1 Corinthians 10:7
Neither be you idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
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1 Corinthians 10:7-8. Neither be ye idolaters — By partaking of their idolatrous feasts: by no means join the heathen in these, because if the persons whose friendship you wish to cultivate, tempt you to commit idolatry, neither your superior knowledge, nor the spiritual gifts which ye possess, will secure you against their allurements: of these things you have a striking proof in the ancient Israelites. As it is written Exodus 32:6; Exodus 32:19, with relation to the feast of the golden calf; The people sat down to eat and drink — Of the sacrifices and libations which were offered to the calf. He says, sat down to eat, for in ancient times the Hebrews always sat at meat: see Genesis 43:33. It was in later times only that, in compliance with the manners of eastern nations, they lay on couches at their meals. And rose up to play — Or to dance, as the word παιζειν here signifies, in honour of their idol. Dancing was one of the rites practised by the heathen in the worship of their gods. And that the Israelites worshipped the golden calf by dancing, is evident from Exodus 32:19, where it is said of Moses, that he saw the calf and the dancing, and his anger waxed hot. Neither let us commit fornication — A sin commonly committed at the idolatrous feasts among the heathen. And it was the more proper for the apostle to caution the Corinthians against it, because in their heathen state they had practised it even as an act of worship, acceptable to their deities; nay, and after their conversion, some of them, it appears, had not altered their manners in that particular, 2 Corinthians 12:21. As some of them committed — With the Midianitish women, when they partook of the sacrifices offered to Baal-peor: the sad consequence of which was, that there fell in one day three and twenty thousand — By the plague, besides the princes who were afterward hanged, and those whom the judges slew; so that there died in all twenty-four thousand, Numbers 25:1-9.10:6-14 Carnal desires gain strength by indulgence, therefore should be checked in their first rise. Let us fear the sins of Israel, if we would shun their plagues. And it is but just to fear, that such as tempt Christ, will be left by him in the power of the old serpent. Murmuring against God's disposals and commands, greatly provokes him. Nothing in Scripture is written in vain; and it is our wisdom and duty to learn from it. Others have fallen, and so may we. The Christian's security against sin is distrust of himself. God has not promised to keep us from falling, if we do not look to ourselves. To this word of caution, a word of comfort is added. Others have the like burdens, and the like temptations: what they bear up under, and break through, we may also. God is wise as well as faithful, and will make our burdens according to our strength. He knows what we can bear. He will make a way to escape; he will deliver either from the trial itself, or at least the mischief of it. We have full encouragement to flee from sin, and to be faithful to God. We cannot fall by temptation, if we cleave fast to him. Whether the world smiles or frowns, it is an enemy; but believers shall be strengthened to overcome it, with all its terrors and enticements. The fear of the Lord, put into their hearts, will be the great means of safety.Neither be ye idolaters - This caution is evidently given in view of the danger to which they would be exposed if they partook of the feasts that were celebrated in honor of idols in their temples. The particular idolatry which is referred to here is, the worship of the golden calf that was made by Aaron Exodus 32:1-5.

As it is written - Exodus 32:6.

The people sat down to eat and to drink - To worship the golden calf. They partook of a feast in honor of that idol. I have already observed that it was common to keep a feast in honor of an idol, and that the food which was eaten on such an occasion was mainly the meat which had been offered in sacrifice to it. This instance was particularly to the apostle's purpose, as he was cautioning the Corinthians against the danger of participating in the feasts celebrated in the pagan temples.

And rose up to play - (παίζειν paizein). The Hebrew word used in Exodus 32:6 (צחק tsaachaq) means "to laugh, to sport, to jest, to mock, to insult" Genesis 21:9; and then to engage in dances accompanied with music, in honor of an idol. This was often practiced, as the worship of idols was celebrated with songs and dances. This is particularly affirmed of this instance of idol worship Exodus 32:19; and this was common among ancient idolaters; and this mode of worship was even adopted by David before the ark of the Lord; 2 Samuel 6:5; 1 Chronicles 13:8; 1 Chronicles 15:29. All that the word "to play" here necessarily implies is, that of choral songs and dances, accompanied with revelry in honor of the idol. It was, however, the fact that such worship was usually accompanied with much licentiousness; but that is not necessarily implied in the use of the word. Most of the oriental dances were grossly indecent and licentious, and the word here may be designed to include such indelicacy and licentiousness.

7. idolaters—A case in point. As the Israelites sat down (a deliberate act), ate, and drank at the idol feast to the calves in Horeb, so the Corinthians were in danger of idolatry by a like act, though not professedly worshipping an idol as the Israelites (1Co 8:10, 11; 10:14, 20, 21; Ex 32:6). He passes here from the first to the second person, as they alone (not he also) were in danger of idolatry, &c. He resumes the first person appropriately at 1Co 10:16.

some—The multitude follow the lead of some bad men.

play—with lascivious dancing, singing, and drumming round the calf (compare "rejoiced," Ac 7:41).

Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; the people of Israel, being first enticed to whoredom with the daughters of Moab, were after that invited to the sacrifices of their gods, and did eat, and bowed down to their gods. Numbers 25:2; so, either worshipped the creature instead of the Creator, or worshipped the Creator in and by the creature.

As it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play; thus it is written in Exodus 32:6; which history mentioneth another idolatry they were guilty of, in worshipping the golden calf. They were wont to have feasts after their sacrifices, and pastimes and diversions after such feasts; and particularly we are told in the history concerning the golden calf, that they danced before it. Stephen saith, Acts 7:41, they rejoiced in the works of their own hands. Neither be ye idolaters,.... To which they seemed inclined to be, at least there was great danger that such they would be, by carrying their liberty to such a pitch, as to sit in an idol's temple, and there eat things sacrificed unto them; and which the apostle cautions against, and uses arguments to dissuade them from in the following part of this chapter:

as were some of them, as it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play: referring to Exodus 32:6 when the Israelites, whilst Moses was in the mount, made a molten calf, and worshipped it, built an altar before it, and instituted a feast and a play; and which was performed by dancing about the calf, and singing to the honour of it, Exodus 32:18 for their sitting down to eat and drink is not to be understood of an ordinary meal, but of a feast kept in honour of the golden calf, and which they covered by calling it a feast to the Lord; and their playing also was on the same account, in imitation of the Heathens, who made feasts, and appointed plays to the honour of their deities: some indeed interpret (t) this last action of uncleanness, which they committed after their feast was over, and which also was sometimes done in the Heathen temples, the word being sometimes used in this sense; see Genesis 39:14 but others understand it of the act of idolatry; so two of the Chaldee paraphrases interpret the words in Exodus (u); "they rose up to play", , in strange service, i.e. idolatry; and though the apostle does not mention their punishment, yet it was a very great one, three thousand persons fell the sword on that account, Exodus 32:28.

(t) Vid. Jarchi in Exodus 32.6. (u) Targum Jon. ben Uzziel & Jerusalem in ib. Vid. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 53. fol. 47. 4. & Shemot Rabba, sect. 1. fol. 89. 3.

Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
1 Corinthians 10:7. There follows now upon this general warning the first of four special ones against sins, to which the ἐπιθυμεῖν κακῶν might very easily lead. “Eligit, quod maxime Corinthiis congruebat,” Calvin.

μηδέ] also in particular do not. Comp Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 314 [E. T. 366]. The repetitions of μηδέ which follow, too, from 1 Corinthians 10:8 to 1 Corinthians 10:10 are also negatived, but in continuance of the special prohibitions.

γίνεσθε] in the second person, because of the special danger to which his readers, from their circumstances, were exposed. Comp on 1 Corinthians 10:10.

ΕἸΔΩΛΟΛΆΤΡΑΙ] What Paul means is the indirect idolatry involved in partaking of the heathen sacrificial feasts. Comp on 1 Corinthians 5:11. This is clear from the quotation which he goes on to make (ΦΑΓΕῖΝ Κ. ΠΙΕῖΝ). Comp 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21. The passage cited is Exodus 32:6 according to the LXX.; it describes the sacrificial feast after the sacrifice offered to the golden calf. The ΤΙΝῈς ΑὐΤῶΝ, four times repeated, certain of them, notwithstanding of there being very many (although not all), brings out all the more forcibly the offences over-against the greatness of the penal judgments. Comp on Romans 3:3.

ΠΑΊΖΕΙΝ] to be merry. This comprised dancing, as we may gather from Exodus 32:19, and from ancient customs generally at sacrificial feasts; but to make this the thing specially referred to here (Hom. Od. viii. 251; Hesiod, Scut. 277; Pindar, Ol. xiii. 123) does not harmonize with the more general meaning of לְצַחֵק in the original text. To understand the phrase as indicating unchastity (Tertull. de jejun. 6) is contrary to Exodus 32:18-19, and Philo, de vit. Mos. 3, pp. 677 D, 694 A.1 Corinthians 10:7. μηδὲ εἰδωλολάτραι γίνεσθε, “And do not become idolaters”: in apposition to the εἰς τὸ μὴ clause of 1 Corinthians 10:6, the dependent sentence of purpose passing into a direct impv[1436]; for the like conversational freedom, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:31, 1 Corinthians 4:16, 1 Corinthians 7:37, 1 Corinthians 9:15, and notes. The repetition of this warning in 1 Corinthians 10:14 shows its urgency. Even where eating of the εἰδωλόθυτα was innocent, it might be a stepping-stone to εἰδωλολατρεία.—Enforcing his appeal by ref[1437] to the calf-worship at Sinai, the Ap. dwells on the accompaniments of this apostasy: here lay the peril of his readers who, when released from the superstition of the old religion (1 Corinthians 8:4), were still attracted by its feasting and gaiety: “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to sport” (following the LXX precisely). This παίζειν, as in idolatrous festivals commonly, included singing and dancing round the calf (Exodus 32:18 f.); there is no need to imagine a darker meaning. It was a scene of wild, careless merriment, shocking under the circumstances and most perilous, that Moses witnessed as he descended bearing the Tables of the Law.—πεῖν, cf. 1 Corinthians 9:4 and note.

[1436] imperative mood.

[1437] reference.7. Neither be ye idolaters] Tyndale characteristically renders “worshippers of images” See Exodus 32:6.

to play] Dancing (see Stanley and Alford in loc.) was probably included, as it formed part of the worship of the heathen deities. Cf. Horace, “Quam nee ferre pedem dedecuit choris.… sacro Dianae celebrant die.” Odes, 2:12. 19. But the original Hebrew word has a wider signification, to sport, to laugh, exactly the same as the kindred word from which is derived Isaac, “he shall laugh,” so named from Sarah’s laughter. The same is the case with the Greek word παίζειν, used here.1 Corinthians 10:7. Γίνεσθε, be ye) In this ver., and 1 Corinthians 10:10, the matter is set before them in the second person; for Paul was beyond the danger of idolatry, nay, he was even the object of their murmuring; the other things are put in the first person—both becomingly so. So 1 Peter 4:1; 1 Peter 4:3, in the second person.—τινἐς αὐτῶν, some of them) We should mark some; where some begin, the majority of the multitude easily follow, rushing both into sin and to punishment.—ἐκάθισεν, κ.τ.λ.) So the LXX., Exodus 32:6.—φαγεῖν καὶ πιεῖν, to eat and drink) This quotation is much to the purpose; comp. 1 Corinthians 10:21.—παίζειν, to play) A joyful festival is here indicated (celebrated with lascivious dancing around the calf.—V. g.), and at the same time the vanity of the festival on account of the idol is implied.Verse 7. - As were some of them. As in the case of the golden calf, the worship of Moloch, Remphan, Baal-peor, etc. In the prominent instance of the calf worship, they (like the Corinthians) would have put forth sophistical pleas in their own favour, saying that they were not worshipping idols, but only paying honour to cherubic emblems of Jehovah. To play. The word is, perhaps, used euphemistically for the worst concomitants of a sensual nature worship (Exodus 32:3-6), which resembled the depraved and orgiastic worship of Aphrodite Pandemos at Corinth. Idolaters

Referring to the danger of partaking of the idol feasts.

To play (παίζειν)

The merrymaking generally which followed the feast, not specially referring to the dancing at the worship of the golden calf. See Exodus 32:19.

Commit fornication

Lasciviousness was habitually associated with idol-worship. The two are combined, Acts 15:29. A thousand priests ministered at the licentious rites of the temple of Venus at Corinth.

Three and twenty thousand

A plain discrepancy between this statement and Numbers 25:9, where the number is twenty-four thousand. It may have been a lapse of memory.

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