Romans 11:8
(According as it is written, God has given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) to this day.
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(8) The spirit of slumber.—This phrase, again, has a curious history. Etymologically, the word translated “slumber” would seem to agree better with the marginal rendering, “remorse.” It comes from a root meaning to “prick or cut with a sharp instrument.” There happens to be another root somewhat similar, but certainly not connected, which means “drowsiness,” “slumber.” Hence, where the word in the text has been used to render the Hebrew word for “slumber,” it has been thought that there was a confusion between the two. It appears, however, from the LXX. usage, that the sense of “slumber” had certainly come to attach to the word here used by St. Paul. From the notion of a sharp wound or blow came to be derived that of the bewilderment or stupefaction consequent upon such a blow, and hence it came to signify stupor in general.

The quotation is a free combination of two passages of the LXX. (Isaiah 29:10, and Deuteronomy 29:4), no doubt put together by the Apostle from memory.

11:1-10 There was a chosen remnant of believing Jews, who had righteousness and life by faith in Jesus Christ. These were kept according to the election of grace. If then this election was of grace, it could not be of works, either performed or foreseen. Every truly good disposition in a fallen creature must be the effect, therefore it cannot be the cause, of the grace of God bestowed on him. Salvation from the first to the last must be either of grace or of debt. These things are so directly contrary to each other that they cannot be blended together. God glorifies his grace by changing the hearts and tempers of the rebellious. How then should they wonder and praise him! The Jewish nation were as in a deep sleep, without knowledge of their danger, or concern about it; having no sense of their need of the Saviour, or of their being upon the borders of eternal ruin. David, having by the Spirit foretold the sufferings of Christ from his own people, the Jews, foretells the dreadful judgments of God upon them for it, Ps 69. This teaches us how to understand other prayers of David against his enemies; they are prophecies of the judgments of God, not expressions of his own anger. Divine curses will work long; and we have our eyes darkened, if we are bowed down in worldly-mindedness.According as it is written - That is, they are blinded in accordance with what is written. The fact and the manner accord with the ancient declaration. This is recorded in Isaiah 29:10, and in Deuteronomy 29:4. The same sentiment is found also substantially in Isaiah 6:9-10. The principal place referred to here, however, is doubtless Isaiah 29:10, "For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes; the prophets and your rulers hath he covered." The quotation is not however literally made either from the Hebrew or the Septuagint; but the sense is preserved. The phrase "according as" means upon the same principle, or in the same manner.

God hath given - Expressions like this are common in the Scriptures, where God is represented as having an agency in producing the wickedness and stupidity of sinners; see Romans 9:17-18; see the Matthew 13:15 note; Mark 4:11-12 note; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:11. This quotation is not made literally. The Hebrew in Isaiah is, God has poured upon them the spirit of slumber. The sense, however, is retained.

The spirit of slumber - The spirit of slumber is not different from slumber itself. The word "spirit" is often used thus. The word "slumber" here is a literal translation of the Hebrew. The Greek word, however κατανύξεως katanuxeōs, implies also the notion of compunction, and hence in the margin it is rendered "remorse." It means any emotion, or any influence whatever, that shall benumb the faculties, and make them insensible. Hence, it here means simply insensibility.

Eyes that they should not see ... - This expression is not taken literally from any single place in the Old Testament; but expresses the general sense of several passages; Isaiah 6:10; Deuteronomy 29:4. It denotes a state of mind not different from a spirit of slumber. When we sleep, the eyes are insensible to surrounding objects, and the ear to sounds. Though in themselves the organs may be perfect, yet the mind is as though they were not; and we have eyes which then do not see, and ears which do not hear. Thus, with the Jews. Though they had all the proper faculties for understanding and receiving the gospel, yet they rejected it. They were stupid and insensible to its claims and its truths.

Unto this day - Until the day that Paul wrote. The characteristic of the Jews that existed in the time of Isaiah. existed also in the time of Paul. It was a trait of the people; and their insensibility to the demands of the gospel developed nothing new in them.

8. as it is written—(Isa 29:10; De 29:4).

God hath given—"gave"

them the spirit of slumber—"stupor"

unto this day—"this present day."

It is written; viz. in Isaiah 6:9 29:10.

The spirit of slumber; the word signifieth, such a dead sleep, as those have, who are pricked or stung with venomous beasts, out of which they hardly or never awake.

Unto this day: q.d. So it was of old, and so it is still. Or else these words (the former being included in a parenthesis) may be joined with the last words of the foregoing verse, thus, the rest were blinded unto this day. According as it is written,.... In Isaiah 29:10 which passages the apostle seems to refer to, though it is not exactly word for word as here, yet the sense is the same:

God hath given them the spirit of slumber; or of stupidity and insensibility, so that they were as persons in a deep sleep; their senses locked up, without any knowledge of, or concern about, the danger they were in; having no sense of sin, or of the need of a Saviour; or of their being upon the borders of eternal ruin and damnation, or of any ways and means to escape it; but careless and secure, as persons fast asleep in the midst of the sea, or upon the top of a mast, who, when stricken and beaten, feel it not; but if by jogging are awaked at all, immediately return to sleep again, and so sleep the sleep of eternal death:

eyes that they should not see; which being closed by the deep sleep and stupidity of mind they were judicially given up to, could see no beauty in Christ, wherefore they should desire him; none of the glories and excellencies of his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; noticing amiable and agreeable in his Gospel, and the truths of it; nor had they any light in the prophets of the Old Testament, which were so remarkably fulfilled in him; their minds were blinded, a vail was upon their hearts, and which remains to this day:

and ears that they should not hear; for persons in a sleep, as their eyes are closed that they cannot see, so their ears are stopped that they cannot hear: and thus it was with these Jews, the awful judgment being upon them; they were uncircumcised in heart and ears; they were like the deaf adder, stopping their ears to the charming voice of Christ in the Gospel; and being given up in a judicial way, could neither understand his speech, nor hear his word: and this spirit of stupidity and insensibility, as it appeared in the times of Isaiah, so it continued

unto this day; the then present time, in which the apostle lived; and has continued ever since, at least in part, and will until the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in. These passages, with some others following, are produced by the apostle out of their own prophets, to take off their resentment against him; and lest, he should be thought to be severe upon them, when he said no more of them, but what had been prophesied long before concerning them. So Jarchi on Isaiah 29:10; says, that Isaiah prophesies , "concerning the transgressors of Israel".

{6} (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of {g} slumber, eyes that they {h} should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

(6) And yet this hardness of heart does not come except by God's just decree and judgment, and yet without fault, when he so punishes the unthankful by taking from them all sense and perseverance and by doubling their darkness, that the benefits of God which are offered to them, do result in their just destruction.

(g) A very sound sleep, which takes away all sense.

(h) That is, eyes unfit to see.

Romans 11:8. This ἐπωρώθησαν ensued in conformity with that which stands written, etc. That which is testified of the hardening of the people in the time of Isaiah, and as early as that of Moses, has its Messianic fulfilment through the hardening of the Jews against the gospel, so that this hardening has taken place καθὼς γέγραπται κ.τ.λ. This prophetic relation is groundlessly denied by Tholuck and Hofmann. The agreement denoted by καθ. γέγρ. is just that of prophecy and fulfilment according to the divine teleology. Comp. Matthew 15:7.

In the citation itself, Isaiah 29:10 (as far as κατανύξ.) and Deuteronomy 29:3 (not Isaiah 6:9) are combined into one saying, and quoted very freely from the LXX. Deuteronomy l.c. has after ἀκούειν: ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ταύτης, hence ἕως τῆς σήμ. ἡμ. belongs to the quotation; and the words καθὼςἀκούειν must not be put in a parenthesis, as Beza, Wolf, Griesbach, and others have done.

ἔδωκεν] He gave not mere permission (Chrysostom, Theophylact, and many).

πνεῦμα κατανύξεως] Heb. רוּחַ תַּרְדֵּמָה, i.e. a spirit producing stupefaction, which is obviously a daemonic spirit. Comp. 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 2:2. Elsewhere the LXX. translate תרדמה by ἔκστασις (Genesis 2:21; Genesis 15:12), or θάμβος (1 Samuel 26:12), or ἀνδρόγυνον (Proverbs 19:15). They gave the approximate sense of the word differently according to the connection. But that they understood κατάνυξις actually as stupefaction, intoxication, is clear from Psalm 60:5, where they have rendered יַיִן תַּרְעֵלָה, intoxicating wine, by οἶνον κατανύξεως. See in general, Fritzsche, Exc. p. 558 ff. This sense of ΚΑΤΆΝΥΞΙς is explained by the use of ΚΑΤΑΝΎΣΣΕΣΘΑΙ, compungi, in the LXX. and the Apocrypha to express the deep, inward paralyzing shock caused by grief, fear, astonishment, etc., whereby one is stupified and as if struck by a blow (Schleusner, Thes. III. p. 256; comp. on Acts 2:37). In classical Greek neither the substantive nor the verb is found. We may add that every derivation is erroneous, which does not go back to νύσσειν (comp. ΝΎΞΙς, Plut. Mor. p. 930 F); nor is it admissible (since Paul certainly knew that κατάν. expressed תרדמה) to seek explanations which depart from the notion of תרדמה. So e.g. Calvin: “Spiritum vocat … compunctionis, ubi scilicet quaedam fellis amaritudo se prodit, imo etiam furor in respuenda veritate.” Similarly Luther (“an embittered spirit”) and Melanchthon. Chrysostom, indeed (and Theophylact), hits the thing itself rightly: κατάνυξιν ἐνταῦθα τὴν περὶ τὸ χεῖρον ἕξιν τῆς ψυχῆς φησὶ τὴν ἀνιάτως ἔχουσαν καὶ ἀμεταθέτως, but his analysis of the word: κατανυγῆναι γὰρ οὐδὲν ἕτερον ἐστιν ἢ τὸ ἐμπαγῆναι ποῦ καὶ προσηλῶσθαι, is arbitrarily far-fetched.

τοῦ μὴ βλέπειν] A fatally pregnant oxymoron. The genit. is that of the aim: eyes, in order that they may not see, etc. Linguistically correct is also the rendering of Grotius: eyes of not-seeing, i.e. “oculos ad videndum ineptos,” Fritzsche, comp. Philippi and van Hengel. But the former view corresponds better at once to the original text (LXX. ΟὐΚ ἜΔΩΚΕὈΦΘΑΛΜΟῪς ΒΛΈΠΕΙΝ Κ. ὮΤΑ ἈΚΟΎΕΙΝ) and to the telic ΤΟῦ ΜῊ ΒΛΈΠΕΙΝ, Romans 11:10. Comp. Isaiah 6:9-10; John 12:40; Acts 28:27.

ἝΩς Τ. ΣΉΜ. ἩΜΈΡ.] belongs to the whole affirmation ἜΔΩΚΕΝ Κ.Τ.Λ. Thus uninterruptedly God dealt with them. The glance at a future, in which it was to be otherwise (Hofmann), is here (comp. Romans 11:10) still quite remote.Romans 11:8 ff. This hardening (at the present day Romans 11:5) agrees with God’s action toward Israel in the past, as exhibited in Scripture. The words from the O.T. can hardly be called a quotation; Deuteronomy 29:4, Isaiah 29:10, Isaiah 6:9-10, all contributed something to them. The πνεῦμα κατανύξεως is from Isaiah 29:10, and answers to the Heb. רוּחַ תַּרְדֵּמָה, a spirit of deep sleep or torpor. Virtually it is defined by what follows—unseeing eyes, unhearing ears: a spirit which produces a condition of insensibility, to which every appeal is vain. κατάνυξις only occurs in LXX, Isaiah 29:10, Psalm 59:4 (οἶνον κατανύξεως); but the verb κατανύσσομαι is used by Theod. in Daniel 10:15 to translate נִרְדַּם (cognate to תַּרְדֵּמָה), and in other places of any overpowering emotion: see Fritzsche ad loc[5] Winer, p. 117. It is God Who sends this spirit of stupor, but He does not send it arbitrarily nor at random: it is always a judgment. ἕως τῆς σήμερον ἡμέρας: in Deuteronomy 29:4 ἕως τῆς ἡ. ταύτης. The change emphasises the fact that what Israel had been from the beginning it was when Paul wrote, and that God had acted toward it from the beginning on the same principle on which He was acting then. Cf. Acts 7:51 f. καὶ Δαυεὶδ λέγει: another proof of ἐπωρώθησαν, though strictly speaking a wish or an imprecation cannot prove anything, unless it be assumed that it has been fulfilled, and so can be taken as the description of a fact. Paul takes it for granted that the doom invoked in these words has come upon the Jews. γενηθήτω ἡ τράπεζα αὐτῶν κ.τ.λ. Their table in the psalm is that in which they delight, and it is this which is to prove their ruin. παγίς, θήρα, and σκάνδαλον are all variations of the same idea, that of snare or trap—i.e., sudden destruction. What the Jews delighted in was the law, and the law misunderstood proved their ruin. In seeking a righteousness of their own based upon it they missed and forfeited the righteousness of God which is given to faith in Christ. καὶ εἰς ἀνταπόδομα αὐτοῖς: this does not exactly reproduce either the Heb. or the LXX, but it involves the idea that the fate of the Jews is the recompense of their sin—not a result to be simply referred to a decree of God. Their perverse attitude to the law is avenged in their incapacity to understand and receive the Gospel. τοῦ μὴ βλέπειν: for this Gen[6] both in Romans 11:8 and Romans 11:10, see Buttmann, Gram. of N.T. Greek, p. 267 (. tr.). τὸν νῶτον αὐτῶν διὰ παντὸς σύγκαμψον: keep them continually in spiritual bondage, stooping under a load too heavy to be borne: cf. Acts 15:10.

[5] loc. ad locum, on this passage.

[6] genitive case.

This is the condition in which by God’s act, requiting their own sins, and especially their self-righteous adherence to the law as a way of salvation, the Jews find themselves. It is a condition so grievous, and so remote from what one anticipates for a people chosen by God, that it confronts Paul again with the difficulty of Romans 11:1, and obliges him to state it once more—this time in a way which mitigates its severity, and hints that the fall of Israel is not the last thing concerning them to be taken into account. What if God’s purpose includes and uses their fall? What if it is not final? It is with new ideas of this sort, introduced to take the edge from the stern utterances of Romans 11:8-10, that Paul deals in Romans 11:11-24.8. according as it is written] Isaiah 29:10, and Deuteronomy 29:4. (Hebrews , 3.) The two passages combined read thus, from the Heb., “The Lord hath poured out (or spread) over you the spirit of deep sleep, and the Lord hath not given to you eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day:” The unbelief of Israel of old, traced by Moses and Isaiah to the mysterious withholding of grace, is here interpreted by St Paul to be a “prophecy in act” of the unbelief of Israel, and of its cause, in the days of Messiah.—It will be seen that the words “unto this day” are part of the quotation, and that therefore no brackets should be used in this verse. As Moses indicated by them a continuous “hardening” of the mass of the nation in his day, so St Paul takes them to foreshadow the like continuousness in the Gospel age.Romans 11:8. Ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Θεὸς πνεῦμα κατανύξεως, ὀφθαλμοὺς τοῦ μὴ βλέτειν καὶ ὦτα τοῦ μὴ ἀκούειν) Deuteronomy 29:4, yet the Lord God hath not given you a heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. Isaiah 29:10, LXX., πεπότικεν ὑμᾶς Κύριος, πνεύματι κατανύξεως, καὶ καμμύσει τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτῶν κ.τ.λ. The Lord hath made you drunk with the spirit of slumber, and He will shut their eyes, etc. Add Matthew 13 [12,] 14, note. Ἒδωκεν, hath given, by a most righteous judgment, and hath said to them, have.[121]—κατανύξεως) ΚΑΤΆΝΥΞΙς in this passage denotes suffering from frequent pricking, which terminates in stupor. It is taken in a good sense, Acts 2:37, and very often among ascetic writers. The Latins use similarly compunctio, compunction.—ἕως, even unto) A tacit limitation, 2 Corinthians 3:14.

[121] According as you have chosen. The have, refers to spiritual goods. “From him who hath not (his spiritual privileges to any good purpose) shall be taken away even that he hath.” God gives to men, that which they choose for themselves. You fancy you have, I give you accordingly.—ED.Verses 8-10. - According as it is written, God gave them a spirit of slumber (rather, stupor. The word is κατανύξις, cited from Isaiah 29:10 in the LXX. Cf. Psalm 60:3, where the LXX. has οῖνον κατανύξεως. It is from the verb which means κατανύσσειν, properly "to prick" (see Acts 2:37, κατενύγησαν τῇ καρδίᾳ). The noun seems to have got its sense as above from the idea of a pricking shock, causing stupefaction), eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling-block, and a recompense unto them. Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. The references in ver. 8 are a combination of Deuteronomy 29:3 and Isaiah 29:10, quoted freely from the LXX.; that in ver. 9 is to Psalm 69:23, 24, also quoted freely. (For similar combination and free quotation of texts, so as to bring out Old Testament ideas, cf. Romans 3:10-19; Romans 9:32, 33.) It is not necessary that the passages here referred to should be regarded as directly prophetic of the time of Christ. It is enough for the purpose of the argument that God's people should be shown to be liable to the state of stupefaction described, without ceasing to be his people. And so the thought, which has been in view all along, is now taken up, of the present hardening of Israel as a nation not being intended to be permanent. It is written

Three quotations follow, two of which we blended in this verse: Isaiah 29:10; Deuteronomy 29:3 (4).

Hath given (ὄδωκεν)

Heb., poured out. Sept., given to drink.

Slumber (κατανύξεως)

Heb., deep sleep. Only here in the New Testament. Lit., pricking or piercing, compunction. Compare the kindred verb κατενύγησαν were pricked, Acts 2:37. Rev. renders stupor, the secondary meaning; properly the stupefaction following a wound or blow.

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