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Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, Part 14: The Faith of History
Throughout Hebrews chapter 11 Paul of Tarsus discusses the faith of some of the ancient patriarchs of the Adamic race, down through Abraham, and then continues in that manner with Jacob and some of the later experiences of the children of Israel. It is this second portion which we shall commence with here this evening.
Presenting the first part of the chapter, we hope to have better explained Paul’s definition of faith from our own translation and commentary, and also to have better elucidated what Paul had intended where he described the substance of that faith. The King James Version has Hebrews 11:1 to read that “… faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”, and we believe that this rather poor translation leaves a lot of room for error where people imagine that anything which they hope for may be labelled as “faith” in a Christian context. While Yahweh God indeed provides for His people, the faith of which Paul speaks in this chapter is a specific faith, and not what anyone imagines for themselves.
Rather, Paul says in Hebrews 11:1 that “faith is expecting an assurance, evidence of the facts not being seen.” So while other references to faith may have other implications in other contexts, here in this context Paul explains that faith is the expectation that the assurances, which are the promises which were made by Yahweh to the patriarchs, would indeed be kept. That is the faith which Paul describes here, and subsequently he writes about the deeds of the patriarchs which were predicated upon that faith. As the apostle James said in his single epistle, “faith without works is dead”, so claiming to have faith is useless unless one acts in accordance with one’s profession of faith. There may be fulfillments of faith in other aspects, such as Yahweh’s fulfillment of the wants and needs of His people, but that is a separate issue.
So having faith in this context is believing that the promises which were made by Yahweh God will be delivered before the evidence of the delivery is seen. The substance of the faith is the actual delivery, where the evidence would be plainly seen. In the first part of Hebrews chapter 11 Paul spoke to his Hebrew readers as if they had actually received the promises, since the assurance of that fulfillment is found in Yahshua Christ. Christ being the Mediator of the new covenant with Israel, and Israel being reconciled to Yahweh God through Christ, the substance of the promises begins to materialize into reality. Once the nations of Israel, the nations from Abraham’s seed, are reconciled to God in Christ then the Kingdom of Heaven becomes manifest.
With this we must digress. When the children of Israel were put off in punishment by Yahweh, the terms of that punishment were already described in Scripture, and the duration of the punishment was also determined beforehand. It was to last for 2,520 years, which is seven prophetic times. After that, the children of Israel would be freed from the beast empires, the tyranny of kings and popes. Then the 2,520 years would be followed by something far more ominous, called in Jeremiah the “time of Jacob’s trouble”. This is the period in which we now live, where we perceive that we have liberty, and yet we only serve corruption. But during the time of the tyrants, there was a thousand-year period which Revelation chapter 20 calls the “first restoration”. During this thousand-year period, the Satanic Jews where contained in ghettos, or outside of Christendom completely, and in spite of the wars and plagues and the never-ending attacks of the Jews and their minions from outside, Christian Europe developed and became the most advanced society the world has seen. Revelation chapter 20 informs us that things would turn for the worse when Satan is let out of the pit, and we have witnessed the precise fulfillment of its prophecy once the Jews were admitted to citizenship in the Christian nations.
The same ancient prophets who warned the children of Israel of their times of punishment also promised them reconciliation in a coming Messiah. Isaiah describes the circumstances of that coming. Daniel dates His coming. The Psalms and prophets inform us of the implications of His coming, and Paul puts all of that together and presents it to the people for whom He came. The nations to which Paul had brought the Gospel were the nations descended from the scattered tribes of ancient Israel, the nations of Abraham’s seed that Paul described in Romans chapter 4, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 and elsewhere. Their acceptance of the Gospel demonstrated the truth of the words of the prophets concerning Israel, made manifest the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, and they constitute the substance of the faith. So the coming of Christ was the assurance of the faith which Paul informed these Hebrews that they had now received. When Christ was accepted, the substance of the promise became evident as the scattered nations of Israel turned to Christ. Now Satan is let out of the pit, and has once again deceived the whole world, as the Scripture warns. The Protocols which the devils themselves had written explain the methods of Satan’s deceit.
This is what Christians must believe if they desire to share in the faith of Abraham, because it is what Abraham had believed: that his seed would indeed inherit the world in spite of the enemies of God. This is the faith of history, and the patriarchs and the children of Israel who held it acted upon it on a daily basis. Because they acted upon it, they are extolled by Paul here, the will of Yahweh being made manifest through His people in the world.
Here in the first part of this chapter Paul has illustrated that the faith of the patriarchs all the way back to Abel is the same faith in Christ which he also expected his Hebrew readers to have. So Christians must understand that the patriarchs were simply Christians before the coming of Christ. Christians should also understand that the faith of the patriarchs is consistent all the way back to Abel, but that Cain and his descendants were never included in that faith. Rather, as it says in Luke chapter 1, part of the reason Christ came was to deliver the children of Israel from their enemies, and throughout the Gospel the Jews were portrayed as being enemies. Christ Himself intrinsically connects them to Cain and the serpent in Luke chapter 11, John chapter 8 and elsewhere. The patriarchs were certainly never Jews, as the Jews were once and forever the enemies of Christ. The Jews have never shared the faith of the patriarchs, as Christ had told them, in John chapter 5, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.”
In the last portion of Hebrews chapter 11 which we had discussed, Paul made reference to the events recorded in Genesis chapter 47, where Jacob had blessed the sons of Joseph, prophesying that they would become both a great nation and a company of nations. This was also a promise made after the pattern of the promises to Abraham, and it was not fulfilled in Palestine. Rather, that is the entire reason for Paul’s having brought the Gospel to the nations of Europe: because that is where the children of Israel had settled, and that is where Jacob’s prophecy was fulfilled. An investigation of classical history and Old Testament scriptures fully demonstrates this fulfillment. None of those people were ever known as Jews, but many of them retained vestiges of their past in their myths and customs and other elements of their society. But for now, from Hebrews 11:22, we shall continue with Paul’s discussion of the faith of the patriarchs:
22 By faith Joseph, coming to his end, mentioned the going out of the sons of Israel, and gave commands concerning his bones.
The phrase “going out” is from the Greek word ἔξοδος, the word which gives us the name of the book describing the event, as it is titled in the Septuagint. Here Paul refers to an event recorded in the scripture at Genesis chapter 50: “24 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25 And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26 So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” So the faith which Joseph displayed was a profession of the assurance that the children of Israel would ultimately depart from Egypt, as we see in the earlier promises to Abraham recorded in Genesis chapter 15 where Yahweh says to Abraham, in part: “14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.” Joseph knew of the promises made to Abraham, and was confident that they would be fulfilled.
With this there are many scoffers who try to dispute whether the children of Israel were ever slaves in Egypt for “four hundred years”, as the Judaized denominational Christians claim. First, discussing Galatians chapter 3 here some 16 months ago, we determined that Paul had reckoned a period of 430 years from the call of Abraham to the giving of the law at Sinai. Of that period, it is determined from Scripture that there were about 215 years from the call of Abraham to the time when Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt, and from then the children of Israel were actually in Egypt for the next 215 years, originally as guests, where they could not have been held in bondage for more than two hundred years. In our Galatians presentation, we elucidated the corroborating evidence for all of this from the genealogies and other aspects of Scripture.
Furthermore, in our presentation of Acts chapters 6 and 7, given here over three years ago, we illustrated that the entire period of that 200 years of captivity was during the time of the 18th dynasty, where we wrote the following:
Regardless of the mainstream academic contentions over the pharaoh and the time of the Exodus, which generally place it in the 19th Dynasty and at the time of Ramses, both the testimony of Josephus and an honest study of the chronology of the period tell us that an 18th Dynasty pharaoh named Thutmose, whom Josephus calls Tethmosis, was the pharaoh of the Exodus. There were four pharaohs by this name, and they were all related. Thutmose I and Thutmose II were the third and fourth pharaohs of this dynasty. Hatshepsut was fifth, and it is very likely she who drew Moses out of the water, thereby giving him a form of her family name. The sixth and eighth pharaohs of this dynasty were Thutmose III and IV. The death of one more Thutmose, who never became pharaoh, led to the ascension of his brother Akhenaten. It was during the reign of Akhenaten that the Amarna Letters were written. These archaeological relics were written to Akhenaten by various kings of the land of Canaan and in them it is apparent that they had beseeched him for protection from the invading Hebrews.
Much of the history of White nations from the earliest times was never recorded, or it was recorded so concisely that there is often difficulty creating a narrative from the few facts which have survived. And just as often, histories which were written were destroyed and ultimately replaced by accounts that are not as incriminatory or perhaps are even more complimentary of the parties in power. This is true, for examples, of the life of Alexander the Great in ancient times, and of the crimes of both the Bolshevik Jews and the allied nations which defeated Hitler’s Germany in modern times. The Adamic, or White race, has not always had a penchant for leaving accurate records of the past for their posterity. So it was with the Egyptians, and the Pharaohs had frequently destroyed the records and monuments of their predecessors. Here is a description of this very phenomenon which is found in an article on the pharaoh Horemheb, at the Ancient Egypt Online website:
Horemheb ([which means] "Horus is in festival") was the last pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, but can also be considered as the founder of the nineteenth dynasty of Ancient Egypt. [He really belonged to neither dynasty, he was a military general and was replaced by a military general, Ramesses I, the same level to which Rome also devolved in its decline] He rose from an obscure background to serve up to four kings of Egypt (Akhenaten, Smenkhare, Tutankhamun and Ay) before finally becoming pharaoh of ancient Egypt in his own right.
Booth suggests he was "either a genuine individual who was charismatic and trustworthy or a duplicitous man who was clever and deceitful, convincing each king of his loyalty whilst being loyal only to himself". Whether he is considered as a saint or a sinner depends in large part on a consideration of his role in events following the demise of the Atenist experiment of Akhenaten [the monotheistic worship of the sun-god Aten], the details of which are steeped in controversy and open to debate. He has been described both as "the saviour and father of his country" (Weigal) and the "restorer of just and effective government" (Kitchen) or as a "military strongman" (Kemp) and [a] "general without an inheritance" (Van de Meiroop) who tried to remove his predecessors from the historical record, usurped their monuments and on whose orders a Hittite prince was murdered.
From this and similar descriptions in other references, it is evident that the Wikipedia article on the pharaoh Ay correctly summarizes Horemheb’s rise to power where it says that “It appears that one of Horemheb's undertakings as Pharaoh was to eliminate all references to the monotheistic experiment, a process that included expunging the name of his immediate predecessors, especially Ay, from the historical record.” But this is not all. Returning to the article on Horemheb found at Ancient Egypt Online, where in relation to these rulers, and because of the dearth of surviving records, several possibilities from various scholars are once again discussed, we read:
Van de Meiroop suggests that when Horemheb did become pharaoh he "expressed his displeasure at having been upstaged" by removing Ay's name from monuments and destroying the monuments of Nakhtmin [an Egyptian official and the designated heir of Ay, whom Horemheb had usurped]. However, Booth has suggested that Horemheb was not moved by petty revenge and that as an ultra-traditionalist defender of [the Egyptian idol] Maat he was happy to allow the elderly Ay (as the surviving male member of the previous dynasty) to rule knowing that he would not live long. The text of the Coronation Decree is ambiguous but could be interpreted as confirming that Ay (as the living Horus) named him as heir (although Gardiner notes that it could also mean that Horemheb carried the cult statue of Horus of Hnes to Karnak) so it is possible that Ay and Horemheb worked together to achieve their common goal of restoring Egypt to glory. There is no definitive evidence to confirm the position one way or another, however, his destruction of the monuments of Nakhmin would suggest that there had been an attempt to prevent Horemheb gaining the throne.
Horemheb did usurp the mortuary temple of Ay (and numerous monuments of Tutankhamun), but Ay had himself already usurped this monument from Tutankhamun. Ay's tomb was certainly defaced but Booth suggests that Horemheb caused only "cosmetic" damage and limited his attacks on Ay to the Theban area and that it was the Ramesside kings [of the 19th dynasty] who undertook more consistent attacks on the memory of Ay. Horemheb also began to dismantle the temples of the Aten at Karnak during his fifteenth year (using the blocks as fillers for his own buildings) and may also have begun to dismantle the city of Akhetaten, yet this may have been pragmatic and political rather than personal and vindictive. Hornung has suggested that "Haremheb in no way contemplated an obliteration of the Amarna period but rather attempted to combine tradition with revolution and thus to initiate a new and practicable course of action".
Throughout his life, Ramses II went on to build various monuments and thus his legacy of being a builder in Ancient Egypt and Nubia was born. Ramses II constructed monuments such as Abu Simbel, the mortuary temple Ramesseum, Pi-Ramesses in the Delta, and most notably completed the Temple at Karnak. On many already built temples and existing statues he had his own cartouche inscribed to ensure that his name lived on. The inscriptions were deeply carved into the structures to ensure that they could not be easily destroyed or removed by succeeding empires. In addition, Ramses II had an abundance of colossal statues erected which depicted him as pharaoh. It was more statues than any other pharaoh before him had erected. This helped to solidify his existence and reign in the 19th dynasty and make him more powerful.
It is important to note that many of the monuments from previous pharaohs were destroyed and the materials were used to build things that represented Ramses II, his dynasty, and his god-like status. Chefren’s pyramid at Giza became a target for needed materials. As a result, some of the blocks from this structure were taken to help build the base at Ptah’s Great Temple in Memphis.
So it is, that the pharaohs of the post-Exodus period sought to destroy the historical monuments and records of their predecessors, and they did this for hundreds of years. Any records of the captivity of Israel in Egypt would naturally have been destroyed along with them, since they would have represented a shameful scar on the history of an Egypt which later pharaohs such as Horemheb actively sought to restore to glory. And it is a marvel that in spite of this, Flavius Josephus still understood that a pharaoh who bore the name Tuthmosis was indeed the pharaoh of the Exodus, as he cites three times from the writings of Manetho, in his treatise Against Apion. Today even the writings of Manetho are mostly, but not quite completely, lost. The pharaoh of the Exodus is not known from our Scripture, and the names of these ancient pharaohs were obscure to the historians of the Greeks and Romans. Manetho himself was an Egyptian priest of the 3rd century BC, but many of the writings later attributed to him were probably not his. However in this regard, while the words of Josephus and Manetho could not be corroborated from the Bible or the histories, they have been corroborated to some degree by the archaeological discoveries of modern times. And if much of the history was lost along with the purposeful destruction of the ancient Egyptian records, we nevertheless have an assurance that our Biblical accounts are true. Paul proceeds with a discussion of Moses:
23 By faith Moses, being born was hid three months by his fathers because they saw the handsome child, and did not fear the ordinance of the king.
Here Paul refers to the passage beginning Exodus chapter 2: “1 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.”
According to the accounts in the Exodus, Moses was absent from Egypt for 40 years. If he fled before the death of Tuthmosis II, which is readily evident, and Hatshepsut ruled for 20 years before Tuthmosis III became sole pharaoh, Moses returned to Egypt during the rule of Tuthmosis III and the Exodus occurred shortly thereafter. The 55-year rule of Tuthmosis III, from circa 1479 to 1425 BC, overlaps with the rule of Hatshepsut who was really his co-regent although she prevented him from coming to full power while she lived. She was also his aunt and his step-mother, as Hatshepsut and her husband Tuthmosis II were paternal half-brother and sister as well as husband and wife. However the Pharaohs practised polygamy as well as incest, and Tuthmosis III was the son of another wife. So Moses may have angered either Tuthmosis I, who died circa 1493 BC, or Tuthmosis II who ruled from 1493 to 1479 BC, and after 40 years returned to Egypt no earlier than 1458, after the death of Hatshepsut. In our own commentaries, we have always generally reckoned the Exodus to have occurred around 1450 BC.
We read further on in Exodus chapter 2: “5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. 7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? 8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. 9 And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it.” And subsequently, we read: “10 And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.”
Hatshepsut was the only child of Tuthmosis I and his principle wife, Ahmose (the name appears on males and females of the family). Tuthmosis II was a son by a minor wife. In the days of Tuthmosis I, Hatshepsut being a young woman was, with great certainty, the Pharaoh’s daughter described in the Exodus account. Her father was Tuthmose I, his grand-father was Ahmose I, who had a brother named Kamose and another son named Ramose. Several women of the family bore similar names, and some of these names recur frequently in the surviving family records. So it is evident that with all of these similar names, Moses was called after the family name of the princess because she rescued him from the water.
Concerning the exposure of children, once again we cite our presentation of Acts chapters 6 and 7:
The exposure of children also figures greatly in early Greek literature. The Greeks were said to have often willingly exposed unwanted children, or children that they could not afford, especially female infants. Doing this supposedly left their consciences unburdened, supposing that exposure of an infant left its fate in the hands of the gods. One famous story retold by Herodotus was that the great Persian king Cyrus was exposed at the demand of his grandfather, Astyages the king of the Medes, only to [be rescued,] learn of his identity and to claim his inheritance later in life.
What we did not say was that the exposure of infants became so commonplace in late classical antiquity that Christians spoke out against it, and Christian apologists such as Tertullian, Justin Martyr and Lactantius all wrote against it. So Christians were the original anti-abortion advocates of ancient Rome. Finally, Constantine the Great considered infanticide by the exposure of an infant as a crime, and at the end of the 4th century AD Valentinian, along with his co-regents Valens and Gratian, enacted a law that required that all children be raised, since exposing babies, especially girls, was still a common act amongst the pagans. (See When Children Became People: The Birth of Childhood in Early Christianity, by O. M. Bakke, p. 136.)
Concerning the exposure of Moses, scoffers claim that a similar account found in Akkadian inscriptions concerning Sargon of Akkad, who apparently lived over two centuries before the time of Abraham, discredits the Biblical account of Moses. However according to Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, edited by James B. Pritchard, and published at Princeton University Press in 1969, on page 119 where it reproduces the fragments of The Legend of Sargon we read that “The legend concerning the birth of Sargon of Agade is available in two incomplete Neo-Assyrian copies (A and B) and in a Neo-Babylonian fragment (C).” The term “Neo-Assyrian” generally describes the period from about 934 BC to the fall of Nineveh. The term “Neo-Babylonian” generally describes the period from about 634 BC to the conquest of the Persians. This is many centuries after the writing of the Hebrew Scriptures, and in spite of the antiquity of the characters, such late accounts cannot be used to discredit the Biblical narrative. The act of revising history was certainly not unknown to the people of Mesopotamia. Ancient sources also disputed the account of the exposure of Cyrus which was repeated by Herodotus, as many other Greek writers offer different accounts of the life of Cyrus. It seems that these fables may have been invented, as if surviving an exposure would symbolize the mark of the gods on the rule of a king. In that aspect, we can be assured that the Biblical account is certainly the original account.
As for the historicity of Moses himself, we see that the greatest of the Greek writers had indeed accepted Moses as a historical figure, and the Biblical accounts of him as historical accounts. In this respect, we wrote in part 4 of our commentary on Amos given here several years ago the following:
The Greek historian of the first century BC, Diodorus Siculus, mentioned Moses as a historical figure, and the Exodus as a historical event. He also accounted Moses as a founder of cities (Library of History, 40.3.3-8). He explained that Moses was a law-giver, and compared him to other famous ancient law-givers, such as the Cretan Minos, the Spartan Lycurgus, Zalmoxis of the Getae, the Egyptian Sasychia, and the Persian Zarathustra (Library of History, 1.94.2). Now while he considered some of the laws attributed to Moses to be barbaric [or misanthropic] and even xenophobic [or actually misoxenic, which is hostile to strangers], he nonetheless fully accepted their historicity (Library of History, 34/35.1.3), and from multiple historical sources of his own.
Strabo, another Greek historian, considered Moses to be a historical figure, wrote about him at length, and described him as being a pious and devout founder of a civil society in Judaea, centered around Jerusalem (Geography, 16.2.35-37). Like Diodorus Siculus, Strabo also counted Moses among those of his own list of esteemed prophets, law-givers and philosophers whom he attributed with the beginnings of what we would again call Western Civilization, where he listed him notably among those of the Romans, Greeks, Assyrians, Persians, Getae and others (Geography, 16.2.39).
Between verses 23 and 24 here the Codex Bezae inserts the text: “By great faith Moses coming had killed the Egyptian, observing the humiliation of his brethren.” We cannot accept the interpolation, but the same event was seen in a positive light in Acts chapter 7, in the testimony of Stephen where we read “23 And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25 For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.” Of course, most of the children of Israel still do not understand, and they would surely kill Moses once again.
24 By faith Moses, becoming full-grown, refused to be called a son of the daughter of Pharaoh, 25 rather preferring to be mistreated with the people of Yahweh than to have the temporary rewards of error,
The world of Moses was very different from what may be imagined. At the time, Egypt was the cultural center of the ancient world. Moses, being taken as a son into the royal household, would have been educated for a prospective position in the government, either in the civil administration or in the military. He would have been prepared for a position such as a cabinet minister or general. Considering this, Josephus, in Book 2 of his Antiquities of the Judaeans, provides a fantastic account of the early life of Moses and how he defeated an army of Ethiopians which had invaded Egypt, even as the Pharaoh conspired to kill him.
The word for rewards may have been read as pleasures; the word for error may have been read as wrongdoing or sin. Being a prince in a multi-racial and idolatrous empire, Moses would expect to live a comfortable life as an official in the government of the pharaoh. Here Paul considers that comfortable life to be among the “temporary rewards of sin”. Killing a lower Egyptian official who had been harassing the Hebrews, Moses demonstrated his willingness to abandon his comfortable life for the benefit of what was righteous for his own people, and for that he received a far greater reward from God, for which Paul commends him here. Thus Paul continues and says of Moses:
26 having esteemed the reproach of the Anointed greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, since he had regard for the reward.
The King James Version and all other translations have “the reproach of Christ” rather than “the reproach of the Anointed”. It was not Christ Himself who was being reproached in the captivity of Egypt, but rather it was the children of Israel, the anointed people of Yahweh. This is a rather clear instance where it may be perceived that Paul had indeed used the term ὁ χριστός collectively of the children of Israel. Other such examples are found at 1 Corinthians 1:12 where Paul asks “Have the Anointed been divided?”, 1 Corinthians 4:15 where he refers to “tutors among the Anointed”, and 1 Timothy 5:11 where he discusses lewd women who “behave wantonly towards the anointed”.
Having regard for the reward, it is arguable as to whether Moses had any cognizance of the promises made by Yahweh to his fellow Hebrews through the patriarchs. He was taken away from his kin at a very young age, evidently as soon as he was weaned. Rather, Paul may be referring to his natural concern for the people of his own race, a concern which Paul himself had often expressed. For instance, in Romans chapter 9 Paul expressed the desire that his fellow Israelites, his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, would accept the Gospel of Christ as he had.
27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the temper of the king, since seeing the invisible he persevered.
Here Paul’s words may seem to contradict the Scripture in Exodus chapter 2 which says “15 Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses. But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well.” However what Paul infers is that somehow Moses knew that he would return to Egypt and continue the struggle on another day. If Moses had feared the temper of the king, he may have thrown himself at his mercy and made excuses for the death of the Egyptian, hoping to gain clemency as a member of his household.
The account for which Moses is accredited is stated rather briefly in Exodus chapter 2: “11 And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. 13 And when he went out the second day, behold, two men of the Hebrews strove together: and he said to him that did the wrong, Wherefore smitest thou thy fellow?” Moses had no trouble slaying his fellow Egyptian, as he had more care for the Hebrews of his own blood, and then when Moses saw the Hebrews smiting one another, that disturbed him. So Moses clearly cared for his own race.
In our presentation of Acts chapter 8 given here over three years ago, we wrote in summary of the account of Moses given by Stephen in Acts chapter 7, and we said:
In Acts chapter 7 we saw Stephen make an appeal to his fellow countrymen in defense of the new Christian creed. His appeal was based on the life of Moses, who was at this time, presumably next to Yahweh God Himself, the most venerated figure in the history of Israel. Stephen's appeal included a description which explains the reason why Moses was chosen for the mission which God provided him: because he displayed a greater care for the people of his own race than he did for his high station in life which was provided by the Egyptians. In fact, Moses' care for his own race exceeded any care that they may have had for themselves. Saying these things, Stephen explains that Moses risked his own station and his worldly comforts for his brethren even in spite of his brethren, and that for this reason it was by Moses that Yahweh God chose to have Israel delivered from Egypt. Stephen described how this Moses spoke of a prophet to come, which is Yahshua Christ. Note that the final commandment given by Christ to His students was to love their brethren.
So Moses had done the very thing which Yahweh God most patiently expects from His people, and for that Paul says that “seeing the invisible he persevered.” Thus he continues:
28 By faith he kept the passover and the pouring on of blood, lest the destroyer of the first born would touch them.
Of course this refers to the very first Passover precipitating the Exodus. Moses believed the messenger of the God who sent him to Egypt, and his actions were a result of his belief. This we read in Exodus chapter 12: “21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.”
29 By faith they crossed over the Red Sea as through dry land [the MT wants the word for land, so it is implied in the King James Version; the text follows P13, P46, א, A, D and 0227], of which the Egyptians were swallowed up making an attempt.
In the same part 4 of our commentary on Amos where we showed that Diodorus Siculus and Strabo of Cappadocia had both accepted the accounts of Moses as a lawgiver and the founder of a society, we see that Diodorus also accepted the account of the Exodus, although he did so from a decidedly Egyptian viewpoint. So we wrote:
What is also evident, is that Diodorus Siculus accepted the Exodus account as a significant part in the greater story of the founding of what we would call Western Civilization. Diodorus quoted from the earlier historian Hecataeus of Abdera, the Greek historian and skeptic philosopher of the 4th century BC [Hecataeus was a Greek writer in Egypt, and he evidently preceded Manetho by only a few decades], who gave a strange account of the Israelite Exodus from an ostensibly Egyptian viewpoint, where he says 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” (Library of History, 40.3.1-3).
Here we have corroboration of the account of the Exodus from two Egyptian writers from the end of the 4th century BC and the beginning of the 3rd. This account coming from Hecataeus, and the earlier accounts which we had discussed which were supplied by Josephus from Manetho, precede the formation of modern Jewry in the absorption of the Edomites to Judaism by several centuries.
As for the often-argued location of the Exodus, it must be noted that there are two long gulfs protruding north from the northern end of the Red Sea, the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. But students of ancient Egyptian history would know that a fortified wall, called the Wall of the Prince, was built to protect Egypt from invasion, and it ran from the edge of the Gulf of Suez along the entire eastern border of the Nile Delta. This wall and string of fortresses is mentioned in the so-called Prophecies of Nefertiti and the Tale of Sinuhe, ancient Egyptian writings which are both believed to date to the 20th century BC, to the very time of Abraham. During the Exodus, the Wall of the Prince certainly would have forced the children of Israel to the sea, as they would not have been able to circumvent it, and therefore the Exodus crossing must have been conducted at the Gulf of Suez. It certainly would not have been the Gulf of Aqaba, as so many charlatans claim.
30 By faith the walls of Iericho fell, having been encircled for seven days.
In the 1930’s, archaeologist John Garstang established that there was indeed an ancient city at Jericho which had fallen violently circa 1400 BC. Then latter on, based on the 1950’s work of Kathleen Kenyon, Garstang’s work was called into doubt and many supposed scholars began to question whether the Biblical accounts concerning Jericho were true at all. Kenyon’s work resulted in the insistence that the only destruction at Jericho was in the Middle Bronze Age, circa 1550 BC, a period far too early to belong to the Israelites. Unfortunately, this is the viewpoint which is still frequently published today. However with subsequent archaeological discovery and further inquiries into the work of both Garstang and Kenyon, in 1990 archaeologist Bryant Wood established that while Garstang was wrong about certain things, Kenyon more so, but that Garstang’s principle conclusion was correct. This was published in an article titled Did the Israelites Conquer Jericho? A New Look at the Archaeological Evidence, published in Biblical Archaeology Review, March/April 1990.
To be fair, we must state that in a later issue of that same journal, a refutation of Wood by a London art museum manager named Piotr Bienkowski was published under the title Jericho Was Destroyed in the Middle Bronze Age, Not the Late Bronze Age (Biblical Archaeology Review, September/October 1990). However we did not find it persuasive since Bienkowski had clearly misrepresented the basis for Wood’s conclusions right from the beginning of his rebuttal. This is an emotional issue amongst archaeologists and other so-called Biblical scholars, most of whom are Jews or heavily influenced by Jews. There is one school of so-called “Biblical Minimalists” prominent among the Jews which actively seeks to discredit any Scripture as being historically valid, and there are other schools of thought which have more subtle but equally malignant agendas. There was indeed an early bronze-age city at Jericho which was destroyed suddenly and violently around 1400 BC (labeled Jericho City IV by archaeologists). This view is in full accord with Biblical chronology which accounts the giving of the law to be 430 years after the promise to Abraham, the estimated date of the Exodus to about 1450 BC, with the conquest of Jericho following that by about a half-a-century.
31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient [P46 has “unbelieving”], greeting the scouts with peace.
Some commentators contend that the Old Testament Hebrew (Strong’s #2181) allows for Rahab’s having been some sort of ambassador, rather than a harlot. The Greek of the Septuagint, and use of the word πόρνη (4204) there, here in Hebrews, and at James 2:25, allows for no such contention. The Codex Sinaiticus has “א has “Rahab, who is called a harlot”, where it is obvious that the copyists of that manuscript did not accept that Rahab was actually a harlot, in spite of the use of the Septuagint terminology by Paul and James.
In a presentation from 2009 entitled The Women of the Genealogy of Christ, this is what we had said about Rahab:
Rahab is called a “harlot”, as [modern] interpreters of the original Hebrew have understood the word. Clifton Emahiser wrote about this predicament at length and proves that Rahab was not a harlot, but an innkeeper, in his Watchman’s Teaching Letter #120, where he showed that the Greek word πόρνη was related to other Greek words which described merchandising, and that it is in this manner that the Septuagint translators may well have understood the term, since the Hebrew word zonah surely may have that meaning. Clifton also proves that the circumstances concerning Rahab’s situation detailed in the book of Joshua certainly support the position that she was an innkeeper, and this is perfectly clear from the account as it is given by Josephus, which Clifton cites!
Some people have accused Clifton of somehow “correcting” the apostles, since they described Rahab using this same word, πόρνη, at Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25. Yet we only assume – as I myself did in the past - that by using that word, the apostles interpreted it in the same manner in which we do! It is just as likely – even though I did not realize this until well after Clifton wrote his Teaching Letter on the topic – that the apostles also imagined πόρνη to have the alternate meaning of a woman selling something besides her body, as a Hebraism. The plain truth is this: The Yahshua Christ did NOT have a common whore for a grandmother!
The Hebrew spies going immediately to the house of Rahab and lodging there (Joshua 2:2) indicates that she was operating an inn, as they would have no business in a private home. The keeping of a large supply of flax on her rooftop also indicates that she was operating an inn, as the flax would be needed to make linen, and she would need a large supply of linen daily. So the Scripture certainly indicates by the circumstances that Rahab was an inn-keeper.
So even though Paul and James repeated the word πόρνη from the Septuagint in regard to Rahab, neither the apostles nor the Septuagint translators necessarily limited their definition of πόρνη to that of a common whore, a woman who sold her body. The word πόρνη was derived from a verb, πέρνημι, which means “export for sale…” and in the Epic poets “usually of exporting captives to foreign parts for sale as slaves” but “later also of other merchandise”. By the time of Herodotus the verb was used more generally to describe the act of selling.
Here is the account of Rahab from Josephus, who never thought the Hebrew word of his source may have indicated that she was a whore, from Antiquities of the Judaeans, Book 5 (5.1.2 [5:5]):
(5) Now when he had pitched his camp, the spies came to him immediately, well acquainted with the whole state of the Canaanites; for at first, before they were at all discovered, they took a full view of the city of Jericho without disturbance, and saw which parts of the walls were strong, and which parts were otherwise, and indeed insecure, and which of the gates were so weak as might afford an entrance to their army. (6) Now those that met them took no notice of them when they saw them, and supposed they were only strangers, who used to be very curious in observing everything in the city, and did not take them for enemies; (7) but at even they retired to a certain inn that was near to the wall, whither they went to eat their supper; (8) which supper when they had done, and were considering how to get away, information was given to the king as he was at supper, that there were some persons come from the Hebrews’ camp to view the city as spies, and that they were in the inn kept by Rahab, and were very solicitous that they might not be discovered. So he sent immediately some to them, and commanded to catch them, and bring them to him, that he might examine them by torture, and learn what their business was there. (9) As soon as Rahab understood that these messengers were coming, she hid the spies under stalks of flax, which were laid to dry on the top of her house; and said to the messengers that were sent by the king, that certain unknown strangers had supped with her a little before sunsetting, and were gone away, who might easily be taken, if they were any terror to the city, or likely to bring any danger to the king. 1 (10) So these messengers being thus deluded by the woman, b and suspecting no imposition, went their ways, without so much as searching the inn; but they immediately pursued them along those roads which they most probably supposed them to have gone, and those particularly which led to the river, but could hear no tidings of them; so they left off the pains of any further pursuit.
So from his own Hebrew copies, Josephus never imagined that Rahab was a whore. However from the notes on this passage by William Whiston, the translator of our edition of Josephus, it is possible that Rahab was also a keeper of harlots, having been an inn-keeper, and that is also consistent with the meaning of the Greek verb πέρνημι. Here is Whiston’s footnote:
It plainly appears by the history of these spies, and the innkeeper Rahab’s deception of the king of Jericho’s messengers, by telling them what was false, in order to save the lives of the spies, and yet the great commendation of her faith and good works in the New Testament (Heb. 11:31; Jas. 2:25), as well as by many other parallel examples, both in the Old Testament and in Josephus, that the best men did not then scruple to deceive those public enemies who might justly be destroyed; as also might deceive ill men in order to save life, and deliver themselves from the tyranny of their unjust oppressors, and this by telling direct falsehoods; I mean, all this where no oath was demanded of them, otherwise they never durst venture on such a procedure. Nor was Josephus himself of any other opinion or practice, as I shall remark in the note on Antiq. 9.4.3. And observe, that I still call this woman Rahab, an innkeeper, not a harlot; the whole history, both in our copies, and especially in Josephus, implying no more. It was indeed so frequent a thing, that women who were innkeepers were also harlots, or maintainers of harlots, that the word commonly used for real harlots was usually given them. See Dr. Bernard’s note here, and Judg. 11:1; and Antiq. 5.7.8.
In any event, Paul and James were not wrong to call Rahab a πόρνη, or harlot, however that does not mean that Rahab herself was a prostitute, as the words had a broader meaning than we can imagine if we confine ourselves to the narrow understanding of the King James Version of Scripture.
In many places, Paul himself limits the application of the faith to the children of Israel. Perhaps the scarlet thread which Rahab used clearly was an indication that she was of the Zarah branch of the tribe of Judah and settled in Jericho, as by this time many of the children of Israel had already spread abroad, and as we have also seen, they did not all accompany Moses. The faith which Rahab displayed was a surety that Yahweh would bring down Jericho for the benefit of Israel, and like Moses, she displayed a greater care for the children of Israel than for her own station, even risking her own life. She later married a prince of Judah, eventually becoming an ancestor of David.
In Hebrews chapter 13, Paul compares sons and bastards, inferring that bastards are rejected, and therefore we cannot imagine that Paul would include a bastard in his examples here of those in Israel who excelled by the faith which they held and acted upon. Furthermore, Paul describes the rejection of Esau in Hebrews chapter 13, and attributes it in part to Esau’s having been a πόρνος, a fornicator, the masculine form of the word πόρνη which Paul used in reference to Rahab, and which the Septuagint uses describing both Rahab and the mother of Jephthah!
So either πόρνη has a wider meaning, as we have described, or Paul is a hypocrite and he is in conflict with himself. But we would rather believe, as we have established from the Scripture and the writings of Josephus, that Rahab was an inn-keeper, and the word πόρνη had a wider meaning, because we cannot force Paul to contradict himself.
Paul continues in summary, although we wish that he had provided more detail:
32 And what more do I say? For the time will fail me relating about Gideon, Barak, Sampson, Iephthae, and David and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Like many of the other accounts here, the accounts of some of these great figures in Israel are poorly understood to modern readers because the cultural context is obscure, or elements of it are now lost. But once we understand what we can of the cultural context through a study of ancient history and archaeology, the faith comes alive, and that is the faith of history: the historical faith which our ancestors had carried and acted upon in their daily lives is the same faith which all true Christians should have today.
Here is another example: Jephthah is said to have sacrificed his daughter, and many foolish commentators believe that means that he had put her to death. Jephthah himself was said to have been born of a harlot, and for that reason he is called a bastard by some commentators, yet he could not have been a bastard since it is apparent that both of his parents were Israelites. Jephthah himself was accounted an Israelite in Scripture, and Paul accounts him as an Israelite here, and not a bastard. As for the sacrifice of his daughter, neither is that what it seems to be, and we shall continue this discussion in our next segment of this presentation of Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews.