Hebrews 11:34
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
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(34) The violence.—Rather, the power (Daniel 3.).

Escaped the edge of the sword.—Though it would not be difficult to trace the application of this and the following clauses to the heroes of Israel celebrated in the Old Testament history (the perils of David and Elijah and the “weakness” of Samson and Hezekiah will occur to the mind of all), it seems likely that the writer’s thought is resting mainly on the history of the Maccabæan times. That the following verse relates to narratives contained in the Second Book of Maccabees is generally acknowledged; and no words could more truly characterise the general contents of the First Book than those of the present verse.

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.Quenched the violence of fire - As Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did; Daniel 3:15-26. "Escaped the edge of the sword." As Elijah did when he fled from Ahab, 1 Kings 19:3; as Elijah did when he was delivered from the king of Syria, 2 Kings 6:16; and as David did when he fled from Saul.

Out of weakness were made strong - Enabled to perform exploits beyond their natural strength, or raised up from a state of physical infirmity, and invigorated for conflict. Such a case as that of Samson may be referred to, Judges 15:15; Judges 16:26-30; or as that of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 20 who was restored from dangerous sickness by the immediate interposition of God; see the notes on Isaiah 38.

Waxed valiant in fight - Became valiant. Like Joshua. Barak, David, etc. The books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings supply instances of this in abundance.

Turned to flight the armies of the aliens - The foreigners - as the invading Philistines, Ammonites, Moabites, Assyrians, etc.

34. Quenched the violence of fire—(Da 3:27). Not merely "quenched the fire," but "quenched the power (so the Greek) of the fire." Da 3:19-30 and 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 (Jud 12:3); and so David escaped Saul's sword (1Sa 18:11; 19:10, 12); Elijah (1Ki 19:1, &c.; 2Ki 6:14).

out of weakness … made strong—Samson (Jud 16:28; 15:19). Hezekiah (Isa 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 (Jud 4:14, 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 Jud 7:21. But the reference may be to the Maccabees having put to flight the Syrians and other foes.

Quenched the violence of fire: by the same faith others of the prophets, Hebrews 11:32, eminently acquainted with God, and partakers of his secret, who defying idolatry, and the threatenings of a tyrant, became confessors of the true God and his worship, and were adjudged to the fiery furnace, Daniel 3:19,23, and by faith were secured from being consumed by those flames, which in an instant destroyed those which threw them in, Hebrews 11:22-28. How did this fetch down the Son of God himself to accompany them, and to suspend the consuming power of the fire, so as it did not singe either their persons or garments, or to leave any scent of it upon them! And how did Moses’s and Aaron’s prayers extinguish the fire at Kibroth-hattaavah, and at Taberah! Numbers 11:1,3 16:22-45.

Escaped the edge of the sword: by faith these worthies, forementioned, Hebrews 11:32, were delivered, when others fell by the devouring sword, and all those instruments of war which were destructive to others. Their enemies fell by their swords in those many battles wherein they were engaged, fulfilling at that time God’s will, and trusting on his promise. And how many of the prophets hath God delivered from the swords of those who would have killed them!

Out of weakness were made strong; by faith many of those who had really natural infirmities, both of body and mind, had their tremblings and faintings of spirit, and were, in respect of their enemies, weak, few in number, short of them, as to force, power, and policy, yet by faith in God were made bold as lions, and had wonderful success against numerous and potent enemies, Judges 4:8 6:15,16 7:5,7,10 Jud 11:29 15:11,19 1 Samuel 7:9,10, &c.

Waxed valiant in fight; faith made those who were called to the war by God, mighty for that service, 2 Samuel 22:30-38, so as no perils could daunt them, no service was too hard for them. How victorious in the most desperate attempts, as to sense, did faith make them! Psalm 27:1,3.

Turned to flight the armies of the aliens; they overthrew the camps of adversaries. parembolh notes a single castle or tower, Acts 21:34, or a whole camp or place where an army is pitched, Hebrews 13:11,13; in the plural, many such tents where soldiers lie; and is metonymically read armies. To klinein, actively taken, is to make to lie down, or to throw down, as applied to tents and camps; to put to flight, as applied to armies; all which were those of the idolatrous enemies of the church, strangers to their country, and more to their God, as the army and camp of Midian, Judges 7:13-23, which were overturned, routed, and destroyed by them.

Quenched the violence of fire,.... Which may be said to be done, when a believer, or a righteous man, is delivered out of it, as Lot from Sodom, when God rained fire and brimstone on it; when, by prayer, it is stopped, as by Moses, at Taberah, Numbers 11:1 when persons are not hurt by it, as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, when cast into Nebuchadrezzar's fiery furnace; and many of the martyrs have triumphed in the flames: so believers are delivered out of the fire of afflictions, and are not consumed thereby; and quench the fiery darts of Satan, thrown at them; and are untouched by the fire of God's wrath, in every state and case; and shall not be hurt of the second death, which is a lake of fire, burning with brimstone.

Escaped the edge of the sword; and were not destroyed by it; as Lot, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, the Judges, David, Elijah, Elisha, and others.

Out of weakness were made strong; being recovered from bodily diseases, as David, Hezekiah, &c. by an increase of bodily strength, as Samson; by being filled with courage, and strength of mind; when before timorous, as Barak, &c. so believers, when they have been weak in the exercise of grace, have been made strong:

waxed valiant in fight; as Barak, Gideon, David, &c. so believers, in the spiritual fight of faith, have waxed valiant; being engaged in a good cause, and under a good Captain; being well provided with armour, and assured of victory, and a crown.

Turned to fight the armies of the aliens: such as the Canaanites, the Moabites, Ammonites, Philistines, and others; who were put to flight by Joshua, the Judges, David, and others.

Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Hebrews 11:34. Ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρός] Quenched the violence of fire (fire’s violence). Theophylact: οὐκ εἶπε δὲ ἔσβεσαν πῦρ ἀλλὰ δύναμιν πυρός, ὃ καὶ μεῖζον· ἐξαπτόμενον γὰρ ὅλως δύναμιν τοῦ καίειν οὐκ εἶχε κατʼ αὐτῶν. To be compared is the statement with regard to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the three companions of Daniel, Daniel 3. Comp. 1Ma 2:59 : Ἀνανίας, Ἀζαρίας, Μισαὴλ πιστεύσαντες ἐσώθησαν ἐκ φλογός.

ἔφυγον στόματα μαχαίρας] escaped the sword-points; e.g. David, comp. 1 Samuel 18:11; 1 Samuel 19:10; 1 Samuel 19:12; 1 Samuel 21:10; Elijah, comp. 1 Kings 19:1 ff.; Elisha, comp. 2 Kings 6:14 ff., 2 Kings 6:31 ff.

ἐνεδυναμώθησαν ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας] out of weakness were made strong. These words Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, and Theophylact refer to the strengthening of the whole people by liberation from the Babylonian captivity; Oecumenius, Theophylact, Calvin, Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Owen, Heinrichs, Huët, Böhme, Stuart, Stein, Tholuck, Ebrard, and the majority, partly exclusively, partly, among other things, to the recovery of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20.; Isaiah 38.); certainly more correct, however, Bengel, Chr. Fr. Schmid, Storr, Bleek, de Wette, Hofmann, to the reinvigoration of the weakened Samson (Jdg 16:28 ff.).

ἐγενήθησαν ἰσχυροὶ ἐν πολέμῳ] waxed valiant in battle. Theodoret καὶ οἱ προῤῥηθέντες καὶ οἱ τοῦ Ματταθίου παῖδες Ἰούδας καὶ Ἰωνάθης καὶ Σίμων. That the author was thinking of the Maccabees also, in particular, in addition to the judges and David, is certainly very probable.

παρεμβολὰς ἔκλιναν ἀλλοτρίων] Made armies of aliens flinch or give way. Theodoret: τὸ αὐτὸ διαφόρως εἴρηκεν.

παρεμβολή, as מַחֲנֶח, in the signification of army; likewise Jdg 4:16; Jdg 7:14; 1Ma 5:28; 1Ma 5:45, and frequently. With the Greeks this signification of the word is rare; comp., however, Aelian, Var. Hist. 14:46: Ἡνίκα δὲ ἔδει συμμίξαι, ἐνταῦθα οἱ μὲν κύνες προπηδῶντες ἐτάραττον τὴν παρεμβολήν.

κλίνειν, in the sense indicated, is found in Holy Scripture only here.

34. quenched the violence of fire] Daniel 3:25; 1Ma 2:59.

escaped the edge of the sword] David (1 Samuel 18:11; 1 Samuel 19:10, &c.), Elijah (1 Kings 19:2), Elisha (2 Kings 6:12-17; Jeremiah 26:24, &c.).

out of weakness were made strong] Hezekiah (2 Kings 20:5), Samson (Jdg 15:15; Jdg 16:28-30), David (1 Samuel 17:42; 1 Samuel 17:51, &c.).

turned to flight the armies of the aliens] This and the previous clause may refer specially to the Maccabees, though they also suit Joshua, the Judges, David, &c. The word used for “armies” (parembolas) is the word used for “camp” in Hebrews 13:11; Hebrews 13:13; Revelation 20:9. It has both senses in the LXX. (Jdg 4:16). The classic verb for “drove back” is found here only in the N.T. (klino).

Hebrews 11:34. Ἔκλιναν, drove back) by putting the enemy to flight, and by their slaughter of one another.—ἀλλοτρίων, of aliens) i.e. of enemies.

Hebrews 11:34Quenched the violence of fire (ἔσβεσαν δύναμιν πυρός)

Rend. "the power of fire." Reference to the three Hebrews, Daniel 3; comp. 1 Macc. 2:59.

Edge of the sword (στόματα μαχαίρης)

Lit. mouths of the sword. See on Hebrews 4:12. The plural edges indicates frequent assaults.

Out of weakness (ἀπὸ ἀσθενείας)

Rend. "from weakness." For the sense of ἀπὸ from, see Luke 5:15. The meaning is not confined to sickness, as in the case of Hezekiah (2 Kings 20; Isaiah 38). The main reference is probably to Samson, Judges 16:28 ff.

The armies of the aliens (παρεμβολὰς ἀλλοτρίων)

Omit both the's in translation. For παρεμβολὰς see on Acts 21:34. Very often in lxx. Aliens, foreign foes or invaders.

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