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Hebrews 10:5–7 (ESV): Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6  in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7  Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”

I was reading Hebrews 10 and I saw that in v.5-7 the author is appealing to a quotation of Jesus. I was wondering if this quotation was in Scripture, but after some online searching I can’t seem to find it as everyone is talking about Psalm 40.

Is this an occurrence of an independent oral tradition of what Jesus said (like in Acts 20:35) or am I missing where the quote is from?

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4 Answers 4

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It may be that the writer understands Psalm 40 (or at least verses 4-6) as being prophetic. That is the scriptures are his source for Jesus' quotes.

The writer of Hebrews knows that the Psalms were inspired by God. He knows that Jesus is God. There is a tradition in exegesis of considering certain passages of the scriptures as being one of the trinitarian persons speaking to another. The writer may think that Psalm 104 describes the Son talking to the father.

However, since the body is being described as being prepared in the past tense, therefore it must be Jesus talking to the father after the incarnation.

Outside Psalm 40 and Hebrews 10, there is no other reference.

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The text of Heb 10:5-7 appears to be loosely quoting Ps 40:6-8; however, it is not quite the original Hebrew but the Greek translation known as the Septuagint, LXX. Let me be specific:

Ps 40:6-8 (Hebrew, Masoretic text) - Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but my ears You have opened. Burnt offerings and sin offerings You did not require. Then I said, “Here I am, I have come— it is written about me in the scroll: I delight to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.”

However, in the LXX we have (where it is numbered Ps 39:7-9) -

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; but a body hast thou prepared me: whole-burnt-offering and [sacrifice] for sin thou didst not require. Then I said, Behold, I come: in the volume of the book it is written concerning me, I desired to do thy will, O my God, and thy law in the midst of mine heart.

Note that neither text has "But a body hast thou prepared me". Ellicott comments on this:

But a body hast thou prepared me.—Rather, but a body didst Thou prepare for me. Few discrepancies between the LXX. and the Hebrew have attracted more notice than that which these words present. The words of the Psalmist are, “In sacrifice and offering Thou hast not delighted: ears hast Thou digged for me.” As in Samuel’s words, already referred to as containing the germ of the psalm, sacrifice is contrasted with hearing and with hearkening to the voice of the Lord, the meaning evidently is, Thou hast given me the power of hearing so as to obey. A channel of communication has been opened, through which the knowledge of God’s true will can reach the heart, and excite the desire to obey. All ancient Greek versions except the LXX. more or less clearly express the literal meaning. It has been supposed that the translators of the LXX. had before them a different reading of the Hebrew text, preferable to that which is found in our present copies. This is very unlikely. Considering the general principles of their translation, we may with greater probability suppose that they designed merely to express the general meaning, avoiding a literal rendering of a Hebrew metaphor which seemed harsh and abrupt. They seem to have understood the Psalmist as acknowledging that God had given him that which would produce obedience; and to this (they thought) would correspond the preparation of a body which might be the instrument of rendering willing service. If the present context be carefully examined, we shall see that, though the writer does afterwards make reference (Hebrews 10:10) to the new words here introduced, they are in no way necessary to his argument, nor does he lay on them any stress.

Similarly, Matthew Poole observes:

But a body hast thou prepared me: but, the Hebrew text reads, the ears hast thou bored for me. The apostle makes use here of the Greek paraphrase, a body hast thou fitted me; as giving in proper terms the sense of the former figurative expression, discovering thereby Christ’s enitre willingness to become God’s servant for ever, Exodus 21:6; and that he might be so, which he could not as God the Son, simply, the Father by his Spirit did articulate him, and formed him joint by joint a body; that is, furnished him with a human nature, so as that he might perform that piece of service which God required, offering up himself a bloody sacrifice for sin, to which he was obedient, Philippians 2:8. Thus were his ears bored, which could not be if he had not been clothed with a body.

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  • But what is the source of Jesus saying the quotation in Hebrews?
    – morhc
    Nov 23, 2021 at 13:52
  • @morhc - I quoted the source in Ps 40 above.
    – Dottard
    Nov 23, 2021 at 20:10
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Here are some that are reference the topic:

Jeremiah 7:22 For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.

Hosea 6:6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.

Psalm 51:16-17 For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Psalm 40:6 In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.

Matthew 9:13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

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  • So would you say that this is evidence of a Jesus tradition related to Matthew's sources?
    – morhc
    Nov 23, 2021 at 13:51
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What is the source of the Jesus saying in Hebrews 10:5-7

Jesus quoted God's prophecy in Psalm 40:6-8 and applied it to himself. God does not take delight in sacrifices, Jesus takes delight in doing God's will.

Hebrews 10:5–7 (ESV): Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me; 6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure. 7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’ ”

Psalm 40:6-8 ESV

In sacrifice and offering, you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.[a] Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required 7 Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 8 I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

  1. " In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted". This indicates God's intention to bring an end to animal sacrifices
  2. " Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required."Those offerings were typical and did not fully amend the human sins.
  3. "but a body have you prepared for me; " God by means of the virgin Mary and the holy spirit prepared a perfect sinless body for Jesus to sacrifice, whose sacrifice could atone for the sins of mankind.
  4. " I delight to do your will, O my God."The prophecy foretold Jesus desire to do his Father's will.

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