Hebrews 11:37

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented. Hebrews 11:37

The author continues with the sad list of the ill-treatment of the people of faith recorded in Scripture and in the traditions of the Jewish people. He begins this verse with, “They were stoned.”

Stoning was a type of capital punishment specifically designated within the law of Moses. It would be a painful, crunchy way to die, but it was also a sign of the complete rejection of an individual. This is because there was no direct contact between the executioners and the condemned. Instead, the symbolism was that the person was unclean and cast off from a distance, just as a stone is cast away. Unfortunately, it happened to righteous people of faith by those who were unrighteous. In an interesting, but contrasting parallel between the Old and New Testaments, the last martyr of the Old Testament was Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada. He was stoned in 2 Chronicles 24. Upon his death, it said –

“Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but killed his son; and as he died, he said, ‘The Lord look on it, and repay!’” 2 Chronicles 24:22

In the New Testament, the first martyr also died by stoning, and upon his death it says –

“Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.” Acts 7:60

The author next says that “they were sawn in two.” This is referring to the Jewish tradition that the prophet Isaiah was sawn in two by the wicked king Manasseh.

The verse next says that they “were tempted.” This doesn’t seem like a great horror, and therefore scholars wonder why it is listed among the other cruelties, but what it probably is referring to is the practice of giving a person who is condemned to die a chance to recant of the reason for the punishment, tempting him to side with his persecutors and to give up on his faith. When facing a terrible type of death, one would face a real challenge in such a temptation.

Next is listed that they “were slain with the sword.” One prominent example is that of the priests of the Lord who were slain for having assisted David when he was escaping from Saul. There it says –

“And the king said to Doeg, ‘You turn and kill the priests!’ So Doeg the Edomite turned and struck the priests, and killed on that day eighty-five men who wore a linen ephod.” 2 Samuel 22:18

The author then finishes the verse with a general statement about the condition of many others and the types of lives they lived, as well as the treatment they received, by saying, “They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented.”

The idea of “sheepskins and goatskins” is that of a rough garment, something a prophet would be noted for, such as in Zechariah 13:4. Being destitute signifies no real earthly possessions, no home, and no regular income. They were wholly dependent on the Lord, such as when Elijah was fed by the Lord by sending ravens to bring him his food in 1 Kings 17. Being afflicted would include the challenges which externally came against them – heat, cold, lack of shelter, attacks, and so on. Being tormented would be the external harm they received from others who directly persecuted them.

Life application: Again we see the world’s treatment of God’s people. This is what those of faith suffered in olden times, and this is what true people of faith continue to suffer in history today. Not all of them, of course, but such things happen to God’s people in countries around the world, and such persecutions are coming upon His people even in supposedly “Christian” nations today. There is a great movement away from the solid foundation which is found in Jesus Christ. Like the people of faith from times past, those who speak out God’s word today are also likely to be persecuted, but despite the costs, the rewards are worth it.

Heavenly Father, despite the troubles and persecutions we can expect because of our unwavering faith, let us stand firm in our convictions. Our faith will surely outlast these temporary and weak bodies. Thank You for the promise of new ones. While the world of corruption and death will consume our tormentors, the faithful in Christ will rise to walk in glory. Hallelujah and Amen!

7 thoughts on “Hebrews 11:37

  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 7:19 am

    Amen, that’s my prayer too for all of us.

  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 7:32 am

    we are truly blessed in this country . it is hard to imagine what people went through in the past and are going through today . thank you

  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 7:35 am

    praying for tammy .

  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 8:46 am

    I will be very interested in hearing Gods reasoning as to why some of his people have to suffer so much in life and others seem to just skate through life! Don’t get me wrong I am feeling blessed for my skates but just having a hard time with why me and not them???

    We ARE another day closer to home
    Grace mercy and peace on you and yours
    God bless my friends we fly soon

  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 12:19 pm

    BLESS GOD PRAISE JESUS! Tammy is doing better but I’ll be happy when she can eat a meal instead of bird bites. Thank you all for your prayers so much ! Bless you all!

  • Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you for the word today. I heard you explain in bible study about the prayer of Jesus on the cross-“Father forgive them for they know not what they do- concerning a question that was asked- Did Father God forgive them?

    With that in mind I am asking ‘Do you believe that God answered Stephen’s prayer when he asked in his prayer-‘lay not this sin to their charge?

    Thank you once again for explaining this book of Hebrews to us.

  • Friday, April 5th, 2019 at 10:56 am

    Hi Ruth,

    The answer for the first question is “Yes, and No.” The idea is one of national guilt. Technically, God could have wiped them out, but He kept His side of the covenant as He obligated Himself too. However – No. They had forty years until AD70 to turn to Christ; they did not, and they went into extended exile. Now, they are again brought to the land and will have to suffer greatly before they call on Christ and He returns to rescue them.

    Second question. I honestly don’t know. We can ask such things, but it is the Lord who is actually the one who is sinned against by our actions. I wish I could give you a better answer, but the Bible doesn’t say. Such a statement, however, has the potential for changing hard hearts. It may be that his words affected someone enough to turn from their rejection of Christ and call on Him.


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