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From: Rabbi Moshe Koniuchowsky
Subject: Understanding the Levitical and Melchizedek Priesthood
UNDERSTANDING THE LEVITICAL AND MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD
Ask the Rabbi: If the Lewites still exist, why does Ivrim 7 speak of a "change" of priesthood?
ANSWER: Hebrews chapter 7 is always misinterpreted by many to mean there is no longer a Levitical priesthood to serve Yisrael here upon the earth. They believe Yahshua and His High Priesthood have superseded it. Hebrews 7 is not dealing with the abrogation of the Levitical priesthood but with the transferring of the High Priesthood to Yahshua the Moshiach. Yahshua is our Cohen HaGadol after the manner of Malkitzedek the "King of Shalom and Righteousness". The author (whoever it was) is comparing Yahshua with Malkitzedek from Tehillim 110:4, which speaks of Moshiach. Malkitzedek is a Cohen for all time, like Yahshua.Malkitzedek was great because he received a tithe from our father Avraham, from whose loins came Lewi.He also blessed Avraham, which shows that he was greater than Avraham.So, we have an order to the greatness-Malkitzedek-Avraham-Lewi-the Cohanim-then the rest of Yisrael.
Now in verse 11 we read, "Truly, then, if the GOAL not perfection as translated. The word is TELEIOSIS, which means reaching the goal of gaining complete and eternal atonement with Yahweh, so that the worshipper may become perfect! Neither Torah nor the Levitical priesthood could bring them to that goal of perfection. The goal of Torah is Yahshua, Who then CAN bring them to be reconciled to Yahweh through His blood and priesthood.
Verse 12 then is the KEY to understanding this chapter of Hebrews. It reads, "For the priesthood being "changed", of necessity there takes place a change of law also." The word we need to see is "changed". It is NOMOU = METATHESIS = which is #3331 in the Strong's. METATHESIS means 'a transformation, or transfer not a removing or change as some interpret it to mean. It comes from #3346-METATITHEMI meaning to exchange, transport, or even change sides.
What was transferred? THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD! It was transferred from the tribe of Lewi to Yahshua, who was from Yahudah (verse 14). He LIKE MALKITZEDEK WAS NOT OF THE TRIBE OF LEVI TO WHOM THE TORAH GAVE THE RIGHTS TO THE HIGH PRIESTHOOD.
The verse then SHOULD read, "For when there is a TRANSFER of the priestly office, out of necessity there is also a transformation of the Torah of the High Priesthood." Now, we can understand this chapter more clearly and from a Hebraic/Scriptural perspective.
Jewish tradition speaks of a change of the Torah when Moshiach arrives. We know that the institution of the Festival of Purim was added to the Torah in the book of Haddassah (Esther). The Scriptural basis of the transfer is found in Tehillim 110:4, "Yahweh has sworn and does not relent, You are a Cohen forever according to the order of Malkitzedek." Yahweh swore an oath to the Moshiach that He would be after the order of Malkitzedek-or an eternal Cohen HaGadol. Therefore the context of the transfer or transformation of the torah of the priesthood makes it VERY CLEAR that NO OTHER CHANGE-TRANSFORMATION of the TORAH is spoken of or even hinted at in this passage. This term "METATHESIS" implies a total retention of all the basic structure and laws of the Torah, with some elements concerning the priesthood rearranged or transformed. IT DOES NOT IN ANY WAY IMPLY A TOTAL ABROGATION OF EITHER THE TORAH AS A WHOLE OR THE, MITZVOT CONNECTED TO IT (SEE MATT 5: 17).
Another reason for the transformation of Torah was the law of physical descent from Lewi and Aharon.Pinchas was given an eternal covenant of priesthood in Bemidbar 25:13. Yahshua HaMoshiach was given an everlasting priesthood (the order of Malkitzedek) after the power of an endless life (Hebrews 7: 16). Therefore there is no more necessity of passing His office down from generation to generation. There is NO CONFLICT between the Levitical priesthood established by the Torah at Mt.Sinai and that of Yahshua as prophesied in Tehillim110. NOR DOES YAHSHUA'S PRIESTHOOD SUPERSEDE THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD. NOTE THAT THE EARTHLY COHANIM WERE TO BE AFTER THE LINEAGE OF AHARON THROUGH PINCHAS.BUT YAHSHUA SERVES IN THE HEAVENLY TABERNACLE, THEREFORE HE CAN BE OF THE TRIBE OF YAHUDAH AND CAN ALSO HAVE AN ETERNAL PRIESTHOOD. The Lewites and priests are seen ministering to the people and Yahweh in Yechezqel 40-48 in the Third Temple in Yahrushalayim.
Mosheh acted as a High Priest after the order of Malkitzedek as the
priesthood was not yet given. He functioned as a mediator for the
nation of Yisrael before Yahweh. Even the Talmud states that "Mosheh
was a High Priest" in Zebahim 101a. According to the Torah and the
rabbis the Moshiach was to be like unto Mosheh. It is written in the
Midrash (Midrash Numbers Rabbah 11:3) that: "As it was with the
first Redeemer so will it be with the Last Redeemer, the First
Redeemer was Moses.." Also, we are told in Sukkah 52a there are 4
Messianic Personages of one which is the Righteous Priest. We are
told that the Righteous Priest is Malkitzedek! We also take note that
the Dead Sea Sect looked forward to a time when the role of the
Anointed King and Priest would be fulfilled in the Moshiach after the order of Malkitzedek.
I hope this answers your question of why the Lewites still function
and have an eternal covenant with Yahweh concerning their
priesthood. It does not conflict with the order of Malkitzedek, of
which Yahshua is a Kohen HaGadol. It was transferred to Him by a transformation of the Torah concerning the High Priesthood. All the Torah still stands as wrote by the hand of Mosheh from the mouth of Yahweh. Yahshua NOW sits as the Heavenly High Priest after the order of Malkitzedek in the heavenly Dwelling Place to be our mediator as Yisrael.
Rabbi Moshe Koniuchowsky
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