Lectionary Calendar
Monday, July 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Hebrews 11

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Hebrews 11:1 to Hebrews 12:3 . That the Hebrews may still further be encouraged to persevere in maintaining faith the writer exhibits in detail its victories in the past history of their people and especially in the life of Jesus. ( Cf. Sirach , 44-50 .)

Verse 1

Hebrews 11:1 . Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις … “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof [manifestation] of things not seen”. When ἔστι stands first in a sentence it sometimes means “there exists,” as in John 5:2 ; 1 Corinthians 15:44 . But it has not necessarily and always this significance, cf. 1 Timothy 6:6 ; Luke 8:11 ; Wis 7:1 . There is therefore no need to place a comma after πίστις as some have done. The words describe what faith is, although not a strict definition. “Longe falluntur, qui justam fidei definitionem hic poni existimant: neque enim hic de tota fidei natura disserit Apostolus, sed partem elegit suo instituto congruentem, nempe quod cum patientia semper conjuncta sit” (Calvin). ὑπόστασις , literally foundation, that which stands under; hence, the ground on which one builds a hope, naturally gliding into the meaning “assurance,” “confidence,” as in Hebrews 3:14 ; 2 Corinthians 9:4 ; 2 Corinthians 11:17 ; Ruth 1:12 ; Psalms 39:7 , ἡ ὑπόστασίς μου παρὰ σοί ἐστιν . Ἔλεγχος regularly means “proof”. See Demosthenes, passim ; especially Agt. Androtion , p. 600, ἔλεγχος , ὦν ἂν εἴπῃ τις καὶ τἀληθὲς ὁμοῦ δείξῃ . It seems never to be used in a subjective sense for “conviction,” “persuasion”; although here this meaning would suit the context and has been adopted by many. To say with Weiss that the subjective meaning must be given to the word that it may correspond with ὑπόστασις is to write the Epistle, not to interpret it. Theophylact renders the clause φανέρωσις ἀδήλων πραγμάτων . Faith is that which enables us to treat as real the things that are unseen. Hatch gives a different meaning to both clauses: “Faith is the ground of things hoped for, i.e. , trust in God, or the conviction that God is good and that He will perform His promises, is the ground for confident hope that the things hoped for will come to pass.… So trust in God furnishes to the mind which has it a clear proof that things to which God has testified exist, though they are not visible to the senses.” The words thus become a definition of what faith does, not of what it is. Substantially the words mean that faith gives to things future, which as yet are only hoped for, all the reality of actual present existence; and irresistibly convinces us of the reality of things unseen and brings us into their presence. Things future and things unseen must become certainties to the mind if a balanced life is to be lived. Faith mediating between man and the supersensible is the essential link between himself and God, “for in it lay the commendation of the men of old,” ἐν ταύτῃ γὰρ ἐμαρτυρήθησαν οἱ πρεσβύτεροι . That is, it was on the ground of their possessing faith that the distinguished men of the O.T. received the commendation of God, being immortalised in Scripture. It might almost be rendered “by faith of this kind,” answering to this description. ἐν ταύτῃ has an exact parallel in 1 Timothy 5:10 , the widow who is to be placed on the Church register must be ἐν ἔργοις καλοῖς μαρτυρουμένη , well-reported of on the score of good works. οἱ πρεσβύτεροι , those of past generations, men of the O.T. times; as Papias [Euseb., H.E. , iii. 39] uses the term to denote the “Fathers of the Church” belonging to the generation preceding his own. The idea that faith is that which God finds pleasure in (Hebrews 10:38 ) and is that which truly unites to God under the old dispensations as well as under the new is a Pauline thought, Galatians 3:6 . This general statement of Hebrews 11:2 is exhibited in detail in the remainder of the chapter; but first the writer shows the excellence of faith in this, that it is by it that we recognise that there is an unseen world and that out of things unseen this visible world has taken rise. This idea is suggested to him because his eye is on Genesis from which he culls the succeeding examples and it is natural that he should begin at the beginning. “Before exhibiting how faith is the principle that rules the life of men in relation to God, down through all history, as it is transacted on the stage of the world, the author shows how this stage itself is brought into connection with God by an act of faith” (Davidson). By faith we perceive, with the mental eye νοοῦμεν , cf. Romans 1:20 , that the worlds ( αἰῶνας , cf. Hebrews 1:2 ; the visible world existing in time, the temporary manifestation of the unseen is meant, see Hebrews 1:10-11 ) have been framed ( κατηρτίσθαι , as in Hebrews 10:5 , σῶμα δὲ κατηρτίσω μοι . In Hebrews 13:21 καταρτίσαι ὑμᾶς , “perfect you” as in Luke 6:40 ; 2 Corinthians 13:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 3:10 . The word is perhaps used in the present connection to suggest not a bare calling into existence, but a wise adaptation of part to part and of the whole to its purpose) by God’s word, ῥήματι θεοῦ . This is the perception of faith. The word of God is an invisible force which cannot be perceived by sense. The great power which lies at the source of all that is does not itself come into observation; we perceive it only by faith which is (Hebrews 11:1 ) “the evidence of things not seen”. The result of this creation by an unseen force, the word of God, is that “what is seen has not come into being out of things which appear”. εἰς τὸ … γεγονέναι . εἰς τὸ with infinitive, commonly used to express purpose, is sometimes as here used to express result, and we may legitimately translate “so that what is seen, etc.” Cf. Luke 5:17 ; Romans 12:3 ; 2 Corinthians 8:6 ; Gal 3:17 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:16 . Cf. Burton, M. and T. , 411. μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων , the Vulgate renders “ex invisibilibus,” and the Old Latin “ex non apparentibus” having apparently read ἐκ μὴ φαιν . τὸ βλεπόμενον the singular in place of the plural of T.R. and Vulgate, presents all things visible as unity. Had the visible world been formed out of materials which were subject to human observation, there would have been no room for faith. Science could have traced it to its origin. Evolution only pushes the statement a stage back. There is still an unseen force that does not submit itself to experimental science, and that is the object of faith. To find in this verse an allusion to the noumenal and phenomenal worlds would be fanciful.

Verse 4

Hebrews 11:4 . πίστει πλείονα θυσίαν .… “By faith Abel offered to God a more adequate sacrifice than Cain.” πλείονα literally “more,” but frequently used to express “higher in value” “greater in worth,” as in Matthew 12:41-42 . πλεῖον Ἰωνᾶ ὧδε , Luke 12:23 ; Revelation 2:19 . Does the writer mean that faith prompted Abel to make a richer sacrifice, or that it was richer because offered in faith? Many interpreters prefer the former alternative; [“Der grössere Wert seines Opfers ruhte auf dem Glauben, der Herzenshingabe, die ihn das Beste der Herde wählen liess” (Kübel).] and the choice of the word πλείονα is certainly in favour of this interpretation. διʼ ἧδ ἐμαρτυρήθη … “through which he was certified [or attested] as righteous”. It is questioned whether ἧς is the relative of θυσίαν or of πίστει . The succeeding clause which states the ground of the attestation, ἐπὶ τ . δώροις , determines that it refers to θυσίαν . God bore witness ἐπὶ τοῖς δώροις αὐτοῦ , which is explained in Genesis 4:4 where it says ἐπεῖδεν ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ Ἄβελ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς δώροις αὐτοῦ . God looked favourably on Abel and on his gifts. How this favourable reception of his offering was intimated to Abel we are not told; but by this testimony Abel was pronounced δίκαιος , not “justified” in the Pauline sense but in the general sense “a righteous man”; as in Matthew 23:35 ἀπὸ τοῦ αἵματος Ἄβελ τοῦ δικαίου . But this is not all that faith did for Abel, for καὶ διʼ αὐτῆς ἀποθανὼν ἔτι λαλεῖ , “and through the same he, though dead, yet speaks,” i.e. , speaks notwithstanding death. His death was not the end of him as Cain expected it to be. Abel’s blood cried for justice. The words of Hebrews 12:24 are at once suggested, αἵματι ῥαντισμοῦ f1κρεῖττον λαλοῦντι παρὰ τὸν Ἄβελ , where the blood of sprinkling is said to speak to better purpose than the blood of Abel. This again takes us back to Genesis 4:10 . “The voice of thy brother’s blood cries to me from the ground.” The speaking referred to, therefore, is not the continual voice of Abel’s example but the voice of his blood crying to God immediately after his death. Cf. Psalms 9:12 ; Psalms 116:15 . “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” In the case of Abel, then, the excellence of faith was illustrated in two particulars, it prompted him to offer a richer, more acceptable offering, and it found for him a place in God’s regard even after his death.

Verse 5

Hebrews 11:5 . Πίστει Ἐνὼχ μετετέθη .… “By faith Enoch was translated so that he did not see death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For before his translation he had witness borne to him that he had pleased God well; but without faith it is impossible to please Him well.” In the dry catalogue of antediluvian longevities a gem of faith is detected. What lay at the root of Enoch’s translation? Faith, because before he was translated he was well-pleasing to God, which implies that he believed in God, or as Chrysostom neatly puts it: πῶς δὲ πίστει μετετέθη ὁ Ἐνώχ ; ὅτι τῆς μεταθέσεως ἡ εὐαρέστησις αἰτία , τῆς δὲ εὐαρεστήσεως ἡ πίστις . In Sir 44:16 he is exhibited as ὑπόδειγμα μετανοίας ταῖς γενεαῖς . μετετέθη “was transferred,” removed from one place to another, as in Acts 7:16 , cf. also Galatians 1:6 , Jude 1:4 . In Sir 49:14 it is represented by ἀνελήφθη ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς . The succeeding clauses imply that his body disappeared. How the tradition arose we have no means of knowing, cf. Suicer, i. 1130, and the Bible Dictionaries. τοῦ μὴ ἰδεῖν may either imply purpose or result. For the former see Matthew 2:13 , Luke 2:24 , Philippians 3:10 ; for the latter, Matthew 21:32 , Acts 7:19 , Romans 7:3 , Hebrews 10:7 . The use of the passive μετετέθη favours the supposition that result is here expressed, and throughout the sentence it is the translation that is prominent rather than the escape from death, which is introduced rather as an explanation of μετετέθη . καὶ οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο .… These words are verbatim from the LXX of Genesis 5:24 , and are quoted for the sake of bringing out clearly that God was the author of the translation. ( Cf. the misquotation in Clem. Ep. , chap. 9, οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῦ θάνατος .) God translated him, and this is proved by the fact that preceding the statement of his translation Scripture records that he pleased God well, where the Hebrew has “he walked with God”. χωρὶς δὲ πίστεως ἀδύνατον εὐαρεστῆσαι . “But without faith it is impossible to please Him well.” The ground of this proposition is given in the following words: πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον .… “For he who cometh to God must believe that He exists and that to those who seek Him He turns out to be a rewarder.” To please God one must draw near to Him ( τὸν προσερχόμενον in the semi-technical sense usual in the Epistle), and no one can draw near who has not these two beliefs that God is and will reward those who seek Him. So that Enoch’s faith, and the faith of every one who approaches God, verifies the description of Hebrews 11:1 : the unseen must be treated as sufficiently demonstrated, and the hoped for reward must be considered substantial.

Verse 7

Hebrews 11:7 . Πίστει χρηματισθεὶς Νῶε .… “By faith Noah, on being divinely warned of things not as yet seen, with reverential heed prepared an ark to save his household.” Both here and in Matthew 2:12 ; Matthew 2:22 χρηματ . is translated “warned of God,” although “divinely instructed” as in Hebrews 8:5 is admissible in all the passages. πίστει must be construed with εὐλαβηθεὶς κατεσκεύασεν and these words must be kept together, although some join εὐλαβηθεὶς with the preceding words. τῶν μηδέπω βλεπ , i.e. , the flood; cf. Genesis 6:14 . εὐλαβηθεὶς here used in preference to φοβηθεὶς because it is not a timorous dread of the catastrophe that is signified, but a commendable caution springing from regard to God’s word. In obedience to this feeling he prepared an ark [ κιβωτὸν used of the ark of the covenant in Hebrews 9:4 , and of Noah’s ship in Genesis 6:15 , because it was shaped like a box with a roof. In Wis 10:4 it is spoken of as “worthless timber,” to magnify the salvation accomplished by its means. διʼ εὐτελοῦς ξὐλου τὸν δίκαιον ( Σοφία ) κυβερνήσασα and in Wis 14:7 it is ξύλον διʼ οὗ γίνεται δικαιοσύνη .] This ark he built for the saving of his family; as in Genesis 7:1 God says to Noah, εἴσελθε σὺ καὶ πᾶς ὁ οἶκός σου . By this faith [ διʼ ἧς ] and its manifestation in preparing the ark, “he condemned the world”; of which the most obvious meaning is that Noah’s faith threw into relief the unbelief of those about him. Cf. Matthew 12:41 . But to this, Weiss objects that in Hebrews κόσμος is not used to denote the world of men. He therefore concludes that what is meant is that Noah by building the ark for his own rescue showed that he considered the world doomed, thus passing judgment upon it. Certainly the former meaning is the more natural and the objection of Weiss has little weight. A second result of his faith was that “he entered into possession of the righteousness which faith carries with it”. The original significance of κληρονόμος is here, as often elsewhere, left behind. It means little more than “owner”. But no doubt underneath the word there lies the idea, familiar to the Jewish mind, that spiritual blessings are a heritage bestowed by God. ἡ κατὰ f1πίστιν δικαιοσύνη is rendered by Winer (p. 502) “the righteousness which is in consequence of faith” and he instructively compares Matthew 19:3 , ἀπολῦσαι τὴν γυναῖκα κατὰ πᾶσαν αἰτίαν , and Acts 3:17 , κατʼ ἄγνοιαν ἐπράξατε . The first statement in the history of Noah (Genesis 6:10 ) is, Νῶε ἄνθρωπος δίκαιος , τέλειος ὢν ἐν τῆ γενεᾷ αὐτοῦ , τῷ θεῷ εὐηρέστησε Νῶε . Cf. Wis 10:4 . In Genesis the warning of God is communicated to Noah because he was already righteous; in Hebrews a somewhat different aspect is presented, Noah “became” righteous by building the ark in faith. He was one of those who διὰ πίστεως ἠργάσατο δικαιοσύνην , Hebrews 11:33 .

From Hebrews 11:8 to Hebrews 11:22 the faith of the patriarchs is exhibited, cf. Sir 44:19 .

Verse 8

Hebrews 11:8 . Πίστει καλούμενος Ἀβραὰμ .… “By faith Abraham on being called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance, obeyed and went out not knowing whither he was going.” καλούμενος , as in Mark 1:20 and Isaiah 51:2 , ἐμβλέψατε Ἀβραὰμ … ὅτι εἷς ἦν , καὶ ἐκάλεσα αὐτόν . The present, not κληθεὶς , expresses the idea that no sooner was the call given than it was obeyed [“dass er, so wie der Ruf an ihn ging, gehorsamte” (Bleek)]. The same idea is expressed by the immediate introduction of ὑπήκουσεν , which more naturally would come at the end of the clause, and thus allow ἐξελθεῖν ( cf. Genesis 12:1 ; Acts 7:2 ) to follow καλοὑμενος . The faith of Abraham appeared in his promptly abandoning his own country on God’s promise of another, and the strength of this faith was illustrated by the circumstance that he had no knowledge where or what that country was. He went out μὴ ἐπιστάμενος ποῦ ἔρχεται . The terms of the call (Genesis 12:1 ) were ἔξελθε … καὶ δεῦρο εἰς τὴν γῆν , ἣν ἄνσοι δείξω . It was, therefore, no attractive account of Canaan which induced him to forsake Mesopotamia, no ordinary emigrant’s motive which moved him, but mere faith in God’s promise. “Even still the life of faith must be entered on in ignorance of the way to the inheritance, or even what the inheritance and rest in each one’s particular case will be, and of the experiences that the way will bring. This is true even of ordinary life” (Davidson). This did not exhaust the faith of Abraham. Further πίστει παρῴκησεν .… “By faith he became a sojourner in a land [his] by the promise as if it belonged to another, dwelling in tents, along with Isaac and Jacob, co-heirs with him of the same promise.” παρῴκησεν , as in Acts 7:6 , πάροικον ἐν γῇ ἀλλοτρίᾳ , dwelt alongside of the proper inhabitants. Cf. Genesis 17:8 and passim . εἰς in its common pregnant sense, John 21:4 ; Acts 8:40 ; Pet. Hebrews 5:12 and especially Acts 7:4 . He lived in the promised land, ὡς ἀλλοτρίαν , as if it belonged to some other person; neither did he make a permanent settlement in it but dwelt in tents, shifting from place to place, the symbol of what is temporary, see Isaiah 38:12 ; 2 Corinthians 5:4 . The presence of his son and grandson must continually have prompted him to settle. They were included in the promise, but they too were compelled to move with him from place to place. But how did this evince faith? It did so by showing that he had given a wider scope and a deeper significance to God’s words. He was content to dwell in tents, because he looked for “the city which has the foundations”. ἐξεδέχετο γὰρ τὴν … πόλιν . “For he expectantly waited for thecity.” ἐκδέχομαι (James 5:7 , ὁ γεωργὸς ἐκδεχ ., Acts 17:16 ; 1 Corinthians 11:33 ) occurs in Soph. Phil. , 123, where Jebb says: “The idea of the compound is ‘be ready for him,’ prepared to deal with him the moment he appears”. The city is described as one “that has the foundations” which the tents lacked, and which according to Hebrews 13:14 is by implication not only μέλλουσαν but μένουσαν . In Hebrews 12:22 it is called “the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” and in Galatians 4:26 ἡ ἄνω Ἱερουσαλήμ . A city was the symbol of a settled condition, as in Psalms 107:7 , πόλις κατοικητηρίου . Cf. the interesting parallel in Philo. Leg. Alleg. , iii. xxvi., p. 103, πόλις δέ ἐστιν ἀγαθὴ καὶ τολλὴ καὶ σφόδρα εὐδαίμων , τὰ γὰρ δῶρα τοῦ θεοῦ μεγάλα καὶ τίμια . It is further described as ἧς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ θεός , “whose constructer and maker is God”. τεχνίτης is used of the silversmiths in Acts 19:24 , of God as Maker of the world in Wis 13:1 ; Wis 14:2 , τεχνίτνς δὲ σοφίᾳ κατεσκεύασεν . Perhaps “artificer” comes nearest to the meaning. δημιουργός , originally one who works for the people, but applied by Plato ( Rep. , p. 530) to God; and so, very often in Josephus and Philo (see Krebs. in loc .). For the use of the title among the Gnostics, see Mansel, Gnostic Heresies , p. 19. In Clement, Ep. , 20, we have ὁ μέγας δημιουργὸς καὶ δεσπότης τῶν ἁπάντων . In Malachi 4:1; Malachi 4:1 , τῶν κακῶν δημιουργὸς . “Maker” most adequately translates the word. Wetstein shows that τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς was not an uncommon combination and aptly compares Cicero ( De Nat. D. , i. 8) “Opificem aedificatorem mundi”. The statement of this verse shows that Abraham and other enlightened O.T. saints ( cf. chap. 4) understood that their connection with God, the Eternal One, was their great possession, of which earthly gifts and blessings were but present manifestations.

Verse 11

Hebrews 11:11 . Πίστει καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα .… “By faith Sarah herself also received power to become a mother even when past the age, since she counted Him faithful who had promised.” καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα is rendered by Vaughan, Sarah “in her place” as [Abraham] in his; she on her part. The reference of αὐτὴ is disputed; it has been understood to mean “Sarah the unfruitful”. In [34] . στεῖρα is added; or, as Chrysostom and Bengel, “vas infirmius,” the weaker vessel. Delitzsch thinks that as in Luke 20:42 ; Luke 24:15 , it merely means “so Sarah likewise”. But apparently the reference is to her previous unbelief. By faith she received strength εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος , “the act of the husband not of the wife” (see a score of passages in Wetstein), hence Bleek, Farrar and several others prefer to understand the words of “the founding of a family,” citing Plato’s πρώτη καταβολὴ τῶν ἀνθρώπων . But if εἰς be taken in the same sense as in Hebrews 10:19 , “as regards” or “in connection with” or “with a view to,” the difficulty disappears. [ Cf. Weiss who says the words signify “nicht ein Thun, zu dem sie Kraft empfing, sondern die Beziehung in welcher sie ein Kraft bedürfte, wenn dasselbe für sie wirksam werden sollte”. Cf. also Genesis 18:12 .] Her faith was further illustrated ( καὶ = and this indeed) by the circumstance that she was now παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας , the comparative use of παρά frequent in this Epistle. For a woman who in her prime had been barren, to believe that in her decay she could bear a son was a triumph of faith. Cf. Genesis 18:12-13 , ἐγὼ δὲ γεγήρακα . But she had faith in the promise ( cf. Hebrews 6:13-18 ), “wherefore also there were begotten of one and him as good as dead [issue] as the stars of heaven in multitude and as the sand by the seashore innumerable”. Probably the καὶ is to be construed with διὸ as in Luke 1:35 ; Acts 10:29 , etc. ἀφʼ ἑνὸς , that is, Abraham ( cf. Isaiah 51:2 , εἷς ἧν ); καὶ ταῦτα , a classical expression, see Xenophon, Mem. , ii. 3, and Blass, Gram. , p. 248. νενεκρωμένου , “dead” so far as regards the begetting of offspring, cf. Romans 4:19 . καθὼς τὰ ἄστρα , a nominative to ἐγεν . may be supplied, ἔκγονοι or σπέρμα . For the metaphors cf. Genesis 22:17 . ἄστρον is properly a constellation, but used commonly for “a star”. χεῖλος found in the classics in same connection.

[34] Claromontanus Parisiensis Nationalis 107, Graeco-Latinus.

Verse 13

Hebrews 11:13 . Not only in life was the faith of the patriarchs manifested, it stood the test of death, κατὰ πίστιν ἀπέθανον οὗτοι πάντες , in keeping with their faith (see Winer, p. 502) these all (that is Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob) died, and the strength of their faith was seen in this that although they had not received the fulfilment of the promises (Hebrews 11:39 and Hebrews 10:36 ) they yet had faith enough to see and hail them from afar. As Moses endured because he saw the Invisible (Hebrews 11:27 ) so the patriarchs were not daunted by death because they saw the day of Christ (John 8:56 ), that is to say, they were so firmly persuaded that God’s promise would be fulfilled that it could be said that they saw the fulfilment. They hailed them from afar, as those on board ship descry friends on shore and wave a recognition. [Wetstein cites from Appian, De Bell. Civ. , ver. 46, p. 110 where it is said that the soldiers τὸν Καίσαρα πόῤῥωθεν ὡς αὐτοκράτορα ἠσπάσαντο .] “Such an ἀσπασμός we have in the mouth of the dying Jacob (Genesis 49:18 ): For Thy salvation have I waited, Jehovah” (Delitzsch). This they might have done had they merely believed that the promises would be fulfilled to their descendants, but that their faith extended also to their own enjoyment of God’s promise was testified by their confessing that so far as regards the land ( τῆς γῆς ) of Canaan they were pilgrims and foreigners. This confession was made no doubt by their whole conduct, but as the aorist indicates it was made verbally by Abraham on the occasion of Sarah’s death (Genesis 23:4 ), πάροικος καὶ παρεπίδημος ἐγώ εἰμι μεθʼ ὑμῶν , cf. Genesis 47:9 , etc. The article before γῆς , together with the sense of the passage, shows that the land of promise, Canaan, was meant. ἐπὶ γῆς in the same connection is used for “the earth,” cf. 1 Chronicles 29:15 . Philo ( De Agricult. , p. 196) refines upon the same idea, παροικεῖν οὐ κατοικεῖν ἤλθομεν · τῷ γὰρ ὄντι πᾶσα μὲν ψυχὴ σοφοῦ πατρίδα μὲν οὐρανὸν , ξένην δὲ γῆν ἔλαχεν . Cf. De Conf. Ling. , p. 331. But such a confession implies that those who make it ( οἱ γὰρ τοιαῦτα λέγοντες ) have not yet found but are in search of a fatherland, πατρίδα ἐπιζητοῦσιν . [ Cf. Romans 11:7 , ὃ ἐπιζητεῖ Ἰσραὴλ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐπέτυχεν . Frequent in N.T., to seek, search for. “The ἐπὶ is that of direction, as the ἐκ in ἐκζητεῖν (Hebrews 11:6 ) is that of explanation” (Vaughan).] The acknowledgment, cheerful or sad, that such and such a land is not the home-country makes it manifest ( ἐμφανίζουσιν , John 14:21 , Acts 23:15 ) that they think of and have in view and are making for a land which they can call their own. [“Si hic peregrinantur, alibi patria est ac fixa sedes” (Calvin).] And that this home-country of their desire is not that from which Abraham and the patriarchs were really derived (Mesopotamia) and which they had abandoned, ( ἀφʼ ἧς ἐξέβησαν ) is also evident, because had they cherished fond memories of it they would have had opportunity ( εἶχον ἂν καιρὸν , cf. Acts 24:25 ; 1Ma 15:34 . The imperfects indicate that this was continuous) to return ( ἀνακάμψαι , Matthew 2:12 ; Luke 10:6 ; Acts 18:21 ; frequent in LXX). νῦν δὲ , “but as the case actually stands” (Hebrews 8:6 , Hebrews 9:26 ; 1 Corinthians 15:20 , etc.) putting aside this idea that it might be their old home they were seeking, κρείττονος ὀρέγονται , τοῦτʼ ἔστιν ἐπουρανίου , it is a better, that is, a heavenly they aspire after. That which in point of fact provoked in the patriarchs the sense of exile was that their hearts were set on a better country and firmer settlement than could be found anywhere, but in heaven. And because they thus proved that they were giving to God credit for meaning by His promises more than the letter indicated, because they measured His promises by the spirit of the promises rather than by the thing promised, He is not ashamed of them, not ashamed to be called their God; and the proof that He is not ashamed of them is, that He prepared for them a city. The patriarchs showed that they understood that in giving these promises God became their God; therefore God was not ashamed of them, and this showed itself especially in His naming Himself “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (Exodus 3:15 ). Cf. with this verse, Hebrews 8:10 and Matthew 22:31-32 . And that He was truly their God He showed by preparing for them a city which should justify the expectations which they had based upon His power and goodness.

Verse 17

Hebrews 11:17 . Πίστει προσενήνοχεν Ἀβραὰμ .… “By faith Abraham when tried offered up Isaac, yea he who had accepted the promises, to whom it had been said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called, offered his only son.” The perfect προσενήνοχεν , Blass ( Gram. , 200) says “can only be understood as referring to the abiding example offered to us”. Similarly Alford, Westcott, Weiss, etc. Surely it is better to have regard to Burton’s statement, “The Perfect Indicative is sometimes used in the N.T. of a simple past fact where it is scarcely possible to suppose that the thought of existing result was in the writer’s mind”. And in Jebb’s Appendix to Vincent and Dickson’s Gram. of Mod. Greek (p. 327, 8) it is demonstrated that “later Greek shows some clear traces of a tendency to use the Perfect as an Aorist”. τὸν is probably here intended not merely to indicate the case of the indeclinable Ἰσαὰκ (Vaughan), cf. Hebrews 11:18 ; Hebrews 11:20 , but to call attention to the importance of Isaac; and this is further accomplished in the succeeding clause which brings out the full significance of the sacrifice. It was his only son whom Abraham was offering ( προσέφερε imperfect in its proper sense of an unfinished transaction) and therefore the sole link between himself and the fulfilment of the promises to which he had given hospitable entertainment ( ἀναδεξάμενος , 2Ma 6:19 ). “The sole link,” because, irrespective of any other children Abraham had had or might have, it had been said to him ( πρὸς ὃν , denoting Abraham not Isaac), In Isaac shall a seed be named to thee (Genesis 21:12 ); that is to say, it is Isaac and his descendants who shall be known as Abraham’s seed. Others are proud to count themselves the descendants of Abraham but the true “seed” ( κληθήσεταί σοι σπέρμα , cf. Galatians 3:16 ; Galatians 3:29 ) to whom along with Abraham the promises were given was the race that sprang from Isaac, the heir of the promise. No trial ( πειραζόμενος as in Genesis 22:1 , ὁ Θεὸς ἐπείρασε τὸν Ἀβραὰμ and cf. Genesis 22:12 ) could have been more severe. After long waiting the heir had at last been given, and now after his hope had for several years rooted itself in this one life, he is required to sacrifice that life and so break his whole connection with the future. No greater test of his trust in God was possible. He conquered because he reckoned ( λογισάμενος “expresses the formation of an opinion by calculation or reasoning , as in Romans 8:18 ; 2 Corinthians 10:7 ” (Vaughan).), that even from the dead God is able to raise up a belief in God’s power to do this universally, see John 5:21 . This belief enabled him to deliver his only son to death. “Whence ( ὅθεν , i.e. , ἐκ νεκρῶν , although several commentators, even Weiss, render it ‘wherefore’) also he received him back ( ἐκομίσατο , for this meaning see Genesis 38:20 and passages in Wetstein) in a figure ( ἐν παραβολῇ , not actually, because Isaac had not been dead, but virtually because he had been given up to death. He had passed through the likeness of death, and his restoration to Abraham was a likeness of resurrection. (Whoever wishes to see how a simple expression may be tortured should consult Alford’s long note on this place.)

Verse 20

Hebrews 11:20 . Πίστει περὶ μελλόντων .… “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to things future,” as is recorded in the well-known passage, Genesis 27:0 . Isaac thus in his turn exhibited a faith which could be described as ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις . “By faith Jacob when dying ( ἀποθνήσκων cf. καλούμενος , Hebrews 11:8 , and πειραζόμενος , Hebrews 11:17 : the participle illustrates Hebrews 11:13 and also reminds the reader that Jacob before he died saw his children’s children inheriting the promise (“thy two sons are mine,” Genesis 48:5 ) blessed each of the sons of Joseph. ἕκαστον τ . υἱῶν , that is, he gave each an individual blessing, crossing his hands, laying his right on the head of Ephraim the younger, his left on Manasseh, thus distinguishing between the destiny of the one and that of the other and so more abundantly illustrating his faith. καὶ προσεκύνησεν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄκρον τῆς ῥάβδου αὐτοῦ , “and worshipped leaning upon the top of his staff”. The words are from the LXX rendering of Genesis 47:31 where after Joseph had sworn to bury his father in Canaan, “Israel worshipped, etc.”. His exacting this promise from Joseph was proof of his faith that his posterity would inherit the land of promise. The LXX translating from an unpointed text read הַמַּטֶּה the staff and not as it is now read הַמִּטָּה the bed, (as in Genesis 48:2 ). The meaning in either case is that in extreme bodily weakness, either unable to leave his bed or if so only able to stand with the aid of a staff, his faith was yet untouched by the slightest symptom of decay. “The idea of προσκυνεῖν is that of reverence shown in posture ” (Vaughan). Here Jacob “worshipped” in thankful remembrance of the promise of God and that his son had accepted it.

Verse 22

Hebrews 11:22 . Similarly Joseph when he in his turn came to the close of his life ( τελευτῶν , from Genesis 50:16 , καὶ ἐτελεύτησεν Ἰωσὴφ ) made mention of the exodus of the children of Israel (“God will surely visit you and will bring you out of this land to the land concerning which God sware to our fathers,” Genesis 50:24 ) and gave commandment concerning his bones (“ye shall carry up my bones hence with you,” Genesis 50:25 . For the fulfilment of the command see Joshua 24:32 ).

Verses 23-31

Hebrews 11:23-31 . The writer passes from the patriarchal age to the times of Moses and the Judges.

First the faith of the parents of Moses ( τῶν πατέρων αὐτοῦ , in Stephanus’ Thesaur , several examples are given of the use of πατέρες for “father and mother,” parents; and consider Ephesians 6:4 and Colossians 3:21 ) is celebrated. This faith was shown in their concealing Moses for three months after his birth and thus evading the law that male children were to be killed, called in Wis 11:7 νηπιοκτόνον διάταγμα . They did not fear this commandment of the king. It did not weigh against the child’s beauty which betokened that he was destined for something great. Their faith consisted in their confidence that God had in store for so handsome a child an exceptional career and would save him to fulfil his destiny. In Acts 7:20 Stephen calls him ἀστεῖος τῷ f1θεῷ , extraordinarily beautiful ( cf. Jonah 3:3 ) or as Philo, De Mos. , p. 82, ὄψιν ἀστειοτέραν ἢ κατʼ ἰδιώτην , indicating that he had a corresponding destiny. Moses himself when he had grown up ( μέγας γενόμενος , as in Exodus 2:11 paraphrased by Stephen (Acts 7:23 ) ὡς δὲ ἐπληροῦτο αὐτῷ τεσσαρακονταετὴς χρόνος .) refused to be called a son of a daughter of Pharaoh. The significance and source of this refusal lay in his preferring to suffer ill-usage with God’s people rather than to have a short-lived enjoyment of sin. συνκακ ., the simple verb in Hebrews 11:37 , also Hebrews 13:3 ; the compound here only. τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ , it was because they were God’s people, not solely because they were of his blood, that Moses threw in his lot with them. It was this which illustrated his faith. He believed that God would fulfil His promise to His people, little likelihood as at present there seemed to be of any great future for his race. On the other hand there was the ἁμαρτίας ἀπόλαυσις , the enjoyment which was within his reach if only he committed the sin of denying his people and renouncing their future as promised by God. For “the enjoyment to be reaped from sin” does not refer to the pleasure of gratifying sensual appetite and so forth, but to the satisfaction of a high ambition and the gratification of his finer tastes which he might have had by remaining in the Egyptian court. Very similarly Philo interprets the action of Moses, who, he says, “esteemed the good things of those who had adopted him, although more splendid for a season, to be in reality spurious, but those of his natural parents, although for a little while less conspicuous, to be true and genuine” ( De Mose , p. 86). That which influenced Moses to make this choice was his estimate of the comparative value of the outcome of suffering with God’s people and of the happiness offered in Egypt. μείζονα πλοῦτον … εἰς τὴν μισθαποδοσίαν , “since he considered the reproach of the Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he steadily kept in view the reward”. The reproach or obloquy and disgrace, which Moses experienced is called “the reproach of the Christ” because it was on account of his belief in God’s saving purpose that he suffered. The expression is interpreted by our Lord’s statement that Abraham saw his day. It does not imply that Moses believed that a personal Christ was to come, but only that God would fulfil that promise which in point of fact was fulfilled in the coming of Christ. The writer uses the expression rather with a view to his readers who were shrinking from the reproach of Christ (Hebrews 13:13 ), than from the point of view of Moses. Several interpreters (Delitzsch, etc.) suppose that in virtue of the mystical union Christ suffered in his people. But, as Davidson says, “this mystical union cannot be shown to be an idea belonging to the Epistle, nor is this sense pertinent to the connection.” (So Weiss, “die vorstellung liegt unserem Briefe fern”.) Weiss’ own interpretation is ingenious: “The O.T. church was created by the pre-existent Messiah to be the people who were destined to introduce through Him perfect salvation; therefore each maltreatment of this people was contempt of Him as unable to avenge and deliver His people”. To say that it means merely “the same reproach that Christ bore” scarcely satisfies the expression. The “treasures of Egypt” must be supposed to include all that had been accumulated during centuries of civilisation. ἀπέβλεπεν , he habitually kept in view the reward. Cf. Xen., Hist. , vi. 1, 8 ἡ σὴ πατρὶς εἰς σὲ ἀποβλέπει , also Psalms 11:4 , Philo, De Opif. , p. 4. κατέλιπεν Αἴγυπτον , “he forsook Egypt,” and fled to Midian. That this flight and not the Exodus is meant appears from the connection of the clause both with what precedes and with what follows. It exhibits the result of his choice (Hebrews 11:26 ), and it alludes to what preceded the Passover (Hebrews 11:28 ). The word ἐκαρτέρησεν , denoting long continued endurance also suits better this reference. The only difficulty in the way of accepting this interpretation is found in the words μὴ φοβηθεὶς τὸν θυμὸν τοῦ βασιλέως , because, according to Exodus 2:15 , the motive of his flight was fear of the king. ἐφοβήθη δὲ Μωυσῆς . But what is in the writer’s mind is not Pharaoh’s wrath as cause but as consequence of Moses’ abandonment of Egypt. His flight showed that he had finally renounced life at court, and in thus indicating by this decisive action that he was an Israelite, and meant to share with his people, he braved the king’s wrath. This he was strengthened to do because he saw an invisible monarch greater than Pharaoh. Vaughan seems the only interpreter who has precisely hit the writer’s meaning: “the two fears are different, the one is the fear arising from the discovery of his slaying the Egyptian, the other is the fear of Pharaoh’s anger on discovering his flight. He feared and therefore fled: he feared not, and therefore fled .” Having fled and so cutting himself off from all immediate opportunity of helping his people, ἐκαρτέρησεν , “he steadfastly bided his time,” because he saw the Invisible, being thus an eminent illustration of faith as ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων . The aorist gathers the forty years in Midian into one exhibition of wonderful perseverance in faith. It was the upper form of the school which disciplined Moses and wrought him to the mould of a hero. Another point in his career at which faith manifested itself was the Exodus, πεποίηκεν τὸ πάσχα , “he hath celebrated the Passover”. Alford says the perfect is used on account of the Passover being “a still enduring Feast”. But it is Moses’ celebration of it that the perfect represents as enduring. The classical treatment of the question, Has ποιεῖν a sacrificial meaning in the N.T.? will be found in Prof. T. K. Abbott’s Essays . ποιεῖν is regularly used of “keeping” a feast; and this is a classical usage as well. Cf. Exodus 12:48 ; Exodus 23:16 ; Exodus 34:22 ; 2 Chronicles 35:17-19 . τὸ πάσχα originally the paschal lamb, Exodus 12:21 , καὶ θύσατε τὸ πάσχα , Mark 14:12 τὸ πάσχα ἔθυον , hence the feast of Passover as in Luke 22:1 . It is written φασέκ throughout 2 Chronicles 30, 35, also in Jeremiah 38:8 . καὶ τὴν πρόσχυσιν τοῦ αἵματος , “and the affusion of the blood” the sprinkling of the blood on the door posts as commanded in Exodus 12:7 ; Exodus 12:22 , the object being that the destroyers of the first-borns might not touch them. As θιγγάνω is followed by a genitive in Hebrews 12:20 it is probable that the writer here also meant it to govern αὐτῶν while πρωτότοκα follows ὀλοθρεύων . So R.V. ὁ ὀλοθρεύων is taken from Exodus 12:23 . πρωτότοκα , first-borns of man and also of beasts, Exodus 12:12 . αὐτῶν is naturally referred to “the people of God,” Hebrews 11:25 . It was a noteworthy faith which enabled Moses confidently to promise the people protection from the general destruction. On their part also there was the manifestation of a strong faith. διέβησαν τὴν ἐρυθρὰν θάλασσαν … “they passed through the Red sea as if on dry land”. The nominative must be taken out of αὐτῶν . διέβησαν , the usual term for crossing a river or a space. The Red sea is in Hebrew “the Sea of [red] weeds”. διὰ ξηρᾶς γῆς as in Exodus 14:29 ἐπορεύθησαν διὰ ξηρᾶς ἐν μέσῳ τῆς θαλάσσης , also Exodus 15:19 ; and cf. the various impressions in the Psalms which celebrate the great deliverance. The greatness of the people’s faith is accentuated by the fate of the Egyptians, whose attempt to follow was audacity and presumption not faith. ἧς πεῖραν λαβόντες … “of which [ i.e. , of the sea] making trial the Egyptians were swallowed up,” Exodus 15:4 κατεπόθησαν ἐν ἐρυθρᾷ θαλάσσῃ . Another instance of the faith of the people and its effects is found in the fall of the walls of Jericho. The greatness of the faith may be measured by the difficulty we now have in believing that the walls fell without the application of any visible force. God’s promise was, πεσεῖται αὐτόματα τὰ τείχη , and believing this promise the people compassed the city seven days. The greatness of their faith was further exhibited in their continuing to compass the city day after day, for in the promise (Joshua 6:1-5 ) no mention is made of any delay in its fulfilment and the natural inference would be that the walls would fall on the first day. That none should have felt foolish marching day after day round the solid walls is beyond nature, κυκλωθέντα , see Joshua 6:6 ; Joshua 6:14 and for ἐπὶ ἑπτὰ ἡμέρας , Joshua 6:14 . “When applied to time, ἐπί denotes the period over which something extends, as Luke 4:25 , ἐπὶ ἔτη τρία , during three years” (Winer, p. 508). The fall of Jericho and the extermination of its inhabitants suggest the escape of Rahab. ἡ πόρνη , in its strict meaning (“ista meretrix” (Origen), “fornicaria” (Irenaeus), is introduced to emphasise the power of faith; she did not perish along with the disobedient (Hebrews 3:18 ); ἀπειθήσασιν , they knew that the Lord had given the land to Israel (Joshua 2:9-10 ) but did not submit themselves to the acknowledged purpose of Jehovah. Rahab acted upon her belief in this purpose and instead of delivering up the spies as enemies of her country “received them with peace,” that is, as friends, risking her life because of her faith.

Verse 32

Hebrews 11:32 . At this point the writer sees that he cannot pursue the method he has been following and give in detail all the signal manifestations of faith, which are recorded in the annals of his people. τί ἔτι λέγω , “what shall I further say?” deliberative subjunctive ( cf. Romans 1:15 , etc.) the writer questioning how he is to handle the numberless instances that rise before his mind. He cannot give them all, ἐπιλείψει με γὰρ … “for time will fail me if I recount in detail”. (Julian, Orat. , i. p. 341 B. ἐπιλείψει με τἀκείνου διηγούμενον ὁ χρόνος ). ἐπιλείψει με ἡ ἡμέρα is frequent, see many examples in Wetstein. Cf. Virgil, Æn. , vi. 121, quid Thesea magnum, quid memorem Alciden? “a favourite device for cutting short a long list” (Page). διηγούμενον means to relate with particularity, see Luke 8:39 ; Luke 9:10 ; Acts 12:17 ; Genesis 29:13 . On Gideon see Judges 6-8; Barak chronologically earlier, chap. 4, 5; Samson, 13 16; Jephthah, who also preceded Samson, 11, 12. Samuel is considered as the first of the prophets as in Acts 3:24 ; Acts 13:20 . οἳ covers Hebrews 11:33-34 , although not every particular cited, while διὰ πίστεως refers to all the verbs to end of 38. This expression supplants the persistent πίστει of Hebrews 11:3-31 , mainly for euphony. κατηγωνίσαντο βασιλείας , “subdued kingdoms,” as is recorded of the Judges and David, who also ἠργάσαντο δικαιοσύνην , which seems to refer to their righteous rule, although the same expression is never used in the LXX except of personal righteousness (Psalms 15:2 ) but of David it is thrice said that he was f1ποιῶν κρίμα καὶ δικαιοσύνην , 2 Samuel 8:15 ; 1 Chronicles 18:14 ; Jeremiah 23:5 ; and of Samuel testimony is borne that he judged righteously, 1 Samuel 12:3 . ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν , “obtained promises” not “ the promise” of Messianic salvation ( cf. Hebrews 11:39 ) but promises given on special occasions, cf. Joshua 21:45 ; Judges 7:7 ; Judges 13:5 ; 1 Kings 8:56 . ἔφραξαν στόματα λεόντων , cf. Daniel 6:22 , ἐνέφραξε τὰ στόματα τῶν λεόντων , also Judges 14:5-6 ; 1 Samuel 17:34 ; 1 Samuel 23:20 . ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρός , probably the rescue of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego was suggested by the allusion to Daniel. δύναμιν is explained by the words of Daniel 3:22 , ἡ κάμινος ἐξεκαύθη ἐκ περισσοῦ . ἔφυγον στόματα μαχαίρης , “escaped the edge of the sword” of which there are many instances recorded, as 1 Samuel 18:11 ; 1 Kings 19:2 ; 1Ma 2:28 . ἐδυναμώθησαν ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας … “out of weakness became strong, waxed mighty in battle, routed the armies of aliens,” having in view, possibly, the deliverance recorded in Judges 4:0 by Deborah, where παρεμβολή (Hebrews 11:16 , etc.) is used of the army. Reference may also be made, as von Soden suggests, to the Maccabean deliverances. [ παρεμβολή , Malachi 3:3; Malachi 3:3 ; 1Ma 3:15 ; Malachi 3:17; Malachi 3:17 , etc.; ἀλλοτρ . Hebrews 2:7 .] On several occasions in Israel’s history the three clauses received abundant illustration.

Verses 32-40

Hebrews 11:32-40 . Summary of the achievements of faith in the times subsequent to Joshua.

Verse 35

Hebrews 11:35 . ἔλαβον γυναῖκες .… “Women received their dead by resurrection,” as is narrated of the widow of Sarepta, 1 Kings 17:17-24 , and the Shunamite, 2 Kings 4:34 . ἄλλοι δὲ ἐτυμπανίσθησαν … “others were beaten to death”. τύμπανον (sc. τύπανον from τύπ . strike) a drum, τυμπανίζω , I beat. From the expression in 2Ma 6:17 ; 2Ma 6:28 , ἐπὶ τὸ τύμπανον , it might be supposed that some instrument more elaborate than a rod was meant and Josephus speaks of “a wheel” as being used. But that it was substantially a beating to death is proved by what is said of Eleazar ( 2Ma 2:30 ), μέλλων ταῖς πληγαῖς τελευτᾶν , εἶπε . That Eleazar and the seven brethren (2 Maccabees 7) are alluded to is obvious, for it was characteristic of them that they died οὐ προσδεξάμενοι τὴν ἀπολύτρωσιν , not accepting the offered deliverance. Eleazar was shown a way by which he could escape death ( 2Ma 6:21 ), and the seven brethren also were first interrogated and would have escaped death had they chosen to eat polluted food. They endured martyrdom, not accepting the escape that was possible, ἵνα κρείττονος ἀναστάσεως τύχωσιν , “that they might obtain a better resurrection,” “unto eternal life ‘better’ than that spoken of in the beginning of the verse, to a life that again ended” (Davidson, Weiss, von Soden). How fully the resurrection was in view of the seven brethren is shown in the saying of the second: “the King of the world shall raise us εἰς αἰώνιον ἀναβίωσιν ζωῆς ; of the third who when his hands were cut off declared that he would receive them again from God; of the fourth, who in dying said, “It is good, when put to death by men, to look for hope from God to be raised up again by Him;” and the youngest said of them all, “they are dead under God’s covenant of everlasting life”.

Verse 36

Hebrews 11:36 . ἕτεροι δέ … introducing a different class of victories achieved by faith, although ἐμπαιγμῶν καὶ μαστίγων , “mockings and scourgings” were endured by the martyrs who have just been mentioned ( 2Ma 7:7 ; 2Ma 7:1 ). πεῖραν ἔλαβον , see Hebrews 11:29 . ἔτι δὲ δεσμῶν … “yea, moreover of bonds and prison”; as the examples in Bleek prove, ἔτι δὲ is commonly used to express a climax ( cf. Luke 14:26 ); and such imprisonment as was inflicted, e.g. , on Jeremiah (Jeremiah 38:9 ) was certainly even more to be dreaded than scourging. ἐλιθάσθησαν , “they were stoned,” as was Zechariah, son of Johoiada, 2 Chronicles 24:20 (Luke 11:51 ). There was also a tradition that Jeremiah was stoned at Daphne in Egypt. ἐπρίσθησαν , “they were sawn asunder,” a cruel death sometimes inflicted on prisoners of war (2 Samuel 12:31 ; Amos 1:3 , ἔπριζον πρίοσι σιδηροῖς ). The reference is probably to Isaiah who according to the Ascensio Is . (Hebrews 1:9 , Hebrews 5:1 ) was sawn asunder by Manasseh with a wooden saw. Cf. Justin, Trypho , 120, ( πρίονι ξυλίνῳ ἐπρίσατε ) and Charles’ Ascension of Isaiah . Within our own memory some of the followers of the Bâb suffered the same death. ἐπειράσθησαν , “were tempted”. Alford says, “I do not see how any appropriate meaning can be given to the mere enduring of temptation, placed as it is between being sawn asunder and dying by the sword”. He would therefore either omit the word as a gloss on ἐπρίσθησαν or substitute ἐπρήσθησαν . That is a tempting reading because not only was one of the seven brothers (2 Maccabees 6; 2Ma 7:5 ) fried, but those who sought to keep the Sabbath in a cave ( 2Ma 6:11 ) were all burned together by order of Philip, Antiochus’ governor in Jerusalem. At the same time, the reading, “were tempted” gives quite a good sense, for certainly the most fiendish element in the torture of the seven brothers was the pressure put on each individually to recant. ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρης ἀπέθανον , “died by sword-slaughter,” for ἐν φ . μαχ . see Exodus 17:13 ; Numbers 21:24 , etc.; and for ἀπεθ . ἐν see Jeremiah 11:22 ; Jeremiah 21:9 . Examples of this death abounded in the Maccabean period. περιῆλθον ἐν μηλωταῖς , “they wandered about in sheepskins,” (as the mantle of Elijah is called in 2 Kings 2:8 , ἔλαβεν Ἠλιοὺ τὴν μηλωτὴν αὐτοῦ ), or even “in goatskins,” a still rougher material. This dress they wore not as a professional uniform, but because “destitute,” ὑστερούμενοι as in Luke 15:14 . ἤρξατο ὑστερεῖσθαι , Philippians 4:12 καὶ περισσεύειν καὶ ὑστερεἷσθαι , “hard-pressed,” θλιβόμενοι , as in 2 Corinthians 4:8 θλιβόμενοι ἀλλʼ οὐ στενοχωρούμενοι , κακουχούμενοι , “maltreated,” see Hebrews 11:25 . ὧν οὐκ ἦν ἄξιος ὁ κόσμος , “of whom the world was not worthy”. “The world drove them out, thinking them unworthy to live in it, while in truth it was unworthy to have them living in it” (Davidson). Vaughan aptly compares Acts 22:22 . After this parenthetical remark the description is closed with another participial clause, ἐπὶ ἐρημίαις πλανώμενοι … “wandering over deserts and mountains, and in caves and in the holes of the earth,” verified 1 Kings 18:4 ; 2Ma 5:27 where it is related of Judas and nine others, ἀναχωρήσας εἰς τὴν ἔρημον , θηρίων τρόπον ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι διέζη . Cf. also 2Ma 10:6 , ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι καὶ ἐν τοῖς σπηλαίοις θηρίων τρόπον ἦσαν νεμόμενοι . In the Ascensio Isaiae , ii. 7, 12, Isaiah and his companions are said to have spent two years among the mountains naked and eating only herbage.

Verse 39

Hebrews 11:39 . καὶ οὗτοι πάντες , “And these all,” that is, those who have been named in this chapter, “although they had witness borne to them through their faith,” as has been recorded (Hebrews 11:2-38 ), “did not receive the promise,” that is, as already said in Hebrews 11:13 , they only foresaw that it would be fulfilled and died in that faith. But this failure to obtain the fulfilment of the promise was not due to any slackness on the part of God nor to any defect in their faith; there was a good reason for it, and that reason was that “God had in view some better thing for us, that without us they should not be perfected”. The κρεῖττόν τι is that which this Epistle has made it its business to expound, the perfecting ( τελειωθῶσιν ) of God’s people by full communion with Him mediated by the perfect revelation (Hebrews 1:1 ) of the Son and His perfect covenant (Hebrews 8:7-13 ), and His better sacrifice (Hebrews 9:23 ). And the perfecting of the people of God under the O.T. is said to have been impossible, not as might have been expected “apart from the Son,” but χωρὶς ἡμῶν , because the writer has in view the history of the Church, the relation of the people of God in former times to the same people in Messianic times.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/hebrews-11.html. 1897-1910.
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