Bible Study Christian Character Traits Christian Living Discipleship

Hebrews 11:20-22

More heroes of the faith listed, and why they are people honored in this passage. We too, by God’s help, can also believe God for salvation and day-by-day living.

My translation and notes on Hebrews 11:20-22

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

[Isaac believed what God had said about the brothers through Rebekah. See Genesis 25:23 and Genesis 27:2-40. The blessing on Jacob included an abundance of grain and new wine, nations serve and bow down to you, your brother serve you, the sons of your mother serve you, those who curse you will be cursed, and those who bless you will be blessed. The faith mentioned is Isaac believing God’s prophecy to Rebecca and that his blessing on them would come true. We especially see this in the clause—those who curse you will be cursed, and those who bless you will be blessed. This same promise was given to Abraham (Genesis 12:3) and Isaac (Genesis 26:2-5].

21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed both sons of Joseph and worshiped [leaning] on the top of his staff.

[Compare versions of Genesis 47:31:

  • Genesis 47:31 ESV And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.
  • Genesis 47:31 NIV “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.

Wilbur Pickering explains: Genesis 47:31 has Jacob leaning on the head of the bed (following the Massoretic Text), rather than the top of his staff. The Hebrew words for ‘bed’ and ‘staff’ are spelled with the same three consonants, the difference being in the vowels, that were not written. Thus the Original Hebrew Text was ambiguous here. When the Massoretes added vowel pointing to the Hebrew Text, many centuries after Christ, they chose ‘bed’. Long before, the Septuagint had chosen ‘staff’. The inspired author of Hebrews indicates that ‘staff’ is the correct choice (it also makes better sense).

So, the Septuagint reads: Genesis 47:31 Brenton And he said, Swear to me; and he swore to him. And Israel did reverence, leaning on the top of his staff.

Jacob faith was that Israel (the nation) would again in the future be in the Promised Land].

22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, mentioned the departure of the children of Israel and gave instructions concerning his bones.

[Joseph knew the Abrahamic Land Covenant for the promised land. See Genesis 13:14-17. This refers to a piece of real estate in the middle east. It is not symbolic or allegorical. For a study on the Covenants see THE EIGHT COVENANTS OF THE BIBLE].

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