Hebrews 9:3
And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;
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(3) The tabernacle.—Rather, a tabernacle which is called the Holy of Holies. This literal translation of a Hebrew expression for “most holy” does not occur in the Bible, but has become familiar through the Latin sanctum sanctorum. The inner chamber of the Tabernacle is in a few passages only mentioned separately in the Pentateuch as the “Most Holy Place”

(Exodus 26:33-34), or “the Holy Place” (Leviticus 16:2, et al.). In the description of the Temple a different word is employed, always rendered “oracle” (1Kings 6:16, et al.). The veil separating the two divisions (described in Exodus 26:31; Exodus 36:35) is here called the second veil, by way of distinction from the “hanging for the door” of the Tabernacle (Exodus 26:36; Exodus 36:37).

Hebrews 9:3. And after the second veil — That is, with respect to them who entered into the tabernacle; for they were to pass through the whole length of the first part before they came to this: nor was there any other way of entering into it. This veil divided the holy place from the most holy, as the first veil did the holy place from the courts; and they are both here called veils, because by the first, the people were hindered from entering or even looking into the first part of the tabernacle, into which the priests entered daily; and by the second, the priests who performed services in the holy place were prohibited from entering, or even looking into the most holy. The tabernacle which is called the holiest of all — “This represented heaven, not only because in it the glory of the Lord, or visible symbol of his presence, rested between the cherubim, whereby the angelical hosts, surrounding the throne of God in heaven, were typified, but because this tabernacle was hidden from the eyes of all who frequented the outward tabernacle; even as heaven, the habitation of God, is hidden by the veil of their flesh from the eyes of all who live on the earth.”

9:1-5 The apostle shows to the Hebrews the typical reference of their ceremonies to Christ. The tabernacle was a movable temple, shadowing forth the unsettled state of the church upon earth, and the human nature of the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. The typical meaning of these things has been shown in former remarks, and the ordinances and articles of the Mosaic covenant point out Christ as our Light, and as the Bread of life to our souls; and remind us of his Divine Person, his holy priesthood, perfect righteousness, and all-prevailing intercession. Thus was the Lord Jesus Christ, all and in all, from the beginning. And as interpreted by the gospel, these things are a glorious representation of the wisdom of God, and confirm faith in Him who was prefigured by them.And after the second veil - There were two "veils" to the tabernacle. The one which is described in Exodus 26:36-37, was called "the hanging for the door of the tent," and was made of "blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen," and was suspended on five pillars of shittim-wood, overlaid with gold. This answered for a door to the whole tabernacle. The second or inner veil, here referred to, divided the holy from the most holy place. This is described in Exodus 26:31-33. It was made of the same materials as the other, though it would seem in a more costly manner, and with more embroidered work. On this veil the figures of the cherubim were curiously wrought. The design of this veil was to separate the holy from the most holy place; and in regard to its symbolical meaning we can be at no loss, for the apostle Paul has himself explained it in this chapter; see notes on Hebrews 9:8-14. "The tabernacle." That is, the inner tabernacle; or what more properly was called the tabernacle. The name was given to either of the two rooms into which it was divided, or to the whole structure.

Which is called the Holiest of all - It was called "the Most Holy place;" "the Holy of Holies;" or "the Holiest of all." It was so called because the symbol of the divine presence - the "Shekinah" - dwelt there between the Cherubim.

3. And—Greek, "But."

after—behind; within.

second veil—There were two veils or curtains, one before the Holy of Holies (catapetasma), here alluded to, the other before the tabernacle door (calumma).

called—as opposed to "the true."

And after the second veil: this distinguisheth the second tabernacle from the first; for, passing through it to the end of it, there hung up a curious veil made of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, with figures of cherubims, Exodus 26:31,32 36:35,36 40:21. The mystery of which is interpreted after, Hebrews 9:8: see Hebrews 6:19. A veil noteth distance and obscurity; or, covering, opposite to that which is open and free.

The tabernacle which is called the holiest of all: behind this veil was the second tabernacle, called the holy of holiest, Exodus 26:33, by God himself, which did really, though typically, hold out the place of God’s special appearance for propitiation and gracious answers of peace to the desires of his people in the Lord Jesus; applied afterwards to heaven itself, the holiest of all, where the High Priest is entered for us, and sits at the right hand of his Father, making intercession for us, Hebrews 6:19,20 7:25 9:24 10:19.

And after the second vail,.... Were there more vails than one? the Scripture speaks but of one, Exodus 26:31 there was indeed an hanging for the door of the tent, but that is not called a vail; nor was there more than one vail in the tabernacle, nor in the temple of Solomon; but in the second temple, under which the apostle lived, there were two vails, which divided between the holy place, and the holy of holies; and the innermost of these the apostle means: and so the Jewish writers (r) constantly affirm, that there were two vails between the said places, and that two new ones were made every year (s). So on the day of atonement, when the high priest went into the most holy place, with the incense, it is said (t), that

"he walked in the temple till he came between , "the two vails", which divide between the holy, and holy of holies, and there was the space of a cubit between them.''

The reason of these two vails may be seen in the account Maimonides gives of this matter (u):

"in the first temple there was a wall which divided between the holy, and holy of holies, the thickness of a cubit; but when they built the second temple, it was doubted by them, whether the thickness of the wall was of the measure of the holy place, or of the measure of the holy of holies; wherefore they made the holy of holies twenty cubits complete, and the holy place forty cubits complete, and they left the space of a cubit between the holy, and the holy of holies; and they did not build a wall in the second temple, but they made , "two vails", one on the side of the holy of holies, and the other on the side of the holy place, and between them a cubit answerable to the thickness of the wall, which was in the first temple; but in the first temple there was but one vail only, as it is said, Exodus 26:33 and the vail shall divide unto you, &c.''

And to this account other Jewish writers (w) agree; and the space between the two vails is called by them (x), from the trouble and perplexity this affair gave them. This vail, or vails, might represent the sin of man, which separates between God and men, excludes from heaven; but is removed by the death of Christ, when the vail was rent in twain; so that now there is an open way to heaven; Christ has entered into it by his own blood; and saints have boldness to enter there by faith and hope now, and shall hereafter personally enter into it: or else this vail may signify the ceremonial law, which separated between Jew and Gentile, and is abolished by the death of Christ: or rather it was typical of the flesh, or human nature of Christ, called the vail of his flesh, Hebrews 10:20. Now within this second vail was

the tabernacle, or that part of it, the second part,

which is called the holiest of all; which was either typical of Christ, who is called the most Holy, Daniel 9:24 he being so in both natures, divine and human; or of heaven, for the holy places, made with hands, were figures of heaven, Hebrews 9:24 for its holiness, it being the habitation of the holy God, holy angels, and spirits of just men made perfect; and for its invisibility, and the unseen things which faith and hope, which enter within the vail, are the evidence of; and for the things that are in it, typified by the following ones.

(r) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 54. 1. & Cetubot, fol. 106. 1. Vid. Philo de Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 667. (s) Misn. Shekalim, c. 8. sect. 5. Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 7. sect. 16. (t) Misna Yoma, c. 5. sect. 1. Vid. Bereshit Rabba, sect. 10. fol. 8. 3.((u) Hilchot Beth Habbechira, c. 4. sect. 2.((w) Gloss. & Tosephot in T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 51. 2. & Bartenora in Misn. Yoma, c. 5. sect. 1. & in Middot, c. 4. sect. 7. (x) Misn. Middot ib. & T. Bab. Yoma ib. & Gloss. in T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 106. 1.

And after {b} the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the {c} Holiest of all;

(b) He calls it the second veil, not because there were two veils, but because it was behind the sanctuary or the first tabernacle.

(c) The holiest sanctuary.

Hebrews 9:3. Μετά] after or behind. Of local succession (Thucyd. vii. 58, al.), in the N. T. only here.

τὸ δεύτερον καταπέτασμα] the second veil (פָּרֹכֶת). For before the Holy Place, too, there was a veil (מָסָךְ). On the former, comp. Exodus 26:31 ff.

σκηνή] sc. κατεσκευάσθη.

ἅγια ἁγίων] Most Holy Place. Periphrasis of the superlative (see Winer, Gramm., 7 Aufl. p. 231), and translation of קֹדֶשׁ קֳדָשִׁים.

Hebrews 9:3. μετὰ δὲ τὸ δεύτερον καταπέτασμα.“And after the second veil the tent which is called ‘Holy of Holies,’ ” not, as Westcott, “a tent [was prepared] which is called,” for “when attributives are placed after with the article, the article before the substantive is dropped” (Buttmann, p. 92). The participle with the article as usual takes the place of a relative clause. μετὰ in a local sense [non-classical, Blass, p. 133], which is here closely akin to the temporal = after the entrant has passed the second veil. The second veil separated the Holy place from the Holy of Holies, and as being the significant veil was sometimes spoken of without δεύτερον, simply as τὸ καταπέτασμα, see chap. Hebrews 6:19; Matthew 27:51, etc. Instructions for making and hanging it are given in Exodus 26:31-35; and in Exodus 26:36 the outer veil is described. The outer veil is sometimes called καταπέτασμα but more commonly ἐπίσπαστρον, Exodus 26:36; Exodus 35:15 etc. The inner tent was called the ἅγια ἁγίων, translating קֹדֶשׁ קֳדָשִׁים which in Hebrew idiom is equivalent to a superlative.

3. after the second vail] Rather, “behind the second veil.” There were two veils in the Tabernacle—one called Mâsâk (Exodus 26:36-37, LXX. kalumma or epispastron) which hung before the entrance; and “the second,” called Parocheth (LXX. katapetasma) which hung between the Holy Place and the Holiest (Exodus 26:31-35). The Rabbis invent two curtains between the Holy Place and the Holiest with a space of a cubit between them, to which they give the name Tarkesin, which is of uncertain origin. They had many fables about the size and weight of this curtain—that it was a hand-breadth thick, and took 300 priests to draw it, &c. &c.

the holiest of all] Lit. “the Holy of Holies,” a name which, like the Latin Sancta Sanctorum is the exact translation of the Hebrew Kodesh Hakkodashim. In Solomon’s Temple it was called “the Oracle.”

Hebrews 9:3. Ἡ λεγομένη, which is called) So Hebrews 9:2, λέγεται, is called. The opposite is τῶν ἁληθινῶν, of the true, Hebrews 9:24.

Hebrews 9:3After the second veil (μετὰ τὸ δεύτερον καταπέτασμα)

According to Exodus 26:31-37 there were two veils, the one before the door of the tent and the other before the sanctuary. After passing the first veil and entering the tent, the worshipper would see before him the second veil behind which was the holy of holies. The writer calls this also a tabernacle, Hebrews 9:2.

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