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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 9

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary



Moses, the illustrious Levite who had inducted Aaron and his sons into the priestly office, now commands them to perform its functions on the very day after their consecration, because the sins of the people were in pressing need of expiation. The superintendence of Moses is still continued, in order to rectify any mistake of these novitiates. See Leviticus 10:16-20. This chapter establishes the national worship in permanent form. It comprises commands by Moses, Aaron’s offerings for himself, those for the people, the priestly benediction, the outflashing glory, the consuming fire from Jehovah, and the shouts of the joyful worshippers.


Much confusion will be avoided in our conception of the successive events of this day if we assume that all the offerings spoken of as made before the “fire went out from before the Lord,” were simply prepared, and not burned, till consumed by the supernatural fire. This is reasonable, if we suppose that the burnt sacrifice of the morning is mentioned proleptically. Dr. Murphy thus explains the difficulty: “If the lamb prescribed be not the morning sacrifice, then the burnt offering is additional to the standing one of the morning. But several considerations are in favour of their identity. First, Aaron was now manifestly to act for the first time as duly constituted high priest, and it seems incongruous that he should have offered a morning sacrifice beforehand. Secondly, this was the commencement of the national worship; there cannot, therefore, have been a previous morning sacrifice distinct from this, as the latter would have been the real commencement. Thirdly, the erection of the tabernacle had to be completed on this morning, and this, though of trivial amount, would occupy time. Fourthly, the manifest propriety of the initiatory sacrifice being kindled by the fire from God points the same way. And lastly, the phrase ‘besides the burnt sacrifice of the morning,’ (Leviticus 9:17,) is usually explained to mean that this oblation was in addition to the morning sacrifice on this special occasion, though it did not usually accompany it while the people were in the wilderness.” From this time the history of Aaron is almost entirely that of the priesthood.

Verse 1

1. On the eighth day There are three eighth-day services in the Levitical law. The other two are the cleansing of the leper (Leviticus 14:10; Leviticus 14:23) and the purification of a defiled Nazarite. (Numbers 6:10.) There are three such scenes in the Gospels the transfiguration, (Luke 9:28,) the resurrection and manifestation on the first or eighth day of the week, and the second manifestation to all the apostles. John 20:19-26.

The elders of Israel At what period the transition occurred when the word elder acquired an official signification it is impossible to say. The earliest notice of the elders acting in concert as an organized body is in the time of the exode. Exodus 3:16. It is highly probable that Moses availed himself of an institution known as the senate, the γερουσια of the Seventy, which had been in existence ever since Israel had become a people. From the Hebrew zaken, elder, Dean Stanley derives the term sheik. As representatives of the people, the elders are sometimes put for the congregation. See Joshua 23:2, note. They retained their position under all political changes, through the monarchy and captivity to the time of Christ, when they are noticed as a distinct body from the Sanhedrin, but always acting in conjunction with it and the other dominant classes. Matthew 26:59.

Verse 2

2. Calf for a sin offering The Hebrew for calf also signifies calf image.

Exodus 32:4. Thus Moses delicately reminds Aaron of the great sin which he had committed in making the golden calf, and teaches him that the animal which was the object of idolatrous worship among the Egyptians, as a symbol of the deity, is fit only for a sin offering to Jehovah, the Creator of all things. See chap. iv, Introductory.

Without blemish See Leviticus 1:3, note.

Before the Lord This was at the door of the tabernacle. Leviticus 1:3, note.

Verse 3

3. A kid of the goats See Leviticus 23:19, note.

A burnt offering Chap. 1 and Leviticus 6:9, notes.

Verse 4

4. Peace offerings Chaps. 3 and Leviticus 7:11-28, notes.

Meat offering Chaps. 2, and Leviticus 6:14-23, notes. “Meal offering,” (R.V.)

For to-day the Lord will appear unto you The term for contains the reason for all the sacrifices commanded in the preceding verses. Jehovah manifests himself only to those who obediently seek him in his ordinances. (Exodus 29:42-43.) See also especially John 14:21, note. God can give to the believer an indubitable demonstration of his presence and favour without the manifestation of a visible form. The invisible God no man hath seen at any time; the only-begotten Son hath declared him. John 1:18, note. By reference to Leviticus 9:6; Leviticus 9:23 it appears that the promised manifestation is that of “the glory of Jehovah.” This was not constantly seen either by the people or by Moses. The sincere inquirer after God, who diligently gathers up and uses all his light, and follows un-hesitatingly wherever the truth leads, will attain an experimental and satisfactory assurance of the existence and forgiving grace of God in Jesus Christ. There is really no such thing as “honest scepticism.” Sacrifice, and Jehovah will appear. Obedience must precede the divine manifestation. See John 7:17, note. At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus said to Martha, “If thou wilt believe, thou shalt see the glory of God.” See John 11:40, note. The condition is essentially the same in both instances. Faith is the root of obedience; obedience is faith unfolded in action.

Verse 7

7. Make an atonement for thyself After seven days of consecration τελειωσις making perfect Leviticus 8:11, note,) Aaron is not absolutely holy and perfect, but only an imperfect shadow of the High Priest “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and made higher than the heavens.” “Only as one who had been himself atoned for could the high priest make atonement for others, on the received principle, An innocent man must come and make an atonement for the guilty; but the guilty may not come and make an atonement for the innocent.” Delitzsch, Heb, 5:3. The person of the atoner must not be offensive to the Supreme Executor of the law. The high priest accompanied his sin offering with a threefold confession the first for himself and his own family, the second for the priesthood in general, and the third for all Israel. The first was thus: “O Jehovah, do thou expiate the misdeeds, the crimes, and the sins wherewith I have done evil, and have sinned before thee, I and my house, as it is written in the law of Moses thy servant.” “On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you; that ye may be clean from all your sins before Jehovah.” Leviticus 16:30. For the nature of the Old Testament atonement see Leviticus 1:4; Leviticus 4:20, notes.

Verse 8


8. Aaron… slew In person or by command.

Verse 9

9. The blood See Introduction, (6,) and Leviticus 7:2, note.

Upon the horns of the altar See Leviticus 4:7, note.

Verse 10

10. The fat Suet. See notes on Leviticus 3:3; Leviticus 3:17.

Kidneys… caul Leviticus 3:4, note.

Verse 11

11. Without the camp Leviticus 4:12, note.

Verse 12

12. The burnt offering After they had been brought into a state of acceptance with Jehovah the whole burnt offering, symbolizing entire consecration, was appropriate. See Leviticus 1:3, note, and Introduction, (5.)

Verse 13

13. With the pieces “Piece by piece,” (R.V.) See Leviticus 1:8, and Leviticus 8:18-21, notes.

Verse 14

14. The inwards and the legs See Leviticus 1:9, note.

Verse 15

THE OFFERINGS FOR ISRAEL, Leviticus 9:15-21.

15. The people’s offering This was offered in the proper order; first, the sin offering for the expiation of their sins, then the burnt offering, by which the people dedicated themselves to God, followed by the meat offering as a medium of communion, and the peace offering as the vehicle of their thanksgivings.

Offered it for sin Literally, as noted by various critics, He sinned it, or, He made it to sin. The sin offering was so identified with the sin for which it was to atone as to become itself the sinner, not actually but by imputation. The animal thus figuratively received upon its head the guilt of him who substituted its life for his own, and it was viewed and treated as a creature which was nothing but sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21, note.

Verse 16

16. The manner “Ordinance,” (R.V.) The ritual of the altar prescribed in chaps. 1 and Leviticus 7:1-6.

Verse 17

17. Meat offering… burnt sacrifice “The difference between the burnt offering and the meat offering was this: in the burnt offering the surrender of a life figured man’s duty to God; while fruits in the meat offering represented man’s duty to his neighbour.” Jukes. For the time when the fire was actually applied to all the offerings of this chapter, see Concluding Note.

Verse 18

18. A sacrifice of peace offerings This symbolized that fellowship which follows propitiation by the sin offering. The feasting of the people upon the peace offerings figures the communion of saints. Christ’s communion with the believer is thus expressed: “I will sup with him.”

Verse 19

19. Rump See Leviticus 3:9, note.

Verse 21

21. Shoulder “Thigh,” (R.V.)

A wave offering See Leviticus 7:30, note.

As Moses commanded The Seventy, the Samaritan, the Arabic, and the Targum of Onkelos all agree in another reading, “as Jehovah commanded Moses.” This, harmonizing as it does with Leviticus 9:6-7; Leviticus 9:10, is doubtless the true reading. Even in the present reading there is no danger of taking Moses for the ultimate source of authority, since he is always represented as the mouth of Jehovah. Exodus 4:12.

Verse 22


22. Aaron lifted up his hand “Hands,” (R.V.) The custom of raising aloft the hands in prayer is found among most nations who pretend to any kind of worship. Virgil gives frequent instances among the Trojans and Greeks. Chrysostom explains it as an oblation to God of the instruments of our necessities. From its almost universal prevalence we would rather understand it as an instinctive propriety of prayer, and especially of blessing, pointing out the object of supplication and the recipients of the divine favours.

And blessed them The form of the threefold priestly benediction is recorded in Numbers 6:23-27. Some writers discover in it intimations of the trinity of persons in the unity of the Divine Substance.

It was a special prerogative of the priests to bless in the name of Jehovah. See Deuteronomy 21:5. There has not been much of this thus far. We have been face to face with law and discipline. Now Aaron blesses Israel, and stern Moses joins him. Feeling begins to enter into the ministry of law.

Came down from offering The standing place of the priest while ministering at the altar is spoken of as above the level of the court of the tabernacle. To reach this standing there must have been an inclined plane, since steps were forbidden, (Exodus 20:26,) as a safeguard against an indecorous exposure of the priest’s person.

Verse 23

23. Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle “Tent of meeting,” (R.V.) This is the first recorded entrance of any human being into the tabernacle after its dedication, when it was so filled with glory that Moses could not enter. The purpose of their entering is not revealed. It is probable that they drew near to Jehovah in communion and intercession for the people, to burn incense, and to trim the lamps. Exodus 30:7-8. When the lawgiver and the high priest came out and blessed the people, the glory within flashed out and consumed… the burnt offering, signifying the divine acceptance, and impressing all the people with a sense of the goodness of Jehovah, and of his majesty, in view of which they shouted for joy, and before which they fell on their faces. The words of the threefold benediction are recorded in Numbers 6:22-27, which is probably a repetition of a former communication of the same formula which, we doubt not, was used on this solemn occasion. The shouting is the first outburst of gladness in the Old Testament worship of Jehovah. It was fitting that those who had profaned their lips in shouting the orgies of a pagan worship (Exodus 32:17) should now employ them in uttering the praises of their reconciled God. There is always joy when God makes his abode with men. Fulness of joy is the natural expression of fulness of the Spirit.

Ephesians 5:18-19. This display of the divine majesty following the consecration and first service of the Levitical priesthood has a striking parallel fifteen centuries later, after the anointing of the Holy Ghost had consecrated, as priests unto God, the one hundred and twenty in Jerusalem, and they had rendered their first service in proclaiming Jesus the Lamb that was slain but lives again, when the glory of divine grace more marvellously smote the multitude at the coming forth of the anointed from their tabernacle, the upper chamber, to minister through all ages at a more glorious altar. The parallel is so perfect as to suggest that the first may have been intended to typify the second. See Acts 2:0.

Verse 24

24. There came a fire out from before the Lord This supernatural fire was the divine ratification of the priesthood, and acceptance of their first offering. According to the Jews, it couched upon the altar like a lion; it was bright as the sun; the flame was pure and solid, emitting no smoke, and consuming wet and dry things alike. Says Oehler, “The Shekinah shows its reality in the sanctuary by means of actions of power which go out from it.” See Leviticus 10:2, note. The command to keep this heavenly fire is recorded in Leviticus 6:13. See note for the period during which it was preserved.

They shouted This was the shout of victory the prostration of worship. All was now complete the sacrifice, the robed and mitred priest, the priestly family associated with their head, the priestly benediction, the appearance of the King and Priest, and the outflashing of the divine glory a marvellously beautiful shadow of things to come.

Ever since the Son of God was glorified on high as our High Priest, and his sending down the Paraclete, has the earth resounded with the shouts of souls filled with the Holy Ghost. All true service is gladdened by the divine acceptance, and glorified by the divine presence.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Leviticus 9". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/leviticus-9.html. 1874-1909.
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