A quick overview of Chapters 9&10: 9 discusses the two Divine Services of the earthly and heavenly tabernacles and their respective Covenants. The earthly sin offerings did not remove the problem of our sinful conscience in This World; sin which is still operating, I might add. But just as the first covenant was established in blood, and also reminds us of sin in This World (see verse 9), so is the New Covenant established in blood, and this Covenant promises to remove sin for all time, and brings us into eternity of the World to Come (see verse 12).
Chapter 10 dismisses Supersessionism; it upholds Divine worship in This world and the World to Come according to their appointed High Priest, Tabernacle, and Divine Service. We don’t cease worship as done in This World, until we enter the World to Come.
Now, on to Hebrews 8:7-8a My Translation
- 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, priesthood and divine service.
- 8 But since He finds imperfection in them, He says:
The other English translations all assume verse 7 is talking about first covenant (of Moses) vs the second covenant (of Yeshua), but that doesn’t make sense by the context in Greek. The Greek uses adjectives substanstivally, saying “that First one“, and “Second one“. What “one” covenant is it? Very hard to pin any one precisely, so it is open to wide interpretation of meaning.
“Topos”, in Greek, means a spatial place. A tabernacle clearly does occupy a space. Most translations translate “topos” as discourse, which I think is a sign that they are spiritualizing the passage to make their interpretation of “Covenant” make sense. But we will see that Verse 8a undoes their spiritualizing.
Verse 8a is grammatically a continuation of verse 7. Assuming the meaning from verse 7 need be applied to verse 8a, we have to reconcile who or what are “them”. If the translation of “covenant” is to be accepted, then logically verse 8a identifies fault in both the first and second covenant, for that is all we could derive as a plural object to which “them” refers.
Now, most English translations understand “them” as referring to the people, and specifically the Jewish people. But that idea came from out of no where. The “Jewish people” are not mentioned in Verses 1-7. Jews were never mentioned, but they are the conclusion?! I hope you recognize this supersessionism came by shifting to “covenant” in verse 7, and ignoring the actual line of reason; Now the translators had obtained license to interpret “them” in verse 8a referring to Jews, to make it the “Old Covenant Jewish people” versus the “New Covenant people.”
On the other hand, “Tabernacle” understood as a collective singular locale of activity where a priesthood and Divine Service are part, better concludes the line of argument from Vv. 1-8a. I think “first” and “second” tabernacles as a collective representation of those three things best explains the word choice of “them” in the Greek.
In conclusion to this series, I hope my interpretive approach and translation are helpful for you to reflect on HaShem’s true nature and how He expects us to study with love. I know some will disagree with me. But I pray that my thoughts have also pushed you to read a lot more of the Scripture and consider some different ways to approach Scripture interpretation, while testing your own.
A introspection for you: Can you testify concerning the Kingdom of HaShem from the Torah of Moses and The Prophets? (cf. Acts 28:23)