Messianic jews, Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. For every cohen gadol taken from among men is appointed to act on people’s behalf with regard to things concerning God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.
2. He can deal gently with the ignorant and with those who go astray, since he too is subject to weakness.
3. Also, because of this weakness, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as those of the people.
The Levitical cohanim could empathize with those for whom they interceded because they shared the latter's human weakness in that both intercessor and interceded-for sinned. Yeshua did not sin, but he can sympathize because he suffered temptation without giving in to it.
4. And no one takes this honor upon himself, rather, he is called by God, just as Aharon was.
He is called by God, just as Aharon was. See Exodus 28:1ff.; Leviticus 8:1ff.; Numbers 16:5, 17:5, 18:1ff.; Psalms 105:26. His successors too, Numbers 20:23ff., 25:10ff. Likewise others with a priestlike ministry, e.g., Samuel (1 Samuel 6:3ff.).
5. So neither did the Messiah glorify himself to become cohen gadol; rather, it was the One who said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father" (Psalm 2:7).
Today I have become your father. F. F. Bruce (The Epistle to the Hebrews, ad loc.) suggests that this refers to "the day of the Messiah's enthronement — the day when the Most High gave public notice that He had exalted the crucified Jesus as 'both Lord and Christ' (Ac 2:36)." But see also 1:5&N and Ac 13:33-34&N, both of which cite the same passage from Psalm 2.
6. Also, as he says in another place, "You are a cohen forever, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek" (Psalm 110:4).
To be compared with, often rendered, "after the order of," as if there were an order of priests of which Malki-Tzedek was the founder; but this is not the meaning.
Malki-Tzedek (Melchizedek; the Hebrew name means "my king is righteousness") appears first at Genesis 14:18 as both priest of El Elyon ("Most High God") and king of Shalem, identified with Jerusalem (see 7:1-4 below). But in Judaism, kingship and priesthood were separated. Saul, the son of Kish, was the first king; after him came David, and all kings of Judah since then have been from the House of David (including Yeshua). On the other hand, the priestly line ran from Moses' brother Aaron. Thus at Zechariah 6:13 there is a reference to two persons; by context these must be King Zerubabbel (of the House of David) and Joshua the cohen hagadol (a descendant of Aaron). Yeshua is to be compared with Malki-Tzedek because in Yeshua, Jewish priest and Jewish king are united in one person. So far as is known, the author makes a chiddush ("innovation") in presenting the idea of king and priest combined in one person. But see Appendix, p. 934. On Psalm 110 see 1:13N.
7. During Yeshua’s life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions, crying aloud and shedding tears, to the One who had the power to deliver him from death; and he was heard because of his godliness.
8. Even though he was the Son, he learned obedience through his sufferings.
9. And after he had been brought to the goal, he became the source of eternal deliverance to all who obey him,
10. since he had been proclaimed by God as a cohen gadol to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.
The qualifications for the office ofcohen gadol within the framework of the Levitical system of cohanim include ability to sympathize with the people and divine appointment (vv. 1-4). Yeshua meets these requirements (vv. 5-10).
This expands on 2:17 and 4:15, Yeshua's sympathizing with human beings because he became one of us, but, unlike us, was completely obedient to God. Compare Yeshua's prayers and petitions, crying aloud and shedding tears in the Garden of Gat-Sh'manim, as reported at Mt 26:36-46 and Lk 22:39-46. You might think that he was not heard because of his godliness, since the One who had the power to deliver him from death did not do so. But he prayed that God's will be done, and according to the Tanakh (see 1С 15:3-4&N and Mt 26:24N), it was God's will that Yeshua die, the righteous for the unrighteous (I Ke 3:18), so that he might become the source of eternal deliverance to all who obey him.
Yet "the Initiator" (or "Pioneer") "and Completer" of our own trusting (12:1) and of the obedience implied by that trusting (Ro 1:5,16:26) did not pioneer the path of obedience for all who obey him by using divine power from heaven, even though he was the Son of God. Instead, he emptied himself of that power (Pp 2:6-8) and instead learned obedience through his sufferings (the Greek word for "sufferings" implies specifically the sufferings of death; see 2:9-10N). Only in this way was he brought to the goal of being "the firstborn [from the dead| among many brothers" (Ro 8:29, 1С 15:20) and our perfect cohen gadol, to be compared with Malki-Tzedek.
After he had been brought to the goal. This is usually translated, "having been made perfect"; see 7:1 IN. But Yeshua was not imperfect; rather, it was God's goal to have Yeshua made our perfect cohen gadol, fully representative ofand empathetic with the human condition (4:15). Through his heavenly priesthood he became the source of eternal deliverance to all who obey him, as explained further in Chapters 7-10.
11. We have much to say about this subject, but it is hard to explain, because you have become sluggish in understanding.
12. For although by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the very first principles of God’s Word all over again! You need milk, not solid food!
13. Anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby, without experience in applying the Word about righteousness.
14. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil.
The phrase, "to all who obey him" (v. 9), becomes the occasion for the third exhortation (see 2:1-4N), in which obedience to God is equated with spiritual maturity and with doing God's work — actively putting out energy for the Kingdom, as opposed to receiving doctrine passively. Listening to basic doctrine is milk, and anyone who has to drink milk is still a baby; compare Paul's use of the same metaphor at 1С 3:1-2.
What distinguishes the mature is that they have experience in applying the Word (Scripture), that is, in obeying God, in behaving ethically, in putting out as opposed to taking in. After some time doing this, their faculties have been trained by continuous exercise to distinguish good from evil. Those whose faculties are still undisceming cannot make use of the solid food which the author is about to dispense, namely, the information concerning how Yeshua's high-priesthood goes beyond the Levitical priesthood and his personal death goes beyond the Temple and Tabernacle sacrificial system. So there are three stages: babyhood, in which one receives basic doctrine; moral maturity, in which one applies these basic doctrines so as to do good works; and spiritual maturity in which one is ready to receive more advanced doctrine (solid food). At Yn 4:31-34 Yeshua, who is of course both morally and spiritually mature, speaks of his "food" as doing God's will.
People who continually need to hear the "initial lessons about the Messiah" (6:1) remain spiritual babies, feeding on milk, not solid food. New believers (babies) ought to seek milk (1 Ke 2:2). And this milk is enough to orient people toward becoming morally mature and doing God's work. However, when believers become sluggish in understanding, due to their failure to grow up and do work — when they "ignore such a great deliverance" (2:3), display lack of trust (3:12) and disobey (4:11) — it becomes hard to explain things which mature workers need to know.
It should not be thought that solid food is more important than milk, that the doctrines of priesthood and sacrifice are more important than those of repentance, trust, purification, ordination, resurrection and judgment (6:1-2). Rather, each has its place in the life of the believer, according to his degree of maturity.
The Word about righteousness could well be the doctrine that people are declared righteous by God on the ground of their trust (Ro 3:20-21, Ga 2:16, Ep 2:8-10). This doctrine is dangerous in the hands of spiritual babies, who may use it to excuse their sins (Ro 3:7-8) and their lack of diligence in doing Kingdom work; it is only for the morally mature, those whose faculties have been trained by continuous use to distinguish good from evil.
The passage parallels Sha'ul's teaching at Ep 2:8-10, that faith is intended to be used in good works.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3
- chapter 4
- chapter 5
- chapter 6
- chapter 7
- chapter 8
- chapter 9
- chapter 10
- chapter 11
- chapter 12
- chapter 13