International Critical Commentary NT - Hebrews 7:1 - 7:99

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International Critical Commentary NT - Hebrews 7:1 - 7:99

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The first paragraph (7:1-3), which is one long sentence in Greek, applies and expands εςτναῶα the first note of Melchizedek’s priesthood being that it is perpetual, thus typifying the priesthood of Jesus. The next is (7:4-10), that it is prior and superior to the levitical priesthood; this is implied in the former claim, but the writer works it out fancifully from the allusion to tithes.

20 There (ὅο for the classical ὄο) Jesus entered for us in advance, when he became highpriest “for ever with the rank of Melchizedek.” 1For “Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a priest of the Most High God,” who “met Abraham on his return from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him”— 2 who had “a tenth part (δκτν sc. μῖα) of everything” assigned him by Abraham—this Melchizedek is (sc. ὤ) primarily a “king of righteousness” (that is the meaning of his name); then, besides that, “king of Salem” (which means, king of peace). 3 He has neither father nor mother nor genealogy, neither a beginning to his days nor an end to his life, but, resembling the Son of God, continues to be “priest” permanently.

This paragraph and that which follows (vv. 4-10) are another little sermon, this time on the story of Gen_14:18-20
. In 6:20-7:3 the writer starts from the idea that Jesus is ἀχεεςεςτναῶακτ τντξνΜλιεέ, and shows how the Melchizedek priesthood was εςτναῶα i.e. explaining Psa_110:4 from Gen_14:18-20. Εσλε in 6:20 is explained later, in 9:12f. Πόρμςrecalls ἀχγς(2:10), with its suggestion of pioneering. The term is only used in the LXX of the days ἔρς πόρμισαυῆ (Num_13:22), or of early fruit (ὡ πόρμςσκυ Isa_28:4); the present sense occurs, however, in Wis 12:8, where wasps or hornets are called the πόρμιof God’s avenging host. The thought here is of Christ entering heaven as we are destined to do, after him, once like him (5:9) we are “perfected.” Vv.1-3 in ch. 7 are another of the writer’s long sentences: οτςὁΜλιεέ …μνιἱρὺ εςτ δηεέ is the central thought, but the subject is overloaded with quotations and comments, including a long μν…δ clause. The length of the sentence and the difficulty of applying μνιἱρὺ εςτ δηεέ to Melchizedek have led some editors to make Jesus the subject of the sentence: οτς(Jesus) γρ(ὁΜλιεέ …τ υῷθο) μνιἱρὺ εςτναῶα But the οτς as v. 4 shows, is Melchizedek, and the theory is wrecked upon v. 8, for it is quite impossible to take ἐε κλ as “in the upper sanctuary (sc. ἐτν there is One of whom the record is that He lives.” There is a slight but characteristic freedom at the very outset in the use of the story, e.g. in ὁσννήα κλ The story implies this, but does not say it. It was the king of Sodom who ἐῆθνεςσννηι ατ μτ τ ὑοτέα ατνἀὸτςκπς but as Melchizedek is immediately said to have brought the conquering hero bread and wine, our writer assumed that he also met Abraham.

An interesting example of the original reading being preserved in an inferior group of MSS is afforded by ὁσννήα (C* L P). The variant ὄ σννήα (אA B C2 D K W 33. 436. 794. 1831. 1837. 1912), which makes a pointless anacolouthon, was due to the accidental reduplication of C (ΟΞΝfor ΟΨ), though attempts have been made to justify this reading by assuming an anacolouthon in the sentence, or a parenthesis in ὅ …Ἀρά, or carelessness on the part of the writer who began with a relative and forgot to carry on the proper construction. Some curious homiletic expansions have crept into the text of vv.1, 2. After βσλω two late minuscules (456, 460) read ὅιἐίξντὺ ἀλφλυ κὶἐελτ Λτμτ πσςαχαωίς and after ατν D* vt 330. 440. 823 put κὶ(Ἀρὰ) ελγσεςὑʼατῦ The latter is another (cp. 11:23) of the glosses which were thrown up by the Latin versions.

In v. 2 ἐέιε is substituted for the ἔωε of the LXX (which reappears in v. 4), in order to make it clear that Abraham’s gift was a sort of tithe. Tithes were not paid by the Hebrews from spoils of war; this was a pagan custom. But such is the interpretation of the story in Philo, e.g. in his fragment on Gen_14:18 (Fragments of Philo, ed. J. Rendel Harris, p. 72); τ γρτῦπλμυἀιτῖ δδσ τ ἱρῖκὶτςτςνκςἀαχς ἱρπεεττ δ κὶἁιττ πσνἀαχνἡδκτ δὰτ πνέεο ενιτνἀιμν ἀʼο κὶτῖ ἱρῦικὶνωόοςα δκτιποτξινμυκρῶ κὶθεμτνἀοίοτι ἄξνο τςἀαχςἈρά, ὃ κὶτῦγνυ ἀχγτςἐτν Or again in de congressu, 17, where he describes the same incident as Abraham offering God τςδκτςχρσήι τςνκς

The fantastic interpretation of the Melchizedek episode is all the writer’s own. What use, if any, was made of Melchizedek in pre-Christian Judaism, is no longer to be ascertained. Apparently the book of Jubilees contained a reference to this episode in Abraham’s career, but it has been excised for some reason (see R. H. Charles’ note on Jub 13:25). Josephus makes little of the story (Ant. i. 10. 2). He simply recounts how, when Abraham returned from the rout of the Assyrians, ἀήτσ δ ατ ὸτνΣδμτνβσλὺ εςτπντν ὃ κλῦιΠδο βσλκν ἔθ ὁτςΣλμ πλω ὑοέεα βσλὺ ατνΜλιεέη. σμίε δ τῦοβσλὺ δκις κὶἧ δ τιῦο ὁοοομνς ὡ δὰτύη ατντνατα κὶἱραγνσα τῦθο. τνμνο Σλμ ὕτρνἐάεα Ἱρσλμ. ἐοήηεδ οτςὁΜλιεέη τ Ἀρμυσρτ ξνακὶπλὴ ἀθνα τνἐιηεω πρσε κὶπρ τνεωίνατντ ἐανῖ ἤξτ κὶτνθὸ ελγῖ ὑοεροςατ πισνατὺ ἐθος Ἀρμυδ δδνο κὶτνδκτντςλίςατ, ποδχτιτνδσνκλ In the later Judaism, however, more interest was taken in Melchizedek (cp. M. Friedlä in Revue des É Juives, v. pp. 1f.). Thus some applied the 110th psalm to Abraham (Mechilta on Exo_15:7, r. Gen. 55:6,), who was ranked as the priest after the order of Melchizedek, while Melchizedek was supposed to have been degraded because he (Gen_14:19) mentioned the name of Abraham before that of God! This, as Bacher conjectures, represented a protest against the Christian view of Melchizedek (Agada der Tannaiten2, i. p. 259). It denotes the influence of Πὸ Ἑρίυ. Philo, as we might expect, had already made more of the episode than Josephus, and it is Philo’s method of interpretation which gives the clue to our writer’s use of the story. Thus in Leg. Alleg. iii. 25, 26 he points out (a) that Μλιεὲ βσλατ τςερνςΣλμτῦογρὲμνύτικὶἱραἑυο ππίκν ὁθό (in Gen_14:18), and allegorizes the reference into a panegyric upon the peaceful, persuasive influence of the really royal mind. He then (b) does the same with the sacerdotal reference. Ἀλ ὀμνΜλιεὲ ἀτ ὕαο οννποφρτ κὶπτζτ κὶἀρτζτ ψχς ἵακτσεο γννα θί μθ νφλωέᾳνψω ατς ἱρὺ γρἑτ λγςκῆο ἔω τνὄτ κὶὑηῶ πρ ατῦκὶὑεόκςκὶμγλπεῶ λγζμνς τῦγρὐίτυἐτνἰρύ, quoting Gen_14:18 and hastening to add, οχὅιἐτ τςἄλςοχὕιτς Philo points out thus the symbolism of wine (not water) as the divine intoxication which raises the soul to lofty thought of God; but our author does not even mention the food and drink, though later on there was a tendency to regard them as symbolizing the elements in the eucharist. His interest in Melchizedek lies in the parallel to Christ. This leads him along a line of his own, though, like Philo, he sees immense significance not only in what scripture says, but in what it does not say, about this mysterious figure in the early dawn of history.

In vv.1, 2 the only points in the original tale which are specially noted are (a) that his name means βσλὺ δκισνς (b) that Σλμ his capital, means ερν; and (c) inferentially that this primitive ideal priest was also a king. Yet none of these is developed. Thus, the writer has no interest in identifying Σλμ All that matters is its meaning. He quotes ἱρὺ τῦθο τῦὑίτυ but it is ἱρύ alone that interests him. The fact about the tithes (ᾦκὶδκτνἀὸπνω ἐέιε Ἀρά) is certainly significant, but it is held over until v. 4. What strikes him as far more vital is the silence of the record about the birth and death of Melchizedek (v. 3). Δκισν as a royal characteristic (see Introd. pp. xxxii f.) had been already noted in connexion with Christ (1:8f.); but he does not connect it with ερν, as Philo does, though the traditional association of δκισν κὶερν with the messianic reign may have been in his mind. In the alliteration (v. 3) of ἀάω, ἀήω, ἀεελγτς the third term is apparently coined by himself; it does not mean “of no pedigree,” nor “without successors,” but simply (cp. v. 6) “devoid of any genealogy.” Having no beginning (since none is mentioned), M. has no end. Ἀάω and ἀήω are boldly lifted from their pagan associations. In the brief episode of Gen_14:18-20, this mysterious Melchizedek appears only as a priest of God; his birth is never mentioned, neither is his death; unlike the Aaronic priests, with whom a pure family descent was vital, this priest has no progenitors. Reading the record in the light of Psa_110:4, and on the Alexandrian principle that the very silence of scripture is charged with meaning, the writer divines in Melchizedek a priest who is permanent. This method of interpretation had been popularized by Philo. In quod det. pot. 48, e.g., he calls attention to the fact that Moses does not explain in Gen_4:15 what was the mark put by God upon Cain. Why? Because the mark was to prevent him from being killed. Now Moses never mentions the death of Cain δὰπσςτςνμθσα, suggesting that ὥπρἡμμθυέηΣύλ, κκνἀάαο ἐτνἀρσν. Again (de Ebriet. 14) επ γρπύτς“κὶγρἀηῶ ἀεφ μύἐτνἐ πτό, ἀλ οκἐ μτό” (Gen_20:12)—Abraham’s evasive description of Sarah—is most significant; she had no mother, i. e. she had no connexion with the material world of the senses.

Ἀάω and ἀήω were applied to (a) waifs, whose parents were unknown; or (b) to illegitimate children; or (c) to people of low origin; or (d) to deities who were supposed to have been born, like Athenêand Hephaestus, from only one sex. Lactantius (diuin. instit. i. 7) quotes the Delphic oracle, which described Apollo as ἀήω, and insists that such terms refer only to God (ibid. iv. 13). “As God the Father, the origin and source of things, is without parentage, he is most accurately called ἀάω and ἀήω by Trismegistus, since he was not begotten by anyone. Hence it was fitting that the Son also should be twice born, that he too should become ἀάω and ἀήω.” His argument apparently1 is that the pre-existent Son was ἀήω and that He became ἀάω by the Virgin-birth (so Theodore of Mopsuestia). Lactantius proves the priesthood of Christ from Psa_110:4 among other passages, but he ignores the deduction from the Melchizedek of Gen_14; indeed he gives a rival derivation of Jerusalem as if from ἱρνΣλμν Theodoret, who (Dial. ii.) explains that the incarnate Son was ἀήω, with respect to his divine nature, and ἀεελγτςin fulfilment of Isa_53:8, faces the difficulty of Melchizedek with characteristic frankness. Melchizedek, he explains, is described as ἀάω, ἀήω, simply because scripture does not record his parentage or lineage. Ε ἀηῶ ἀάω ἧ κὶἀήω, οκἂ ἧ εκν ἀλ ἀήεα Ἐεδ δ ο φσιτῦʼἔε, ἀλ κτ τντςθίςΓαῆ οκνμα, δίνσ τςἀηεα τντπν In his commentary he explains that μνιἱρὺ εςτ δηεέ means τνἰρσννο πρπμε εςπῖα, κθπρἈρνκὶἘεζρκὶΦνέ.

Ἀωοωέο in v. 3 means “resembling,” as, e.g., in Ep. Jerem. 70 νκῷἐρμν ἐ σόε ἀωοωτιο θο ατν though it might even be taken as a strict passive, “made to resemble” (i.e. in scripture), the Son of God being understood to be eternal. Εςτ δηεέ is a classical equivalent for εςτναῶα a phrase which is always to be understood in the light of its context. Here it could not be simply “ad vitam”; the foregoing phrases and the fact that even the levitical priests were appointed for life, rule out such an interpretation.

The writer now (vv. 4-10) moralizes upon the statement that Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek and received his blessing, which proves the supreme dignity of the Melchizedek priesthood, and, inferentially, its superiority to the levitical.

4Now mark the dignity of this man. The patriarch “Abraham paid” him “a tenth” of the spoils. 5 Those sons of Levi, who receive the priestly office, are indeed ordered by law to tithe the people (that is, their brothers), although the latter are descended from Abraham; 6 but he who had no levitical (ἐ ατν= ἐ τνυῶ Λυί genealogy actually tithed Abraham and “blessed” the possessor of the promises! 7 (And there is no question that it is the inferior who is blessed by the superior.) 8 Again, it is mortal men in the one case who receive tithes, while in the other it is one of whom the witness is that “he lives.” 9 In fact, we might almost say that even Levi the receiver of tithes paid tithes through Abraham; 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

Θωετ (v. 4) is an oratorical imperative as in 4 Mac 14:13 (θωετ δ πςπλποό ἐτνἡτςφλτκίςσογ); πλκςis a rare word, often used for ἡίο after vowels, though not in Zec_2:6 (τῦἰενπλκντ πάο ατςἐτν where alone it occurs in the LXX. The οτς(om. D* 67**. 1739 Blass) repeats the οτςof v. 1. We have now a triple proof of the inferiority of the levitical priesthood to Melchizedek. (a) Melchizedek, though not in levitical orders, took tithes from and gave a blessing to Abraham himself (vv. 4-7); (b) he is never recorded to have lost his priesthood by death (v. 8); and (c) indeed, in his ancestor Abraham, Levi yet unborn did homage to Melchizedek (9, 10). Τ ἀρθνα(v. 4), which this alone of NT writers has occasion to use, explains the πναof v. 2; it is one of the classical terms for which he went outside the LXX. Ὁπτιρη is thrown to the end of the sentence for emphasis. In v. 5; ἱρτίνis chosen instead of ἱρσννfor the sake of assonance with Λυί The LXX does not distinguish them sharply. The general statement about tithing, κτ τννμν(the ἐτλ of Num_18:20, Num_18:21), is intended to throw the spontaneous action of Abraham into relief; ἀοεαονof “tithing” persons occurs in 1 S 8:15f., but usually means “to pay tithes,” like the more common δκτῦ (v. 6), the classical form being δκτύι. In v. 6; the perfect ελγκ is like the Philonic perfect (see above). In describing the incident (de Abrahamo, 40), Philo lays stress upon the fact that ὁμγςἱρύ τῦμγσο θο offered ἐιίι and feasted the conquerors; he omits both the blessing and the offering of tithes, though he soon allegorizes the latter (41).

Moulton calls attention to “the beautiful parallel in Plato`s Apol. 28c, for the characteristic perfect in Hebrews, describing what stands written in Scripture,” holding that “ὅο ἐ Τοᾳττλυήαι(as is written in the Athenians’ Bible) is exactly like Heb_7:6, Heb_7:11:17, Heb_7:28.” But these perfects are simply aoristic (see above, p. 91, note).

V.7 is a parenthetical comment on what blessing and being blessed imply; the neuter (ἔατν is used, as usual in Greek (cp. Blass, §138. 1), in a general statement, especially in a collective sense, about persons. Then the writer rapidly summarizes, from vv. 1-4, the contrast between the levitical priests who die off and Melchizedek whose record (μρυομνςin scripture, cp. 11:5) is “he lives” (μτ ζῆ τλς…μνιεςτ δηεέ). Finally (vv. 9, 10), he ventures (ὡ ἔο επῖ, a literary phrase, much affected by Philo) on what he seems to feel may be regarded as a forced and fanciful remark, that Levi was committed δʼἈρά (genitive) to a position of respectful deference towards the prince-priest of Salem. In v. 5; κίε ἐηυόα ἐ τςὀφο Ἀρά (the Semitic expression for descendants, chosen here in view of what he was going to say in v. 10 ἐ τ ὀφϊτῦπτό) is another imaginative touch added in order to signalize the pre-eminent honour of the levitical priests over their fellow-countrymen. Such is their high authority. And yet Melchizedek’s is higher still!

(a) In v. 6; “forte legendum, ὁδ μ γναοομνςατνδδκτκ τνἈρά, ipsum Abrahamam” (Bentley). But ἐ ατνexplains itself, and the stress which ατνwould convey is already brought out by the emphatic position of Ἀρά, and by the comment κὶτνἕοτ κλ (b) In v. 4 κὶis inserted after ᾧ in conformity with v. 2, by אA C Dc K L P syrhkl arm, etc. For ἀοεαονin v. 5; the termination (cp. Thackeray, 244) ἀοεαονis read by B D (as κτσηονin Mat_13:32). In v. 6; the more common (11:20) aorist, ελγσ, is read by A C P 6, 104, 242. 263. 326. 383. 1288. 1739. 2004. 2143, Chrys. for ελγκ.

He now (vv. 11f.) turns to prove his point further, by glancing at the text from the 110th psalm. “It is no use to plead that Melchizedek was succeeded by the imposing Aaronic priesthood; this priesthood belonged to an order of religion which had to be superseded by the Melchizedek-order of priesthood.” He argues here, as already, from the fact that the psalter is later than the pentateuch; the point of 7:11 is exactly that of 4:7f.

11 Further, if the levitical priesthood had been the means of reaching perfection (for it was on the basis of that priesthood that the Law was enacted for the People), why was it still necessary for another sort of priest to emerge “with the rank of Melchizedek,” instead of simply with the rank of Aaron (12 for when the priesthood is changed, a change of law necessarily follows)? 13 He who is thus (i.e. “with the rank of M.”) described belongs to another tribe, no member of which ever devoted himself to the altar; 14 for it is evident that our Lord sprang from Judah, and Moses never mentioned priesthood in connexion with that tribe. 15 This becomes all the more plain when (ε = ἐε) another priest emerges “resembling Melchizedek,” 16 one who has become a priest by the power of an indissoluble (ἀααύο, i.e. by death) Life and not by the Law of an external command; 17 for the witness to him is,

“Thou art priest for ever, with the rank of Melchizedek.”

18 A previous command is set aside on account of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and there is introduced a better Hope, by means of which we can draw near to God.

>Ε μνον(without any δ to follow, as in 8:4) τλίσς(“perfection” in the sense of a perfectly adequate relation to God; see v. 19) δὰτςΛυιιη ἱρσνστ. Λυιιῆ is a rare word, found in Philo (de fuga, ἡΛυτκ μν), but never in the LXX except in the title of Leviticus; ἱρσν does occur in the LXX, and is not distinguishable from ἱρτί (v. 5). In the parenthetical remark ὁλὸ γρἐʼατςννμθττι ατςwas changed into ατν(6, 242, 330, 378, 383, 440, 462, 467, 489, 491, 999, 1610, 1836 Theophyl.), or ατ (K L 326, 1288, etc. Chrys.) after 8:6 (where again we have this curious passive), and ννμθττιaltered into the pluperfect ἐεοοέηο(K L, etc.). The less obvious genitive (cp. Exo_34:27 ἐὶγρτνλγντύω τθια σὶδαήη κὶτ Ἰρή) ἐʼατςis not “in the time of,” for the levitical priesthood was not in existence prior to the Law; it might mean “in connexion with,” since ἐίand πρ have a similar force with this genitive, but the incorrect dative correctly explains the genitive. The Mosaic νμςcould not be worked for the λό without a priesthood, to deal with the offences incurred. The idea of the writer always is that a νμςor δαήηdepends for its validity and effectiveness upon the ἱρύ or ἱρῖ by whom it is administered. Their personal character and position are the essential thing. Every consideration is subordinated to that of the priesthood. As a change in that involves a change in the νμς(v. 12), the meaning of the parenthesis in v. 11 must be that the priesthood was the basis for the νμς though, no doubt, the writer has put his points in vv. 11, 12 somewhat intricately; this parenthetical remark would have been better placed after the other in v. 12, as indeed van d. Sande Bakhuyzen proposes. Three times over (cp. v. 19) he puts in depreciatory remarks about the Law, the reason being that the Law and the priesthood went together. It is as if he meant here: “the levitical priesthood (which, of course, implies the Law, for the Law rested on the priesthood).” The inference that the νμςis antiquated for Christians reaches the same end as Paul does by his dialectic, but by a very different route. Ἀίτσα ( = appear on the scene, as v. 15) and λγσα refer to Psa_110:4, which is regarded as marking a new departure, with far-reaching effects, involving (v. 12) an alteration of the νμςas well as of the ἱρσν. In κὶο …λγσα the ο negatives the infinitive as μ usually does; Ἀρν like Κν (Joh_21:2), has become indeclinable, though Josephus still employs the ordinary genitive Ἀρνς In v. 12 μτθσς which is not a LXX term, though it occurs in 2 Mac 11:24, is practically equivalent here (cp. 12:27) to ἀέηι in v. 18. A close parallel occurs in de Mundo, 6, νμςμνγρἡῖ ἰολνςὁθὸ, οδμα ἐιεόεο δόθσνἤμτθσν and a similar phrase is employed by Josephus to describe the arbitrary transference of the highpriesthood (Ant. xii. 9. 7, ὑὸΛσο πιθὶ, μτθῖα τντμνἀὸτύη τςοκα εςἕεο).

We now (vv. 13f.) get an account of what was meant by ο κτ τντξνἈρνor ἕεο (“another,” in the sense of “a different”) ἱρύ in v. 11; Jesus, this ἱρὺ κτ τντξνΜλιεέ, came from the non-sacerdotal tribe of Judah, not from that of Levi. Ἐʼὅ is another instance of the extension of this metaphorical use of ἐίfrom the Attic dative to the accusative. The perfect μτσηε may be used in an aoristic sense, like ἔχκ, or simply for the sake of assonance with ποέχκν and it means no more than μτσε in 2:14; indeed μτσε is read here by P 489, 623*. 1912 arm, as ποέχνis (by A C 33, 1288) for ποέχκν The conjecture of Erasmus, ποέτκν is ingenious, but ποέενin the sense of “attend” is quite classical. The rule referred to in εςἧ φλν(ἐ ἧ φλς arm?), i.e. ἐ φλςεςἥ (as Luk_10:10) κλ is noted in Josephus, Ant. xx. 10. 1, πτινἐτ μδν τῦθο τνἀχεωύη λμάενἥτνἐ αμτςτῦἈρνς No tribe except Levi supplied priests. (Πόηο in v. 14 is not a LXX term, but occurs in this sense in 2 Mal_3:17 (δʼὧ πόηο ἐίεο and 14:39, as well as in Judith 8:29.) In Test. Lev_8:14 it is predicted (cp. Introd. p. xlviii) that βσλὺ ἐ τῦἸύαἀατστικὶπισιἱρτίννα: but this is a purely verbal parallel, the βσλύ is Hyrcanus and the reference is to the Maccabean priest-kings who succeed the Aaronic priesthood. Ἀαέλι is a synonym for ἀίτσα (v. 15), as in Num_24:17, though it is just possible that ἀαέακνis a subtle allusion to the messianic title of Ἀαοήin Zec_6:12; in commenting on that verse Philo observes (de confus. ling. 14): τῦο μνγρπεβττνυὸ ὁτνὅω ἀέελ πτρ (For ἱρω the abstract equivalent ἱρσνς from v. 12, is substituted by Dc K L.) The title ὁκρο ἡῶ is one of the links between the vocabulary of this epistle and that of the pastorals (1Ti_1:14, 2Ti_1:8). As the result of all this, what is it that becomes (v. 15) πρσόεο (for πρσόεω) κτδλν The provisional character of the levitical priesthood, or the μτθσςνμυ Probably the latter, though the writer would not have distinguished the one from the other. In v. 15 κτ τνὁοόηαlinguistically has the same sense as ἀωοώεο (v. 3). In v. 16 σρίη (for which σριῆ is substituted by Cc D K Ψ104, 326, 1175, etc.) hints at the contrast which is to be worked out later (in 9:1-14) between the external and the inward or spiritual, the sacerdotal ἐτλ being dismissed as merely σρίη since it laid down physical descent as a requisite for office. Hereditary succession is opposed to the inherent personality of the Son (= 9:14). The distinction between σριό ( = fleshly, with the nature and qualities of σρ) and σριο (fleshy, composed of σρ) is blurred in Hellenistic Greek of the period, where adjectives in -ιο tend to take over the sense of those in -ιο, and vice versa. In v. 17 μρυετι(cp. μρυομνς v. 8) is altered to the active (10:15) μρυε by C D K L 256, 326, 436, 1175, 1837, 2127 syrhkl; arm Chrys.

The μτθσςof v. 12 is now explained negatively (ἀέηι) and positively (ἐεσγγ) in vv. 18, 19. Ἀέηι (one of his juristic metaphors, cp. 9:26) γντι(i.e. by the promulgation of Psa_110:4) πογύη (cp. IMA iii. 247, τ πογναψψσαα πογι is not used by the LXX in this sense of “fore-going”) ἐτλς(v. 16) δὰτ ατς(unemphatic) ἀθνςκὶἀωεέ (ailiteration). Ἀωεέ is a word common in such connexions, e.g Ep. Arist. 253, ὅε ἀωεὲ κὶἀγιό ἐτν Polyb. xii. 25:9 ἄηο κὶἀωεέ. The uselessness of the Law lay in its failure to secure an adequate forgiveness of sins, without which a real access or fellowship (ἐγζι τ θῷ was impossible; οδνἐεεωε, it led to no absolute order of communion between men and God, no τλίσς The positive contrast (v. 19) is introduced by the striking compound ἐεσγγ (with γντι a term used by Josephus for the replacing of Vashti by Esther (Ant. xi. 6, 2, σένσα γρτ πὸ τνποήα φλσογνἑέα ἐεσγγ, κὶτ πὸ ἐεννενυ ἀοπμννκτ μκὸ γγεθιτςσνύη); there is no force here in the ἐε, as if it meant “fresh” or “further.” The new ἐπςis κετω by its effectiveness (6:18); it accomplishes what the νμςand its ἱρσν had failed to realize for men, viz. a direct and lasting access to God. In what follows the writer ceases to use the term ἐπς and concentrates upon the ἐγζι τ θῷ since the essence of the ἐπςlies in the priesthood and sacrifice of Jesus the Son. With this allusion to the κετω ἐπς he really resumes the thought of 6:18, 19; but he has another word to say upon the superiority of the Melchizedek priest, and in this connexion he recalls another oath of God, viz. at the inauguration or consecration mentioned in Psa_110:4, a solemn divine oath, which was absent from the ritual of the levitical priesthood, and which ratifies the new priesthood of Jesus as permanent (vv. 20-22), enabling him to do for men what the levitical priests one after another failed to accomplish (vv. 23-25).

20 A better Hope, because it was not promised apart from an oath. Previous priests (ο μν= levitical priests) became priests apart from any oath, 21 but he has an oath from Him who said to him,

“The Lord has sworn, and he will not change his mind, thou art a priest for ever.”

22 And this makes Jesus surety for a superior covenant. 23 Also, while they (ο ̔έ) became priests in large numbers, since death prevents them from continuing to serve, 24 he holds his priesthood without any successor, since he continues for ever. 25 Hence for all time he is able to save those who approach God through him, as he is always living to intercede on their behalf.

The long sentence (vv. 20-22) closes with Ἰσῦ in an emphatic position. After κὶκθ ὅο ο χρςὁκμσα, which connect (sc. τῦογντι with ἐεσγγ κετοο ἐπδς there is a long explanatory parenthesis ο μνγρ…εςτναῶα exactly in the literary style of Philo (e.g. quis rer. div. 17, ἐʼὅο γρομικλ—νῦ μνγρ…ασηι—ἐὶτσῦο κλ In v. 20 ὁκμσα(oath-taking) is a neuter plural (cp. Syll. 593:29, OGIS 229:82) which, like ἀτμσα has become a feminine singular of the first declension, and εσνγγντςis simply an analytic form of the perfect tense, adopted as more sonorous than γγνσ. As we have already seen (on 6:13), Philo (de sacrific. 28-29) discusses such references to God swearing. Thousands of people, he observes, regard an oath as inconsistent with the character of God, who requires no witness to his character. “Men who are disbelieved have recourse to an oath in order to win credence, but God’s mere word must be believed (ὁδ θὸ κὶλγνπσό ἐτν hence, his words are in no sense different from oaths, as far as assurance goes.” He concludes that the idea of God swearing an oath is simply an anthropomorphism which is necessary on account of human weakness. Our author takes the OT language in Psa_110:4 more naively, detecting a profound significance in the line ὤοε κρο κὶο μτμλθστι(in the Hellenistic sense of “regret” = change his mind). The allusion is, of course, to the levitical priests. But Roman readers could understand from their former religion how oaths were needful in such a matter. Claudius, says Suetonius (Vit. Claud. 22), “in co-optandis per collegia sacerdotibus neminem nisi juratus (i.e. that they were suitable) nominavit.”

The superfluous addition of κτ τντξνΜλιεέ was soon made, after εςτναῶα by א A D K L P vt Syrpesh hkl boh eth Eus (Dem. iv. 15, 40), etc.

Πρμνι means to remain in office or serve (a common euphemism in the papyri). The priestly office could last in a family (cp. Jos. Ant. xi. 8. 2, τςἱρτκςτμςμγση οσςκὶἐ τ γνιπρμνύη), but mortal men (ἀονσοτς v. 8) could not πρμνι as priests, whereas (v. 24) Jesus remains a perpetual ἱρύ, δὰτ μνι (= πνοεζν v. 25) ατν(superfluous as in Luk_2:4 δὰτ ατνενι Ἀαάαο, a legal adjective for “inviolable,” is here used in the uncommon sense of non-transferable (boh Chrys. οκἔε δάοο, Oecumenius, etc. ἀιδχν as an equivalent for μ πρβίοσνεςἄλν and contrasts Jesus with the long succession of the levitical priests (πεοέ). The passive sense of “not to be infringed” (cp. Justin Martyr, Apol. i. 43, εμρέη φμνἀαάαο τύη ενι where the adjective = ineluctabile) or “unbroken” does not suit the context, for Jesus had no rivals and the word can hardly refer to the invasion of death. Like γγμαμν in 5:14, also after ἔεν it has a predicative force, marked by the absence of the article. Philo (quis rer. div. heres, 6) finds a similar significance in the etymology of κρο as a divine title: κρο μνγρπρ τ κρς ὃδ ββινἐτν ερτι κτ ἐατόηαἀεαο κὶἀύο. But our author does not discover any basis for the perpetuity of ὁκρο ἡῶ in the etymology of κρο, and is content (in vv. 22-24) to stress the line of the psalm, in order to prove that Jesus guaranteed a superior δαήη(i.e. order of religious fellowship). Ἔγο is one of the juristic terms (vg, sponsor) which he uses in a general sense; here it is “surety” or “pledge.” Δαήηis discussed by him later on; it is a term put in here as often to excite interest and anticipation. How readily ἔγο could be associated with a term like σζι (v. 25) may be understood from Sir 29:15f.:

χρτςἐγο μ ἐιάῃ

ἔωε γρτνψχνατῦὑὲ συ

ἀαὰἐγο ἀαρψιἁατλς

κὶἀάιτςἐ δαοᾳἐκτλίεῥσμνν

Our author might have written μστςhere as well as in 8:6; he prefers ἔγο probably for the sake of assonance with γγννor even ἐγζμν As μστύι means to vouch for the truth of a promise or statement (cp. 6:17), so ἔγο means one who vouches for the fulfilment of a promise, and therefore is a synonym for μστςhere. The conclusion (v. 25) is put in simple and effective language. Εςτ πνεέ is to be taken in the temporal sense of the phrase, as in BMiii:161:11 (a.d. 212) ἀὸτῦννεςτ πνεέ, being simply a literary variant for πνοε The alternative rendering “utterly” suits Luk_13:11 better than this passage. This full and final ἱρσν of Jesus is the κετω ἐπς(v. 19), the τλίσςwhich the levitical priesthood failed to supply, a perfect access to God’s Presence. His intercession (ἐτγάεν sc. θῷas in Rom_8:34 ὃ κὶἐτγαε ὑὲ ἡῶ) has red blood in it, unlike Philo’s conception, e.g. in Vit. Mos. iii.14, ἀακῖνγρἦ τνἱρμνν(the highpriest) τ τῦκσο πτὶπρκήῳχῆθιτλιττ τνἀεὴ υῷ the Logos) πό τ ἀνσίνἁαηάω κὶχργα ἀθνττνἀαῶ, and in quis rer. div. 42, where the Logos is ἱέη τῦθηο κρίοτςἀὶπὸ τ ἄθρο πρ δ τ φνιπὸ εεπσίντῦμπτ τνἵε θὸ πριεντ ἴινἔγν The function of intercession in heaven for the People, which originally (see p. 37) was the prerogative of Michael the angelic guardian of Israel, or generally of angels (see on 1:14), is thus transferred to Jesus, to One who is no mere angel but who has sacrificed himself for the People. The author deliberately excludes any other mediator or semi-mediator in the heavenly sphere (see p. xxxix).

A triumphant little summary (vv. 26-28) now rounds off the argument of 6:19f-7:25:

26 Such was the highpriest for us, saintly, innocent, unstained, far from all contact with the sinful, lifted high above the heavens, 27 one who has no need, like yonder highpriests, day by day to offer sacrifices first for their own sins and then for (the preposition is omitted as in Act_26:18) those of the People—he did that once for all in offering up himself. 28 For the Law appoints human beings in their weakness to the priesthood; but the word of the Oath (which came after the Law) appoints a Son who is made perfect for ever.

The text of this paragraph has only a few variants, none of any importance. After ἡῖ in v. 27 κίis added by A B D 1739 syrpesh hkl Eusebius (“was exactly the one for us”). In v. 27 it makes no difference to the sense whether ποεέκς(אA W 33, 256, 436, 442, 1837, 2004, 2127 arm Cyr.) or ἀεέκς(B C D K L P etc. Chrys.) is read; the latter may have been suggested by ἀαέεν or ποεέκςmay have appealed to later scribes as the more usual and technical term in the epistle. The technical distinction between ἀαέεν(action of people) and ποφρι (action of the priest) had long been blurred; both verbs mean what we mean by “offer up” or “sacrifice.” In v. 28 the original ἱρῖ (D* 1 vg) was soon changed (to conform with ἀχεεςin v. 27) into ἀχεες The reason why ἱρῦ and ἱρῖ have been used in 7:1f. is that Melchizedek was called ίρύ, not ἀχεες Once the category is levitical, the interchange of ἀχεεςand ἱρύ becomes natural.

The words τιῦο γρἡῖ ἔρπν(another daring use of ἔρπν cp. 2:10) ἀχεες(v. 26) might be bracketed as one of the author’s parentheses, in which case ὅιςκλ would carry on πνοεζν…ατν But ὅ in Greek often follows τιῦο, and the usual construction is quite satisfactory. Γρis intensive, as often. It is generally misleading to parse a rhapsody, but there is a certain sequence of thought in ὅιςκλ where the positive adjective ὅιςis followed by two negative terms in alliteration (ἄαο, ἀίνο), and κχρσέο ἀὸτνἁατλνis further defined by ὑηόεο τνορννγνμνς(the same idea as in 4:14 δεηυόατὺ ορνύ). He is ὅις pious or saintly (cp. ERE vi.743), in virtue of qualities like his reverence, obedience, faith, loyalty, and humility, already noted. Ἄαο is innocent (as in Job_8:20, Jer_11:19), one of the LXX equivalents for תָ or תִָם not simply = devoid of evil feeling towards men; like ἀίνο, it denotes a character χρςἁατα. Ἀίνο is used of the untainted Isis in OP 1380 (ἐ Πνῳἀίνο). The language may be intended to suggest a contrast between the deep ethical purity of Jesus and the ritual purity of the levitical highpriest, who had to take extreme precautions against outward defilement (cp. Lev_21:10-15 for the regulations, and the details in Josephus, Ant. iii.12. 2, μ μννδ πρ τςἱρυγα κθρὺ ενι σοδζι δ κὶπρ τνατνδατν ὡ ατνἄεπο ενι κὶδὰτύη τνατα, ο τνἱρτκνσοὴ φρῦτςἄωο τ εσ κὶπρ πνακθρὶκὶνφλο), and had to avoid human contact for seven days before the ceremony of atonement-day. The next two phrases go together. Κχρσέο ἀὸτνἁατλνis intelligible in the light of 9:28; Jesus has ἅα sacrificed himself for the sins of men, and in that sense his connexion with ἁατλίis done. He is no levitical highpriest who is in daily contact with them, and therefore obliged to sacrifice repeatedly. Hence the writer at once adds (v. 27) a word to explain and expand this pregnant thought; the sphere in which Jesus now lives (ὑηόεο κλ is not one in which, as on earth, he had to suffer the contagion or the hostility of ἁατλί(12:2) and to die for human sins.

“He has outsoared the shadow of our night;

Envy and calumny and hate and pain …

Can touch him not and torture not again;

From the contagion of the world’s slow stain

He is secure.”

This is vital1 to the sympathy and intercession of Jesus; it is in virtue of this position before God that he aids his people, as ττλιμνς and therefore able to do all for them. His priesthood is, in modern phrase, absolute. As eternal ἀχεεςin the supreme sense, and as no longer in daily contact with sinners, Jesus is far above the routine ministry of the levitical ἀχεες The writer blends loosely in his description (v. 27) the annual sacrifice of the highpriest on atonement-day (to which he has already referred in 5:3) and the daily sacrifices offered by priests. Strictly speaking the ἀχεεςdid not require to offer sacrifices κθ ἡέα, and the accurate phrase would have been κτ ἐιυό. According to Lev_6:19-23 the highpriest had indeed to offer a cereal offering morning and evening; but the text is uncertain, for it is to be offered both on the day of his consecration and also δὰπνο. Besides, this section was not in the LXX text of A, so that the writer of Hebrews did not know of it. Neither had he any knowledge of the later Jewish ritual, according to which the highpriest did offer this offering twice a day. Possibly, however, his expression here was suggested by Philo’s statement about this offering, viz. that the highpriest did offer a daily sacrifice (quis rer. div. 36: τςἐδλχῖ θσα …ἥ τ ὑὲ ἑυῶ ο ἱρῖ ποφρυιτςσμδλω κὶτνὑὲ τῦἔνυ τνδενἀνν de spec. leg. iii. 23, ὁἀχεες…εχςδ κὶθσα τλνκθ ἑάτνἡέα). It is true that this offering ὑέ ἑυῶ was not a sin-offering, only an offering of cereals; still it was reckoned a θσα and in Sir 45:14 it is counted as such. Τῦογρἐοηε refers then to his sacrifice for sins (9:28), not, of course, including any sins of his own (see on 5:3); it means ὑὲ τνἁατῶ τῦλο, and the writer could afford to be technically inexact in his parallelism without fear of being misunderstood. “Jesus offered his sacrifice,” “Jesus did all that a highpriest has to do,”—this was what he intended. The Greek fathers rightly referred τῦοto ἔετ τντῦλο, as if the writer meant “this, not that πόεο.” It is doubtful if he had such a sharp distinction in his mind, but when he wrote τῦοhe was thinking of τντῦλο, and of that alone. An effort is sometimes made to evade this interpretation by confining κθ ἡέα to ὅ οκἔε and understanding “yearly” after ο ἀχεες as if the idea were that Christ’s daily intercession required no daily sacrifice like the annual sacrifice on atonementday. But, as the text stands, ἀάκνis knit to κθ ἡέα, and these words must all be taken along with ὥπρο ἀχεες(ἔοσ).

Compare the common assurance of the votaries of Serapis, e.g. BGU. ii.385 (ii/iii a.d.), τ ποκνμ συπι κτ ἑάτνἡέα πρ τ κρῳΣρπδ κὶτῖ σνέι θος

A deep impression is made by the words ἑυὸ ἀεέκς “pro nobis tibi uictor et uictima, et ideo uictor, quia uictima, pro nobis tibi sacerdos et sacrificium, et ideo sacerdos, quia sacrificium” (Aug. Conf. x.43). What is meant by this the writer holds over till he reaches the question of the sacrifice of Jesus as ἀχεες(9:1f.). As usual, he prepares the way for a further idea by dropping an enigmatic allusion to it. Meantime (v. 28) a general statement sums up the argument. Κθσηι is used as in 1 Mac 10:20 (κθσάαέ σ σμρνἀχεέ τῦἔνυ συ and ἀθνινrecalls 5:2 (πρκια ἀθνιν in the special sense that such weakne