James Swetnam, «Tw~n lalhqhsome/nwn in Hebrews 3,5», Vol. 90 (2009) 93-100
The words tw~n lalhqhsome/nwn in Heb 3,5 allude to the words of Christ at the institution of the Eucharist. This is argued from 1) the contrast between Christ and Moses in Heb 3,1-6 as understood against the background of Num 12,7[LXX]; 2) the thematic use of lale/w in Hebrews; 3) the relevance of Heb 9,20; 4) the place of Heb 3,5 in the structure of Heb 1,1–3,6. All to be understood against a Eucharistic interpretation of Heb 2,12 and Heb 13.
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Tw'n lalhqhsomevnwn in Hebrews 3,5 97
â€œin a sonâ€. Putting these two preliminary assessments together, the result is
that in 3,5 God is â€œspeaking in a prophetâ€ (Moses) to give witness to a
â€œspeaking in a sonâ€ (Christ). A common reason for minimizing this
conclusion is that the author of Hebrews does not seem to develop any theme
touching on the Eucharist (20).
The text which Hebrews seems to have in mind in Heb 3,5 is Heb 9,20,
where Moses and the word lalevw are found in the same context, the only
such instance in Hebrews:
When every command according to the law had been spoken
(lalhqeivsh") by Moses to the entirety of the people, and after he had
taken the blood of calves and goats with water and scarlet wool and
hyssop he sprinkled the book itself and all the people, saying, â€œThis
(tou'to) is the blood of the covenant which God ordered for youâ€
What is intriguing about the words which Moses â€œspeaksâ€ (21) in 9,20 is
the fact that the citation from Ex 24,8 which they purport to reproduce have
been altered slightly (22). Some commentators say that the alteration has been
done for reasons which have to do only with the authorâ€™s arguments in the
epistle. But most authors concur that the alteration seems to have been done
in order to allude to the words of the institution of the Eucharist by Christ (23).
(20) As regards Heb 9,20: â€œThe author, it is true, shows no sign of direct or explicit
concern with the eucharist as regularly celebrated in the church. He is, however, concerned
in the passage with the inaugural ceremony of the old covenant, and this strongly suggests
a corresponding allusion to the inaugural ceremony of the new covenant, that is, to the
initial celebration of the Lordâ€™s Supperâ€ (ELLINGWORTH, Hebrews, 469). The burden of the
present paper, of course, is that since the author of Hebrews is directly and explicitly
concerned with the Eucharist (cf. above, n. 16), the inauguration of the old covenant by
Moses presages the Eucharistic inauguration of the new by Jesus.
(21) The word attributed to Moses in 9,20, levgw, is to be understood as the usage in
which levgw follows lalevw in continuing its sense. Cf. above, n. 11.
(22) The principle change is the substitution of tou'to for ijdou, of the Septuagint.
Interestingly enough, this is not indicated in N-A27 but it is in The Greek New Testament,
B. ALAND, K. ALAND, J. KARAVIDOPOULOS, C.M. MARTINI and B.M. METZGER (eds.)
(Stuttgart 7th printing 42003) 759, a text which is supposed to depend on N-A27. Cf. LANE,
Hebrews 9â€“13, 245.
(23) The reason for the refusal to credit with certitude the change as alluding to the
Eucharist is the inability of the authors to see any relevance for an allusion to the Eucharist
in Hebrews. The strength of the argument which sees an allusion to the Eucharist does not
depend only on the substitution of the New Testamentâ€™s tou'to for the Septuagintâ€™s ijdouv but
on the typology implied. Underlying the text is the supposition that the action of Moses in
instituting the old covenant is a prefiguring of Christ instituting the new. Cf. ELLINGWORTH
(Hebrews, 469) for the authors involved and for the argumentation. Ellingworth observes
that the argumentation falls short of â€œproofâ€, but that is something which should be taken
for granted in any exegetical endeavor: literary analysis by its nature yields plausibility, not
proof. An author for whom there is no doubt about the allusion is O. Michel. With regard
to the alleged allusion in Heb 9,20 he observes: â€œHebr spricht nur in Andeutungen vom
Herrenmahl (z.B., 1310), doch setzt er Lehre und Feier vorausâ€. And in a note to this
sentence he observes: â€œWenn Hebr nicht ausfÃ¼hrlich von den Sakramenten spricht, so hÃ¤ngt
dies mit der BeschrÃ¤nkheit seines Themas, vielleicht auch mit der Arkandisziplin, auf
keinen Fall aber mit einer GleichgÃ¼ltigkeit gegenÃ¼ber dem Herrenmahl oder einer
unkultischen Beurteilung des Gottesdienstes zusammen. Der Bundesgedanke und die
Exegese von Jer 3131-34 sind nor auf Grund der Abendmahlstiftung, die Polemik Hebr 1310