21. both the sons--Greek, "each of the sons" ( Genesis 47:29 , 48:8-20 ). He knew not Joseph's sons, and could not distinguish them by sight, yet he did distinguish them by faith, transposing his hands intentionally, so as to lay his right hand on the younger, Ephraim, whose posterity was to be greater than that of Manasseh: he also adopted these grandchildren as his own sons, after having transferred the right of primogeniture to Joseph ( Genesis 48:22 ).
and worshipped--This did not take place in immediate connection with the foregoing, but before it, when Jacob made Joseph swear that he would bury him with his fathers in Canaan, not in Egypt. The assurance that Joseph would do so filled him with pious gratitude to God, which he expressed by raising himself on his bed to an attitude of worship. His faith, as Joseph's ( Hebrews 11:22 ), consisted in his so confidentially anticipating the fulfilment of God's promise of Canaan to his descendants, as to desire to be buried there as his proper possession.
leaning upon the top of his staff-- Genesis 47:31 , Hebrew and English Version, "upon the bed's head." The Septuagint translates as Paul here. JEROME justly reprobates the notion of modern Rome, that Jacob worshipped the top of Joseph's staff, having on it an image of Joseph's power, to which Jacob bowed in recognition of the future sovereignty of his son's tribe, the father bowing to the son! The Hebrew, as translated in English Version, sets it aside: the bed is alluded to afterwards ( Genesis 48:2 , 49:33 ), and it is likely that Jacob turned himself in his bed so as to have his face toward the pillow, Isaiah 38:2 (there were no bedsteads in the East). Paul by adopting the Septuagint version, brings out, under the Spirit, an additional fact, namely, that the aged patriarch used his own (not Joseph's) staff to lean on in worshipping on his bed. The staff, too, was the emblem of his pilgrim state here on his way to his heavenly city ( Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:14 ), wherein God had so wonderfully supported him. Genesis 32:10 , "With my staff I passed over Jordan, and now I am become," &c. (compare Exodus 12:11 , 6:8 ). In 1 Kings 1:47 , the same thing is said of David's "bowing on his bed," an act of adoring thanksgiving to God for God's favor to his son before death. He omits the more leading blessing of the twelve sons of Jacob; because "he plucks only the flowers which stand by his way, and leaves the whole meadow full to his readers" [DELITZSCH in ALFORD].
22. when he died--"when dying."
the departing--"the exodus" ( Genesis 50:24 Genesis 50:25 ). Joseph's eminent position in Egypt did not make him regard it as his home: in faith he looked to God's promise of Canaan being fulfilled and desired that his bones should rest there: testifying thus: (1) that he had no doubt of his posterity obtaining the promised land: and (2) that he believed in the resurrection of the body, and the enjoyment in it of the heavenly Canaan. His wish was fulfilled ( Joshua 24:32 , Acts 4:16 ).
23. parents--So the Septuagint has the plural, namely, Amram and Jochebed ( Numbers 26:59 ); but in Exodus 2:2 , the mother alone is mentioned; but doubtless Amram sanctioned all she did, and secrecy. being their object, he did not appear prominent in what was done.
a proper child--Greek, "a comely child." Acts 7:20 , "exceeding fair," Greek, "fair to God." The "faith" of his parents in saving the child must have had some divine revelation to rest on (probably at the time of his birth), which marked their "exceeding fair" babe as one whom God designed to do a great work by. His beauty was probably "the sign" appointed by God to assure their faith.
the king's commandment--to slay all the males ( Exodus 1:22 ).
24. So far from faith being opposed to Moses, he was an eminent example of it [BENGEL].
refused--in believing self-denial, when he might possibly have succeeded at last to the throne of Egypt. Thermutis, Pharaoh's daughter, according to the tradition which Paul under the Spirit sanctions, adopted him, as JOSEPHUS says, with the consent of the king. JOSEPHUS states that when a child, he threw on the ground the diadem put on him in jest, a presage of his subsequent formal rejection of Thermutis' adoption of him. Faith made him to prefer the adoption of the King of kings, unseen, and so to choose ( Hebrews 11:25 Hebrews 11:26 ) things, the very last which flesh and blood relish.
25. He balanced the best of the world with the worst of religion, and decidedly chose the latter. "Choosing" implies a deliberate resolution, not a hasty impulse. He was forty years old, a time when the judgment is matured.
for a season--If the world has "pleasure" (Greek, "enjoyment") to offer, it is but "for a season." If religion bring with it "affliction," it too is but for a season; whereas its "pleasures are for evermore."
26. Esteeming--Inasmuch as he esteemed.
the reproach of Christ--that is, the reproach which falls on the Church, and which Christ regards as His own reproach, He being the Head, and the Church (both of the Old and New Testament) His body. Israel typified Christ; Israel's sufferings were Christ's sufferings (compare 2 Corinthians 1:5 , Colossians 1:24 ). As uncircumcision was Egypt's reproach, so circumcision was the badge of Israel's expectation of Christ, which Moses especially cherished, and which the Gentiles reproached Israel on account of. Christ's people's reproach will ere long be their great glory.
had respect unto, &c.--Greek, "turning his eyes away from other considerations, he fixed them on the (eternal) recompense" ( Hebrews 11:39 Hebrews 11:40 ).
27. not fearing the wrath of the king--But in Exodus 2:14 it is said, "Moses feared, and fled from the face of Pharaoh." He was afraid, and fled from the danger where no duty called him to stay (to have stayed without call of duty would have been to tempt Providence, and to sacrifice his hope of being Israel's future deliverer according to the divine intimations; his great aim, did not fear the king so as to neglect his duty and not return when God called him. It was in spite of the king's prohibition he left Egypt, not fearing the consequences which were likely to overtake him if he should be caught, after having, in defiance of the king, left Egypt. If he had stayed and resumed his position as adopted son of Pharaoh's daughter, his slaughter of the Egyptian would doubtless have been connived at; but his resolution to take his portion with oppressed Israel, which he could not have done had he stayed, was the motive of his flight, and constituted the "faith" of this act, according to the express statement here. The exodus of Moses with Israel cannot be meant here, for it was made, not in defiance, but by the desire, of the king. Besides, the chronological order would be broken thus, the next particular specified here, namely, the institution of the Passover, having taken place before the exodus. Besides, it is Moses' personal history and faith which are here described. The faith of the people ("THEY passed") is not introduced till Hebrews 11:29 .
endured--steadfast in faith amidst trials. He had fled, not so much from fear of Pharaoh, as from a revulsion of feeling in finding God's people insensible to their high destiny, and from disappointment at not having been able to inspire them with those hopes for which he had sacrificed all his earthly prospects. This accounts for his strange reluctance and despondency when commissioned by God to go and arouse the people ( Exodus 3:15 , Exodus 4:1 Exodus 4:10-12 ).
seeing him . . . invisible--as though he had not to do with men, but only with God, ever before his eyes by faith, though invisible to the bodily eye ( Romans 1:20 , 1 Timothy 1:17 , 6:16 ). Hence he feared not the wrath of visible man; the characteristic of faith ( Hebrews 11:1 , Luke 12:4 Luke 12:5 ).
28. kept--Greek, "hath kept," the Passover being, in Paul's day, still observed. His faith here was his belief in the invisible God's promise that the destroying angel should pass over, and not touch the inmates of the blood-sprinkled houses ( Exodus 12:23 ). "He acquiesced in the bare word of God where the thing itself was not apparent" [CALVIN].
the first-born--Greek neuter; both of man and beast.
29. they--Moses and Israel.
Red Sea--called so from its red seaweed, or rather from Edom (meaning "red"), whose country adjoined it.
which . . . assaying to do--Greek, "of which (Red Sea) the Egyptians having made experiment." Rashness and presumption mistaken by many for faith; with similar rash presumption many rush into eternity. The same thing when done by the believer, and when done by the unbeliever, is not the same thing [BENGEL]. What was faith in Israel, was presumption in the Egyptians.
were drowned--Greek, "were swallowed up," or "engulfed." They sank in the sands as much as in the waves of the Red Sea. Compare Exodus 15:12 , "the earth swallowed them."
30. The soundings of trumpets, though one were to sound for ten thousand years, cannot throw down walls, but faith can do all things [CHRYSOSTOM].
seven days--whereas sieges often lasted for years.
31. Rahab showed her "faith" in her confession, Joshua 2:9 Joshua 2:11 , "I know that Jehovah hath given you the land; Jehovah your God, is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath."
the harlot--Her former life adds to the marvel of her repentance, faith, and preservation ( Matthew 21:31-32 ).
believed not--Greek, "were disobedient," namely, to the will of God manifested by the miracles wrought in behalf of Israel ( Joshua 2:8-11 ).
received--in her house ( Joshua 2:1 Joshua 2:4 Joshua 2:6 ).
with peace--peaceably; so that they had nothing to fear in her house. Thus Paul, quoting the same examples ( Hebrews 11:17 Hebrews 11:31 ) for the power of faith, as James ( james 2:21 james 2:25 ; justification by works evidentially, shows that in maintaining justification by faith alone, he means not a dead faith, but "faith which worketh by love" ( Galatians 5:6 ).
32. the time--suitable for the length of an Epistle. He accumulates collectively some out of many examples of faith.
Gideon--put before Barak, not chronologically, but as being more celebrated. Just as Samson for the same reason is put before Jephthæ. The mention of Jephthæ as an example of "faith," makes it unlikely he sacrificed the life of his daughter for a rash vow. David, the warrior king and prophet, forms the transition from warrior chiefs to the "prophets," of whom "Samuel" is mentioned as the first.
33. subdued kingdoms--as David did ( 2 Samuel 8:1 , &c.); so also Gideon subdued Midian ( Judges 7:1-25 ).
wrought righteousness--as Samuel did ( 1 Samuel 8:9 , 12:3-23 , 15:33 ); and David ( 2 Samuel 8:15 ).
obtained promises--as "the prophets" ( Hebrews 11:32 ) did; for through them the promises were given (compare Daniel 9:21 ) [BENGEL]. Rather, "obtained the fulfilment of promises," which had been previously the object of their faith ( Joshua 21:45 , 1 Kings 8:56 ). Indeed, Gideon, Barak, &c., also obtained the things which God promised. Not "the promises," which are still future ( Hebrews 11:13 Hebrews 11:39 ).
stopped the mouths of lions--Note the words, "because he believed in his God." Also Samson ( Judges 14:6 ), David ( 1 Samuel 17:34-37 ), Benaiah ( 2 Samuel 23:20 ).
34. Quenched the violence of fire--( Daniel 3:27 ). Not merely "quenched the fire," but "quenched the power (so the Greek) of the fire." Daniel 3:19-30 and Daniel 6:12-23 record the last miracles of the Old Testament. So the martyrs of the Reformation, though not escaping the fire, were delivered from its having power really or lastingly to hurt them.
escaped . . . sword--So Jephthah ( Judges 12:3 ); and so David escaped Saul's sword ( 1 Samuel 18:11 , 1 Samuel 19:10 1 Samuel 19:12 ); Elijah ( 1 Kings 19:1 , &c. 2 Kings 6:14 ).
out of weakness . . . made strong--Samson ( Judges 16:28 , 15:19 ). Hezekiah (Isaiah 37:1-38:22'). MILTON says of the martyrs, "They shook the powers of darkness with the irresistible power of weakness."
valiant in fight--Barak ( Judges 4:14 Judges 4:15 ). And the Maccabees, the sons of Matthias, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon, who delivered the Jews from their cruel oppressor, Antiochus of Syria.
armies--literally, "camps" referring to Judges 7:21 . But the reference may be to the Maccabees having put to flight the Syrians and other foes.
35. Women received their dead raised--as the widow of Zarephath ( 1 Kings 17:17-24 ). The Shunammite ( 2 Kings 4:17-35 ). The two oldest manuscripts read. "They received women of aliens by raising their dead." 1 Kings 17:24 shows that the raising of the widow's son by Elijah led her to the faith, so that he thus took her into fellowship, an alien though she was. Christ, in Luke 4:26 , makes especial mention of the fact that Elijah was sent to an alien from Israel, a woman of Sarepta. Thus Paul may quote this as an instance of Elijah's faith, that at God's command he went to a Gentile city of Sidonia (contrary to Jewish prejudices), and there, as the fruit of faith, not only raised her dead son, but received her as a convert into the family of God, as Vulgate reads. Still, English Version may be the right reading.
and--Greek, "but"; in contrast to those raised again to life.
tortured--"broken on the wheel." Eleazar (2 Maccabees 6:18, end; 2 Maccabees 19:20,30). The sufferer was stretched on an instrument like a drumhead and scourged to death.
not accepting deliverance--when offered to them. So the seven brothers, 2 Maccabees 7:9,11,14,29,36; and Eleazar, 2 Maccabees 6:21,28,30, "Though I might have been delivered from death, I endure these severe pains, being beaten."
a better resurrection--than that of the women's children "raised to life again"; or, than the resurrection which their foes could give them by delivering them from death ( Daniel 12:2 , Luke 20:35 , Philippians 3:11 ). The fourth of the brethren (referring to Daniel 12:2 ) said to King Antiochus, "To be put to death by men, is to be chosen to look onward for the hopes which are of God, to be raised up again by Him; but for thee there is no resurrection to life." The writer of Second Maccabees expressly disclaims inspiration, which prevents our mistaking Paul's allusion here to it as if it sanctioned the Apocrypha as inspired. In quoting Daniel, he quotes a book claiming inspiration, and so tacitly sanctions that claim.
36. others--of a different class of confessors for the truth (the Greek is different from that for "others," Hebrews 11:35 , alloi, heteroi).
trial--testing their faith.
imprisonment--as Hanani ( 2 Chronicles 16:10 ), imprisoned by Asa. Micaiah, the son of Imlah, by Ahab ( 1 Kings 22:26 1 Kings 22:27 ).
37. stoned--as Zechariah, son of Jehoiada ( 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 , Matthew 23:35 ).
sawn asunder--as Isaiah was said to have been by Manasseh; but
tempted--by their foes, in the midst of their tortures, to renounce their faith; the most bitter aggravation of them. Or else, by those of their own household, as Job was [ESTIUS]; or by the fiery darts of Satan, as Jesus was in His last trials [GLASSIUS]. Probably it included all three; they were tempted in every possible way, by friends and foes, by human and satanic agents, by caresses and afflictions, by words and deeds, to forsake God, but in vain, through the power of faith.
sword--literally, "they died in the murder of the sword." In Hebrews 11:34 the contrary is given as an effect of faith, "they escaped the edge of the sword." Both alike are marvellous effects of faith. In both accomplishes great things and suffers great things, without counting it suffering [CHRYSOSTOM]. Urijah was so slain by Jehoiakim ( Jeremiah 26:23 ); and the prophets in Israel ( 1 Kings 19:10 ).
in sheepskins--as Elijah ( 1 Kings 19:13 , Septuagint). They were white; as the "goat-skins" were black (compare Zechariah 13:4 ).
tormented--Greek, "in evil state."
38. Of whom the world was not worthy--So far from their being unworthy of living in the world, as their exile in deserts, &c., might seem to imply, "the world was not worthy of them." The world, in shutting them out, shut out from itself a source of blessing; such as Joseph proved to Potiphar ( Genesis 39:5 ), and Jacob to Laban ( Genesis 30:27 ). In condemning them, the world condemned itself.
caves--literally, "chinks." Palestine, from its hilly character, abounds in fissures and caves, affording shelter to the persecuted, as the fifty hid by Obadiah ( 1 Kings 18:4 1 Kings 18:13 ) and Elijah ( 1 Kings 19:8 1 Kings 19:13 ); and Mattathias and his sons (1 Maccabees 2:28,29); and Judas Maccabeus (2 Maccabees 5:27).
39. having obtained a good report--Greek, "being borne witness of." Though they were so, yet "they received not the promise," that is, the final completion of "salvation" promised at Christ's coming again ( Hebrews 9:28 ); "the eternal inheritance" ( Hebrews 9:15 ). Abraham did obtain the very thing promised ( Hebrews 6:15 ) in part, namely, blessedness in soul after death, by virtue of faith in Christ about to come. The full blessedness of body and soul shall not be till the full number of the elect shall be accomplished, and all together, no one preceding the other, shall enter on the full glory and bliss. Moreover, in another point of view, "It is probable that some accumulation of blessedness was added to holy souls, when Christ came and fulfilled all things even as at His burial many rose from the dead, who doubtless ascended to heaven with Him" [FLACIUS in BENGEL]. (Compare Note, perfecting of believers in title, and in respect to conscience, took place once for all, at the death of Christ, by virtue of His being made by death perfect as Saviour. Their perfecting in soul at, and ever after Christ's death, took place, and takes place at their death. But the universal and final perfecting will not take place till Christ's coming.
40. provided--with divine forethought from eternity (compare Genesis 22:8 Genesis 22:14 ).
some better thing for us--( Hebrews 7:19 ); than they had here. They had not in this world, "apart from us" (so the Greek is for "without us," that is, they had to wait for us for), the clear revelation of the promised salvation actually accomplished, as we now have it in Christ; in their state, beyond the grave their souls also seem to have attained an increase of heavenly bliss on the death and ascension of Christ; and they shall not attain the full and final glory in body and soul (the regeneration of the creature), until the full number of the elect (including us with them) is completed. The Fathers, CHRYSOSTOM, &c., restricted the meaning of Hebrews 11:39 Hebrews 11:40 to this last truth, and I incline to this view. "The connection is, You, Hebrews, may far more easily exercise patience than Old Testament believers; for they had much longer to wait, and are still waiting until the elect are all gathered in; you, on the contrary, have not to wait for them" [ESTIUS]. I think his object in these verses ( Hebrews 11:39 Hebrews 11:40 ) is to warn Hebrew Christians against their tendency to relapse into Judaism. "Though the Old Testament worthies attained such eminence by faith, they are not above us in privileges, but the reverse." It is not we who are perfected with them, but rather they with us. They waited for His coming; we enjoy Him as having come ( Hebrews 1:1 , 2:3 ). Christ's death, the means of perfecting what the Jewish law could not perfect, was reserved for our time. Compare Hebrews 12:2 , "perfecter (Greek) of our faith." Now that Christ is come, they in soul share our blessedness, being "the spirits of the just made perfect" ( Hebrews 12:23 ); so ALFORD; however, Hebrews 9:12 shows that the blood of Christ, brought into the heavenly holy place by Him, first opened an entrance into heaven (compare John 3:13 ). Still, the fathers were in blessedness by faith in the Saviour to come, at death ( Hebrews 6:15 , Luke 16:22 ).