According to Hebrews, “Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses” (3:3). Some have interpreted this to mean that Jesus supersedes Moses, and that the new covenant of Christ replaces the Mosaic covenant. From this Christian perspective, Moses and the narrative that bears his name (Genesis—Deuteronomy) have been superseded by Jesus and the New Testament. However, this conclusion oversteps the bounds of Hebrews’ comparison between Jesus and Moses. For the author of Hebrews, Jesus has “more glory” than Moses, but this conviction does not devalue Moses or the first five books of the Bible.
Hebrews says that Jesus was “faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all [God’s] house” (3:2). The epistle uses Moses as a template of faith for Yeshua to follow, since “Moses was faithful in (ἐν; en) all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later” (3:5). Whereas Moses was a faithful servant in the divine household, “Messiah is faithful over (ἐπὶ; epi) his house as a son” (3:6). Hebrews commends Moses’ faith, but also views Jesus as superior to Moses.
Hebrews’ claim that Jesus holds a higher position than Moses should not be surprising. Indeed, it would be exceedingly odd for Jews who believed they had identified the Messiah not to deem him superior to Moses—and everyone else, for that matter! This Jewish understanding of the Messiah is summarized in the medieval rabbinic text Yalkut Shimoni, which offers a glorified view of the Messiah based on Isaiah 52:13—“Behold, my servant will act wisely. He will be high, and lifted up, and highly exalted.” According to the midrash, this means that the “Messiah will be higher than Abraham… more lifted up than Moses… and more exalted than the ministering angels” (2.338). This interpretation of Isaiah exalts the Messiah, but it does not abolish Abraham, malign Moses, or eliminate the angels.
For the writer of Hebrews, Jesus’ surpassing glory does not relinquish Moses of his own glory. The fact that “Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory (δόξα; doxa) than Moses” (Heb 3:3) assumes the ongoing glory of Moses—the comparison is not a zero-sum game. The rabbinic midrash Leviticus Rabbah (c. 5th century CE) offers a helpful parallel to Hebrews. In a comparison between Moses and Aaron, the rabbis assert that God “placed the glory of Aaron (כבודו שׁל אהרון; kavodo shel Aharon) before the glory of Moses, since it is written, ‘These are the generations of Aaron and Moses’ [Num 3:1]. ‘Moses and Aaron’ is not written, but rather ‘Aaron and Moses’” (Leviticus Rabbah 33:4). The midrash concludes that, in this case, Aaron is worthy of more honor than Moses, but the rabbis would never dream of defaming Moses or discarding Scripture’s first five books. Thus, Hebrews’ notion that Jesus would be worthy of the greatest glory can (and should) coexist with the utmost respect for Moses and his narrative in the Torah. In other words, for Christians, Moses still matters.