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9. Worship in Earthly Tabernacle

1Now even a first covenant had ordinances of divine service, and its sanctuary, a sanctuary of this world. 2For there was a tabernacle prepared, the first, wherein were the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the Holy place. 3And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holy of holies; 4having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was a golden pot holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5and above it cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat; of which things we cannot now speak severally. 6Now these things having been thus prepared, the priests go in continually into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the services; 7but into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offereth for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8the Holy Spirit this signifying, that the way into the holy place hath not yet been made manifest, while the first tabernacle is yet standing; 9which is a figure for the time present; according to which are offered both gifts and sacrifices that cannot, as touching the conscience, make the worshipper perfect, 10being only (with meats and drinks and divers washings) carnal ordinances, imposed until a time of reformation. 11But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation, 12nor yet through the blood of goats and calves, but through his own blood, entered in once for all into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption. 13For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling them that have been defiled, sanctify unto the cleanness of the flesh: 14how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish unto God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? 15And for this cause he is the mediator of a new covenant, that a death having taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they that have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16For where a testament is, there must of necessity be the death of him that made it. 17For a testament is of force where there hath been death: for it doth never avail while he that made it liveth. 18Wherefore even the first covenant hath not been dedicated without blood. 19For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses unto all the people according to the law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20saying, This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded to you-ward. 21Moreover the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry he sprinkled in like manner with the blood. 22And according to the law, I may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and apart from shedding of blood there is no remission. 23It was necessary therefore that the copies of the things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24For Christ entered not into a holy place made with hands, like in pattern to the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us: 25nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place year by year with blood not his own; 26else must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this cometh judgment; 28so Christ also, having been once offered to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, apart from sin, to them that wait for him, unto salvation.

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1 Then verily the first, etc 138138     Rather, “Yet even the first,” etc. It is connected with the last verse of the preceding chapter; as though he had said, — “Though the covenant is become antiquated, yet it had many things divinely appointed connected with it.” Μὲν οὖν mean “yet,” or however. See Art. 8:4. Macknight has “Now verily;” and Stuart, “Moreover.” — Ed After having spoken generally of the abrogation of the old covenant, he now refers specially to the ceremonies. His object is to show that there was nothing practiced then to which Christ’s coming has not put an end. He says first, that under the old covenant there was a specific form of divine worship, and that it was peculiarly adapted to that time. It will hereafter appear by the comparison what kind of things were those rituals prescribed under the Law.

Some copies read, πρώτη σκηνὴ the first tabernacle; but I suspect that there is a mistake as to the word “tabernacle;” nor do I doubt but that some unlearned reader, not finding a noun to the adjective, and in his ignorance applying to the tabernacle what had been said of the covenant, unwisely added the word σκηνὴ tabernacle. I indeed greatly wonder that the mistake had so prevailed, that it is found in the Greek copies almost universally. 139139     It has since been discovered that it is not found in many of the best MSS., and is dismissed from the text by Griesbach and all modern critics. The noun understood is evidently “covenant,” spoken of in the preceding chapter. — Ed. But necessity constrains me to follow the ancient reading. For the Apostle, as I have said, had been speaking of the old covenant; he now comes to ceremonies, which were additions, as it were, to it. He then intimates that all the rites of the Mosaic Law were a part of the old covenant, and that they partook of the same ancientness, and were therefore to perish.

Many take the word λατρείας as an accusative plural. I agree with those who connect the two words together, δικαιώματα λατρείας for institutes or rites, which the Hebrews call חוקים, and the Greeks have rendered by the word δικαιώματα ordinances. The sense is, that the whole form or manner of worshipping God was annexed to the old covenant, and that it consisted of sacrifices, ablutions, and other symbols, together with the sanctuary. And he calls it a worldly sanctuary, because there was no heavenly truth or reality in those rites; for though the sanctuary was the effigy of the original pattern which had been shown to Moses; yet an effigy or image is a different thing from the reality, and especially when they are compared, as here, as things opposed to each other. Hence the sanctuary in itself was indeed earthly, and is rightly classed among the elements of the world, it was yet heavenly as to what it signified. 140140     Many, such as Grotius, Beza, etc., consider that “ordinances” and “services” (not service) are distinct, and both in the objective case, and render the words “rituals, services, and a wordly sanctuary.” And if the sequel is duly examined, it will be found that this is the right construction. The Apostle, according to the manner of the prophet, reverses the order, and speaks distinctly of these three particulars, — first, “the wordly sanctuary” — the tabernacle in verses 2, 3, 4, and 5; secondly, “the services” in verses 6 and 7; and thirdly, “the rituals” in verse 10, where the word “ordinances” again occur. There can therefore be hardly a doubt as to the construction of the first verse. The sanctuary is called worldly in contrast with what is heavenly or divine, not made with hands: see verse 11. — Ed.

2. For there was a tabernacle, etc. As the Apostle here touches but lightly on the structure of the tabernacle, that he might not be detained beyond what his subject required; so will I also designedly abstain from any refined explanation of it. It is then sufficient for our present purpose to consider the tabernacle in its three parts, — the first was the court of the people; the middle was commonly called the sanctuary; and the last was the inner sanctuary, which they called, by way of eminence, the holy of holies. 141141     See Appendix F 2.

As to the first sanctuary, which was contiguous to the court of the people, he says that there were the candlestick and the table on which the shew­bread was set: he calls this place, in the plural number, the holies. Then, after this is mentioned, the most secret place, which they called the holy of holies, still more remote from the view of the people, and it was even hid from the priests who ministered in the first sanctuary; for as by a veil the sanctuary was closed up to the people, so another veil kept the priests from the holy of holies. There, the Apostle says, was the θυμιατήριον by which name I understand the altar of incense, or fumigation, rather than the censer; 142142     This is evidently a mistake, for the altar of incense was in the sanctuary — the first tabernacle. See Exodus 30:1-6. The word is used in the Sept., for “censer,” 2 Chronicles 26:19. There were many censors made, as it is supposed, of brass; for they were daily used in the sanctuary for incense; but this golden censor was probably used only on the day of expiation, when the chief priest entered the holiest place; and the probability is, though there is no account of this in the Old Testament, that it was laid up or deposited, as Stuart suggests, in the holy of holies. — Ed. then the ark of the covenant, with its covering, the two cherubim, the golden pot filled with manna, the rod of Aaron, and the two tables. Thus far the Apostle proceeds in describing the tabernacle.

But he says that the pot in which Moses had deposited the manna, and Aaron’s rod which had budded, were in the ark with the two tables; but this seems inconsistent with sacred history, which in 1 King s 8:9, relates that there was nothing in the ark but the two tables. But it is easy to reconcile these two passages: God had commanded the pot and Aaron’s rod to be laid up before the testimony; it is hence probable that they were deposited in the ark, together with the tables. But when the Temple was built, these things were arranged in a different order, and certain history relates it as a thing new that the ark had nothing else but the two tables. 143143     Stuart observes, “Our author is speaking of the tabernacle, and not of the temple; still less of the second temple, which must have lacked even the tables of testimony. The probability is, that the ark, during its many removals, and in particular during its captivity by the Philistines, was deprived of those sacred deposits; for we hear no more concerning them.” — Ed.