The Meaning of Hebrews 9:4 Explained

Hebrews 9:4

KJV: Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

YLT: having a golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid all round about with gold, in which is the golden pot having the manna, and the rod of Aaron that budded, and the tables of the covenant,

Darby: having a golden censer, and the ark of the covenant, covered round in every part with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, and the rod of Aaron that had sprouted, and the tables of the covenant;

ASV: having a golden altar of incense, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was a golden pot holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

What does Hebrews 9:4 Mean?

Context Summary

Hebrews 9:1-10 - The Imperfect Way Of Approach To God
With careful enumeration each item of the Tabernacle furniture is specified, because of each there is a spiritual equivalent in the unseen, spiritual Temple to which we belong. The veil that screened the Most Holy Place and forbade entrance, save once a year, taught that fellowship with God was not fully open. Ignorance, unbelief, unpreparedness of heart still weave a heavy veil which screens God from the soul's gaze.
The altar of incense is here associated with the inner shrine, because it stood so near the veil. Its analogue is Revelation 8:4. The Ark was an emblem of Christ: the wood, of His humanity; the gold, of His deity. He holds the manna of the world, and is the ever-budding plant of renown, beautiful and fruit-bearing through death. There is one gateway in St. Peter's, Rome, through which the Pope passes only once a year; how glad we may be that our gates for prayer stand open day and night! Contrast the sadness of such passages as Psalms 51:3-4 and Micah 6:6 with the joy of Ephesians 1:3-10. [source]

Chapter Summary: Hebrews 9

1  The description of the rites and sacrifices of the law;
11  which are far inferior to the dignity and perfection of the sacrifice of Christ

Greek Commentary for Hebrews 9:4

Having a golden censer [χρυσουν εχουσα τυμιατηριον]
The present active participle εχουσα — echousa (feminine singular) agrees with σκηνη — skēnē (the Holy of Holies). It is not certain whether τυμιατηριον — thumiatērion here means censer or altar of incense. In the lxx (2Chron 26:19; Exod 8:11; 4Macc 7:11) it means censer and apparently so in the inscriptions and papyri. But in Philo and Josephus it means altar of incense for which the lxx has τυσιαστηριον του τυμιατος — thusiastērion tou thumiatos (Exod 30:1-10). Apparently the altar of incense was in the Holy Place, though in Exodus 30:1-10 it is left quite vague. B puts it in Hebrews 9:2. So we leave the discrepancy unsettled. At any rate the altar of incense was used for the Holy of Holies (“its ritual associations,” Dods). The ark of the covenant A box or chest four feet long, two and a half broad and high (Exodus 25:10.). The Scotch have a “meal-ark.” Wherein In the ark. There were three treasures in the ark of the covenant (a pot of manna, Aaron‘s rod, the tables of the covenant). For the pot of manna (golden added in the lxx) see Exodus 16:32-34. For Aaron‘s rod that budded (η βλαστησασα — hē blastēsasa first aorist active participle of βλαστανω — blastanō) see Numbers 17:1-11. For the tables of the covenant see Exodus 25:16.; Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 10:5. Not definitely clear about these items in the ark, but on front, except that 1 Kings 8:9 states that it did contain the tables of the covenant. For πλακες — plakes (tables) see 2 Corinthians 3:3 (only other N.T. example). [source]
The golden censer [χρυσοῦν θυμιατήριον]
The noun N.T.oIt may mean either censer or altar of incense. In lxx the altar of incense is called θυσιαστήριον θυμιάματος Exodus 30:1, Exodus 30:27; Leviticus 4:7: comp. Luke 1:11. Θυμιατήριον is used of a censer, 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11; 4Macc. 7:11. These are the only instances of the word in lxx: accordingly, never in lxx of the altar of incense. Josephus uses it for both. The golden censer is not mentioned in O.T. as a part of the furniture of the holy of holies. The facts of the case then are as follows: (a) according to Leviticus href="/desk/?q=le+16:12&sr=1">Leviticus 16:12). Hence the censer could not have been kept in the holy of holies; (e) the writer clearly speaks of an abiding-place of the θυμιατήριον in a particular division of the tabernacle. There is evidently a discrepancy, probably owing to the fact that the writer drew his information from the O.T. by which he might have been led into error. Thus Exodus 26:35, there are mentioned in the holy place without the veil only the candlestick and the table, and not the incense-altar. Again, when the standing-place of the incense altar was mentioned, the expressions were open to misconstruction: see Exodus 30:6; Exodus 40:5. On the day of atonement, the incense-altar, like the most holy place, was sprinkled with blood. This might have given rise to the impression that it was in the holy of holies. [source]
With gold [χρυσίῳ]
Properly, wrought gold. [source]
Wherein [ἐν ᾗ]
But according to Exodus 16:34; Numbers 17:10, neither the pot of manna nor Aaron's rod was in the ark, but “before the testimony”; while in Exodus 25:16, Moses was commanded to put only the tables of the law into the ark; and in 1 Kings 8:9it is said of the ark in the temple, “there was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone.” The writer follows the rabbinical tradition that the pot of manna and the rod were inside of the ark. [source]
Golden pot [στάμος χρυσῆ]
Σταμος , N.T.oa few times in lxx, rare in Class. Golden is an addition of the lxx. Comp. Exodus 16:33. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for Hebrews 9:4

Hebrews 11:7 An ark [κιβωτὸν]
Originally, a wooden chest Also of the ark of the covenant in the temple and tabernacle, as Hebrews 9:4; Revelation 11:19. Of Noah's ark, Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:27; 1 Peter 3:20 Λάρσαξ achest is found in Class. in the same sense. Every classical scholar will recall the charming fragment of Simonides on Danae and her infant son Perseus exposed in an ark: Ὁτε λάρνακι ἐν δαισαλέᾳ ἄνεσμος βρέμε πνέων κ. τ. λ. Also of the ark of Deucalion, the mythic Noah. [source]
Hebrews 11:7 Being warned of God [χρηματιστεις]
First aorist passive participle of χρηματιζω — chrēmatizō old word for oracular or divine communications as already in Hebrews 8:5 (cf. Matthew 2:12, Matthew 2:22, etc.). Moved with godly fear First aorist passive indicative of ευλαβεομαι — eulabeomai old verb from ευλαβης — eulabēs (from ευ — eu and λαβειν — labein to take hold well or carefully), to show oneself ευλαβης — eulabēs to act circumspectly or with reverence, here only in N.T. (save Textus Receptus in Acts 23:10), often in lxx. An ark Genesis 6:15; Matthew 24:38. Shaped like a box (cf. Hebrews 9:4). Through which Through his faith as shown in building the ark. The world Sinful humanity as in Hebrews 11:38. Heir In 2 Peter 2:5 Noah is called “a preacher of righteousness” as here “heir of righteousness.” He himself believed his message about the flood. Like Enoch he walked with God (Genesis 6:9). [source]
Revelation 5:8 Vials [φιάλας]
Only in Revelation. The word vial, used commonly of a small bottle, gives a wrong picture here. The φιάλη was a broad, flat vessel, used for boiling liquids, sometimes as a cinerary urn, and for drinking, or pouring libations. Also of the shallow cup, usually without a foot, in which libations were drawn out of the mixer. Herodotus says that at Plataea the Spartan Helots were bidden by Pausanias to bring together the booty of the Persian camp, and that they found “many golden mixers and bowls ( φιάλας ), and other ἐκπώματα (drinking-vessels )” (ix., 30). From its broad, flat shape Ἄρεος φιάλη bowlof Mars was a comic metaphor for a shield. It was also used for sunken work in a ceiling. In the Septuagint the word is frequently used for bowls or basons. See Numbers 7:13, Numbers 7:19, Numbers 7:25, Numbers 7:31, Numbers 7:37, Numbers 7:43, etc.; 1 Kings 7:50; Zechariah 9:15. Here, censers, though several different words of the Septuagint and New Testament are rendered censer; as θυΐ́σκη , 1 Kings 7:50; θυμιατήριον , 2 Chronicles 26:19; Ezekiel 8:11; Hebrews 9:4; λιβανωτὸν, Revelation 8:3. Θυΐ́σκη however is the golden incense-cup or spoon to receive the frankincense which was lighted with coals from the brazen altar, and offered on the golden altar before the veil. The imagery is from the tabernacle and temple service. [source]
Revelation 3:18 Gold [χρυσίον]
Often of gold money or ornaments. So 1 Peter 1:18; Acts 3:6; 1 Peter 3:3. Also of native gold and gold which has been smelted and wrought (Hebrews 9:4). There may very properly be a reference to the extensive money transactions of Laodicea. [source]
Revelation 11:19 The ark of His covenant [ἡ κιβωτὸς τῆς διαθήκης αὐτοῦ]
Κιβωτὸς arkmeaning generally any wooden box or chest used of the ark in the tabernacle only here and Hebrews 9:4. Elsewhere of Noah's ark. See Matthew 24:38; Luke 17:27; Hebrews 11:7; 1 Peter 3:20. For covenant, see note on testament, Matthew 26:28. This is the last mention in scripture of the ark of the covenant. It was lost when the temple was destroyed by the Chaldeans (2 Kings 25:10), and was wanting in the second temple. Tacitus says that Pompey “by right of conquest entered the temple. Thenceforward it became generally known that the habitation was empty and the sanctuary unoccupied do representation of the deity being found within it” (“History,” v., 9). According to Jewish tradition Jeremiah had taken the ark and all that the Most Holy Place contained, and concealed them, before the destruction of the temple, in a cave at Mount Sinai, whence they are to be restored to the temple in the days of Messiah. [source]
Revelation 11:19 Was seen [ωπτη]
First aorist passive indicative of οραω — horaō ark of his covenant The sacred ark within the second veil of the tabernacle (Hebrews 9:4) and in the inner chamber of Solomon‘s temple (1 Kings 8:6) which probably perished when Nebuchadrezzar burnt the temple (2 Kings 25:9; Jeremiah 3:16). For the symbols of majesty and power in nature here see also Revelation 6:12; Revelation 8:5; Revelation 11:13; Revelation 16:18, Revelation 16:21. [source]
Revelation 2:17 Of the hidden manna [τοῦ μάννα τοῦ κεκρυμμένου]
The allusion may be partly to the pot of manna which was laid up in the ark in the sanctuary. See Exodus 16:32-34; compare Hebrews 9:4. That the imagery of the ark was familiar to John appears from Revelation 11:19. This allusion however is indirect, for the manna laid up in the ark was not for food, but was a memorial of food once enjoyed. Two ideas seem to be combined in the figure: 1. Christ as the bread from heaven, the nourishment of the life of believers, the true manna, of which those who eat shall never die (John 6:31-43, John 6:48-51); hidden, in that He is withdrawn from sight, and the Christian's life is hid with Him in God (Colossians 3:3). 2. The satisfaction of the believer's desire when Christ shall be revealed. The hidden manna shall not remain for ever hidden. We shall see Christ as He is, and be like Him (1 John 3:2). Christ gives the manna in giving Himself “The seeing of Christ as He is, and, through this beatific vision, being made like to Him, is identical with the eating of the hidden manna, which shall, as it were, be then brought forth from the sanctuary, the holy of holies of God's immediate presence where it was withdrawn from sight so long, that all may partake of it; the glory of Christ, now shrouded and concealed, being then revealed to His people” (Trench). -DIVIDER-
This is one of numerous illustrations of the dependence of Revelation upon Old Testament history and prophecy. “To such an extent is this the case,” says Professor Milligan, “that it may be doubted whether it contains a single figure not drawn from the Old Testament, or a single complete sentence not more or less built up of materials brought from the same source.” See, for instance, Balaam (Revelation 2:14); Jezebel (Revelation 2:20); Michael (Revelation 12:7, compare Daniel 10:13; Daniel 12:1); Abaddon (Revelation 9:11); Jerusalem, Mt. Zion, Babylon, the Euphrates, Sodom, Egypt (Revelation 21:2; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 16:19; Revelation 9:14; Revelation 11:8); Gog and Magog (Revelation 20:8, compare Revelation href="/desk/?q=re+2:7&sr=1">Revelation 2:7, Revelation 2:17, Revelation 2:27, Revelation 2:28). Heaven is described under the figure of the tabernacle in the wilderness (Revelation 11:1, Revelation 11:19; Revelation 6:9; Revelation 8:3; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 4:6). The song of the redeemed is the song of Moses (Revelation 15:3). The plagues of Egypt appear in the blood, fire, thunder, darkness and locusts (Revelation 8:1-13). “The great earthquake of chapter 6 is taken from Haggai; the sun becoming black as sackcloth of hair and the moon becoming blood (Revelation 8:1-13) from Joel: the stars of heaven falling, the fig-tree casting her untimely figs, the heavens departing as a scroll (Revelation 8:1-13) from Isaiah: the scorpions of chapter 9 from Ezekiel: the gathering of the vine of the earth (chapter 14) from Joel, and the treading of the wine-press in the same chapter from Isaiah.” So too the details of a single vision are gathered out of different prophets or different parts of the same prophet. For instance, the vision of the glorified Redeemer (Revelation 1:12-20). The golden candlesticks are from Exodus and Zechariah; the garment down to the foot from Exodus and Daniel; the golden girdle and the hairs like wool from Isaiah and Daniel; the feet like burnished brass, and the voice like the sound of many waters, from Ezekiel; the two-edged sword from Isaiah and Psalms; the countenance like the sun from Exodus; the falling of the seer as dead from Exodus, Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel; the laying of Jesus' right hand on the seer from Daniel. -DIVIDER-
“Not indeed that the writer binds himself to the Old Testament in a slavish spirit. He rather uses it with great freedom and independence, extending, intensifying, or transfiguring its descriptions at his pleasure. Yet the main source of his emblems cannot be mistaken. The sacred books of his people had been more than familiar to him. They had penetrated his whole being. They had lived within him as a germinating seed, capable of shooting up not only in the old forms, but in new forms of life and beauty. In the whole extent of sacred and religious literature there is to be found nowhere else such a perfect fusion of the revelation given to Israel with the mind of one who would either express Israel's ideas, or give utterance, by means of the symbols supplied by Israel's history, to the present and most elevated thoughts of the Christian faith “(this note is condensed from Professor Milligan's “Baird Lectures on the Revelation of St. John”).A white stone ( ψῆφον λευκὴν )See on counteth, Luke 14:28; and see on white, Luke 9:29. The foundation of the figure is not to be sought in Gentile but in Jewish customs. “White is everywhere the color and livery of heaven” (Trench). See Revelation 1:14; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 7:9; Revelation 14:14; Revelation 19:8, Revelation 19:11, Revelation 19:14; Revelation 20:11. It is the bright, glistering white. Compare Matthew 28:3; Luke 24:4; John 20:12; Revelation 20:11; Daniel 7:9. It is impossible to fix the meaning of the symbol with any certainty. The following are some of the principal views: The Urim and Thummim concealed within the High-Priest's breastplate of judgment. This is advocated by Trench, who supposes that the Urim was a peculiarly rare stone, possibly the diamond, and engraven with the ineffable name of God. The new name he regards as the new name of God or of Christ (Revelation 3:12); some revelation of the glory of God which can be communicated to His people only in the higher state of being, and which they only can understand who have actually received. -DIVIDER-
Professor Milligan supposes an allusion to the plate of gold worn on the High-Priest's forehead, and inscribed with the words “Holiness to the Lord,” but, somewhat strangely, runs the figure into the stone or pebble used in voting, and regards the white stone as carrying the idea of the believer's acquittal at the hands of God. -DIVIDER-
Dean Plumptre sees in the stone the signet by which, in virtue of its form or of the characters inscribed on it, he who possessed it could claim from the friend who gave it, at any distance of time, a frank and hearty welcome; and adds to this an allusion to the custom of presenting such a token, with the guest's name upon it, of admission to the feast given to those who were invited to partake within the temple precincts - a feast which consisted wholly or in part of sacrificial meats. -DIVIDER-
Others, regarding the connection of the stone with the manna, refer to the use of the lot cast among the priests in order to determine which one should offer the sacrifice. -DIVIDER-
Others, to the writing of a candidate's name at an election by ballot upon a stone or bean. -DIVIDER-
In short, the commentators are utterly divided, and the true interpretation remains a matter of conjecture.A new nameSome explain the new name of God or of Christ (compare Revelation 3:12); others, of the recipient's own name. “A new name however, a revelation of his everlasting title as a son of God to glory in Christ, but consisting of and revealed in those personal marks and signs of God's peculiar adoption of himself, which he and none other is acquainted with” (Alford). Bengel says: “Wouldst thou know what kind of a new name thou wilt obtain? Overcome. Before that thou wilt ask in vain, and after that thou wilt soon read it inscribed on the white stone.” [source]

What do the individual words in Hebrews 9:4 mean?

[the] golden having altar of incense and the ark of the covenant having been covered around in every part with gold in which [was the] jar golden the manna the staff of Aaron - having budded the tablets
χρυσοῦν ἔχουσα θυμιατήριον καὶ τὴν κιβωτὸν τῆς διαθήκης περικεκαλυμμένην πάντοθεν χρυσίῳ ἐν στάμνος χρυσῆ τὸ μάννα ῥάβδος Ἀαρὼν βλαστήσασα αἱ πλάκες

χρυσοῦν  [the]  golden 
Parse: Adjective, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: χρύσεος 
Sense: golden.
θυμιατήριον  altar  of  incense 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: θυμιατήριον  
Sense: a utensil for fumigating or burning incense.
κιβωτὸν  ark 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: κιβωτός  
Sense: a wooden chest or box.
τῆς  of  the 
Parse: Article, Genitive Feminine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
διαθήκης  covenant 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Feminine Singular
Root: διαθήκη  
Sense: a disposition, arrangement, of any sort, which one wishes to be valid, the last disposition which one makes of his earthly possessions after his death, a testament or will.
περικεκαλυμμένην  having  been  covered  around 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Participle Middle or Passive, Accusative Feminine Singular
Root: περικαλύπτω  
Sense: to cover all around, to cover up, cover over.
πάντοθεν  in  every  part 
Parse: Adverb
Root: πάντοθεν  
Sense: from all sides, from every quarter.
χρυσίῳ  with  gold 
Parse: Noun, Dative Neuter Singular
Root: χρυσίον  
Sense: gold, both that which lies imbedded in the earth and is dug out of it.
στάμνος  [was  the]  jar 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: στάμνος  
Sense: among the Greeks an earthen jar, into which wine was drawn off for keeping but also used for other purposes.
χρυσῆ  golden 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: χρύσεος 
Sense: golden.
μάννα  manna 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Neuter Singular
Root: μάννα  
Sense: the food that nourished the Israelites for forty years in the wilderness.
ῥάβδος  staff 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ῥάβδος  
Sense: a staff, a walking stick, a twig, rod, branch.
Ἀαρὼν  of  Aaron 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Singular
Root: Ἀαρών  
Sense: the brother of Moses, the first high priest of Israel and head of the whole priestly order.
Parse: Article, Nominative Feminine Singular
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
βλαστήσασα  having  budded 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: βλαστάνω 
Sense: to sprout, bud, put forth new leaves.
πλάκες  tablets 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: πλάξ  
Sense: a flat thing, broad tablet, plane, level surface (as of the sea).