Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Hebrews 11:20-22 - The example of Jacob and Joseph

Hebrews 20 resumes the discussion of key exemplars of faith, looking now at Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.

Isaac: Hebrews 11:20
By faith also of things to come, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau. 
 Fide et de futuris benedixit Isaac Jacob et Esau.
Aquinas:

Elevation of Jacob points to the gentiles over the Jews: Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau...Through this blessing the younger ruled the older. But this did not pertain to their persons, but to the two peoples that sprang from them: ‘over Edom I will stretch out my shoe’. For the Edomites who sprang from Esau were subject to the people of Israel. This signified that the younger people, i.e., the Gentiles, by faith were to supplant the older people, namely, the Jews: ‘Many shall come from the east and the west and shall sit down with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven’.

Jacob: Hebrews 11:21
By faith Jacob dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and adored the top of his rod.
 Fide Jacob, moriens, singulos filiorum Joseph benedixit: et adoravit fastigium virgæ ejus. 
Jacob dying blessed each of the sons: in Genesis (48), where it is stated that when Joseph was informed of his father’s illness, he called his two sons whom Jacob blessed, crossing his hands. With this gesture he chose Ephraim over Manasseh as to dignity, because the royal dignity came from Ephraim, namely, Jeroboam. But this blessing was by faith, because it was revealed to him that it would be thus in the future. This blessing referred to the people who came out of them and not to their persons.

The rod foreshadows Christ:  This is recorded in Genesis (49), where it is stated that he made Joseph swear that he would bury him in the tomb of his fathers; and after the oath, he adored the ...top of his rod, as the Septuagint says, or at the top, as is had in the Greek... he adored not the rod nor Joseph, as some wickedly thought, but God Himself...He did this, moved by the consideration of Christ’s power, which Joseph’s power prefigured. For being the prefect in Egypt, he carried a scepter as a sign of his power: ‘You that rule them with a rod of iron’...he adored Christ signified by that rod, just as we adore the Crucified and the Cross by reason of Christ, Who suffered on it. Hence, properly speaking, we do not adore the Cross, but Christ crucified on it.

Joseph: Hebrews 11:22
By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the going out of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.
 Fide Joseph, moriens, de profectione filiorum Israël memoratus est, et de ossibus suis mandavit.
Joseph's bones: ...he believed that the promise He made would be fulfilled by the return of the children of Israel to the promised land; secondly, because he believed that Christ would be born and would rise from the dead in it, and many with him. Hence, he desired to have a part in that resurrection. He says, therefore, By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites; and this in regard to the first: and gave commandment regarding his bones, as to the second...he knew that the children of Israel were to suffer many afflictions after his death. Therefore, to assure them of their deliverance and return to the promised land, he willed his body to remain with them as a consolation. Hence, Moses took it with him, just as each tribe took the body of its father, as Jerome says.

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