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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Exodus 29

Introduction

Moses in Mount Sinai Receives God’s Revelation.

Moses In The Mountain With Yahweh For Forty Days and Nights (Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 31:18 ).

After receiving the covenant and putting it into writing Moses was called by Yahweh to go up to Him into the Mountain. The Great Overlord wished to establish the necessary protocol for His people’s approach to Him. There through revelation Moses was to be given instructions concerning the provision of a Dwellingplace for Yahweh, with all its furniture, so that they could know that He ‘dwelt among them’. This was in order to confirm to Israel His gracious intentions towards them (Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 29:46), and which will enable them to reveal their continued loyalty and concern for His holiness (Exodus 30-31).

An Earthly Dwellingplace Is To Be Prepared For Yahweh’s Convenience (Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 29:46 )

The first act is to establish a Dwellingplace among them which will be a reminder that He is their Overlord. The preparation of the Dwellingplace falls into two sections:

1). That which expresses Yahweh’s sovereign activity towards His people and His provision of atonement (Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 29:46), and at the end of it He expresses His intention to dwell among them (Exodus 29:45).

2). This is followed by the provision of the means by which they can express their loyalty to Him, and can approach Him, through their representatives, in His throne room, and at the end of this He gives them the covenant as sealed by His hand (Exodus 30:1 to Exodus 31:18).

The Sanctifying Of the Priests and The Anointing of Aaron (Exodus 29:1-37 ).

In Exodus 28:41 Moses was to anoint the priests, and consecrate and sanctify them for their ministry in the priest’s office. How this was to be done is now described. The procedures were complicated, for they had to deal with all aspects of their purification and dedication.

In the beginning the priesthood was intended to be limited to the family of Aaron. But as with many institutions its perameters would be expanded by misuse, which is evidence of the failure of Israel to be faithful to the covenant. Slackness in observing an ordinance is not necessarily evidence that it does not exist. See:

Judges 17:5, where it is specifically stated that Micah is doing what is right in his own eyes.

1 Samuel 7:1, where the Ark was stored in the house of Abinadab, and his son was ‘sanctified’ in order to ‘keep the Ark of Yahweh’, although Abinadab may have been of the priestly line, which may be why his house was selected for the safe keeping of the Ark, and the purpose there was that the Ark would be protected, not used.

2 Samuel 8:18, where David’s sons are called ‘priests’, but as these were David’s sons they may in fact have been priests of the order of Melchizedek (Psalms 110:4), the ancient Jerusalem priesthood, now non-sacrificing.

1 Kings 4:5, where Zabud is called a ‘priest’, but Zabud was a ‘priest’ as ‘ the king’s friend’, an official title, and he too may have been a priest after the order of Melchizedek, or the title may have here another meaning as king’s representative, for Zadok and Abiathar have already been declared to be the official priests of the line of Aaron.

The first part of the chapter may be analysed as follows:

a The preparation of all the offerings to make the priests holy (Exodus 29:1-3).

b The preparation of Aaron and his sons by washing with water (Exodus 29:4).

c The robing of Aaron followed by his anointing with oil (Exodus 29:5-7).

d The robing of Aaron’s sons (Exodus 29:8-9).

e The offering of an ox bull for a purification for sin offering (Exodus 29:10-14).

e The offering of the first ram as a whole burnt offering (Exodus 29:15-18).

e The offering of the second ram, the ram of consecration, with its grain offerings (Exodus 29:19-25).

d The provision of wave offerings and contribution offerings for Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:26-28).

c Provision for the passing on of Aaron’s holy garments (Exodus 29:29-30).

b Aaron and his sons to partake of the ram of consecration (Exodus 29:31-34).

a The seven day ceremony of consecration (Exodus 29:35-37).

This is then followed by provision for Israel’s future blessing.

• Provisions concerning the daily whole burnt offerings offered at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting where Yahweh will meet with Moses and speak with him (Exodus 29:38-42).

• Yahweh will meet with the children of Israel and sanctify the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting by His glory, the Sanctuary itself and the altar, and Aaron and his sons as priests (Exodus 29:43-44).

• Yahweh will dwell among His people and they will know that He is their deliverer from Egypt and is Yahweh their God (Exodus 29:45-46).

Verses 1-3

The Sanctifying Of the Priests and The Anointing of Aaron (Exodus 29:1-37 ).

In Exodus 28:41 Moses was to anoint the priests, and consecrate and sanctify them for their ministry in the priest’s office. How this was to be done is now described. The procedures were complicated, for they had to deal with all aspects of their purification and dedication.

In the beginning the priesthood was intended to be limited to the family of Aaron. But as with many institutions its perameters would be expanded by misuse, which is evidence of the failure of Israel to be faithful to the covenant. Slackness in observing an ordinance is not necessarily evidence that it does not exist. See:

Judges 17:5, where it is specifically stated that Micah is doing what is right in his own eyes.

1 Samuel 7:1, where the Ark was stored in the house of Abinadab, and his son was ‘sanctified’ in order to ‘keep the Ark of Yahweh’, although Abinadab may have been of the priestly line, which may be why his house was selected for the safe keeping of the Ark, and the purpose there was that the Ark would be protected, not used.

2 Samuel 8:18, where David’s sons are called ‘priests’, but as these were David’s sons they may in fact have been priests of the order of Melchizedek (Psalms 110:4), the ancient Jerusalem priesthood, now non-sacrificing.

1 Kings 4:5, where Zabud is called a ‘priest’, but Zabud was a ‘priest’ as ‘ the king’s friend’, an official title, and he too may have been a priest after the order of Melchizedek, or the title may have here another meaning as king’s representative, for Zadok and Abiathar have already been declared to be the official priests of the line of Aaron.

The first part of the chapter may be analysed as follows:

a The preparation of all the offerings to make the priests holy (Exodus 29:1-3).

b The preparation of Aaron and his sons by washing with water (Exodus 29:4).

c The robing of Aaron followed by his anointing with oil (Exodus 29:5-7).

d The robing of Aaron’s sons (Exodus 29:8-9).

e The offering of an ox bull for a purification for sin offering (Exodus 29:10-14).

e The offering of the first ram as a whole burnt offering (Exodus 29:15-18).

e The offering of the second ram, the ram of consecration, with its grain offerings (Exodus 29:19-25).

d The provision of wave offerings and contribution offerings for Aaron and his sons (Exodus 29:26-28).

c Provision for the passing on of Aaron’s holy garments (Exodus 29:29-30).

b Aaron and his sons to partake of the ram of consecration (Exodus 29:31-34).

a The seven day ceremony of consecration (Exodus 29:35-37).

This is then followed by provision for Israel’s future blessing.

• Provisions concerning the daily whole burnt offerings offered at the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting where Yahweh will meet with Moses and speak with him (Exodus 29:38-42).

• Yahweh will meet with the children of Israel and sanctify the door of the Tabernacle of Meeting by His glory, the Sanctuary itself and the altar, and Aaron and his sons as priests (Exodus 29:43-44).

• Yahweh will dwell among His people and they will know that He is their deliverer from Egypt and is Yahweh their God (Exodus 29:45-46).

The Consecration of the Priests (Exodus 29:1-37 ).

Preparations For The Making Holy of the Priests (Exodus 29:1-3 ).

Exodus 29:1 a

“And this is the thing that you shall do to them to sanctify them to minister to me in the priest’s office.”

The process of ‘sanctification’, that is, their cleansing and purifying and their setting apart to Yahweh as ‘holy’ will now be described.

Exodus 29:1-3

“Take one young bullock and two rams without blemish, and unleavened bread, and unleavened cakes mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil. You shall make them of fine wheat flour. And you shall put them in one basket, and bring them in the basket with the bullock and the two rams.”

The procedures that follow are to include a bullock, two unblemished rams, and unleavened bread, cakes and wafers made of wheat flour which have been mingled or anointed with oil. All but the bullock and the two rams are to be put in a basket. Then he is to bring them to the Tent of Meeting for the sanctification ceremony.

We note that the rams have to be unblemished (see Malachi 1:6-14). Nothing that is less than perfect can be offered to Yahweh. The bread, cakes and wafers have to be unleavened, that is, no corrupting influence must have been involved in their making. The oil is probably an indication of their being ‘anointed’, that is, wholly set apart for the service of Yahweh. Bread and cakes could be mingled with the oil, but the wafers had to be made without oil and it was therefore poured on them.

The word for ‘bring’ includes the idea of offering. This is probably to be seen as an initial ‘offering’ of them to Yahweh prior to their use.

The young bullock is for a purification for sin offering, one ram for a whole burnt offering, and the other is a ‘ram of consecration’. The bread and cakes are for meal offerings.

Verse 4

The Washing With Water (Exodus 29:4 ).

Exodus 29:4

“And you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the Tent of Meeting,, and you shall wash them with water.”

The washing with water is always preparatory. Water alone is never said to ‘cleanse’. Its purpose is the removal of ‘earthiness’ preparatory to what follows. In days when washing was not a favoured occupation it was seen as very necessary before approaching God. The taint of earthiness that clung to men must be removed (as in the case of their having to wash their feet - Exodus 30:19). They could not wear the holy garments until all trace of earthiness was removed.

It is noteworthy that none can enter the Tent of Meeting until the whole process is completed. It was no light thing to enter the Sanctuary. Assuming that the new Tent of Meeting, the Dwellingplace, is indicated this must occur after the Tabernacle has been made and erected.

This is a reminder that when we enter into prayer our first act should be to ensure cleansing from current sins. We must not enter God’s presence ‘unwashed’, for He is holy. But washing with water did not indicate cleansing from sin to Israel, it indicated the removal of earthiness prior to cleansing.

Washing with water was a practise common to many religions. The Egyptian priests engaged in constant washing with cold water from head to foot, twice a day and twice every night. It was the significance that often differed. To Israel it signified the removal of earthiness, often preparatory to cleansing. It is never said to cleanse in itself. David in Psalms 51:2; Psalms 51:7 probably has in mind the Water for Purifying (Numbers 8:7; Numbers 19:9-20) which was water treated with the ashes of a heifer and applied with hyssop (Numbers 19:18). David felt like a leper. Although it may be that as a king used to bathing (not something common to all) he also saw verse 2 in terms of being washed clean by repentance (Isaiah 1:16).

Verses 5-7

The Dressing and Anointing of Aaron as The Priest (Exodus 29:5-7 ).

Exodus 29:5-6

“And you shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the under-robe, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastpouch, and gird him with the skilfully woven band of the ephod. And you shall set the turban on his head, and put the holy crown on the turban.”

Having been washed, and having had all earthiness removed (he has yet to be cleansed), Aaron is now arrayed in the priestly garments, those described in Exodus 28:0. (Note the lack of mention of the breeches, either here or in Leviticus 8:7-9, even though he would have them on, confirming our suggestion in Exodus 28:42-43). The holy crown must represent the golden plate which has on it ‘Holy to Yahweh’. A fuller description of all this is given in Leviticus 8:7-9. Here there is no mention of the under-girdle or the Urim and Thummim.

By this he is depicted as covered by and before God as to purity, as representing the whole people, and as totally Yahweh’s, as ‘holy to Yahweh’.

The fact that the golden plate can be described as a ‘holy crown’ (compare Leviticus 8:9) may be seen as indicating Yahweh’s Overlordship with the Priest being seen as His representative. He is a royal priest, announcing judgments on His behalf. He did not, however, have supreme rulership. While Moses and Joshua were alive they, rather than ‘the Priest’, had overall control, and they seem to have been followed by a council of elders (Joshua 24:31). These could call the tribes together and pass major judgments (Judges 20:2), while the Priest came into prominence when Yahweh had to be consulted through the Urim and Thummim (Judges 20:27-28). During this period prominent ‘Judges’ would often take the lead in various parts of the country, but it is doubtful if their authority was seen as applying to the whole of Israel. And not all tribes would respond to the call to arms (Judges 5:12-18). However, by the time of Eli, ‘the Priest’ seems to have gained a position of overall authority as Judge (1 Samuel 4:18), and although Samuel the Judge was never called ‘the Priest’ he may well have been so unofficially, with His authority coming from the One Who was King over Israel (1 Samuel 8:7). This, however, was the last time when ‘the Priest’ would have such a prominent role, with Saul being anointed ‘Prince’ (nagid - war-leader, and prince under Yahweh) over all Israel ( 1Sa 10:1 ; 1 Samuel 10:20; 1 Samuel 10:24) followed by David, who would actually again rule over all Israel. Even later, however, some time after the Exile, the priesthood would come into its own when the High Priests again virtually ruled Israel. Jesus came as both king and priest taking over both roles.

Exodus 29:7

“Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.”

While his sons will also be anointed (Exodus 28:41; Exodus 30:30; Exodus 40:15) all concentration here is on Aaron. He is to be ‘the Priest’, the foundation priest of a permanent priesthood. They derive their position through him, and their anointing is secondary. Nothing is to come in the way of this great fact that Aaron is to be ‘the Priest’, the anointed of Yahweh, and that once he is anointed his family are set aside as the priests of Yahweh ‘for everlasting’ (Exodus 40:15). All other anointing follows from this. That is why here only his anointing is described. It is all embracing.

Anointing does not indicate the reception of power. It represents the specific setting aside of someone or something for a divine purpose (although with men chosen by God the reception of power often accompanies it). Nor does oil necessarily signify the Holy Spirit (the priests are never described as ‘filled with the Spirit of God’ or as having the Spirit of God coming on them). It indicates dedication to a holy purpose, and a setting apart as Yahweh’s. So here Aaron is set aside as the one who will act on behalf of Israel between man and God. But it is always as the suppliant. He comes to God on behalf of Israel and himself and offers their worship and receives God’s favours. And all his family for future generations are anointed in him. Thus they too will be anointed as a sign of this fact. But that is not mentioned here because the concentration is in the official anointing of the whole Aaronide priesthood.

The composition of the oil is given in Exodus 30:23-25 (compare Exodus 25:6). It was very costly. And it is poured on his head to anoint him, to set him apart for a sacred task through the centuries, to dedicate him totally to Yahweh. Not now was it realised that it would be his failure in that dedication as the representative of the people before God that would bring about his death (Numbers 20:22-29).

Verses 8-9

The Consecration of Aaron and His Sons (Exodus 29:8-9 ).

Exodus 29:8

“And you shall bring his sons, and put robes on them, and you shall gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and bind caps on them, and they will have the priesthood by a perpetual statute. And you shall fill the hand of Aaron and the hand of his sons.”

His sons are now included with Aaron in the ceremony. They are to be robed along with Aaron, and girdled with the robes and girdles previously described (Exodus 28:40), and they are to be encapped with their tight fitting caps. And from this day the priesthood will be in their family perpetually by a perpetual statute.

And you shall fill the hand of Aaron and the hand of his sons.” To fill the hand meant to consecrate someone to a responsibility. Thus a king may have his hand filled with a sceptre. Here the filling of the hand is more abstract. It has in mind the whole of the forthcoming activities (but see Exodus 29:23-25). They are to be completely consecrated to God. How solemn a moment was this. How tragic its consequences for at least two of them because of their arrogance or carelessness (Numbers 3:4).

Verses 10-13

The Purification for Sin Offering (Exodus 29:10-13 ).

Exodus 29:10-13

“And you shall bring the ox bull before the Tent of Meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ox bull, and you shall kill the ox bull before Yahweh at the door of the Tent of Meeting. And you shall take of the blood of the ox bull, and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and you shall pour out all the blood at the base of the altar. And you shall take all the fat that covers the inwards, and the caul on the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar. But the flesh of the ox bull, and its skin, and its dung, you shall burn with fire outside the camp. It is a sin offering.”

Because it is a sin offering offered for the priest it must all be consumed in one way or another. No part of it may be eaten. It is to be brought to the altar before the Tent of Meeting and Aaron and his sons will then identify themselves with the ox bull by laying their hands on it. And then the ox bull is killed as representing them. It dies that they may live. Whether they see it as signifying their sins passing from them to the ox bull, or whether they see the laying on of hands as a sign of identification, would probably depend on the offerer. The latter is certainly what the laying on of hands would signify in the future. But whatever the detailed significance the ox bull was dying for their sins. And they knew it.

And now due process must follow. The blood is first put on the horns of the altar which point heavenward. The horns were clearly seen as the most sacred part of the altar, possibly because they were nearest to heaven, or possibly because they pointed upwards, or possibly because they indicated the strong point of the altar. So the fact of the shedding of the blood is to be drawn to His attention or to be carried up to God. Then the remainder of the blood is poured out at the base of the altar. The life given in death belongs to God. All life is His, especially life given in death. So all must be His.

Then the fat and the delicate parts are burned on the altar as an offering to God. These were seen as the best parts of the sacrifice and therefore a due gift for God. They represented the thankfulness of the sinner as he was relieved of his sins. The reference to liver and kidneys is because in other nations they would often be kept aside for divination. It was not to be so with Israel. They were to be given to God.

And finally the remaining carcass, with its dung/offal (which was not seen as fit for God), is burnt outside the camp. Because the sole purpose of the ox bull is to bear their sin, its flesh, that part which is man’s, is not fit for an offering, and it cannot be eaten. It must be destroyed utterly, for that is the wages of sin. And it must be burned outside the camp lest it defile the camp. Had it been seen as ‘holy’ it could have been burned on the altar. No greater sense of the horror of sin and the destruction it brings is possible. But the offerer rejoices in that by the good favour of God his sin is now dealt with. He is forgiven. But in order for the whole to be effective the heart must be in it. It is only effective when the worshipper is sincere (Isaiah 1:10-17; 1 Samuel 15:22; Micah 6:7-8).

Verses 14-18

The Whole Burnt Offering (Exodus 29:14-18 ).

Now that sin has been dealt with they can offer their true, wholehearted worship to God in a whole burnt offering (‘that which goes up’).

Exodus 29:14-18

“You shall also take the one ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, and you shall slay the ram, and you shall take its blood and cast it round about the altar, and you shall cut the ram into its pieces, and wash its inwards, and its legs, and put them with its pieces and with its head, and you shall burn the whole ram on the altar. It is a whole burnt offering to Yahweh. It is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.”

The purification for sin offering was an ox bull that the cost of sin might be revealed. God wanted it recognised that sin was costly, and thus the purification for sin offering was deliberately and specifically shown to be the most costly of sacrifices.

The downgrading to a ram was necessary to bring this lesson out. It was not that the whole burnt offering was less worthy. The ram was still a costly offering. But its use stressed the extra costliness of sin. This ram was an offering of dedication, of self-giving, of wholehearted gratitude and love. The whole of it was offered on the altar. But the shedding of blood was still necessary, for the ones who brought it were sinners. Atonement is still included.

Again the identification procedure. Each laid his hand on to identify himself with the offering. Then the ram was slain, and the blood cast round the altar. This stresses that while the offering is a whole burnt offering offered to God it still contained an atoning aspect. The blood is not offered up but is cast before God, indicating that the life has been given and the blood has been shed on behalf of the offerers.

Then the remainder is offered to God. There are parts that have to be washed, the legs because they have been in contact with the earth, the inwards possibly because it is seen as having been in contact with the dung, and then all the pieces are gathered up in total and offered to God by being burnt up, fat, flesh, bones and skin. All is dedicated to God. While containing sacrificial aspects it is an offering and not a sacrifice. (Usually in Scripture an offering is ‘offered’ and a sacrifice is ‘sacrificed’, although there are instances when the description is reverted. Ideas change or relax over time. It is also lest we grow too dogmatic. It will be noted here that the laver is assumed in order to provide water for the washing, even though it has not yet been mentioned).

It is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.” That is, it is satisfying to God because of the intent of the heart, the loving self-giving and dedication of the offerer.

Verses 19-26

The Ram of Consecration and The Cereal Offerings (Exodus 29:19-26 ).

Sin having been dealt with and self-dedication and worship having been offered the consecration now continues.

Exodus 29:19-21

“And you shall take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the ram, then you shall kill the ram, and take of its blood and put it on the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and on the tip of the right ear of his sons, and on the thumb of their right hand, and on the great toe of their right foot, and cast the blood on the altar round about. And you shall take of the blood that is on the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it on Aaron and on his clothing, and on his sons, and on the clothing of his sons with him, and he shall be sanctified, and his clothing, and his sons, and his sons’ clothing with him.”

This offering bears the signs of being a Peace Offering (Exodus 29:28 compare Leviticus 3:1-17 with its similarities), although certainly an unusual one. Again identification is made with the beast by the laying on of hands, and the blood is shed, but this time the blood is applied differently. Instead of being applied to the horns, the upper extremity of the altar, it is applied to the extremities of the offerer, the ear (the highest bare extremity, the head is covered), the thumb (the outer extremity) and the big toe (the lowest extremity). The idea is to stress that the whole of the man is involved. It may also well be that the idea is that the ear, which is to hear the voice of God, the hand which is to do His will, and the foot that is to walk in His ways, are also in mind, and to be seen as dedicated to Yahweh.

The applying of the shed blood stresses that they are now cleansed and consecrated to Yahweh. The same blood is then offered to Yahweh by being cast at the foot of the altar, emphasising that the life has been given and the blood has been shed.

But then the blood is taken and mingled with the anointing oil and these are sprinkled on Aaron and his sons, and all their clothing. The purpose is both to cleanse them and to sanctify them and their clothing, to set them apart to Yahweh as holy and for His use. Thus are they made at peace with God. The oil demonstrates that they are fully dedicated to Yahweh for His will, and the blood that they are fully cleansed for this purpose. Sprinkling always indicates complete and total application. The stress on their clothing is because these are the holy garments of the priests which will enter the Sanctuary. They too must therefore be cleansed and dedicated to Yahweh. And because the clothes will, as it were, last through the generations in that form, it is a dedication and cleansing of all who are to come who will one day wear the ‘same’ clothing (Exodus 29:29).

It is probable that this is the anointing of the sons of Aaron mentioned in Exodus 28:41; Exodus 30:30. No other anointing is necessary for them, and by it they partake in the previous anointing of Aaron (Exodus 29:7).

Exodus 29:22

“And you shall take of the ram the fat, and the fat tail, and the fat that covers the inwards, and the caul of the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, and the right thigh. For it is a ram of consecration.”

As always these are to be burned up and offered to Yahweh (Exodus 29:25). They are seen as ‘the fat of the land’, the very best. All parts that might be used wrongly for divination are also offered. And the offering of them all is an act of consecration.

Exodus 29:23-25

“And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before Yahweh, and you shall put the whole on the hands of Aaron and on the hands of his sons, and shall wave them for a wave offering before Yahweh, and you shall take them from their hands and burn them on the altar on the whole burnt offering for a sweet savour before Yahweh. It is an offering made by fire to Yahweh.”

Along with the fat and its accompaniments a loaf of the unleavened bread, a cake of the bread mingled with oil, and a wafer (see Exodus 29:2) are to be taken, and the whole are to be put into the hands of Aaron and his sons and are to be waved before Yahweh. This stresses that they are an offering to Him, a wave offering. We are probably to see that Moses causes their hands to wave the offerings before God for he is performing all the sacrificial activities and thereby he is enabling them to perform their first act as priests. (This may the ‘filling of the hand’ of Exodus 29:8, their symbol of office). Then the meal offerings are to be taken by Moses and burned on the altar on top of the whole burnt offering previously offered. This too is pleasing to Yahweh and delightful to Him. It is an offering made by fire to Yahweh.

Exodus 29:26

“And you shall take the breast of Aaron’s ram of consecration, and wave it for a wave offering before Yahweh, and it will be your portion.”

We note the constant way in which Aaron is emphasised even over against his sons (Exodus 29:9-10; Exodus 29:15; Exodus 29:19-21; Exodus 29:24). Here it is ‘Aaron’s ram of consecration’. The consecration of Aaron is the prime element, his sons are simply being consecrated along with him. The essential priesthood is being established.

We also note Moses’ part in all this. He is performing all the priestly functions, and this is emphasised in that he is to here receive the priest’s portion. The prime breast of the ram is to be taken, waved before Yahweh to demonstrate that it is His, and then accepted by Moses as a gift from Yahweh (as regularly happens with the peace offering).

Verses 27-30

Two Permanent Institutions (Exodus 29:27-30 ).

A brief break in the narrative is now taken to emphasise the future effect of all this before we go into the personal part Aaron and his sons now take in the ceremony. Two permanent things that will affect the future for the priesthood have been instituted. 1). The wave/heave offering has been sanctified, and 2). the garments of ‘The Priest’ have been sanctified. The effect on future generations is now described. The explanation of the sanctifying of the wave offering is clearly intended to follow immediately on its institution (Exodus 29:26), and it was important to deal with the future of the priestly garments here to save confusing it with what is said in Exodus 29:35-37.

Exodus 29:27-28

“And you shall sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the thigh (or ‘shoulder’) of the heave offering, which is waved and which is heaved up, of the ram of consecration, even of that which is for Aaron and of that which is for his sons, and it shall be for Aaron and his sons as a due for ever from the children of Israel. For it is a heave offering. And it shall be a heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifices of their peace offerings, even their heave offering to Yahweh.”

The act of Moses in taking the breast as a wave offering is an act that ‘sanctifies’ (makes holy) all future breasts and thighs/shoulders of peace offerings for consecration. In future from such peace offerings the breast will be waved before Yahweh (a few movements to and fro) and the shoulder will be ‘heaved’, (that is, waved once, or possibly simply ‘contributed’), and then both will be for the priests to eat. This will be their due from the children of Israel.

For it is a heave offering.” This is the technical name for such offerings. It may rather mean ‘a contribution offering’. And in future the breast and thigh/shoulder will always be seen as for a heave/contribution offering from the children of Israel from all their sacrifices of peace offerings. They will by this be their heave/contribution offering to Yahweh.

The idea behind the wave offering and the heave/contribution offering is that what is waved/heaved/contributed is being offered to Yahweh but then retained for the use of His priests. It was a practical means by which priests could be provisioned, while there was at the same time no limitation on the offering of the total sacrifice to Yahweh, for it was offered by waving/heaving.

Exodus 29:29-30

“And the holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, to be anointed in them, and to be consecrated in them. Seven days shall the son who is priest in his stead put them on when he comes into the Tent of Meeting to minister in the Holy Place.”

The second institution demonstrates what has been said earlier. The holy garments of Aaron differentiate the one known as ‘The Priest’ as against the many ‘priests’. Whoever is selected to replace ‘The Priest’ when he dies will have the holy garments of Aaron put on him, so as to be anointed in them and consecrated in them. And then for seven days will wear those garments in the Tent of Meeting without leaving it, as an act of dedication and consecration (see Leviticus 8:33). The consecration is to last for seven days. See for an application of this Numbers 20:28.

Verses 31-34

The Active Part of Aaron and His Sons In The Ceremony (Exodus 29:31-34 ).

Meanwhile we move back to the consecration of Aaron and his sons in the present.

Exodus 29:31-34

“And you shall take the ram of consecration and boil its flesh in a holy place, and Aaron and his sons will eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket at the door of the Tent of Meeting, and they will eat those things with which atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them. But a stranger shall not eat of them for they are holy. And if aught of the flesh of the consecration, or of the bread, remain until the morning, then you will burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten because it is holy.”

Aaron and his sons were now to actively participate in the ceremony. The initial stage of their consecration is complete and they can now partake of the peace offering. Participation by the offerer in a peace offering would later be a regular event (and probably had been in the past. The laws of Leviticus were undoubtedly based on the past). It was a kind of one-sided fellowship meal, (God did not take part in the eating), an indication that the person was at peace with God through his offerings and sacrifices from a true heart, and an expression of worship and gratitude. Thus Aaron and his sons may eat what remains of the ram of consecration after Moses has arranged for it to be boiled in a holy place (at the door of the Tent of Meeting. In the event Moses requests Aaron and his sons to boil it - Leviticus 8:31), and may also eat the bread that Moses had brought in the basket to the Tent of Meeting (Exodus 29:2). But any that is not eaten by morning was to be burned. This latter was because of its especial holiness.

And they will eat those things with which atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them.” We note firstly that the Peace Offering also ‘makes atonement’. The shedding of blood in whatever form ever has in mind the need for sin to be paid for, and emphasises the fact that everything man does, even his dedication and consecration of himself, is tainted with sin, so that every blood sacrifice contained within it an element of atonement. But the eating of this sacrifice before Yahweh is indicating an acceptance by Him of their consecration and their being separated to God and declared ‘holy’. They are now his representatives on behalf of the people, consecrated and sanctified to His service.

But a stranger shall not eat of them for they are holy.” This is the use of the word ‘stranger’ (zor) to signify anyone not of Aaron’s family (compare Numbers 16:40; see also 30:33: Leviticus 22:12-13). Compare its use in the ‘strange’ fire. What was not in accordance with God’s ordinance was ‘strange’. It is emphasising their unique status as against the whole people. They are a family set apart from all others. When it comes to the priesthood all others are ‘strangers’. So this meat and bread is for the priests alone. Indeed later it is revealed that it must be eaten there in the presence of Yahweh after which they must remain there for the seven days of their consecration (Leviticus 8:31-33).

Verses 35-37

The Seven Day Consecration (Exodus 29:35-37 ).

Exodus 29:35-37

“And thus shall you do to Aaron and his sons, in accordance with all that I have commanded you. Seven days you shall consecrate them. And every day you shall offer the bullock of sin offering for atonement, and you shall cleanse the altar when you make atonement for it, and you shall anoint it to sanctify it. Seven days shall you make atonement for the altar and sanctify it. And the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar will be holy.”

This probably means that the same ritual as is described above is to be gone through for seven days, the number of divine perfection. Their consecration must be total and complete. This necessarily involves offering the ox bull of the purification for sin offering for atonement, and now we learn that it is not only to be efficacious for Aaron and his sons, but is also to be efficacious in cleansing and making atonement for the altar which they will use.

Furthermore as well as the sacrificing of the sacrifice the altar is also to be anointed to sanctify it. So important is all this that the command is repeated. ‘Seven days shall you make atonement for the altar and sanctify it.’ In Leviticus 8:15 we learn that the altar is purified by putting the blood of the sin offering on the horns of the altar and sanctified by the blood being applied to the base of the altar, and that this also makes atonement for it.

So all that is to be used in making atonement for the people must first, themselves and itself, be cleansed, sanctified and atoned for, for they are of the sinful and profane world. Thus are they made ‘holy’, set apart to God for a holy purpose. This is now especially stressed as far as the altar is concerned

And the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches (or ‘would touch”) the altar will be holy.’ As a result of its consecration the altar becomes so holy that all that touches it becomes holy. This latter is not necessarily to be seen as a benefit for the person who touches it. Rather it is a warning. If a man touches the altar he becomes especially ‘set part to Yahweh’, and must either be slain or redeemed, for he has become Yahweh’s (in a similar way to the firstborn in Exodus 13:2). But this is to bring out that the altar is Yahweh’s. It is a holy thing.

All this is a reminder to us that if we as ‘royal priests’ (1 Peter 2:9) would be consecrated and sanctified to God it can only be through the shed blood of Christ and through our being set apart wholly to Him. Then we may partake of His bread and act as ‘priests’ on behalf of others, bringing them to the foot of the cross. Indeed all these offerings point to Christ. He is our sacrifice for sin in order to make atonement for us, He is our whole burnt offering through Whom we offer ourselves to God, He is our peace offering through Whom we find peace with God and of Whom we can partake by coming to Him as the bread of life and to eat of His body by coming and believing (John 6:35; John 6:53-56).

Verses 38-43

What Is To Be Offered On The Altar: The Continual Burnt Offering (Exodus 29:38-42 ).

Exodus 29:38-42

“Now this is what you will offer on the altar. Two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb you will offer in the morning, and the other lamb you will offer between the two evenings. And with the one lamb a tenth part of fine flour mingled with a fourth part of a hin of beaten oil, and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb you will offer between the two evenings, and you shall do to it in accordance with the meal offering of the morning, and according to its drink offering, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh. It shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the Tent of Meeting before Yahweh, where I will meet with you to speak there to you.”

This is a short chiasmus standing on its own:

a The offering of the two lambs continually (Exodus 29:38-39).

b The first lamb to be offered to be mingled with beaten oil and wine (Exodus 29:40)

b The other lamb to be offered in a similar way, an offering made by fire to Yahweh (Exodus 29:41).

a These are to be a continual burnt offering (Exodus 29:42).

The priest and the altar having been consecrated and sanctified their first important use is now described, the continual whole burnt offering to be offered day by day continually through the centuries, a reminder that sin continues and that daily atonement is therefore required, and that daily there should be a full dedication of each member of Israel to the covenant and to the service of Yahweh. In the words of Paul they were to, ‘present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is the reasonable service for you to perform’ (Romans 12:1), in that case in order to do the will of God.

Two lambs of the first year day by day continually.” Compare Exodus 12:5. It will be a daily reminder of their deliverance from Egypt. But the prime objective is a continual making of atonement for the whole people and a rededicating of them to the covenant of Yahweh. Lambs and goats of the first year were regularly used as offerings. New life is being offered to God as it begins to mature, just as we should offer ourselves to God as we begin to mature, dying with Christ and rising with Him to newness of life. And that offering of a new life was a continual reminder that man’s need for atonement begins at an early age. Every day for over a thousand years this offering would be made, with a short break for the exile, and even then some faithful priests may have entered the ruins of Jerusalem to offer a lamb on a purpose built altar.

They are to be offered one in the morning, and one ‘between the two evenings’ and thus at around dusk. In 2 Kings 16:15 we learn that this had become ever more complicated for we read ‘on the great altar burn the morning whole burnt offering, and the evening meal offering, and the king’s whole burnt offering, and his meal offering, with the whole burnt offering of the people of the land and their meal offerings and their drink offerings.’ Here there were three whole burnt offerings, the morning whole burnt offering, and in the evening the king’s whole burnt offering and the people’s whole burnt offering. Thus the evening offering had been expanded into two whole burnt offerings, one for the king and one for the people, while there was also a combined meal (cereal) offering on behalf of both, and further meal and drink offerings.

And with the one lamb a tenth part of fine flour mingled with a fourth part of a hin of beaten oil, and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink offering. And the other lamb you will offer between the two evenings, and you shall do to it in accordance with the meal offering of the morning, and according to its drink offering, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.” With each lamb were to be offered a meal offering of fine flour mingled with oil and a drink offering. The ‘tenth part’ was probably of an ephah and therefore about the quantity held by a 2:2 litre vessel (therefore about 1:3 kilograms or 3 pounds weight), and the fourth part of a hin would be about 0:9 litres (1:5 pints). Thus God was being offered meat, cereal and wine by means of them being burned up as a sign of gratitude for His full provision for man’s needs and as a sign of the dedication of all parts of their lives. It was a sweet savour to God, that is, it was well pleasing to Him. And it was an offering made by fire, and therefore wholly consumed and very holy. It was seen by God as of great worth.

It shall be a continual whole burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the Tent of Meeting before Yahweh, where I will meet with you to speak there to you.” The offering was a continuous one day by day long into the future (‘throughout your generations’) or on behalf of their future generations (‘for your generations’). It was offered on the brazen altar which was before the door of the Tent of Meeting. And from there Yahweh would speak to them, through Moses (and later Joshua), and through ‘the Priest’ by Urim and Thummim. The people could not enter the sanctuary. They could at the most only enter the courtyard before the Sanctuary. And their representatives would speak to them from the door of the Tent of Meeting.

The great importance of the daily offering is brought out in that it is that offering which is used here to illustrate the purpose of the anointing and consecrating of Aaron. It is the central offering which symbolises all other offerings, the basic evidence of the acceptability of His people to God on a continual basis.

Verses 43-46

Yahweh’s Dwelling With His People (Exodus 29:43-46 ).

Exodus 29:43-46

“And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar. I will also sanctify Aaron and his sons to minister to me in the priest’s office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. And they will know that I am Yahweh their God who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am Yahweh their God.”

Again we have a short chiasmus:

a Yahweh will meet with His people at His Dwelling-place and it will be sanctified by His glory (Exodus 29:43).

b Yahweh will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar (by His glory) (Exodus 29:44 a).

c Yahweh will sanctify Aaron and his sons as priests (Exodus 29:44 b).

b Yahweh will dwell among the children of Israel and be their God (Exodus 29:45).

a The people will know that He is Yahweh their God, and He will dwell among them (Exodus 29:46).

In ‘a’ Yahweh will meet with His people and will sanctify His Dwelling-place with His glory, and in the parallel His people will thus know that He is Yahweh their God and He will dwell among them. In ‘b’ Yahweh will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar with His glory and in the parallel He will dwell among them and be their God. Centrally in ‘c’ He will sanctify Aaron and his sons as priests. This centrality brings out the glory that was Aaron’s, and the priests after him. They were most holy to Yahweh. They alone could enter the Tent of Meeting to minister before God.

The sanctifying of Aaron and his sons, and the offering of the continual daily offering enables Yahweh to meet with His people and dwell among them. Sufficient continual atonement is being made. Prior to this time the old Tent of Meeting was outside the camp, as were the cloud and the pillar of fire. The people were then watched over by Him but He did not dwell among them. But from now on the Tabernacle would be in the midst of the camp and He would be permanently among them because it was sanctified by Him for the purpose by His glory.

It shall be sanctified by my glory.” That is, the door of the Tent of Meeting where He will speak with them will be so sanctified (Exodus 29:42). For there He will meet with them. Indeed the whole Tent of Meeting and the altar will also be sanctified by Him. They are the places of His contact with His people, and they will be sanctified by His presence. And His glory will be made known there, and that above all will demonstrate that the Tent of Meeting is sanctified by Yahweh, set apart as His for its holy purpose. Compare 40:34-35; Numbers 9:15.

And I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar.” In Leviticus 9:24 we learn that on the first occasion when the altar was used ‘the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people and there came forth fire from before Yahweh and consumed on the altar the whole burnt offering and the fat’. So was the seal of God’s approval, and setting apart for His purpose, fulfilled on both Sanctuary and altar.

I will also sanctify Aaron and his sons.” Commencing with their original consecration and sanctification, God will continue to sanctify them, keeping them set apart to His purposes and in a right state to serve Him. They will be sacrosanct. This gave them a huge responsibility. But even in their case it was dependent on their responsiveness. He could not set apart to His glorious purposes those who were disobedient. And the result was that through disobedience in the fulfilling of their ministry Nadab and Abihu would be slain by the same fire of God as sanctified the altar (Leviticus 10:1). They were not there to experiment or treat God’s ordinances lightly. They were holy and must fulfil His requirements to the letter.

Thus as a result of the fact that the people have accepted His Overlordship treaty (Exodus 20:1 to Exodus 23:33), have built His Dwellingplace as guided by Him (Exodus 25:1 to Exodus 27:21), have obtained a priesthood sanctified to Yahweh as their representatives (Exodus 28:1 to Exodus 29:37), and as they continually offer the daily whole burnt offerings (Exodus 29:38-42), they will enjoy His permanent presence. His glory will dwell among them, and He will be their God. They will know in full, and with deep gratitude, that He is Yahweh, the One Who delivered them from Egypt, the One Who is continually there (as He had promised to Moses in Exodus 6:3). And He concludes these passages by declaring, ‘I am Yahweh their God.’ They are accepted as His people.

In this present time Christians are His dwellingplace, kept holy by Christ’s offering of Himself once and for all (Hebrews 10:10), and by His continual ministry on our behalf as our High Priest (Hebrews 7:25), anointed not with oil but with the Holy Spirit. And He is our altar (Hebrews 13:10) on which He has offered up Himself once for all, and through which we can now partake of Him.

Notes for Christians.

In this chapter describing the anointing and sanctifying of the priest is a message for all believers, for all believers are His priests. We must ensure that we are continually robed in the priestly garments as we engage in worship and intercession for the world and for the work of God both at home and abroad (we must leave our daily needs to Him - Matthew 6:8-15). We must be anointed as those who are wholly set apart to his service and His will. And we must come to Him constantly through Jesus Christ Who was sacrificed for us, Who was our whole burnt offering, the declaration of our worship, dedication and sonship, and our purification for sin offering, putting us right with God and granting us daily forgiveness, and our consecration offering, for it is through the cross that we are wholly set apart as His. And we may partake of spiritual bread daily as we seek His face wherever we are, ‘praying without ceasing’. And the morning and evening offerings remind us of Christ’s continual intercession for us through His blood so that He is able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25).

End of note.

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Exodus 29". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pet/exodus-29.html. 2013.