Hebrews 9:7
But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:
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(7) Went . . . offered.—Rather, entereth . . . offereth.

Errors.—Literally, ignorances. (See Hebrews 5:2-3; Hebrews 7:27.) By “once in the year” we must of course understand on one day of the year, viz., the tenth day of Tisri. On that day, according to Leviticus 16, it was the duty of the high priest to enter the Holy of Holies twice: (1) with the incense and with the blood of the bullock, his own sin-offering (Leviticus 16:12-14); (2) with the blood of the same bullock and that of the goat, the sin-offering for the people (Hebrews 9:15-19). In the ritual described in the tract “Joma” of the Talmud, he is said to enter four times; the first ministration being separated into its two parts (offering incense, sprinkling the blood of the bullock), and a fourth entering (to bring out the censer) being added.

Hebrews 9:7. But into the second — The holy of holies; went the high-priest alone — And no other person; and he was to be so alone as that none were to attend in order to assist him in any part of the service; yea, no one was allowed to be in the other part of the sanctuary where he might so much as see the veil opened, but all the priests, as well as the people, were kept without the sanctuary, Leviticus 16:2; Leviticus 16:17; Leviticus 16:32. Hence it was always provided, in case of the sickness or occasional pollutions of the actual high-priest, the next in succession should perform this office, who was therefore called the second priest. From whence, in times of disorder and confusion, they had two high-priests at once. This entrance was a type, both of the entrance of Christ into heaven, and of our entrance by him to the throne of grace, Hebrews 9:24; Hebrews 10:19-20. And this was the veil which, in the temple, was rent from top to bottom upon the death of our Lord. For by his death the way was laid open to the most holy place, and the gracious presence of God discovered to all that come to God by him. Once every year — That is, on one day only, namely, the day of expiation, Leviticus 16:2; but on that day he went in several times: not without blood — To signify that there is no entrance into God’s gracious presence but by the blood of Christ. After the high-priest had filled the holy place with a cloud of incense, he returned to the altar of burnt-offerings without the tabernacle, where the sacrifice had been newly slain; and while the blood of the beasts was fresh, and, as it were, living, he took of it in his hand, and entering again into the most holy place, sprinkled it seven times with his finger toward the mercy-seat. Which he offered — Where or when he offered it is not expressed: in the holy place there was no use of blood but for the sprinkling of it, but the sprinkling of blood was always consequential to the offering properly so called. Probably by the word προσφερει, here used, he intends only bringing, and not properly offering. For himself and the errors of the people — The apostle refers to the distinct sacrifices that were to be offered on that day, the first of which was of a bullock and a ram, which were offered for the high-priest himself; such being the imperfection of their state, that they could have no priests to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, but he must first offer for himself. By the errors of the people, are meant their sins of ignorance, to which only, and not to sins presumptuously committed, those atonements extended. They were offered for the whole nation, to make atonement for the sins which they had ignorantly committed during the preceding year, and to open the tabernacle for their acts of worship during the succeeding year. And to show this, the high-priest carried the blood of these sacrifices into the inward tabernacle, and sprinkled it before the symbol of the divine presence.9:6-10 The apostle goes on to speak of the Old Testament services. Christ, having undertaken to be our High Priest, could not enter into heaven till he had shed his blood for us; and none of us can enter, either into God's gracious presence here, or his glorious presence hereafter, but by the blood of Jesus. Sins are errors, great errors, both in judgment and practice; and who can understand all his errors? They leave guilt upon the conscience, not to be washed away but by the blood of Christ. We must plead this blood on earth, while he is pleading it for us in heaven. A few believers, under the Divine teaching, saw something of the way of access to God, of communion with him, and of admission into heaven through the promised Redeemer, but the Israelites in general looked no further than the outward forms. These could not take away the defilement or dominion of sin. They could neither discharge the debts, nor resolve the doubts, of him who did the service. Gospel times are, and should be, times of reformation, of clearer light as to all things needful to be known, and of greater love, causing us to bear ill-will to none, but good-will to all. We have greater freedom, both of spirit and speech, in the gospel, and greater obligations to a more holy living.But into the second - The second apartment or room, called the most holy place; Hebrews 9:3.

Went the high priest alone once every year - On the great day of atonement; Exodus 30:10. On that day he probably entered the Holy of Holies three or four times, first to burn incense, Leviticus 16:12; then to sprinkle the blood of the bullock on the mercy-seat, Leviticus 16:14; then he was to kill the goat of the sin-offering, and bring that blood within the Veil and sprinkle it also on the mercy-seat, and then, perhaps, he entered again to bring out the golden censer. The Jewish tradition is, that he entered the Holy of Holies four times on that day. After all, however, the number of times is not certain, nor is it material, the only important point being that he entered it only on one day of the year, while the holy place was entered every day.

Not without blood - That is, he bare with him blood to sprinkle on the mercy-seat. This was the blood of the bullock and of the goat - borne in at two different times.

Which he offered for himself - The blood of the bullock was offered for himself and for his house or family - thus keeping impressively before his own mind and the mind of the people the fact that the priests even of the highest order were sinners, and needed expiation like others; Leviticus 9:7.

And for the errors of the people - The blood of the goat was offered for them; Leviticus 16:15. The word rendered "errors" - ἀγνόημα agnoēma - denotes properly "ignorance, involuntary error;" and then error or fault in general - the same as the Hebrew משׁגה mishgeh - from שׁגה shaagah - "to err." The object was to make expiation for all the errors and sins of the people, and this occurred once in the year. The repetition of these sacrifices was a constant remembrancer of sin, and the design was that neither the priests nor the people should lose sight of the fact that they were violators of the Law of God.

7. once every year—the tenth day of the seventh month. He entered within the veil on that day twice at least. Thus "once" means here on the one occasion only. The two, or possibly more, entrances on that one day were regarded as parts of the one whole.

not without blood—(Heb 8:3).

offered—Greek, "offers."

errors—Greek, "ignorances": "inadvertent errors." They might have known, as the law was clearly promulged, and they were bound to study it; so that their ignorance was culpable (compare Ac 3:17; Eph 4:18; 1Pe 1:14). Though one's ignorance may mitigate one's punishment (Lu 12:48), it does not wholly exempt from punishment.

This verse contains the special anniversary of the high priest alone in the inward tabernacle, the holy of holiest, of which you have the law, Exodus 30:14 Leviticus 16:2, &c.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year; into this place the high priest was to enter once a year only, and every year to repeat it, as Exodus 30:10, upon the atonement day, being the tenth day of the month Tisri, the seventh month in their ecclesiastical year, and the first of their civil: that day was he to enter several times into that place, first for himself, Leviticus 16:11-14, and then for the people, Leviticus 16:15,16, &c., carrying in the blood first within the veil, and then coming out again, and carrying in the incense on the golden censer: none of the other priests were to enter into the holy place while he was ministering, but him alone, as Leviticus 16:17.

Not without blood: when he first entered into the holiest of all, it was with the blood of a young bull, of a ram, Leviticus 16:3,14, with the blood of the he-goat, Hebrews 9:15,27. After he had offered the incense on his golden censer, Hebrews 9:4, he must sprinkle the blood upon the mercy-seat and before it, by which expiatory blood there was made an atonement, Hebrews 9:12-14.

Which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people; first, for his sinful self and family, Leviticus 16:11, and then for the ignorances, incogitancies, errors, and all sorts of sins committed by the people, Hebrews 9:16 Hebrews 7:27; all of them being committed with some error of the understanding. Which type, in all its parts, was perfectly fulfilled in Christ, the gospel High Priest, as is shown in the following verses; whereby not only his office, but his services, are transcendently set above, and preferred to, all the Aaronical ones. Though this is not expressed in so many words in Leviticus 16:2 only it is said that "Aaron came not at all times into the holy place within the vail"; yet it is the constant and generally received sense of the Jewish writers, in agreement with the apostle here, that the high priest went into the holy of holies but once a year (q), on the day of atonement, which was on the tenth of the month Tisri, and answers to part of September; not but that he went in more than once on that day, for he went in no less than four times (r); the first time he went in to offer incense; the second time with the blood of the bullock, to sprinkle it; the third time with the blood of the goat; and the fourth time to bring out the censer (s); and if he entered a fifth time, they say he was worthy of death; wherefore Philo the Jew (t) seems to be mistaken when he affirms that, if he went in three or four times on the same day, he suffered death, nor was there any pardon for him; and as it was but one day in a year he might enter, so when he did, no other man, either Israelite or priest, might go in along with him; he went in alone without any attendance: the Jews say (u), that a cord or thong was bound to the feet of the high priest when he went into the holy of holies, that if he died there, the rest might be able to draw him out; for it was not lawful for another priest to go in, no, not an high priest, none besides him on the day of atonement. Pausanias (w) makes mention of a temple of Minerva into which the priests entered once every year; which very likely was observed in imitation of this custom of the Jewish high priest; who in it was a type of Christ, and of his entrance into heaven, and of his constant and continued intercession there:

not without blood; for he went in with the blood of the bullock and the blood of the goat; which was typical of the blood of Christ, by which he entered in once into the holy place, into heaven, when he had obtained eternal redemption by it, Hebrews 9:12 which he offered for himself and for the errors of the people; the bullock was offered by the high priest for himself and his family; and the goat for the sins of the people of Israel, even all their iniquities, transgressions, and sins, Leviticus 16:11, but Christ the antitype having no sin, had no need to offer for himself, only for the sins of the people; See Gill on Hebrews 7:27.

(q) T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 42. 4. & 43. 1. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 86. 1.((r) Bemidbar Rabba, sect 7. fol. 188. 4. Maimon. Biath Hamikdash, c. 2. sect. 3. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora, pr. neg. 303. (s) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misna Celim, c. 1. sect. 9. (t) De Legatione ad Caium, p. 1035. (u) Zohar in Lev. fol. 43. 3. & Imre Binah in ib. (w) Arcadica, sive l. 8. p. 531.

But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the {e} errors of the people:

(e) For the sins, see Heb 5:2.

Hebrews 9:7. Ἡ δευτέρα] sc. σκηνή, the Most Holy Place.

ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ] once in the year, i.e. only on a single day of the year, namely, on the tenth of the seventh month (Tisri), on the great solemnity of atonement. The supposition that the high priest on this day more than once entered the Most Holy Place is not excluded by the expression, and the disputed question as to how many times this took place has no bearing on our passage. That the high priest was obliged to enter the Most Holy Place at least twice on this day, follows from Leviticus 16:12-16. That he entered into it as many as four times is the teaching of the Talmud (tract. Joma, v. 1, vii. 4) and Rabbins.

μόνος ὁ ἀρχιερεύς] sc. εἴσεισι.

προσφέρει] is not to be explained, as by Calov and others, of the sacrifices outside of the Most Holy Place. For in this case we should have to expect the aorist. It is employed of the blood of the victim before slain, which blood the high priest carries into the Most Holy Place, and here in the Most Holy Place presents to God (the Socinians, Grotius, Bleek).

ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ καὶ τῶν τοῦ λαοῦ ἀγνοημάτων] for himself and the transgressions of the people. To make ἑαυτοῦ likewise depend upon ἀγνοημάτων (for his own sins and those of the people: Vulgate, Luther (?), Calvin, Piscator, Schlichting, Jac. Cappellus, Grotius, Storr, Stuart, Paulus, and others), is, although the thought is not thereby altered (comp. Hebrews 7:27), grammatically false; because in that case the article τῶν could not have been wanting before ἑαυτοῦ.

ἀγνοημάτων] see at Hebrews 5:2, p. 198.Hebrews 9:7. εἰς δὲ τὴν δευτέραν ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ … The law is given in Leviticus 16, both negatively and positively; negatively in Leviticus 16:2 μὴ εἰσπορευέσθω πᾶσαν ὥραν εἰς τὸ ἅγιον ἐσώτερον τ. καταπετάσματος—promiscuous or continuous, daily entrance was forbidden; and positively, in Leviticus 16:34 ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ, i.e., one day each year, viz., on the day of Atonement, the tenth of the seventh month the High Priest is to enter. On that day the High Priest was to enter the Holiest at least thrice, first with the incense, then with the blood of the bullock which atoned for his own sins and those of his house, and finally with the blood of the goat for the sins of the people. μόνος ὁ ἀρχιερεύς in contrast with οἱ ἱερεῖς of Hebrews 9:6. This point is also emphasised by Philo, De Mon., p. 821 E., where he says that the things inside the veil were hidden from everyone πλὴν ἑνὶ τῷ ἀρχιερεῖ, and by Josephus (Bell. Jud. ver. 5; ver. 7) εἰσῄει ἅπαξ κατʼ ἐνιαυτὸν μόνος. See also Leviticus 16:17. The law was emphasised by the destruction of Nadab and Abhu, Leviticus 10:1. The Holiness of the Presence and the difficulty of access was further illustrated and enforced by the demand that sacrifice should open the way οὐ χωρὶς αἵματος. This blood was offered, i.e., sprinkled with the finger on the ἱλαστήριον, first, the blood of the calf to cleanse from his own sins, and then, the blood of the goat to atone for the people’s sins. [ἑαυτοῦ is manifestly under the direct government of ὑπὲρ and does not follow ἀγνοημάτων. This word does not occur in Leviticus 16; on the contrary the strongest words are used, ἀνομία, ἁμαρτία, ἀδικία, but cf. Hebrews 5:2.] These three points, then, bring out the impossibility of free access to the Presence; not διαπαντὸς but ἅπαξ τ. ἐνιαυτοῦ; not οἱ ἱερεῖς promiscuously, but μόνος ὁ ἀρχιερεύς; not freely, but οὐ χωρὶς αἵματος. This was the δικαίωμα λατρείας which could not be neglected under pain of death. What did it signify? τοῦτο δηλοῦντος τ. πνεύματος … “this the Holy Spirit signifying, that the way into the Holy of Holies has not yet been made manifest, while the fore-tent has still a place”. δηλοῦντος, the Holy Spirit is viewed as the author of the ritual and as meaning to teach by every part of it. Vaughan compares 1 Peter 1:11 and adds, “As there O.T. prophecy, so here O.T. ritual, is ascribed to the Holy Spirit.” τὴν τ. ἁγίων ὁδὸν “the way into the Holiest” as in Hebrews 8:2. Access to the Holy of Holies being thus barred was an intimation that the true access to God had not yet been furnished and that therefore worship and fellowship with God (that is, religion) were not yet perfect. [Cf. Theoph. ἡ τ. ἁγίων ὁδός, τουτέστιν ἡ εἰς τ. οὐρανὸν εἴσοδος. Weiss, “der Weg zum himmlischen Heiligthum”.] So long as the fore-tent (τῆς πρώτης σκηνῆς) has an appointed place as part of the Divine arrangements for worship (ἐχούσης στάσιν as in Polyb. Hebrews 9:5; Hebrews 9:3) this signifies that the very Presence of God is inaccessible. The very object of the division of the Tabernacle into two rooms, an outer and an inner, was to impress men with the fact that the way of access had not actually been disclosed (πεφανερῶσθαι). Hence the appropriateness of the rending of the veil as the Symbol that by the perfected work and sacrifice of Christ the new and living way (Hebrews 10:20) was opened.7. But into the second] i.e. “the inner,” “the Holiest.” There was a graduated sanctity in the Tabernacle and in the Temple. In the Temple any one might go into the Outer Court or Court of the Gentiles; Jews into the Second Court; men only into the Third; priests only in their robes into the Holy Place; and only the High Priest into the inmost shrine (Jos. c. Apion. ii. 8).

once every year] i.e. only on one day of the whole year, viz. on the tenth day of the seventh month Tisri, the Day of Atonement. In the course of that day he had to enter it at least three, and possibly four times, namely (1) with the incense, (2) with the blood of the bullock offered for his own sins, (3) with the blood of the goat for the sins of the people, and perhaps (4) to remove the censer (Leviticus 16:12-16; Yoma, Hebrews 5:2). But these entrances were practically one.

offered] The present “offers” is here used, as before.

for the errors of the people] Lit. “for the ignorances,” but the word seems to be used in the LXX. to include sins as well as errors (Hebrews 5:2-3; Exodus 34:7; Leviticus 16:2; Leviticus 16:11; Leviticus 16:34; Numbers 15:27-31).Hebrews 9:7. Ἅπαξ τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ) So LXX., Leviticus 16:34, once every year; on one day of the year, and on that same day but once. See A. A. Hochstetteri Ex. de Ingressu Summi Pontificis in Sanctum Sanctorum, pp. 19–24.—ὑπὲρ ἑαυτοῦ) for himself. The Vulgate has Proverbs sua, for his own, viz. error of ignorance; I do not think, however, that ὑπὲρ τῶν ἑαυτοῦ was in the Greek copy from which it was translated. Although the priest was exempt from the errors or ignorance of the people, yet he was not without sin, and therefore stood in need of sacrifices, ch. Hebrews 7:27.—ἀγνοημάτων, ignorance, errors) This term has a very extensive meaning, as; on the contrary, ἐπίγνωσις, knowledge. See Numbers 15:22-31.Verses 7, 8. - But into the second the high priest alone, once in the year, not without blood, which he offereth for himself and for the errors (literally, ignorances; cf. ver. 2) of the people. For the ceremonies on the Day of Atonement, see Leviticus 16. They may be summarized, in their main characteristics, thus:

(1) The high priest brought to the door of the tabernacle a bullock as a sin offering for himself, and two goats as a sin offering for the people; also a ram as a burnt offering for himself, and a ram as a burnt offering for the people.

(2) After washing and arraying himself in white linen garments (not the ordinary official dress), he cast lots on the two goats which were for the people's sin offering - one lot being "for the LORD," the other "for Azazel;" that on which the former lot fell being for sacrifice, the other to be set free.

(3) He sacrificed his own sin offering, entered the holy place with the blood thereof, filled a censer with burning coals from the golden altar, went with it within the veil, sprinkling incense on the coals, "that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy-seat, that he die not;" took also the blood within the veil, and sprinkled the mercy-seat therewith.

(4) He returned outside the tabernacle, sacrificed the people's sin offering, i.e. the goat that was "for the LORD," entered the holy place with its blood, and proceeded as before; sprinkling also the altar of incense, as well as the mercy-seat, with the blood of both sacrifices, to "hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel."

(5) He again returned outside the tabernacle, laid his hands on the head of the goat "for Azazel," confessing over him "all the iniquities of the children of Israel, putting them on the head of the goat," and sent him away to the wilderness, where he was to be let go.

(6) He again entered the tabernacle, where he put off his linen garments, and left them there, and then, after washing again, and putting on his ordinary official dress, sacrificed his own and the people's burnt offering.

(7) The bodies of the two sin offerings (the bullock and the slain goat) were taken outside the camp, and there entirely consumed by fire. The points in this ceremonial here especially noted are:

(1) That the entrance within the veil was only "once in the year," i.e. on one only day in the year; for on that day the high priest entered more than once. The meaning is that ordinarily, except on that single day, approach to the innermost shrine was closed to all.

(2) That even on that day the high priest alone entered; neither the people, nor even the priesthood generally, ever had approach to the holiest of all.

(3) That even he could not enter "without blood;" neither the daily sacrifices nor all the ordinary ceremonial of the Law availed for his access: he must take with him the blood of special sin offerings, or he still could not enter and live.

(4) This blood he offered "for himself and for the ignorances of the people;" for himself, since he too was "compassed with infirmity," and required atonement (ver. 2), and also for the people's ignorances. There is a significance in this word. It was not the sins done with a high hand that had to be atoned for on that day; these were either visited by "cutting off," or atoned for in ways appointed for the purpose: it was the less definite and undetected sinfulness, infecting the whole community, and remaining after all ceremonial cleansing, so as to debar them from coming "boldly to the throne of grace," that was yearly kept in remembrance on the Day of Atonement. Hence before even the high priest could enter and not die, the mercy-seat over "the testimony" which was within the ark must be enveloped with the cloud of incense and sprinkled with the blood which "covereth sin" (the verb translated "make atonement for" means properly "cover"). The sin was still not taken away, only "covered" for the time; for the holy of holies after the ceremony remained closed as before, and the same rites had to be repeated at each yearly entrance. All that was expressed was an ever-recurring need of atonement, not yet effected truly, though symbolically prefigured. The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all (so the A.V., giving the idea correctly, though the expression is simply τῶν ἁγίων, which might denote only the holy place, as in ver. 2, if we there read ἅγια and not ἁγία, but is used for the holy of holies in vers. 24, 25, and for its heavenly antitype in ver. 13. This last, as typified in the earthly sanctuary, is what is intended here) hath not yet been made manifest, while as the first tabernacle is yet standing (or rather, has standing (ἐχούσης στάσιν); has a place in the symbolical representation). The "first tabernacle" here spoken of certainly does not mean the earthly one as opposed to the heavenly, but what the expression denotes throughout the chapter, the holy place in distinction from the holy of holies. How, then, is the continued existence of this a sign that the way to the heavenly holy of holies has not yet been made manifest? Obviously because it intervenes between the congregation and the holy of holies of the earthly tabernacle, debarring all approach to the latter, and even hiding it from their view. This debarring intervention signifies that there is no approach for them as yet to what the holy of holies symbolizes. Further, the ordinary ministry of the priests themselves did not extend beyond this "first tabernacle:" this alone was the sphere of the services which they accomplished daily; and so the very fact of its existing for this purpose expressed that even their mediation was not availing for access to the inner mercy-seat. And that this was so is intimated with peculiar significance by the direction that, when the high priest alone entered within the veil, none even of them should be in the holy place at all, so as to see beyond it: "And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place" (Leviticus 16:17). Errors (ἀγνοημάτων)

Lit. ignorances. See on Hebrews 5:2.

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