Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Hebrews 8:9

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Not according to the covenant - The new covenant is of a widely different nature to that of the old; it was only temporal and earthly in itself, though it pointed out spiritual and eternal things. The new covenant is totally different from this, as we have already seen; and such a covenant, or system of religion, the Jews should have been prepared to expect, as the Prophet Jeremiah had, in the above place, so clearly foretold it.

They continued not in my covenant - It should be observed that the word διαθηκη, which we translate covenant, often means religion itself; and its various precepts. The old covenant in general stated, on God's side, I will be your God; on the Israelites' side, We will be thy people. This covenant they brake; they served other gods, and neglected the precepts of that holy religion which God had delivered to them.

And I regarded them not - Καγω ημελησα αυτων· And I neglected them or despised them; but the words in the Hebrew text of the prophet are בם בעלתי ואנכי veanochi baalti bam, which we translate, although I was a husband to them. If our translation be correct, is it possible to account for this most strange difference between the apostle and the prophet? Could the Spirit of God be the author of such a strange, not to say contradictory, translation of the same words? Let it be observed:

  1. That the apostle quotes from the Septuagint; and in quoting a version accredited by and commonly used among the Jews, he ought to give the text as he found it, unless the Spirit of God dictated an extension of meaning, as is sometimes the case; but in the present case there seems to be no necessity to alter the meaning.
  • The Hebrew words will bear a translation much nearer to the Septuagint and the apostle than our translation intimates. The words might be literally rendered, And I was Lord over them, or I lorded or ruled over them; i.e., I chastised them for their transgressions, and punished them for their iniquities; ημελησα, I took no farther care of them, and gave them up into the hands of their enemies, and so they were carried away into captivity. This pretty nearly reconciles the Hebrew and the Greek, as it shows the act of God in reference to them is nearly the same when the proper meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words is considered.
  • Some suppose that the letter ע ain in בעלתי is changed for ח cheth, and that the word should be read בחלתי bachalti, I have hated or despised them. An ancient and learned Jew, Rab. Parchon, has these remarkable words on this passage,

    ´´פ בם׃ בעלתי ואנכי

    ´שג כחית מתחלבה העין וזו שנאתים ´´פ בי׃ כחלה נכשם וגם

    אותי שנאה ,

    and I baalti baam, translate, I hated them; for ע ain is here changed and stands for ח cheth, as it is said, their soul bachalah bi, translate, hath hated me." None of the Hebrew MSS. collated by Kennicott and De Rossi give any various reading on this word. Some of the versions have used as much latitude in their translations of the Hebrew as the Septuagint. But it is unnecessary to discuss this subject any farther; the word בעל baal itself, by the consent of the most learned men, signifies to disdain or despise, and this is pretty nearly the sense of the apostle's expression.

    Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    Not according to the covenant … - An arrangement or dispensation relating mainly to outward observances, and to temporal blessings. The meaning is, that the new dispensation would be different from what was made with them when they came out of Egypt. In what respects it would differ is specified in Hebrews 8:10-12.

    Because they continued not in my covenant - In Jeremiah, in the Hebrew, this is, “while my covenant they brake.” That is, they failed to comply with the conditions on which I promised to bestow blessings upon them. In Jeremiah this is stated as a simple fact; in the manner in which the apostle quotes it, it is given as a reason why he would give a new arrangement. The apostle has quoted it literally from the Septuagint, and the sense is not materially varied. The word rendered “because” - ὅτι hoti- may mean “since” - “since they did not obey that covenant, and it was ineffectual in keeping them from sin, showing that it was not perfect or complete in regard to what was needful to be done for man, a new arrangement shall be made that will be without defect.” This accords with the reasoning of the apostle; and the idea is, simply, that an arrangement may be made for man adapted to produce important ends in one state of society or one age of the world, which would not be well adapted to him in another, and which would not accomplish all which it would be desirable to accomplish for the race. So an arrangement may be made for teaching children which would not answer the purpose of instructing those of mature years, and which at that time of life may be superseded by another. A system of measures may be adapted to the infancy of society, or to a comparatively rude period of the world, which would be ill adapted to a more advanced state of society. Such was the Hebrew system. It was well adapted to the Jewish community in their circumstances, and answered the end then in view. It served to keep them separate from other people; to preserve the knowledge and the worship of the true God, and to introduce the gospel dispensation.

    And I regarded them not - In Jeremiah this is, “Although I was an husband unto them.” The Septuagint is as it is quoted here by Paul. The Hebrew is, ואנכי בצלתי בם wa'aanokiy baa‛altiy baam- which may be rendered, “although I was their Lord;” or as it is translated by Gesenius, “and I rejected them.” The word בּצל bàal- means:

    (1)to be lord or master over anything Isaiah 26:13;

    (2)to become the husband of anyone Deuteronomy 21:13; Deuteronomy 24:1;

    (3)with ba-, “to disdain, to reject”; so Jeremiah 3:14. It is very probable that this is the meaning here, for it is not only adopted by the Septuagint, but by the Syriac. So Abulwalid, Kimchi, and Rabbi Tanchum understood it.

    The Arabic word means “to reject, to loath, to disdain.” All that is necessary to observe here is, that it cannot be demonstrated that the apostle has not given the true sense of the prophet. The probability is, that the Septuagint translators would give the meaning which was commonly understood to be correct, and there is still more probability that the Syriac translator would adopt the true sense, for.

    (1)the Syriac and Hebrew languages strongly resemble each other; and,

    (2)the old Syriac version - the Peshito - is incomparably a better translation than the Septuagint.

    If this, therefore, be the correct translation, the meaning is, that since they did not regard and obey the laws which he gave them, God would reject them as his people, and give new laws better adapted to save people. Instead of regarding and treating them as his friends, he would punish them for their offences, and visit them with calamities.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The superior excellence of the priesthood of Christ, above that of Aaron, is shown from that covenant of grace, of which Christ was Mediator. The law not only made all subject to it, liable to be condemned for the guilt of sin, but also was unable to remove that guilt, and clear the conscience from the sense and terror of it. Whereas, by the blood of Christ, a full remission of sins was provided, so that God would remember them no more. God once wrote his laws to his people, now he will write his laws in them; he will give them understanding to know and to believe his laws; he will give them memories to retain them; he will give them hearts to love them, courage to profess them, and power to put them in practice. This is the foundation of the covenant; and when this is laid, duty will be done wisely, sincerely, readily, easily, resolutely, constantly, and with comfort. A plentiful outpouring of the Spirit of God will make the ministration of the gospel so effectual, that there shall be a mighty increase and spreading of Christian knowledge in persons of all sorts. Oh that this promise might be fulfilled in our days, that the hand of God may be with his ministers so that great numbers may believe, and be turned to the Lord! The pardon of sin will always be found to accompany the true knowledge of God. Notice the freeness of this pardon; its fulness; its fixedness. This pardoning mercy is connected with all other spiritual mercies: unpardoned sin hinders mercy, and pulls down judgments; but the pardon of sin prevents judgment, and opens a wide door to all spiritual blessings. Let us search whether we are taught by the Holy Spirit to know Christ, so as uprightly to love, fear, trust, and obey him. All worldly vanities, outward privileges, or mere notions of religion, will soon vanish away, and leave those who trust in them miserable for ever.
    Ellen G. White
    Patriarchs and Prophets, 371-2

    Another compact—called in Scripture the “old” covenant—was formed between God and Israel at Sinai, and was then ratified by the blood of a sacrifice. The Abrahamic covenant was ratified by the blood of Christ, and it is called the “second,” or “new,” covenant, because the blood by which it was sealed was shed after the blood of the first covenant. That the new covenant was valid in the days of Abraham is evident from the fact that it was then confirmed both by the promise and by the oath of God—the “two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie.” Hebrews 6:18. PP 371.1

    But if the Abrahamic covenant contained the promise of redemption, why was another covenant formed at Sinai? In their bondage the people had to a great extent lost the knowledge of God and of the principles of the Abrahamic covenant. In delivering them from Egypt, God sought to reveal to them His power and His mercy, that they might be led to love and trust Him. He brought them down to the Red Sea—where, pursued by the Egyptians, escape seemed impossible—that they might realize their utter helplessness, their need of divine aid; and then He wrought deliverance for them. Thus they were filled with love and gratitude to God and with confidence in His power to help them. He had bound them to Himself as their deliverer from temporal bondage. PP 371.2

    But there was a still greater truth to be impressed upon their minds. Living in the midst of idolatry and corruption, they had no true conception of the holiness of God, of the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts, their utter inability, in themselves, to render obedience to God's law, and their need of a Saviour. All this they must be taught. PP 371.3

    God brought them to Sinai; He manifested His glory; He gave them His law, with the promise of great blessings on condition of obedience: “If ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ... ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Exodus 19:5, 6. The people did not realize the sinfulness of their own hearts, and that without Christ it was impossible for them to keep God's law; and they readily entered into covenant with God. Feeling that they were able to establish their own righteousness, they declared, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” Exodus 24:7. They had witnessed the proclamation of the law in awful majesty, and had trembled with terror before the mount; and yet only a few weeks passed before they broke their covenant with God, and bowed down to worship a graven image. They could not hope for the favor of God through a covenant which they had broken; and now, seeing their sinfulness and their need of pardon, they were brought to feel their need of the Saviour revealed in the Abrahamic covenant and shadowed forth in the sacrificial offerings. Now by faith and love they were bound to God as their deliverer from the bondage of sin. Now they were prepared to appreciate the blessings of the new covenant. PP 371.4

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 931-2

    Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come to Him in faith. He will cleanse them from all defilement if they will let Him. But if they cling to their sins, they cannot possibly be saved; for Christ's righteousness covers no sin unrepented of. God has declared that those who receive Christ as their Redeemer, accepting Him as the One who takes away all sin, will receive pardon for their transgressions. These are the terms of our election. Man's salvation depends upon his receiving Christ by faith. Those who will not receive Him lose eternal life because they refused to avail themselves of the only means provided by the Father and the Son for the salvation of a perishing world (Manuscript 142, 1899). 7BC 931.1

    Personal Character of Christ's Intercession—Christ is watching. He knows all about our burdens, our dangers, and our difficulties; and He fills His mouth with arguments in our behalf. He fits His intercessions to the needs of each soul, as He did in the case of Peter.... Our Advocate fills His mouth with arguments to teach His tried, tempted ones to brace against Satan's temptations. He interprets every movement of the enemy. He orders events (Letter 90, 1906). 7BC 931.2

    25-27. See EGW on Romans 8:34. 7BC 931.3

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    Ellen G. White
    SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7 (EGW), 934

    23. See EGW on ch. 4:14; 2 Peter 1:4; Revelation 3:3. 7BC 934.1

    25 (see EGW on Malachi 3:16). Seeking the Assembly of the Saints—Those who do not feel the necessity of seeking the assembly of the saints, with the precious assurance that the Lord will meet with them, show how lightly they value the help that God has provided for them. Satan is constantly at work to wound and poison the soul; in order to withstand his efforts we must breathe the atmosphere of heaven. We must individually get hold and keep hold of Christ (Manuscript 16, 1890). 7BC 934.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Lift Him Up, 301.2

    Just as long as you allow pride to dwell in your hearts, so long will you lack power in your work. For years a wrong spirit has been cherished, a spirit of pride, a desire for preeminence. In this Satan is served, and God is dishonored. The Lord calls for a decided reformation.... Let [a truly reconverted soul] renew his covenant with God, and God will renew His covenant with him.... Let angels and men see that there is forgiveness of sin with God. Extraordinary power from God must take hold of Seventh-day Adventist churches. Reconversion must take place among the members, that as God's witnesses they may testify to the authoritative power of the truth that sanctifies the soul. Renewed, purified, sanctified, the church must be, else the wrath of God will fall upon them with much greater power than upon those who have never professed to be saints. LHU 301.2

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