What does the Writer of Hebrews mean by a “Better” Covenant?

Text: Heb 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. KJV
And we need to go back one chapter and read:
Heb 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

Unfortunately, many antinomians use these verses to support their assertions that YHVH’s Torah is no longer valid. Equally unfortunate is that that unwary bible student may become confused and uncertain about his/her conviction concerning the efficacy of being Torah Observant.

The purpose of this study is to allow scripture to speak to us addressing the doctrine that Torah is dead, and that the scriptures cited support that contention.

First, let us examine the second scripture cited Hebrews 7:12 from an unbiased perspective.

Again, it reads in the KJV: For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

From and earlier study in this same book we learned that Yahshua is a Cohen Gadol after the order of Melchizedek, and we learned that this priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood. Therefore, to correctly interpret the passages we must start with the right premise, and that is to identify the subject of these passages. Without doubt the subject is the Priesthood and the superiority of Yahshua’s order over the Levitical order.

In the verse just read the writer of Hebrews points out to us that since the priesthood is now “changed” or better yet “transformed” by a superior priesthood it becomes necessary to also “change” the “law.” Now you’ll learn why I choose to employ the word “transformed” instead of the KJV word “changed.”

The Greek words translated “changed” and “change” in this verse are misleading and if we are to successfully divide rightly the verse under consideration we need to go to the original Greek.

1. “Changed” is translated from the Greek word, met-at-ith’-ay-mee. This word means: to transfer, literally to transport.
2. Keeping that in mind let us see what “change” means. Met-ath’-es-is is the word from which the KJV translators derive their word “change.” In Greek, it means: transposition, i.e. transferral (to heaven).
As a result, we find a more literal translation of these two words casts a slightly different interpretation of the KJV.

In all of the B’rit Chadasha, this is the only place that speaks of a “transformation” of law. It is important to note that we are not talking about abrogation of the Torah, but a transformation of a specific element of it. It is so important to understand that the writer of Hebrews is addressing only the priesthood and not any other aspect of YHVH’s Torah. Moreover, there is a Scriptural precedent for this as found in the Tanakh.

In Psalm 110:4 we read when David speaking of the Messiah says: “YHVH hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” The writer of Hebrews quotes this legal precedent in chapter 5:6, 6:20 and in verse 17 of chapter 7.

The logical necessity for such a transformation is demonstrated by vv. 11–14, but a more compelling reason for the “transformation of Torah” (v. 12) is that the Levitical priesthood set up by the Torah in the form that Moshe received it from YHVH was based on a rule concerning physical descent from L’vi’s son Gershon in the case of cohanim in general, and from Gershon’s great-grandson Aharon in the case of the cohen hagadol. While Pinchas, Aharon’s grandson, was given “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood” (Numbers 25:13), Yahshua however has an everlasting priesthood by the power of an indestructible life. This was expressed midrashically by the life of Melchizedek as we earlier learned. This transformation sets aside the need for a system of passing on the priesthood from generation to generation, as is stated in this chapter explicitly in vv. 23–25. In addition, we must recall that Ps 110:4 sets the legal precedent for this transformation for Yahshua is the goal at which the Torah aims. In addition, Yahshua’s office is superior to the Levitical order in that he is alive forever, so that he does not need to be replaced; his position as cohen is permanent, it does not pass on to someone else.

Hebrew 8:6 “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also is the mediator of a “better” covenant, which was established upon better promises. KJV

In this chapter, the author of Hebrews turns from Yahshua’s superior credentials as Cohen HaGadol to His work in the heavenly Holy Place. Not only is Yahshua better than the Levitical cohanim, as shown in chapter 7, but the work Yahshua has been given to do is superior to theirs, since the place where they serve is only a copy and shadow of the heavenly original. In Revelation 15:5 we are told this is “the Tent of Witness in heaven,” and we are reminded that long before there was a Temple, YHVH dwelt with his people. One of the Hebrew words the Tanakh uses for “tent” is “mishkan,” which is related to both “shakhen” (“neighbor”) and “Sh