Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Hebrews 11:23-29 - On Moses

Today's section of Hebrews 11 continues the examination of Old Testament exemplars of faith with a look at selected events in the life of Moses.

Moses: Hebrews 11:23-26
The parents of Moses shewed faith, in making light of the king’s edict, and hiding their child away for three months, when they saw what a fine child he was. And Moses shewed faith, when he grew up, by refusing to pass for the son of Pharao’s daughter. He preferred ill-usage, shared with the people of God, to the brief enjoyment of sinful pleasures; all the wealth of Egypt could not so enrich him as the despised lot of God’s anointed; he had eyes, you see, for nothing but the promised reward.
Fide Moyses, natus, occultatus est mensibus tribus a parentibus suis, eo quod vidissent elegantem infantem, et non timuerunt regis edictum. Fide Moyses grandis factus negavit se esse filium filiæ Pharaonis,  magis eligens affligi cum populo Dei, quam temporalis peccati habere jucunditatem,  majores divitias æstimans thesauro Ægyptiorum, improperium Christi: aspiciebat enim in remunerationem.
Aquinas:

Moses' parents: Here he touches on the history given in Exodus (chap. 1), namely, that the Pharaoh commanded the male children to be killed, lest they be multiplied. Secondly, it is recorded that Moses’ parents, seeing that he was a comely child, hid him for three months: which the Apostle attributes to their faith. For they believed that someone would be born to free them from their slavery. Hence, from the child’s comeliness they believed that some power of God was in him. For they were rude country people, who sweated, working with clay and bricks: ‘A man is known by his look’. From this we see that although faith is about invisible things, yet through certain visible signs we can rest in it. ‘Confirming the word with signs that followed’. But the fact that they did this from faith and not from carnal affection is evident, because they were not afraid of the king’s edict. Hence, they exposed themselves to danger, which they would not have done, unless they had believed that something great was in store for the child: ‘Do not fear them that kill the body’....they later exposed him...not to destroy him but to keep him from being stolen; hence, they placed him in a small basket, committing him to divine providence. For they believed that he would probably be killed, if he were found among them.

Moses' upbringing: Here he touches on the history recorded in Exodus (2), where it is stated that Pharaoh’s daughter had him nursed by his mother and adopted him as a son. But he denied himself to be her son, not in word, but in deed; because against Pharaoh’s will he killed an Egyptian who had harmed a Hebrew. Therefore, he says, by faith, when he was grown up, he denied himself to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. With what feelings he did this he shows when he says, rather choosing to be afflicted with the people of God, than to have the pleasure of sin for a time. This indicates his marvelous virtue.

Choosing poverty and pain for Christ: For there are two things which men desire most, namely, pleasure and delight in external things; and they flee most from their opposites, namely, pain and affliction, which are opposed to the first, and poverty and abjection, which are opposed to the second. But Moses chose those two, because he preferred pain and affliction to temporal sin’s pleasure, which is always associated with sin. He also chose poverty because of Christ: ‘It is better to be humbled with the meek, then to divide spoils with the proud’...for the faith of Christ, for which he endured a reproach from his brothers, as is stated in Exodus (2:14): ‘Will you kill me, as you did yesterday kill the Egyptian?’ This reproach was a figure that Christ would have to endure reproaches from the Jews: ‘My heart has expected reproach and misery’ (Ps. 68:21). But he esteemed those two things greater riches than the treasures of the Egyptians: ‘The riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge’ (Is. 33:6).

Hebrews 11:27-29
By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the fierceness of the king: for he endured as seeing him that is invisible. By faith he celebrated the pasch, and the shedding of the blood; that he, who destroyed the firstborn, might not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea, as by dry land: which the Egyptians attempting, were swallowed up.  
Fide reliquit Ægyptum, non veritus animositatem regis: invisibilem enim tamquam videns sustinuit. Fide celebravit Pascha, et sanguinis effusionem: ne qui vastabat primitiva, tangeret eos.  Fide transierunt mare Rubrum tamquam per aridam terram: quod experti Ægyptii, devorati sunt.
The departure from Egypt: ...as recorded in Exodus (chap. 2), he first left Egypt after killing an Egyptian; but he left it a second time, when he led all the sons of Israel out of Egypt. But a Gloss explains about the second departure, because he continues, not fearing the anger, i.e., the indignation, of the king. For at his first departure it is recorded in Exodus (chap. 2) that he feared him: ‘He that is good for nothing shall feel the king’s anger’. But at the second he did not fear him: ‘The just, bold as a lion, shall be without dread’. But it can be referred to the first.

Praiseworthy vs blameworthy fear: ...there are two things to be considered in fear: one is that it can be blameworthy, namely, when through fear a person does what should not be done, or neglects to do what should be done. This is not the way Moses feared, because fear did not cause him to neglect helping his brothers. The other can be praiseworthy, namely, when keeping the faith a person flees from danger because of a present fear: ‘When they shall persecute you in one city, flee to another’. For if a person, while preserving his honor could avoid danger and does not, he would be foolish and tempting God which is diabolical.

This is the way Jesus hid from those who would stone Him, and refused the devil’s suggestion to cast Himself down. So, too, Moses, trusting in God’s help, fled for a time, because he feared the king. He proves that he did this by faith, because faith is about invisible things. And he endured, i.e., awaited, the invisible God and his Help as seeing him: Let you heart take courage and wait for the Lord’ (Ps. 26:14).

Celebrating the Pasch: he alludes to the history recorded in Exodus (12), where the Lord commanded them before the departure of the children of Israel, namely, that same night, to immolate a lamb and put its blood on both the side posts and on the upper door posts of the houses: then they were to eat the flesh roasted at the fire, and unleavened bread with wild lettuce, and to do many other things that were to be observed. And this is called the Pasch, i.e., the eating of the lamb and the shedding of blood, these two things occurring at that passage which they were to accomplish the next day. It is called the Pasch from ‘paschin’ in Greek, and ‘passic’ in Latin, or from the word ‘phrase,’ which in Hebrew is the same as ‘passage.’

But this prefigured that Christ would pass out of this world by His passion: ‘That he would pass out of this world’ (Jn. 13:1). It also instructs us that by the merit of His death we have passed from earthly things to heavenly, and from hell to heaven: ‘Come over to me, all ye that desire me’ (Sir. 24:26). This, of course, is accomplished in virtue of Christ’s blood: ‘Having, therefore, a confidence in the entering into of the holies by the blood of Christ’ (supra 10:19).

But two passings occurred during that Pasch: one, in which the Lord passed, striking the Egyptians; the other in which the people passed. So, too, with the blood of Christ, Who is the lamb without blemish, the posts of the faithful should be besmeared, namely, their intellect and affections. He says, by faith he celebrated the Pasch, i.e., the eating of the lamb, and the shedding of the blood to be smeared upon the posts of their house. Why did they do this? That he who destroyed the first born of the Egyptians might not touch them: ‘He killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt’ (Ps. 77:51)...

Crossing the Red Sea: Two things were done there by faith: one was what the men did, namely, they committed themselves to cross over; and this was done only by faith. The other was on God’s part, namely, that the waters acted as a wall for them. But this was by faith, for the working of miracles is attributed to faith: ‘If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence, thither, and it shall remove’ (Mt. 17:19). Then he shows that this pertains to faith, because the Egyptians attempting this, i.e., willing to try it, were swallowed up, because they did not have faith: ‘You stretch forth your hand, and the earth swallowed them’ (Ex. 15:12).

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