Hebrews 9:2

2 For a tabernacle was set up; and in the first room, which is called "the holy place," were the lampstand, the table, and the presentation loaves.[a]

Hebrews 9:2 Meaning and Commentary

Hebrews 9:2

For there was a tabernacle made
By the direction of Moses, according to the pattern showed him in the Mount:

the first;
that is, the first part of the tabernacle, called the holy place, in distinction from the holy of holies, which was the second part of the tabernacle; for otherwise there were not a first and a second tabernacle; there never was but one tabernacle:

wherein was the candlestick;
that this was in the tabernacle, and on the south side of it, and without the vail, where the apostle has placed it, is plain from ( Exodus 26:35 ) ( 40:24 ) . This was wanting in the second temple F15: it was a type of Christ mystical, or the church; in the general use of it, to hold forth light, so the church holds forth the light of the Gospel, being put into it by Christ; in the matter of it, which was pure gold, denoting the purity, worth, splendour, glory, and duration of the church; in the parts of it, it had one shaft in the middle of it, in which all the parts met and cemented, typical of Christ the principal, and head of the church, whose situation is in the midst of the church, and who unites all together, and is but one: the six branches of it may intend all the members of the church, and especially the ministers of the word; the seven lamps with oil in them, may have a respect to the seven spirits of God, or the Spirit of God with his gifts and graces, and a profession of religion with grace along with it: and it was typical of the church in its ornaments and decorations; its bowls, knops, and flowers, may signify the various gifts of the Spirit, beautifying ministers, and fitting them for usefulness; and in the appurtenances of it, the tongs and snuff dishes may signify church discipline, censures, and excommunications.

And the table and the shewbread;
the table, with the shewbread on it, was also in the tabernacle, on the north side of it, and without the vail, ( Exodus 26:35 ) ( 40:22 ) . This was also wanting in the second temple F16: the table was typical of Christ, and of communion with him; of the person of Christ; in the matter of it, which was Shittim wood overlaid with gold, whereby were signified the two natures of Christ in one person; the human nature by the Shittim wood, which is incorruptible, for though he died he saw no corruption, and is risen again, and lives for ever; and the divine nature by the gold, all the fulness of the Godhead dwelling in him; and in the decorations of it, as the border, golden crown which may respect the fulness of his grace, and the honour and glory he is crowned with, which render him exceeding valuable and precious: and it may be typical of communion with him, either hereafter, when the saints shall sit with him as at a table, and eat and drink with him in the kingdom of his Father; or here, to which Christ admits them, and than which nothing is more honourable, comfortable, and desirable; and it may be significative of the ministration of the word and ordinances, of which Christ is the sum and substance, and in which he grants his people fellowship with him: to this table belonged rings and bars to carry it from place to place, which was done by the priests; where the church is, there Christ is, and there is the ministration of his word and ordinances; and which are sometimes moved from one place to another, by the ministers of the word, according to divine direction. The "shewbread", on the table, was typical either of the church of Christ, the saints, who may be signified by the unleavened cakes, being true and sincere, and without the leaven of malice and hypocrisy; and by twelve of them, which may represent the twelve tribes of Israel, the whole spiritual Israel of God; and by bread of faces, as the word for shewbread may be rendered, since they are always before the Lord, and his eyes are continually upon them; they are set upon the pure table, Christ, on whom they are safe, and by whom they are accepted with God: and the shewbread being set in rows, may denote their order and harmony; and their being removed every sabbath day, may signify the succession of saints in the church, as one is removed, another is brought in; and the frankincense put upon each row, shows them to be a sweet savour to God: or else the shewbread was typical of Christ himself, who is the bread of life, the food of his people; and may be signified by the shewbread for its fineness and purity, being made of fine flour, Christ is the finest of the wheat, bread from heaven, and angels' food; for its quantity, twelve cakes, with Christ, is bread enough, and to spare, for all the elect; for its continuance, Christ always abides, and such as feed upon him live for ever; for its gratefulness, Christ's flesh is meat indeed, and his blood drink indeed; and for its being only for the priests, as only such who are made priests to God, live by faith on Christ; see ( Leviticus 25:5-9 ) . Moreover, the intercession of Christ may be prefigured by the shewbread, or bread of faces, he being the angel of God's presence or face, who appears in the presence of God for his people; and this consisting of twelve loaves, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, shows that Christ represents the whole Israel of God in heaven, and intercedes for them; and whereas the shewbread always continued, no sooner was one set of loaves removed, but another was put in their room; this may point at the continual intercession of Christ for his people; and the frankincense may denote the acceptableness of it to God.

Which is called the sanctuary;
or "holy"; this refers either to the first part of the tabernacle, which was called the holy place, in which the priests in common ministered; or else to the things which were in it, now mentioned, the candlestick table, and shewbread; to which the Ethiopic version adds, and the golden censer, which it leaves out in the fourth verse; which version renders these words, "and these they call holy"; and so the Arabic version, "which are called holy things", as they were, as well as the place in which they were; so the candlestick is called the holy candlestick in the Apocrypha,

``As the clear light is upon the holy candlestick; so is the beauty of the face in ripe age.'' (Sirach 26:17)

and the ark, candlestick, table, censer, and altar, are called (skeuh) (iera) , "holy vessels", by Philo the Jew F17; but the former sense seems best, when compared with the following verse.


F15 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 4. 1.
F16 Menasseh ben Israel Conciliat. in Gen. qu. 41.
F17 De Vita Mosis, l. 3. p. 668.

Hebrews 9:2 In-Context

1 Now the first [covenant] also had regulations for ministry and an earthly sanctuary.
2 For a tabernacle was set up; and in the first room, which is called "the holy place," were the lampstand, the table, and the presentation loaves.
3 Behind the second curtain, the tabernacle was called "the holy of holies."
4 It contained the gold altar of incense and the ark of the covenant, covered with gold on all sides, in which there was a gold jar containing the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.
5 The cherubim of glory were above it overshadowing the mercy seat. It is not possible to speak about these things in detail right now.

Footnotes 1

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