Romans 10:18

Romans 10:18

But I say, have they not heard?
&c.] (rmwa ynaw) , "but I say", is a phrase frequently used by the Jewish doctors in disputation, either in forming or answering objections. The Ethiopic version confines these words to Israel, and reads, "have not Israel heard?" whereas they are to be understood both of Jews and Gentiles; the question refers to each, and the answer is,

yes, verily:
which the Arabic renders just the reverse, "no", or "not at all, notwithstanding their sound went into all the earth"; and so makes this an aggravation of their stupidity, and obstinate rejection of the Gospel, that they would not hear it, though its sound reached every place; but the answer is in the affirmative, they did hear. The Jews heard the Gospel in the times of Isaiah, and other prophets, though they disbelieved the report of it; they heard it from John the Baptist, and were pleased with his ministry for a while; yea, they heard Christ himself preach it, who spake as never man did, with power and authority, as the Scribes did not, and wondered at his gracious words; they heard the apostles of Christ, who for some time were limited in their ministry to them only, and after their commission was enlarged, were ordered to preach first to them; so that they could not say they had not heard it, and they were left entirely inexcusable. The Gentiles also had heard it; the apostles were bid to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; and at a proper opportunity, they did as the Lord commanded them, and the Gentiles heard the Gospel with joy and pleasure; multitudes were converted everywhere, and churches raised through their ministry, according to the will of God; thus

their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends
of the world;
the passage referred to is ( Psalms 19:4 ) , which some here, as there, understand literally of the works of nature, the heavens, the firmament, the sun, moon and stars, proclaiming every where the being of God, his perfections, especially his wisdom, power, and goodness; so that the Gentiles were not without hearing of God, even whilst they were destitute of a divine revelation; which was a sort of a prelude of the after extensive spread of the Gospel among them: a voice, or sound, is ascribed to the inanimate creatures; and which is so loud, that it reaches to the end of the earth. There are three voices, the Jews say F6 which go "from one end of the world to the other"; and one of them is (hmx lglg lwq) , "the voice of the orb of the sun": others understand these words of the law, of which many "encomiums" are given in the psalm from whence this passage is taken; and though it was delivered peculiarly to the people of the Jews, yet the fame of it reached the nations of the world, as Moses suggests it would, ( Deuteronomy 4:6 ) ; and the Jews say F7

``that when the law was given to Israel, (wpwo dew Mlweh Pwom) (Klwh wlwq) , "its voice went from one end of the world to the other".''

Or as it is better expressed by Philo F8, and almost in the words of this text,

``the fame of the laws which Moses left, is gone throughout all the world, unto the ends of the earth.''

But certain it is, that the apostle is speaking neither of the light of nature, nor the law of Moses, but of the preaching of the Gospel; and what the Psalmist, literally understood, says of the heavens, that the apostle in an allegorical and mystical sense, or by an argument from the lesser to the greater, or by way of allusion, applies to the apostles and ministers of the Gospel, the luminaries of the world, and stars of heaven; whose ministry, by this time, had reached the then known parts of the habitable world; as it was to do, before the destruction of Jerusalem, according to Christ's prediction, ( Matthew 24:14 ) , and as the Apostle Paul testifies it had, ( Colossians 1:6 ) , and in which he himself had a very considerable share, having preached the Gospel from Jerusalem, round about unto Illyricum. There is some little difference between the passage in the Psalms, and as cited or referred to by the apostle, who instead of "their line", reads "their sound"; which have made some suspect a corruption of the present Hebrew text, or a various reading; and that the Septuagint, followed by the apostle, used a copy which had not, (Mwq) , "their line", but (Mlwq) , "their voice", and which was the true reading; but then how came the Chaldee paraphrase to render it by, (Ktm) , "extension", and Aquila by (kanwn) , "a canon", or "rule?" and besides, the Masora observes, that this word is no where else read, which is not true of (Mlwq) , for that often occurs; to which may be added, had this been the reading, the Septuagint would have rendered it most probably, as they do elsewhere, by "voice", and not "sound": but for the reconciliation of this let it be observed, that the Hebrew word signifies a rule, or plummet, or such a line as builders use in their work, as a direction to them, hence Kimchi F9 explains it by (Mnyynb) , "their building"; and so it may signify any rule, or direction, whether given by writing, and so Aben Ezra F11 interprets it by (btkm) , "writing", or by word of mouth; besides, the carpenter's line, when stretched out, and remitted upon the timber, makes a sound, and hence the word might be used for one: all this agrees with the ministry of the apostles, who were builders; and as they worked by a line and rule themselves, so they gave out rules and directions to others, both by writing and preaching, both which reached far and near; this the apostle seems to allude to, in ( 2 Corinthians 10:13-16 ) , where he speaks of the measure, line, and rule of their ministry, which reached to Corinth and further, without going into another man's line: moreover, that great Oriental critic, and our countryman, Mr. Pocock {l}, has shown from the use of the word (hwq) , in the Arabic language, that the word in the Psalms may signify a loud cry, or noise, as well as a line, or rule; so that the psalmist and the apostle may be easily reconciled.


F6 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 20. 2.
F7 T. Bab. Zebachim, fol. 116. 1.
F8 De Vita Mosis, l. 1. p. 657.
F9 In Psal. xix. 4.
F11 In ib.
F12 Not. in Portam Mosis, c. 4. p. 48