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No. 1364.-HEBREWS ii. 15.
And deliver them who through fear of death were all
their life-time subject to.bondage.
The apostle deseribes the state of the Jews as a state of bondage through fear of death. The reason of this. fear is given in the preceding verse ; the devil had the power of death. Hence he was called the angel of death ; and the destroying angel. They imagined that this destroying angel had a power over men even after death. The Midrash avers, that when a man is buried, the devil, the angel of death, comes and sits upon the grave, bringing with him a chain, partly of iron, partly of fire. Then causing the soul to return into the body, he breaks the bones, and torments variously both soul and body for a season. Thus one of their solemn prayers on the day of expiation is, that they may be delivered from this punishment of the devil in their graves. Their prayer to this purpose in their Berachoth is, “ that it may please thee, good Lord, tò deliver us from evil decrees or laws; from poverty, from contempt, from all kinds of punishment, from the judgment of hell, and from beating in the grave.” A similar form of prayer is still in use among the Maho. metans.
PIRIE's Works, vol. iii. p. 151.
No. 1365.-7. 7. When he had offered up prayers and supplications. The word for supplications signifies branches of olive trees covered with wool: (Harpocratian Lex. p. 152. Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. I. v. c. 3.) which such as sued for peace carried in their hands. Hence it came to signify supplications for peace.
Gill, in loc.
No. 1366.-vi. 16. An oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.] The manner in which an oath was taken amongst the Jews, and to which the apostle, writing to such, must be supposed to refer, was this : “ He that swore took the book of the law in his hand, and stood and swore by the name of God, or by his surnames : the judges did not suffer any to swear but in the holy tongue : and thus he said, behold, 'I
ciful and gracious, that I do not owe this man any thing.” Herodotus says that the Arabians, when they swore at making covenants, anointed the stones with blood.
Gill, in loc.
No. 1367.-vii. 26. And made higher than the heavens.] On the day of atonement the high-priest was carried to an upper chamber in the temple, called the chamber of abtines. In the account here given of the exaltation of Christ there may be an allusion' to this circumstance.
GILL, in loc.
No. 1368.—X. 35. Cast not away therefore your confidence.] By the confidence here spoken of may be intended a profession of faith, which ought to be bold and courageous, firm and constant: or it may signify the grace of faith in its full assurance, which, as a spiritual shield, Eph. vi. 16. ought by no means to be cast away. It was reckoned infamous in soldiers to cast away or lose their shield: with the Grecians it was a capital crime, and punished with death. (Alex. ab Alexand. Genial. Dier. l. ii. C. 13.) Dr. Gill apprehends that the apostle may here allude to this circumstance.
No. 1369.-xiii. 15. By him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God.] Among the Jews there was a VOL. II.
sort of sacrifices, called peace-offerings. These were not intended to make peace with God but rather to preserve it. Burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, and trespass-offerings were all presented under the notion of some offence committed and some guilt contracted, which they were the means of removing. But in the • peace-offerings, the offerer was supposed to be at peace with God; and the offering was made rather in a way of thankful acknowledgment for mercies received, or as accompanying vows for obtaining further blessings, or in a way of free devotion, as a means of continuing and preserving peace with God. Thus the peaceofferings were distinguished into sacrifices of thanksgiving, votive offerings, and voluntary or free-will offerings, Levit. vii. 11, 12. The sacrifice of thanksgiving is evidently referred to by the apostle in these words. JENNINGS's Jewish Ant. vol. i. p. 335.
No. 1370. JAMES ii. 2.
A man with a gold ring.
By this circumstance the apostle describes a rich man. Among the Romans, those of the senatorian and equestrian orders were distinguished from the common people by wearing a gold ring. In time the use of them became promiscuous. The ancients used to wear but one.
No. 1371.-iv. 15. If the Lord will.] It was a custom among the Jews to begin all things with God. They undertook nothing without this holy and devout parenthesis, If God will. They otherwise expressed it, if the name please ; or, if the name determine so. The phrase was so common that they abbreviated it, using a letter for a word. But this was not peculiar to the Jews; it was common with all the eastern people. Few books are written in Arabic, but they begin with the word Bismillah, in the name of God. With the Greeks the expression is our ow: with the Latins Deo volente. See GREGORY's Works, p. 99.
No. 1372.-1 PETER i. 18, 19.
We were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver
and gold—but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.
It has been conjectured that buying and selling was. originally conducted by the exchange of one article for another, as cattle for land ; and that the money then used had the stamp of cattle upon it. Agreeably hereto it is thought that among the Latins the word pecunia came to denote money, from pecus, cattle. And on the same account that proverbial saying among the Greeks, Bos eTo gdwolx, there is a bull (or cow) upon his tongue, came to be applied to one who was bribed to silence by money which had on it the stamp of a bull. To the money used among the Hebrews having on it the stamp of a lamb St. Peter is thought by some to allude in these words. Companion to Holy Bible, p. 26.
here is a buho was bribull. To
No. 1373.-iii. 3. Of plaiting of the hair.] This was a way of adorning themselves that was practised in the East anciently, and still continues to be the common usage of those countries. The Editor of the Ruins of Palmyra, (p. 22.) found that it anciently prevailed there, for he discovered with great surprise mummies in the Palmyrene sepulchres, embalmed after the ancient Egyptian manner, by which means the bodies were in such a state of preservation, that among other fragments which he carried off with him was the hair of a female, plaited exactly after the manner commonly used by the Arabian women at this time.
HARMER, vol. ii. p. 381.