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the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 16

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Aaron not permitted at all times to go into the holy of holies, Leviticus 16:1,Leviticus 16:2.

He is commanded to make a general expiation, and wherewith, Leviticus 16:3-5.

He-goats, the one for sacrifice, the other to escape, Leviticus 16:7,Leviticus 16:8.

The manner of offering, Leviticus 16:9-14, and ministering the sacrifice, Leviticus 16:15-19.

The scape-goat, with the sins of the people laid on his head, sent into the wilderness, Leviticus 16:20-22; after which Aaron, and he who let go the goat, and he who burnt the sacrifice without the camp, must wash themselves, Leviticus 16:23-28.

This day of expiation, which was on the tenth day of the seventh month, to be a solemn fast and sabbath of rest, and they cleansed from all their sins, Leviticus 16:29-34.

Verse 2

That he come not at all times; not whensoever he pleaseth, but only when I shall appoint him, to wit, to take down the parts and furniture of it upon every removal, and to minister unto me once in the year, Exodus 30:10.

Holyplace, i.e. into the most holy, or the holy of holies, as the following words demonstrate, which is sometimes called only the holy place, as Hebrews 9:2,Hebrews 9:3; the positive degree put for the comparative, which is not unusual in Scripture.

Within the veil, to wit, the second veil. See Leviticus 4:6.

That he die not, for his irreverence and presumption. I will appear, visibly and gloriously; that is, as it were, my presence-chamber whither the priest shall not dare to come but when I call him. In the cloud; either in that dark place, for there was no light came into it, and clouds and darkness go together, and one may be put for the other; or in a bright and glorious cloud, which used to be over the mercy-seat, or rather in the

cloud of incense mentioned afterward, Leviticus 16:13.

Verse 3

Thus; in this manner, or upon these terms. With a young bullock, i.e. with the blood of it, as it is explained Leviticus 16:14. So it is a synecdoche, the whole put for the part. For as for the body of it, that was to be killed and offered without upon the altar of burnt-offerings.

For a sin-offering, for his own and family’s sins, for a goat was offered for the sins of the people.

Verse 4

It is observable that the high priest did not now use his peculiar and glorious robes, but only his linen garments, which were common to him with the ordinary priests. The reason whereof was, either because this was not a day of feasting and rejoicing, but of mourning and humiliation, at which times people were to lay aside their ornaments, Exodus 33:5. Some conceive, that under the linen garments here named are comprehended his more glorious robes also by a synecdoche. But that doth not appear neither from hence, nor from other places alleged. Had only his holy garments been mentioned in general, all might have been understood; but when only the linen apparel is mentioned here, and after, Leviticus 16:23, and when that is so particularly expressed in four several parts of it, and not a word of the other either here or in the rest of the chapter, it seems presumptuous to add them here without any ground or evidence. Or because it was fit he should not exalt, but abase himself, when he was to appear before the Divine Majesty, and therefore he was to come in the meanest of his priestly habits. Or that it might be an evidence of the imperfection of this priesthood and of the great difference between the Levitical and the true High Priest Christ Jesus, whose prerogative alone it is to go into the true holy of holies with his glorious robes, when this must carry thither the characters of his meanness.

These are holy garments, because appropriated to a holy and religious use, for which reason other things are called holy. See Exodus 29:31; Exodus 30:25; 2 Chronicles 5:5.

Verse 6

i.e. His family, as Genesis 7:1, to wit, the priests and Levites. See Numbers 1:49.

Verse 8

One lot for the Lord; for the Lord’s use and service by way of sacrifice. Both this and the other goat typified Christ; this in his death and passion for us; that in his resurrection for our deliverance.

Verse 9

So the lot is said to

fall, Jonah 1:7; Acts 1:26. Heb. went up, to wit, out of the vessel, into which the lots were put, and out of which they were brought up.

Verse 10

To make an atonement with him, in manner hereafter expressed Leviticus 16:21,Leviticus 16:22

Verse 11

The bullock, mentioned in general Leviticus 16:6; the ceremonies whereof are here particularly described. This was a differing bullock or heifer from that Numbers 19:0, as appears by comparing the places.

Verse 12

From off the altar, to wit, of burnt-offering, where the fire was always burning, and whence fire was taken for such uses as these.

Incense; of which see Exodus 30:34,Exodus 30:35,Exodus 30:38.

Within the veil, i.e. into the holy of holies, Leviticus 16:2.

Verse 13

Upon the fire, which was in the censer, Leviticus 16:12.

That he die not for so gross an error committed in the highest acts of worship, and that by a high priest, whose knowledge and function was a great aggravation to his sin.

Verse 14

He shall sprinkle it upon the mercy-seat, to teach us that God is merciful to sinners only through and for the blood of Christ.

Eastward, i.e. with his face eastward, or upon the eastern part of it, towards the people, who were in the court, which lay eastward from the holy of holies, which was the most western part of the tabernacle. This signified that the high priest in this act represented the people, and that God accepted it on their behalf.

Before the mercy-seat; on the ground.

Verse 15

Either he killed the goat before he entered into the holy of holies, though it be mentioned after, such transplacings of passages being not unusual; or rather he went out of the holy of holies and killed it, and then returned thither again with its blood, and this agrees best with the text, nor are transpositions to be allowed without necessity. And whereas the high priest is said to be allowed to enter into that place but once in a year, that is to be understood but one day in a year, though there seems to have been occasion of going in and coming out more than once upon that day.

Verse 16

An atonement for the holy place; of which see below, Leviticus 16:19,Leviticus 16:20; Exodus 29:36; Leviticus 8:15; Hebrews 9:13.

Because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel; for though the people did not enter into that place, yet their sins entered thither, and would hinder the effects of the high priest’s mediation on their behalf, if God was not reconciled to them.

In the midst of their uncleanness; encompassed with their sins, being in the midst of a sinful people, who defile not themselves only, but also God’s sanctuary, as God complains, Ezekiel 23:38,Ezekiel 23:39.

Verse 17

In the tabernacle of the congregation, i.e. in the holy place, where the priests and Levites were at other times. This was commanded for the greater reverence to the Divine Majesty, then in a more special manner appearing, and that none of them might cast an eye into the holy of holies as the high priest went in or came out.

Verse 18

Unto the altar, to wit, the altar of incense, where the blood of sacrifices was to be put, Leviticus 4:7; and particularly the blood of the sin-offerings offered upon this day of atonement, Exodus 30:10; and which is most truly and properly said to be before the Lord, i.e. before the place where God in special manner dwelt, to wit, the holy of holies. Some understand it of the altar of burnt-offerings, because he is said to go out to it. But that going out relates not to the tabernacle, but to the holy of holies, into which he was said to go in, Leviticus 16:17. Add to this, that this altar which is atoned by the high priest seems to be in that place where he only might now come, and therefore in the holy place, called here the tabernacle, from which all other priests were for this day excluded, whereas the altar of burnt-offerings was without the holy place or tabernacle, to wit, at the door of it, and in the court of the priests.

Verse 19

Seven times, to signify its perfect cleansing, seven being a number of perfection, and our perfect reconciliation by the blood of Christ here represented.

Verse 21

Both his hands. See on Exodus 29:10; Leviticus 1:4. And confess over him; confession of sin being a duty to accompany the sacrifice offered for it, as we see Leviticus 5:5; Numbers 5:7. All their transgressions in all their sins, or, with or according to all their sins; for so the Hebrew particle is oft used. He mentions iniquities, transgressions, and sins, to note sins of all sorts, and that a very free and full confession was to be made, and that the smallest sins needed, and the greatest sins were not excluded from, the benefit of Christ’s death here represented.

Putting them upon the head of the goat; charging all their sins and the punishment due to them upon the goat, which though only a ceremony, yet being done according to God’s appointment, and manifestly pointing at Christ, upon whom their iniquities and punishments were laid, Isaiah 53:5,Isaiah 53:6, it was available for this end. And hence the heathens took their custom of selecting one beast or man upon whom they laid all their imprecations and curses, and whom they killed as an expiatory sacrifice for their sins, and to prevent their ruin. A fit man; one that knows the wilderness, and the way to it, and what places in it are most convenient for that use. Heb. a man of time, i.e. of years and discretion, who may be trusted with this work. Into the wilderness; which signified the removal of their sins far away, both from the people, and out of God’s sight, or from the place of his presence. And here the goat being neglected by all men, and exposed to many hardships and hazards from wild beasts, which were numerous there, might further signify Christ’s being forsaken, both by God and by men, even by his own disciples, and the many dangers and sufferings he underwent. The Jews write, that this goat was carried to the mountain called Azazel, whence the goat is so called, Leviticus 16:10; and that there he was cast down headlong; and that the red string by which he was led turned white when God was pleased with the Israelites, otherwise it remained red; and then they mourned all that year. And the ancient Hebrews write, that forty years before the destruction of the temple, which was about the time of Christ’s death, this red string turned no more white.

Verse 23

Aaron shall come, forthwith, not expecting the return of the man who carried the goat away, but securely committing that to God’s providence he shall go on in his work.

Verse 24

In the holy place; either in the laver appointed for that purpose, or in some other vessel within the holy place, because after he had washed in it he is said to

come forth.

His garments; not his ordinary priestly linen garments, for he was to leave them in the tabernacle, Leviticus 16:23, but the high-priestly garments, called his garments properly and peculiarly, and by way of distinction from the former garments, which are called holy garments, Leviticus 16:4, and the linen garments, Leviticus 16:23, but never his garments, as these are. And this change of his garments was not without cause. For the common priestly garments were more proper and fit for him in the former part of his ministration, both because he was to appear before the Lord in the most holy place to humble himself, and make atonement for his own and for the people’s sins, and therefore his humblest and meanest attire was most fit; and because he was to lay his hands upon that goat on which all their sins were put, by which touch both he and his garments would be in some sort defiled: and therefore, as we read here that he washed himself or his flesh, so we may well presume his linen garments were laid by for the washing, as the clothes of him who carried away the scape-goat were washed, Leviticus 16:26. And the high-priestly garments were most proper for the latter part of his work, which was of another nature.

Verse 26

He shall wash his clothes, because he had contracted some degree of ceremonial uncleanness by the touch of the goat.

Verse 29

For ever. See on Exodus 12:14.

In the seventh month, answering part to our September, and part to our October; when they had gathered in all their fruits, and were most at leisure for God’s service: this time God chose for this and other feasts, herein graciously condescending to men’s necessities and conveniencies, being contented with that time which men could best spare.

On the tenth day.

Object. It was on the ninth day, Leviticus 23:32.

Answ. It began in the evening of the ninth day, and continued till the evening of the tenth day, as is there sufficiently implied.

Ye shall afflict your souls, i.e. yourselves, as the word soul is frequently used, both your bodies by abstinence from food and other delights, and your minds by anguish and grief for former sins, which though bitter, yet is voluntarily in all true penitents, who are therefore here said not to be afflicted, but to afflict themselves, or to be active in the work.

Verse 31

A sabbath of rest; observed as a sabbath day by cessation from all worldly and servile works, and diligent attendance upon God’s worship and service.

Verse 32

Whom he shall anoint; he, i.e. either God, who commanded him to be anointed, as men are oft said to do what others do by their command, or the high priest, who was to anoint his successor. Or, the third person is here put indefinitely or impersonally, for who shall be anointed.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Leviticus 16". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/leviticus-16.html. 1685.
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