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International Critical Commentary NT International Critical
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/
commentaries/ eng/ icc/ hebrews-11.html. 1896-1924.
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on Hebrews 11". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/
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1 Now faith means we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see. 2 It was for this that the men of old won their record. 3 It is by faith we understand that the world was fashioned by the word of God, and thus the visible was made out of the invisible.
Calvin rightly protested against any division here, as an interruption to the thought: “quisquis hic fecit initium capitis undecimi, perperam contextum abrupit.” The following argument of 11:1-40 flows directly out of 10:35-39: ὑμομονή is justified and sustained by πίστις, and we have now a λόγος παρακλήσεως on μιμηταὶ τῶν διὰ πίστεως καὶ μακροθυμίας κληρονομούντων τὰς ἐπαγγελίας (6:12). Hitherto the only historical characters who have been mentioned have been Abraham, Melchizedek, Moses, Aaron, and Joshua; and Abraham alone has been mentioned for his πίστις; now a long list of heroes and heroines of πίστει is put forward, from Abel to the Maccabean martyrs. But first (vv. 1-3) a general word on faith. Ἔστιν δὲ πίστις κτλ. (v. 1). It is needless to put a comma after πίστις, i.e., “there is such a thing as faith, faith really exists.” Εἰμί at the beginning of a sentence does not necessarily carry this meaning; cp. e.g. Wis 7:1 εἰμὶ μὲν κἀγὼ θνητός, Luke 8:11 ἔστιν δὲ αὕτη ἡ παραβολή (John 21:25 and 1 John 5:17 etc.). Ἔστιν here is simply the copula, πίστις being the subject, and ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις the predicate. This turn of phrase is common in Philo, who puts ἔστι first in descriptions or definitions (e.g. Leg. Allegor. iii. 75, ἔστι δὲ στεναγμὸς σφοδρὰ καὶ ἐπιτεταμένη λύπη: quod deus immut. 19, ἔστι δὲ εὐχὴ μὲν αἴτησις�Romans 8:24, Romans 8:25), the unseen realities of which faith is confident are almost entirely in the future as promised by God, though, as the sequel shows, τὰ οὐ βλεπόμενα (e.g. vv. 3, 7, 8, 27) are not precisely the same as τὰ ἐλπιζόμενα. It cannot be too emphatically pointed out that the writer did not mean to say: (a) that faith gave substance or reality to unseen hopes, though this is the interpretation of the Greek fathers (Chrysostom, for example, argues: ἐπειδὴ τὰ ἐν ἐλπίδι�
In the papyri (e.g. in OP ii. pp. 153, 176, where in the plural it = “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property … deposited in the archives, and forming the evidence of ownership”) ὑπόστασις means occasionally the entire collection of title-deeds by which a man establishes his right to some property (cp. Moulton in Manchester Theological Essays, i. 174; Expositor, Dec. 1903, pp. 438f.); but while this might suggest the metaphor, the metaphor means “confident assurance.” The original sense of substance or reality, as in the de Mundo, 4 (συλλήβδην δὲ τῶν ἐν�
This connexion of faith with the future is emphasized by Philo in de Migratione Abrahami, 9, commenting on Genesis 12:1 ἥν σοι δείξω. It is δείξω, not δείκνυμι, he points out—εἰς μαρτυρίαν πίστεως ἣν ἐπίστευσεν ἡ ψυχὴ θεῷ, οὐκ ἐκ τῶν�Hebrews 10:23],�Matthew 15:2 = Mark 7:3, Mark 7:5; (τὴν παράδοσιν τῶν πρεσβυτέρων). Philo (de Abrahamo 46), indeed, noting that Abraham the man of faith is the first man called πρεσβύτερος in scripture (Genesis 24:1), reflects that this is significant; ὁ γὰρ�
Before describing the scriptural record of the πρεσβύτεροι, however, the writer pauses to point out the supreme proof of πίστις as πραγμάτων ἔλεγχος οὐ βλεπομένων. The very world within which they showed their faith and within which we are to show our faith, was the outcome of what is invisible (v. 3), and this conviction itself is an act of faith. Πίστει νοοῦμεν (cp. Romans 1:20: “νοεῖν is in Hellenistic Greek the current word for the apprehension of the divine in nature,” A. T. Goodrick on Wis 13:4) κατηρτίσθαι (of creation, Psalms 73:16 σὺ κατηρτίσω ἥλιον καὶ σελήνην) τοὺς αἰῶνας (1:2) ῥήματι θεοῦ (the divine fiat here), εἰς (with consecutive infinitive) τὸ μὴ ἐκ φαινομένων τὸ βλεπόμενον γεγονέναι (perfect of permanence). The μή goes with φαινομένων, but is thrown before the preposition as, e.g., in Acts 1:5 οὐ μετὰ πολλὰς ταύτας ἡμέρας (according to a familiar classical construction, Blass, § 433, 3).2 Faith always answers to revelation, and creation is the first revelation of God to man. Creation by the fiat of God was the orthodox doctrine of Judaism, and anyone who read the OT would accept it as the one theory about the origin of the world (cp. e.g. the description of God in the Mechilta, 33b, on Exodus 14:31 etc. as “He who spoke and the world was,” שֶׁאָמַן וְחָיָה העִוֹלָם, and Apoc. Bar. 14:17: “when of old there was no world with its inhabitants, Thou didst devise and speak with a word, and forthwith the works of creation stood before Thee”). But the explicitness of this sentence about creation out of what is invisible, suggests that the writer had other views in mind, which he desired to repudiate. Possibly Greek theories like those hinted at in Wis 10:17 about the world1 being created ἐξ�Psalms 101:7 to anyone who rashly speculated on the original material of the world. Our author does not speculate; it is very doubtful if he intends (Windisch, M ’Neill) to agree with Philo’s idea (in the de opificio Mundi, 16, de confus. ling. 34) of the φαινόμενος οὗτος κόσμος being modelled on the�
To take εἰς τὸ … γεγονέναι as final, is a forced construction. The phrase does not describe the motive of κατηρτίσθαι, and if the writer had meant, “so that we might know the seen came from the unseen,”2 he would have written this, instead of allowing the vital words might know to be supplied.
The roll-call of the πρεσβύτεροι (vv. 4f.) opens with Abel and Enoch, two men who showed their πίστις before the deluge (vv. 4-6). One was murdered, the other, as the story went, never died; and the writer uses both tales to illustrate his point about πίστις.
4 It was by faith (πίστει, the rhetorical anaphora repeated throughout the section) that Abel offered God a richer sacrifice than Cain did, and thus (διʼ ἧς, sc. πίστεως) won from God the record of being “just,” on the score of what he gave; he died, but by his faith he is speaking to us still. 5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken to heaven, so that he never died (“he was not overtaken by death, for God had taken him away”). For before he was taken to heaven, his record was that “he had satisfied God”; 6 and apart from faith it is impossible �
The first illustration (v. 4) is much less natural than most of those that follow. In the story of Genesis 4:4-8, ἔπιδεν ὁ θεὸς ἐπὶ Ἄβελ καὶ ἐπὶ τοῖς δώροις αὐτοῦ. But why God disregarded Cain’s sacrifice and preferred Abel’s, our author does not explain. Josephus (Ant. i. 54) thought that an offering of milk and animals was more acceptable to God as being natural (τοῖς αὐτομάτοις καὶ κατὰ φύσιν γεγονόσι) than Cain’s cereal offering, which was wrung out of the ground by a covetous man; our author simply argues that the πλείων θυσία of Abel at the very dawn of history was prompted by faith. He does not enter into the nature of this πλείονα (in sense of Mark 6:25 or Mark 12:43 ἡ χήρα αὕτη ἡ πτωχὴ πλεῖον πάντων βέβληκεν) θυσίαν παρὰ (as in 1:4) Κάιν, offered at the first act of worship recorded in scripture. What seems to be implied is that faith must inspire any worship that is to be acceptable to God from anyone who is to be God’s δίκαιος (10:38). Josephus held that Abel δικαιοσύνης ἐπιμελείτο, the blood of Ἄβελ τοῦ δικαίου is noted in Matthew 23:35, and the Genesis-words ἔπιδεν ὁ θεός are here expanded by our author into ἐμαρτυρήθη εἶναι δίκαιος. Note the practical equivalence of δῶρα and θυσία, as already in 5:1 etc. There is nothing in Πρὸς Ἑβραίους like Philo’s effort (Quaest. in Genesis 4:4) to distinguish between δῶρα and θυσίας as follows: ὁ μὲν θύων ἐπιδιαιρεῖ, τὸ μὲν αἷμα τῷ βωμῷ προχέων, τὰ δὲ κρέα οἴκαδε κομίζων. ὁ δὲ δωρούμενος ὅλον ἔοικε παραχωρεῖν τῷ λαμβάνοντι· ὁ μὲν οὖν φίλαυτος διανομεὺς οἷος ὁ Κάϊν, ὁ δὲ φιλόθεος δώρηται οἷον ὁ Ἄβελ.
Πλείονα: of the conjectural emendations, ΠΙΟΝΑ and ΗΔΙΟΝΑ (Cobet, Vollgraff), the latter is favoured by Justin’s reference in Dial. 29 (εὐδόκησε γὰρ καὶ εἰς τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ τὰς θυσίας ἤδιον παρʼ ἡμῖν ἢ παρʼ ὑμῶν λαμβάνει· τίς οὖν ἔτι μοὶ περιτομῆς λόγος, ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ μαρτυρηθέντι;), and is admitted into the text by Baljon and Blass (so Maynard in Exp.7 vii. 164 f., who infers from μαρτυρηθέντι that Justin knew Πρὸς Ἑβραίους, the original text of the latter being αὐτῷ τοῦ θεοῦ). In Demosth. Prooem. 23, ἤδιον has been corrupted into πλεῖον.
In what follows, (a) the original text (μαρτυροῦντος … αὐτῷ τοῦ θεοῦ) is preserved in p13 Clem. (om. τῷ θεῷ). (b) αὐτῷ then became αὐτοῦ under the influence of the LXX, and τῷ θεῷ was inserted after προσήνεγκε to complete the sense (אc Dc K L P r vg syr boh arm Orig. Chrys. etc.). Finally, (c) τοῦ θεοῦ became assimilated to the preceding τῷ θεῷ, and μαρτυροῦντος … αὐτοῦ τῷ θεῷ (א* A D* 33, 104, 326, 1311, 1836, eth) became current, as though Abel witnessed to God, instead of God witnessing to Abel. Thus after προσήνεγκε the Greek originally ran: διʼ ἦς ἐμαρτυρήθη εἶναι δίκαιος, μαρτυροῦντος ἐπὶ τοῖς δώροις αὐτῷ τοῦ θεοῦ. Then another application of the LXX was added. The phrase in Genesis 4:10 (φωνὴ αἵματος τοῦ�Genesis 4:10) ἃ πέπονθεν ὑπὸ κακοῦ συνδέτου τηλαυγῶς εὑρίσκεται· πῶς γὰρ ὁ μηκέτʼ ὢν διαλέγεσθαι δυνατός; ). Our author takes a similar line here: καὶ διʼ αὐτῆς (i.e. πίστεως)�Revelation 6:10). Ἔτι λαλεῖ means, in a general sense, that he is an eloquent, living witness to all ages (so recently Seeberg). Primasius (“qui enim alios suo exemplo admonet ut justi sint, quomodo non loquitur?”) and Chrysostom (τοῦτο καὶ τοῦ ζῇν σημεῖον ἐστι, καὶ τοῦ παρὰ πάντων ἄδεσθαι, θαυμάζεσθαι καὶ μακαρίζεσθαι· ὁ γὰρ παραινῶν τοῖς ἄλλοις δικαίοις εἶναι λαλεῖ) put this well. The witness is that πίστις may have to face the last extreme of death (12:4), and that it is not abandoned by God;�
The difficulty of λαλεῖ led to the tame correction λαλεῖται in D K L d eth, etc. Λαλεῖται as passive (=λέγεται) is nearly as impossible as middle; to say that Abel, even after death, is still spoken of, is a tepid idea. The writer of Hebrews meant more than an immortal memory, more even than Epictetus when he declared that by dying ὅτε ἔδει καὶ ὡς ἔδει one may do even more good to men than he did in life, like Socrates (iv. 1. 169, καὶ νῦν Σωκράτους�
The πίστις Ἐνώχ (vv. 5, 6) is conveyed in an interpretation of the LXX of Genesis 5:24 καὶ εὐηρέστησεν Ἐνὼχ τῷ θεῷ· καὶ οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο, διότι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεός. The writer takes the two clauses in reverse order. Enoch μετετέθη τοῦ (with infinitive of result) μὴ ἰδεῖν θάνατον (Luke 2:26) καὶ (“indeed,” introducing the quotation) οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο (on this Attic augmented form, which became rare in the κοινή, see Thackeray, 200) διότι μετέθηκεν αὐτὸν ὁ θεός, πρὸ γὰρ (resuming πίστει μετετέθη) τῆς μεταθέσεως μεμαρτύρηται (in the scripture record; hence the perfect, which here is practically aoristic) εὐηρεστηκέναι τῷ θεοῦ (εὐαρεστεῖν in its ordinary Hellenistic sense of a servant giving satisfaction to his master). For εὑρίσκεσθαι = die (be overtaken or surprised by death),1 cp. Epict. iii. 5. 5 f., οὐκ οἶδας ὅτι καὶ νόσος καὶ θάνατος καταλαβεῖν ἡμᾶς ὀφείλουσίν τί ποτε ποιοῦντας; … ἐμοὶ μὲν γὰρ καταληφθῆναι γένοιτο μηδενὸς ἄλλου ἐπιμελουμένῳ ἢ τῆς προαιρέσεως τῆς ἐμῆς … ταῦτα ἐπιτηδεύων θέλω εὑρεθῆναι: iv. 10. 12,�Philippians 3:9 (εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ).
Both Clem. Rom. (9:2) and Origen, like Tertullian, appear to have read οὐχ εὑρέθη αὐτοῦ θάνατος in Genesis 5:24; and Blass therefore reads here οὐχ ηὑρίσκετ(ο) αὐτοῦ θάνατος, especially as it suits his scheme of rhythm. This is linguistically possible, as εὑρίσκεσθαι = be (cp. Fr. se trouver), e.g. in Luke 17:18, Philippians 2:8. Μετέθηκεν was turned into the pluperfect μετετέθηκεν by א* Dc L 5, 203, 256, 257, 326, 337, 378, 383, 491, 506, 623, 1611, etc.
Traditions varied upon Enoch (EBi 1295a), and even Alexandrian Judaism did not always canonize him in this way. (a) The author of Wis 4:10f., without mentioning his name, quotes Genesis 5:24 as if it meant that God removed Enoch from life early (καὶ ζῶν μεταξὺ ἁμαρτωλῶν μετετέθη) in order to prevent him from sharing the sin of his age (ἡρπάγη, μὴ κακία�Genesis 5:24 he points out that μετάθεσις means a change for the better, and that οὐχ ηὑρίσκετο is therefore appropriate, τῷ τὸν�Philemon 1:1 (de Abrahamo, 6, “τῷ θεῷ εὐηρέστησεν·” οὗ τί γένοιτʼ ἂν ἐν τῇ ψύσει κρεῖττον; τίς καλοκἀγαθίας ἐναργέστερος ἔλεγχος; ), though he is referring to Noah, not to Enoch. Our author explains that to satisfy God necessarily implies πίστις (v. 6) in the sense of 10:35. Πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον τῷ θεῷ (4:16 etc.) ὅτι ἔστιν (so Epict. iii. 26. 15, ὅτι καὶ ἔστι καὶ καλῶς διοικεῖ τὰ ὅλα) καὶ τοῖς ἐκζητοῦσιν αὐτὸν μισθαποδότης (cf. v. 26, 10:35) γίνεται. As for the first element of belief, in the existence of God (ὅτι ἔστιν), the early commentators, from Chrysostom (ὅτι ἔστιν· οὐ τὸ τί ἐστιν: cp. Tert. adv. Marc. i. 17, “primo enim quaeritur an sit, et ita qualis sit”) and Jerome (on Isaiah 6:1-7, in Anecdota Maredsolana, iii. 3. 110: “cumque idem apostolus Paulus scribit in alio loco, Credere oportet accedentem ad Deum quia est, non posuit quis et qualis sit debere cognosci, sed tantum quod sit. Scimus enim esse Deum, scimusque quid non sit; quid autem et qualis sit, scire non possumus”) onwards, emphasize the fact that it is God’s existence, not his nature, which is the primary element of faith. Philo does declare that the two main problems of enquiry are into God’s existence and into his essence (de Monarch. i. 4-6), but our author takes the more practical, religious line, and he does not suggest how faith in God’s existence is to be won or kept. When objectors asked him why he believed in the existence of the gods, Marcus Aurelius used to reply: πρῶτον μὲν καὶ ὄψει ὁρατοί εἰσιν· ἔπειτα μέντοι οὐδὲ τὴν ψυχὴν τὴν ἐμαυτοῦ ἑώρακα καὶ ὅμως τιμῶ· οὕτως οὖν καὶ τοὺς θεούς, ἐξ ὧν τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτῶν ἑκάστοτε πειρῶμαι, ἐκ τούτων ὅτι τε εἰσὶ καταλαμβάνω καὶ αἰδοῦμαι (xii. 28). We have no such argument against atheism here; only the reminder that faith does imply a belief in the existence of God—a reminder which would appeal specially to those of the readers who had been born outside Judaism. Belief in the existence of God is for our author, however, one of the elementary principles of the Christian religion (6:1); the stress here falls on the second element, καὶ … μισθαποδότης γίνεται. When the Stoics spoke about belief in the divine existence, they generally associated it with belief in providence; both Seneca (Ep. xcv. 50, “primus est deorum cultus deos credere … scire illos esse qui praesident mundo, quia universa vi sua temperant, qui humani generis tutelam gerunt interdum curiosi singulorum”) and Epictetus (e.g. ii. 14. 11, λέγουσιν οἱ φιλόσοφοι ὅτι μαθεῖν δεῖ πρῶτον τοῦτο, ὅτι ἔστι θεὸς καὶ προνοεῖ τῶν ὅλων: Enchir. xxxi. 1, τῆς περὶ τοὺς θεοὺς εὐσεβείας ἴσθω ὅτι τὸ κυριώτατον ἐκεῖνό ἐστιν ὀρθὰς ὑπολήψεις περὶ αὐτῶν ἔχειν ὡς ὄντων καὶ διοικούντων τὰ ὅλα καλῶς καὶ δικαίως) are contemporary witnesses to this connexion of ideas, which, indeed, is as old as Plato (Leges, 905d, ὅτι μὲν γὰρ θεοί τʼ εἰσὶν καὶ�
Τοῖς ἐκζῆτοῦσιν αὐτόν (for which p13 P read the simple ζητοῦσιν) denotes, not philosophic enquiry, but the practical religious quest, as in the OT (e.g. Acts 15:17, Romans 3:11). This is not Philo’s view, e.g., in the Leg. Alleg. iii. 15 εἰ δὲ ζητοῦσα εὑρήσεις θεὸν ἄδηλον, πολλοῖς γὰρ οὐκ ἐφανέρωσεν ἑαυτὸν,�
A still more apt illustration of πίστις as the ἔλεγχος πράγματων οὐ βλεπομἐνων which becomes a motive in human life, now occurs in (v. 7) the faith which Noah showed at the deluge when he believed, against all appearances to the contrary, that he must obey God’s order and build an ark, although it is true that in this case the unseen was revealed and realized within the lifetime of the δίκαιος. Like Philo, our author passes from Enoch to Noah, although for a different reason. Philo ranks Noah as the lover of God and virtue, next to Enoch the typical penitent (de Abrah. 3, 5, εἰκότως τῷ μετανενοηκότι τάττει κατὰ τὸ ἑξῆς τὸν θεοφιλῆ καὶ φιλάρετον); here both are grouped as examples of πίστις. Sirach (44:17.) also passes at once from Enoch to Noah the δίκαιος.
7 It was by faith (πίστει) that Noah, after being told by God (χρηματισθείς, 8:5, sc. παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ) of what was still unseen (τῶν μηδέπω βλεπομένων, i.e. the deluge), reverently (εὐλαβηθείς, cp. 5:7) constructed (κατεσκεύασεν, as 1 P 3:20) an ark to save his household; thus he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that follows faith.
The writer recalls, though he does not quote from, the story of Genesis 6:13f. Πίστει goes closely with εὐλάβηθεὶς κατεσκεύασεν, and περὶ τ. μ. βλεπομένων goes with χρηματισθείς (as Jos. Ant. iv. 102, ἐχρηματίζετο περὶ ὧν ἐδεῖτο), not with εὐλαβηθείς, which is not a synonym for φοβηθείς—the writer is at pains always to exclude fear or dread from faith (cp. vv. 23, 27). Εἰς σωτηρίαν is to be taken as = “to save alive” (Acts 27:20 πᾶσα ἐλπὶς τοῦ σώζεσθαι ἡμᾶς, 27:34 τοῦτο γὰρ πρὸς τῆς ὑμετέρας σωτηρίας ὑπάρχει). Διʼ ἧς (i.e. by the faith he thus exhibited; as both of the following clauses depend on this, it cannot refer to the ark, which would suit only the first) κατέκρινε τὸν κόσμον, where κατέκρινεν corresponds to what is probably the meaning of Wis 4:16 κατακρινεῖ δὲ δίκαιος καμὼν τοὺς ζῶντας�Genesis 6:9) δίκαιος; but our author, who has already called Abel and Noah δίκαιος, does not use this fact; he contents himself with saying that τῆς κατὰ πίστιν δικαιοσύνης ἐγένετο κληρόνομος, i.e. he became entitled to, came into possession of, the δικαιοσύνη which is the outcome or property (κατά κτλ., as in Hellenistic Greek, cp. Ephesians 1:15, a periphrasis for the possessive genitive) of such faith as he showed. Δικαιοσύνη here is the state of one who is God’s δίκαιος (ὁ δίκαιος μου, 10:38). A vivid description of Noah’s faith is given in Mark Rutherford’s novel, The Deliverance, pp. 162, 163.
The faith of Abraham, as might be expected, receives more attention than that of any other (cp. Acts 7:2f.). It is described in three phases (8, 9-10, 17-19); the faith of his wife Sara is attached to his (11-12), and a general statement about his immediate descendants is interpolated (13-16) before the writer passes from the second to the third phase. As in Sirach and Philo, Abraham follows Noah. “Ten generations were there from Noah to Abraham, to show how great was His longsuffering; for all the generations were provoking Him, till Abraham our father came and received the reward of them all” (Pirke Aboth 5:3).
8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed his call to go forth to a place which he would receive as an inheritance; he went forth, although he did not know where he was to go. 9 It was by faith that he “sojourned” in the promised land, as in a foreign country, residing in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were co-heirs with him of the same promise; 10 he was waiting for the City with its fixed foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
The first phase (v. 8) is the call to leave Mesopotamia and travel West, which is described in Genesis 12:1f.. The writer does not dwell, like Philo (de Abrahamo, 14), on the wrench of tearing oneself from one’s home. But, as Philo says that Abraham started ἅμα τῷ κελευσθῆναι, our author begins with καλούμενος. When the call came, he obeyed it—ὑπήκουσεν ἐξελθεῖν (epexegetic infinitive), a reminiscence of Genesis 12:1, Genesis 12:4 καὶ εἶπεν κύριος τῷ Ἀβρὰμ, Ἔξελθε … καὶ ἐπορεύθη Ἀβρὰμ καθάπερ ἐλάλησεν αὐτῷ κύριος. He went out from Mesopotamia, μὴ ἐπιστάμενος ποῦ ἔρχεται, his faith being tested by this uncertainty. So Philo (de Migr. Abrah. 9) notes the point of the future δείξω in Genesis 12:1; it is εἰς μαρτυρίαν πίστεως ἣν ἐπίστευσεν ἡ ψυχὴ θεῷ.
The insertion of ὁ before καλούμενος (A D 33. 256. 467. 1739. 2127 sah boh arm Thdt.) turns the phrase into an allusion to Abraham’s change of name in Genesis 17:5, which is irrelevant to his earlier call to leave the far East.
The second phase (vv. 9, 10) is the trial of patience. He did not lose heart or hope, even when he did reach the country appointed to him, although he had to wander up and down it as a mere foreigner, εἰς ( = ἐν, Mark 13:16, Acts 8:40) …�Genesis 37:1), and with a fine touch of paradox the writer therefore goes on to describe Abraham as ἐν σκηναῖς κατοικήσας, contented patiently to lead a wandering, unsettled life. Such was all the “residence” he ever had! What sustained him was his πίστις (v. 10), his eager outlook for the City, ἧς τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργὸς ὁ θεός. Compare the scholion on Lucian’s Jou. Trag. 38: ὃν δὴ θεὸν καὶ δημιουργὸν ὁ εὐσεβὴς�Malachi 4:1, and was used in classical literature frequently for a subordinate deity (cp. Schermann, Texte u. Untersuchungen, xxxiv. 2b. 23). In Apoc. Esdrae (ed. Tisch. 32) the phrase occurs, ὁ πάσης τῆς κτίσεως δημιουργός. Our author simply writes τεχνίτης καὶ δημιουργός as a rhetorical expression for maker or creator (8:2), without differentiating the one term from the other, as “designer” and “constructor” (cp. Philo, quis rer. div. 27, ὁ τεχνίτης … ἡνίκα τὸν κόσμον ἐδημιούργει: de mut. nom. 4, ἔθηκε τὰ πάντα ὁ γεννήσας καὶ τεχνιτεύσας πατήρ, ὥστε τὸ "ἐγώ εἰμι θεὸς σὸς" ἴσον ἐστὶ τῷ "ἐγώ εἰμι ποιητὴς καὶ δημιουργός").
In 9b the writer adds a new touch (as if to suggest that Abraham propagated his πίστις) in μετὰ Ἰσαὰκ καὶ Ἰακώβ1—who shared the same outlook—τῶν συγκληρονόμων (a κοινή, though not a LXX, term for co-heir) τῆς ἐπαγγελίας τῆς αὐτῆς. Their individual faith is noted later (vv. 20, 21). In sketching his fine mystical interpretation of Abraham’s hope, the author ignores the fact that Jacob, according to Genesis 33:17 (ἐποίησεν αὐτῷ ἐκεῖ οἰκίας), did erect a permanent settlement for himself at Sukkoth. His immediate interest is not in Isaac and Jacob but in Abraham, and in the contrast of the tent-life with the stable, settled existence in a city—the idea which recurs in 12:22, 13:14. It is a Philonic thought in germ, for Philo (Leg. Alleg. 3:27) declares that the land promised by God to Abraham is a πόλις�Genesis 15:9-21 (Apoc. Bar. 4:4), or to Jacob at Bethel (Beresh. rabba on Genesis 28:17). Ἐξεδέχετο γὰρ—and this showed the steady patience (10:36) and inward expectation (11:1) of his faith—τὴν τοὺς θεμελίους (τούς, because it was such foundations that the tents lacked) ἔχουσαν πόλιν. No doubt there was something promised by God which Abraham expected and did get, in this life; the writer admits that (6:13-15). But, in a deeper sense, Abraham had yearnings for a higher, spiritual bliss, for heaven as his true home. The fulfilment of the promise about his family was not everything; indeed, his real faith was in an unseen future order of being (11:1). However, the realization of the one promise about Isaac (6:13-15) suggests a passing word upon the faith of Sara (vv. 11, 12).
11 It was by faith that even (καί) Sara got strength to conceive, bearing a son when she was past the age for it—because she considered she could rely on Him who gave the promise. 12 Thus a single man, though (καὶ ταῦτα) he was physically impotent, had issue in number “like the stars in heaven, countless as the sand on the seashore.”
This is the first instance of a woman’s faith recorded, and she is a married woman. Paul (Romans 4:19f.) ignores any faith on her part. Philo again praises Sarah, but not for her faith; it is her loyalty and affection for her husband which he singles out for commendation, particularly her magnanimity in the incident of Genesis 16:2 (de Abrahamo, 42-44). Our author declares that even in spite of her physical condition (καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα), she believed God when he promised her a child. The allusion is to the tale of Genesis 17:15, which the readers are assumed to know, with its stress on the renewal of sexual functions in a woman of her age. This is the point of καὶ αὐτή, not “mere woman that she was” (Chrysostom, Oec., Bengel), nor “in spite of her incredulity” (Bleek), nor “Sara likewise,” i.e. as well as Abraham (Delitzsch, Hofmann, von Soden, Vaughan), owing to her close connexion with Abraham (Westcott, Seeberg), though the notion of “like-wise” is not excluded from the author’s meaning, since the husband also was an old man. A gloss (στεῖρα, ἡ στεῖρα, ἡ στεῖρα οὖσα) was soon inserted by D* P, nearly all the versions, and Origen. This is superfluous, however, and probably arose from dittography (ΣΑΡΡΑΣΤεΙΡΑ). The general idea is plain, though there is a difficulty in δύναμιν ἔλαβεν (i.e. from God) εἰς καταβολὴν σπέρματος = εἰς τὸ καταβάλλεσθαι σπέρμα, i.e. for Abraham the male to do the work of generation upon her. This is how the text was understood in the versions, e.g. the Latin (“in conceptionem seminis”). Probably it was what the writer meant, though the expression is rather awkward, for καταβολὴ σπέρματος means the act of the male; εἰς ὑποδοχὴν σπέρματος would have been the correct words. This has been overcome (a) by omitting καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα as a gloss, or (b) by reading αὐτῇ Σάρρᾳ. (a) certainly clears up the verse, leaving Abraham as the subject of both verses (so Field in Notes on Transl. of NT, p. 232, and Windisch); (b) is read by Michaelis, Storr, Rendall, Hort, and Riggenbach, the latter interpreting it not as “dativus commodi,” but = “along with.” If the ordinary text is retained, the idea suggested in καὶ αὐτὴ Σάρρα is made explicit in παρὰ καιρὸν ἡλικίας. What rendered such faith hard for her was her physical condition. Philo (de Abrah. 22) applies this to both parents (ἤδη γὰρ ὑπερήλικες γεγονότες διὰ μακρὸν γῆρας�Genesis 18:11, Genesis 18:12 is called by Josephus γύναιον τὴν ἡλικίαν ἤδη προβεβληκός (Ant. vii. 8. 4).
Εἰς τὸ τεκνῶσαι (D* P 69 436. 462. 1245. 1288. 2005 syrhkl) after ἔλαβεν is a harmless gloss. The addition of ἔτεκεν (אc K L P lat arm) after ἡλικίας was made when the force of καί ( = even) before παρὰ καιρόν was missed.
Πιστὸν ἡγήσατο τὸν ἐπαγγειλάμενον (10:23) is an assertion which shows that the author ignores her sceptical laughter in Genesis 18:12; he does not hesitate (cp. v. 27) to deal freely with the ancient story in order to make his point, and indeed ignores the equally sceptical attitude of Abraham himself (Genesis 17:17). To be πιστός in this connexion is to be true to one’s word, as Cicero observes in the de Officiis (i. 7: “fundamentum autem justitiae fides, id est dictorum conventorumque constantia et veritas”). The promise was fulfilled in this life, so that Sara’s faith resembles that of Noah (v. 7). The fulfilment is described in v. 12, where, after διὸ καὶ�1 Corinthians 6:8 for the less common καὶ τοῦτο) νενεκρωμένου (in the sense of Romans 4:19). Gen. r. on Genesis 25:1 applies Job 14:7-9 to Abraham, but the plain sense is given in Augustine’s comment (Civit. Dei, 16:28): “sicut aiunt, qui scripserunt interpretationes nominum Hebraeorum, quae his sacris literis continentur, Sara interpretatur princeps mea, Sarra autem uirtus. Unde scriptum est in epistula ad Hebraeos: Fide et ipsa Sarra uirtutem accepit ad emissionem seminis. Ambo enim seniores erant, sicut scriptura testatur; sed illa etiam sterilis et cruore menstruo iam destituta, propter quod iam parere non posset, etiam si sterilis non fuisset. Porro si femina sit prouectioris aetatis, ut ei solita mulierum adhuc fluant, de iuuene parere potest, de seniore non potest; quamuis adhuc possit ille senior, sed de adulescentula gignere, sicut Abraham post mortem Sarrae de Cettura potuit [Genesis 25:1], quia uiuidam eius inuenit aetatem. Hoc ergo est, quod mirum commendat apostolus, et ad hoc dicit Abrahae iam fuisse corpus emortuum, quoniam non ex omni femina, cui adhuc esset aliquod pariendi tempus extremum, generare ipse in illa aetate adhuc posset.” This elucidates Hebrews 11:11, Hebrews 11:12a. In what follows, the author is quoting from the divine promise in Genesis 22:17, a passage much used in later Jewish literature,2 though this is the only full allusion to it in the NT (cf. Romans 9:27).
Before passing to the third phase of Abraham’s faith, the writer adds (vv. 13-16) a general reflection on the faith of the patriarchs, an application of vv. 9, 10. There were promises which could not be fulfilled in the present life, and this aspect of faith is now presented.
13 (These all died in faith without obtaining the promises; they only saw them far away and hailed them, owning they were “strangers and exiles” upon earth. 14 Now people who speak in this way plainly show they are in search of a fatherland. 15 If they thought of the land they have left behind, they would have time to go back, 16 but they really aspire to the better land in heaven. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God; he has prepared a City for them.)
οὗτοι πάντες (those first mentioned in 9-12, particularly the three patriarchs) died as well as lived κατὰ πίστιν, which is substituted here for πίστει either as a literary variety of expression, or in order to suggest πίστις as the sphere and standard of their characters. The writer argues that the patriarchs already possessed a πίστις in eternal life beyond the grave; their very language proves that. Μὴ κομισάμενοι explains the πίστις in which they died; this is the force of μή. All they had was a far-off vision of what had been promised them, but a vision which produced in them a glad belief—ἰδόντες καὶ�
Καὶ ὁμολογήσαντες, for to reside abroad carried with it a certain stigma, according to ancient opinion (cp. e.g. Ep. Aristeae, 249, καλὸν ἐν ἰδίᾳ καὶ ζῇν καὶ τελευτᾷν. ἡ δὲ ξενία τοῖς μὲν πένησι καταφρόνησιν ἐργάζεται, τοῖς δὲ πλουσίοις ὄνειδος, ὡς διὰ κακίαν ἐκπεπτωκόσιν: Sir 29:22-28 etc.). The admission, ὅτι ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδημοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ γῆς, is a generalization from the Oriental deprecation of Jacob in Genesis 47:9 (εἶπεν Ἰακὼβ τῷ Φαραώ, αἱ ἡμέραι τῶν ἔτων τῆς ζωῆς μου ἃς παροικῶ κτλ.), and the similar confession of Abraham in Genesis 23:4 to the sons of Heth, πάροικος καὶ παρεπίδημος ἐγώ εἰμι μεθʼ ὑμῶν. The ἐπὶ γῆς is a homiletic touch, as in Psalms 119:19 (πάροικός εἰμι ἐν τῇ γῇ). In both cases this ὁμολογία τῆς ἐλπίδος (10:23) is made before outsiders, and the words ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς start the inference (vv. 14-16a) that the true home of these confessors was in heaven. Such a mystical significance of ξένοι καὶ παρεπίδημοι, which had already been voiced in the psalter, is richly and romantically developed by Philo, but it never became prominent in primitive Christianity. Paul’s nearest approach to it is worded differently (Philippians 3:20, where τὸ πολίτευμα corresponds to πατρίς here). In Ephesians 2:12-19, indeed, Christians are no longer ξένοι καὶ πάροικοι, for these terms are applied literally to pagans out of connexion with the chosen People of God. The only parallel to the thought of Hebrews is in 1 P, where Christians are παρεπιδήμοι (1:1) and παροίκοι καὶ παρεπιδήμοι (2:11). The term ξένοι is used here as a synonym for πάροικοι, which (cp. Ephesians 2:12, Ephesians 2:19) would be specially intelligible to Gentile Christians. Παρεπίδημος only occurs in the LXX in Genesis 23:4, Psalms 39:13; in the Egyptian papyri παρεπιδημοῦντες (consistentes) denotes foreigners who settled and acquired a domicile in townships or cities like Alexandria (GCP i. 40, 55; cp. A. Peyron’s Papyri graeci R. Taur. Musei Aegyptii, 8:13 τῶν παρεπιδημοῦντων καὶ [κα]τοικούντων ἐ[ν] [τ]αύται[ς] ξένων), and for ξένοι =peregrini, Ep. Arist. 109 f. The use of such metaphorical terms became fairly common in the moral vocabulary of the age, quite apart from the OT, e.g. Marcus Aurelius, 2:17 (ὁ δὲ βιὸς πόλεμος καὶ ξένου ἐπιδημία). A similar symbolism recurs in the argument of Epictetus (ii. 23, 36 f.) against the prevalent idea that logic, style, and eloquence are the end of philosophy: οἷον εἴ τις�Leviticus 25:23, he argues that this is the real position of all wise souls towards God, since each of us is a stranger and sojourner in the foreign city of the world where God has for a time placed us till we return to Him.
The metaphor had been applied, in a derogatory sense, by Sallust to the lazy and sensual men who never know what real life means, but who pass through it heedlessly: “many human beings, given over to sensuality and sloth (‘ventri atque somno’), uneducated, and uncultured, have gone through life like travellers” (“vitam sicuti peregrinantes transiere,” Song of Solomon 2:0).
Such a confession proves (v. 14) that the men in question are not satisfied with the present outward order of things; ἐμφανίζουσιν (Esther 2:22 καὶ αὐτὴ ἐνεφάνισεν τῷ βασιλεῖ τὰ τῆς ἐπιβουλῆς: Acts 23:15, OGIS (3 a.d.) 42:9, Syll. 226:85 τήν τε παρουσίαν ἐμφανίσαντων τοῦ βασίλεως), they thus avow or affirm, ὃτι πατρίδα ἐπιζητοῦσιν (Valckenaer’s conjecture, ἔτι ζητοῦσι, is ingenious but needless, cp. 13:14). For πάτρις in a mystical sense, compare Philo, de Agric. 14, commenting on Genesis 47:4): τῷ γὰρ ὄντι πᾶσα ψυχὴ σοφοῦ πατρίδα μὲν οὐρανόν, ξένην δὲ γῆν ἔλαχε, καὶ νομίζει τὸν μὲν σοφίας οἶκον ἴδιον, τὸν δὲ σώματος ὀθνεῖον, ᾧ καὶ παρεπιδημεῖν οἴεται. Here it is “heaven, the heart’s true home.” The creditable feature in this kind of life was that these men had deliberately chosen it.1 Had they liked, they might have taken another and a less exacting line (v. 15). Εἰ μὲν (as in 8:4) ἐμνημόνευον (referring to the continuous past) κτλ. The μνημονεύουσιν of א* D* was due to the influence of the preceding presents, just as ἐμνημόνευσαν (33. 104, 216 Cosm) to the influence of ἐξέβησαν, which in turn was smoothed out into the usual NT term ἐξῆλθον (אc D K L Ψ 436 919. 1288. 1739). Μνημόνευειν here has the sense of “giving a thought to,” as in Jos. Ant. vi. 37, οὔτε τροφῆς ἐμνημόνευσεν οὔθʼ ὕπνου, and below in v. 22. Time (as Acts 24:25), as elsewhere in Hebrews, rather than opportunity (1 Mac 15:34 ἡμεῖς δὲ καιρὸν ἔχοντες�Judges 11:39 καὶ�
Philo remarks of Abraham: τίς δʼ οὐκ ἂν μετατραπόμενος παλινδρόμησεν οἴκαδε, βραχέα μὲν φροντίσας τῶν μελλουσῶν ἐλπίδων, τὴν δὲ παροῦσαν�
On the contrary (v. 16), so far from that, they held on, the writer adds; νῦν δέ (logical, as in 8:6, not temporal) κρείττονος ὀρέγονται, τοῦτʼ ἔστιν ἐπουρανίου (so God is described in 2 Mac 3:39 as ὁ τὴν κατοικίαν ἐπουράνιον ἔχων). Διὸ οὐκ ἐπαισχύνεται (compare 2:11) αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς "θεὸς" ἐπικαλεῖσθαι (epexegetic infinitive) “αὐτῶν,” referring to Exodus 3:6, Ἐγώ εἰμι … θεὸς Ἀβραὰμ καὶ θεὸς Ἰσαὰκ καὶ θεὸς Ἰακώβ, which the writer1 interprets (cp. Mark 12:26, Mark 12:27) as an assurance of immortality. Their hope of a πατρίς or heavenly home was no illusion; it was because God had such a πόλις (v. 10) all ready for them that he could call himself their God. He might have been ashamed to call himself such, had he not made this provision for their needs and prepared this reward for their faith (ἡτοίμασεν, cp. Matthew 23:34).
The third phase of the faith of Abraham (vv. 17-19) is now chronicled, followed by three instances of faith at the end of life, in Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (vv. 20-22).
17 It was by faith (πίστει), “when Abraham was put to the test, that he sacrificed Isaac”; he was ready to sacrifice “his only son,” although he had received the promises, 18 and had been told (πρὸς ὅν, as 5:5) that (ὅτι recitative) “it is through Isaac (not Ishmael) that your offspring shall be reckoned”—19 for he considered God was able even to raise men from the dead. Hence (ὅθεν, causal) he did get him back, by what was a parable of the resurrection. 20 It was by faith that Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in connection with the future. 21 It was by faith that, when Jacob was dying �
The supreme test of Abraham’s πίστις is found in the story of Genesis 22:1-18, which Jewish tradition always reckoned as the last and sorest of his ten trials (Pirke Aboth 5:4). It is cited in 4 Mac 16:18-20 as a classical example of ὑπομονή (ὀφείλετε πάντα πόνον ὑπομένειν διὰ τὸν θεόν, διʼ ὃν καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἡμῶν Ἀβραὰμ ἔσπευδεν τὸν ἐθνοπάτορα υἱὸν σφαγιάσαι Ἰσαάκ κτλ.). In v. 17 the perfect tense προσενήνοχεν may mean “the ideally accomplished sacrifice, as permanently recorded in scripture” (Moulton, so Diat 2751); but it is more likely to be aoristic (cp. Simcox, Lang. of NT., pp. 104, 126). Πειραζόμενος echoes Genesis 22:1 (ὁ εὸς ἐπείραζεν τὸν Ἀβραάμ). Καὶ (epexegetic) τὸν μονογενῆ (a Lucan use of the term in the NT)2 προσέφερεν (conative imperfect of interrupted action, like ἐκάλουν in Luke 1:59) ὁ τὰς ἐπαγγελίας�Genesis 21:12. For�
In v. 19 λογισάμενος (as Romans 8:18 etc.) explains why he had the courage to sacrifice Isaac, although the action seemed certain to wreek the fulfilment of what God had promised him. He held ὅτι καὶ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἐγείρειν (weakened into ἐγεῖραι by A P, etc.) δυνατός (Daniel 3:17 ὅς ἐστι δυνατὸς ἐξελέσθαι ἡμᾶς κτλ., and Romans 4:21) sc. ἔστιν ὁ θεός. Abraham, says Philo (de Abrahamo, 22), πάντα ᾔδει θεῷ δυνατὰ σχεδὸν ἐξ ἔτι σπαργάνων τουτὶ τὸ δόγμα προμαθοῦσα. Later (32) he speaks of this sacrifice as the most outstanding action in Abraham’s life—ὀλίγου γὰρ δέω φάναι πάσας ὅσαι θεοφιλεῖς ὑπερβάλλει. It was “a complicated and brilliant act of faith” (A. B. Davidson), for God seemed to contradict God, and the command ran counter to the highest human affection (Wis 10:6 σοφία … ἐπὶ τέκνου σπλάγχνοις ἰσχυρὸν ἐφύλαξεν). As Chrysostom put it, this was the special trial, τὰ γὰρ τοῦ θεοῦ ἐδόκει τοῖς τοῦ θεοῦ μάχεσθαι, καὶ πίστις ἐμάχετο πίστει, καὶ πρόσταγμα ἐπαγγελίᾳ. Hence (ὅθεν, in return for this superb faith) ἐκομίσατο, he did recover him (κομίζεσθαι, as in Genesis 38:20) etc., of getting back what belongs to you),1 in a way that prefigured the resurrection (κρείττονος�
Augustine’s comment is (Civit. Dei, xvi.32): “non haesitauit, quod sibi reddi poterat immolatus, qui dari potuit non speratus. Sic intellectum est et in epistula ad Hebraeos, et sic expositum [Hebrews 11:17-19] … cuius similitudinem, nisi illius unde dicit apostolus: Qui proprio filio non pepercit, sed pro nobis omnibus tradidit eum?” He makes Isaac carrying the wood a type of Christ carrying his cross, and the ram caught in the thicket typical of Christ crowned with thorns. According to the later Jewish tradition (Pirqe R. Eliezer, 31), Isaac’s soul, which had left his body as his father’s sword was falling, returned at the words, “Lay not thy hand on the lad”; thus Abraham and Isaac “learned that God would raise the dead.”
The next three instances are of πίστις as ὑπόστασις ἐλπιζομένων, the hope being one to be realized in the destiny of the race (vv. 20-22).
The solitary instance of πίστις in Isaac (v. 20) is that mentioned in Genesis 27:28, Genesis 27:29, Genesis 27:39, Genesis 27:40, a faith which (11:1) anticipated a future for his two sons. Εὐλόγησεν, of one man blessing another, as in 7:1f. In καὶ περὶ μελλόντων (sc. πραγμάτων), where μέλλειν refers to a future in this world, the καί simply1 emphasizes περὶ μελλόντων εὐλόγησεν, and the whole phrase goes with εὐλόγησεν, not with πίστει. The very fact that he blessed his two sons proved that he believed the divine promises to them would be realized in the future. The next two instances of faith are taken from death-beds; it is faith, not in personal immortality, but in the continuance of the chosen race. In v. 21 the writer quotes from Genesis 47:31 καὶ προσεκύνησεν Ἰσραὴλ ἐπὶ τὸ ἄκρον τῆς ῥάβδου αὐτοῦ, where the LXX by mistake has read הַמַּטֶּה (staff) instead of הַמִּטָּה (bed), and the incident is loosely transferred to the later situation (Genesis 48:9f.), when Jacob blessed the two sons of Joseph. Supporting himself on2 his staff, he bowed reverently before God, as he blessed the lads. (In the Ep. Barnabas 13:4-6, the writer interprets Jacob’s preference for the younger son as a proof that Christians, not Jews, were the real heirs of God’s blessing!) In v. 22 the argument draws upon Genesis 50:24, Genesis 50:25 (Exodus 13:19, Joshua 24:32), where Joseph makes the Israelites swear to remove his remains from Egypt to the promised land, so confident was he that God’s promise to the people would one day be fulfilled. Τελευτῶν (Genesis 50:26 καὶ ἐτελεύτησεν Ἰωσήφ) περὶ τῆς ἐξόδου (only here in this sense in NT) τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραὴλ ἐμνημόνευσε (called to mind, as v. 15) καὶ περὶ τῶν ὀστέων (uncontracted form as in LXX and Matthew 23:27, Luke 24:39; cp. Crönert, Mem. Graeca Hercul. 166:4) αὐτοῦ ἐνετείλατο. Joseph’s faith also was shown in his conviction of the future promised by God to Israel, but it found a practical expression in the instructions about conveying his mummy out of Egypt (Sir 49:18 καὶ τὰ ὀστᾶ αὐτοῦ ἐπεσκέπησαν).
The ninth example of πίστις is Moses, of whom almost as much is made as of Abraham. Five instances of faith are mentioned in connexion with his career (vv. 23-29).
23 It was by faith that Moses was “hidden for three months” (τρίμηνον, sc. χρόνον) after birth by his parents, because “they saw” the child was “beautiful” (Acts 7:20), and had no fear of the royal decree. 24 It was by faith that Moses refused, “when he had grown up,” to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; 25 ill-treatment with God’s people he preferred to the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering obloquy with the messiah to be richer wealth than all Egypt’s treasures—for he had an eye to the Reward. 27 It was by faith that he left Egypt, not from any fear of the king’s wrath; like one who saw the King Invisible, he never flinched. 28 It was by faith that he celebrated “the passover” and performed the sprinkling by blood, so that “the destroying angel” (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:10) might not touch Israel’s firstborn. 29 It was by faith that they crossed the Red Sea (Acts 7:36) like dry land—and when the Egyptians attempted it, they were drowned.
Moses (v. 23) owed the preservation of his life as an infant to the courageous πίστις of his parents (πατέρων = γονεις, parentes, like patres in Ovid’s Metam. 4:61, and Plato’s Leges, vi. 772 E,�Exodus 2:2, Exodus 2:3, adding that, as the result of their faith, they had no fear of the royal edict (διάταγμα as in Jos. Ant. xvi. 16, 5; Wis 11:7 etc.). This is the main point of their πίστις. On�
The parents of Moses are the first anonymous people in the roll-call of faith’s representatives. Calvin rather severely ranks their faith on a lower level, because the parents of Moses were moved by the external appearance of their child, and because they ought to have brought him up themselves (“notandum est fidem quae hîc̣ laudatur ualde fuisse imbecillam. Nam quum posthabito mortis suae metu Mosen deberent educare, eum exponunt. Patet igitur illorum fidem breui non tantum uacillasse sed fuisse collapsam”). Still, he reflects that this is after all an encouragement, since it proves that even weak faith is not despised by God. Chrysostom’s comment is kinder; the writer, he thinks, means to afford additional encouragement to his readers by adducing not only heroes, but commonplace people as examples of faith �
Another (7:2) gloss has been inserted here, after v. 23, by D* 1827 and nearly all the MSS of the Latin versions, viz. πίστει μέγας γενόμενος Μωυσῆς�Exodus 2:11, Exodus 2:12 (used in Acts 7:23f.).
The second item of faith (v. 24) is the first individual proof by Moses himself. Josephus (Ant. ii. 9, 7) makes Moses refuse the Pharaoh’s crown when a baby. The Pharaoh’s daughter placed the child in her father’s arms; he took it, pressed it to his bosom, and to please his daughter graciously put the crown upon its head. But the child threw it to the ground and stamped on it. Which seemed ominous to the king! The writer of Hebrews avoids such fancies, and simply summarizes Exodus 2:11f, where Moses μέγας γενόμενος (from Exodus 2:11; i.e., as Calvin points out, when his refusal could not be set down to childish ignorance of the world, nor to youthful impetuousness) ἠρνήσατο (with infinitive as in Wis 12:27, 16:16, 17:10) λέγεσθαι υἱὸς θυγατρὸς φαραώ. His religious motive in declining the title and position of son to an Egyptian princess (Jub 47:9) is now given (v. 25); μᾶλλον ἑ̔λόμενος(for the construction and idea, cp. OGIS 669:15 μᾶλλον τὴν τῶν προτέρων ἐπάρχων αἰώνιον συνήθειαν φυλάσσων ἢ ‹ι› τὴν πρόσκαιρόν τινος�
In v. 26 the reason for this renunciation of the world is explained. Μείζονα πλοῦτον ἡγησάμενος (cp. v. 11 and λογισάμενος in v. 19) τῶν Αἰγύπτου θησαυρῶν τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ (as involved in συγκακουχεῖσθαι τῷ λαῷ τοῦ θεοῦ). This is one of the writer’s dinting phrases. There is a special obloquy in being connected with Christ. It is one of the things which Christians have to face to-day (13:13), and, the writer argues, it has always been so; Moses himself, the leader of God’s people at the first, showed his πίστις by deliberately meeting it. The obloquy was part of the human experience of Jesus himself (12:2, 13:12), but the point here in τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ is that, by identifying himself with God’s people in Egypt, Moses encountered the same ὀνειδισμός as their very messiah afterwards was to endure. He thus faced what the writer, from his own standpoint, does not hesitate to call τὸν ὀνειδισμὸν τοῦ Χριστοῦ. Whether he had in mind anything further, e.g. the idea that ὁ Χριστός here means the pre-incarnate Logos, as though a mystical sense like that of 1 Corinthians 10:4 underlay the words, is uncertain and rather unlikely, though the idea that Christ was suffering in the person of the Israelites, or that they represented him, might be regarded as justified by the language, e.g., of Psalms 89:51 (τοῦ ὀνειδισμοῦ τῶν δούλων σου … οὗ ὠνείδισαν τὸ�Matthew 27:40). The basis of this estimate of life is now given:�
The third act of faith in his life (v. 27) is his withdrawal from Egypt to Midian (Exodus 2:14f. = Acts 7:29). In μὴ φοβηθεὶς τὸν θυμὸν τοῦ βασιλέως the author ignores the statement of the OT that Moses did fly from Egypt, in terror of being punished by the king for having murdered the Egyptian (ὄργην�Exodus 20:21), τὴν�Exodus 20:21 (i. 28), he adds that Moses entered the darkness, τουτέστιν εἰς τὴν�
On μὴ φοβηθεὶς τὸν θυμὸν τοῦ βασιλέως, it may be noted that the Stoics took the prudential line of arguing that one ought not needlessly to provoke a tyrant: “sapiens nunquam potentium iras provocabit, immo declinabit, non aliter quam in navigando procellam” (Seneca, Ep. xiv. 7). Various attempts have been made to explain away the contradiction between this statement and that of Exodus 2:14. (a) Some think they are not irreconcilable; “so far as his life was concerned, he feared, but in a higher region he had no fear” (A. B. Davidson), i.e. he was certain God would ultimately intervene to thwart Pharaoh, and so took precautions to save his own life in the interest of the cause. This is rather artificial, however, though maintained by some good critics like Lünemann. (b) Or, the θυμός may be not anger at the murder of the Egyptian, but the resentment of Moses’ action in refusing a court position and withdrawing from Egypt (Vaughan, Dods, Delitzsch, etc.). (c) A more favourite method is to deny that the writer is alluding to Exodus 2:14, Exodus 2:15 at all, and to refer the passage to the real Exodus later (so Calvin, Bleek, Westcott, Seeberg, and many other edd.); but this is to anticipate v. 28, and the Israelites were ordered out of Egypt by Pharaoh, not exposed to any anger of his.
The fourth act of faith (v. 28) is his obedience to the divine orders of Exodus 12:12-48 (cp. Wis 18:5-9), which proved that he believed, in spite of appearances, that God had protection and a future for the People. Πεποίηκεν is another aoristic perfect; πρόσχυσις is not a LXX term, and θίγγανω (θίγῃ) only occurs in LXX in Exodus 19:13 ( = Hebrews 12:20). As θίγγανω may take a genitive (12:20) as well as an accusative, ὀλοθρεύων might go with πρωτότοκα (i.e. of the Egyptians) and θίγῃ with αὐτῶν (the Israelites). Note the alliteration in πίστει πεπ. πάσχα … πρόσχυσιν. The ἵνα μή clause explains τὴν πρόσχυσιν τοῦ αἵματος.
By one Old Latin, or at any rate a non-Vulgate, text of this passage, in Codex Harleianus (ed. E. S. Buchanan, Sacred Latin Texts, i., 1912), a gloss is inserted at this point: “fide praedaverunt Aegyptios exeuntes” (Exodus 12:35, Exodus 12:36), which was evidently known to Sedulius Scotus (Migne, ciii.268 C), who quotes it as “fide praedaverunt Aegyptios, quia crediderunt se iterum in Aegyptum non reversuros.”
The fifth act of faith (v. 29) is the crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:16f.). Strictly speaking, this is an act of faith on the part of the Israelites; the διέβησαν depends on, for its subject, the αὐτῶν of v. 28. But those who crossed were οἱ ἐξελθόντες ἐξ Αἰγύπτου διὰ Μωϋσέως (3:16), and the action is the direct sequel to that of v. 28, though Moses is now included in the People. διὰ ξηρᾶς γῆς is from Exodus 14:29; διαβαίνειν goes with the genitive as well as with the accusative. The Israelites took a risk, in obedience to God’s order, and so proved their πίστις. But there are some things which are possible only to faith. ῟Ης (i.e. ἐρυθρὰ θάλασση) πεῖραν λαβόντες οἱ Αἰγύπτιοι κατεπόθησαν (from Exodus 15:4 κατεπόθησαν ἐν ἐρυθρᾷ θαλάσσῃ, B), i.e. the Egyptians tried it and were swallowed up in the sea. Here πεῖραν λαμβάνειν is a classical phrase for (a) making an attempt, almost in the sense of testing or risking. They “ventured on” (cp. Deuteronomy 28:56 ἡ τρυφερὰ, ἧς οὐχὶ πεῖραν ἔλαβεν ὁ ποὺς αὐτῆς βαίνειν ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς), or tried it (cp. Jos. Ant. 8, 6, 5, σοφίας βουλομένη λαβεῖν πεῖραν, etc.). The other meaning is that (b) of getting experience (so in v. 36), which is often the sad result of (a); so, e.g., Demosth. in Aristocratem, 131, λαβὼν ἔργῳ τῆς ἐκείνου φιλίας πεῖραν. The writer ignores the legendary embroidery of Philo (vit. Mos. iii. 34, ὡς ἐπὶ ξηρᾶς�
Two more instances of faith are specially cited, both in connexion with the fall of Jericho (vv. 30, 31). During the interval between the Exodus and the entrance into Canaan the writer, we are not surprised to find (3:16f.), notes not a single example of πίστις, but it is remarkable that neither here nor below (v. 32f.) is there any allusion to Joshua.
30 It was by faith that the walls of Jericho collapsed, after being surrounded for only seven days. 31 It was by faith that Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, as she had welcomed the scouts peaceably.
The faith that had enabled Israel to cross the Red Sea in safety enabled them years later to bring the walls of a city crashing to the ground (v. 30). There was no siege of Jericho; Israel simply marched round it for a week, and that act of faith in God’s promise, against all probabilities, brought about the marvel. So the writer summarizes Joshua 6:1-20. Judas Maccabaeus and his men also appealed, in besieging a town, to τὸν μέγαν τοῦ κόσμου δυνάστην, τὸν ἄτερ κριῶν καὶ μηχανῶν ὀργανικῶν κατακρημνίσαντα τὴν Ἰεριχὼ κατὰ τοὺς Ἰησοῦ χρόνους (2 Mac 12:15), and one Egyptian fanatic (for whom Paul was once mistaken, Acts 21:38) promised his adherents, in rebelling against the Romans, that the walls of Jerusalem would collapse at his word of command (Josephus, Ant. xx. 8, 6).
The faith of a community is now followed by the faith of an individual. The last name on the special list is that of a foreigner, an unmarried woman, and a woman of loose morals (v. 31), in striking contrast to Sara and the mother of Moses. The story is told in Joshua 2:1-21, Joshua 6:25. For ἡ πόρνη (“Ratio haec cur R. solita sit peregrinos excipere,” Bengel) see below on 13:2. A tendency to whitewash her character appears in the addition of ἐπιλεγομένη (א syrhkl Ephr.), which is also inserted by some codices in the text of Clem. Romans 12:1. Her practical faith (James 2:25; Clem. Romans 1:12 διὰ πίστιν καὶ φιλοξενίαν ἐσώθη), shown by her friendly (μετʼ εἰρήνης) welcome to the spies, which sprang from her conviction that the God of Israel was to be feared, saved (συναπώλετο, cp. Sir 8:15) her from the fate of her fellow-citizens (τοῖς�Matthew 1:5).
For lack of space and time the writer now passes to a mere summary of subsequent examples of faith (vv. 32f.). Roughly speaking, we may say that vv. 33, 34 describe what the folk of old did by faith, vv. 35f. what they did for faith.
32 And what more shall I say? Time would fail me to tell of Gideon, of Barak and Samson and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets— 33 men who by faith (διὰ πίστεως) conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouth of lions, 34 quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness won to strength, proved valiant in warfare, and routed hosts of foreigners.
Καὶ τί ἔτι (om. D*) λέγω (deliberative conjunctive) does not necessarily imply that Πρὸς Ἑβραίους was originally a sermon or address; it was a literary as well as an oratorical phrase. Thus Josephus uses a similar phrase in Ant. xx. 11, 1 (καὶ τὶ δεῖ πλείω λέγειν;). Faith did not die out, at the entry into Palestine. On the contrary, the proofs of faith are so rich in the later story of the People that the writer has no time for anything except a glowing abstract. Ἐπιλείψει γάρ με διηγούμενον ὁ χρόνος is one form of a common rhetorical phrase, though ἡ ἡμέρα is generally used instead of ὁ χρόνος. Three instances may be cited: Dion. Hal. De Compositione Verb. 4 (after running over the names of a number of authors) καὶ ἄλλους μυρίους, ὧν ἁπάντων τὰ ὀνόματα εἰ βουλοίμην λέγειν, ἐπιλείψει με ὁ τῆς ἡμέρας χρόνος: Demosth. de Corona, 324, ἐπιλείψει με λέγονθʼ ἡ ἡμέρα τὰ τῶν προδότων ὀνόματα, and (out of several instances) Philo, de Sacrif. Abelis et Caini, 5, ἐπιλείψει μὲ ἡ ἡμέρα λέγοντα τὰ τῶν κατʼ εἶδος�Isaiah 9:3, Isaiah 10:26, Psalms 83:11). The singling out of Barak is in line with the later Jewish tradition, which declined to think of him as a mere ally of Deborah; he was the real hero of the exploit. For example, some rabbis (cp. Targ. on Judges 5:23, Yalkut on Jg 42) gave him the high name of Michael, and praised this brave leader for his modesty in allowing Deborah to occupy so prominent a place. Later tradition also magnified Samson’s piety and divine characteristics (e.g. Sotah 9b, 10a). Of all the four “judges” selected, Jephthah has the poorest reputation in Jewish tradition; he is censured for rashness, and his rank is comparatively insignificant. Augustine, however (Quaest. vii. xlix.), points out that the “spirit” came both on Jephthah (Judges 11:29, Judges 11:30) and on Gideon (8:27). Why these four names are put in this unchronological order (instead of Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, and Samson), it is impossible to guess; in 1 S 12:11 it is Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, and Samson, followed by Samuel. David here (Δαυείδ τε) belongs to the foregoing group, the only one of Israel’s kings mentioned in the list. In Jewish tradition (e.g. Josephus, Ant. vi. 2, 2-3) Samuel’s career was interpreted with quite martial fervour; he was credited with several victories over the Philistines. Hence he forms a transition between the previous heroes and the prophets, of which he was commonly regarded as the great leader (cp. Acts 3:24). Ἄλλων (+ τῶν?) is superfluously inserted before προφητῶν by syrhkl pesh arm eth sah boh 69, 1288 Theod. Dam. In οἳ διὰ πίστεως (v. 33) the οἵ covers vv. 33, 34, but διὰ πίστεως includes vv. 35-38 as well, and is reiterated in v. 39. The following nine terse clauses, devoid of a single καί, begin by noting military and civil achievements. In κατηγωνίσαντο βασιλείας, καταγωνίζομαι (not a LXX term) is the verb applied by Josephus to David’s conquests (in Ant. vii. 2. 2, αὐτῷ σῶσαι καταγωνισαμένῳ Παλαιστινοὺς δέδωκεν ὁ θεός); its later metaphorical use may be illustrated from Mart. Pol. 19:2 (διὰ τῆς ὑπομονῆς καταγωνισάμενος τὸν ἄδικον ἄρχοντα). Ἠργάσαντο δικαιοσύνην in the sense of 2 S 8:15 (καὶ ἐβασίλευσεν Δαυεὶδ ἐπὶ Ἰσραήλ· καὶ ἦν ποιῶν κρίμα καὶ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ πάντα τὸν λαὸν αὐτοῦ) etc., the writer applying to this specific activity, for which πίστις was essential, a phrase elsewhere (cp. Acts 10:35) used for a general moral life. Such was their faith, too, that they had promises of God’s help realized in their experience; this (cp. 6:15) is the force of ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν. Furthermore, ἔφραξαν στόματα λεόντων, as in the case of Daniel (Daniel 6:18, Daniel 6:23 ὁ θεός μου ἐνέφραξεν τὰ στόματα τῶν λεόντων, Theod.), ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρός, as in the case of Daniel’s three friends (Daniel 3:19-28, Daniel 3:1 Mac 2:59, Malachi 2:3 Mac 6:6). In ἔφυγον στόματα μαχαίρης, the unusual plural of στόμα (cp. Luke 21:24 πεσοῦνται στόματι μαχαίρης) may be due to the preceding στόματα rhetorically; it means repeated cases of escape from imminent peril of murder rather than double-edged swords (4:12), escapes, e.g., like those of Elijah (1 K 19:1f.) and Elisha (2 K 6:14f, 31f.). In ἐδυναμώθησαν (p13 א* A D 1831; the v.l. ἐνεδυναμώθησαν was probably due to the influence of Romans 4:20)�Malachi 2:7 etc.), and παρεμβολή for their hosts (1 Malachi 3:15 etc.). In παρεμβολὰς ἔκλιναν�
What the heroes and heroines of πίστις had to endure is now summarized (vv. 35-38): the passive rather than the active aspect of faith is emphasized.
35 Some were given back to their womankind, raised from the very dead; others were broken on the wheel, refusing to accept release, that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36 others, again, had to experience scoffs and scourging, aye, chains and imprisonment— 37 they were stoned … sawn in two, and cut to pieces; they had to roam about in sheepskins and goatskins, forlorn, oppressed, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wanderers in the desert and among hills, in caves and gullies.
Ἔλαβον γυναῖκες2 κτλ. (35) recalls such stories as 1 K 17:17f. and 2 K 4:8-37 (καὶ ἡ γυνὴ … ἔλαβεν τὸν υἱὸν αὐτῆς καὶ ἐξῆλθεν); it was a real�
In v. 36 ἕτεροι δὲ (after of οἱ μέν … ἄλλοι δέ in Matthew 16:14) πεῖραν ἔλαβον (see on v. 29) ἐμπαιγμῶν (cp. Sir 27:28 ἐμπαιγμὸς καὶ ὀνειδισμός) καὶ μαστίγων—a hendiadys; the writer has in mind shameful tortures like those inflicted on the seven Maccabean brothers, as described in 2 Mac 7:1 (μάστιξιν καὶ νευραῖς αἰκιζο- μένους … 7 ἦγον ἐπὶ τὸν ἐμπαιγμόν), although in this case the beating is not at once fatal, as the next words prove (ἔτι δὲ δεσμῶν καὶ φυλακῆς). The passage would be more clear and consecutive, however, if ἕτεροι δέ preceded περιῆλθον (in v. 37), introducing the case of those who had not to suffer the martyrs’ death. This would leave ἐμπαιγμῶν κτλ. as a reiteration or expansion of ἐτυμπανίσθησαν. Before δεσμῶν καὶ φυλακῆς, ἔτι δέ probably (cp. Luke 14:26) heightens the tone—not merely passing blows, but long durance vile: though the sense might be simply, “and further.” In v. 37 ἐλιθάσθησαν (as in the case of Zechariah, 2 Chronicles 24:20-22, Matthew 23:35) was the traditional punishment which ended Jeremiah’s life in Egypt (Tertull. Scorp. 8); possibly the writer also had in mind the fate of Stephen (Acts 7:58). Ἐπρίσθησαν (Amos 1:3 ἔπριζον πρίοσιν σιδηροῖς κτλ.) alludes to the tradition of Isaiah having being sawn in two with a wooden saw during the reign of Manasseh, a tradition echoed in the contemporary Ascensio Isaiae 5:1-14 (Justin’s Dial. cxx.; Tertull. de Patientia, xiv. etc.); cp. R. H. Charles, The Ascension of Isaiah (1900), pp. xlv-xlix.
After ἐλιθάσθησαν there is a primitive corruption in the text. Four readings are to be noted.
ἐπειράσθησαν, ἐπρίσθησαν: א L P 33, 326 syrhkl.
ἐπρίσθησαν, ἐπειράσθησαν: p13 A D Ψ 6, 104, 1611, 1739 lat boh arm.
ἐπειράσθησαν: fuld. Clem. Thdt.
ἐπρίσθησαν: 2, 327 syrvg Eus. etc.
Origen apparently did not read ἐπειράσθησαν, if we were to judge from Hom. Jerem. xv. 2 (ἄλλον ἐλιθοβόλησαν, ἄλλον ἔπρισαν, ἄλλον�
Death ἐν φόνῳ μαχαίρης (a LXX phrase) was not an uncommon fate for unpopular prophets (1 K 19:10, Jeremiah 26:23); but the writer now passes, in περιῆλθον κτλ. (37b, 38), to the sufferings of the living, harried and hunted over the country. Not all the loyal were killed, yet the survivors had a miserable life of it, like Mattathias and his sons (1 Mac 2:28 ἔφυγον … εἰς τὰ ὅρη), or Judas Maccabaeus and his men, who had to take to the hills (2 Mac 5:27 ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν θηρίων τρόπον διέζη σὺν τοῖς μετʼ αὐτοῦ, καὶ τὴν χορτώδη τροφὴν σιτούμενοι διετέλουν), or others during the persecution (2 Mac 6:11 ἕτεροι δὲ πλησίον συνδραμόντες εἰς τὰ σπήλαια). When the storm blew over, the Maccabeans recollected ὡς τὴν τῶν σκηνῶν ἑορτὴν ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν καὶ ἐν τοῖς σπηλαίοις θηρίων τρόπον ἦσαν νεμόμενοι (2 Mac 10:6). They roamed, the writer adds, dressed ἐν μηλωταῖς (the rough garb of prophets, like Elijah, 1 K 19:13, 19), ἐν αἰγείοις δέρμασιν (still rougher pelts). According to the Ascensio Isaiae (2:7 f.) the pious Jews who adhered to Isaiah when he withdrew from Manasseh’s idolatry in Jerusalem and sought the hills, were “all clothed in garments of hair, and were all prophets.” Clement (17:1) extends the reference too widely: οἵτινες ἐν δέρμασιν αἰγείοις καὶ μηλωταῖς περιπάτησαν κηρύσσοντες τὴν ἔλευσιν τοῦ Χριστοῦ· λέγομεν δὲ Ἠλείαν καὶ Ἑλισαιέ, ἔτι δὲ καὶ Ἰεζεκιήλ, τοὺς προφήτας· πρὸς τοῦτοις καὶ τοὺς μεμαρτυρημένους.
A vivid modern description of people clad in goatskins occurs in Balzac’s Les Chouans (ch. 1.): “Ayant pour tout vêtement une grande peau de chèvre qui les couvrait depuis le col jusqu’aux genoux … Les méches plates de leurs longs cheveux s’unissaients, sihabituellement aux poils de la peau de chèvre et cachaient si complétement leurs visages baissés vers la terre, qu’on pouvait facilement prendre cette peau pour la leur, et confondre, à la première vue, les malheureux avec ces animaux dont les dépouilles leur servaient devêtement. Mais à travers les cheveux l’on voyait bientôt briller les yeux comme des gouttes de rosée dans une épaisse verdure; et leurs regards, tout en annonçant l’intelligence humaine, causaient certainement plus de terreur que de plaisir.”
Their general plight is described in three participles, ὑστερούμενοι, θλιβόμενοι (2 Corinthians 4:8), κακουχούμενοι (cp. 13:3, and Plut. Consol. ad Apoll. 26, ὥστε πρὶν�Acts 22:22), elicits a splendid aside—ὧν οὐκ ἦν ἄξιος ὁ κόσμος. Compare Mechilta, 5a (on Exodus 12:6): “Israel possessed four commandments, of which the whole world was not worthy,” and the story of the bath qol in Sanhedr. 11. 1, which said, “One is here present who is worthy to have the Shekinah dwelling in him, but the world is not worthy of such.” Κόσμος as in v. 7; Philo’s list of the various meanings of κόσμος (in de aetern. mundi, 2) does not include this semi-religious sense. Of the righteous, Wis 3:5 remarks: ὁ θεὸς ἐπείρασεν αὐτοὺς καὶ εὗρεν αὐτοὺς�
“There is a class of whom the world is always worthy and more than worthy: it is worthy of those who watch for, reproduce, exaggerate its foibles, who make themselves the very embodiment of its ruling passions, who shriek its catchwords, encourage its illusions, and flatter its fanaticisms. But it is a poor rôle to play, and it never has been played by the men whose names stand for epochs in the march of history” (H. L. Stewart, Questions of the Day in Philosophy and Psychology, 1912, p. 133).
In 38b it was the not infrequent (cf. Mark 1:45) confusion of εΝ and εΠΙ in ancient texts which probably accounted for ἐν being replaced by ἐπί (ἐφʼ) in p13 א A P 33. 88, etc.; ἐπί does not suit σπηλαίοις … ὀπαῖς, and the writer would have avoided the hiatus in ἐπὶ ἐρημίαις. Still, πλανώμενοι suits only ἐρημίαις καὶ ὅρεσιν, and ἐπί may have been the original word, used loosely like πλανώμενοι with σπηλαίοις κτλ. In Ps.-Sol 17:19 the pious ἐπλανῶντο ἐν ἐρήμοις, σωθῆναι ψυχὰς αὐτῶν�Obadiah 1:3 ἐν ταῖς ὀπαῖς τῶν πετρῶν. Σπηλαῖον, like the Latin spelunca or specus, eventually became equivalent to a “temple,” perhaps on account of the prominence of caves or grottoes in the worship of some cults.
Now for an estimate of this πίστις and its heroic representatives (vv. 39, 40)! The epilogue seems to justify God by arguing that the apparent denial of any adequate reward to them is part of a larger divine purpose, which could only satisfy them after death.
39 They all won their record (μαρτυρηθέντες = ἐμαρτυρἡθησαν in v. 2) for faith, but the Promise they did not obtain, 40 God had something better in store for us (ἡμῶν emphatic); he would not have them perfected apart from us.
Some of these heroes and heroines of faith had had God’s special promises fulfilled even in this life (e.g. vv. 11, 33), but the Promise, in the sense of the messianic bliss with its eternal life (10:36, 37, cf. 6:17f.), they could not win. Why? Not owing to any defect in their faith, nor to any fault in God, but on account of his far-reaching purpose in history; οὗτοι πάντες (again as in v. 13, but this time summing up the whole list, vv. 4-38) οὐκ ἐκομίσαντο (in the sense of v. 13 μὴ κομισάμενοι; not a voluntary renunciation, as Wetstein proposes to interpret it ld;non acceperunt felicitatem promissam huius vitae, imo deliberato consilio huic beneficio renunciaverunt et maluerunt affligi morique propter deum”) τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν (in v. 13 the Promise was loosely called αἱ ἐπαγγελίαι, and the plural τὰς ἐπαγγελίας is therefore read here by A W 436, 1611). The reason for this is now given (v. 40) in a genitive absolute clause, τοῦ θεοῦ περὶ ἡμῶν κρεῖττόν τι προβλεψαμένου (the middle for the active). Προβλέπειν only occurs once in the LXX (Psalms 37:13 ὁ δὲ κύριος … προβλέπει ὅτι ἥξει ἡ ἡμέρα αὐτοῦ), and only here in the NT, where the religious idea makes it practically a Greek equivalent for providere. Κρεῖττόν τι is explained by ἵνα μὴ χωρὶς χωρὶς ἡμῶν τελειωθῶσιν, which does not mean that “our experience was necessary to complete their reward,” but that God in his good providence reserved the messianic τελείωσις of Jesus Christ until we could share it. This τελείωσις is now theirs (9:15, 12:23), as it is ours—if only we will show a like strenuous faith during the brief interval before the end. This is the thought of 12:1f., catching up that of 10:36f. God deferred the coming of Christ, in order to let us share it (cp. 1 P 1:10, 20), his plan being to make room for us as well. The τελείωσις has been realized in Jesus; till he reappears (9:28, 10:12, 37) to complete the purpose of God for us, we must hold on in faith, heartened by the example of these earlier saints. Their faith was only granted a far-off vision of the hoped-for end. We have seen that end realized in Jesus; therefore, with so many more resources and with so short a time of strain, we ought to be nerved for our endurance by the sense of our noble predecessors. It is not that we experience κρεῖττόν τι by our immediate experience of Christ (10:14), who fulfils to us what these former folk could not receive before his coming. This is true, but it is not exactly the point here. The κρεῖττόν τι is our inclusion in this People of God for whom the τελείωσις of Christ was destined, the privilege of the κρείττων διαθήκη. The writer does not go the length of saying that Christ suffered in the persons of these saints and heroes (as, e.g., Paulinus of Nola, Epist. xxxviii. 3: “ab initio saeculorum Christus in omnibus suis patitur … in Abel occisus a fratre, in Noe irrisus a filio, in Abraham peregrinatus, in Isaac oblatus, in Jacob famulatus, in Joseph venditus, in Moyse expositus et fugatus, in prophetis lapidatus et sectus, in apostolis terra marique iactatus, et multis ac uariis beatorum martyrum crucibus frequenter occisus”), and this consideration tells against the theory of a “mystical” sense in v. 26. The conclusion of the whole matter rather is (vv. 39, 40) that the reward of their faith had to be deferred till Christ arrived in our day. The τελείωσις is entirely wrought out through Christ, and wrought out for all. It covers all God’s People (cp. 12:23), for now the Promise has been fulfilled to these earlier saints. But the writer significantly ignores any idea of their co-operation in our faith; we neither pray to them, nor they for us. Josephus interpreted the sacrifice of Isaac, as if Abraham reconciled himself to it by reflecting that his son would be a heavenly support to him (Ant. i. 13. 3, ἐκείνου, i.e. τοῦ θεοῦ, τὴν ψυχὴν τὴν σὴν προσδεχομένου καὶ παρʼ αὐτῷ καθέξοντος· ἔσει τε μοι εἰς κηδεμόνα καὶ γηροκόμον … τὸν θεὸν�
In Clement of Alexandria’s comment (Strom. iv. 16) on this passage, he quotes 10:32-39 (reading δεσμοῖς μου: ἑαυτούς: χρονιεῖ: δικαιός μου), then hurries on to 11:36-12:2 (reading ἐλιθάσθησαν, ἐπειράσθησαν, ἐν φόνῳ μ.�
1 W. Brandt (Jüdische Reinheitslehre und ihre Beschreibung in den Evangelien, 1910, Philippians 2:3) thinks that this expression might apply to the more recent teachers as well as to the ancient authorites.
Syll. Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum2 (ed. W. Dittenberger).
Blass F. Blass, Grammatik des neutestamentlichen Griechisch: vierte, völlig neugearbeitete Auflage, besorgt von Albert Debrunner (1913); also, Brief an die Hebräer, Text mit Angabe der Rhythmen (1903).
2 In 2 Mac 7:26 οὐκ ἐξ ὄντων ἐποιήσεν αὐτὰ ὁ θεός (A), the οὐκ goes with the verb.
1 LXX of Genesis 1:2 ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν�
M [0121: α 1031] cont. 1:1-4:3 12:20-13:25.
2 At an early period τὸ βλεπόμενον was altered into τὰ βλεπόμενα (D K L Ψ 6 104, 218, 326, 1288, 1 vg syr arm), to conform with the previous plurals βλεπομένων and φαινομένων.
c (Codex Colbertinus: saec. xii.)
Josephus Flavii Josephi Opera Omnia post Immanuelem Bekkerum, recognovit S. A. Naber.
LXX The Old Testament in Greek according to the Septuagint Version (ed. H. B. Swete).
אԠ[01: δ 2).
D [06: α 1026] cont. 1:1-13:20. Codex Claromontanus is a Graeco-Latin MS, whose Greek text is poorly* reproduced in the later (saec. ix.-x.) E = codex Sangermanensis. The Greek text of the latter (1:1-12:8) is therefore of no independent value (cp. Hort in WH, §§ 335-337); for its Latin text, as well as for that of F=codex Augiensis (saec. ix.), whose Greek text of Πρὸς Ἐβραίους has not been preserved, see below, p. lxix.
L [020: α 5] cont. 1:1-13:10.
P [025: α 3] cont. 1:1-12:8 12:11-13:25.
r (codex Frisingensis: saec. vi., cont. 6:6-7:5 7:8-8:1 9:27-11:7)
vg vg Vulgate, saec. iv.
boh The Coptic Version of the NT in the Northern Dialect (Oxford, 1905), vol. iii. pp. 472-555.
A [02: δ 4].
33 [δ 48] Hort’s 17
104 [α 103]
326 [α 257]
1311 [α 170]
1836 [α 65]
d (Latin version of D)
Thackeray H. St J. Thackeray, A Grammar of the Old Testament in Greek (1909).
1 In Sifre Deut. 304, the angel of death sought Moses, but found him not )זְלֹא מְצָאוֹ(.
5 [δ 453]
203 [α 203]
256 [α 216]
257 [α 466]
337 [α 205]
378 [α 258]
383 [α 353] cont. 1:1-13:7
491 [δ 152]
506 [δ 101]
623 [α 173]
1611 [α 208]
EBi The Encyclopaedia Biblica (1899-1903, ed. J. S. Black and T. K. Cheyne).
1 Philo fancifully allegorizes the phrase in the de mutat. nomin. 4: φθείρεται οὖν εἰκότως τὸ γεῶδες καὶ καταλύεται, ὅταν ὅλος διʼ ὅλων ὁ νοῦς εὐαρεστεῖν προέληται θεῷ· σπάνιον δὲ καὶ τὸ γένος καὶ μόλις εὑρισκόμενον, πλὴν οὐκ�
1 Isaiah 51:2 ἐμβλέψατε εἰς Ἀβραὰμ τὸν πατέρα ὑμῶν … ὅτι εἶς ἦν.
Ψ̠[044: δ 6] cont. 1:1-8:11 9:19-13:25.
2 The comparison of a vast number to stars and sands is common in Greek and Latin literature; cp. e.g. Pindar’s Olymp. 2:98, and Catullus, 61:202f..
W [I] cont. 1:1-3, 9-12. 2:4-7, 12-14. 3:4-6, 14-16 4:3-6, 12-14 5:5-7 6:1-3, 10-13, 20 7:1-2, 7-11, 18-20, 27-28 8:1, 7-9 9:1-4, 9-11, 16-19, 25-27 10:5-8, 16-18, 26-29, 35-38 11:6-7, 12-15, 22-24, 31-33, 38-40 12:1, 7-9, 16-18, 25-27 13:7-9, 16-18, 23-25: NT MSS in Freer Collection, The Washington MS of the Epp. of Paul (1918), pp. 294-306. Supports Alexandrian text, and is “quite free from Western readings.”
6 [δ 356] cont. 1:1-9:3 10:22-13:25
GCP Grundzüge und Chrestomathie der Papyruskunde, von L. Mitteis und U. Wilcken (1912), I. Band.
OGIS Dittenberger’s Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae (1903-1905).
1 Cp. Test. Job xxxiii. (οὔτω κἀγώ ἡγησάμην τὰ ἐμὰ,�
2 The LXX of Genesis 22:2 reads τὸν�
1 Josephus (Ant. i. 13. 4) describes the father and son as παρʼ ἐλπίδας ἑαυτοὺς κεκομισμένοι. Philo (de Josepho, 35, τὸ κομίσασθαι τὸν�
1 A more apt example is the nerving of Judith for her act of religious patriotism (cp. Rendel Harris, Sidelights on NT Research, 170 f.), though there is a verbal parallel in the case of Samson (Judges 16:18�
2 The odd v.l. γυναικᾶς (p13 א* A D* 33, 1912) may be another case (cp. Thackeray, 149, for LXX parallels) of -ας for -ες as a nominative form; as an accusative, it could only have the senseless meaning of “marrying” (λαμβάνειν γυναῖκας). Strong, early groups of textual authorities now and then preserve errors.
1 Another word for the frame was τροχός, as in 4 Mac 9:20, where the eldest of the seven famous Jewish brothers is beaten to death. Hence the verb used by Philo (in Flaccum, 10) to describe the punishment inflicted on the Alexandrian Jews (Ἰουδαῖοι μαστιγοὐμενοι, κρεμάμενοι, τροχιζόμενοι, καταικιζόμενοι).
2 [α 253]
327 [O 36]
1 Or ἐνεπρήσθησαν, which is used by Philo in describing the woes of the Alexandrian Jews (in Flaccum, 20, ζῶντες οἱ μὲν ἐνεπρήσθησαν).
88 [α 200]