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Romans 11:8

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

God hath given them the spirit of slumber - As they had wilfully closed their eyes against the light, so God has, in judgment, given them up to the spirit of slumber. The very word and revelation of God, which should have awakened their consciences, and opened their eyes and ears, have had a very different effect; and because they did not receive the truth in the love thereof, that which would otherwise have been the savour of life unto life, has become the savour of death unto death; and this continues to the present day.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

According as it is written - That is, they are blinded in accordance with what is written. The fact and the manner accord with the ancient declaration. This is recorded in Isaiah 29:10, and in Deuteronomy 29:4. The same sentiment is found also substantially in Isaiah 6:9-10. The principal place referred to here, however, is doubtless Isaiah 29:10, “For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes; the prophets and your rulers hath he covered.” The quotation is not however literally made either from the Hebrew or the Septuagint; but the sense is preserved. The phrase “according as” means upon the same principle, or in the same manner.

God hath given - Expressions like this are common in the Scriptures, where God is represented as having an agency in producing the wickedness and stupidity of sinners; see Romans 9:17-18; see the Matthew 13:15 note; Mark 4:11-12 note; see also 2 Thessalonians 2:11. This quotation is not made literally. The Hebrew in Isaiah is, God has poured upon them the spirit of slumber. The sense, however, is retained.

The spirit of slumber - The spirit of slumber is not different from slumber itself. The word “spirit” is often used thus. The word “slumber” here is a literal translation of the Hebrew. The Greek word, however κατανύξεως katanuxeōsimplies also the notion of compunction, and hence in the margin it is rendered “remorse.” It means any emotion, or any influence whatever, that shall benumb the faculties, and make them insensible. Hence, it here means simply insensibility.

Eyes that they should not see … - This expression is not taken literally from any single place in the Old Testament; but expresses the general sense of several passages; Isaiah 6:10; Deuteronomy 29:4. It denotes a state of mind not different from a spirit of slumber. When we sleep, the eyes are insensible to surrounding objects, and the ear to sounds. Though in themselves the organs may be perfect, yet the mind is as though they were not; and we have eyes which then do not see, and ears which do not hear. Thus, with the Jews. Though they had all the proper faculties for understanding and receiving the gospel, yet they rejected it. They were stupid and insensible to its claims and its truths.

Unto this day - Until the day that Paul wrote. The characteristic of the Jews that existed in the time of Isaiah. existed also in the time of Paul. It was a trait of the people; and their insensibility to the demands of the gospel developed nothing new in them.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
There was a chosen remnant of believing Jews, who had righteousness and life by faith in Jesus Christ. These were kept according to the election of grace. If then this election was of grace, it could not be of works, either performed or foreseen. Every truly good disposition in a fallen creature must be the effect, therefore it cannot be the cause, of the grace of God bestowed on him. Salvation from the first to the last must be either of grace or of debt. These things are so directly contrary to each other that they cannot be blended together. God glorifies his grace by changing the hearts and tempers of the rebellious. How then should they wonder and praise him! The Jewish nation were as in a deep sleep, without knowledge of their danger, or concern about it; having no sense of their need of the Saviour, or of their being upon the borders of eternal ruin. David, having by the Spirit foretold the sufferings of Christ from his own people, the Jews, foretells the dreadful judgments of God upon them for it, Ps 69. This teaches us how to understand other prayers of David against his enemies; they are prophecies of the judgments of God, not expressions of his own anger. Divine curses will work long; and we have our eyes darkened, if we are bowed down in worldly-mindedness.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 375-9

The prophet Isaiah, looking down through the centuries and witnessing the rejection of prophet after prophet and finally of the Son of God, was inspired to write concerning the acceptance of the Redeemer by those who had never before been numbered among the children of Israel. Referring to this prophecy, Paul declares: “Esaias is very bold, and saith, I was found of them that sought Me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked not after Me. But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth My hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” AA 375.1

Even though Israel rejected His Son, God did not reject them. Listen to Paul as he continues the argument: “I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew. Wot ye not what the Scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed Thy prophets, and digged down Thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to Myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” AA 375.2

Israel had stumbled and fallen, but this did not make it impossible for them to rise again. In answer to the question, “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” the apostle replies: “God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” AA 375.3

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