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The Epistles of Paul - Romans Part 16, 08-08-2014: Branches Broken and Grafted
As we have described over the last four segments of this presentation of Paul's epistle to the Romans, from Romans chapter 9 Paul has been discussing and contrasting three different groups: The Israelites of Judaea who remained under the law, the Edomites of Judaea whom Yahweh hates, and the Israelites of the Nations, those of the ancient dispersions who were being reconciled to Yahweh through Christ.
The first two groups were contrasted in Romans 9:1-13 where Paul stated that he had concern for his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, and explained that not all of those in Israel were of Israel, going on to compare Jacob and Esau and illustrating for us that in Jacob were vessels of mercy, while in Esau were vessels of destruction. With this we supported our interpretation of Paul's message with explanations from both the prophets and from history which clearly demonstrate that the Edomites had moved into the ancient lands of Israel and were eventually converted to Judaism, well over 100 years before Christ.
The third group is revealed in Paul's words from Romans 9:24-26, where Paul cites prophecies from Hosea and Isaiah proving that the Nations to whom he brought the gospel were the nations descended from those cast-off “lost sheep” Israelites of the Old Testament. From Romans chapter 1 much of Paul's language in reference to the Romans demonstrates his confident persuasion that the Romans themselves were a portion of these long-dispersed Israelites.
Of these three groups, Paul only accounts two of them worthy of salvation: the Israelites of Judaea and the Israelites of the dispersion among the Nations. The Edomites are accounted as “vessels of wrath fitted for destruction”, as Paul explains in Romans 9:22. The message of the prophets concerning these Edomites, today's Jews, is the same as Paul's message: a promise of destruction.
Therefore, when we read the balance of Paul's epistle, we can never make the erroneous assumption that the Edomite Jews are among those being considered by Paul for conversion and salvation. Paul clearly stated that he only had concern for his brethren in Judaea, those who were Israelites “according to the flesh”. Among the modern-day Jews, there are none of these left. Paul's concern for his kinsmen “according to the flesh” was relevant to his own time. But it is no longer relevant today because all modern-day Jews have long ago been intermarried with those ancient Edomite Jews, as well as the other races wherever they have traveled, and therefore all modern-day Jews are indeed bastards.
Because there has been a lengthy hiatus since the last of these presentations, we shall briefly recapitulate the first 15 verses of this chapter, and some of the remarks which we made when we presented them last month.
1 Now I say, has Yahweh thrust away His people? Certainly not! Indeed I also am an Israelite, of the offspring of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 Yahweh has not thrust away His people, whom He knew beforehand.
The assertion Paul makes here does not preclude the fact that the dispersed Israelites among the Nations to whom Paul is bringing the Gospel of reconciliation are also Yahweh's people, which Paul already explained in previous chapters of this epistle. Paul's reference to his own genealogy does not set him apart from those nations, but rather accentuates the need for one to be of Israel “according to the flesh” in order to have a share in the promises of God. Paul's assertion that Yahweh does not thrust away His people reflects Paul's belief that all of the people of Israel shall indeed attain salvation.
Do you not know in Elijah what the writings say? How he petitions Yahweh concerning Israel, 3 “Yahweh, they have killed your prophets, and they have demolished your altars, and I alone was left remaining, and they seek after my life.” 4 So what did the response to him say? “I have left to Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed a knee to baal.” 5 Now in this manner even in the present time there has been a remnant in accordance with the election of favor. 6 But if in favor, no longer from rituals: since favor would be favor no longer.
There is something which we did not elaborate upon when we first presented this passage. Note that here Paul considers the Scripture from what has been preserved to us as the 1st Book of Kings to be the writings of Elijah. The reference to the seven thousand does not mean that there were only seven thousand Israelites left in Elijah's time. Rather, their numbers were indeed as the sand of the sea. The seven thousand represented the number of pious men left in Israel who had not engaged in paganism, and for which Elijah need not have feared for his life. Paul uses the reference as a model for his own time. Certainly the numbers of Israel in dispersion remained as the sand of the sea, but they were also pagans. Paul's hope was that there remained such a remnant of pious men in Israel, his kinsmen “according to the flesh” who would yet obey the gospel message.
The proof of this interpretation lies in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, where Paul says “18 Behold Israel down through the flesh [or “according to the flesh”]: are not those who are eating the sacrifices partners of the altar? 19 What then do I say? That that which is sacrificed to an idol is anything? Or that an idol is anything? 20 Rather, that whatever the Nations sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to Yahweh. Now I do not wish for you to be partners with demons.” Paul clearly states that the Nations practising paganism are Israel according to the flesh, and a proper understanding of ancient history and the settlement of Europe reveals his assertion to be true.
7 What then, what Israel seeks after, this it did not attain to? But the chosen have succeeded, and the rest were hardened, 8 just as it is written, “Yahweh has given to them a spirit of slumber, eyes that see not, and ears that hear not, unto this very day.” 9 And David says, “Their dining table will be for a snare, and for a hunting of beasts, and for a trap, and for a repayment to them;” 10 “Their eyes will be darkened to not see, and their backs continually bow.”
Comparing Jacob and Esau in Romans chapter 9, Paul said in verse 11 that “that the purpose of Yahweh concerning the chosen endures”, and for that reason Esau was not included in the promises. Here in Romans 11:8 Paul is quoting from Isaiah 29:10. By quoting this passage in reference to those who rejected Christ, Paul connects the coming punishment and destruction of Jerusalem, which he alludes to in Romans 16:20, to the rejection of the Gospel. Paul only cares for his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, yet he said in verse 8 “But the chosen have succeeded, and the rest were hardened”. Throughout these chapters, comparing Jacob and Esau, Paul has been informing us that Jacob was to receive favor and mercy from Yahweh. But those who were hardened were not necessarily all Edomites, and had rather included men whom Yahweh had predestined for such punishment, for one reason or another.
Other Biblical prophecies explain that there were indeed such men, and we shall discuss these at length when we encounter the broken branches of verse 17. However, as we have discussed concerning ancient Israel, there were false prophets and a Canaanite population in Jerusalem, the Ariel of Isaiah chapter 29. That prophecy, quoted by Paul here, focuses on the prophets, rulers and seers. Likewise, in Romans chapter 10 where Paul quoted Isaiah chapter 28 in reference to the stone set in Zion, that prophecy was addressed to the “hirelings of Ephraim”, an epithet often used of the watchmen or the priests, (28:1, 3) and “ye afflicted men, and ye princes [or rulers] of this people that is in Jerusalem” (28:14).
Paul also quoted from Psalm 69:22-23 here. In this Psalm David makes an imprecatory prayer against his enemies. However the Psalm is also a Messianic prophecy of Christ and the enemies of Christ, and therefore we can readily see parallels with the events of the crucifixion as they are recorded in the Gospel. When we see the context of the Psalm and compare it to the way in which Paul quotes from it, it is a Messianic prophecy referring to those enemies of Yahweh God who partook in the crucifixion of the Christ! Their dining table will be for a snare: their keeping of the law reveals their hypocrisy, and will not benefit them. They will be for a hunting of beasts: as it is written in Luke chapter 21, Christ said concerning the people of Jerusalem that there would be wrath upon them, and that “they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations”.
11 Now I say, did they stumble in order that they would fall? Certainly not! But in their fall is preservation to the Nations, for the provocation of them to jealousy. 12 But if their fall is the wealth of the Society, and their defeat the wealth of the Nations, how much more their fullness?
Paul continues to allude to Isaiah 28, and if one does not understand Isaiah one can never truly understand Paul. Here Paul is not talking about fullness for the Edomites. The Edomites were destined to stumble at the stone because they were never supposed to accept Christ. Rather, Paul is talking about those of his brethren, his “kinsmen according to the flesh” who had not yet accepted Christ, and therefore also stumbled at the stone. In their fall is the preservation of the Nations: many of the Israelite Judaeans went along with the Edomite plans to destroy Christ, and in the death of Christ the nations of scattered Israel have reconciliation to God after the manner in which Paul had already explained in Romans chapters 5 through 7. But in turn, as the gospel goes out to the nations of scattered Israel, the Israelites of Judaea who maintained the law and the prophets, were provoked to jealousy. When we first presented these verses we employed Acts chapter 22:21-22 as a signal example of this phenomenon, where we saw with certainty that the Judaeans were provoked to jealousy upon the thought of Paul's sharing his message of redemption with the Nations, regardless of the origin of those nations, and regardless of whether those Judaeans themselves had accepted Christ.
Of course, Paul's discourses concerning the Israelites of Judaea both in Acts and here in Romans are historically relevant to his own time, but these discourses are no longer relevant to our time. Christ Himself said of Jerusalem that it would no longer bear fruit, and those Israelite Judaeans who continued to reject Christ were separated from their brethren in Christ and ultimately mixed in with the Canaanites and Edomites who never accepted Christ. These are the broken-off branches described later in this very chapter of this epistle.
13 Indeed I speak to you, the Nations, because I am an ambassador of the Nations, I honor my office, 14 if possibly I would provoke to jealousy my kinsmen [literally “my flesh”], and preserve some from among them. 15 Indeed if the disposal of them is the reconciliation of the Society, what would the acceptance be, if not life from among the dead?
Paul clearly imagined that being provoked to jealousy upon seeing the Gospel of Christ go out to the Nations, which were indeed the children of scattered Israel, that by that he would also turn his Israelite kinsmen among the Judaeans to Christ. Paul is a kinsman to all Israel, but here he expresses his desire for his kinsmen in Israel because not all of those in Judaea are his kinsman, and doing so he is emphasizing the racial scope of the Gospel. If the Israelites of Judaea had not acceded to the desires of the Edomite Sadducees, from which was the party of the high priests, as well as others of the party of the Pharisees who desired to put Christ to death, then there would be no reconciliation to Yahweh for the Israelites scattered abroad, since Christ would not have been the Lamb of God and there would have been no release from the Law in the manner which Paul described in Romans chapter 7. The Edomites only had their way because many of the Israelites went along with them. Therefore Peter, addressing the people of Judaea and speaking of Christ as it is recorded in Acts 2:23, exclaimed that “He [Christ] by the appointed will and foreknowledge of Yahweh was surrendered, who crucifying through lawless hands you have slain!” Here Paul also defines the scope of the word cosmos, or world, as the Adamic world of scattered Israel and the Adamic Genesis 10 nations, since he himself has confined the message of the Gospel to the nations which sprung from the loins of Abraham in Romans chapter 4, who are those of the Roman οἰκουμένη who were both Judaean and Greek, Scythian and Barbarian, slave and free.
Now that we have recapitulated what we believe to be the important points of discussion concerning the first 15 verses of this chapter, we shall proceed with the balance of Romans 11:
16 Now if the first fruit is sacred, then also the balance, and if the root is sacred, also the branches.
The word rendered balance is literally lump and may be a reference to the mass of dough made from the grain.
Since a good tree does not produce bad fruit, all of Israel, which is every single Israelite, must be worthy of salvation. From Matthew chapter 7, the words of Christ: “17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” Yahshua Christ Himself being the root of the Adamic tree, the children of Israel and the entire Adamic race is indeed sacred.
17 But if some of the branches have been broken off and you, being of a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, [and] having become a partaker of the richness of the root of the olive tree, 18 you must not exult over the branches; but if you exult, you will not sustain the root, or the root you.
The 3rd century papyrus P46 and the Codex Claromontanus (D) want the words “of the root” in verse 17. The Codex Alexandrinus and the Majority Text have “the root and the richness”. The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C).
As for the phrase ἀλλὰ ἡ ῥίζα σέ in verse 18, which is literally “but the root you”, the word ἀλλά is a conjunction which is primarily adversative, however the context of the preceding clauses must be considered (and especially when the preceding clause is negative) and in this case it must be rendered “or” rather than “but”. It may have perhaps more properly but not necessarily been rendered as “nor”.
This comparison made by Paul here is reminiscent of a passage from Homer's Odyssey, Book 5, in which Odysseus encounters a place where two olive trees, one cultivated and one wild, grow out of the same spot.
19 Now you will say, Those branches have been broken off, in order that I would be grafted in?
Once again, none of the major versions, nor the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece read this verse as a question. I must let the context stand for itself. The Future Indicative is often interchangeable with the Aorist Subjunctive (see MacDonald, p. 46). I may have written more properly “...that I shall be grafted in?” Grammatically, οὗν as an interrogatory particle (see Thayer, οὗν, B.) and a verb of the Indicative mood (here the Future tense, ἐγκεντρίσθω) is a pattern Paul uses elsewhere for interrogatives, for example at Romans 3:31 and 7:13.
20 Correct [or literally good], in disbelief they were broken off, and you in faith stand. Be not proud, but reverent. 21 Indeed if Yahweh spared not the natural branches, perhaps you may not be spared.
The cutting off of certain of the people of Judah was a matter of prophecy. This is found in Jeremiah chapter 24, in the parable of the good and the bad figs:
Jeremiah 24: “1 The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. 2 One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad. 3 Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. 4 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 5 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. 6 For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart. 8 And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt: 9 And I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them. 10 And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers.”
The Judahites who were obedient to Yahweh and went into captivity were to be acknowledged as good figs, allegorically of course. Yet certain Judahites were to be given over to bad figs. It is not that they themselves were bad figs, but that they would be given over to bad figs. These were “Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt”. Yet this could not have been fulfilled until after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and some of the subsequent Judaean revolts against Rome, since it was not until then that Judaeans began to be taken captive into all nations and to become “a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places” where they were driven. In the time of Trajan (circa 115 AD) there were Judaean revolts against Rome in Cyrpus, Cyrene and Alexandria, which were put down by the Romans and which decimated Judaean s in those areas. Only then were Jeremiah's words fulfilled concerning “them that dwell in the land of Egypt”. Later, in the time of Hadrian (circa 135 AD) there was the Bar Kokhba rebellion in Judaea. During these three Judaean wars against the Romans, several million Judaeans died, and nearly all of the cities they inhabited were laid to waste. Perhaps hundreds of thousands were sold into slavery, and were distributed throughout the Greco-Roman world in fulfillment of the prophecy.
Verification that these things from Jeremiah chapter 24 were not fulfilled until the Christian period is found not only in history, but also in the very similar words of Christ, from Luke chapter 21: “20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. 24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations....” the fulfillment of these words also began with the Judaean revolt of 65-70 AD and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. These are the branches that were being broken off, Israelites who as a punishment from Yahweh were blinded by Him for that reason and either slain or mingled in with the bad figs.
A similar prophecy is seen of certain false prophets, in Jeremiah chapter 11, where Jeremiah himself seems to be a type for Christ, meaning that this is also a Messianic prophecy: “16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken. 17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal. 18 And the LORD hath given me knowledge of it, and I know it: then thou shewedst me their doings. 19 But I was like a lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter; and I knew not that they had devised devices against me, saying, Let us destroy the tree with the fruit thereof, and let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name may be no more remembered. 20 But, O LORD of hosts, that judgest righteously, that triest the reins and the heart, let me see thy vengeance on them: for unto thee have I revealed my cause. 21 Therefore thus saith the LORD of the men of Anathoth, that seek thy life, saying, Prophesy not in the name of the LORD, that thou die not by our hand: 22 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will punish them: the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine: 23 And there shall be no remnant of them: for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth, even the year of their visitation.” From the opening verses of his prophecy we see that Jeremiah himself was the son of a priest of Anathoth, and Anathoth was the place where Jeremiah was later told to buy a field. Perhaps this passage was the inspiration for Paul's broken-branches analogy. However the more important message here is that for the Israelite denying Yahweh his God, his branch is broken off from Yahweh's olive tree, which is Israel. This is what the first-century Judaeans did when they denied the Gospel of Christ.
22 Behold then the goodness and severity of Yahweh: certainly upon those who have fallen, severity; but the goodness of Yahweh upon you, if then you abide in that goodness, otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 Moreover they also, if they do not remain in disbelief, shall be grafted in; indeed Yahweh is able to graft them in anew. 24 If you from out of a naturally wild olive tree had been cut off, and contrary to nature had been grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more can those natural ones be grafted into their own olive tree?
The text of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece does not mark verse 24 as a question, although the King James Version agrees with the reading here.
There are three words pertaining to olive trees which Paul uses here: ἐλαία which is simply an olive tree or even the olive itself, ἀγριέλαιος which refers to the wild or uncultivated olive, and καλλιέλαιος which is the garden or cultivated olive tree. In Latin the olive is olea, and the wild olive oleaster. They are the same kind, and the distinction is only one of cultivation but not of species or race. There is another word for the wild olive, κότινος, which Paul did not use here. We can estimate that his use of words based upon ἐλαία was purposeful, demonstrating an intrinsic connection between the wild and the cultivated olives which he describes.
Paul had told the Romans in Romans chapter 2 that “as many as have done wrong without law, without law then are they cleansed; and as many as have done wrong in the law, by the law they will be judged”. Yet Paul also indicated many times that the Romans were indeed of the dispersions of the ancient Israelites. In that same chapter he told them “for when the Nations, which do not have the law, by nature practice the things of the law, these, not having law, themselves are a law; who exhibit the work of the law written in their hearts”, referencing a prophecy in Jeremiah concerning the children of Israel. The Romans may have been wild olives, but they nevertheless grew into a society based on the rule of law with the stature of an olive tree.
In contrast to his message to the Romans, Paul told the Corinthians, who were Dorian Greeks and not Romans, “that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all had passed through the sea. And all up to Moses had immersed themselves in the cloud and in the sea, and all had eaten the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank of an attending spiritual rock, and that rock was Christ.” So the ancestors of the Corinthians were in the Exodus with the Israelites. Likewise, in Galatians chapter 4 Paul told the Galatians “Now I say, for as long a time as the heir is an infant, he differs not at all from a bondman, being master of all; but he is subject to guardians and stewards until a time appointed by the father. Just as we also, when we were infants, we were held subject under the elements of the Society. And when the fulfillment of the time had come, Yahweh had dispatched His Son, having been born of a woman, having been subject to law, in order that he would redeem those subject to law, that we would recover the position of sons. And because you are sons, Yahweh has dispatched the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying Father, Father. So you are no longer a bondman but a son”.
Ostensibly, the Dorian Greeks were Israelites who migrated out of Palestine during the later part of the Judges period, perhaps as early as the 12th century BC. While they departed from Israel and went off into paganism before the beginning of the Kingdom period, the laws of Yahweh and Hebrew traditions practiced by their ancestors for several hundred years were still a part of their culture and had an impact on their manner of life. The Galatians were Galatae, Israelites of the Assyrian deportations who had also long been pagans. While these Galatians in Anatolia had become Hellenized and had some Greeks among them, they still had many centuries of Yahweh's law in their heritage. Even long after a people become disconnected from their original culture, aspects of that culture have a continued effect on their society and their morality. We can detect this in our own society today, which still upholds many of the values expressed in documents as old as the Magna Carta, and which still upholds many Biblical values even though today a great number of people have rejected Christ.
Paul never used the wild olive allegory in reference to the Corinthians or Galatians, or of anyone other than Romans. There are many fools who take Paul's allegory and abuse it so they may insist that branches of “peaches, pears, apples, and plums” may be grafted into the Kingdom of Yahweh. A certain so-called pastor, Stephen Jones, who pretends to be an Identity Christian, once said this very thing in reference to his own acceptance of other races. But Paul never said these things. The Romans were wild olives, but they were nevertheless olives. The Judaeans who grew up with the law and the prophets represent the cultivated olive tree, and all of the branches of “lost” Israel were being reconciled to that tree in Christ. The only difference which may be determined is that the Romans were Israelites whose ancestors had departed from the main body of Israel before the olive tree was cultivated by the law and the prophets, and that Paul was aware of that. The Word of God applied to Romans as heirs of the covenants, but as a people they did not grow up with His law and therefore they were wild olives.
Speaking of the Exodus from Egypt from a later Egyptian point of view, the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus, quoting Hecataeus of Abdera who was an earlier Greek historian of the 4th century BC, wrote that “the aliens were driven from the country, and the most outstanding and active among them banded together and, as some say, were cast ashore in Greece and certain other regions; their leaders were notable men, chief among them being Danaus and Cadmus. But the greater number were driven into what is now called Judaea ... The colony was headed by a man called Moses, outstanding both for his wisdom and for his courage” (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 40.3.2-3, Loeb Classical Library vol. 12).
Here the Greeks remembered Danaus and Cadmus, or more fully Danaus the Egyptian and Cadmus the Phoenician as they are referred to throughout the Greek poets and histories. However in many other places they also often remembered two other men, Dardanos and Kalchas, as the legendary founders of Troy and Pamphylia. Here I will quote several passages from another paper found at Christogenea, written perhaps ten years ago, Classical Records of Trojan-Roman-Judah:
In our Bible, at 1st Kings 4:31, the wisdom of Solomon was said to exceed that of several other men: “For he was wiser than all men; than Ethan the Ezrahite (Zerahite), and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol: and his fame was in all nations round about.” Yet the only other place in the Bible that these apparently great men are found is at 1st Chron. 2:6, where we learn that Ethan, Heman, Chalcol, Darda, and Zimri were all sons of Zerah, the son of Judah. [I must interject that Ethan and Heman are found as writers of some of our Psalms and wise men in the time of David, and they may be these same men, but Darda and Chalcol are found nowhere else in Scripture.]
At Genesis 46:12 we learn that when Jacob went to Egypt, Zerah went along also, but no sons accompanied him. While he may have had a wife, or wives, with him (46:26), and Pharez had his own two sons with him, Zerah went to Egypt without children. Much later, during the Exodus, we see that descendants of Zerah were with the Israelites (Num. 26:20). Yet while the records of the census in the desert mention the tribes of the sons of Pharez (Num. 26:21), Zerah’s sons, who must have been notable men, are not mentioned individually.
Is it merely a coincidence that these names of Zerah’s sons, while appearing nowhere else in the Bible, do turn up in Classical Greek records? These men with whom Solomon was compared must have been great, and so why shouldn't we, not finding them in Hebrew records, look to the records of the “nations round about” for the deeds of these men? Of course we should, being told so many times elsewhere that Abraham’s offspring would become many nations. Where is the affirmation of the promise, and the foundation of our Christian Faith, if we find it not in history?
In Greek literature, Dardanos is the founder of the settlement in northwest Anatolia which became known as Troy. Its principle city was known by two names, Ilios (or Ilium) after Ilos, and Troy after Tros, both said to be descendants of Dardanos (cf. Strabo, Geography,13.1.25). Homer confidently gives a genealogy from Dardanos down through Ilos and Tros and several other generations unto Priam, king of Troy when the city was destroyed by the Greeks. The larger district around Troy became known as the Troad, and the Greeks claimed that the walls of the city were built by the sea god Poseidon (Diodorus Siculus, Library of History,4.42.1-3).
Throughout Homer and later Greek literature the Trojans are called Dardans (or Dardanians), after Dardanos, but sometimes Homer mentions Trojans and Dardans together, distinguishing the Dardans of Troy from those who dwelt elsewhere. We are told that the Lycians are Dardans (i.e. Strabo 10.2.10 where the geographer cites Homer), and that Dardans are also found among the Illyrians (Strabo 7.5.1, 6, 7). From Homer’s Iliad, Book 2, it is clear that Dardans dwelt in other towns throughout the Troad. [Paul is later found preaching in both Lycia and Illyria.]
Both Herodotus (7.91), and Strabo who quotes him (14.4.3) tell us that Pamphylia, the district on the southern coast of Anatolia, was a colony founded by Kalchas, who was a Trojan. Kalchas was also considered to be a wise man and a prophet by the Greeks (Strabo 14.1.27). [Therefore he would be worthy of comparison to Solomon.]
If Dardanos is not Darda, and if Kalchas is not Chalcol (in the LXX Chalcad at 1 Kings 4:31, but Kalchal at 1 Chron. 2:6), then why does the Bible mention these men, as if they were men of renown, without telling us who they were? And where did Dardanos the Trojan come from when he founded the colony which became Troy? [And I must interject that the same legends in other places trace these men to Anatolia from the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, and even by way of Crete. These men were not native to Greece or Anatolia.]
By all historical accounts the Romans were descendants of the Trojans who escaped to Italy after the war with the Greeks, and the fall of Troy is generally dated by the Greeks approximate to the year which we would consider to be 1185 or perhaps 1184 BC. The poet Homer gives a genealogy from Dardanos, the legendary son of Zeus and Elektra, down to the elderly Priam who was the king of Troy at its fall, which includes a mere six generations, and a seventh to the great Trojan princes Hector, who died in the battle, and Aeneas, who founded the colony in Italy. Now all of this may sound fantastic, and of course some of it is fantastic. However it demonstrates that the Greek beliefs concerning the founding of Troy and its later destruction fit rather snugly into the time frame of the Exodus from Egypt, since 7 generations can easily span the minimal requirement of 250 years. If the Romans are descendants of the ancient Israelites, as Paul asserts in diverse ways throughout this epistle, then the imperfect legends must indeed represent historical truths.
The Romans were Israelites, but they grew up in the wild, and therefore Paul calls them wild olives, as opposed to the other branches of Israel which had once had the law and the prophets and therefore would have been cultivated olives. For instance, Paul told the Galatians that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ”. Paul's allegory does not apply to “gentiles” or to any non-Israelite people, Adamic or otherwise. In Christ, those wild-olive Israelites of which the Romans were a part would be grafted back into the cultivated olive tree representing the family of Yahweh.
To repeat verse 24: “If you from out of a naturally wild olive tree had been cut off, and contrary to nature had been grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more can those natural ones be grafted into their own olive tree?”
And with all certainty, Judaean Israelites who turned to Christ would indeed have once again become a part of the family of Yahweh. But by this Paul does not mean the Edomite Jews. Paul is only writing these things in reference to his kinsmen “according to the flesh who are Israelites”, and the Edomites are bastards who are not of his flesh. As Paul explained in Hebrews chapter 12, there is a clear distinction between sons and bastards, and no bastard can be a son which is why Esau, who was a fornicator, could find no room for repentance. That was also mentioned by Paul in that same chapter of Hebrews, being related to the distinction between sons and bastards. Sons are included, and bastards are excluded, and that is the teaching of Scripture.
25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, lest you be wise on account of yourselves, that hardness in part has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Nations arrives.
The word literally rendered as hardness, πώρωσις (4457) may just as well have been metaphorically rendered as stubbornness or even as blindness, which is how the King James Version treats it both here and in Ephesians 4:18.
Paul is not saying that a part of the people of Israel would be blind, as a minority of the mainstream translations assert. They twist the language to make this assertion as if they expect the conversion of the Edomite Jews to Christ. Yet these Edomite Jews, the Jews of today, are actually vessels of destruction not fit for conversion, and they are only awaiting the fulfillment of the several prophecies promising their final destruction (i.e. Obadiah 18, Malachi 1:4). Rather, Paul is saying that Israel suffers blindness to a degree, and by that he means Israel in general and not only Judaean Israelites. All of Israel would remain blind to some degree until the fulness of the Nations arrives, which is at the time predetermined by Yahweh. This time must correspond to that of the words of Christ concerning His enemies, found in Luke 21:24 where He says that “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles (meaning nations or heathens), until the times of the Gentiles (nations or heathens) be fulfilled.”
Concerning the Israelites of Judaea who had not accepted Christ, Paul had already said in verse 7 of this chapter, quoting from Isaiah chapter 29, that “Yahweh has given to them a spirit of slumber, eyes that see not, and ears that hear not, unto this very day.” However Paul's mission was to the Nations of dispersed Israel, and not to the Israelites of Judaea, although he was naturally concerned for them. In the Book of Acts, in chapter 26, Paul described in part the purpose of his commission, where he recollects his exchange with Yahshua on the road to Damascus: “5 And I said ‘Who are you, master?’ And the Prince said ‘I am Yahshua, whom you persecute, 16 but you must rise and stand upon your feet. For this have I appeared to you, for you to be a chosen assistant and witness both of the things you have seen by Me and of the things I shall reveal to you, 17 taking you out from among the people and from the nations to whom I send you, 18 to open their eyes, for which to turn them from darkness to light and from the authority of the Adversary to God, for them to receive a remission of errors and a portion with those being sanctified by the faith which is in Me.’”
Yahshua Christ Himself proclaimed the purpose of the Gospel as he quoted from Isaiah chapter 61, where He is reported as having said in Luke chapter 4: “18 The Spirit of Yahweh is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and a restoration of sight to the blind. To send off the broken with release. 19 To proclaim a year acceptable by Yahweh!”
But even if the Gospel was to open the eyes of the blind, as the Gospel itself attests, Israel is still blind in part, since not yet has Israel been fully delivered from the power of the Adversary, or Satan. Therefore, speaking of the ultimate perfection of the creation of Yahweh, Paul says in 1 Corinthians chapter 13: “9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
From Isaiah chapter 42, it is also evident that the children of Israel will not see the truth with clarity until the time of their ultimate restoration: “18 Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see. 19 Who is blind, but my servant? or deaf, as my messenger that I sent? who is blind as he that is perfect, and blind as the LORD'S servant? 20 Seeing many things, but thou observest not; opening the ears, but he heareth not. 21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable. 22 But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses: they are for a prey, and none delivereth; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore. 23 Who among you will give ear to this? who will hearken and hear for the time to come? 24 Who gave Jacob for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers? did not the LORD, he against whom we have sinned? for they would not walk in his ways, neither were they obedient unto his law. 25 Therefore he hath poured upon him the fury of his anger, and the strength of battle: and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew not; and it burned him, yet he laid it not to heart.”
The light of the Gospel was to reveal the identity of the people of Yahweh by bringing them into obedience to Him. This is explained in Luke 2:32 and elsewhere. Without obedience, the people of Yahweh are blinded, allegorically, as the ancient Israelites were blinded for their disobedience. Blindness is a consequence of disobedience prophesied in Deuteronomy chapter 28 where it says “28 The LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart: 29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness” Those who rejected Christ were blinded by Yahweh for His purposes, as Paul cited from Isaiah chapter 29 earlier in this chapter of Romans. So long as they continued to reject Christ they remained blind. Those of the Nations of scattered Israel sat in darkness, and if they accepted Christ they would be granted a recovery of sight provided they submitted themselves to His law. But even then, as Paul explained to the Corinthians, Christians could only hope to “see through a glass, darkly”, until the time of their full restoration. Therefore even those of them who do see cannot possibly see everything.
26 And in that manner all of Israel shall be delivered; just as it is written, “From out of Zion shall come the Deliverer, and He shall turn away impiety from Jakob.” 27 “And this to them is the covenant from Me, when I should remove their guilt.”
Here in verses 26 and 27 Paul quotes from Isaiah 59:20-21. This is an important passage which is also related to what Paul has written here about both the blindness of Israel and the salvation of Israel, and therefore we shall read a significant portion of the chapter:
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness. 4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.... 10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noonday as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men. 11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us. 12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them; 13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. 15 Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey: and the LORD saw it, and it displeased him that there was no judgment. 16 And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. 17 For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. 18 According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompence to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompence. 19 So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. 20 And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. 21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.”
In his last 25 chapters, the prophet Isaiah is addressing the children of Israel in the isles or coastlands, in the places to which they were being scattered. Yet only now in this present time has the “enemy come in like a flood” among the nations of Israel found in Christendom, as many other prophecies also describe, and therefore this is a Messianic prophecy of the Second Advent of Christ. It is clear from the context that Israel, still in a state of sin, is still blind and is saved in spite of themselves, and not on account of themselves. When discussing chapter 5 of this epistle to the Romans, we exhibited this same thing, that Israel is only preserved in spite of themselves, from the prophecy found in Hosea chapter 13.
28 Certainly concerning the good message, they are on your account enemies; but concerning the chosen, beloved on account of the fathers.
As the apostle John said in his second epistle, “9 Each who going forth and not abiding in the teaching of Christ has not Yahweh. He abiding in the teaching, he also has the Father and the Son. 10 If one comes to you and does not bear this teaching, do not receive him into the house and do not speak to welcome him! 11 For he speaking to welcome him takes a share in his evil works.”
Christians are to treat all of those who reject the Gospel of Christ as enemies. This admonition has never been lifted, and in spite of the relatively recent apostasy, it still stands. However it must be kept in mind that the purpose of the Gospel is the salvation and reconciliation of all Israel, therefore it is something which is not for non-Israelites.
Where Paul says “concerning the chosen” he refers once again to his kinsmen “according to the flesh” as he explained at the beginning of Romans chapter 9. We must strike a balance, and regard our own “kinsmen according to the flesh”, those who are Israelites, as brothers in Christ whether or not they accept the Gospel, however we should not have communion with them until they do accept the Gospel. Rejecting Christ, they must therefore be treated as our enemies even though they are beloved “on account of the fathers”. They will be saved in spite of themselves.
29 Indeed the favor and the calling of Yahweh are not to be repented of.
The promises made to the Israelite patriarchs were made without exception, and therefore all of Israel shall indeed be saved. These promises have not been changed or withdrawn. In fact, the Word of Yahweh says at Malachi 3:6 “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Here Paul once again elucidates for us the fact that the favor and calling of Yahweh are according to what was promised in the Old Testament. “From out of Zion shall come the Deliverer, and He shall turn away impiety from Jakob.” All of these promises are exclusive to the children of Israel, both those of the remnant in Judaea and those of the ancient dispersions.
30 Even as you were at one time disobedient to Yahweh, but now are shown mercy due to their disobedience; 31 in that manner these also are now in opposition to your mercy, so that they may have mercy shown to them.
As we have illustrated from Acts chapter 22, the remnant of Judaea were indeed in opposition to the mercy of Yahweh upon the nations of scattered Israel. In the account where upon Paul's arrest he gave a defense before the people of Jerusalem, explaining his encounter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus he concluded “19 And I said ‘Prince, they know that I was imprisoning and flaying those believing in You throughout the assembly halls, 20 and when they spilled the blood of Stephanos Your witness, even I myself was standing by and consenting, and keeping the garments of those slaying him!’ 21 And He said to me ‘Go, because I shall send you off to distant nations.’” Then at this point Luke makes a point by explaining that “22 Now they listened until this word, and raised their voice saying 'Take such as him from the earth! For it is not fit that he lives!'” Since this epistle to the Romans was written before Paul's arrest in Jerusalem, Paul understood this opposition to the spread of the Gospel among the Nations even before these events of Acts chapter 22 had occurred.
32 Therefore Yahweh has enclosed all [P46 and D have “all things”] in disobedience, that He may show mercy to all.
In the end, no man may boast that he attained salvation of his own accord. Yet in Isaiah 45:25 the Word of Yahweh says that “In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” In Ephesians chapter 2 Paul explains this at greater length: “4 But Yahweh, being rich in compassion, because of that great love of His with which He has loved us, 5 and we being dead in transgressions, are made alive with the Anointed (in favor are you being preserved), 6 and are raised together and are seated together in the heavenly places with Christ Yahshua, 7 in order that He would exhibit in the coming ages the surpassing riches of His favor in kindness to us among the number of Christ Yahshua. 8 For in favor you are being preserved through faith and this, Yahweh’s gift, is not of yourselves, 9 not from works, lest anyone would boast, 10 for His work we are, having been established among the number of Christ Yahshua for good works, which Yahweh before prepared in order that we would walk in them.” Without this hope, our Christian faith is vanity.
33 O the depth of riches of both wisdom and knowledge of Yahweh! How unsearchable His judgments and incomprehensible His ways! 34 “For who has known the mind of Yahweh, or who has become His counselor?”
From Psalm 145:3: “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.”
In verse 34 Paul is quoting Isaiah 40:13: “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counsellor hath taught him?” However there is similar rhetoric in Jeremiah 23:18: “For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it?”
35 Or who has betrayed Him? Then they will be requited by Him.
The text of Nestle-Aland and the popular translations extend the question here to include the entire verse, reading “and” for “then”, which is not improper. However the word rendered as betrayed here is often “first given”, as it is in the King James Version which reads “Or who has first given to Him...?” This word, προδίδωμι (Strong's # 4272) is “to give beforehand, pay in advance” (Liddell & Scott), but it is also “to give up to the enemy, deliver up, betray” (ibid.). The word has a variety of other uses and depending upon the context where it appears it may mean “to forsake in distress”, “to give up as lost” or even simply “to fail”, among other things (ibid).
In a positive Christian context we may perceive one doing the work of the Kingdom of Yahweh as one who has “first given” to Yahweh in anticipation of a heavenly reward. However from the verse which precedes we have read this passage in a negative context, and therefore we have translated the word in its appropriate tense as betrayed. In either case, one reaps what one sows.
36 Because from Him and through Him and for Him are all things: to Him is honor for the ages. Truly.
From 2 Corinthians chapter 5: “17 Therefore if one is among the number of Christ a new creation, the old things pass away. “Behold! New things have come!” 18 But all things from Yahweh, who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and is giving the service of reconciliation to us. ” The Christian must discern that while all things which matter are from Yahweh, there are things here among us which are not from Yahweh. Therefore Paul opens the next chapter of this epistle to the Romans with an admonition that includes the warning that they, as he tells them, “do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of the mind, towards approval by you to do that which is the good and acceptable and perfect will of Yahweh.” By this Christians conform themselves to God, and they must be careful not to imagine that they may conform God to themselves.