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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

Hebrews 7

 

 

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Verses 1-3

1–3.] This forms grammatically but one sentence, μένει being the only verb, and the adjectives ἀπάτωρ &c. being only epithets, not predicates. This has been mistaken by Erasmus, Luther, Calvin, Beza, al., who supply ἐστι to βασιλεὺς σαλήμ and the following clauses.

The epithetal clauses themselves however have some distinction from one another. As far as ἀβραάμ, they are merely axiomatic, or historical, referring to matters of fact: after that they are predicatory, introduced and taken for granted by the Writer.

For this Melchisedek, King of Salem ( מֶלֶךְ שָׁלֵם, Genesis 14:18 . It is doubtful whether this Salem is a short form of Jerusalem, or some other place. Epiphan. Hær. Leviticus 2, vol. i. p. 469, says, περὶ ἧς ἄλλος ἄλλως ἐξέδωκε καὶ ἄλλος ἄλλως· οἱ μὲν γὰρ λέγουσιν αὐτὴν τὴν νῦν ἱερουσαλὴμ καλουμένην,— ἄλλοι δὲ ἔφασαν ἄλλην τινὰ σαλὴμ εἶναι ἐν τῷ πεδίῳ σικίμων καταντικρὺς τῆς νυνὶ νεαπόλεως καλουμένης. Josephus, Antt. i. 10. 2, understands it of Jerusalem: ὁ τῆς σόλυμα πόλεως βασιλεὺς ΄τῆν μέντοι σόλυμα ὕστερον ἐκάλεσαν ἱεροσόλυμα. So also the Targumists and most of the Fathers, from Theophilus ad Autolicum ii. 31, p. 372, and Greek expositors (e. g. Œc., οἴεσθαι δὲ χρὴ ὅτι καὶ σαλὴμ ἐκείνης ἐτύγχανε βασιλεύς, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἱερουσαλήμ): and most modern Commentators: among them being Grot., Drusius, Michaelis, Kuinoel, Gesenius, Hitzig on Isaiah 1:1, Von Raumer, Winer (Realw.), Lünemann, Delitzsch, al. But many others, as Primasius, Jac. Cappell., Whitby, Cellarius, Reland, Rosenmüller, Bleek, Ewald, al., contend that Jerusalem cannot be meant, because Jebus, and not Salem, was its old name, and Salem for Jerusalem occurs only in Psalms 76:2, a song of late date (entitled in the LXX, who however render the word by εἰρήνη, ᾠδὴ πρὸς τὸν ἀσσύριον), and there as a poetical form, for the rhythm’s sake. A prose writer of the primitive date of Genesis would not be likely to use such a form. They therefore suppose that this Salem was that mentioned John 3:23 as near to Ænon, where John baptized: probably also in Genesis 33:18, where LXX, vulg., and E. V. all recognize שלם as the name of a place, though the Targumists, Josephus, al. regard it as an adjective. The same place seems to be mentioned in Judith 4:4, τὸν αὐλῶνα σαλήμ. And for this view, there is very ancient and weighty authority. Jerome, Ep. 73 (126), ad Evagr., vol. i. p. 445, says that he had learned “ex eruditissimis gentis illius, Salem non, ut Josephus et nostri omnes arbitrantur, esse Hierusalem nomen … sed oppidum juxta Seythopolim, quod usque hodie appellatur Salem.” And he goes on to say, “et ostenditur ibi palatium Melchisedec ex magnitudine ruinarum veteris operis ostendens magnitudinem.” And Bleek, from whom this notice is mainly taken, argues with some probability that the Writer of our Epistle can hardly have thought of Jerusalem as indicated by Salem, or he would have pressed, not merely the etymology of the name, but all those sacerdotal associations which belonged to the holy city. Similarly Philo, Legg. Alleg. iii. 25, vol. i. p. 102 ( βασιλέα τε τῆς εἰρήνης, σαλήμ, τοῦτο γὰρ εἰρηνεύεται), though elsewhere (De Somn. ii. 38, p. 691) he urges the sanctity of Jerusalem, and its etymological significance as ὅρασις εἰρήνης. And this latter view seems to me the more probable. As to the further question, whether σαλήμ is here, or by Philo, meant as the name of a place at all, see on Hebrews 7:2), priest of God the most high (so Genesis l. c., כֹּהֵן לְאֵל עֶלְיוֹן . The appellation, here and in the O. T., belongs to the true and only God: cf. Genesis 14:19; Genesis 14:22, where in this same history both Melchisedek and Abraham speak of “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” Philo, in explaining this same office, Legg. Alleg. iii. § 26, p. 103, says, θεοῦ γὰρ ὑψίστου ἐστὶν ἱερεύς, οὐχ ὅτι ἐστί τις ἄλλος οὐχ ὕψιστος· ὁ γὰρ θεός, εἶς ὤν, “ ἐν τῷ οὐρανῷ ἄνω ἐστὶ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς κάτω, καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ἔτι πλὴν αὐτοῦ.” ἀλλὰ τῷ μὴ ταπεινῶς κ. χαμαιζήλως, ὑπερμεγέθως δὲ κ. ὑπεραΰλως κ. ὑψηλῶς νοεῖν περὶ θεοῦ, ἔμφασιν τοῦ ὑψίστου κινεῖ. From the above passages it will appear, that the fact of the Phœnicians in their polytheism having had one god called עֶלְיוֹן, Elion, or ὕψιστος, see Bl., De Wette: Philo Byblius in Euseb. Præpar. Ev. i. 10, p. 36, cannot be any further apposite here, than in so far as that one may have been the true God, whose worship still lingered up and down in heathen countries. The union of the kingly and priestly offices in one belonged to the simplicity of patriarchal times, and is found in Abraham himself, who offers sacrifice: cf. Genesis 15, 22. Bleek cites Serv. ad Æn. iii. 80, “Sane majorum hæc erat consuetudo, ut rex etiam esset sacerdos vel pontifex:” and Arist. Pol. iii. 14, says of the heroic age, στρατηγὸς ἦν κ . δικαστὴς ὁ βασιλεὺς κ. τῶν πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς κύριος. Remember the prophetic announcement Zechariah 6:13, so familiar to every Christian. Our beloved Saviour, as the πατὴρ μέλλοντος αίώνος, restores again that first blessed family relation, which sin had disturbed), who met ( ὁ συναντ. would be by far the simpler construction, and in ὃς συν. we must assume an anacoluthon. It is curious to find, even in De Wette, such a remark as this: “ ὁς, Lachm. after ADE 2 minuscc., requires no notice, as it mars the construction”) Abraham (it was, as the narrative in Gen. literally stands, the king of Sodom, who ἐξῆλθεν εἰς συνάντησιν to Abraham: but Melchisedek is mentioned in the same sentence as having brought forth bread and wine, and must be included in the category of those who came out to meet him also) returning from the defeat of the kings (all this from the LXX, which only differs in having, κοπῆς τοῦ χοδολλογομὸρ καὶ τῶν βας. τῶν μετʼ αὐτοῦ. κοπή in this sense is Hellenistic, as also is κόπτειν used of ‘defeating,’ ‘cutting up’ in war. See Palm and Rost’s Lex.) and blessed him (Gen. Hebrews 7:19; see the argument below, Hebrews 7:6-7), to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth of all (Gen.: καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ ἄβραμ (om. ἄβρ. α) δεκάτην ἀπὸ πάντων: “of all,” viz. the booty which he had taken from the kings: so Jos. Antt. i. 10. 2, τὴν δεκάτην τῆς λείας: and Hebrews 7:4 below. In the narrative, the whole has the solemnity of a formal act; of sacerdotal blessing on the part of Melchisedek, and recognition of him as High Priest of God on the part of Abraham. And so the Jews: the Targum of Pseudo-Jonathan, as cited in Bleek, and Philo, de Abr. § 40, vol. ii. p. 34, ὁ μέγας ἀρχιερεὺς τοῦ μεγίστου θεοῦτὰ ἐπινίκια ἔθυε. The custom of setting apart the tenth to divine uses, was heathen as well as Jewish: see numerous examples in Wetstein.

So far (see the summary above) is purely historical: now follow the inductions from the history: as Chrys., θεὶς τὴν διήγησιν πᾶσαν ἐν συντόμῳ μυστικῶς αὐτὴν ἐθεώρηκε καὶ πρῶτον μὲν ἀπὸ τοῦ ὀνόματος), first indeed being interpreted (i. e. as E. V., “being by interpretation:” his name bearing this meaning when translated into Greek) king of righteousness ( מַלְכִּי־עֶדֶק . So also Josephus, Antt. i. 10. 2, ΄ελχισεδέκης, σημαίνει δὲ τοῦτο βασιλεὺς δίκαιος. And again, B. J. vi. 10, ὁ δὲ πρῶτος κτίσας ( ἱεροσόλυμα) ἦν χαναναίων δυνάστης, ὁ τῇ πατρίῳ γλώσσῃ κληθεὶς βασιλεὺς δίκαιος· ἦν γὰρ δὴ τοιοῦτος. And Philo, Leg. Alleg. iii. 25, vol. i. p. 103. Bleek remarks, that βασιλ. δικαιοσύνης not only comes nearer to the Semitic form, but is no doubt purposely chosen, inasmuch as Melchisedek is a prophetic symbol of Him who is not only righteous, but the fount and ground of all righteousness before God. Zechariah 9:9; Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Daniel 9:24; Malachi 4:2; 1 Corinthians 1:30), and next also (‘being,’ not ‘being interpreted,’ must be supplied. This is plain from the position of ἑρμηνευόμενος after πρῶτον, and from βας. σαλήμ representing a matter of fact, and the interpretation following) King of Salem, which is, King of peace (it has been much disputed, whether σαλήμ is regarded by the Writer as the name of a town at all, and is not rather a portion of the personal appellation of Melchisedek. This latter has been held by Bleek, after Böhme, and Pet. Cunæus de Rep. Hebræorum, iii. 3, mainly from the consideration that no distinction here is made between the two expressions, ‘King of righteousness,’ and ‘King of peace.’ But, as Bl. himself confesses, we may well imagine that the Writer may wish to point out as a remarkable fact, that the city over which Melchisedek reigned, as well as his own name, was of typical significance; and in that case, does not ἔπειτα δὲ καί draw sufficient distinction between his personal appellation and that of his city?

As regards the word itself, it appears that שָׁלֵם is the adjective, peaceful, belonging to the substantive שָׁלוֹם, peace. But Philo takes it as here, Legg. Alleg. iii. 25, vol. i. pp. 102 f., καὶ ΄ελχισεδὲκ βασιλέα τε τῆς εἰρήνης, σαλήμ, τοῦτο γὰρ ἑρμηνεύεται, ἱερέα ἑαυτοῦ πεποίηκεν ὁ θεὸς .… καλείσθω οὖν ὁ μὲν τύραννος ἄρχων πολέμου, ὁ δὲ βασιλεὺς ἡγεμὼν εἰρήνης, σαλήμ. ‘Peace’ is here used in that pregnant and blessed sense in which Christ is said to be “Prince of peace,” Isaiah 9:6; see also Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:14-15; Ephesians 2:17; Colossians 1:20; οὗτος γὰρ ἡμᾶς δικαίους ἐποίησε, καὶ εἰρηνοποίησε τὰ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς καὶ τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς. Chrys. It is peace as the fruit of righteousness, cf. Isaiah 32:17; notice the order here, πρῶτον.… βας. δικαιοσύνης, ἔπειτα δὲ καὶ εἰνήνης. “Righteousness and peace,” says Delitzsch, “form in O. T. prophecy, the characteristic of the times of the Messiah”), without father, without mother, without genealogy (it is very difficult to assign the true meaning to these predicates. The latter of them seems indeed to represent a simple matter of fact: viz. that Melchisedek has not in Genesis any genealogy recorded, by which his descent is shewn (see below). But as to the two former, it cannot well be denied that, while they also may bear a similar sense, viz. that no father and mother of his are recorded in the sacred narrative, it is very possible on the other hand to feel that the Writer would hardly have introduced them so solemnly, hardly have followed them up by such a clause as μήτε ἀρχὴν ἡμερῶν μήτε ζωῆς τέλος ἔχων, unless he had coupled with them far higher ideas than the former supposition implies. I confess this feeling to be present in my own mind:—indeed I feel, that such solemn words as μήτε ἀρχὴν κ. τ. λ. seem to me to decide against that other supposition. So far I think all is clear: but when we come to enquire, what high and mysterious eminence is here allotted to Melchisedek, I own I have no data whereon to decide: nor, I think, is a decision required of us. The Writer assigns to him this mysterious and insulated position, simply as a type of Christ: and this type he is merely by virtue of negations, as far as these epithets are concerned: in what he was not, he surpasses earthly priests, and represents Christ: what he was, is not in the record. I would regard the epithets then as designedly used in this mysterious way, and meant to represent to us, that Melchisedek was a person differing from common men. It remains to give, 1. an account of each word used: 2. a summary of the opinions respecting the passage. 1. ἀπάτωρ, ἀμήτωρ occur in two senses: α. of those who have lost father or mother: so Pollux, Onomast. iii. 2. 4: see Herod. iv. 154: Soph. Trach. 300: Eur. Orest. 304: Herc. Fur. 114 f. This clearly has no place here. β. Of those who, with whatever meaning, can be said not to have had father or mother: whether it be meant literally, as where Plato, Symp. 8, calls the heavenly Aphrodite ἀμήτωρ, οὐρανοῦ θυγάτηρ: so δίας ἀμάτορος παλλάδος, Eur. Phœn. 676: and in Pollux, ὁ μὴ ἔχων μητέρα ἀμήτωρ, ὥσπερ ἡ ἀθηνᾶ, καὶ ἀπάτωρ ὁ μὴ ἔχων πατέρα, ὡς ἥφαιστος (according to a legend that he was the son of Juno alone): see many other examples in Bleek:—or improperly, one whose father or mother is unknown, or ignoble—so Ion, Eur. Ion 850, is said to be ἀμήτωρ, ἀναρίθμητος, as being supposed to be the son of a humble slave: and in Horace’s “viros nullis majoribus ortos,” Sat. i. 6.10: Cic. de Orat. ii. 64, “quibus nec mater nec pater, tanta confidentia estis?” (Bl. observes that neither the “patre nullo” of Livy iv. 3, nor the ὡς ἀμήτωρ ἀπάτωρ τε γεγώς of Ion 109 can be adduced here, because in the former case there was a myth according to which the word might be literally used of Servius Tullius, and in the latter the ὡς deprives the words of their true meaning. Delitzsch has quoted ἀμήτωρ as used of Sarah by Philo, de Ebriet. 14, vol. i. 365 f.: Quis Rer. Div. Hær. 12, p. 481, “quoniam ejus mater in sacris literis non memoratur” (Mangey): but this is not correct, for in both places Philo states the reason to be a mystical one, because she was related to Abraham by the father’s, not by the mother’s side.) ἀγενεαλόγητος occurs only here in all Greek literature. It can only mean, ‘without genealogy.’ But this has been variously understood. Corn. a-Lapide says, “Per genealogiam accipe prosapiam non tam parentum quam filiorum Melchisedech: nam de patre et matre ejus jam dixerat.” “Dicet aliquis,” says Estius, “Quorsum addidit, ‘sine genealogia,’ cum jam dixisset ‘sine patre, sine matre:’ quæ pars genealogiam satis videbatur exclusisse. Responderi potest, ea parte removeri genus, a quo Melchisedech descendit, id est, majores, non autem genus cujus ipse princeps fuit, id est, posteros ac nepotes. Proinde hujus generis gratia additum esse: ‘sine genealogia.’ Nam utroque modo genus accipi constat, etiam apud Græcos, ut et generationem apud Hebræos. Unde est illud Genesis 5, ‘Hic est liber generationis Adam,’ et cap. x., ‘Hæ generationes filiorum Noë,’ et cap. xi., ‘Hæ generationes Tharæ,’ cum posteros eorum vellet recensere. Sic quidem Hieronymus hanc partem intellexit, quando cam interpretatur, sine nuptiis, lib. i. contra Jovinianum. Per nuptias enim genus in posteros propagatur. Unde et Martyr Ignatius in Epistola ad Philadelphios Melchisedech recenset inter sanctos qui cœlibem vitam duxerunt.” But this, which would be at the best but a doubtful deduction from the use of “generatio,” is precluded by Hebrews 7:6, in which ὁ μὴ γενεαλογούμενος ἐξ αὐτῶν clearly shews that it was ancestry, and not posterity, which was in the view of the Writer. 2. In giving a summary of the exegesis of the passage, I have made free use of the abundant materials at hand in the commentary of Bleek. The circumstance that Melchisedek is here stated to be ἀφωμοιωμένος τῷ υἱῷ τοῦ θεοῦ, has led many of the older expositors to regard these epithets as belonging to Melchisedek only in so far as he is a type of the Son of God, and as properly true of Him alone, not of Melchisedek, or only in an improper sense, and a subordinate manner. So Œc., ὁ γὰρ τύπος οὐ κατὰ πάντα ἴσος ἐστὶ τῇ ἀληθείᾳ: Schol. Matth., ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡ εἰκὼν ἀμυδροτέρα τοῦ πρωτοτύπου πρὸς ἐμφέρειαν. Accordingly, they understand ἀπάτωρ of Christ in reference to his Humanity ( ἀπάτωρὡς ἄνθρωπος, ἐκ μόνης γὰρ ἐτέχθη μητρός, τῆς παρθένου φημί. Thdrt.), ἀμήτωρ, in reference to his Divinity ( ὡς θεός, ἐκ μόνου γὰρ γεγέννηται πατρός, id.), and so also ἀγενεαλόγητος ( οὐ γὰρ χρῄζει γενεαλογίας ὁ ἐξ ἀγεννήτου γεγεννημένος πατρός, id.). And so Chrys., Œc., Thl., Marcus Eremita de Melchisedec, § 4 (Migne, Patr. Gr. vol. lxv. p. 1121), Cosmas Indicopleustes (de Mundo v. in Galland. Bibl. Patr. xi. p. 478), Lactantius, Inst. iv. 13, vol. i. p. 482: Ambros. de Fide iii. 11 (88), vol. ii. p. 513 al. And so Corn. a-Lap., Jac. Cappell., Gerhard, Bisping, al. But, however the word ἀπάτωρ might perhaps be conceded to be not unnaturally applied to Christ in virtue of his Humanity, the words ἀμήτωρ and ἀγενεαλόγητος lie so far off any obvious application to his Divinity, that we may safely say this view could not well have been in the Writer’s mind. See further reasons, on the words ἀφωμ. δὲ τῷ υἱ. τ. θεοῦ below, for applying these epithets to Melchisedek, and not to Christ. But when they are so applied, we are met by two widely divergent streams of opinion, partly hinted at in the explanation of the rendering given above. The one of these regards Melchisedek as a superhuman being: the other finds nothing in this description which need point him out as any thing beyond a man. Jerome (see Ep. ad Evagr., vol. i. p. 440 ff.) had received from Evagrius an anonymous work (which in all probability was the “Quæstiones in V. et N. Test.,” by Hilarius the deacon), in which the “quæstio famosissima super Pontifice Melchisedec” was treated, and the writer tried to prove him “divinioris naturæ fuisse, nec de hominibus æstimandum: et ad extremum ausus est dicere, Spiritum Sanctum occurrisse Abrahæ, et ipsum esse qui sub hominis figura visus sit.” This strange opinion moved Jerome “revolvere veterum libros, ut videret quid singuli dicerent.” And he found that Origen, in his 1st Hom. on Genesis (now lost), maintained him to have been an angel, as did Didymus the follower of Origen. Then he examined Hippolytus, Eusebius of Cæsarea, and Eus. of Emesa, Apollinarius, Eustathius of Antioch, and found that all these held him to have been a man of Canaan, King of Jerusalem, and endeavoured to prove it in different ways. He then mentions the opinion of the Jews, that Melchisedek was Shem, the eldest son of Noah; and gives their calculation that this may well have been, for Shem survived Abraham forty years. On this he pronounces no opinion. The view, that Melchisedek was the Holy Ghost, was also entertained by Hieracas the Egyptian, and by a branch of the Theodotian heretics, founded by a younger Theodotus (Epiphan. Hær. lv. vol. i. pp. 468 ff.: Aug(34) de Hær. c. 34, vol. viii.), and called Melchisedekites: and Marcus Eremita (cir. 400), who wrote a treatise on M., mentions heretics who believed him to be ὁ θεὸς λόγος, πρὶν σαρκωθῆναι ἢ ἐκ ΄αρίας γεννηθῆναι. This opinion Epiphanius, Hær. Leviticus 7, mentions as held by some within the Church: and Ambrose, from his remarks, De Mysteriis ch. 8 (46), vol. ii. p. 337: De Sacram. iv. 3 (12), p. 368 f.: De Abrahamo i. 3 (16), vol. i. p. 288, seems to have held this: though, De Fide as above, he expressly states him to have been merely a holy man, a type of Christ. This last view was ever the prevalent one in the Church. Cyr.-alex., Glaphyr. ii. vol. ii. pp. 46 ff., combats the two opinions that Melchisedek was a vision of the Holy Spirit, and that he was a great angel.

In later times the idea that he was the Son of God was revived by Molinæus (Vates, iv. 11 f.), by Cunæus (cited above), by Hottinger (De Decimis Judæorum, p. 15), Gaillard (M. Christus Unicus Rex Pacis, Ludg. Bat. 1686), and others. The theory that he was Shem has found many advocates: Lyra, Cajetan, Luther (on Genesis 15), Melanchthon, Chemnitz, Gerhard, Selden (De Decimis, § 1), al. Jurieu (Histoire Crit. i. 10) believes him to have been Ham; Hulse (M. una cum Parente e Tenebris emergens, Lugd. Bat. 1706) and Calmet (Dissert. ii. pp. 271 f.), to have been Enoch reappearing on earth. Bleek refers, besides the above, for the general subject, to Deyling, Observv. Sacræ p. ii. pp. 71–87 (edn. 3, Lips. 1733): Fabricii Cod. Pseudepig. O. T. pp. 311–314 (edn. 2, 1722): Calmet, Bibl. Biblioth. pt. iv., where many dissertations are mentioned. A theory which identified Melchisedek with Job is mentioned by Wolf, Curæ Phil. in loc., and has recently been revived by Mr. Galloway, in his work, Egypt’s Record of Time), having neither beginning of days nor end of life (these words are again taken by most Commentators to mean, that of Melchisedek, neither beginning of days nor end of life are related in Scripture. Some, e. g. Beza (as a deduction from the other: “ævi ac proinde sacerdotii”), Camero, Schlicht., Wittich, al., take ἀρχήν for the beginning of his sacerdotal life: others as Camero, Seb. Schmidt, Limborch, Schleusner, Kuinoel, take τέλος also for the end of his priestly life: “Nullus ante eum defunctus est sacerdotio cui ipse deinde successit.… nullus commemoratur ei successisse in sacerdotio: qua in re typus fuit Christi,” Camero. But however ζωῆς τέλος may be legitimately thus referred, seeing that his priesthood and his life would expire together, ἀρχὴν ἡμερῶν can hardly be understood of any thing but his natural life, especially as following ἀπάτωρ, &c., and in the presence of the general biblical usage of αἱ ἡμέραι τινός as a man’s lifetime. Accordingly most expositors take the words in this their natural sense and interpret them as above. So Chrys. on Psalms 110 § 8, vol. v. p. 277, οὔτε ἀρχὴν οὖν ἡμερῶν φαίνεται ἔχων οὔτε ζωῆς τέλος ὁ ΄., οὐ τῷ μὴ ἔχειν, ἀλλὰ τῷ μὴ γενεαλογηθῆναι· ὁ δὲ ἰησοῦςτῷ καθʼ ὅλον μὴ εἶναι ἐπʼ αὐτοῦ ἀρχὴν χρονικὴν μηδὲ τέλος· τὸ μὲν γὰρ ἦν σκιά, τὸ δὲ ἀλήθεια. Similarly Thdrt.: Eranistes, Dial. ii. vol. i. p. 88 f.: Cyr.-alex. Glaph. ii. p. 63: Primasius, who ends, “neque enim sub quo natus est Melchisedek legitur, neque quando mortuus est narratur, sed subito introducitur sicut et Elias.” Again however no one, I think, can help feeling that such an interpretation is in fact no worthy acceptation of these solemn words of the sacred Writer. The expressions become incomparably more natural, as Bleek says, if the Writer really meant that M. had not, as mortal men, a definite beginning and end of his life. It really would seem to me almost childish, to say thus solemnly of any whose acts were related in the O. T., but whose birth and death were not related, that they had neither beginning of days nor end of life. Suppose e. g. such a thing were said of Hobab, father-in-law of Moses. Here again Delitzsch, who takes strongly the other view, quotes from Philo an expression respecting Cain which he supposes analogous: ὁ καῒν οὐκ ἀποθανεῖται, τὸ κακίας σύμβολον, ἣν ἀεὶ δεῖ ζῆν ἐν τῷ θνητῷ γένει παρʼ ἀνθρώπους. But surely it is hardly legitimate to conclude that, because Philo means only thus much, the Writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews means no more), but (yea, rather) likened to the Son of God ( ἀφομοιόω (reff.) is a classical word. Plato, Rep. ii. 382 D, ἀφομοιοῦντες τῇ ἀληθεῖ τὸ φεῦδες: al. in Bl. Aristot. Polit. i., τὰ εἴδη τῶν θεῶν ἑαυτοῖς ἀφομοιοῦνται οἱ ἄνθρωποι. This clause stands alone and pendent, like the preceding, and must not be taken with μένει ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸ διηνεκές, as Syr. (“sed in similitudinem filii Dei manet sacerdos in æternum:” “but in the likeness of the Son of Aloha standeth his priesthood for ever.” Etheridge’s version), Schlichting (“assimilatus filio Dei, i. e. illic ubi comparatus est cum Christo. Non enim usquam Scriptura de Melchisedeco seorsim et expresse dixit, eum manere sacerdotem in perpetuum: sed tantum in comparatione cum Christo, in illis nempe verbis de Christo positis, Tu es Sacerdos” &c.). To this there are three objections: 1. it would be extremely unnatural to say that from a text where it is said that the Son of God is a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek, Melchisedek himself derives the character of remaining a priest for ever: 2. it would be but a poor way of proving the eternal priesthood of Christ, to shew that He is a priest after the order of one who only appeared to have, but really had not, such eternal priesthood: and 3. it is clearly not in respect of priesthood that the ἀφομοίωσις is here meant, but in respect of the foregoing predicates: for it is as to these only that the Son of God would be an archetype for Melchisedek, seeing that, in respect of priesthood, Melchisedek was chronologically prior to our Lord. So Thdrt., τούτου χάριν (in reference to the ἀΐδιος γέννησις and the ἀθάνατος φύσις of the Son of God) οὐ τὸν δεσπότην χριστὸν τῷ ΄ελχισεδὲκ ἀφωμοίωσεν, ἀλλὰ τὸν ΄. τῷ χριστῷ· ἐκεῖνος γὰρ τούτου τύπος, οὗτος δὲ τοῦ τύπου ἡ ἀλήθεια· ἐν μέντοι τῇ ἱερωσύνῃ, οὐ ΄ελχισεδὲκ μεμίμηται τὸν δεσπότην χριστόν, ἀλλʼ ὁ δεσπότης χριστὸς ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ΄ελχισεδέκ, in loc.: so also Eranistes, Dial. ii. vol. i. p. 88.

These very words shew that the Writer does not regard Melchisedek as an appearance of the Son of God: and are so adduced by Epiphan. Hær. Leviticus 7, p. 474: οὐ γάρ τις ἑαυτῷ ὅμοιος γενήσεταί ποτε. The sense is then that Melchisedek, in being ἀπάτωρ ἀμήτωρ ἀγενεαλόγητος, μήτε ἀρχὴν ἡμερῶν μήτε ζωῆς τέλος ἔχων, personally, not typically, resembles the Son of God—in his personal attributes, as the Son of God subsequently in His incarnation, resembled him in His priesthood), remaineth priest for ever ( εἰς τὸ διηνεκές = εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα above, ch. Hebrews 6:20; and see reff. The expression is one which must be interpreted in each case by the context in which it occurs. Thus Sylla and Cæsar were chosen dictators εἰς τὸ διηνεκές, “dictatores perpetui,” that is, for life: Appian, B. C. i. p. 682. But that is no reason why here, where an eternal priesthood is in question, it should mean for life: indeed such meaning would be absurd, seeing that all were priests for life. In that case too, we should not have the present μένει. All kinds of ways have been devised to escape the plain assertion of these words. Most Commentators have had recourse to the same as before, viz. that no end of his priesthood is related to us in Scripture: so Œc., Thl., Cyr.-alex., Epiphan., and many moderns. Schlichting takes it, that as our Lord’s High Priesthood, which is said to be eternal, will endure to that time when the high-priestly office will cease, so Melchisedek’s priesthood is said to endure for ever, “quod et sacerdotium per longum aliquod temporis spatium egerit, et cum ipso veri Dei cultus et notitia inter homines illos extincta fuerit, ita ut sacerdotio, quod quidem vero Deo dicatum foret, nullus inter eos relictus esset locus. In æternum enim aliquid durare dicitur, quod et per longum tempus durat, et tamdiu duret quamdiu natura ipsius rei patitur. Sic David Deum so in æternum laudaturum dixit,” &c. Stier says, “He stands in Scripture as a type of an eternal priest:” but the question here is not of type, but of fact. Tholuck, “He remains, in so far as the type remains in the antitype, in so far as his priesthood remains in Christ,” after Primas., Haym(35), Thos. Aq. But thus type and antitype are hopelessly confounded. Christ is to be proved to be a High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek. Can we conceive then that the Writer, in setting forth what the order and attributes of Melchisedek are, should go back to Christ to find them? Again, to shew to what shifts interpreters have been reduced here, Jac. Cappellus, Pyle, Peirce, and Storr, actually understand ὅς before μένει, and construe, “made like to the Son of God, who abideth” &c. Every thing shews that which has been maintained all through this difficult passage, that the assertions are made, and this chief one is above all made, simply of Melchisedek, and they are, as matters of fact, inferred and laid down by the sacred Writer from the historic notices of him. What further inference lies from such dignity being here put on Melchisedek, is not, as I before said, for us to enquire: certainly, none which can in any way interfere with Christ’s eternal and sole priesthood, can be correct. It is one of those things in which we must not be wise above that which is written, but must take simply and trustingly the plain sense of our Bibles on a deep and mysterious subject, and leave it for the day when all shall be clear, to give us full revelation on the matter. See on the whole, Bleek’s long and interesting note, to which I must again acknowledge my obligations, and with which in the main I agree, against most expositors, and among them De Wette, Tholuck, Lünemann, Ebrard, and Delitzsch).


Verses 1-10

1–10.] The priesthood of Melchisedek: its nature, as eternal (Hebrews 7:1-3); as superior to the Levitical (Hebrews 7:4-10).


Verses 1-18

CHAP. Hebrews 7:1 to Hebrews 10:18.] THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST AFTER THE ORDER OF MELCHISEDEK, SET FORTH IN ITS DISTINCTION FROM THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD:—THE NEW COVENANT BROUGHT IN BY CHRIST, IN ITS DISTINCTION FROM THE OLD:—AND THE FULL PROPITIATION WROUGHT BY HIM, IN DISTINCTION FROM THE PROPITIATORY SACRIFICES FORMERLY OFFERED. And herein,


Verse 4

4.] But observe (some take θεωρεῖτε indicative, but the imperative seems far better, both with regard to the sense of the verb, and the requirements of the context. The δέ also tends to sharpen up the verb. The distinction between θεωρέω and ὁράω, as behold and see, is, it is true, not always observed (see Luke 24:39; John 4:19; John 12:19; Acts 17:22), still less that laid down in Phavorinus, ὁρῶ μὲν ἐπὶ σώματος, θεωρῶ δὲ ἐπὶ ψυχῆς: but where the context plainly allows of the distinction, it ought to be borne in mind: so Demosth. p. 19. 23, θεωρῶν καὶ σκοπῶν εὑρίσκω: 93. 9, θεωρεῖτε γὰρ τὸ παρὸν πρῶτον ὃ γίνεται: Ceb. Tab. 38, σὺ τοίνυν οὕτω θεώρησον: and other examples in Bleek) how great (‘quantus qualisque,’ of what dignity and personal excellence) this man (was) (let it be noticed that the argument still puts forward the personal dignity of Melchisedek, in a way quite inconsistent with the commonly received interpretation of the predicates above), to whom Abraham paid tithes also (went so far as to pay tithes, the καί belonging to δεκάτην ἔδωκεν, and of these, rather to δεκάτην, separated as it is from its verb), from the best (of the spoil) ( τὰ ἀκροθίνια, neut. plur. from ἀκροθίνιος,—literally that which comes from the top of an heap, and so the first-fruits, usually of spoils: Bl. quotes from the Schol. on Eur. Phœn. 213, ἀκροθίνια κυρίως αἱ τῶν καρπῶν ἀπαρχαί, παρὰ τὸν θῖνα, ὅ ἐστι, τὸν σῶρον τῆς ἅλω, καταχρηστικῶς δὲ λέγονται καὶ αἱ ἀπαρχαὶ τῆς λείας. So Herod. viii. 121, πρῶτα μὲν νῦν τοῖσι θεοῖσι ἐξεῖλον ἀκροθίνια ἄλλα τε καὶ τριήρεας τρεῖς φοινίσσας, and 122, πέμψαντες δὲ ἀκροθίνια οἱ ἕλληνες ἐς δελφούς. See many more examples in Wetst., Elsner, and Kypke. And in consequence, some have pressed here the proper meaning, and understood, that Abraham gave to Melchisedek the tenth of that portion of the spoil which was already set apart for God. But, considering that these words merely take up δεκάτην ἀπὸ πάντων of Hebrews 7:2 and of Genesis, it is more natural to understand τὰ ἀκροθίνια in a wider and less proper sense, of the booty itself, as indeed all booty brought away might be considered as the primitiæ, the choice part, in contradistinction to the more worthless portion which was left behind. This general sense does not indeed appear in classic Greek, nor elsewhere in Hellenistic: and when Hesych. and Phavorinus give as alternative meanings, σκῦλα, and τὰ ἀπὸ τῶν πολέμων λάφυρα, it is probable that this passage was before them. So that Bleek, with Hammond and Grotius, would understand, after Thl., ἐκ τῶν ἀκροθινίων, τουτέστιν ἐκ τῶν λαφύρων τῶν κρειττόνων καὶ τιμιωτέρων. This he thinks is favoured by the ἐκ, which rather indicates that whereof the tithe consisted, than that of which ( ἀπό) it was the tithe), the patriarch (added at the end of the sentence to emphasize the title: ‘and he, the illustrious patriarch:’ οὐχ ὁ τυχὼν ἄνθρωπος, ἀλλʼ ὁ ἀβραάμ, ὁ τοσοῦτος, ὁ πατριάρχης· οὐκ ἀλόγως γὰρ τὸ πατριάρχης προσέθηκεν, ἀλλʼ ἵνʼ ἐξάρῃ τὸ πρόσωπον. Thl. Tholuck has noticed the full rhythm of the word itself, as forming the foot called Ionicus a minore, with which, and the Pæon tertius, orators love to end their sentences. “The word πατριάρχης is Hellenistic: formed from ἀρχή and πατριά, the last in the Hellenistic sense denoting single families and lines of descent, the minor subdivisions of races. It is often found in the LXX version of the Chronicles for the heads of these families. Later however it was used to signify also the head and originator of a race; in Acts 7:8-9, it is used of the twelve sons of Jacob, as heads of the tribes; in 4 Maccabees 7:19, of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; in Acts 2:29, of David.” Bleek).


Verses 4-10

4–10.] See summary at Hebrews 7:1. The Melchisedek priesthood greater than the Levitical, shewn by the fact that Melchisedek received tithes of Abraham and blessed him ( Hebrews 7:4-8), and potentially, in Abraham, Levi ( Hebrews 7:9-10).


Verse 5

5.] Continuation of Hebrews 7:4, setting forth the reason of the πηλίκος. And (‘et quidem:’ the E. V. “and verily,” is rather too strong) they of the sons of Levi who receive the priesthood (or, and perhaps more properly, ‘they of the sons of Levi, when they receive the priesthood:’ in either case meaning the family of Aaron, not as Wolf, al., the whole tribe of Levi, which indeed was appointed by God to receive tithes, see Numbers 18:20; the words οἱ ἐκ τῶν υἱῶν λ. will not admit of this interpretation. The Writer speaks of the custom, whereby not all the Levites, but the priests only, received tithes. λαμβάνοντες, as frequently, ‘capessentes,’ taking as of course and right: Xen. Cyr. i. 5. 2, ὁ δὲ κυαξάρης.… τὴν ἀρχὴν ἔλαβε τῶν ΄ήδων. ἱερατείαν, the office of priest: mostly a late word, Dion. Hal., al.: but also found in Aristot. Pol. vii. 8, τὴν περὶ τοὺς θεοὺς ἐπιμέλειαν, ἣν καλοῦσιν ἱερατείαν. In Hebrews 7:11-12; Hebrews 7:24, ἱερωσύνη is used in the same sense. If any distinction is to be made between the two words, it would rather seem to be the opposite of that laid down by Schulz and others: ἱερατεία seems more to denote the service of the priest, ἱερωσύνη the office and power. So in Aristot. above: so Herod. iii. 142, ἱερωσύνηναἱρεῦμαι αὐτῷ τε ἐμοὶ καὶ τοῖσι ἀπʼ ἐμεῦ αἰεὶ γινομένοισι, τοῦ διὸς τ. ἐλευθερίου,—and Demosth. p. 1313. 20, προεκρίθην ἐν τοῖς εὐγενεστάτοις κληροῦσθαι τῆς ἱερωσύνης τῷ ἡρακλεῖ) have commandment to take tithes of ( δεκατεύω is the Greek form, - όωthe Hellenistic. See reff.) the people according to the law (the words κατὰ τὸν νόμον have been joined by Seb. Schmidt, Hammond, al., to τὸν λαόν: “the (people according to law):” i. e. either God’s people, who were under the law, or those who according to the law were the λαός, in distinction from the priests and Levites, as οἱ δὲ ἱερεῖς καὶ ὁ λαός, Exodus 19:24. But, though an article after λαόν would not be, as commonly supposed, absolutely required in such a construction (witness οἱ νεκροὶ ἐν χριστῷ, τοῖς κυρίοις κατὰ σάρκα, and the like), yet it is difficult to imagine the construction without it here. Bleek would refer the words to ἐντολὴν ἔχουσιν, justifying it by ch. Hebrews 9:19, λαληθείσης γὰρ πάσης ἐντολῆς κατὰ τὸν νόμον ὑπὸ ΄ωυσέως, where however it is far better to join it with λαληθείσης. If it there belonged to πάσης ἐντολῆς, we should certainly expect either τῆς, or τῶν, κατὰ τὸν νόμον.

The commandment referred to, on the ordinary construction of the first words of the verse would be Numbers 18:20-32. But it seems more natural to understand those first words as I have given them in the alternative there, and then κατὰ τὸν νόμον falls into its place easily: ‘Those of the sons of Levi, when they are invested with the priesthood, receive commandment to tithe the people according to the law.’ On the ways in which the right of tithe was understood at different times, and how it became at length attached to the priesthood only, see Bleek’s note), that is, their brethren, though come out of the loins of Abraham (the formula ἐξέρχεσθαι ἐκ τῆς ὀσφ. for to spring from, as an ancestor, is only Hellenistic, arising from the rendering by the LXX of the Heb. יָצָא מֵחַלְצֵי, as in reff. Compare ἐκ τῶν πλευρῶν σου, 3 Kings 8:19; ἐκ τῶν μηρῶν αὐτοῦ, Genesis 46:26 .

The meaning is very difficult to assign. Certainly it cannot be as Bleek, after Böhme, “Abrahamidas quidem, sed fratres tamen:” for this quite reverses the τουτέστιν and καίπερ. I take this to be intended: by the first clause, τουτέστιν τοὺς ἀδελφοὺς αὐτῶν, that the Levitical tithe right was all within the limits of one race, a privilege ‘de Abrahamide in Abrahamidem,’ and therefore less to be wondered at, and involving less difference between man and man, than the tithe right of Melchisedek over Abraham, one of different race, and indeed over all his progeny with him. Then the second clause, καίπερ ἐξεληλυθότας ἐκ τῆς ὀσφύος ἀβρ., is inserted to shew the deep subjection of the ordinary Abrahamid to the Melchisedek priesthood, seeing that, notwithstanding his privilege of descent, he was subjected to his own priest, his brother, who in turn paid tithes in Abraham to Melchisedek).


Verse 6

6.] But (apodosis to μέν, Hebrews 7:5), he whose pedigree is never (see below) reckoned from them (contrast— οἱ ἐκ τῶν υἱῶν λευεί,— ὁ μὴ γενεαλογούμενος ἐξ αὐτῶν: also speaking for the connexion above advocated in Hebrews 7:5. The present part. gives the sense, ‘who is not in the habit of having his genealogy made out’ …, whose descent no one thinks of deducing. This is also indicated by the subjective μή. Had it been οὐ (as οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι, 1 Peter 2:10) it would denote the mere matter of fact,—‘of whom no such genealogy exists.’ This is better than with Winer, edn. 6, § 55. 5, to regard the μή as only a stronger form of negation. The verb is good Greek: the Egyptian priests in Herodotus, ἑκαταίῳ γενεηλογήσαντι ἑωϋτὸν.… ἀντεγενεηλόγησαν κ. τ. λ., ii. 143, see also ib. 146; and in Xen. Symp. iv. 51, we have γενεαλογοῦσι τὴν συγγένειαν.

ἐξ αὐτῶν, viz. τῶν υἱῶν λευεί: not as Epiphan. Hær. lxvii. 7, p. 716, a-Lapide, al., τῶν υἱῶν ἰσραήλ, nor as Grot., from Levi and Abraham: and it means ‘from them,’ i. e. their line of descent) hath taken tithes of Abraham (not took, aor. The sentence is cast into this form, because of the enduring nature of the office and priesthood of Melchisedek, which is given by the perfect tense. Doubtless the perfect might be used without any such reference, meaning, ‘as the fact now stands:’ indicating, as Winer, § 40. 4, that the fact endures in its significance: see below, Hebrews 7:9; but considering the connexion here, I prefer supposing it to have been intended) and hath blessed the possessor of the promises (Klee would urge the present sense of the participle; “him who now possesses the promises;” but there seems to be no necessity for this. I should rather take ὁ ἔχων τὰς ἐπαγ. for a quasi-official designation of Abraham (see on ch. Hebrews 6:12) as the possessor of the promises. As to the sense, Œc. has well expressed it: ἐξῆρε τὸν ἀβραάμ, ἵνα πλεῖον ἐξάρῃ τὸν ΄ελχισεδέκ):


Verse 7

7.] and (our English ‘and’ is the nearest to this use of δέ, which is a faint ‘but,’ introducing merely a new proposition. Were it not in the middle of a sentence, ‘now’ after a period would best give its sense) without all controversy ( πάντες δὲ κοινῶς καὶ ἀναντιῤῥήτως οἴδαμεν. Thl. See on ch. Hebrews 6:16), the less is blessed by the better (the neuters here serve entirely to generalize, as in τὸ κατέχον οἴδατε, 2 Thessalonians 2:6, taken up by ὁ κατέχων, Hebrews 7:7; see reff.; and Winer, § 27. 5. So Thuc. iii. 11, τὰ κράτιστα ἐπὶ τοὺς ὑποδεεστέρους ξυνεπῆγον: Xen. Anab. vii. 3. 11. On κρείττων, see note, ch. Hebrews 1:4. It is obvious that the axiom here laid down only holds good where the blessing is a solemn and official one, as of a father, or a priest: as was the case here. In such cases the blesser stands in the place of God, and as so standing is of superior dignity).


Verse 8

8.] Second item of superiority, in that M.’s is an enduring,—the Levitical a transitory priesthood. And here indeed ( ὧδε, ‘ut res nunc se habent:’ the Levitical priesthood being still in existence in the Writer’s time: οἱ μὲν γὰρ ὧδε, τουτέστιν, ἐν τῷ νόμῳ λαμβάνοντες δεκάτας. Thl.) men who die ( ἀποθν. first for emphasis as bringing out the point of the argument: but there is also a secondary emphasis on ἄνθρωποι: men, who die. Otherwise it need not have been expressed: see below) receive tithes (plur. as we also use the word, signifying the different sorts of tenths taken of different things): but there ( ἐκεῖ δέ, τουτέστιν ἐν τῷ κατὰ ΄ελχισεδὲκ πράγματι, Thl.), one of whom it is testified ( ἄνθρωπος is not again expressed, nor is it to be supplied. The mysterious character of Melchisedek is still before the Writer. It is hardly needful to say that Christ cannot be meant, as Justiniani, Jac. Cappellus, Heinsius, and Pyle have imagined.

This passive sense of μαρτυροῦμαι (reff.) is unknown in classical Greek.

The testimony meant is certainly that of scripture; probably, that in Psalms 110:4, where an eternal priesthood, and therefore duration, is predicated of Melchisedek. So Thdrt., Bleek, al. It cannot well be, as Calv., Est., Drusius, Grot., Wolf, Bengel, Bisping, al., the mere negative fact of his death not being recorded, which would not amount to a testimony that he lives: and it is improbable that in so express a word as μαρτυρούμενος the Writer should, as Böhme, al. imagine, intend to combine both the positive testimony and the inference from the omission) that he liveth (this clearly cannot be interpreted of the priesthood of Melchisedek enduring, as Œc.: ἢ ἁπλούστερον δέξαι τὸ εἰρημένον, ὅτι ὁ τρόπος τῆς ἱερωσύνης τῶν μὲν λευΐτων, ἀποθνήσκει· καὶ γὰρ ἐπαύσατο, τῆς ἀληθείας φανείσης· ὁ δὲ τοῦ ΄ελχισεδὲκ ζῇ· ζῇ γάρ: for what is here said is eminently personal, and that Melchisedek himself is meant, is shewn by the historical reference to the fact of his receiving tithes of Abraham. As Bleek well remarks, if ἀποθνήσκοντες applies personally to the sons of Levi, ζῇ must also apply personally to Melchisedek).


Verse 9

9.] The Jew might reply, that it was nothing to him, if Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedek: for Abr. was no priest, and therefore paid tithes naturally to a priest: the Writer therefore proceeds to a third proof, shewing that in Abraham even Levi himself, the patriarch of the Jewish priesthood, paid tithes. So Chrys., Thdrt. And so to speak ( τὸ δέ, ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν, ἢ τοῦτο σημαίνει, ὅ τι καὶ ἐν συντόμῳ εἰπεῖν, ἢ ἀντὶ τοῦ ἵνʼ οὕτως εἴπω· ἐπειδὴ γὰρ τόλμημα ἐδόκει τὸ εἰπεῖν ὅτι ὁ λευῒ μήπω εἰς γένεσιν παραχθεὶς ἐδεκατώθη παρὰ τοῦ ΄ελχισεδέκ, ἐκόλασε τοῦτο. Thl. The former of these meanings, ‘in a word,’ is taken by Camerarius, Jac. Cappellus, Erasmus Schmid, Elsner; the latter by vulg. (“ut ita dictum sit”), Erasm., Luther, Beza, Schlichting, Grot., and most Commentators. Bleek has gone into both these meanings, and proved by many examples that either is legitimate. Both in fact run into one. The phrase is used when any thing is about to be said that is unexpected, or somewhat strained, not likely to be universally recognized, at least in the general way in which it is asserted. So sometimes it is used for ‘roughly,’ ‘improperly’—Plato, Legg. ii. 656 E, μυριοστὸν ἔτος.… οὐχ ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν μυριοστόν, ἀλλʼ ὄντως. So that it may be here regarded as introducing and softening a strong saying: as Thl. above) by means of Abraham ( ἀβρ. is genitive, not accusative, as Aug(36) de Genesi ad lit. x. 19 (34), vol. iii. pt. ii., “propter Abraham,” and Phot. ( διὰ τὸν δεκατωθέντα ἀβραάμ)) Levi also, who receiveth tithes (who is the head and representative of the tithe-taking tribe. Indeed the name here is almost a collective one, the personal reference being taken up in the next clause), hath been taken tithes of (on the perfect, see above, Hebrews 7:6):


Verse 10

10.] for he was yet in the loins of his father (i. e. his forefather, Abraham: for Isaac was not yet born, much less Jacob. But we need not hence understand τοῦ πατρός to mean “the patriarch,” as, strange to say, Bleek does. On the expression cf. Hebrews 7:5) when Melchisedek met him (on the questions, for the most part unprofitable (cf. ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν), which have been raised on this proof, see Bleek, Ebrard, and Owen. It may fairly be replied to one of them, whether Christ also did not pay tithe in Abraham, that He never was in the loins of an earthly father).


Verse 11

11.] If again (this seems the nearest English expression to εἰ μὲν οὖν. It takes up the reasoning, not from the point immediately preceding, but from the main line of argument, of which what has just preceded has been merely a co-ordinate illustration. So that it is not necessary to say here, as some have attempted to do, from what point in the preceding chapters the reasoning is resumed. The main line of thought is again referred to, dependently on the promise of Psalms 110:4, as made to our Lord and verified in Him) perfection (in the widest sense: the bringing of man to his highest state, viz, that of salvation and sanctification: see on Hebrews 7:19, οὐδὲν ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος. Commentators have too much limited it: Grot. understands perfection of priesthood (“quod in genere sacerdotii perfectissimum est”): Primasius and Beza, moral perfection: Estius, Schlichting, al., perfect remission of sins. But manifestly these two latter are included in the idea, which is a far more extensive one than either) were ( ἦν may be rendered either by the imperf. subj. or pluperf. subj. The former, ‘if perfection were,’ would imply ‘it is not:’ the latter, ‘if perfection had been,’ would imply, ‘it was not.’ The difficulty of deciding here arises from the apodosis being given in an elliptic form, viz. in that of a question in which the verb is left out) by means of (could be brought about by the instrumentality of) the Levitical priesthood (on ἱερωσύνη, see note, Hebrews 7:5),—for upon it (i. e. τῆς λευϊτικῆς ἱερωσύνης: not as, reading ἐπʼ αὐτῇ, many Commentators, τελειώσει, for the sake of obtaining perfection. Three meanings are legitimate for ἐπʼ αὐτῆς. 1. Concerning it, it being the objective basis or substratum of the νομοθέτησις: as in οὐλέγει.… ὡς ἐπὶ πολλῶν, Galatians 3:16; σημεῖα ἃ ἐποίει ἐπὶ τῶν ἀσθενούντων, John 6:2. This is taken by Schlichting, Grot., Bleek. So ‘disserere’ or ‘scribere super se.’ 2. In its time, as ἐπʼ ὀλυμπιάδος, ἐπʼ ἄρχοντος. 3. On its ground, it being the subjective basis or substratum of the νομοθέτησις: it being presupposed, and the law-giving proceeding on it as ex concesso. This is taken with slight variations, by De Wette, Lünemann, Ebrard, al. And this seems most agreeable to the sense. For (1) would seem hardly to account for the insertion of the parenthesis at all: that the law was enacted concerning the priesthood, would certainly be no reason for here introducing it: still less would the form of the parenthesis thus be accounted for, ὁ λαὸς γὰρ ἐπʼ αὐτῆς νενομ., see below: and (2) again, being a mere notice of date, would not account for the occurrence of the parenthesis. But it we consider the priesthood as the basis on which the law was constructed, so that not the priests only, but the people also (cf. the same παντὶ τῷ λαῷ, πάντα τὸν λαόν, in ch. Hebrews 9:19) were involved in the question of the dignity and finality of the priesthood, then a sufficient reason seems to be gained for inserting the parenthesis: q. d. not only they, but the whole system of which the priesthood was the basis and centre) the people (emphatic: not ἐπʼ αὐτῆς γὰρ ὁ λαός, but ὁ λαὸς γὰρ ἐπʼ αὐτῆς: see above) hath received the law (the verb νομοθετεῖν is common both in classical and Hellenistic Greek. It is used sometimes with a dative of the person, so Xen. Apol. 15, περὶ λυκούργου τοῦ λακεδαιμονίοις νομοθετήσαντος,—sometimes with an accus. of the thing, so Xen. Rep. Laced. Hebrews 7:1, ἃ μὲν οὖν ἑκάστῃ ἡλικίᾳ ἐνομοθέτησεν ὁ λυκοῦργος. The use of the passive hence is obvious: and although not justified by Greek usage, finds a parallel in such expressions as πιστεύομαί τι, εὐαγγελίζομαι, &c.: see Winer, § 39. 1, edn. 6. The LXX use the word rather differently, for to teach: e. g. Psalms 24:8, νομοθετήσει ἁμαρτάνοντας ἐν ὁδῷ,—Hebrews 7:12, νομοθετήσει αὐτῷ ἐν ὁδῷ: Ps. 118:33, νομοθέτησόν με κύριε τὴν ὁδὸν τῶν δικαιωμάτων σου. The perfect is used, as indicating the fact that the people was still remaining and observing the law),—what further need (was there) (what need after that,—any longer, that being so: so Sext. Empir. cited by Wetst.: εἰ δὲ ἅπαξ ἐξ ὑποθέσεως λαμβάνεταί τινα, καί ἐστι πιστά, τίς ἔτι χρεία ἀποδεικνύναι αὐτά;) that a different priest ( ἕτερον, more than ἄλλον—not only another, but of a different kind) should arise (Herod. iii. 66, σμέρδινβασιλέα ἀνεστεῶτα. See reff. There is no idea in it of suddenness or unexpectedness, as Böhme (not Tholuck in his last edn.)), after the order of Melchisedek, and that he (the priest that should arise) is said to be not after the order of Aaron (there have been various views as to the construction. Some, as Faber Stap., Luther, al., take the whole as one sentence only, thus: τίς ἔτι χρεία λέγεσθαι κατὰ τ. τάξ. ΄. ἕτ. ἀνίστ. ἱερέα, κ. οὐ κατὰ τ. τάξ. ἀαρ., “what further need was there for it to be said that another priest should arise, after Melchisedek’s, and not after Aaron’s order?” But thus we should have expected ἀνίστ. to be future (this perhaps is not decisive, but notwithstanding Tholuck’s protest against Bleek, I cannot help still believing it would have been so): besides that the transposition of the infinitives is very harsh (Tholuck tries to justify this by ὅσῳτοσούτῳ τὸ τί χρὴ ποιεῖν συμβουλεῦσαι χαλεπώτερον εἶναι, Demosth. p. 66. But the case is not parallel, inasmuch as there is no ambiguity in it). Besides which, ἕτερα can hardly have any other meaning than that in Hebrews 7:15, not = ἄλλος, but implying diversity of nature and order: in which case it cannot be the subject to λέγεσθαι, which has κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ἀαρών for its predicate, thus nullifying the ἕτερον. So that we must either take λέγεσθαι impersonal, ‘that it is said,’ or, which is preferable, supply as above, ‘that he (the coming priest) is said.’ οὐ would more naturally be μή, in a sentence expressing necessity, which of itself involves a judgment, see Hartung, Partikell. ii. 125. But in such cases οὐ may stand where the denial is carried in the particle itself, which seems to bring out a negative expression as set over against a positive one: e. g. Aristoph. Eccles. 581, ἀλλʼ οὐ μέλλειν ἀλλʼ ἅπτεσθαι καὶ δὴ χρὴ τὰς διανοίας: Thuc. i. 51, ὑποτοπήσαντες ἀπʼ ἀθηνῶν εἶναι οὐχ ὅσας ἑώρων ἀλλὰ πλείους. So here the οὐ must be closely joined with κατὰ τὴν τάξιν ἀαρ., not with λέγεσθαι: or we must with Bleek suppose that χρεία ἦν or ἠδύνατο is to be supplied with οὐ)?


Verses 11-25

11–25.] Further proofs of the perfection of Christ’s priesthood, as compared with the Levitical: (heb 7:11–14) in that He sprang from a tribe not recognized as a priestly one by the law, thus setting aside the law: (heb 7:15–19) in that He was constituted priest not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life, thus impugning the former commandment as weak and unprofitable: (heb 7:20–22) in that He was made with an oath, they without one: (heb 7:23, 24) in that they by reason of their transitoriness were many, He, one and unchangeable.


Verse 12

12.] For if the priesthood is changed (better thus than E. V., “the priesthood being changed,” which gives the reader the idea of μετατιθείσης), there takes place of necessity a change of the law (not ‘of law,’ which would be decidedly wrong, and would require τοῦ νόμου, as in a general sentence, implying ‘the law’ of the particular case in view; νόμου, anarthrous, means that law, which had already begun to be used as a proper name, the well-known law of Moses) also (viz. of that law, which, as above, is legislated upon the ground of that priesthood: not, as Beza, Grot., al., of the law of the priesthood only, nor as Calvin, a-Lapide, Jac. Cappell., Böhme, Kuinoel, al., of the ceremonial law only. Chrys. says rightly: εἰ δὲ ἕτερον δεῖ ἱερέα εἶναι, μᾶλλον δὲ ἑτέραν ἱερωσύνην, ἀνάγκη καὶ νόμον ἕτερον εἶναι· τοῦτο δὲ πρὸς τοὺς λέγοντας· τί ἔδει καινῆς διαθήκης; The connexion is with the parenthesis in Hebrews 7:11, which was inserted to prepare the way for our verse. Bleek, De Wette, al. deny the reference to the parenthetical clause in Hebrews 7:11, and regard our verse as preparing the way for what follows: “It lays down the ground, why not without urgent cause a change of the priesthood took place” (De W.), that cause being that the law itself was to be abrogated. The Writer as yet expresses himself mildly and cautiously: the μετάθεσις here in fact amounts to the ἀθέτησις in Hebrews 7:18, but is not yet so expressed).


Verse 13

13.] Confirmation of the position that a change is made in the law, by another fact indicative of a change in the priesthood. For He with reference to whom (cf. reff.: and ὠς ἐπὶ τὸ πᾶν εἰπεῖν, Plato, Legg. ii. p. 667 D) these things (viz. the promise in Psalms 110.: not, these which I am now saying) are said, is member of (hath taken part in: the perfect implying the enduring of His humanity) a different tribe (from that of Levi, which has been already sufficiently indicated in the preceding context), of which (sprung from which, coming from which, see reff.) no one hath (ever, to this day) given attention (applied himself, see ch. Hebrews 2:1, note; and reff. So Demosth. p. 10. 25, τῷ πολέμῳ προσέχειν: Xen. Mem. iv. 1. 2, ταχὺ μανθάνειν οἷς προσέχοιεν: Polyæn. p. 415, ταῖς γεωργίαις προσεῖχον) to the altar (i. e. as a general and normal practice, had any thing to do with the service of the priesthood).


Verse 14

14.] Proof of Hebrews 7:13. For it is plain to all ( πρόδηλον, of that which lies before men’s eyes, plain and undoubted. τὸ πρόδηλον, ὡς ἀναντίῤῥητον τέθεικε, Thdrt. Jos. B. J. ii. 3. 1, πρόδηλον ἦν τὸ ἔθνος οὐκ ἠρεμῆσον: and other examples in Wetst. and Bleek) that our Lord (this is the only place in Scripture where Christ is called by this appellation, now so familiar to us, without the addition of either His personal or official name. 2 Peter 3:15, τὴν μακροθυμίαν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, is hardly an exception: see there) hath arisen (some have thought that this word, which, as an intransitive verb, is generally used of the heavenly bodies, has reference to our Lord’s rising as a Sun of righteousness: so Malachi 4:2, ἀνατελεῖ ὑμῖνἥλιος δικαιοσύνης: Isaiah 60:1, ἥκει σου τὸ φῶς κ. ἡ δόξα κυρίου ἐπί σε ἀνατέταλκεν: Numbers 24:17, ἀνατελεῖ ἄστρον ἐξ ἰακώβ, to which Thl. thinks there is allusion here: σεμνὴ ἡ λέξις τὸ ἀνατέταλκε, καὶ ἐκ τῆς τοῦ βαλαὰμ προφητείας ληφθεῖσα καὶ ἐκ τοῦ ΄αλαχίου κ. τ. λ. And it is quite legitimate, and a very beautiful thought, to regard these sublime ideas as having been in the Writer’s mind, while at the same time we confess, that the word is used of the springing or rising up of other things, e. g. of water, Herod. iv. 52: and especially of the sprouting of plants—Jos. Antt. i. 1, εὐθὺς φυτά τε καὶ σπέρματα γῆθεν ἀνέτειλεν: and see reff. And in this sense probably is ἀνατολή given as the rendering of צֶמַח, “Branch,” Zechariah 3:1 ; Zechariah 6:12, though the two ideas, of the Sun, and of a branch, came to be mingled together, as in Luke 1:78) out of Judah (this word may be the name, either of the tribe, or of the patriarch. From Genesis 49:9-10, it would appear to be the personal name: but preceded and followed as it is here by φυλῆς ἐτέρας, and εἰς ἣν φυλήν, it would rather seem to be that of the tribe), with reference to ( εἰς nearly as ἐπί above; that which is said with reference to any one, being regarded as tending towards, and finding its issue in him: for its usage, see reff.) which tribe Moses said nothing concerning priests (i. e. nothing to imply that any priest should be or be consecrated out of it: πάντα γὰρ τὰ τῆς ἱερωσύνης εἰς τὴν λευϊτικὴν ἀνέθηκε φυλήν. Thl.).


Verse 15

15.] And it (viz. the change of the law; the proposition of Hebrews 7:12.: so Œc., οὐ μόνον ἔνθεν δῆλόν ἐστιν, ὅτι ἐνηλλάγη ἥ τε λατρεία καὶ ἡ διαθήκηἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ἐκείνου περισσῶς δῆλόν ἐστινκαὶ ἐκ τούτου κατάδηλός ἐστιν ἥ τε ἐναλλαγὴ καὶ ἡ μετάθεσις τῆς παλαιᾶς διαθήκης. Chrys. takes ‘it’ to mean the distinction between the Levitical and the N. T. High Priesthood: τί ἐστι κατάδηλον; τὸ μέσον τῆς ἱερωσύνης. Jac. Cappellus, and Bengel—“illud quod in Hebrews 7:11 asseritur, nullam consummationem factam esse per sacerdotium Leviticum,” and so Delitzsch. Primasius, Hammond, al., that the priesthood is altered: Ebrard strangely supplies, “that our Lord sprung from Judah:” indeed his whole comment on this verse is one of those curiosities of exegesis which unhappily abound in his otherwise valuable commentary. But the alteration of the law is the proposition here: and so Estius, Schlichting, Seb. Schmidt, Kuinoel, Tholuck, Bleek, Lünem., al.) is yet more abundantly (see for περισσότερον, on ch. Hebrews 2:1) manifest ( κατάδηλος is another stronger form of δῆλος, common in the classics (reff.), but found only here in LXX and N. T.), if (i. e. siquidem, seeing that: τὸ εἰ ἀντὶ τοῦ ὅτι νοήσεις, ἤγουν ἐπειδή, Œc.: “si … rem dubitative loquitur, sed affirmative, quasi diceret … quia” &c., Primasius, in Bleek. See reff. ὅτι could not well have been used here, as the reader would have connected it with κατάδηλον, ‘it is evident, that’ &c.) according to the similitude of (= κατὰ τὴν τάξιν before) Melchisedek ariseth a different priest (it is best to take ἱερεὺς ἕτερος as the subject, ἕτερος being a mere epithet: not, as Schulz (also in Hebrews 7:11), ἱερεύς predicatively, “another ariseth as priest,” nor as some (?) mentioned by Lünem., to take ἱερεύς and ἕτερος both predicatively, “He ariseth as another priest,” viz. our Lord).


Verses 15-17

15–17.] Another proof that the law is changed (set aside): for our Lord could not be of the law (= Levitical priesthood), seeing He is an eternal Priest.


Verse 16

16.] who (viz. ἱερεὺς ἕτερος. τίς; ὁ ΄ελχισεδὲκ οὗτος; οὔ ἀλλʼ ὁ χριστός. Chrys.: and so Œc. Thl. mentions both ways of taking it, and expounds both at some length) is appointed (hath become priest) not according to the law of a carnal commandment (i. e. not in accordance with, following out, the rule and order of an exterior ordinance founded on the present fleshly and decaying state of things. So Thdrt., σαρκικὴν γὰρ ἐντολὴν τοῦτο κέκληκεν, ὡς τοῦ νόμου διὰ τὸ θνητὸν τῶν ἀνθρώπων κελεύοντος, μετὰ τὴν τοῦ ἀρχιερέως τελευτήν, τὸν ἐκείνου παῖδα τὴν ἱερωσύνην λαμβάνειν. And so most Commentators. But others take νόμος to mean strictly the law of Moses as a whole, and ἐντολῆς σαρκίνης as = a plural, and designating the character of those commandments of which the law was composed. So Syr., Chrys. ( καλῶς αὐτόντὸν νόμονἐντολὴν ἐκάλεσε σαρκικήν· πάντα γὰρ ὅσα διωρίζετο σαρκικὰ ἦν. τὸ γὰρ λέγειν, περίτεμε τὴν σάρκα, χρῖσον τ. σάρκα, λοῦσον τ. σάρκα, καθάρισον τ. σάρκα, περίκειρον τ. σάρκα, ἐπίδησον τ. σάρκα, θρέψον τ. σάρκα, ἀργῆσον τῇ σαρκί, ταῦτα, εἰπέ μοι, οὐχὶ σαρκικά; εἰ δὲ θέλεις μαθεῖν καὶ τίνα ἃ ἐπηγγέλλετο ἀγαθά, ἄκουε· πολλὴ ζωή, φησί, τῇ σαρκί, γάλα κ. μέλι τῇ σαρκί, εἰρήνη τῇ σαρκί, τρυφὴ τῇ σαρκί. ἀπὸ τούτου τοῦ νόμου τὴν ἱερωσύνην ἔλαβεν ὁ ἀαρών· ὁ μέντοι ΄ελχισεδὲκ οὐχ οὕτω), Œc. ( τί ἐστι, κατὰ νόμον ἐντ. σαρκ.; ὅτι ὁ νόμος τὰς ἐντολὰς σαρκικὰς εἶχεν, οἷον περιτομήν, ἀργίαν, τόδε φαγεῖν κ. τόδε μὴ φαγεῖν, ὅπερ σαρκός ἦν κ. οὐ ψυχῆς καθάρεσια· οὐ γέγονιν οὖν ἀρχιερεὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου τοῦ τὰς σαρκικὰς ἐντολὰς ἐντελλομένου). Other Commentators, who take νόμον as I have done above, yet understand σαρκίνης as a subjective epithet, a law which was in itself transitory: so Böhme, Kuinoel, al.), but according to the power of an indissoluble life (the two clauses closely correspond in rhythm, as is much the practice of the Writer. The power here spoken of does not, however, strictly correspond, in its relation to the priesthood spoken of, with ‘the law of a carnal commandment’ above. That was the rule, by and after which the priesthood was constituted: this, the vigour inherent in the glorious priesthood of Christ,—for it is of His enduring Melchisedek-priesthood in glory (see Delitzsch and Hofmann) that this is spoken—to endure for ever. Camero, Calovius, al., have thought δύναμις to be, Christ’s power to confer life on others: Carpzov, al., the enduring nature of the divine decree which constituted this priesthood: but both are shewn to be wrong by the next verse, in which the ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα is the point brought out).


Verse 17

17.] Proof of the last clause: κατασκευάζει πῶς εἶπε τὸ ἀκαταλύτου ζωῆς, καί φησιν ὅτι ἡ γραφὴ λέγει αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα εἶναι ἱερέα. Thl. The stress of the citation is on εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. For he (the ἱερεὺς ἓτερος) is borne witness of that (just as in μαρτυρούμενος ὅτι ζῇ, Hebrews 7:8. The ὅτι belongs, not to the citation, but to the verb. If the rec. μαρτυρεῖ be taken, ὁ θεός must be supplied, as in ch. Hebrews 1:6, and passim in this Epistle. And then also the ὅτι belongs to the verb) Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.


Verse 18-19

18, 19.] These verses belong to the proof of 15–17, expanding the conclusion thence derived, and expressing it more decidedly than before in Hebrews 7:12.

For moreover ( μὲν γάρ, at the same time that by the γάρ it carries on the reasoning, by the elliptic μέν suggests some succeeding position as introduced by a δέ. So Eurip. Med. 698, ξυγγνωστὰ μὲν γὰρ ἦν σε λυπεῖσθαι, γύναι—“certainly, I concede it, thy grief was pardonable, … (but …):” and in a sentence made as an example, ἐγὼ μὲν καὶ διονύσιος ἐδειπνοῦμεν, σὺ μὲν γὰρ οὐ παρεγένου—“for you, you will remember, were not there (but we were).” See Hartung, Partikell. ii. 414. So here we may regard the μέν as elliptical, and pointing at an understood contrast in the permanence of the ζωὴ ἀκατάλυτος just mentioned. It is hardly possible, even with the right construction of the sentence (see below), to regard this μέν as answering to the δέ following ἐπεισαγωγή: its connexion with the γάρ will not allow this. If this had been intended, we should have expected the form of the sentence to be ἀθέτησις γὰρ γίνεται τῆς μὲν προαγούσης ἐντολῆς) there takes place ( ἀπὸ κοινοῦ τὸ γίνεται, Œc.: that is, it belongs to both ἀθέτησις and ἐπεισαγωγή—see below) an abrogation ( τί ἐστιν ἀθέτησις; ἄμειψις, ἐκβολή, Chrys.: ἀθέτησις, τουτέστιν ἐναλλαγὴ κ. ἐκβολή, Thl. Though no where else found in all Greek, except in the two places in this Epistle, it is a perfectly regular word from ἀθετέω, as νουθέτησις, νομοθέτησις) of the preceding commandment ( ἐντολῆς is anarthrous because the epithet προαγούσης is thrown strongly forward into emphasis, which emphasis would be weakened by τῆς preceding, and altogether lost in τῆς ἐντολῆς τῆς προαγούσης. The ἐντολή intended is that mentioned in Hebrews 7:16, according to which the priesthood was constituted, not, as Chrys., Thdrt., Œc., Thl., Prim., Calv., Grot., Hamm., Kuinoel, al., the whole Mosaic law, however much that may be involved in the assertion, cf. the parenthesis in Hebrews 7:11. This commandment went before—not merely in time, but was an introduction to and gave way before the greater and final ordinance) on account of its weakness and unprofitableness (on the neuter concrete where the abstract substantive would rather be looked for, see Winer, edn. 6, § 34. 2, and besides reff., Romans 2:4; Romans 9:22; ch. Hebrews 6:17 al. Romans 8:3, as Galatians 4:9, is remarkably parallel, both in thought and mode of expression: one of those coincidences which could hardly take place where there was not community of thought and diction),—for the law perfected nothing (this parenthetical clause is inserted to explain the implication contained in αὐτῆς ἀσθενὲς κ. ἀνωφελές. The law had not the power to bring any thing whatever to perfection, to its appointed end and excellence:—perfection, in any kind, was not by the law. This assertion must not be limited by making οὐδέν represent a masculine, as Chrys. ( τὶ ἐστιν, οὐδὲν ἐτελείωσεν; οὐδένα, φησίν, τέλειον εἰργάσατο παρακουόμενος. ἄλλως δέ· οὐδὲ εἰ ἠκούσθη, τέλειον ἐποίησεν ἂν καὶ ἐνάρετον. τέως δὲ οὐ τοῦτό φησιν ὁ λόγος ἐνταῦθα, ἀλλʼ ὃτι οὐδὲν ἴσχυσε· καὶ εἰκότως· γράμματα γὰρ ἦν κείμενα, τόδε πρᾶττε καὶ τόδε μὴ πρᾶττε· ὑποτιθέμενα μόνον, οὐχὶ δὲ καὶ δύναμιν ἐντιθέντα. ἡ δὲ ἐλπὶς οὐ τοιαύτη). Similarly Œc. and Thl.),—and ( δέ, see above on μὲν γάρ: ‘and’ is the only English conjunction which will preserve the true connexion and construction of the sentence) (there takes place; γίνεται belongs to this also, see below) an introduction ( ἐπεισαγωγή, superintroductio, a bringing in besides: the law being already there, this is brought in to and upon it: see ref.) of a better hope (the contrast is between the προάγουσα ἐντολή, weak and unprofitable, and a better thing, viz. the ἐλπίς which brings us near to God. This κρείττονός τινος, τουτέστιν, ἐλπίδος κ. τ. λ., is expressed by κρείττονος ἐλπίδος. This seems more natural, than with Chrys., Œc., Thl., Prim., to suppose any comparison between the earthly hopes held out in the old covenant, and the heavenly hope of the new ( εἶχε καὶ ὁ νόμος ἐλπίδα, φησίν, ἀλλʼ οὐ τοιαύτην· ἤλπιζον γὰρ εὐαρεστήσαντες ἕξειν τὴν γῆν, μηδὲν πείσεσθαι δεινόν· ἐνταῦθα δὲ ἐλπίζομεν εὐαρεστήσαντες, οὐ γῆν καθέξειν, ἀλλὰ τὸν οὐρανόν. Chrys.)), by means of which we draw near to God (this note, of personal access to God, has been twice struck before, ch. Hebrews 4:16; Hebrews 6:19, and is further on in the Epistle expanded into a whole strain of argument. See ch. Hebrews 9:11 ff.; Hebrews 10:19 ff. It is that access, which was only carnally and symbolically open to them by shedding of the blood of sacrifices, but has been spiritually and really opened to us by the shedding of Christ’s blood once for all, so that we being justified by faith can approach the very throne of God. The word ἐγγίζειν is the technical term in the LXX for the drawing near of the priests in their sacrificial ministrations.

Notice the reading ἐγγίζωμεν, found in A al., as throwing light on the famous ἔχωμεν, Romans 5:1). It remains to treat of the connexion of the above sentence, Hebrews 7:18-19, which has been entirely mistaken by many, and among them by E. V. The ending clause, ἐπεισαγωγὴ δὲ κ. τ. λ., has been wrongly joined with οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐτελείωσεν ὁ νόμος: and that, either, 1. as subject to ἐτελείωσεν, as E. V., “but the bringing in of a better hope did” (Beza appears here, as in so many other cases, to have led our translators into error; and so also render Castellio, Paræus, Schlichting, Seb. Schmidt, Michaelis, Stuart, al.): or, 2. as predicate to νόμος preceding, “For the law perfected nothing, but was the introduction,” &c. So Faber Stap., Erasmus (par., “Lex … in hoc data est ad tempus ut nos perduceret ad spem meliorem”), Vatabl., Calvin, Jac. Cappel., Pyle, al. This latter is successfully impugned by Beza, on the ground that the law was not an ἐπεισαγωγή at all, from the very meaning (see above) of that word. The form of the sentence is also against it, in which the first member of the predicate, οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐτελ. ὁ ν., has a definite verb expressed, whereas the verb of the second member would have to be understood. But neither is Beza’s own connexion allowable: for first, it would be difficult to take out a positive verb and object from the clause οὐδὲν γὰρ ἐτελ. ὁ νόμος to supply after the subject ἐπεισαγωγή: secondly, there is no proper opposition in the arrangement of the two clauses οὐδὲν γὰρἐπεισαγωγὴ δέ: as the object was thrown emphatically forward in the first, so should it be at least expressed in the second: and thirdly, the position and anarthrousness of ἐπεισαγωγή itself are against the rendering: we should at least expect ἡ δὲ ἐπεισαγωγή, and probably ἡ δὲ κρείττονος ἐλπίδος ἐπεισαγ. There is a third alternative, which Calvin takes, “nihil enim lex perfecit, sed accessit introductio.” But this, though tolerable sense, is harsher than either of the others. Ebrard indeed approves it, and in his usual slashing manner calls the interpretation of Bleek &c. ein sinnloser Gedanke: but as usual also, he misunderstands the intent of that Gedanke: viz. that in these words, σύ ἱερεὺς εἰς τὸν αἰ. κ. τ. λ., there takes place both the ἀθέτησις and the ἐπεισαγωγή—a thought which, whether right or wrong, is surely not without sense.


Verses 20-22

20–22.] See summary at Hebrews 7:11. Further proof of the superiority of the Melchisedek-priesthood of Christin that he was constituted in it by an oath, thus giving it a solemnity and weight which that other priesthood had not. And inasmuch as (it was) not without an oath (Thdrt. and some of the older Commentators (hardly Chrys.) join this clause with the former verse, and understand it to apply to the certainty of the κρείττων ἐλπίς. αὕτη ἡμᾶς προσοικειοῖ τῷ θεῷ· ὅρκος δὲ ἡμῖν βεβαιοῖ τοῦ θεοῦ τὴν ὑπόσχεσιν. Thdrt. And so Calvin, “Nihil enim lex perfecit, sed accessit introductio ad spem potiorem per quam appropinquamus Deo: atque hoc potiorem, quod non absque jurejurando res acta sit.” So Luther. The vulg., “et quantum est, non sine jurejurando,” is apparently meant as an exclamation, as indeed Primas. and Justiniani take it. But there can be little doubt that the right connexion is to take καθʼ ὅσον as the protasis, the following, οἱ μέν to αἰῶνα, as a parenthesis, and κατὰ τοσοῦτο κ. τ. λ. as the apodosis. So, distinctly, Thl. (having before said on καθʼ ὅσον κ. τ. λ.,— ἰδοὺ ἄλλη διαφορὰ τοῦ τε νέου ἱερέως πρὸς τοὺς παλαιοὺς κ. τ. λ., he explains κατὰ τοσοῦτο, τουτέστι, καθόσον ὤμοσεν ἀεὶ αὐτὸν ἔσεσθαι ἱερέα). And so I believe Chrys. meant, though ordinarily quoted on the other side. He is by no means clear: and indeed the notes of his lectures on parts of this Epistle are evidently very imperfect. So almost all the modern Commentators, including Delitzsch. As regards the ellipsis here, it is variously supplied. Some fill it up out of the apodosis, διαθήκης ἔγγυος γέγονε. And this seems on the whole more natural, and more agreeable to the style of our Epistle, than to put in, as E. V. after Œc., and Bengel, Lünem., al., γέγονεν ἀρχιερεύς, or as Bleek, al., τοῦτο (viz. ἐπεισαγωγὴ κρείττονος ἐλπίδος) γέγονεν (or γίνεται). ἡ ὁρκωμοσία, the swearing of an oath, is not found in classical Greek, but τὰ ὁρκωμόσια, in Plato, Phædr. p. 241 A, and Crito, p. 120 B, θύματα or ἱερεῖα being understood. Still, as Wolf remarks, ἡ ἀπωμοσία, ἡ διωμοσία, and many similar forms, are actually found),—for they, as we know (on μὲν γάρ, see above, Hebrews 7:18), without swearing of an oath are made priests ( εἰσὶν γεγονότες, not only for the sake of rhythm, but as more strongly marking the existence of these priests at the time of writing. The quasi-aoristic use of γεγόνασιν is so common, that it would not convey to the reader here the meaning intended. Paulus and Klee render, “are without an oath made priests:” Böhme, “sunt sacerdotes, sed sine juramento (illi quidem singuli deinceps) facti:” which would require εἰσὶν ἱερεῖς χωρὶς ὁρκ. γεγονότες. Michaelis would render it “fuerunt, i. e. esse desierunt:” which is against both grammar and context), but He with swearing of an oath, by Him who saith (i. e. certainly not the Psalmist, as some (hardly Schlichting), who cannot be said to have spoken this πρὸς αὐτόν, unless indeed we take πρός in the mere secondary sense of ‘with reference to.’ In the following citation it is the words of address only to which this refers: the former part is the mere introduction to them. Not seeing this has led to the above mistake. It was God who addressed Him, God who made Him priest, God who sware unto Him) to Him, The Lord ( κύριος, as commonly in LXX, for יְהֹוָה ) sware, and will not repent (so ref. Jer. Heb., וְלֹא יִנָּחֵם : i. e. the decree stands fast, and shall undergo no change). Thou art a priest for ever (see var. readd.):—of so much (in that same proportion, viz. as the difference between the oath and no oath indicates) better a testament (the meanings of διαθήκη, 1. an appointment, without concurrence of a second party, of somewhat concerning that second party,—of which nature is a last will and testament; 2. a mutual agreement in which all parties concerned consent, = a covenant, in the proper sense,—being confessed, our business here is, not, as Ebrard absurdly maintains, to enquire what is the fixed theological acceptance of the word, and so to render it here, irrespective of any subsequent usage by our Writer himself; but to enquire, 1. how he uses it in this Epistle, 2. whether he is likely to have used it in more than one sense:—and to render accordingly. Now it cannot well be doubted, that in ch. Hebrews 9:16-17, he does use it in the sense of “testament.” And just as little can it be questioned, that he is speaking there of the same thing as here; that the καινὴ διαθήκη there answers to the κρείττων διαθήκη here, this first mention of it being in fact preparatory to that fuller treatment. I therefore keep here to the E. V., which Bleek also approves in spite of Ebrard’s strong but silly dictum, that every passage is to be interpreted as a reader would understand it who had never read any further) also hath Jesus become surety ( ἔγγυος, see reff., occurs in the Apocrypha, and in the later classics, e. g. Xen. Vectig. iv. 20, τῷ δημοσίῳ ἐστὶ λαβεῖν ἐγγύους παρὰ τῶν μισθουμένων, and Polyb. in reff.: but the form ἐγγυντής is much more common. Bl. remarks that Moeris’s notice is wrong, ἔγγυον ἀττικῶς, ἐγγυητὴν ἑλληνικῶς. “Jesus is become the surety of the better covenant, i. e. in His person security and certainty is given to men, that a better covenant is made and sanctioned by God. For Christ, the Son of God, became man, to publish this covenant on earth,—has sealed it with His sufferings and death, and by His resurrection from the dead was declared with power to be sent by God as the Founder of such a Covenant.” Lünemann. This seems better, considering the context, in which our hope mainly, and not at present Christ’s satisfaction, is in question, than to bring in, as Calov., al., that satisfaction, or to regard His suretyship (Limborch, Baumgarten, al.) as meaning His mediatorship (see ch. Hebrews 8:6, where He is described as κρείττονος διαθήκης μεσίτης) seen from both sides—that He is God’s surety for man and man’s surety for God. ἰησοῦς is emphatically placed at the end: cf. John 19 ult.).


Verse 23

23.] And they indeed (the οἱ μὲν γάρ of Hebrews 7:20; i. e. the Levitical priests) are appointed (on εἰσὶν γεγονότες, see above, Hebrews 7:20. ἱερεῖς is interposed to give it the secondary emphasis) priests in numbers (the chief emphasis is on πλείονες, as contrasted with ἀπαράβ. below. The alternative rendering given as possible in Bleek, “they indeed are many, who have been made priests,” is hardly probable, seeing that thus the article οἱ would more naturally precede ἱερεῖς), on account of their being by death hindered from continuing (in life? or, in their priesthood? The latter is taken by Œc., Grot., Seb. Schmidt, Erncsti, Wahl and Bretschneider, Kuinoel, al. And this is the more probable. The verb is a vox media, and may be applied to any sort of endurance treated of in the context (so in the examples cited from Herod. i. 30, καί σφι εἶδε ἅπασι τέκνα ἐκγενόμενα καὶ πάντα παραμείναντα, and Artemidor. ii. 27, γυναῖκά τε κ. παῖδας μὴ παραμένειν μαντεύεται): which clearly here treats of abiding in the priesthood: besides which, it would be somewhat tautological to say that they were hindered by death from continuing in life. The other view is taken by Raphel, Wolf, Bengel, Michaelis, Schulz, De Wette, Lünemann; not seeing, says Delitzsch, was das fur eine narrische platte Rede ist),


Verses 23-25

23–25.] Further proof still of the superiority of Christ’s priesthood, in that the Levitical priests were continually removed by death: Christ is undying and abiding. This point was slightly touched before in Hebrews 7:8, and again in Hebrews 7:16 f.: in the first place, it was to shew the abiding nature of the superiority of the priesthood—its endurance in Melchisedek, and in Christ, Melchisedek’s antitype, as contrasted with dying men who here receive tithes. In the second, it was to bring out the difference between the ordinances which constituted the two priesthoods: the one, the law of a carnal commandment, the other, the power of an endless life. Here, the personal contrast is dwelt on: the many, which change: the ONE, who abides.


Verse 24

24.] but He, on account of his remaining for ever (here again, our former argument conversely applies, and obliges us to understand this μένειν of endurance now in life, not in priesthood. It would be tautology to say, as Estius, Seb. Schmidt, al., “because He remains a priest for ever, He has an unchangeable priesthood:” besides that thus the members of the parallelism would not correspond. They, on account of their deaths, are subject to continual renewal: He, because He lives for ever, has, &c. See, besides reff., John 21:22 f.: 1 Corinthians 15:6; Philippians 1:25), hath his priesthood unchangeable (such is the construction: as in such sentences as εἶπε μεγάγῃ τῇ φωνῇ,—and χαλεπὴν ἔχει τὴν ἀποκάθαρσιν, Plut. de Discr. Am. et Adult., § 35, in Bl. The art. in such case is quasi-personal, and the adjective a pure predicate, not an epithet. ἀπαράβατος is a word of later Greek: sec Lob. on Phryn. p. 313 ( ἀπαράβατον παραιτοῦ λέγειν, ἀλλʼ ἀπαραίτητον: on which Lob. says, “Ratio convenit: nam παράβατον vetus est sed poeticum: ἀπαράβατον neque vetus, neque oratoricum”). Many expositors, Thdrt., Œc., Thl., al., take it actively, διάδοχον οὐκ ἔχουσαν, μὴ παραβαίνουσαν εἰς ἄλλον. But it seems doubtful whether the word ever has this meaning. Palm and Rost give it, but cite only this place as justifying it. On the other hand, the examples in Bleek and Wetst. all tend to substantiate the passive meaning, unalterable; which may not be passed by or put aside. So Galen i. in Hippocr. says, πρὸς γὰρ τὸ κατεπεῖγον ἀεὶ χρὴ τὸν ἰατρὸν ἵστασθαι, καὶ μὴ καθάπερ νόμον ἀπαράβατον φυλάσσειν τὰ κελευθέντα πράττεσθαι. The same expression, νόμος ἀπαράβατος, is found in Epictet. 75. The sun, in Plut. de Oracul. Defect. p. 410, has a τάξις ἀπαράβατος: and Hierceles, Aur. Carm. p. 26, has, τὸ ἀπαράβατον τῆς ἐν τοῖς δημιουργηθεῖσιν εὐταξίας, and p. 72, ἡ τῶν καθηκόντων τήρησις ἀπαράβατος. So vulg. and D-lat., “sempiternum:” Ambr(37) de Fuga Sæculi c. 3 (16), vol. i. p. 424, “imprævaricabile:” Aug(38) de Pecc. Mer. i. 27 (50), vol. x. pt. i., “intransgressibile”).


Verse 25

25.] Whence ( ἐπειδή, φησίν, ἀεὶ ζῇ) also (as a natural consequence, something else, flowing from and accompanying the last: but with a slightly characteristic force: a new and higher thing follows. It is not easy to say whether καί belongs to σώζειν or to δύναται. Rather, perhaps, to the whole sentence, to δύναται- σώζειν- εἰς- τὸ- π. κ. τ. λ.) He is able to save (in its usual solemn N. T. sense, to rescue from sin and condemnation) to the uttermost (the Syr., vulg., Chrys. ( οὐ πρὸς τὸ παρὸν μόνον φησίν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐκεῖ ἐν τῇ μελλούσῃ ζωῇ), Œc., Thl., Luth., Calv., Schlicht., Grot., al. take εἰς τὸ παντελές of time: “He is ever able to save,” or “He is able to save for ever.” But this is not the usage of the word. Bleek has shewn by very many instances, that completeness, not duration, is its idea: as indeed its etymology would lead us to expect. It may refer to time, when the context requires, as in Ælian, V. H. xii. 20, λέγει ἡσίοδος τὴν ἀηδόνα μόνηνδιὰ τέλους ἀγρυπνεῖν, τὴν δὲ χελιδόνα οὐκ εἰς τὸ παντελὲς ἀγρυπνεῖν, καὶ ταύτην δὲ ἀπολωλεκέναι τοῦ ὕπνου τὸ ἥμισυ. But even then it is entirely, throughout, and only thus comes to mean ‘always.’ We have εἰς τὸ π. ἀφανισθῆναι, Philo, Leg. ad Caium, § 21, vol. ii. p. 567: γηραιὸς δὲ ὢν (Isaac) κ. τὰς ὄψεις εἰς τὸ π. ἠφανισμένος, Jos. Antt. i. 18. 5: τοὺς λεπροὺς εἰς τὸ π. ἐξήλασε τῆς πόλεως, ib. iii. 2. 3, &c. &c.) those that approach (cf. ἐγγίζομεν above, Hebrews 7:19) through Him ( διὰ τῆς εἰς αὐτὸν πίστεως, Œc., Thl. The contrast is to those, whose approach to God was through the Levitical priesthood) to God, ever living as He does (this participial clause in fact is epexegetical of the ὅθεν, giving the reason which is wrapt up in that conjunction) to intercede for them (on ἐντυγχάνειν, see reff. “As regards its usage, it is found with a dative frequently in classic Greek: but in the definite meaning of ‘adire aliquem’ in reference to ( περί) a person or occasion, to approach any one interceding ( ὑπέρ) or complaining ( κατά), it is not found until the later Greek, Polyb., Plut., Themestius, Ælian: see Wetst. on Romans 8:26. Here it implies the whole mediatorial work, which the exalted Saviour performs for his own with his Heavenly Father, either by reference to his past death of blood by which He has bought them for himself, or by continued intercession for them. See Romans 8:34, below, ch. Hebrews 9:24; 1 John 2:1. And cf. Philo on the mediatorial and intercessory work of the λόγος, Vita Mos. iii. 14, vol. i. p. 155: ἀναγκαῖον γὰρ ἦν τὸν ἱερωμένον τῷ τοῦ κόσμου πατρί, παρακλήτῳ χρῆσθαι τελειοτάτῳ τὴν ἀρετὴν υἱῷ, πρός τε ἀμνηστείαν ἁμαρτημάτων καὶ χορηγίαν ἀφθονωτάτων ἀγαθῶν: and 42, p. 501, ὁ δʼ αὐτὸς ἱκέτης μέν ἐστι τοῦ θνητοῦ κηραίνοντος ἀεὶ πρὸς τὸ ἄφθαρτον, πρεσβευτὴς δὲ τοῦ ἡγεμόνος πρὸς τὸ ὑπήκοον.” Bleek).


Verse 26

26.] For such (i. e. such as is above described: retrospective, not prospective, as some have taken it. Then the following adjectives serve as appositional predicates, carrying forward τοιοῦτος, and enlarging on the attributes of our High Priest, which were already slightly touched ch. Hebrews 4:14-15) an High Priest was for us (emphasis on ἡμῖν) becoming also (on ἔπρεπεν see above, ch. Hebrews 2:10. The καί adds, and rises into a climax. ‘Nay, not only for all the above-mentioned reasons, but even for this’), holy (we have no other word to express ὅσιος, which yet is never by the LXX confounded with ἅγιος, the latter being the rendering of קָדוֹשׁ, the former ordinarily of חָסִיד . In the classical usage of οσιος, it seems primarily to be predicated of places and things: but Bleek is not correct when he says that it is seldom used of persons, for it is frequently so found in Homer, Æschyl., Eurip., Aristoph., Thucyd., Xen., Plato, al.: see Palm and Rost sub voce. It seems always to betoken, in such use, piety towards God; and is in this sense often used with δίκαιος, just towards men: e. g. ὑμᾶς ὁσιωτάτους κ. δικαιοτάτους εἶναι τῶν ἑλλήνων, Isocr. p. 297 B: δίκαιος κ. ὅσιος βίος, Plato, Legg. ii. p. 663 D. Here, we cannot help connecting it with the τὸν ὅσιόν σου of Ps. 15:10, as the especial title of the incarnate Son of God, perfect in piety and reverent holiness towards His Heavenly Father), harmless ( ἄκακος τί ἐστιν; ἀπόνηρος οὐδʼ ὕπουλος. καὶ ὅτι τοιοῦτος, ἄκουε τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· οὐδὲ εὑρέθη δόλος ἐν τῷ στόματι αὐτοῦ. Chrys. It betokens simplicity, and freedom from vice or evil suspicion: see ref. Rom.), undefiled (reff.: not only from legal, but from moral pollution, in deed, word, and thought), separated from sinners ( ἀπὸ τῶν ἁμ., from the whole race and category of sinners. This lets us into the true meaning, which is, not that Christ, ever and throughout, was free from sin (so Syr. (“separatus a peccatis”), Thl., Calv., Camero, Kuinoel, Klee, Ebrard, and many others), however true that may be, but (cf. next clause) that in his service as our High Priest, He, as the Levitical high priests in their service (Leviticus 21:10 ff.), is void of all contact and commerce with sinners, removed far away in his glorified state and body, into God’s holy place. So Grot., Bengel, Peirce, Tholuck, Bleek, De Wette, Lünem., Delitzsch. This expression exactly answers to that in ch. Hebrews 9:28, where it is said that He shall come a second time χωρὶς ἁμαρτίας: see there), and made (advanced to be: cf. especially John 1:15, ὁ ὀπίσω μου ἐρχόμενος ἔμπροσθέν μου γέγονεν. τὸ δὲ γενόμενος, says Thl., δῆλον πᾶσιν, ὅτι περὶ τοῦ κατὰ σάρκα. ὡς γὰρ θεὸς λόγος, ἦν ἀεὶ τῶν οὐρανῶν ὑψηλότερος) higher than the heavens (see reff.):


Verses 26-28

26–28.] Further and concluding argument for the fact of Christ being such a High Priest: that such an one was necessary for us. This necessity however is not pursued into its grounds, but only asserted, and then the description of His exalted perfections gone further into, and substantiated by facts in his own history and that of the priests of the law (Hebrews 7:28).


Verse 27

27.] who hath not necessity (the ind. pres. shews, that the Writer is not setting forth the ideal of a high priest, but speaking of the actually existing attributes of our great High Priest, as He is) day by day (not, as Schlichting, al., “ καθʼ ἡμέραν sc. ὡρισμένην, in anniversario illo videlicet sacrificio:” for this is inconsistent with usage: cf. κατʼ ἐνιαυτόν in reff. Had the day of atonement been here pointed out, this latter expression would have been the more natural one. Nor again must the expression be weakened to mean “sæpissime,” “quoties res fert,” as Grot.: or πολλάκις, as Böhme, al.: or διὰ παντός, as De Wette: nor with Bengel may we regard it as an “indignabunda hyperbole, innuens, nihilo plus profecisse principem sacerdotem quotannis, stato die, offerentem, quam si cum vulgo sacerdotium quotidie obtulisset, ch. Hebrews 9:6-7 :” nor, worst of all, with Ebrard, think that the Writer looked down the course of centuries, and disregarding the intervals between, spoke of the days of atonement as “one day after another.” The true meaning is the simple one, held fast by Calov., Seb. Schmidt, Wolf, Bleek, Tholuck, Lünem., Delitzsch, al., that the allusion is to the daily offerings of the priests, Exodus 29:38-42; Numbers 28:3-8, which are spoken of as offered by the high priests, though they took part in them only on festival days (see Jos. B. J. v. 5. 7), because the high priests in fact lead and represent the whole priesthood. We have the very same inaccurate way of speaking in Philo de Spec. Legg. (de Homicidis) 23, vol. ii. p. 321, where he says, οὕτω τοῦ σύμπαντος ἔθνους συγγενὴς καὶ ἀγχιστεὺς κοινὸς ὁ ἀρχιερεύς ἐστι, πρυτανεύων μὲν τὰ δίκαια τοῖς ἀμφισβητοῦσι κατὰ τοὺς νόμους, εὐχάς τε καὶ θυσίας τελῶν καθʼ ἐκάστην ἡμέραν), as the high priests, to offer (the common word in our Epistle is προσφέρειν. But ἀναφέρειν is purposely used here, as belonging more properly to sacrifices for sin. So in reff. James and 1 Pet., and Leviticus 4:10; Leviticus 4:31) sacrifices first for his own sins, then for those of the people (so Philo, speaking also of the daily sacrifices: ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἐνδελεχεῖς θυσίας ὁρᾷς εἰς ἴσα διῃρημένας, ἥν τε ὑπὲρ αὑτῶν ἀνάγουσιν οἱ ἱερεῖς διὰ τῆς σεμιδάλεως, καὶ τὴν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ἔθνους, τῶν δυοῖν ἀμνῶν, οὓς ἀναφέρειν διείρηται, Quis Rer. Div. Hæres 36, vol. i. p. 497. Still it must be confessed that the application of such an idea to the daily sacrifices has no authority in the law: and it would seem probable, as Bleek suggests, that the ceremonies of the great day of atonement were throughout before the mind of the Writer, as the chief and archetypal features of the high priest’s work, but repeated in some sort in the daily sacrifices. The most probable solution of the difficulty however is that proposed by Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. 1. 287) and approved by Delitzsch: that καθʼ ἡμέραν, from its situation, belongs not to οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς, but only to Christ: “who has not need day by day, as the high priests had year by year,” &c. In this, which I have seen in Delitzsch since the foregoing note was written, I find nothing forced or improbable): for this He did (what? of necessity, by the shewing of Hebrews 7:26 and of ch. Hebrews 4:15, the offering for the sins of the people only. To include in τοῦτο the whole, ‘first for his own, then for those of the people,’ would be either to contradict these testimonies of the Writer himself, or to give some second and unnatural sense to ἁμαρτιῶν, as Schlichting, Grot., and Hammond, who regard it as importing only weaknesses when applied to Christ. Besides, as Del. well observes, the idea of “offering himself for his own sins” would be against all sacrificial analogy, according to which the sinless is an offering for the sinful) once for all ( ἐφάπαξ, stronger than ἅπαξ. It is found in Lucian, Demosth. Encom. 21, and Dio Cassius: but not in classical Greek. It belongs to ἐποίησεν, not to what follows), when He offered (see above) Himself (this is the first place in the Epistle where mention is made of Christ’s having offered Himself. Henceforward, it becomes more and more familiar to the reader: “once struck, the note sounds on ever louder and louder:” Del.).


Verse 28

28.] Final bringing out of the contrast between the Aaronic priests and Christ. For (gives the reason for the difference in the last verse) the Law makes men (emphatic, opposed to υἱόν below) high priests, who have infirmity (cf. ch. Hebrews 5:2, of the human high priest, ἐπεὶ καὶ αὐτὸς περίκειται ἀσθένειαν: and see below. The expression here involves, from the context, liability to sin, and subjection to, removal by, death. Christ had not the first, and therefore need not offer for his own sin: he was free from the second, and therefore need not repeat His sacrifice): but the word (utterance; or, purport: cf. Hebrews 7:21, ὁ δὲ μετὰ ὁρκωμοσίας διὰ τοῦ λέγοντος πρὸς αὐτὸν κ. τ. λ.) of the oath which was after the law ( τῆς μετά, not ὁ μετά (“sermo autem jurisjurandi qui post legem est,” vulg.), which ought to be marked in the E. V. by the omission of the comma after “oath.” This oath is recorded in David, i. e. subsequently to the giving of the law, and therefore as antiquating it and setting it aside. The argument is similar to that in Galatians 3:17. Of course Erasmus’s rendering, “supra legem,” is out of the question) (makes) the Son (see on υἱόν, not τὸν υἱ, note on ch. Hebrews 1:1), made perfect (in this participle, as Del. remarks, lies enwrapped the whole process of the Son’s assumption of human ἀσθένεια, and being exalted through it: for this τετελειῶσθαι was διὰ παθημάτων, ch. Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:9. Those priests, by their ἀσθένεια, were removed away in death, and replaced by others: He, by that ἀσθένεια which He took on Him, went out through death into glory eternal, and an unrenewable priesthood) for evermore (these words belong simply and entirely to the participle, not as Luther, fesst den Sohn ewig und vollkommen, and Bengel, “Resolve: filius, semel consummatus, constitutus est sacerdos in æternum.” The E. V. has obliterated both sense, and analogy with ch. Hebrews 2:10 and Hebrews 5:9, by rendering τετελ., “consecrated”).

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Hebrews 7:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/hebrews-7.html. 1863-1878.


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Friday, July 21st, 2017
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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