Hebrews 9:10

Which stood only in foods and drinks, and various washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.
All Commentaries on Hebrews 9:10 Go To Hebrews 9

Thomas Aquinas

AD 1274
424. – Having described the things which pertain to the Old Testament so far as the disposition of the tabernacle was concerned, the Apostle now continues with the office of the ministers: first, with those who look to the holies; secondly, with those who look to the holy of holies (v. 7). 425. – To understand the literal meaning of this, it should be noted that, as has been stated above, there was in the forepart of the tabernacle near the center the altar of thyme or of incense, which is the same thing, and the golden candlestick; but at the southern part opposite, the table of proposition. Every day in the morning and in the evening the priest entered the holies for two reasons: to dress the lamps and to renew the incense, in order that light and all good odor might be continually present in the holies. He says, therefore: Now these preparations, namely, which pertain to the appearance of the tabernacle, having been thus made, the priests go continually into the outer tent [first tabernacle] performing their ritual duties: not to sacrifice in the holies, because they sacrificed on the altar of holocausts in front of the door of the tabernacle under the sky; but he calls the renewal of the incense and the devotion of the offerers a sacrifice. 426. – Then (v. 7) he mentions the office of the ministers in regard to the holy of holies. Here it should be noted that, as it says in Leviticus (16:30) on the day of atonement (which occurred on the tenth day of the seventh month, namely, September, which is the seventh month after our March, which coincides with part of our April, when the Jewish year begins: ‘This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first in the months of the year’ (Ex. 12:2), for they began their month with the full moon which always begins in March, unless prevented by an embolism), the high priest offered a calf for himself and his whole house, and a goat for the sin of the people. When these were immolated, he took some of their blood and filled the thurible with the burning coals from the altar of holocausts, which was in the court in front of the tabernacle, and with all these things entered into the holy of holies to expiate the tabernacle with blood, sprinkling some of the blood on the veil. After he came out, he used the same blood to anoint the altar of incense. He did this once a year. 427. – Hence, he says, but in the second tabernacle, which is called the holy of holies, only the high priest goes, and he but once a year. A Gloss says that he could enter oftener without blood, but only once with blood. But this is recorded as happening only when the camp site was changed, because when Aaron and his sons entered to wrap the sanctuary and to appoint the burdens every man was to carry, as is clear from Num. 4:16. Nevertheless, once a year the high priest entered and not without taking blood, which he offered for himself and the people’s errors, i.e., sins: ‘They err that work evil’ (Prov 14:22). For every wicked person is ignorant, as it says in the Ethics. But this is treated in Leviticus (chap. 16), where the rite of atonement is described. Mystically, by the first tabernacle is designed the present Church, in which the faithful should sacrifice themselves: ‘Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God’ (Rom. 12:1) ‘A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit’ (Ps. 50:19). They should also sacrifice their property in alms: ‘By such sacrifices God’s favor is obtained’ (Heb. 13:16). But the high priest alone, i.e., Christ in soul and body, entered into the holy of holies, i.e., into the heavenly country. Yet according to the letter the intention of the Apostle is that the Old Law is signified by the holy, and by the holy of holies the state of the New Testament and heaven, because one enters heaven by the New Law. 428. – Hence, he continues: the Holy Spirit signifying this, where he explains what is signified by this: first, in regard to the Old Testament; secondly, in regard to the New (v. 11). In the first part he does two things: first, he describes the office of the ministers in regard to the first; secondly, he gives the reason (v. 9). 429. – It should be noted that the priests entered into the holies every day; but into the second, which was beyond the veil the high priest alone once a year. Hence, in regard to those ministers there were two things there: one that entered everyday in the first; the other that there was a veil in front of the second. Hence, the interposition of the veil signifies that heavenly things were veiled from them. Furthermore, the fact that they did not enter signifies that the Old Testament is not the way to enter heaven before Christ’s coming. He says, therefore: I say that this was thus accomplished, the Holy Spirit indicating this: ‘Prophecy came not by the will of man at any time: but the holy men of God spoke, inspired by the Holy Spirit’ (2 Pt 1:21). This is against the heretics who say that the Old Testament was not from the Holy Spirit, but from an evil god. By indicating what? That the way into the holies was not yet made opened, as long as the former tabernacle, i.e., the Old Testament signified by the first tabernacle, was still standing. For as long as the Old Testament endured, the way into the holies, namely, Christ, Who says: ‘I am the way’ (Jn. 14:6) had not yet come; for He is the door by which one enters into the holies: ‘I am the door’ (Jn. 10:9). But He was not yet made manifest, because He was still hiding under the shadows of the figures of the letter: ‘For the law having a shadow of the good things to come’ (Heb. 10:1), which is symbolic for the present age, or leading us to the things which occur at the present time. 430. – Then (v. 9b) he states the reason why the entrance into the holy of holies was closed during the state of the Old Law. For no one enters into it, unless he is perfect: ‘It shall be called the holy way: the unclean shall not pass over it’ (Is. 35:8). Hence, where there was no cleansing and no perfection, there was no entrance into it. But the Old Testament was unable to make perfect those who served it, because the sacrifice had not yet been offered that would satisfy for the sin of the whole human race; hence, he says. According to this, namely, parable or figure, gifts and sacrifices are offered, which refers to the clause, accomplishing the offices of sacrifice, because gifts of all things and offerings of animals were not offered in the holy of holies, but in the holies or in the court of the tabernacle. But they were unable to cleanse, because they cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper that serves with the service of latria, which pertains to divine worship. I say, perfect the conscience. For cleansing is of two kinds: one from the stain of sin and debt of punishment as to the conscience. The Law cannot do this: ‘It is impossible that with the blood of the oxen and goats sin should be taken away’ (Heb. 10:4); ‘Offer sacrifices no more in vain’ (Is. 1:13); ‘May the Lord be appeased with thousands of rams, or with many thousands of fat he-goats’ (Mic 6:7). The other cleansing was in regard to divine service, in order that one might lawfully minister at such sacrifices; and thus it cleansed. 431. – But were many perfect in the Old Law? It seems so; for it was said to Abraham: ‘Walk before me and be perfect’ (Gen. 17:1). Furthermore, Moses and many others were very saintly and perfect. I answer that although there were many holy and perfect persons then, it was not from the works of the Law: ‘The law brought nothing to perfection’ (Heb. 7:19); but this was by faith in Christ: ‘Abraham believed God and it was reputed to him unto justice’ (Gen. 15:6). Therefore, this was not in virtue of the ceremonies and practices of the law: hence, it is frequently stated there: ‘And the priest will pray for him’ (Lev. 5:10) and in many other places. Therefore, that it cleansed was due to faith. But in the New Testament it says in Mk (16:16): ‘He that believes and is baptized shall be saved.’ But there is no salvation without the sacraments of the New Law: ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Jn. 3:5). 432. – But why did they not cleanse the conscience? Because they consisted only in food and drink. But that which is altogether corporeal does not cleanse the soul, because it does not act on the soul. He says, therefore, in food and drink, i.e., in distinguishing meats and drinks that were forbidden in the Old Law, because abstaining from these does not cleanse the conscience; or else this refers to the use of the sacrifices, because the priests ate what was offered for sins. For they did not cleanse the conscience: ‘Shall the holy flesh take away from your crimes?’ (Jer. 11:15). 433. – And in various ablutions, because as it says in Mk (7:4), the Jews observed the washing of cups and of pots, and when they returned from the market, they did not eat until they were washed. Against this the Lord says (Mt. 23:25): ‘Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees: because you make clean the outside of the cup and dish, but within you are full of rapine and uncleanness.’ Yet the Apostle is not speaking here about the superstitions of the Pharisees. Therefore, we must go to the other washings commanded in the Law, such as the water in which the priests washed, and the water of purification in the cleansing of leprosy or defilement. 434. – Hence, they are regulations for the body. He adds this universally of all. He calls those ceremonies regulations for the body, i.e., fleshly, because they pertained only to bodily cleanness, and there was no spiritual power in them. And in order that no one ask: Why were they instituted, if they could not bring perfection; because it would then seem that God instituted them to no purpose, he rejects this when he says, until the time of correction. As if to say: It is true that they were instituted uselessly, if they were to continue forever. But as it is necessary first to give a child a pedagogue, and when he reaches perfect age, he is given a mode of behavior based on the judgment of the ruler of the republic; so in the Old Law were instituted things that look to imperfection. But when the perfect time came, the things which lead to perfection should have been introduced. Hence, he says, until the time of correction, i.e., in which they could be corrected, not as evil but as imperfect: ‘For the law is good’ (Rom. 7:12); ‘Mildness is come upon us, and we shall be corrected’ (Ps. 89:10).
10 mins

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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