What then? are we better than they?
&c.] The apostle returns to what he was treating of in the beginning of the chapter, and suggests, that though the Jew has the advantage of the Gentile, with respect to some external privileges, yet not with regard to their state and condition God-ward, and as in his sight; "are we [Jews] better than they [Gentiles]?"
no, in no wise;
upon no consideration whatever, neither as men, nor as Jews; which is directly opposite to a notion that people have of themselves:
``in mankind (they say F18) there are high degrees, one higher than another, and the Israelites (Mda Nym lkm hleml) , "are above all mankind"; they are the head, and the nations of the world are the tail, and are like to a serpent, for they come from the filth of the old serpent.''Again, they say F19,
``worthy are the Israelites, for the holy blessed God hath given to them holy souls, from an holy place, "above all the rest of the people", that they may do the commandments, and delight in the law.''And elsewhere F20 it is observed on those words, ( Genesis 1:24 ) , "the living creature", or "the soul of the living creature", by R. Aba:
``these are the Israelites, for they are the children of the holy blessed God, and their holy souls come from him; the souls of the rest of the people, from what place are they? says R. Eleazar, from the side of the left hand, which is defiled; for they have polluted souls, and therefore they are all defiled, and defile whoever comes nigh them:''but they are no better, especially with regard to their estate by nature:
for we have before proved;
in the preceding chapters, by full instances to a demonstration; and if that cannot be thought sufficient, he goes on to give more proof in the following "verses":
that both Jews and Gentiles are under sin;
under the power and guilt of sin, and a sentence of condemnation for it; which is equally true of the Jews, who were no better than the Gentiles, for being Abraham's seed, for being circumcised, for having the ceremonial law, and other outward privileges; for they were equally born in sin, and by practice sinners, as the Gentiles: and this is true of God's elect in all nations, who are no better by nature, by birth, than others; as deserving of the wrath of God as the rest; no better in their tempers and, dispositions, or in the endowments of their minds, or outward circumstances of life; nor better qualified to receive and improve the grace of God bestowed on them, than others.
F18 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 103. 2. Vid. Nishmat Chayim, orat. 2. c. 7. fol. 61. 1.
F19 Zohar in Lev. fol 28. 2.
F20 Zohar in Gen. fol. 31. 1.