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μετατιθεμένης (being changed) γὰρ (indeed) τῆς (the) ἱερωσύνης (priesthood) ἐξ (from out) ἀνάγκης (of a necessity) καὶ (and) νόμου (of a law) μετάθεσις (a change) γίνεται (takes place)

The KJV says:

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

The Greek text seems to say that it was because of a necessity and of a Law- that a change takes place. This would mean that the Law doesn't change, but a section of the Law (a psalm [110:4], which Yeshua also refers to as Law in John 10:34) made it necessary that a change in the priesthood had to take place.

Is this a correct interpretation of this verse, or does it necessarily say that the law has changed?

(There is a similar question here: How is the Law changed in Hebrews 7:12? but my question concerns whether this verse has been translated correctly)

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    One could translate it as "the [applicable law] was then a different law" or something along that line. – user10231 Jul 26 '16 at 8:01
  • Hey @WoundedEgo, I'm not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean that the Levitical priesthood was the "applicable law" that was changed into a different law? I would consider the priesthood an "ordinance" or an "injunction", whereas "the law" is the actual rules that God commanded us to follow. So the Levitical priesthood concerned the covenant (which was prophesied to change), but the Law (ex. 'thou shall not') remains. Does that make sense? – Cannabijoy Jul 26 '16 at 14:17
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    The point of Hebrews 7:12 is that since Jesus was not a Levite the jurisdiction was different. The concept of "jurisdiction" works like this: If you travel through Spain you are subject to the laws of Spain. When you arrive in France you are under the laws of France. This does not mean that laws of Spain are modified but that a different law is applicable. – user10231 Jul 26 '16 at 14:19
  • Don't forget Jesus did give a new commandment. – Adam Heeg Jul 27 '16 at 20:32
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Darby Bible Translation Hebrews 7:12

For, the priesthood being changed, there takes place of necessity a change of law also.

μετατιθεμένης γὰρ τῆς ἱερωσύνης ἐξ ἀνάγκης καὶ νόμου [law] μετάθεσις γίνεται.

There is no definite article or indefinite adjective (τις, a certain) in the original Greek. It is talking about the legal system itself. The contents of the law have not changed.

Here is the context:

Hebrews 7:11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?

First, priesthood is switched from Levi to Melchizedek who is a type of Christ.

Second, the succession order is changed from periodic sacrifice to one-time event of the Cross.

Hebrews 7:12 says that the judicial/legal/sacrificial system (order) has been changed from the old Levitical law to the law of Christ of love and faith.

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What Hebrews 7:12 is saying is that the Levitic laws did not apply to the Melchizedecian priesthood. If Jesus were a Levite then the Levitic laws would have had jurisdiction but since it was a Melchizedecian priesthood those laws did not apply:

Lev 7: 11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the [applicable] law as well. 13 For the one of whom these things are spoken belonged to another tribe, from which no one has ever served at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, and in connection with that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. 15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, 16 who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it is witnessed of him,

              “You are a priest forever, 
  after the order of Melchizedek.” 

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Heb 7:11–17). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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The author of Hebrews chapter 7 is making a difficult and complex point - Jesus is the new High Priest (V26) of the covenant which does not comply with the rules/law established in the Torah. That is, Jesus was NOT descended from the line of Aaron but from Judah (V13, 14).

So what is he discussing? The material in view is the Levitical covenant. See appendix below.

Therefore, if Jesus, a descendant of the tribe of Judah, is to be a high priest (who should be from the tribe of Levi) then a change of law is required (V12).

Now the "change of law" was only a change in the ceremonial law and not the moral law.

John 10:34 - the reference to "gods" is actually a quote from Ps 82:6 and Jesus reference to "law" is actually an abbreviation for the hendiadys, "Law and the Prophets" signifying the entire OT as in, John 10:34, 12:34, 15:35, 1 Cor 14:21. Compare Matt 5:17, 7:12, 11:13, 22:40, 23:23, Luke 24:44. Sometimes this occurs as "Law and the Prophets and the Psalms, John 1:45, Acts 13:15, 24:14, 28:23, Rom 3:21.

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APPENDIX Levitical Covenant – Lev 1-9, 16, 21-27 , Num 3, 4, 8, 18, 25:10-13, Deut 33:8-11. This is an eternal covenant (Num 25:12, 13, Ps 106:30) of salt, Num 18:19. The Levitical covenant is stated in Num 3:11-13 where God takes the Levites instead of the all the firstborn of each family, thus changing the (informal) priesthood from the firstborn of each family to the (formal) priesthood of tribe of Levi. Several Bible writers refer to this Levitical Covenant including:

  • Neh 13:29 – “the covenant of the priesthood and the Levites”
  • Jer 33:18, 21 – “covenant with the Levitical priests.”
  • Mal 2:4-8 – “the covenant with Levi”
  • Num 25:10-13 – the eternal covenant of priesthood was also a covenant of peace and a covenant of “salt” (Num 18:19), ie, very solemn and eternal.
  • Isa 54:10 & Eze 34:25 also describes the covenant of peace with the Levites

From other Bible passages we can see what the Levitical covenant was.

  • A promise by God to set them apart, ie, make them “holy” (Num 3:12, 13), to be a substitute for the first born in Israel, and to have the primary responsibility for caring for the sanctuary, its ritual services and sacrifices, maintaining and transporting its equipment. Ex 32:25-29. In this way, they became the priests of Israel. All these regulations were contained in Lev 1-9, 16, 21-27.
  • Thus, the Levites enjoyed a “blessed” (and privileged) status. Ex 32:29, Mal 2:5.
  • The book of Leviticus (and Num 1 & 18) sets out the responsibilities of the Levites in operating the ceremonial rites and sanctuary services and caring for the sanctuary equipment. See also Num 1:53, 18:2, Deut 10:8, 31:9, 25, Josh 3:3, 2 Sam 15:24, 1 Chron 15:26.
  • Note that in the Book of Leviticus, the distinction between rules for the Levites/priests and Israelites generally can be USUALLY be determined by to people to whom they were addressed. For example: Lev 1-9 are specifically addressed to the Levites and priests, Lev 11-15 are addressed to the Israelites as a whole and thus applied to all people.
  • The purpose of the Levitical covenant was to teach and inculcate the plan of salvation (Deut 33:9, 10, Heb 9:8, 9, 11-14, 10:1-3, Col 2:16, 17). That is, it symbolically taught about salvation by grace through the coming Messiah via His substitutionary death in the place of the sinner. Thus, the sacrifices, Levites, priests and High Priest became a type of Jesus in various ways.
  • The token/sign (Heb: “oth”) of the Levitical covenant appears to have been the unleavened bread at the annual festival (Ex 13:6, 9, 16, Lev 24:8).
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