For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
For some valuable remarks on the nature of the reasoning here employed, see Stuart on the Hebrews; Excursus xiv. The reasoning here is, indeed, especially such as would be suited to impress a Jewish mind, and perhaps more forcibly than it does ours. The Jews valued themselves on the dignity and honor of the Levitical priesthood, and it was important to show them on their own principles, and according to their own sacred writings, that the great ancestor of all the Levitical community had himself acknowledged his inferiority to one who was declared also in their own writings Psalm 110:1-7 to be like the Messiah, or who was of the same "order." At the same time, the reasoning concedes nothing false; and conveys no wrong impression. It is not mere fancy or accommodation, nor is it framed on allegory or cabalistic principles. It is founded in truth, and such as might be used anywhere, where regard was shown to pedigree, or respect was claimed on account of the illustrious deeds of an ancestor. It would be regarded as sound reasoning in a country like England, where titles and ranks are recognized, and where various orders of nobility exist. The fact that a remote ancestor had done homage or fealty to the ancestor of another class of titled birth, would be regarded as proof of acknowledged inferiority in the family, and might be used with force and propriety in an argument. Paul has done no more than this.
(Several excellent and evangelical commentators explain the passage on the principle of representations, the admission of which relieves it from many difficulties. If we allow that Abraham was the representative of his seed, and of the sons of Levi among the number, then they unquestionably may be said to have paid tithes in him, in a most obvious and intelligible sense. That Abraham is to be here regarded, as not only the natural but covenant head of Israel, is argued from what is said in Psalm 110:6, of his having "had the promises," which promises manifestly did not belong to him alone, but to him and to his seed, Genesis 17:4-9. The land of Canaan never was actually given to Abraham. He obtained the promise or grant of it, as the representative of his posterity, who came to its enjoyment when four hundred years had expired. By those who adopt this view, the passage is supposed to contain an illustration of the manner in which Adam and Christ represent those who respectively belong to them.
And here let it be noticed, that the objection against Abraham's representative character, grounded by our author on the fact, "that there had been no appointment of Abraham to act in that capacity by Levi," might with equal force be urged against the representation of Adam and Christ, which the reader will find established in the supplementary notes on Romans 5. As to the force of the argument, on this principle, there can be no doubt. If the representative, the covenant, as well as the natural head, of the sons of Levi, paid tithes and acknowledged inferiority to Melchizedek, their inferiority follows as a matter of course. They are supposed to be comprehended in their head. "This," says Mr. Scott, "incontestibly proved the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood to that of the Messiah, nay, its absolute dependence on him, and subserviency to him;" and, we may add, is sound reasoning alike in every country, in Palestine and in ours, in England or America. On the whole we cannot but think that whatever difficulties some may have in admitting the principle of representation here, far greater difficulties lie on the other side.
Even Prof. Stuart, in his celebrated 14th Excursus, (which for ingenuity deserves, perhaps, all the praise awarded by Bloomfield, Barnes, and others,) resolves the apostle's reasoning into a mere "argumentum a.d. hominem," although, in the passage, there is no evidence of any such thing. He has indeed instanced two cases of "argumentum a.d. hominem," or rather two passages, in both of which the same example occurs Matthew 12:27; Luke 11:19. But if the reader consult these passages, he will find that mistake is impossible. The plainest indication is given, that the argument proceeds on the principle of all adversary. It would require no small ingenuity, however, to press this passage into the same rank with those now quoted. It clearly belongs to a different class, and the apostle proceeds with his argument, without the slightest indication that it was grounded rather on what was admitted, than on what was strictly true.)For, introduceth the proof, that Levi tithed in Abraham, being virtually in him, as his productive cause; so near is the unity and identity of descending children; and as truly were the posterity of Adam in him when he ate, sinned, and fell, Romans 5:12. To remove all question of the truth of it, the time is annexed to it, when Melchisedec met Abraham, and blessed him, then did Levi pay tenths in him; so as Melchisedec was greater than the Levitical priest: Christ, typified by him, being greater than himself, must be greater than them also.
when Melchisedec met him; which, as it proves Melchizedek to be greater than Levi, and much more Jesus Christ, who is a priest of his order, which is the grand thing the apostle has in view; so it serves to illustrate several points of doctrine, in which either of the public heads, Adam and Christ, are concerned, with respect to their seed and offspring; such as personal election in Christ, an eternal donation of all blessings of grace to the elect in him, eternal justification in him, the doctrine of original sin, and the saints' crucifixion, burial, resurrection, and session in Christ, and together with him.For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 7:10. Proof for the assertion Hebrews 7:9. When Abraham gave the tenth to Melchisedec, he was as yet childless, and therefore at that time still bore his descendants as in germ in himself. When, accordingly, by the presentation of the tenth he acknowledged a superior rank of Melchisedec over himself, he rendered homage to the latter not only in his own person, but at the same time as the representative of his posterity, as yet incapable of independent action, because as yet unborn.
ἔτι ἐν τῇ ὀσφύϊ τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι] to be as yet in the loins of the father, or to be yet unborn. The expression is explained by the analogous ἐξέρχεσθαι ἐκ τῆς ὀσφύος τινός, Hebrews 7:5 : by generation to proceed, from one’s loins.
τοῦ πατρός] is not to be taken, with Bleek, as a “universally recognised designation” of Abraham (i.e. as father of the Jews and Christians). It stands in special relation to Levi; thus: his father, wherein, of course, seeing Abraham was the great-grandfather of Levi, πατήρ is to be understood in the wider sense, or as progenitor.Hebrews 7:10. Ἔτι, still) He says, still, not already now. The offspring, after withdrawing from the power of the parent, become their own guardian; but while they are under the power of the parent, nay, in his loins, they follow his condition. It may be said, Was not Christ Himself, according to the flesh, as well as Levi, in the loins of Abraham? Comp. Acts 2:30. Ans. Christ is expressly set forth by the psalm as a priest after the order of Melchisedec, and that too in such a way that Melchisedec is made like to the Son of GOD, not the Son of GOD to Melchisedec: nor is Christ subjected to Abraham, but stands in opposition to the sons of Levi. And Abraham, when Melchisedec blessed him, Genesis 14:19, already had the promises, Hebrews 7:6; namely, those in which were included both the blessing expressed more generally and the natural seed, and so also Levi, Genesis 12:3; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15-16 : but those promises under which Christ was comprehended, followed Abraham’s meeting with Melchisedec, as well as the faith of Abraham, which was in the highest degree commended, Genesis 15:1, etc., where we have the remarkable beginning, After these things.
His own father; not of Abraham.
When Melchisedec met him
In the person of Abraham. The whole Jewish law, its ordinances and priesthood, are regarded as potentially in Abraham. When Abraham paid tithes, Levi paid tithes. When Abraham was blessed, Israel was blessed. It is a kind of reasoning which would appeal to Hebrews, who so strongly emphasized the solidarity of their race. Comp. Romans 9:4, Romans 9:5.
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