According to standard depictions of the Tabernacle, the only article of furnishing in the Holy of Holies was the ark of the covenant. On the other side of the veil, in the Sactuary, were the golden lampstand, gold-plated table of shewbread, and gold-plated altar of incense. But in the rundown in Hebrews 9:2-5, the golden censer appears INSIDE the Holy of Holies--definitely the harder reading.
There are a lot of theories as to what was behind this move, but one striking fact is that in Codex Vaticanus, the censer is put back where it belongs!
According to the CA at LaParola.net, only B cop(sa(mss) cop(fay eth(ro read:
2. . . the setting forth of the loaves *and the golden censer*; which is called Holy. 3 And after the second veil, a tabernacle being called Holy of Holies, 4 [*]having [*] the ark of the covenant . . .
In other words, the passage was re-ordered in order to conform to the standard layout of the Sanctuary. But when we actually go to the remote parallel in Exodus 30:6, we find it to have a textual problem of its own!
Adam Clarke observes:
Verse 6. [Before the mercy-seat that is over the testimony]
"These words in the original are supposed to be a repetition, by mistake, of the preceding clause; the word happarocheth, the veil, being corrupted by interchanging two letters into haccapporeth, the mercy-seat; and this, as Dr. Kennicott observes, places the altar of incense before the mercy-seat, and consequently IN the holy of holies! Now this could not be, as the altar of incense was attended every day, and the holy of holies entered only once in the year. The five words which appear to be a repetition are wanting in twenty-six of Kennicott's and De Rossi's MSS., and in the Samaritan. The verse reads better without them, and is more consistent with the rest of the account."
To recap: The reconstructed Hebrew would then read:
"put it before the veil, which is by the ark of the testimony."
Vaticanus appears to read almost exactly thus:
"KAI QHSEIS AUTO APENANTI TOU KATAPETASMATOS, TOU ONTOS EPI THS KIBWTOU TWN MARTURIWN"
So, B's archetypal scribe of Exodus 30 is to be commended for having avoided a dittography. But what possessed him to so brazenly alter Hebrews 9, when the wording of Exodus 30 seems ambiguous enough to have allowed the altar on either side of the veil?
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