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by Don Costello
6/28/2008 / Bible Studies
For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
1. "For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast,"
a. This part of the verse will require a little bit of indulgence. As to what it says we have another witness that establishes it as fact, in Acts 7:53. "Who have received the law by the disposition of angels," And a probable reference to it in Galatians 3:19, that says, "the lawwas ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator." [In Scripture, a word must be established by two or three witnesses. Cp. 2 Corinthians 13:1.]
b. What are we to make of this? What are Paul and Steven referring to? If we look in Exodus when God gave Israel the law, there is no mention of it.
1). Exodus 20:1, 2 "And God spake all these words, saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."
2). It says nothing of angels playing any part in the giving of the law.
c. As I was digging into this, "word spoken by angels" I found in Vincent's Word Studies, this note about it in Vol. 1, pp 484, 485. "The reference is most probably to the Jewish tradition that the law was given through the agency of angels. See Deut. 33:2, Cp. Psalm 68:17. Paul expressly says that the law was administered by the medium of angels." Before I look at those verses that Vincent refers to I want to quote a few Jewish sources for this Jewish tradition.
d. Alfred Edersheim was a Messianic Jew. In his book, Bible History, Book 2, Chapter 10, p. 206, Note #10: "When we read that the law was "received by the ministration of angels", we are not to understand by it that God Himself did not speak all these words, but either to refer it to those "ten thousands" of angels who were His attendants when He spoke on Sinai," [Note D.C. The reference to "ten thousands of angels" is a quote of Deuteronomy 33:2.]
e. Josepheus, a Jewish historian, writes in his, Histories of the Jews, Book 15, Chapter 5, Section3, "And we for ourselves, we have learned from God the most excellent of our doctrines, and the most holy part of our law, by angels or ambassadors;"
f. In his book, The Exegetical Imagination- On Jewish Thought and Theology, page 183, Michael Fishbane writes: "Rabbi Nahman saysHence when the people of Israel at Sinai said, na'aseh ve-mishma ("Let us do and hear"; Exodus 24:7) they achieved a blissful moment of transcendence, when myriads of angels crowned each and every one with the manifest or exoteric meaning of Torah, the level of na'aseh (doing), and with its hidden or esoteric truth, called mishma (hearing)."
g. Jewish New Testament Commentary, David Stern, pp246, 247. "The verse of the Tanakh which comes closest to stating outright that the Torahwas delivered by angels is found in Moshe's [Moses'] final speech before his death: Adonai came from Sinai and rose from Seir to them; he shone forth from Mount Paran; and he came from the holy myriads;at his right hand eshdat lamo (Deuteronomy 33:20. Hebrew eshdat lamo is taken by some Jewish commentator to mean, "was a fiery law (esh-dat) for them" The Septuagint translates the passage, "at his right hand were his angels with him". Rashi says that the holy myriads" were angels. Strack and Billerbeck, in their six-volume Commentary of the New Testament from the Talmoud and Midrash (Munich: C.H. Beck'sche, 1975 reprint of 1926 original, in German), give several dozen citations from rabbinic literature showing that the idea of angelic mediation of the Torah was widespread.
h. Deuteronomy 33:2 "And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them."
1). Deuteronomy 33:2 [Septuagint] "And he said, The Lord is come from Sina, and has appeared from Seir to us, and has hasted out of the mount of Pharan, with the ten thousands of Cades ; on his right hand were his angels with him."
2). When the KJV, "from his right hand went a fiery law for them", is compared beside the Septuagint, "on his right hand were his angels with him", I guess the conclusion is the angels gave the law?
a). Deuteronomy 33:2[NIV] "He said: The LORD came forth from Sinai and dawned over them from Seir; he shone forth from Mount Paran. He came with myriads of holy ones from the south, from the slopes."
b). Deuteronomy 33:2 [NASB] "And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came from the midst of ten thousands holy ones; At His right hand there was flashing lightening for them."
c). Deuteronomy 33:2 [NRSV] "He said: The LORD came from Sinai, and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran. With him were myriads of holy ones; at his right, a host of his own."
d). Deuteronomy 33:2 [Amplified Bible] "He said, The Lord came from Sinai and beamed upon us from Sier; He flashed forth from Mount Paran, from among ten thousands of holy ones, a flaming fire, a law, at His right hand."
h. Psalm 68:17 "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the LORD is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place."
1). This verse, in agreement with the Deuteronomy passage, places tens of thousands of angels at Sinai.
a). Psalm 68:17 [NIV] "The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands; the LORD has come from Sinai into his sancturary."
b). Psalm 68:17 [NASB] "The chariots of God are myriads, thousands upon thousands; The LORD is among them as at Sinai, in holiness."
c). Psalm 68:17 [NRSV] "With mighty chariotry, twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands, the Lord came from Sinai into the holy place."
d). Psalm 68:17 [Amplified Bible] "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands. The Lord is among them, as He was in Sinai, [so also] in the holy placethe sanctuary [in Jerusalem].
i. It is clear from these Scriptures that there were angels present in Sinai when God gave the law. Not only that, but that an oral Jewish tradition was incorporated into the inspired word of God. Wow! Another interesting fact is that this isn't an isolated example. There are at least three other instances, 1 Corinthians 10:4; 2 Timothy 3:8; and James 5:17, 18.
2. "and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;"
a. Pink: "The punishment will be graded according to light and opportunity (Matthew 11:20-24; Luke 12:47, 48), according to the nature of the sins committed (John 19:11; Mark 12:38-40; Hebrews 10:29), according to the number of sins committed (Romans 2:6.)"
My name is Don Costello. Ever since I received Christ in November of 1976 I have had a passion to study and know God's word.My wife Melissa and I have 5 children.
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