Hebrews 9:4
Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
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(4) Having a golden censer.—Or, having a golden altar of incense. Hardly any passage in the Epistle has given rise to more controversy than this; and even now opinions are greatly divided. The question raised does not merely concern the interpretation of a single verse, but has been brought into prominence in all recent discussions as to the authorship of the Epistle. It will be possible to notice all important points in the controversy without entering into any discussion of the Greek, for it is allowed on both sides that the word here used—thumiaterion (which simply means an instrument or a place connected with the offering of incense)—will admit of either rendering. The usage of the LXX., in most cases peculiarly helpful in this Epistle, throws little light on the matter; for this word is entirely absent from the descriptions in the Pentateuch, and occurs twice only in later books (Ezekiel 8:11; 2Chronicles 26:19—both times for “censer”). The Pentateuch, indeed, makes no mention of a special censer for the use of the high priest on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:12); but, as we learn from the Mishna, the later law not only prescribed a censer of gold, but laid stress on the particular kind of gold. On the other hand, in Philo and Josephus the word here used is the regular designation of the altar of incense. That altar, it is true, was not of gold, only overlaid with gold; but as one of its names in common use was “the golden altar” (Exodus 40:5, et al.) this point is of no moment. If we look at internal probabilities, it is hard to decide which would be more surprising—the special mention of the censer (by the side of the ark and the cherubim) in this description of the Most Holy Place, or the absence of all notice of the incense-altar, which held so important a place in connection with the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement. Hence, though “censer” has (mainly through the influence of the Vulgate) been the more familiar rendering, the most eminent modern commentators have, with some marked exceptions, adopted the other view. Probably there would be little difference of opinion on the question, were it not that the words here used seem to assign to the altar of incense a place within the veil. As, however, there are the strongest reasons for believing that the golden censer was not kept in the Holiest Place, this difficulty applies almost equally to both interpretations. At first sight the difficulty is very great. The incense-altar and the ark are coupled together, and the word which describes their relation to the Holiest Place is that which, a little later in this verse, distinctly signifies “containing.” So weighty is this consideration that many have been unable to avoid the conclusion that the writer has erred in this matter of detail; and various suppositions have been resorted to in explanation of his mistake. (See Introduction.) But, to take the lowest ground, surely ignorance on such a point is inconceivable. Not only are the notices in Exodus perfectly plain, but passages in Philo and Josephus show how customary in the writer’s own age it was to speak of the three sacred objects in the Holy Place—the candlestick, the table, and the golden altar. There must exist some special reason for this connection of the altar with the Most Holy Place—a connection which (we may well believe) would have been otherwise expressed had the writer held it possible that readers, familiar with the facts, could regard his language as even ambiguous. Such a reason will be found to be suggested by the language of the Pentateuch, and by the ceremonial of the Day of Atonement. In Exodus 30:6, Moses receives special injunction to place the altar of incense “before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony;” similarly in Exodus 40:5. The purification of this altar is most expressly associated with the purification of the Holiest Place on the Day of Atonement: this stands out in strong relief both in the Pentateuch (see Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:18) and in the Mishna. The typical significance of the altar of incense (comp. Revelation 8:3-4; Revelation 9:13) we might also show to be in full harmony with the thought here presented. There is, however, one passage in the Old Testament (1Kings 6:22) which appears to give direct expression to what these other passages imply; for there the true translation must be, “also the whole altar that belongeth to the oracle he overlaid with gold.”[10]

[10] Some interesting remarks on this passage will be found in a paper by Dr. Milligan in the Bible Educator (vol. iii., p. 230). His suggestion is that the writer, having in mind the Day of Atonement, sees the Tabernacle with its inner veil withdrawn.

Ark of the covenant (Numbers 10:33; Deuteronomy 31:26, et al.), often called “the ark of the testimony,” i.e., the ark containing the tables of the Ten Commandments, which were the symbol of the covenant of God with the people. (See Exodus 25:10-16.)

Wherein was . . .—Rather, wherein are (see Hebrews 9:2) a golden pot having the manna, &c. In Exodus 16:33-34, and Numbers 17:10-11, the pot containing “an omer of manna” and also Aaron’s rod are said to have been laid up “before the testimony.” This is often understood as meaning “before the ark of the testimony;” but it is as natural to suppose that these memorials were placed inside the ark, in front of the tables. 1Kings 8:9 clearly suggests that the ark had at one time contained more than the tables of stone, and so it has been understood by Jewish commentators. There is no mention of a “golden” vessel in the Hebrew of Exodus 16:33; the word is added in the LXX. It will be observed that this epithet is mentioned three times in the verse: such splendour was natural in the sanctuary “of this world” (Hebrews 9:1).

Hebrews 9:4-5. Which had the golden censer — Used by the high-priest only on the great day of atonement. “The apostle may have learned from the priests that this censer was of gold, and that it was left by him in the inward tabernacle, so near to the veil, that when he was about to officiate next year, by putting his hand under the veil he could draw it out to fill it with burning coals, before he entered into the most holy place to burn the incense, agreeably to the direction,” Leviticus 16:12-13; where see the note. And the ark of the covenant — This, with the mercy-seat wherewith it was covered, was the most glorious and mysterious utensil of the tabernacle, and afterward of the temple, the most eminent pledge of God’s presence, and the most mysterious representation of the divine attributes in Christ. This being the heart, so to speak, of all divine services, was first formed; all other things in the Jewish worship had a relation to it, Exodus 25:10-11. Sometimes it is called the ark of the testimony, because God called the tables of the covenant lodged in it by the name of his testimony, or that which testified his will to the people, and which, by the people’s acceptance of the terms of it, was to be a perpetual witness between God and them. On the same account it is called the ark of the covenant, and lastly, it is called the ark of God, because it was the most eminent pledge of the special presence of God among the people. As to its fabric, it was παντοθεν, every way, within and without, overlaid with plates of beaten gold. This being the most sacred and glorious instrument of the sanctuary, all neglects about it, and contempt of it, were most severely punished. From the tabernacle it was carried into the temple built by Solomon, wherein it continued until the Babylonish captivity, and what became of it afterward is altogether uncertain. Wherein was the golden pot that had manna — The monument of God’s care over Israel. When the manna first fell, every one was commanded to gather an omer for his own eating, (Exodus 16:16,) and God appointed that an omer of it should be put into a pot, and kept in the tabernacle before the Lord, Exodus 16:33 : there it was miraculously preserved from putrefaction, whereas otherwise it would have putrefied in less than two days. The pot was to be made of that which was most durable, as being to be kept for a memorial throughout all generations. Because it is said, 1 Kings 8:9, there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, the words εν η, here used by the apostle, may be translated, nigh to which. Or the difficulty may be removed by supposing that the pronoun η, which, relates to σκηνη, tabernacle, in which tabernacle also was the golden pot: or because it is said, Deuteronomy 31:26, Take this book of the law and put it in the side of the ark, we may conjecture that the book was put into some repository fixed to the side of the ark, and that the pot of manna was laid up before the Lord in the same manner. Aaron’s rod that budded — The monument of a regular priesthood. The apostle affirms only that it budded, but in the sacred story concerning the trial about the priesthood, recorded Numbers 17:2-10, it is added, that it brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds, being originally cut from an almond-tree. This rod Moses took from before the testimony when he was to smite the rock and work a miracle, of which this was consecrated to be the outward sign; and the tables of the covenant — The two tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written by the finger of God; the most venerable monument of all. And over it — Over the ark; the cherubim of glory — “Cherubim being the name of an order of angels, (Genesis 3:24,) the figures called cherubim, placed on the sides of the mercy-seat, with the glory of the Lord resting between them, represented the angels who surround the manifestation of the divine presence in heaven. These figures, therefore, were fitly termed the cherubim of glory; and by this glory constantly abiding in the inward tabernacle, and by the figures of the cherubim, that tabernacle was rendered a fit image of heaven.” Shadowing — With outspread wings; the mercy-seat — And represented as looking down upon it; a posture significative of the desire of angels to look into the mysteries of man’s redemption, of which the mercy-seat, or propitiatory, being a plate of gold covering the ark, was an emblem, 1 Peter 1:12. See also notes on Exodus 25:17-22, where the making and frame both of the mercy-seat and the cherubim are described,

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.Which had the golden censer - The censer was a "fire-pan," made for the purpose of carrying fire, in order to burn incense on it in the place of worship. The forms of the censer were various. Some difficulty has been felt respecting the statement of Paul here that the "golden censer" was in the most holy place, from the fact that no such utensil is mentioned by Moses as pertaining to the tabernacle, nor in the description of Solomon's temple, which was modelled after the tabernacle, is there any account of it given. But the following considerations will probably remove the difficulty.

(1) Paul was a Jew, and was familiar with what pertained to the temple, and gave such a description of it as would be in accordance with what actually existed in his time. The fact that Moses does not expressly mention it, does not prove that in fact no such censer was laid up in the most holy place.

(2) Aaron and his successors were expressly commanded to burn incense in a "censer" in the most holy place before the mercy-seat. This was to be done on the great day of atonement, and but once in a year; Leviticus 16:12-13.

(3) there is every probability that the censer that was used on such an occasion was made of gold. All the implements that were employed in the most holy place were made of gold, or overlaid with gold, and it is in the highest degree improbable that the high priest would use any other on so solemn an occasion; compare 1 Kings 7:50.

(4) as the golden censer was to be used only once in a year, it would naturally be laid away in some secure situation, and none would so obviously occur as the most holy place. There it would be perfectly safe. No one was permitted to enter there but the high priest, and being preserved there it would be always ready for his use. The statement of Paul, therefore, has the highest probability, and undoubtedly accords with what actually occurred in the tabernacle and the temple. The object of the incense burned in worship was to produce an agreeable fragrance or smell; see notes on Luke 1:9.

And the ark of the covenant - This ark or chest was made of shittim-wood, was two cubits and a half long, a cubit and a half broad, and the same in height; Exodus 25:10. It was completely covered with gold, and had a "lid," which was called the "mercy-seat," on which rested the Shekinah, the symbol of the divine presence, between the outstretched wings of the cherubim. It was called "the ark of the covenant," because within it were the two tables of the covenant, or the Law of God written on tables of stone. It was a simple "chest, coffer, or box," with little ornament, though rich in its materials. A golden crown or molding ran around the top, and it had rings and staves in its sides by which it might be borne; Exodus 25:12-16. This ark was regarded as the most sacred of all the appendages of the tabernacle. Containing the Law, and being the place where the symbol of the divine presence was manifested, it was regarded as especially holy, and in the various wars and revolutions in the Hebrew commonwealth, it was guarded with special care.

After the passage over the Jordan it remained for some time at Gilgal Joshua 4:19, whence it was removed to Shiloh; 1 Samuel 1:3. From hence, the Israelites took it to their camp, apparently to animate them in battle, but it was taken by the Philistines; 1 Samuel 4. The Philistines, however, oppressed by the hand of God, resolved to return it, and sent it to Kirjath-Jearim; 1 Samuel 7:1. In the reign of Saul it was at Nob. David conveyed it to the house of Obededom, and thence to his palace on Mount Zion; 2 Samuel 6. At the dedication of the temple it was placed in the Holy of Holies by Solomon, where it remained for many years. Subsequently, it is said, the wicked kings of Judah, abandoning themselves to idolatry, established idols in the most holy place itself, and the priests removed the ark, and bore it from place to place to secure it from profanation. "Calmet." When Josiah ascended the throne he commanded the priests to restore the ark to its place in the sanctuary, and forbade them to carry it about from one place to another as they had before done; 2 Chronicles 35:3. The subsequent history of the ark is unknown. It is probable that it was either destroyed when the city of Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, or that it was carried with other spoils to Babylon, There is no good reason to suppose that it was ever in the second temple, and it is generally admitted by the Jews that the ark of the covenant was one of the things that were wanting there. Abarbanel says, that the Jews flatter themselves that it will be restored by the Messiah.

Wherein - That is, in the ark - for so the construction naturally requires. In 1 Kings 8:9, however, it is said that there was nothing in the ark, "save the two tables of stone which Moses put there at Horeb," and it has been supposed by some that the pot of manna and the rod of Aaron were not in the ark, but that they were in capsules, or ledges made on its sides for their safe keeping, and that this should be rendered "by the ark." But the apostle uses the same language respecting the pot of manna and the rod of Aaron which he does about the two tables of stone, and as they were certainly in the ark, the fair construction here is that the pot of manna and the rod of Aaron were in it also. The account in Exodus 16:32-34; Numbers 17:10, is, that they were laid up in the most holy place, "before the testimony," and there is no improbability whatever in the supposition that they were in the ark. Indeed, that would be the most safe place to keep them, as the tabernacle was often taken down and removed from place to place. It is clear from the passage in 1 Kings 8:9, that they were not in the ark in the temple, but there is no improbability in the supposition that before the temple was built they might have been removed from the ark and lost. When the ark was carried from place to place, or during its captivity by the Philistines, it is probable that they were lost, as we never hear of them afterward.

The golden pot - In Exodus 16:33, it is simply "a pot," without specifying the material. In the Septuagint it is rendered "golden pot," and as the other utensils of the sanctuary were of gold, it may be fairly presumed that this was also.

That had manna - A small quantity of manna which was to be preserved as a perpetual remembrancer of the food which they had eaten in their long journey in the wilderness, and of the goodness of God in miraculously supplying their wants. As the manna, also, would not of itself keep, Exodus 16:20, the fact that this was to be laid up to be preserved from age to age, was a perpetual miracle in proof of the presence and faithfulness of God. On the subject of the manna, see Bush's notes on Exodus 16:15.

And Aaron's rod that budded - That budded and blossomed as a proof that God had chosen him to minister to him. The princes of the tribes were disposed to rebel, and to call in question the authority of Aaron. To settle the matter, each one was required to take a rod or staff of office, and to bring it to Moses with the name of the tribe to which it appertained written on it. These were laid up by Moses in the tabernacle, and it was found on the next day that the rod marked with the name of Levi had budded and blossomed, and produced almonds. In perpetual remembrance of this miracle, the rod was preserved in the ark; Numbers 17:1-13. Its subsequent history is unknown. It was not in the ark when the temple was built, nor is there any reason to suppose that it was preserved to that time.

And the tables of the covenant - The two tables of stone on which the ten commandments were written. They were expressly called "the words of the covenant" in Exodus 34:28. On the word "covenant"; see notes on Hebrews 9:16 and 17 of this chapter. These two tables were in the ark at the time the temple was dedicated. 1 Kings 8:9. Their subsequent history is unknown. It is probable that they shared the fate of the ark, and were either carried to Babylon, or were destroyed when the city was taken by Nebuchadnezzar.

4. golden censer—The Greek, must not be translated "altar of incense," for it was not in "the holiest" place "after the second veil," but in "the holy place"; but as in 2Ch 26:19, and Eze 8:11, "censer": so Vulgate and Syriac. This GOLDEN censer was only used on the day of atonement (other kinds of censers on other days), and is therefore associated with the holiest place, as being taken into it on that anniversary by the high priest. The expression "which had," does not mean that the golden censer was deposited there, for in that case the high priest would have had to go in and bring it out before burning incense in it; but that the golden censer was one of the articles belonging to, and used for, the yearly service in the holiest place. He virtually supposes (without specifying) the existence of the "altar of incense" in the anterior holy place, by mentioning the golden censer filled with incense from it: the incense answers to the prayers of the saints; and the altar though outside the holiest place, is connected with it (standing close by the second veil, directly before the ark of the covenant), even as we find an antitypical altar in heaven. The rending of the veil by Christ has brought the antitypes to the altar, candlestick, and showbread of the anterior holy place into the holiest place, heaven. In 1Ki 6:22, Hebrew, "the altar" is said to belong to the oracle, or holiest place (compare Ex 30:6).

ark—of shittim wood, that is, acacia. Not in the second temple, but in its stead was a stone basement (called "the stone of foundation"), three fingers high.

pot—"golden," added in the Septuagint, and sanctioned by Paul.

manna—an omer, each man's daily portion. In 1Ki 8:9; 2Ch 5:10, it is said there was nothing in the ark of Solomon's temple save the two stone tables of the law put in by Moses. But the expression that there was nothing THEN therein save the two tables, leaves the inference to be drawn that formerly there were the other things mentioned by the Rabbis and by Paul here, the pot of manna (the memorial of God's providential care of Israel) and the rod of Aaron, the memorial of the lawful priesthood (Nu 17:3, 5, 7, 10). The expressions "before the Lord" (Ex 16:32), and "before the testimony" (Nu 17:10) thus mean, "IN the ark." "In," however, may be used here (as the corresponding Hebrew word) as to things attached to the ark as appendages, as the book of the law was put "in the side of the ark," and so the golden jewels offered by the Philistines (1Sa 6:8).

tables of the covenant—(De 9:9; 10:2).

Which had the golden censer; in the holy of holiest was reserved the golden censer, on which the high priest put the incense when annually he entered there, {see Leviticus 16:12,13} that the cloud of it might cover the mercy-seat, and so was kept for that service in it: see Joseph. Antiq. lib. 3. 7. Many would refer this to the golden altar of incense that stood before the veil in the holy place, Exodus 30:6-8; and so they read it, having the golden altar of incense before it for its service, and not within it; signifying the Godhead, by which Christ maketh his intercession, sanctifying and perfuming his own, and all offerings made in his name.

And the ark of the covenant; it was a coffer or chest of shittim wood, plated all over with gold, Exodus 25:10-22 37:1,6 40:20,21. This chest had for its cover a mercy-seat, listed or verged with a crown of gold round it; and is called the ark of the covenant, because the tables of testimony were laid up in it, Exodus 25:16 40:20; those two stone tables wrought by Moses, and carried up into the mount, (after he had on the idolatry of Israel broken those of God’s own making, and on which God had written the ten laws, the terms of his covenant with them), on which God wrote afresh his laws, and renewed his covenant with them, Exodus 34:1,2,28,29; compare Exodus 31:18. This ark was a type of Christ interposing between God and us, who had broken the covenant of his laws.

Wherein was the golden pot that had manna; en h, wherein, refers not to the ark mentioned just before, for in it was nothing pnt but the two tables of the covenant; but the tabernacle, called the holy of holiest, in which was reserved the golden censer, pot of manna, provided by God’s charge before the giving of the law, and laid up afterwards in that archive by God’s order, Exodus 16:32-34. This manna was the bread God fed Israel in his church with forty years in the wilderness, and is called angels’ food, Psalm 78:25; a type of Christ the true bread, that God gave from heaven to his church, John 6:31-58.

And Aaron’s rod that budded; which was by God’s order put before the testimony in the holy of holiest, and not into the ark, for it was to be in view there as a token of the true priesthood, the type of Christ’s, against all after-murmurers and usurpers: see Numbers 17:1-11.

And the tables of the covenant; and as these, the urn of manna and rod of Aaron, were in the holy of holiest; so especially the two tables of the covenant were there too, but laid up in the ark which was in that place: see 1 Kings 8:9 2 Chronicles 5:10. Oters think the preposition en is to be read, by which, or about, near which ark, as it is used of Christ’s sitting en dezia, Hebrews 1:3; and so notes, as to the pot of manna and Aaron’s rod, an apposition of them to or by the ark, when the tables of the covenant were undeniably put into it.

Which had the golden censer,.... There were various censers used by the priests in the daily service, but this was a peculiar one, which was used by the high priest on the day of atonement; on other days he used a silver censer, but on that day a golden one, and with it he entered into the holy of holies (y); and though Moses does not call it a golden one, Leviticus 16:12 yet Josephus does (z); and so do the Jewish doctors in the place referred to, with whom the apostle agrees, and to this the allusion is in Revelation 8:3 but here a difficulty arises, how this can be said to have been in the holy of holies, and within the vail, when, according to Moses, it was without the vail, and was only carried within on the day of atonement; and so Philo the Jew (a) places it in the other part of the tabernacle; and it seems as if it was to avoid this difficulty, that the Ethiopic version has removed it from this verse to verse the second, and put it among the things that were in the holy place; but there is no need of this, nor to say that the altar of incense is intended, for that is never so called, and, besides, was without the vail too. It should be observed, that the apostle does not say, that the golden censer was laid up in the holy of holies, and kept there, but that it "had" it; as it had it on the day of atonement, when it was carried in there by the high priest, who there made use of it; and it was for the use of it in that place, that it was peculiarly designed. What was done by it was this, burning coals were with it taken off from the altar before the Lord, and were brought in within the vail, where incense was put upon them, which covered the mercy seat, that so the high priest died not. The burning coals signify the very great sufferings of Christ, not only the sufferings of his body, which were very painful, but those of his soul, when the wrath and hot displeasure of God was poured out upon him; and those coals being taken off from the altar before the Lord, show that the sufferings of Christ were according to the will of God, were grateful to him, and always before him; and their being brought within the vail, does not denote that Christ is now in a suffering state, though he is in the midst of the throne, as a lamb that had been slain; but the continued virtue and efficacy of his sufferings, and that our faith and hope, which enter within the vail, have to do with his blood and sacrifice thither carried. And the incense, which was carried in with those coals, typified the intercession of Christ in heaven, which is pure and holy, sweet, fragrant, and perpetual; and the priest having his hands full of it, expresses the fulness of Christ's intercession for all his elect, and for all things for them, and his fulness of merit to plead, which makes his intercession efficacious and prevalent; and hence, through his much incense, the prayers of his people become odorous and acceptable: and the incense being put upon the burning coals in the censer, shows that Christ's intercession proceeds upon the foot of his blood and sacrifice, his sufferings and death; and hence it becomes grateful, and has its influence; the smoke of it covers the mercy seat, or throne of grace, and makes that accessible; and as the priest, who offers it, never dies, so none of those for whom he intercedes.

And the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold; this is called the ark of the covenant, because the tables of the covenant, afterwards mentioned, were put into it; and that it was overlaid with gold round about, is certain from Exodus 25:11 where it is said to be overlaid with pure gold, within and without; and that the ark was within the vail, and in the most holy place, is manifest from Exodus 40:21 that this was wanting in the second temple, is generally agreed (b); but who took it away, where it was put, or what became of it various are the sentiments of the Jewish writers: some say (c), it was carried away by Nebuchadnezzar into Babylon, and is meant by the goodly vessels of the house of the Lord, 2 Chronicles 36:10 others say (d), that Jeremiah the prophet took it, and hid it in a cave on Mount Nebo; but the more generally received opinion is, that it was hid by King Josiah in some hidden and deep place, which Solomon had built for that purpose under ground, knowing, that the temple would be destroyed (e); and it is often said, that it was hid under the pavement of a room in the temple, called , "the wood room" (f). The ark is, by some, thought to be a type of the church, which is the ark of God, of his building, and where he dwells; the ark of the covenant, or testimony, where the oracles of God, his word and ordinances, are: its being made of Shittim wood may denote the incorruption and duration of it: and its being covered with gold within and without is expressive of its glory; and its being portable, and carried from place to place, shows that the church is not always in one place; its rings, staves, and priests that bore it, may point at the Gospel, and the ministers of it, the instruments of moving it; and its moving from place to place, and falling into the hands of enemies, were emblematical of the church's afflictions; as its rest at last, in Solomon's temple, may signify the church's rest here and hereafter: but the ark is rather to be considered as a type of Christ; its various names agree with Christ, as the ark of God, the ark of his strength, the glory of God, the face of God, the holy ark, the ark of the covenant, or testimony, yea, Jehovah, and God himself: the time of its making is observable, it was made before the tabernacle, and the tabernacle for the sake of it; Christ is before all creatures, and was set up as Mediator before anything existed, and all things are for his sake; it being made of Shittim wood, covered with gold, may denote both the incorruption and glory of Christ; and its several decorations, the graces with which he was adorned, as man and Mediator; its staves and rings may design the word, ordinances, and ministers, whereby he is carried into the several places of the world; here God granted his presence, and counsel was asked of him, and it was brought forth in time of war, as a security from enemies, all which is applicable to Christ; by it wonders were done, as the dividing of Jordan for the Israelites to pass into the land of Canaan, the falling of the walls of Jericho, and the fall of Dagon; so Christ has opened the way for his people to heaven, has spoiled principalities and powers, and his Gospel is powerful to the pulling down the strongholds of sin and Satan; the moving of the ark from place to place, and its rest in the temple, may signify the rest of Christ, after his many fatigues in this world.

Wherein was the golden pot that had manna; which Aaron filled with manna by the direction of Moses, who gave it at the appointment of God, that it might be preserved to future ages, as a memorial of the goodness, care, and power of God in feeding the Israelites with it in the wilderness, Exodus 16:33. This pot held an omer, which was more than three pints and a half; some say six pints: and though Moses does not call it a golden pot, yet it is so called, not only by the Septuagint in Exodus 16:33 but also by Philo the Jew (g); nor is it reasonable to think, with some Jewish writers (h), that it should be made of earth, which was to continue for ages to come: this also was wanting in the second temple (i); and this, with Aaron's rod, after mentioned, and other things, is said to be hid when the ark was, and along with it (k): but how this pot, as well as Aaron's rod, can be said to be in the ark, when it is asserted, at the bringing of the ark into the temple, at the dedication of it by Solomon, that there was nothing in it but two tables of stone, 1 Kings 8:9 and both the pot of "manna", and Aaron's rod, are said to be before the testimony, Exodus 16:34 and not in it, is a difficulty. Some, in order to remove it, observe, that the phrase, "wherein", refers not to the ark, but to the tabernacle; but since the tables of the covenant were in the ark, and these are mentioned with it, and the phrase, "over it", in the next verse, cannot be understood of the tabernacle, but of the ark, this solution is not satisfactory. Others have observed, that they might be in the ark in Moses's time and in Jeremiah's time, when they are said to be hid, though they were not in Solomon's: and others have taken notice, that the preposition sometimes signifies "at", or "with", as in Colossians 3:1 and so the sense is, that these were near unto it in the most holy place, and might be in the sides of it, though not within it; for there were places in the sides of the ark to put things into, Deuteronomy 31:26. And certain it is from the above account from Scripture, that they were near it; and so, by the Jewish writers, they are always mentioned along with it: when that was carried away, and hid, they were hid with it; but what a certain Jewish commentator (l) observes on 1 Kings 8:9 is so express, as if it was designed to vindicate our apostle: his remark is this:

"the intention of this is not to deny that there were not the things mentioned in the law, for they were , "left in it", as Aaron's "rod", and "the pot of manna", only to deny, hereby, that there was not anything of the law, save the decalogue.''

And it should be observed, that it is not said of these, that they were put before the ark, but "before the testimony"; that is, before the tables of the covenant, which were within the ark. The "manna", in this pot, was typical of Christ; in the signification of its name, whether it comes from "manah", which signifies to appoint, prepare, and distribute, Christ being appointed, prepared, and distributed, as food for his people; or from , "man hu", what is it? the words said by the Israelites, when they first saw it, not knowing what it was; so Christ is unknown to his people until revealed to them, and remains unknown to all natural and unregenerate men: the manna came from heaven, from God, and was a free gift of his, and so Christ: it was round in form, and may be expressive of Christ's perfection, and eternity: it was in colour white, which may signify his purity and innocence; it was sweet in taste, and so is Christ, his fruits, his word and ordinances: it was small in quantity, which may denote the meanness and despicableness of Christ in the eyes of the world: the people went out and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in mortars, and baked it, and ate, which may be typical of the apprehension, sufferings, and death of Christ, in order to be fit food for the faith of believers. The persons that were fed by it were the Israelites, who were brought out of Egypt, and then in the wilderness, a large number, and men of all sorts, rich, and poor, and who had an equal portion, though very undeserving; so those who are fed by Christ, and nourished with him, the bread of life, are the spiritual Israel of God, whom Christ has redeemed from worse than Egyptian bondage and darkness, though they are yet in the wilderness of this world; and they are a large number, the whole family of God, who receive out of Christ's fulness grace for grace; and there is no difference of high and low, rich and poor, bond or free, male or female; they are all one in Christ, and Christ is all in all; and they have all a whole Christ, though they are very undeserving, being by nature children of wrath as others. And as the Israelites had the manna every day, and all the while they were in the wilderness, so Christ is the daily bread of believers; by him, in his word and ordinances, is his church nourished in the wilderness, to whom he gives to eat of the hidden manna, the food of the wilderness. The "pot", in which this manna was kept, was typical of the ordinances of the Gospel; in its matter, being made of gold, denoting the preciousness and duration of them; in the size of it, holding an "omer", showing that these contain plenty of good things to satisfaction; in the situation of it before the ark, signifying the presence of Christ with his ordinances; and in its use to hold manna, and be a memorial of it to ages to come, as the ordinances have in them food for souls, and are the means of remembering Christ in future generations, till his second coming.

And Aaron's rod that budded; and not only budded, but bloomed; blossomed, and yielded almonds, Numbers 17:8. This also was laid before the ark of the testimony, Hebrews 9:10, and may be said to be in it, or with it, in the same sense as the pot of manna was; it was likewise wanting in the second temple (m), and is said to be hid with the pot of manna, and other things, as before observed: it was a type of Christ: it is affirmed by the Jews, that in the days of the Messiah, the priesthood shall return, and the rod of Aaron shall flourish (n); it was, very probably, as some have thought (o), an almond tree stick, as that in Jeremiah 1:11. The almond tree has its name, in Hebrew, from a word which signifies haste and vigilance; it being, as Pliny says (p), the first of trees that buds and blossoms, and is very hasty in putting them forth. An almond tree rod may be a proper emblem of Christ's speedy incarnation in the fulness of time; and Aaron's almond tree rod, of his right to the priesthood, and his vigilance in it: this was first a dry rod or stick, and may design the mean descent and appearance of Christ, being born of mean parents, living a mean and obscure life; his entrance on his public ministry, and continuance in it, were without any pomp or grandeur; he was as a root out of a dry ground; and though he did many miracles, these were treated with contempt; and he was at last apprehended, arraigned, and condemned as a malefactor, and died a shameful and an accursed death: it looked very unlikely and unpromising, that he should be the King Messiah; that he should have all power in heaven and in earth; that he should have the wisdom he had, and do the miracles he did; and that he should be the author of eternal salvation; and that such fruits of grace, peace, pardon, and righteousness, should spring from him, as that Aaron's dry rod should bud, blossom, and bear almonds, in which it was a lively figure of Christ; that lying among other rods, and perhaps being like them, may denote Christ's assuming the common nature of men, or an individual of human nature in all things like to man: and this being cut off from the tree, and being a dry stick, may represent the death of Christ; and its budding and blossoming may point at the resurrection of Christ from the dead; and as Aaron's priesthood was confirmed by the budding and blossoming of his rod, so the deity and Messiahship of Christ are confirmed by his resurrection; and its bringing forth almonds may design the fruits of Christ's death and resurrection; and moreover, the almond tree being, as Philo the Jew says (q) the first of trees that buds and blossoms in the spring, and the last that casts its leaves, it may be, as he observes, a symbol of the priestly tribe; and it may be a figure of the perpetuity of Christ, and his priesthood:

and the tables of the covenant; the same with the testimony which was ordered to be put into the ark, and accordingly was, Exodus 25:16. About this there is no controversy; though it is a matter of dispute with the Jews, whether the book of the law was in the ark or not: some say it was in the side of it, and others within it (r); but Maimonides (s) says, that Moses wrote the whole law with his own hand before he died, and gave a book (or copy) to every tribe, and one copy he put "in the ark": so Jarchi says (t), that the book of the law of Moses was put into the midst of the ark, and the ark was glorious and beautiful by that which was "within it". These tables were made of stone, an emblem of the hardness of man's heart, which is destitute of spiritual life and motion, senseless and stupid, impenitent, stubborn, and inflexible, and on which no impressions can be made but by powerful and efficacious grace; and also of the stability and duration of the law, as moral, which is not antiquated by another, nor made void by the Gospel, nor altered in its nature and terms, but remains the same as to the matter of it; though it is now no covenant of works to believers, and they are freed from the curse and condemnation of it: the number of these tables is two; the whole law is reduced by our Lord to two grand precepts of it, Matthew 22:37 and the fleshly tables, on which it is reinscribed in regeneration, are the heart and mind, 2 Corinthians 3:3. The place where these tables were put is the ark, which was typical of the law being in Christ, not only in his hands, but in his heart, Psalm 40:8 and in his keeping of which he is the fulfilling end; for he being the surety of his people, and becoming man, answered every part of the law; in the holiness of his nature, in the perfect obedience of his life, and in his sufferings and death, in which he bore the penalty of it: and these tables are called the tables of the covenant, because the law on Mount Sinai was a covenant made with the people of Israel; and was typical of the covenant, of which Christ is the surety and Mediator, and which is ratified by his blood.

(y) Misn. Yoma, c. 4. sect. 4. Maimon. Yom Hacippurim, c. 2. sect. 5. (z) Antiqu. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 3.((a) De Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 668. (b) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 27. 2. & Yoma, fol. 21. 2. Menasseh ben Israel Concil. in Gen. qu. 41. Kimchi in Hagg. i. 8. (c) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 53. 2. Seder Olam Rabba, c. 25. T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 49. 3.((d) Joseph ben Gorion, l. 1. c. 17. 2 Maccab. ii. 4, 5. (e) T. Hieros. Sota, fol. 22. 3. T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 5. 2. Maimon. Beth Habbechira, c. 4. sect. 1.((f) Misn. Shekalim, c. 6. sect. 1, 2. T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 49. 3. T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 54. 1.((g) De Cong. Quaer. Erud. Gratia, p. 438. (h) Mechilta, fol. 20. 1. & Tanchuma, fol. 29. 4. (i) Menasseh ben Israel Conciliat. in Gen. qu. 41. (k) T. Hieros. Shekalim, fol. 49. 3. & Sota, fol. 22. 3. T. Bab. Ceritot, fol. 5. 2. & Horayot, fol. 12. 1. Maimon. Beth Habbechira, c. 4. sect. 1.((l) R. Levi ben Gersom in 1 Kings 8.9. so others in Laniado Celi, Yekar in loc. (m) Menasseh ben Israel Conciliat. in Gen. qu. 41. (n) Baal Hatturim in Numbers 17.5. (o) Joseph. Antiqu. l. 4. c. 4. sect. 2. Aben Ezra in Numbers 17.8. (p) Nat. Hist. l. 16. c. 25. (q) De Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 681. (r) T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 14. 1, 2. Jarchi in Deuteronomy 31.26. (s) Praefat. in Yad Chazaka in principio. (t) Gloss. on T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 24. 2.

Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;
Hebrews 9:4. Θυμιατήριον] is either interpreted as altar of incense or as censer. The latter, and indeed as a golden censer, which was employed by the high priest on the great day of atonement, is thought of by Luther, Grotius, de Dieu, Calov, Reland, Limborch, Wolf, Bengel, Wetstein, Carpzov, Whitby, Schulz, Böhme, M‘Lean, Stuart, Kuinoel, Stein, Bloomfield, Bisping, Alford, M‘Caul, and others, after the precedent of the Peshito, Vulgate (turibulum), and Theophylact. The altar of incense, on the other hand (מִזְבֵּחַ הַקְּטֹרֶת or מִזְבֵּחַ הַוָּהָב), of which mention is made as a constituent part in the Mosaic tabernacle, Exodus 30:1-10; Exodus 37:25-28; Exodus 40:5; Exodus 40:26, as a constituent part in the temple of Solomon, 1 Kings 7:48, 2 Chronicles 4:19, and as a constituent part in the Herodian temple (Josephus, de Bello Jud. v. 5. 5), is understood in the case of the Latin translation in D E (altare), as well as by Oecumenius (ad Hebrews 9:7), Calvin, Justinian, Piscator, Estius, Cornelius a Lapide, Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Owen, Gerhard, Brochmann, Mynster (Stud. u. Krit. 1829, p. 342 ff.), Bleek, de Wette, Stengel, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Riehm (Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr: p. 489 f., Obs.), Maier, Kluge, Moll, Kurtz, Ewald, Conybeare, Hofmann, Woerner, and others. Instances from the classical writers in favour of either reference, see in Bleek, II. 2, p. 480 f. That a censer is intended may be urged from the language of the LXX., since with them for the indication of the altar of incense the expressions: τὸ θυσιαστήριον θυμιάματος (Exodus 30:1; Exodus 30:27; Leviticus 4:7), τὸ θυσιαστήριον τῶν θυμιαμάτων (1 Chronicles (1Chr. 7:49) 1 Chronicles 6:49, 1 Chronicles 28:18; 2 Chronicles 26:16; 2 Chronicles 26:19), τὸ θυσιαστήριον τὸ χρυσοῦν (Exodus 40:5; Exodus 40:26, al.), τὸ θυσιαστήριον τὸ (ὂν) ἀπέναντι κυρίου (Leviticus 16:12; Leviticus 16:18); and, where the altar intended is clear from the context, merely τὸ θυσιαστήριον (Leviticus 16:20, al.), are regularly employed, and only in unimportant MSS. of the same θυμιατήριον presents itself in some few passages as a variation of reading. To this usage of the LXX., however, is to be opposed the equally important fact of the usage of Philo and Josephus, according to which, at their time, τὸ θυμιατήριον was quite the ordinary appellation of the altar of incense. Comp. Philo, Quis rerum divin. haeres. p. 511 sq. (with Mangey, I. p. 504): τριῶν ὄντων ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις σκευῶν, λυχνίας, τραπέζης, θυμιατηρίου; De vita Mos. p. 668 (II. p. 149): Ἅμα δὲ τούτῳ ἐδημιουργεῖτο καὶ σκεύη ἱερά, κιβωτός, λυχνία, τράπεζα, θυμιατήριον, βωμός. Ὁ μὲν οὖν βωμὸς ἵδρυτο ἐν ὑπαίθρῳ κ.τ.λ.; Josephus, de Bello Jud. v. 5. 5 : καὶ τὸ μὲν πρῶτον μέροςεἶχεν ἐν αὐτῷ τρία θαυμασιώτατα καὶ περιβόητα πᾶσιν ἀνθρώποις ἔργα, λυχνίαν, τράπεζαν, θυμιατήριον Antiq. iii. 6, 8 : μεταξὺ δὲ αὐτῆς (τῆς λιχνίας) καὶ τῆς τραπέζης ἔνδονθυμιατήριον, ξύλινον μὲν κ.τ.λ., al. Of the altar of incense, accordingly, the expression must be understood in our passage. For the manner in which the χρυσοῦν θυμιατήριον is mentioned, as a parallel member to τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς διαθήκης, shows that the former must be an object of equally great importance as the latter. But, since that is so, something as non-essential as a golden censer cannot be meant, but only the altar of incense, which formed an essential constituent part of the tabernacle. Besides, there is nowhere any mention in the O. T. (not Leviticus 16:12 either) of a particular censer, which had been set apart for the service on the great day of atonement. About the existence of such a censer at the time of the Mosaic tabernacle, which the author after all has mainly before his mind, nothing is known with certainty. Only from the Mishna, tract. Joma, iv. 4,[89] do we learn something about it. Moreover, according to tract. Joma, v. 1, vii. 4, this censer was first fetched out of the storehouse, carried by the high priest into the Most Holy Place, and upon the completion of the service again carried forth therefrom; even as it would be a priori improbable in the highest degree that such instrument should be kept within the Holy of Holies. For, according to Leviticus 16:12-13, the high priest was first to enter with incense into the Most Holy Place, in order that through the cloud thereof the glory of God, enthroned above the cover of the ark of the covenant, might become invisible to him, to the end that he died not. And yet ἔχουσα compels us to think of an abiding place of the θυμιατήριον; to explain ἜΧΟΥΣΑ of the mere appertaining of the θυμιατήριον to the Most Holy Place as an object of use for the latter, as is usually done by the one class of expositors (but also by some advocates of the opposite view, as Jac. Cappellus, Piscator, Owen, Mynster, Ebrard, Delitzsch, Conybeare, Riehm, Lehrbegr. des Hebräerbr. p. 490, Obs.; Maier, Moll, Hofmann, and Woerner, with an appeal to הַמִּזְבֵּהַ אֲשֶׁר־לֵדְּבִיר, 1 Kings 6:22), is—inasmuch as the author sharply separates from each other in his description the two main divisions of the O. T. sanctuary, as well as the objects peculiar to each of these divisions, by means of ΜΕΤᾺ ΔΈ, Hebrews 9:3, and thus ἜΧΟΥΣΑ, Hebrews 9:4, unmistakably corresponds to the ἘΝ ᾟ, Hebrews 9:2—altogether arbitrary. If, then, we understand ΘΥΜΙΑΤΉΡΙΟΝ of the altar of incense, as we are compelled to do, there arises the archaeological difficulty that this altar had its standing-place not in the Most Holy Place, as is here presupposed by the author, but, on the contrary, in the Holy Place (Exodus 30:1 ff.). This point of inconsistency with historic truth is to be admitted, and therefrom the conclusion to be drawn, that the author did not himself live in the vicinity of the Jewish sanctuary, but had drawn his knowledge with regard to the same only from the Scriptures of the O. T., whence the possibility of an error is explicable. In favour of this possibility, Bleek rightly urges the following considerations: first, that Exodus 26:35 there are mentioned as standing within the Holy Place only the table and the candlestick, but not the altar of incense also. Then, that where the standing place of this altar is actually spoken of, the form of expression chosen certainly, by reason of its indefiniteness, admitted of misconstruction. So Exodus 30:6 : ΚΑῚ ΘΉΣΕΙς ΑὐΤῸ ἈΠΈΝΑΝΤΙ ΤΟῦ ΚΑΤΑΠΕΤΆΣΜΑΤΟς, ΤΟῦ ὌΝΤΟς ἘΠῚ Τῆς ΚΙΒΩΤΟῦ ΤῶΝ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΊΩΝ; ibid. Exodus 40:5 : καὶ θήσεις τὸ θυσιαστήριον τὸ χρυσοῦν εἰς τὸ θυμιᾶν ἐναντίον τῆς κιβωτοῦ; Hebrews 9:26 : ἀπέναντι τοῦ καταπετάσματος; Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 16:12; Leviticus 16:18 : ἐναντίον or ἀπέναντι κυρίου. Finally, that in the Mosaic law the altar of incense was brought into peculiar significance in connection with the solemnity of the atonement, since on this day it was sprinkled and cleansed by the high priest with the same blood which the high priest had carried into the Most Holy Place (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16:18 f.).

χρυσοῦν] since the emphasis rests on it, is prefixed. The article, however, is wanting, because the sense is: a golden altar, namely, the altar of incense, in distinction from the brazen altar existing in the court, namely, the altar of burnt-offering.

καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς διαθήκης] and the ark of the covenant; comp. Exodus 25:10 ff; Exodus 37:1-9.

ΠΕΡΙΚΕΚΑΛΥΜΜΈΝΗΝ ΠΆΝΤΟΘΕΝ ΧΡΥΣΊῼ] overlaid on every side (within and without; comp. Exodus 25:11) with gold (plating of fine gold). According to 1 Kings 8, the ark of the covenant was also brought into the temple of Solomon. On the destruction of this temple by the Chaldeans it was lost, and the second temple was without an ark. Comp. Josephus, de Bello Jud. v. 5. 5 : Ἔκειτο δὲ οὐδὲν ὅλως ἐν αὐτῷ, ἄβατον δὲ καὶ ἄχραντον καὶ ἀθέατον ἦν πᾶσιν, ἁγίου δὲ ἅγιον ἐκαλεῖτο.

ἐν ᾗ στάμνος χρυσῆ ἔχουσα τὸ μάννα κ.τ.λ.] wherein was a golden pot with the manna, and Aaron’s rod which had budded, and the tables of the covenant. ἘΝ ᾟ does not refer back to ΣΚΗΝΉ, Hebrews 9:3 (Ribera, Justinian, Pyle, Peirce, and others),—for to the ἘΝ ᾟ, Hebrews 9:4, the ὙΠΕΡΆΝΩ ΔῈ ΑὐΤῆς, Hebrews 9:5, forms an opposition,—but it refers to ΚΙΒΩΤΌς. On the pot of manna, comp. Exodus 16:32-34; on Aaron’s rod, Num. 17:16–26 (Numbers 18:1-11); on the tables of the covenant, Exodus 25:16Hebrews 9:4. χρυσοῦν ἔχουσα θυμιατήριον.… The inner tent is characterised by its furnishings, a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant. f1θυμιατήριον is rendered both in A.V. and R.V. by “censer” following the Vulgate, “aureum habens thuribulum;” Grotius “θυμ: hic non est mensa, sed impositum mensae batillum;” and others. In doing so the usage of the LXX is followed, for in 2 Chronicles 26:19, Ezekiel 8:11, 4Ma 7:11—the only instances of its occurrence—it renders מִקְטֶרֶת = censer; while “altar of incense” is rendered by θυσιαστήριον θυμιάματος, see Leviticus 4:7, 1 Chronicles 7:4-9, etc. But Philo (p. 512 A, 668, C), Josephus Ant., iii. 6, 8, and the versions of Symmachus and Theodotion in Exodus 31 use θυμιατήριον for “altar of incense”. Besides, the form of the word indicates that it could be used of anything on which incense is offered. It was, therefore, understood of the “altar” by Clement Alex. and other fathers; by Calvin, who says, “quo nomine altare suffitus vel thymiamatis potius intelligo quam thuribulum;” and by most modern scholars. As has frequently been urged it is incredible that in describing the furniture of the tabernacle there should be no mention of the altar of incense. Difficulty has been felt regarding the position here assigned to it, for in fact it stood outside the veil; and the author has been charged with error. But the change from ἐν ᾗ of Hebrews 9:2 to ἔχουσα is significant, and indicates that it was not precisely its local relations he had in view, but rather its ritual associations, “its close connection with the ministry of the Holy of Holies on the day of atonement, of which he is speaking” (Davidson). The altar was indeed so strictly connected with the Sancta Sanctorum that in the directions originally given for its construction this was brought out (Exodus 30:1-6). “Thou shalt set it before the veil (ἀπέναντι τ. καταπετάσματος) that is over the ark of the testimony,” and in Hebrews 9:10, “it is most holy (ἅγιον τῶν ἁγίων) to the Lord”. In 1 Kings 6:20 it is also said of Solomon that he made the altar of incense κατὰ πρόσωπον τοῦ δαβὶρ “in front of the oracle,” which brings it into direct connection with the ark Cf. also 1 Kings 9:25. χρυσοῦν, although made of shittim wood it was overlaid with gold and is often called “golden”. Here emphasis is laid upon its golden appearance as being worthy of its use. καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν … “and the ark of the covenant covered all over with gold”. κιβωτός, a box or chest (in Aristoph. Wasps, 1056, wardrobe) or ark (a word still used in Scotland, where the meal-chest is known as the meal-ark). In LXX and N.T. appropriated to the chest in the Holy of Holies or to the ark in which Noah was rescued. For its construction see Exodus 25:10. περικεκ. πάντοθεν χρυσίῳ representing “inside and outside” ἔσωθεν καὶ ἔξωθεν χρυσώσεις αὐτήν of Exodus 25:11. Here called τῆς διαθήκης because in it were kept αἱ πλάκες τ. διαθήκης “the tables of the covenant” on which were written the ten commandments, the sum of the terms to which the people swore on entering the covenant. Therefore called in Exodus 31:18 πλάκες μαρτυρίου. These tables were, in LXX, first spoken of as πυξία (τὰ πυξία τὰ λίθινα, Exodus 24:12). They are called πλάκες in Exodus 31:18. Paul also uses this word in contrasting the stone tables of the Law with the σάρκιναι πλάκες of the heart. In 1 Kings 8:9 it is stated that when Solomon’s Temple was dedicated these tables were the sole contents of the ark. In the tabernacle, however, as here described the ark also contained στάμνος χρυσῆ ἔχουσα τὸ μάννα “a golden jar containing manna,” as directed in Exodus 16:33-34, Moses said to Aaron λάβε στάμνον χρυσοῦν ἕνα, where it is masculine; in Aristoph. Plut. 545, feminine (see Stephanus, s.v.). Usually it was of earthenware and used for holding wine, honey, etc. τὸ μάννα in Exod. μάν is the form used; in the other books μάννα. καὶ ἡ ῥάβδος Ἀαρὼν ἡ βλαστήσασα, as related in Numbers 17:1-10, when the rods of the tribes were laid up before the Lord to determine who were the legitimate priests, ἱδοὺ ἐβλάστησεν ἡ ῥάβδος Ἀαρὼν. Chrysostom remarks that the contents of the ark were venerable and significant memorials of Israel’s rebellion; the tables of the covenant for the first were broken on account of their sin; the manna reminding them of their murmuring; the rod that budded of their jealousy of Aaron.

ὑπεράνω δὲ αὐτῆς χερουβεὶν δόξης … “And over it [the ark] Cherubim of glory, overshadowing the mercyseat” [“obumbrantia propitiatorium” (Vulg.)]. According to Exodus 25:18-22, the Cherubim were to be two in number, made of gold, one at each end of the ark, looking towards one another, and overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings [συσκιάζοντες ἐν ταῖς πτέρυξιν αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τοῦ ἱλαστηρίου]. The Cherubim seem to have symbolised, in the manner of the Assyrians and Egyptians, the creatures of God, all that is best in creation, by a combination of excellences found in no single creature. In Ezekiel 1:10 they have four faces, of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle, representing respectively intelligence, strength, steadfastness, rapidity. But cf. Davidson, p. 173 and Cheyne’s art. in Encycl. Bibl. δόξῃς, the Cherubim are here called “of glory,” probably because closely attached to and, as it were, attendant upon, the place of the manifestation of the divine glory. [“Als Träger der Herrlichkeit, in welcher die göttliche Gnadengegenwart sich kund that” (Weiss).] τὸ ἱλαστήριον. In Exodus 25:17 Moses is instructed to make a golden cover [כַּפֹּרֶת] to be laid upon the lid of the ark, and this instruction the LXX renders by the words ποιήσεις ἱλαστήριον ἐπίθεμα f1χρυσίου καθαροῦ. The word ἐπίθεμα alone, without any qualifying adjective, would have been an adequate translation of כַּפֹּרֶת, for both words mean “a cover”. But ἐπίθεμα is nowhere else used in the LXX to translate כַּפֹּרֶת, which is regularly translated by ἱλαστήριον, although this word does not express the idea of a material covering. [Philo more than once remarks upon this. In De Profug., 19, in speaking of symbols, he says τῆς ἵλεω δυνάμεως τὸ ἐπίθεμα τῆς κιβωτοῦ, καλεῖ δὲ αὐτὸ ἱλαστήριον. And in Vit. Mos. iii. 68, ἧς ἐπίθεμα ὡσανεὶ πῶμα τὸ λεγόμενον ἐν ἱεραῖς βίβλοις ἱλαστήριον.] The reason of this usage is to be found in the fact that this “cover” was sprinkled with blood on the day of atonement, and came, therefore, to be associated with the covering of sin. Indeed, the Hebrew word which denotes the material covering is that which is regularly used to express the covering of sin. The original ἐπίθεμα thus became a ἱλαστήριον ἐπίθεμα and finally ἱλαστήριον. (See Deissmann, Bibelstud. p. 121–132.) περὶ ὧνμέρος “of which we cannot now speak in detail”. ἔστιν, as commonly in classical Greek = ἔξεστι. κατὰ μέρος = one by one. Examples in Wetstein and Bleek (see especially Plato, Theaet. 157B, where it is opposed to ἄθροισμα).

4. the golden censer] The Greek word is thumiaterion, and it has been long disputed whether it means Censer or Altar of Incense. It does not occur in the Greek version of the Pentateuch (except as a various reading) where the “altar of incense” is rendered by thusiasterion thumiamatos (Exodus 31:8; comp. Luke 1:11); but it is used by the LXX. in 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11, and there means “censer;” and the Rabbis say that “a golden censer” was used by the High Priest on the Day of Atonement only (Yoma, iv. 4). “Censer” accordingly is the rendering of the word in this place in the Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic and Æthiopic versions; and the word is so understood by many commentators ancient and modern. On the other hand (which is very important) both in Josephus (Antt. iii. 6 § 8) and in Philo (Opp. i. 504) the word thumiaterion means “the Altar of Incense,” which, like the table, might be called “golden,” because it was overlaid with gold; and this is the sense of the word in other Hellenistic writers of this period down to Clemens of Alexandria. The Altar of Incense was so important that it is most unlikely to have been left unmentioned. Further, it is observable that we are not told of any censer kept in the Tabernacle, but only in the Temple. The incense in the days of the Tabernacle was burnt in a machettah (πυρεῖον, “brazier,” Leviticus 16:12); nor could the censer have been kept in the Holiest Place, for then the High Priest must have gone in to fetch it before kindling the incense, which would have been contrary to all the symbolism of the ritual.

But it is asserted that the writer is in any case mistaken, for that neither the censer nor the “altar of incense” were in the Holiest.

But this is not certain as regards the censer. It is possible that some golden censer-stand may have stood in the Holiest, on which the High Priest placed the small golden brazier (machettah, LXX. pureion), which he carried with him. There is indeed no doubt that the “Altar of Incense” was not in the Holiest Place, but as all authorities combine in telling us, in the Holy Place. But there was a possibility of mistake about the point because in Exodus 26:35 only the table and the lamp-stand are mentioned; and Exodus 30:6 is a little vague. Yet the writer does not say that the altar of incense was in the Holiest It was impossible that any Jew should have made such a mistake, unless he were, as Delitzsch says, “a monster of ignorance;” and if he had been unaware of the fact otherwise, he would have found from Philo in several places (De Victim Offer. § 4; Quis Rer. Div. Haer. § 46) that the Altar (which Philo also calls thumiaterion) was outside the Holiest. Josephus also mentions this, and it was universally notorious (B. J. Hebrews 9:5, § 5). Accordingly, the writer only says that the Holiest “had” the Altar of Incense, in other words that the Altar in some sense belonged to it. And this is rigidly accurate; for in 1 Kings 6:22 the altar is described as “belonging to” the Oracle (lit. “the Altar which was to the Oracle,” laddebîr), and on the Day of Atonement the curtain was drawn, and the Altar was intimately associated with the High Priest’s service in the Holiest Place. Indeed the Altar of Incense (since incense was supposed to have an atoning power, Numbers 16:47) was itself called “Holy of Holies” (A. V. “most holy,” Exodus 30:10) and is expressly said (Exodus 30:6; Exodus 40:5) to be placed “before the mercy-seat.” In Isaiah 6:1-8 a seraph flies from above the mercy-seat to the Altar. The writer then, though he is not entering into details with pedantic minuteness, has not made any mistake; nor is there the smallest ground for the idle conjecture that he was thinking of the Jewish Temple at Leontopolis. The close connection of the Altar of Incense with the service of the Day of Atonement in the Holiest Place is illustrated by 2Ma 2:1-8, where the Altar is mentioned in connexion with the Ark.

the ark of the covenant] This, as we have seen, applies only to the Tabernacle and to Solomon’s Temple. “There was nothing whatever,” as Josephus tells us, in the Holiest Place of the Temple after the Exile (B. J. Hebrews 9:5. § 5). The stone on which the ark had once stood, called by the Rabbis “the stone of the Foundation,” alone was visible.

overlaid round about with gold] The word “round about” means literally “on all sides,” i.e. “within and without” (Exodus 25:11).

with gold] The diminutive χρυσίῳ here used for gold seems to imply nothing distinctive. Diminutives always tend to displace the simple forms in late dialects.

the golden pot that had manna …] The Palestine Targum says that it was an earthen jar, but Jewish tradition asserted that it was of gold. The LXX. inserts the word “golden” in Exodus 16:33 and so does Philo. It contained an “omer” of the manna, which was the daily portion for each person. The writer distinctly seems to imply that the Ark contained three things—a golden jar (stamnos) containing a specimen of the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the Stone Tables of the Decalogue. Here again it is asserted that he made a mistake. Certainly the Stone Tables were in the Ark, and the whole symbolism of the Ark represented the Cherubim bending in adoration over the blood-sprinkled propitiatory which covered the tables of the broken moral law. But Moses was only bidden to lay up the jar and the rod “before the Testimony” not “in the Ark;” and in 1 Kings 8:9; 2 Chronicles 5:10 we are somewhat emphatically informed that “there was nothing in the Ark” except these two tables, which we are told (Deuteronomy 10:2; Deuteronomy 10:5) that Moses placed there. All that can be said is that the writer is not thinking of the Temple of Solomon at all, and that there is nothing impossible in the Jewish tradition here followed, which supposes that “before the Testimony” was interpreted to mean “in the Ark.” Rabbis like Levi Ben Gershom and Abarbanel had certainly no desire to vindicate the accuracy of the Epistle to the Hebrews, and yet they say that the pot and the rod were actually at one time in the Ark, though they had been removed from it before the days of Solomon.

Aaron’s rod that budded] Numbers 17:6-10.

Hebrews 9:4. Χρυσοῦν, golden) The apostle uses such words as signify something precious and glorious, as δόξης, of glory, Hebrews 9:5.—θυμιατήριον) censer. So the LXX. express מקטרת, a censer for frankincense; not the ALTAR of incense, which had no more need to be mentioned than the altar of whole burnt-offering, which is not mentioned. But the censer alone, along with the ark of the covenant, is named in this verse, because it was the principal part of the furniture which the high priest used on the day of expiation; and although it was on that day alone that he both carried in and again carried out the censer, yet the participle ἔχουσα, having, is consonant with the fact.[49] Further, this is put first, because a description of the ark follows at greater length.—ἐν ᾗ, in which) namely, κιβωτῷ, the ark; for to it also is to be referred αὐτῆς, over it, Hebrews 9:5.—στάμνος χρυσῆ ἔχουσα τὸ μάννα, the golden pot that had manna) μάννα, manna, has the article, not στάμνος, the pot; for the thing contained was of more importance than the golden vessel which contained it. Exodus 16:33, צנצנת אחת; LXX. ΣΤΆΜΝΟΝ ΧΡΥΣΟῦΝ ἝΝΑ. Some suspect that this pot and rod of Aaron, two most remarkable memorials, which were furnished with a perpetual miracle, had been taken out of the ark before the building of the temple; others, that they were put in not until afterwards, because in 1 Kings 8:9 mention is only made of the tables laid up in the ark. But in the same passage it is distinctly affirmed, that Solomon acted according to the example of Moses; and the apostle refers to the times of Moses, Hebrews 9:6, at the beginning; ch. Hebrews 8:5 : comp. ch. Hebrews 13:11, where there is no mention made of the city, as here none of the temple. What then shall we say? The tables were alone in the ark itself, but the pot and the rod לפני העדות, before the testimony, and therefore before the ark, Exodus 16:34; Num. 17:25, in the Hebr., very near the ark, as appendages to it; in the same way that the book of the law and the deposits of the Philistines [the five golden emerods and mice] were put on the side of the ark: Deuteronomy 31:26; 1 Samuel 6:8. Therefore ἐν in this passage is used with some latitude, as Luke 9:31, etc.—τὸ μάννα, the manna) A memorial of God’s providential care of Israel.—Ἡ ῬΆΒΔΟς, the rod) A memorial of a lawful priesthood, Num. 17:16, etc., in the Hebr.—αἱ πλάκες τῆς διαθήκης, the tables of the covenant) Deuteronomy 9:9. These are put in the last place by gradation.

[49] The Holy of Holies continually had the censer; though it was only on the day of atonement that the high priest used it.—ED.

Hebrews 9:4The golden censer (χρυσοῦν θυμιατήριον)

The noun N.T.o. It may mean either censer or altar of incense. In lxx the altar of incense is called θυσιαστήριον θυμιάματος Exodus 30:1, Exodus 30:27; Leviticus 4:7 : comp. Luke 1:11. Θυμιατήριον is used of a censer, 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11; 4 Macc. 7:11. These are the only instances of the word in lxx: accordingly, never in lxx of the altar of incense. Josephus uses it for both. The golden censer is not mentioned in O.T. as a part of the furniture of the holy of holies. The facts of the case then are as follows: (a) according to Exodus 31 the incense-altar was in the holy place, not in the holy of holies; (b) Philo and Josephus use θυμιατήριον for the altar of incense; (c) there is no mention in O.T. of a censer set apart for the day of atonement; (d) the high priest was to enter with incense, so that the ark might be veiled by the smoke (Leviticus 16:12). Hence the censer could not have been kept in the holy of holies; (e) the writer clearly speaks of an abiding-place of the θυμιατήριονin a particular division of the tabernacle. There is evidently a discrepancy, probably owing to the fact that the writer drew his information from the O.T. by which he might have been led into error. Thus Exodus 26:35, there are mentioned in the holy place without the veil only the candlestick and the table, and not the incense-altar. Again, when the standing-place of the incense altar was mentioned, the expressions were open to misconstruction: see Exodus 30:6; Exodus 40:5. On the day of atonement, the incense-altar, like the most holy place, was sprinkled with blood. This might have given rise to the impression that it was in the holy of holies.

With gold (χρυσίῳ)

Properly, wrought gold.

Wherein (ἐν ᾗ)

But according to Exodus 16:34; Numbers 17:10, neither the pot of manna nor Aaron's rod was in the ark, but "before the testimony"; while in Exodus 25:16, Moses was commanded to put only the tables of the law into the ark; and in 1 Kings 8:9 it is said of the ark in the temple, "there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone." The writer follows the rabbinical tradition that the pot of manna and the rod were inside of the ark.

Golden pot (στάμος χρυσῆ)

Σταμος, N.T.o, a few times in lxx, rare in Class. Golden is an addition of the lxx. Comp. Exodus 16:33.

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