Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, July 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 16

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-14

Aaron's Sacrifices for Himself

v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord and died, their unauthorized act bringing down upon them the destroying wrath of God, Leviticus 10:1-2.

v. 2. And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron, thy brother, that he come not at all times, at any time that he might choose, into the Holy Place within the veil, into the Most Holy Place, before the mercy-seat, which is upon the ark, the corer, or lid, of the chest which contained the tables of the covenant, that he die not; for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy-seat. That was the place appointed for the peculiar manifestation of God in the glory of His mercy, Exodus 25:22; for this cloud revealed the presence of God to the representatives of the people. To step into this place of highest consecration in an arbitrary way, without the special direction of God, would result in death to the offender.

v. 3. Thus shall Aaron come into the Holy Place, into the innermost section of the Tabernacle: with a young bullock for a sin-offering and a ram for a burnt offering. These were the sacrificial offerings for the faults of the high priest and for those of the entire priesthood.

v. 4. He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen miter, the turbanlike head-dress, shall he be attired; these are the holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. These white garments were reserved for the special ceremonies of this day, whereas upon other occasions the high priest appeared in his variegated dress, Exodus 28. The white color indicated that no unclean person, no sinner, should step into the presence of the holy God.

v. 5. And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel, as the joint offering of the entire people, and therefore supplied by them, two kids of the goats for a sin-offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Although the ritual dealt with the two young goats in an entirely different manner, yet they both together constituted a single sin-offering. Thus the sacrificial victims both for the priesthood and for the congregation were provided.

v. 6. And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and make an atonement for himself and for his house, the term here apparently including not only the immediate family of the high priest, but the whole order of priests. Since all the priests were representatives and mediators of the people in their dealings with the Lord, it was necessary that their own sin, first of all, be covered and expiated in the sight of God.

v. 7. And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the Lord at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, formally set them forth in their character as sacrificial animals, before the face of the Lord. According to Jewish tradition the two goats were of the same size and otherwise as identical as possible in their markings.

v. 8. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats, the lots being drawn from an urn by some attendant; one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat, or Azazel, as the Hebrew has it, for the "Remover of Sin. " Both he-goats bore the sins of the people, the one through the act of sacrifice, the other by complete removal into the wilderness.

v. 9. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the Lord's lot fell, and offer him for a sin-offering, in the manner prescribed for such sacrifices.

v. 10. But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, to symbolize the complete removal of all transgression and iniquity, shall be presented alive before the Lord, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness. So much for the preparation for the sacrifices.

v. 11. And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin-offering, which is for himself, and shall make an atonement for himself and for his house, for the entire priesthood, and shall kill the bullock of the sin-offering which is for himself. This was the first stage of the day's sacrifices.

v. 12. And he shall take a censer, a pan or vessel, full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord, from the altar of burnt offering, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, the form in which its perfume would be strongest, and bring it within the veil, into the Most Holy Place;

v. 13. and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense arising from its burning in the censer may cover the mercy-seat that is upon the testimony, that covers the tables of the testimony, that he die not. The cloud of incense protected the high priest, a sinful human being as he was, from the angry glance of the holy God.

v. 14. And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, which had been caught up by some attendant and meanwhile kept from coagulating by constant stirring, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy-seat eastward, on the side which faced the east; and before the mercy-seat, between the ark and the veil, shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. This was the second stage of the special sacrifices of the day, whereby the atonement for the priesthood was completed. The atonement was made, not without blood, for without the shedding of blood there is no remission, and for the high priest and his house first, Hebrews 5:1-3; Hebrews 9:7.

Verses 15-28

The offerings for the People

v. 15. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin-offering that is for the people, the slaying taking place, of course, outside in the court, and bring his blood within the veil, into the Most Holy Place, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat and before the mercy-seat;

v. 16. and he shall make an atonement for the Holy Place, the Sanctuary itself being in need of cleansing, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins, for it was exposed to defilement in the midst of a sinful people; and so shall ha do for the Tabernacle of the Congregation, that remaineth among them in the midst of their uncleanness. Thus both the sins of the priests, with which they had contaminated the Sanctuary, and the transgressions of the people, which also defiled the habitation of God in their midst, had to be expiated on the great Day of Atonement.

v. 17. And there shall be no man in the Tabernacle of the Congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the Holy Place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, for the entire priesthood, and for all the congregation of Israel. Everything and every person that was defiled had to be kept away from the Most Holy Place during this most solemn part of the ceremony, and the entire responsibility rested upon the high priest alone. While all the members of the congregation were, on this day, to feel the damnable nature of sin, the high priest was to be particularly conscious of this fact, since he acted in the name of all the children of Israel.

v. 18. And he shall go out unto the altar that is before the Lord, to the altar of incense, and make an atonement for it; and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about. So the blood of both kinds of sin-offering was mingled in the expiatory rite, the faults of both the priests and the people being atoned for in the sight of God by this third stage of the day's sacrificial ceremonies. Note that even the altar, as an instrument used for purposes of purification and atonement, had to be cleansed of the defilement clinging to it by reason of the worship of sinners.

v. 19. And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel. The ceremonies of the great Day of Atonement were largely Messianic types. Christ is the true High Priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens, Hebrews 7:26. By His own blood He entered in once into the Holy Place, having obtained eternal redemption for us, Hebrews 9:12.

v. 20. And when he hath made an end of reconciling the Holy Place and the Tabernacle of the Congregation and the altar, he shall bring the live goat, the second animal of the sin- offering.

v. 21. And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, not only one, as in the ordinary sacrifices, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, individually and collectively, and all their transgressions in all their sins, all the misdeeds and trespasses which brought upon them the wrath of Jehovah, putting them upon the head of the goat, the "remover of sins," and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man in to the wilderness, one who stood ready to go upon the instant, without loss of time;

v. 22. and the go at shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited, into a desert and desolate place, for complete removal; and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness. Thus the fourth part of the special ceremonies of the day was brought to a close.

v. 23. And Aaron shall come in to the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and shall put off the linen garments which he put on when he went in to the Holy Place, and shall leave them there, since they were used only in the rite of atonement on this one day in the year;

v. 24. and he shall wash his flesh with water in the Holy Place, where the ablutions of the priests were ordinarily performed, at the laver near the entrance of the Tabernacle, and put on his garments, the ordinary vestments of his office made of the fine variegated cloth, and come forth, and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people, in either case a ram, and make an atonement for himself and for the people.

v. 25. And the fat of the sin-offering shall he burn upon the altar. All this could be done only after the defilement of sin had been entirely removed.

v. 26. And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat, for the complete removal of the sin placed upon his head, shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward come into the camp, thus also cleansing himself of the impurity of contact with the sin-offering.

v. 27. And the bullock for the sin-offering, and the goat for the sin-offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall one carry forth without the camp; and they shall burn in the fire their skins and their flesh and their dung.

v. 28. And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water, and afterward he shall come into the camp. He also had to be cleansed from the contamination which came to him by touching the sin-offering. The second goat is also a type of Christ, who is the true "Remover of Sin. " The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all, Isaiah 53:6, and He not only bore them, but He took them away, John 1:29, removed them so completely that their guilt no longer rests upon us. Thus Christ has earned an eternal redemption for us.

Verses 29-34

The Purpose of the Day

v. 29. And this shall be a statute forever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, bowed down in penitence and humiliation, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you. The tenth day of the first month of the civil year, known first as Ethanim, and afterwards as Tishri, although not included in the great festivals, was yet of such importance as to give it the name of being the most solemn day in the year, and it was often designated simply as "the day. "

v. 30. For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord.

v. 31. It shall be a Sabbath of rest unto you, be regarded in every way as a true Sabbath, and ye shall afflict your souls, by fasting, as an expression of the deepest humiliation and shame, by a statute forever.

v. 32. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, the intimation being that the high-priestly office was hereditary, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments, those especially set aside for the service of this day;

v. 33. and he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, the Most Holy Place, and he shall make an atonement for the Tabernacle of the Congregation, the Holy Place, and for the altar, the golden altar of incense, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation.

v. 34. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he, Aaron, did as the Lord commanded Moses. When the time came, this festival day was duly kept and all the ceremonies carried out in accordance with the will of the Lord. By reason of their symbolism and through the faith of the true Israelites the rites of the great Day of Atonement had power and efficacy until Christ made His great sacrifice, with its eternal power.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Leviticus 16". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/leviticus-16.html. 1921-23.
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