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Hebrews 9:18

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Whereupon - Ὁθεν . Wherefore, as a victim was required for the ratification of every covenant, the first covenant made between God and the Hebrews, by the mediation of Moses, was not dedicated, εγκεκαινισται, renewed or solemnized, without blood - without the death of a victim, and the aspersion of its blood.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Whereupon - Ὅθεν Hothen- “Whence.” Or since this is a settled principle, or an indisputable fact, it occurred in accordance with this, that the first covenant was confirmed by the shedding of blood. The admitted principle which the apostle had stated, that the death of the victim was necessary to confirm the covenant, was the “reason” why the first covenant was ratified with blood. If there were any doubt about the correctness of the interpretation given above, that Hebrews 9:16-17, refer to a “covenant,” and not a “will,” this verse would seem to be enough to remove it. For how could the fact that a will is not binding until he who makes it is dead, be a reason why a “covenant” should be confirmed by blood? What bearing would such a fact have on the question whether it ought or ought not to be confirmed in this manner? Or how could that fact, though it is universal, be given as a “reason” to account for the fact that the covenant made by the instrumentality of Moses was ratified with blood?

No possible connection can be seen in such reasoning. But admit that Paul had stated in Hebrews 9:16-17, a general principle that in all covenant transactions with God, the death of a victim was necessary, and everything is plain. We then see why he offered the sacrifice and sprinkled the blood. It was not on the basis of such reasoning as this: “The death of a man who makes a will is indispensable before the will is of binding force, therefore it was that Moses confirmed the covenant made with our fathers by the blood of a sacrifice;” but by such reasoning as this: “It is a great principle that in order to ratify a covenant between God and his people a victim should be slain, therefore it was that Moses ratified the old covenant in this manner, and “therefore” it was also that the death of a victim was necessary under the new dispensation.” Here the reasoning of Paul is clear and explicit; but who could see the force of the former?

Prof. Stuart indeed connects this verse with Hebrews 9:15, and says that the course of thought is, “The new covenant or redemption from sin was sanctioned by the death of Jesus; consequently, or wherefore ( ὅθεν hothen) the old covenant, which is a type of the new, was sanctioned by the blood of victims.” But is this the reasoning of Paul? Does he say that because the blood of a Mediator was to be shed under the new dispensation, and because the old was a type of this, that therefore the old was confirmed by blood? Is he not rather accounting for the shedding of blood at all, and showing that it was “necessary” that the blood of the Mediator should be shed rather than assuming that, and from that arguing that a typical shedding of blood was needful? Besides, on this supposition, why is the statement in Hebrews 9:16-17, introduced? What bearing have these verses in the train of thought? What are they but an inexplicable obstruction?

The first testament - Or rather covenant - the word “testament” being supplied by the translators.

Was dedicated - Margin, “Purified.” The word used to “ratify,” to “confirm,” to “consecrate,” to “sanction.” Literally, “to renew.”

Without blood - It was ratified by the blood of the animals that were slain in sacrifice. The blood was then sprinkled on the principal objects that were regarded as holy under that dispensation.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The solemn transactions between God and man, are sometimes called a covenant, here a testament, which is a willing deed of a person, bestowing legacies on such persons as are described, and it only takes effect upon his death. Thus Christ died, not only to obtain the blessings of salvation for us, but to give power to the disposal of them. All, by sin, were become guilty before God, had forfeited every thing that is good; but God, willing to show the greatness of his mercy, proclaimed a covenant of grace. Nothing could be clean to a sinner, not even his religious duties; except as his guilt was done away by the death of a sacrifice, of value sufficient for that end, and unless he continually depended upon it. May we ascribe all real good works to the same all-procuring cause, and offer our spiritual sacrifices as sprinkled with Christ's blood, and so purified from their defilement.
Ellen G. White
Fundamentals of Christian Education, 507

Thus by a most solemn service the children of Israel were once more set apart as a peculiar people. The sprinkling of the blood represented the shedding of the blood of Jesus, by which human beings are cleansed from sin. FE 507.1

Once more the Lord has special words to speak to His people. In the thirty-first chapter of Exodus we read: FE 507.2

“The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.... Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed. And He gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” FE 507.3

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Ellen G. White
Patriarchs and Prophets, 312

Then followed the ratification of the covenant. An altar was built at the foot of the mountain, and beside it twelve pillars were set up, “according to the twelve tribes of Israel,” as a testimony to their acceptance of the covenant. Sacrifices were then presented by young men chosen for the service. PP 312.1

Having sprinkled the altar with the blood of the offerings, Moses “took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people.” Thus the conditions of the covenant were solemnly repeated, and all were at liberty to choose whether or not they would comply with them. They had at the first promised to obey the voice of God; but they had since heard His law proclaimed; and its principles had been particularized, that they might know how much this covenant involved. Again the people answered with one accord, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” “When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood, ... and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” Hebrews 9:19, 20. PP 312.2

Arrangements were now to be made for the full establishment of the chosen nation under Jehovah as their king. Moses had received the command, “Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord.” While the people worshiped at its foot, these chosen men were called up into the mount. The seventy elders were to assist Moses in the government of Israel, and God put upon them His Spirit, and honored them with a view of His power and greatness. “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” They did not behold the Deity, but they saw the glory of His presence. Before this they could not have endured such a scene; but the exhibition of God's power had awed them to repentance; they had been contemplating His glory, purity, and mercy, until they could approach nearer to Him who was the subject of their meditations. PP 312.3

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1 (EGW), 1107

16 (John 7). Christ's Sacrifice Provides Bounties—The rivers of blood that flowed at the harvest thanksgiving, when the sacrifices were offered in such large numbers, were meant to teach a great truth. For even the productions of the earth, the bounties provided for man's sustenance, we are indebted to the offering of Christ upon the cross of Calvary. God teaches us that all we receive from Him is the gift of redeeming love (The Review and Herald, November 10, 1896). 1BC 1107.1

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 8, 284-5

Again, consider the judgment that fell upon Uzzah. As in David's reign, the ark was being carried to Jerusalem, Uzzah put forth his hand to keep it steady. For presuming to touch the symbol of God's presence, he was smitten with instant death. 8T 284.1

At the burning bush, when Moses, not recognizing God's presence, turned aside to behold the wonderful sight, the command was given: 8T 284.2

“Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.... And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:5, 6. 8T 284.3

“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a Man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries? And He said, Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, What saith my Lord unto His servant? And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15. 8T 284.4

In the sanctuary and the temple, that were the earthly symbols of God's dwelling place, one apartment was sacred to His presence. The veil inwrought with cherubim at its entrance was not to be lifted by any hand save one. To lift that veil and intrude unbidden into the sacred mystery of the most holy place was death. For above the mercy seat and the bowed, worshiping angels dwelt the glory of the Holiest, glory upon which no man might look and live. On the one day of the year appointed for ministry in the most holy place, the high priest with trembling entered God's presence, while clouds of incense veiled the glory from his sight. Throughout the courts of the temple every sound was hushed. No priests ministered at the altars. The hosts of worshipers, bowed in silent awe, sent up their petitions for God's mercy. 8T 284.5

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