Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Through faith he kept.—Rather, By faith he hath kept (see Hebrews 11:17). The celebration of the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood were acts of obedience, having reference to a danger as yet un seen, but present in God’s word (Exodus 12:12).Hebrews 11:28-29. Through faith — From a lively apprehension and firm persuasion of the benefits signified and sealed thereby, and especially that God would assuredly send his angel on the vindictive design predicted, and would spare the houses properly distinguished; see Exodus 12:12; Exodus 12:23; he kept the passover and the sprinkling — Or pouring forth, rather; of blood — Namely, that of the paschal lamb, which he sprinkled on the lintels and the posts of the doors, as the mark of committing those who dwelt under such roofs to the divine protection; that he who destroyed the firstborn — That is, the angel, whom God employed in that work as the executioner of his judgments, as he did afterward in the destruction of Sennacherib’s army, and of Sodom; should not touch them — That is, the Israelites or their cattle. By faith they — Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites; passed through the Red sea — That part of the Ethiopic ocean which lies between Egypt and Arabia. In the Hebrew it is constantly called ים שׂוŠ, the sea of sedges, reeds or canes, from the multitude growing on its shore, as to this day. The Greeks called it ερυθραιος, or ερυθρα, red, not from the red colour of the waters, appearing so from the sand or the sun, but because it washed the borders of Edom, which signifies red: as by dry land — As sedately as if they had marched on dry land, while its waters, by the divine command, divided and left the channel bare to them, so that they easily completed their march through it, and arrived safely on the opposite shore: which the Egyptians, assaying to do, were destroyed — Κατεποθησαν, were drowned, swallowed up. This attempt of the Egyptians was the greatest height of folly and presumption that ever obdurate sinners arrived at in this world. They had seen all the mighty works which God had wrought in behalf of his people among them; they and their country were almost consumed with the plagues and judgments that were inflicted on them; and yet now, beholding this wonderful work of God in opening the sea to receive his people from their pursuit, they would make a venture, (as the original expression, πειραν λαβοντες, signifies,) to follow them into it. Vain and desperate attempt! and a high evidence of infatuation! It is one of the most signal examples of blindness of mind, confirmed by judicial hardness of heart, that is upon record in the whole book of God; nor is there any monument of equal folly and infatuation among the annals of time. Thus far the examples are cited from Genesis and Exodus; those that follow are from the former and the latter prophets.Matthew 26:2.
And the sprinkling of blood - The blood of the paschal lamb on the lintels and door-posts of the houses; Exodus 12:22.
Lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them - The first-born of the Egyptians; Exodus 12:23. The apostle has thus enumerated some of the things which illustrated the faith of Moses. The strength of his faith may be seen by a reference to some of the circumstances which characterized it.
(1) it was such confidence in God as to lead him to forsake the most flattering prospects of worldly enjoyment. I see no evidence, indeed, that he was the heir to the throne; but he was evidently heir to great wealth; he was encompassed with all the means of worldly pleasure; he had every opportunity for a life of literary and scientific pursuits; he was eligible to high and important trusts; he had a rank and station which would be regarded as one of the most honored and enviable on earth. None of those who are mentioned before in this chapter were required to make just such sacrifices as this. Neither Abel, nor Noah, nor Enoch, was called to forsake so brilliant worldly prospects; and though Abraham was called to a higher act of faith when commanded to give up his beloved son, yet there were some circumstances of trial in the case of Moses illustrating the nature of faith which did not exist in the case of Abraham. Moses, in the maturity of life, and with everything around him that is usually regarded by people as objects of ambition, was ready to forego it all. So wherever true faith exists, there is a readiness to abandon the hope of gain, and brilliant prospects of distinction, and fascinating pleasures, in obedience to the command of God.
(2) Moses entered on an undertaking wholly beyond the power of man to accomplish, and against every human probability of success. It was no less than that of restoring to freedom two millions of down-trodden, oppressed, and dispirited. slaves, and conducting aged and feeble men, tender females, helpless children, with numerous flocks and herds, across barren wastes to a distant land. He undertook this against the power of probably the most mighty monarch of his time; from the midst of a warlike nation; and when the whole nation would be kindled into rage at the loss of so many slaves, and when he might expect that all the power of their wrath would descend on him and his undisciplined and feeble hosts. He did this when he had no wealth that he could employ to furnish provisions or the means of defense; no armies at his command to encircle his people on their march; and even no influence among the people himself, and with every probability that they would disregard him; compare Exodus 3:11; Exodus 4:1. He did this when the whole Hebrew people were to be aroused to willingness to enter on the great undertaking; when there was every probability that they would meet with formidable enemies in the way, and when there was nothing human whatever on which the mind could fix as a basis of calculation of success. If there ever was any undertaking commenced opposed to every human probability of success, it was that of delivering the Hebrew people and conducting them to the promised land. To human view it was quite as hopeless and impracticable as it would be now for a stranger from Africa, claiming to be a native prince there, and to have a commission from God to liberate the two and a half millions of slaves in the U. States and conduct them to the land of their fathers. In all the difficulties and discouragements of the undertaking of Moses, therefore, his only hope of success must have arisen from his confidence in God.
(3) it was an undertaking where there were many certain trials before him. The people whom he sought to deliver were poor and oppressed. An attempt to rescue them would bring down the wrath of the mighty monarch under whom they were. They were a people unaccustomed to self-government, and as the result proved, prone to ingratitude and rebellion. The journey before him lay through a dreary waste, where there was every prospect that there would be a want of food and water, and where he might expect to meet with formidable enemies. In all these things his only hope must have been in God. It was he only who could deliver them from the grasp of the tyrant; who could conduct them through the wilderness, who could provide for their wants in the desert; and who could defend a vast multitude of women and children from the enemies which they would be likely to encounter.
(4) there was nothing in this to gratify ambition, or to promise an earthly reward. All these prospects he gave up when he left the court of Pharaoh. To be the leader of a company of emancipated slaves through a pathless desert to a distant land, had nothing in itself that could gratify the ambition of one who had been bred at the most magnificent court on earth, and who had enjoyed every advantage which the age afforded to qualify him to fill any exalted office. The result showed that Moses never designed to be himself the king of the people whom he led forth, and that he had no intention of aggrandizing his own family in the case.
the first-born—Greek neuter; both of man and beast.Through faith he kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood: this Divine faith influenced him in all his work about God’s ordinances, receiving the law about them from God’s mouth, and obeying it. By it he made the Passover, i.e. as God’s instrument, he instituted it, and put it into being, Exodus 12:21; he celebrated and solemnly managed in each particular, and finished it, reaching the end of it according to God’s law in that behalf, 1 Corinthians 5:7. Here he saw Christ, and testified of him, the true paschal Lamb of God; by whom God’s wrath passed over the children of Israel, when it rested upon the Egyptians, Exodus 12:21, &c.
By faith he took a bunch of hyssop, and dipped it in the blood of the paschal lamb, and struck the lintel and two side posts of the doors with the blood, Exodus 12:22. He used it as a signal of God’s sparing Israel, and passing over their houses by his angel, Hebrews 12:23; and he saw in it the true blood of sprinkling, of Christ our Passover, which saveth souls from the destroyer, John 5:46, and brings them out of the Egypt of this world into the heavenly Canaan.
Lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them: the end of both these was, that the destroying angel, who slew the first-born of the Egyptians, might not touch an Israelite, Exodus 12:29,30. Under all this, faith evidenced to Moses God’s faithfulness in his promise, it ordered all his duty, and it realized to their hope in that time of danger, tbat God would save them, who were under that blood, working the assurance of it. 1 Corinthians 5:7. The Syriac version reads, "through faith they kept the passover"; that is, the Israelites:
and the sprinkling of blood; of the paschal lamb; which was received into a basin, and was sprinkled upon the lintel, and two side posts of the doors of the houses, in which the Israelites dwelt; which was done with a bunch of hyssop dipped into it:
lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them; for the Lord, seeing the blood sprinkled, as above, when he smote the firstborn of Egypt, passed by the houses of the Israelites, so distinguished; and they were all safe within, and not one of them touched: this was typical of the blood of Christ being sprinkled upon the hearts and consciences of his people; whereby they are purified through faith; which blood is looked upon by Jehovah, so that justice passes by them; and they are all safe and secure, and will be, when others are destroyed; nor can they be hurt by the second death.Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 11:28. Comp. Exodus 12
Πίστει] in believing confidence, sc. in the word of God, at whose command he acted, that the blood of the paschal lambs would become the means of delivering the Israelites.
πεποίηκεν τὸ πάσχα] he ordained the Passover. In the perfect there lies the characterization of the regulation then adopted as something still continuing in force even to the present. With the notion of the meet ordering of the Passover blends consequently the idea of the institution thereof; although it is true only τὸ πάσχα, not likewise the addition καὶ τὴν πρόσχυσιν τοῦ αἵματος, is suitable thereto.
καὶ τὴν πρόσχυσιν τοῦ αἵματος] and the affusion of the blood. What is intended is the sprinkling or anointing of the door-posts and lintels of the Israelite houses with the blood of the slain paschal lambs, enjoined by Moses at the command of God, Exodus 12:7; Exodus 12:22 f.
πρόσχυσις] in Holy Scripture only here.
ἵνα μὴ ὁ ὀλοθρεύων τὰ πρωτότοκα θίγῃ αὐτῶν] that the slayer of the first-born might not touch them. By ὁ ὀλοθρεύων, the destroyer, the LXX. at Exodus 12:23 have translated the Hebrew הַמַּשְׁחִית, the destruction, thinking in connection therewith of an angel of destruction sent forth by God. Comp. 1 Chronicles 21:12; 1 Chronicles 21:15 (ἄγγελος κυρίου ἐξολοθρεύων); 2 Chronicles 32:21; Sir 48:21; 1 Corinthians 10:10 (ὁ ὀλοθρευτής).
τὰ πρωτότοκα] Exodus 12:12 : πᾶν πρωτότοκον … ἀπὸ ἀνθρώπου ἕως κτήνους. Comp. ibid. Hebrews 11:29. We have to construe τὰ πρωτότοκα with ὁ ὀλοθρεύων, not, as Klee, Paulus, Ebrard, and Hofmann will, with θίγῃ, since the combination of θιγγάνειν with an accusative is not usual.
αὐτῶν] namely the Israelites. This reference of the αὐτῶν was self-evident from the connection, although the Israelites are not previously mentioned. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 138 f.28. Through faith] Rather, “by faith,” as before.
he kept the passover] Lit. “he hath made,” or “instituted.” Another of the author’s characteristic tenses (see Hebrews 11:17).
and the sprinkling of blood] Exodus 12:21-23. The “faith” consisted primarily in believing the promises and obeying the command of God, and secondarily, we may believe, in regarding the sprinkled blood as in some way typical of a better propitiation (Romans 3:25). The word for sprinkling is not rantismos, as in Hebrews 12:24, but πρόσχυσις, which is found here only (“effusion”), but is derived from the verb used in Leviticus 1:5 (LXX.).
he that destroyed] The term is derived from the LXX. The Hebrew (Exodus 12:23) has mashchîth “destruction.” Comp. 1 Chronicles 21:15; 2 Chronicles 32:21; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Sir 48:21.Hebrews 11:28. Πρόσχυσιν, sprinkling) זרק is often translated by the LXX. by προχέω. In Exodus 12 that word is not found.—ὁ ὀλοθρεύων, the Destroyer) So LXX., Exodus 12:23. He was undoubtedly a good angel. Comp. Acts 12:23, note.Verses 28, 29. - By faith he kept (literally, hath kept, πεποίηκεν, the perfect being used rather than the historical aorist, as denoting an accomplished act, with continuing effect and significance (cf. προσενήνοχεν, ver. 17). But πεποίηκεν does not mean, as some suppose, "hath instituted," ποιεῖν τὸ Πάσχα being the usual expression for the celebration) the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea, as by dry land; which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. The faith of Moses himself is still mainly intended here, though the conjunction of πίστει with διέβησαν seems to imply faith in the people too. Nor is this inconsistent with the narrative; for, though they are represented as having cried out in their sore fear, and even reproached their leader for bringing them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, yet on his exhortation, "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD," they may be supposed to have trusted him, and caught something of the inspiration of his faith. Moses, indeed, stands out as a prominent example (and this is one point in the moral teaching of his history) of the strong faith of one great man, not only availing in behalf of others, but also in some degree infecting a whole community, little disposed at first to make heroic ventures.
Rend. "hath instituted the passover." The perfect tense indicates the continued significance of the service down to the time of writing. The phrase ποιεῖν τὸ πάσχα on N.T. only here and Matthew 26:18. The usual N.T. phrase is φαγεῖν τὸ πάσχα to eat the Passover. See Matthew 26:17; Mark 14:12; Luke 22:11. Ποιεῖν τὸ πάσχα unquestionably means to keep or celebrate the Passover, as Matthew 26:18; Exodus 12:48; Numbers 9:2, Numbers 9:4, Numbers 9:6, Numbers 9:10, Numbers 9:13; Deuteronomy 16:1 : but the verb is elastic. The corresponding Hebrew verb עָשָֽׂה, among other meanings, signifies to create (Genesis 1:7; Genesis 2:2); to establish (Ecclesiastes 2:5, Ecclesiastes 2:6, Ecclesiastes 2:8); to constitute (1 Kings 12:31, 1 Kings 12:32); to make ready or prepare (Judges 13:15; to prepare as a sacrifice (Psalm 66:15). In all these instances it is rendered in lxx by ποιεῖν. In N.T. we find ποιεῖν ἄριστον or δεῖπνον to prepare a breakfast or dinner. Accordingly ποιεῖν may properly be used here of the instituting of the Passover. Moreover the two following clauses clearly indicate that the writer is referring to the original institution.
The sprinkling of blood (τὴν πρόσχυσιν τοῦ αἵματος)
Πρόσχυσις affusion, N.T.o , olxx, oClass. From προσχεῖν to pour on. In the post-Exodus legislation the blood which, in the original institution, was sprinkled on the door-posts and lintels (Exodus 12:22), was thrown upon the altar (Deuteronomy 16:6), and προσχεῖν in lxx is used of this act almost without exception. See Exodus 24:6; Exodus 29:16; Leviticus 1:5, Leviticus 1:11; Leviticus 3:2, Leviticus 3:8, Leviticus 3:13, etc.
Lest he that destroyed the first-born should touch them (ἵνα μὴ ὁ ὀλοθρεύων τὰ πρωρότοκα θίγῃ αὐτῶν)
Rend. "that the destroyer of the first-born should not touch them," a rendering which brings out more sharply the preventive purpose of the sprinkling of blood. Ὀλοθρεύειν to destroy, N.T.o , oClass. Ὁ ὀλοθρεύων is used in the narrative of Exodus 12:23 for the destroying angel. The kindred noun ὀλοθρευτής destroyer (olxx, oClass.) occurs in 1 Corinthians 10:10 of the plague in Numbers 16:46-50. For θίγῃ should touch, see on Colossians 2:21.
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