For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the show bread; which is called the sanctuary.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Tabernacle.—It must be carefully observed that the Epistle throughout refers to the Tabernacle, and not once to the Temples which succeeded it. Though they were formed on the same general model, their very nature and design necessitated changes of plan and detail which unfitted them for the writer’s argument here. So far as the Temple was a copy of the Tabernacle, and so far only, was it made “after the pattern” that Moses had seen; and so far only was its symbolism of divine and not human origin.
The first, wherein was . . .—In Hebrews 9:6, when the writer passes from place to ministration, he uses the present tense, although it is of the Tabernacle that he is speaking. The explanation is that which has come before us again and again: the arrangements prescribed in Scripture are to him ever present, abiding from age to age in that unchanging word. Hence probably we should here read are instead of “were.” The golden candlestick, the table, and the showbread are in the Holy Place as it is described in the Law. With the symbolical meaning of the furniture of the Holy Place we are not here concerned. The writer contents himself with words which plainly imply that none of the parts and arrangements of the Tabernacle were without significance. On the golden candlestick (more strictly, lampstand) see Exodus 25:31-37, and on the ten candlesticks of the Temple of Solomon, 1Kings 7:49; on the table and the showbread, Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-9 (1Kings 7:48; 2Chronicles 4:8). It is somewhat remarkable that the table should here be so distinctly mentioned, for usually (both in the Bible and in Jewish tradition) no special importance appears to be assigned to it apart from the offering which was placed thereon. (Comp., however, Leviticus 24:6; 2Chronicles 13:11; Malachi 1:7; Malachi 1:12.) This offering is in Hebrew called “bread of the face”—i.e., bread of the (divine) Presence; in Matthew 12:4, Luke 6:4, “loaves of the setting forth;” here “the setting forth of the loaves.”
Sanctuary.—Or, holy place. The same word is applied to the Holy of Holies in Hebrews 8:2; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 12:24-25; Hebrews 10:19; and probably in Hebrews 13:11. This verse and the next give the proper names of the two parts of the Tabernacle, which must be used when the one is to be distinguished from the other. Where there is no risk of mistake the simpler designation is sufficient. (See Leviticus 16:2; Leviticus 16:17; Leviticus 16:20.) It will be observed that here and in Hebrews 9:3; Hebrews 9:6-7, these divisions are spoken of as if two distinct Tabernacles.Hebrews 9:2. For there was a tabernacle made — Namely, the first part of it of which he speaks, of boards and curtains, pillars and coverings, which constituted a little apartment, as a kind of ante-chamber to the oracle; wherein was the candlestick — Of pure gold, with its seven lamps perpetually burning with pure oil, and so giving light to all holy administrations. This undoubtedly represented the fulness of spiritual light which was to be in the Messiah, and by him to be communicated to his whole church; and the table and show-bread — That is, the bread shown continually before God and his people, consisting of twelve loaves, according to the number of the tribes, and placed on this table in two rows, six upon one another in each row. As the candlestick typified the light, so the bread seems to have been an emblem of the spiritual food provided in Christ, especially in his doctrine, merits, and Spirit for the support of the spiritual life, health, and strength of believers. This is set forth at large, John 6:27-58. There was also in this first tabernacle the golden altar of incense placed at the west end of it, where the veil opened into the most holy place. On this incense was burned every morning and evening, emblematical doubtless of the prayers of God’s people, and especially of the efficacy given to them by the mediation and intercession of Christ.Exodus 26. In this place the word means the "outer sanctuary" or "room" in the tabernacle; that is, the "first" room which was entered - called here "the first." The same word - σκηνή skēnē - is used in Hebrews 9:3 to denote the "inner" sanctuary, or holy of holies. The tabernacle, like the temple afterward, was divided into two parts by the veil Exodus 26:31, Exodus 26:33, one of which was called "the holy place," and the other "the holy of holies." The exact size of the two rooms in the tabernacle is not specified in the Scriptures, but it is commonly supposed that the tabernacle was divided in the same manner as the temple was afterward; that is, two-thirds of the interior constituted the holy place, and one-third the holy of holies. According to this, the holy place, or "first tabernacle" was twenty cubits long by ten broad, and the most holy place was ten cubits square. The whole length of the tabernacle was about fifty-five feet, the breadth eighteen, and the height eighteen. In the temple, the two rooms, though of the same relative proportions, were of course much larger. See a description of the temple in the notes on Matthew 21:12. In both cases, the holy place was at the east, and the Holy of Holies at the west end of the sacred edifice.
The first - The first room on entering the sacred edifice, here called the "first tabernacle." The apostle proceeds now to enumerate the various articles of furniture which were in the two rooms of the tabernacle and temple. His object seems to be, not for information, for it could not be supposed that they to whom he was writing were ignorant on this point, but partly to show that it could not be said that he spoke of that of which he had no information, or that he undervalued it; and partly to show the real nature of the institution, and to prove that it was of an imperfect and typical character, and had a designed reference to something that was to come. It is remarkable that though he maintains that the whole institution was a "figure" of what was to come, and though he specifies by name all the furniture of the tabernacle, he does not attempt to explain their particular typical character, nor does he affirm that they had such a character.
He does not say that the candlestick, and the table of show-bread, and the ark, and the cherubim were designed to adumbrate some particular truth or fact of the future dispensation, or had a designed spiritual meaning. It would have been happy if all expositors had followed the example of Paul, and had been content, as he was, to state the facts about the tabernacle, and the general truth that the dispensation was intended to introduce a more perfect economy, without endeavoring to explain the typical import of every pin and pillar of the ancient place of worship. If those things had such a designed typical reference, it is remarkable that Paul did not go into an explanation of that fact in the Epistle before us. Never could a better opportunity for doing it occur than was furnished here. Yet it was not done. Paul is silent where many expositors have found occasion for admiration. Where they have seen the profoundest wisdom, he saw none; where they have found spiritual instruction in the various implements of divine service in the sanctuary, he found none.
Why should we be more wise than he was? Why attempt to hunt for types and shadows where he found none? And why should we not be limited to the views which he actually expressed in regard to the design and import of the ancient dispensation? Following an inspired example we are on solid ground, and are not in danger. But the moment we leave that, and attempt to spiritualize everything in the ancient economy, we are in an open sea without compass or chart, and no one knows to what fairy lands he may be drifted. As there are frequent allusions in the New Testament to the different parts of the tabernacle furniture here specified, it may be a matter of interest and profit to furnish an illustration of the most material of them.
(Without attempting to explain the typical import of every pin and pillar of the tabernacle, one may be excused for thinking, that such prominent parts of its furniture, as the ark, the candlestick, and the cherubim, were designed as types. Nor can it be wrong to inquire into the spiritual significancy of them, under such guidance as the light of Scripture, here or affords elsewhere. This has been done by a host of most sober and learned commentators. It is of no use to allege, that the apostle himself has given no particular explanation of these matters, since this would have kept him back too long from his main object; and is, therefore, expressly declined by him. "Yet," says McLean, his manner of declining it implies, that each of these sacred utensils had a mystical signification. They were all constructed according to particular divine directions, Exodus 25. The apostle terms them, "the example and shadow of heavenly things," Hebrews 8:5; "the patterns of things in the heavens, Hebrews 9:23; and these typical patterns included not only the tabernacle and its services, but every article of its furniture, as is plain from the words of Moses, Exodus 25:8-9. There are also other passages which seem to allude to, and even to explain, some of these articles, such as the golden candlestick, with its seven lamps, Revelation 1:12-13, Revelation 1:20; the golden censer, Revelation 8:3-4; the vail, Hebrews 10:20; the mercy-seat, Romans 3:25; Hebrews 4:16; and, perhaps, the angelic cherubim, 1 Peter 1:12." It must, however, be acknowledged that too great care and caution cannot be used in investigating such subjects.)
The candlestick - For an account of the candlestick, see Exodus 25:31-37. It was made of pure gold, and had seven branches, that is, three on each side and one in the center. These branches had on the extremities seven golden lamps, which were fed with pure olive oil, and which were lighted "to give light over against it;" that is, they shed light on the altar of incense, the table of show-bread, and generally on the furniture of the holy place. These branches were made with three "bowls," "knops," and "flowers" occurring alternately on each one of the six branches; while on the center or upright shaft there were four "bowls," "knops" and "flowers" of this kind. These ornaments were probably taken from the almond, and represented the flower of that tree in various stages. The "bowls" on the branches of the candlestick probably meant the calyx or cup of that plant from which the flower springs.
The "knops" probably referred to some ornament on the candlestick mingled with the "bowls" and the "flowers," perhaps designed as an imitation of the nut or fruit of the almond. The "flowers" were evidently ornaments resembling the flowers on the almond-tree, wrought, as all the rest were, in pure gold. See Bush's notes on Exodus 25. The candlestick was undoubtedly designed to furnish light in the dark room of the tabernacle and temple; and in accordance with the general plan of those edifices, was ornamented after the most chaste and pure views of ornamental architecture of those times - but there is no evidence that its branches, and bowls, and knops, and flowers each had a special typical significance. The sacred writers are wholly silent as to any such reference, and it is not well to attempt to be "wise above that which is written." An expositor of the Scripture cannot have a safer guide than the sacred writers themselves.
How should any uninspired man know that these things had such a special typical signification? The candlestick was placed on the south, or lefthand side of the holy place as one entered, the row of lamps being probably parallel with the wall. It was at first placed in the tabernacle, and afterward removed into the temple built by Solomon. Its subsequent history is unknown. Probably it was destroyed when the temple was taken by the Chaldeans. The form of the candlestick in the second temple, whose figure is preserved on the "Arch of Titus" in Rome, was of somewhat different construction. But it is to be remembered that the articles taken away from the temple by Vespasian were not the same as those made by Moses, and Josephus says expressly that the candlestick was altered from its original form.
And the table - That is, the table on which the showbread was placed. This table was made of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold. It was two cubits long, and one cubit broad, and a cubit and a half high; that is, about three feet and a half in length, one foot and nine inches wide, and two feet and a half in height. It was furnished with rings or staples, through which were passed staves, by which it was carried. These staves, we are informed by Josephus, were removed when the table was at rest, so that they might not be in the way of the priest as they officiated in the tabernacle. It stood lengthwise east and west, on the north side of the holy place.
And the show-bread - On the table just described. This bread consisted of twelve loaves, placed on the table, every Sabbath. The Hebrews affirm that they were square loaves, having the four sides covered with leaves of gold. They were arranged in two piles, of course with six in a pile; Leviticus 24:5-9. The number twelve was selected with reference to the twelve tribes of Israel. They were made without leaven; were renewed each Sabbath, when the old loaves were then taken away to be eaten by the priests only. The Hebrew phrase rendered "show-bread" means properly "bread of faces," or "bread of presence." The Septuagint render it ἄρτους ἐνώπιους artous enōpious - foreplaced loaves. In the New Testament it is, ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων hē prothesis tōn artōn - "the placing of bread;" and in Symmachus, "bread of proposition," or placing. Why it was called "bread of presence" has been a subject on which expositors have been much divided.
Some have held that it was because it was "before," or in the presence of the symbol of the divine presence in the tabernacle, though in another department; some that it was because it was set there to be seen by people, rather than to be seen by God. Others that it had an emblematic design, looking forward to the Messiah as the food or nourishment of the soul, and was substantially the same as the table spread with the symbols of the Saviour's body and blood. See Bush, in loc. But of this last-mentioned opinion, it may be asked where is the proof? It is not found in the account of it in the Old Testament, and there is not the slightest intimation in the New Testament that it had any such design. The object for which it was placed there can be only a matter of conjecture, as it is not explained in the Bible, and it is more difficult to ascertain the use and design of the show-bread than of almost any other emblem of the Jewish economy."
Calmet. Perhaps the true idea, after all that has been written and conjectured is, that the table and the bread were for the sake of carrying out the idea that the tabernacle was the dwelling-place of God, and that there was a propriety that it should be prepared with the usual appurtenances of a dwelling. Hence, there was a candlestick and a table, because these were the common and ordinary furniture of a room; and the idea was to be kept up constantly that that was the dwelling-place of the Most High by lighting and trimming the lamps every day, and by renewing the bread on the table periodically. The most simple explanation of the phrase "bread of faces," or "bread of presence" is, that it was so called because it was set before the "face" or in the "presence" of God in the tabernacle. The various forms which it has been supposed would represent the table of showbread may be seen in Calmet's Large Dictionary. The Jews say that they were separated by plates of gold.
Which is called the sanctuary - Margin, "Or, holy." That is, "the holy place." The name sanctuary was commonly given to the whole edifice, but with strict propriety appertained only to this first room.
a tabernacle—"the tabernacle."
made—built and furnished.
the first—the anterior tabernacle.
candlestick … table—typifying light and life (Ex 25:31-39). The candlestick consisted of a shaft and six branches of gold, seven in all, the bowls made like almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch. It was carried in Vespasian's triumph, and the figure is to be seen on Titus' arch at Rome. The table of shittim wood, covered with gold, was for the showbread (Ex 25:23-30).
showbread—literally, "the setting forth of the loaves," that is, the loaves set forth: "the show of the bread" [Alford]. In the outer holy place: so the Eucharist continues until our entrance into the heavenly Holy of Holies (1Co 11:26).
which, &c.—"which (tabernacle) is called the holy place," as distinguished from "the Holy of Holies."For there was a tabernacle made: the Spirit descends to a particular account of the three former adjuncts to the covenant, beginning with the last, the sanctuary; which being glorious, he advanceth the glory of Christ from the place of his ministry above it.
For is demonstrative of what was asserted Hebrews 9:1, the first visible habitation that God had amongst men, 2 Samuel 7:6, as a token of his gracious presence with them. This tabernacle consisted of three parts, of the court where stood the brazen altar of burnt offerings, the brazen laver for the priests to wash the sacrifices in, and to purify themselves when they came and offered them upon the altar, Exodus 27:1, &c.; Exodus 30:17-21 38:1-20 40:28-33. This court the Holy Ghost here leaves out. Separated from this court by a veil was the first tent or tabernacle, called the sanctuary, or holy place, where the priest did the daily service, which is called the first, Exodus 26:36 40:22-29. Inward of this, and separated by a veil, was the holy of holiest, where the ark was, and where the high priest only entered once a year, Exodus 25:10,22 40:20,21. This tabernacle was according to God’s pattern and command, prepared, finished, and reared up by Moses, Exodus 40:1-38.
The first; the sanctuary, or holy place, separated by one veil from the holy of holiest, and from the court by another, had in it the following sacred utensils.
The candlestick; for matter and form answering God’s pattern, as Exodus 25:31,40 37:17,25 40:24,25. It was of pure gold, and of six branches artificially wrought, by which was typified that Spirit of light which Christ giveth to the true tabernacle, his body mystical, the church wherein God dwelleth, not unusually set out by lamps, Revelation 4:5. And by reason of that light is the church set out by the emblem of candlesticks, Revelation 1:4,12,13,20.
The table; for matter, of plates of pure gold covering the shittim wood, and a crowning verge of gold round it, Exodus 25:23-30 37:10-16 Exodus 40:22,23. Most excellent for its spiritual use, setting out Christ in all his excellencies, well stored and furnished for his; which the Jews by their unbelief and profaneness made contemptible, Malachi 1:7.
The shewbread was twelve cakes made and set on the table, new every sabbath day in the morning, and when taken away were to be eaten by the priests only, Exodus 25:30 40:23 Leviticus 24:5-9. However, on David’s necessity God dispensed with that law, and allowed him to eat of it, Mark 2:26. This was an emblem of God’s provision for the twelve tribes, the type of his church; and the bestowing on them the bread of life from heaven, the all-sufficient food for them, John 6:32-58; compare Colossians 2:16,17.
Which is called the sanctuary; which first tabernacle was called the holy place or sanctuary, being relatively so, as God’s tent, and no otherwise, so is it styled by the Spirit, Exodus 26:33.
the first; that is, the first part of the tabernacle, called the holy place, in distinction from the holy of holies, which was the second part of the tabernacle; for otherwise there were not a first and a second tabernacle; there never was but one tabernacle:
wherein was the candlestick; that this was in the tabernacle, and on the south side of it, and without the vail, where the apostle has placed it, is plain from Exodus 26:35. This was wanting in the second temple (o): it was a type of Christ mystical, or the church; in the general use of it, to hold forth light, so the church holds forth the light of the Gospel, being put into it by Christ; in the matter of it, which was pure gold, denoting the purity, worth, splendour, glory, and duration of the church; in the parts of it, it had one shaft in the middle of it, in which all the parts met and cemented, typical of Christ the principal, and head of the church, whose situation is in the midst of the church, and who unites all together, and is but one: the six branches of it may intend all the members of the church, and especially the ministers of the word; the seven lamps with oil in them, may have a respect to the seven spirits of God, or the Spirit of God with his gifts and graces, and a profession of religion with grace along with it: and it was typical of the church in its ornaments and decorations; its bowls, knops, and flowers, may signify the various gifts of the Spirit, beautifying ministers, and fitting them for usefulness; and in the appurtenances of it, the tongs and snuff dishes may signify church discipline, censures, and excommunications.
And the table and the shewbread; the table, with the shewbread on it, was also in the tabernacle, on the north side of it, and without the vail, Exodus 26:35. This was also wanting in the second temple (p): the table was typical of Christ, and of communion with him; of the person of Christ; in the matter of it, which was Shittim wood overlaid with gold, whereby were signified the two natures of Christ in one person; the human nature by the Shittim wood, which is incorruptible, for though he died he saw no corruption, and is risen again, and lives for ever; and the divine nature by the gold, all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him; and in the decorations of it, as the border, golden crown, &c. which may respect the fulness of his grace, and the honour and glory he is crowned with, which render him exceeding valuable and precious: and it may be typical of communion with him, either hereafter, when the saints shall sit with him as at a table, and eat and drink with him in the kingdom of his Father; or here, to which Christ admits them, and than which nothing is more honourable, comfortable, and desirable; and it may be significative of the ministration of the word and ordinances, of which Christ is the sum and substance, and in which he grants his people fellowship with him: to this table belonged rings and bars to carry it from place to place, which was done by the priests; where the church is, there Christ is, and there is the ministration of his word and ordinances; and which are sometimes moved from one place to another, by the ministers of the word, according to divine direction. The "shewbread", on the table, was typical either of the church of Christ, the saints, who may be signified by the unleavened cakes, being true and sincere, and without the leaven of malice and hypocrisy; and by twelve of them, which may represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the whole spiritual Israel of God; and by bread of faces, as the word for shewbread may be rendered, since they are always before the Lord, and his eyes are continually upon them; they are set upon the pure table, Christ, on whom they are safe, and by whom they are accepted with God: and the shewbread being set in rows, may denote their order and harmony; and their being removed every sabbath day, may signify the succession of saints in the church, as one is removed, another is brought in; and the frankincense put upon each row, shows them to be a sweet savour to God: or else the shewbread was typical of Christ himself, who is the bread of life, the food of his people; and may be signified by the shewbread for its fineness and purity, being made of fine flour, Christ is the finest of the wheat, bread from heaven, and angels' food; for its quantity, twelve cakes, with Christ, is bread enough, and to spare, for all the elect; for its continuance, Christ always abides, and such as feed upon him live for ever; for its gratefulness, Christ's flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed; and for its being only for the priests, as only such who are made priests to God, live by faith on Christ; see Leviticus 25:5. Moreover, the intercession of Christ may be prefigured by the shewbread, or bread of faces, he being the angel of God's presence or face, who appears in the presence of God for his people; and this consisting of twelve loaves, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, shows that Christ represents the whole Israel of God in heaven, and intercedes for them; and whereas the shewbread always continued, no sooner was one set of loaves removed, but another was put in their room; this may point at the continual intercession of Christ for his people; and the frankincense may denote the acceptableness of it to God.
Which is called the sanctuary; or "holy"; this refers either to the first part of the tabernacle, which was called the holy place, in which the priests in common ministered; or else to the things which were in it, now mentioned, the candlestick table, and shewbread; to which the Ethiopic version adds, and the golden censer, which it leaves out in the fourth verse; which version renders these words, "and these they call holy"; and so the Arabic version, "which are called holy things", as they were, as well as the place in which they were; so the candlestick is called the holy candlestick in the Apocrypha,
"As the clear light is upon the holy candlestick; so is the beauty of the face in ripe age.'' (Sirach 26:17)
and the ark, candlestick, table, censer, and altar, are called "holy vessels", by Philo the Jew (q); but the former sense seems best, when compared with the following verse.For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Hebrews 9:2-5. Unfolding of the collective idea τὸ ἅγιον κοσμικόν, as regards its several essential component parts. That the author has before his mind the Jewish sanctuary in its original form, i.e. the Mosaic tabernacle, is evident alike from the expression σκηνή, as from the use of the aorist κατεσκευάσθη. That, however, he likewise thinks of this original disposition as still preserved in the temple of his day, is manifest partly from the present λέγεται immediately following, partly from the proposition: τούτων δὲ οὕτως κατεσκευασμένων … εἰσίασιν, Hebrews 9:6.
σκηνὴ γὰρ κατεσκευάσθη ἡ πρώτη] for a tent was prepared (set up), namely, the first or anterior one (the fore-tent). σκηνή stands first as the general notion, and only acquires its nearer definition by the ἡ πρώτη afterwards brought in, without, however, our having, with Beza, Bloomfield, and others, to place a comma after κατεσκευάσθη. That σκηνὴ ἡ πρώτη is not to be combined immediately in one, as expressing the signification: “the fore-part of the tent” (so Valckenaer, who compares in ultimis aedibus, and the like; also Delitzsch), is shown—although such acceptation presents no grammatical difficulty—by the corresponding σκηνὴ ἡ λεγομένη ἅγια ἁγίων, Hebrews 9:3, whence it follows that the author is regarding the two divisions of the tent separated by the veil in front of the Most Holy Place as two tents.
πρώτη] not temporal, but local.
κατεσκευάσθη] namely by Moses, at the behest of God (comp. Hebrews 8:5).
ἐν ᾗ ἥ τε λυχνία] sc. ἐστίν (not ἦν, Alford, Kurtz, against which λέγεται and Hebrews 9:6 are decisive): in which there is the candlestick (or lamp-stand). Comp. Exodus 25:31-39; Exodus 37:17-24; Bähr, Symbolik des Mos. Cultus, Bd. I., Heidelb. 1837, p. 412 ff. In the temple of Herod, too, there was, according to Josephus, de Bello Jud. v. 5. 5, vii. 5. 5, only one lamp-stand in the Holy Place, while in the temple of Solomon there were ten of them present; comp. 1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 4:7.
καὶ ἡ τράπεζα καὶ ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων] and the table and the setting forth of the bread (or loaves), i.e. wherein is found the table, and the sacred custom is observed of placing thereon the shew-bread. Comp. Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 590. Wrongly do Vatablus, Zeger, Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Bengel, Bloomfield, and others explain ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων as hypallage or antiptosis for οἱ ἄρτοι τῆς προθέσεως. Yet more unwarrantably do Valckenaer (and similarly Heinrichs) maintain that ἡ τράπεζα καὶ ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων is equivalent to ἡ τράπεζα τῶν ἄρτων τῆς προθέσεως. According to Tholuck, Delitzsch, Alford, Maier, Kluge, and Moll, πρόθεσις is, like the Hebrew מַעֲרֶכֶת, to be taken concretely, strues panum. But πρόθεσις never has the passive signification of strues. On the matter itself, comp. Exodus 25:23-30; Exodus 26:35; Exodus 37:10-16; Leviticus 24:5-9; Bähr, l.c. p. 407 ff.
ἥτις] sc. σκηνὴ ἡ πρώτη. Not conjoined with the mere ἥ, because the fact alleged is something which is familiar to the readers.
ἅγια] Holy Place (קֹדֶשׁ). So (as neuter plur.), not, with Erasmus, Luther, Er. Schmid, Mill, Whitby, Heinrichs, and others, ἁγία (as fem. sing.), have we to accentuate the word. It stands opposed to the ἅγια ἁγίων, Hebrews 9:3, and denotes the Holy Place, or the outer portion of the tabernacle, in opposition to the Most Holy Place, or the more secluded, inner portion of the same. Likewise with the LXX. and with Philo, the plural τὰ ἅγια in this sense is interchanged with the singular τὸ ἅγιον.
ἅγια, however, not τὰ ἅγια, is placed, because the author was less concerned about mentioning the definite name coined for the expression thereof, than about bringing out the signification which this name has.2. made] “prepared” or “established.” He treats of the Sanctuary in 2–5, and of the Services in 6–10.
the first] By this is not meant the Tabernacle in contrast with the Temple, but “the outer chamber (or Holy Place).” It is however true that the writer is thinking exclusively of the Tabernacle of the Wilderness, which was the proper representative of the worship of the Old Covenant. He seems to have regarded the later Temples as deflections from the divine pattern, and he wanted to take all that was Judaic at its best. His description applies to the Tabernacle only. It is doubtful whether the seven-branched candlestick was preserved in the Temple of Solomon; there was certainly no ark or mercy-seat, much less a Shechinah, in the Herodian Temple of this period. When Pompey profanely forced his way into the Holy of Holies he found to his great astonishment nothing whatever (vacua omnia).
was] Rather, “is.” The whole tabernacle is ideally present to the writer’s imagination.
the candlestick] Exodus 25:31-39; Exodus 37:17-24. The word would more accurately be rendered “lamp-stand.” In Solomon’s temple there seem to have been ten (1 Kings 7:49). There was indeed one only in the Herodian temple (1Ma 1:21; 1Ma 4:49; Jos. Antt. xii. 7. § 6, and allusions in the Talmud). It could not however have exactly resembled the famous figure carved on the Arch of Titus (as Josephus hints in a mysterious phrase, Jos. B. J. vii. 5. § 5), for that has marine monsters carved upon its pediment, which would have been a direct violation of the second commandment.
and the table] Exodus 25:23-30; Exodus 37:10-16. There were ten such tables of acacia-wood overlaid with gold in Solomon’s temple (2 Chronicles 4:8; 2 Chronicles 4:19).
and the shewbread] Lit. “the setting forth of the loaves.” The Hebrew name for it is “the bread of the face” (i.e. placed before the presence of God), Exodus 25:23-30; Leviticus 24:5-9.
which is called the sanctuary] In the O.T. Kodesh, “the Holy Place.”Hebrews 9:2. Ἡ πρώτη, the first) the anterior tabernacle.—ἥ τε λυχνία καὶ ἡ τράπεζα, the candlestick and the table) A type of light and life.—ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἄρτων, the setting forth of bread) A Metonymy of the abstract for the concrete, i.e. the loaves which were set forth.—ἄγια) The accent is on the first syllable; and the feminine ἥτις, is no objection to this construction, for we have a similar phrase presently, ἡ λεγομένη ἅγια ἁγίων. Τὰ ἅγια often in this epistle signifies the holy of holies; but here ἅγια without the article denotes the holy place or sanctuary, in antithesis to ἅγια ἁγίων, the holy of holies. Some have ἁγία in this place.
 That is, in other words, the last syllable is short, and it is therefore the neuter plural: not long, which would make it feminine singular.—ED.
 Lachm. reads ἅγια ἁγίων, with AD(Δ) corrected f. B reads τὰ ἅγια; Vulg. ‘sancta;’ Tisch. and Elzev. Rec. Text, ἅγια: but Stephens’ Rec. Text ἁγία.—ED.Verses 2-5. - For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbead; which is called the holy place. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holy of holies; having a golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid with gold, wherein was a golden pot having the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; and over it the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy-seat; of which things we cannot now speak particularly. The tabernacle as a whole is first spoken of; and then its two divisions, called respectively "the first 'and "the second" tabernacle. The account of them is from the Pentateuch, and describes them as they originally were. In the then existing temple there were neither ark, mercy-seat, nor cherubim, though the ceremonies were continued as though they had been still there. The ark had been removed or destroyed in the sack by the Chaldeans, and was never replaced (for the Jewish tradition on the subject, see 2 Macc. 2:1-8). Josephus says ('Bell. Jud.,' 5:05. 5) that in the temple of his day there was nothing whatever behind the veil in the holy of holies; and Tacitus informs us ('Hist.,' v 9) that, when Pompey entered the temple, he found there "vacuam sedem et inania arcana." A stone basement is said by the rabbis to have occupied the ark's place, called "lapis fundationis." In the "first tabernacle," called "the holy place" (ἅγια probably, not ἁγία: i.e. a neuter plural, equivalent to "the holies"), the table of shewbread (with its twelve loaves in two rows, changed weekly) stood on the north side, i.e. the right as one approached the veil; and opposite to it, on the left, the seven-branched golden candlestick, or lamp-stand, carrying an oil-lamp on each branch (Exodus 25, 37, 40.). Between them, close to the veil stood the golden altar of incense (ibid.); which, nevertheless, is not mentioned here as part of the furniture of the "first tabernacle," being associated with the "second," for reasons which will be seen. The "second veil" was that between the holy place and the holy of holies (Exodus 36:35), the curtain at the entrance of the holy place (Exodus 36:37) being regarded as the first. The inner sanctuary behind this second veil is spoken of as having (ἔχουσα) in the first place "a golden censer," as the word θυμιατήριον is translated in the A.V. (so also in the Vulgate, thuribulum). But it assuredly means the" golden altar of incense," though this stood locally outside the veil. For
(1) otherwise there would be no mention at all of this altar, which was so important in the symbolism of the tabernacle, and so prominent in the Pentateuch, from which the whole description is taken.
(2) The alternative view of its being a censer reserved for the use of the high priest, when he entered behind the veil on the Day of Atonement, has no support from the Pentateuch, in which no such censer is mentioned as part of the standing furniture of the tabernacle, and none of gold is spoken of at all; nor, had it been so, would it have been placed, any more than the altar of incense, within the veil, since the high priest required it before he entered.
(3) Though the word itself, θυμιατήριον, certainly means" censer," and not "altar of incense," in the LXX., yet in the Hellenistic writers it is otherwise. Philo and Josephus, and also Clemens Alexandrinus and Origen, always call the altar of incense θυμιατήριον χρυσοῦν; and the language of the Epistle is Hellenistic.
(4) The wording does not of necessity imply that what is spoken of was locally within the veil: it is not said (as where the actual contents of the "first tabernacle" and of the ark are spoken of) wherein (ἐν η΅ι), but having (ἔχουσα), which need only mean having as belonging to it, as connected with its symbolism. It was an appendage to the holy of holies, though not actually inside it, in the same way (to use a homely illustration given by Delitzsch) as the sign-board of a shop belongs to the shop and not to the street. It is, indeed, so regarded in the Old Testament. See Exodus 40:5, "Thou shalt set the altar of gold for the incense before the ark of the testimony;" also Exodus 30:6, "Before the mercy-seat that is over the testimony;" and 1 Kings 6:22, "The altar which was by the oracle," or, "belonging to the oracle;" cf. also Isaiah 6:6 and Revelation 8:3, where, in the visions of the heavenly temple based upon the symbolism of the earthly, the altar of incense is associated with the Divine throne. And it was also so associated in the ceremonial of the tabernacle. The smoke of the incense daily offered on it was supposed to penetrate the veil to the holy of holies, representing the sweet savor of intercession before the mercy-seat itself; and on the Day of Atonement, not only was its incense taken by the high priest within the veil, but also it, as well as the mercy-seat, was sprinkled with the atoning blood. Of the rest of the things described as belonging to the holy of holies, it is to be observed that, though none of them were in it when the Epistle was written, yet all (except the pot of manna and Aaron's rod) were essential to its significance, as will be seen; and all, with these two exceptions, were in Solomon's temple as well as in the original tabernacle. An objection that has been raised to the accuracy of the description, on the ground that the pot and the rod are not said in the Pentateuch to have been placed inside the ark, is groundless. They were to be laid up "before the LORD" (Exodus 16:33); "before the testimony" (Numbers 17:10); and "the testimony" elsewhere means the tables of the Law (Exodus 25:16; Exodus 31:18; Exodus 40:20, etc.), which were within the ark. It was most likely that they would be kept for safe preservation in the same place with the" testimony," before which they were ever to be. Further, what is said (1 Kings 8:9 and 2 Chronicles 5:10) of there being nothing in the ark but the two tables of stone when it was moved into Solomon's temple, is no proof that nothing else had been originally there. It seems, indeed, rather to favor the idea that there had been, as implying that something more might have been expected to be found there. The mercy-seat, as is well known, was the cover of the ark, over which the wings of the two cherubim were spread. The expression, "cherubim of glory," probably has reference to the luminous cloud, significant of the Divine presence, which, occasionally at least (there is no sufficient ground for concluding it to have been a permanent manifestation), is said to have been seen above them. The cherubim, whatever their exact significance, are represented as accompaniments of the Divine glory (cf. Isaiah 6. and Ezekiel 1. and 10.).
See on Hebrews 3:3.
The first tabernacle, that is, the first division of the tabernacle. He speaks of the two divisions as two tabernacles.
The table and the shewbread (ἡ τράπεξα καὶ ἡ πρόθεσις τῶν ἀρτῶν)
See Exodus 25:23-30; Exodus 35:13; 2 Chronicles 2:4; 2 Chronicles 13:11. The table and the loaves are treated as one item. Lit. the table and the setting forth of the loaves, that is, the table with its loaves set forth. See on Mark 2:26; see on Acts 11:23.
Which is called the sanctuary (ἥτις - ἅγια)
Since it was thus furnished. See on Hebrews 8:2.
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