A Series In Hebrews 8:6-8a: Why Two Tabernacles Instead Of Two Covenants? Part 6

The writer used the genre of midrash in Hebrews 8:6-8a, but also used biblical parallelism in crafting the words of verse 6. I discussed parallelism in part 2. In this post, I show how poetic parallelism offers a clear meaning and better follows the word order of the passage than the popular translations.

νυνὶ δὲ διαφορωτέρας τέτυχεν λειτουργίας ὅσῳ,

καὶ κρείττονός ἐστιν διαθήκης.

μεσίτης, ἥτις ἐπὶ κρείττοσιν ἐπαγγελίαις νενομοθέτηται.

Hebrews 8:6

Here is the parallel pattern:

But now then, A different tabernacle

and a more excellent tabernacle

A mediator,

He obtained

it is

which [pronoun for tabernacle]

with as much of a Divine Service!

of a better Covenant;

on the basis of better promises was ordained.

I followed the Greek word order exactly in the English above. The verbs are in the same position with the marked exception of the last line, “was ordained” at the end. Of note, the tabernacle and mediator hold the same position in each line. I think this the builds up of the distinct purpose of each tabernacle. Likewise, Divine Service and Covenant and Promises are paired together, which fits the writer’s goal to show Yeshua obtained a tabernacle and a Divine Service like those of the sons of Aaron. The verbs are arranged in such a way as to look forward, and conclude back to the Torah and Prophets. Moving the last verb into the relative phrase and to the end of the sentence draws a strong conclusion of the covenantal purpose of the Heavenly tabernacle from the earthly tabernacle.

I want to emphasize the association of the Divine Service, Covenant and Promises. What was the problem? The earthly sin offering that could not remove sin once, for all time. So, HaShem ordained a new Covenant based on better promises that would deal with this one lack in the earthly Divine Service. The promises are outlined in Jeremiah 29-33.

The first two lines are clearly meant to build on each other. The third line’s verb order was different to mark it a segue to verse 7 to the previous parallel lines. The verb, “was ordained”, being placed at the end, I think signals the completion of the thought in verse 6 and vocally sounds a sharp distinction to the earthly tabernacle in verses 7-8a.

I think the Hebraic parallelism is unmistakable in this verse. It is very balanced and each part builds off of what preceded it. It highlights the tabernacle and the Divine service in its pairings, the two very things that the writer wanted to midrashically demonstrate from the Torah and the Prophets in chapters 8-10. Where and why were better promises ordained? What do these promises solve? This pattern highlights the Jewish literary sensibility of the writer of Hebrews.

In conclusion, I think this translation will help us better comprehend the Greek wording in Verses 7 and 8a. In next week’s post, I will discuss verses 7-8a, and give my conclusion of these key verses.

Here is something to ponder :

  • What significance do we draw from the Jewish Translation of Jeremiah 31:32 into Greek? The Jews translated the Hebrew word for “They broke”, instead, using a negative wording, “could not remain”. Is this because the Jews, 250 years before Yeshua, already knew sin offerings in This World didn’t give eternal life?

My translation of Hebrews 8:6-8a {italics added for clarity of Greek meaning}

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:

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