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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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  • 1
    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
  • 2
    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.

==========================================

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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So you agree that Jesus calls the book of psalms "the law" without saying "the prophets" afterwards? What if that's what Jesus meant? The book of psalms is a part of "the law." But you seem to be implying that's not what Jesus meant because He didnt say "and the prophets" which means He meant to say "and the prophets" because you think thats what He meant so that we can all think Jesus wasn't actually calling the book of Psalms "the law" because that would mean the rest of the old testament is "the law" also which includes the book of Genesis pre Moses which is precisely what it means therefore making the pre-law tithe not so "pre law" anymore thus removing justification for endorsing it and actually making it off limits for Christians. All this law division is done to preserve peoples favorite part of the law which is collecting 10 percent. The law brings death.

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    – agarza
    Jun 11 at 13:02
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Does Hebrews 7:12 say that the Law has changed?

Answer: Yes, the Law has changed, and, this has necessarily occurred, exactly as it reads in English.

We do not need to linguistically decipher Hebrews 7:12 to understand this fact. Suppose we reiterate the passage in question for reference (including Heb. 7:11, NASB):

Hebrews 7:11-12: "Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? 12For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also."

Aaron's name appears in verse 11 because he is inextricably linked to the Levitical priesthood: they are one and the same. On the other hand, Christ is obviously not a product of that priesthood, but is of the order of Melchizedek, that elusive figure mentioned in Psalm 110 as many of us have come to understand.

It should, therefore, be clear that God never intended the Messiah would descend through the bloody, imperfect, Levitical system to define His priestly status. The revelation by David reads as follows:

Psalm 110:4: "The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, 'You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.'”

God's perfect law would be instituted by Christ. If this is not true, what then is the point of any new system arising out of an entirely separate priesthood? Because the intended audience of the Letter is the Jews, it should be plain enough that those who accepted Christ might be in danger of reverting back to Judaism. Thus, the need to carefully distinguish between the Mosaic Covenant, and the Covenant of Christ, one of a different priestly order entirely.

Perfection, in God's eyes, is when we are allowed to commune with Him. All saints are "priests of God" (1 Pet. 2:9), and are thus able to speak directly through the High Priest, Christ, to God in prayer without the need of any other mediator. Such was never the case with the Aaronic priesthood. This was an order designed to keep the people at a distance from God, one to emphasize their unworthiness — unlike the saints who are continually cleansed of all sin (1 Jn. 1:7), and all unrighteousness (1 Jn. 1:9) before God.

As well, under the Levitical arrangement, people were forbidden to enter the sacred areas of the Tabernacle/Temple. Even the priests themselves were unable to approach the Holy of holies with the exception of the high priest, and he alone but once a year. Thus, there could be no flawless fulfillment in that system, one which demanded another, perfect structure, one which demanded the ascension of another, higher order. Here, we should not overlook the words of the apostle Paul:

Galatians 3:21: "Is the Law [of Moses] then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law."

Followed by this:

Galatians 3:23-24a: "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law [of Moses], being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed [in Christ]. Therefore the Law [of Moses] has become our tutor to lead us to Christ..."

These passages are emblematic of the enormous distinction between the Law of Moses (the Old Covenant) and the Law of Christ (the New Covenant) — Christ being our High Priest of the order of Melchizedek before God. Not only was the priesthood changed but so too was the entire Mosaic system upon which all else rested:

Matthew 27:50-51: "And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split."

This was as dramatic an end to the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant, or the Levitical priesthood, as anyone could ever imagine. Not only did the priesthood cease to exist, but with its fall the entire Mosaic institution likewise collapsed along with it.

Some will vehemently disagree with this assessment, instead choosing to believe that the change was minor, where only the ceremonial or ministerial aspects were abolished. But this is a mistake.

However we decide to translate Hebrews 7:12, there can simply be no doubt that the Mosaic order — YES, including the Decalogue (Ten Commandments), was reinstituted in another form upon the inauguration of the new priesthood, one in which all saints partake as priests (cf. 1 Pet. 2:9, and a temple: 1 Cor. 6:19).

This is particularly evidenced by Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, in which He repeatedly enumerated many of the Ten Commandments beginning with "You have heard it said..." while replacing them with His new commands (paraphrased):

"You have heard it said":

  1. "You shall not commit murder, but he who hates his brother has committed murdered in his heart" (Matt. 5:21-22).

  2. "You shall not commit adultery, but he who lusts in his heart has committed adultery..." (Matt. 5:27-28).

  3. "He who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery" (Matt. 5:31-32).

  4. "You shall make no false vows... But I say make no oath at all" (Matt. 5:33-37).

  5. "An eye for an eye... turn the other cheek" (Matt. 5:38-39).

  6. "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy... love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:43-44).

    :

The list is long indeed. The 613 laws and ordinances under the Mosaic regime have been superseded by a much stricter set of laws that comprise the Law of Christ, or the Law of Liberty, or the Royal Law: there are other equivalent designations of the Perfect Law of Christ.

Christ nailed the Decalogue to the Cross (Col. 2:14), by reaffirming it through His Own commandments (a tiny few listed above). The new laws are far more comprehensive than anything written in the Old Testament. I am trying here to preempt someone from suggesting the foolish notion that since the old law has been "taken out of the way", we may, therefore, murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, etc.

It should be obvious that we can do none of those things; all of Christ's commandments are much more demanding and all-encompassing than those in the Law of Moses. So, no, we cannot murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, and so on.

Suppose we consider the first transgression in the list above: Murder. In the O/T, a physical murder had to occur for the commandment to be broken. In the new, however:

Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell" (emphasis added).

Are these statements fearful enough to get someone's attention? They certainly should be! How are they not perilous well beyond anything Moses ever wrote? Yes, Christ superseded the Decalogue — with far stricter, more rigorous laws! Not only are we constrained against sinful acts, but those previous commands have been extended and enhanced to the point where merely desiring something once condemned by physical action now has eternal consequences when committed in one's mind!

Yes, indeed, there was a definite change not only in the Law, but of the entire system upon which the Levitical priesthood was founded.

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