For this Melchizedek-- King of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham and blessed him as he returned from defeating the kings,
and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything; first, his name means "king of righteousness," then also, "king of Salem," meaning "king of peace";
without father, mother, or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God-- remains a priest forever.
Now consider how great this man was, to whom even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the plunder!
The sons of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment according to the law to collect a tenth from the people-- that is, from their brothers-- though they have [also] descended from Abraham.
But one without this lineage collected tithes from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.
Without a doubt, the inferior is blessed by the superior.
In the one case, men who will die receive tithes; but in the other case, [Scripture] testifies that he lives.
And in a sense Levi himself, who receives tithes, has paid tithes through Abraham,
for he was still within his forefather when Melchizedek met him.
If, then, perfection came through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there for another priest to arise in the order of Melchizedek, and not to be described as being in the order of Aaron?
For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well.
For the One about whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, from which no one has served at the altar.
Now it is evident that our Lord came from Judah, and about that tribe Moses said nothing concerning priests.
And this becomes clearer if another priest like Melchizedek arises,
who doesn't become a [priest] based on a legal command concerning physical descent but based on the power of an indestructible life.
For it has been testified: You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.
So the previous commandment is annulled because it was weak and unprofitable
(for the law perfected nothing), but a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
None of this [happened] without an oath. For others became priests without an oath,
but He with an oath made by the One who said to Him: The Lord has sworn, and He will not change His mind, You are a priest forever.
So Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.
Now many have become [Levitical] priests, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office.
But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently.
Therefore He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.
For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
He doesn't need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do-- first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself.
For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the promise of the oath, which came after the law, [appoints] a Son, who has been perfected forever.
Now the main point of what is being said is this: we have this kind of high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens,
a minister of the sanctuary and the true tabernacle, which the Lord set up, and not man.
For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; therefore it was necessary for this [priest] also to have something to offer.
Now if He were on earth, He wouldn't be a priest, since there are those offering the gifts prescribed by the law.
These serve as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, as Moses was warned when he was about to complete the tabernacle. For He said, Be careful that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown to you on the mountain.
But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises.
For if that first [covenant] had been faultless, no opportunity would have been sought for a second one.
But finding fault with His people, He says: "Look, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah--
not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. Because they did not continue in My covenant, I disregarded them," says the Lord.
"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days," says the Lord: "I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.
And each person will not teach his fellow citizen, and each his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know Me, from the least to the greatest of them.
For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins."
By saying, a new [ covenant], He has declared that the first is old. And what is old and aging is about to disappear.
Now the first [covenant] also had regulations for ministry and an earthly sanctuary.
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.
Behind the second curtain, the tabernacle was called "the holy of holies."
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.
The cherubim of glory were above it overshadowing the mercy seat. It is not possible to speak about these things in detail right now.
These things having been set up this way, the priests enter the first room repeatedly, performing their ministry.
But the high priest alone enters the second room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance.
The Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the holy of holies had not yet been disclosed while the first tabernacle was still standing.
This is a symbol for the present time, during which gifts and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper's conscience.
They are physical regulations and only deal with food, drink, and various washings imposed until the time of restoration.
Now the Messiah has appeared, high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation),
He entered the holy of holies once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh,
how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?
Therefore He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of the eternal inheritance, because a death has taken place for redemption from the transgressions [committed] under the first covenant.
Where a will exists, the death of the testator must be established.
For a will is valid only when people die, since it is never in force while the testator is living.
That is why even the first covenant was inaugurated with blood.
For when every commandment had been proclaimed by Moses to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll itself and all the people,
saying, This is the blood of the covenant that God has commanded for you.
In the same way, he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of worship with blood.
According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be purified with these [sacrifices], but the heavenly things themselves [to be purified] with better sacrifices than these.
For the Messiah did not enter a sanctuary made with hands (only a model of the true one) but into heaven itself, that He might now appear in the presence of God for us.
He did not do this to offer Himself many times, as the high priest enters the sanctuary yearly with the blood of another.
Otherwise, He would have had to suffer many times since the foundation of the world. But now He has appeared one time, at the end of the ages, for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
And just as it is appointed for people to die once-- and after this, judgment--
so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.