Notes on Hebrews

Version Date: February 4, 2024. (Date of First Version: December 23, 2020.)

Heb 1:6 "But when he will bring again the firstborn into the world, he will also say, 'Let all God's angels worship him.'" This verse quotes השתחוו לו כל אלהים "Let all angels worship him" from Ps 97:7. Now Ps 97 is a psalm about the beginning of the visible reign of the Lord on earth. The Lord will reign visibly after his second coming. Thus, Heb 1:6 introduces the quotation with οταν δε παλιν εισαγαγη τον πρωτοτοκον εις την οικουμενην "but when he will bring again the firstborn into the world." Though at the first coming of the Lord Jesus, his deity was not fully manifested, when he will come again, the angels will be granted to worship him visibly. Now Satan's angels will not be there (Is 24:21-23, Rev 20:2-3). Thus, Heb 1:6 indicates plainly that the decree is for God's angels, who are the only angels that will be present during the visible reign of Christ on earth.

The Hebrew word translated "angels" in Heb 1:6 is אלהים. The word אלהים refers to mighty beings, and depending on context, it can refer to the true God, or to false gods, or to powerful men, or to angels. It is also used for believers in Ps 82:1, 6. Interesting in Ps 82:6 is that בני עליון כלכם "all of you are sons of the Most High" corresponds to אלהים אתם "ye are אלהים." Then, if angels are said to be בני האלהים "sons of God" in Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7, just like the believers in Ps 82:6, it follows that the angels too were called אלהים, just like the believers in Ps 82:6. While angels have much power now, believers too will have much power after the resurrection of the dead (Lk 20:36). Until that time, the most powerful among the beings that were created will be the angels. Note that De 10:17 and Ps 136:2 contain the phrase אלהי האלהים, commonly translated "the God of gods," providing an example in which the word אלהים refers to angels. In this phrase, אלהי, the construct form of אלהים, is translated "God." Moreover, האלהים, which is אלהים with the article, is commonly translated "gods." However, its meaning here is not "gods" but "angels." Indeed, the phrase אלהי האלהים states that God has incomparably greater power than any other powerful being. Thus, it does not refer to gods, for there is only one God and the text is not comparing him with inexistent beings. Rather, the text refers here to the most powerful created beings, that is, to angels.

The following remarks could be made to see that אלהים should be translated "angels of God" in the context of Ps 97:7. Though אלהים can refer to believers (Ps 82:1, 6), since believers worship Jesus, they will not have any need to be told "worship him." Though אלהים can refer to powerful men, they will not be powerful when the Lord returns unless they will be believers. Commonly אלהים refers to gods. However, Ps 97:7 is not about the Lord being worshiped by inexistent beings (the false gods) but about existing beings worshiping him. The only remaining possibility is that אלהים refers to angels. Note that this possibility fits perfectly the text. Angels were not granted to visibly worship Jesus at his first coming. On the contrary, at his second coming, as stated in Ps 97:7, they will be granted to worship him visibly. Since Satan's angels will not be present, the decree to worship Jesus is for God's angels. Thus, the only possible translation of אלהים that fits the context of Ps 97:7 is αγγελοι θεου "God's angels," as in Heb 1:6.

The translation of Ps 97:7 in Heb 1:6 is not identical to the translation found in the LXX. Note that where the LXX has προσκυνησατε αυτω παντες οι αγγελοι αυτου "worship him, all ye his angels," Heb 1:6 has προσκυνησατωσαν αυτω παντες αγγελοι θεου "let all God's angels worship him." The translation in Heb 1:6 can be explained as follows. It is well understood that a perfect form with the waw "and" conjuction prefixed to it can have the force of the jussive (see for instance והיו in Ge 1:14 and ועשו in Ex 25:8.) There is evidence that the perfect does not need the "and" conjunction to have the force of the jussive. Since a 3rd person perfect form that can be taken with jussive meaning could be reinterpreted as imperative (so at the 2nd person,) some examples in which the 3rd person fits better than the 2nd person will be considered here. In Is 47:13, הברו cannot be taken as an imperative form addressing the stargazers, for the verse already addresses at the 2nd person singular those who used their services. Thus, the verse has a Qere note respelling הברו. However, as written, the text is very meaningful if הברו is taken with a jussive meaning. Now a jussive meaning fits perfectly also שמע in Is 50:10 which is translated accordingly in the LXX. In Ps 109:28, when both קמו and יבשו are taken with jussive meaning, קמו ויבשו "let them rise, but let them be put to shame" mirrors יקללו המה ואתה תברך "let them curse but thou bless." In Jer 5:21, the following words address the people at the 3rd person: עינים להם ולא יראו אזנים להם ולא ישמעו "they have eyes but do not see, they have ears but do not hear." Therefore, considering שמעו נא זאת עם סכל ואין לב at the beginning of the verse, the jussive interpretation "let the foolish people without understanding hear this" fits better than the imperative interpretation because it is consistent with the 3rd person of the verbs in the remaining part of the verse. Moreover, originally, Lam 1:18 was not spoken to peoples, so the jussive interpretation of שמעו נא כל עמים וראו as "let all peoples hear and see" fits better than the imperative interpretation "hear, all you peoples, and see." So also in Ps 97:7, since the psalm was not spoken to angels, the jussive interpretation of השתחוו לו כל אלהים as "let all angels worship him" fits better than the imperative "worship him, all ye angels." Now השתחוו לו כל אלהים could also be translated "all angels will worship him." However, the jussive fits better a text meant for worship. In worship, people do not just state facts (such as the fact that all angels will worship him), but they also involve themselves emotionally and declare their desire for things that are in God's will to happen (such as by saying, "let all God's angels worship him.")

As could be noticed, Heb 1:6 has αγγελοι θεου "God's angels" where LXX has οι αγγελοι αυτου "his angels." Heb 1:6 makes it very clear that all angels of God will worship Jesus after his return. In the LXX, however, the fact that the antecedent of αυτου "his" is the same as the antecedent of αυτω "him," allows the interpretation that Jesus would be given some angels for his reign on earth and that only his angels (the angels given to him, not all angels of God) would worship him. Just as this interpretation is impossible in the Hebrew text of Ps 97:7, it is impossible also in Heb 1:6, which excludes it by using the phrase "God's angels" instead of "his angels."

Heb 1:10 The passage quotes Ps 102:25-27 (26-28) beginning with this verse. As indicated by Heb 1:8, the quoted text refers to Christ. One indication within the psalm that the text refers to Christ is found when considering Ps 102:23(24) in the original language. Before examining the meaning of Ps 102:23(24), it should be noted that various verses of the psalm, such as Ps 102:3-4(4-5) and Ps 102:24(25), show that the second half of a verse does not have to mirror the first half. Thus, in Ps 102:23(24), ענה בדרך כחו " ... in the way of his strength" does not have to be translated so as to be very similar in meaning with קצר ימי "he has shortened my days." (As written, the Scripture has here כחו "his strength"; other translations do not have "his" because of a Qere note.) The meaning of the text is determined by the verb ענה, at the beginning of the verse. Possible meanings of the verb are "to answer" and "to afflict." Note that ענה cannot be translated "he answered" because the text is not in the context of a previous request to the Lord. With the meaning "to afflict," ענה cannot be in the active voice, for it has no object. So it must be in the passive voice, meaning, "he was afflicted," as in Ps 116:10, 119:71. In the context, the subject of the verb is God. By speaking about God being afflicted, the verse predicted the suffering of Christ. Thus, ענה בדרך כחו קצר ימי in Ps 102:23(24) is translated, "he was afflicted in the way of his strength; he has shortened my days." The first part of the verse predicted that Christ would suffer while walking uprightly. Since suffering was appointed also for the Lord, and he is the one who prolongs or shortens life, an afflicted person living during the Old Testament times could have had hope and boldness to pray the words of the following verse, of Ps 102:24(25). As for the New Testament believer, he could be reminded here of Heb 4:15. Finally, since the days of the Lord on earth were made short by his affliction, there is a similarity between the statements "he was afflicted in the way of his strength" and "he has shortened my days," for both speak of a short life.

Heb 1:12 In the context of the Old Testament, the phrase ο αυτος "the he," commonly interpreted as meaning "the same," states that Jesus is the true God. This phrase appears again in Heb 13:8, indicating that Jesus is the true God, has been the true God, and will remain the true God forever. This also implies that Jesus remains the same because God does not change. His divine power is emphasized when the text mentions that he will roll up the heavens and that he will change them.

Concerning the fact that the Lord will roll up the heavens and will change them, it could be noted first that three heavens are mentioned in 2Co 12:2, the third heaven having the paradise (2Co 12:4). Thus, the first heaven must be the lowest heaven and must refer to this creation, our universe. Moreover, when the Lord mentioned that Satan fell from heaven (Lk 10:18), he must have referred to the third heaven. So when the Scripture mentions Satan and his angels in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12, Rev 12:7), it must refer to the second heaven. Now Satan and his angels will be thrown out of heaven (Rev 12:9) at the time of the rapture. At that time, the heavens will be rolled up (Rev 6:14). It seems reasonable to assume that only the first heaven and the second heaven will be rolled up. When a garment is folded, it is kept so as to be used later. So also these heavens will be in use again after the time of the rapture. They will be burned at the time of the Lord's return (2Pt 3:13). However, they will not be completely destroyed at that time, as they will be preserved for the day of judgment (2Pt 3:7). Eventually, there will be new heavens (2Pt 3:13), and so the old heavens will be changed, as stated in Heb 1:12. At the day of judgment, no place will be found for the present earth and its heaven (Rev 20:11). After the day of judgment, there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Rev 21:1).

The exact meaning of the phrase ο αυτος "the he" may not be immediately obvious because it is seldom used. In the New Testament, it occurs only in Heb 1:12 and Heb 13:8; in the LXX, it appears only in Ps 102:27(28), which is the passage quoted by Heb 1:12. (The usage of the phrase o αυτος in 1Co 12:5 and Jer 18:4 is irrelevant here because in 1Co 12:5 αυτος modifies κυριος, and in Jer 18:4 the phrase involves the relative pronoun instead of the article.) Now the related phrase το αυτο "the it" is relatively common, typically conveying the meaning "the same." However, the phrase ο αυτος "the he" is special, as could be seen when considering the following remarks. Note that συ δε ο αυτος ει in Heb 1:12 translates ואתה הוא "but thou art he" in Ps 102:27(28), which corresponds to אני הוא "I am he" in De 32:39, Is 41:4, 43:10, 13, 46:4, 48:12, 52:6, and אנכי הוא "I am he" in Is 43:25, 51:12. In each of the aforementioned verses, "I am he" appears as εγω ειμι "I am" in LXX, excepting Is 43:13, where the phrase is not translated. In the NT, the phrase εγω ειμι "I am" is typically used by Jesus. There is an ordinary use of this phrase when one simply states his identity. Thus, others besides Jesus have used it, as could be seen in Mt 26:22, 25, Jn 9:9, Lk 1:19, and Ac 10:21; Mt 24:5 would also fit here. However, the phrase "I am" can be used in a special way, as referring to the true God, as in Jn 8:24, 28, 58, 13:19. False prophets will also use the phrase "I am," likely in the same sense (Mk 13:6, Lk 21:8). In the context of the usage of the phrase אני הוא "I am he" in the Old Testament and of its corresponding Greek phrase εγω ειμι "I am" in the New Testament, it follows that the phrase ואתה הוא "but thou art he" in Ps 102:27(28), and its translation συ δε ο αυτος ει "but thou art the he" in Heb 1:12, denote by הוא "he" and by ο αυτος "the he" the true God. So Heb 1:12 states plainly that Jesus is the true God, while Heb 13:8 states that Jesus is, has been, and will be forever the true God.

The translation of Ps 102:26 (27) in Heb 1:12 differs from LXX in that the former has ελιξεις αυτους και αλλαγησονται "thou wilt roll them up, and they will be changed" where the latter has αλλαξεις αυτους και αλλαγησονται "thou wilt change them, and they will be changed." The corresponding Hebrew text is תחליפם ויחלפו. At a first look, the LXX translation may seem fine, for both תחליפם and יחלפו are forms of the same verb חלף and could be translated "thou wilt change them" and "they will be changed," respectively. However, the LXX translation has the drawback that it makes the text seem redundant. In contrast, Heb 1:12 makes the point that the forms תחליפם "thou wilt change them" and יחלפו "they will be changed" do not speak of the same thing. Indeed, note that the Hebrew text has תחליפם ויחלפו instead of תחליפם וחלפו. Thus, תחליפם "thou wilt change them" will take place first, and then יחלפו "they will be changed." It follows that תחליפם "thou wilt change them" does not refer to a final state, for יחלפו "they will be changed" takes place later. Then, תחליפם "thou wilt change them" must refer to a temporary change, as when a garment is put off and folded to be used later. The translation given in Heb 1:12 preserves this aspect of the Hebrew text.

Heb 2:3 A literal translation of this verse is: "How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation which having received its beginning spoken through the Lord, was confirmed for us by those who heard him?" This salvation is very great because of what it saves a person from and what a person receives through it. With the coming of the Lord Jesus, the kingdom of God has drawn near. Thus, after a believer dies, he lives in God's kingdom and is in the presence of the Lord. He does not taste death because Jesus, by the grace of God, tasted death for everyone (Heb 2:9). This salvation had a beginning; it began after the resurrection of the Lord. The fact that this salvation had a beginning does not mean that the believers who lived before the coming of the Lord have a different salvation. Though they did not experience this salvation when they died, they received it after the resurrection of the Lord (Mt 27:52, Jn 12:32, Eph 4:8). The beginning of this salvation was spoken through the Lord. The fact that we have δια του κυριου "through the Lord" instead of υπο του κυριου "by the Lord" is taken as emphasizing that the Lord spoke that which the Father gave him to say. Now in the translation above, "its beginning spoken through the Lord" appears instead of "spoken at the first by the Lord". This is because in ητις αρχην λαβουσα λαλεισθαι δια του κυριου the infinitive form λαλεισθαι requires a subject in the accusative case, so the subject is αρχην, not ητις.

Heb 2:6 A literal translation of the beginning of this verse is, "But he testified where one is saying, 'What is man ... '". Here, "where" is interpreted as referring to the place in Scripture where the quotation is taken from and "one" as referring not to the author of the quoted text but to any believer reciting the well known text of the quotation. Thus, "where one is saying" is interpreted as "in the place in Scripture from which one recites". The quotation is from Ps 8, which must have been well known to a Hebrew audience. This verse would also imply that it was often read in church. So the Scripture text here reasons with the hearer by means of a passage that was well known to the original audience. In the context of the previous two verses, in which God is the subject, the subject of "testified" is God. Thus, the passage emphasizes the testimony of God, for we also read in verse 4 about συνεπιμαρτυρουντος του θεου "God bearing witness".

This interpretation of Heb 2:6 can be justified as follows. The verse begins with διεμαρτυρατο δε που τις λεγων, which has a word-for-word translation "testified but where one saying". If "one" is taken as the subject of "testified", then the translation would be, "But someone testified somewhere saying". However, assuming no change of subject, that is, that the subject of Heb 2:5 is also the subject of "testified" in Heb 2:6, the translation is: "But he testified where one is saying". In support of this second interpretation, the following remarks could be made. (a) It seems most natural to assume no subject change from Heb 2:5 to Heb 2:6. If a subject change were meant, the order of the words could have been διεμαρτυρατο δε τις που λεγων instead of διεμαρτυρατο δε που τις λεγων. (b) This interpretation does not involve the words "somewhere" and "someone", so there is no need to explain why a well known passage and a well known author would be mentioned with these words. In fact, the epistle does name David as the author of a psalm quoted in another passage (Heb 4:7). (c) It could be noted also that the meaning "somewhere" of the word που is rarely found in the LXX and the New Testament. In the LXX, it appears in 1Ki 10:12 and Pr 31:21. In the Nestle and Aland Greek New Testament, the word που appears with the meaning "somewhere" in Ac 27:29. Other than this, the only New Testament instances of this common word that could possibly mean "somewhere" are Heb 2:6 and Heb 4:4. However, this document presents evidence that Heb 2:6 and Heb 4:4 use the "where" meaning of που. (See also the note below on Heb 4:4.) Now the word που is found three times in Hebrews, namely in Heb 2:6, 4:4, 11:8, and it clearly means "where" in Heb 11:8. (d) The accent used for the word που could be used to distinguish between the meaning "where" and "somewhere". However, according to the early manuscripts of the New Testament, the original text was written without accents.

Heb 2:7 "Thou hast lessened him to a small position compared to angels ... " This translation fits both Heb 2:7 and Ps 8:5 (8:6), which is the passage quoted in Heb 2:7. In the original languages, the verbs translated "to lessen" (ελαττοω in Greek and חסר in Hebrew) are not about creating or making something new so as to be less than something else, but about lessening something that already exists. Thus, this verse is not speaking about men, for their position was never comparable to that of angels. The verse speaks specifically about one who was higher than the angels but was lessened lower than angels, that is, about Jesus. When Jesus became a man, he also became lower than angels, since man is lower than angels. Man is not a little lower than angels, but far lower than angels. That man is far lower than angels can be seen also when considering the Hebrew word used for angels in Ps 8:5 (8:6). The Hebrew word is אלהים which commonly refers to God or gods, but sometimes also to mighty persons that are not God, such as to angels. This word emphasizes that compared to man, angels are very powerful.

Considering the translation of Ps 8:5 (8:6) in Heb 2:7, there are several Old Testament passages in which the word אלהים refers to angels; see the note on Heb 1:6. Moreover, βραχυ τι translates מעט "a small thing" and παρ αγγελους translates מאלהים "compared to angels." Since מעט is a noun, not an adjective, it is not translated just by βραχυ, which is an adjective, but by the phrase βραχυ τι. The Hebrew preposition מן "from" commonly introduces the word to which something is compared to, so מאלהים means "compared to angels." Of course, מאלהים could also be translated "compared to God." However, this would be an incomplete translation because אלהים can also denote angels. Something smaller than angels is clearly also smaller than God, so "compared to angels" is the right option. In the context, it is not possible to translate מאלהים as "compared to gods" since there is only one God. It is not possible either to translate it "compared to mighty men" since Ps 8:4 (8:5) speaks about how small man is. Thus, it would seem quite unlikely that the word אלהים would be applied to men right after a verse speaking about how small men are. Therefore, in the context of Ps 8:5 (8:6), מאלהים means "compared to angels."

Heb 2:9 The verb γευομαι "to taste" indicates a short experience. The Lord Jesus tasted death because he experienced it for only three days. He experienced death just like the faithful who have died before him, except that his death experience was short. Because of his sacrifice for the sins of the world, the faithful who have died after his resurrection did not have this death experience, for after death they entered heaven. This explains why Heb 2:9 states that he tasted death for everyone. As for the faithful who have died before Christ, he took them to heaven after his ascension (Eph 4:8, Jn 12:32). Before that but after his resurrection, many of them were bodily raised from the dead (Mt 27:52).

Heb 4:4 A close translation of the text is: "For he has spoken this way in the passage concerning the seventh day, 'And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.'" The passage concerning the seventh day is Ge 2:2-3, from which only the ending of Ge 2:2 is quoted, as it speaks about God's rest. In view of Heb 4:3, it is clear that the focus is on God resting, not on the seventh day. Thus, the previous translation fits better the context than this alternative translation: "For he has spoken somewhere concerning the seventh day this way: 'And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.'". The latter interpretation of the text has been very common. In comparison, the former translation interprets differently the beginning of the verse. The verse begins with ειρηκεν γαρ που περι της εβδομης ουτως, which has a word-for-word translation "for has spoken where concerning the seventh thus". In the former interpretation, περι της εβδομης "concerning the seventh" modifies που "where", and so the beginning of the verse is: "For he has spoken this way where the passage concerning the seventh day is", that is, "For he has spoken this way in the passage concerning the seventh day". In the latter interpretation, περι της εβδομης modifies ειρηκεν "has spoken". Some evidence in favor of the former interpretation is as follows. (a) που is closer to περι της εβδομης than ειρηκεν. (b) There is no need to explain why "somewhere" is used to denote a well known Scripture passage. (c) The meaning "somewhere" of που is rare in the Scripture; see the note above on Heb 2:6.

Heb 7:27 The verse mentions two sacrifices that a high priest had to offer: first a sacrifice for his own sins, and then a sacrifice for the sins of the people. The fact that Jesus offered only the sacrifice for the sins of the people can be seen from the singular number of τουτο "this", where this word appears in τουτο γαρ εποιησεν εφαπαξ "for this he did once". The closest possible antecedent of the word τουτο "this" is the sacrifice for the sins of the people. Therefore, τουτο "this" refers to the sacrifice for the sins of the people and states that Jesus offered it once. Since Jesus is without sin, there was no need to offer also the first sacrifice which a high priest would offer for his own sins. If the text had ταυτα "these" instead of τουτο "this", it would refer to both sacrifices. However, the text has the singular form τουτο "this", indicating that only the sacrifice for the sins of the people was offered.

Heb 8:9 This verse contains the phrase καγω ημελησα αυτων "and I disregarded them." Since the Lord is unable to lose sight of anything, the text is not speaking about neglect due to forgetfulness but of willful neglect. Note that καγω ημελησα αυτων "and I disregarded them" translates the phrase ואנכי בעלתי בם of Jer 31:31. This translation can be explained as follows. There are three verses that can possibly involve the verb בעל followed immediately by the preposition ב: Lev 21:4, Jer 3:14, and Jer 31:32. In each case, the meaning "to disregard" fits perfectly, while the alternative interpretations are difficult. First, Lev 21:4 has, לא יטמא בעל בעמיו להחלו "he shall not defile himself; he shall disregard relatives that would defile him" (Lev 21:4). Compare this natural interpretation with the more difficult "he shall not defile himself, a husband/leader among his people, to profane himself." Moreover, Jer 3:14 has, שובו בנים שובבים נאם יהוה כי אנכי בעלתי בכם ולקחתי אתכם אחד מעיר ושנים ממשפחה והבאתי אתכם ציון "Return, O wayward sons, says the LORD, for I myself have overlooked you. Then I will take you one from a city, and two from a family group, and I will bring you to Zion." The reason they had experienced so much distress was that the Lord, in his righteousness, chose to neglect them. It was not that the Lord was unable to protect them but that he chose to deliver them to troubles because of their unfaithfulness. Now Jer 3:14 predicted that the Lord would disregard the people for a while, because of their sins, and then call them to repentance. A consequence of the fact that he would no longer disregard them was that he would bring them back to Zion. Alternative interpretations of בעלתי בכם as "I have married you" or "I have ruled over you" do not seem to account for the preposition ב, and do not fit unfaithful people that disregarded the Lord. Finally, Jer 31:32 has, לא כברית אשר כרתי את אבותם ביום החזיקי בידם להוציאם מארץ מצרים אשר המה הפרו את בריתי ואנכי בעלתי בם נאם יהוה "not as the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took hold of their hand to take them from the land of Egypt, for they broke my covenant, and so I disregarded them, says the LORD." The alternative interpretation of ואנכי בעלתי בם as "though I was a husband to them" does not seem to account for the preposition ב, and implies that God would consider himself a husband to people that he knows would disregard him.

Now the BDB entry 11595 in the Addenda and Corrigenda for בעל mentions that a meaning "to loathe" can be derived from an Aramaic verb meaning "to be disgusted" and that this meaning would fit Jer 3:14, 31:31. A possible way to derive the meaning "to disregard" is as follows. The verb בעל is related in meaning to the noun בעל, which means "owner, lord." Since the preposition ב "in" can also be taken in the sense of "against," the verb בעל followed by the preposition ב could be taken in the sense of owning (having) something against someone. This implies resentment, and thus neglect.

Heb 8:12 Literally, the Byzantine text states: "For I will forgive their iniquities and I will remember no more their sins and their lawless deeds." The Nestle and Aland version of the Greek New Testament has the same text except for lacking "and their lawless deeds". Note that the Greek text of Heb 8:12 is a close translation of the Hebrew text of Jer 31:34. The Byzantine text translates חטאתם "their sins" with των αμαρτιων αυτων και των ανομιων αυτων "their sins and their lawless deeds". Since any lawless deed is sinful, the additional phrase "and their lawless deeds" does not change the meaning of the text but emphasizes the extent of God's forgiveness. To see that ιλεως εσωμαι means "I will forgive", the LXX usage of the word ιλεως could be examined. The word ιλεως appears 26 times in the LXX. Most of the time it is used in the translation of the verb סלח "to forgive"; see the article ιλεως. In view of the LXX usage, "I will forgive" is a close translation of ιλεως εσωμαι. Now ιλεως εσωμαι has been commonly translated "I will be merciful". While God is certainly merciful when he forgives, the translation "I will be merciful" is not as close to the text as "I will forgive".

Heb 9:1 A good translation of this verse would be, "Therefore, the first dwelling place, the holy place of earth, had also regulations for worship." This translation follows the received text of Stephanus and Elzevir, which have η πρωτη σκηνη "the first dwelling place" instead of just η πρωτη "the first". As for translating σκηνη with the meaning "dwelling place", this meaning is mentioned in the Liddell-Scott lexicon and in the Gingrich lexicon, which also illustrates it with Lk 16:9, Ac 15:16, Rev 13:6, 21:3. The translation of το τε αγιον κοσμικον as "the holy place of earth" fits the observation that the temple was the only place on earth that was truly holy, being set apart by the presence of the Lord. The word ουν "therefore" indicates that what follows illustrates the point made in the previous verses, that the old covenant was meant to be temporary. Since the epistle was written before the destruction of the temple, the imperfect tense of ειχον "was having" shows that the passage speaks about the original form of the temple; it refers to the tabernacle.

Heb 9:4 Many times χρυσουν εχουσα θυμιατηριον "having a golden censer" is translated "having the golden altar of incense." Some evidence that θυμιατηριον means "censer" and not "altar of incense" is as follows. First, it could be noticed that the word appears without the definite article. The only other item without the definite article is σταμνος χρυση "golden jar" in this verse; all other items appear with the definite article, such as η λυχνια "the lamp", η τραπεζα "the table", and την κιβωτον της διαθηκης "the ark of the covenant". That the golden jar is mentioned without the definite article is not surprising, since the Old Testament mentions it with the words צנצנת אחת "a jar" (Ex 16:33). In contrast, the Old Testament describes the altar of incense in detail, and so the definite article would have been expected if θυμιατηριον referred to the altar of incense. Second, the LXX translates מקטרת "censer" with θυμιατηριον, where מקטרת and θυμιατηριον appear only in 2Ch 26:19 and Eze 8:11. In both 2Ch 26:19 and Eze 8:11 θυμιατηριον refers to something that one would hold in his hand. Therefore, θυμιατηριον refers to a censer, not to an altar of incense. The presence of the golden censer could be inferred from Lev 16:12-13. See the note on Lev 16:12.

A question that might arise is that if θυμιατηριον means "censer", why the altar of incense is not mentioned. The apparent reason is that the altar of incense is irrelevant to the topic of the passage. The passage speaks about matters of the old covenant that had passed away (Heb 9:8-10). The ark of the covenant and its content represented things that were most holy, and so they are mentioned because the tabernacle indicated that the way to the most holy had not been revealed. The golden censer was used to cover the ark with the cloud of smoke (Lev 16:12-13), so it represents something that had passed away, since now the believer is able to behold the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face (2Co 3:18). The bread of presence would fit the category of the gifts (Heb 9:9), and these are no longer required. The lampstand indicated the presence of darkness, but now the believer is in the light. However, the altar of incense refers to prayer, which is something that remains under the new covenant. So it was not mentioned in this passage together with what was standing for things passing away.

Now Nu 17:10 mentions the rod being placed before the testimony and Ex 16:34 the jar of manna. The ark of the covenant was overlaid with gold, indicating the value of what was stored in it. Its content represented God's testimony, his word. The tablets of the covenant had God's word. The manna indicated that God's word is food to the soul. The budded rod indicated that God's word brings life to those who receive it, just as the dead wood of Aaron's rod was caused to bud and bear almonds (Nu 17:8). By the time of temple of Solomon, the jar of manna and Aaron's rod were lost. This can be seen from the fact that these were supposed to be placed before the testimony (Nu 17:10, Ex 16:33-34) and that they were not in the ark of the covenant at the time of 1Ki 8:9. The statement of 1Ki 8:9 that אין בארון רק שני לחות האבנים "there was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone" testifies to an expectation that some other things besides the tablets were supposed to be inside the ark, confirming in this way the fact that the jar of manna and Aaron's rod were supposed to be there. See also the note on 1Ki 8:9.

Heb 9:6-7 The present tense of the verb forms εισιασιν "enters" and προσφερει "offers" indicate that the temple was standing when the epistle was written.

Heb 10:19-20 "Having therefore, brothers, confidence to enter the holy places, in the blood of Jesus, through the entrance he inaugurated for us, a new and living way through the curtain, that is, through his flesh ... " Just as the high priest entered with blood the most holy place of the temple (Heb 9:7), so also one enters the most holy by the blood of Jesus. Now the text has εν τω αιματι ιησου "in the blood of Jesus" instead of just τω αιματι ιησου "by means of the blood of Jesus." The phrase "in the blood of Jesus" is used here figuratively, for a believer cannot be literally in the blood of the human body of Jesus. Understanding the blood of Jesus as denoting the Holy Spirit, the text speaks about being in the Holy Spirit. The phrase "his flesh" is likewise used figuratively. The relationship between the curtain and the flesh of the Lord could be explained as follows. The Word became flesh (Jn 1:14), and thus the flesh represents the Word. The way into the most holy place of the temple went through the curtain. A similar way has been provided for the New Testament believer: a person in the Holy Spirit can enter the most holy through the Word. This is a new way because the Holy Spirit was given after the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Spirit is necessary, for the Word is understood with his help (1Co 2:12-16). That which otherwise would be a mystery to the believer, is revealed to him when he enters into God's presence. The sight of the most holy is associated with the revelation of a mystery also in Rev 11:19; see the note on Rev 11:19. The present tense of the word προσερχωμεθα "let us draw near" of Heb 10:22 indicates that the believer should enter the most holy again and again; the text is not speaking about an one-time event.

Heb 10:37-38 In addition to Hab 2:3-4, this passage makes a reference to Is 26:20. To see this, it could be noted that the phrase μικρον οσον οσον "a little while", which is found only in Heb 10:37, appears once also in LXX, in Is 26:20. It could be noted also that Is 26:20 is in the context of the resurrection of the dead (Is 26:19) and of the justice that the Lord will bring at his return (Is 26:21). Now the previous verses in Heb 10:35-36 encouraged the hearers to persevere and reminded them of their reward. In this context, the reference to Is 26:20 served as another reminder of the time when they would be rewarded. The reference to Hab 2:3-4 exhorted the hearers to persevere and stand firm in the faith.

Heb 11:22 The words of the Lord to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob must have been known among the descendants of Jacob. As this verse reminds the hearer, Joseph recalled God's word, treated it as something certain, spoke about it, and responded to it by asking that his bones be taken when Israel would depart from Egypt (Ge 50:24-25). Joseph was likely well acquainted with the words of the Lord to Abraham about the exodus of Israel (Ge 15:13-14).

Heb 12:4 Jesus is without sin in spite of having been tempted like all other men. He resisted sin to the end. This verse could remind the hearer that Jesus resisted sin to the point of shedding his blood. Though he was tempted to save himself from death, he did not yield to this or any other temptation to sin. He continued to live righteously, though he knew so well that this would lead to his suffering and death.