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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Exodus 20

 

 

Verse 1

Exodus 20:1 And God spake all these words, saying,

Ver. 1. God spake all, &c.] All the ten are of divine authority. Papists disannulling the second, that yet they may retain the number of ten words, so loath are heretics to have their asses’ ears seen, divide the last, which yet is called "the commandment," not the commandments. [Romans 7:7] Vasques, not able to answer our argument, saith that the second commandment belonged to the Jews only. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 2

Exodus 20:2 I [am] the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Ver. 2. Which have brought thee.] God’s blessings are binders; and every deliverance a tie to obedience. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 3

Exodus 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Ver. 3. Thou shalt have.] This "thou" reacheth every man. Xenophon saith of Cyrus, that when he gave anything in command, he never said, Let some one do this; but, Do thou this. (a)

No other gods before me.] But "know" and "serve" me alone "with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind." [1 Chronicles 28:9] Hoc primo praecepto reliquorum omnium observantia praecipitur, saith Luther. In this first commandment the keeping of all the other nine is commanded. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 4

Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth:

Ver. 4. Thou shalt not make unto thee,] i.e., For religious use; for civil they may be made. [Matthew 22:20] Howbeit the Turks will not endure any image, no not upon their coins, because of this second commandment. The Papists by their sacrilegious practices, have taken away this commandment out of their vulgar catechism. This is a great stumbling block to the Jews, and a let to their conversion: for ever since their return from Babylon, they do infinitely abhor idolatry. And for their coming to Christian sermons, they say, that as long as they shall see the preacher direct his speech and prayer to that little wooden crucifix that stands on the pulpit by him, to call it his Lord and Saviour to kneel to it, to embrace it, to kiss it, to weep upon it, as is the fashion of Italy, this is preaching sufficient for them, and persuades them more with the very sight of it, to hate Christian religion, than any reason that the world can allege to love it. (a) {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 5

Exodus 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God [am] a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate me;

Ver. 5. Thou shalt not bow down.] Images came first from Babylon. For Ninus having made an image of his father Belus, all that came to see it were pardoned for their former offences: whence in time that image came to be worshipped, through the instigation of the devil, who is, saith Synesius, ειδωλοχαρης; one that rejoiceth in images.

Am a jealous God.] Be the gods of the heathens good fellows, saith one: the true God is a jealous God, and will not share his glory with another, nor be served by any but in his own way. They that wit-wanton it with God, may look to case worse than that citizen in King Edward IV’s days did; who was executed in Cheapside as a traitor, for saying he would make his son heir of the crown: though he only meant his own house, having a crown for the sign. (a)

Visiting the iniquity.] This second commandment is the first with punishment: because men do commonly punish such as worship God in spirit and in truth. As therefore one fire, so one fear should drive out another i the fear of God, the fear of men. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 6

Exodus 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Ver. 6. Unto thousands.] Of succeeding generations. Personal goodness is profitable to posterity. And this promise, though made to all, yet is more specially annexed to this second commandment; to teach, saith one, that parents should chiefly labour to plant piety in their families, as they would have God’s blessing entailed upon their issue. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 7

Exodus 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

Ver. 7. The Name of the Lord.] That "holy and reverend" Name; [Psalms 111:9] that Nomen Maiestativum, as Tertullian callcth it; "dreadful among the heathen." [Malachi 1:14] The very Turks at this day chastise the Christians that live amongst them for their oaths and blasphemies darted up against God and Christ. The Jews also are much offended thereat, and it should be no small grief to us to hear it. When one of Darius’s eunuchs saw Alexander the Great setting his feet upon a low table that had been highly esteemed by his master, he wept. Being asked the reason by Alexander, he said, it was to see the thing that his master so highly esteemed, to be now contemned, and made his footstool. (a) {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 8

Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Ver. 8. Remember the Sabbath day.] He saith not, The seventh day from the creation, but the day of religious rest; such is now our Christian Sabbath, called a "Sabbath day" by our Saviour, [Matthew 24:20] who is "Lord of this Sabbath," called therefore the Lord’s day, [Revelation 1:10] as one of our sacraments is called "the Lord’s supper," [1 Corinthians 11:20] and "the table of the Lord," [1 Corinthians 10:21] because instituted by him. Pope Sylvester presumed to alter the Christian Sabbath, decreeing that Thursday should be kept through the whole year; because on that day Christ ascended, and on that instituted the blessed sacrament of his body and blood. (a) And generally Papists press the sanctification of the Sabbath as a mere human institution in religious worship; an ordinance of the Church; and do in their celebration more solemnly observe the festivals of the saints, than the Lord’s Sabbaths, making it as Bacchus’s orgies, &c., that, according to what their practice is, it may more fitly be styled, Dies daemoniacus quam Dominicus, the devil’s day than God’s.

To keep it holy.] Let every one of us keep the Sabbath spiritually, saith Ignatius, - μελετη { β} νομου χαιρων ου σωματος ανεσει, - rejoicing in the meditation of Christ’s law, more than in the rest of our bodies. The ox and ass must rest; we must consecrate a rest: as God on the seventh day rested not from his works of preservation. [John 5:17] {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 9

Exodus 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:

Ver. 9. Six days shalt thou labour.] God hath reserved but one day in seven, as he reserved the tree of knowledge of good and evil; [Genesis 2:2-3] yet wretched men must needs clip the Lord’s coin. In many places God’s Sabbaths are made the voider and dunghill for all refuse businesses. The Sabbath of the Lord, the sanctified day of his rest, saith one, is shamelessly troubled and disquieted. The world is now grown perfectly profane, saith another, and can play on the Lord’s day without concern. (a) {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 10

Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God: [in it] thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that [is] within thy gates:

Ver. 10. But the seventh day.] Or, A seventh day. Not only Hebrews, but also Greeks and Barbarians, did rest from work on the seventh day: witness Josephus, Clemens Alexand., and Eusebius. That which they tell us of the river Sabbatius, its resting, and not running on that day, I look upon as fabulous.

Thou shalt not do any work.] Only works of piety, of charity, and of necessity may bc done on the Sabbath day. He that but gathered sticks was paid home with stones. The first blow given the German Churches was upon the Sabbath day, which they carelessly observed. Prague was lost upon that day. (a)

Thou, nor thy son, &c.] Every mother’s child. The baser sort of people in Sweden do always break the Sabbath, saying, that it is for gentlemen to keep that day. (b)

Thy man servant.] There is an old law of the Saxon king Ina, If a villain work on Sunday by his lord’s command, he shall be free. (c) {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 11

Exodus 20:11 For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is], and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Ver. 11. For in six days.] God took six days to make the world in, to the end that we might be in a muse when we think of it; and think on his works in that order that he made them.

And rested the seventh day.] Not as tired out - for he made all without either tool or toil; his Fiat only did the deed - but to give us example, as John 13:15.

Wherefore the Lord blessed, &c.] How God esteemeth the strict observation of the Sabbath day, may appear by the exact delivery of it. For he hath fenced it about, like mount Sinai, with marks and bounds, that profaneness might not approach it: (l.) By his watchword, "Remember"; (2.) By his bounty, "Six days," &c.; (3.) By his sovereignty, "It is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God"; (4.) By the latitude, "Thou, nor thy son," &c.; (5.) By his own example, "And he rested the seventh day"; (6.) By his benediction, as here, "He blessed it," and ordained it to be a means of much blessing to those that observe it. Add hereunto, that God hath placed this command in the midst of the Decalogue, betwixt the two tables; as much conducing to the keeping of both. It stands like the sensus communis, between the inward and outward senses, being serviceable to both. (a)

And hallowed it.] Diem septimam opifex, ut mundi natalem, sibi sacravit. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 12

Exodus 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Ver. 12. Honour thy father, &c.] Philo well! observeth, that this fifth commandment, which therefore he maketh a branch of the first table, and so divides the tables equally, is a mixed commandment, εντολη μικτη; and differs somewhat from the rest of those in the second table. They consider man as our neighbour, in nature like us: this, as God’s deputy, by him set over us, and in his name, and by his authority, performing offices about us.

That thy days may be long.] A good child lengtheneth his father’s days; therefore God promiseth to lengthen his. Ill children, as they bring their parents’ "gray hairs with sorrow to the grave"; so they are many times cut off in the midst of their days, as Abimelech was: God rendering upon him the evil that he did to his father. [ 9:56] Besides the punishment they have in their posterity, to whom they have been peremptores potius quam parentes. (a) One complained, that never father had so undutiful a child as he had: yes, said his son, with less grace than truth, my grandfather had. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 13

Exodus 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.

Ver. 13. Thou shalt not kill.] A crying sin. [Genesis 4:8-26; Genesis 4:24] For the which God makes inquisition, [Psalms 9:12] and strangely brings it to light. It was a saying of King James, that if God did allow him to kill a man, he would think God did not love him. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 14

Exodus 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Ver. 14. Thou shalt not commit adultery.] Adultery only is named; because bestiality, sodomy, and other unclcannesses, though more heinous, yet they do not directly fight against the purity of posterity and human society, which the law mainly respects. {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 15

Exodus 20:15 Thou shalt not steal.

Ver. 15. Thou shalt not steal,] i.e., Not rob or wrong another, either by force or fraud (a) [1 Thessalonians 4:6] {See Trapp on "1 Thessalonians 4:6"} Basil chargeth the devil as a thief of the truth, in that he had decked his crows with her feathers. And it was of the devil surely that she had learned her answer, who, being charged by her mistress for stealing her linens, and other things which she found in her trunk, said, that she stole them not: and when she was asked, How came they to be laid and locked up there? did not you do this? No, said she, it was not I, but sin that dwelleth in me. (b) {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 16

Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.

Ver. 16. Thou shalt not bear false witness.] Neither bear it, nor hear it; raise, nor receive wrong reports of another; [Deuteronomy 19:16] make a lie, nor love it when it is made. [Revelation 22:15] The truth must be spoken, and that in love. Doeg had a false tongue, though he spoke nothing but truth against David. [Psalms 120:3] {See Trapp (for summary of Law) on "Exodus 20:17"}


Verse 17

Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that [is] thy neighbour’s.

Ver. 17. Thou shalt not covet.] {See Trapp on "Romans 7:7"} {See Trapp on "Hebrews 13:5"} One observeth that the word Concupisco, here used, is inceptive; to show that the very first motion is sin, though no consent be yielded.

Thy neighbour’s house.] House is here first set, as that which holds and harbours all the rest. Neither will a wise man take a wife before he hath a house. Birds will not couple till their nest be ready.

To these ten words, written by God himself in the day of the assembly, divines have reduced those other laws, moral, judicial, and ceremonial, written by Moses. [Exodus 34:27-28 Deuteronomy 10:4] And herein Alstedius, that excellent methodist, hath, in his "Harmonia Mosaica," as in all those brief but pithy notes upon the Pentateuch, done the Church of Christ singular good service; whom therefore - for a preface to that which follows in the opening of this and the three next books, and for the use of my English reader - I have abridged, translated and the same here inserted.

SECTION I.

Of reducing all the Moral Laws to the Decalogue.

To the first commandment belong laws that concern faith, hope, and love to God.

First, Faith: as, that there is but one God, and three Persons, Jehovah Elohim; that he will send them a Prophet greater than Moses; [Deuteronomy 18:15] that he is to be honoured with our confidence, patience, and inward worship,

Next, Hope: of favour, grace, and glory.

Thirdly, Love to God with the whole heart; filial fear, humble prayer, holy vows, constant care to avoid idolising the creature, seeking to the devil, tempting of God, listening to seducers, &c.

To the second commandment belong laws made against gross idolatry, will worship, &c., and for right worship.

To the third pertain laws for prayer, thanksgiving, oaths, lots, blasphemies, worthy walking, &c.

To the fourth, all laws of sanctifying the Sabbath.

To the fifth, of honouring and reverencing parents, princes, elders, &c., and of punishing rebellious children.

To the sixth may be reduced all laws concerning murder, revenge, rancour, smiting, fighting, cursing the deaf, laying a block before the blind, &c.

To the seventh, all that is said against fornication, adultery, sodomy, incest, wearing the apparel of the other sex.

To the eighth, laws against robbery, rapine, usury, sacrilege, detaining wages or pledges, removing landmarks, accepting of persons, taking of gifts, false weights, &c.

To the ninth belong laws against backbiting, tale bearing, false witnessing, judging, not admonishing, &c.

To the tenth no laws are referred: because it is wholly spiritual, and hath no visible violations.

SECTION II.

Of reducing Judicial Laws to the Decalogue.

To the first commandment: It was death, (1.) To deny obedience to the priest, who was a type of Christ; (2.) To persuade apostasy from the true God; (3.) To seek to witches and wizards.

It was likewise unlawful to make a covenant with the Canaanites, whom God had cursed: to make mixtures of divers kinds of creatures, &c.: whereby they are taught sincerity in religion and conversation.

To the second commandment: God commanded to abolish images, pictures, idolatrous temples, altars, groves, &c., and forbade them, upon pain of death, to bow to sun, moon, or any other strange gods; because Moses’s polity could not consist of true worshippers and professed idolaters.

To the third commandment: There were two kinds of blasphemy or cursing of God; whether it were mediate or immediate, direct or indirect; one proceeding of infirmity and impatience, the other of malice and obstinacy. This latter was to be punished with stoning: that former with some corporeal punishment; as beating, boring the tongue, &c.

To the fourth commandment: The wilful profanation of the Sabbath was punished with death. Tithes, offerings, firstfruits, firstlings, and the like, were commanded by God, as part of the priests’ maintenance, due to them by the very law of nature. And the same custom is at this day commendably kept up, there not being a more equal and easy way of maintaining the ministers of the Church, and so of upholding the Church’s ministry.

To the fifth commandment: Wrong done to a parent, whether by striking or cursing, is parricide, and to be punished with death: so is wrong offered to the chief magistrate; this is treason. Parents had power to command and correct their children, yea, in some cases, to sell them to their brethren the Israelites, and to sue out a writ of execution against them, if uncounselable and incorrigible.

The privilege of primogeniture made for the honour of the family, and prefigured Christ.

The chief magistrate is both ordained and ordered by God. [Deuteronomy 17:15] Inferior magistrates must neither be strangers, nor eunuchs, nor bastards, nor Ammonites, nor Moabites. [Deuteronomy 23:1-3] But they must be men of courage, fearing God, &c.

To the sixth commandment: Four sorts of capital punishments were in use among God’s people; viz., stoning, burning, beheading, and strangling. Execution was done either by the whole people, or else some deputed thereunto.

Man slaughter was committed either by man or beast. If by a man, either it was voluntary, and that was punished with death: or involuntary, and in that case they had their cities of refuge: these prefigured Christ, our sole sanctuary of safety. But if by a beast, the beast was stoned, as also the master of the beast, if done by his default.

Blows that caused loss of limbs were punished with the like loss; or if not, with a reasonable recompense.

Violence offered to a woman pregnant with child, so as she lost her fruit, was death: but if she were not pregnant, it was only a money fine.

God straitly charged them to abstain from the use of beasts’ blood; that they might learn to abstain much more from shedding man’s blood.

Lepers were to live apart, lest the sound should be infected: and to intimate the contagiousness of sin. Exodus 20:17

A Jewish servant, if he should not go free at the year of jubilee, was to be bored in the ear with an awl, and to live and die with his master.

Hereto also pertain their laws for war: as, that newly married men, timorous persons, and ploughmen should be excused; that a soldier should be twenty years of age at least; that the general should desire passage through his brother’s country; that he should send forth spies; offer peace; lead on his soldiers; use stratagems; spare fruit trees; equally divide the spoil; reserve a part thereof for God; see that the camp be kept clean from sin, &c.

To the seventh commandment: Adultery was death: and, in the high priest’s daughter, fornication was burning; because he was a special type of Christ, and therefore his family should be without blame or blemish.

Sodomy and bestiality were likewise death: so was the deflouring of an espoused virgin, and a rape. The priest might not marry any but a virgin. The price of a harlot might not be brought into the sanctuary. Polygamy and divorce were permitted only, and not commanded.

Marrying with the brother’s widow was peculiar to the Old Testament.

They were to marry within their own tribes; because our Lord was to spring of the tribe of Judah.

He that defiled a virgin, was both to marry her, and to endow her, so that he had her parents’ consent thereunto.

The prohibited degrees both of consanguinity and affinity are moral, and grounded upon very good reason. [Leviticus 16:1-34 Leviticus 20:1-27]

To the eighth commandment: Kidnapping, sacrilege, and compound theft were punished with death. Usury is condemned by the law of God.

The law for things borrowed, deposited, intrusted, lent, or found, is grounded upon this rule. He that marreth another man’s goods robbeth him.

God would not have any poor - that is, sturdy beggars - amongst his people.

To the ninth commandment: Hereunto belong the laws for ecclesiastical and civil judgments.

SECTION III.

Of the Signification of the Ceremonial Laws; and first, for Holy Places.

These laws concern either holy places, times, things, or persons.

The general law for holy places was, that in that place only that God should choose, holy services should be performed. And this signified, (1.) That through Christ alone we must go to God in every divine duty; (2.) That the time shall come when we shall enjoy the immediate presence of God in heaven.

The special law was, as touching the tabernacle, a lively type of Christ, and of the Church, and of each Christian.

Now in the tabernacle are considerable, (l.) The causes, and (2.) The parts thereof. The causes that concurred to the making of it up, are,

1. The matter; which was various, voluntary, and sufficient. This figured that freewill offering wherewith every man ought to honour God, by trading with his talent, and by doing what he is able for the maintenance of the ministry, and relief of the needy.

2. The form: and so the tabernacle was to be made according to the pattern received in the mount. To teach us, that God will be served according to his own prescript only, and not after man’s inventions.

3. The efficient, was every skilful workman, and by name Bezaleel and Aholiab. These latter figured out the Church’s chieftains and master builders; as those former, all gifted ministers.

These were the causes of the tabernacle: the parts thereof, as well containing as contained, follow. These all were so framed as that they might easily be set up or taken down, and so transported from place to place: whereby was signified, that while we are in this tabernacle of the body - which shall be taken down by death, and set up again by the resurrection - we are absent from the Lord; and that the whole Church not only is a stranger upon earth, but also moveth from one place to another, as God disposeth it.

The covering of the tabernacle set forth that the Church and her members do ever sit safe under God’s protection.

The court made up of various pillars, signified that the Church, in regard of the ministry therein, is the pillar of truth; and that the offices and abilities of the several members ought to be as props to the whole body.

The holy instruments and implements served to set forth all the precious gifts and ordinances of the Church; such as are the word, sacraments, faith, holiness, &c.

The taches, whereby the curtains were knit together, signified that the various members of the Church militant and triumphant are but one tabernacle.

The covering of the tabernacle was twofold, inward and outward; whereby was signified the internal and external estate of the Church.

The glorious gate signified the hearts of God’s people made glorious by faith, whereby we entertain Christ.

The tabernacle fitly knit together by its joints, and rightly erected, signified the Church of Christ fitly compacted by that which every joint supplieth, and making increase with the increase of God. [Ephesians 4:16 Colossians 2:19]

The veil signified the flesh of Christ, whereby his deity was covered, and a way paved for us to heaven.

The veil was filled with cherubims: to show how serviceable the angels are to Christ and his people.

The Holy of Holies shadowed out the third heaven, into the which Christ only entered and we by him.

The ark of the covenant covered with gold, figured Christ, in whom the Godhead dwelleth bodily; and in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom, &c.

The testimony laid up in the ark signified Christ, the end of the law; which also hath its testimony from him.

The golden censer signified that all our services must be perfumed, and perfected by Christ, before they can be accepted.

The golden pot of manna in the side of the ark was a sacrament of that eternal life that is laid up for us in Christ. [Colossians 3:3]

Aaron’s rod blossoming was a sign of God’s fatherly affection, whereby it comes to pass that we bloom and flourish under the cross.

The sanctuary, or tabernacle of the congregation, was the way into the Holy of Holies; and signified the Church militant, through which we enter into heaven.

The brazen altar for burnt offerings shadowed out the humanity of Christ, which is sanctified by his deity, and supported under all his sufferings for us.

The altar of incense signified that Christ appeareth for us before his Father, and maketh all our services accepted by the sacrifice of himself, once offered for sin.

The table furnished with so many loaves as there were tribes in Israel, signified that God keeps a constant table in his Church for all believers.

The golden candlestick with its seven lamps, figured the glorious light of the gospel, whereby "God hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." [2 Corinthians 4:6]

The laver wherein the priests washed themselves before they ministered in the tabernacle, signified that we cannot draw nigh to God in his services without due preparation.

The outer court signified the visible Church, wherein hypocrites also partake of external privileges.

Lo, these are the things typed out by the tabernacle: and they cannot be better understood than by God’s own interpretation of them, when he saith, "Let them make me a sanctuary, that may dwell in the midst of them." [Exodus 25:8] For in those words, as learned Junius observeth, is contained an explication of all the above said ceremonies.

SECTION IV.

Treating of Holy Times.

Concerning holy times, the law is either general or special.

The general law is, partly concerning the most strict rest from all servile works; and partly concerning the sacrifices which were on those holy days to be offered. The former figured that rest where unto God in his due time will bring us.

The latter served not only to exercise the Jews, prone to excess, with the hard yoke of great expense; but also, by the great charge they were at, to shadow out the great worth of Christ, far beyond all worldly treasures.

The special law concerned, (1.) Holy days; (2.) Holy years. Holy days were either daily portion, or solemn. And these latter were partly the new moons, partly the Sabbaths, and partly the feasts; which feasts were either more solemn, as the passover, pentecost, and feast of tabernacles; or less solemn, as the feast of trumpets, and the feast of atonement.

Holy years were, (1.) The Sabbatical or seventh year; or, (2.) The jubilee or fiftieth year. The explication of all these is as followeth: - 1. The continual sacrifice was offered twice every day, that the people might, every morning and evening, be admonished of their sin guiltiness: and, with it, might be exercised in the remembrance and belief of the continual sacrifice of Christ for their sin. It signified also our daily service, or continual sacrifice of praise and holiness, offered up to God in the name of Christ.

2. The new moon sacrifice served to set forth that all our time, and actions done therein, are sanctified unto us by Christ.

3. The Sabbath was a memorial of the creation: it was also a type partly of Christ’s resting in the grave, and partly of our rest in Christ; the beginning whereof we have here, the perfection of it in heaven. And whereas special order was taken that no fire should be kindled on that day; it was to signify that Christ’s rest, and ours in him, was, and should be, free from the fire of affliction.

4. The holy feasts were, in general, appointed for these ends and uses, (1.) To distinguish the people of God from other nations; (2.) To keep afoot the remembrance of benefits already received; (3.) To be a type and figure of benefits yet further to be conferred upon them by Christ; (4.) To unite God’s people in holy worships; (5.) To preserve purity in holy worships prescribed by God.

5. The passover of those that were clean, celebrated in the beginning of the year, figured out the time, manner, and fruit of Christ’s passion. The passover kept by those that had been unclean, signified that Christ profiteth not sinners as long as they persist in their uncleanness; and so it figured out the time of repentance.

6. At the feast of pentecost there was a day of waving and of offering the firstfruits. The former signified that the handful of our fruits - that is, our faith and good works - are not accepted of God, unless they be waved by Christ our High Priest. The latter, that God’s blessings are to be joyfully and thankfully received and remembered.

7. The feast of tabernacles, besides that it brought to mind the Israelites’ wandering in the wilderness, did notably set forth the Church’s pilgrimage in this present world; which yet is so to be thought on, as that, with greatest spiritual joy, we remember and celebrate our redemption by Christ’s death.

8. The feast of trumpets signified that continual cause of cheerfulness and thankfulness that the saints should have by Christ’s death.

9. The feast of atonement signified that the sins of God’s people in their holy meetings and daily services should be expiated by Christ. Moreover, atonement was also made for the most holy place and for the sanctuary. That signified that the visible heaven also was defiled by our sin, and need he purged by Christ’s blood. This, that the Catholic Church is, by the same blood of Christ, made alone acceptable to God. By the application that was made for several persons was set forth the applicatory force of faith. Furthermore, that application and expiation was made by a live and a slain goat. Upon the live goat, called the scapegoat, were put the offences of the children of Israel, and the goat thus ceremonially laden, was let go into the wilderness: the other goat was set apart for a whole burnt offering. The former ceremony signified that the Son of God came down from heaven into the wilderness of this world, that he might take away the sins of the world. The latter shadowed out the blood of Christ, which alone cleanseth us from all sin.

10. The seventh year Sabbath had both an ecclesiastical and a civil use. For, (1.) It did set forth and commend to the people the spiritual Sabbath, which beginneth in the expiation wrought by Christ; (2.) It distinguished this nation from others; (3.) It exercised the people in confidence of God’s providence; (4.) It much conduced to the fruitfulness of the fields, which, if exhausted with continual tillage, would have grown barren, and so an evil report would have passed of the Holy Land.

11. The years of jubilee had their ecclesiastical, political, and chronological use. For, (1.) They signified the jubilee of grace and glory; both which Christ doth both proclaim and confer upon his people; (2.) They were a great help to the poor; (3.) They preserved the distinction of tribes; (4.) They served to distinguish the times thenceforth, from the division of the land, in the year of the world 2559 (1445 BC), to the destruction of Jerusalem; (5.) They figured the rest that the land should have by the just judgments of God for the sins of the people.

SECTION V.

Treating of Holy Things.

Holy things were either common, as oil; or proper: and these again were either principal, or less principal. The principal things were sacrifices; the requisites whereof were three - viz., fire, salt, and fat. The kinds of sacrifices were six - viz., (1.) A whole burnt offering; (2.) An oblation or meatoffering; (3.) A peace offering; (4.) A sacrifice for sin of ignorance or error; (5.) A sacrifice for wilful I wickedness; (6.) A sacrifice of consecration. The less principal things pertained either to all in general, as firstfruits, tenths, vows, &c.; or to the priest peculiarly, as incense, holy water, trumpets. The application of these is thus: -

1. Oil is said to be a most holy thing, because use was made of it in the consecration of the tabernacles, priests, and people. It figured out the oil of gladness - that is, the gifts of the Holy Ghost which Christ received without measure, and after that, by him, all the parts of the Church, both pastors and all Christians; for all and only such are anointed with the oil of gladness. Now this oil was so made up of most precious things, and the confection thereof by none to be imitated, as might best set forth that reprobates are not consecrated with the anointing of God’s children.

2. The fire that came down from heaven, and was to be continually kept alive, signified four things: - (1.) The fire of God’s wrath kindled and kept in by our sins; (2.) The fire of God’s favour, whereby our sins are consumed in Christ; (3) The fire of the Holy Spirit’s operation upon all believers, but especially upon the apostles and their successors; (4.) Lastly, the fire of tribulation, which causeth us to aspire towards heaven.

3. The salt of the covenant was a symbol of incorruption - that is, of perpetual continuance in the covenant of God. And so it signified that every faithful Christian is so confirmed in the covenant of God by faith, that, by the salt of affliction, he is preserved against temptations and assaults of all sorts.

4. The fat of the sacrifices was holy to God alone: and hereby was signified that we ought to consecrate our choicest things to God; that so we may obtain the fatness and sweetness both of grace and gloW laid up for us in Christ.

5. A right common to all sacrifices offered up of living creatures, was the sprinkling of the blood by the priest upon the altar. Hereby was signified the blood of Christ, who is at once our priest, altar, and sacrifice. Those great drops of his blood, I say, are hereby signified, wherewith believers’ hearts, which also are so many altars, are sprinkled.

6. The whole burnt sacrifice was an offering whereby the sacrificer testified that he gave himself up wholly to Christ; and that he believed that Christ was his with all his benefits; as also that he was all lit with the flame of the fire of charity.

7. In the meat offering it was not lawful to offer leaven, or anything that leaveneth, as honey: whereby was signified that corruption, at once in doctrine, life, and discipline, is to be put far away, if we would offer up ourselves to God.

8. In peace offerings, leavened bread also was made use of: that, together with our cheerful praising of God, we may remember our afflictions, the property whereof is to leaven the heart. [Psalms 73:21]

9. The waving of some part of the sacrifice in meat offerings and peace offerings, signified the continual motion of our lips m prayers and praises.

10. The sacrifice for errors and infirmities, signified that all our sins are mortal, and cannot be pardoned but through Christ alone.

11. The sacrifice of consecration showed the difference between the Levitical priests and Christ - viz., that they had need to offer for their own sins; but he for the sins of his people only.

And these are the ceremonial sacrifices: all which signified the sacrifice of Christ, and the sacrifices of Christians; such as are all their moral works proceeding from faith - viz., a contrite spirit, alms, prayer, &c. And lastly, that offering up of the Gentiles mentioned by the apostle in Romans 15:16.

Furthermore, in all sacrifices, clean things only were to be offered: whereby was signified the purity of Christ and of all his members. Like as the offering of doves signified that dove-like simplicity of Christ and his people: which simplicity procecdeth from the Holy Ghost, who is also represented by the dove.

12. Firstfruits were holy to God: and thereby all a man’s substance also was made holy. This signified, (1.) That the holiness of Christ was the holiness of the whole Church; (2.) That the children of believing parents are holy.

13. Tithes, by divine ceremonial right, belonged to the priests for their maintenance: but by moral right they were holy to God; who by this means required to be acknowledged the Owner and Giver of all good things. In the New Testament, tithes, though they be not of necessity, yet are they of perpetual equity, as to the maintenance of the ministry.

14. The tenth of the tithes, which the Levites out of their tithes offered to the high priest, signified the prerogative of Christi in whom we are all tithed.

15. The ceremonial vow, and the redemption thereof, was part of the worship of God: yet without opinion of satisfaction and merit: this then makes nothing at all for those that nowadays impose upon the people laws of vows, and redemption of vows, with an opinion of necessity, satisfaction, and merit. Vows are a service pleasing to God, so they be made and used freely; as exercises of piety, and as helps thereunto. The same may be said of things devoted.

16. Novals were the fruits of trees, which for the three first years being accounted as uncircumcised, were in the fourth year offered up to the Lord; to teach us that all our food is uncircumcised unto us by reason of sin, but is circumcised by faith in Christ; being received with praying and thanksgiving.

17. The holy perfume figured the grace of the Holy Ghost, wherewith the services of the saints are sanctified.

18. The holy water of atonement was a figure of that blessed fountain of Christ’s blood, ever running for the washing away of the filth of sin.

19. The burning of the sacrifices signified Christ burnt in the fire of his Father’s wrath for our sins: but the burning of the garbage and excrements shadowed out the crucifying of the old man. Lastly, those things that were not to be burnt noted the victory of Christ and of our faith.

20. The two trumpets of silver were used by the priest for causes ecclesiastical and civil. As to the former, they blew to call an assembly, and to rejoice spiritually; and this they did without an alarm. As to the latter, they sounded to go forward, or to go forth to battle; and this was done with an alarm. By all which was signified the glorious instancy and efficacy of God’s faithful ministers in reproving sin, in preaching the glad tidings of salvation, and in stirring up men to the spiritual warfare.

SECTION VI.

Of Holy Persons.

Holy persons are considered either in general or more particularly.

That which is to be taken notice of in the general is, that God would not approve of any work but what was done by a sacred person. To teach us that good works please not God, unless the man that doeth them be first justified.

More particularly, holy persons were either those that served at the altar, or other holy ones. Those that served at the altar were the high priest, the rest of the priests, and the Levites. Those other holy ones were the Nazarites, and clean persons. Let us view them severally.

1. The office of the priest was to offer sacrifice, and to pray for the people: hereby was signified the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ.

2. The consecration of the priests, and their freedom from all bodily blemish, signified the holiness of Christ, both habitual and actual.

3. The holy garments, and their stately bravery, signified the beauty and bravery of Christ and his Church. [Psalms 45:1-17]

4. The anointing of the high priest signified the anointing and appointing of Christ to his office of Mediator.

5. The holy abstinence of the priests signified the actual holiness of Christ.

6. The high priest was a lively type of Jesus Christ, as the apostle excellently sets forth in his Epistle to the Hebrews. The other priests represented our dignity in Christ, and our duty toward him. [1 Peter 2:5 Revelation 1:5-6] The high priest shadowed out both the person and the office of Christ. His person, as he was a man like unto other men, and yet superior to them in office and ornaments: which ornaments did thus represent the threefold office of Christ. The bells and pomegranates hanging at the hem of his garment, signified the prophetical office of Christ. The plate of gold, whereupon was engraven HOLINESS TO THE LORD, signified his priestly office. The bonnet, mitre, upon the high priest’s head, typified his kingly office. Other ornaments, common to the high priest with the rest of the priests, signified partly the gifts of grace, and partly the Christian armour, which the apostle describeth [Ephesians 6:11-17] as consisting in the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, &c.

7. Those twelve precious stones in the breastplate were a type of the old and new Church; that consisting of twelve tribes, and this collected by twelve apostles. Those two precious stones in the shoulderpiece, figured likewise those two Churches, as they have the two Testaments. Those two precious stones in the breastplate of judgment, the Urim and Thummim, were a type of Christ, who is our only light and perfection.

8. There was but one high priest: there is but "One Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." [1 Timothy 2:5]

9. The priests only did partake of the sacrifices; so Christians only have communion with Christ.

10. Aaron bore the names of the children of Israel before the Lord. So doth Christ his Church, and all the members thereof; for whom he continually appears in heaven.

11. The binding of woven work strengthened the robe that it might not be rent. This signified the righteousness and strength of Christ for the salvation of his people, and subversion of his enemies.

12. When Aaron entered into the holy places, his bells gave a sound. Hereby was signified Christ’s intercession for us, the Spirit’s making request in us, and the duty and property of all faithful pastors.

13. The high priest might not marry any but a virgin from among his own people. This figured that the Church was to be presented unto Christ as a pure virgin.

14. The high priest was forbidden to lament or to rend his garments: so Christ after his resurrection obtained glory and joy, without any mixture of grief or ignominy.

15. The priests and Levites that served at the tabernacle figured the ecclesiastical hierarchy, as it admits of divers orders and degrees.

16. The Nazarite’s vow was to separate himself unto the Lord by a special holiness. Hereby was signified the purity of Christ, and withal his country of Nazareth, by an illusion of name.

17. Those that were legally unclean, either by meats, or carcasses of men, or leprosy, were first separated, and then cleansed. In like sort, all our sins, of what size soever, do separate us from God, and some of them from his Church also; being all expiated in and by Christ alone.

18. The uncleanness of childbearing women set forth the filth of natural corruption.

19. The casting of lepers out of the camp was a figure of excommunication.

20. The house and all the goods of lepers were unclean, and therefore either burnt or destroyed: to teach us to abolish all instruments of idolatry.

21. Lepers, after they were cleansed, showed themselves to the priest, who was to pronounce them clean. This was a type of church absolution.

22. The leper being cleansed, was to offer two little birds; whereof the one was killed, the other was let go free. Hereby was figured the death of Christ, and the power of his Godhead in his resurrection and ascension.

23. Unclean meats were a part of the Jewish pedagogy, and signified that there is a mixture of clean and unclean persons in the Church. It further figured that distinction of Jews from Gentiles - which distinction is now taken away by Christ. [Acts 10:1-48] Hitherto Alstedius. Now let us proceed, and go on where we left, in explaining the text.


Verse 18

Exodus 20:18 And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw [it], they removed, and stood afar off.

Ver. 18. They removed, &c., ] viz., From the hill foot, where they stood and trembled. [Deuteronomy 4:11] They feared and fled. Man is ζωον φιλοζωον, (a) a creature that would fain live.


Verse 19

Exodus 20:19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Ver. 19. Speak thou with us.] See here what a mercy it is to have the mind of God made known by men like ourselves; that may say unto us, as Elihu did to Job, "Behold, I am according to thy wish in God’s stead: I also am cut out of the clay. Behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee." [Job 33:6-7]


Verse 20

Exodus 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Ver. 20. Fear not.] And yet fear. Fear not this glorious appearance so much: but let it bring your cogitations to his future fearful appearance.


Verse 21

Exodus 20:21 And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God [was].

Ver. 21. Stood afar off.] Yea, God, tendering their infirmity, gave them leave to go home to their tents. [Deuteronomy 5:30-31]


Verse 22

Exodus 20:22 And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.

Ver. 22. From heaven.] For wheresoever God is, heaven is: as where the king is, there is the court.


Verse 23

Exodus 20:23 Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold.

Ver. 23. Ye shall not male with me gods.] Say we of such petty deities as that heathen did, Contemno minutulos istos deos, modo Iovem (Iehovam) mihi propitium habeam. I slight them all.


Verse 24

Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

Ver. 24. An altar of earth.] In opposition to the costly shrines and services of those dunghill deities. God cares not for outward pomp: Popery is all for it, and scoffs at our simplicity. The God of the Protestants, saith a blasphemous popeling, is the most uncivil and unmannered God of all those that have borne the names of gods upon earth; yea, worse than Pan, the god of the clowns, which can endure no ceremonies, nor good manners at all. (a)


Verse 25

Exodus 20:25 And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.

Ver. 25. Thou hast polluted.] Not polished it. So in preaching. [1 Corinthians 2:4-5] Epistolae ornamentum est ornamentis carere: Plainness commends an epistle. (a) Nimio mundo studentes, ab immundo propius absunt. (b) Some mar all by over doing it.


Verse 26

Exodus 20:26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.

Ver. 26. That thy nakedness.] We blush when taken naked, as if the blood would run forth to cover us. What beasts, then, were those priests of Priapus, and those base Bacchanalists, that ran up and down naked!

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Exodus 20:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/exodus-20.html. 1865-1868.

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