This is why even the first ·agreement [covenant; contract; C the same Greek word as “will” in vv. 16–17] could not ·begin [be inaugurated/put into effect] without blood [C the death of a sacrificial animal].
Christ is consequently the administrator of an entirely new agreement, having the power, by virtue of his death, to redeem transgressions committed under the first agreement: to enable those who obey God’s call to enjoy the promises of the eternal inheritance. For, as in the case of a will, the agreement is only valid after death. While the testator lives, a will has no legal power. And indeed we find that even the first agreement of God’s will was not put into force without the shedding of blood. For when Moses had told the people every command of the Law he took calves’ and goats’ blood with water and scarlet wool, and sprinkled both the book and all the people with a sprig of hyssop, saying: ‘This is the blood of the covenant which God has commanded you’.
Even the first plan required a death to set it in motion. After Moses had read out all the terms of the plan of the law—God’s “will”—he took the blood of sacrificed animals and, in a solemn ritual, sprinkled the document and the people who were its beneficiaries. And then he attested its validity with the words, “This is the blood of the covenant commanded by God.” He did the same thing with the place of worship and its furniture. Moses said to the people, “This is the blood of the covenant God has established with you.” Practically everything in a will hinges on a death. That’s why blood, the evidence of death, is used so much in our tradition, especially regarding forgiveness of sins.
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