on Genesis 25 :8
Then Abraham gave up the ghost - Highly as I value our translation for general accuracy, fidelity, and elegance, I must beg leave to dissent from this version. The original word יגוע yigva, from the root גוע gava, signifies to pant for breath, to expire, to cease from breathing, or to breathe one's last; and here, and wherever the original word is used, the simple term expired would be the proper expression. In our translation this expression occurs Genesis 25:8, Genesis 25:17; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 44:33; Job 3:11; Job 10:18; Job 11:20; Job 13:19; Job 14:10; Lamentations 1:19; in all of which places the original is גוע gava. It occurs also in our translation, Jeremiah 15:9, but there the original is נפחה נפשה naphecah naphshah, she breathed out her soul; the verb גוע gava not being used. Now as our English word ghost, from the Anglo-Saxon gast, an inmate, inhabitant, guest, (a casual visitant), also a spirit, is now restricted among us to the latter meaning, always signifying the immortal spirit or soul of man, the guest of the body; and as giving up the spirit, ghost, or soul, is an act not proper to man, though commending it to God, in our last moments, is both an act of faith and piety; and as giving up the ghost, i.e., dismissing his spirit from his body, is attributed to Jesus Christ, to whom alone it is proper, I therefore object against its use in every other case.
Every man since the fall has not only been liable to death, but has deserved it, as all have forfeited their lives because of sin. Jesus Christ, as born immaculate, and having never sinned, had not forfeited his life, and therefore may be considered as naturally and properly immortal. No man, says he, taketh it - my life, from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again: therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again, John 10:17, John 10:18. Hence we rightly translate Matthew 27:50, αφηκε το πνευμα, he gave up the ghost; i.e., he dismissed his spirit that he might die for the sin of the world. The Evangelist St. John 19:30, makes use of an expression to the same import, which we translate in the same way, παρεδωκε το πνευμα, he delivered up his spirit. We translate Mark 15:37, and Luke 23:46, he gave up the ghost, but not correctly, because the word in both these places is very different, εξεπνευσε, he breathed his last, or expired, though in the latter place (Luke 23:46) there is an equivalent expression, O Father, into thy hands παρατιθεμαι το πνευμα μου, I commit my spirit, i.e., I place my soul in thy hand; proving that the act was his own, that no man could take his life away from him, that he did not die by the perfidy of his disciple, or the malice of the Jews, but by his own free act. Thus He Laid Down his life for the sheep. Of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:5, Acts 5:10, and of Herod, Acts 12:23, our translation says they gave up the ghost; but the word in both places is εξεψυξε, which simply means to breathe out, to expire, or die; but in no case, either by the Septuagint in the Old or any of the sacred writers in the New Testament, is αφηκε το μνευμα or παρεδωκε το πνευμα, he dismissed his spirit or delivered up his spirit, spoken of any person but Christ. Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, etc., breathed their last; Ananias, Sapphira, and Herod expired; but none, Jesus Christ excepted, gave up the ghost, dismissed, or delivered up his own spirit, and was consequently free among the dead. Of the patriarchs, etc., the Septuagint uses the word εκλειπων, failing, or κατεπαυσε, he ceased or rested.
An old man - Viz., one hundred and seventy-five, the youngest of all the patriarchs; and full of years. The word years is not in the text; but as our translators saw that some word was necessary to fill up the text, they added this in italics. It is probable that the true word is ימים yamim, days, as in Genesis 35:29; and this reading is found in several of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., in the Samaritan text, Septuagint, Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, Persic, and Chaldee. On these authorities it might be safely admitted into the text.
Being full of days, or full of years - To be satiated with days or life, has been in use among different nations to express the termination of life, and especially life ended without reluctance. It seems to be a metaphor taken from a guest regaled by a plentiful banquet, and is thus used by the Roman poets. Lucretius, lib. iii., ver. 947, ridiculing those who were unreasonably attached to life, and grievously afflicted at the prospect of death, addresses them in the following manner: -
Quid mortem congemis, ac fies?
Nam si grata fuit tibi vita anteacta, priorque,
Et non omnia pertusum congesta quasi in vas
Commoda perfluxere, atque ingrata interiere:
Cur non, ut Plenus Vitae Conviva, Recedis?
Fond mortal, what's the matter, thou dost sigh?
Why all these fears because thou once must die?
For if the race thou hast already run
Was pleasant, if with joy thou saw'st the sun,
If all thy pleasures did not pass thy mind
on Genesis 25 :8
on Genesis 25 :8
25:8 He died in a good old age, an old man - So God had promised him. His death was his discharge from the burdens of his age: it was also the crown of the glory of his old age. He was full of years - A good man, though he should not die old, dies full of days, satisfied with living here, and longing to live in a better place. And was gathered to his people - His body was gathered to the congregation of the dead, and his soul to the congregation of the blessed. Death gathers us to our people. Those that are our people while we live, whether the people of God, or the children of this world, to them death will gather us.