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Hebrews Chapter 11:28-31

28. Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

28. Fide fecit pascha et aspersionem sanguinis, ut qui perdebat primogenita non tangeret eos.

29. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

29. Fide transierunt mare rubrum quasi per terram siccam; quod quum tentassent Egyptii adsorpti sunt.

30. By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

30. Fide conciderunt moenia Jericho, circumdata per septem dies.

31. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

31. Fide Rehab meretrix non periit cum incredulis, quum excepisset exploratores cum pace.

 

28. Through faith he kept the Passover, etc. This ought to have availed much to commend faith to the Jews; for they held this first sacrifice of the Passover in the highest esteem. But, he says, that it was kept by faith, not because the Paschal lamb was a type of Christ, but because its benefit did not appear, when he sprinkled the doorposts with blood: when therefore the effect was yet hid, it was necessarily looked for by faith. Nay, it might have seemed strange, that Moses should set a few drops of blood, as a remedy, in opposition to God’s vengeance; but being satisfied with God’s word alone, that the people would be exempt from the scourge that was coming on the Egyptians, he did not hesitate. Hence the Apostle justly commends his faith in this respect.

They who explain that the Passover was by faith celebrated by Moses, because he had respect to Christ, say indeed what is true; but the Apostle here records simply his faith, because he acquiesced in God’s word alone, when the effect did not appear: therefore out of place here are philosophical refinements. And the reason why he mentions Moses alone, as celebrating the Passover, seems to be this, that God through him instituted the Passover. 233233     Some render the words, “by faith he instituted the Passover.” The verb is properly to make, but like עשה in Hebrew, it is used in a variety of senses. Doddridge has “celebrated;” Macknight, “appointed;” and Stuart, “observed.” To make the Passover is, no doubt, to keep or observe it; for such is the meaning of the phrase, as it appears from Numbers 9: 10, 11. The word πάσχα is doubtless a Syriac term, and derived originally from the Hebrew פסה which means to pass over; though several of the Greek fathers derived it from πάσχειν, to suffer. It sometimes means the paschal feast, Luke 22:11, and sometimes the paschal Lamb, Mark 14:12; 1 Corinthians 5:7Ed

29. By faith they passed, etc. It is certain, that many in that multitude were unbelieving; but the Lord granted to the faith of a few, that the whole multitude should pass through the Red Sea dry­shod. But in doing the same thing, there was a great difference between the Israelites and the Egyptians; while the former passed through safely, the latter coming after them were drowned. Whence was this difference, but that the Israelites had the word of God, and that the Egyptians were without it. The argument then derives its force from what happened to the contrary; hence, he says, that the Egyptians were drowned. That disastrous event was the punishment of their temerity, as on the other hand, the Israelites were preserved safe, because they relied on God’s word, and refused not to march through the midst of the waters.

30. By faith the walls of Jericho fell, etc. As he had before taught us, that the yoke of bondage was by faith broken asunder, so now he tells us, that by the same faith the people gained the possession of the promised land. For at their first entrance the city Jericho stood in their way; it being fortified and almost impregnable, it impeded any farther progress, and they had no means to assail it. The Lord commanded all the men­of­war to go round it once every day, and on the seventh day seven times. It appeared to be a work childish and ridiculous; and yet they obeyed the divine command; nor did they do so in vain, for success according to the promise followed. It is evident, that the walls did not fall through the shout of men, or the sound of trumpets; but because the people believed that the Lord would do what he had promised.

We may also apply this event to our benefit and instruction: for it is not otherwise, than by faith, that we can be freed from the tyranny of the Devil, and be brought to liberty; and by the same faith, it is that we can put to flight our enemies, and that all the strongholds of hell can be demolished.

31. By faith the harlot Rahab, etc. Though at the first view, this example may seem, on account of the meanness of the person, hardly entitled to notice, and even unworthy of being recorded, yet it was not unsuitably, nor without reason, adduced by the Apostle. He has hitherto shown that the Patriarchs, whom the Jews most honored and venerated, did nothing worthy of praise except through faith; and that all the benefits conferred on us by God, even the most remarkable, have been the fruits of the same faith: but he now teaches us, that an alien woman, not only of a humble condition among her own people, but also a harlot, had been adopted into the body of the Church through faith.

It hence follows, that those who are most exalted, are of no account before God, unless they have faith; and that, on the other hand, those who are hardly allowed a place among the profane and the reprobate, are by faith introduced into the company of angels.

Moreover, James also bears testimony to the faith of Rahab, (James 2:25,) and it may be easily concluded from sacred history, that she was endued with true faith; for she professed her full persuasion of what God had promised to the Israelites; and of those whom fear kept from entering the land, she asked pardon for herself and her friends, as though they were already conquerors; and in all this, she did not consider men, but God himself. The evidence of her faith was, that she received the spies at the peril of her life: then, by means of faith, she escaped safe from the ruin of her own city. She is mentioned as a harlot, in order to amplify the grace of God.

Some, indeed, render זונה a hostess, as though she kept a public house, or an inn; but as the word means a harlot everywhere in Scripture, there is no reason why we should explain it otherwise in this place. The Rabbis, thinking it strange and disgraceful to their nation, were it said, that the spies entered into the house of a harlot; have invented this forced meaning. 234234     And it has been adopted by many of the German divines, who seem in many instances to follow any vagary, Rabbinical or heathen, rather than the word of God. There is nothing in Scripture that countenances this notion. The word is never used in the sense of a hostess: and the ancient versions ever render the Hebrew word by πόρνη, a harlot. — Ed But such a fear was groundless; for in the history of Joshua, this word, harlot, is expressly added, in order that we may know that the spies came into the city Jericho clandestinely, and concealed themselves in a harlot’s house. At the same time this must be understood of her past life; for faith is an evidence of repentance.


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