8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.
9 By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;
10 for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
obeyed when he was called (v.8) = lit. “while he was being called … obeyed.”
called to go out (v.8) — from Ur of the Chaldees (Genesis 11:31; 12:1). He left his family and friends to travel alone to a place he’d never been and didn’t know how to get to, where he knew nobody — because God told him to.
not knowing (v.8) = not fixing his thoughts on — not concerned with
dwelt (v.9) = migrated, sojourned — He was a transient, without rights of citizenship. The only property Abraham owned in Canaan was his burial plot at Machpelah (Genesis 23:1-20)
promise (v.9) = lit. “the promise”
Isaac and Jacob (v.9) — mentioned here because they too dwelt in Canaan as sojourners
waited (v.10) = eagerly expected
Both the words “city” and “foundations” are preceded by the definite article in the Greek text. Abraham looked for the city which had the foundations. He was looking for the heavenly Jerusalem. The idea of the heavenly Jerusalem was familiar to the Jews. See Hebrews 12:22, 13:14; Galatians 4:26. — Hebrews in the Greek New Testament, by Kenneth S. Wuest, page 202.
builder (v.10) = craftsman, architect
maker (v.10) = framer, builder
There is no mention here of Abraham’s failures — the stop in Haran, nor yet the fact that he did not immediately separate himself from his kindred, but that actually his father seems to have taken the initiative in this first step. But the faith that led to the entire movement was that of Abraham, to whom God had revealed Himself in Ur of the Chaldees. According to the statement of Joshua, there can be little doubt that Abraham’s family was idolatrous. He said, “Your fathers dwelt of old on the other side of the flood, Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor, and they served other gods” (Joshua 24:2). But it was to a young man brought up in these circumstances that the living God revealed Himself, and from that moment faith sprang up in Abraham’s soul. — Studies in the Epistle to the Hebrews, by H.A. Ironsides, page 137.