Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 23 July 2020; Revised 5 August 2022
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995, NASU), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries BC and the first century AD. Online DSS Bible.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.
● Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
● Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.
Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online. Parsing data for Greek words is from Bible Hub Interlinear Bible, 2004-2021, and Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, 1980.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), ADONAI (for the sacred name in Tanakh verses), and Besekh (New Testament).
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.
Chapter Three Summary
Having proven Yeshua's superiority to prophets and angels, Paul now compares Yeshua and Moses. The point is not to demean Moses but demonstrate how Yeshua was faithful just as Moses was a faithful servant. With this foundation Paul then quotes from Psalm 95 in order to warn his readers not to fall into the same spiritual trap as the wilderness generation that rebelled against Moses. Unbelief and rebellion against the Lord risks God's wrath, so Paul exhorts faithfulness to the end.
Chapter Three Outline
Yeshua and Moses, 3:1-6
Second Warning, 3:7-11
Peril of Unfaithfulness, 3:12-19
Yeshua and Moses, 3:1-6
1 Wherefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, carefully consider Yeshua, the Shaliach and High Priest of our confession,
Wherefore: Grk. hothen, adv., marker of derivation, used here in a causal sense to extend the thought about Yeshua in the last verse of the previous chapter. Paul then describes his readers with three important terms. holy: pl. of Grk. hagios, adj., voc. (direct address), has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Thus, being members of the covenant people Paul's readers belong to the God of Israel.
brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc., lit. "of the same womb," a male sibling; brother. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. In the LXX adelphos translates Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a near blood relative (Gen 13:8), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or a fellow descendent of Jacob (Ex 2:11; 4:18). The plural noun is often used in the apostolic letters to refer to members of the congregation, which can be taken literally as references to the Jewish constituency of the congregation, but in a spiritual sense would include Gentile members.
Paul considered his readers as spiritual brothers as well as kinsmen. The phrase "holy brothers," might imply addressing disciples of Yeshua who are wholly loyal to God and His moral standards, or used in a wider sense to denote the Israelites generally being set apart from the nations to serve God. Danker suggests that the plural vocative case, which occurs four times in this letter, can serve in the collective sense of "brothers and sisters" given that Paul is addressing the entire constituency of the congregations. A number of versions translate the noun as "brothers and sisters" (e.g., NIV, NLT, NRSV, TLV).
The majority of versions translate the plural noun as either "brethren" (which can have the neutral meaning of "fellow members") or "brothers." However, the latter address might be more appropriate considering the confrontational nature of this letter. The direct address would include the elders of the congregations as well as prominent male leaders. partakers: pl. of Grk. metochos (from metechō, "share in"), adj., voc., having a part in something, an active sharing in. of a heavenly: Grk. epouranios (from epi, "on," and ouranos, "heaven"), adj., existing in or originating from the heavenly sphere; heavenly, celestial.
calling: Grk. klēsis, invitation to share in special privilege; calling, invitation. In the Besekh the noun is always used of a divine call to embrace salvation in the Kingdom of God. The "heavenly calling" alludes to the proclamation of the incarnated Son of God to repent and participate in the Messianic Kingdom. Identifying his readers as "partakers" refers to their response to the good news, which some may have heard directly from Yeshua but most from the apostles, especially Peter.
carefully consider: Grk. katanoeō (from kata, "according to," and noieō, "to think"), aor. imp., to pay close attention to, to take a close look at, to concentrate by fixing one's thinking. Paul challenges his readers to take time to think about what is most important. This exhortation is comparable to his instruction:
"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Php 4:8 ESV).
Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English translation of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
the Shaliach: Grk. ho apostolos (from apostellō, "to send"), one sent by another to represent him in some way; ambassador, envoy, messenger. Christian versions translate the noun as "apostle, but Messianic versions have "emissary" (CJB, MJLT, TLV). OJB has "shliach." In the LXX apostolos occurs one time (1Kgs 14:6) where it translates Heb. shaluach, Qal pass. participle of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent." Josephus also uses apostolos one time of a group of Jewish ambassadors sent to Rome to complain about the appointment of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 11:1).
Apostolos appears in no other early Jewish literature, but it is grounded in Jewish culture in the office of shaliach, which means "messenger, agent, or deputy" (Jastrow 1579, 1583). A shaliach acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender (e.g., Kidd. 2:1; Sukk. 26b; Chullin 12a, 104a; Gittin 4:1; 62b; Ned. 8b, 54a). The Mishnah says, "the agent is as the one who sends him" (Ber. 5:5). McKay notes that in the Talmud a priest was considered to be a shaliach of ADONAI (Kidd. 23b; Ned. 35b; 36a; Yoma 19a-b).
This is the only verse in which apostolos is applied to Yeshua, but the idea that God "sent" him is more frequent (Morris). Yeshua was the preeminent shaliach. That is, Yeshua was sent by the Father as His agent with full authority to speak and act for Him (cf. John 3:34; 4:34; 5:30; Gal 4:4; 1Jn 4:10, 14).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect.
High Priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus translates Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The Greek term was familiar to the populations of Greek and Roman provinces, since it was used of the chief religious leader in pagan cults (LSJ).
The Hebrew title of the high priest in Jewish culture was Ha-Kohen Ha-Gadol, which occurs 20 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20; 13:28; Hag 1:1, 12, 14; 2:2, 4; Zech 3:1, 8; 6:11) and is translated in the LXX with ho megas [the great] ho hiereus [priest]. The office of high priest was established by God to be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 30:30) and he served as the chief executive officer over all the priests.
Only the high priest could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16). The high priest also shared with the priests the duties of conducting the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14-15), caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21) and arranging the showbread (Ex 25:30). More significantly the high priest carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed and acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before God, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21).
According to lineage Yeshua did not qualify to be a priest, much less a high priest, by virtue of being born into the tribe of Judah, even though his mother had a blood connection to the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron (cf. Luke 1:5, 36). Paul will explain in Chapter Five how Yeshua is the high priest in the order of Melchizedek (Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6), a more significant order than that of Aaron. Bruce observes that possessing the two offices of apostle and high priest Yeshua is both God's representative among men and men's representative in the presence of God.
of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. confession: Grk. ho homologia (from homou, "the same," and legō, "to speak"), the act of making a public declaration relating to belief or conviction; agreement, confession, profession. This noun is a favorite of Paul, occurring outside of this letter only in 2Corinthians 9:13 and 1Timothy 6:12-13. In the Corinthian letter homologia refers to the content of the good news to which believers had become obedient. In the letter to Timothy homologia is first Timothy's public testimony of faith in and faithfulness to Yeshua, and second Yeshua's testimony of his identity to Pontius Pilate.
In context the confession would be comparable to the content of what Paul wrote to Timothy.
"He who was revealed in the
The KJV and NKJV, based on the TR, insert "Christ" before "Jesus." The TR reading has no support from the best New Testament Greek MSS. Ellicott observes that "it is impossible not to feel how fitly the personal name 'Jesus' is used after the later verses of Hebrews 2."
2 being faithful to the One having appointed him, just as also Moses in all of His house.
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). faithful: Grk. pistos, adj., may mean (1) characterized by constancy and therefore worthy of trust; or (2) believing or trusting with commitment. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX pistos translates the participle of the Heb. verb aman (SH-539), made firm or sure, lasting (first in Num 12:7).
to the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun, substituting for the sacred name. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6) or more specifically the Father (John 7:18; 12:45; 15:21; Col 3:10; Heb 1:7; 2:11). "The One" is also shorthand for the early usage in Hebrew culture of "the Holy One" (Qadosh, Job 6:12; Prov 30:3; Isa 40:25; Hos 11:9, 12; Hab 3:3) and later "the Holy One of Israel" (Qadosh Yishraêl), which occurs 30 times in the Tanakh, 25 of which are in Isaiah (Isa 1:4).
having appointed: Grk. poieō, aor. part., a verb of physical action that is used in two general senses: "make" and "do," the former used of bringing something into existence and the latter of performing deeds to bring about a state or condition. The first meaning, "make," is intended here, i.e., "constitute or appoint one anything" (Thayer). Bible versions uniformly translate the verb as "appointed." In the LXX poieō translates chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity.
him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here. just as: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here to introduce a pattern or model; just as, just like, similar to. also: Grk. kai, conj. See the previous verse.
Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh (Ex 2:10). Born into the tribe of Levi about 1525 BC in Egypt there is no greater figure in the Tanakh than Moses. The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt (Acts 7:23), the second his years in Midian (Acts 7:30), and the third from the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt through the years spent in the wilderness until his death (Ex 7:7; 16:35; Num 14:33; Deut 2:7; Josh 5:6; Acts 7:36). He had two wives and two sons (Ex 18:2-4; Num 12:1).
During the last third of his life Moses served Israel as deliverer, judge, mediator, lawgiver, priest, elder, prophet and scribe. Moses was privileged to speak with ADONAI "face to face" (Ex 33:11). He was noted for his humility (Num 12:3) and his faithfulness to God (Heb 11:23-29), and being anointed of the Spirit (Num 11:17). He died at the age of 120 in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of the first five books of the Bible (Ex 24:4). Moses was a giant of a man. For a summary of his life and deeds see my article Moses, Servant of God.
in: Grk. en, prep., generally used to mark position within, and may be translated "among, at, by, in, into, on, within." all: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. of His: Grk. autos. house: Grk. ho oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home and by extension the household of that dwelling. In the LXX oikos translates Heb. bayith (SH-1004) with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 7:1. The phrase "all His house" might focus on the family of Moses. Moses was of the tribe of Levi, being the son of Amram and his wife Jochebed (Ex 6:20). Moses had two siblings, a brother, Aaron, and a sister, Miriam (Num 26:59).
However, the idea that Moses was "faithful…in all His house" is drawn from Numbers 12:7 (Eisenbaum). This accolade is one of several in Scripture concerning Moses (Ex 7:1; 33:11; Num 12:3; Josh 1:17; Ps 90:1; Isa 63:11-12; Acts 7:20, 22). In quoting this verse Paul changed "My house" to "His house." "My house" is a declaration of covenantal relationship with "all Israel." Israel is often referred to as "the whole house of Israel" (e.g., Ex 40:38; Lev 10:6; Num 20:29; 1Sam 7:3; 2Sam 6:15; Jer 9:26; Ezek 3:7; 11:15; 20:40; 37:11; 39:25; 45:6). Morris points out that the adjective "all" may also point to a concern both Moses and Yeshua had for the whole nation rather than individual tribes.
Paul affirms that Yeshua possessed the same kind of faithfulness as did Moses. The description does not ignore the unlawful killing of an Egyptian (Ex 2:12), or the singular failure of Moses at the end of his life (Num 20:12; 27:14), but represents the character of his entire life from the time of his divine calling. Never was Moses disloyal to God nor did he ever abandon God to worship an idol as his brother did (Ex 32:4) or overtly challenge God's authority as his sister did (Num 12:1). Indeed after his death God lauded Moses in His commission to Joshua, "Moses My servant is dead ...5 Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you" (Josh 1:2, 5).
There are many historical and spiritual parallels between Yeshua and Moses. For a list of comparisons see my article Moses and Yeshua.
3 For he has been counted worthy of greater glory than Moses, inasmuch as the One having built the house has so much greater honor than the house.
For: Grk. gar, conj., a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that; for." The conjunction has four uses: (1) explanatory, (2) expressive of astonishment, (3) causal and, (4) inferential. The first use is intended here. he: Grk. houtos, m.s., demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; lit. "this one," referring to Yeshua. has been counted worthy: Grk. axioō, perf. pass., account or deem as worthy of special recognition or consideration. of greater: Grk. pleiōn, adj., the comparative form of polus ("much, many"), greater in quantity or quality, here the latter.
glory: Grk. doxa literally means "what evokes good opinion, i.e. that something has inherent, intrinsic worth" (Thayer). In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabôd (SH-3519), lit. "to be heavy;" abundance, honor, glory, first in Genesis 31:1. When used of men kabôd may refer to the dignity of position, reputation of character, or the honor and reverence owed by virtue of position. The usage of kabôd for humans also applies to God, with the added aspect of the luminous manifestation of God's person, His glorious revelation of Himself (Ex 24:16-17). In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45).
than: Grk. para, prep., has the root meaning of "beside" (DM 108). Here the preposition is used to present a comparison and would convey "than." Moses: Grk. Mōusēs. See the previous verse. The first part of the verse may be an allusion to the experience of Moses whose face glowed so much from being in the presence of God that he had to wear a veil (Ex 34:29-35). inasmuch as: Grk. kata, prep., is generally used to signify (1) direction, "against, down;" (2) opposition, "against;" or (3) conformity, "according to." The third usage is intended here, conveying "inasmuch as" (Thayer), i.e., in view of the fact that; since.
the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. See the previous verse. Paul associates Yeshua with the God of Israel (Heb. YHVH). having built: Grk. kataskeuazō (from kata, "down, according to," intensifying skeuazō, "to prepare exactly"), aor. part., to erect a structure; build, construct, erect. The verb properly means to prepare (make exactly ready), skillfully using implements according to a tooled-design (HELPS). the house: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; lit. "it." The pronoun refers back to the mention of "the house of Israel" in the previous verse.
has: Grk. echō, pres., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. so much: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun denoting a comparative equation; how much, how great, as great as, so much as. greater: Grk. pleiōn, adj. honor: Grk. timē is used to denote monetary value or intrinsic value of a person meriting a high level of respect, here the latter; honor, esteem, regard, worth. In the LXX timē is used almost exclusively to refer to honor of humans and primarily translates Heb. kabôd (Ex 28:2, 40).
than the house: Grk. ho oikos. See the previous verse. The noun is used in a figurative sense, referring to the "house of Israel" in verse 2 above. Moses did not "build" the house of Israel. That honor belonged to ADONAI who gave Jacob twelve sons by four women (Gen 35:22-26) to fulfill the blessing of his father Isaac, "May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples" (Gen 28:3). From the family of Jacob seventy persons went to Egypt (Gen 46:27), but when the Israelites were freed from Egypt they left with perhaps as many as a million people (Ex 1:7; 12:37).
Paul concludes that Yeshua is "worthy of greater honor than Moses" because he, being ADONAI, was the builder of the house of Israel rather than being part of it, as was Moses (Morris).
4 For every house is built by someone, but the One having built all things is God.
Paul continues his argument with an axiomatic observation of common experience. For: Grk. gar, conj. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. house: Grk. oikos. See verse 2 above. The noun is primarily intended to refer to a physical structure, but could have a dual meaning and include household. is built: Grk. kataskeuazō, pres. See the previous verse. The thought is "every house that is built in a town or city." by: Grk. hupo, prep. used to indicate a position that is relatively lower; below, under; and used here as a marker of agency or cause. The idea of agency literally means "under the authority of."
someone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. The pronoun is often used to distinguish an individual in a class or in contrast to others. This is an important affirmation of design. Houses do not build themselves. Coincidence cannot explain how the myriad of different parts that comprise a house came together. A physical house has a builder, often a team of builders. A household has a founder or father who began the family.
but: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The first meaning applies here. the One: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun, substituting for the sacred name. having built: Grk. kataskeuazō, aor. part. all things: neut. pl. of Grk. pas. The plural pronoun substitutes for the heavens and the earth and all things therein (cf. Acts 17:24; Eph 3:9; Col 1:16; Heb 1:1; Rev 4:11; 5:13). This clause affirms that all the physical things in existence have a design, a definite structure.
is God: Grk. theos, God or god, as determined from the context. In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel. In the LXX theos primarily translates the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1). Paul's assertion contains a second truth. Since the One having built all things is the Son (John 1:1-3; Col 1:13-16; Heb 1:2), then the Son must have the same attributes of deity as the Father and the Spirit.
The clause "the One having built all things is God" affirms the truth of intelligent design. The existence of "all things" cannot be explained by an undirected process such as a big bang, natural selection and evolution. The physical architecture of our solar system with the earth placed in the exact position to sustain life and the complex and specified information content in the DNA of all creatures on earth testify to an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent Builder.
5 And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a witness of the things going to be spoken,
Reference: Numbers 12:7
Paul again quotes from Numbers 12:7. And: Grk. kai, conj. Moses: Grk. Mōusēs. See verse 2 above. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Many versions do not translate the particle. was faithful: Grk. pistos. See verse 2 above. In calling Moses "faithful" Paul is not ignoring the fact of the sin of Moses that precluded him from entering the promised land (Deut 32:48-51), but rather makes a generalization of his entire life. The Tanakh gives similar praise to David in spite of his sin of adultery (1Kgs 3:6, 14; 9:4; 15:5; 2Chr 7:17).
in: Grk. en, prep. all: Grk. holos, adj. See verse 2 above. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Some versions have the lower case "his" to make a closer connection to Moses, but the great majority of versions translate the pronoun as "God's" or capitalize "His" to denote God. house: Grk. oikos. See verse 2 above. "House" could refer to the family of Moses, but more likely to the "house of Israel" as composed in the wilderness years (Ex 16:31; 40:38).
as: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 2 above. a servant: Grk. therapōn, attendant, servant. The noun refers to a faithful friend to a superior; who solicitously regards the superior's interest or looks after his affairs, not a common or domestic servant (Zodhiates). Eisenbaum says the term connotes a priest or healer (410). The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX therapōn translates Heb. ebed (SH-5650), slave or servant in a household, but especially has an important use as a religious title.
In the Tanakh Moses is repeatedly referred to as a servant of ADONAI (Ex 4:10; Num 12:7; Deut 34:5; Josh 1:2, 7, 13, 15; 8:31, 33; 9:24; 11:12, 15; 12:6; 13:8; 14:7; 18:7; 22:2, 4; 1Kgs 8:53, 56; 18:12; 2Chr 1:3; 24:6, 9; Neh 10:29). The use of therapōn in contrasting Moses to Yeshua emphasizes that he is lower in rank to the master of the household (Bruce). Even so, in Israelite culture it was considered a high honor for a person to be called a servant of ADONAI, and many Israelite leaders and the Hebrew prophets bore this title. In this capacity Moses was at times a high priest, a judge, a legislator and a spiritual shepherd. In his earthly ministry Yeshua was the preeminent servant of the Lord (Php 2:7).
for: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to direction and limit, lit. "into," here denoting purpose (=for this very thing). a witness: Grk. marturion, that which serves to corroborate or attest, a testimony or witness. In the LXX marturion translates four Hebrew words: (1) Heb. edah (SH-5713), testimony or witness (Gen 21:30); (2) Heb. ed (SH-5707), witness (Gen 31:44); (3) Heb. eduth (SH-5715), testimony (Ex 16:34); and (4) Heb. moed (SH-4150), appointed time, place, or meeting (Num 9:15). Moses was called to be not just a deliverer, but a prophet to proclaim the words of God.
of the things: neut.-pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. going to be spoken: Grk. laleō, fut. pass. part., to make an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. In the LXX laleō translates Heb. dabar (SH-1696), to speak, often used of verbal communication from God, first in Genesis 12:4. As a historical reflection the clause suggests that when Moses first accepted the role of servant, he could not have anticipated that God would later reveal to him the coming of a prophet like him, an Anointed One who would succeed him as the preeminent leader of Israel (Deut 18:15-19).
At the time Moses could not have understood the full significance of the revelation, but as a faithful servant and witness he repeated exactly what he heard from God and admonished Israel to listen to that future leader. As Yeshua told the Judean leaders, "if you believed Moses, you would have believed me; for he wrote about me" (John 5:46 BR).
6 but Messiah, as the Son, was faithful over His house, whose house we are, if we should hold our confidence and the boasting of hope.
but: Grk. de, conj. Messiah: Grk. Christos (from chriō, "to anoint with olive oil"), the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. Christos is a royal title, not a last name. This is the first mention of "Messiah" in this letter. Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to translate Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), "Anointed One," and in the Tanakh Mashiach is used for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26). Jewish anticipation of the Messiah was grounded in the future hope expressed by the Hebrew prophets of one who would come to deliver and rule as God's anointed.
The Messiah would fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and to Israel. Those promises included redemption for Israel, destruction of the enemies of Israel, the restoration of Israel to sovereign rule in its land and establishment of the Davidic monarchy over Israel and the nations (Luke 1:32, 68-74; Acts 13:32-34). What the Jews did not expect was that in order to have a victorious Messiah, they would have first a suffering Messiah, one who would be an atoning sacrifice (John 1:29). For more discussion of the Jewish hope and expectation of the Messiah see my article The Messiah.
as: Grk. hōs, adv. the Son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios translates Heb. ben (SH-1121, "son," "son of"), which is normally used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity; (2) to mean not the actual father but a more distant ancestor; or (3) in a broader sense of having the characteristics of. However, Paul uses "Son" to mean the Son of God with the seven-fold characteristics of deity set forth in the introduction to this letter (1:2-4). Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that before the advent of Christianity "Son of God' had a very human meaning. Adam was the first son of God (Luke 3:38). Then God declared that the nation of Israel was His son (Ex 4:22).
For Jews during the first century "son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom (Ps 2:6-7, 11-12). "Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority. This meaning is illustrated by Nathanael (John 1:49) and Martha (John 11:27) who called Yeshua "Son of God." Yet, there are verses in the Tanakh that mention God having a unique Son in a very personal sense (Prov 30:4; Isa 9:6).
was faithful: Many versions insert "is/was faithful" here. The description is implied from the previous verse. over: Grk. epi, prep. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; a reference to Yeshua. house: Grk. ho oikos. See verse 2 above. whose: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. house: Grk. oikos. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The plural pronoun includes Paul and his fellow Messianic Jews. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 2 above.
Paul elsewhere likens the followers of Yeshua in a corporate sense to a holy temple (1Cor 3:16-17; 2Cor 6:16; Eph 2:21), as well as a "commonwealth of nations" (Eph 2:12) and the "household of God" (Eph 2:19; 1Tim 3:15). Even the metaphor "body of Messiah," only used by Paul (Rom 7:4; 1Cor 10:16; 12:27; Eph 4:12), alludes to the physical structure of the human body.
if: Grk. ean, conj., a future-oriented particle that implies a condition which experience must determine, an objective possibility (Zodhiates). Here the conjunction establishes that followers of Yeshua can only claim to be "his house" based on the following action. we should hold: Grk. katechō, aor. subj., 1p-pl., to hold fast, to hold down. The subjunctive mood looks toward what is conceivable or potential. The phrase "if we should hold" is equivalent to Yeshua's insistence of disciples enduring to the end in order to be saved (Matt 24:13). The follower of Yeshua must "hold on," and the following virtues assure success.
our confidence: Grk. ho parrēsia, freedom, openness, especially in speech. The noun has a focus here on assurance in a relationship that presupposes communication; boldness, confidence. This is a quality of "cheerful courage" (Thayer) that can face adversity and still be assured of fellowship with God and ultimate salvation. Parrēsia is possible as the result of guilt having been removed by the blood of Yeshua (Heb 10:17-19; Zodhiates).
and: Grk. kai, conj. the boasting: Grk. ho kauchēma, a basis or ground for pride, boasting, glorying, or exultation. The noun occurs 11 times in the Besekh and all the other uses are found in Paul's writings. In the LXX kauchēma translates Heb tehillah (SH-8416), praise, song of praise, first in Deuteronomy 10:21. While boasting is often viewed in a negative light in Scripture (Ps 5:5; Prov 25:14; 27:1), boasting about God or praising Him is viewed as good and encouraged (Ps 5:11; 34:2; 89:17). Paul had laid down the principle that we should only "boast in the Lord" (1Cor 1:31; 2Cor 10:17). That is, we give God the credit for everything good in our lives and for all the benefits and blessings that have accrued to us by virtue of redemption.
of hope: Grk. ho elpis may refer to (1) looking forward to something that is desirable, or (2) the basis of firm expectation. The second usage applies here. In the LXX elpis translates several different words with the meaning to hope (DNTT 2:239). The "boasting of hope" affirms that God will carry out His promises for the house of Israel and those grafted in, the promises proclaimed in the good news (cf. Acts 2:30; 3:19, 24; 10:43; 13:23, 32-33; 26:6-7, 22; Rom 9:4; 2Cor 1:20).
After "hope" the Textus Receptus along with some notable MSS adds "firm until the end." The additional phrase is found in a number of versions (ASV, DARBY, DRA, EHV, KJV, NASU, NKJV, NLV, NMB, PHILLIPS, TLB). The phrase is not found in the earliest MSS: p13 (3rd c.), p46 (c. 200) and Vaticanus (4th c.). Metzger suggests the phrase was borrowed from verse 14 below.
Second Warning, 3:7-11
7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you would hear His voice,
Reference: Psalm 95:7; LXX Psalm 94:7.
Paul now contrasts the faithfulness of Moses with the unfaithfulness of the Israelites whom he led out of Egypt. Bruce notes that this moral typology occurs elsewhere in the Besekh. Paul tells the Corinthians that Israel's rebellion and punishment in the wilderness have been preserved for our instruction so that we may avoid the same error (1Cor 10:6-11). Yeshua's half brother Judah reminds his Messianic Jewish readers, "the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed the ones not having been faithful" (Jude 1:5 BR). After this fashion Paul based his exhortation on an appeal to Psalm 95 (94 in the LXX). The MT does not ascribe authorship, but the LXX names David as the author, which Paul affirms in the next chapter (4:7).
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as. The adverb stresses speaking as an authoritative activity. the Holy: Grk. ho hagios, adj., has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44.
Spirit: Grk. ho pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit. "Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. Luke applies Hebrew grammatical form to the Greek text writing the words from right to left as in Hebrew (To Hagion To Pneuma).
says: Grk. legō, pres., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. In the LXX legō translates Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, command or think. As used here the verb emphasizes divine verbal inspiration of the Scripture about to be quoted and the present tense emphasizes that the Spirit continues to speak through Scripture. Paul then quotes from Psalm 95:7-11. Psalm 95, placed as the first psalm in Hymn Collection I (Pss 95–100) is a call and guide to worship. The Hebrew form of the psalm is anonymous and without superscription, but the LXX assigns David as the author.
The abrupt change in tone in verse 7 has historically puzzled Bible scholars, but most today view the psalm as a unity, probably composed for the celebration of Sukkot (Kidner 375). Moses had decreed that the words of the Torah must be read to the congregation in every Sabbatical year at Sukkot as a covenant renewal (Deut 31:10-13). The prophetic section of Psalm 95:7-11 is a powerful reminder of what happened when Israel failed to obey God's instruction. When Yeshua attended a Sukkot celebration he pointed out the guilt of Judean leaders who did not live by Torah expectations (John 7:19).
Today: Grk. sēmeron (for Heb. ha-yom), today, this day, now. The noun occurs 8 times in Hebrews, three in this chapter. Luke is the only book in the Besekh that uses the noun more. The noun is employed to stress urgency of appeal. The admonition is reminiscent of the use of "today" in the Torah (Deut 4:40; 5:3; 6:6; 7:11; 9:3; 11:2). God is calling for immediate action and He must not be ignored. if: Grk. ean, conj. See the previous verse. The conjunction introduces another conditional statement requiring a choice essential to "holding on."
you would hear: Grk. akouō, aor. subj., to hear aurally or listen, often with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said. In the LXX akouō translates Heb. shama (SH-8085; BDB 1033), which not only means to hear, but also to accept and to act upon what has been heard (DNTT 2:173). Hearing the word of God is a prime act of worship and tantamount to kneeling in submission to the divine will (Ps 95:6). Again the subjunctive mood is used to emphasize potential. "If you would only listen and obey."
His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, which refers to ADONAI (Heb. YHVH) in verse 6 of the psalm. voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language (1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth. In the LXX phōnē generally translates Heb. qôl (SH-6963; BDB 876), sound or voice, the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
The phrase "His voice" alludes to the biblical reality that throughout the Tanakh YHVH is the One who speaks for Elohim. Only twice in the Tanakh does the Holy Spirit speak to someone (Ezek 3:24; 11:5) and even there the Spirit spoke in the name of YHVH. Paul does not imply hearing an audible voice, but that this quoted passage is ADONAI speaking.
8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, according to the day of testing in the wilderness,
Reference: Psalm 95:8; LXX Psalm 94:8.
do not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation that rules out any implications ("suggestions") that could be involved with what should (could, would) apply (HELPS). harden: Grk. sklērunō, pres. subj., to harden; become inflexible; obstinately stubborn, resisting what God says is right (HELPS). In the LXX sklērunō translates the Heb. chazaq, which means to be or grow firm, be strong (SH-2388; BDB 304), first in Exodus 4:21. The verb is used repeatedly in the Exodus narrative of Pharaoh's heart being hardened, first by himself (Ex 8:15, 32; 9:34) and then by ADONAI (Ex 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:8). "Hardening" meant that Pharaoh stiffened his resistance to complying with God's expressed will, which God knew he would do.
your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates the Heb. nouns leb (SH-3820) and lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (BDB 523f), first in Genesis 6:5 (DNTT 2:181). In the Tanakh "hardening the heart" is an idiom rarely used of an Israelite, but it is contained in this warning in Psalm 95:8. However, hardening the heart is synonymous with "stiffening the neck," figurative of obstinacy, which is used of Israelites (2Kgs 17:14; 2Chr 30:8; 36:13; Jer 7:26; 17:23; 19:15). To "harden" the heart is to disobey the voice of God and act in accordance with one's own desires, which is what Israel did in the wilderness (Morris).
as: Grk. hōs, adv. in: Grk. en, prep. the rebellion: Grk. ho parapikrasmos, embitterment, with a connotation of rebellion as incitement to divine wrath; irritation, provocation, rebellion. The noun occurs only in this letter (also verse 15 below). In the LXX of this verse parapikrasmos substitutes for the location name Heb. Meribah (SH-4808), which means strife or contention. The actual name of the place in the Wilderness of Sin ("Seen") was Rephidim, but Moses renamed the place Meribah because there the Israelites grumbled over the lack of water (Ex 17:2-3). On that occasion Moses struck the rock at God's instruction to supply water (Ex 17:5-6).
according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 3 above. the day: Grk. ho hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, or (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, but here the noun has a figurative meaning as a time period in which an event occurred. of testing: Grk. ho peirasmos may mean either (1) a means to determine quality or performance, test or trial; or (2) exposure to possibility of wrongdoing, temptation. The first meaning applies here. Since the action of testing was directed at God ("judging God"), it was tantamount to rebellion. In the LXX of this verse peirasmos translates Heb. massah (SH-4531), test, trial, or proving. Moses gave the name "Massah" to Rephidim as a parallel synonym of Meribah (Ex 17:7).
in: Grk. en. the wilderness: Grk. ho erēmos, unpopulated region, desert or lonely place. In the LXX erēmos often translates Heb. midbar (SH-4057), which refers to tracts of land used for pasturage or uninhabited land (BDB 484), first in Genesis 14:6. The term as used here alludes to the territory of the Sinai peninsula. The translation of "desert" in a number of versions is misleading, if not inaccurate, because the territory had sufficient vegetation to sustain the flocks of the Israelites (Ex 3:1; 12:38). This incident of testing God at Meribah/Massah is remembered three more times in the Torah (Deut 6:16; 9:22; 33:8), marking it as an example of egregious unbelief and unfaithfulness.
Reference: Psalm 95:9; LXX Psalm 94:9.
where: Grk. hou, adv. used to introduce information about a location. your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, as well as frequently in reference to God. In the LXX patēr translates ab ("av"), which generally occurs in the human sense, but also of God as father in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f). The use of "fathers" emphasizes the direct line of descent from the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob), but more specifically the twelve tribes that came from Jacob.
tried Me: Grk. peirazō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) make an effort to do something; try, attempt; or (2) to try, make a trial of, put to the test; tempt, test, try. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX of this verse peirazō translates Heb. nasah (SH-5254), to test or try, which is used four times in the Torah for testing God (Ex 17:2, 7; Num 14:22; Deut 6:16). BAG notes that the intent of testing God is to discover whether He really can do a certain thing, especially whether He notices sin and is able to punish it. The act of testing God amounts to defiance.
by: Grk. en, prep. testing: Grk. dokimē can denote process, "testing, trial" or outcome, "approval." The former applies here. In the LXX of this verse dokimē translates the Heb. verb bachan (SH-974), to examine or try. The Hebrew verb is generally used of God testing persons, but is used twice of individuals testing or tempting God (also Mal 3:10, 15). Indeed God says in the Torah that Israel tested (Heb. nasah) Him ten times (Num 14:22). The Sages understood the ten tests to include incidents before and after the crossing of the Red Sea.
"It was taught: R. Judah said, With ten trials did our forefathers try the Holy One, blessed be He: two at the sea, two because of water, two because of manna, two because of the quails, one in connection with the golden calf, and one in the wilderness of Paran." (Arachin 15a)
The fact that David specifies the testing in the wilderness, does not exclude the wilderness of eastern Egypt (Ex 14:3). The ten incidents in which Israelites tested God may be identified as,
● Grumbling before crossing the Red Sea (Ex 14:10-12; Ps 106:7).
● Grumbling at Marah (Massah) about lack of potable water (Ex 15:23-24; Deut 6:16; 9:22; Ps 95:8).
● Grumbling in the Wilderness of Sin about lack of meat (Ex 16:2-3).
● Disobeying instruction not to leave manna for the next day (Ex 16:19-20).
● Disobeying instruction not to go out on the Sabbath to gather manna (Ex 16:27-30).
● Grumbling at Rephidim about lack of water (Ex 17:1-4).
● Idolatry with the golden calf (Ex 32:1-10; Ps 106:19-20).
● Complaining at Taberah because of adversity (Num 11:1-3; Deut 9:22).
● Grumbling by the mixed multitude and Israelites at Kibroth-hattaavah about lack of meat and subsistence on manna (Num 11:4-9, 13, 34; Deut 9:22; Ps 106:11-15).
● Grumbling at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Paran after hearing the negative report of the spies (Num 14:1-4; Ps 106:24-26).
After the grumbling over the report of the ten spies, God pronounced judgment and declared that the grumblers would not enter the land of Canaan (Num 14:29-30). Yet, Israelites continued to grumble and rebel against God and Moses.
● Attempting an invasion of Canaan contrary to the will of God (Num 14:40-45).
● Korah's rebellion against the authority of Moses (Num 16:1-35; Ps 106:16-18).
● Grumbling after Korah's death (Num 16:41-49).
● Grumbling at Kadesh about lack of water and tasty food (Num 20:1-5; Ps 106:32-33).
● Grumbling en route to Edom about food and water (Num 21:4-9).
● "Playing the harlot" with Moab at Baal-Peor and bowing down to their gods (Num 25:1-5; Ps 106:28-29).
and: Grk. kai, conj. saw: Grk. horaō (for Heb. ra'ah, "to see"), aor., 3p-pl., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental perception. my: Grk. egō, first person pronoun; i.e., ADONAI (Heb. YHVH). works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. In the LXX of this verse ergon translates Heb. poal (SH-6467), doing, deed or work. The Hebrew noun is actually singular in number, but has a collective focus. God's works on behalf of Israel for the forty years in the wilderness included supplying manna (Ex 16:35), insuring there was no lack of necessities (Deut 2:7), preventing clothing from wearing out and feet from swelling (Deut 29:5).
for forty: Grk. tessarakonta, the number forty. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a period of twelve months. Scripture affirms that the Israelites spent forty years in the wilderness (Ex 16:35; Num 14:33; Deut 2:7; Josh 5:6; Acts 7:36). Morris notes that the faithlessness of Israel was no passing phase but something that went on for the entire time of forty years. Bruce speculates that the mention of 40 years represents a cautionary warning to the Messianic Jews who received this letter. The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem occurred 40 years after Yeshua prophesied its occurrence (Matt 24:2; Luke 21:20; cf. Yoma 39b).
Hebrews was likely the next to last letter Paul wrote, being written between AD 62 and 68 when he was martyred. Paul could recognize the signs of the times and the spiritual condition of the Jewish people weighed heavily on his heart (cf. Rom 9:1-4).
The time reference of 40 years actually begins the next verse in quoted text, but Paul decided change the verse division. We should remember that while the words of Scripture are inspired, verse and chapter divisions are not. Chapter and verse divisions are purely arbitrary, since the original Greek MSS had neither. Chapter divisions were introduced by Stephen Langton in 1227 and verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text (Textus Receptus).
10 Therefore "I was angry with that generation, and said, 'Always they go astray in their heart; moreover they have not known my ways.'"
Reference: Psalm 95:10; LXX Psalm 94:10.
Therefore: Grk. dio (from dia, "through," and hos, "which"), inferential conj., therefore, for this reason, on account of which, wherefore. The conjunction is Paul's addition since it is not found in the LXX or the Hebrew text. Paul follows the conjunction with the declaration of ADONAI.
I was angry with: Grk. prosochthizō (from pros, "towards, with," and ochtheō, "to be sorely angered"), aor., of profound inner reaction against provocative behavior; be angered at/with, be disgusted. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also verse 17 below). In the LXX of this verse prosochthizō translates Heb. qut (SH-6962), to feel a loathing (BDB 876). The verb possess strong emotional content, which indicates that God is not impassive or indifferent to human sin.
that: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The LXX actually has the demonstrative pronoun ekeinos ("that one"). The Hebrew text does not have a pronoun here. generation: Grk. genea means family or descent and can mean a clan, race, kind, or nation. In the LXX genea translates Heb. dor (SH-1755), period, generation. The noun can refer to an age, a span of generations or mean all the people alive at a given time in the past or in the present. Here the noun alludes to the adult population that came out of Egypt.
and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. epō, aor., to speak or say by word or in writing something to someone. Always: Grk. aei, adv. with focus on regularity; always, unceasingly, perpetually, on every occasion. The Hebrew text does not have the adverb, but the LXX adds it. The use of the adverb might seem hyperbole, but in the context of wilderness narrative of Exodus–Deuteronomy it is no exaggeration.
they go astray: Grk. planaō, pres. mid., 3p-pl., may mean (1) in the active voice to cause to go astray, in the sense of leading one from a standard of truth or conduct, mislead, deceive; or (2) in the passive voice of a physical departure from a customary course, stray or wander about; or (3) in a metaphoric extension of the idea of physical departure, go astray, be mistaken. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX of this verse planaō translates Heb. ta'ah (SH-8582), to err and in the ethical sense to go astray.
in their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. heart: Grk. ho kardia. See verse 8 above. Though singular in number the noun has a collective meaning for the entire nation. moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction continues the thought with emphasis. they have not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. known: Grk. ginōskō, aor., 3p-pl., to know, including (1) to be in receipt of information; (2) to form a judgment or draw a conclusion; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value. The third meaning applies there.
In the LXX ginōskō translates Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395). The Israelites had the "head knowledge" from being informed of the commandments, but lacked the "heart knowledge" of a willingness to obey.
my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. ways: pl. of Grk. ho hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway. It can also refer to the act of traveling; journey, way, trip. Then, hodos is used fig. of conduct or a manner of life (cf. 1Cor 12:31; Jas 1:8). In the LXX hodos occurs frequently and is used to translate 18 different Hebrew words, but mostly Heb. derek (SH-1070), a way, road, or journey (Ps 1:6) (DNTT 3:937). The plural form "ways of God" refer to divine expectations revealed from the beginning that set forth the standards for living in a manner that pleases God (cf. Job 23:12; Gen 18:19; 26:5; Ex 18:20).
The ways of God may also be summarized by the two great commandments to love God and to love neighbor. The Israelites knew God's moral will in that they knew about the divine commandments that had existed since creation. Then God's commandments were repeated and expanded at Sinai. But, the Israelites did not internalize or embrace God ways as a personal lifestyle. Thus, the promise of the New Covenant is that God would write His laws on the hearts of His people (Jer 31:33).
11 "As I swore in my wrath, 'They shall not enter into my rest.'"
Source: Psalm 95:11; LXX Psalm 94:11.
The declaration of ADONAI continues. As: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 2 above. I swore: Grk. omnuō, aor., to take an oath affirming the veracity of what one says; swear. In the LXX of this verse omnuō translates Heb. shaba (SH-7650), to take an oath, swear, first in Genesis 21:31 (BDB 989). Shaba is derived from Heb. sheba, meaning "seven," and there is evidence in ancient literature that it was not uncommon to seal an agreement by the number "seven." Thus, shaba could mean to "seven oneself, or bind oneself by seven things" (BDB 989). For example, Abraham sealed an oath to Abimelech by giving seven ewe lambs as a witness (Gen 21:22-34). Then Abraham named the well at the place of the oath "Beersheba" or "Well-of-the-seven-oath" (Gen 21:31).
God did swear on important occasions. "'I have sworn by myself,' says ADONAI" (Gen 22:16 BR). God swore to give the land of Canaan to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Gen 24:7; 26:3; Ex 6:8; 33:1; Deut 1:8; 6:10; 19:8; 31:7). God swore to multiply the seed of Abraham as the stars and the sand (Ex 32:13). God swore a perpetual covenant with Israel (Deut 4:31). God swore to establish his people as a holy people (Deut 28:9). Unlike man the oaths of God contain the certainty of fulfillment.
in: Grk. en, prep. my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. wrath: Grk. orgē means anger, indignation or wrath. In the Besekh orgē is used of human anger (Eph 4:31; 1Tim 2:8; Jas 1:19-20), but primarily divine wrath at the end of the age (Matt 3:7; Rom 2:5; Eph 2:3; 1Th 1:10; Heb 3:11; Rev 6:16). Orgē depicts a settled anger that proceeds from an internal disposition, solidifying what the beholder considers wrong, unjust or evil (HELPS). In the LXX orgē is used to translate eight different Hebrew words for anger (DNTT 1:108). In this verse of the LXX orgē translates Heb. aph (SH-639), nostril, nose, face, anger (BDB 60). The anatomical term is used for anger because of the change in facial features that occurs from the emotion of anger.
they shall not: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker, normally used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument, if, whether. However, the conjunction as used here expresses negation, as does the Hebrew conjunction (im, SH-518) it translates in the quoted verse. enter: Grk. eiserchomai, fut. mid., 3p-pl., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. The verb occurs 17 times in Hebrews, eleven of which are in this chapter and the next in reference to entering rest. In the LXX eiserchomai translates Heb. bo (SH-935), to come in, come, go in, go.
into: Grk. eis, prep. my: Grk. egō. rest: Grk. katapausis (from katapauō, "to cause to cease, to rest"), cessation of labor, the state or condition of rest, or the place of rest. The concept of rest is an important theme in Hebrews with the noun occurring twice in the chapter and six times in the next chapter. In the LXX katapausis translates six different Hebrew nouns that mean cease from work, rest, resting place or settling in a place (DNTT 3:255f). In the LXX of this verse katapausis translates Heb. menuchah (SH-4496), resting place, rest, quietness (BDB 629).
In the Tanakh menuchah is used of a resting place (Gen 49:15; Num10:33; Deut 12:9; 1Kgs 8:56; Ps 132:14; Isa 66:1). The concept of menuchah as a resting place is almost always associated with land, a pleasant land, especially the inheritance of the promised land (Deut 12:9; Ps 132:14). The resting place represents the fulfillment of God's promise of security and rest from enemies (1Kgs 8:56). Thus, Rashi says the resting place refers to the land of Israel and Jerusalem. God dwells in the midst of the resting place so that one may enjoy a close relationship with Him.
David warned the Judean leaders of his day that just as God denied the inheritance to those who rebelled against Him in the wilderness, the same consequence could occur to his contemporary generation. Christian interpreters typically view the final resting place of God's people as heaven. Barnes makes the obvious application to the Israelites: "No one can doubt, also, that their conduct had been such as to show that the great body of them were unfit to enter into heaven." Jews did not speak of heaven but the world to come or the age to come when the Messiah will rule. The Pharisee Sages affirmed, "All Israel has a portion in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 11:1), but then immediately identified Israelites who have no place in the world to come.
Included in the extensive list of people excluded the Sages declared "The generation of the wilderness have no share in the future world and will not stand in the last judgment. As it is written, 'in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die'" (Sanhedrin 11:2). This was the view of Rabbi Akiba (AD 50–135), the father of Rabbinic Judaism. Fruchtenbaum takes a different view. He contends that the divine judgment was only physical, not spiritual. That is, God had decreed that the rebellious Israelites would perish in the wilderness and not live to see the promised land. In addition, he says, "Numbers 14:20 does say that the people repented; it even goes on to say that God forgave the sin."
Actually, his comment misrepresents the narrative of Numbers 14. Verse 20 only says that God pardoned the Israelites based on the intercession of Moses. There had been no repentance. Only after Moses declared the consequences of rebellion (Num 14:28-35) did the people mourn and admit that they had sinned (Num 14:39-40). The people then proceeded to disobey God again by attempting an invasion of Canaan (14:40-45). The example of Moses who had to die outside the land is used by Fruchtenbaum to reinforce the interpretation that the judgment was physical and not spiritual. After all, Moses appeared with Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration.
However, Moses was punished for one specific sin, whereas the Israelite generation was punished for repeatedly rebelling against God, as illustrated in verse 9 above. Paul will warn his readers of the spiritual consequences of such repetitive sinning in Chapter 10. Psalm 95 serves as a strong rebuttal to those who believe they can keep on sinning with impunity (cf. Ezek 18:4, 20, 24).
Peril of Unfaithfulness, 3:12-19
12 Watch out, brothers, lest there will be in any of you an evil heart of unfaithfulness, in departing from the living God.
Watch out: Grk. blepō, pres. imp., 2p-pl., to look out or see, here with the focus on spiritual circumspection (cf. 1Kgs 8:61). brothers: pl. of Grk. adelphos, voc. See verse 1 above. Paul emphasizes his filial kinship with his readers. lest: Grk. mēpote, conj., a marker cautiously expressing possibility and indicating a circumstance or attitude designed to counteract a consequence ordinarily considered undesirable; so that, lest. there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 2 above. in: Grk. en, prep. any: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 4 above. of you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person.
an evil: Grk. ponēros, bad, evil. First, the term may be used as an adjective characterizing condition, whether physical (in poor condition) or ethical (wicked, evil, degenerate). The adjective may be applied to material objects, words or the conscience. Second, the term may be used as a substantive, whether to denote a wicked or evil intentioned person (e.g., Deut 21:21; Esth 7:6; 1Cor 5:13), as a euphemism for the devil (1Jn 5:19), or that which is inherently evil (Gen 6:5; Rom 12:9) (BAG).
In the LXX ponēros translates Heb. ra (SH-7451), with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 2:9 (DNTT 1:565). In the Tanakh ra is used to describe both that which is ethically evil (Gen 6:5) and something that is unpleasant, disagreeable or injurious (e.g. Gen 24:50). In the Tanakh ra is often used to describe that which is ethically evil, whether persons, thoughts or conduct (Deut 1:35; 4:25). The term is used here as an adjective.
heart: Grk. kardia. See verse 8 above. The phrase "evil heart" depicts an obstinate refusal to obey God (e.g., Jer 3:17; 7:24; 11:8; 16:12; 18:12). of unfaithfulness: Grk. apistia (from the letter alpha, as a sign of negation, and pistos, "faithful"), lack of willingness to respond positively to words or actions that invite belief or commitment; unbelief, unfaithfulness, or distrust. The great majority of versions translate the noun as "unbelief" or "unbelieving." The noun does not describe changing from being a monotheist to being an atheist, but the result of evil in the heart.
Ellicott comments that "the Greek word apistia stands in direct contrast to 'faithful' (pistos, Hebrews 3:2), and combines the ideas of 'unbelief' and 'faithlessness.' Bruce observes that apistia involved disloyalty as well as the passive failure to trust. He then notes that the phrase kardia ponēra apistias bears a verbal resemblance to the rabbinical doctrine of the yetzer ra, the evil inclination. A source passage for this viewpoint is 2Esdras 3:20-22; 4:30; 7:92, which traces the beginning of the "evil heart" with Adam.
The Pharisee Sages believed that Man was created with two impulses or inclinations, a deduction drawn from Genesis 2:7, which states that God formed (vayyitzer) man. The spelling of this Hebrew verb is unusual: it uses two consecutive Yods instead of the one that would be expected. The Sages inferred that these Yods stand for the word "yetzer," which means impulse, and the existence of two Yods here indicates that humanity was formed with two impulses: a good impulse (the yetzer tov) and an bad impulse (the yetzer ra) (Berachot 61a).
The yetzer tov is the moral conscience, the inner voice that reminds a person of God's law when tempted to do something that is forbidden. So the yetzer tov is really the inclination to please God. In the beginning the yetzer ra was not a desire to do evil. Rather, it was the inclination to please oneself, to satisfy personal needs (food, shelter, sex, etc.). The yetzer ra is not viewed as a bad thing. It was created by God, and all things created by God are good (Gen 1:31). Without the yetzer ra (the desire to satisfy personal needs), man would not build a house, marry a wife, beget children or conduct business affairs (Genesis Rabbah 9:7).
At its worst the yetzer ra can lead to wrongdoing when it is not controlled by the yetzer tov. The term yetzer ra appears first in Scripture as a description of the antediluvian generation (Gen 6:5; 8:21). They had an inclination to wickedness. The yetzer ra is generally seen as something internal to a person, not as an external force acting on a person. The idea that "the devil made me do it" (cf. Gen 3:13) is not in line with the majority of thought in Judaism nor Scripture. People have the ability to choose which impulse to follow: the yetzer tov or the yetzer ra. That is the heart of the Jewish understanding of free will. Paul next warns of the result of developing "an evil heart of unfaithfulness."
in: Grk. en. The preposition introduces the consequence of unfaithfulness. departing: Grk. aphistēmi, aor. inf., may mean (1) cause to move from a reference point; or (2) withdraw oneself from a person or thing. The second meaning applies here. The infinitive depicts a result. from: Gk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, from, away from. the living: Grk. zaō, pres. part., be in the state of being alive; living. God: Grk. theos. See verse 4 above. The "living God" is a term that occurs in the Tanakh for the God of Israel in contrast with the deities and idols of other nations that have no actual life (e.g., Isa 37:4, 17; 40:18-26; 45:20; Jer 10:10; 23:36). The "living God" is a favorite expression of Paul (Acts 14:15; Rom 9:26; 2Cor 3:3; 6:16; 1Tim 3:5; 4:10), occurring four times in this letter (also 9:14; 10:31; 12:22).
Paul presents a conundrum. Christians normally use "brother" in a spiritual sense of someone who shares the same faith in Yeshua. So, how can a brother who knows Yeshua develop an evil heart of unfaithfulness? Paul is not referring to falling prey to temptation and committing a sin, which can then be confessed and forgiven. Rather, "departing from the Living God" refers to abandonment or betrayal. The truth is that many professing Christians develop anger and bitterness toward God and turn away from Him as a result of a personal tragedy that they believe God should have prevented or remedied.
More to the point, Paul could have named men in Scripture who became traitors to their covenantal loyalty: In the Tanakh there are many names that could be listed, but most notable are the priest Korah (Num 16:8-11), King Saul (1Sam 15:23; 16:14), King Rehoboam (1Kgs 12:12-13; 14:21-24), and Queen Athaliah (2Kgs 11:1). In the Besekh there are Judas Iscariot, who was called an apostle (Matt 10:2, 4); the man guilty of incest in Corinth (1Cor 5:1-5, 13), and Hymenaeus and Alexander in Ephesus (1Tim 1:20; 6:21).
13 But exhort yourselves according to each day, while this is called "Today," so that not anyone of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of Sin.
But: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. exhort: Grk. parakaleō (from para, "beside," and kaleō, "to call"), pres. mid., 2p-pl.,, may mean (1) call to be at one's side; (2) hearten in time of trouble; or (3) encourage performance; urge, exhort, encourage. The third meaning applies here. In the LXX parakaleō is chiefly used for Heb. nacham (SH-5152), be moved to pity, console, comfort, have compassion, first in Genesis 24:67. The imperative mood expects compliance with the instruction. The present tense could represent either continuing a current behavior or starting the desired behavior.
yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person; himself, herself. The plural would be "yourselves," but many versions translate the pronoun as "one another." The pronoun perhaps envisions the meeting of the congregation. Paul stresses the importance of both mutual fellowship and mutual accountability in the Body of Messiah. Such mutual exhortation and encouragement can strengthen a congregation against the schemes of the enemy to tempt members into sin.
according to: Grk. kata, prep., lit. "according to." See verse 3 above. Many versions don't translate the preposition, but since it introduces a time reference then Thayer suggests "during" is appropriate. Here the preposition stresses conformity and then Paul supplies the manner. each: Grk. hekastos, adj., in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 8 above. Most versions ignore the preposition and translate the phrase as "every day." However, Paul is not enacting a rule for something that every disciple must do every single day of the year or be accused of sin for failure to perform it. Rather, "according to each day" is idiomatic for "as the need arises and is appropriate in the circumstances" (cf. Gal 6:10; Col 4:5).
while: Grk. achri, adv., a function word signifying an interval between two points with focus on continuity, here of an extension in time; as far as, until, while. this: Grk. hos, relative pronoun but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Bible versions omit translating the pronoun. The pronoun probably alludes to the present age. is called: Grk. kaleō, pres. pass., to call, and used here to mean to give a name or nickname to. Today: Grk. ho sēmeron. See verse 7 above. Paul points out the obvious. The past is behind us and the future is before us, and we are always living in "Today." The time reference may hint at applying the forty years in verse 9 above to the present circumstances.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 8 above. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. See verse 4 above. of you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. may be hardened: Grk. sklērunō, aor. pass. subj., cause to be unyielding. In the LXX sklērunō translates the Heb. chazaq, which means to be or grow firm, be strong (BDB 304). by the deceitfulness: Grk. apatē, deception in quality or instance motivated by guile and treachery; deception, deceitfulness, delusion, trick, fraud or sham.
of Sin: Grk. ho hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to miss the mark, to fail, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance. Hamartia could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that does not conform to the dominant community ethic (DNTT 3:577).
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated.
Here Paul is probably using hamartia (note the definite article) with the third meaning above, so that "the deceitfulness of Sin" represents the disciples' chief adversary. Paul frequently personifies hamartia in Romans (5:12; 6:2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 17, 18, 20, 22; 7:11, 17, 25; 8:2, 10). A personification is the attribution of human characteristics to a thing or abstraction. Personifications are common in Hebraic-Jewish literature. For example:
"Raba observed, First he [i.e., evil inclination] is called a passer-by, then he is called a guest, and finally he is called a man [i.e., occupier of the house]." (Sukkah 52b)
The first personification in Scripture is of sin when God says to Cain, "Sin [chata, a feminine noun] is crouching at the door; and its [her] desire is for you, but you must master it" (Gen 4:7). Sin is a beguiling temptress who seeks to lure the unsuspecting into a trap that will result in death (cf. Prov 5:3-5). Yeshua and Paul warned about avoiding sin for a reason (John 5:14; 8:11; 1Cor 15:34; Eph 4:26; 1Tim 5:20). No follower of Yeshua is so secure that he cannot fall away (Rom 11:20; 1Cor 10:12; 2Pet 3:17). The disciple must actively resist the devil to remain victorious (1Cor 10:13-14; Eph 6:11; Jas 4:7).
14 For we have become partakers of Messiah, if indeed we should hold the beginning of assurance firm until the end.
For: Grk. gar, conj. we have become: Grk. ginomai, perf., 1p-pl., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development. The third meaning applies here. partakers: pl. of Grk. metochos, having a part in something; sharing in, associate, companion, partner, or partaker. Many versions have "partners" but "partakers" seems more fitting here (Thayer). of Messiah: Grk. Christos. See verse 6 above. To be a partaker of Messiah means to be a recipient of the blessings and benefits provided by his death and resurrection, especially an inheritance in the Messianic kingdom and eternal life.
if indeed: Grk. eanper (from ean, "if"), conj., a conditional particle that makes a disclaimer of presumption; if only, if indeed. we should hold: Grk. katechō, aor. subj., to hold fast, to hold down. the beginning: Grk. ho archē is a multi-purpose word with the basic meaning of priority and may mean (1) the point of derivation or originating moment; beginning, start point; (2) one who enjoys preeminence in earthly or supra-terrestrial realm; ruler, authority; or (3) assigned position or sphere of activity, position, domain, jurisdiction. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX archē translates Heb. reshit (SH-7725), "beginning," first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:164f).
of assurance: Grk. ho hupostasis (from hupo, "under" and hístēmi, "to stand"), may mean (1) a legal standing under a guaranteed agreement ("title-deed"); fig. a legitimate claim or "title" to a promise or property; (2) the quality of having actual existence; assurance, confidence, reality, steadiness, or substance. The second meaning applies here. The phrase "beginning of assurance" alludes to when the believer first had the witness of the Spirit (Rom 8:15-16) and entered the relationship with God conscious of dependency on Him for every spiritual need.
firm: Grk. bebaios, adj. (from bainō, "to walk"), solid or sure enough to walk on; hence, binding, firm, secure, unshakable, unalterable; fig. absolutely dependable. The term was used in the papyri in a technical sense for a legal guarantee (Rienecker). until: Grk. mechri, adv. expressing a limit, here temporal; as far as, until, even to. the end: Grk. telos may refer to (1) the termination or cessation of something; (2) the last part or conclusion of something; or (3) the goal toward which a movement is directed (BAG). The second meaning applies here.
HELPS says the root (tel-) means "reaching the end (aim)," and illustrates this point by contrasting with the old maritime telescope, which extended out one stage at a time to function at full-strength. In the LXX telos is often used to translate the Heb. qets, "end" (DNTT 2:60). The Hebrew word qets is most often used of time, especially in phrases that speak of the end of a definite time period (e.g., Gen 8:6; 2Sam 15:7; 2Kgs 18:3) (BDB 893).
The phrase "until the end" points to the end of the present age when Yeshua returns and takes his seat of judgment. Paul's statement echoes the words of Yeshua in the Olivet Discourse, "the one having endured to the end, that one will be saved" (Matt 24:13 BR). The essence of Yeshua's promise is captured by Paul's dictum, "If we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us" (2Tim 2:11-13). Discipleship requires perseverance or continued loyalty to Yeshua to gain the promise of reigning with the Messiah.
15 In that it is said, "Today, if you should hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion."
Reference: Psalm 95:7-8; LXX Psalm 94:7-8.
In: Grk. en, prep. that it is said: Grk. legō, pres. mid. inf. See verse 7 above. Today, if you should hear his voice: Paul repeats this line verbatim from verse 7 above. do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion: Paul repeats this line verbatim from verse 8 above. This is the third usage of the verb "harden" in this chapter. The repeated warning follows the biblical principle of giving warning two or three times (cf. Deut 17:6; 19:15; 2Cor 12:14; 13:1; Titus 3:10).
16 For who of those having heard rebelled except not all those having come out of Egypt through Moses?
Paul drives home his message by asking three questions that may seem rhetorical, but are serious. He seeks to emphasize that the author of Psalm 95 had the Israelites in mind who were in a position of spiritual privilege and yet turned against their Deliverer in a grievous fashion. In the Greek text this verse is one interrogatory sentence, but most all Bible versions translate it as two questions. Paul poses a question and then incorporates the answer in the same sentence.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 3 above. who: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. The KJV treats the pronoun as indefinite and translates it as "some." of those having heard: Grk. akouō, pl. aor. part. See verse 7 above. The verb alludes to the historical narrative of Israel hearing the good news of God's covenantal care (Ex 3:7-8, 16-17; 4:29) and covenantal expectations spoken at Sinai, first through Moses (Ex 19:3-8) and then directly from God to the chief priests and seventy elders (Ex 24:1-3, 9-14).
rebelled: Grk. parapikrainō, aor., 3p-pl., to embitter, provoke, irritate. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb alludes to all the times the Israelites complained, grumbled and tested God as represented in the list in verse 9 above. except: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 13 above. Many versions treat the conjunction as if it were the verb eimi with the translation "was it" to mark the beginning of the second question. The conjunction does not have an interrogative function.
not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 10 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 4 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Morris notes that the faithfulness of Caleb and Joshua does not negate the "all those" in this question. having come: Grk. exerchomai, pl. aor. part., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. out of: Grk. ek, prep., "out of, from within" (DM 102). The preposition denotes exit or emission out of, as separation from, something with which there has been a close connection. The first part of the verse represents a statement turned into a question: "All those who came out and heard rebelled."
Egypt: Grk. Aiguptos, a land in northeastern Africa, home to one of the earliest civilizations, and an important cultural and political influence on ancient Israel. In contrast to the modern nation, ancient Egypt was confined to the Nile River valley, a long, narrow ribbon of fertile land (the "black land") surrounded by uninhabitable desert (the "red land"). Egypt proper, from the first cataract of the Nile to the Mediterranean, is some 750 miles long. The Hebrew name in the Tanakh is Mitzrayim (Mizraim in Christian Bibles). The English word Egypt is derived from the Greek word via Middle French "Egypte" and Latin "Aegyptus."
The Greek historian Herodotus (440 BC) provides perhaps the earliest secular account of ancient Egyptian culture (Histories, Book II). An Egyptian priest, Manetho of Sebennytus (285-246 BC), wrote a book Aegyptiaca in Greek to acquaint the Mediterranean world with the history and civilization of his country. The original work has perished, but fragments have been preserved and transmitted by other ancient authors. See the complete work here: Manetho.
through: Grk. dia, prep. used as a prefix to a statement, which may express (1) instrumentality; through, by means of; or (2) causality; on account of, because of. The first usage applies here. Moses: See verse 2 above. The miraculous deliverance and departure of the Israelites from Egypt under the leadership of Moses are recounted in the book of Exodus. In other Jewish literature the deliverance from Egypt is reviewed in Philo On the Life Moses II, and in Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III.
The exodus occurred about 1450 BC based on the statement that the building of Solomon's temple began 480 years after the Israelites left Egypt (1Kgs 6:1), about 967 BC (Purkiser 117). The Egyptian priest Manetho revised the true history by saying that Pharaoh expelled the Israelites from Egypt (Book II, Fr. 51).
The clause "all those having come out of Egypt through Moses" alludes to the adult Israelites, who experienced the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, and as Paul wrote to the Corinthian congregation: "were immersed into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1Cor 10:2 TLV). So the Israelites who had witnessed signs and wonders and delivered from bondage yet rebelled. Paul points out that the number of Israelites that rebelled were not merely some, but all the adult Israelites, with the solitary exceptions of Joshua and Caleb (Num 14:30).
17 Moreover with whom was He displeased forty years? Was it not those having sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
Reference: Numbers 14:28-34.
Paul rephrases the question he asked in the previous verse to make a separate point. Moreover: Grk. de, conj. with whom: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See the previous verse. was He displeased: Grk. prosochthizō, aor. See verse 10 above. forty: Grk. tessarakonta. years: pl. of Grk. etos. See verse 9 above for this time reference. Paul alludes to God's consistent negative attitude during the wilderness journey in contradistinction to those with whom He was pleased, such as Joshua and Caleb (Num 14:30, 38), Phinehas (Num 25:11), and Eldad and Medad (Num 11:26).
Was it not: Grk. ouchi, interrogative particle, here with a tone suggesting the answer ought to be self-evident, not. Thayer defines the particle's usage in a question as asking what no one denies to be true. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having sinned: Grk. hamartanō, pl. aor. part., cause to be alongside instead of on target, to miss; in a moral sense to do wrong as defined in the Torah, thus to transgress or sin against God. In the LXX hamartanō translates Heb. chata (SH-2398), to miss, go wrong, sin, and generally used of behavior prohibited by God (Gen 20:7; Ex 9:27), which inevitably produces guilt and the need for atonement or punishment (BDB 306).
Paul defines the constant grumbling against God (see the list in verse 9 above) so as to impugn His integrity and faithfulness as sinning. whose: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 6 above. bodies: pl. of Grk. kōlon, a limb or member of the body, fig. of a corpse or carcass. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. fell: Grk. piptō, aor., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower position, used here fig. of death that results in the dismemberment of corpses by decay. in: Grk. en, prep. the wilderness: Grk. ho erēmos. See verse 8 above. This last phrase alludes to God's pronouncement of judgment against the Israelites, "In this wilderness all your corpses shall fall" (Num 14:29).
18 Then, to whom did he swear they would not enter into His resting place, if not to those having disobeyed?
Reference: Numbers 14:23; Deuteronomy 1:35; Psalm 95:11.
As verse 16 and the previous verse this verse is one interrogatory sentence in the Greek text, and most Bible versions translate it as a single sentence. Paul again poses a question and then incorporates the answer in the same sentence.
Then: Grk. de, conj. to whom: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 16 above. did he swear: Grk. omnuō, aor. See verse 11 above. they would not: Grk. mē, adv. enter: Grk. eiserchomai, fut. mid. inf. See verse 11 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. resting place: Grk. katapausis. See verse 11 above. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker that introduces a current real condition, or an assumption for the sake of argument; here the latter. not: Grk. mē, adv.
to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having disobeyed: Grk. apeitheō, pl. aor. part., to refuse to believe or to be persuaded, thus resulting in disobedience. The setting of this declaration is the refusal to accept God's word that Canaan could be conquered (Num 14:11). The lesson of Israel's history is that constant disobedience has severe consequences.
19 And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unfaithfulness.
And: Grk. kai, conj. we see: Grk. blepō, pres., 1p-pl. See verse 12 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. they were not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. dunamai, aor. pass., 3p-pl., the quality or state of being capable. to enter in: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. inf. See verse 11 above. because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 16 above. unfaithfulness: Grk. apistia. See verse 12 above. Bible versions uniformly translate the noun as "unbelief," although a few have "lack of trust" (CJB, TLV). It's important to remember that this noun focuses on the actions of unfaithfulness that resulted from the attitude of unbelief.
Paul alludes to the attempt by Israel to enter the land after God passed judgment on the nation for their rejection of the positive reports of Caleb and Joshua (Num 14:40-45). Moses warned the Israelites not to go because ADONAI would not be with them. They made an invasion attempt anyway and suffered a humiliating defeat. Unfaithfulness deprives one of God's empowering grace. The Israelites were only able to conquer Canaan under the leadership of Joshua because ADONAI was with them. The lesson for Paul's readers was clear. Unfaithfulness can prevent eternal reward.
The judgment on the wilderness generation is an acted out parable of a spiritual principle. God will sift His people in order to remove those who are opposed to His rule. Yeshua declared this principle in his parable of the end-time harvest:
47 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a dragnet cast into the sea, and gathering fish of every kind; 48 and when it was filled, they drew it up on the beach; and they sat down and gathered the good fish into containers, but the bad they threw away. 49 So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous, 50 and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt 13:47-50)
For the health of congregations this sifting should not wait for the judgment at the Second Coming. Thus, Yeshua and Paul gave instruction to confront sin in the body of Messiah and remove unrepentant members (Matt 18:15-19; 1Cor 5:2, 9-13; Titus 3:10-11; 1Tim 5:20). In this same line Peter says, "For it is time for the judgment to have begun from the house of God" (1Pet 4:17 BR). Paul will warn his readers in Chapter 10 that "ADONAI will judge His people" (10:30 TLV).
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Epistle to the Hebrews. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Eisenbaum: Pamela Eisenbaum, annotations on "The Letter to the Hebrews," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Ellicott: Charles John Ellicott (1819–1905), Commentary for English Readers (1878). Online.
Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, "Hebrews," Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushlami, and the Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Kidner: Derek Kidner, Psalms 73―150: An Introduction and Commentary. InterVarsity Press, 1975. (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries)
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon (1889). rev. by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Midrash: Midrash Rabbah: Vol. 1, Genesis. Trans. by Rabbi Dr. Harry Freedman. Soncino Press, 1939. Online.
Morris: Leon Morris, Hebrews. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Purkiser: W.T. Purkiser, ed. Exploring the Old Testament. Beacon Hill Press of Kansas City, 1955.
Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer (1828-1901), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (1889). Hendrickson Publishers, 2003. Online.
Zodhiates: Spiros Zodhiates (1922-2009), ed. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament. AMG Publishers, 1992, 1993.
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