Through His shed blood Yeshua gives defiled human beings access to undefiled heavenly things.
Hebrews 9:1-14 reminds the reader of the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) it’s serving priests and its articles, showing them to be replicas that point to the original Mishkan in the heavens. The mercy seat of the heavens being the place where Yeshua the Great High Priest has sprinkled His blood in order to affect eternal atonement for all who receive Him and His saving work. The writer points out that if the blood of goats and bulls (Num. 16), and the ashes of the heifer could affect temporary outward cleansing of the body, then how much more can the blood of Messiah (which is everlasting) purge the soul of a human being, removing the decaying deeds of the sinful nature (yetzer hara).
The “goats and bulls” relate to the High Priest’s duties on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) relating to both his cleansing and the cleansing of the community of Israel from sin. The ashes of the red heifer mixed with water and applied with hyssop relate to the ritual cleansing of one who has touched a dead body. In both cases death, which is the fruit of sin, is associated to the rites. The writer of Hebrews is intentionally using these examples in order to solidify his point that the physical practices of the earthly sacrificial system cannot save the inner person from the just consequences of sin.
With regard to the ashes of the red heifer it is worth noting that the ashes mixed with water for the ritual cleansing of those who touch the dead (a metaphor for touching the fruit of sin), is called “water of separation” (Num. 19:13) because it cleanses ritually cleanses the person from that which “separates” them from God. The writer of the Book to the Hebrews inspired by the Holy Spirit uses this temporal earthly example to point to the fact that Yeshua’s sacrificial death and the sprinkling of His blood (ashes) mixed with water (life) truly and eternally cleanse the inner person of those who receive Him. This has been accomplished and is now offered to all until His return, at which time “separation from sin” (Heb. 9:28) will not be the subject of His coming but to reign in fullness over Judah, Israel and all the nations (those who have received Him).
In our previous study we noted that the ark of the covenant (Aron Ha-Briyt) was not present in the holy of holies during the earthly ministry of Messiah in the first century C.E. And that Yeshua never entered the holy of holies on earth but the holy of holies, or the holiest place in the heavens. We also learned that the book of Revelation tells us where the original Aron Ha-Briyt of God is located and that the vein pursuit of the earthly ark that can never affect redemption is an act of idolatry.
“Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of His Covenant appeared in His Temple. And there were flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder and an earthquake and heavy hail.” -Revelation 11:19 TLV
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have become defiled, unclean, sanctify as a means of purifying, cleansing the carnal form, flesh, body, 14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered, presented, sacrificed His soul without blemish, mark, spot to God; purge, cleanse, purify your conscience, moral consciousness, heart, core being, inner person from dead, necrotic works, deeds, doing, in order to serve the living God?
Before we continue we note again that while Yeshua’s unique priesthood is “like” that of Melki Tzedek (the mortal king and priest of ancient Salem), Yeshua’s practice of atonement is likened to that of the high priest of the Levitical priesthood. Therefore, as previously stated, Yeshua’s priesthood over all peoples presents a convergent likeness that combines elements of both earthly temporal priesthoods. We thus glean understanding from both.
BOOK TO THE HEBREWS Chapter 9:15-28 (Author’s translation)
15 And through this He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate of a new covenant, so that, by means of His death we are found redeemed, atoned, purged of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”] 16 For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary. 17 For a covenant is valid upon death, because it has no strength while the one who made it lives. 18 Nor was the first covenant consecrated, dedicated without blood. 19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment to all the people individually and collectively according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, he received/took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Scroll itself and all the people individually and collectively, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 Likewise he sprinkled, threw the blood on both the Tent of Meeting and all the vessels, utensils, implements of the service. 22 And with few exceptions all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom. 23 Therefore it was necessary, right for the copies, patterns, warnings of the things in the heavens to be purged, cleansed, purified with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices than these. 24 For the Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands, a copy, representation, figure of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us; 25 nor must He offer His soul often, repeatedly, many times like the high priest who enters the Holy place, sanctuary year after year with blood of others. 26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the beginning, foundation, conception of the world; but now once at the goal of the ages, generations, the world, forever He has been revealed, manifest to put away, cancel, abolish sin [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice of His soul. 27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment, 28 so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear, carry the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin, to those who look for, eagerly await Him.
HEBREWS 9:15-28 (line upon line)
15 And through this (dia touto[G], zot[H]) He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate (mesitēs[G], malakh meiliytz[H]) of a new covenant (kainos diathēkē[G], labriyt hachadashah[H]), so that, by means of His death (Thanatos[G], umoto[H]) we are (nimtza[H]) found redeemed, atoned, purged (apolutrōsis[G], lechaparat[H]) of the violations (parabasis[G], haposhiym tachat[H]) that were committed under the first covenant (protos diathēkē[G], habriyt harishonah[H]), so that those who have been called (kaleō[G]) may receive (lambanō[G]) the promise (epaggelia[G], et-havtachat[H]) of the eternal (aiōnios[G], olam[H]) inheritance (klēronomia[G], nachalat[H]). [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”]
15 And through this He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate of a new covenant, so that, by means of His death we are found redeemed, atoned, purged of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”]
“And through this…” Through His blood, the sacrifice of His unblemished soul, the eternal Spirit of God (v. 14).
“He is the mediator of a new covenant” In one sense Moses was mediator of the former covenant, but ultimately Yeshua is mediator of both covenants. However, only Yeshua could mediate the new covenant because it is a covenant that requires eternal blood atonement, something that Moses could never have provided.
The Greek diathēkē is equivalent to the Hebrew briyt. However, while the Greek diathēkē can mean “covenant” or “testament”, the Hebrew briyt does not carry both meanings in the same sense. There are other Hebrew words like edut (witness, testimony) that better convey the Greco-Roman idea of “testament”. This being said, one of the names of the ark of the covenant is Aron Edut “Ark of Testimony” (Ex. 25:22). Therefore, both meanings are valid.
However, the context of the present text denotes a covenant purchased by blood atonement and not a “will” or “testament” signed in anticipation of the death of the other party. Rav Shaul (Paul the Apostle) makes a similar drash in his writing to the Galatian believers (Gal. 3:15-18). The Jewish recipients of the Book to the Hebrews understand “covenant” and not “testament” as in “last will and testament”.
Sadly the majority of Christian scholars and commentators (and some Messianics) miss the point entirely by reading into the text a Greco-Roman or modern western understanding of the word diathēkē, seeing it (in spite of the context) as referring to “last will and testament” rather than “Blood Covenant”. Which, based on context, is the intended meaning of the Hebrew writer of this work.
Messiah Yeshua is Mediator of the new covenant:
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and people, the man Messiah Yeshua; Who gave himself as a ransom for all, this has now been witnessed to at the proper time.” -1 Timothy 2:5-6 (Author’s Translation)
NB: These verses and many others refute the modern scholarship lie that says Messiah’s sacrifice is not a substitution. It clearly is, one who pays with his life a ransom for someone else, is by definition a substitute.
Messiah Yeshua’s blood inaugurated and perpetuates the new covenant:
“For this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” -Matthew 26:28 (Author’s Translation)
Messiah Yeshua’s sacrificial, substitutionary death purges those who believe from all that the Mosaic covenant could not:
“Let it be known unto all of you therefore, both people, and Jewish brothers and sisters, that through this man (Yeshua) is preached unto all of you the forgiveness of sins: And by Him (Yeshua) all that believe are justified from all things, from which you could not be justified by the Torah of Moses.” -Acts 13:38-39 (Author’s Translation)
“so that those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.” In order to properly understand the impact of this statement we must understand the Biblical historic weight of it. The Hebrew translation of this same statement reads:
“that the elect (chosen) might receive the promised eternal land”.
While it is true that all who believe both of the Jews and the nations, are given access to the eternal promise of inheritance in the family of God, it is nonetheless a secondary understanding. First and foremost, as understood by the first century Jewish recipients of this work, the “promise of eternal inheritance” relates to the fulfilment of the covenant promise made by God to Avraham and conferred upon Isaac and Jacob and thus the descendants of Jacob, Israel, the Jewish people. That eternal promise being for the inheritance of the land.
The word "inherit" (leishtah[H] [to inherit], from the root yarash, yaresh)is first used in the Tanakh (OT) in connection with the promise concerning the land:
“He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to inherit (leishtah[H]).” -Genesis 15:7
The covenant for the land was made by God while Avram (soon to be Avraham) was unconscious. Therefore, the fulfilment of the promise for the land is entirely incumbent upon God, Who in faithfulness will bring about its eternal outworking.
“As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him… When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking fire pot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. 18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land,” -Genesis 15”12, 17-18 NIV
The fact that God’s giving of the land to Israel (through Avraham) is eternal is testified to by Scripture:
“The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” -Genesis 17:8 NIV
Therefore, reading the present text (Heb. 9:15b) as a first century Jewish believer, we understand the meaning as “that the elect (descendants of Jacob who are in right standing with God through faith) might receive the promised eternal land”.
We must keep in mind that the terms “elect” and “chosen” when used by the new covenant Jewish writers, are understood to be speaking first and foremost of the chosen people Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen). This is not an act of pride on the part of the writers but a matter of Biblical fact. While it remains true that all regardless of ethnicity are welcomed into the eternal inheritance of God through Messiah Yeshua, that is not what is first being said here. It is often the case that our election and stubbornness as Jews is used by God to protect us from apostasy, as is alluded to by Messiah in Matthew 24:24.
Rabbi Shaul’s (Paul) letter to the Galatian believers (Galatians 3-4), both Jewish and Gentile, is a superb commentary on Torah, election and faith as observed through the lens of the writer of the Book to the Hebrews. It illuminates the application of these ethno-religious promises to all believers providing the order of the promises are respected and access to them is understood as a privilege in Messiah Yeshua and not an opportunity to do away with the chosen (elect) descendants of Jacob to whom they were first given and continue to be first offered (Rom. 1:16).
16 For where there is a covenant (diathēkē[G], briyt[H]), the death (thanatos[G], mot[H]) of the one who made it (diatithemai[G]) is necessary (anagkē[G]). 17 For a covenant (diathēkē[G], briyt[H]) is valid upon death (epi nekros[G], hamavet[H]), because it has no strength (ischuō mepote[G]) while the one who made it (diatithemai[G]) lives (zaō[G], bechayeiy[H]). 18 Nor was the first covenant (protos diathēkē[G], habriyt harishonah[H]) consecrated, dedicated (egkainizō[G], chanukat[H]) without blood (aima[G], dam[H]).
16 For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary.
“For where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary.” The death of the one who made it refers to the death purchased on behalf of the one who made it. There is no instance in the Torah where a person entering a covenant with God is required to give their own blood (life) in order to affect that covenant. Even Isaac received a substitutionary reprieve (Gen 22).
The covenants of the Tanakh (OT) with few exceptions (and then by inference) are ratified in blood. The blood shed is shed on behalf of the life of the one who is entering the covenant. Therefore, “where there is a covenant, the death of the one who made it is necessary”, means, the vicarious death of another (an animal) on behalf of the one (a human being) entering the covenant.
This verse does not refer to a “last will and testament” or covenant in the sense of “Testament” as so many conclude in error. It cannot, because the preceding and proceeding verses speak specifically of a blood covenant ratified according to the practices outlined in Torah and according to those covenants entered into by our forebears from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Israel. To misunderstand this covenant as referring to a last will and testament is to entirely misunderstand the meaning of the text.
17 For a covenant is valid upon death, because it has no strength while the one who made it lives.
“a covenant is valid upon death” The death of a substitutionary animal is required in order for a covenant to be ratified (Gen. 8:20; 9:9; 15:9, 17-18; 17:11; Ex. 24:1-8). That animal dies on behalf of the one entering the covenant. Therefore, it is as if that one has died. In the case of the new covenant Messiah Yeshua is the substitutionary sacrifice, and His blood causes the one who enters this new covenant to become dead to sin and alive in Messiah.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” -Leviticus 17:11
“it has no strength while the one who made it lives.” No covenant is binding without a substitutionary sacrifice of blood made on behalf of the one entering it. It is the vicarious death of another that gives a covenant strength (according to Torah).
18 Nor was the first covenant consecrated, dedicated without blood.
This verse shows that a Biblical covenant is being referred to by the writer and not a Greco-Roman “last will and testament”.
The “first covenant” refers to the Mosaic covenant, which was, like the new covenant, ratified with blood. Did Moses die in order for the Mosaic covenant to become of affect? Of course not. Was it the blood of the people of Israel that was shed in order for the Mosaic covenant to be ratified? Of course not. But it was the blood of animals that was shed in their place, so that the covenant might be ratified through the vicarious death of animals representing the death of the people who entered the covenant (Exodus 24:1-8). Therefore, the same is true of the new covenant which is established through the substitutionary sacrifice of Yeshua, whose blood is of everlasting affect.
19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment (entolē[G], mitzvah[H]) to all the people individually and collectively (pas ho laos[G], kol ha’am[H]) according to the Torah, Instruction, Law (ho nomos[G], haTorah[H]), he received/took (lambanō[G]) the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) of the calves (moschos[G], va’agaliym[H]) and the goats (tragos[G], se’iyriym[H]), with water (hudōr[G]) and scarlet (Kokkinos[G]) wool (erion[G]) and hyssop (hussōpos[G]), and sprinkled (rhantizō[G]) both the Scroll (biblion[G]) itself and all the people individually and collectively (pas ho laos[G], kol ha’am[H]), 20 saying, “This is the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) of the covenant (ho diathēkē[G], habriyt[H]) which God (Theos[G], Elohiym[G]) commanded (entellomai[G], tzivah[H]) you.”
19 For when Moshe[H] (drawn out, resurrected one) had spoken every commandment to all the people individually and collectively according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, he received/took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the Scroll itself and all the people individually and collectively, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.”
“3 So Moses came and told the people all the words of Adonai as well as all the ordinances. All the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which Adonai has spoken, we will do.” 4 So Moses wrote down all the words of Adonai, then rose up early in the morning, and built an altar below the mountain, along with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He then sent out young men of Bnei-Yisrael, who sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings of oxen to Adonai. 6 Then Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins and the other half he poured out against the altar. 7 He took the Scroll of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. Again they said, “All that Adonai has spoken, we will do and obey.” 8 Then Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which Adonai has cut with you, in agreement with all these words.” -Exodus 24:3-8 TLV
Moses sprinkled the scroll of the Torah in order to acknowledge its requirement for blood atonement (Lev. 17:11). He sprinkled blood on the people to show that blood had been shed on their behalf so that they had died symbolically according to the vicarious blood of the animal sacrifices. We note that the blood is of the covenant, meaning that blood shed is an intrinsic and necessary part of binding covenant. This is attested to throughout the Tanakh (OT).
While it is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture that Moses sprinkled the Torah scroll, it is nonetheless mentioned here. Objections to the truth of the present text are a rejection of its inspiration and therefore a rejection of God’s Word.
21 Likewise (homoiōs[G]) he sprinkled, threw the blood (ho aima[G], hadam[H]) on (rhantizō[G], zarak[H]) both the Tent of Meeting (skēnē[G], ha-Mishkan[H]) and all the vessels, utensils, implements (skeuos[G], keleiy hashareit[H]) of the service (leitourgia[G]). 22 And with few exceptions (schedon[G]) all things (hakol[H]) individually and collectively (pas[G]) are purged, cleansed, purified (katharizō[G], yithar[H]) with blood (aima[G], badam[H]), according to the Torah, Instruction, Law (ho nomos[G], haTorah[H]), and without the shedding of blood (aima[G], dam[H]) there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom (aphesis[G], eiyn slichah[H]). 23 Therefore it was necessary, right (anagkē[G], nachom[H]) for the copies, patterns, warnings (hupodeigma[G]) of the things in the heavens (ho Ouranos[G], hashamayim[H]) to be purged, cleansed, purified (katharizō[G], letaheir[H]) with these things, but the heavenly (epouranios[G]) things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices (thusia[G], toviym mei’eileh[H]) than these.
21 Likewise he sprinkled, threw the blood on both the Tent of Meeting and all the vessels, utensils, implements of the service.
While it is not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture that Moses sprinkled the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting), Leviticus 18:15, 19 speak of sprinkling blood on both the altar and Aaron the high priest, and thus infer the sprinkling of the Tent and utensils. Additionally Josephus the first century C.E. historian writes that consecration was made upon “the Tent and the vessels which belonged to it, both with oil that had first been incensed, and with the blood of bulls and rams." (Antiquities of the Jews 3:8:6)
22 And with few exceptions all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law, and without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom.
“And with few exceptions” Some things were purged by water and some by fire (Numbers 31:23). The exceptions relate to ritual uncleanness and not to the atonement of sin committed either in ignorance or by wilful intention. Therefore, the exceptions do not relate to the remission of sin. This is why the writer makes clear that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission (forgiveness) of sin (Exodus 29-30; Leviticus 1-9, 14-17).
“all things individually and collectively are purged, cleansed, purified with blood, according to the Torah, Instruction, Law” The Torah states explicitly, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” -Leviticus 17:11
“without the shedding of blood there is no remission, liberty, forgiveness, freedom.” The life is in the blood, whereas sin entered the world and brought death with it. In order to remove death, life is required. But the blood of animals could never do more than temporarily and symbolically cover sin. What is needed is not a temporary picture of redemption through blood but an eternal blood transfusion of the life blood of God. Sin cannot be removed any other way. There is no forgiveness or the freedom it brings without the shedding of blood.
Jewish tradition agrees, saying “eiyn kaparah alay badam” (no atonement except that made in blood) [Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 5. 1. Zebachim, fol. 6. 1. & Menachot, fol. 93. 2.].
“Does the placing of hands atone for one’s sins? Isn’t atonement accomplished only by the sprinkling of the blood, as it is stated: “For it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life” (Leviticus 17:11)?” -Talmud Bavliy Yoma 5a. 2. Sefaria translation
In light of modern medical research the transfusion analogy is poignant. It has been observed that in cases where leukaemia patients receive bone marrow transplants, that their blood DNA changes to replicate the donor’s blood DNA. In the case of Messiah we receive a spiritual transfusion in His blood that purges our DNA of sin and causes us to take on, in a spiritual and transcendent sense, His genomic DNA, thus, becoming brothers and sisters who share in His sinless humanity.
23 Therefore it was necessary, right for the copies, patterns, warnings of the things in the heavens to be purged, cleansed, purified with these things, but the heavenly things themselves with better, more excellent sacrifices than these.
The earthly copies of the heavenly things required cleansing, but the heavenly things themselves are made accessible to sin affected humanity by more excellent sacrifices than those of animals.
"and thou shalt take the anointing oil, and thou shalt anoint the tabernacle, and all that is in it; and thou shall sanctify it, because of the crown of the kingdom of the house of Judah, and the King Messiah, who shall redeem Israel in the latter days.'' -Targum Yonatan Exodus 40:9
The heavenly things did not need purging or purifying, rather through His shed blood Yeshua gives defiled human beings access to undefiled heavenly things.
24 For the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) did not enter a holy place/sanctuary (hagion[G]) made by human hands (cheiropoiētos[G], biydeiy adam[H]), a copy, representation, figure (antitupon[G]) of the true one (ho alēthinos[G]), but into heaven itself (ouranos[G], hashamayim[H]), now (nun[G]) to appear before the face (prosōpon[G], peneiy[H]) of God (Theos[G], Elohiym[H]) for us; 25 nor must (hina[G]) He offer (prospherō[G], lehak’riyv[H]) His soul (et nafsho[H]) often, repeatedly, many times (pollakis[G]) like the high priest (ho archiereus[G], Kohen hagadol[H]) who enters the Holy place, sanctuary (ho hagion[G], el-hakodesh[H]) year after year with blood (aima[G], dam[H]) of others (allotrios[G], acheiriym[H]).
24 For the Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands, a copy, representation, figure of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear before the face of God for us;
“Messiah did not enter a holy place/sanctuary made by human hands” Yeshua never entered the holy of holies of the second temple. Rather He entered the Holiest Place of which the earthly Mishkan (Tent) and Mikdash (Temple) were temporal replicas.
“now to appear before the face of God for us” Yeshua is “now” before the face of God for us. This is an eternally present statement that gives us assurance of everlasting security in Him. This statement was true for the first century C.E. recipients and remains true for all who receive Yeshua.
“My children, I am writing these things to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Intercessor with the Father—the righteous Messiah Yeshua. 2 He is the atonement for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world.” -1 John 2:1-12 TLV
25 nor must He offer His soul often, repeatedly, many times like the high priest who enters the Holy place, sanctuary year after year with blood of others.
Messiah’s sacrifice is of eternal affect. Unlike the high priests of the Levitical priesthood He need not offer sacrifices for Himself because He is sinless, without blemish. Therefore, He has died once for all and stands perpetually before the face of God to intercede on behalf of those who have received His vicarious sacrifice.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer (paschō[G]) often since the beginning, foundation, conception (katabolē[G], meireishiyt[H]) of the world (kosmos[G], haolam[H]); but now (nun[G]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]) at the goal (sunteleia[G]) of the ages, generations, the world, forever (aiōn[G], hadorot[H]) He has been revealed, manifest (phaneroō[G]) to put away, cancel, abolish (eis athetēsis[G]) sin (hamartia[G], et hacheite[H]) [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice (thusia[G], bezevach[H]) of His soul (nafsho[H]). 27 And just as it is appointed (apokeimai[G]) for people (beneiy adam[H]) to die (apothnēskō[G], lamot[H]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]), and after this, the judgment (krisis[G], hamishpat[H]), 28 so Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) also, having been offered (prospherō[G]) once (hapax[G], echat[H]) to bear, carry (anapherō[G]) the sins (hamartia[G], cheite[H]) of many, will appear (optanomai[G]) a second (deuteros[G], sheiniyt[H]) time for salvation (sōtēria[G], liyeshuah[H]) without reference to, separation from (chōris[G]) sin (hamartia[G], cheite[H]), to those who look for, eagerly await (apekdechomai[G], yeiraeh[H]) Him.
26 Otherwise, He would have needed to suffer often since the beginning, foundation, conception of the world; but now once at the goal of the ages, generations, the world, forever He has been revealed, manifest to put away, cancel, abolish sin [missing the mark set by God’s holiness] by the sacrifice of His soul.
Because of His perfect sacrifice Messiah need not die many times, over and over again. Nor has He need of somehow retrospectively atoning for the righteous ones of our past. Yeshua the Messiah is resurrected and transcendent unbound by time and space and is therefore able to save all (from Adam to the last human born into time and space) through His blood.
“19 but with precious blood like that of a lamb without defect or spot, the blood of Messiah. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” - 1 Peter 1:19-20 TLV
“8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.” -Revelation 13:8 NIV
“but now once at the goal of the ages, He has been revealed, to abolish sin by the sacrifice of His soul.” Now (in the first century C.E.) and now (in the present), Yeshua is manifest as the Goal of the Torah (Rom. 10:4), the mediator of a better covenant in His blood, one that brings eternal atonement and everlasting life for all who receive Him. So that both those who “now” received Him in the first century C.E. and those who “now” receive Him in our time, have already passed from death into His eternal life. Our spiritual DNA has changed.
27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment,
This verse puts death to the false claims of those who say they have died and literally been to heaven and have come back to shared their experiences. While according to Scripture (2 Cor. 12:2-4) one can claim to have experienced a vision of paradise (Gan Eden, Bosom of Abraham ref. Luke 16:19-31) as convergent with the third heaven (not heaven but a part of Sheol), one cannot legitimately claim to have actually, physically or metaphysically entered the heaven of heavens (John 3:13; Heb. 9:27; Luke 23:43)[note that Elijah was taken into “hashamayim” the heavens pl. and not into the heaven of heavens in particular (2 Kings 2). Also in the case of Enoch who “was not”, heaven is not mentioned (Gen 5:24).
The Scripture does not say “it is appointed to human beings to die and spend time in heaven and then come back for a while and die again etc…” But, “It is appointed to human beings to die once and then the judgement”, not “and then some other things and then the judgement”, but “and then the judgement” which by necessity precedes what Christians mistakenly call “heaven”, but is actually the Olam haba (world to come). Only following the judgement do we dwell forever in the Olam Haba (World to come), prior to that the redeemed await the judgement in Paradise (Bosom of Abraham, Gan Eden). Those Scriptures used to support the counterfeit experiences of those who have “passed” and been revived, when examined closely, affirm the present text rather than being divergent in their meaning.
This verse also puts to death the false idea of the ghosts of human souls, which in reality are demonic spirits (false elohim [gods]) masquerading as departed human souls. This is extremely important in light of the many foolish misinterpretations of Hebrews 12:1 and 1 Samuel 28:3-21.
According to this verse there are two steps between the present temporal life and the Olam Haba (world to come) [mis referred to by Christians as “heaven”]:
1. The death of the human being as a result of the sin affected world
There are no intermediary stages mentioned, nor does the wealth of Scripture support such stages. Those who teach otherwise teach apostasy.
***For Additional Study***
An explanation of the verses commonly used in an attempt to circumvent the truth of Hebrews 9:27.
My commentary on 1 Samuel 28:3-21
The allusion to the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 is referring back to the list of those witnesses to God’s faithfulness who are listed in Hebrews 11, commonly known as the Faith Chapter. These witnesses, as can be seen from Hebrews 11, are the now deceased patriarchs and heroes of the Jewish faith. The writer of Hebrews, a Jew and a Kohen (Priest), knows that the witnesses he is referring to are deceased and that many of them are buried throughout the land of Israel, and that they are therefore uncontactable according to the teaching of Scripture regarding the dead (Hebrews 9:27).
In the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Luke 16) Yeshua explains that while the dead are conscious, they are not able either to traverse the chasm between Gehinnom (torment) and Gan Eden (Paradise) nor (re: Lazarus etc. once they are finally deceased [Hebrews 9:27]) are they able to traverse the distance between Sheol and the present world. In my article on Saul, Samuel and the Witch of Eyndor, I explain why the events of 1 Samuel 28:3-21 are not describing the dead spirit of Samuel called up but rather an evil spirit that fools both the witch and Saul, and is subsequently used by God to condemn Saul (ref. see link above).
The writer of the book of Hebrews is using the deceased Jewish witnesses of Hebrews 11 as a figurative example. When he says:
“Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses lying around us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us, focusing on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of faith.” –Hebrews 12:1-2a
He is making a drash (inquiry/comparative teaching) regarding how we should act in light of the figurative (not literal) cloud of witnesses that are buried throughout the land of Israel. We must remember that the writer is probably writing from the perspective of a priest living in the Land of Israel prior to the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E (A.D). He then qualifies this teaching by instructing us, not to focus on the cloud of witnesses, but on Yeshua, the author and perfecter of our faith (The faith that our Jewish forebears shared in the coming Messiah Yeshua).
We cannot engage with this cloud of witnesses because they are deceased and according to Scripture (Hebrews 9:27) they are uncontactable. Those who do seek to speak to the dead are in fact speaking with demonic forces rather than the spirits of dead people (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Corinthians 10:20-21; 2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.” –Deuteronomy 18:10-12
Therefore, not only are we unable to engage with the dead witnesses of Hebrews 11-12, we are also commanded by God not to attempt to speak with the dead.
1 Peter 3:14-21
“If you suffer for righteousness' sake, be glad: and don’t be afraid of their terror, neither be troubled; But sanctify (Kiddush) HaShem (Merciful) Elohiym (Judge) in your core being (heart): and be ready always to give an answer to every human being that asks you the reason for the hope that is in you with humility and reverent awe: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conduct in Messiah. For it’s better if God’s will is that you suffer for doing well than for doing evil. For Messiah also at one time suffered for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Ruach (Spirit). By Whom (The Spirit) He also went and made proclamation to the ruachiym (spirits) in prison (phulake: foo-lak-ay). Who were formerly disobedient, when at one time the longsuffering God waited in the days of Noach (Comfort), while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is eight souls (nefesh) were saved by water (mikveh: gathering of water). This figurative likeness being a representation of the immersion (baptism) that now also saves us (not the washing of the flesh but the earnest seeking of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus) Messiah.”
–1 Peter 3:17-21
In the context of Peter’s letter, the community of believers is being encouraged to share their faith with anyone who asks, and not to shy away from suffering if that is what God’s will entails. Peter then offers Yeshua as an example of One Who suffered and shared His message in the Spirit of God. It is explained that Yeshua’s suffering puts to death the sinful practices of the flesh and resurrects each believer in the life giving Spirit of God. It is by this same Spirit that the resurrected Messiah (not in Sheol) transcends time and space, and thus traverses time and space by the Spirit, to proclaim His saving work to those spirits of human beings who were still living in the flesh at the time of Noah prior to the flood. The text explains that during the time of Noah only eight imprisoned spirits heard Yeshua’s message received it and were delivered through the figurative tevilah immersion (baptism) of the flood, which the author shows to be a prefigure of the same tevilah immersion (baptism) that believers in Messiah have received unto salvation.
From the p’shat (plain) meaning of the text and the subsequent, remez (hint), drash (comparative) and sod (mystery), we see that it does not place Yeshua in Sheol in relation to His proclamation but shows that it is by the Spirit of God following His resurrection that He spoke to the imprisoned spirits of humanity past. This text is not teaching anything even remotely to do with communicating with imprisoned dead people or angelic spirits. To the contrary, it simply teaches that God is just and that all humanity from Adam to the end of days has and will have an opportunity to either reject or receive the message of Messiah. This text shows how in the Spirit (of God), the resurrected Messiah transcends time and space and manifests the supernatural reality that He was both literally and figuratively slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8).
2 Corinthians 12:1-5
Boasting is necessary, though it is not beneficial; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. 3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. -2 Corinthians 12:1-4 NASB
V.1 Boasting is necessary, though it is not beneficial; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord.
What Rav Shaul (Paul) is about to speak of is a “vision”, a “revelation” and not a physical or metaphysical event. Therefore, based on the very nature of either a vision or a revelation, the events described are already presumed unreal, not actual, neither physical nor metaphysical, but instead, something seen in the imagination, mind’s eye or spirit.
V2. I know a man in Christ, who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven.
Rav Shaul is possibly speaking of himself in the guise of apologetic self-promoting rhetoric like that employed elsewhere in his works. Alternatively he is relaying the vision experience of a trusted fellow believer, perhaps one of his brothers among the Jewish Church fathers.
He states clearly “whether in the body I don’t know, or out of the body I don’t know, God knows…” He is describing the experience of a vision. Those who experience visions have all kinds of feelings and sensory adventures but are not literally in the places they are visioning. Rav Shaul is not espousing “out of body experience”, which is an occult practice connected with Gnosticism, transcendental meditation and other false religious beliefs. To the contrary, Biblical Judaism abhors this idea viewing it as a form of witchcraft. Instead, Rav Shaul is alluding to the difference between experiencing a vision as if it were inside us verses experiencing a vision as if we are looking outwardly at it (both occurring within the mind’s eye or consciousness but neither occurring outside the body). In neither case does the spirit leave the body. Biblical Judaism teaches that the human soul (Body, mind, spirit etc.) is a unity unseparated until death when the spirit leaves and goes to Sheol.
The Greek harpaso is poorly translated here by the NASB. In the context of this vision it means “caught away” and not caught up.
Rav Shaul is right to give the interpretation to God, saying “God Knows”. Yes, God does know, in fact, so as to avoid confusion God has authored His word to say, “No one has ascended into heaven, except He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man.” (John 3:13), and “it is appointed for people to die once, and after this, the judgment…” (Heb. 9:27).
V.3 And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows..”
He repeats, “whether in the body I don’t know, or out of the body I don’t know, God knows…” because he is bewildered by the vision experience he is referring to and rightly understands that it was not a tangible, literal experience. Neither a physical or metaphysical reality. In Biblical Hebrew thought and interpretation something repeated is firmly established. Therefore, Rav Shaul has firmly established that he doesn’t know where the “man” was. As explained, the Scripture tells us where he was not.
V.4 was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak.
The Greek harpaso is again poorly translated here by the NASB. In the context of this vision it means “caught away” and not caught up. We know this because the Jewish writer refers to paradise (Gan Eden, the Bosom of Abraham), which is a part of Sheol, meaning that the qualification of heaven, written as “third heaven” refers to the convergent presence of the Messiah in both the heavens and paradise simultaneously, following His resurrection. Following His resurrection the King Messiah being unbound by time, space, situational and locational being etc. In short, regardless of the issue of traversing the heavens as believers, this text is referring to a convergent form of paradise (in Sheol) and not to the heaven of heavens.
Therefore, the text of 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 does not teach that a person (perhaps Paul) ascended to the heaven of heavens, something that would contradict the words of Yeshua and the teaching of Hebrews 9:27.
Regarding the Resurrections of Lazarus, the Son of the widow of Nain etc.
All (those temporally resurrected) had not yet passed into Sheol but were in transition sleep. Meaning unconscious but the spirit had not left the body according to ancient Jewish tradition (3 to 4 day period of unconscious sleep, the first stage of death/passing). This means that the person cannot communicate with the living, nor are they yet in Sheol (When Yeshua says "Today you will be with me in paradise" to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43) I believe the word "today" is used in an eternally present sense. Alternatively, some pass over more quickly than others, although with regard to time and space how could we even begin to determine the measure by which we could access such a process?)
In all these cases of temporal resurrections (they are exceptions, and include Elijah raising the woman's son) the resurrected are resurrected within four days of death, and their spirits have not entered death finally with regard to entering Sheol.
"Appointed unto man once to die" regards the spirit's entry into Sheol and not the transition period of soul sleep (a euphemism used by Yeshua [John 11:11]). No one in transition sleep (first stage of separation) can communicate to the living. Therefore, the point I made regarding ghosts being demons remains the same, ghosts are not wandering human spirits.
Additionally, Hebrews 9:27 makes both Karma and Reincarnation untenable concepts:
Hebrews 9:27 of course also refutes the false beliefs of karma and reincarnation. Those who claim “sowing and reaping” to be the same concept as “karma” do so by ignoring the Scriptures that qualify sowing and reaping. Sowing and reaping applies to the temporal actions and outcomes of this life and to the cumulative actions of this life and their eternal outcome following judgement. It does not seek to solve the problem of injustice by perpetuating injustice, as is the case with karma and reincarnation. Karma attempts to provide a solution for evil by offering a cycle of lives that provide an opportunity to act rightly in order to become perfect, divine. The flaw in this delusion is that an inherently sinful person can never act perfectly, not in any life, nor can an evil act which has already been done, be undone by a good act. Ample evidence against the delusion of karma is recorded throughout human history for all to see. What’s more, karma says that a suffering destitute person (of a lower class) should be left to suffer in order to perfect their karma for a better reincarnation, this in direct opposition to the teaching of Scripture, which admonishes us to help the destitute and suffering.
There is no justice in karma. It offers nothing more than a perpetual prison of impossible restitution and the false promise of (counterfeit) divinity. Whereas the God of justice has made restitution on behalf of all who will receive His loving sacrifice through Yeshua, and promises eternal life in Him (the Divine One).
28 so Messiah also, having been offered once to bear, carry the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin [ref. Num. 19:13], to those who look for, eagerly await Him.
“Messiah also, having been offered once” Just as the life of a human being ends in death (of the body) once, so too the death of Messiah occurs once in order to carry upon Himself the sin and death of many, and produces eternal life as a result.
“to carry the sins of many” This is a quote from Isaiah 53:12, and is part of a Messianic prophecy spanning Isaiah 52:13-53:12. It is also alluded to in Mark 10:45 and a different portion of it is quoted in Acts 8:32-35.
Notice that Messiah carries the sins of many, not all. God Who is all-knowing seeing the end from the beginning, sent Messiah to atone for all who would receive Him. The sins of the willfully unrepentant remain unatoned and thus, they will suffer the just punishment for their sins eternally as the antithesis to eternal living (Hebrews 6:2; Daniel 12:2; Mark 9:44-48; John 5:29; Matthew 25:41, 46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 20:10).
“will appear a second time for salvation without reference to, separation from sin [ref. Num. 19:13],” His second coming does not address the issue of sin, which has already been solved in His death and resurrection. Rather His second coming brings the fullness of the promise of eternal life made manifest in the new heavens and new earth for all who have received Him and been reconciled to God in right relationship.
That Messiah will return is certain (Mark 13:24-27; 2 Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
“to those who look for, eagerly await Him.” With regard to the first century Jewish believers who are the recipients of this work, they are to await Yeshua just as the people of Israel awaited the return of the high priest from the holy of holies on Yom Kippur. The distinction of “those who look for and eagerly await Him” is important. The writer has already addressed the issue of disobedience and those Israelites who failed to enter God’s rest (Heb. 4), now he gives a gentle reminder to his hearers, admonishing them to remain focussed on Yeshua and His promised return.
Rav Shaul teaches rightly that not all ethnic-religious Jews are truly Jewish in soul, that is, not all ethnic-religious Jews have chosen to receive Yeshua’s redemptive work (Romans 9:6). Rav Shaul’s writing on this matter specifically refers to Jews (ethnic) and does not refer to the spiritual condition of non-Jews (as some foolishly misinterpret). As I’ve said on many occasions, the context of Romans 9 relates to Jews who are Messiah followers (true Israelites), and Jews who are ethnically Israel but are not Messiah followers. All examples given in Romans 9 relate to Jews, Gentiles are not mentioned in relation to the inward spiritual condition of a Jew. Therefore, it is utter nonsense for a Gentile to call himself a “spiritual Jew”. The only “Spiritual Jew” is an “ethnic Jew”, given that “Jew”, and “Israel” are ethnic nouns describing the descendants of Jacob (they are never used in Scripture to describe Gentiles, physically, spiritually or otherwise). As I have said many times, a Gentile calling himself a “Spiritual Jew” is comparable to a Briton calling himself a “Spiritual Navajo”. The same applies to a Church that claims to be Spiritual Israel. That Church is apostate.
By way of Hebrews 9:28 being applied as a universal principle, applicable to all who truly believe: as disciples of Yeshua our faith is an ongoing walk of looking to Him, hoping in Him, eagerly awaiting Him. He is present and returning, and in Him we have returned to the eternal present.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Messiah has appeared within time and space to Israel as the transcendent High Priest of a more perfect Sanctuary (the heavenly original Mishkan) and of the good things having already come that are yet to be fully arrived.
There are numerous doctrinal ideas and spiritual principals alluded to in this chapter that apply to all believers regardless of ethnicity. However, it is important to continue to remember that the recipients of this work are first century Jewish believers and not Gentile believers. Therefore, words and phrases like “covenant, called, elect, eternal land” etc. are ethno-religious phrases that have a certain meaning to Torah observant Jews and in particular first century Jews.
For both the ancient and modern Gentile reader there are fewer obstacles in the way of understanding the eternal atonement of Yeshua because for the most part the Gentile audience does not understand the temporal (present age) sacrificial system of Torah as a primary, even intrinsic part of cultural religious practice (of course this is now also true of rabbinical Judaism to some extent). The first century C.E. Messiah following Jew on the other hand is wrestling with how the then functional temple cult converges with a belief that Yeshua is the singular ultimate sacrifice Who fulfills and is the goal of all the sacrificial requirements of Torah, to the point of revealing the heavenly Tent of Meeting (Mishkan) and the origin of the redemptive work of God.
To view this text only through the revisionist lens of universal application is to misunderstand it. With this in mind we must be intentional in seeking to understand how the Jewish recipients of this work in the first century C.E. are viewing this teaching and what it might have meant for them by way of application (halakhah).
The Book to the Hebrews 9:1-10:18 explains that the new covenant is of eternal effect and is better than the former covenant of the Mosaic Torah because Yeshua the Great High Priest offers His eternal Spirit infused blood before the face of God in the original Holy of holies of the heavenly realm, thus, He atones once for all who will receive Him and need not offer sacrifices for Himself and others daily because He remains without sin, having died to secure the covenant and having been raised to life everlasting in order to apply it to all who believe. Therefore, Yeshua gives access to the heavenly Holy of holies to all who believe.
NB: The section of the Talmud Bavliy called Seder Kodashiym (Order of Holies) addresses the many aspects of the Mosaic sacrificial system and the daily Temple practices of the first century C.E. as a reflection of Mishnaic Law.
As is the case with all Scripture (scrolls of the original texts), there are no chapter breaks or verse markers (or punctuation for that matter) in the scroll of the Book to the Hebrews. It’s important to see the text of this chapter as a continuation of the previous chapter, the last verses of chapter 8 being:
12 For I will be merciful, forgiving toward their unrighteousness, iniquity, perversion, And their sins [missing the mark set by God’s holiness], and their iniquities, perversions I will no longer bring to mind, perpetually.” [Jeremiah 31:31-34 LXX] 13 When He said, “new covenant,” He has indicated that the first is old, decaying. Now whatever is decaying and growing old is about to disappear, be destroyed.
BOOK TO THE HEBREWS Chapter 9:1-14 (Author’s translation)
1Now truly, indeed, the first covenant had regulations, judgements, righteousness for divine service and the earthly sanctuary, [a holy place in the land]. 2 For the first tent of meeting was prepared, built, ordained in which was the menorah[H] and, the table, and the exposed bread, bread before the face; this is called the Holy Place. 3 And after the second curtain there was a habitation which is called the Holy of holies alt. The Hebrew text reads, “and from the house to behind the second parochet (curtain) of the mishkan, is called holy of the holies [umibeiyt laparochet hasheiniyt mishkan hanikra kodesh hakadoshiym]. 4 having a golden censer of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden pot holding the mãn[H] [What is it?], Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and over it the cherubiym of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, atoning cover; but about these things we can’t now speak in intricate detail. 6 Now when these things are (present tense) prepared, built, ordained the priests are (present tense) continually entering the first section of the sanctuary, performing the divine service, 7 but into the second [behind the parochet into the holy of holies], only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood which he offers for his soul and for the errors of the people committed in ignorance. 8 The Holy Spirit in this is showing, that the way into the holiest place of all was not yet revealed, appeared, manifest while the first sanctuary was still standing [referring to the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) constructed by Moses in the desert.], 9 which is a figure, parable, symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are (presently) offered which cannot perfect, make whole the moral condition, conscience, heart, core being, inner person of those serving, worshipping, 10 since they are only food, drink, and various washings/immersions, and carnal, flesh, bodily regulations, judgements, ordinances imposed, laid out until a time of reforming.11 But when Messiah appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect, full, excellent Sanctuary, not made by human hands, because it is not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through the blood of His own soul, He entered the holiest place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have become defiled, unclean, sanctify as a means of purifying, cleansing the carnal form, flesh, body, 14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered, presented, sacrificed His soul without blemish, mark, spot to God; purge, cleanse, purify your conscience, moral consciousness, heart, core being, inner person from dead, necrotic works, deeds, doing, in order to serve the living God?
HEBREWS 9:1-14 (line upon line)
1Now truly, indeed, (men[G], b’emet[H]) the first (protos[G], harishonah[H]) covenant (habriyt[H]) had regulations, judgements, righteousness (dikaiōma[G], hayu diyneiy[H]) for divine service (avodah[H], latreia[G]) and the earthly sanctuary, [a holy place in the land] (kosmikos hagion[G], umikdash ba’aretz[H]). 2 For the first (protos[G]) tent of meeting (skēnē[G], Mishkan[H]) was prepared, built, ordained (kataskeuazō[G]) in which was the menorah[H] (luchnia[G]) and, the table (trapeza[G], shulkhan[H]), and the exposed bread, bread before the face (prothesis artos[G], lechem hapaniym[H] alt. uma’arechet halechem[H]); this is called the Holy Place (hagion[G], kodesh[H]). 3 And after (meta[G]) the second (deuteros[G]) curtain (katapetasma[G]) there was a habitation (skēnē[G]) which is called the Holy of holies (hagion hagion[G]) alt. The Hebrew text reads, “and from the house to behind the second parochet (curtain) of the mishkan, is called holy of the holies [umibeiyt laparochet hasheiniyt mishkan hanikra kodesh hakadoshiym].
1Now truly, indeed, the first covenant had regulations, judgements, righteousness for divine service and the earthly sanctuary, [a holy place in the land].
Having already been told that the earthly sanctuary was a copy of the original heavenly Sanctuary, it is now pointed out that the covenant connected to that same earthly replica had certain regulations that were carefully followed out of holy awe for the God Who commanded them through Moses His servant. We are also told that the purpose of these regulations was to direct Israel, through her priests, in “Divine service”.
2 For the first tent of meeting was prepared, built, ordained in which was the menorah[H] and, the table, and the exposed bread, bread before the face; this is called the Holy Place.
By way of pretext, both the Mishkan (Tent of Meeting) and the Mikdash/Heiykhal (Temple) consisted of an outer court (which is not mentioned in this passage), a holy place, and the Holy of holies (Exodus 25-31, 35-40).
Mishkan (Tent of meeting) being related to both shakhen (neighbour) and Sh'khinah (Talmudic Hebrew describing the manifest feminine presence of God [related to Hak’vod HaShem, the manifest Glory of God)]).
Mikdash (Temple) is used in Exodus 25:8 to describe the Mishkan and is therefore synonymous with both the Mishkan and the later temples. Etymologically it is a composite word made up of “mi” (from) and “kadash” (sanctify), thus, from God comes the means of sanctification through blood atonement which makes reconciliation to and permanent dwelling (right relationship) with God possible.
Heiykhal (Temple) is the most commonly used noun for the temple and can mean, “temple, palace, hall, sanctuary” etc. It is thought to be derived from the root yakol meaning, “to prevail, overcome, endure, have strength”. Thus, we overcome in God (the meaning of the ethnic noun Israel).
The Holy Place:
The articles described here were all situated in the holy place of the Tent of Meeting and were still in use in the holy place of the second temple at the time of the writing of this Book to the Hebrews (though at the time of the second temple they were replicas of the original articles).
Menorah – (7 branched golden lampstand) The Menorah is described in detail in Exodus 25:31-40. It stood on the south side of the holy place (Exodus 40:24), and was kept burning day and night. The Talmud Bavliy Menachot 28b, a tractate of Seder Kadoshiym states that the menorah stood 18 handbreadths/palm widths (three common cubits) high, or approximately 1.62 metres (5.3 ft).
Menorah is probably derived from the words nir (flame, light), nahar (stream, river), nahara (light, daylight), thus, the composite form minhara meaning “Place of light river” becomes menorah.
The symbolism of the menorah is almost uncontainable, and considering the God it points to, not surprisingly so. Being a complex unity of seven connected branches, seven flames fed by pure olive oil and kept perpetually lit, the menorah (place of light river) is a representation of the manifest light presence of God, Hak’vod HaShem (Biblical Hebrew) or Shekhinah (Talmudic Hebrew).
The oil used to fuel it is representative of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). Therefore, it is a symbol of the sevenfold attributes of God (Isaiah 6:1-5) and is also connected to the seven days of creation through the all existing light from which creation begins (Genesis 1). There are many other figurative meanings that are too prolific to note here.
Shulkhan – (Table) The Table of the exposed bread stood on the north side of the holy place (Exodus 40:22) [approx. 0.8m H x 1m W x 0.5m D]. Shulkhan is from the root shalakh meaning “send, extend, direct, spread out” and with regard to shulkhan by implication, means to spread out a meal.
The symbolism of the table is also rich. The essential meaning relating to its firm construction of Acacia wood is connected to the shoot of human offspring. Acacia wood is hardy and grows in the Sinai desert among other places. The gold covering symbolizing royalty, and ultimately deity. Thus, the table on which the bread before the face is placed can represent the King Messiah Yeshua, the root out of dry ground (Isa. 53:2) crowned in glory as Divine King (John 1:1; 10:30-33; 20:28, Rev. 1:8, Matt. 28:20; John 2:24-25; Phil. 2:6-11; 3:21). Messiah carries on His shoulders the hope and redemption of the twelve tribes of Israel, which are ever before the face of God.
Lechem Hapaniym – (The Bread before the Face) The recipe and presentation of the showbread and its use is detailed in Leviticus 24:5-9. Two rows of six unleavened loaves (matzot) were placed side by side representing the twelve tribes of Israel. These loaves were to be eaten by the high priest Aaron and his sons. The loaves were made from ingredients offered to God by the tribes of Israel and were to sit exposed on the north side of the holy place and before the curtain of entry to the holy of holies. The loaves were placed at the beginning of each Shabbat. The incense censer was used to sprinkle incense on top of the bread before the face. The same incense was burned on the incense altar (Lev. 24:7; Num. 7:14).
3 And after the second curtain there was a habitation which is called the Holy of holies alt. The Hebrew text reads, “and from the house to behind the second parochet (curtain) of the mishkan, is called holy of the holies [umibeiyt laparochet hasheiniyt mishkan hanikra kodesh hakadoshiym].
The writer makes a clear distinction here between the holy place (v.2) and the holy of holies where the ark of the covenant once resided (v.3).
The “second curtain” may refer to the Tent of Meeting having an entry curtain (first) and the second curtain parochet to the holy of holies. Alternatively, it may refer to the dual curtains before the holy of holies during the second temple period as attested to by the Mishnah and Talmud (Mishnah Shekaliym, c. 8. sect. 5. Maimonides on Hamikdash, c. 7. sect. 16: Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 54. 1. & Ketubot, fol. 106. 1. Vid. Philo de Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 667.)
“he walked in the temple till he came between sh’neiy haparochot (the two vails), which divide between the holy, and holy of holies, and there was the space of a cubit between them.” - Mishnah Yoma, c. 5. sect. 1.
4 having a golden (chruseos[G], hazahav[H]) censer of incense (thumiastērion[G], mizbach[H]) and the ark (kibōtos[G], aron[H]) of the covenant (ho diathēkē[G], habriyt[H]) covered on all sides with gold (chruseos[G], zahav[H]), in which was a golden (chrusion[G], zahav[H]) pot (stamnos[G]) holding the mãn[H] [What is it?] (manna[G], haman[H]), Aaron’s (Aharon[H], mountainous, light bringer) rod (rhabdos[G], mateih[H]) which budded (blastanō[G], parach[H]), and the tablets (plax[G], veluchot[H]) of the covenant (ho diathēkē[G], habriyt[H]); 5 and over (huperanō[G]) it the cherubiym (cheroubim[G], cheruveiy[H] guardian, mighty-approacher, blessing bringer) of glory (doxa[G], hakavod[H]) overshadowing (kataskiazō[G]) the mercy seat, atoning cover (hilastērion[G], hakaporet[H]); but about these things we can’t now speak in intricate detail (kata meros[G]).
4 having a golden censer of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden pot holding the mãn[H] [What is it?], Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tablets of the covenant;
The items mentioned here all relate to the holy of holies, and all but the censer reside within the holy of holies.
“Golden Censer of incense” The word “altar” is not in the Greek (oldest) text. There is good reason for this, the writer is about to thematically connect the offering of the incense on Yom Kippur when the incense is taken beyond the parochet (curtain) and into the holy of holies, to the fragrant path of Yeshua’s entry into the Holiest place in the heavenlies.
Therefore, because the writer is describing items that have their place inside the holy of holies (the incense altar being outside the holy of holies in the holy place) he thus speaks of the censer that carries the incense from the incense altar into the holy of holies once a year and for that reason does not name the incense altar itself. Once again the gold of the incense censer denotes royalty and glory.
While the Torah does not stipulate that this censer be golden (Lev. 16:12-14), the first century Jewish historian Josephus does (Antiquities. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 3.) and the Mishnah (Yoma, c. 4. sect. 4.) tells us that there were various censers used by the priests in the daily service, but the one being described here was unique and was used by the high priest on Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). The high priest used a silver censer on other occasions, but on the Yom Kippur (the day of atonement) he used this specific golden one, and with it he entered into the holy of holies. Revelation 8:3 affirms that the heavenly censer replicated in the earthly temple service is in fact golden.
“The Ark of the covenant” The ark is so named because it contains the two tablets of the covenant [ten commandments] (Exodus 16:33-34; 25:10-16; Num. 10:33; 17:8-10). It was housed inside the holy of holies (Exodus 40:21).
NB: Exodus 25 says “It is to be 21⁄2 cubits in length, 1 1⁄2 in breadth, and 1 1⁄2 in height (approximately 131×79×79 cm or 52×31×31 in).” A relatively small rectangular box.
The ark was symbolic of the throne and manifest presence of God and is therefore the holiest of the articles of the service within the Tent of Meeting/Temple. The Mishkan was erected to house the ark and not the other way around. The ark was the first article constructed after God instructed Moses to build the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 25:8-10). The manifest glory of God dwelt between the cherubiym atop the mercy seat in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, the cloud being the daylight expression of the fire’s effect and the fire being more visible at night (Exodus 40:34-38; Psalm 80:1).
The ark was known by several names:
a. Numbers 10:33 calls it Aron Habriyt (Ark of the covenant) due to the tablets of the covenant residing within as a warning against sin.
b. Exodus 25:22 calls it Aron Edut (Ark of the testimony), edut being from the root ed (witness). In other words, the ark of the testimony of the witness.
c. 1 Samuel 3:3 calls it Aron Elohiym (Ark of God), denoting God as Judge and the contents of the Ark as an indictment against sin.
d. 1 Kings 2:26 calls it Aron Adonay YHVH (Ark of the Lord YHVH Mercy), denoting its symbolic representation of God’s Kingship and His mercy.
e. 2 Chronicles 35:3 calls it Aron HaKodesh (The Holy Ark), denoting God’s holiness and invoking awe. It is this name that our rabbis adopted in reference to the ark that houses the Torah situated behind a parochet (curtain) at the front or centre of the modern synagogue beneath the nir tamid (perpetual flame/light) which symbolises the ancient menorah.
f. Psalms 132:8 calls it Aron uzachei (Ark of Your Strength), denoting the redemptive immutable strength of God. Our rabbis made this phrase part of the Torah service. As we return the Torah to the ark we say, “When the ark rested Moshe would say ‘Return O Lord to the host of Israel’s families. Arise O Lord to Your resting place, you and Aron uzachei the ark of Your strength…’”
When the Mishkan was erected in the desert the Aron Habriyt ark of the covenant was housed in the holy of holies which was beyond the parochet (curtain) of entry seen from the holy place. It is worth noting that following the inauguration of Solomon’s temple the ark of the covenant is not heard of again in Scripture. Numerous Jewish commentators and sources affirm this (Talmud Bavliy Menachot, fol. 27. 2. & Yoma, fol. 21. 2. Menasseh ben Israel Koncil. in Gen. qu. 41. Kimkhi in Hagg. i. 8.).
The location of the ark of the covenant is unknown, and there is little agreement among Jewish commentators on who took it, when, and where it now resides. some say, it was carried away by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon, as one of the beautiful vessels of the house of the Lord, 2 Chronicles 36:10 (Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 53. 2. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 25. T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 49. 3.) others, that Jeremiah the prophet took it and hid it in a cave on Mount Nebo (Joseph ben Gorion, l. 1. c. 17. 2 Maccabees. ii. 4, 5. ). The most common supposition is that it was hidden by King Josiah in some unknown deep place, which king Solomon had built for that purpose underground, knowing, that the temple would be destroyed (T. Hieros. Sota, fol. 22. 3. T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 5. 2. Maimon. Beth Habbechira, c. 4. sect. 1.); numerous Jewish commentators claim that it was hidden under the pavement of a room in the temple, called "the wood room" (Mishnah Shekaliym, c. 6. sect. 1, 2. T. Hieros. Shekaliym, fol. 49. 3. Talmud Bavliy Yoma, fol. 54. 1.).
Many have proposed theories on where the ark now resides. From Jerusalem beneath the temple mount, or under mount Nebo, to Rome, Egypt, Scotland, Ethiopia and the list goes on. Many continue to search it out and develop new theories, allowing their lives to be enveloped by the need to discover it, and it may well be discovered or will at least be recreated for use in the third temple, regardless, as Messiah followers we must have a different focus, not earthbound but heavenly.
In Messiah Yeshua we have come to understand that the ark of the covenant being an earthly replica of its heavenly counterpart, is no longer necessary. Therefore, foolishly chasing after the hidden location of the ark on earth is not only a waste of time but has also become a practice of idolatry among many, both Jewish and Christian.
As followers of Messiah and readers of the inspired Scriptures we know where the true, original ark of the covenant resides:
“Then the Temple of God in heaven was opened, and the Ark of His Covenant appeared in His Temple. And there were flashes of lightning and rumblings and clashes of thunder and an earthquake and heavy hail.” -Revelation 11:19 TLV
In fact, at the time of Yeshua’s earthly ministry and therefore, prior to the destruction of the second temple during the time of the writing of the Book to the Hebrews, the holy of holies was empty. Ha-even (the foundation stone) exposed at the centre of floor of the holy of holies. Therefore, the blood sprinkled yearly by the high priests of Israel on Yom Kippur, was being sprinkled on “The Stone that the builders rejected” (Yeshua the King Messiah).
The ark of the covenant, like the table of the bread before the face, was made of acacia wood signifying Messiah’s humanity and was covered inside and out with gold representing His sinless nature, eternal deity and Kingship.
It is worth noting that just as the ark of the covenant was on earth (Exodus 16:33-34; 25:10-16), so too was Yeshua “the root from dry ground” (Isa. 53:2), and just as the ark of the covenant is now depicted in the heavens (Rev. 11:19), so too Yeshua is seated in the right hand of the Father God in the heavens.
The contents of the Ark of the covenant:
Some suggest a contradiction between Hebrews 9:4 and 1 Kings 8:9, but this is nonsense. Hebrews 9:4 records the original contents of the ark, while 1 Kings 8:9 records the contents of the ark at the time of Solomon’s temple, meaning that by that time the staff of Aaron had been removed, possibly during the time that the ark spent outside of Israel’s possession (1 Samuel 4 – 2 Samuel 7).
“The golden pot containing manna” The manna contained in the pot was miraculous in the sense that it was a portion of the manna that if left for a day would be maggot ridden (except on the Shabbat) [Exodus 16:19-20, 22]. Therefore, this portion of manna which God commanded to be put inside the ark (Ex. 16:33) as a remembrance of His provision of food for the wandering Israelites, was like the manna that deteriorated, but not the same. This is just one of many figures pointing to the nature of Yeshua, Who said of Himself, “I am the manna from the heavens” (John 6:41-51).
The Hebrew man (Exodus 16:15) transliterated into English as manna, is a contracted form of the phrase “Mah zeh?” (What is it)? This is because when the Israelites first saw it they were dumbfounded as to its nature and exclaimed “What is it?” For approximately a thousand years we Jews asked this question, and when the King Messiah Yeshua entered time and space born of a virgin, and came of age to teach, He spoke to us a teaching that effectively said, “You’ve been asking the wrong question, instead of asking ‘Mah zeh?’ (What is it)? you should be asking ‘Miy Hu’? (Who is He)?” Manna is also known by three other names: “lechem min-hashamayim (bread from the heavens)” (Ex. 16:4), “lechem abiyriym (bread of mighty ones/angels)” (Psalms. 78:25), and as described by the complaining Israelites “balechem hakelokel (bread that is light, swift, a trifle)” (Num. 21:5).
The Manna prefigured Messiah in many ways:
Rav Shaul (Paul) called it “spiritual food” (1 Cor. 10:3) because of its supernatural origin (Ex. 16:4). The whiteness of the manna denotes the purity of Messiah (Ex. 16:31; 1 Peter 1:19). The manna was placed inside the ark (Ex. 16:33) as a symbol of Messiah’s tomb and His coming before the throne of God on our behalf (Heb. 9:23-24). Messiah through His messenger announces that He has “hidden manna” to give to those who overcome in the community of first century Pergamum (Rev. 2:17) etc.
“The rod of Aaron that had budded” The historical record of the budding of Aaron’s staff is found in Numbers 16-17. Korah, Dathan, and Abiram gathered 250 leaders from the twelve tribes in order to challenge the leadership of Moses and Aaron. God caused the ground to open up and swallow Korah and all who stood with him in rebellion against Moses and Aaron (leaders appointed by God) [Num. 16:32]. The 250 leaders who rebelled against Moses and Aaron were destroyed by God with fire/lightening from the heavens (Num. 16:35). The following day the people of Israel accused Moses of killing his fellow Israelites. God provided further proof of Aaron’s right to be high priest when He instructed Moses to gather a representative from each tribe to bring an almond rod with the his name engraved on the rod representing his tribe, Aaron’s name being engraved on the rod for the tribe of Leviy (Num. 17:3). The rod of the man God had chosen as high priest would blossom. All twelve rods were placed in the Mishkan before the “testimony” (ark of the covenant), the next morning Aaron’s rod had not only budded, it had blossomed and yielded almonds (Num. 17:8). Aaron’s rod was placed in the ark as a warning against rebellion and as evidence that God alone appoints the true high priests of Israel.
The budding, blossoming, and fruiting of the rod of Aaron was a figure for the resurrection of the King Messiah and Great High Priest Yeshua.
“The tablets of the covenant” These were the second set of two tablets of the covenant engraved by God on stone that Moses had hewn (Exodus 34:1). The first set had been hewn by God and engraved by His finger (Exodus 24:12), but had been broken by Moses upon his witnessing Israel’s idolatrous worship of the golden calf (Exodus 32:19). The second set of tablets were placed into the ark as a witness, a testimony (Deut. 10:2). When Moses had finished writing the Torah (not just the tablets but the 5 books of Moses) it was placed beside the ark as a witness (an indictment) against the rebellious children of Israel (Deut. 31:25-27).
Talmudic scholars claim that the book/scroll of the Torah (the five books of Moses) was placed inside the ark (Baba Batra 14), but the Targum Yonatan states that it was placed in a box and kept at the right side of the ark. The Targum is consistent with Scripture, the Talmudic claim is not.
The tablets too are figurative. Messiah the Living Word sent by God was broken for us. Like the second set of tablets Messiah is of the earth by his human lineage according to the line of David, and is seeded of the Holy Spirit as God with us, just as the tablets hewn from the earth were made a unity by the written word of the finger of God.
Messiah was made under the Torah (Gal. 4:4). The Torah was within His inner being (heart) and He fulfilled the letter of the Torah concerning what was written about Him (Ps. 40:8; Heb. 10:7-9). He did not come to destroy the Torah but to fully fill it (Matt. 5:17). He bore the curse of the Torah by being made a curse for us (Gal. 3:13).
“For Messiah is the goal of the Torah for righteousness to everyone who believes, trusts.” -Romans 10:4 (Author’s translation)
5 and over it the cherubiym of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, atoning cover; but about these things we can’t now speak in intricate detail.
NB: Of the four cherubiym of Solomon’s Temple, two are fashioned into the lid of the ark of the covenant as guardians of the mercy seat and two are made to stand as guardians of the Inner Sanctuary [Holy of holies] (Exodus 25:18-22; 37:7-9; 1 Kings 6:23-28; 1 Chronicles 3:10-14).
The Hebrew word cherub has no known root, however etymologists link its meaning to an Assyrian word used to name similar creatures, and theorize that the ancient Hebrew root probably had similar meaning. The best guess at its meaning is: mighty-approacher, or blessing bringer. Unlike certain other messengers of HaShem who sometimes appear in humanoid form, the cherubiym are always winged and have an appearance that mirrors specific animals, such as eagles and lions.
It was between the two cherubiym atop the ark that the manifest glory of God appeared (Exodus 25:17-22; Lev. 16:2; Num. 7:89; Psalm 80:1).
Several ancient Jewish commentators say that the two cherubiym atop the ark reflect the two cherubiym placed by God in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:24) [Targum Yonatan &. Hieros. in Gen. iii. 24.).
“the atoning cover” Kaporet (Num. 7:89) This was a slab of solid gold that fit precisely over the top of the ark (box). It was on this cover that the blood of the Yom Kippur sacrifice was sprinkled each year by the high priest (Lev. 16:14-15).
“but about these things we can’t now speak in intricate detail.” The intricate details are not needed in order for the writer to properly convey the teaching of the Holy Spirit on the subject of Yeshua’s superiority to the earthly things. What’s more, the first century Jewish audience, at very least the devote among them, already knew the details concerning the temple service and the great significance of each article used in the practice of the priesthood.
6 Now when these things are (present tense) prepared, built, ordained (kataskeuazō[G]) the priests (ho hiereus[G], hakoheniym[H]) are (present tense) continually (diapantos[G]) entering the first section of the (protos[G]) sanctuary (skēnē[G], mishkan[H]), performing the divine service (avodah[H], latreia[G]), 7 but into the second (deuteros[G]) [behind the parochet into the holy of holies], only the high priest (archiereus[G], kohen hagadol[H]) enters once a year, not without taking blood (aima[G], dam[H]) which he offers (prospherō[G]) for his soul (nafsho[H]) and for the errors (agnoēma[G]) of the people (ho laos[G], ha’am[H]) committed in ignorance.
6 Now when these things are (present tense) prepared, built, ordained the priests are (present tense) continually entering the first section of the sanctuary, performing the divine service,
The items mentioned in verse 2 already indicate the service associated with them. The duties of the kohaniym included keeping the menorah lit continually (Ex. 27:20-22; Lev. 24:1-4), placing fresh loaves before the face on the table of showbread (Lev. 24:5-9) and burning incense on the incense altar (Ex. 30:7-9), which is something Zechariah the father of Yochanan (John the Immerser) performed during his period of priestly service (Luke 1:9-11). These acts of priestly service “are” being performed at the time of the writing of this work. Therefore, the work was written prior to the destruction of the temple in 70 C.E.
The writer makes a point of distinguishing the holy place (first section of the sanctuary/temple). He is combining the figures of Mishkan (tent of meeting) and Mikdash/Heiykhal (temple), and is making a clear distinction between the holy place and the holy of holies, both of which are part of the tent/temple.
7 but into the second [behind the parochet into the holy of holies], only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood which he offers for his soul and for the errors of the people committed in ignorance.
The holy of holies is now referred to and the need for the Levitical high priest to offer the blood of animals, in particular, with regard to Yom Kippur (tenth day of the seventh [shabbat] month Tishrei), a bull and subsequently a goat (the goat for HaShem), thus offering blood for both himself and his household and then for the people of Israel (Lev. 16). This blood, like all atonement, covers sin repented of, therefore, committed in ignorance. Covering is not affected for the wilfully unrepentant.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” -Leviticus 17:11 NASB
The writer confirms the ineffective service of the Levitical priesthood pertaining to its inability to provide eternal atonement, given that the high priest of the Levitical priesthood himself needs to be regularly atoned for.
8 The Holy Spirit (Hagios Pneuma[G], Ruach Hakodesh[H]) in this is showing (dēloō[G]), that the way (hodos[G], haderekh[H]) into the holiest place of all (ho hagion[G], el-hakodesh kol[H]) was not yet revealed, appeared, manifest (phaneroō[G]) while the first (protos[G]) sanctuary (skēnē[G], mishkan[H]) was still standing [referring to the then standing second Temple approx.. 60 C.E.], 9 which is a figure, parable, symbol (parabolē[G], mashal[H]) for the present time (lazman[H]). Accordingly both gifts (dōron[G], minatot[H]) and sacrifices (thusia[H], uzvachiym[H]) are (presently) offered which cannot perfect, make whole (teleioō[G], lehashliym[H]) the moral consciousness, conscience, heart, core being, inner person (suneidēsis[G], levav[H]) of those serving, worshipping (latreuō[G], haoveid[H]),
8 The Holy Spirit in this is showing, that the way into the holiest place of all was not yet revealed, appeared, manifest while the first sanctuary was still standing [referring to the Mishkan (Tent of meeting) constructed by Moses in the desert.],
The Holy Spirit is linked to the spoken and written word of God as the wind of God’s voice, or the wind of His davar[H] (logos[G]), essence, word (Yeshua). The writer of the Book to the Hebrews refers to the Holy Spirit in a similar way in 3:7.
“The holiest place of all” does not refer to the earthly holy of holies but alludes to the heavenly holy of holies yet to be manifest, as qualified by what follows (the Greek text does not repeat hagion [the Greek way of saying holy of holies] but reads ho hagion “the Holiest”, and the literal translation of the Hebrew reads “the holiest place of all”). In short the Holy Spirit is showing through the symbolism of the earthly Tent of Meeting/Temple system, that the holiest place of all in the heavens is yet to be fully manifest on earth, yet to be understood properly in relation to Messiah’s sacrificial death and the sprinkling of His blood on the heavenly mercy seat as an eternal atonement for all who receive Him, continually first for the Jew and also for the nations.
The Holy Spirit is showing that while the Tent of Meeting was standing (and by inference the second temple) the way to the holiest place in the heavens had not yet been revealed but was symbolised in the earthly replica. The writer is building up to and explanation of the fullness of the revelation of Yeshua’s redemptive work in entering into the heavenly holiest (holy of holies). Something the writer has already alluded to (Heb. 4:14).
This is also an allusion to the fact that it was only ever the high priest who could enter the earthly holy of holies and then once a year, but in Yeshua God would manifest the means by which all who believe are able to enter beyond the parochet (veil), not of the earthly holy of holies but that of the heavens, that holiest place that will come down with the new Jerusalem (a city which has no temple because God Himself and the Lamb are its temple [Rev. 21:22]).
The way to the holiest place in the heavens has been revealed in Yeshua to those who believe by faith through grace, but the fullness of this revelation will come at the end of the age
9 which is a figure, parable, symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are (presently) offered which cannot perfect, make whole the moral condition, conscience, heart, core being, inner person of those serving, worshipping,
“which is a figure, parable, symbol for the present time” The temple (extension of the Mishkan) is (in approx. 60 C.E.) a present parable teaching the deeper truth of the original Mishkan in the heavens and the service of the King Messiah as the Great High Priest in redeeming all who will believe and giving them access to God in right relationship.
It is again emphasised that the then functioning temple cult and its offerings and sacrifices were not able to purge and purify the inner person, in particular those priests (including the Levitical high priest, albeit at that time an apostate appointee) who were performing the rites.
10 since they are only food (brōma[G], habasar[H]), drink (poma[G], hama’acholot[H]), and various washings/immersions (baptismos[G], hateviylot[H]), and carnal, flesh, bodily (sarx[G]) regulations, judgements, ordinances (dikaiōma[G]) imposed, laid out (epikeimai[G]) until a time (kairos[G], ad-et[H]) of reforming (diorthōsis[G], hatikon[H]).11 But when Messiah (Christos[G], Mashiyach[H]) appeared as a high priest (archiereus[G], kohen gadol[H]) of the good things (agathos[G], latovah ha’atiydot[H]) having come, He entered through the greater (meizōn[G], bigdulah[H]) and more perfect, full, excellent (teleios[G], hameulleh[H]) Sanctuary (skene[G], hamishkan[H]), not made by human hands (cheiropoiētos[G], b’yad adam[H]), because it is not of this creation (ktisis[G], meihabriyah hazot[H]);
10 since they are only food, drink, and various washings/immersions, and carnal, flesh, bodily regulations, judgements, ordinances imposed, laid out until a time of reforming.
The food and drink offered in various rites was just that, temporal fuel offered as part of a system that was passing away. With regard to immersions, washings etc. see my commentary on Hebrews 6:2.
“bodily regulations, judgements, ordinances imposed, laid out until a time of reforming.” The writer explains according to the Holy Spirit, that all these regulations concerning the flesh, that is the decaying body of human beings and its outward ritual cleansing, are all symbols pointing to a time of reformation. That time having come in Messiah Yeshua and yet to be fully revealed in the world to come. The new covenant is the reforming of the first covenant. Notice “reform” and not “disregard”. The first covenant is to be regarded as a parable teaching the new covenant which is the original and transcendent perfection of that which the first covenant points to.
11 But when Messiah appeared as a high priest of the good things having come, He entered through the greater and more perfect, full, excellent Sanctuary, not made by human hands, because it is not of this creation;
The writer has spoken extensively of the practicalities of the Mosaic covenant and sacrificial system and has exposed its inability to affect a purging of the soul. It is likely that his Jewish brothers and sisters, the recipients of this work, were still allowing the temple cult to occupy the larger portion of their faith focus, something that, if left unaddressed could lead to their turning away from true faith in the King Messiah Yeshua. Therefore, the writer shifts focus to Yeshua the Great High Priest of the original, transcendent, and eternal Sanctuary of God.
Now Messiah is come and the way into the holiest place (heavenly holy of holies) is manifest, revealed (v.8). The Mishkan of the desert was at the time of this revelation, no longer functioning while the temple was functioning but soon to be destroyed.
Messiah has appeared within time and space to Israel as the transcendent High Priest of a more perfect Sanctuary (the heavenly original Mishkan) and of the good things having already come that are yet to be fully arrived. He has opened to Israel and the nations the way to right relationship in God’s intimate person, an opportunity to dwell in Him eternally. This He did by sprinkling His everlasting blood upon the heavenly mercy seat of the heavenly Sanctuary, which is neither made by human hands nor subject to this creation, but exists perpetually within the all existing God of Israel YHVH.
“48 However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:
49 ‘Heaven is My throne,
And the earth is the footstool of My feet;
What kind of house will you build for Me?’ says the Lord,
‘Or what place is there for My rest?
50 Was it not My hand that made all these things?’” -Acts 7:48-50 (Isaiah 66:1,2) NASB [Ref. Acts 17:24]
12 and not through the blood (aima[G], bedam[H]) of goats (tragos[G], se’iyriym[H]) and calves (moschos[G], va’agaliym[H]), but through the blood of His own soul (aima[G], bedam-nafsho[H]), He entered the holiest place (ho hagion[G], el-hakodesh[H]) once for all time, having obtained (heuriskō[G]) eternal redemption (geulat olam[H]). 13 For if the blood (aima[G], im-dam[H]) of goats (tragos[G], se’iyriym[H]) and bulls (tauros[G], hapariym[H]), and the ashes (spodos[G], eifer[H]) of a heifer (damalis[G], haparah[H]) sprinkled (rhantizō[G]) on those who have become defiled, unclean (koinoō[G], al-hatmei’iym[H]), sanctify (hagiazō[G], yekadoshiym[H]) as a means of purifying, cleansing (katharotēs[G], letaheir[H]) the carnal form, flesh, body (sarx[G], besa’ar[H]),
12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through the blood of His own soul, He entered the holiest place once for all time, having obtained eternal redemption.
As has already been explained “both gifts and sacrifices are (presently) offered which cannot perfect, make whole the moral condition, conscience, heart, core being, inner person of those serving, worshipping,” (v.9).
In particular the reference to “the blood of goats and calves” regards Yom Kippur (Lev. 16), when the Levitical high priest would enter behind the parochet into the holy of holies.
Therefore, Yeshua offered the blood of His own soul. Yeshua’s blood (life) being that substance which is a convergence of deity and sinless human physiology. Put simply, His blood, like the covenant it inaugurated, is everlasting, and as a result its atonement is of eternal effect.
The writer uses ho hagion[G] “the holiest place” for good reason. While he is likening the heavenly place Messiah entered to the earthly replica, he is none the less distinguishing the heavenly holy of holies as the “holiest”, so as not to confuse the two. Messiah did not enter the earthly holy of holies, he need not, the earthly holy of holies (first century C.E.) did not contain the ark or the mercy seat. Therefore, Yeshua entered the heavenly holy of holies, the original, the holiest place, and made atonement upon the heavenly mercy seat which is upon the heavenly ark in the heavenly Mishkan. Thus, as I have stated, the redemption He obtained for all who would receive Him is of eternal effect.
The Targum Yonatan points us toward the redemptive work of God in Yeshua, saying:
“Jacob said, when he saw Gideon the son of Joash, and Samson the son of Manoah, who should be redeemers; ‘not for the redemption of Gideon am I waiting, nor for the redemption of Samson am I looking, for their redemption is a temporal redemption; but for thy redemption am I waiting and looking, O Lord, because thy redemption is an everlasting redemption.’'' -Targum Yonatan Ben Uzziel (2nd Century C.E.) Genesis 49:18
13 For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have become defiled, unclean, sanctify as a means of purifying, cleansing the carnal form, flesh, body,
Once again the reference to “the blood of goats and bulls” regards Yom Kippur (Lev. 16), when the Levitical high priest would enter behind the parochet into the holy of holies. Only this time the use of the word “bull” specifically refers to the Levitical high priest’s need to sacrifice a bull for himself and his family, something Yeshua being sinless did not need to do.
“and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who have become defiled” The ashes of the heifer were used as a ritual cleansing of those who had become ceremonially unclean through contact with a dead body (Num. 19). As this verse rightly acknowledges, the sacrificial practices and the sprinkling of the water made from heifer ashes were not more than ritual cleansing of the physical body. None of these practices affected purity of the entire being.
14 how much more will the blood (aima[G], hadam[H]) of the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) Who through the eternal (aiōnios[G], olam[H]) Spirit (pneuma[G], beruach[H]) offered, presented, sacrificed (prospherō[G], hikriyv[H]) His soul (nafsho[H]) without blemish, mark, spot (amōmos[G], bivliy-mum[H]) to God (Theos[G], l’Elohiym[H]); purge, cleanse, purify (katharizō[G], yetaheir[H]) your conscience, moral consciousness, heart, core being, inner person (suneidēsis[G], et libchem[H]) from dead, necrotic (nekros[G], mavet[H]) works, deeds, doing (ergon[G], asiym[H]) in order to serve (latreuō[G], la’avod[H]) the living God (zaō Theos[G], et Elohiym chayiym[H])? 15 And through this (dia touto[G], zot[H]) He is the mediator, reconciler, go between, messenger advocate (mesitēs[G], malakh meiliytz[H]) of a new covenant (kainos diathēkē[G], labriyt hachadashah[H]), so that, by means of His death (Thanatos[G], umoto[H]) we are (nimtza[H]) found redeemed, atoned, purged (apolutrōsis[G], lechaparat[H]) of the violations (parabasis[G], haposhiym tachat[H]) that were committed under the first covenant (protos diathēkē[G], habriyt harishonah[H]), those who have been called (kaleō[G]) may receive (lambanō[G]) the promise (epaggelia[G], et-havtachat[H]) of the eternal (aiōnios[G], olam[H]) inheritance (klēronomia[G], nachalat[H]). [alt. Hebrew text translates as, “that the elect might receive the promised eternal land.”]
14 how much more will the blood of the Messiah, Who through the eternal Spirit offered, presented, sacrificed His soul without blemish, mark, spot to God, purge, cleanse, purify your conscience, moral consciousness, heart, core being, inner person from dead, necrotic works, deeds, doing in order to serve the living God?
“How much more” is a kal vachomer (lenient and strict/lesser and greater) rabbinical form of teaching common to Talmudic literature and practiced for many centuries prior to the codification of the Talmud. This type of argument is similar but not the same as fortiori (a Latin word meaning “from the stronger”). Essentially the writer is saying, “if the temporary blood of the copy is able to ritually cleanse the body, how much more so the eternal blood of the Creator in Whom the original exists and from Whom the temporary signpost pointing to the original was gifted”.
“without blemish” Sacrificial animals were required to be without blemish. In the case of Messiah this refers to His sinless life (Heb. 4:15).
“the blood of the Messiah” As previously stated, Yeshua’s blood (life) being that substance which is a convergence of deity and sinless human physiology. Put simply, His blood, like the covenant it inaugurated, is everlasting, and as a result its atonement is of eternal effect.
Therefore, He alone is able to purge us of “necrotic works/deeds”. We note the stark contrast between the delusional life of necrotic deeds and the authentic eternal life in Messiah. The wording is poignant. To live according to the sinful nature is like a man living with necrotizing fasciitis, a form of bacteria resistant to human medicine. Yeshua comes to that same man and offers to cleanse his entire being inside and out, and as a result the cause and the symptoms of the infection are removed entirely. What the human doctors (a poor replica of healing) cannot do, the Creator of humanity has already done.
Copyright 2021 Yaakov Brown
Yeshua and His disciples observed, at least in part, significant portions of the Oral Torah, which was later codified as the Mishnah (2nd Century CE).
The first half of this chapter concerned the clear redemptive messianic mandate of Yeshua and His unwillingness to abide the plans of fallen human beings. It continued with His faithful observance of the instruction to go up for the festival of Sukkot, and alludes to His public teaching in the Temple proper (an area Gentiles were excluded from) among His fellow Jews in the middle of the festival.
As I previously stated, a sound understanding of the festival of Sukkot (Lev. 23:33-43; Num. 29:12-39; Deut. 16:13-16) and its first century customs (some of which are described in the Mishnah and Talmud) is key to a correct interpretation of John 7:37-39 and 8:12. The festival of Sukkot is the backdrop for John chapters 7 and 8.
Sukkot begins 5 days after Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on the 15th of Tishri (the Shabbat or seventh month of the Biblical lunar calendar). It is highly likely given Yeshua’s strict observance of the Torah, that He had gone up to Jerusalem for Yom Kippur and had returned to the Galilee for the 5 day interim period between Yom Kippur and Sukkot. He had every intention of going up for Sukkot, in His own timing (according to God’s timing).
Sukkot is the festival of the later harvest and is full of completions: seven days, seventy sacrificial bulls etc. It has a long standing connection to the nations, from the time of the giving of the Torah in the presence of seventy elders, to the time of the prophet Zechariyah, and in the Talmud of rabbinical Judaism, and beyond.
“16 Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.17 And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the
Concerning the seventy bulls required by Numbers 29:12-34, which were to be sacrificed over the seven days of the festival of Sukkot, the Talmud Bavliy says:
“Rabbi El’azar said, ‘To what do these seventy bulls correspond? To the seventy nations…” (Sukkah 55b)
Based on the many correlations between the number seventy and the nations in the Torah, rabbinic tradition teaches that seventy is a number for the nations and that the seventy bulls sacrificed during Sukkot are meant as an atonement for the nations.
Jewish Tradition and Practice During First Century CE Sukkot Celebrations at the Temple in Jerusalem:
In addition to the continued Torah instructed practice of dwelling, sleeping, eating and drinking, in temporary shelters, first century Jews practiced various other rites during Sukkot in Jerusalem each year.
The waving of the four species or Lulav (still practiced today) made up of branches of palm tree, myrtle, and willow, bound up together in a bundle (Lev.23:40). These were carried in the right hand, with an etrog (citron native to Israel) in the left. The lulav is waved three times first toward the east, then south, east, north, toward the heavens and then toward the lower regions and brought back to rest over the heart of the worshipper. This signifies that God is Creator and sustains of all things.
In the first century the priests walked around the altar once for each of the first six days of Sukkot, with the lulav in their hands, saying the words "Hoshana Save now, I plead to You, O Lord, O Lord I plead to You, send now prosperity" (Psalm 118:25): and on the seventh day, they went around the altar seven times (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Maimon. Hilch. Lulab, c. 7. sect. 5, 6, 9, 23).
There were great Menorah-like four branched candles stands in the Temple precinct. At sundown on the first day of the feast, they went down to the court of the women where golden candlesticks had been erected, and at the head of them four golden basins, and four ladders to every candlestick, and four young priests had four pitchers of oil, that held a hundred and twenty logs (an ancient measure of oil), which they put into each basin. Wicks were made from the old breeches and girdles of the priests, and it was these oil soaked wicks that the priests would light. There was not a court in Jerusalem which was not lit up with that light, and religious men, and men of good works, danced before them, with lighted torches in their hands, singing songs and hymns of praise, which continued for the following six nights (Mishnah. Succah, c. 5. sect 2, 3, 4; Maimon. ib. c. 8. sect. 12.).
On every day of the festival water was drawn from the pool of Siloach (sent) [Situated approximately 2km south of the Temple Mount], and was poured along with wine at the base of the altar as a libation offering. This was celebrated with great rejoicing (simchateinu). During the illumination in the court of the women, many instruments were employed such as harps, psalteries, cymbals, and two priests with trumpets, who sounded them when they were given the signal, and on every day, as they brought water from the pool of Siloach to the altar, they sounded with trumpets, and shouted; the great "Hallel" (Psalms 136), was sung all the eight days (Mishnah. ib. c. 4. sect. 8, 9. & c. 5. 1, 4, 5. & Eracin, c. 2. sect. 3). The whole festival was one of great rejoicing, according to Leviticus 23:40.
With all this and more in mind, and ultimately, guided by the Ruach Ha-Kodesh Who imparts the teaching of Yeshua to all believers, we attempt to humbly, and contextually understand the text that follows.
25 So some of the people of Yerushalayim[H] (Jerusalem: Downpour of Peace) were saying, “Is this not the one whom they’re seeking to kill?
“Is this not the one whom they’re seeking to kill?” This is a reference to those religious leaders among the Judean sect that were moved to hatred by Yeshua’s making whole of the man at Beit Chasda (House of Kindness and practical love). As mentioned previously, John 5:18 says “they sought to kill Him…”
The fact that “some of the people of Jerusalem” (Jews who had made aliyah for the festival of Sukkot) use the determiner “they” to refer to the small group of leaders who wanted to kill Yeshua, shows a social distancing between the speakers and the group who hated Yeshua. To say “they” is to exclude self and or, the collective “we”.
26 See, behold, pay attention (eido[G], Hinei[H]), He is speaking unreservedly, frankly, without ambiguity (parrhesia[G], doveir[H]), publicly, among the masses (barabiym[H]), and they’re not saying anything to Him.
The same “they” of the previous verse have been witnessed by the crowd watching Yeshua and listening to His teaching without making a move to prevent Him or interrupt Him, even though He is doing all this publicly and with dynamic, articulate, awe inspiring success.
The rulers, leaders, magistrates, heads (archon[G], rasheiynu[H]) haven’t truly concluded, come to the knowledge, come to have faith, trust (ginosko[G], um’nam[H]), because (kiy[H]) in truth (be’emet[H]) this one (zeh[H]) He (Hu[H]) is the Messiah (ho Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]), have they?
“The rulers, leaders, magistrates, heads” Refers to the Spiritual leaders, certain adjudicators of Torah and early rabbinic Halakhah, and possibly to some of the leaders of various smaller synagogues from throughout the region who practiced a pharisaic form of Judean Jewish faith. It does not refer to the Pharisees or Priests who are named separately in verse 32.
“haven’t truly concluded, come to the knowledge, come to have faith, trust… have they?” This statement reads as either incredulity or sarcasm, possibly even as a rhetorical question. It is certainly not a genuine attempt to discern the thinking or faith of the religious Jewish leaders.
The Greek “ginosko”[G] which alludes to mental assent or knowledge gleaned from persuasion, is equivalent but not the same as the more holistic Hebrew concept of emunah[H], faith, trust, knowledge of the inner being. The Greek concept of consciousness requires the seat of consciousness to reside in the brain/mind, the Hebrew idea of consciousness does not, rather, for the Hebrew the seat of consciousness is at the centre of being where the mind, emotion, soul, spirit, intellect, action etc. converge. Thus the Hebrew concept of consciousness allows for a continued conscious state following the physical death of the brain, and finds a greater continuity with the meta-narrative of Scripture.
In the next verse the Greek “ginosko”[G] is juxtaposed against the idea of belief based on various forms of sight “eido”[G]. This is yet further evidence of the Hebraic thought of the author, who appropriates Greek language as a vehicle for relaying a more holistic Hebrew understanding of the redemptive work of God.
27 In addition (alla[G]), we see, perceive (eido[G]) this man’s place of origin (pothen[G]); but whenever the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach) comes, no one (oudeis[G]) knows (ginosko[G], yeida[H]) His place of origin (pothen[G]).”
“we see, perceive this man’s place of origin” This tells us that by far the majority of those who were listening to Yeshua were aware that He had been residing in K’far Nachum (Capernaum) in the Galilee and as testified to in John 6:42, others were aware of His parents Yosef and Miriyam and His connection to Nazareth. However, based on what follows it seems clear that few if any (other than His immediate family and close retinue) were aware that He had been born in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem, the house of bread), the town of King David.
Note the Greek “eido” does not mean “to know”, as is translated in so many English versions. In fact the text makes a clear distinction between perception based on knowledge “ginosko” and perception based on the various forms of sight “eido”. Yeshua’s listeners claim to be speaking of “knowing” where Messiah will come from, but Yeshua rebukes them by saying (to paraphrase), “You see Me and see where I have come from, I haven’t separated Myself from God Who is Truth and sent Me, Him you don’t see or perceive of, in spite of the fact that you can most certainly see Me!”
“…but whenever the Messiah comes, no one knows His place of origin;” Among the many strands of thought regarding Jewish messianic expectation in the first century CE, was the tradition of the “Hidden Messiah”, which some associate with the apocryphal (Not Inspired) book of Chanoch (1 Enoch 46:1-3).
“Then I inquired of one of the angels, who went with me, and who showed me every secret thing, concerning this Son of man; who he was; whence he was; and why he accompanied the Ancient of days.” -1 Enoch 46:1b
The point is that contrary to Scripture (Micah 5:1), the “Hidden Messiah” tradition of the first century CE was prevalent among observant Jews.
The reality is that Scripture makes clear that the King Messiah will be born in Beit Lechem (Bethlehem):
“But as for you, Beit Lechem (Bethlehem, house of bread) Efratah (Ephrathah, fruitful place). Insignificant among the clans of Y’hudah (Judah, Praise), from you One will go forth for Me to be Ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago,
from the days of eternity.” -Micah 5:1  Author’s translation
Note that our rabbis rightly conclude that this refers to the King Messiah the Greater Son of David, due to the fact that according to this text the individual being referred to is both of the lineage of Judah and of eternity past.
One might conclude that this belief in the “Hidden Messiah” tradition was one held by Am Ha-aretz (Commoners) unlearned in the Torah, Prophets and Writings. If this is the case the latter reference to these unlearned commoners and their ignorance by the religious rulers (v.49), denotes that the religious leaders, being aware of the prophet Micah and knowing the birthplace of the Messiah, were all the more accountable and therefore in a much worse position than that of the ignorant masses, whom were supposedly under God’s curse. This brings to mind the writing of Yeshua’s brother Yaakov (James):
“Not many of you should aspire to become teachers, my Jewish brothers and sisters, knowing that as such we teachers will incur a stricter judgment.” -Yaakov (James) 3:1 Author’s translation
28 Then Yeshua (YHVH Saves, Jesus) cried out like a raven, like a prayer for vengeance (krazo[G], kara[H]) in the Temple (hieron[G], ha-Mikdash[H]), teaching (didasko[G], vay’lameid[H]) and saying (lego[G], vayomer[H]), “You both see, perceive (eido[G]) Me and see, perceive (eido[G]) My place of origin (pothen[G]); and of separation (apo[G]) I have not come, but He Who is true, faithful, trustworthy (ne’eman[H]) did the sending, sent Me (ho pempo me[G], she’lachaniy[H]), Whom all of you don’t see, perceive (eido[G]).
The Greek “krazo” denotes a cry like that of a raven or a man screaming a prayer of vengeance. Such was the power of His voice, that the sound of it carried over the heads and into the ears of the thousands of worshippers gathered in the Temple complex.
As stated in my previous article “…in the Mikdash (Temple)” means inside the Temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the Gentiles which is not considered part of the Temple proper. In other words, at the time of these events Yeshua’s teaching was made available only to Jews.
“You both see, perceive Me and see, perceive My place of origin;” Yeshua acknowledges that with their physical sight and human intellect they have observed and heard of His then current physical place of origin. However, what follows is a rebuke regarding their inability to see His ultimate origin in God the Father and His manifest identity as the visible substance of the invisible God. We should be slow to judge these first century Jewish worshippers, after all, we who have seen Yeshua spiritually are prone to the same lack of discernment but are, unlike them, without an excuse.
“and of separation I have not come,” Yeshua’s physical and spiritual being are inseparable. Likewise He and the Father are inseparable. He has not come from just one physical location, nor has He ever been separate from His origin in the Father, rather, He has come in unity with the Father and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and in unity with the Father’s will.
Therefore, Yeshua’s identity can only be fully understood in the unity of the Godhead and the Person of Yeshua as Imanu El “With us God”. Ironically, to see Him in any other way is to practice the compartmentalization of the Greco-Roman world, and yet, Yeshua’s listeners were doing that very thing. Sadly, many believers also misperceive Yeshua in the same way today.
“…but He Who is true, faithful, trustworthy did the sending, sent Me, Whom all of you don’t see, perceive.” Simply put, you don’t perceive of the true nature of God, Who sent me.
29 I (Aniy[H]) see, perceive (eido[G]) Him, because from Him likewise existing, present (eimi[G]), I am sent (apostello[G], she’lachaniy[H]).”
Yeshua is essential saying, “I am God with You, In Him and of Him, Sent from Him to dwell within Him in the created order…”
30 As a result they were seeking (zeteo[G]) to lay hold of (piazo[G]) Him; and no one could lay a hand (epiballo[G]) on Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour (hora[G]) for Him had not yet come (lo bai to[H]).
“As a result they were seeking to lay hold of Him” In almost every instance when the religious authorities sought to lay hold of, stone, throw of a cliff or kill Yeshua, it was because He was either directly or indirectly claiming to be Imanu El God with us. Not “A son of God” but “The Son of God”.
“…and no one could lay a hand on Him, because the certain, definite, time, hour for Him had not yet come…” Notice the repetition of this phrase which is used to illuminate the reason that Yeshua would not acquiesce to His brothers’ suggestion earlier in this chapter. It is Yeshua, within God’s will, Who both knows and decides when He will give up His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all who will believe.
“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” -John 10:17-19 (NASB)
31 From the crowd many (polus[G], rabiym[H]) believed, trusted, had faith, were persuaded, placed their confidence (pisteuo[G], he’emiynu[H]) in Him; and they were saying, “When the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) comes, He will not perform more, superior or greater (pleion[G], har’beih[H]) signs, marks, wonders (semeion[G], otot[H]) than those which this man has, will He?”
Notice that “many” of the Jewish worshippers who heard Yeshua were “persuaded” (pisteuo[G]) and “trusted, chose faith in Him” (he’emiynu[H]). This is not, as some suggest, a limited or superficial faith. To the contrary, like the disciples of Yeshua’s inner circle many thousands of Jews of the first century began to have faith in Yeshua during His ministry and found a greater fullness in the progression of that same faith following His death and resurrection.
Long before the body of believers became predominantly Gentile, it was wholly Jewish. In fact, at the convergence of the Jewish and Gentile progression of faith in Yeshua, the body of believers (Ecclesia[G]) was called Ha-Derech (The Way), a “Jewish Sect”. Interestingly, today in modern rabbinical Judaism we have a prayer dedicated to God’s protection and blessing as we journey, called Tefiylat HaDerech, Prayer of the way.
32 Some of the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees) heard the crowd murmuring these things about Him (Yeshua), and the chief priests (archiereus[G], ha-kohaniym[H]) and some of the P’rushiym[H] (Pharisees) sent servants (huperetes[G]) to apprehend (piazo[G]) Him.
I have added the words “some of” for clarification because it is clear from Scripture that Nakdiymon (Nicodemus) and other Pharisees like Him, along with many of Yeshua’s own disciples, who were clearly of the Pharisaic sect, were not among the Pharisees who were seeking to seize Yeshua. For all intents and purposes Yeshua Himself was a Pharisee.
It is worth noting the P’rush means “Separate, distinct, set apart”. Therefore, the P’rushiym (ancient forerunners to rabbinical Judaism) were “Distinct, set apart ones”. In respect to God’s call on His people this is a wonderful name to carry, however, God’s Son our King Messiah comes to remind us that we are to be set apart unto God and not separated from Him by our fallen sense of self-righteousness.
At this juncture we need to be reminded once again that for all intents and purposes and with regard to theology and faith Yeshua was a Pharisee. Likewise Nakdiymon, Rav Shaul (Paul the sent one) and many others who chose faith in Yeshua. The Chief Priests and Pharisees mentioned here are a subgroup among those groups and do not represent the whole.
It’s important to clarify the distinction between the Pharisees and the Chief Priest, the majority of whom were Sadducees (forerunners of the modern Karaite Jews). Unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees accepted the Torah alone as authoritive Scripture and would therefore have rejected Yeshua’s claims to Messiahship, a majority of which were based on the writings of the prophets, which the Sadducees considered uninspired. In addition, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection (imagine their chagrin concerning the resurrection of Lazarus), angels, demons, miraculous healing (Oiy Vey) and so on. The Sadduciym were essentially moralists, making ethics out of sacred writings and seeing death as the absolute end of life. Not unlike numerous ethics lecturers in our modern western universities.
Therefore, the fact that Sadducees and Pharisees could have united in their dislike of Yeshua means that at least part of the reason was political rather than spiritual. Roman occupation hung on their minds and the repercussions they foresaw regarding a messianic uprising terrified them.
Pilate, the Roman Governor of the time is recorded in extra Biblical history as an insidious man who used provocations and tyranny to incite and murder Jews in Roman occupied Israel. Thus, the Pharisees and Sadducees had good reason to be fearful of what might result if Yeshua was allowed to be hailed as the King Messiah of Israel, a land known in the first century by the Roman names of occupation, Roman province of Judea, Roman province of Samaria, Roman province of Idumea. Later following the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132 CE Emperor Hadrian changed the name of the land to Syria Palaestina, thus the present day illegitimate name of occupation “Palestine” used by Israel’s oppressors and those who would take God’s Name “El” out of the land of Yisra-El. To hear the name “Palestine” on the tongue of one who claims to be a follower of Yeshua (Jesus) is an appalling oxymoronic disgrace!
33 Therefore the Yeshua said, “Yet for a short time I am with you, then I withdraw Myself (hupago[G]) to Him Who sent (pempo[G], she’lachaniy[H]) Me. 34 Seeking (zeteo[G],) Me, you will not come upon (heurisko[G]) Me; and where I am, exist (eimi[G], aniy sham[H]) you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come.”
“the Yeshua” The Greek says “ho Iesous”. Not just any Joshua of the time but “the Joshua”. Remembering that Joshua was a very common name in the Jewish community of the first century CE and indeed continues to be popular today among Jewish families both in Israel and in the Diaspora.
In hindsight it is easy to see that Yeshua was referring to His death and resurrection and possibly to His subsequent ascension. However, given the theological dialogue and the first century worship environment, along with the messianic expectation and the physical need for deliverance from the Roman occupation: it seems reasonable that His hearers might conclude a literal interpretation of His words rather than a euphemistic one.
“…and where I am, exist you’re not able, nor do you have the power to come.” The use and tense of the language is illuminating. In one sense Yeshua is saying He is already where He is going to be (slain before the creation of the world [Rev.13:8]). Furthermore, He explains that where He is going (Gan Eden, the Bosom of Abraham, Paradise), they are presently unable to enter because they do not (in their present state of disbelief) qualify among the righteous of Israel’s departed. Nor have they yet received Yeshua and the means of redemption by which they might follow Him to Gan Eden, as the thief on the cross did (Luke 23:39-43). Therefore, even if they wanted to locate Yeshua, following this dialogue, they could not. Not yet. Keep in mind that it is highly likely that many of His opponents were among those who would soon come to faith at Shavuot (Pentecost) [Acts 2] following His resurrection.
35 Some of the the Judeans, religious Jews (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to travel to the Diaspora (Jewish dispersion throughout the Greco-Roman world) among the Greeks (Hellen[G]), and teach (didasko[G]) the Greeks (Hellen[G]), is He? 36 What is this word, speech (logos[G]) that He said, ‘Seeking (zeteo[G],) Me, you will not come upon (heurisko[G]) Me; and where I am, exist (eimi[G], aniy sham[H]) you’re not able, nor do you have the power (dunamai[G]) to come’?”
They ask if Yeshua will go into the Diaspora or where Jews are dispersed throughout the Greco-Roman world. While the text says specifically will He “teach the Greeks”, it may denote Jews living in the diaspora, who were looked down upon by the Jews of the land, in much the same way as Jews living outside of Israel today are looked down upon by some ultra-observant religious Jews in the land of Israel. It is worth noting that by far the majority of secular and less observant Israeli Jews are extremely friendly toward Jews from outside of the land and are welcoming and supportive of all new comers to Israel.
37 Now on the last day, Hoshanah Rabah[H] (the Great Save Now) the great day of the festival of Sukkot[H] (hagadol chag[H]), Yeshua stood and cried out like a raven, like a prayer for vengeance (krazo[G]), saying (lego[G]), “If anyone is suffering thirst (dipsao[G]) let that one come (erchomai[G]) to Me and drink (pino[G]). 38 He who believes, has faith, trusts, is persuaded (pisteuo[G]) in Me, according to the speech of the Writing (ho graphe[G], hakatuv[H]), ‘A river (potamos[G]) coming out of the entire cavity of his inner being (koilia autos[G], leiv[H]) will flow (rheo[G]) with waters that are living (mayim chayiym[H]).’”
The last or seventh day of Sukkot is known as Hoshanah Rabah, which literally translates as “the save now that is great”. It is the climax of the seven-day festival during which the water libation offering of the first century period was conducted.
For seven days the people had watched the Cohen Hagadol (High Priest) pour out water at the base of the altar inside the Temple grounds. This water was collected from the pool of shiloach (Siloam, meaning “sent”), situated approximately 2km south of the Temple Mount not far from the place where the Hinnom and Kidron valleys converge. A specially selected priest collected the water each day and brought it up the hill and through the water gate into the Temple with singing, a variety of instruments and great rejoicing (the festival of Sukkot is closely associated to the word simchateinu “Our great rejoicing”). This was a kinetic form of ritual prayer petitioning God for rain. It also figuratively represents the out pouring of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) on the people of Israel. Our rabbis make the connection between this first century practice and Isaiah 12:3:
“Collectively you will draw water in joy you will draw water
from the springs of the salvation” -Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 12:3 Authors Translation
Therefore, the Jewish worshippers of the first century have prayed for rain and that God would send the promised King Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression. And now, on the final day of the feast called Hoshanah Rabbah (The Great Save Now), the water is carried to the Temple accompanied by Cohaniym (priests) blowing gold trumpets and L’vi’iym (Levites) singing songs of praise and worship, surrounded by common Israelis waving lulaviym of the four species prescribed by Scripture (Lev.23:40), including the palm branch, and chanting the Hallel (Psalms 113-118), which include in their final verses:
“I plead with You HaShem, Hoshana, save us!
I plead with You HaShem, send prosperity, I plead!
Barukh Haba b’sheim Adonai, Blessing is He who comes in the Name of HaShem!
We have blessed from the House of Hashem!
God HaShem and uncreated light to us!
Bind a festival sacrifice with cords against the horns of the altar.
My God, You I throw praise to You My God, exalting You!
Give thanks to HaShem for Good, forever, for His kindness, faithfulness, practical and transcendent love!” -Psalm 118:25-29 Author’s translation
This prayer is employed as a heralding of the Messiah during Yeshua’s later entry into Jerusalem (Matt.21:9; Mk.11:9-10). It was also a petition for salvation from sin.
The Encyclopedia Judaica notes:
“A connection between the possession of the Ruach Ha-Kodesh and ecstasy, or religious joy, is found in the ceremony of water drawing, Simchat Beit-HaSho’evah [“feast of water drawing”], on the festival of Sukkot. The Mishnah said that he who had never seen this ceremony, which was accompanied by dancing, singing and music (Sukkot 5:4), had never seen true joy (Sukkot 5:1). Yet this was also considered a ceremony in which the participants, as it were, drew inspiration from the Holy Spirit itself, which can only be possessed by those whose hearts are full of religious joy (Jerusalem Talmud, Sukkot 5:1, 55a).” - Encyclopedia Judaica 14:365
Given the historical context of these events and Yeshua’s participation in and veneration of the practices associated with the festival, and the fact that these rites are extrabiblical, being recorded in the Mishnah and Talmud; we can determine that Yeshua and His disciples observed, at least in part, significant portions of the Oral Torah, which was later codified as the Mishnah (2nd Century CE). Therefore, it is foolish to discount the Mishnah in its entirety as “the traditions of men” (Mark 7:5-13), in light of the fact that Yeshua considered its traditions to be valid expressions of Jewish worship and further still, used these practices as a platform for revealing His identity and purpose.
Now, in the midst of the cacophony of rejoicing and spiritual ecstasy the Cohen Hagadol (High priest) pours the water out at the base of the altar for the final time and the energy of the crowd builds to a crescendo; a young rabbi from the Kinneret (Galilee) shouts out above the crowd who have gathered in great anticipation, and says:
“If anyone is suffering thirst let that one come to Me and drink, He who believes, has faith in Me, according to the speech of the Holy Writings, ‘A river coming out of the entire cavity of his inner being, will flow with waters that are living.’”
Yeshua was unifying the message of several passages from the prophet Yeshayahu (Isaiah):
“‘For I will pour out water on him who is thirsty
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;” – Isaiah 44:3 (NASB)
“Ho, take notice, be awe struck! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters;
And you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without cost.” -Isaiah 55:1 Author’s translation
“And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.” -Isaiah 58:11 (NASB)
“The words of the mouth are deep waters,
but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.” -Proverbs 18:4 (NASB)
Of course, the ultimate and everlasting fulfilment of these kinetic prayers is recorded in Yeshua’s Revelation to Yochanan:
“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” -Revelation 22:17 (NASB)
39 But this He (Yeshua) spoke of the Spirit (Pneuma[G], Ha Ruach[H]), Whom those who believed (ha-ma’amiyniym[H]) in Him were to receive; for the Spirit (Pneuma[G], Ha Ruach[H]) was not yet given (nitan[H]), because Yeshua was not yet glorified.
“But this He spoke of the Spirit, Whom those who believed in Him were to receive;” Yeshua speaks of the outpouring of water as a metaphor for the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh. This was something that all Israel was anticipating in association with the festival of Sukkot and its many spiritual implications. However, the author of John’s Gospel explains that the Ruach HaKodesh will be given in full measure at a later date and only to those who believe.
“…for the Spirit was not yet given, because Yeshua was not yet glorified.” Yeshua did breathe the Holy Spirit upon His disciples prior to His ascension (John 20:22), however, the Spirit was not given in full measure, that is, did not indwell the disciples and others who believed until the Shavuot (Pentecost) that occurred 50 days after His resurrection (Acts 2).
“Yeshua was not yet glorified” This refers to His resurrected glory. The Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son (Rom.8:9; Heb.9:14; Phil.1:19; 2 Pet.1:20-21; Gal.4:6), could not be poured out into the hearts of human beings until the death and resurrection of Yeshua had made possible the perpetual atonement that brings salvation and right standing before God. Therefore, it was after Yeshua’s ascension and from His position seated in and with the Father, that the Father and the Son began to pour out their unified Spirit into the hearts, the inner being, of every believer.
40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet (zeh hu ha-naviy[H]).”
“This is the prophet” God spoke to Moses of, “I will raise up a prophet like you…” (Deut.18:15-18; Acts 7:37).
41 Others were saying, “This is the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]).” Still others were saying, “Surely the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) is not going to come from the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]), is He? 42 Has not the Writing (ho graphe[G], hakatuv[H]) said that the Messiah (Christos[G], ha-Mashiyach[H]) comes from the descendants of David (Beloved), and from Beit Lechem[H] (House of Bread) Bethlehem, the village David came from?”
“Others were saying, ‘This is the Messiah’” As attested to in verse 31, many already believed Yeshua was the promised King Messiah.
“Surely the Messiah is not going to come from the Galilee, is He? 42 Has not the Writing said that comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village David came from?” Sadly human beings are prone to both proposing and making false choices. The Scriptures show that Messiah is from both Bethlehem and the Galilee. In fact, He is from Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth and the Galilee.
Ref. Matt. 2; 2 Sam. 7:12-13; Jer. 23:5-6; Micah 5:1 ; Psalm. 89:36-38 [35-37]; 132:11; 1 Chron. 7:11, 14).
The people were right to say that the Messiah was to come from Bethlehem. Those who were in confusion and disbelief were clearly not aware that Yeshua had been born in Bethlehem. If they had been, many more may well have believed, but, this would not have allowed for the purposes of God to come about because they would have made of Yeshua a temporal King, and devoid of the sacrificial means of eternal redemption, would have died in their sin without the eternal Kingdom promised by God.
43 As a result a division, split, gap (schisma[G]) occurred in the crowd because of Him (Yeshua[H]).
There have and until His return will always be only two responses to the work of Yeshua: acceptance and life, rejection and death.
“For we are a fragrance of Messiah to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;to the one an aroma from death leading to death, to the other an aroma from life leading to life. And who is adequate for these things?” -2 Corinthians 2:15-16 Author’s translation
44 Some of them intended to apprehend (piazo[G]) Him, but no one laid hands on Him. 45 The servants (huperetes[G]) then came to the chief priests (archiereus[G], ha-kohaniym[H]) and some of the P’rushiym[H] (Separate, distinct, chased ones, Pharisees), and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?”
“No one laid hands on Him” because His time had not yet come.
46 The servants (huperetes[G]) answered, “Never has a human being (anthropos[G]) spoken in the manner this man speaks.”
In saying this the servants insulted the P’rushiym, who considered themselves well versed and well spoken in the Torah, Prophets, and Writings. The servants were testifying to witnessing the reality of Yeshua’s own words: “My teaching is not Mine but His Who sent Me!” (v.16).
47 The P’rushiym[H] then answered them, “You haven’t also been led astray, have you?
The hubris of this small group of P’rushiym is palpable. They conclude that no one could speak in a manner that is superior their own ability, therefore, those who witnessed it must be deluded, lead astray.
48 No one among the leaders, magistrates, rulers, princes (archon[G], ha-sariym[H]) or P’rushiym[H] have believed, trusted, been persuaded (pisteuo[G]) in Him, have they?
In fact Nakdiymon is likely to have already become a disciple of Yeshua, and his subsequent rebuttal of the religious party’s unlawful judgement is further evidence of this (v.50-52). In addition to Nakdiymon, many others among the P’rushiym who had been among the crowd had also become followers of Yeshua (v.31).
49 But this crowd which does not know (yod’iym[H]) the Torah[H] (Instruction, ho nomos[G]) is under God’s curse (epikataratos[G]).”
Once again the pride of the learned religious leaders raises its ugly head. They’re essentially saying that all the common Israelis who have come up to attend the festival of Sukkot in obedience to the Torah, are ignorant of the Torah. Worse still, because many in the crowd have concluded that Yeshua speaks the truth, the religious leaders consider them under God’s curse. What a sad and ironic situation the religious leaders find themselves in, for, as the Scripture says “an undeserved curse cannot land”, in fact, it returns to rest upon the one who uttered it.
50 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) [the one who had come to Yeshua before, being one of the P’rushiym[H]) said to them, 51 “Our Torah[H] (Instruction, ho nomos[G]) does not separate, judge, access (krino[G]) a man unless it first hears (akouo[G]) from him and knows (ginosko[G]) what he is doing (poieo[G]), does it?”
Many among them knew and were thinking this but it was Nakdiymon alone who had the courage to speak up. A courage born of the Spirit of God. He is correct in his assertion. Deuteronomy 19:15-21 demands that a lawful gathering be held in order to hear from all parties involved in a matter of Torah law.
52 They answered him (Nakdiymon), “You’re not also from the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]), are you? Search, and see that prophets aren’t raised out of the Galilee (ha-galiyl[H]).” 53 Each man journeyed to his house.
“You’re not also from the Galilee, are you?” Personal attacks are often the domain of those who have lost an argument or are found wanting in their ability to refute the truth. Therefore, knowing they’re in the wrong the religious leaders cover up their inadequacy with bigotry. They were essentially saying, “You’re not also one of those ignorant hicks from the Galilee are you?” This they said to a man honoured by the Talmud as a tzadik (righteous saint), well learned in the Torah and well-practiced in Halakhah, righteous living (see my article on John 3).
“Search, and see that prophets aren’t raised out of the Galilee” Usually, when one relies on emotion to further a point of disagreement, the result is untenable. Not only was Nakdiymon right concerning the Torah, he was also vindicated by the response of the religious leaders which proved them to be guilty of the ignorance they had presumed upon others. One need not look far to find that the prophet Yonah came from Gat-Hefer in the Galilee. What’s more, our own rabbis, men who are the progeny of Pharisaic Judaism, testify against the false information of the religious leaders:
“Rabbi Eli’ezer… said… ‘There was not a tribe in Israel which did not produce prophets…” (Sukkah 27b).
However, because the tense of the Greek text allows for the meaning “no future prophet comes from the Galilee”, we must give the religious leaders the benefit of the doubt on this matter.
“Each man journeyed to his house.” This does not mean that the people returned from the festival to their home villages but that those involved with the private meeting of the religious leaders and their servants returned to their homes in the city of Jerusalem. We know this because the eighth day Sh’mini Atzeret of Sukkot was yet to occur and the seventh day would not conclude until the following sundown according to the Biblical lunar calendar. Therefore, thousands remained in Jerusalem for the conclusion of the festival.
Copyright 2020 Yaakov Brown
Founder of the Beth Melekh International Messiah Following Jewish Community,