1. Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.
1. Habebat quidem prius illud justificationes cultus et sanctum mundanum:
2. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary.
2. Tabernaculum enim primum compositum erat, in quo candelabrum et mensa et panum propositio; quod dicitur sanctuarium.
3. And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
3. Post secundum autem velum tabernaculum quod sancta sanctorum dicitur;
4. Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
4. Aureum habens thuribulum et arcam foederis undique coopertam auro, in qua urna aurea habens manna, et virga Aaronis quae floruerat, et tabulae testamenti;
5. And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.
5. Supra autem ipsam cherubin gloriae obumbrantes propitiatorium; de quibus non attinet nunc dicere sigillatim.
1 Then verily the first, etc After having spoken generally of the abrogation of the old covenant, he now refers specially to the ceremonies. His object is to show that there was nothing practiced then to which Christ's coming has not put an end. He says first, that under the old covenant there was a specific form of divine worship, and that it was peculiarly adapted to that time. It will hereafter appear by the comparison what kind of things were those rituals prescribed under the Law.
Some copies read, prote skene the first tabernacle; but I suspect that there is a mistake as to the word |tabernacle;| nor do I doubt but that some unlearned reader, not finding a noun to the adjective, and in his ignorance applying to the tabernacle what had been said of the covenant, unwisely added the word skene tabernacle. I indeed greatly wonder that the mistake had so prevailed, that it is found in the Greek copies almost universally. But necessity constrains me to follow the ancient reading. For the Apostle, as I have said, had been speaking of the old covenant; he now comes to ceremonies, which were additions, as it were, to it. He then intimates that all the rites of the Mosaic Law were a part of the old covenant, and that they partook of the same ancientness, and were therefore to perish.
Many take the word latreias as an accusative plural. I agree with those who connect the two words together, dikaiomata latreias for institutes or rites, which the Hebrews call chvqym, and the Greeks have rendered by the word dikaiomata ordinances. The sense is, that the whole form or manner of worshipping God was annexed to the old covenant, and that it consisted of sacrifices, ablutions, and other symbols, together with the sanctuary. And he calls it a worldly sanctuary, because there was no heavenly truth or reality in those rites; for though the sanctuary was the effigy of the original pattern which had been shown to Moses; yet an effigy or image is a different thing from the reality, and especially when they are compared, as here, as things opposed to each other. Hence the sanctuary in itself was indeed earthly, and is rightly classed among the elements of the world, it was yet heavenly as to what it signified.
2. For there was a tabernacle, etc. As the Apostle here touches but lightly on the structure of the tabernacle, that he might not be detained beyond what his subject required; so will I also designedly abstain from any refined explanation of it. It is then sufficient for our present purpose to consider the tabernacle in its three parts, -- the first was the court of the people; the middle was commonly called the sanctuary; and the last was the inner sanctuary, which they called, by way of eminence, the holy of holies.
As to the first sanctuary, which was contiguous to the court of the people, he says that there were the candlestick and the table on which the shewbread was set: he calls this place, in the plural number, the holies. Then, after this is mentioned, the most secret place, which they called the holy of holies, still more remote from the view of the people, and it was even hid from the priests who ministered in the first sanctuary; for as by a veil the sanctuary was closed up to the people, so another veil kept the priests from the holy of holies. There, the Apostle says, was the thumiaterion by which name I understand the altar of incense, or fumigation, rather than the censer; then the ark of the covenant, with its covering, the two cherubim, the golden pot filled with manna, the rod of Aaron, and the two tables. Thus far the Apostle proceeds in describing the tabernacle.
But he says that the pot in which Moses had deposited the manna, and Aaron's rod which had budded, were in the ark with the two tables; but this seems inconsistent with sacred history, which in 1 King s 8:9, relates that there was nothing in the ark but the two tables. But it is easy to reconcile these two passages: God had commanded the pot and Aaron's rod to be laid up before the testimony; it is hence probable that they were deposited in the ark, together with the tables. But when the Temple was built, these things were arranged in a different order, and certain history relates it as a thing new that the ark had nothing else but the two tables.
5. Of which we cannot now, etc. As nothing can satisfy, curious men, the apostle cuts off every occasion for refinements unsuitable to his present purpose, and lest a longer discussion of these things should break off the thread of his argument. If, therefore, any one should disregard the Apostle's example, and dwell more minutely on the subject, he would be acting very unreasonably. There might be, indeed, an occasion for doing this elsewhere; but it is now better to attend to the subject of which he treats: it may further be said, that to philosophize beyond just limits, which some do, is not only useless, but also dangerous. There are some things which are not obscure and fitted for the edification of faith; but discretion and sobriety ought to be observed, lest we seek to be wise above what God has been pleased to reveal.