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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Leviticus 8

 

 

Verses 1-36

PART SECOND. HISTORICAL

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Leviticus 8-10

“The Sacrificing Priesthood: Its Consecration and its Typical Discipline shown by the Death of Nadab and Abihu.”—Lange.

The law of sacrifices having now been given, and the duties of the priests in regard to them appointed, all necessary preparation has been made for carrying out the consecration of the priests as commanded in Exodus 19. This historical section follows, therefore, in its natural order, and takes up the thread of events at the close of the book of Exodus, where it was broken off that the necessary laws might be announced. There Isaiah, first, the consecration of the priests ( Leviticus 8), occupying seven days; then the record of the actual entrance of Aaron and his sons upon the discharge of their functions ( Leviticus 9); closing with the account of the transgression of two of those sons in their first official Acts, and their consequent punishment, together with certain instructions for the priests occasioned by this event ( Leviticus 10). To enter understandingly upon the consideration of these chapters, it is necessary to have in mind the origin, nature, and functions of the priesthood. These will be briefly discussed in the following

PRELIMINARY NOTE ON THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD.

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In the early days of the human race such priestly functions as were exercised at all were naturally undertaken by the head of the family, and hence arose what is called the patriarchal priesthood, of which the Scripture patriarchs are standing illustrations. When, however, families were multiplied and formed into communities or nations, the former provision was manifestly insufficient, and we meet with instances of priests for a larger number, as Jethro, “the priest of Midian” (for priest seems here to be the proper rendering of כֹּהן). The chief priestly office was sometimes, and perhaps generally, associated with the chief civil authority, as in the case of “Melchisedec, king of Salem…… the priest of the Most High God” ( Genesis 14:18), and among the heathen, Balak, who offered his sacrifices himself ( Numbers 23); a trace of this custom may perhaps be preserved in the occasional use of כֹּהֵן for prince ( Job 12:19; 2 Samuel 8:18; 2 Samuel 20:26?). But in large nations the actual functions of the priestly office must necessarily have devolved chiefly upon inferior priests. In Egypt the Israelites had been accustomed to a numerous, wealthy, and powerful body of priests, at the head of which stood the monarch. It is unnecessary to speak of these further than to note a few points in which they were strongly contrasted with the priests of Israel. In the first place, although the monarch was at the head of the whole priestly caste, yet as the popular religion of Egypt was polytheistic, each principal Divinity had his especial body of priests with a high-priest at their head. In contrast with this, monotheism was distinctly set forth in the Levitical legislation, by the one body of priests, with its single high-priest at its head. The Egyptian priests maintained an esoteric theology, not communicated to the people, in which it would appear that the unity of the Self-existent God and many other important truths were taught; in Israel the priests were indeed the keepers and guardians of the law ( Deuteronomy 31:9, etc.), but they were diligently to teach it all to the people ( Leviticus 10:11), to read the whole of it every seventh year to all the assembled people ( Deuteronomy 31:10-13), to supply the king with a copy for himself to write out in full ( Deuteronomy 17:18-19), and in general to teach God’s judgments to Jacob and His law to Israel ( Deuteronomy 33:10). While, therefore, from the nature of their occupation, they might be expected to have a more perfect knowledge of the law than the generality of the people, this knowledge was only more perfect as the result of more continued study, and might be equalled by any one who chose, and was actually shared by every one as far as he chose. The Egyptian priests were, moreover, great landed proprietors (besides being fed from the royal revenues, Genesis 47:22), and actually possessed one-third of the whole territory of Egypt; the priests of Israel, on the contrary, were expressly excluded from the common inheritance of the tribes, and had assigned to them only the cities with their immediate suburbs actually required for their residence. The priesthood of Egypt culminated in the absolute monarch who was at their head, and in whose authority they in some degree shared; in Israel, on the other hand, the line between the civil and the priestly authority and functions was most sharply drawn, primarily in the case of Moses and Aaron, Joshua and Eleazar, generally in the time of the judges (although in that troubled period this, like all other parts of the Mosaic system, was sometimes confused), and finally under the monarchy. It is indeed sometimes asserted that the kings, by virtue of their prerogative, were entitled to exercise priestly functions; but for this there is no real ground. The instances relied on are either manifest cases of sacrifice offered at the command of the monarch ( 1 Kings 3:15; 1 Kings 8:62-64); or of the simple wearing of an ephod ( 2 Samuel 6:14), which by no means carried with it the priestly office; or else are misinterpretations of a particular word ( 1 Kings 4:2; 1 Kings 4:5—see the Textual notes there; 2 Samuel 8:18—the only case of real difficulty—comp. 1 Chronicles 18:17). There are but two definite instances of the assumption of priestly functions by kings, and both of them were most sternly punished ( 1 Samuel 13:10-14; 2 Chronicles 26:16-21). There was also the intrusion of Korah and his companions on the priestly office and their exemplary punishment ( Numbers 16). In the later abnormal state under the Maccabees, it was not the kings who assumed priestly functions, but the priests who absorbed the royal prerogative. With these contrasts, it is plain that there was little in common between the Egyptian and Levitical priesthood, except what is necessarily implied in the idea of a priesthood at all, and is found in that of the nations of antiquity generally. They were, however, both hereditary (as was also the Brahminical priesthood); both were under a law of the strictest personal cleanliness, and there was a resemblance between them in several matters of detail, as linen dress, and other non-essential matters.

When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were a people chosen—on condition of faithfulness and obedience—to be “a kingdom of priests and an holy nation” ( Exodus 19:6), and in accordance with this the paschal lamb was sacrificed by each head of a household, and eaten by himself and his family ( Exodus 12:6), and the same idea was retained in this sacrifice always. Nevertheless, the people were unprepared for so high a vocation, and soon after we find the existence of certain persons among the people recognized as priests “which come near to the Lord” ( Exodus 19:22; Exodus 19:24), although they did not receive the Divine sanction necessary to the continuance of their office. We have no knowledge of the nature of their functions, nor of their appointment. However this may have been, the people certainly shrank from that nearness of approach to God implied in the office of priest ( Exodus 20:19; Exodus 20:21; Deuteronomy 5:23-27), and sacrifices were offered by “young men” appointed by Moses, he reserving to himself the strictly priestly function of sprinkling the blood ( Exodus 24:5-8). Such was the state of things at the time of the appointment of the Aaronic order; there was no divinely authorized priesthood, and the need of one was felt.

Meantime, in the solitude of Sinai, God directed Moses to take Aaron and his sons for an hereditary priesthood ( Exodus 28:1), and gave minute directions for their official dress, for their consecration and their duties ( Exodus 28, 29). Emphasis is everywhere placed upon the fact that they were appointed of God (comp. Hebrews 5:4). They were in no sense appointed by the people; had they been Song of Solomon, they could not have been mediators. It has been seen that the Levitical system makes prominent the fact that the sacrifices had no efficacy in themselves, but derived their whole value from the Divine appointment; so also in regard to the priesthood. The priests appear as themselves needing atonement, and obliged to offer for their own sins; yet by the commanded unction and dress they are constituted acceptable intercessors and mediators for the people. All was from God; and while this gave assurance to the people in their daily worship, at the same time the priests’ own imperfection showed that the true reconciliation with God by the restoration of holiness to man had not yet been manifested. The Levitical priest could be but a type of that Seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent’s head.

Before the directions concerning the priesthood, given to Moses alone in the Mount, could be announced, occurred the terrible apostasy of the golden calf, when, at the summons of Moses, “who is on the Lord’s side?” the whole tribe of Levi consecrated themselves by their zeal on God’s behalf ( Exodus 32:25-29). Subsequently ( Numbers 3:5-10; Numbers 3:40-51). the Levites were taken as a substitute for all the first-born Israelites (who, under the patriarchal system, would have been their priests, and who had been spared in the slaughter of the Egyptian first-born) to minister to the chosen priestly family. Of these nothing is said in this book, except the modification in their favor of the law concerning the sale of houses in Leviticus 25:32-34) (see Com.). They may therefore be here wholly passed by with the simple mention that they never had sacerdotal functions, and were not therefore a part of the sacerdotal class. It Isaiah, perhaps, for the purpose of making this distinction emphatically that no mention is made of them in this book where it might otherwise have been expected. As, however, they constituted the tribe from which the priests were taken, the latter are often called by their name, and thus we frequently meet with the expression in the later books, “the priests, the Levites,” or even with “Levites” alone, meaning Levites, κατ’ ἐξοχήν, or priests.

But while there was an evident necessity that a much smaller body than the whole tribe of Levi should be taken for priests; and while Aaron, the elder brother, and appointed as the “prophet” of Moses ( Exodus 4:14-17), and associated with him in the whole deliverance of the people from Egypt, was evidently a most suitable person for the office, the law that the office should be hereditary must rest on other grounds. If we seek for these in any thing beyond the simple Divine good-pleasure, we should readily find them in the general fact of the whole Mosaic system being founded upon the principle of heir-ship leading on to the fulfilment of the Messianic promise: and in the more special one that it was by this means the priesthood was in the main kept true to God during long periods of Israel’s apostasy and sin.

It is to be carefully observed that this hereditary office did not make of the priests a caste; in all things not immediately connected with the discharge of their functions, they were fellow-citizens with the other Israelites, subject to the same laws, bound by the same duties, and amenable to the same penalties. When not engaged in official duty, they wore the same dress, and might follow the same vocations as their fellow-citizens. They were only exempt from the payment of tithes because themselves supported by them. In all this is manifest a striking contrast, not only with heathen priesthoods of antiquity, but also with the hierarchy of the Mediæval Christian Church.

The especial function of the priesthood was to come near to God ( Leviticus 7:35; Leviticus 10:3; Leviticus 21:17; Numbers 16:5, etc.). They were to stand in the vast gap between a sinful people and a holy God, themselves of the former, yet especially sanctified to approach the latter. “Hence their chief characteristic must be holiness, since they were elected to be perpetually near the Holy One and to serve Him ( Numbers 16:5); they were singled out from the rest of their brethren ‘to be sanctified as most holy.’ To hallow and to install as priests are used as correlative terms ( Exodus 29:33; comp. Leviticus 8:1, 44; Exodus 28:41; Exodus 40:13). By neglecting what contributes to their sanctity they profane the holiness of God ( Leviticus 21:6-8); and the high-priest is himself the ‘Holy One of the Lord’ ( Psalm 106:16).” Kalisch. They sustained a distinct mediatorial character between God and His people. This appears in every part of the law concerning them. The golden plate inscribed “holiness to the Lord,” which the high-priest wore upon his brow, expressly meant that he should “bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel shall hallow” ( Exodus 28:38); and the flesh of the sin offerings was given to the priests “to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord” ( Leviticus 10:17). Of course this could be done by human priests only symbolically, as they were types of the great High Priest to come; and His all-sufficient sacrifice having once been offered, there could be thereafter no other priesthood in this relation to the people, or discharging this mediatorial function. The Christian ministry finds its analogy, not in the priests, but in the prophets of the old dispensation, although even here the likeness is very imperfect. Still, while the priests were required to preserve and teach the written law, it was left to the prophets to unfold its spiritual meaning, and to urge regard to it by argument and exhortation. It is a striking fact that the Greek word for priest, ἱερεύς, and its derivatives in the New Testament, while frequently applied to the priests of the old covenant and to Christ Himself, their Antitype, are never used for any office in the Christian Church, except for the general priesthood of the whole body of believers; προφήτης=prophet, however, and its cognates are thus used with great frequency. It is to be borne in mind that priest, in the Levitical sense of the word, and sacrifice are correlative terms; sacrifice pre-supposes a priest to offer it, and a priest must needs have “somewhat also to offer” ( Hebrews 8:3). From these points flow all the duties of the priests, and in view of these their qualifications, and the other laws concerning them are fixed.

The first and chiefest of all their duties was the offering of sacrifice, as this was the especial instrumentality by which men sought to draw near to God. No sacrifice could be offered without the intervention of the appointed priest; for the sacrifices having no virtue in themselves, and deriving their value from the Divine appointment, must necessarily be presented in the way and by the persons whom God had authorized. Hence it is that in the ritual of the sacrifices an emphasis is always placed upon the declaration that the priests “shall make atonement.” The apparent exceptions to this, in the case of Samuel and Elijah, are really but illustrations of the principle, they being prophets directly charged from on high to do this very thing. In this, including the burning of incense, the priests were undoubtedly typical of the one true High Priest and Mediator. They stood, as far as was possible for Prayer of Manasseh, between God and the people, and by their acts were the people made—at least symbolically—holy, and brought near to God. The acts of sacrifice which were essential and which therefore could only be performed by the priests, were the sprinkling or other treatment of the blood, and the burning of such parts as were to be consumed upon the altar. In the sin and trespass offerings, as well as in the oblations, which must be wholly consecrated to God, they were to consume the parts which were not burned.

From this essential duty naturally were derived a variety of others. To the priests belonged the care of the sanctuary and its sacred utensils, the preservation of the fire on the brazen altar, the burning of incense on the golden altar, the dressing and lighting of the lamps of the golden candlestick, the charge of the shew-bread, and other like duties. They were necessarily concerned in all those multitudinous acts of the Israelites which were connected with sacrifices, such as the accomplishment of the Nazarite vow, the ordeal of jealousy, the expiation of an unknown murder, the determination of the unclean and of the cleansed leprous persons, garments and houses; the regulation of the calendar; the valuation of devoted property which was to be redeemed; these and a multitude of other duties followed naturally from their priestly office. They were also to blow the silver trumpets on the various occasions of their use, and in connection with this to exhort the soldiers about to engage in battle to boldness, because they-went to fight under the Lord. They were also, from their own familiarity with the law, appropriately appointed as the religious teachers of the people. From their priestly office they were charged to bless the people in the name of God; and from their privilege of consulting God especially through the Urim and Thummim, they were made arbiters in disputes of importance: “by their word shall every controversy and every violence be tried” ( Deuteronomy 21:5). All these secondary duties flowed from their primary one in connection with the sacrifices. Hence the influence and importance of the priests in the Hebrew commonwealth varied greatly with the religious earnestness and activity of the nation. Negatively, it is important to note that the priests did not, in any considerable degree, discharge towards the people the office of the Christian pastor, the spiritual guide, comforter and assistant of his flock. It is possible that if the people and the priests themselves had been prepared for it, something more of this relation might have resulted from the provisions of the law. Still, they were not individually the priests of particular communities; but rather, as a body, the priests of the whole nation. From this it resulted that their connection with the people was little more than simply official and ministerial. In so far as the need of the pastor was met at all under the old dispensation, as already said, it was by the prophet rather than by the priests.

The same thing is also true of their revenue. This was chiefly derived from the “second tithe,” or the tenth paid to them by the Levites from the tithes received by them from the people. Tithes were stringently commanded; but no power was lodged with any one for their compulsory collection. Their payment was left absolutely to the conscientious obedience of the people. The priests’ support was supplemented by their share of the sacrifices, first-fruits, and other offerings of the people. Very ample provision appears to be made for them in the law; the Levites, who were much less than a tenth of the people, were to receive the tenth of all their increase; and the priests, who appear to have numbered still much less than the tenth of the Levites, were to receive the tenth of the income paid to them. Practically, during the far greater part of the Hebrew history, their support appears to have been precarious and insufficient, and we know that large numbers of them declined to return from the captivity of Babylon, and many of the descendants of those who did return did not exercise their priestly office or claim their priestly privileges.

The qualifications for the priesthood were first, Aaronic descent; to secure this genealogical registers were kept with great care ( 2 Chronicles 31:16-17, etc.), and any one who could not find his descent upon them was not allowed to minister in the priest’s office or to receive its emoluments ( Ezra 2:62; Nehemiah 7:64). Secondly, they must be perfect physically, free from any bodily defect or injury; otherwise, they might eat of the priests’ portion, and receive his tithe, but they were forbidden to approach the altar, or enter the sanctuary ( Leviticus 21:17-23). Further, during the time of their ministrations, they must be entirely free from any form of legal uncleanness ( Leviticus 22:1-7), and must practice frequent ablutions, especially on entering the sacred precincts ( Leviticus 8:6; Exodus 40:30-32), and they must carefully abstain from wine and strong drink ( Leviticus 10:8-10); at all times they must maintain an especial symbolic purity, and particularly must never be defiled by the contact of a dead body, except in the case of the very nearest relatives ( Leviticus 21:2-4), even this exception being denied to the high-priest (ib. 10–12). No limit of age either for the beginning or the end of their service is fixed in the law; but in the absence of such limitation, the age appointed for the Levites would probably have been generally regarded as fitting. In later times there was great laxity in this respect, and Aristobulus was appointed high-priest by Herod the Great when only seventeen. In addition to these outward qualifications, exemplary holiness of life is everywhere required of the priests, and even in their families, violations of virtue were visited with more severity than among others ( Leviticus 21:9).

In marriage the priests generally were only restricted in their choice to virgins or widows of any of the tribes of their nation ( Leviticus 21:7); later, marriage within the Aaronic family seems to have been preferred, and by the prophet Ezekiel ( Ezekiel 44:22) the marriage with widows (except of priests) was forbidden them.

They were originally inducted into their office by a solemn consecration, and were sprinkled with the sacrificial blood and the holy anointing oil ( Leviticus 9); but, except for the high-priest, this one consecration sufficed for all their descendants, and was not repeated.

While on duty in the sanctuary they were arrayed in robes of linen which might never pass beyond the sacred precincts; and they must minister at the altar unshod.

In the small number of priests at first, it was probably necessary that all of them should be constantly on duty; but when in later times they had greatly multiplied, they were divided by David into twenty-four courses, each with a chief at its head, who should minister in turn ( 1 Chronicles 24:3-4). This arrangement was maintained ever after, although on the return from the captivity, some of the courses were wanting from the returning exiles ( Nehemiah 12:1-7; Nehemiah 12:12-21).

The whole order of the priests was concentrated, so to speak, in the high-priest. His office was also hereditary, but not with the same strictness. We find in the time of Eli that the high priesthood had passed to the house of Ithamar (Aaron’s younger son), and from his descendants it was again by divine direction transferred back to the elder branch. The duties and responsibilities of the high-priest were far more solemn than that of the ordinary priests. “Pity and sympathy also, according to the Ep. to the Hebr, enter into the idea of the high-priest.” Lange. There could be only one high-priest at a time, although a second, in some degree at least, seems to have been permitted during that abnormal period during the reign of David when the ark and the tabernacle were separated. The high-priest was restricted in marriage to a Hebrew virgin; his official robes were of the utmost splendor, and on his breast he wore the precious stones on which were engraved the names of the twelve tribes of Israel, while on the golden plate on his forehead was inscribed “holiness unto the Lord;” he was originally consecrated by a more ample anointing than his brethren, and this was repeated for each of his successors, so that he is described as having “the crown of the anointing oil of his God upon him” ( Leviticus 21:12), and, as we have seen, is often designated simply as “the anointed priest;” he must have succeeded to his office at whatever age his predecessor died or became incapacitated, and continued in it to the end of his own life, which formed a civil epoch ( Numbers 35:28; Numbers 35:32); no especial provision is made in the law for his support, and history shows that it was unnecessary to do Song of Solomon, as he was always amply provided for; the high-priest was forbidden the contact with the dead and the customary marks of sorrow even in those few cases which were permitted to other priests ( Leviticus 21:10-12), and that on the express ground of the peculiar completeness of his consecration. But his chief distinction lay in his being the embodiment, as it were, of the whole theocracy, and the mediator between God and the whole people. This was signified by manifold symbols on his robes; it was shown by his duty of offering the sin offering for himself and for the whole people (the same victim being required for each); and especially by his most solemn duties on the great day of Atonement ( Leviticus 16). From his position and religious duties necessarily flowed many others, as in the case of the ordinary priests, only that in the one case as in the other those of the high-priest were far higher and more important. In the Epistle to the Hebrews he is singled out not only as the representative of the whole priestly system, but as peculiarly the type of Christ, the one great High-Priest, Who alone could make effectual atonement, once for all, for the sins of all people. A “second priest,” or vice high-priest, is mentioned Jeremiah 52:24, and such an office is recognized by the later Jews. Literature: Kalisch, Preliminary Essay on Lev. VIII, and many of the works already mentioned under Sacrifices. Kueper, Das Priesterthum des Alten Bundes, Berlin, 1865.

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FIRST SECTION

The Consecration of the Priests

Leviticus 8:1-36

1And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a [the[FN1]] bullock for the sin-offering, 3and [the1] two rams, and a [the1] basket of unleavened bread: and gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the [omit the] congregation 4 And Moses did as the Lord commanded him; and the assembly [congregation[FN2]] was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the [omit the] congregation 5 And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done.

6And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed [bathed[FN3]] them with water 7 And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious8[curious[FN4]] girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith. And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim 9 And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put [and upon the mitre upon his forehead did he put[FN5]] the golden plate, the holy crown; as the Lord commanded Moses 10 And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle [dwelling-place[FN6]] and all that was therein, and sanctified them.[FN7] 11And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them 12 And he poured of[FN8] the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him 13 And Moses brought Aaron’s sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles [a girdle[FN9]], and put [bound] bonnets upon them; as the Lord commanded Moses.

14And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid[FN10]their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering 15 And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it [to atone for it[FN11]]. 16And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burnt it[FN12] upon the altar 17 But the bullock, and his hide, his flesh, and his dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the Lordcommanded Moses 18 And he brought[FN13] the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram 19 And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about 20 And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat 21 And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it[FN14] was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and [omit and] an offering made by fire unto the Lord; as the Lord commanded Moses 22 And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram 23 And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the 24 great toe of his right foot. And he[FN15] brought Aaron’s sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs [thumb[FN16]] of their right hands, and upon the great toes [toe16] of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about 25 And he took the fat, and the rump [the fat tail[FN17]] and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder [leg[FN18]]: 26and out of the basket of unleavened bread,[FN19] that was before the Lord, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder [leg19]: 27and he put all upon Aaron’s hands, and upon his sons’ hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the Lord 28 And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them[FN20] on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: it[FN21]is an offering made by fire unto the Lord 29 And Moses took the breast, and waved it for a wave offering before the Lord: for of the ram of consecration it was Moses’ part; as the Lord commanded Moses 30 And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons’ garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him.

31And Moses said unto Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of the [omit the] congregation[FN22] : and there eat with the bread that is in the basket of consecrations, as I [am[FN23]] commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it 32 And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire 33 And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the [omit the] congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you 34 As he hath done this day, so the Lord hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you 35 Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the [omit the] congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not: for so I am commanded 36 So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.

TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL

Leviticus 8:2. The Heb. has the article in all these cases, and it should be retained as referring to the commands given in Exodus 29.

Leviticus 8:4. הָעֵרָה. The word being precisely the same as in Leviticus 8:3, should certainly have the same translation. The Vulg. and Syr. prefix all, as in Leviticus 8:3.

Leviticus 8:6. וַיִּרְחַץ. See Textual Note29 on Leviticus 14:8.

Leviticus 8:7. חֵשֶׁב means simply girdle, and there is nothing in the Heb. answering to curious, yet as this word is used only of the girdle of the Ephod, while there are several other words for the ordinary girdle, and as the A. V. has uniformly rendered it curious girdle, it may be well to retain the adjective as the readiest way of marking in English the peculiarity of the girdle. It should, however, be in italics.

Leviticus 8:9. The A. V. is unnecessarily complicated. For the second וַיָּשֶׂם the Sam. reads ויתן.

Leviticus 8:10. מִשְׁכַּן. See Textual Note 8 on Leviticus 15:31.

Leviticus 8:10. Three MSS, followed by the LXX, read it in the singular.

Leviticus 8:12. One MS, followed by the Vulg, omits the partitive מ.

Leviticus 8:13. אַבְנֵט in the sing. (The ancient versions, however, have the plural). An entirely different word from חֵשֶׁב of Leviticus 8:7.

Leviticus 8:14. The Heb. verb וַיִּסְמֹךְ is in the sing. In the corresponding clause in Leviticus 8:18 it is plural, and so it is made here also by the Sam. and Syr.

Leviticus 8:15. לְכַפֵר עָלָיו. It is better here, as in Leviticus 6:30 (23), and Leviticus 16:20, to retain the almost universal rendering of בִּפֶר in the A. V. These three places are the only exceptions in Exodus,, Leviticus, or Num. The sense is clearly for it, rather than upon it, and it is so rendered in the corresponding passage. Exodus 29:36, comp37.

Leviticus 8:16. The missing pronoun is supplied in one MS. and the Arab.

Leviticus 8:18. For וַיַּקְרֵב the Sam. reads ויגש.

Leviticus 8:21. Five MSS, the Syr. and Vulg, omit the pronoun.

Leviticus 8:24. The LXX. says, Moses brought.

Leviticus 8:24. The singular, which is the Heb. form, is quite as accurate and expressive.

Leviticus 8:25. See Text. Note7 on Leviticus 3:9.

Leviticus 8:25. See Text. Note30 on Leviticus 7:32.

Leviticus 8:26. The LXX. here reads ἀπὸ τοῦ κανοῦ τῆς τελειώσεως.

Leviticus 8:28. The pronoun is supplied by one MS, the LXX, and the Syr.

Leviticus 8:28. This pronoun is wanting in two MSS, the Vulg. and Arab.

Leviticus 8:31. The Sam. and LXX. add ἐν τόπω ἁγίῳ.

Leviticus 8:31. The A. V. follows the Masoretic punctuation צִוֵּיתִי; but the LXX, Vulg. and Syr, that of Leviticus 8:35 צֻוֵּיתִי.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

In the chapters of this section we have the only prolonged narrative in Leviticus, in fact the only historical matter at all except the punishment of the blasphemer in Leviticus 24:10-23.

Leviticus 8:1. The LORD spake.—A special command to carry out now the command already given minutely in Exodus 28, 29,, 40.

Leviticus 8:2-5 contain the preliminary arrangements. Moses takes Aaron and his sons, and the various things previously provided for their consecration, and brings them into the court of the tabernacle. The four, sons of Aaron were brought, and the language would also include his grandsons, if there were any at this time of suitable age. The fact, however, that Eleazar entered the promised land, would make him less than twenty-one at this time, and therefore too young to have sons of sufficient age, and no sons of Nadab and Abihu are ever anywhere mentioned. The people were also gathered about the wide opening of the court, probably represented by their elders in the nearest places, and the mass of the men generally standing upon the surrounding heights which overlooked the tabernacle. Lange: “This is the ordinance: first, the persons; then the garments as symbols of the office; the anointing oil, the symbol of the Spirit; the bullock for the sin offering, the symbol of the priest favored with the entrusted atonement, and yet needing favor; the ram for the burnt offering, the symbol of the sacrificial employment; the ram for the sacrifice of consecration, the symbol of the priestly emoluments in true sacrifices of consecration; and the basket of unleavened bread, the symbol of life’s enjoyments of the priests, sanctified in every form by the oil of the Spirit.”

Leviticus 8:2. The basket, according to Exodus 29:2-3; Exodus 29:23, contained three kinds of bread all unleavened, the loaf, the oil bread, and the wafer anointed with oil.

Leviticus 8:3-4. The consecration was thus public, not only that Aaron might not seem “to take this honor unto himself;” but also that by their presence, the people might be assenting to the consecration of him who was to minister among them and for them.

Leviticus 8:6-13. The washing, anointing, and investiture.

Leviticus 8:6. And bathed them with water.—Not merely their hands and their feet, which Moses must have already done for himself, and which was always done by every priest who entered the tabernacle, or who approached the altar ( Exodus 40:31-32); but doubtless an ablution of the whole body as seems to be intended in Exodus 29:4, and as was practised on the great day of atonement ( Leviticus 16:4). This washing was obviously symbolical of the purity required in those who draw near to God, and is applied spiritually to the whole body of Christians, “made priests unto God” in Hebrews 10:22. With this comp. Christ’s receiving of baptism ( Matthew 3:13-15) before entering upon His public ministry.

Leviticus 8:7-9. The robing of Aaron comes first, then the sanctification of the tabernacle and all it contained, especially of the altar, then the anointing of Aaron, and finally the robing of his sons. Neither here nor in Exodus 29:5 is there any mention of the “linen breeches” of Exodus 28:42; Exodus 39:28 probably because these were simply “to cover their nakedness,” and were not considered a part of the official costume. As Kalisch suggests, Aaron and his sons probably put them on themselves immediately after their ablution. On the remaining articles of apparel see Exodus 28. Briefly, the coat was the long tunic of fine linen worn next the skin. According to Josephus (Ant. III:7, § 2), it reached to the feet, and was fastened closely to the arms. It was to be “embroidered” ( Exodus 28:39), i.e, woven, all of the same material and color, in diaper work. From Exodus 28:40-41; Exodus 39:27, this garment appears to have been the same for the high-priest and the common priests. The girdle next mentioned is not the “curious girdle” of the Ephod (חֵשֶׁב), but the אַבְנֵט described by Josephus (loc. cit.) as a long sash of very loosely woven linen, embroidered with flowers of scarlet, and purple, and blue, which was wound several times around the body and tied, the ends hanging down to the ankles ordinarily, but thrown over the shoulder when the priest was engaged in active duty.—The robe ( Exodus 28:31-35), wholly of blue, was woven without seam, apparently without sleeves, with a hole whereby it was put over the head. It is supposed to have reached a little below the knees, and to have been visible below, and also a little above, the Ephod. The hem at the bottom was ornamented with “pomegranates, blue, and purple, and scarlet,” with golden bells between them, which should sound as the high-priest went in and out of the holy place. Over this was the Ephod ( Exodus 28:6-7; Exodus 39:2-4), a vestment whose construction is imperfectly understood. The word etymologically, means simply a “vestment,” and a simple “linen Ephod” was worn by the common priests ( 1 Samuel 22:18), as well as by others engaged in religious services ( 1 Samuel 2:18; 2 Samuel 6:14; 1 Chronicles 15:27). The “vestment” or Ephod of the high-priest here spoken of, however, was a very different and much more gorgeous affair. Its material was שֵׁשׁ=fine linen (of which also the tunic mentioned above was made), while that of the other Ephods was בַּד or common linen of which the “linen breeches” were made. (The latter word, however, as the more general, is sometimes used for both, Leviticus 6:10 (3); Leviticus 16:4; Leviticus 16:23; Leviticus 16:32). The Ephod of the high-priest appears to have been made in two parts, one for the back and one for the breast, joined at the shoulders by two onyx stones set in gold, upon which were engraved the names of the tribes of Israel. To these stones were attached chains of pure wreathen gold for the support of the breastplate. According to Josephus (loc. cit., § 5), it had sleeves and a place left open upon the breast to be covered by the breast-plate. It was woven with gold thread and colors “with cunning work,” and with its attachments was one of the chief parts of the high-priest’s attire. Upon it, wrought of the same costly and gorgeous materials, was the curious girdle of the Ephod, woven on to one of the parts, and passing round the body, holding them both together. On this was put the breast-plate ( Exodus 28:15-30), a separate piece of cloth woven of the same materials, so that when folded it was “a span” square. By gold rings it was attached to the chains from the onyx stones on the shoulder, and by other gold rings it was tied with bands of blue lace to corresponding rings on the Ephod. To this breast-plate were attached by settings of gold, twelve precious stones, on each of which was engraved the name of one of the tribes of Israel.—Also he put in the breast-plate the Urim and the Thummim.—On these words many volumes have been written, and we can only here refer to the note on Exodus 28:30. From the way in which they are spoken of both there (comp. Leviticus 8:15-21) and here, they appear to have been something different from the precious stones before spoken of, and to have been placed, not on, but in the breast-plate, i.e., in the receptacle formed by its fold, although a great variety of authorities might be cited for the opposite view. There is nowhere any direction given for their preparation, and from the use of the definite article with each of them, it is likely that they were things already known. They were used as a means of ascertaining the will of God ( Numbers 27:21; 1 Samuel 28:6, etc.); but by precisely what process is not known, and there are now no means of ascertaining. The many conjectures concerning them are conveniently arranged by Clark (Speaker’s Com.) under three heads: (1) that the Divine will was manifested by some physical effect addressed to the eye or ear; (2) that they were a means of calling into action a prophetic gift in the high-priest; (3) that they were some contrivance for casting lots. The Urim and Thummim were here formally delivered to Aaron, and passed on to his successors; but the last recorded instance of their use is in the time of David, and they seem to have passed into disuse as revelations and teachings by prophets became more frequent. It is certain that they had disappeared, or their use had been lost, after the return from the captivity ( Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65).

And he put the mitre upon his head.—( Exodus 28:37-39). The word mitre is here used in its etymological sense, of a twisted band of fine linen around the head, which might now be described as a turban.The golden plate, the holy crown,—a plate of pure gold having engraved on it holiness to the Lord. This was attached to a “blue lace,” whereby it was fastened to the mitre. It was the crowning glory of the high-priest’s official dress, and its symbolism is fully expressed in the command for its preparation ( Exodus 28:38), “that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; and it shall be always upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. “This completed the investiture of Aaron, and it is added as the LORD commanded Moses, both to show that the command had been fulfilled, and also that only that which was commanded had been done. In this matter nothing was left to human device; every particular was expressly arranged by minute Divine directions; for everything was symbolic and intended gradually to teach Israel spiritual truths, which as yet they were only prepared to learn by these sensible images.

Leviticus 8:10-12. The anointing of the sacred things and of Aaron.

The composition of the anointing oil, and the careful restriction of its use had been minutely commanded ( Exodus 30:22-33). The Rabbis say that the art of compounding it was lost after the captivity, and hence from that time its use was necessarily discontinued. The things to be anointed had all been made “after the pattern shown in the Mount” ( Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 9:23) and expressly for their sacred uses; yet there was a fitness, such as has always been recognized by the sense of mankind, that they should first be especially set apart by a solemn ceremonial for their holy purpose. The tabernacle and all that was therein.—In Exodus 30:26-28, many of the things are specially mentioned, showing that Moses with the anointing oil must have passed not only into the holy place but into the holy of holies itself.

Leviticus 8:11. He sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times.—This refers to the brazen altar in the court, as is shown by the things enumerated with it. On the seven-fold sprinkling see on Leviticus 4:6. And anointed the altar.—As this is a different act from the sprinkling, so does this special sanctifying of the altar seem appropriate to its use in the sacrifices.

Leviticus 8:12. He poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head.—Comp. Psalm 133:2. “The anointing with oil was a symbol of endowment with the Spirit of God ( 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 16:13-14; Isaiah 61:1) for the duties of the office to which a person was consecrated,” Keil. The A. V. is quite accurate in marking the more abundant anointing of Aaron by the word poured. The symbolism of anointing is abundantly recognized in the New Test. as applied to Christ ( Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38, etc.). There has been much question whether the sons of Aaron were also here anointed. On the one hand, it had been commanded that they should be anointed ( Exodus 28:41; Exodus 40:15) “thou shalt anoint them as thou didst anoint their father,” and they are always recognized as having been anointed ( Leviticus 7:36; Leviticus 10:7); and on the other hand, there is no mention here of this having been done (which could hardly have been omitted had it taken place); and as Aaron was first robed, and then anointed, while his sons were not yet robed, it seems necessary to consider their unction as having been confined to the sprinkling with mingled oil and blood of Leviticus 8:30. This would be quite in accordance with the recognition of the high-priest alone as the anointed priest and with all those passages in which his anointing is spoken of as something peculiar. (The word as in Exodus 40:15 cannot, of course, be pressed—as Kalisch insists—to mean an exactly similar form of anointing).

Leviticus 8:13. Next comes the robing of Aaron’s sons, all in accordance with the commands so often referred to. The bonnets were also a sort of turban, but it may be inferred from the difference in the Heb. word that they were probably differently fashioned from that of the high-priest.

Leviticus 8:14-30. The sacrifices and accompanying ceremonies.

In the order of the sacrifices the sin offering comes first, then the burnt offering, lastly the peace offering; this, the normal order, is always observed (unless in certain exceptional cases) where the several kinds of sacrifice come together, as was evidently fitting in view of the special object of each.

The victim and the ritual of the sin offering are the same as that appointed for the sin offering of the high-priest in Leviticus 4:3-12, except that the blood was not brought into the sanctuary nor sprinkled “before the vail.” The reason commonly assigned for this is that the offering was not for any particular sin, but only for a general state of sinfulness. So Lange. But it is to be borne in mind that this sacrifice was not for Aaron alone, but for him and his sons together; also it was not for an already consecrated high-priest, but for one who was in the very act of being consecrated and not yet entitled to discharge the functions of the high-priest. In view of what he was to be, the victim might well be the same as that appointed for the ordinary sin offering of the high-priest; in view of what he actually was, it was fitting that there should be a difference in the ritual as regards the blood. Moses took the blood and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, as was done in all sin offerings, only here the object of the act seems to have been, in part at least, the altar itself. This had been already sprinkled and anointed; now by the blood it is still further purified, and also sanctified, and atonement made for it. On the necessity of the blood in addition to the oil, see Hebrews 9:21-22. The application of this to the altar was for the same general reasons as in case of the tabernacle and its contents, only that there was especial emphasis in regard to the altar on account of its peculiar use. As all things in heaven and earth are reconciled unto God by the blood of the cross ( Colossians 1:20), so must these typical things be reconciled by the blood of the typical sacrifice.

In all this service Moses, by a special Divine commission, acts as the priest. Hence he is spoken of in Psalm 99:6 as “among His priests,” and Philo calls him a high-priest. He did not, however, wear the priestly garments, and strictly he was not a priest at all. He had hitherto acted as priest ( Exodus 40:23), although he had not before offered a sin offering; but now he was both less and more than a priest. Less, in that with this consecration his priestly functions absolutely ceased; more, in that he now acts on God’s behalf as the Mediator of the Old Covenant ( Galatians 3:19). The Aaronic priesthood was continued with its powers by hereditary succession; but all chains must have a beginning, and all authority must have a giver. Here the first link of the chain, the beginning of all priestly authority, is given by Moses acting under an express commission for this purpose, from the Almighty. It is to be remembered that all these sacrifices were consumed by fire kindled in the ordinary way, the fire “from before the Lord” ( Leviticus 9:24) not having yet come forth.

Leviticus 8:18-21. The burnt offering differed in nothing from the ordinary burnt offering, although the victim was of a kind less commonly selected.

Leviticus 8:22-30. The peace offering, or ram of consecration. Any sacrificial animal might be offered in the ordinary peace offerings; but a ram, as here, was required along with a bullock for the priestly peace offering immediately after their consecration ( Leviticus 9:4-8), and a ram alone at the fulfilment of the Nazarite vow ( Numbers 6:14; Numbers 6:17), and this also formed a part of the varied peace offerings of the princes after the dedication of the altar and tabernacle ( Numbers 7:17; Numbers 7:23, etc.).

Leviticus 8:22. The ram of consecration, lit, “the ram of the fillings,” i.e. with which the hands of Aaron and his sons were to be filled for the wave-offering, Leviticus 8:27, and by this phraseology is the idea of consecration usually expressed according to the Hebrew idiom (comp. the verb in Judges 17:5; Judges 17:12; 1 Kings 13:33; Ezekiel 43:26, etc.). The LXX. renders it κριὸν τελειώσεως=the ram of perfecting, inasmuch as this was the completion of the consecration, and signified that the priest was now enabled henceforth to offer sacrifice to God. Wordsworth aptly compares it to the delivery of the Bible to one being ordained to the ministry in the early Christian Church to signify that he was now entitled to exercise his office of dispensing God’s word to the people. Lange gives another view of the sense: “The fact that Aaron too, and his sons, belonged to the congregation, and with it must bring offerings of their fulness towards the support that they received from it, is expressed in the command that they shall offer a second ram as a sacrifice of Fulnesses.” And further: “Knobel gives Ordination offering; Keil, Peace offering. The peace or thank offering, however, was not brought until the eighth day, and all the particulars in this chapter belong to ordination offerings. It is then the offering of the fulness of his emoluments, which indeed belongs to the true priestly character.”

Leviticus 8:24. Upon the tip of their right ear.—Whether the upper or the lower extremity of the ear is meant is disputed, and is immaterial. “He touched the extreme points, which represented the whole, of the ear, hand, and foot on the right, or more important and principal side: the ear because the priest was always to hearken to the word and commandment of God; the hand, because he was to discharge the priestly functions properly; and the foot, because he was to walk correctly in the sanctuary. Through this manipulation the three organs employed in the priestly service were placed, by means of their tips, en rapport with the sacrificial blood.” Keil (quoted in part by Lange). By the subsequent sprinkling of the same blood upon the altar all was associated especially with sacrifice, the pre-eminent priestly function. It is noticeable that the same parts of the cleansed leper were in the same way to be touched with the blood of his trespass offering ( Leviticus 14:14). In regard to the choice of the members on the right side, Theodoret (Qu8 in Lev.) significantly notes that “there are also left-handed actions and obedience of condemnation.”

Leviticus 8:25-28. The ritual of the wave offering is the same as in case of the ordinary peace offerings; only Aaron and his sons are here the offerers, and hence the portions waved were burned upon the altar, instead of being eaten by the priests. Lange says: “The command is to be particularly noticed, that the prophet should take this offering of the priests from their hands, and burn it upon the altar. The prophetical spirit must support the priesthood in the swinging and upheaving from the earth without which it is lost.”

Leviticus 8:29. Moses took the breast.—This also he waved for a wave offering, but not on Aaron’s hands. This was done by special command, and was not the part belonging ordinarily to the officiating priest himself, but to the priestly order generally. The parts belonging to the officiating priest were burned upon the altar: as if to show that Moses, by thus officiating for the moment under a peculiar authorization, did not become actually a priest, although he might be in some sense connected with the priestly order.

Leviticus 8:30. The sprinkling of Aaron and his sons and their garments once more, and now with the oil mingled with the blood of the sacrifice, completes the consecration service of this and each succeeding day. Lange: “The combination of the anointing oil and the blood of the sacrifice, of the life of the Spirit and the joyfulness of death, poured out over everything that was priestly, is here the typical ground-idea.” This is the only unction of the sons of Aaron that is recorded; but it seems quite enough to constitute them anointed priests.

Leviticus 8:31. Of the flesh of this sacrifice Aaron and his sons must eat; but no one else might share with them ( Exodus 29:33), not even Moses. In this it was sharply distinguished from the ordinary peace offering; and this distinction was further marked by the command that it should be eaten within the court of the tabernacle, and that only on the same day, and in its accompanying oblation there was no leavened bread. It was a priestly peace offering, and was to be eaten by Aaron and his sons as inchoate priests.

Leviticus 8:34. Rosenmüller notes that “the verb עָשָׂה is here to be taken passively, as often אָמַר and קָרָא. See 1 Samuel 23:22; Genesis 16:14.”

Leviticus 8:32-35. Lange: “Seven days they were to pass in holy seclusion in the court, seven days they were to bring the appointed sacrifices and to live on their sacrifice of consecration; what remained of it might not be devoted to common uses, but must be burned. So for seven days they were to keep holy watch, the watch of Jehovah in the court of the tabernacle, under the penalty of death. Moses makes particularly prominent the symbolic force of this divine watch; it is Jehovah’s express commandment. Keil makes plain, however, that they might still go out in certain emergencies.”

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

I. The whole matter of atonement, both in the sacrifices and in the priesthood, depended upon the Divine appointment; neither of them had any virtue or power to do away with human sin in themselves. Hence they could have been but types (since the Divine government is ever a reality), and looked forward to a Sacrifice which should have value, and a Priest who should have power, to accomplish in reality that which is here foreshadowed, and restore man to communion with God by giving him that holiness which is an essential prerequisite, and yet which of himself he can never attain.

II. By the fact that none could be a priest except by Divine appointment was taught under the old dispensation the truth so much emphasized in the new, that salvation is wholly of God’s free grace. No sacrifice for sin could bleed, no priest could sprinkle the blood, except as God Himself allowed and commanded.

III. Moses, who was not a priest, who had never been anointed, consecrated Aaron, and by Divine command communicated to another that which he did not himself have. This illustrates the fact that God is not Himself limited by the limitations He has placed upon man. He can use for a priest one to whom the priesthood, except for this use, has not been communicated.

IV. Although God appointed, and Moses ministered, yet must all the people be summoned to witness the consecration of the priests, and by their presence give their assent. This as all other parts of the Levitical system was of the nature of a covenant. God alone could proclaim the laws; but it is of the people to promise obedience: God alone could constitute men priests; but it is for the people to accept and avail themselves of their mediation.

V. Lange on Leviticus 8:13 : “And now first are the assistants spoken of. The whole priesthood is concentrated in the anointed priest, the head priest, the high-priest: a symbol which has been fulfilled in Christ, but not a second time in an inferior symbol.”

VI. In this chapter of Leviticus and the corresponding one of Exodus the consecration of Aaron is frequently expressed in the LXX. by the verb τελειόω and its derivative τελείωσις; and correspondingly, with express reference to this law, the same word is applied to the consecration of Christ in Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 7:28. He was consecrated in the sufferings of the cross, and thenceforward continues our high-priest and intercessor for evermore.

VII. The washing of Aaron and his sons, the linen drawers, and the linen tunic express as clearly and emphatically as is possible to symbolism the absolute necessity of inward purity in those who would draw near to God.

VIII. The culmination of the high-priest’s vestments was in the golden plate on his forehead, and on this was inscribed “holiness to the Lord.” This then was the culmination of the Levitical, as of every other dispensation; the one point towards which all lines of precept and of ceremony, of plain Divine command and of symbolical teaching converge is “Holiness to the Lord.”

HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL

As Moses by Divine appointment was able to consecrate Aaron, so may any one, in the power of God, become to another the channel of grace which he himself may not possess; one’s own deficiencies are then no sufficient bar to work for others. Moses summoned all the people: there are none without interest in the means provided for the atonement for sin. The Sept. here ( Leviticus 8:3-4) used the word ἐκκλησιάζω (var. lect. ἐκκλησία), and this is the first place where that word or ἐκκλησία occurs; Cyril of Jerusalem hence notes that the Church is thus presented to us first when Aaron, the type of Christ, is invested with the high-priesthood. Aaron was first washed, then vested; Origen thereupon remarks (Hom6 in Lev. § 2) that except the Christian be washed from his sins, he cannot put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Comp. Revelation 1:5-6. “So our great High Priest was publicly inaugurated in the presence of a large multitude by His baptism..... So all Christians, who “are made priests to God” in Christ, are initiated into their priesthood in baptism.” Wordsw. With the symbolical setting apart for holy uses of the sacred vessels compare the expressions in the N. Test. “chosen vessel” ( Acts 9:15), vessels to honor and to dishonor, and vessels of wrath ( Romans 9:21-23), etc. “The ephod bearing the onyx stones on the shoulder straps, with the breast-plate containing the Urim and the Thummim, is symbolic of the priestly function..... The holy crown, with its legible and intelligible motto, indicates the holiness and authority which appertain to the royal Priest. And in their correlation, the stones on the shoulder especially denote the priestly, those on the breast-plate the prophetic, and the golden plate on the forehead the kingly, function of the Mediator.” Murphy. As Aaron and his sons must be anointed to become priests, Song of Solomon, says St. John, has Christ communicated an unction to the Christian which “abideth” in him ( 1 John 2:20; 1 John 2:27). The three sacrifices of the consecration, the sin, the burnt, and the peace offering, as they together represent the three-fold fulness of the one sacrifice of Christ, so do they point out the three-fold duty by which Christians may obtain the benefits of that sacrifice, and thereby become “priests unto God,” viz. death unto sin, fulness of obedience, and communion with God. Aaron was consecrated by these sacrifices to be a priest “offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins;” but “Christ, “after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever,” “hath perfected (τετελείωκεν, hath consecrated as priests) forever them that are sanctified” ( Hebrews 10:14). Wordsworth. When Moses had gathered the people, he explained to them what he was about to do ( Leviticus 8:5), that they might be intelligent witnesses; so is the service of God ever a reasonable service. Aaron’s ear, hand and foot were touched with the anointing oil as well as himself sprinkled; so must each single faculty of those who have “the unction from the Holy One” be especially sanctified and consecrated to God’s service, as well as the whole body soul and spirit be generally devoted to Him, for the general only becomes concretely real in the particulars. In the mingling of the blood and oil ( Leviticus 8:30) for the anointing seems to be taught that not sacrifice for sin alone suffices; but that with this must be joined the unction of the Holy Spirit. If only sin is put out without anything being taken in, the house is but swept and garnished for its old occupant. With the watch of the now partially consecrated priests seven days in the court of the tabernacle, compare the waiting of the Apostles in Jerusalem after our Lord’s ascension until endued at Pentecost with power from on high. And with this, too, compare the life-long watch of every Christian; he has already received an unction from on high, but waits in this earthly tabernacle until he shall be called at last to enter into the Holy of holies.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Leviticus 8:2. The Heb. has the article in all these cases, and it should be retained as referring to the commands given in Exodus 29.

FN#2 - Leviticus 8:4. הָעֵרָה. The word being precisely the same as in Leviticus 8:3, should certainly have the same translation. The Vulg. and Syr. prefix all, as in Leviticus 8:3.

FN#3 - Leviticus 8:6. וַיִּרְחַץ. See Textual Note29 on Leviticus 14:8.

FN#4 - Leviticus 8:7. חֵשֶׁב means simply girdle, and there is nothing in the Heb. answering to curious, yet as this word is used only of the girdle of the Ephod, while there are several other words for the ordinary girdle, and as the A. V. has uniformly rendered it curious girdle, it may be well to retain the adjective as the readiest way of marking in English the peculiarity of the girdle. It should, however, be in italics.

FN#5 - Leviticus 8:9. The A. V. is unnecessarily complicated. For the second וַיָּשֶׂם the Sam. reads ויתן.

FN#6 - Leviticus 8:10. מִשְׁכַּן. See Textual Note 8 on Leviticus 15:31.

FN#7 - Leviticus 8:10. Three MSS, followed by the LXX, read it in the singular.

FN#8 - Leviticus 8:12. One MS, followed by the Vulg, omits the partitive מ.

FN#9 - Leviticus 8:13. אַבְנֵט in the sing. (The ancient versions, however, have the plural). An entirely different word from חֵשֶׁב of Leviticus 8:7.

FN#10 - Leviticus 8:14. The Heb. verb וַיִּסְמֹךְ is in the sing. In the corresponding clause in Leviticus 8:18 it is plural, and so it is made here also by the Sam. and Syr.

FN#11 - Leviticus 8:15. לְכַפֵר עָלָיו. It is better here, as in Leviticus 6:30 (23), and Leviticus 16:20, to retain the almost universal rendering of בִּפֶר in the A. V. These three places are the only exceptions in Exodus,, Leviticus, or Num. The sense is clearly for it, rather than upon it, and it is so rendered in the corresponding passage. Exodus 29:36, comp37.

FN#12 - Leviticus 8:16. The missing pronoun is supplied in one MS. and the Arab.

FN#13 - Leviticus 8:18. For וַיַּקְרֵב the Sam. reads ויגש.

FN#14 - Leviticus 8:21. Five MSS, the Syr. and Vulg, omit the pronoun.

FN#15 - Leviticus 8:24. The LXX. says, Moses brought.

FN#16 - Leviticus 8:24. The singular, which is the Heb. form, is quite as accurate and expressive.

FN#17 - Leviticus 8:25. See Text. Note7 on Leviticus 3:9.

FN#18 - Leviticus 8:25. See Text. Note30 on Leviticus 7:32.

FN#19 - Leviticus 8:26. The LXX. here reads ἀπὸ τοῦ κανοῦ τῆς τελειώσεως.

FN#20 - Leviticus 8:28. The pronoun is supplied by one MS, the LXX, and the Syr.

FN#21 - Leviticus 8:28. This pronoun is wanting in two MSS, the Vulg. and Arab.

FN#22 - Leviticus 8:31. The Sam. and LXX. add ἐν τόπω ἁγίῳ.

FN#23 - Leviticus 8:31. The A. V. follows the Masoretic punctuation צִוֵּיתִי; but the LXX, Vulg. and Syr, that of Leviticus 8:35 צֻוֵּיתִי.

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Leviticus 8:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/leviticus-8.html. 1857-84.

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Saturday, December 7th, 2019
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