Hebrews 8:9
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
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(9) Not according to the covenant.—The difference is declared below (Hebrews 8:10-12). “In the day when” they were led forth out of Egypt the token of God’s covenant was the deliverance itself. At Sinai, Exodus 24:7-8 (see Hebrews 9:18-22), the “book of the covenant” was read, and “the blood of the covenant” was “sprinkled on the people,” who had promised obedience to all the words that the Lord had said.

And I regarded them not.—It is here that the translation departs from the Hebrew, which, as is now generally believed, is faithfully represented in our Authorised version: “although I was an husband unto them” (that is, had the authority of a husband). The quotation here follows the LXX. without change.

8:7-13 The superior excellence of the priesthood of Christ, above that of Aaron, is shown from that covenant of grace, of which Christ was Mediator. The law not only made all subject to it, liable to be condemned for the guilt of sin, but also was unable to remove that guilt, and clear the conscience from the sense and terror of it. Whereas, by the blood of Christ, a full remission of sins was provided, so that God would remember them no more. God once wrote his laws to his people, now he will write his laws in them; he will give them understanding to know and to believe his laws; he will give them memories to retain them; he will give them hearts to love them, courage to profess them, and power to put them in practice. This is the foundation of the covenant; and when this is laid, duty will be done wisely, sincerely, readily, easily, resolutely, constantly, and with comfort. A plentiful outpouring of the Spirit of God will make the ministration of the gospel so effectual, that there shall be a mighty increase and spreading of Christian knowledge in persons of all sorts. Oh that this promise might be fulfilled in our days, that the hand of God may be with his ministers so that great numbers may believe, and be turned to the Lord! The pardon of sin will always be found to accompany the true knowledge of God. Notice the freeness of this pardon; its fulness; its fixedness. This pardoning mercy is connected with all other spiritual mercies: unpardoned sin hinders mercy, and pulls down judgments; but the pardon of sin prevents judgment, and opens a wide door to all spiritual blessings. Let us search whether we are taught by the Holy Spirit to know Christ, so as uprightly to love, fear, trust, and obey him. All worldly vanities, outward privileges, or mere notions of religion, will soon vanish away, and leave those who trust in them miserable for ever.Not according to the covenant ... - An arrangement or dispensation relating mainly to outward observances, and to temporal blessings. The meaning is, that the new dispensation would be different from what was made with them when they came out of Egypt. In what respects it would differ is specified in Hebrews 8:10-12.

Because they continued not in my covenant - In Jeremiah, in the Hebrew, this is, "while my covenant they brake." That is, they failed to comply with the conditions on which I promised to bestow blessings upon them. In Jeremiah this is stated as a simple fact; in the manner in which the apostle quotes it, it is given as a reason why he would give a new arrangement. The apostle has quoted it literally from the Septuagint, and the sense is not materially varied. The word rendered "because" - ὅτι hoti - may mean "since" - "since they did not obey that covenant, and it was ineffectual in keeping them from sin, showing that it was not perfect or complete in regard to what was needful to be done for man, a new arrangement shall be made that will be without defect." This accords with the reasoning of the apostle; and the idea is, simply, that an arrangement may be made for man adapted to produce important ends in one state of society or one age of the world, which would not be well adapted to him in another, and which would not accomplish all which it would be desirable to accomplish for the race. So an arrangement may be made for teaching children which would not answer the purpose of instructing those of mature years, and which at that time of life may be superseded by another. A system of measures may be adapted to the infancy of society, or to a comparatively rude period of the world, which would be ill adapted to a more advanced state of society. Such was the Hebrew system. It was well adapted to the Jewish community in their circumstances, and answered the end then in view. It served to keep them separate from other people; to preserve the knowledge and the worship of the true God, and to introduce the gospel dispensation.

And I regarded them not - In Jeremiah this is, "Although I was an husband unto them." The Septuagint is as it is quoted here by Paul. The Hebrew is, ואנכי בצלתי בם wa'aanokiy baa‛altiy baam - which may be rendered, "although I was their Lord;" or as it is translated by Gesenius, "and I rejected them." The word בּצל bàal - means:

(1) to be lord or master over anything Isaiah 26:13;

(2) to become the husband of anyone Deuteronomy 21:13; Deuteronomy 24:1;

(3) with ba-, "to disdain, to reject"; so Jeremiah 3:14. It is very probable that this is the meaning here, for it is not only adopted by the Septuagint, but by the Syriac. So Abulwalid, Kimchi, and Rabbi Tanchum understood it.

The Arabic word means "to reject, to loath, to disdain." All that is necessary to observe here is, that it cannot be demonstrated that the apostle has not given the true sense of the prophet. The probability is, that the Septuagint translators would give the meaning which was commonly understood to be correct, and there is still more probability that the Syriac translator would adopt the true sense, for.

(1) the Syriac and Hebrew languages strongly resemble each other; and,

(2) the old Syriac version - the Peshito - is incomparably a better translation than the Septuagint.

If this, therefore, be the correct translation, the meaning is, that since they did not regard and obey the laws which he gave them, God would reject them as his people, and give new laws better adapted to save people. Instead of regarding and treating them as his friends, he would punish them for their offences, and visit them with calamities.

9. Not according to, &c.—very different from, and far superior to, the old covenant, which only "worked wrath" (Ro 4:15) through man's "not regarding" it. The new covenant enables us to obey by the Spirit's inward impulse producing love because of the forgiveness of our sins.

made with—rather as Greek, "made to": the Israelites being only recipients, not coagents [Alford] with God.

I took them by the hand—as a father takes his child by the hand to support and guide his steps. "There are three periods: (1) that of the promise; (2) that of the pedagogical instruction; (3) that of fulfilment" [Bengel]. The second, that of the pedagogical pupilage, began at the exodus from Egypt.

I regarded them not—English Version, Jer 31:32, translates, "Although I was an husband unto them." Paul's translation here is supported by the Septuagint, Syriac, and Gesenius, and accords with the kindred Arabic. The Hebrews regarded not God, so God, in righteous retribution, regarded them not. On "continued not in my covenant," Schelling observes: The law was in fact the mere ideal of a religious constitution: in practice, the Jews were throughout, before the captivity, more or less polytheists, except in the time of David, and the first years of Solomon (the type of Messiah's reign). Even after the return from Babylon, idolatry was succeeded by what was not much better, formalism and hypocrisy (Mt 12:43). The law was (1) a typical picture, tracing out the features of the glorious Gospel to be revealed; (2) it had a delegated virtue from the Gospel, which ceased, therefore, when the Gospel came.

The Spirit proceedeth to show the form of the covenant denied.

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers; not the same covenant for habit or form, nor any like unto the same for the manner of its administration, as was made by the Lord with the Hebrews their progenitors, when they were strangers in Egypt, and under great bondage there.

In the day when I took them by the hand; the day that I laid my hand on them, and took hold of theirs, even the last day of the four hundred and thirty years foretold to Abraham, Genesis 15:13,16; compare Exodus 12:40,41; as a father takes hold of his child to pluck it out of danger. It is a metaphor setting out God’s special act of providence, in their miraculous deliverance out of Egypt, keeping them in his hand, while he was smiting their enemies; setting them at liberty, and then striking covenant with them, and binding them by it to be his obedient people, as such redemption mercy did deserve. At which time the covenant was unlike the promise or gospel one for external habit and form only, as carried on by a ceremonial law and priesthood, over which Christ’s was to have the pre-eminency for power and efficacy of administration.

Because they continued not in my covenant; these unbelieving Hebrews, under that administration of the covenant, continued not faithful to it, as by their own word and consent they bound themselves to it, but apostatized from God and his truth, Deu 5:27. The word used by the prophet Nrph signifieth the breaking and making void the covenant. The administration of it did not hold them in close to God, but they frustrated all God’s ordinances, turned idolaters, forsook the Lord, and worshipped the gods of the nations round about.

And I regarded them not; hmelhsa, I took no care of them, I did neither esteem nor regard them, but cast them off from being my people for their lewd, treacherous covenant-breaking with me; they would not return unto me, and I rejected them from being my people, or a people as they were before. Who knows where the nine tribes and the half are? And in what a dispersed, shattered condition are the remaining Jews to this day! The apostle in this follows the Septuagint, who read the effect of their sin, their rejection, for what was their sin itself, which by the prophet is expressed yhleb ybzaw should I be a Lord or Husband to them; which is an aggravation of their sin from God’s dominion over them or marriage-relation to them; yet did they break his marriage-covenant with them according to their lewd and whorish heart: see Ezekiel 16:1-63,23:1-49. But in this quotation by the apostle, and translation of the Septuagint, it is a metonymy of the effect for the cause, to reject, cast off, or neglect them for their treachery to him in their marriage covenant, which was the true cause of it. The verb itself leb may signify to neglect or despise; and so Kimchi reads it, Jeremiah 3:1, and is so rendered in this place by other rabbies, and so it signifieth in other languages.

Saith the Lord: this is God’s irrevocable word, used four times by the prophet, Jeremiah 31:31-34, and three times repeated by the apostle here, as proper only to the Lord; none can speak so truly, certainly, infallibly, as he.

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers,.... The ancestors of the Jews at Mount Sinai:

in the day when I took then, by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; which is mentioned, not only to observe the time when the former covenant was made with the Israelites, which was just upon their deliverance out of Egypt; but also to show their weakness and inability to have delivered themselves, and the tenderness of God towards them; they were like children, they could not help themselves when God took them by the hand, and brought them forth with an outstretched arm; and likewise to expose their ingratitude, and vindicate his conduct towards them:

because they continued not in my covenant; though they promised, at the reading of it, that all that the Lord had said, they would hear and do; but their hearts were not right with God, and they were not steadfast in his covenant, and therefore their carcasses fell in the wilderness:

and I regarded them not, saith the Lord; the words in Jeremiah 31:32 are very differently rendered in our translation, "although I was an husband unto them": and so it becomes an aggravation of their sin of ingratitude, in not continuing in his covenant: in the margin it is rendered interrogatively, "should I have continued an husband unto them?" that is, after they had so treated him, no; as if he should say, I will not behave towards them as such; I will reject them, and disregard them. The Chaldee paraphrase is just the reverse of the apostle's translation, "and I was well pleased with them": some render them, "I ruled over them", as a lord over his servants, in a very severe manner. Others, observing the great difference there is between the Hebrew text, and the apostle's version, have supposed a different Hebrew copy from the present, used by the Septuagint, or the apostle, in which, instead of it was read either or but there is no need of such a supposition, since Dr. Pocock (g) has shown, that in the Arabic language, signifies to loath and abhor, and so to disregard; and Kimchi (h) relates it as a rule laid down by his father, that wherever this word is used in construction with it is to be taken in an ill part, and signifies the same as "I have loathed"; in which sense that word is used in Zechariah 11:8 and so here, I have loathed them, I abhorred them, I rejected them, I took no care of them, disregarded them, left their house desolate, and suffered wrath to come upon them to the uttermost.

(g) Not. Miscell. in Port. Mesis, p. 9. (h) In Jeremiah 31.32. & Sepher Shorashim, rad.

Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.
Hebrews 8:9. Οὐ κατὰ τὴν διαθήκην, ἣν ἐπίησα τοῖς πατράσιν αὐτῶν] negative unfolding of the foregoing positive expression καινήν (namely, a covenant): not after the manner of the covenant (לֹא כַבְּרִית) which I made for their fathers, i.e. one qualitatively different therefore, and that as being a better one.

ἣν ἐποίησα] LXX.: ἣν διεθέμην.

τοῖς πατράσιν αὐτῶν] in the Hebrew אֶת־אֲבו̇תָם, with their fathers. The mere dative with ἐποίησα excludes the notion of reciprocity in the covenant-founding which has taken place, and presents it purely as the work of the disposition made by God.

ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπιλαβομένου μου κ.τ.λ.] in the day (at the time) when I look hold of their hand, to lead them forth out of the land of Egypt (בְּיו̇ם הֶחֱזִיקִי בְיָדָם לְחו̇צִיאָם מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם). An unwieldy but not exactly incorrect construction (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 531), in place of which Justin Martyr, Dial. cum Tryph. Judges 1:11, in citing the same words of Scripture, has chosen the less cumbrous ἐν ᾗ ἐπελαβόμην. The note of time characterizes the covenant as the Mosaic one.

ὅτι] for; not: “because,” as protasis to κἀγὼ κ.τ.λ. as the apodosis (Calvin, Böhme, Hofmann, al.).

κἀγώ] emphatic personal opposition to αὐτοί: and consequently I also concerned not myself about them.

λέγει κύριος] LXX. (Cod. Alex. too): φησὶ κύριος.

Hebrews 8:9. οὐ κατὰ τὴν διαθήκην … “Not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers.” These words express negatively wherein the καινότης of the covenant consists. It was not to be a repetition of that which had failed. It was to be framed with a view to avoiding the defects of the old. It must not be such a covenant as dealt in symbols and externals. That former covenant is further defined in the words ἣν ἐποίησα …, a clause which is intended to remind the readers that it was through no lack of power or grace on God’s part that the covenant had failed. His intention and power to fulfil His part was put beyond doubt by the deliverance from Egypt. ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπιλαβομένου μου τ. χειρὸς αὐτῶν … “sicut nutrix apprehendit manum parvuli, vel qui de fovea per manum attrahit aliquem sive secum ducit” (Herveius). The construction determined by the Hebrew, which, however, has the infinitive not the participle, is, according to Winer (710) “perhaps unusual, but not incorrect.” Buttmann, however, (316) condemns it as “a perfectly un-Greek construction” and “nothing more than a thoughtless imitation of the original Hebrew, of which no other similar example is to be found in the N.T.” Cf. Bar 2:28 ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐντειλαμένου σου, κ.τ.λ. Cf. Viteau, Gram. p. 209–10. On ἐπιλαβ. see Hebrews 2:16. ὅτι αὐτοὶ οὐκ ἐνέμειναν “because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord”. Both parties abandoned the covenant and so it became null. Bengel’s note on this clause is this: “Correlata, uti Hebrews 8:10, ex opposito: Ero eis in Deum, et illi erunt mihi in populum; sed ratione inversa: populus fecerat initium tollendi foederis prius: in novo omnia et incipit et perficit Deus”. The pronouns are emphatic in both clauses κἀγὼ ἠμέλησα αὐτῶν representing וְאָנֹכַי בָּעַלְתִי בָּם which in A.V. is rendered “although I was an husband to them.” Grotius suggests a variant in the Hebrew as giving rise to the translation ἠμέλησα but it seems to be justified by an analogous Arabic expression (see Moses Stuart in loc. and Bleek).

9. I took them by the hand] See note on Hebrews 2:16.

because they continued not in my covenant] The disobedience of the Israelites was a cause for nullifying the covenant which they had transgressed (Jdg 2:20-21; 2 Kings 17:15-18). Comp. Hosea 1:9, “Ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.”

and I regarded them not] These words correspond to the “though I was a husband unto them” of the original. The quotation is from the LXX., who perhaps followed a slightly different reading. Rabbi Kimchi holds that the rendering of the LXX. is justifiable even with the present reading.

Hebrews 8:9. Ἐποίησα, I made) LXX., διεθέμην, I have arranged or disposed. To perfect is more than to make and dispose.—ἡμέρᾳ, in the day) Days, in the plural, are opposed to this one day, Hebrews 8:8. These many days are the days that intervened between the day of the Exodus and the New Testament.—ἐπιλαβομένου μου τῆς χειρὸς αὐτῶν, when I took them by the hand) Whilst their sense of the Divine help and power was recent, these men in old times obeyed; but they were wont soon to revolt and turn God from them. This was their custom; comp. presently after, they continued not. It was not merely one singular act.—ἐκ γῆς Αἰγύπτου, out of the land of Egypt) There are three periods:—1. That of the promise; 2. That of instruction (pædagogiæ); 3. That of fulfilment. The instruction (as children) began at the time of the departure from Egypt, with that which was destined to become old (Hebrews 8:13).—αὐτοὶ οὐκ ἐνέμειναν ἐν τῇ διαθήκῃ μου, κᾀγὼ ἠμέλησα αὐτῶν, they did not continue in My covenant, and I did not regard (care for) them) Correlatives, as Hebrews 8:10, from the opposite, I will be to them a GOD, and they shall be to Me a people; but the method of proceeding is now reversed: the people had begun first to put an end to the covenant: God both begins and perfects all things in the new covenant, Hebrews 8:10-11.—κᾀγὼ ἠμέλησα αὐτῶν) LXX., καὶ ἐγὼ ἠμέλησα αὐτῶν, and I did not regard them. ואנכי בעלתי בם, and I ruled over them; although some claim for the verb בעל, the meaning געל, disregard, from the Arabic idiom. God’s ruling and disregard may, in some measure, be reconciled in this view: I treated them as if they were not Mine; Hosea 1:9 : nor was I propitious to their sins; Deuteronomy 29:19; Deuteronomy 31:16, etc. They are not regarded over whom such lordly rule is exercised; they do not rejoice in (are not privileged with) that access, in which those who are in covenant or in friendship rejoice; John 15:15 : but they are treated as slaves; nor are they held in great consideration, whatever may befall them; Ezekiel 24:6, at the end; Jeremiah 15:1-2. The passages, Jeremiah 3:14, Ezekiel 20:33; Ezekiel 20:37, express a somewhat similar idea: but in both places there is rather a promise than a threatening; nay, even in the present, Jeremiah 31:32. The Hebrew Masters, as Surenhusius shows, in βίβλῷ καταλλαγῆς, p. 628, understand the word בעלתי to apply to the dominion of love and good pleasure; and it is not, save by an error in writing, that they turn it into the contrary, בחלתי, I have disdained or disregarded (fastidivi). The LXX. seem evidently to have read געלתי בם, which very word Jeremiah uses, ch. Jeremiah 14:19, μὴ ἀπὸ Σιὼν ἀπέστη (געלה) ἡ ψυχή σου; hath thy soul loathed Sion?

Hebrews 8:9In the day when I took (ἐν ἡμέρᾳ ἐπιλαβομένου μου)

An unusual construction. Lit. in the day of me having taken hold. Comp. John 4:39.

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