Article Information

Gert J. Steyn1

1Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Correspondence to:
Gert Steyn


Postal address:
Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Lynwood Road, Hatfield 0083, Pretoria, South Africa

Received: 02 June 2010
Accepted: 19 Aug. 2010
Published: 07 June 2011

How to cite this article:
Steyn, G.J., 2011, ‘”On Earth as it is in Heaven …” The heavenly sanctuary motif in Hebrews 8:5 and its textual connection with the “shadowy copy” [u(podei/gmati kai\ skia~|/] of LXX Exodus 25:40’, HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 67(1), Art. #885, 6 pages. doi.10.4102/hts.v67i1.885

Copyright Notice:
© 2011. The Authors. Licensee: OpenJournals Publishing. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

ISSN: 0259-9422 (print)
ISSN: 2072-8050 (online)
‘On Earth as it is in Heaven …’ The heavenly sanctuary motif in Hebrews 8:5 and its textual connection with the ‘shadowy copy’
[u(podei/gmati kai\ ski a= |] of LXX Exodus 25:40
In This Original Research...
Open Access
The motif of the tabernacle as a prescribed plan
   • From God to Moses
   • The use of Exodus 25 and the reception of the heavenly sanctuary motif in early Jewish traditions
   • The use of Exodus 25 and the reception of the heavenly sanctuary motif in early Christian traditions
Textual comparisons
   • Comparing Hebrews 8:5 with LXX Exodus 25:40
      • Substitution
      • Inclusion
      • Transposition
   • Comparing Philo (Legum Allegoriae 3,102) with Hebrews 8:5 and with LXX Exodus 25:40
   • Remarks on the Vorlage of Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5
Hermeneutical adaptation
   • Introductory formula
   • Some remarks on the interpretation of Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5

This study investigates the explicit quotation from Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5 where the motif of the earthly sanctuary, understood to be modelled on that of the heavenly sanctuary in some circles of early Judaism and early Christianity, is to be found. Hebrews’ application and interpretation of Exodus 25:40 – in light of the terms u(po/deigma [example or plan or copy] (tu/poj [model or design or archetype] by Philo) and skia/ [shadow] – is studied within the context of Hebrews 8:1–5. The purpose of this investigation is to explore the possible Graeco-Jewish background(s) of the ‘heavenly sanctuary’ motif in Hebrews 8:5, the presence of its key terminology and some of its intertextual occurrences in, amongst others, the Testament of Levi and Colossians 2:17.


According to Plato, the earthly priests were only serving in a shadowy copy of the heavenly sanctuary. This Platonic concept that the earthly is a shadow of the reality (cf. Plato Resp. 7.515a–b), that is, his theory of ideas and then the particular use of u(podei/gmati kai\ skia|~ [copy and shadow] (Heb 8:5) by Hebrews, led scholars to believe that we have Platonic influence here (Attridge 1989:219; Weiss 1991:437; Sowers 1965:109–110), or new Platonic thoughts via Philo. However, some scholars are sceptical and have formed another opinion (e.g. Wilson 1987:135). Ellingworth (2000), for instance, stated that there is:

no need to look to Platonic influences for the idea of a building on earth reflecting a heavenly counterpart, since there are parallels both in Judaism and earlier in other parts of the ancient Near East.

(Ellingworth 2000:408)

In addition, Bruce (1985:166) sees the similarities rather in terms of the ‘author’s use of language, and not his essential thought, that exhibits such affinity’: ‘If the earthly sanctuary is a “shadow” of the heavenly, it is because the whole Levitical order foreshadowed the spiritual order of the new age’.

This study draws attention to the latter opinion, showing that the motif of an earthly sanctuary, which is a copy of a heavenly sanctuary, was indeed a widespread concept in early Judaism. The trajectories of these two worlds, that of Exodus 25 and that of Philo of Alexandria (already influenced by Platonic ideas), was probably merged by the author of Hebrews. The motif of the tabernacle from Exodus 25, which is modelled on the prescribed plan from God to Moses, has been taken up by the author of Hebrews when he explicitly quotes Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5b. The unknown author of Hebrews thus argues here that the earthly priests ‘serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven’ [u(podei/gmati kai\ skia|~ latreu/ousin tw~n e)pourani/wn], 8:5a).

The motif of the tabernacle as a prescribed plan

From God to Moses
Exodus 19:1–31:18 deals with the revelation of God on Mount Sinai to the covenant people. Particularly Exodus 25–40 is believed to belong to the Priestly material that was developed from ritual and ceremony sections (e.g. Gn 1:1–2:3, Leviticus and much of Numbers) that were probably composed during the Exile in the 6th century BCE (Kearney 1977:375–387). Exodus 25–31 describes in vivid detail the layout and contents of the tabernacle as a prescribed plan from God to Moses. The later chapters of this section (Ex 35–40) deal with Moses’ execution of that plan. An interesting aspect following onto these narratives is that they are leading towards a climax with the appearance of ‘the glory of the Lord’ in the Tabernacle (Ex 40:34–38) (Anderson 1992:887).

The use of Exodus 25 and the reception of the heavenly sanctuary motif in early Jewish traditions
There is evidence from at least two strands in the early Jewish tradition, from the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) community and from Greek speaking Judaism, particularly Philo of Alexandria, about knowledge of the section that contains Exodus 25.

The compiler of 11QTemplea probably used Exodus 25:31–40 as a basis for his discussion of the lampstand (11QTa 9) (Brooke 1992:93). However, explicit references or quotations to Exodus 25:40 were not found amongst the DSS witnesses. However, the concept of a heavenly sanctuary is especially to be found in the ‘Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice’[1] or the ‘Angel Liturgy’. It shows several points of similarity between this mystical-liturgical text and the book of Hebrews. Despite its extremely fragmentary state, it is clear that it consists of thirteen Sabbath Songs for use in one quarter of the year. It was used for liturgical rites in which the community started their worship on earth, believing that their worship rite ends with the angels in heaven: the first song deals with God’s appointment of an angelic priesthood in heaven; the second with the Torah, theophany and the heavenly and earthly communities; the third with the number seven and with Melchizedek; the fourth with ‘stillness’ as sound of praise of the Cherubim; the fifth with Divine predestination and God’s transcendence; and the sixth with bridging heaven and earth.

Most importantly for our discussion, however, is the seventh song that deals with the heavenly temple. The image of the heavenly temple surfaces prominently here. The praises of the angels form a shining firmament of his holy sanctuary and they essentially create the temple. It is a spiritual and not a material temple, a complex structure and a sevenfold temple, mainly based on the biblical description of the earthly tabernacle and temple and with allusions to the Sinai theophany. The throne of God is a merkābāh, a chariot (cf. Ezk 1:10), of which the wheels are the order of angels. The eighth song deals with the high priest; the ninth with the description of the architecture and decoration of the heavenly temple; the tenth with the inner sanctum behind the curtain; the eleventh with images of heaven; the twelfth with God’s judgement and wrath as supreme King in heaven; and the thirteenth song ends with four themes, namely: offerings, high priests, atonement and sanctuary.

Moving to the Alexandrian Jew, Philo, it is clear that he knew and used the book of Exodus. He once mentioned that Moses gave it the title )Ecagwgh/ [leading out or exagoge] (Migrat. 3,1,438), but referred at other places to its familiar Greek name, !Ecodoj [going out or exodus]. It is therefore no surprise when Philo also quotes from Exodus. More interesting, however, is the fact that Philo quotes exactly the same verse from Exodus 25 in Legum Allegoriae 3,102 and alludes to it in QE 2,52 that serves as evidence of familiarity of this particular verse in at least some circles of the early Jewish Greek speaking world.

When widening the focus to the concept of the earthly sanctuary being a copy of the heavenly sanctuary per se, a number of occurrences are to be found in the Jewish literature: Ezekiel 40–48 (especially 43:10–12); Wisdom 9:8–10; Jubilees 31:34; 1 Enoch 14:15–20; 90:28f.; 2 Baruch 4:2–6; Sibylline Oracles 4:10; 1QSb 4:24ff. The idea is also present in 1 Chronicles 28:11–12, 18–19.[2] Particularly interesting regarding Wisdom 9 is the following:

• The exposition displays close similarities with that of Hebrews 8:5 in its understanding of the concept of a heavenly sanctuary.

• Wisdom 9:5 states that the speaker is a servant and ui(o\j th~j paidi/skhj sou [son of your handmaid] – a statement that early Christians could easily relate to when they would read this text christologically. Similarities with the theology of Hebrews are seen in his understanding of Jesus as ‘Son’ (Heb 1:2, 5) and as ‘firstborn’ (Heb 1:6).

• Wisdom 9:7 refers to the appointment as king (cf. Heb 1:8 and the quotation from Ps 45(44) on Christ’s appointment as King and Judge).

• Wisdom 9:8 contains similar concepts (nao\n e0n o!rei a(gi/w; mi/mhma skhnh~j a(gi/aj [a temple on the holy mountain; an imitation of the holy tent]) with that of Hebrews.

• Wisdom 9:9 refers to the pre-existence of knowledge, being aware of God’s works and being present during the creation; imagery that strongly reminds one of Hebrews’ perception of the pre-existence of Christ (cf. Heb 1:8–12 and the quotation combination from Ps 45[44] and Ps 101 [102]).

No wonder that some scholars suspect that the author of Hebrews might have learned the concept of the earthly sanctuary being a copy of the heavenly sanctuary from the Wisdom of Solomon (Pseudo-Solomon), also referring to Hebrews’ use of Wisdom 7:25.

Also striking here is the post-New Testament Testament of Levi, belonging to the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, where the phrase kata\ to\n tu/pon [according to the model or design] occurs in Levi’s second vision (cf. T. Levi 8:14). The previous context shows some interesting parallels with the text of the unknown author of Hebrews. Some of the striking parallels with the first apocalyptic vision of Levi in T. Levi 1–5, are the following:

Testament of Levi 3:1–10 describes seven heavens and its inhabitants with many angels and the archangels and the ‘Great Glory’ (3:4) in the highest. A similar concept is probably behind Hebrews 1 (cf. Steyn 2003:1107–1128).

• When the Lord looks down, ‘all is shaken, heaven and earth’ (T. Levi 3:9) – reminding one of Hebrews 12:26 and the quotation from Haggai 2:6.

Testament of Levi 4:1ff. describes the execution of judgement and punishment upon the sons of men in an apocalyptic setting. Similar motifs are also surfacing, especially in Hebrews 10:27ff.

Testament of Levi 4:2 explicitly promises Levi that he will become a son (ui(o/n), servant (qera/ponta) and minister (leitourgo/n) in the presence of the Most High. This imagery strongly resembles that of Jesus’ appointment as son in Hebrews 1:5. In Hebrews 3:6 Jesus remains the Son, whilst Moses is a servant (qerapw~n, 3:5 – a hapax legomenon in the New Testament [NT]). It is reminisce, furthermore, of Jesus’ appointment as a priest in Hebrews 5:5–6 and a minister (leitourgo/j) in the sanctuary (Heb 8:2).

• Levi will be ‘as the sun to all the seed of Israel’ (T. Levi 4:3), which reminds us about the Son who ‘radiates’ the Glory of God (Heb 1:3).

• Levi saw the holy temple (nao/j) in heaven and the Most High on a throneof glory (T. Levi 5:1–2). This apocalyptic motif reminds one strongly of Hebrews 1:3ff.; 2:7, 9–10; 5:5 (cf. also 9:5; 13:21) – but note that the term, nao/j [temple], never occurs in Hebrews!

• The blessings of the priesthood were given to Levi until the time that the Most High will come (T. Levi 5:2–3).

• The second vision (or dream) of Levi describes his appointment as priest by seven men in white raiments (archangels?). It also shows a number of striking parallels with Hebrews.

• In Testament of Levi 8:1–2 he is ordered (imperative) to ‘put on the robe of the priesthood’. In a similar manner, Levi is also ordered to put on the ‘crown of righteousness’. The links between the priesthood, righteousness and rulership (T. Levi 8:10) remind strongly of similar links in Hebrews.

• The ‘plate of faith’, which Levi has to put on (T. Levi 8:2), reminds one of faith as a Leitmotif in Hebrews – particularly in Hebrews 11.

• In Testament of Levi 8:3–5, the wording very strongly resembles that of Psalm 110(109):4 and the appointment of Christ as priest according to the order of Melchizedek in Hebrews 5–7. It is presented in an appointment formula and with the qualification of ‘forever’ and confirmed with the anointment with holy oil.

• The ‘staff of judgment’ (T. Levi 8:5) is a motif that was encountered in Hebrews 1.

• Most interesting of all these parallels is the wording of Testament of Levi 8:14–15 in which the LXX phrase kata\ to\n tu/pon [according to the model or design] of Exodus 25:40 is to befound: ‘Andthe third (i.e. of three offices, GJS) shall be called by a new name, because a king shall arise in Judah, and shall establish a new priesthood, after the fashion (kata\ to\n tu/pon [according to the model or design]) of the Gentiles’.

A fragment of the Testament of Levi was also found in Aramaic amongst the DSS, confirming knowledge of (parts of?) this Testament in the DSS community at an earlier, pre-NT date. However, one cannot assume that the Aramaic version would have included the same formulation as the Greek version had. Furthermore, there is a debate whether the Testaments should be taken as Jewish documents containing later Christian interpolations, or whether they should be seen as a Christian composition that is using Jewish sources (Attridge 1989:98). Depending on the position taken, a case could be made for dating the Testaments either as of pre-Christian Jewish (possibly Essene?) origin, or composed during the 2nd to 3rd centuries CE. Fact is that one encounters here a familiar tradition in Judaism regarding worship in a heavenly sanctuary (cf. Guthrie 2007:969) – a notion which is also present in Revelation.

The use of Exodus 25 and the reception of the heavenly sanctuary motif in early Christian traditions
Although there are a number of allusions by some of the NT writers, there are no traces of any explicit quotations to specifically Exodus 25–31, except for this occurrence of Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5. Yet again, the concept of a heavenly sanctuary (without particular reference to Ex 25) is present in Revelation 4–5. Moving through the open door in heaven, the writer sees the throne and its surroundings with the heavenly beings in worship. Even Mark 14:58 might be an allusion to the same concept when the Markan Jesus states that he will build another temple that is not made with hands.

An interesting passage is to be found in Colossians 2:17. Although no reference is made here to the heavenly sanctuary, the Mosaic commandments are referred to as ‘only a shadow (ski/a [shadow]) of what is to come, but the substance (sw~ma [body]) belongs to Christ’. The law stands thus in contrast to the body of Christ and is, metaphorically speaking, only a shadow of the substance. The imagery belongs to the same symbolic world.

The context of Exodus 25 was most probably in the back of our author’s mind in Hebrews 9:2–4 with possible allusions to Exodus 25:16, 21 (Heb 9:4); Exodus 25:18, 22 (Heb 9:5) and Exodus 25:23, 30 (Heb 9:2). Furthermore, the occurrence of the phrase kata\ to\n tu/pon [according to the model or design] in Stephen’s Speech in Acts 7:44 (remember the apocalyptic motif in 7:55–56 when he saw the heavens open, the glory of God and Jesus at the right hand of God) is interesting.

The fact is the author of Hebrews was clearly influenced by Exodus 25 – especially in light of his explicit quotation in Hebrews 8:5 and the allusions in Hebrews 9:2–5; 10:1.

Textual comparisons

Comparing Hebrews 8:5 with LXX Exodus 25:40
Notable differences between Hebrews and the LXX include here a substitution, an inclusion and a transposition:

The NT reads deixqe/nta [that was shown], but LXX witnesses and Philo read dedeigme/non [which is being shown]. Although some scholars (Ahlborn 1966:44; Schröger 1968:159) are of the opinion that the NT reading could be traced back to a LXX tradition from Origen, it is preferable to assume with most others that the author of Hebrews made this temporal change from the perfect participle (dedeigme/non [which is being shown]) to the aorist (deixqe/nta [that was shown]). It might have been for stylistic purposes (Guthrie 2007:969), due to scrupulous care with which perfects were used, or due to the author’s temporal perspective that the Mosaic tabernacle is a past event and that the relationship with the heavenly temple as a model for the earthly tabernacle is not permanent (Thomas 1964/65:309; Attridge 1989:220).

The NT witnesses include pa/nta [everything] before kata\ to\n tu/pon [according to the model or design], whereas the word is absent amongst the most important LXX witnesses in Exodus 25:40. The NT reading poih/seij pa/nta [you make everything] resembles Philo: pa/nta poih/seij [you make everything]. Scholars are divided in their opinion on this. Some agree that ‘There is no reason to think more of this than that the addition of pa/nta “may have stood in the LXX version used at that time at Alexandria”’ (Katz 1950:83; cf. also Kistemaker 1961:40, 136; Williamson 1970:539, 558) – indeed attested by some witnesses (see F 19 boh Cyril 1/3 and Irenaeus Haer. 4.14.3; 4.19.1; 5.35.2). If this was the case, then it would be in line with a general LXX-tendency to add pa/nta [everything] where it is not present i n the Masoretic Text (MT) (Schröger 1968:160). Others, however, are of the opinion that pa/nta [everything] was added as object by the author of Hebrews and that it might have found its way via LXX Exodus 25:9: poih/seij moi kata\ pa/nta [you shall make it for me according to everything] (Ahlborn 1966:43; D’Angelo 1979:205–222). This was then done either ‘ to emphasize the total dependence of the copy on its heavenly model’ (Attridge 1989:220; Guthrie 2007:969) (as in Philo), or ‘more probably to indicate a summary of Ex. 25’ (Ellingworth 2000:407; Schreiner 1969:386; Thomas 1964/65:163; Reicke 1964:889) – where all the ‘features of the cult become clues to the heavenly liturgy accomplished by Christ’ (D’Angelo 1979:205–222).

Hebrews includes as parenthesis the phrase ga\r fhsin [because he says or tells] between o#ra [see] and poih/seij [you shall make] – which results in the transposition of o#ra [see] at the beginning of the quotation.

Comparing Philo (Legum Allegoriae 3,102) with Hebrews 8:5 and with LXX Exodus 25:40
When turning to Philo’s quotation, the following differences with Hebrews and the LXX are present:

• The inclusion of pa/nta [everything] and the difference with regard to Hebrews’ deixqe/nta [that was shown] were already discussed earlier.[3]

• Both Hebrews (8:5) and the LXX witnesses of Exodus 25:40 read kata\ to\n tu/pon [according to the model or design], whereas Philo (Legum Allegoriae 3), in turn, reads kata\ to\n para/deigma [according to the model or example]. Both terms are used by Philo and appear about equally in his works, although para/deigma [model or example] is a word that is characteristic of Plato (Cody 1960:19; Williamson 1970:558; Schunack 2002:109–110). This recalls the cosmology of Plato (e.g. Tim. 48e, 29b) in which all of earthly reality is a copy (ei0kw/n, or image) of a higher reality or model (para/deigma [model or example]). Interesting, however, is that the author of Hebrews also uses a similar word in very close proximity of the quotation. In Hebrews 8:5a the author uses the phrase u(podei/gmati kai\ skia|~ [copy and shadow] and then introduces the quotation in Hebrews 8:5b.[4] Furthermore, Philo’s use of the word tu/poj [model or design] differs from that of Hebrews in that Philo uses it in a technical sense to refer to ‘the more insignificant copy, not to designate the more important prototype, as Hebrews does’ (Goppelt 1982:177).

• The phrase, (pa/nta [everything]) poih/seij [you shall make] is transposed to the end of the quotation in Philo’s version when compared with the LXX version.

• Therefore, it is evident that the NT reading is neither in exact agreement with the LXX, nor does it agree completely with the quotation by Philo.

Remarks on the Vorlage of Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5
It seems clear that the reading of the quotation from Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5 is closer to that of the LXX than to that of the Masoretic Text, but not identical with that of our existing LXX witnesses. There is little doubt that the parenthesis of the introductory formula ga\r fhsin [because he says or tells] between o#ra [see] and poih/seij [you shall make] was made by the author of Hebrews. Given the available textual evidence (including the occurrence by Philo) and taking the author’s hermeneutics into account, it can be assumed that our author also made the change from dedeigme/non [which is being shown] to deixqe/nta [that was shown]. However, the inclusion of pa/nta [everything] and its parallel in Philo’s Legum Allegoriae seems to be too coincidental. Should this have been a change in retrospect by the later copiers of Leg., then one would find it difficult to explain why they have left para/deigma [model or example] and not changed that also to tu/pon [model or design]. Chances are thus good that this inclusion might have been part of the author’s Vorlage – one that shows commonality with that which Philo has known. Although being close, caution is needed and the position that ‘both Hebrews and Philo quote the words in precisely the same form’ (Williamson 1970:571–572), cannot be accepted without qualification.[5] One might imagine that passages from Exodus 25–40 were playing an important role in the cultic life of early Jewish communities such as those at Qumran. Common knowledge from this cultic tradition – possibly even liturgical tradition – probably lies behind the similarities between Hebrews’ and Philo’s quotation of Exodus 25:40.

Hermeneutical adaptation

Introductory formula
The fact of the author’s presentation of the introductory formula, ga/r fhsin [because he says or tells], as a parenthesis at the opening of the quotation itself, has already been mentioned earlier. This should be taken as the primary introductory formula, although the secondary one provides the setting: kaqw/j kexrhma/tistai [as he was warned]. Still in line with the author’s custom, he uses a Greek verb of saying (fhsin) instead of a verb of writing ( gra/fw [write]), with God still speaking. This voice is heard from the past when God spoke to their ancestors (Heb 1:1). The use of kexrhma/tistai [he was warned] is ‘a common term for a divine communication’ (Attridge 1989:219; Weiss 1991:437) (i.e. a passivum divinum) when Moses received an oracle or vision. Striking is the use of the same verb when Philo introduces the same quotation in Legum Allegoriae 3.

Apart from a single occurrence each in Genesis 24:47 and Exodus 2:6 and three occurrences in Numbers 24, the verb fhmi [I say or tell] occurs nowhere else in the LXX Pentateuch, but is profoundly used in Jeremiah where more than half (25) of its total occurrences (41) are to be found. The highest density (9) is in LXX Jeremiah 38 – the chapter from which our author quotes shortly after Exodus 25:40 and the longest quotation in the NT. The verb is to be found three times in the quotation from LXX Jeremiah 38:31–34 alone.

Some remarks on the interpretation of Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5
The point of departure for the author of Hebrews is that God spoke in the past to their ancestors, but in these last days through the Son (Heb 1:1). This vision of Moses in Exodus 24 during which he received the ‘pattern’ or ‘design’ [tu/poj][6] for the tabernacle, belongs to those voices from the past. The author of Hebrews continues this line of thought by means of the way in which he uses and presents this quotation:

• He clearly indicated that it is God who spoke these words by means of his insertion of ga/r fhsin [because he says or tells], as introductory formula at the beginning of the quotation.

• He is also possibly responsible for the temporal change from deixqe/nta [that was shown] to dedeigme/non [which is being shown] as an indication that the earthly tabernacle belongs to the past and is thus temporary.

• The presence of the term tu/poj [model or design] might have played a role in theauthor’s selection of this passage,[7] in the sense that it ‘attests the ‘shadowy’ character of the earthly sanctuary and its liturgy’ (Lane 1998:207). The word occurs fourteen times in the NT,[8] but only here and in Stephen’s Speech (Ac 7:43) within quotations from the Old Testament (OT) in the NT.

• The gist of the author’s use of this quotation from Exodus 25:40 ‘is to show from scripture itself that the Mosaic tabernacle, and by implication the whole OT cultus, was only a copy of the heavenly reality’ (Ellingworth 2000:408).[9] It can be assumed that the author of Hebrews must have known (‘read’?) the broader context, ‘as the addition of pa/nta [everything] would already suggest. Exodus 25:10–40 is drastically summarized in Hebrews 9:1–5, and Exodus 24:8 is quoted in Hebrews 9:20’ (Ellingworth 2000:408). This is a piece of the puzzle by the author as part of his bigger argument that the earthly cultic worship belongs to a previous era.[10]

Our observations regarding the quotation from Exodus 25:40 in Hebrews 8:5 might be concluded with the statement that the author of Hebrews portrays the superior offering of the heavenly High Priest in Hebrews 8:3–10:18 in a typological manner and in the light of salvation history.


Apart from the fact that the idea of a heavenly temple was a well known motif in early Judaism – with interesting parallels in, amongst others, Wisdom 9 and Testament of Levi – the passage from Exodus 25:40 has already been explicitly quoted by Philo in Legum Allegoriae 3,102. In early Christianity, however, there are only a number of allusions by some of the NT writers. Most interesting is the occurrence of the phrase kata\ to\n tu/pon [according to the model or design or pattern] in Stephen’s Speech in Acts 7:44.

The text critical investigation earlier in this study confirmed that the reconstructed LXX text could be accepted as it is – none of the variants carries enough weight to alter the text. The only conclusion that can thus be drawn with the available evidence of OT witnesses at hand is that the LXX represents here a fairly literal Greek translation of the Hebrew. It was also established on the side of the NT manuscripts, that they all attest to the same reading which is closer to that of the LXX than to that of the MT, but including pa/nta [everything] (vs the LXX), deixqe/nta [that was shown] (vs the LXX and Philo) and tu/pon [model or design] (vs Philo). The NT reading is thus neither in exact agreement with the LXX, nor in exact agreement with the quotation by Philo. Chances are good that the inclusion of pa/nta [everything] (and its parallel in Philo’s Leg.) might have been part of the author’s Vorlage. Common knowledge from this cultic tradition, possibly even liturgical tradition, probably lies behind the similarities between Hebrews’ and Philo’s quotation of Exodus 25:40. The author of Hebrews probably stood in the same tradition trajectory as Philo of Alexandria on the concept of a heavenly sanctuary, but might have used this text from Exodus 24 independently from Philo.


Ahlborn, E., 1966, ‘Die Septuagintavorlage des Hebraerbriefes’, unpublished PhD dissertation, Theological Faculty of the Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen.

Anderson, G.A., 1992, ‘Sacrifice and Sacrifial Offerings’, in D.N. Freedman (ed.), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. 5, pp. 870−886, Doubleday, New York.

Attridge, H.W., 1989, The Epistle to the Hebrews (Hermeneia), Fortress Press, Philadelphia.

Brooke, G.J., 1992, ‘The Temple Scroll and LXX Exodus 35–40’, in G.J. Brooke & B. Lindars (eds.), Septuagint, Scrolls and Cognate Writings. Papers presented to theInternational Symposium on the Septuagint and its elations to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Writings (Manchester 1990), pp. 81−106, Scholars Press, Atlanta.

Bruce, F.F., 1985, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.

Cody, A., 1960, Heavenly Sanctuary and Liturgy in the Epistle to the Hebrews, GrailPublications, St. Meinrad.

D’Angelo, M.R., 1979, Moses in the Letter to the Hebrews (SBL Diss Ser 42), Scholars Press, Missoula.

Ellingworth, P., 2000, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NIGTC), Eerdmans, Grand Rapids.Gäbel, G., 2006. Die Kulttheologie des Hebräerbriefes (WUNT II 212), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen.

Goppelt, L., 1982. Typos. The Typological Interpretation of the Old Testament in the New, Eerdmans Grand Rapids.

Guthrie, G.H., 2007, ‘Hebrews’, in G.K. Beale & D.A. Carson (eds.), Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, pp. 919−995, Baker Academic, Grand Rapids. Katz, P., 1950, Philo’s Bible: The Aberrant Text of Bible Quotations in Some Philonic Writings and its Place in the Textual History of the Greek Bible, University Press, Cambridge.

Kearney, P., 1977, ‘Creation and Liturgy: The P Redaction of Ex 25–40’, Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 89, 375−387. doi: 10.1515/zatw.1977.89.3.375

Kistemaker, S., 1961, The Psalm Citations in the Epistle to the Hebrews, ed. W.G. van Soest N.V., Amsterdam.

Kistemaker, S.J., 1984, New Testament Commentary. Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews, Grand Rapids, Baker Book House.

Klijn, A.F.J., 1975, De Brief aan de Hebreeën,De Prediking van het Nieuwe Testament, G.F., Callenbach, Nijkerk.

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[1].Similarities between the ideas of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and Hebrews have been noticed by scholars before. Cf., for instance, Gäbel (2006:60–69).

[2].Kistemaker is incorrect in assuming that ‘speculation about a heavenly sanctuary originated with, and at the same time fascinated, Jewish teachers in the time of the apostles and afterward’ (1984:219). It started already before the time of the apostles (Cody 1960:16–20).

[3].Strobel’s opinion is that ‘Die exegetisch-metodische Abhängigkeit von Philo (sich) bekundet bis hinein in das zusätzliche “alles” des Schriftzitats …’ (1975:164).

[4].The two terms, u(po/deigma [copy] and skia/ [shadow] ‘bezeichnen hier dementsprechend das schattenhafte Abbild der eigentlichen ‘himmlischen’ Realität’ (Weiss 1991:436).

[5].Probably on the right track, however, is Williamson’s thinking that ‘whatever place common use and liturgical needs had in the production of the form of words quoted they had by the time they were used by the two writers assumed a permanent written form of some kind’ (Williamson 1970:571–572).

[6].Contrary to Bruce (1985:165), Ellingworth states that ‘what Moses is shown is constituted a tu/poj [model or design, GJS] simply by the fact that he is told to copy it’ (2000:408). Schröger argued similarly (1968:159) whilst Klijn suggested that it can be compared with ‘antitype’ in 9:24 (1975:96).

[7].Cf. Strobel: ‘Hat in der LXX der Begriff “Urbild” (griech. typos) wohl stärker die Bedeutung “Vorlage, Muster”, so wird nun mit Hilfe der alexandrinischen Hermeneutik der Ton auf die minderwertige Abbildlichkeit des irdischen Heiligtums und seiner Einrichtungen gelegt’ (1975:164).

[8].Cf. John 20:25; Acts 7:43, 44; Romans 5:14; 23:25; 1 Corinthians 10:6; 16:17; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 3:9; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7; Hebrews 8:5 and 1 Peter 5:3.

[9].Cf. also Schröger (1968:160). Theissen saw Exodus 25:40 as a kind of ‘hermeneutisches Prinzip’ – with possible influence from the Alexandrian hermeneutics (1969:91).

[10].The quotation is found ‘in the introduction to Hebrews’ extensive treatment of Christ’s superior high-priestly offering (8:3–10:18)’ (Guthrie 2007:968).

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