Email 7

I’ll bet you get this all the time. In Hebrews 9:4 the altar of incense is placed behind the curtain. Why is that? thanx for your time and consideration.

Heb. 9: 2-4 A tent was set up, the outer one, which was called the Holy Place; in it were the menorah, the table and the Bread of the Presence. 3 Behind the second parokhet was a tent called the Holiest Place, 4 which had the golden altar for burning incense and the Ark of the Covenant,…

Critics have been quick to say that the author of Hebrews did not know his subject well because the text in verse two seems to indicate something contrary to Scripture. In the Torah, it clearly says the Altar of Incense was outside the curtain leading into the Holy of Holies. In fact, the author knew his subject very well. Although the incense altar was used daily for other purposes it was used in a special way by the Cohen Gadol on Yom Kippur, when he would take form it a golden censer of coals and bring them into the Holiest of Holies (Ex 30:10; Leviticus 16:12, 15.

Secondly, we must examine the Greek text for earlier in v.2 it says that the table with the showbread and the menorah were “in” the Holy Place. And in the latter part of the present verse, the Greek text says that the manna, rod and tablets were “in” the ark, But the Greek expression for the relationship between the Holiest Place and the incense altar is not “in which” but “having,” i.e., “having associated with itself.” Like the ark was associated with the Holiest Place. The author did not make the mistake of locating the incense altar in the Holy of Holies, which would have been an error; on the contrary, he chose his words carefully, he associated the incense altar with the Holiest Place, even though it was outside.

Now, that is the pragmatic answer to your question, but consider this, that Yahshua’s faithfulness tore down the middle wall of partition. The censer represents the prayers of the people, and under the Levitical system, all access to YHVH Elohim was represented by the High Priest. He was the only one who could enter into the Holy of Holies and only on one day of the year. The Levitical priests’ office and representation was only temporary until Yahshua our Messiah came, died, and rose again to take the office of Cohen Gadol in the Heavenlies, after the order of Melchizedek. Since Yahshua’s faithfulness the curtain (veil, Matthew 27:51) is no longer separating us from direct entrance before G-d. Yahshua cleared the way into the Holy of Holies for everyone (Heb 10:19). The typology of carrying into the Holy of Holies the golden censure of coals on Yom Kippur (Day of Covering) is aptly appropriate for this rendering.

Keith, for you information, I have never before been asked this question. You’d wonder why wouldn’t you? Maybe because most people are not careful readers. Congratulations!

Shalom v’brachas, Rabbi Davis