Hebrews Chapter 11:23-27
23. By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw [he was] a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.
23. Fide Moses, quum natus esset, occultatus est menses tres a parentibus suis, quia videbant elegantem puellum; et non timuerunt edictum regis.
24. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
24. Fide Moses jam grandis renuit vocari filius filiae Pharaonis;
25. Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
25. Potius eligens malis affici cum populo Dei quam temporales habere peccati delicias;
26. Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.
26. Majores existimans divitias probrum Christi quam Aegypti thesauros; intuebatur enim in remunerationem.
27. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
27. Fide reliquit Aegyptum, nec timuit furorem regis; quasi enim invisibilem vidisset, obduraverat.
But he seems to say what is contrary to the character of faith, when he says that they were induced to do this by the beauty of the child; for we know that Jesse was reproved, when he brought his sons to Samuel as each excelled in personal appearance; and doubtless God would not have us to regard what is externally attractive. To this I answer, that the parents of Moses were not charmed with beauty, so as to be induced by pity to save him, as the case is commonly with men; but that there was some mark, as it were, of future excellency imprinted on the child, which gave promise of something extraordinary. There is, then, no doubt but that by his very appearance they were inspired with the hope of an approaching deliverance; for they considered that the child was destined for the performance of great things.
Moreover, it ought to have had a great weight with the Jews, to hear that Moses, the minister of their redemption, had been in an extraordinary manner rescued from death by means of faith. We must, however, remark, that the faith here praised was very weak; for after having disregarded the fear of death, they ought to have brought up Moses; instead of doing so, they exposed him. It is hence evident that their faith in a short time not only wavered, but wholly failed; at least they neglected their duty when they cast forth the infant on the bank of the river. But it behaves us to be more encouraged when we hear that their faith, though weak, was yet so approved by God as to secure that life to Moses, on which depended the deliverance of the Church.
Let us now see what the things are for which he commends the faith of Moses. The first excellency he mentions is, that when grown up, he disregarded the adoption of Pharaoh's daughter. He refers to his age, for had he done this when a boy, it might have been imputed to his levity, or his ignorance; for as understanding and reason are not strong in children, they heedlessly rush headlong into any course of life; young people also are often carried here and there by unreflecting ardor. That we may then know that nothing was done thoughtlessly, and without a long deliberation, the Apostle says, that he was of mature age, which is also evident from history.1
But he is said to have disregarded his adoption; for when he visited his brethren, when he tried to relieve them, when he avenged their wrongs, he fully proved that he preferred to return to his own nation, rather than to remain in the king's court: it was then the same as a voluntary rejection of it. This the Apostle ascribes to faith; for it would have been much better for him to remain in Egypt, had he not been persuaded of the blessing promised to the race of Abraham; and of this blessing, the only witness was God's promise; for he could see nothing of the kind with his eyes. It hence appears, that he beheld by faith what was far removed from his sight.
In opposition to these he sets the
He also explains more fully what he means in this clause by the
But if any one hence concludes, that his faith did not recumb on God's mercy alone, because he had respect to the reward; to this I answer, that the question here is not respecting righteousness or the cause of salvation, but that the Apostle generally includes what belongs to faith. Then faith, as to righteousness before God, does not look on reward, but on the gratuitous goodness of God, not on our works but on Christ alone; but faith, apart from justification, since it extends generally to every word of God, has respect to the reward that is promised; yea, by faith we embrace whatever God promises: but he promises reward to works; then faith lays hold on this. But all this has no place in free justification, for no reward for works can be hoped for, except the imputation of gratuitous justification goes before
In short, God appeared to Moses in such a way, as still to leave room for faith; and Moses, when beset by terrors on every side, turned all his thoughts to God. He was indeed assisted to do this, by the vision which we have mentioned; but yet he saw more in God than what that symbol intimated: for he understood his power, and that absorbed all his fears and dangers. Relying on God's promise, he felt assured that the people, though then oppressed by the tyranny of the Egyptians, were already, as it were, the lords of the promised land.5
We hence learn, that the true character of faith is to set God always before our eyes; secondly, that faith beholds higher and more hidden things in God than what our senses can perceive; and thirdly, that a view of God alone is sufficient to strengthen our weakness, so that we may become firmer than rocks to withstand all the assaults of Satan. It hence follows, that the weaker and the less resolute any one is, the less faith he has.
1 Literally it is "when he became great," that is, in age or in years: he was, as it appears from Acts 7:23, about forty years of age. The word "great," both in Hebrew and Greek, has sometimes this meaning. "When arrived at mature age," by Stuart, is better than "when he was grown up," by Doddridge and Macknight.
It is said that he refused, that is by his conduct. He acted in such a way as to show that he rejected the honor of being adopted son of Pharoah's daughter. The verb means to deny, to renounce, to disown. He renounced the privilege offered to him. Others are said to "deny the power" of godliness, that is by their works. 2 Timothy 3:5. -- Ed.
2 This clause is rendered by Doddridge, "than to enjoy the temporary pleasures of sin:" by Macknight, "than to have the temporary fruition of sin," which is literal rendering; so Beza. Schleusner thinks the "sin" to have been that of idolatry: but the words seem rather to refer to the sin of indulgence in vain and demoralizing pursuits, too commonly prevalent in royal courts.-- Ed
3 The "The reproach of Christ" is differently understood: --
The reproach like that of Christ: as Christ, though rich, became poor to redeem mankind, so Moses despised the treasures of Egypt, for the purpose of delivering Israel from bondage. A similar construction is found in 2 Corinthians 1:5. "The sufferings of Christ," that is, like those of Christ. -- Stuart.
The reproach for Christ, that is, for avowing his expectation of him in common with the distressed people. Macknight, Scott, Bloomfield. For this opinion there is not a particle of evidence from the account we have in Exodus. The Egyptians knew nothing of the redeemer; they therefore could not have reproached the Israelites on his account.
The reproach of Christ's people, the word Christ being sometimes taken for his Church, 1 Corinthians 12:12; and this seems to be the view of Calvin.
The second view is the most satisfactory, and is confirmed by chapter 13:13, "bearing his reproach," that is, a reproach like his. -- Ed.
4 The words are very striking, "For he looked away," that is, from difficulties or present trials, "unto the retribution," the rendering of the recompose. What was the retribution? It was what corresponded with what he did by faith: he engaged by faith in the work of delivering his brethren from bondage. His retribution in this work was, no doubt, then undertaking for his own nation. What his faith in God's promise enabled him to look to, was the deliverance of his people, which was to be his retribution. In this respect he acted, though in a business infinitely inferior, on the same principle with the Savior, "who for the joy (of redeeming mankind) that was set before him, endured the cross," etc. Chapter 12:2 -- Ed.
5 It is said that he "endured," rather persevered; for the reference is not to sufferings, but to trials and difficulties: he was made strong by faith in an invisible God to resist and surmount them all. "He was strengthened," Doddridge; "he courageously persevered," Macknight; "he continued steadfast," Stuart. The word is only found here. -- Ed.
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