Hebrews 11:32
And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
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(32) The sacred writer has lingered over the life and deeds of the greatest of the patriarchs and of Moses the legislator of the nation: two examples only—differing in kind from those which have preceded, and peculiarly suggestive and important—have been taken from the history of the people after the death of Moses. Enough has now been said to guide all who are willing to search the Scriptures for themselves. With a brief mention of names which would call up before the minds of his readers achievements almost as wonderful as those on which he has been dwelling, he passes from the elders who received witness from God by their faith, and (Hebrews 11:33-38) speaks in general terms, but all the more distinctly, of the triumphs which faith has won.

The time would fail me.—The slight changes of text required by our best evidence give increased vividness: For the time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah. To the exploits of Barak (Judges 4, 5), Gideon (Judges 6-8), Samson (Judges 13-16), Jephthah (Judges 11, 12), there is manifest reference in the words of later verses (Hebrews 11:33-34). There seems to be no design in this arrangement of the names. In the following clause also, “of David and Samuel and the prophets,” there is a similar departure from the order of time.

Hebrews 11:32. And what shall I more say — On this copious, this inexhaustible subject? For the time would fail me — If I should attempt to discourse at large; of Gideon — Who with a small band of men cut off so many thousands of the Midianites; and Barak — Who, through faith in the prophecy of Deborah, freed Israel from the oppression of Jabin, and routed Sisera his general; and Samson — Who, through faith in the power of God, slew so many thousands of the Philistines with the jaw-bone of an ass, and performed many other astonishing achievements; and of Jephthae — Who, through believing God’s promise to Abraham, that his posterity should possess the land of Canaan, (see Jdg 11:24,) and through obeying the divine impulse, which moved him to fight against the Ammonites, obtained a great victory over these enemies of God’s people. Of David also — Whose faith was manifested, as in his many other heroic acts, so especially in his combat with Goliath: and even of Samuel — Who, though a prophet and a judge, yet led on the armies of the Lord on a remarkable occasion, to an illustrious victory: and of the prophets — After Samuel, the prophets are properly mentioned: David also was a prophet, but he was a king too. By the prophets he especially intended Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, &c., including likewise the believers who lived in their days.

11:32-38 After all our searches into the Scriptures, there is more to be learned from them. We should be pleased to think, how great the number of believers was under the Old Testament, and how strong their faith, though the objects of it were not then so fully made known as now. And we should lament that now, in gospel times, when the rule of faith is more clear and perfect, the number of believers should be so small, and their faith so weak. It is the excellence of the grace of faith, that, while it helps men to do great things, like Gideon, it keeps from high and great thoughts of themselves. Faith, like Barak's, has recourse unto God in all dangers and difficulties, and then makes grateful returns to God for all mercies and deliverances. By faith, the servants of God shall overcome even the roaring lion that goeth about seeking whom he may devour. The believer's faith endures to the end, and, in dying, gives him victory over death and all his deadly enemies, like Samson. The grace of God often fixes upon very undeserving and ill-deserving persons, to do great things for them and by them. But the grace of faith, wherever it is, will put men upon acknowledging God in all their ways, as Jephthah. It will make men bold and courageous in a good cause. Few ever met with greater trials, few ever showed more lively faith, than David, and he has left a testimony as to the trials and acts of faith, in the book of Psalms, which has been, and ever will be, of great value to the people of God. Those are likely to grow up to be distinguished for faith, who begin betimes, like Samuel, to exercise it. And faith will enable a man to serve God and his generation, in whatever way he may be employed. The interests and powers of kings and kingdoms, are often opposed to God and his people; but God can easily subdue all that set themselves against him. It is a greater honour and happiness to work righteousness than to work miracles. By faith we have comfort of the promises; and by faith we are prepared to wait for the promises, and in due time to receive them. And though we do not hope to have our dead relatives or friends restored to life in this world, yet faith will support under the loss of them, and direct to the hope of a better resurrection. Shall we be most amazed at the wickedness of human nature, that it is capable of such awful cruelties to fellow-creatures, or at the excellence of Divine grace, that is able to bear up the faithful under such cruelties, and to carry them safely through all? What a difference between God's judgement of a saint, and man's judgment! The world is not worthy of those scorned, persecuted saints, whom their persecutors reckon unworthy to live. They are not worthy of their company, example, counsel, or other benefits. For they know not what a saint is, nor the worth of a saint, nor how to use him; they hate, and drive such away, as they do the offer of Christ and his grace.And what shall I more say? - There are numerous other instances showing the strength of faith which there is not time to mention.

For the time would fail me to tell - To recount all that they did; all the illustrations of the strength and power of faith evinced in their lives.

Of Gedeon - The history of Gideon is detailed at length in Judges 6-7, and there can be no doubt that in his wars he was sustained and animated by strong confidence in God.

And of Barak - Judges 4. Barak, at the command of Deborah the prophetess, who summoned him to war in the name of the Lord, encountered and overthrew the hosts of Sisera. His yielding to her summons, and his valour in battle against the enemies of the Lord, showed that he was animated by faith.

And of Samson - see the history of Samson in Judges 14-16. It is not by any means necessary to suppose that in making mention of Samson, the apostle approved of all that he did. All that he commands is his faith, and though he was a very imperfect man, and there were many things in his life which neither sound morality nor religion can approve, yet it was still true that he evinced, on some occasions, remarkable confidence in God, by relying on the strength which he gave him. This was particularly true in the instance where he made a great slaughter of the enemies of the Lord, and of his country; see Judges 15:16; Judges 16:30.

And of Jephthae - The story of Jephtha is recorded in Judges 11. The mention of his name among those who were distinguished for faith, has given occasion to much perplexity among expositors. That a man of so harsh and severe a character, a man who sacrificed his own daughter, in consequence of a rash vow, should be numbered among those who were eminent for piety, as if he were one distinguished for piety also, has seemed to be wholly inconsistent and improper. The same remark, however, may be made respecting Jephtha which has been made of Samson and others. The apostle does not commend all which they did. He does not deny that they were very imperfect men, nor that they did many things which cannot be approved or vindicated. He commends only one thing - their faith; and in these instances he particularly alludes, doubtless, to their remarkable valour and success in delivering their country from their foes and from the foes of God. In this it is implied that they regarded themselves as called to this work by the Lord, and as engaged in his service; and that they went forth to battle, depending on his protection and nerved by confidence in him as the God of their country.

Their views of God himself might be very erroneous; their notions of religion - as was the case with Jephtha - very imperfect and obscure; many things in their lives might be wholly inconsistent with what we should now regard as demanded by religion, and still it might be true that in their efforts to deliver their country, they relied on the aid of God, and were animated to put forth extraordinary efforts, and were favoured with extraordinary success from their confidence in him. In the case of Jephtha, all that it is necessary to suppose, in order to see the force of the illustration of the apostle is, that he had strong confidence in God - the God of his nation, and that, under the influence of this, he made extraordinary efforts in repelling his foes. And this is not unnatural or improbable, even on the supposition that he was not a pious man. How many a Greek, and Roman, and Goth, and Muslim, has been animated' to extraordinary courage in battle, by confidence in the gods which they worshipped! That Jephtha had this, no one can doubt; see Judges 11:29-32.

(It is not likely that Jephtha's faith would have found a record here, had it been of no higher kind than this. Peirce admits his unnatural crime, but supposes him to have repented. "It must be owned," says he, "that if Jephtha had not repented of this very heinous wickedness, he could not have been entitled to salvation. The apostle, therefore, who has assured us of his salvation, must undoubtedly have gone upon the supposition that Jephtha actually repented of it before he died. That he had time to repent is beyond dispute, because he lived near six years after this. For it is expressly said he judged Israel six years, Judges 12:7, and it is as certain he made this vow in the beginning of his government. What evidence the apostle had of Jephtha's repentance I cannot say. He might know it by the help of old Jewish histories, or by inspiration.")

Even in the great and improper sacrifice of his only daughter which the obvious interpretation of the record respecting him in Judges 11:39, leads us to suppose he made, he did it as an offering to the Lord, and under these mistaken views of duty, he showed by the greatest sacrifice which a man could make - that of an only child that he was disposed to do what he believed was required by religion. A full examination of the case of Jephtha, and of the question whether he really sacrificed his daughter, may be found in Warburton's Divine Legation of Moses, book 9, notes, in Bush's Notes on Judges 11; and in the Biblical Repository for January 1843. It is not necessary to go into the much litigated inquiry here whether he really put his daughter to death, for whether he did or not, it is equally true that he evinced strong confidence in God. If he did do it, in obedience as he supposed to duty and to the divine command, no higher instance of faith in God as having a right to dispose of all that he had, could be furnished; if he did not, his eminent valour and success in battle show that he relied for strength and victory on the arm of Yahweh. The single reason why the piety of Jephtha has ever been called in question has been the fact that he sacrificed his own daughter. If he did not do that, no one will doubt his claims to an honored rank among those who have evinced faith in God.

Of David also - Commended justly as an eminent example of a man who had faith in, God, though it cannot be supposed that all that he did was approved.

And Samuel - In early youth distinguished for his piety, and manifesting it through his life; see 1Sam.

And of the prophets - They were men who had strong confidence in the truth of what God directed them to foretell, and who were ever ready, depending on him, to make known the most unwelcome truths to their fellow man, even at the peril of their lives.

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.

And what shall I more say? Here the Spirit puts a period to the induction by an expostulation, as if he had said: Why do I speak of so many examples of faith? the Old Testament is full of them; but here is proof enough, I will say no more.

For the time would fail me to tell, &c.; for time of life and writing would be sooner gone, than a full account can be given of all the notable effects of faith by all these worthies who might be named; yet he would give some general hints of persons, and of the works of faith, which he judgeth sufficient, and so nameth promiscuously, and not in order of time wherein they existed. He nameth four judges, one king, and one prophet, and extraordinary prophets in a bulk, whose histories you have; of

Gideon, Judges 6:11, &c., Barak, Judges 4:5, &c., Samson, Judges 13:1-16:31, Jephthah, Judges 11:1-12:15, David’s history and Samuel’s in the First and Second Books of Samuel, and the First of Chronicles; the excellent exploits of whose faith are, as their names, enumerated promiscuously; some of them agreeing to particular persons, others to them all.

And what shall I more say,.... Intimating he had said enough to prove the definition of faith he had given; and that the elders, by it, had obtained a good report; and yet he had not said all he could; and that he had so much to say, that he could not say all:

for the time would fail me; either the time of life, and so it is an hyperbolical expression; or the time convenient for the writing this epistle; to enumerate all the instances of faith, and enlarge upon them, would take up too much of his time, and make the epistle prolix and tedious: this form of speech is often used by Philo the Jew (u), and by Julian the emperor (w). It may be observed, that many, who are not mentioned by name, do not stand excluded from being believers; and that the number of believers, under the Old Testament, was very large:

to tell of Gedeon; so Gideon is called in the Septuagint version of Judges 6:11 and other places; and by Josephus (x), and Philo (y) the Jew, as here: he was a man, but of a mean extract, and had his infirmities; and even in the exercise of that particular grace, for which he is mentioned; but was, no doubt, a good man, and is commended for his faith; which appeared in ascribing former mercies and present afflictions to the Lord; in destroying the altar of Baal; in crediting the word of the Lord, that Israel should be saved by him; which he showed by the preparation he made, and in marching against a numerous army, with only three hundred men, and they but weak: all which may be seen in the book of Judges, Judges 6:1 and

of Barak; who was before Gideon, as Jephthah was before Samson, and Samuel before David; for the apostle does not observe strict order, reciting these in haste. Barak, when the word of the Lord came to him, showed some diffidence, yet acted in obedience to it, under the sole direction and counsel of a woman; he engaged Sisera's vast army with a small number, and gave the glory of the victory to the Lord, Judges 4:1.

and of Samson: who was a child of promise, and devoted to the Lord; he was famous for his great strength; he had his infirmities, but was, without doubt, a good man: the last act of his life seems to be a great instance of faith; he did it with calling upon the Lord; he was strengthened for it by the Lord; he acted, not as a private person, but as the judge of Israel; nor did he act from private revenge, but from zeal for God, and love to his country; and his intention was not to destroy himself, but his enemies; in which he acted as a type of Christ:

and of Jephthah; the Syriac version calls him "Nepthe", and the Arabic version "Naphtah"; he was base born; and, for a time, joined himself to vain men, but became a believer; and is marked for his faith, in ascribing the conquests of Israel in the wilderness to the Lord; in fighting with the Ammonites, whom he conquered; and in his conscientiousness, in observing his vow, Judges 11:30.

of David also; a man after God's own heart, raised up to fulfil his will; whose faith appeared in his dependence on God, when he fought with Goliath; in encouraging himself in the Lord his God, when in exile and distress; and in believing his interest in the covenant of grace, when his house and family were in a disagreeable situation, and he just going out of the world:

and Samuel; a child of prayer, and early devoted to the Lord, who ministered to him, when a child; was always ready to hearken to his voice; was used very familiarly by him, and behaved with great uprightness, all his days; and had a good report of God and man:

and of the prophets; from Samuel to John the Baptist, who were famous for their trust in God, their faith in the Messiah, and for their honourable walk and conversation.

(u) De Creat. Princip. p. 735. Merced. Meret. p. 863. De Legat. ad Caium, p. 1037. De Somniis, p. 1116. (w) Orat l. p. 50, 62, 75. (x) Antiqu. Jud. l. 5. c. 6. sect. 2. &c. (y) De Confusione Ling. p. 339.

{15} And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

(15) Gideon, Barak and other judges and prophets.

Hebrews 11:32. Καὶ τί ἔτι λέγω;] And to what end do I still speak? i.e. what need is there yet, after that which has already been mentioned, of a further description in detail? and what end can it serve, since, considering the abundance of the historic material, an exhaustive presentation is surely impossible?

λέγω] is indicative. See Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 267.

ἐπιλείπειν] only here in the N. T.

ἐπιλείψει με γὰρ διηγούμενου ὁ χρόνος περὶ Γεδεὼν κ.τ.λ.] for the time will not suffice me for relating of Gideon, etc. Comp. Demosth. de Corona, ed. Reisk. p. 324: ἐπιλείψει με λέγοντα ἡ ἡμέρα τὰ τῶν προδοτῶν ὀνόματα; Julian. Orat. 1, p. 341 B: ἐπιλείψει με τἀκείνον διηγούμενον ὁ χρόνος. Parallel is also the Latin: deficit me dies, tempus, e.g. Liv. 28:41: Dies me deficiat, si … numerare velim; Cic. Proverbs Rosc. Amer. c. 32, init.: tempus, hercule, te citius, quam oratio deficeret. Further instances (also from Philo) see in Wetstein and Bleek.

ὁ χρόνος] Oecumenius: ὁ χρόνος ὁ τῇ ἐπιστολῇ, φησίν, ἁρμόδιος καὶ οἷον ἡ συμμετρία; Theophylact: ποῖος; ἢ ὁ πᾶς· εἴρηται δὲ τοῦτο, ὡς σύνηθες ἡμῖν λέγειν, ὑπερβολικῶς· ἢ ὁ τῇ· ἐπιστολῇ σύμμετρος.

περὶ Γεδεὼν καὶ Βαρὰκ κ.τ.λ.] of Gideon, as well as of Barak, etc. That here too, in connection with the correct text, the regard to chronology is not lost sight of, see in the critical remark.

On Gideon, comp. Judges 6-8; on Barak, Judges 4, 5; on Samson, Judges 13-14; on Jephthah, Jdg 11:1 to Jdg 12:7.

The last double member is yet enlarged by the addition καὶ τῶν προφητῶν to Σαμουήλ, because Samuel opened the series of the prophets; cf. Acts 3:24.

Hebrews 11:32-40. On account of the multitude of models of faith which are still to be found in the O. T., the author must abandon the attempt of presenting them singly to the readers. He relinquishes, therefore, the previous description in detail, and briefly sums up that to which he could further call attention. He mentions first, at Hebrews 11:32, another series of heroes of the faith; and then portrays in general rubrics their deeds of faith, and that in such form that Hebrews 11:33ἄλλοι, Hebrews 11:35, deeds of victorious faith are brought into relief, and thence to the end of Hebrews 11:38 deeds of suffering faith.

Hebrews 11:32-40. Summary of the achievements of faith in the times subsequent to Joshua.

32. the time would fail me] The phrase is also found in Philo, De Somniis. The names of “the heroes of faith” here mentioned are drawn from the Books of Judges and Samuel, with a reference to the Books of Kings and Chronicles, and what is known of the history of the Prophets. There does not seem to be any special design in the arrangement of the pairs of names, though it is a curious circumstance that, in each pair, the hero who came earlier in time is placed after the other. In 32–34 we have instances of active, and in 35–38 of passive faith.

Hebrews 11:32. Περὶ, concerning) Συναθροισμὸς and a remarkable congeries,[71] first Subjects, then Predicates.—Γεδεὼν, κ.τ.λ.) The order of time is Barak, Gideon, Jephthah, Samson, Samuel, David, the prophets; and the reason of the change may be gathered from the note on the following verse. The Greek orthography is the same as in the LXX., יפתח, Ἰεφθάε, ε for χ, as in Νῶε.—Σαμουὴλ, Samuel) The mention of the prophets is properly put after Samuel. David was also a prophet; but Samuel was a prophet, not a king.—τῶν προφητῶν, of the prophets) Elijah, Isaiah, etc. Other believers are also intended, who were in any way connected with the prophets.

[71] Congeries, when several words, signifying things differing in species, are brought together in one heap or accumulation. See Append, on Symperasma.—ED.

Verses 32-34. - And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak and Samson and Jephthah; and of David and Samuel and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the months of lions, quenched the power (δύναμιν) of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight (literally, were made strong in war), turned to flight armies of aliens. The names thus mentioned are meant as prominent specimens of the long array of Israel's heroes to the end of the sacred history, though, for the avoidance of prolixity, the list is not continued beyond the foundation of the kingdom under David and Samuel. Among the judges, Gideon is mentioned first, though he came after Barak, probably as being the most famous hero, as well as more remarkable in the history for faith and heroism. "The day of Midian" is referred to by Isaiah (Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 10:26) as the memorable triumph of ancient days. Hence (the arrangement of the τες and και of the Textus Receptus being retained) Gideon is first mentioned singly, and is succeeded by two groups - viz. Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, representing the period of the judges generally; then David and Samuel, representing that of the kings and prophets. The deeds enumerated in the following verses need not be appropriated exclusively to particular heroes, but may be rather taken as denoting generally the kind of exploits by which faith was evidenced throughout the history. Some, however, seem to have special references, as the stopping of lions' mouths, and quenching the power of fire, to the incidents recorded in the Book of Daniel. "Escaped the edge of the sword," though peculiarly applicable to Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 19:10, 14, "have slain thy prophets with the sword, and I, even I, only am left," etc.), has, of course, many other applications. Some see in "out of weakness were made strong" a special allusion to Samson's recovery of his strength, but it is better taken in general reference to the frequent instances of the weak things of this world being enabled through faith to confound the strong, and the few to prevail against the many. Numerous expressions to this effect in the Psalms, when the psalmist rises out of the depths of humiliation and weakness into confident reliance on Divine aid, will suggest themselves at once; and the instances of Gideon, Jonathan, David, and others, will occur readily to the mind. In the four concluding clauses of ver. 34, Delitzsch supposes the Maccabean heroes to be specifically alluded to - partly because of the word παρεμβολὴ being used here, as it is also frequently in 1 Maccabees, in the sense of "encamped army," instead of its proper and usual one of "camp" as in Hebrews 13:11, 13 (cf. Acts 21:10; Acts 23:10) This coincidence of usage does add to the probability that the Maccabean history, to which all the expressions are very suitable, was at any rate included in the writer's view. But in the history of Gideon too (Judges 7:2) the LXX. has παρεμβολὴ for the host encamped; καὶ ἔδραμεν πᾶσα ἡ παρεμβολὴ. Allusion to Maccabees is more distinctly evident; in ver. 35, as will be seen. The expression, "obtained promises (ἐπέτυχον ἐπαγγελιῶν)," surely expresses having promises fulfilled to them, not merely having promise made to them. "Promises" being in the plural, and without an article, so as to include all prophetic promises even of a temporal character, such as that to David that he should reign instead of Saul, - there is no need here to reconcile the assertion with that of ver. 39, "received not the promise (οὐκ ἐκομίσαντο τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν);" on which expression, however, see below. Hebrews 11:32To tell (διηγούμενον)

Lit. the time will fail me telling: if I tell. See on Mark 9:9, and comp. Mark 5:16; Luke 8:39; Luke 9:10; Acts 9:27, and διήγησις narrative (A.V. declaration), Luke 1:1. Gideon, etc. These names of the four judges are not enumerated in chronological order. Samuel is closely connected with David as in the history, but with τε καὶ as introducing the new order of the prophets.

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