which the future things, that are hoped for, are represented (vividly realized), or are set before us as present: and the same (faith) is the proof of the things, by which those things which are not seen are set before us as solid realities ( πράγματα). That which is absent is opposed to substance; a non-entity, a dream, is opposed to the proof or evidence of things. Whence it is clear how closely the two words πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος cohere, so that they form, as it were, a compound word, πραγμάτων- ἔλεγχος; and why the word, things, is put in the last, and not also in the first clause. ὑπόστασις, substance, is opposed to τῇ ὑποστολῇ, drawing back, which was lately repudiated, ch. 10, at the end; for the metaphor is taken from a pillar standing under a heavy weight, and denotes patience and constancy, καρτερίαν; comp. Hebrews 11:27. ὑπόστασις in the Vulgate is translated substantia, which is correct; for substance is opposed to opinion, l. 10, § 1, Digest. de diversis temporalibus præscriptionibus, et de accessionibus possessionum, and elsewhere. Substance then has reference to a thing which is certain, and therefore also to a thing which is present. Things future are represented (vividly realized) by faith: ἔλεγχος is evidence or proof also in the peculiar language of philosophers. ὑπόστασις, substance, is put first; and then πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος, the proof, or evidence of things; but the examples, which follow, relate in the first instance to the proof of the things, Hebrews 11:3, etc., and in the second place, to the substance of those things which are hoped for, Hebrews 11:6, etc. Chiasmus.


Verse 2

Hebrews 11:2. ἐν ταύτῃ, in it) in faith, i.e. by faith, in the following verses: κατὰ πίστιν, according to (in) faith; διὰ πίστιν, through faith, Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 11:33.— γὰρ, for) Paul shows the nature of faith from the examples of men in the times of old. Many things, which they hoped for and did not see, subsequently came to pass and were conspicuously seen, the event confirming faith.— ἐμαρτυρήθησαν, obtained a good report) This word is very full of meaning. GOD not only gave His testimony concerning them, but also partly to them. They RECEIVED THE TESTIMONY, an equivalent to the things themselves; comp. Hebrews 11:4-5; Hebrews 11:39. From this circumstance, they also became witnesses; so that they themselves might testify to others, and that others might testify concerning them; ch. Hebrews 12:1.— οἱ πρεσβύτεροι) the elders, who lived both formerly and for a long time. He does not say, οἱ ἀρχαῖοι, the ancients, but the elders, as it were by personification, inasmuch as they still give their powerful testimony, as if they were present; comp. ch. Hebrews 12:1. This is an excellent summary of the Old Testament, in which the apostle, by a remarkable gradation, comprehends the pursuits of those men of former times—their labours, journeyings, expectations, temptations, martyrdoms; and shows how we ought to seek, in all its fulness, under the veil of history, the substance of doctrine sometimes briefly indicated. Those of them who were earlier, had the exercise of their patience most chiefly during a long period of life; those who were later, in the midst of sharper afflictions.


Verse 3

Hebrews 11:3. πίστει, by faith) To a certain extent also without faith, Romans 1:20; but much more by faith, which, for example, is put (has scope for exercise), in ch. 1 of Genesis.— νοοῦμεν, we understand) The Elders, of whom mention is on that account previously made in the second verse, also understood it. Adam also, who was created after all the rest, understood what he did not see done, but believed to have been done; but concerning his faith, Moses maintains a very mysterious silence; and the apostle follows Moses, except that, in mentioning these things before the sacrifice of Abel, he virtually recognises the faith of those who were first created. Adam is only brought into view as the root of our misery; keeping out of view the other things which might have been said of him.— κατηρτίσθαι, were framed) καταρτισμὸς, the framing (the putting together), consolidation of the whole world, includes the creation of single parts, and a continual providence throughout all ages, in wonderful harmony.— τοὺς αἰῶνας) the worlds, the ages. A grand plural, in which is intimated the course onward to the goal of the heaven and the earth, and all things which are in them, visible and invisible, and, subsequently, their everlasting condition when their course is terminated; and whatever change may at length take place, accompanying the termination. And as creation is the foundation and exhibition (a specimen) of the whole Divine economy, so faith in creation is the foundation and exhibition (a specimen) of all faith.— ῥήματι, by the word) by the command, by the power, without matter or instrument. This accords with what immediately follows.— εἰς τὸ) so that. Comp. εἰς τὸ, 2 Corinthians 7:3. οἱ αἰῶνες, the ages, embrace many things which are not seen; and we may be less disposed to wonder at our only understanding by faith, that they were produced by the word of GOD but that the creation of these things which are seen was thus effected, we best understand by faith alone;—a fact which shows much more the wonderful power of faith. There is an amplification of τὸ κατηρτίσθαι, were framed, by means of this clause.— μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὰ βλεπόμενα γεγονέναι) The distinction of the words must be especially noticed. φαίνομαι, I appear, begin to be seen, with the idea of commencement: βλέπομαι, l am seen, I am before the eyes. τὰ βλεπόμενα, the things which are seen, exist, and in our days are the light, the sky, the earth, the stars, etc.; but the same things were appearing, or beginning to be seen ( φαινόμενα), at the time when they were made ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων, out of things not existing, 2 Maccabees 7:28, and were ordered to come forth: and so indeed it might be said, ἐκ φαινομένων τὰ βλεπόμενα γεγονέναι, namely, as to (in) themselves; that is, that the things which are seen to-day, were appearing (commencing to be seen) at the beginning; they were not from eternity, but began to appear and to be conspicuous at some particular time, whereas they formerly did not exist; comp. ἐκ, from, Romans 6:13. But in respect of us, the apostle, by putting not before it, expresses a different meaning, and declares μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων, κ. τ. λ., that the things which are seen were not made of the things which do appear [of things beginning to be seen, viz. by us, in the act of their creation]. For it was when the world was already produced, that both the first man was created and we are born. We were not spectators of the creation. Let that Question of the Creator, Job 38:4, etc., be considered. By faith, therefore, we perceive the creation; faith has, both backwards and forwards, scope for its exercise (materials on which it may be exercised). Hence it is evident, that the particles, μὴ ἐκ, not from, should be explained in their order; although sometimes οὐ or μὴ, not, with a preposition, is transposed for the sake of softening the expression [imparting ἦθος and courtesy to the language], without in general affecting the sense, as 1 Chronicles 15:13, οὐκ ἐν τῷ πρότερον ὑμᾶς εἶναι, in your not being formerly employed for this service, i.e. before you were employed.


Verse 4

Hebrews 11:4. πλείονα) a more excellent, preferable, and on that account more highly esteemed. Each of the brothers followed his own mode of life in offering the sacrifice. But Abel conducted himself more righteously in the kind of sacrifice which he offered. The husbandman, Cain, brought an offering of the fruits of the earth: Abel, a pastor of sheep, brought of their firstlings and fat. Here, then, the latter took the best which he had,—a thing which the former is not said to have done. At the same time the offering of Cain merely implied a confession of obligation; the sacrifice (victima) of Abel, a confession of sin and a desire of atonement. This was quite consonant with faith.— παρὰ κάϊν, than Cain) who was defective in faith, and therefore without the Divine testimony.— διʼ ἧς, by which) He obtained by faith both righteousness and the testimony of righteousness, Hebrews 11:7.— μαρτυροῦντος, testifying) For ἐπεῖδεν, God looked upon, had respect to, Genesis 4:4, by a certain sign, which was also seen by Cain.(69)διʼ αὐτῆς, by it) faith; construed with ἀποθανὼν, being dead [having died in it. But Engl. Vers. construes it with speaketh]; comp. Hebrews 11:13; for διὰ has the same meaning as κατὰ or ἐν; 1 Timothy 2:15.— λαλεῖ, speaks) speaks of himself, and those like himself, against the followers of Cain; ch. Hebrews 12:24.


Verse 5

Hebrews 11:5. ΄ετετέθη, was translated) Wherefore was he translated? Our faith waits for this. Genesis 5:22; Genesis 5:24, LXX., εὐηρέστησε δὲ ἐνὼχ τῷ θεῷκαὶ εὐηρέστησε ἐνὼχ τῷ θεῷ, καὶ οὐχʼ εὑρίσκετο, ὅτι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν θεός.— μὴ, not) He was therefore translated from mortality without death to immortality.— πρὸ, before) Construed with εὐηρεστηκέναι, to have pleased [He had the testimony that he pleased God before his translation].— εὐηρεστηκέναι, to have pleased) Instead of to walk with GOD, before GOD, the LXX. have εὐαρεστεῖν, also Genesis 6:9; Genesis 17:1; Genesis 24:40; Genesis 48:15; Psalms 116:9. Comp. Psalms 26:3; Psalms 35:14 [Heb. I walked]. It not only signifies to please, in a passive sense, but implies the desire of pleasing. Therefore Genesis 39:4, שרת is εὐαρεστεῖν: comp. ἀρέσαι, Romans 8:8, notes.


Verse 6

Hebrews 11:6. χωρὶς, without) He proves by the event the faith of Enoch.— εὐαρεστῆσαι) to please, to show one’s self pleasing to. The parallel presently occurs, προσέρχεσθαι τῷ θεῷ, to come to GOD, to walk with God. Therefore the apostle, with skilful design, joins the Hebrew and Greek text.— πιστεῦσαι, believe) Enoch had been favoured with no divine appearance, as we may gather from this passage; so neither had Moses before he left Egypt, Hebrews 11:27. The position (thesis), that he is, etc., was strongly felt by Enoch, and is asserted from the faith of Enoch. The faith of Enoch, which is described in a manner so singular, seems to have had not very many perspicuous Data. Otherwise his faith would not be, as it is, reduced in Paul’s description exclusively to this point.— δεῖ, must) The inference which is found in this passage, is intended to be necessary and strong.— τῷ θεῷ, to GOD) inasmuch as He is invisible, Hebrews 11:27.— ὅτι ἐστὶ) that He is. Hence ων is used absolutely, Wisdom of Solomon 13:1; comp. πραγμάτων, of things, note, Hebrews 11:1. He who walks with God, acknowledges Him to be God. This is opposed to antediluvian atheism.— καὶ) This word also depends on ὅτι.— τοῖς) of them, not of others.— ἐκζητοῦσιν, who earnestly seek) without seeing Him. A grand compound [seek out].— μισθαποδότης, rewarder) for example, of Enoch, whom He translated.— γίνεται, that He will be) The future bestowing of the reward is intended. The reward is He himself, who is earnestly sought [sought out]. WITH GOD, says Moses, and signifies thereby communion (with God: “Enoch walked with God).”


Verse 7

Hebrews 11:7. χρηματισθεὶς, being warned by God) A prophetical revelation does not take away faith, Hebrews 11:20, etc.— περὶ) of the deluge, that was to come; construed with the foregoing participle.— εὐλαβηθεὶς, moved with fear) The same participle occurs, Acts 23:10. On the other hand, the world, not believing, did not fear, and did not use any means of repentance or escape. It despised and laughed in security.— κιβωτὸν, an ark) The omission of the article is agreeable to that extraordinary building.— διʼ ἧς) by which, viz. faith, Hebrews 11:4.— κατέκρινε) condemned, by a remarkable testimony.— τὸν κόσμον, the world) which was very unlike Noah.— τῆς κατὰ πίστιν δικαιοσύνης, of the righteousness which is according to faith) So Paul, Romans 1:17 : κατὰ is used in the same way, Titus 1:1. Noah איש צדיק, ἄνθρωπος δίκαιος, a righteous man, Genesis 6:9; δικαιοσύνης κήρυξ, a preacher of righteousness, 2 Peter 2:5.— κληρονόμος, heir) in the succession of the patriarchs, of whom there was always some one at the head of them who believed the promise, and from whom they were sprung. The word is appropriate here, and therefore of frequent occurrence, Hebrews 11:8-9, in the same way as ἐπαγγελία, the promise, Hebrews 11:9; Hebrews 11:11; Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 11:17; Hebrews 11:33; Hebrews 11:39.


Verse 8

Hebrews 11:8. ἀβραὰμ, Abraham) Romans 4:1; Romans 4:16, etc.— ὑπήκουσεν ἐξελθεῖν, καὶ ἐξῆλθε, obeyed so as that he should go out, and went out) A gradation [but Engl. Vers. joins ἐξελθεῖν with καλούμενος]; comp. 2 Corinthians 8 Hebrews 11:10, at the end, and Hebrews 11:11.— ἔμελλε) A word adapted to future events. So Hebrews 11:20; with which comp. Hebrews 11:1.— μὴ ἐπιστάμενος, not knowing) Comp. Acts 7:3, at the end.


Verse 9

Hebrews 11:9. παρῴκησεν) He went to dwell as a stranger in, Hebrews 11:13, note.— τῆς ἐπαγγελίας, of the promise) It had been promised immediately, Genesis 12:7.— ἐν σκηναῖς, in tabernacles) Genesis 12:8 : πάροικοι, strangers (new-comers, sojourners) use tents. The antithesis is πόλις, a city, Hebrews 11:10.— μετὰ, with) The same mode of living, a proof of the same faith. It is construed with παρῴκησεν, was a stranger.— καὶ ἰακὼβ, and Jacob) He was fifteen years old at the death of Abraham.— τῶν συγκληρονόμων, joint-heirs) In no other place are sons called joint-heirs with their parents, but merely heirs. Isaac did not acknowledge himself indebted for the inheritance to Abraham, nor Jacob to Isaac, but they received it severally from God Himself. This expression, the heirs of the promise, and ἐπέτυχε τησ ἐπαγγελίας, he obtained THE promise, Hebrews 6:17, Hebrews 12:15, are said of the very thing promised; but both phrases in this chap. Hebrews 11:9; Hebrews 11:33, the joint-heirs of the promise, and ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν (without the article τῶν), obtained promises, and in like manner, Hebrews 11:17, τὰς ἐπυγγελίας ἀναδεξάμενος, he who received the promises, are said of the promise of something future: and believers are said to receive, to obtain, λαμβάνειν, κομιζεσθαι, the very thing promised, especially in this same chapter, Hebrews 11:13; Hebrews 11:39. The difference of expressions is suitable to the different scope of ch. 6 and 9; for in ch. 6 the condition itself of men in former times is commended, and proposed as an example; but in ch. 11 the condition of New Testament believers is celebrated above the other (viz. that of Old Testament believers).


Verse 10

Hebrews 11:10. τοὺς θεμελίους, the foundations) which the tents had not. Of these foundations, see Revelation 21:14.— πόλιν, a city) which is not removed (as a tent is): v. 16.— ἧς, whose) which is worthy of GOD, its founder.— τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς, [builder and maker] contriver and founder) The synonymous terms intimate, that the whole city was founded and completed by Him alone: He not only made it, but also found it [ch. Hebrews 9:12, εὑράμενος].


Verse 11

Hebrews 11:11. καὶ αὐτὴ) even herself, the weaker vessel.— σπέρματος, seed) by her aged husband.— παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας, past age, past the time of life) Paul has a similar passage, Romans 4:19.— πιστὸν ἡγήσατο, she judged Him faithful) Otherwise she would not have laughed. The laughter argued a mixture of distrust; but yet more of faith, especially after the reproof.


Verse 12

Hebrews 11:12. ἀφʼ ἑνὸς, from one) from Abraham, by Sarah.— ἐγεννήθησαν) sprung, namely, sons.


Verse 13

Hebrews 11:13. κατὰ πίστιν, according to or in faith) He does not say here, πίστει, by faith, for κατὰ πίστιν, in faith, accords better with the word, ἀπέθανον, they died. Comp. κατὰ, Matthew 1:20.— ἀπέθανον, died) Faith becomes very strong at the hour of death; Hebrews 11:20, etc.: and at that period hope with respect to things invisible and future is most resplendent.— οὗτοι, these) The pronoun is to be referred to the persons who are mentioned from Hebrews 11:8, being those who obtained more distinct promises.— τὰς ἐπαγγελίας, the promises i.e. the things which had been promised, Hebrews 11:39 : good, nay, heavenly things, Hebrews 11:13, at the end.— ἰδόντες καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι, having seen and embraced them) This expression makes an Oxymoron with πόρρωθεν, afar off, in which Paul delights; for Eustathius explains ἀσπάζεσθαι, to clasp or draw a person to one’s self by grasping his hand, and to embrace him; and this is the custom of friends when they meet. The faith of the ancients is thus exquisitely described; and the passage seems plainly to refer to John 8:56, Abraham saw Christ’s day, and was glad.— ὁμολογήσαντες, having confessed) willingly. The confession of being strangers arises from their embracing heavenly things.— ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι) Genesis 23:4, πάροικος καὶ παρεπίδημος ἐγώ εἰμι: ibid. Genesis 47:9, αἱ ἡμέραι ἅς παροικῶἃς ἡμέρας παρῴκησαν: παρὰ in παρεπίδημοι, diminishes the signification. Worldly men hold fast the world; believers scarcely cling to it in any part, either in deed, or at least with their heart.— ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς, upon the earth) An antithesis to ἐπουρανίου, heavenly, Hebrews 11:16.


Verse 14

Hebrews 11:14. ἐμφανίζουσιν, show) A remarkable word. Isaiah 3:9, לא כהדו, they did not deny, they declared.— ἐπιζητοῦσιν, they seek) Citizens of the world (Cosmopolitæ) do not call themselves strangers in the world (Cosmoxeni).


Verse 15

Hebrews 11:15. ἐμνημόνευον, they had remembered) They had forgotten, by faith.— καιρὸν, a time) an opportunity, during so many years.


Verse 16

Hebrews 11:16. οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται) God is not ashamed, although they are inhabitants of the earth, and strangers: He is not ashamed, because He has bestowed on them great blessedness, such as it becomes God to confer, and has fulfilled the promises which were made to them; therefore, not only is He not ashamed, but derives praise from it [glories in it]. A Meiosis. Or also, He is not ashamed, because they eagerly grasp at it ( ὀρέγονται); provided that it does not seem (only it must not be thought) as if God’s good pleasure (in them) was the meritorious consequence of their obedience.— ἐπικαλεῖσθαι, to be called) [to have Himself called.] A verb in the middle voice. First, He called Himself, then they so called Him: the GOD of Abraham, etc.— πόλιν, a city) in which He Himself reigns. [How great may we suppose the splendour to be that must belong to it, since it is God Himself who shows it!—V. g.]


Verse 17

Hebrews 11:17. προσενήνοχεν, offered) as far as it depended upon him.— τὸν μονογενῆ, only-begotten) in respect of his wife Sarah, and of the promises. Abraham sent away his other sons.— ) This word augments the subject, as , ch. Hebrews 7:4.— ἀναδεξάμενος, he who embraced) likewise by faith.


Verse 18

Hebrews 11:18. πρὸς ὃν, as to whom) The pronoun is to be referred to the only-begotten; nay, this verse gives a definition of the only-begotten. πρὸς, so far as concerns, has the force of limitation (determining the sense). The word had been spoken to Abraham, but referred to Isaac; comp. πρὸς, unto, in reference to, Luke 19:9.


Verse 19

Hebrews 11:19. καὶ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγείρειν δυνατὸς, was able to raise him even from the dead) although no example had hitherto occurred of the dead being raised. In like manner Paul commends the faith of Abraham, Romans 4:17; Romans 4:21. He reckoned (was firmly assured) that, if Isaac had been sacrificed, who had not yet wife nor children, he could notwithstanding be raised from the dead, and thus the promises would be fulfilled in him.— ὅθεν, whence) [wherefore.] An illative particle [not, from which state, i.e. from the dead].— καὶ ἐν παραβολῇ ἐκομίσατο, also he in a parable [or figure] bore(70) [‘tulit’] him) ἐν παραβολῇ, namely, ὤν. There is an expression very like this in Numbers 26:10, ἐγενήθησαν ἐν ση΄είῳ, they became a sign. Abraham not only bore [‘received’] his son, as he had previously conducted him to the mountain, but he also himself became a parable [figure], and so obtained a good report, Hebrews 11:2. For all posterity celebrates the faith of Abraham, who offered his only-begotten son: so παραβολὴ, Habakkuk 2:6, and elsewhere often.


Verses 20-22

Hebrews 11:20-22. πίστει, by faith) There are more specimens of faith in Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph; but the apostle considers it enough to give a single instance, in the case of each of them, concerning things mostly future.— εὐλόγησεν, blessed) assigning to both his sons things future, as if they were present.


Verse 21

Hebrews 11:21. ἀποθνήσκων, when dying) near death; Genesis 47:29.— τῶν υἱῶν ἰωσὴφ, the sons of Joseph) He also blessed his own sons, Genesis 49, and divided the land of Canaan among them, as if it had been already in their possession; but the blessing of the sons of Joseph, on both of whom he laid his hands, had many things extraordinary; for he knew his own sons long ago; whereas he could not distinguish the sons of Joseph by sight, and yet he distinguished them by faith, Genesis 48:10; and, from being grand-children, he declared them to be his sons, when he had transferred the right of primogeniture to Joseph, and had adopted his two children.— καὶ προσεκύνησεν) and worshipped the Lord; Genesis 47:31. The apostle has respect to that very thing which Moses mentioned as having been done by Israel, when the oath of Joseph gave him the assurance that he would be buried in the Land of Promise; comp. Hebrews 11:22 : whence the mind and body of the godly old man were raised.— ἐπὶ τὸ ἄκρον τῆς ῥάβδου αὐτοῦ) So plainly the LXX., in the passage quoted above, on the top of his staff. They read הַמַּטֶּה for that which is read in the Hebrew הַמִּטָּה, τῆς κλίνης, of the bed; as we find it also in the Chaldee Paraphrast, Aquila, and Symmachus. Jacob’s bed is also mentioned immediately after, Genesis 48:2; Genesis 49:33; and yet we may suppose that even then Jacob had a staff at his hand, for that is usual in the case of weak old men. Hombergkius compares Homer, who brings in his heroes speaking, and commonly uses the expression, σκήπτρῳ ἐρεισάμενος, leaning on his staff or sceptre; but the same individual afterwards translates the word προσεκύνησεν, bent himself, which weakens the sense. Moses does not mention Jacob speaking, much less standing, during that act of worship. There was greater reason for Moses mentioning both the bed and the head of the bed, than for his mentioning the rod and the top of the rod. For in like manner, in 1 Kings 1:47, King David worshipped on his bed: and Jacob, having slightly changed that position of body in which, reclining, he had received the oath of Joseph, sworn on his thigh [Genesis 47:29], and having turned his face from the other part of the bed and towards the top, where the bolster is ( ראש ἄκρον, the top of a mountain, of a wall, etc.), seems on his knees, and with collected strength to have worshipped, as in Genesis 48:2. However he might on the bed itself support his side or arm with a staff. “Thus some writers of both the Old and New Testament are accustomed to supply what has been omitted by others, and, as opportunity offers, to insert some things from the tradition of their ancestors, which were not much known in the course of ages.”—Surenhusius. Whether the apostle knew, from divine or human evidence, that the circumstance concerning the staff also was true, or considered that it made no difference in the main facts, he rightly retains the reading of the LXX., as afterwards at Hebrews 11:23.


Verse 22

Hebrews 11:22. ἐμνημόνευσε, [made mention of] remembered) He mentioned, what he had never forgotten, the promise made to their fathers, and as it were renewed it for the future.— περὶ τῶν ὀστέων, concerning his bones) so that even though dead he might leave Egypt, and come into the Land of Promise. Those who are without faith, either take no care, or a vain and foolish concern about their bones.


Verse 23

Hebrews 11:23. πίστει, by faith) It is not the faith of Moses that is referred to in this verse, but that of his parents; as in Hebrews 11:30 it is not the faith of the citizens of Jericho, but that of the Israelites.— πατέρων, of his fathers) In Exodus 2:2, the LXX. relate the fact as follows: and seeing that he was a goodly ( ἀστεῖον) child, they [not she, as in the Hebrew] hid him three months; and when they could no longer hide him, the mother took to him an ark or wicker-basket. In the Hebrew, the whole is ascribed to the mother; by the apostle, to the fathers. By the term, fathers, the Syrians understand father and mother; but we can scarcely prove that this was the case among the Hebrews and Greeks. Chrys. on this passage remarks, ἄρχεται ἀπὸ τῶν γονέων τοῦ ΄ωϋσέως, ἀσήμων τινῶν ανδρων: he begins with the parents ( γονεῖς) of Moses, some undistinguished MEN. Hesychius explains πατέρες as πλούσιοι πρόγονοι, wealthy [men of note], or ancestors. So πατέρες, Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 3:9, Hebrews 8:9; Ephesians 6:4, note. The LXX. never use γονεῖς for אבות, nor will it be found in the New Testament that πατέρας can be appropriately substituted for the word γονεῖς, which so often occurs. Moses was concealed by his fathers, that is, by his father (Amram) and by his grandfather, not the maternal grandfather, who was Levi himself, but by the paternal grandfather, who was (Kohath) Kahath. Therefore Kahath (Kohath) was alive when Moses was born. We find great advantage in the right explanation of this passage with respect to sacred chronology. See Ord. Temp., p. 68 [Ed. ii. p. 58].— εἶδον, they saw) with a kind of presage of great events.— ἀστεῖον, beautiful) Acts 7:20, note.— οὐκ ἐφοβήθησαν, they were not afraid) The mental feeling is put for the effect, Hebrews 11:27, note.


Verse 24

Hebrews 11:24. πίστει ΄ωϋσῆς, by faith, Moses) So far from faith being opposed to Moses, he was an eminent example of it. The name of Moses is repeated, because in Hebrews 11:23 the apostle is speaking of the faith of his parents, here of his own. Concerning the use of this observation, look, if you are at leisure, at the Apparatus, p. 725 [Ed. 11. p. 418].— μέγας γενόμενος) So the LXX., Exodus 2:11.— ἠρνήσατο, refused) An instance of great self-denial.


Verse 25

Hebrews 11:25. ἑλόμενος) Resolve it into, and he chose; but ἡγησάμενος, because he esteemed, Hebrews 11:26.— συγκακουχεῖσθαι, to suffer affliction with) The people had been oppressed. The antithesis is ἀπόλαυσιν, enjoyment.— πρόσκαιρον, for a season) It is opposed to faith expecting future things: it is therefore put emphatically before ἔχειν, to have.— ἁμαρτίας, of sin) in which he would have been involved in the court of Egypt, which was given to idolatry. At the same time the concrete, sinners, i.e. Egyptian sinners, is intended by the abstract. The antithesis is τοῦ θεοῦ, of God.


Verse 26

Hebrews 11:26. τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν τοῦ χριστοῦ, the reproach of Christ) So ch. Hebrews 13:13. The expectation of Christ, which Moses had in so great a degree, was the centre of all the things on account of which both the Egyptians and all the Gentiles despised Israel, especially circumcision, of which the opposite, uncircumcision, is called the reproach of Egypt, where circumcision was unknown, Joshua 5:9 : and yet Moses did not for that reason desert the people.— ἀπέβλεπε) he looked far forward.— τὴν μισθαποδοσίαν, to the recompence of reward) which follows the reproach of Christ, is more magnificent than the treasures of Egypt, and to be expected by Moses and all the saints. A grand expression.


Verse 27

Hebrews 11:27. ΄ὴ φοβηθεὶς, not dreading) He was indeed afraid, Exodus 2:14; and yet he did not dread. Either of these is distinctly known by its effect. He was afraid, and fled: he did not dread, and entirely disregarded, the view which the king might take either of the slaughter of the Egyptian or of his own flight. This was the attribute of faith, which afterwards enabled him firmly to withstand the king.— τὸν ἀόρατον) the invisible One, GOD.— ἐκαρτέρησε, he endured) steadily, with expectation, by the strength of faith. Hesychius: ἐκαραδόκουν, ἐκαρτέρουν, ἐπετήρουν.


Verse 28

Hebrews 11:28. πρόσχυσιν, sprinkling) זרק is often translated by the LXX. by προχέω. In Exodus 12 that word is not found.— ὀλοθρεύων, the Destroyer) So LXX., Exodus 12:23. He was undoubtedly a good angel. Comp. Acts 12:23, note.


Verse 29

Hebrews 11:29. διέβησαν, they passed through) Moses and Israel.— ἐρυθρὰν, red) The Sea of Edom: אדם, red.— πεῖραν λαβόντες, attempting) Rashness is denoted without faith. [By a daring not unlike this many rush into eternity.—V. g.] When two do the same thing, it is not the same thing. So far does the apostle draw his examples out of the writings of Moses, and his Genesis and Exodus: in what follows, examples are derived from the earlier and later prophets.


Verse 30

Hebrews 11:30. κυκλωθέντα) compassed about, without machines, LXX., Joshua 6:6 (7). The faith of Joshua is virtually praised in this passage; and yet the miraculous arresting of the sun in his course is not mentioned, because there was to be nothing else like it in any future period: Joshua 10:12; Joshua 10:14.— ἐπὶ ἑπτὰ ἡμέρας) for seven days. In other places many sieges lasted many years.


Verse 31

Hebrews 11:31. πόρνη, the harlot) אשה זונה, LXX. γυνὴ πορνὴ, a woman a harlot, Joshua 2:1. This ground, on which Rahab was accustomed to receive strangers, even adds to our wonder that she was afterwards preserved.


Verse 32

Hebrews 11:32. περὶ, concerning) συναθροισμὸς and a remarkable congeries,(71) first Subjects, then Predicates.— γεδεὼν, κ. τ. λ.) The order of time is Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Samuel, David, the prophets; and the reason of the change may be gathered from the note on the following verse. The Greek orthography is the same as in the LXX., יפתח, ἰεφθάε, ε for χ, as in νῶε.— σαμουὴλ, Samuel) The mention of the prophets is properly put after Samuel. David was also a prophet; but Samuel was a prophet, not a king.— τῶν προφητῶν, of the prophets) Elijah, Isaiah, etc. Other believers are also intended, who were in any way connected with the prophets.


Verse 33-34

Hebrews 11:33-34. οἱἀλλοτρίων, who—of aliens) After he had just enumerated seven Subjects, he adds nine Predicates, and the verbs weightily (forcibly) begin the clauses. For it is of David especially that those words are used, κατηγωνίσαντο βασιλείας, they subdued kingdoms; 2 Samuel 8:1, etc. Of Samuel, εἰργάσαντο δικαιοσύνην, they wrought righteousness; 1 Samuel 8:9; 1 Samuel 12:3, etc., 1 Samuel 12:23, 1 Samuel 15:33. Finally, of the prophets generally, ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν, they obtained promises: for it was to them properly speaking that this was vouchsafed, that the promises, afterwards to be fulfilled in Christ, were put forth by them: for example, Daniel 9:21. Here the meaning of the phrase agrees with the word, prophets. So we say in the present day, to obtain a diploma: comp. note on Hebrews 11:9. It is likewise said of the prophets, ἔφραξαν στόματα λεόντων, ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρὸς, they shut the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, Daniel 6:22 (where the LXX. have the same phrase), Daniel 3:27 : which are the last miracles mentioned in the Old Testament, and that too in the Hagiographa. And in this passage, what is ascribed to GOD and His angel in the passage quoted, is predicated of believers themselves. In short, to these examples, from which faith more manifestly shines forth, those more ancient examples are subjoined which receive evidence from them, by the figure Chiasmus (such as we find at Matthew 22:46), and in retrograde order;(72) for it is said especially of Jephthah, ἔφυγον στόμα μαχαίρας, they escaped the edge of the sword, Judges 12:3 : of Samson, ἐνεδυναμώθησαν ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας, out of weakness were made strong, Judges 15:19; Judges 16:28-29 : of Barak, ἐγενήθησαν ἰσχυροὶ ἐν πολέμῳ, became valiant in fight, Judges 4:14-15 : of Gideon, παρεμβολὰς ἔκλιναν ἀλλοτρίων, turned to flight the armies (the camp) of the aliens, Judges 7:21 : so that these four predicates, comp. Hebrews 11:32, correspond individually (severally, respectively) to as many subjects in retrograde order, including the gradation. Thus faith animates the greatest, nay, heroic deeds, both civil and military. Finally, observe that the authority of the earlier and later prophets is summarily approved by this group (congeries) of subjects and predicates.


Verse 34

Hebrews 11:34. ἔκλιναν, drove back) by putting the enemy to flight, and by their slaughter of one another.— ἀλλοτρίων, of aliens) i.e. of enemies.


Verse 35

Hebrews 11:35. ἔλαβον, women received) They as it were snatched them (rescued them).— γυναῖκες, women) that were believers, naturally weak.— ἐξ ἀναστάσεως, out of or from the resurrection) He says, from, not by. They anticipated a future resurrection.— νεκροὺς) dead sons, 1 Kings 17:22; 2 Kings 4:35.— ἄλλοι δὲ, and others) He comes from them that act to them that suffer (although Abel, Hebrews 11:4, was already long ago an example of one both acting and suffering); and the particle δὲ, but, makes an emphatic addition (Epitasis). The ἄλλοι, others, distinguishes these genera; the word ἓτεροι, others, Hebrews 11:36, distinguishes the species of sufferers. Paul observes the same distinction, 1 Corinthians 12:8-9.— ἐτυμπανίσθησαν) τύμπανον, a drum-stick, then a cudgel with which men were beaten to death; French, bastonnade; ἐτυμπανίσθησαν, they were beaten with clubs. Hesychius: ἐτυμπανίσθησαν, ἐκρεμάσθησαν, ἐσφαιρίσθησαν. The Vulgate, they were distended (distenti sunt): for as in a drum the parchment or skin is distended, so in this kind of punishment the bodies were distended, that they

1. γεδεὼν

παρεμβολὰς ἔκλιναν ἀλλοτρίων.

2. βαρὰκ

ἐγενήθησαν ἰσχυροὶ ἐν πολέμῳ.

3. σαμψὼν

ἐνεδυναμώθησαν ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας.

4. ἰεφθάε

ἔφυγον στόμα μαχαίρας.

5. δαυὶδ

κατηγωνίσαντο βασιλείας.

6. σαμουὴλ

εἰργάσαντο δικαιοσύνην.

7. προφητῶν

ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν,

ἔφραξαν στόματα λεόντων,

ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρός.

might more readily receive the blow. The apostle refers to Eleazar in the persecution of Antiochus, 2 Maccabees 6, of whom at Hebrews 11:20 we have the following account: he came of his own accord to the torture ( ἐπὶ τὸ τύμπανον); again at Hebrews 11:28 : and at Hebrews 11:30, but when he was at the point of death by the blows, he groaned, and said, It is manifest to the Lord, who has the holy knowledge, that though I might have been delivered ( ἀπολυθῆναι) from death, I endure these severe pains in my body, being beaten, etc. Furthermore, as τυμπανίζειν is to beat with clubs, so ἀποτυμπανίζειν, is to Kill with clubs; and the apostle uses the simple verb, because after τυμπάνων πεῖραν (comp. Hebrews 11:36), after they had made trial of this species of torture, they might, if they were disposed to break their faith, have even still accepted of deliverance ( ἀπολύτρωσιν). See Suicer’s Thesaurus, which also proves the fact from Gataker, that this word is frequently used to express any violent death. I fancy the reason is, because clubs are a kind of arms most generally met with in all tumults and in a concourse of people: at least in this very passage the apostle seems to point to all kinds of death caused by tumults and inflicted by clubs (in which is included the mode adopted by Antiochus [the tympanum], and mentioned as surpassing the other instruments of torture), and in the following verse he comes to more exquisite punishments [punishments more refined in cruelty]. But the passive form has the middle signification: They suffered themselves to be beaten with clubs. So also Hebrews 11:37, comp. Hebrews 11:36.— τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν, deliverance) Eleazar, as we have already seen, used the word ἀπολυθῆναι. The writer of the second book of Maccabees took care to make it appear, that he stood in need of some indulgence; he pleads his excuse, 2 Maccabees 2:24-32 : but yet the history of the Jewish people from the building of the second temple to the beginning of the New Testament is exceedingly valuable.— κρείττονος, better) This resurrection is better than that which restores mortal life. There is a reference to the beginning of this verse. The antithesis is plain: Women received their dead and recovered them from the resurrection (resuscitation) to a temporal life; [in antithesis to]: Martyrs, who were subjected to death, set before their minds a better resurrection, not to temporal but to eternal life. Comp. 2 Maccabees 7:9; 2 Maccabees 7:11; 2 Maccabees 7:14; 2 Maccabees 7:29; 2 Maccabees 7:36.


Verse 36

Hebrews 11:36. ἐμπαιγμῶν καὶ μαστίγων) The same words occur, 2 Maccabees 7:7; 2 Maccabees 7:1.— πεῖραν ἔλαβον, had trial) This phrase increases the praise of constancy. The bitterness of experience showed many their weakness, who thought themselves strong. The same form of expression occurs at Deuteronomy 28:56. The delicate and refined (the prosperous) are unacquainted with this experience, only let them not (it is well if they do not) flee from it.— ἔτι δὲ, yea, moreover) An increment in force ( αὔξησις, advancing from weaker to stronger expressions); comp. Luke 14:26.— δεσμῶν, κ. τ. λ., of bonds, etc.) The apostle here seems to descend to recent examples, although these are also found in the canonical books.


Verse 37

Hebrews 11:37. ἐπρίσθησαν) The Jews have an unquestioned tradition, that Isaiah was sawn asunder, by command of Manasseh, with a wooden saw; whence the most of our Christian writers apply the phrase, were sawn asunder, which is used in the Epistle to the Hebrews concerning the sufferings of the saints, to the suffering of Isaiah; Jerome, lib. 15, comm. on Isaiah. If the story told of Isaiah be fabulous, as Tostatus and others think, it really happened to other persons.— ἐπειράσθησαν, they were tempted) The passage has four parts: the first is various, of mockings, etc.; the second various, they were stoned, they were sawn asunder; the third simple, they were tempted; the fourth simple, they were slain by the sword. The third corresponds to the first ( πεῖραν, ἐπειράσθησαν, trial or temptation, they were tempted), the fourth to the second, and the murders are alternately mixed with tortures: they were tempted, in every way (the same word occurs, Hebrews 11:17, ch. Hebrews 2:18), with threatenings, reproaches, tortures, of which the variety and novelty exceeds our vocabulary; again, with caresses (1 Thessalonians 3:3, note), which are often not less harassing (disturbing to faith), and by promises and benefits; comp. once more 2 Maccabees 6:21-22; 2 Maccabees 7:24.— ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρας ἀπέθανον, they were slain with the sword) לפי הרב, which the LXX. not in one place alone translate, ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρας. The sword is the last of the punishments mentioned by Paul, Romans 8:35, note.— ἐν μηλωταῖς, in sheeps’ skins) as Elijah, LXX., 1 Kings 19:13. Nevertheless, false prophets imitated Elijah in his external dress; Zechariah 13:4.


Verse 38

Hebrews 11:38. ὧν οὐκ ἦν ἄξιος κόσμος, of whom the world was not worthy) The saints, although few and wretched, are of more value than all the world besides. So Proverbs 8:11, πᾶν τίμιον οὐκ ἄξιον αὐτῆς ἐστιν, no precious thing is to be compared with it (wisdom). The clause is construed with they went about; and yet it is in this passage in particular that it is put, on account of the antithesis between the spacious world and the dens and caves of the earth.— πλανώμενοι, wandering) shut out by wicked men.— σπηλαίοις, caves) 1 Kings 18:4; 1 Kings 18:13.— καὶ ταῖς) The article makes an emphatic addition (Epitasis), and so therefore; comp. annot. on Chrysost. de Sacerd. p. 493.


Verse 39

Hebrews 11:39. καὶ οὗτοι πάντες, and all these) A pathetic Symperasma (Summary. See Append.)— μαρτυρηθέντες, having obtained a good report) Hebrews 11:2, note.— τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν, the promise) i.e. the promise of the heavenly inheritance, ch. Hebrews 10:36, note. Flacius says: “It is probable, that some degree, so to speak, or accumulation of blessedness was added to holy souls, when Christ came and fulfilled all things; even as at His burial the evangelists testify that many rose from the dead, who beyond all doubt ascended into heaven with Him.” Even Christ Himself was altogether made perfect in the death of Christ, ch. Hebrews 2:10; and the living and the dead have obtained this perfection, ch. Hebrews 10:14, and the perfecting of individual believers takes place at their death, ch. Hebrews 12:23; but the universal and final perfecting of believers will take place at the coming of the Lord, of which the passage here speaks.


Verse 40

Hebrews 11:40. κρεῖττόν τι, some better thing) This better thing is the clearer revelation of the promised salvation; its confirmation on higher testimony; a nearer expectation, by Christ having been exhibited to us; and at last salvation itself and glory.— προβλεψαμένου, having provided) A word of exquisite meaning. GOD provides (foresees) what faith does not yet see; Genesis 22:8; Genesis 22:14; John 6:6. From this provision (foresight) flowed the whole economy of ages, and the testimony of GOD to the men of old.— χωρὶς ἡμῶν, without us) Meiosis: not only not without us were they perfected, but they are rather perfected with us, than we with them. He does not say, that we not without them, but that they not without us. We should carefully hold this fast; for not merely is our being gathered to them intimated, but our condition superior to theirs, who were waiting for His appearance.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Hebrews 11:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/hebrews-11.html. 1897.


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Sunday, July 23rd, 2017
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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