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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Leviticus 9



Aaron's offerings for himself and the people: the people are blessed; and fire comes forth from the Lord, and consumes the offering.

Before Christ 1490.

Verse 3

Leviticus 9:3. A kid of the goats for a sin-offering In ch. Lev 4:14 the matter of the sin-offering for the congregation is ordered to be a calf or bullock; but that is to be understood of an offering for a particular determinate sin: this for sin in general. It is thought that goats were so frequently appointed for sacrifice in the Jewish ritual, because the daemons of idolatry were most frequently worshipped under this form. See ch. Leviticus 17:7. The young calf enjoined for Aaron's sin-offering, Lev 9:2 is supposed by many of the Jews to have reference to the affair of the golden calf.

Verse 7

Leviticus 9:7. Make an atonement for thyself, and for the people See Hebrews 5:3; Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:7. Houbigant renders this clause, for thyself and for thy family; following and approving the LXX, who give the same interpretation.

REFLECTIONS.—They who are ordained for the service of the ministry must know no idleness. Woe to the slumbering shepherds! Aaron and his sons must immediately on their consecration enter on the service.

1. They must begin the work of sacrificing. As their own sin would be their first concern, a calf of atonement is offered, and a ram for a burnt-offering. To save ourselves will best enable us to save those that hear us. The people also are enjoined to bring their offering to Aaron, that he may offer it up as an atonement for them. Note; It is among the deepest concerns of a faithful minister to bring the people committed to his care into a state of reconciliation with God.

2. God promises to manifest an especial display of his glory to them as a token of his good pleasure towards them. Note; (1.) When we go forth to the work of the ministry under a divine call, God will sensibly own our labours to our unspeakable comfort. (2.) When God's people assemble in his worship they shall see his glory. He will manifest himself to them as he does not to the world.

Verse 15

Leviticus 9:15. And offered it for sin, as the first See Leviticus 9:8; Leviticus 9:12.

Verse 17

Leviticus 9:17. Beside the burnt-sacrifice of the morning Hence we learn, that Aaron began his sacred function with the daily morning-sacrifice: this sacrifice was accompanied with a bread-offering; Exodus 29:40. Numbers 15:2-4.

Verse 22

Leviticus 9:22. Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them Laying on of hands was the usual sign of blessing; but this being impossible where there was so great a multitude, the elevation of hands was used as a sign of imploring the Divine blessing. See Psa 28:2 and Luk 24:50 where we read, that our great High-Priest lifted up his hands, and blessed his disciples. Blessing has always been a part of the sacerdotal office from the beginning. See Genesis 14:19. Deuteronomy 10:8. In Num 6:24-26 the reader will find a form of benediction which the Lord, by Moses, gave to Aaron, and which, many think, was used upon the present solemn occasion: and it is not improbable, that immediately after Mores and Aaron coming out of the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23.) had pronounced the words, The Lord make his face shine upon thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee; that the glory of the Lord which filled the tabernacle, Exo 40:34-35 appeared without, and shone upon the people with a peculiar brightness. It is imagined that Moses went into the tabernacle with Aaron to instruct him in the duty to be discharged there, respecting the sprinkling of the blood, burning the incense, setting the shew-bread in order, &c. &c.

REFLECTIONS.—Aaron here begins his ministrations, and offers the several different kinds of sacrifice according to the commandment of the Lord. Note; In all our ministrations we must make God's word our rule.—The daily burnt-sacrifice was offered, besides these extraordinary ones. Our stated seasons of worship must never be neglected because of any extraordinary services or business. When the whole was finished, he, as high-priest on God's behalf, gave his benediction to the people. Where God accepts our offerings he will leave a blessing behind him.

Verse 24

Leviticus 9:24. And there came a fire out from before the Lord, and confirmed upon the altar, &c.— In token of his acceptance, the LORD sent forth from his presence a fire, which consumed the burnt-offering, and its fat; by which the evening-sacrifice is generally understood. Thus God gave a public attestation to the ministry of Aaron. In the same manner the place of worship was dedicated in the time of David; 1Ch 21:26 and so likewise the temple of Solomon, 2 Chronicles 7:1. Thus the authority of Elijah too, to restore the true religion, was justified. 1 Kings 18:38. See also Judges 6:21. And hence comes the expression, remember all thy offerings, and accept [Hebrew, turn to ashes] thy burnt-sacrifice. Psalms 20:3. This sacred fire, now sent forth from God, was ordered (ch. Leviticus 6:12-13.) to be kept always burning; and accordingly it is said to have lasted till the time of Solomon, when God sent fire anew from heaven to consume the sacrifices offered at the consecration of the temple; and that again is said to have continued till the Babylonish captivity. It was certainly a very solemn subject of contemplation, that their sacrifices were consumed by an uninterrupted continuation of the same celestial flame, which the priests, watching day and night for that purpose, fed with constant fuel. Josephus tells us, that there was a kind of festival, which he calls Ξυλοφορια, from the people's bearing wood upon it to the temple for the maintenance of the holy fire. This fact was both known to the heathens, and imitated by them. Julian himself acknowledges that fire came down from heaven in the time of Moses, and again in the days of Elijah, consuming the sacrifices: and in imitation thereof, the Pagans endeavoured to gain credit to their religion by the like reports of fire sent from an invisible hand to consume their sacrifices, of which there are various instances; insomuch that Servius, in his notes on these words of Virgil, AEneid 12: Foedera fulmine sancit; (he establishes his covenants by lightning,) says, that "anciently they did not kindle fires upon their altars, but procured by their prayers divine fire." And Solinus says, ch. 2: "The flame sprung out of the wood by a divine power: if the god be present and the sacrifice acceptable, the faggots, though green, kindle of themselves." But further, and doubtless in conformity to this sacred institution, and in an idolatrous imitation of it, many nations preserved a perpetual fire: the Persians were remarkable for it; the Greeks at Delphos, and many other places, preserved also a perpetual fire. "In every corporation-town," says Sir Isaac Newton, "the ancient Greeks had a prytaneum or council-hall, where the people at times assembled to consult about the common interest; and here was also a place of worship, and a perpetual fire kept therein upon an altar for public sacrifice." Chronology, p. 174. The Romans had but one perpetual fire, which was kept by the vestal virgins, in the centre of the temple of Vesta, which was round, and emblematical of our system, with the sun in the centre. The Shechinah, or appearance of the true God, was always attended with fire and light; so that there can be no wonder that the heathens, who worshipped fire and light, applied these as the best symbols of the Divinity.

Which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces See 2 Chronicles 7:3. The people shouted for joy, and prostrated themselves with awful reverence: circumstances which well explain Psalms 2:11. The author of the book of Cosri judiciously observes, that "if a man look only at the foregoing part of the work of this day, (the priests killing of the sacrifices, the blood running about their hands, their slaying of them, washing the entrails, rinsing the pieces of the flesh, sprinkling the blood, laying the wood in order, kindling the fire, &c.) they might rather set his mind further off from God than draw it near to him; till, after all these things performed orderly, he saw the fire coming down from heaven, testifying God's gracious acceptance of the sacrifice; or felt another spirit excited in him beyond any thing he was acquainted with before; or had divine dreams, or heroical motions, which he believed were the effects of what he had been doing," &c. And, no doubt, all good men, in future ages, felt their minds raised, by the thoughts that the sacrifices they offered were as acceptable to God as that offered at this time; being consumed, in some sort, by the same fire which burned continually on the altar, and was never extinguished till their captivity. "Such acceptable sacrifices, as St. Cyril tells Julian, we Christians still offer, but infinitely better, being spiritual and intellectual, and consequently nearer to the Divine nature; and that by fire sent from heaven, viz. the Holy Ghost, (of whom this fire was but a figure,) illustrating the church, and enabling its members to offer continually the sweet-smelling sacrifices of faith, hope, love, righteousness, temperance, obedience, thanksgiving, and every other virtue."

REFLECTIONS.—Moses goes with Aaron into the tabernacle, either to pray for the promised manifestation of the Divine glory, or to instruct him in the service, or both. At their return they join in their benedictions on the people who waited at the door of the tabernacle, and God sealed the blessing, 1. By a visible display of his glory from the holy place. Note; It is good not to be weary of waiting upon God; a glimpse of his glory, if but at parting, will amply repay our attendance. 2. There came a fire out from before the Lord, (from the appearance of his glory, it should seem,) which consumed the sacrifice: a gracious token of God's acceptance of their offerings, and of his constant benediction on those who brought the sacrifices to that altar, the fire of which, now kindled by him, was never permitted to go out. Note; (1.) The fire of God's Spirit in our heart must kindle up unquenchable love, and consume our vile affections. (2.) Unless he give the holy fire of grace, none of our services can please him. (3.) If it be kindled, we must support it with the daily fuel of the word, meditation and prayer. 3. The people, with holy joy and reverential awe, shout and fall prostrate before the Lord. Note; (1.) It is matter of great triumph in experience God's sensible presence with our souls. (2.) The more we taste of God's love the more humble it will make us.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Leviticus 9". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.