A Series in Hebrews 8:6-8a: To What Covenant Are The Translators’ referring? Part 4

Every popular English translation of the Bible assume that 8:6 is rendering obsolete the Old Testament. They might protest and narrow it to the Old Testament sacrifices, or slightly more broadly, the Ritual laws pertaining to the Altar. But we know a tree by its fruit. The reality is that if you throw out the Tabernacle, the priesthood, and its Divine Service, then there is also no need for the nation of Israel who worships according to that covenant either. The entire so-called Old Testament is rendered useless when supersessionists read “Old Covenant” in Hebrews 8:6-7.

Below is my translation of Hebrews 8:6-8a. I will expand on the implications and theological points in the next few posts. I will also discuss the other translations and the implications in them.

6 νυνὶ δὲ διαφορωτέρας τέτυχεν λειτουργίας, ὅσῳ καὶ κρείττονός ἐστιν διαθήκης μεσίτης, ἥτις ἐπὶ κρείττοσιν ἐπαγγελίαις νενομοθέτηται.
7 Εἰ γὰρ ἡ πρώτη ἐκείνη ἦν ἄμεμπτος, οὐκ ἂν δευτέρας ἐζητεῖτο τόπος·

8 μεμφόμενος γὰρ αὐτοὺς λέγει·

6 But now then, a different tabernacle He obtained with as much of a Divine Service! And it is a more excellent tabernacle of a better Covenant; a mediator, which was ordained on the basis of better promises.

7. For if that first tabernacle’s priesthood and divine service are being perfected, no place will need to be sought for a second tabernacle.

8 But since He finds imperfection in them, He says:

(italics are implied substantive meaning of the Greek adjectives.)

The writer of Hebrews draws a distinction between the two tabernacles, one which is for heavenly divine service, and the other is for earthly Divine Service. When using my translation, the passage highlights the repetitive nature of the earthly tabernacle’s priesthood, divine service, and its inability to be perfected. Therefore, the writer reasons that HaShem prepared a different tabernacle, i.e the heavenly tabernacle, for one time perfection.

HaShem revealed this Heavenly tabernacle first to Moses (See verse 5). HaShem commanded him to make one just like it on earth. Hypothetically, if we apply supersessionist logic to Exodus’ narrative, HaShem replaced the heavenly tabernacle 1.0 with Moses’. HaShem Himself superseded it explicitly if replacement theology is correct! Let’s follow the supersessionist logic further. Later, HaShem had a problem with the earthly 2.0 version, so He sent Yeshua to go obtain the 1.0 version; the very one He replaced beforehand.

Supersessionism does not need to be applied in order to make sense of this passage. The Tabernacle of Yeshua never replaced the Tabernacle of Moses. The reality is that they each have their own unique role. The earthly operates in This World, while the Heavenly tabernacle operates in the World to Come. Earth is bound to time, space and death, but Heaven is not. Therefore, there is no need for the heavenly to replace the earthly, since they operate for different purposes.

Look at Hebrews 10:1-3. Here the writer challenges the supersessionist reading head on. He argues here in v.2, that when Yeshua offered himself once for all time, would not then the sacrifices of the earthly tabernacle have ceased? Indeed, they never would have been because of His sacrifice for All Time! Rather, Yeshua did offer himself for all time, including Moses’ time, but He did not also render the animal sacrifices obsolete. Yeshua came to obtain the Heavenly tabernacle, not replace or perfect the earthly tabernacle.

There is more to come, let me know if you have any thoughts in the comments!

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