Hebrews

Chapter Eight

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 7 July 2022; Revised 10 September 2022

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995, NASU), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important early Jewish sources include the following:

DSS: the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last three centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online DSS Bible.

LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.

Josephus: The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.), Jewish historian, trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.

Philo: Works by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Jewish philosopher (20 B.C.─A.D. 50), consisting of 45 monographs. Online.

MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began under Rabbi Akiva (2nd c. A.D.), but completed by scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from the 9th century. Online.

Talmud: the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.

Targums: Aramaic translation of Hebrew Scripture with commentary: Targum Onkelos (1st c. AD), and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). Index of Targum texts.

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.

Terminology: In order to emphasize the Hebrew and Jewish nature of the entire Bible I use the terms Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), Torah (Pentateuch, Law), ADONAI (for the sacred name in Tanakh verses), and Besekh (New Testament).

Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter. This commentary assumes that Paul the apostle wrote the letter in the Hebrew language and Luke translated it into Jewish Greek.

Chapter Overview

In this chapter Paul continues his commendation of Yeshua as the perfect High Priest that he began at 7:24. He emphasizes Yeshua's current position at the right hand of the Majesty who dwells in unapproachable light where he has a more excellent and a more powerful ministry than the high priest in Jerusalem. Yeshua serves His people in a sacred sanctuary that is the model for the earthly tabernacle. As heavenly High Priest Yeshua is the mediator of a better covenant established on better promises.

Paul then explains that the better covenant is the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah. The prophecy does not suggest that the New Covenant would terminate the Old Covenant, but instead presents five transformative promises. The house of Israel and the house of Judah will be empowered to keep God's commandments; they will acknowledge the Creator God as their only God; they will be preserved as God's chosen people; they will experience a personal intimate relationship with God; and they will experience full atonement for sins not previously forgiven.

The chapter closes with an epilogue noting that the New Covenant has made the existing priestly ministry handed down from Aaron "old" and ready to pass away, prophetically anticipating Yeshua's prophecy of the end of temple services.

Chapter Outline

Priestly Ministry in Heaven, 8:1-7

The New Covenant, 8:8-13

Priestly Ministry in Heaven, 8:1-6

1 Now the main point in the things being said is that we have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,

Reference: Psalm 110:1.

Consistent with Paul's habit of composing lengthy and complex sentences this verse and the next are one sentence in the Greek text. Guthrie notes that while there has been a considerable discourse in this letter on Yeshua as high priest, no explanation has been offered to this point on how he carries out his duties. This subject forms the theme from this point through 10:18.

Now: Grk. de, conj., used here to mark a transition in thought from 7:28. the main point: Grk. kephalaion (from kephalē, "the head"), used here of the great and essential point in what has been said (Zodhiates); the chief matter, the main point. Mounce defines the term as "the crowning or ultimate point to preliminary matters." in: Grk. epi, prep., with the root meaning of "upon," used primarily as a marker of position or location. Here the preposition marks an addition to something already mentioned or implied (Zodhiates 619).

the things: n. pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. being said: Grk. legō, pl. pres. mid. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether mentally, orally or in writing. The phrase "the things being said" alludes to the content of 7:24-28. is that we have: Grk. echō, pres., 1p-pl., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application. The first person plural denotes the company of Yeshua followers with which Paul identifies, "the Way" (Acts 24:14). such: Grk. toioutos, demonstrative pronoun; of this kind or sort, such.

a high priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books (Lev 4:3; Josh 24:33), but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). See my comment on the high priest at 5:1. The Jewish high priest had three significant responsibilities: (1) he was the chief executive officer over all the priests; (2) he acted as mediator between Israel and God; and (3) he served as the Chief Judge of the nation. As high priest Yeshua fulfills all these responsibilities. Paul then alludes to the revelation of Psalm 110:1.

who: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. sat down: Grk. kathizō, aor., to sit, to take one's seat. at: Grk. en, prep. used to mark position, here in relation to a specific location (DM 114). the right hand: Grk. dexios, right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. In the LXX dexios translates Heb. yamin (SH-3225), "right hand," first in Genesis 13:9. Many versions have the anthropomorphic translation of "right hand."

of the throne: Grk. ho thronos refers to a throne or chair upon which a king sits. The throne was the official place from which the king exercised his power, authority and judgment. The term is often used figuratively of sovereignty or dominion (DNTT 2:611-615). In the LXX thronos translates Heb. kisse (SH-3678), seat of honor or throne, first in Genesis 41:40. Scripture often describes God as seated on a throne (1Kgs 22:19; Ps 11:4; 29:10; 47:8; 103:19; Isa 6:1; Ezek 1:26; Dan 7:9; Rev 4:2; 7:9).

of the Majesty: Grk. ho megalōsunē, divine greatness or majesty, a superlative characteristic. Here the term serves as a euphemism for the Father. Thayer notes that in the LXX megalōsunē translates Heb. godel (SH-1433), greatness, used to extol the power of God (Deut 32:3; Ps 79:11); and Heb. geduallah (SH-1420), greatness, especially of God's greatness as an attribute or of His acts (2Sam 7:21, 23; 1Chr 17:21; 29:11; Ps 145:3, 6; 150:2).

in: Grk. en. heaven: pl. of Grk. ho ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses three "heavens:" (1) the atmosphere (Matt 6:26; Rev 14:6; 19:17); (2) interstellar space (Matt 24:29); and (3) the transcendent dwelling-place of God (Matt 6:9; 2Cor 12:2). In the LXX ouranos translates the plural Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens"), which has the same range of meaning (Ps 148:1-4) (DNTT 2:191). Bible versions are divided in translating the plural noun as plural, "the heavens" (NASU, NKJV, NRSV, TLV) or singular, "heaven" (CJB, ESV NIV, NLT). The precise description of the location in relation to the throne favors the singular translation of the noun.

The phrase "Majesty in heaven" could easily allude to the description of the throne in heaven as being surrounded by a rainbow and the One seated on the throne possessing inexplicable beauty and radiance (Ezek 1:27-28; Rev 4:3). Paul's himself had witnessed the heavenly throne (2Cor 12:2-4) and later reported that God dwells in unapproachable light (1Tim 6:16). All the colors are contained in the light spectrum and apparently the Majesty possesses an aura that diffuses a variety of colors of unimaginable magnificence.

This affirmation alludes to a declaration in Psalm 110:1, "ADONAI declares to my Lord: 'Sit at My right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for Your feet'" (TLV). The seating at the right hand of God has already been mentioned of the Son in 1:3. Here as there the seating is expressed in relation to Yeshua's role as high priest. Yeshua being seated at the "right hand" of the "Majesty" is a major indicator of how much power the Son actually and truly has (McKee).

The "right hand" of God is the appropriate place for the Son of God because the right hand of God "spread out the heavens" (Isa 48:13). The "right hand" represents power and authority, and thus saving strength to deliver (Ps 20:6; 44:3; 60:5; 98:1; 108:6; 109:31; 118:15-16; 138:7). This affirmation is drawn from the Messianic prophecy of David (Ps 16:8; 110:1). The seating of Yeshua in heaven is an important apostolic assertion (Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:56; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22).

2 a servant priest of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord built, not man.

This verse continues and completes the thought of the previous verse. a servant priest: Grk. leitourgos, a public servant, minister, servant. In Greek literature the term meant a person that served the civil government at his own expense (LSJ). In the Besekh the term occurs outside of Hebrews only in Paul's letters of one engaged in full-time service of God: (1) of civil rulers that assure justice (Rom 13:6); (2) of Paul's priestly ministry to the nations (Rom 15:16); and (3) of Epaphroditus' priestly ministry in Philippi (Php 2:25). The technical term has particular relevance to the Jewish context of this letter.

The choice of leitourgos is purposeful, considering that the usual words used for a "minister" are diakonos ("servant," used of Paul, 2Cor 3:6; Eph 3:7; Col 1:23, 25) and hupēretēs ("servant," also used of Paul, Acts 26:16; 1Cor 4:1). In the LXX leitourgos translates the participle of Heb. sharath (SH-8334), to minister or serve, which is first used of men in royal domestic service (2Sam 13:18; 1Kgs 10:5; 2Kgs 4:43; 2Chr 9:4), but primarily of priests and Levites that carried out Torah prescribed responsibilities and duties in the temple (2Chr 29:11; Ezra 7:24; 8:17; Neh 10:39; Isa 61:6; Jer 33:21-22; Joel 1:9).

Meyer says the term signifies a "sacrificing priest." A number of versions have chosen to translate the technical term with "priest," "high priest," or "officiating priest" (AMPC, CEB, CEV, ERV, EXB, GW, GNB, ICB, MSG, MRINT, NOG, NCV, WE), especially given the mention of "high priest" in the next verse and "priest" in verse 4. The TLV diminishes the title with "priestly attendant." A few versions inexplicably translate the noun as a verb, "serves" (CJB, ISV, NIV). Given the usage of the Greek term in the LXX the Messianic Jewish readers of this letter would understand Paul's intent of conveying Yeshua's priestly role.

of the sanctuary: pl. of Grk. ho hagion, neut. of the adjective hagios, set apart for dedication to the interests of deity, and used as a descriptor of places and structures set apart to God (Zodhiates). In the LXX hagion translates Heb. qodesh (SH-6944), apartness, sacredness, first in Exodus 3:5 of the holy ground where Moses encountered the burning bush, and especially in references to the rooms in the tabernacle (Ex 26:33-34; 28:29). The neuter plural of the Greek term is frequently used in the LXX of the "Holy of Holies" (e.g., Ex 26:33), and that is probably Paul's intention here. Many versions translate the plural noun with the singular "sanctuary." CJB has "Holy Place."

and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition, here with a continuative use. of the true: Grk. ho alēthinos, adj., in accord with what is true; (1) true, in the sense of reliable or dependable; (2) opposite of superficial, real, genuine, authentic; or (3) in accord with fact or circumstance, accurate. The second meaning is intended here. tabernacle: Grk. ho skēnē, a tent, booth, lodging, or dwelling. In the LXX skēnē translates three Hebrew words: (1) ‘ohel (SH-168), a pointed tent used for personal dwelling (Gen 4:20), (2) sukkah (SH-5521), a matted booth, shed or hut (Gen 33:17); and (3) mishkan (SH-4908), a tent designed for conducting worship rituals, sanctuary (Ex 25:9) (DNTT 3:811).

The Hebrew term mishkan is in view here. CJB translates skēnē as "Tent of Meeting." Benson notes that "the true tabernacle" is essentially a description of the third heaven. After all, John will report that in his visit to the third heaven he saw a great multitude of worshippers in white praising God in His temple (Rev 7:15). Thus, the heaven of God's throne and the Son's ministry is a sacred sanctuary. The identification of the heavenly tabernacle as "true" could also hint at the idea of the tabernacle constructed by the Israelites in the wilderness being representative of the heavenly dwelling-place of God.

which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. the Lord: Grk. ho kurios, may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority of times to replace Heb. YHVH (SH-3068) (DNTT 2:511). Paul uses kurios here of Yeshua, the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. Yeshua is the owner-master of his disciples.

built: Grk. pēgnumi, aor., to make fast, to fix, to fasten together, construct, build (Zodhiates). The verb conveys the idea of "fixed firmly" (Faussett) and thus reflects permanence. In the LXX pēgnumi translates chiefly Heb. natan (SH-5186), to stretch out, spread out, extend. The verb occurs in reference to various Bible personalities setting up tents for residence (Gen 26:25; 31:25; 35:16; Jdg 4:11; 2Sam 16:22), and in describing the erection of the sacred Israelite tabernacle (Ex 33:7; Josh 18:1; 2Sam 6:17; 1Chr 15:1; 16:1; 2Chr 1:4). Noteworthy is the use of the verb in the statement of God creating the heavens (Isa 42:5).

The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. Bible versions are divided between translating the verb as "built," "erected," "pitched" and "set up." We should not imagine that Paul is describing a "tent" in heaven, so in my view "built" is the best option. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation; not. man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man or mankind, used here of a human being in contrast to deity. In the LXX anthrōpos translates three Hebrew words: (1) adam (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh (Ps 8:4-5), which are generally used for a human male or mankind (DNTT 2:564).

Paul affirms that heaven was prepared by God Himself. In other words, when Moses reported that "In the beginning Elohim created the heavens and the earth" (Gen 1:1), the word "heavens" included all three heavens. Since man cannot claim credit for creating the abode of God, he can have no influence in determining the activities of those dwelling there, nor the qualifications for being admitted as a resident.

3 For every high priest is appointed for this, to present both gift-offerings and sacrifices; thus it was necessary for this one also to have something that he might offer.

This verse and the three following confirm and illustrate the importance of the statement just made (Ellicott). The first half of the verse essentially repeats the assertion made in 5:1.

For: Grk. gar, conj., "certainly it follows that;" for, indeed. every: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every, the whole. high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 1 above. The mention of "high priest" serves as a synonym of leitourgos in the previous verse. In 5:1 "high priest" is qualified with the words "being taken from men." is appointed: Grk. kathistēmi (from kata, "down," and histēmi, "to stand"), pres. pass., set down in place, i.e. "put in charge," give standing authority or status, which enables someone to rule or exercise decisive force (HELPS); appoint, ordain.

for: Grk. eis, prep., with the root meaning of "in, within," indicating the point reached or entered, and expressing direction, position, relation, cause or purpose (DM 114), here the latter. this: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. The clause "appointed for this" introduces an important responsibility. In 5:1 Paul emphasizes the representative role of the high priest by saying "on behalf of people in things relating to God."

to present: Grk. prospherō, pres. inf., to cause movement of something or someone to a person or place, to bring or to present. In the LXX prospherō translates Heb. qarab (SH-7126), "to come or draw near" or "approach," used in the sense of bringing and offering a sacrifice to ADONAI (Ex 29:3; Lev 1:2; 2:1, 8). The verb probably alludes to sacrificial acts performed on Yom Kippur (Guthrie). Paul will provide more exposition on this subject in the next chapter. both: Grk. te, conj. used to denote both connection and addition, as well as connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, also, both.

gift-offerings: pl. of Grk. dōron, a gift in general or a sacrificial donation or offering. This noun is used in the Besekh of personal gifts (Matt 2:11), and gifts donated to the Temple treasury (Matt 15:5; Mark 7:11; Luke 21:4) and the great majority of versions translate the term as "gifts." Here the term refers to prescribed sacrifices offered at the Temple (cf. Matt 5:23; 8:4; 15:5; 23:18; Mark 7:11; Heb 5:1). In the LXX dōron most frequently translates Heb. qorban (SH-7133), offering, oblation (Lev 1:2-3, 10, 14; 2:1, 4-6; Num 5:15; 6:14), but also Heb. minchah (SH-4503), an offering made to God of any kind, whether of the flock or the field (Gen 4:4-5) (DNTT 2:41).

and: Grk. kai, conj. sacrifices: pl. of Grk. thusia, an official sacrifice prescribed by ADONAI, part of which was burned on the altar and part given to the priests and the persons offering the sacrifice (cf. Ex 34:15; Lev 8:31; Deut 12:27; 1Cor 10:18) (Zodhiates). Thus, thusia is distinguished from the burnt offering, which is totally consumed by fire (Ex 10:25; 18:12; Deut 12:6; cf. Mark 12:33). In the LXX thusia generally translates two Hebrew terms for sacrificial offerings: minchah (SH-4503) and zebach (SH-2077). The minchah was an offering made to God of any kind, whether of grain or animals.

However, in Torah sacrifice instructions minchah is used especially of the grain offering (Lev 2:1). The grain offering was a voluntary act of worship as recognition of God's goodness and provisions or an expression of devotion to God. The offering might be raw, roasted, ground to flour, or prepared as bread or cakes, but no yeast or honey. The grain offering accompanied burnt offerings, sin offerings and peace offerings (along with a drink offering). The zebach was an animal sacrifice of which the flesh is eaten, especially of the peace offering, often at a pilgrim festival (e.g., Ex 12:27; 34:25).

The peace offering was a voluntary act of worship to express thanksgiving and fellowship. The offering had to be any animal without defect from herd or flock and a variety of breads. Unlike most sacrificial offerings, a peace or fellowship offering was eaten in part by the worshipper and his family, as if God had invited them to dinner at his table and his family. The peace offering is a celebration of shalom between all the participants. Thusia was also used of thank or praise offerings of the lips (Ps 27:6; 50:14; 107:22; 116:17; Heb 13:15).

The declaration in 5:1 of the high priest presenting offerings and sacrifices adds the words "for sins," to which the following clause alludes. thus: Grk. hothen, adv., a marker of derivation, here denoting a logical result. it was necessary: Grk. anagkaios, adj., pertinent to meeting a need with focus on importance; essential, necessary, proper. for this one: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. also: Grk. kai. to have: Grk. echō, pres. inf. See verse 1 above.

something: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun used to indicate non-specification; a certain one, someone, anyone, anything. that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. he might offer: Grk. prospherō, aor. subj. For Yeshua that sacrificial offering for sins, as Yochanan the Immerser announced (John 1:29) and Yeshua affirmed (Mark 10:45), would be himself, as Paul said in the previous chapter (7:27), and further exposition on this point will be made in the next (9:12-14). Bruce notes that the tense of the verb here excludes the idea that Yeshua is continually or repeatedly presenting his offering.

4 Therefore if indeed he was on earth, he would not be a priest, there being those presenting the gift-offerings according to the Torah.

Therefore: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, "so, therefore, consequently, then." if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker that introduces a current real condition, or an assumption for the sake of argument; here the former. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. he was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG).

on: Grk. epi, prep., used here to stress position. earth: Grk. can mean (1) the earth as the planet in contrast to heaven; (2) a portion or region of the earth; (3) land as contrasted with the sea, as well as the ground or soil as the place of agriculture. The first meaning is intended here. In the LXX translates Heb. erets (SH-776; BDB 75), with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 1:1 (DNTT 1:517). The phrase "on earth" contrasts with the fact that Yeshua is in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

he would: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. The particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions (HELPS). not: Grk. oude, adv., a negative marker, here linking a negative statement to a preceding statement in terms of explanation; not, not even. be: Grk. eimi, impf. a priest: Grk. hiereus (from hieros, "sacred"), person who offers sacrifice to a deity at a place of worship and in general is occupied with sacred rites; priest.

In the LXX hiereus translates Heb. kohen (SH-3548), priest, first in Genesis 14:18 in reference to Melchizedek. Here hiereus denotes an ordinary priest in contrast to the high priest. Paul noted in the previous chapter (7:13-14) that Yeshua was from the tribe of Judah and God's instructions for the Levitical priesthood did not permit members of the tribe of Judah serving as priests. Even Yeshua's connection to the tribe of Levi through his mother (cf. Luke 1:5, 36) afforded no authorization.

there being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. those: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. presenting: Grk. prospherō, pl. pres. part. See the previous verse. The present tense of the verb in this verse and in the next verse definitely indicate that Hebrews was written before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. the gift-offerings: pl. of Grk. dōron. See the previous verse. according to: Grk. kata, prep., generally used to signify (1) direction, 'against, down;' (2) opposition, 'against;' or (3) conformity, 'according to.' The third usage is intended here.

Torah: Grk. nomos may mean either (1) a principle or standard relating to behavior or (2) codified legislation, i.e. law. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX nomos primarily translates Heb. torah (SH-8451), which means "direction," "instruction" or "law" (BDB 435f), first in Exodus 12:49. Originally Torah meant an instruction from God, a command for a given situation (DNTT 2:440). In this context Torah refers to those instructions pertaining to the duties of the priests. Paul affirms that the priests carried out the worship rituals according to prescribed procedure.

5 who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly just as Moses was admonished, being about to complete the tabernacle, for ADONAI said, "See that you make all things according to the pattern shown you on the mountain."

Reference: Exodus 25:40.

who: pl. of Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. The pronoun refers to the Levitical priests mentioned in the previous verse. serve: Grk. latreuō, pres., 3p-pl., to minister or serve God, often in the context of religious activity at the sanctuary. The present tense indicates activity occurring at the time of the writing of this letter. a model: Grk. hupodeigma, something that serves as an indicator or model for something coming later in a different context; a symbolic expression, copy, model, replica.

and: Grk. kai, conj. shadow: Grk. skia, shadow or foreshadowing (Mounce), used of an outline or suggestion of itself projected by the real thing. The term occurs in the LXX, Philo and Josephus, so it is not a Gnostic term (BAG). of the heavenly: pl. of Grk. ho epouranios, adj., heavenly, celestial, referring to the impact of heaven's influence on the particular situation (HELPS). just as: Grk. kathōs, adv. emphasizing similarity, conformity, proportion or manner; as, just as.

Moses: Grk. Mōusēs transliterates Heb. Mosheh (Ex 2:10). Born into the tribe of Levi about 1525 BC in Egypt there is no greater figure in the Tanakh than Moses. The story of Moses is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. His life can be easily divided into three 40-year periods, the first being his birth and early life in Egypt (Acts 7:23), the second his years in Midian (Acts 7:30), and the third from the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt through the years spent in the wilderness until his death (Ex 7:7; 16:35; Num 14:33; Deut 2:7; Josh 5:6; Acts 7:36). He had two wives and two sons (Ex 18:2-4; Num 12:1).

During the last third of his life Moses served Israel as deliverer, judge, mediator, lawgiver, priest, elder, prophet and scribe. Moses was privileged to speak with ADONAI "face to face" (Ex 33:11). He was noted for his humility (Num 12:3) and his faithfulness to God (Heb 11:23-29), and being anointed of the Spirit (Num 11:17). He died at the age of 120 in the land of Moab (Deut 34:1-7). Moses left Israel and the Body of Messiah with the rich legacy of the first five books of the Bible (Ex 24:4). Moses was a giant of a man. For a summary of his life and deeds see my article Moses, Servant of God.

was admonished: Grk. chrēmatizō (from chrēma, "a legal agreement for transacting business"), perf. pass., properly, to admonish on the basis of a valid standard (HELPS), and used of God admonishing or warning people. Many versions translate the verb as "was warned." In the LXX the verb occurs in Jeremiah in the sense of giving a divine command, admonition or warning, translating Heb. sha'ag (SH-7580), to roar (Jer 25:30) and Heb. dabar (SH-1696), to speak (Jer 26:2; 29:23; 30:2; 36:4) (DNTT 3:324). Here the verb includes the idea of a divine revelation and instruction.

being about: Grk. mellō, pres. part., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, about to happen, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to complete: Grk. epiteleō, pres. inf., to finish what has begun; complete, perfect. the tabernacle: Grk. ho skēnē (for Heb. mishkan, SH-4908). See verse 2 above. The mishkan, mentioned frequently in the Torah, was a portable sanctuary for ADONAI. The mishkan should not be confused with the "tent (Heb. ohel) of meeting" that Moses erected outside the camp sometime after the golden calf idolatry in order to meet with God, intercede for the people and receive instructions from ADONAI (Ex 33:7-11).

Instructions concerning the mishkan span Exodus chapters 25 through 40, which is eloquent testimony to the importance of the sacred sanctuary. God directed that the mishkan have three parts: the main court, the holy place and the holy of holies (Ex 26:33-34; 27:9-19). The complete footprint of the mishkan measured 100 cubits by 50 cubits (Ex 27:9-12) or 150 ft. by 75 ft. See a diagram of the mishkan here. Taken together these three parts represented the holiness of God and since God's holiness can be fatal to men God restricted access and directed the installation of curtains as boundaries to protect the people. As a last act of protection the mishkan was covered with the cloud (Ex 40:34). For more discussion on the construction of the tabernacle see my note here.

for: Grk. gar, conj. ADONAI said: Grk. phēmi (from phaō, "shine, bring to light"), pres., to convey one's thinking through verbal communication; say, declare. The present tense is used to give vividness to a past event. This verb is appropriate since God gave Moses a visionary revelation. Many versions translate the verb as "God said," since the verb alludes to the narrative of Exodus 25:1, "ADONAI spoke to Moses saying." Paul then quotes from the LXX of Exodus 25:40, with two minor changes in verb tenses.

See that: Grk. horaō, pres. imp., to see, perceive, or attend to, used here in the sense of an admonition or directive statement. you make: Grk. poieō, fut., a verb of physical action, which may mean (1) to produce something material or bring something into existence; or (2) to express by deeds the feelings and thoughts of the mind; act, do, perform (Thayer). The first meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō translates chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. The verb in the LXX is aorist subjunctive.

all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. according to: Grk. kata, prep. the pattern: Grk. ho tupos may mean (1) a mark left by the downward force of a device; (2) an artisan's representation of an entity; or (3) that which serves as a design for something. The third meaning applies here. shown: Grk. deiknumi, aor. pass. part., may mean to show (1) so as to be observed by another, point out, make known; or (2) or so as to be understood by another, explain, demonstrate. The first usage applies here. The verb in the LXX is a present participle. you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person.

on: Grk. en, prep. the mountain: Grk. ho oros means "mountain," "hill," or "hill-country." The corresponding Heb. word, har (SH-2022), is given in Scripture to a comparatively large ridge, a collection of small hills and to many hogbacks in Israel. Modern science distinguishes hills from mountains by classifying a hill as being less than 1,000 feet above its surroundings, but the distinction may depend upon local interpretation. Contrary to the arbitrary standard of modern science, the Hebrew and Greek words were used to refer to any natural topographical feature that rose above a valley, plain or other surroundings regardless of height.

The mountain referenced is Mt. Sinai, a mountain probably located in the extreme southern part of the Sinai Peninsula. See the map here. In Exodus 3:1 the mountain is called "Horeb," and the identity of Mt. Horeb and Mt. Sinai is implied by a comparison of Exodus 19:11-13 and Deuteronomy 1:6 (Bruce 151). Since Josephus never uses the name "Horeb" scholars speculate that "Horeb" is Egyptian and "Sinai" is Hebrew. In Arabic the mountain is known as Jebel Musa ("Mountain of Moses"). In Christianity the mountain was called Mt. Catherine because of the monastery of St. Catherine being built there. See pictures of the mountain here.

Moses was directed to bring the Israelites to this mountain (Ex 3:12). The assumption by some scholars that Mount Sinai was located in Arabia east of the Gulf of Aqaba is not supported by the narrative of the Israelite travels after leaving Goshen. Josephus explained that Mount Sinai "is the highest of all the mountains that are in that country and is not only very difficult to be ascended by men, on account of its vast altitude, but because of the sharpness of its precipices" (Ant. III, 5:1). It is a mountain mass two miles long and one mile broad, with the southern peak being 7363 feet high and the northern peak, Ras Sufsafeh, being 6830 feet high (SBD, Sinai).

Moses spent time alone with God forty days and forty nights on Mt. Sinai without food or water (Ex 24:18; Deut 9:9). While there Moses was given detailed instructions for the construction of the tabernacle and all its furnishings and accessories (Ex 25:8−27:21; 30:1-38), as well as instructions for the organization and duties of the Levitical priesthood (Ex 28:1−29:46).

6 But now Yeshua has obtained a more excellent priestly ministry, as much as he also is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted upon better promises.

But: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction introduces a contrast to the statement of reality in verse 4 above. now: Grk. nuni, temporal adv., an intensified form of nun ("now), "precisely now" (HELPS), which means "Now as it was definitely not like this before, or after" (Thayer). The temporal adverb occurs elsewhere only in the speeches and letters of Paul. Yeshua has obtained: Grk. tugchanō, perf., be privileged to receive a benefit. The verb lit. means "to hit the mark," which is opposite of hamartanō, "to miss the mark" (HELPS). Thus, the verb's use here is rhetorical, to reach, attain, obtain, get, become master of (Thayer). The subject of the verb is Yeshua.

a more excellent: Grk. diaphoros, adj., dissimilar, and here denotes surpassing in worth or value; more excellent, superior. priestly ministry: Grk. leitourgia (from leitourgos, "servant priest," verse 2 above), religious service offered by a duly authorized minister, and in particular ministry of Jewish priests relative to the prayers and sacrifices offered to God (Thayer). In the LXX leitourgia translates Heb. abodah (SH-5656), labor, service, used of service devoted to God, especially of priests and Levites (Ex 38:21; Num 4:24, 27; 8:22; 2Chr 8:14).

as much as: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun, as great, as much, how much. he also: Grk. kai, conj. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 4 above. the mediator: Grk. mesitēs (from mesos, middle), one who intervenes between two, and may be one who (1) guarantees the performance of all the terms stipulated in a covenant or (2) intervenes to restore peace between two parties, especially as it fulfills a compact or ratifies a covenant. (HELPS). In the LXX mesitēs occurs only in Job 9:33 for the Hiphil participle of yakach (SH-3198), to decide, adjudge, prove.

Job, who lived before the patriarchs, had no knowledge of a mediator between himself and God. In the Tanakh, patriarchs, priests and prophets served as mediators between conflicting parties and between God and His people. A related idea is that of the peacemaker (cf. Matt 5:9), such as Abraham who settled a conflict between his shepherds and his nephew Lot's shepherds by giving Lot his choice of land (Gen 13), and the priest Phinehas who resolved an alleged sin by the eastern tribes, which really amounted to misunderstandings about their intentions in erecting a memorial (Josh 22:10-34).

The best representative of a mediator in the Tanakh is Moses of whom Philo used the term mesitēs (On the Life of Moses II, §166). Moses mediated salvation at the Red Sea (Ex 14:15-18), he mediated the covenant at Sinai (Ex 24:4-8) and he interceded with ADONAI at various times when Israelites displeased God and sinned (e.g., Ex 32:30; Num 12:3; 16:8). And, Yeshua is a mediator like Moses (cf. Deut 18:15; Acts 3:22). In the book of Isaiah the concept of mediator is seen as the awaited servant of ADONAI. He is the bearer of God's revelation (Isa 42:1-4) and the bearer of salvation to the nations (Isa 49:1-6). He takes the guilt of men upon himself and blots it out by his suffering (Isa 52:13−53:12).

The term mesitēs occurs six times in the Besekh, and outside of Hebrews only in Paul's letters (Gal 3:19-20; 1Tim 2:5). The translation of "mediator" can be misleading. In modern law a mediator is a neutral conciliator or peacemaker who helps parties arrive at a voluntary settlement of disputed issues. A mediator has no power to enforce the agreed settlement. Yeshua is not a neutral mediator, but he acts as the believer's representative before God and God's representative before the believer. Through Yeshua we can have shalom with God (Acts 10:36; Rom 5:1, 11).

of a better: Grk. kreittōn, comparative adj. (the comparative form of kratos, "dominion"), having a degree of advantage, used here to denote status or rank; better, more excellent, superior. This is the fifth time of twelve times the word appears in Hebrews and used to assert the superiority of the Son, both in His nature and in His accomplishments.

covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē (from diatithēmi, "to set out in order"), a formal agreement having complete terms determined by the initiating party, which also are fully affirmed by the one entering the agreement (HELPS). In Classical Greek literature the term diathēkē had a variety of meanings: disposition of property by will, a mystical oracle, the name of an eye salve and a compact or covenant (LSJ). The noun occurs 33 times in the Besekh, over half (17) in Hebrews, which makes it an important theme.

In the LXX diathēkē translates Heb. b'rit (SH-1285), pact, compact, or covenant (BDB 136), used first in Genesis 6:18 of the covenant with Noah. In ancient Semitic culture the term b'rit had a variety of meanings:

(1) a treaty between individuals and certain people groups (Gen 14:13);

(2) an ordinance between a monarch and subjects (1Sam 3:12; 2Sam 5:3);

(3) a personal agreement between men (Jdg 8:3; Hos 10:4);

(4) a personal alliance between friends (1Sam 18:3); and

(5) an alliance of marriage (Prov 2:17; Mal 2:14).

The Jewish translators of the LXX might have chosen to use sunthēkē, which only means an agreement, but instead they chose uniformly to translate b'rit with diathēkē (DNTT 1:365). Zodhiates explains that diathēkē was chosen because it had the meaning of will or testament (425). According to LSJ there is only one instance of its use in the sense of covenant in the whole of Greek literature, namely in Aristophanes. In the third century B.C. there was no better word available to express the Hebrew idea of a solemn and irrevocable disposition made by God Himself of His own gracious choice and meant to secure a religious inheritance to His chosen people.

The term b'rit is used regularly in the Tanakh of a formal contract or covenant unilaterally initiated by God with ones He chose for a close relationship. Each of the divine covenants set forth specific promises, expectations, duration and a sign or perpetual reminder of the covenant. Thus, here b'rit refers to a declaration of God's will, not the result of an agreement between two parties. The divine covenant was "with" a beneficiary only in the sense of their being chosen by God. The participation of the "one chosen" was to accept it or reject it and then upon acceptance to obey its expectations.

God made eight covenants with individuals: with Adam (Hos 6:7), with Noah (Gen 6:18; 9:1-17; Jer 33:25), with Abraham (Gen 17:2), with Isaac (Gen 26:24), with Jacob (Gen 27:27-29), with Aaron (Num 19:19-20), and with David (2Sam 7:11-15; Jer 33:20-22). In addition God made a covenant with the nation of Israel that effectively incorporated the individual covenants (Ex 19:5). For a detailed discussion of all these covenants see my web article The Everlasting Covenants.

Some versions translate diathēkē as "testament" (DRA, JUB, NMB, RGT), which is not only misleading, but inaccurate. In English culture the term "testament" can refer to a legal document (last will and testament) or a division of the English Bible. The term "better covenant" alludes to the New Covenant prophesied by Jeremiah, which Paul will repeat in verses 8-12 below. In the previous chapter (Heb 7:22) Paul said Yeshua was the guarantor of a better covenant and the term "mediator" may be a functional synonym of "guarantor." The One who is the guarantor of this covenant assumes the responsibility that its promises will be fulfilled.

which: Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used as a generalizing reference to the subject of a verb or a preceding entity; who, which. has been enacted: Grk. nomotheteō (from nomothetēs, "lawgiver"), perf. pass., be given legislation, make law, ordain by law. McKee translates the verb as "has been legislated." The CJB translates the verb as "has been given as Torah" to emphasize that the New Covenant is treated by God as possessing divine authority. Thus, Stern asserts that the New Testament has itself been given as Torah (687). Moreover, if the New Testament has authority, then the Old Testament, which is the foundation of the New Testament, must retain authority.

Properly speaking, the better or "new" covenant (verse 8 below) was enacted at Yeshua's Last Supper when he declared, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20). Then Yeshua assuming the mantle of high priest in heaven made the operation of the better covenant a reality.

upon: Grk. epi, prep. better: Grk. kreittōn. promises: pl. of Grk. epaggelia (pronounced "ep-ang-el-ee'-ah"), a pledge of special benefit or promise, especially from God. Throughout antiquity epaggelia was a legal term that referred to an officially sanctioned promise, and almost every use in the Besekh points back to the Tanakh (HELPS). Unlike euaggelion ("good news"), epaggelia has no exact Hebrew equivalent (DNTT 3:69). In the LXX epaggelia replaces Heb. parashah (SH-6575), "exact statement, sum" (Esth 4:7) for the amount of money Haman promised to the Persian king for destroying the Jews.

However, the concept of divine promise pervades the Tanakh ("Moses to Malachi"), especially in the content of the covenants that God made with Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob (Rom 9:4; Gal 3:17; Eph 2:12; Heb 9:15). The Hebrew text of the Tanakh represents God's promises as "the good things" that would be received by His people (Deut 26:11; 28:12; Josh 21:45; 23:14; Ps 103:5; Jer 2:7; 29:10-11; 33:14). The fact that the new covenant possesses "better promises" alludes to the fact that God made irrevocable promises to the patriarchs and His covenant people:

● God promised that the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob would be a great nation and greatly multiplied in numbers (Gen 12:2-3; 13:14-16; 15:5, 13-14; 17:6-8; 22:15-18; 48:4; Deut 1:11)

● God promised that the Land of Canaan would be an everlasting possession of Israel (Gen 17:8; 26:4; 35:12; Ex 6:4; 12:25; Deut 6:3; 27:3; 32:49).

● God promised a redeemer and savior to Israel (Gen 3:15; 22:17-18; 26:4; 28:14; 49:10; Num 21:8-9; 24:17; Deut 18:15-18).

● God promised comfort to His covenant people (Isa 51:12) and restoration to the land after the exile in Babylon (Deut 30:3-5; Jer 33:6-7; Ezek 11:16-17).

● God promised that in the latter days He would restore His scattered people to the land and make them a nation (Ezek 37:11-14; Mic 4:6-7).

The New Covenant as set forth in the quotation below in verses 8 to 12 from Jeremiah offers five better promises that provide glorious blessing from God.

7 For if that first priesthood had been faultless, then an occasion would not have been sought for a second.

For: Grk. gar, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 4 above. The conditional "if" means that a corresponding "then" is implied and required (Hegg). that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun typically used to refer to a noun (person or thing) immediately preceding in the Greek text; that, that one there. first priesthood: Grk. ho prōtos, adj., first, foremost, most important, principal. In the LXX prōtos primarily translates Heb. rishon (SH-7223), "first, former, chief" (BDB 911), which may convey (1) a spatial sense (Num 2:3), (2) a temporal sense (Gen 8:15), (3) order or succession (Gen 32:17), or (4) a description of rank or worth (1Sam 15:21) (DNTT 1:665). The third and fourth meanings have application here.

The mention of "first" refers to something in the previous verse and almost all versions find the antecedent in the word "covenant" and so insert this word after "first," even though it is not in the Greek text. Robertson says that diathēkē ("covenant"), a feminine noun, is clearly meant by the feminine gender of prōtos, but this is a weak argument. McKee notes that the noun leitourgia ("priestly service") in verse 6 and skēnē ("tabernacle") in verse 5 are both feminine nouns and the word "first" could refer back to either of those terms.

Some Bible versions employ the convention of putting a word into italics (slanted letters) to alert the reader that the word is not in the original text, but is added to clarify meaning (ABP, AKJV, ASV, AMP, BRG, DLNT, JUB, LEB, NASU, NKJV). However, other versions insert "covenant" without italics and thus mislead the reader into thinking that "covenant" is in the original Greek text (CJB, CSB, ESV, KJV, NEB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, RSV). Only a few versions translate "prōtos" without adding a clarifying word (DRA, LITV, TLV, WESLEY, YLT).

The idea in Christian scholarship that "first" in this verse refers to the "Sinai covenant" is as old as Chrysostom in the 4th century (Homily XIV). The insertion of "covenant" seems required by the fact of the affirmation of the New Covenant in the following verses. Technically speaking the Sinai Covenant was not the first covenant. The first covenant God made was with Adam (Hos 6:7). In any event, the focus of verses 1-6 above is on the priestly ministry of Yeshua contrasted with that of Aaron.

Relevant also is the fact that in the LXX prōtos is used to translate Heb. rosh (SH-7218), "chief, foremost, head," to describe the High Priest (2Kgs 25:18; 2Chr 26:20; Ezra 7:5; Jer 52:24), and is used without Hebrew equivalent in reference to the high priest (1Kgs 2:35). Thus, prōtos must refer to the first priesthood or priestly ministry provided in the Sinai Covenant. Of interest is that the MJLT inserts Heb. K'hunah after "first." K'hunah (SH-3550) is a feminine noun meaning "priesthood."

had been: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 4 above. faultless: Grk. amemptos (from alpha, "not" and mémphomai, "to find blame"), adj., not subject to complaint or censure about behavior; blameless, faultless. This word is not employed to impugn the Torah. Paul had previously declared the Torah to be holy, just, good and spiritual (Rom 7:12-14). In Scripture the attribution of fault is always of people as is stated in the next verse. Thus, the adjective further supports the interpretation of "first" as applying to the Levitical priesthood. In the previous chapter Paul asserted that perfection could not be achieved through the Levitical priesthood as set forth in the Torah (Heb 7:11).

then: Paul completes the conditional proposition without a corresponding conjunction, but it is implied. an occasion: Grk. topos may mean (1) a spatial area; (2) a position with obligation; or (3) a circumstance that offers an opportunity to do something. The third meaning is intended here. Bible versions are divided between translating the noun as "place" (NIV, NKJV), "occasion" (ESV, NASU, RSV) or "need" (CJB, NLT, NRSV), but "occasion" seems best suited to this context. would: Grk. an, disjunctive particle. See verse 4 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. See verse 2 above.

have been sought: Grk. zēteō, impf. pass., to seek or search, may mean (1) be on the search for in order to find someone or something one has difficulty in locating; (2) search for ways to satisfy an interest; (3) have an interest in; or (4) press for. The second meaning applies here. for a second: Grk. deuteros, adj., second, in the second place, for the second time. The flow of reasoning of this verse would mean that the adjective "second" would apply to a priesthood. Hegg explains, "If the Levitical service in the Tabernacle and Temples had brought a complete fulfillment of God's saving plan, then there would have been no need for a priest after the order of Melchizedek to be commissioned."

McKee asserts that the fault was the weakness of the men who occupied the Levitical priesthood (cf. Heb 7:11, 27-28; 10:11). Yeshua's priesthood patterned after Melchizedek offers permanent redemption and enables the promises of the New Covenant to be fulfilled. Stern quotes a Christian scholar who said, "God does not reject the ancient covenant. The faithless Israelites are the occasion of new covenant action on the part of God. Their unfaithful conduct is an object of 'faultfinding,' and they have robbed the old covenant of its significance" (TDNT 4:572). Stern concludes,

"But even if the people of Israel in Jeremiah's time 'robbed the old covenant of its significance' for themselves, they had neither the authority nor capacity to abolish it, since it was God, not themselves, who had established it forever."

The New Covenant, 8:8-13

8 For finding fault with them Jeremiah declared: "Behold, the days are coming, says ADONAI, and I will establish over the house of Israel and over the house of Judah a new covenant,

Reference: Jeremiah 31:31 (LXX/MT).

For: Grk. gar, conj. finding fault: Grk. memphomai, to fix blame or find fault with someone for questionable conduct; blame, censure, criticize, find fault, reproach. with them: pl. of Grk. autos, an intensive personal pronoun, often used to distinguish a person or thing in contrast to another, or to give him (it) prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. The second meaning applies here (Thayer). The pronoun refers to faithless Israelites.

Jeremiah declared: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. The name of Jeremiah is not in the Greek text but assumed by the third person singular of the verb. The present tense is used to give vividness to the historical event. Jeremiah (Heb. Yirmeyahu, "YHVH has uplifted or loosened," BDB 941) was the son of Hilkiah, a priest from Anathoth (1:1). Jeremiah was called to be a prophet about 20 years of age in the thirteenth year of King Josiah (c. 627/6 BC) (1:2), and was active in this capacity from this time on to the destruction of Jerusalem, 586 B.C., under the kings Jehoahaz (609 B.C.), Jehoiakim (609-587 B.C.), Jehoiachin (597 B.C.), and Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.).

After the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. he moved initially to Mizpah, but then was deported to Egypt where after several years he apparently died. His service for God extended over a period of about 50 years in all. The message of Jeremiah contains three themes: (1) he warned of judgment via Babylon; (2) he taught that ADONAI is in control of Israel's destiny; and (3) he promised ADONAI would make all things new The following quotation is found in Jeremiah 31, verse 31. The first important provision is identification of the beneficiaries of God's plan for the future.

Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., demonstrative interjection (derived from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). The Greek verb translates Heb. hinneh (SH-2009), lo, behold, which often serves to enliven divine monologues and narratives, particularly as a call to closer consideration and contemplation of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the size or importance of something. days: Grk. hēmera, day, which normally refers to either the daylight hours or the full period of twenty four hours, but the plural form is used here of an imprecise timeframe. In the LXX hēmera translates Heb. yom (SH-3117), day, first in Genesis 1:5.

are coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. pass., 3p-pl., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. says: Grk. legō, pres. ADONAI: Grk. kurios (for Heb. YHVH). See verse 2 above. The verbal phrase indicates that the quotation is an oracle of God delivered through his messenger Jeremiah. Jeremiah taught that ADONAI is in control of Israel's destiny and promised that ADONAI would make all things new. To convey future hope Jeremiah employed the declaration "the days are coming" 16 times.

Israel will have to endure a terrible time of trouble, but God will bring salvation from afar (30:7-8).

Promise of Davidic Messiah, 23:5-6; 30:9, 21-24; 33:14-26 (the branch of David)

Return of exiles, 16:14; 23:7-8; 30:3, 10; 31:1-14; 32:36-37

Renewal of the Land, 31:27-28; 32:42-44

New covenant, 31:31-34; 32:38-40

Rebuilding of Jerusalem, 31:38-40

Levitical priests continue ministry, 33:18

Judgment on enemies, 48:12-13; 49:2; 51:47-52

and: Grk. kai, conj. I will establish: Grk. sunteleō (from sun, "with" and teleō, "to complete"), fut., may mean (1) to bring to a close; complete, finish; or (2) bring about in accord with purpose, to put into effect; bring about, effect, establish, make. The second meaning applies here. The LXX of this verse uses Grk. diatithēmi ("appoint, make") to translate Heb. karath (SH-3773), to cut, used idiomatically of making a covenant by killing and cutting sacrificial animals in half (cf. Gen 15:9-10, 18; Ps 50:5; Jer 34:18). In the context of Jeremiah's prophecy the Hebrew verb graphically depicts the horror of the brutal treatment and death of Yeshua to accomplish God's plan.

over: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 1 above. With the accusative case of the noun following, the preposition may be translated as "upon" or "over" and the CJB has "over." The preposition stresses the imposition of an authority. The great majority of versions translate the preposition as "with," which may imply a mutual agreement. This covenant is not mutual or one to which the covenant people voluntarily agree to obey (cf. Ex 19:5-8), but one that God unilaterally establishes.

the house: Grk. ho oikos, a structure for habitation; by extension those belonging to the household of that dwelling, as well as an organized body of people. In the LXX oikos translates Heb. bayith (SH-1004) with the same range of meaning, first in Genesis 7:1. of Israel: Grk. Israēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yisrael, which means "God prevails" (BDB 975). The name here refers to Jacob whose name was changed by divine decree to Israel (Gen 32:28; 35:9). Throughout the rest of the Tanakh, Jacob's descendants are called the "sons of Israel" (Ex 12:37) or "the house of Israel" (Ex 16:31).

However, in the context of Jeremiah "the house of Israel" denotes the northern Kingdom of Israel, consisting of the tribes of Ephraim, Dan, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun. and: Grk. kai. over: Grk. epi. the house: Grk. ho oikos. of Judah: Grk. Iouda, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("praised"), originally the biblical location name for the area assigned to the tribe of Judah. For Jeremiah "the house of Judah" referred to citizens of the Kingdom of Judah (2Kgs 16:6; 25:25; Jer 34:9). The southern kingdom also included the tribes of Benjamin and Simeon (Josh 19:1; 1Kgs 12:21; 2Chr 15:9). The tribe of Levi had no apportioned territory, but resided in both kingdoms.

The second provision of God's future plan is a description of that plan. a new: Grk. kainos, adj., new, has three applications in the Besekh: (1) of recent origin or unused; (2) different and superior in quality relative to something old with no criticism of the old; or (3) different in reaction generated for something not previously present. The second meaning is intended here. In the LXX of this verse kainos translates the Heb. adjective chadashah (SH-2319), "new." The use of kainos instead of neos is purposeful, with the latter meaning "in existence for a relatively short time" (Danker). Kainos also has the meaning of something not previously present (BAG).

covenant: Grk. diathēkē (for Heb. b'rit, "covenant"). See verse 6 above. To identify the New Covenant with kainos has two levels of meaning. For Jeremiah the New Covenant was "new," not because it canceled the obligation to obey Torah commandments, but because of the promises set forth in verse 10 below (Jer 31:33; 32:40; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:26-27). For the apostles the New Covenant was "new" because while prophesied by Jeremiah it was not enacted until Yeshua's atoning sacrifice (Luke 22:20) and empowered by the Holy Spirit on Shavuot (Pentecost) (Acts 1:8; 15:9; 2Cor 3:6).

Contrary to the claims of many Christian scholars that the Old Covenant was annulled and voided, nothing of what Paul says here implies that the New Covenant terminated the Old Covenant. Also, the frequent reference to the Old Covenant as the "Mosaic Covenant" in Christian scholarly works has the effect of minimizing the authority of the Old Covenant by ignoring the fact that it was decreed by God. It was not invented by Moses. Why would God destroy something He considered good and holy?

In software jargon the New Covenant is an upgrade to the Old Covenant. The promise of a new covenant can be found in the Sinai covenant, as noted by Rashi, the Medieval Jewish commentator. While he offered no comment on the Jeremiah 31 passage, he did find the New Covenant in Leviticus 26:9,

"and I will set up My covenant with you: a new covenant, not like the first covenant, which you broke, but a new covenant, which will not be broken, as it is said, "I will form a new covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah-not like the covenant [that I formed with their forefathers… that they broke]" (Jer. 31:30-31). - [Torath Kohanim 26:12]"

Then the New Covenant was foreshadowed in the renewal of the covenant with Israel in Moab (Num 33:49; cf. Deut 1:5; 29:1). While there God renewed the expectations and promises of the covenant given at Sinai and added many new statutes. However, at least five new elements are important that anticipate the New Covenant (Deut 29:1-15; 30:1-6).

First, the Moab covenant was not only made with the generation then living, but also "with those who are not with us here today," i.e., all the future descendants of the tribes of Israel in perpetuity (Deut 29:15).

Second, the Moab covenant promised that when God uprooted his people from the Land because of their sins, He would one day bring them back (Deut 30:4-5). This promise had not been fulfilled by the time of Paul and it properly belongs to the modern age when Jews began to make aliyah ("going up") to Israel beginning in the 1800s until culminated in the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948. The promise also hints at an eschatological aliyah when the people of God are gathered from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven (Mark 13:27).

Third, the Moab covenant spoke of a heart circumcision and His people would listen to the voice of God to obey His commandments (Deut 30:6-8). Even though God insisted that His expectations were doable (Deut 30:11), He knew that future generations of Israelites would not have the zeal of the people receiving this covenant in Moab (Deut 31:29).

Fourth, it was in Moab that Moses prophesied that the God of Israel would raise up a prophet like him (Deut 18:15, 18).

Fifth, the Moab covenant hinted at salvation by faith through a resurrected Messiah in Deuteronomy 30:11-14. Paul, in fact, quotes this section in Romans 10:4-7 to make this very point.

A striking feature of the New Covenant prophecy is the lack of any mention of Gentiles or Christians. Vincent commits the faux pas of saying, "The writer assumes that Jeremiah's new covenant means the Christian covenant." Nowhere do the apostolic writings speak of a "Christian" covenant. Indeed historic Christianity beginning with the church fathers wanted nothing to do with the terms of the New Covenant as presented by Jeremiah and Paul. Guthrie honestly acknowledges that there is no hint that the New Covenant could or would extend to all people. Stern says,

"Yeshua introduced the New Covenant not to a group of Gentiles (let alone to Christians — there weren't any), but to an exclusively Jewish company at a Passover Seder (Luke 22:15–20)."

Moreover, Yeshua announced the New Covenant to his twelve Jewish apostles, representative of the twelve tribes and whom he said would judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:30). Of course, God's plan of salvation for the nations had already been announced by Isaiah (Isa 42:6; 49:6; 51:4; 60:3; cf. Acts 13:46-48). Gentiles enter the New Covenant by being "grafted in" to the Olive Tree of Israel (Rom 11:17–24) and being granted citizenship in the Commonwealth of Israel (Eph 2:11–16), which itself is based on the promise given to Jacob (Gen 35:11).

Additional Note: Non-Messianic Jewish Interpretation

Stern in his commentary on this passage points out that non-Messianic Jews claim forthrightly that God did not establish a New Covenant with Israel through Yeshua. Indeed they must say this, because otherwise they have no excuse for not adhering to its terms and accepting Yeshua as the Messiah. When discussing the New Covenant in the context of these verses, they raise four objections, which Stern presents with his answers (683-687). [NOTE: Some of his answers are reproduced in my comments on the verses quoted from Jeremiah.]

Objection One: "The covenant with Moses is eternal, so there is no ground for expecting a new one."

Objection Two: "Who needs a new covenant? What you call the 'old' one is good enough for me."

Objection Three: "I welcome whatever God may offer, including a new covenant; and there is ground in the Tanakh for expecting one. But Jesus did not bring it, and the New Testament does not express it."

Objection Four: "The author's comments in verses 6–8a and 13 denigrate both the people of Israel and God's covenant at Sinai. God would not impugn his own chosen people or his own covenant; the true new covenant will not be antisemitic, as is this book."

Pamela Eisenbaum, a non-Messianic Jewish scholar, in her commentary on Hebrews interprets verses 6-13 as expressing Supersessionism or Replacement Theology (407). She views the rhetoric contained in this chapter as anti-Judaism, i.e., helping to foster the view that Judaism in an inferior religion, a temporary guide prior to Messiah. Indeed, rejection of New Covenant promises by non-Messianic Jews may well owe largely to the doctrine of Replacement Theology adopted by historic Christianity. This doctrine contends that the Jews, having turned their back on Yeshua as their Messiah, had been rejected by God as a disobedient people and been replaced by Gentiles as the new people of God.

Supersessionism is an elaborate Christian mythology that has excused antisemitic practices in the history of Christianity, fostered biblical interpretations alien to the cultural setting of Yeshua and the apostles, and sought to deprive Israel its covenantal rights to the promised Land. See my article The Lie of Replacement Theology. In reality Paul the Messianic Pharisee affirmed the continuing covenantal promises given to Israel (Rom 9:4-5) and that God had not rejected Israel (Rom 11:1-2). Indeed, the letter of Hebrews reflects the Jewish hope (cf. Acts 23:6; 24:15; 26:6-7; 28:20; Heb 12:24).

9 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day having taken hold of them by my hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in my covenant, and I disregarded them, declares ADONAI.

Reference: Jeremiah 31:32 (LXX/MT).

The quotation from Jeremiah 31 continues with verse 32. Before looking forward the prophecy provides a reminder of the past. not: Grk. ou, adv. (for Heb. lo, neg. particle). See verse 2 above. according to: Grk. kata, prep. See verse 4 above. In the quoted verse kata translates the Heb. prepositional prefix kaf, "according to." Most versions translate the preposition as "like," which can be misleading. the covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē (for Heb. b'rit). See verse 6 above. The term is used here of the "Old" Covenant (2Cor 3:14) given at Mt. Sinai. See the Additional Note below on the Old Covenant.

that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 1 above. I made: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 5 above. The verb stresses God's unilateral action to create a covenantal relationship. with their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, and in the quoted verse translates Heb. ab (SH-1, "av"), which generally occurs in the human sense. The term "fathers" refers to the ancestors of the house of Israel and Judah. The clause "not according to the covenant I made with their fathers" does not imply there would be no similarity to the Sinai Covenant, but the manner of enactment and empowerment of the New Covenant would be different.

in: Grk. en, prep. the day: Grk. hēmera (for Heb. yom). See the previous verse. The noun refers to a particular time period in the 15th century B.C. having taken hold: Grk. epilambanomai (from epi, "on," intensifying lambanō, "aggressively take"), aor. part., lay hold of, take hold of, seize, sometimes with beneficent, sometimes with hostile, intent, here the former. In the quoted verse epilambanomai translates Heb. chazaq (SH-2388), to be or grow firm or strong, strengthen (BDB 304). of them: pl. of Grk. autos. The plural pronoun refers to the Israelites led by Moses.

by my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. hand: Grk. ho cheir (for Heb. yad, "hand"), the anatomical limb of the hand, but used here in a figurative sense. The "hand of ADONAI" is an idiomatic expression common in the Tanakh to refer to God's powerful actions on behalf of His covenant people. to bring: Grk. exagō, aor. inf., to bring, lead or take out. them: pl. of Grk. autos. out of: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote derivation or separation, here the former; lit. "out of, from within." the land: Grk. . See verse 4 above.

of Egypt: Grk. Aiguptos, a land in northeastern Africa, home to one of the earliest civilizations, and an important cultural and political influence on ancient Israel. See the map here. The Hebrew name in the Tanakh is Mitzrayim (Mizraim in Christian Bibles). The English word Egypt is derived from the Greek word via Middle French "Egypte" and Latin "Aegyptus." The phrase "out of the land of Egypt" depicts the departure from Rameses to Succoth to the Red Sea (Ex 12:37; 13:20; 14:2). The "hand of ADONAI" was strongly manifested in Israel's deliverance from Egypt (Ex 15:6, 12).

because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The four usage applies here. they did not: Grk. ou, adv. continue: Grk. emmenō, aor., 3p-pl., to abide or remain in a fixed place, but used here in the extended sense of persisting in a situation.

in: Grk. en. my: Grk. egō. covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē. The wilderness generation of Israelites had initially declared "All that ADONAI has spoken we will do!" (Ex 19:8 BR). Yet, while Moses tarried on the mountain several thousand Israelites decided to renege on their promise. Paul recounted the unfaithfulness of the wilderness generation in Chapter Three of this letter.

and: Grk. kai, conj. I disregarded: Grk. ameleō (from alpha, "not" and melō, "have concern, be affected"), aor., not to care, i.e., show no interest in, pay no attention to, ignore, disregard. In Greek literature the verb could also mean "overlook: hence, allow, suffer, lets them die" (LSJ). The Masoretic Text has the Heb. verb ba'alti (from ba'al, SH-1166), which BDB defines as "to marry or rule over" (127). The NJPS has a footnote that the meaning of the Hebrew verb is uncertain (838), but translates the verb as "I was espoused," whereas The Complete Tanakh at Chabad.org has "I was a lord." Messianic Jewish versions translate the verb as "I was a husband" (CJB, OJB, TLV).

Gruber points out that the difference between the LXX and the Masoretic Text is not simply the difference from one Hebrew word, but actually one Hebrew letter.

"The Masoretic has ba'alti. The LXX translates as though the Hebrew word were bachalti [from bachal, SH-973, "loathe"]. Does the Septuagint give the original, or is it a midrashic comment? We cannot tell. In terms of what God says throughout Jeremiah, either term would be consistent (e.g. 9:13-16; 12:7-9; 16:11-13 on the one hand, or 3:1, 8, 14, 20 on the other.) In Jeremiah 12:7-8 the Hebrew text says that God hated His dearly beloved."

It would not be surprising if the Masoretes changed the verb to soften the criticism in Jeremiah 31:32, because of Paul's quotation of the verse to support the Messianic understanding of the New Covenant. Bible versions translate the verb ameleō variously as "did not care about" (NASU), "disregarded" (NKJV), "ignored" (NABRE), "showed/had no concern" (ESV, NRSV) "turned away from" (NIV), or "turned my back on" (NLT).

However, McKee points out that the Gesenius Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon includes in its definition of ba'al "to loathe, to reject" (130), and cites Jeremiah 3:14 and Jeremiah 31:32 as examples of this definition. Gesenius also compares the verb ba'al to its Semitic cognates in Arabic and Aramaic, and notes the parallel meaning of looking down upon, despising, condemning," hence by extension not having any concern or regard.

The Lamsa Syriac has "I also despised them." Parallel to the thought expressed here Paul in Hebrews 3:10 quoted from Psalm 95:10 in which the Hebrew text reports God's attitude: "For forty years I loathed that generation" (BR). The choice of ameleō to translate ba'al may have been intended to soften the unforgiving judgment God pronounced on rebellious Israelites (Num 14:29-30).

them: pl. of Grk. autos. Given the context of the exodus from Egypt the plural pronoun alludes to the wilderness generation that perished, but there would certainly be application to the unfaithful Israelites God condemned in the time of Jeremiah. declares: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. ADONAI: Grk. kurios (for Heb. YHVH). See the previous verse. God had proposed to Moses the destruction of the nation because of the golden calf idolatry (Ex 32:10), but the intercessory mediation of Moses resulted in mercy for the nation.

God continued to be faithful in leading the people of Israel through the wildness. In those forty years God did not totally disregard the Israelites in the wilderness since He insured that they never went hungry (Deut 8:16) and their clothing and sandals did not wear out (Deut 29:5). However, the sin of rebellion against God's covenantal plan continued (Num 14:22) until God decreed destruction of the generation that had come out of Egypt.

The cycle of rebellion and divine judgment continued throughout the history of Israel, finally resulting in the Babylonian exile as prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 2:7, 13; 3:8; 20:4-5; cf. Deut 28:49-57; Neh 1:6-8; Dan 9:7-14). McKee also notes that God's condemnation was obviously not a permanent action, because if it were, then the Lord would not seek to establish this New Covenant with His people. But it does indicate that for the season in which Jeremiah prophesied, Israel did need to be punished and He did look upon them with some strong displeasure.

Additional Note: Old Covenant (B'rit Yashanah)

The term "Old Covenant" (2Cor 3:14) does not occur in the Tanakh at all. The Hebrew expression B'rit Yashanah was used in the first published Hebrew New Testament, translated by Franz Delitzsch (1877). As used by Paul B'rit Yashanah is a functional synonym of the written "Torah," which is the body of expectations God decreed to govern His relationship with Israel (Ex 19:5; 24:7, 12; 34:28; Deut 4:13; 7:9; 29:1). It is important to consider why God established the "Old Covenant" with Israel. The simple answer might be to fulfill promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Ex 6:8). However, viewing the Old Covenant as Torah requires a different answer, as Paul posed in his letter to the congregations in Galatia.

"Why then the Torah? It was added on account of transgressions until that the Seed should come, to whom the promise had been made, having been arranged through angels by the hand of a mediator." (Gal 3:19 BR)

The wording of the rationale for giving of the Torah may seem strange. Paul says something similar in Romans 5:20, "Now Torah came so that the trespass might increase" (BR). Paul certainly does not mean that God created more prohibitions just to have more sins to condemn people with. Conversely, where there is no prohibition neither is there violation (Rom 4:15), because sin is only defined by Torah (Rom 3:15), not by man. God had cursed mankind because of Adam's sin (Gen 3:17) and mankind continued to manifest a sinful inclination (Gen 6:5).

Not often considered by Christians is that the most essential commandments of God have been known from the beginning (Gen 9:1-8; 26:5). These commandments were repeated and expanded at Sinai. Why? In her commentary on Galatians Le Cornu suggests that Paul's question anticipates the question and answer given by the Sage, R. Meir, "Why was the Torah given to Israel? Because they are impetuous" (Beitzah 25b). In other words the transgressions of the Israelites were many and they required discipline. God did describe the Israelites as "obstinate" (Ex 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deut 9:6, 13; 31:27).

Stern suggests that a key purpose of the commandments was to make the Israelites aware of their guilt for sins in order to motivate repentance, seeking God's mercy, and trusting Him (550). Yet, Paul's rationale could also represent purpose. As explained in Romans the Torah reveals the sinfulness of sin (Rom 7:7). People would realize that more of their behaviors were sinful than they previously thought.

The noun "transgressions" could easily be "transgressions of Egypt." God not only wanted to take His people out of Egypt, but He wanted to remove Egypt from His people. The religion and cultural values of Egypt were highly offensive to God (Lev 18:3). In the Torah God defined His absolute standards for a covenantal relationship and procedures for judging violations of those standards. Viewed negatively the Torah was added to restrain sinful proclivities among His people. Thus, the Torah could be called a curse containment system.

Viewed positively God wanted to define what behavior would characterize a righteous people and a people devoted to God (Deut 4:8; 6:25). Obedience would promote shalom in the community and shalom with God and in so doing minimize the operation of the curse. Even further God imposed requirements that would mark Israel as a nation "holy to ADONAI" and a light to the nations (Isa 42:6; Acts 13:47).

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares ADONAI: putting my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be God to them, and they will be to me a people.

Reference: Jeremiah 31:33 (LXX/MT).

The quotation from Jeremiah 31 continues with verse 33. For: Grk. hoti (for Heb. ki, conj., "that, for, when"), conj. See the previous verse. The conjunction stresses causation. Some versions inaccurately translate the conjunction as "but" (CEV, GW, HCSB, TLB, NOG, NABRE, NLT), in order to make a sharp contrast with the Sinai Covenant mentioned in the previous verse. this is: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 3 above. the covenant: Grk. ho diathēkē (for Heb. b'rit). See verse 6 above. Some versions wrongly translate diathēkē here as "testament" as in verse 6 above. The translators ignored the fact that b'rit is never used of a last will and testament.

that: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. I will make: Grk. diatithēmi (from dia, "through" and tithēmi, "to put, place, lay, set, fix, establish, ordain"), aor. mid. part. The preposition dia intensifies the meaning of the verb tithēmi to denote an arranging which effectively accomplishes the objective at hand (HELPS); appoint, arrange, make. In Greek literature the verb meant to arrange something or dispose of something with wide application, as well as to compose or make something, including a covenant or last will and testament (LSJ).

In the Besekh the verb is first used of appointing the apostles as judges over the twelve tribes (Luke 22:29). Then, the verb is used of the covenant God made with the patriarchs (Acts 3:25) and here in Hebrews of enacting the New Covenant (also 10:16). In the LXX diatithēmi translates primarily Heb. karath (SH-3772; BDB 503), to cut or make a covenant, because of the cutting up and distribution of sacrificial animals in a ritual of establishing a covenant with God (Gen 15:18; Ex 24:8; Deut 4:23; 5:2; 9:9; 29:1; Ps 50:5; Jer 31:31; 34:18).

with the house: Grk. ho oikos. See verse 8 above. The dative case of the noun stresses personal association with God. of Israel: Grk. Israēl (for Heb. Yisrael). See verse 8 above. The phrase "house of Judah" is not repeated, because the New Covenant presupposes a reunited nation. after: Grk. meta, prep. with a root meaning of "in the midst of" (DM 107), may be used (1) as a marker of association; with, among; or (2) as a sequential marker; after, behind. The second usage is intended here. those: pl. of Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. days: pl. of Grk. ho hēmera. See verse 8 above.

declares: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 1 above. ADONAI: Grk. kurios (for Heb. YHVH). See verse 8 above. The prophecy then declares the first better promise of the New Covenant, given in the form of a poetic parallelism. putting: Grk. didōmi, pres. part., generally to give something to someone, often with the focus on generosity; offer, give, put, place. In the LXX didōmi translates Heb. nathan (SH-5414), to give, put or set, with a wide range of meaning (DNTT 2:41). my: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person.

laws: pl. of Grk. nomos (for Heb. torah). See verse 4 above. The phrase "my laws" refers to commandments and statutes governing behavior and decreed by God from the beginning (Gen 26:5; Ex 15:26). God's laws set forth the way a person is meant to live in an ethical and moral way in order to enjoy life to the full and to please God. Noteworthy is that the Hebrew noun is singular, whereas the Greek noun is plural. In fact, no other passage of the LXX translates the singular Torah as plural "laws" (Guthrie).

The use of the plural "laws" may have been intended to emphasize the separate codes that make up the body of commandments and statutes in the Torah. The passage does contain an implied contrast between laws written on stone tablets and laws written in their minds. McKee suggests that the plural "laws" might better suggest that as the Holy Spirit writes God's commandments onto the heart via the New Covenant, it is not something that happens all at once, and only takes place at the speed of an individual's sanctification—a speed only to be determined by the Spirit.

Note that the text does not say "the laws of the Pharisees" or the laws of any Christian denomination. This is an important assertion since a sin can only exist if there is a divine law defining prohibited behavior. No law - no sin (cf. Rom 4:15; 5:13; 7:8). Man's customs and traditions, no matter how religious and well-intentioned, do not have the authority to define sin.

into: Grk. eis, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. minds: pl. of Grk. dianoia, mental process relating to options for behavior, with focus on intention or purpose; mind, disposition or understanding. In the LXX dianoia translates Heb. qereb (SH-7130), inward part of man, here as the seat of thought and emotion (BDB 899). Eisenbaum expresses the viewpoint of Rabbinic Judaism that the original context of Jeremiah only prophesied that the Torah would be renewed after the Babylonian exile by being implanted in people's hearts, so they could instinctively observe it; therefore they would not any longer sin, and so there would not be another exile (416).

However, the Tanakh provides no confirmation of the non-Messianic interpretation, and the rhetoric of the prophetic books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi indicate a serious deficiency in obedience to Torah after the return from exile. During the Seleucid period many Jews in the Land assimilated Hellenistic culture and "they joined with the Gentiles and sold themselves to do evil" (1Macc 1:15 RSV). Indeed, there is no evidence from intertestamental Jewish literature that fulfillment of the New Covenant promise was a reality.

and: Grk. kai, conj. I will write: Grk. epigraphō, to write upon, inscribe, or imprint a mark on. In the LXX epigraphō translates Heb. kathab (SH-3789), to write, used generally of writing or recording words on a tablet, scroll or book (BDB 507). them: pl. of Grk. autos. on: Grk. epi, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos. hearts: pl. of Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used here fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia translates Heb. leb (SH-3820), inner man, mind, heart, will (BDB 523f). Then God promised Israel through Ezekiel,

"25 Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. 26 Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." (Ezek 36:25-27)

The poetic parallelism of "minds" and "hearts" emphasizes the inward character of the New Covenant (Guthrie). God does not imply that the Israelites lacked ability to keep His laws, as Moses said,

11 "For this commandment which I command you today is not too extraordinary for you … 19 I call as witnesses against you today, heaven and earth, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life that you both may live, you and your descendants, 20 to love ADONAI your God, to obey His voice, and cling to Him; for He is your life and the length of your days, that you may dwell in the land which ADONAI swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them." (Deut 30:11, 19-20 BR)

The problem of many Israelites was willingness (cf. Deut 1:43; 3:26; 8:20; 28:45; Neh 9:16, 29). They did not want God telling them what to do and so they lived by their own selfish values (Jdg 17:6; 21:25). Paul explained the nature of the problem in his message to the Corinthian congregation concerning the spiritual condition of the ancient Israelites and the Jews of his time:

"13 Moses would put a veil over his face, for the sons of Israel not to look intently at the end of what was fading away. 14 But their minds were hardened; for until the present day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains, not being uncovered, because it is removed in Messiah" (2Cor 3:13-14 BR).

Thus a key benefit of the New Covenant is empowering disciples to fulfill the expectations of the Torah, as Paul wrote in his letter to the Roman congregation:

"3 For the Torah being powerless, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, having sent His own Son in likeness of sinful flesh and for a sin offering, condemned sin in the flesh, 4 so that the righteous requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us, the ones not walking according to Flesh but according to the Spirit." (Rom 8:3-4 BR)

and: Grk. kai. The prophecy then states the second better promise of the New Covenant. I will be: Grk. eimi (for Heb. hayah, to be or become), fut. mid. See verse 4 above. God: Grk. theos, properly, God, the Creator and owner of all things (John 1:1-3). In the LXX of this verse theos translates the name of the Creator God Elohim (SH-430; Gen 1:1). The name Elohim occurs over 2500 times in the Tanakh and primarily refers to the one only and true God of Israel (BDB 42). In Hebrew thought the plural form of Elohim represents fullness, which excludes the possible existence of any other deity (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9).

Elohim translated by Theos also represents the full triunity of God (Father + Son + Spirit). God is a Person, not a philosophical construct for monotheism. He is particularly the God of the Hebrew patriarchs and Israel (Matt 22:32; Luke 1:68). This God may be the God of the Gentiles (Rom 3:29), but only if they accept the revelation that He is the God of Israel and join themselves to Israel. Only the God of Israel saves (Jer 16:19-20).

Because of the lack of a definite article some versions unfortunately translate the noun as "a God" (ASV, BRG, JUB, KJV, YLT). In my view this translation diminishes the character of Elohim, which is not normally written with a definite article. to: Grk. eis, prep. Many versions do not translate the preposition. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The plural pronoun refers to beneficiary of the New Covenant, "the house of Israel." The clause "I will be God to them" is a no so subtle reminder that in the long history of Israel Elohim was not their only God. Adoration of pagan deities began with the gold calf idolatry in the wilderness and continued with worship of Canaanite deities until the time of the exile.

Under the New Covenant idolatry cannot exist. The New Covenant is incompatible with any amalgamation or syncretism with demonic doctrines, destructive heresies or worldly philosophies (Col 2:8; 1Tim 4:1; 2Pet 2:1), including Eastern and New Age beliefs and practices that have been adopted in the history of Christianity. Participation in the New Covenant requires sanctification and separation: sanctification to God and separation from the world.

and: Grk. kai. The prophecy next states the third promise of the New Covenant. they will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid., 3p-pl. my: Grk. egō, i.e., God. people: Grk. laos (for Heb. am, "people, kinsman"), a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the Besekh the descendants of Jacob associated with the God of Israel. The promise "they will be my people" occurs first in the Tanakh in Leviticus 26:12, but is a special promise in Jeremiah (7:23; 11:4; 24:7; 30:22), and is repeated by Ezekiel (11:20; 14:11; 36:28; 37:23, 27) and Zechariah (8:8).

God intended that His relationship with Israel be intimate and mutual. Important to note is that the New Covenant did not end Israel's most favored nation status, but in fact guaranteed its continuation (cf. Deut 7:7-9; Jer 31:35-37; 33:23-26). Paul categorically denied that God rejected Israel (Rom 11:1-2). The persistence of the lie of Replacement Theology in mainstream Christianity is inexplicable.

11 And they will not teach, each his neighbor and each his brother, saying, 'Know ADONAI,' because all will know me, from the least to the greatest of them;

Reference: Jeremiah 31:34 (LXX/MT).

The quotation from Jeremiah 31 continues with verse 34. The quotation from Jeremiah 31:34 was divided between verse 11 and 12 in this chapter. Verse divisions are purely arbitrary, since the original Greek MSS had none. Verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text (Textus Receptus). The prophecy next states the fourth better promise of the New Covenant.

And: Grk. kai, conj. they will not: Grk. ou (see verse 2 above), which is a particle of qualified negation related to the exercise of the will. The dual negative particles, lit. "not, not" serve as a powerful negation. teach: Grk. didaskō, aor. subj., 3p-pl., to impart instruction. In the LXX didaskō is used primarily to translate Heb. lamad (SH-3925), exercise in, learn, teach (Deut 4:1; Ps 119:99). In its LXX usage the verb means chiefly instruction in how to live (e.g., Deut 11:19; 20:18) (DNTT 3:760).

each: Grk. hekastos, adj., used in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. neighbor: Grk. politēs (from polis, "city") may mean (1) an inhabitant of any city or country; or (2) the associate of another in citizenship, i.e. a fellow-citizen, fellow-countryman (Thayer). The first meaning is intended here in the sense of a native. In the LXX of this verse politēs translates Heb. rea (SH-7453), friend, companion, fellow-citizen, or nearby resident (BDB 945). In this context "neighbor" probably denotes a fellow Israelite.

and: Grk. kai. each: Grk. hekastos, adj. his: Grk. autos. brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," a male sibling; brother. In the Besekh the term primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites who are of the same blood by virtue of descent from Jacob. In the LXX adelphos translates Heb. ach (SH-251), a male sibling (Gen 4:2; 20:5), a near blood relative (Gen 13:8), a member of the same tribe (Num 16:10) or a fellow descendent of Jacob (Ex 2:11; 4:18). In this context "brother" probably denotes someone of the same tribe. Thus, the poetic parallelism of "neighbor" and "brother" incorporates the entire nation.

saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 1 above. Know: Grk. ginōskō, aor. imp., to know, including (1) to be in receipt of information; (2) to form a judgment or draw a conclusion; or (3) have a personal relationship involving recognition of another's identity or value. The third meaning applies there. In the LXX ginōskō translates Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395).

ADONAI: Grk. ho kurios (for Heb. YHVH). See verse 2 above. Under the Old Covenant the Israelites had the "head knowledge" from being informed of the commandments, but lacked the "heart knowledge" of a willingness to obey. They knew about God, but they did not know God in a personal relationship as Abraham who was called a "friend of God" (2Chr 20:7; Isa 41:8; Jas 2:23) or Moses who spoke to ADONAI face to face as with a friend (Ex 33:11).

because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 9 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. will know: Grk. oida, fut., 3p-pl., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida translates Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience (DNTT 2:395). me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. The promise of knowing God contrasts with Pharaoh who confessed to Moses, "I do not know ADONAI" (Ex 5:2).

David also quoted God saying of the wilderness generation, "They have not known my ways" (Ps 95:10 BR). Amos and Hosea repeated the appraisal of the lack of the knowledge of God of the northern Kingdom of Israel in their day (Amos 3:10; Hos 5:4). Isaiah and Micah pronounced the same assessment of the Kingdom of Judah in their generation (Isa 45:4-5; Mic 4:12), as did Jeremiah in his time (Jer 5:4; 9:3). The promise is also striking with Paul's background as a Pharisee.

When a controversy occurred in Jerusalem and people debated whether Yeshua was a prophet or indeed the Messiah, certain Pharisees sneered at the people saying, "this crowd, not knowing the Torah, is accursed" (John 7:49). Pharisaic snobbery and dismissive attitude toward common people is reflected in various Talmudic passages (Pesachim 49b; Sotah 22a). The Pharisees knew their traditions, but they could not really claim to know God. The promise of the New Covenant is that Israelites will no longer need an intermediary to have access to God. God has made personal fellowship with Yeshua and the Spirit a reality (1Cor 1:9; 2Cor 13:14; 1Jn 1:3).

from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of origin or separation; from, away from. The preposition is used here to introduce distance in rank. the least: Grk. mikros, adj., relatively limited in extent, used of size, measure, quantity, time, age, rank or influence. The term is used here of persons and so may denote age or social position relative to importance, influence or power. In the LXX mikros translates Heb. qatan (SH-6996), small, young, unimportant (BDB 881). BDB defines the meaning of qatan in Jeremiah 31:34 as "insignificant." The adjective is commonly translated as "least," but the WE Bible version translates mikros as "youngest."

BAG and Thayer interpret the meaning of mikros in this context as referring to age. However, in Greek literature when mikros is used of persons the term rarely refers to age and when contrasted with megas means "of small account" in reference to importance or status (LSJ). Yeshua used the term in reference to children (Matt 18:6, 10, 14) and emphasized that a child may know the Lord (Matt 11:25). Yeshua also used the term in reference to social importance or status (Matt 10:42; 11:11).

to: Grk. heōs, prep., a marker of limit, here of age or status; as far as, up to. the greatest: Grk. megas, adj., large or great in extent and is used of used of size, measure, quantity, time, age, rank or influence. The term is used here of persons and as mikros may denote age or social position relative to importance, influence or power. In the LXX of this verse megas translates Heb. gadol (SH-1419), "great," which may denote magnitude and extent, number, intensity, volume of sound, age, or importance (BDB 152f).

of them: pl. of Grk. autos. The contrast of these two adjectives occurs frequently in Scripture (Gen 19:11; Deut 1:17; 1Sam 5:9; 30:2; 2Kgs 23:2; 25:26; 1Chr 25:8; 26:13; 2Chr 31:15; Jer 6:13; 8:10; 42:1; 44:12; Jonah 3:5). Generally the contrast is of social importance or economic status, but occasionally of age. Guthrie treats the two adjectives as references to distinctions in class, whether of age or rank. The prophecy could well intend a dual application of the adjectives as a way of emphasizing that the privilege of knowing God is available to all, young and old, poor and rich, unimportant and important.

12 because I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and their sins I will remember no more."

Reference: Jeremiah 31:34.

The quotation from Jeremiah 31 concludes with verse 34 and the fifth better promise of the New Covenant. because: Grk. hoti, conj. I will be: Grk. eimi, pres. mid. See verse 4 above. The verb emphasizes an essential aspect of God's nature. merciful: Grk. hileōs, adj., forgiving, gracious, merciful, propitious. The adjective describes God's covenant-mercy which rescues the believer by His atonement and brings divine satisfaction (HELPS). In the LXX the phrase "I will be merciful" translates the Heb. verb salach (SH-5545), to forgive or pardon, i.e., "I will forgive." The Qal imperfect of the Hebrew verb could imply "I will keep on forgiving."

toward their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. iniquities: pl. of Grk. adikia may mean (1) the quality or characteristic of violating a standard of uprightness; wrongdoing, unrighteousness, injustice, partiality, wickedness; or (2) the act or deed of violating a standard of righteousness; wrongdoing. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX of this verse adikia translates Heb. avon (SH-5771), iniquity, often an act of serious transgression or wickedness, especially in regard to holy things (BDB 730). The better promise is that God will forgive capital crimes (cf. Acts 13:38-41).

and: Grk. kai, conj. their: pl. of Grk. autos. sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In the LXX of this verse hamartia translates Heb. chatta'ah (SH-2403), sinful thing, sin (BDB 308). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior.

I will remember: Grk. mimnēskomai, aor. pass. subj., to call something to mind that one has noted or thought about in the past; recollect, remember. In the LXX of this verse mimnēskomai translates Heb. zakar (SH-2142), remember, recall, call to mind (BDB 269). no: Grk. ou , lit. "no, not." See the previous verse. more: Grk. eti, adv. expressing continuance of an action or circumstance or expressing addition, whether of time or degree; still, yet. With the double negative the adverbial phrase means "no more" (Thayer). The act of "not remembering" does not refer to amnesia, but that after forgiveness God will not bring up the charge of sin again.

13 In saying "new," He has made old the first priesthood; moreover what is growing old and aging is near disappearing.

In: Grk. en, prep. saying: Grk. legō, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. new: Grk. kainos. See verse 8 above. Most versions have inserted the word "covenant" as the object of the adjective "new," even though diathēkē is not in this verse. The assumption that Paul is making a contrast between the text of the Jeremiah quotation and the Sinai Covenant is reasonable, but not for the reasons normally given by Christian scholars.

He has made old: Grk. palaioō (from palaios, "ancient, old"), perf., to become or make old (LSJ). As a reference to the Jeremiah prophecy the subject of the verb would be God, but in the context of the New Covenant's enactment at the Last Supper, the subject would be Yeshua. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh, the first two in relation to a useful article wearing out (Luke 12:33; Heb 1:11). The other two times occur in this verse.

Christian lexicons offer a definition of "to abrogate," "make obsolete" or "supersede" (BAG, Danker, Mounce, Thayer, Zodhiates). The translation "made obsolete" occurs in many Bible versions. Of interest is that the use of palaioō to mean someone making a decision that renders something obsolete does not occur in Greek literature. In the LXX palaioō occurs 20 times and in those passages it means to advance in years, become old, or wear out, most of which pertain to the longevity of clothing (e.g., Deut 8:4; 29:5; Josh 9:5, 13; Neh 9:21; Job 13:28; Ps 102:26; Isa 50:9; 51:6; Sirach 11:20; 14:17).

Generally speaking Greek words in the Besekh mean what they mean in the LXX. None of the uses of palaioō in the LXX mean "make obsolete" and there was no need to create such a meaning for this one verse in Hebrews. In my view the definition of "make obsolete" was likely invented by Christian scholars to support their belief that the New Covenant terminated the Old Covenant and thereby canceled the Torah. Hegg objects to the interpretation that the Sinai covenant was "made obsolete" for two reasons (349ff).

First, the interpretation of obsolescence would contradict God's own word on the subject. The covenant God made with Israel, the descendants of Abraham, is "everlasting" (cf. Gen 17:7; Lev 26:44-45; Ps 105:10; 1Chr 16:15-17). Moreover, the Sabbath is designated as the sign of the Sinai covenant, and it is clearly noted to be eternal (Ex 31:16–17; Lev 24:8). Second, the primary subject being addressed in this context is not "covenant" but "priesthood," and specifically the superiority of Yeshua as high priest after the order of Melchizedek when compared to the Levitical priesthood.

Another reason can be added. The Sinai covenant is directly associated with the giving of the Ten Commandments (Ex 34:27-28; Deut 4:13). Yeshua and the apostle Paul strongly affirmed the continuing authority of the Ten Commandments (Matt 19:17-19; Rom 13:8-9; 1Cor 7:19). If the Ten Commandments are still in force, so is the covenant God made with Israel.

The verse continues to explain what "has been made old" and the meaning of this aging. the first priesthood: Grk. ho prōtos. See verse 7 above. Paul returns to the point he made there and "first" must mean here what it means there, the "first priesthood," or more precisely the "first high priesthood." McKee observes,

"Similar to the translation issues of Hebrews 8:7, where diathēkē or "covenant" (noted in the NASU by italics) does not appear in the source text, so is this same issue present in the closing remark of Hebrews 8:13a: "[I]n the saying 'new'" (YLT), en tō legein kainēn. With Yeshua's new priesthood, or perhaps also ministry or even (Heavenly) tabernacle service, the Levitical service was going to fade into history."

The Berean Study Bible has a footnote that says "covenant is included for clarity but is not contained in the Greek. A broader interpretation could also include priesthood or tabernacle." The MJLT has "the first K'hunah," which means priesthood. We should note that since all the covenantal promises to Israel are "yes" in Yeshua (2Cor 1:20) and God is going to write His laws of righteousness on hearts (Heb. 8:10), then the Sinai Covenant which contains the promises and the laws cannot be obsolete.

moreover: Grk. de, conj. The conjunction continues the thought but with added emphasis. what: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. is growing old: Grk. palaioō, pres. part. Since the present participle denotes a current condition, then Paul refers to the status of the priestly institution. The priesthood associated with the tabernacle had been existence for over four hundred years, and was succeeded by the priestly ministry carried out in Solomon's temple. Priestly ministry was suspended in the wake of the Babylonian destruction of the temple and exile, but then resumed with the return to the Land and the rebuilding of the temple as described in the book of Ezra.

Priestly ministry was interrupted again with the desecration of the temple during the period of the Seleucid oppression in the Land (2nd cent. B.C.), but restored by the Maccabean defeat of Syrian forces and cleansing of the temple for renewed priestly ministry. Then King Herod in the eighteenth year of his reign (c. 20 BC) decided to tear down the old temple and replace it with something truly magnificent (Josephus, Ant. XV, 11:1). The priests did the work of construction and simultaneously continued to perform the sacrificial rituals. Thus, the priestly ministry having begun in 1447 B.C. could be said to be "growing old" fifteen centuries later.

and: Grk. kai, conj. aging: Grk. gēraskō, pres. part., to become or grow old. Thayer says the verb carries with it the suggestion of waning strength. In the LXX gēraskō translates Hebrew words that mean to be or become old or become aged, and used of people (Gen 18:13; 24:36; 27:1-2; Josh 13:1; 23:2; Ruth 1:2; 1Sam 8:1; 12:2; 2Chr 24:15; Job 14:8; Ps 37:25; Prov 22:6; 23:22). The aging of the Aaronic priesthood did not denote blessing, but reflected the Law of Entropy (also known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics), which is the measure of energy that is unavailable for doing useful work.

"Useful work" for the priesthood prescribed by the Torah was to connect the covenant people to God, to teach them His expectations and set the example of holiness. Over the span of its history the Israelite priesthood had often failed in these responsibilities and by the time of Yeshua was a corrupt institution (cf. Matt 23:13-34; Luke 19:46; John 8:44). See my commentary on Yeshua's confrontation of the priestly hierarchy in Mark 11:15-17. The description of "aging" is not unlike the saying of the Mishnah that characterizes the various stages of life in terms of years and says this of the final stage: "at a hundred, one is as one that is dead, having passed and ceased from the world" (Avot 5:21).

is near: Grk. eggus, prep., near to or close to, usually in a spatial or temporal sense, here the latter. disappearing: Grk. aphanismos, extermination, disappearance, destruction. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX aphanismos translates Hebrew terms that refer to utter destruction, especially ending existence in or removing from the Land (Deut 7:2; 1Kgs 9:7; 13:34; 2Kgs 22:19; 2Chr 29:8; 36:19; Ezra 4:22; Jer 2:15; 9:11; 10:22; 12:11; 18:16; 19:8; 25:9, 11-12).

Paul would certainly have been aware of Yeshua's prophecy of the future destruction of the temple and its impact on the priestly ministry there. He may also have been aware of the dramatic signs that the Sh'khinah glory of God left the Temple the day Yeshua was crucified (Yoma 39b). Paul did not know when the institution of the Temple priesthood would finally end, but he recognized that its days were numbered.

Works Cited

BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.

BSB: The Berean Study Bible. BibleHub, 2016, 2020. Online.

Benson: Joseph Benson (1748-1821), Commentary of the Old and New Testaments. T. Carlton & J. Porter, 1857. Online.

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

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DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.

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HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)

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Vincent: Marvin R. Vincent (1834-1922), The Word Studies in the New Testament. 4 vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1886. Online.

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