For I have five brethren
Meaning his brethren and countrymen, according to the flesh; who when he was alive, stood in such a relation to him; said to be "five", in allusion it may be to the children of Israel coming out of Egypt, (Myvmx) , "by fives", or five in a rank, ( Exodus 13:18 ) as a learned man F13 conjectures, to whom I am beholden for several hints, in the explanation of this parable; and certain it is, that these five brethren were Jews, since they had the writings of Moses and the prophets with them, ( Luke 16:29 ) . Wherefore I shall venture to propose another conjecture, though it may be liable to exception, as all conjectures usually are: it is plain that there were "six" brethren in all; let it be observed then, that the Jewish nation were usually divided into "three" parts, "priests, Levites, and Israelites"; of these three the great sanhedrim usually consisted F14; and these read the law every sabbath day; first a priest, then a Levite, and then "five Israelites" F15; (let that number also be remarked;) now these were again divided into "three" sects, "Pharisees, Sadducees", and "Essenes". The former of these are represented in this parable; this I only propose, I lay no stress on it: it may be, that the twice five, or ten tribes of Israel, which were not known where they were, nor are they to this day, may be designed by a "synechdoche", of a part for the whole; whose return the Jews are yet expecting, and for whose welfare they are greatly concerned.
That he may testify unto them:
that is, preach unto them, as the word is used in ( Acts 2:40 ) ( 10:42 ) ( Acts 20:21 Acts 20:24 ) . Christ, when here on earth, did testify to that people of their sins, showed them the heinousness of them, inveighed against them, and reproved for them; and of their righteousness, and showed the hypocrisy, deficiency, and insufficiency of it to justify them; of himself as the Messiah; of truth in general; and of their ruin, temporal and eternal; but he had now finished his testimony, and which, though faithful, was not heard nor received by them; the reason of this request is,
lest they also come into this place of torment;
as hell is, and which these brethren of his, he left behind, were deserving of, and in danger of coming into; and his concern for them did not arise from any regard to Christ, and the enlargement of his interest; nor from any love to his testimony, the Gospel; nor from any real notion or desire of converting grace for his brethren; nor from true love to them; but from a selfish principle, lest his own torments should be aggravated by their coming: this, as it may regard the Jews in their affliction, and if the ten tribes should be meant by the five brethren, may design the very passionate concern the Jews had, and still have for them, who yet, to this day, hope for the return of them; see Manasseh ben Israel's book, called, "Spes Israelis".
F14 Maimon Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 2. sect. 2.
F15 Ib. Hilchot Tephilla, c. 12. sect. 16.