Lectionary Calendar
Friday, July 19th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 8

Calvin's Commentary on the BibleCalvin's Commentary

Verse 1

1.And the Lord spake. It is well known that in conjunction with the sacrifices there was an offering, which they call minha, but we shall elsewhere see that this was also used separately; for it was lawful without a victim to offer either plain meal, or cakes, or wafers seasoned with oil. Therefore, besides the sacrifice of consecration, of which Moses has already treated, this second offering is required from the priest, that he should present at his inauguration a cake fried in a pan, and cut in pieces. The reason of this appears to have been, that he might thence become the legitimate minister of all the people, and might duly offer in the name of others, when he had done what was right for himself. But a distinction is drawn between the demand upon the priest and that, upon the people, viz., that it should be “wholly burnt;” the reason for which, since it will be explained elsewhere, it will be now sufficient to advert to in a single word. The fact was that God was unwilling that the priests should indulge themselves in vain ostentation, which might have been easily the case, if the oblation had been preserved for their use, like the minha of the people which remained in their hands.

Verse 2

2.Take Aaron. He more clearly explains the mode of anointing and investing the priests, by appointing the place and the assistants; for he commands the congregation to be convoked at the sanctuary; and then that Aaron and his sons should be brought out before them to be inaugurated by God’s authority in their office; and that the whole people together may acknowledge that they are appointed and ordained by God. The execution of the command, which we find connected with it in the text of Moses, must be undoubtedly referred to another time; viz., when the solemn dedication of the tabernacle was made. I have therefore thought fit to transfer thither what is here related out of its place, that the history may proceed uninterruptedly; which will not a little facilitate its comprehension.

Verse 4

4.And Moses did as the Lord commanded him Although these things relate to the priesthood, the authority and nature of which I expounded under the Second Commandment, yet, inasmuch as they are historical, it is not without reason that I have thought fit to defer them till this place: for, if I had referred to them in connection with the Commandment, unpractised readers would not have easily taken notice of their time. This distinction, however, will be of great assistance to them, that after the doctrine which was properly contained in the Decalogue has been set forth, they will now see how faithfully Moses fulfilled whatever he was commanded, and will be able to compare his obedience with the injunction, as they have done in the whole of the making and dedication of the tabernacle. Besides, there is no question but that the narrative must be thus connected; for it may be readily inferred from many passages, that the priests were anointed on the same day that the tabernacle was consecrated. I will now hastily run through the words. Moses says that he brought near Aaron and his sons, i.e., to set them before God and the people; and then that he “washed them with water,” to make it manifest that they did not bring from their homes the purity which befitted the sanctity of their office, and, inasmuch as they were men, that they could not be clean before God, unless their impurity was washed off. A description of their apparel afterwards follows, which I pass over, lest I should weary my readers by twice repeating the same thing.

Verse 10

10.And Moses took the anointing oil I have stated why God commanded that the priest himself, as well as all the vessels, should be consecrated with oil, viz., because, without the influence of the Spirit, all the sacrifices would be unsavory. And it is by the operation of the same Spirit that Christ was made the peace-maker between God and men; because this dignity would not otherwise belong to flesh and human nature. Aaron was therefore anointed, together with his sons, before he was admitted to the priestly office; for it is afterwards added, that “the bullock for sin” (405) was brought, upon which Aaron laid his hands. Now, although even then he began to discharge his office, yet Moses still occupied the first place, and performed, as it were, the final act. Hence it was that he sprinkled the horns of the altar with the blood; poured the residue at its base for expiation; and burned the sacrifice upon the altar. Now, the imposition of hands in the sacrifices was not only a symbol of presentation, but also a testimony of guilt transferred to the victim. Since, however, this last statement may be obscure on account of its brevity, I will explain it a little more clearly. If any private person offered a victim, the imposition of hands signified that he cast the guilt of his sin upon the victim. Hence the name of piaculum; (406) because it sustained the curse of God, and was substituted in the sinner’s stead, who disburdens himself upon it of whatever exposed him to the judgment of God. But, inasmuch as common hands were unworthy to consecrate a victim to God, the sacerdotal office interposed. This is the reason why Aaron and his sons put their hands on each of the sacrifices, in order that this kind of atonement (piaculi) might be the beginning of their consecration, which was completed in the second ram, with the blood of which Moses stained their right ears, the thumbs of their right hands, and the great toes of their right feet. A multitude of questions here arises: Why only one side of the priests was consecrated, as if their left side remained polluted? Why consecration was not also imparted to their eyes, and especially to their mouth, which was to be the organ of the Holy Spirit? But this warning must be always borne in mind, that we should be soberly wise in those points, the certain knowledge of which cannot be elicited from Scripture; for our curiosity is not only frivolous, but also perverse and injurious, when we desire to know more than God has revealed. The conjecture, however, is probable, that the whole body was consecrated in the right side. We have already seen elsewhere, (407) that by the hands and feet the whole life and actions of men are designated. In which view the cleanness of the heart and the purity of the hands comprehend all that is internal and external in man, as the root and the fruit. As to the feet, the metaphor of walking is notorious; and the feet are said to run to evil, and to be swift to shed blood, when the wicked and the despisers of God betake themselves to evil deeds. Besides, since this consecration was not to the office of teaching, but to that of intercession, the ear rather than the tongue is stained with blood; because the chief virtue, which obtains grace in the sacrifices, is obedience. To this the passage in Psalms 40:6, refers, “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou bored:” (408) to which the words of Jeremiah correspond,

“Did I command anything respecting sacrifices, and not rather that your fathers should obey my voice?” (409)
(Jeremiah 7:22.)

And hence Moses commenced the consecration at the ear, in order to devote the priest to God unto obedience. Paul shews how this was fulfilled in Christ, where he celebrates His obedience in the sacrifice of His death, in order to reconcile His Father to us. (Romans 5:19.) I have spoken elsewhere of the kind of wave-offering which they called tnupha. (410)

(405) “For the sin-offering.” — A. V.

(406) “Et voyla pourquoy les bestes ont porte le nom d’offense;” and behold wherefore the beasts bore the name of offence.Fr.Piaculum; sacrum piaculare, et quicquid ad piandum et purgandum pertinet. Metonymice, ipsa res, qum piaculi causa adhibetur; sic A En. 6:153.

Duc nigos pecudes: ea prima piacula sunto.” — Facciolati.

(407) See ante, vol. 2, p. 211.

(408) A. V., “Mine ears hast thou opened.” Margin, “Heb., digged.” See C.’s translation and note. Cal. Soc. edit., vol. 2, p. 99.

(409) This quotation is much abbreviated. C.’s exposition of the passage, (Cal. Soc. edit., vol. 1, p. 393,) and Mr. Owen’s note, are worthy of consultation.

(410) Heb., תנופה , thenuphah. See ante, vol. 2, p. 132, and note

Verse 31

31.And Moses said unto Aaron and his sons, Boil the flesh This is the universal rule, as we have seen elsewhere. (411) One thing only is special, that God kept them in the tabernacle seven days, that they might learn to subordinate all their domestic cares and worldly business to their sacred duties. It has been elsewhere said, also, (412) that perfection is denoted by the number seven, which this passage confirms, for by the seven days they were reminded that they were no longer their own masters for the rest of their life.

(411) See ante, vol. 2, p. 133.

(412) Ibid., p.26.

Bibliographical Information
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Leviticus 8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cal/leviticus-8.html. 1840-57.
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