THE LETTER OF BARNABAS
Now let us see whether it is this people or the ﬁrst one that re ceives the inheritance, and whether the covenant is for us or them. 2 Hear what the Scripture says con cerning the people, “Isaac prayed for Re becca his wife, because she was infertile. And then she conceived.” Then, “Re becca went to inquire of the Lord, and the Lord said to her, ‘There are two nations in your womb and two peoples in your belly, and one people will domi nate the other and the greater will serve the lesser.’ ”74 3 You ought to perceive who Isaac rep resents and who Rebecca, and whom he means when he shows that this people is greater than that one. 4 In another prophecy Jacob speaks more plainly to Joseph his son, when he says, “See, the Lord has not kept me from your presence. Bring your sons to me that I may bless them.”75 5 He brought Ephraim and Manasseh, wanting him to bless Manasseh since he was the elder. So Joseph brought him to the right hand of his father Jacob. But Jacob saw in the Spirit a type of the people who was to come later. And what does it say? “Jacob crossed his hands and placed his right hand on the head of Ephraim, the second and younger, and blessed him. And Joseph said to Jacob, ‘Switch your right hand onto Manasseh’s head, because he is my ﬁrstborn son.’ Jacob said to Joseph, ‘I know, my child, I know. But the greater will serve the lesser, and it is this one who will be blessed.’ ”76 6 You see about whom he has decreed, that this people will be ﬁrst, and the heir of the covenant. 7 And if this is also brought to mind through Abraham, we maintain that our knowledge is now perfect. What then does he say to Abraham, when he alone believed and was appointed for right
eousness? “See, Abraham, I have made you a father of the nations who believe in God while uncircumcised.”77
Yes indeed. But we should see if he has given the covenant that he swore to the fathers he would give the people. Let us pursue the question. He has given it, but they were not worthy to receive it because of their sins. 2 For the prophet says, “Moses was fasting on Mount Sinai For forty days and forty nights, that he might receive the covenant of the Lord for the people. And Moses received from the Lord the two tablets written with the ﬁnger of the Lord’s hand in the Spirit.”78 When Moses received them he brought them down to give to the people. 3 And the Lord said to Moses, “Moses, Moses, go down at once, because your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt, has broken the Law. Moses understood that they had again made molten images for themselves, and he hurled the tablets from his hands. And the tablets of the Lord’s covenant were smashed.”79 4 So Moses received the covenant, but they were not worthy. Now learn how we have received it. Moses received it as a servant, but the Lord himself gave it to us, as a people of the inheritance, by enduring suffering for us. 5 He was made manifest so that those people might be completely ﬁlled with sins, and that we might receive the cov enant through the Lord Jesus, who inher ited it. He was prepared for this end, that when he became manifest he might make a covenant with us by his word, after redeeming our hearts from darkness,
Cf. Gen 25:21–23. 75Gen 48:11, 9. 76Cf. Gen 48: 14, 19. 77Cf. Gen 15:6; 17:4. 78Cf. Exod. 24:18; 31: 18. 79Cf. Exod 32:7–19.