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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS - Chapter 4 - Verse 25

Verse 25. For this Agar is mount Sinai. This Hagar well represents the law given on Mount Sinai. No one can believe that Paul meant to say that Hagar was literally Mount Sinai. A great deal of perplexity has been felt in regard to this passage; and Bentley proposed to cancel it altogether as an interpolation. But there is no good authority for this. Several MSS. and versions read it, "For this Sinai is a mountain in Arabia;" others, "to this Hagar Jerusalem answereth," etc. Griesbach has placed these readings in the margin, and has marked them as not to be rejected as certainly false, but as worthy of a more attentive examination; as sustained by some plausible arguments, though not in the whole satisfactory. The word Hagar in Arabic is said to signify a rock; and it has been supposed that the name was appropriately given to Mount Sinai, because it was a pile of rocks, and that Paul had allusion to this meaning of the word here. So Chandler, Rosenmuller, and others interpret it. But I cannot find in Castell or Gesenius that the word Hagar in Arabic has this signification; still less is there evidence that the name was ever given to Mount Sinai by the Arabs, or that such a signification was known to Paul. The plainest and most obvious sense of a passage is generally the true sense; and the obvious sense here is, that Hagar was a fair representation of Mount Sinai, and of the law given there.

In Arabia. Mount Sinai is situated in Arabia Petraea, or the Rocky. Rosenmuller says that this means "in the Arabic language;" but probably in this interpretation he stands alone.

And answereth to Jerusalem. Marg., Is in the same rank with. The margin is the better translation. The meaning is, it is just like it, or corresponds with it. Jerusalem as it is now, (i.e., in the days of Paul,) is like Mount Sinai. It is subject to laws, and rites, and customs; bound by a state of servitude, and fear, and trembling, such as existed when the law was given on Mount Sinai. There is no freedom; there are no great and liberal views; there is none of the liberty which the gospel imparts to men. The word sustoicei (answereth to) means, properly, to advance in order together; to go together with, as soldiers march along in the same rank; and then to correspond to. It means here, that Mount Sinai and Jerusalem as it then was would be fitted to march together in the same platoon or rank. In marshalling an army, care is taken to place soldiers of the same height, and size, and skill, and courage, if possible, together. So here it means that they were alike. Both were connected with bondage, like Hagar. On the one, a law was given that led to bondage; and the other was in fact under a miserable servitude of rites and forms.

Which now is. As it exists now; that is, a slave to rites and forms, as it was in fact in the time of Paul.

And is in bondage. To laws and customs. She was under hard and oppressive rites, like slavery. She was also in bondage to sin, (Joh 8:33,34;) but this does not seem to be the idea here.

With her children. Her inhabitants. She is represented as a mother; and her inhabitants, the Jews, are in the condition of the son of Hagar. On this passage, comp. See Barnes "1 Co 10:4, for a more full illustration of the principles involved here.

{3} "answereth" "is in the same rank with"

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