Help with Hebrews 7:9-10

It seems that the author is saying that Levi existed in his father’s lions and thus “tithed” via Abraham to Melchizedek.

What does the actual Greek imply? @Christy et al please :slight_smile:

This seems to be entirely limited the ANE understanding of how human fertility worked (seed ideas in man etc). I find this strongest evidence of divine accommodation as it it seems factually inaccurate on multiple levels. There is no mention of the genetic contribution from his mother and multiple misconceptions about sperm as well.

It’s just a figure of speech, the kind of rhetoric used by lawyers. It’s all part of an an incredibly elaborate straw man to make Jesus our High Priest, to elevate Him with the archaic material available at the time. I’m still a monarchist now. We’re wired to glorify ourselves, make our story significant, in myth. As Philip Yancey said, we’re all looking for the re-enchantment of reality.

There is no evidence of ‘divine accommodation’, of God ‘allowing’ us to talk about Him, to blaspheme Him, as we have no idea what being, autonomous existence, would be like if God didn’t accommodate all of it. As He has to. It’s that or nothing.

It is indeed exactly that. The whole idea behind reproduction for most of human history was that a woman was the “mere” receptacle, and then host for the “little person” that comes entirely from the man. Which went hand-in-hand with the extreme patriarchy of all those times and genealogies. In fact, it’s probably rather more amazing that genealogies ever included mention of women at all (which they sometimes did).

And it isn’t that they were wrong. We could now say genetically that they were only “half-right”. Those prior figures did indeed have the genetics that would be passed along throughout all their progeny. But what they didn’t realize was that all the women did too. But none of the biblical message is about the science of genetics. It was enough for them to know that “they were descended from …” And in the end we discover (from the New Testament testimonies) that even this was accomodation and that actual physical ancestry really doesn’t matter at all with God (beyond being a tool to use - that indeed brought to us the promised One). But spiritually speaking is where it all counts. Your genetics don’t make you “seed of Abraham”. Your standing before God does. It’s divine accomodation all the way - always has been. And still is now.

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Fair enough, thank you for your response.

I too see that passages like Matt 3:9 " We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you that God is able, from these stones, to raise up children for Abraham" as evidence that God is not entirely or uses genealogy for different purposes.

I was more wanting to double-check my understanding as it seems an incredibly straightforward rejection of anything but divine accommodation

@Klax, I agree that it is partially a figure of speech especially the tithe part. I disagree with that application to the verse 10. .

‘because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.’, what’s to disagree with? How can this in any way not be a literary, rhetorical device?

We can’t get in the mind of the author and know exactly what they thought, but it seems to me it’s a figure of speech akin to the English “you were just a twinkle in your father’s eye.” I don’t think they literally believed children existed in their father’s loins, but there is indeed a metaphorical association between people and plants when it comes to reproduction and fertility. In Hebrew the word for seed can be used in a metaphorical sense to mean children or offspring or descendants. Much of the understanding of human vitality and reproduction in the Bible draws on metaphorical links between plants and people (shoots and branches are descendants, roots are ancestors, wombs can be barren or fertile, lives flourish or wither, people are uprooted and transplanted, righteous people are vines and cedar trees and palm trees (which are valuable and produce fruit/resources), wicked people are grass and chaff (which are ephemeral and rubbish).

Is it divine accommodation when the Bible speaks in these terms instead of gametes and embryos? Sure, I guess. But all humans use metaphors to understand their world and how humans live in it. Is “burned with anger” divine accommodation because no literal combustion occurs? Or is it just using a conceptual metaphor to describe emotion? I think the line is blurry sometimes between accommodating ancient science and accommodating human conceptual frames in language which are often based in metaphors and “non-literal” imagery.


That’s fair, but my point was more that it’s a poor literary device that works for a pre-scientific people and their ideas and fails beyond that.

Well doesn’t nearly all of it?! :slight_smile:

It does if people don’t become better readers of writing from other times.

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Ah, yes, it’s all a question of accommodation :wink:

Many of our own metaphors and figures of speech fail to be literally scientifically accurate. That is because they come about due to how languages develop and human cognition works, not how advanced the science of the speakers may be. There is nothing inferior or dumb about a figure of speech talking about “when you were still in your father’s loins.” To imply otherwise is really just a form of cultural imperialism.


What he is saying that Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek and not after the order of Levi. The Jesus was from the tribe of Judah, which was not the priestly tribe.

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