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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Exodus 29

Introduction

CHAP. XXIX.

The sacrifice and ceremonies of consecrating the priests: the continual burnt-offering.

Before Christ 1491.

Verses 1-2

Exodus 29:1-2. This is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them The consecration or setting apart of Aaron and his sons for the priest's office, with its various and solemn ceremonies, is described in this chapter. The providing the animals, &c. for sacrifice, is enjoined first, that they might be in readiness; though several things were to be done previous to the sacrifices themselves. Of these we shall speak in their order. See Leviticus 8:0. They are to provide for the sacrifice, (Exodus 29:2.) 1st, bread simply unleavened; 2nd, bread unleavened, tempered or mixed with oil; and, 3rdly, bread unleavened, but anointed or covered over with oil after the baking: but what was the reason of this distinction, we presume not to guess.

Verse 4

Exodus 29:4. And shalt wash them with water The first thing to be done, in consecrating the priests, was to wash them all over with water; in token, no doubt, of that universal purity to which their sacred service obliged them. They were enjoined to wash their hands and feet every time they went into the tabernacle and ministered at the altar; see ch. Exo 30:19-20 and compare Joh 13:10 with what has been observed upon ablution in our note on ch. Exodus 19:10.

Verse 5

Exodus 29:5. And thou shalt take the garments This was the next part of the ceremony; figuring, says Ainsworth, that, after being purified from the pollutions of sin, they were to study to be clothed with the robes of righteousness, whereof their holy vestments were an emblem. Psalms 9:16. Rev 19:8 compared with Mat 22:11 and Philippians 3:9. The LXX render the latter part of the verse, and fasten it to the shoulder-pieces of the ephod.

Verse 7

Exodus 29:7. Take the anointing oil This third particular in the ceremony of consecration, signified the communication of the Divine Spirit: see Isaiah 61:1. Anointing was always used as one of the rites of inauguration into the regal, priestly, or prophetic office: hence JESUS, the King, Priest, and Prophet of his people, is emphatically called the Messiah or Christ; that is, the Anointed: he who received not the Spirit by measure. Though the anointing of Aaron only is mentioned here, it is plain from the 30th verse of the next chapter, that his sons also were anointed in the same manner with him. The peculiar composition of the anointing oil is described in that chapter, Exodus 29:23-24. One would imagine, from the connexion of this 7th verse with the preceding, that the oil was poured upon the mitre and crown: to this we shall have occasion to say more when we come to Psalms 133:2.

Verse 9

Exodus 29:9. Thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons The Hebrew, shalt fill the hand of, &c. The same expression is used in the 41st verse of the foregoing chapter; and it seems to be taken from putting certain parts of the sacrifices into the hands of the priests at their consecration: thus giving and confirming to them the right of offering to God gifts and sacrifices. See Hebrews 5:1; Hebrews 8:3-4. The expression is applied to superstitious consecrations also; no doubt, because the same ceremony was observed in them. 1 Kings 13:33. 2 Chronicles 13:9.

Verse 10

Exodus 29:10. And thou shalt cause a bullock, &c.— It would be more properly rendered the bullock, as it was mentioned in the 1st verse, and there called a young bullock. This was a sin-offering for the priest, Exo 29:14 who needed to offer up sacrifice, as well for his own as for the sins of the people; Hebrews 7:27. All the sin-offerings of the high-priest were bullocks; Leviticus 4:3. And, in confession of sin, as laying it upon this typical sacrifice, Aaron and his sons were to put their hands upon the head of the bullock; compare Leviticus 16:21 a form afterwards enjoined as general: and there can be no question, I suppose, that the blood of bulls and of goats could not take away sin; so all this had reference to the great expiation made by the blood of that sacrifice, which is sufficient to take away the sins of the whole world.

Verse 12

Exodus 29:12. And put it upon the horns of the altar The altar of burnt-offering is here meant, upon the horns of which it is also enjoined, ch. Exo 30:10 that an atonement should be made every year. See the note there.

Verse 13

Exodus 29:13. All the fat that covereth the inwards By the fat that covereth the inwards, is meant a fat, thin membrane, spread over the intestines, and fastened to the concave part of the liver, and named the omentum or caul. By the caul that is above the liver is meant, according to the LXX and others, the great lobe that is upon or by the liver. The caul was much used in ancient sacrifices; the Persians offered nothing but this to their gods. Calmet remarks, from Athenaeus, that the ancients ate the liver, covered with or enfolded in the caul; whence he thinks it probable, that the liver of the victim was, in like manner, wrapped up in the caul before they laid it upon the altar; and that this is what Moses means by the caul above or upon the liver. Some have thought that the fat, which is gross without sense and feeling; the liver, which is heavy, (and, indeed, has its name from thence in the Hebrew,) and to which the gall-bag, seat of envy and malice, is united, &c. are ordered to be burnt upon the altar, to teach men to mortify all gross, evil, and carnal affections. See Psalms 119:70. Deuteronomy 32:15.Colossians 3:5; Colossians 3:5. See also Theodoret. quest. 61 in Exod. Ainsworth, however, and several after him, apprehend that as the fat sometimes signifies the prime of any thing, (Psalms 22:29; Psa 81:16 in the original,) so its being offered upon the altar, might be to inculcate the duty of giving the best of every thing to God.

Verse 14

Exodus 29:14. But the flesh of the bullock, &c.— The burning of the bullock, with all that appertained to it, without the camp, was figurative of that reproachful suffering of CHRIST, the great sin-offering of the world, as we are informed, Heb 13:11-13 see Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:35. The word חטאת chatat, signifies a sin-offering, a victim, on which the sin is put, as well as sin in the general: hence, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ is said to have been made sin, that is, a sin-offering for us. See Jackson's works, vol. 2: p. 1028.

Verse 15

Exodus 29:15. Thou shalt also take one ram The one, or one of the rams. See Exodus 29:1; Exodus 29:19. This was to be sacrificed as a burnt-offering; the whole of it being to be burnt upon the altar, Exodus 29:18. All the blood of it was to be sprinkled round about upon the altar; Lev 5:11 in this and in other respects differing from the sin-offering. "Being in the nature of a gift presented in token of gratitude to God, and of devoting themselves wholly to his service," says Bishop Patrick, "the burnt-offering was to be entirely consumed upon the altar; to shew, that after penitent confession of sin, God is reconciled (through the Great Sin-offering) to sinners, and accepts of their gifts."

Verse 18

Exodus 29:18. It is a sweet savour, &c.— See Genesis 8:21. This may be most justly applied to the sacrifice made by the Lord Jesus Christ. See Ephesians 5:2.Philippians 4:18; Philippians 4:18; Philippians 4:23.Exodus 29:19Exodus 29:19. And thou shalt take the other ram] This was to be sacrificed with the ceremony subjoined, as a heave or peace-offering; of which, being now in a state of favour or reconciliation with God, they were allowed to eat, as with God at his table, Exodus 29:27-28.

Verse 20

Exodus 29:20. Thou shalt kill the ram—take of his blood, and put it upon the tip, &c.— This extraordinary ceremony is enjoined (Leviticus 14:14.) in the curing of the leper; and from thence, as well as from the sprinkling of the blood and the oil upon the priests and their garments, Exo 29:21 that they might be hollowed, one would be apt to conclude, that the total, entire purification and sanctification of their persons, from head to foot, was implied: or, in other words, that they were hereby taught, as being now sanctified and set apart to the Lord, that they should dedicate all their faculties and powers to his service; their ear to the hearing and study of the law; their hands to diligence in the sacred ministry, and their feet to walking in the way of God's precepts. See Jeremiah 6:10. Ecclesiastes 9:0 l0. Proverbs 1:15. The blood upon the altar, and the anointing oil, Exo 29:21 were to be sprinkled upon their garments, to represent the purification of our souls by the virtues of the blood of Christ and the efficacy of the Divine Spirit.

Verse 22

Exodus 29:22. The right-shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration See Exodus 29:27-28. A ram of consecration, in the Hebrew, is a ram of fillings; for the meaning of which, see note on Exodus 29:9. The right-shoulder in peace-offerings belonged to the priest, Lev 7:32 but as they, who were now consecrating, were not yet priests, it was to be burnt upon the altar. The rump here spoken of, means the remarkably large and fat tail which the eastern sheep bear, and which are sometimes of very considerable weight. See Bochart and Ludolph.

Verse 23

Exodus 29:23. And one loaf of bread The words, for it is a ram of consecration, in the former verse, should be read in a parenthesis, and then there will be no occasion for that transposition which Le Clerc thinks necessary, who would connect this with the 18th verse; for these parts of the second ram, with the bread and cake, &c. were to be put into the hands of Aaron and his sons, to initiate them, as it were, into their office, and to confirm them in the right of sacrificing: accordingly, with a view to this, they were to wave the offerings before the Lord, after which the consecrator was to receive them from their hands, and burn them upon the altar.

Verse 26

Exodus 29:26. And thou shalt take the breast of the ram, &c.— Moses, acting as priest in the consecration of the priests, was to take to himself the breast of the ram, as well as to sanctify or set apart that, together with the shoulder, (Exodus 29:27-28.) for the priest, use in all future times, having first acknowledged it to be the Lord's by a solemn waving or heaving it up before the Lord. The difference between waving and heaving, as some say, is, that the latter was only a lifting up towards heaven in token of the offering being devoted to God; the other was a waving it up and down, east, west, north, and south, to signify, as Maimonides explains it, that He, to whom it was offered, was Lord of the whole world: the words, however, are sometimes used for an offering in general. Something like this ceremony of waving the oblation is intimated in that aphorism of Pythagoras, "worship, turning round," which Plutarch ascribes to Numa; one of whose institutions it was, that those who were about to worship the deity should turn themselves round. See Plutarch's Life of Numa. Houbigant, however, observes, that by this waving the offering from one side to the other, and heaving or lifting it up and down, was adumbrated or typified that Cross, upon which that peace-offering of the human race was lifted, whom all the ancient offerings prefigured.

Verse 30

Exodus 29:30. Put them on seven days See Leviticus 8:33-35.

Verse 31

Exodus 29:31. Thou shalt take the ram, &c.— All that remained of the flesh of the ram (see Exodus 29:22.) was to be eaten by the priests in the court of the sanctuary, (Leviticus 8:31.) as was the manner in peace-offerings; and this was considered as feasting with God, in token of favour and friendship with him. They were to eat the bread and cakes tempered with oil; which was contrary to the manners of the Egyptians, who carefully abstained from such use of oil.

Verse 33

Exodus 29:33. And they shall eat those things, &c.— Some are for rendering this, they, for whom the atonement was made, to consecrate, &c. shall eat those things: but, as this second ram is peculiarly called the ram of consecration, I should rather think our translation just, especially as each of these sacrifices may be considered in some degree as expiatory; their hands were laid upon the head of each of them. By stranger, in this verse, must be meant one who was not of the sacerdotal lineage. Common peace-offerings might be carried home, and eaten there, and that on the second day; Leviticus 19:6. This, as peculiarly holy, was to be eaten at the door of the tabernacle, Exo 29:32 and if any remained unto the morning, Exo 29:34 it was to be burnt with fire: thus also it was with the paschal sacrifice, ch. Exodus 12:10.

Verse 35

Exodus 29:35. Seven days shalt thou consecrate them The solemn services appointed above were to be repeated for seven days successively, to impress both the priests and the people with the highest ideas of the solemnity of that service to which the priests were called; and further, to signify the peculiar holiness of this consecration, the altar itself, upon which the sacrifices were offered, and which was to be every day sanctified, was to impart sanctification to every thing that touched it, separating it from a common to a sacred use, Exodus 29:37. See Matthew 23:19. Or, possibly, whatsoever toucheth the altar, may signify only such offerings and gifts, as, in consequence of this consecration, were laid upon the altar, and by it made holy. The most cursory reader can hardly help observing the regard constantly paid to the number seven in Scripture; some reasons for which are offered in our note on Genesis 2:3.

REFLECTIONS.—The consecration of Aaron and his sons succeeds the preparation of the sanctuary, where they are to minister. The manner is solemn, to intimate the greatness of the charge committed to them, and the surrender they are called upon to make of themselves to God. Moses is employed as an extraordinary minister from God for the purpose, and he begins the ceremonial,

1. With bringing them to the door of the tabernacle, as persons selected of God. 2. By a general ablution. God will be sanctified in those who come nigh him. How can an unholy minister dare approach the Holy God? 3. By robbing them. They who would minister before the Lord, must be clothed with righteousness as with a garment. 4. By anointing the high-priest with holy oil. The unction from the Holy One alone can qualify a minister for the discharge of his office. 5. By a variety of sacrifices. A sin-offering precedes: for as men, they first needed to sacrifice for their own sins, before they could make atonement for the sins of others. The burnt-offering followed, intimating the warmth of holy love in their hearts, inclining them to yield themselves up as living sacrifices to God. The peace-offering completed the consecration. (1.) The blood of it must be put upon them, and, with the holy anointing oil, be sprinkled upon them. The blood of Jesus Christ must be thus applied to our hearts; and when we would appear before God with acceptance, it must be with our robes made white in this blood of the lamb. (2.) The priest's hands must be filled with the parts devoted to God, and thus they begin their ministrations. If we minister acceptably before God, it must be given us; he must fill our hands, or we cannot feed the people; and when he does, every minister will find business in abundance. No time will be left for idling and vanity. (3.) God's part must be burnt; afterwards, the priests' portion is assigned them. They who serve the altar, have a right to live by the altar. (4.) The remainder must be eaten by Aaron and his sons in token of their joyful acceptance of the mercy bestowed on them. They who hold communion with Christ, while they commemorate his sacrifice, feed upon him with thanksgiving. (5.) Seven days were to be employed in the consecration, and sacrifices were offered every day. It requires solemn deliberation to ordain a minister of the sanctuary: and they, who are to preach remission of sins to others, have abundant need to gain some sure and certain hope that their own are pardoned. (6.) The altar too must be consecrated, to intimate the universal pollution which reigns by sin, and that without atoning blood nothing can be an acceptable service to God. Lastly, we have in this, [1.] A type of Christ, who is both Priest and Altar and Sacrifice together, consecrated of God with the oil of gladness above his fellows, clothed with spotless purity, and by his own blood perfecting the atonement: [2.] Of every faithful soul, washed in the blood of the Redeemer, and thus by grace enabled to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Verse 38

Exodus 29:38. Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar Having mentioned this holy altar, the Lord now proceeds to enjoin that daily sacrifice of two lambs which was to be offered morning and evening upon it; that is, most probably, after their settlement in Canaan. With each lamb a tenth deal of flour was to be offered; that is, an omer or the tenth part of an ephah, about half a peck; together with a fourth part of an hin of oil, and the same quantity of wine; which, according to Bishop Cumberland's measure, was a quart, and something more than a quarter of a pint. This was to be a continual burnt-offering throughout their generations, Exo 29:42 and was expressive of their constant faith in the future LAMB to be sacrificed for the sins of the world, as well as of their daily dependence upon God for the increase of their flocks, their corn, and wine, and oil. The heathens made libations upon the heads and between the horns of their victims, after having sprinkled them with the mola or crumbled salt cake. The Hebrews threw their cakes upon the fire of the altars, and poured the wine out at the foot of it.

Verse 43

Exodus 29:43. And there I will meet, &c.— Some are for rendering this, and there I will be manifested to the children of Israel; and will be sanctified in my glory; or, they shall be sanctified by my glory: the Samaritan has it, there will I be sought for by the children of Israel, &c. God, in this and the following verses, promises, that he will dwell peculiarly among the Israelites; the Shechinah, or his Divine Presence, being always in the midst of them, watching over them, and protecting them, as their tutelar God and King. Compare Lev 26:11-12 with 2Co 6:16 and Revelation 21:3.

Further reflections on the ordinance of the Priesthood.

As the sun paints the clouds with a variety of glorious colours, which, in their own nature, are but dark and lowering vapours exhaled from the earth; so when the Sun of righteousness arises, even the carnal ordinances and commandments of the law, dark and earthly as they seem, are gilded by his beams, and wear a smiling appearance. By his kindly influence, who is the Light of the world, the most barren places of the Scripture rejoice, and blossom as the rose. What portion of sacred writ is more apt to be perused without edification and delight, than what relates to the Levitical priesthood; the qualifications of their persons, their apparel, their consecration, and different parts of their function? And indeed it must be confessed a very hard task to reconcile with the wisdom of God the enjoining such numberless rites, purely for their own sake. But when we consider that Aaron and his successors were figures of our great High-Priest, we must acknowledge that these injunctions are neither unworthy of God, nor useless to man, but are profitable for doctrine and instruction in righteousness. We shall instance in a few things:

First, Whoever he was that approached God in the character of a High-Priest, he ought, according to the law of Moses, to be of the stock of Israel, the tribe of Levi, the family of Aaron, having his genealogy well attested.—It must certainly be acknowledged, that our High-Priest was neither of the family of Aaron, nor of the tribe of Levi; "For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah: of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood," Hebrews 7:14. In this respect he certainly differs from them in a very essential point; which, however it might disqualify him from administering in the tabernacle or temple ("for if he were on earth he should not be a priest"), yet does not in the least infer his incapacity to be a priest of a higher order than the order of Aaron, that is, of the order of Melchizedec, who joined in one person the priest and the king. The character and office of a Levitical priest he never assumed when he was upon earth. What shall we say then? That he is inferior to Aaron and his successors on this account? Nay, the difference of his tribe is the most convincing proof of the supereminence of his order. Like Aaron, he was taken from among men, and was a Hebrew of the Hebrews; and never any priest of them all could boast of such an illustrious pedigree as Jesus Christ. Which of them all was born of a virgin? and "to which of them said God at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?" Hebrews 1:5.—The genealogy of the ancient priests behoved to be firmly documented: but they had no such illustrious proofs of their being the sons of Levi, as Christ had of his being the Son of God, which the Father attested, both by the voice from heaven, and by the mighty works he enabled him to do.

Secondly, The laws about their priestly garments are both significant and highly instructive. The curious materials of the ephod of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet, might represent the unsearchable riches of Christ, and the lustre of those divine graces which adorned his sacred humanity.—The names of the twelve tribes which the high-priest bore first upon his shoulders, and then upon his breast-plate, as a memorial before the Lord continually, engraven on precious stones, and disposed in comely order, make no obscure emblem of the saints, whom our High-Priest carries both on the shoulders of his almighty power, and on the breast of cordial love, according to the most pathetic prayer of the spouse, "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm," Song of Solomon 8:6.—These names were engraven on precious stones: for such are all his saints, though disallowed of men, and trampled under foot as worthless pebbles; yet are they chosen of God, and precious, and they shall be his in the day that he makes up his jewels.—They were arranged in comely order: for "he is not the God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints," 1 Corinthians 14:33.—Shall we notice next the Urim and the Thummim which Moses was commanded to put into the breast-plate of Aaron? Thus in Jesus Christ we have that priest who stands up with Urim and Thummim, and bears the judgment of Israel before the Lord continually. In him are found the clearest light of wisdom and the greatest perfection of holiness. In him that prayer is fully answered, "Give the King thy judgments, O Lord, and thy righteousness unto the King's Son."—The curious girdle may signify the alacrity wherewith our High-Priest discharged every part of his office. Aaron's girdle was indeed of costly texture, gold and purple, blue and scarlet. But of Jesus Christ it was prophesied, "Righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins," Isaiah 11:5. The beloved apostle John beheld him equipped with this priestly ornament, when he saw him in the visions of God walking in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, clothed with a long white garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.—The golden bells, suspended around the hem of Aaron's under-robe, may signify the sweet sound of the Gospel which is gone into all the earth. O greatly blessed are the people who hear this joyful sound, sweeter to the ear of faith, than music in its softest strains to the ear of the body; and an undoubted sign that our High-Priest is alive, though we see him not, and lives for ever in the presence of JEHOVAH, to make intercession for us.

The pomegranates which were curiously wrought betwixt the bells, and equal to them in number, may be an emblem of those fruits of righteousness, with which the preaching of the Gospel is attended.—The fair mitre which adorned his head, with the venerable inscription on the plate of gold surrounding his temples, may put us in mind of Jesus Christ, who is the only crowned Priest; and not only holy, but holiness itself unto the Lord; yea, he is himself the holy JEHOVAH, and Fountain of holiness unto his people. For "this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS," Jeremiah 23:6.

Such were the garments for glory and beauty with which the typical priesthood was invested, and such their mystical signification. Let us come next to the manner of their consecration. The Hebrew lawgiver is directed to bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: there they were washed with water; arrayed with the priestly vestments; anointed with the costly oil, which it was death to counterfeit; and, lastly, sanctified by the offering up of peculiar sacrifices, whose blood was put upon the extreme parts of their bodies. Though every minute circumstance in these venerable rites may not be capable of application to the Lord Jesus, it is sufficient if we can observe a general analogy. Aaron was washed in water, to signify that he was before polluted; and Christ was baptized, not indeed because he was himself polluted, but as it became him to fulfil all righteousness. Aaron was arrayed with the appointed vestments; and Christ was clothed with the garment of our flesh. Aaron was anointed with oil, wherewith the inferior priests were but sprinkled; but Christ is anointed with the Holy Ghost, which God gives not by measure unto him. Aaron was consecrated with the blood of beasts; but Christ was sanctified by his own blood, and made perfect through sufferings, by which he learned obedience, though he was the Son of God.

The different parts of their function is the last thing which demands our attention. "Every high-priest taken from among men," in the manner above described, "is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, and to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sin." Hebrews 5:1. This indeed was the most distinguishing part of their office, and fundamental to all other functions which are appropriated to them. However, they were also appointed to bless the people; to pray for them; to instruct them in the knowledge of the Divine will; to oversee the service of the tabernacle; to blow the trumpets both in peace and war; and to judge betwixt the clean and the unclean. But we see Jesus our High-Priest giving himself an offering and a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour, more grateful unto God, and more appearing to his incensed justice, than all the victims that ever smoked in the worldly sanctuary, or than all the gifts that ever were presented there, or than all the incense that ever fumed from the golden censer. Put off your robes, ye legal priesthood, your work is finished, your office entirely superseded. What ye could not do by multiplied oblations, Jesus Christ has done by one sacrifice. The vail is now rent, and the temple now destroyed. The shadow has given place to the substance. Perhaps it was not without a mystic signification, that Zacharias, a priest of Aaron's order, and the father of John the harbinger of Christ, was struck dumb when officiating in the temple, so that he could not speak to the people when he came forth out of the holy place. Might it not be a silent omen, that a dispensation was now commencing in the days of the Messiah, wherein none of Aaron's order should open their mouths any more to bless the people, saying. "The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace?" Numbers 6:24-25. Jesus is that Priest whom God has sent to bless us; who prays for his people; whose lips keep knowledge to instruct us in the will of God. Jesus is that Priest who oversees the service of the tabernacle, being Head over all things to the church, which is his body. Jesus is that Priest, who now blows the great trumpet of the Gospel, and who shall descend shortly from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, to gather the congregation of the righteous. Then all who have him not for their Priest to wash and sprinkle them with his hyssop and blood, shall have him for their Priest to pronounce them utterly unclean.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 29". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/exodus-29.html. 1801-1803.