Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 16

Haydock's Catholic Bible CommentaryHaydock's Catholic Commentary

Verse 1

Fire. It was upon this occasion that the feast of expiation (kippurim) was instituted, to enforce the reverence due to holy things, and particularly to the tabernacle. Hebrew adds, "before the Lord," (Haydock) and does not specify strange fire; but the Chaldean and the Syriac do. (Calmet)

Verse 2

Enter not. No one but the high priest, and he but once a year, could enter into the sanctuary: to signify that no one could enter into the sanctuary of heaven till Christ our high priest opened it by his passion, Hebrews x. 8. (Challoner) --- When the tabernacle was to be removed, and when he had to consult the Lord, he might also enter, arrayed in his pontifical attire. If the high priest was prevented by any legal uncleanness, the next priest was substituted to perform his office. (Josephus, [Antiquities?] xvii. 8.) Adjutor vicarius propter cognationem ei datus est.

Verse 4

Washed. On this day the high priest appeared in linen clothes, like one of the inferior priests, without the jewels; thought Josephus (Jewish Wars v. 15,) asserts the contrary. (Calmet) --- This was a feast of sorrow and of penance. (Tirinus) --- Perhaps he put on his more costly attire before he entered the holy of holies, ver. 23, 4[24?]. (Haydock)

Verse 6

Calf, or young bull, which Aaron offered for himself and all the family of Levi, to expiate the sins which they might have committed during the year. If their sins were voluntary, they were obliged also to have perfect charity and contrition. The ram was offered for the sins of the people. Moses speaks of the red heifer, (Numbers xix.) which was also offered, out of the camp, for the people. This solemn day was to be kept by all as a rigid "fast from meat, drink, washing, anointing, wearing shoes, or using marriage." This is the idea which the Oriental nations generally have of a fast. They commence at midnight, and end with the following sun-set; after which they eat what they think proper. (Calmet) --- On the day of expiation, the Jews made a tenfold confession of their sins. (Morinus, pœnit. ii. 22.)

Verse 8

The emissary-goat: caper emissarius; in Greek, apopompaios; in Hebrew, Hazazel. The goat to go off, or as some translate it, the scape-goat. This goat, on whose head the high priest was ordered to pour forth prayers, and to make a general confession of the sins of the people, laying them all, as it were, on his head; and after that to send him away into the wilderness, to be devoured by wild beasts, was a figure of our Saviour, charged with all our sins, in his passion.

Verse 11

After....celebrated. These words are not in the Hebrew.

Verse 12

Censer, which resembled one of our chalices; without any chains, &c., Apocalypse v. 8. (Calmet)

Verses 13-14

The cloud. --- The blood, &c. This is to teach us, that if we would go into the sanctuary of God, we must take with us the incense of prayer, and the blood, that is, the passion of Christ. Where also note, that the high priest, before he went into the holy of holies, was to wash his whole body; and then to put on white linen garments; to signify the purity and chastity with which we are to approach to God. (Challoner) --- The Septuagint call this goat apopompaion, "the averter of evils, or the one sent away." Hazazel is taken by Spencer Julian, the apostate, (ap. St. Cyril. 9. and ep. 39,) to mean the devil; as if the goat was sent or sacrificed to him, which is very foolish. (Calmet) --- East. That is, the forepart of the mercy-seat, which was not to be touched with the blood, (Menochius) no more than the veil. (Rabbins)

Verse 15

Oracle. He probably took this blood at the same time with that of the calf, Hebrews ix. 7. (Menochius) --- Though some Rabbins assert, the high priest entered the holy of holies four times on that day. (Drusius) Pausanias tells us, that the temples of Dindymenes and Orcus were opened only once a year. (Calmet)

Verse 16

Filth. God deigned to have his tabernacle in the midst of the camp, where so many sins, and marks of disrespect, as well as legal uncleannesses, were found. (Haydock) --- Sin so defileth the soul, that the most holy place is contaminated thereby. (Theodoret, q. 22.)

Verse 17

Out. Even the other priests were excluded from the tabernacle. The high priest placed incense on the censer as soon as he entered within the veil, and prayed for all blessings, in few words, that the people might not be uneasy, fearing lest something had befallen him. This was the form: "Be pleased to grant, O Lord our God, that this year may be warm and rainy, that the sovereign power may abide in the house of Juda, that thy people may not be deprived of any of the necessaries of life; and hear not the petitions of travellers," (which are commonly vain and selfish) of "of sinners," as others translate. (Calmet) --- Those who were forbidden to be present this occasion, might have made the same objections as Protestants do against the law of the Church which prescribes a language not commonly understood by all, in the administration of her sacraments. Have either any reason to be offended? (Haydock)

Verse 18

Let him pray for himself. Hebrew, "he shall expiate or purify it," the altar of incense. Josephus says he also sprinkled with blood the great altar of holocausts, ver. 20. (Antiquities iii. 10.)

Verse 22

Desert, to be devoured by wild beasts, (Menochius) or hurled down a precipice.

Verse 24

Flesh, which was, in some sort, defiled by touching the goat. --- Garments, belonging to his office. --- Come out of the holy of holies. (Calmet) --- The remainder of the day was spent in joy. The priest washed himself, as a sign that he had obtained pardon. (Menochius)

Verse 26

Camp. This was always required of those who had burnt the bodies of the victims out of the camp, as ver. 28, and Numbers xix. 7. (Outram.) --- In some of the sacrifices for sin, the priests might eat part of the flesh. But here all was consumed, as the victim was offered for the sins of all.

Verse 29

Tenth. Beginning on the evening of the ninth Tisri, which corresponds with part of our September and October, and is the first month of the civil year, chap. xxxiii. 32. Afflict, by a rigid abstinence from all that might give delight to the body. Children of seven years old begin to join in this mortification. Boys of 13, and girls of 11 years old complete, were obliged to fast. See ver. 6. The Samaritans pray all the day, and give no food even to infants during the 24 hours. (Calmet) --- Moses was the first who shewed them the example; and this was the only day which he prescribed to be kept as a fast. The Jews afterwards appointed many more. (Haydock) --- Maimonides says, this festival was instituted in memory of the descent of Moses from Mount Sinai the third time, when he came to announce to the people that God had pardoned their idolatry. Usher thinks it was in memory of Adam’s fall. The Jews still observe it in some degree. As they are not allowed to sacrifice, they kill a white cock, and the women a hen, on the 9th at evening. Those with child kill both. They confess their sins, receive 93 lashes, ask pardon of those whom they have offended, and generally spend the fore part of this month in acts of piety and of penance. (Buxtorf, Syn. 20.) --- Stranger; a proselyte of justice, such as were bound to observe the law.

Verse 31


Of rest. Hebrew, "of sabbaths;" that is, a day of most perfect rest; so that even meat is not allowed to be dressed on it, as it is on other festivals, chap. xxiii. 27. (Calmet) --- Religion. Fasting is therefore an act of religion. (Du Hamel)

Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Leviticus 16". "Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hcc/leviticus-16.html. 1859.
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