By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)By faith he forsook Egypt.—It is a matter of great difficulty to decide whether these words refer to the flight into Midian (Exodus 2:15), or to the Exodus. The former view, which seems to be taken by all ancient writers and by most in modern times, is supported by the following arguments:—(1) The institution of the Passover is mentioned later in this chapter (Hebrews 11:28); (2) the second departure was made at Pharaoh’s urgent request (Exodus 12:31); (3) “he forsook” is too personal an expression to be used of the general Exodus. On the other side it is urged with great force: (1) that, although the actual departure from Egypt followed the institution of the Passover, the “forsaking” really commenced in the demand of Hebrews 5:1-3, persevered in until the anger of the king was powerfully excited (Hebrews 10:28); (2) that, as might have been certainly foreseen, the wrath of both king and people was aroused as soon as the people had departed (Exodus 14:5); (3) that the flight to Midian was directly caused by fear (Exodus 2:14-15); (4) that the following words, “he endured, &c.,” are much more applicable to the determined persistency of Moses and his repeated disappointments (Exodus 5-12) than to the inaction of his years of exile. On the whole the latter interpretation seems preferable. If the former be adopted, we must distinguish between the apprehension which led him (4) to seek safety in flight and the courage which enabled him to give up Egypt.
He endured.—In the presence of Pharaoh (or in the weariness of exile) he was strong and patient, as seeing the invisible King and Leader of His people.Hebrews 11:27. By faith — Namely, in the power of God to preserve and conduct him and them, notwithstanding Pharaoh’s rage and threatening; he forsook Egypt — Taking all the Israelites with him; not fearing the wrath of the king — As he did many years before, when he fled from Egypt into Midian: see Exodus 2:14-15. For he endured — Continued resolute and immoveable; as seeing him who is invisible — Keeping the eye of his mind continually fixed on that great invisible Being, whose presence and friendship is of such importance, that the person who fixes his regards on him, will never by any consideration be influenced knowingly to offend him, nor be much impressed with the fear of any person or thing that would tempt him to do this. This character of God is here given with peculiar propriety. Moses was now in that condition, and had those difficulties to encounter, wherein he continually stood in need of divine power and assistance: whence this should come he could not discern by his senses: his bodily eye could behold no present assistant; for God was invisible: but he saw him by faith, whom he could not see with his bodily eyes, and thus seeing him he found him a present help, no less than if he had been manifest to his senses. A double act of Moses’s faith is intended herein; 1st, A clear, distinct view and apprehension of God’s omnipresence, power, and faithfulness; and, 2d, A steady trust in him on account of these perfections. This he relied on, to this he trusted, that God was everywhere present with him, able to protect and assist him, and faithful to his promises. Of these things he had as certain a persuasion, as if he had seen God working with him and for him with his bodily eyes. This sense of God he continually had recourse to in all his hazards and difficulties, and thereby endured courageously to the end.Exodus 2; the majority of expositors have supposed that it refers to the time when he left Egypt to conduct the Israelites to the promised land. That the latter is the time referred to is evident from the fact that it is said that he did "not fear the wrath of the king." When Moses first fled to the land of Midian it is expressly said that he went because he did fear the anger of Pharaoh for his having killed an Egyptian; Exodus 2:14-15. He was at that time in fear of his life; but when he left Egypt at the head of the Hebrew people, he had no such apprehensions. God conducted him out with "an high hand," and throughout all the events connected with that remarkable deliverance, he manifested no dread of Pharaoh, and had no apprehension from what he could do. He went forth, indeed, at the head of his people when all the power of the king was excited to destroy them, but he went confiding in God: and this is the faith referred to here.
For he endured - He persevered, amidst all the trials and difficulties connected with his leading forth the people from bondage.
As seeing him who is invisible - "As if" he saw God. He had no more doubt that God had called him to this work, and that he would sustain him, than if he saw him with his physical eyes. This is a most accurate account of the nature of faith; compare notes on Hebrews 11:1.
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 (Ex 3:15; 4:1, 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 (Ro 1:20; 1Ti 1:17; 6:16). Hence he feared not the wrath of visible man; the characteristic of faith (Heb 11:1; Lu 12:4, 5).By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: by the same excellent faith, after his demand from Pharaoh of liberty for Israel to leave Egypt, and he had brought on him and his people the ten plagues God threatened them with, then he brake the bands of captivity, and took up Israel, and left Egypt subdued, wasted by plagues, and a place to be abhorred; triumphing over it, he forsakes it as a conqueror, and carrieth away the spoils of it. The wrath and rage of Pharaoh at him and his work for Israel, did not appal him; he was not afraid of his threatening to kill him, Exodus 10:28,29; yet he defied him, even when his rage made him to pursue him and Israel with his host to destroy them.
For he endured, as seeing him who is invisible; ekarterhse, he was of a bold, undaunted spirit, so as nothing was too hard for him, either to suffer or do: magnanimity expelled his fear, so as he would stand or march according to God’s order, faith presenting to his view at all times the great Angel of the covenant, God the Son, the Redeemer of him and Israel, the only Potentate, the invisible King of kings, and Lord of lords, 1 Timothy 6:14-16; with him, and for him, against Pharaoh, leading, covering, and guarding him and Israel in all the way, and fulfilling his promise of delivering of his church from Egypt; this makes him to march undauntedly with God’s host. Hebrews 11:29. The word "forsook" implies fleeing; and then it was when Pharaoh's wrath was kindled against him: but it may be said, that Moses seemed then to be afraid of it, seeing he fled: to which it may be answered, that he showed great courage and intrepidity in slaying the Egyptian; and he took no methods to gain the king's favour, when the thing was known; his fleeing was consistent with courage, and was a point of prudence, and in obedience to the will of God: his departure shows, that he would not desist from the work he was called unto; but that he waited God's time, when he should be again employed; wherefore he endured affliction and meanness in Midian, and waited, patiently, till God should call him again to service: or this is to be understood of the time when he led the children of Israel out of Egypt; when he had many difficulties on the part of that people: they were seated and settled in the land of Egypt; they knew nothing of Canaan, nor of the way to it; and, besides, that was in the possession of others; they were a very morose, impatient, stiffnecked, and an ungovernable people, whom he led into a wilderness, without food or arms; and their number was very large; and he had many difficulties, on the part of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. The Israelites were in the midst of them; he brought them out from among them, with the spoil of them in their hands; he knew the changeableness and fury of Pharaoh's mind, and yet he led them out, and left Egypt,
not fearing the wrath of the king; of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; though it was as the roaring of a lion: so such as are called by grace, from a state of darkness and bondage, and out of a strange land, forsake this world, and leave their situation in it, their sinful lusts and pleasures, the company of wicked men, and everything that is near and dear, when it is in competition with Christ; not fearing the wrath of any temporal king or prince; nor of Satan, the prince of this world:
for he endured; afflictions, reproach, and menaces, with patience and courage; his mind was not broken with them, nor overborne by them; he expected divine help, and persevered; and so do such, who are called by the grace of God:
as seeing him who is invisible; that is God, as the Syriac version expresses it; who is not to be seen corporeally, though intellectually; not in his essence, though in his works of creation and providence; not immediately, though mediately in and through Christ; not perfectly now, though face to face hereafter. Moses saw him visionally, and symbolically in the bush; he saw him by faith, and with the eyes of his understanding; and so believing in his power, faithfulness, &c. did what he did.By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 11:27 is referred either to the flight of Moses to Midian (Exodus 2:15), or to the departure of the whole people out of Egypt. The former supposition is favoured by Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Zeger, Jac. Cappellus, Heinsius, Calmet, Bengel, Michaelis, Schulz, de Wette, Stengel, Tholuck, Bouman (Chartae theolog. lib. II. Traj. ad Rhen. 1857, p. 157 sq.), Delitzsch, Nickel (in Reuter’s Repertor. 1858, März, p. 207), Conybeare, Alford, Maier, Kluge, Moll, Ewald; the latter by Nicholas de Lyra, Calvin, Piscator, Schlichting, Grotius, Owen, Calov, Braun, Baumgarten, Carpzov, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Huët, Böhme, Stuart, Kuinoel, Paulus, Klee, Bleek, Stein, Bloomfield, Ebraid, Bisping, Kurtz, Hofmann, Woerner, and others. Only the opinion first mentioned is the correct one. Against it, indeed, the objection appears to be not without weight, that Exodus 2:14 a φοβηθῆναι of Moses is spoken of, whereas here, by means of μὴ φοβηθεὶς κ.τ.λ., the opposite is asserted. But the contradiction is only an apparent one. For in the account of Exodus a fear on the part of Moses is mentioned only in the objective relation, whereas the fearlessness, which the author of our epistle intends, belongs purely to the subjective domain. Moses was alarmed that, contrary to his expectation, the slaying of the Egyptian had already become known, and apprehended as a consequence being exposed to the vengeance of the king, if the latter should obtain possession of him. On this very account also he took steps for the saving of his life, in that he withdrew by flight from the territory of Pharaoh. With this fact, however, it was perfectly reconcilable that in the consciousness of being chosen to be the deliverer of his people, and in the confidence in God, in whose hand alone he stood, he felt himself inwardly, or in his frame of mind, raised above all fear at the wrath of an earthly king. There is therefore no need of the concession (de Wette), that the author of the epistle, when he wrote down his μὴ φοβηθείς, did not remember the words ἐφοβήθη δὲ Μωϋσῆς, Exodus 2:14. But just as little is it permissible, with Delitzsch, to press the expression κατέλιπεν, chosen by the author, and to assert that καταλιπεῖν expresses the repairing hence without fear, whereas φυγεῖν would denote the repairing hence from fear. The author might also have written without difference of signification—what is denied by Delitzsch
πίστει ἔφυγεν εἰς γῆν Μαδιάμ, μὴ φοβηθεὶς τὸν θυμὸν τοῦ βασιλέως.
The referring, on the other hand, of the statement, Hebrews 11:27, to the leading forth of the whole people, is shown to be entirely inadmissible—(1) from the consideration that, in the chronological order which the author pursues in the enumeration of his models of faith, the departure of Israel from Egypt could not have been mentioned before the fact on which he dwells in Hebrews 11:28, but only after the same; (2) that to the departure of the people out of Egypt the expression κατέλιπεν (sc. Μωϊσῆς) Αἴγυπτον is unsuitable; (3) finally, that according to Exodus 12:31 that departure was commanded by Pharaoh himself; in connection with the departure, therefore, any fear whatever at the wrath of the king could not arise.
τὸν γὰρ ἀόρατον ὡς ὁρῶν ἐκαρτέρησεν] for having the invisible (God) as it were before his eyes, he was strong and courageous. τὸν ἀόρατον ὡς ὁρῶν belongs together, and τὸν ἀόρατον stands absolutely, without, what is thought most probable by Böhme, as also Delitzsch and Hofmann, our having to supplement βασιλία to the same. Contrary to linguistic usage, Luther, Bengel, Schulz, Paulus, Stengel (wavering), Ebrard combine τὸν ἀόρατον with ἐκαρτέρησεν: he held firmly to the invisible one as though seeing Him; according to Ebrard, καρτερεῖν τινα signifies: “to comport oneself stedfastly in regard to some one” (!), and the expression of our passage is supposed to acquire a pregnancy in the sense of τὸν ἀόρατον τιμῶν ἐκαρτέρησεν(!). καρτερεῖν τι can only denote: stedfastly to bear or undergo something; καρτερεῖν τινα, however, cannot be used in Greek.27. By faith he forsook Egypt] This must allude to the Exodus, not to the flight of Moses into Midian. On the latter occasion, he distinctly did “fear the wrath of the king” (Exodus 2:14-15). It is true that for the moment Pharaoh and the Egyptians pressed the Israelites to depart, but it was only in fear and anger, and Moses foresaw the immediate pursuit.
he endured, as seeing] The words have also been rendered, but less correctly, “He was stedfast towards Him who is invisible, as if seeing Him.”
him who is invisible] “The blessed and only Potentate … whom no man hath seen, nor can see” (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Perhaps we should render it “the King Invisible,” understanding the word βασιλέα, and so emphasizing the contrast between the fear of God and the consequent fearless attitude towards Pharaoh.Hebrews 11:27. Μὴ φοβηθεὶς, not dreading) He was indeed afraid, Exodus 2:14; and yet he did not dread. Either of these is distinctly known by its effect. He was afraid, and fled: he did not dread, and entirely disregarded, the view which the king might take either of the slaughter of the Egyptian or of his own flight. This was the attribute of faith, which afterwards enabled him firmly to withstand the king.—τὸν ἀόρατον) the invisible One, GOD.—ἐκαρτέρησε, he endured) steadily, with expectation, by the strength of faith. Hesychius: ἐκαραδόκουν, ἐκαρτέρουν, ἐπετήρουν.Verse 27. - By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. This forsaking of Egypt must, because of the order in which it comes and of Moses alone being mentioned, be his flight related in Exodus 2:15, not the final Exodus. The only seeming difficulty is in the expression, "not fearing the wrath of the king," whereas in the history Moses is represented as flying in fear from the face of Pharaoh, who sought to slay him. But the two views of his attitude of mind are reconcilable. The assertion of his fearlessness applies to his whole course of action from the time when he elected to brave the king in behalf of Israel. In pursuance of this course, it became necessary for him to leave Egypt for a time. In this, as well as in staying, there was danger; for the king might pursue him: he might, perhaps, have secured his own safety by returning to the court and giving up his project; but he persevered at all hazards. And thus the apprehension of immediate danger under which he fled the country with a view to final success, was in no contradiction to his general fearlessness. Further, his being content to leave Egypt at all, and that for so many years, and still never relinquishing his design, was an additional evidence of faith, as is expressed by the word ἐκαρτέρησε, "he endured." The vision through faith of the unseen heavenly King kept alive his hope through those long years of exile: what was any possible wrath even of the terrible Pharaoh to one supported by that continual vision?
After he had killed the Egyptian, Exodus 2:15. Not in the general exodus. The historical order of events is preserved: the flight to Midian, the Passover, the Exodus, the passage of the Red Sea.
The wrath (τὸν θυμὸν)
Only here in Hebrews. See on John 3:36.
He endured (ἐκαρτέρησεν)
N.T.o. Occasionally in lxx. Often in Class. He was stanch and steadfast.
As seeing him who is invisible (τὸν ἀόρατον ὡς ὁρῶν)
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