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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Leviticus 9

 

 

Introduction

Chapter 9 The Priests Participate in Their First Offerings And The Glory Of Yahweh Is Revealed.

The seven days of consecration now being completed the priests are called on to conduct their first series of offerings in order to sanctify the people to Yahweh. It is noteworthy that the Priest’s purification for sin offering for himself now offered does not follow the pattern earlier laid down. Its blood is not borne within the Holy Place. This may be because as yet he has not entered the Holy Place, nor has it yet become his own preserve, and thus the blood of his purification for sin offering is at this point applied to the altar of burnt offering, and not taken within the Sanctuary. For he cannot yet have defiled the Sanctuary. This again is an indication of the authenticity of the narrative and of its early date.

But once he has entered the Sanctuary for the first time, conducted by Moses, and has re-emerged, God will seal His approval by miraculously burning up the whole burnt offering on the altar of burnt offering which usually took a considerable time to be consumed (Leviticus 6:9).


Verse 1

Chapter 9 The Priests Participate in Their First Offerings And The Glory Of Yahweh Is Revealed.

The seven days of consecration now being completed the priests are called on to conduct their first series of offerings in order to sanctify the people to Yahweh. It is noteworthy that the Priest’s purification for sin offering for himself now offered does not follow the pattern earlier laid down. Its blood is not borne within the Holy Place. This may be because as yet he has not entered the Holy Place, nor has it yet become his own preserve, and thus the blood of his purification for sin offering is at this point applied to the altar of burnt offering, and not taken within the Sanctuary. For he cannot yet have defiled the Sanctuary. This again is an indication of the authenticity of the narrative and of its early date.

But once he has entered the Sanctuary for the first time, conducted by Moses, and has re-emerged, God will seal His approval by miraculously burning up the whole burnt offering on the altar of burnt offering which usually took a considerable time to be consumed (Leviticus 6:9).

Leviticus 9:1

‘And it came about on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel.’

The seven days of consecration being completed Moses now calls on Aaron, his sons and the elders of Israel for the next stage in these solemn events. The whole of Israel is now to be involved. Aaron and his sons are beginning the ministry that will take up the remainder of their lives, and they will now make their first offerings on behalf of the people.

For us the eighth day occurs once we have come to Christ and put our trust in Him, and are sanctified in Him (1 Corinthians 1:2; 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 6:11; Hebrews 2:11; Hebrews 13:12). Then we too are set apart for His service for the remainder of our lives.


Verse 2

‘And he said to Aaron, “Take a calf of the herd for a purification for sin offering, and a ram for a whole burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before Yahweh.” ’

It is noteworthy that instead of the mature bull ox (Leviticus 4:3) Aaron is to offer a bull calf for his own purification for sin offering. This is the only time when a calf is offered. Some see it as having in mind his failure with respect to the golden calf (Exodus 32:4) which is now especially atoned for. But the significance may rather lie in the fact that this is not for a particular sin, nor is it to cleanse the Holy Place. His priesthood is yet in its infancy. He has not yet failed as a priest, and he has not yet entered the Holy Place, and a bull ox has already been offered for him in 8:14. Thus the bull ox here is younger, and in its infancy. (It may also have had the practical purpose that it would take less time for the flames to consume it, with so much to follow).

With it he will offer a ram for a whole burnt offering as in his consecration. Both are to be without blemish. They are to be offered to Yahweh.

When we consider the process of consecration that he and the priests have already gone through it makes us recognise that none of these sacrifices could really deal with the problem of sin. Continually therefore the fact of his sinfulness has to be brought before God, and the means provided by which he can find ceremonial purification and atonement. Really, like all who were accepted in Old Testament days, they were accepted by the unmerited love and compassion of God, with in mind the Great Sacrifice yet to come.

And as Aaron and his sons had to offer purification for sin and whole burnt offerings for themselves constantly before Yahweh, so are we to come continually into His light and seek for the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1:7), and to continually rededicate ourselves to His service. It is a reminder that while on earth none of us are wholly free from the tyranny of sin. The one who thinks that he stands, should ever take heed lest he fall.


Verse 3-4

‘And to the children of Israel you will speak, saying, “Take a he-goat for a purification for sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both a year old, without blemish, for a whole burnt offering, and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before Yahweh, and a grain offering mingled with oil, for today Yahweh appears to you.’

Having offered for himself he can then offer for the people, ‘the children of Israel’. For the people the offerings are to be a he-goat for the purification for sin offering, a year old calf and lamb for a whole burnt offering, and a bull ox and a ram for peace sacrifices, together with a grain offering mingled with oil. And being on behalf of the whole people they are male.

Again there is a lowering in level of the offerings. This may be because again the people have not yet had time to ‘sin’ to any extent since the consecration of the priests has taken place and the new way of worship has been introduced, so that instead of a bull ox for a purification for sin offering for the people (Leviticus 4:14), there is a he-goat. But it may also be because this was the people’s offering excluding the priests, while that for the ‘whole congregation of Israel’ (Leviticus 4:13) was seen as including the priest (see on Leviticus 10:16-20)

For the whole burnt offering there was here a calf and a lamb. This was probably in order to indicate that their new status and need for atonement was in its infancy. But it was also because the lamb was also for the morning sacrifice, for the regular morning and evening sacrifices were to be of a similar lamb (Exodus 29:38).

The third group of offerings was to be of a bull ox and a ram for their peace sacrifice. Here they would be partaken of and represented Israel’s present well being and position of peace with God which was full developed. Thus the constituents are carefully selected.


Verse 5

‘And they brought what Moses commanded before the tent of meeting, and all the congregation drew near and stood before Yahweh.’

The priests and the elders brought to Moses in front of the tent of meeting all that he had commanded. Then all Israel gathered and ‘stood before Yahweh’. That is they stood, rank after rank, looking towards the door of the tent of meeting behind which was the Sanctuary which included the earthly resting place of Yahweh as King (compare Isaiah 6:1). Here for the first time would their new Representative make these offerings on their behalf, an assurance of God’s provision for the future if they remained faithful to His covenant.


Verse 6

‘And Moses said, “This is the thing which Yahweh commanded that you should do, and the glory of Yahweh shall appear to you.” ’

Moses then informed them that in some way Yahweh intended to manifest Himself to them. As long as they followed his instructions closely, the glory of Yahweh would appear to them. We can imagine the awe and expectancy and reverence with which they watched that day. And if we would know the presence of God with us it can also only be by full obedience.


Verse 7

‘And Moses said to Aaron, “Draw near to the altar, and offer your purification for sin offering, and your whole burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself, and for the people, and offer the oblation of the people, and make atonement for them, as Yahweh commanded.” ’

Then Moses commands Aaron to carry on and for the first time fulfil his function as the Priest. Imagine the situation. Aaron had watched Moses do it time and again, but now the responsibility was his. From now on Moses would no more engage in priestly duties, the onus would be on Aaron and his sons.

First he is to offer a purification for sin offering for himself, followed by a whole burnt offering. Cleansing from sin for himself must come first, and then atonement and reconciliation, dedication and tribute. But even as he offers these for himself he will be obtaining a level of atonement for the people, for it was to be ‘for yourself, and for the people’. As ‘the Priest’ even in this he represents the people. Any offering for himself is therefore also on behalf of all.

But then he is to offer the people’s oblation (their ‘required offering’) finalising their atonement, finalising the covering before God of all their sin so that it is no more. It would be a process that would begin here and go on daily until sacrifices themselves ceased.


Verse 8

‘So Aaron drew near to the altar, and slew the calf of the purification for sin offering, which was for himself.’

Aaron accordingly drew near to the altar and as the suppliant slew the calf of purification for sin, which was for himself. He first had to be purified


Verse 9

‘And the sons of Aaron presented the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, but the fat, and the kidneys, and the covering from the liver of the purification for sin offering, he burnt on the altar, as Yahweh commanded Moses.’

Then he switched roles, for he moved to the altar ready to receive the necessary parts of the sacrifice from his sons who had meanwhile been acting as priests. His sons, who had caught the blood in a vessel when Aaron slew the calf, then brought the blood to Aaron, who dipped his finger in the blood and applied it to the horns of the altar to purify the altar which would offer up his purification for sin offering.

Normally in the case of a purification for sin offering for a priest the blood was to be taken within the Holy Place and sprinkled before the veil, and be applied to the horns on the altar of incense (Leviticus 4:6-7). But as yet no one apart from Moses had entered the Holy Place, and he had not defiled it by specific sin. Therefore no purification was needed there. All that had had contact with Aaron was in the courtyard, and the most holy of these was the altar. The blood was therefore applied to the horns of the altar.

Then the blood was applied to the base, and the fat and vital parts were burned on the altar, just as Yahweh had commanded Moses. This is the last reference to Moses’ obedience to God’s commands, an idea which has been repeated again and again in order to emphasise his obedience (see Leviticus 8:4-5; Leviticus 8:9; Leviticus 8:13; Leviticus 8:17; Leviticus 8:21; Leviticus 8:29; Leviticus 8:34; Leviticus 8:36; Leviticus 9:6-7; Leviticus 9:10). All that was done was done at God’s command, and Moses obeyed implicitly and without question. But from now on obedience is in the hand of Aaron and his sons. Moses was no longer involved. Sadly it would not last for long, and a terrible lesson would have to be learned, that God’s ordinances must not be interfered with.

The fact that the phrase ceases here demonstrates that it was the writer’s intention to bring home the obedience of Moses. Had it just been a stereotyped phrase it would have continued. He wants us to know that Moses had done in all this exactly as God had commanded.


Verse 11

‘And the flesh and the skin he burnt with fire outside the camp.’

The remainder of the purification for sin offering was then taken outside the camp (to a clean place) and burned so as to take it out of reach of earth. It was so holy that it went up to God outside the camp.


Verse 12

‘And he slew the whole burnt offering, and Aaron's sons delivered to him the blood, and he sprinkled it on the altar round about.’

Then similar procedures were observed for the whole burnt offering. It was for his atonement and dedication, as well as that of the people. Aaron slew it, his sons caught the blood, and Aaron sprinkled it on all four sides of the altar. Atonement was made and he was thereby dedicated to God.


Verse 13

‘And they delivered the burnt-offering to him, piece by piece, and the head, and he burnt them on the altar.’

Then his sons handed him ‘piece by piece’ the parts of the sacrifice, including the head. It is clear that the task of skinning it and cutting it up had been left to them due to the necessities of the situation (Aaron could not do two things at once). Thus as each cut off a part they handed it to Aaron. This accurate and unusual description again confirms that we are reading the evidence of an eye-witness. And as he received each piece he laid it on the flames of the altar.


Verse 14

‘And he washed the innards and the legs, and burnt them on the whole burnt offering on the altar.’

Then Aaron washed the innards and the legs and burnt them also on the altar. Thus was purification and atonement made for him. In the same way Jesus too was offered ‘piece by piece’ as through His earthly life He suffered many things, and would suffer worse at the end. But thereby His offering when it was made was sufficient for the whole world.


Verse 15

‘And he presented the people's oblation, and took the goat of the purification for sin offering which was for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first.’

Now he was in a position to offer the people’s oblation (gift which they were obliged to make). The elders mentioned in Leviticus 9:1 may have provided representatives for the slaying of the beast, or it may be that Aaron himself slew it as the people’s representative (depending on how literally we take ‘he slew it’), and Aaron then offered the purification for sin offering in accordance with the required method, as he had done with his own purification for sin offering, which had also been on behalf of the people because he was their representative. He would be ultra-careful, at this his first attempt, to ensure that the whole procedure was correctly carried through. He must have been as nervous as any novice.


Verse 16

‘And he presented the whole burnt offering, and offered it according to the ordinance.’

Then he presented their whole burnt offering and offered it ‘according to the ordinance’, that is, as laid down in the Law.


Verse 17

‘And he presented the grain offering, and filled his hand from it, and burnt it on the altar, besides the whole burnt offering of the morning.’

After this he took a handful of the grain offering as a memorial and burned it on the altar ‘besides the whole burnt offering of the morning’. This presumably meant the whole burnt offering that he had just offered. It was the morning offering on behalf of the people. From this time on this lamb (LXX amnon, compare John 1:29) for a whole burnt offering would be offered morning and afternoon continually.


Verses 18-21

‘He slew also the ox and the ram, the sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people, and Aaron's sons delivered to him the blood, which he sprinkled on the altar round about, and the fat of the ox and of the ram, the fat tail, and that which covers the innards, and the kidneys, and the covering of the liver, and they put the fat on the breasts, and he burnt the fat on the altar, and the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved for a wave-offering before Yahweh, as Moses commanded.’

Aaron then offered the bull ox and the ram which were to be the sacrifices of peace offerings on behalf of the people. He slew them, his sons caught the blood, then they passed it to him for its application to the sides of the altar.

After this he burnt on the altar the fat and the vital parts, while the breasts and the right thighs he waved as a wave-offering before Yahweh. But while they belonged to Yahweh, as the waving indicated, for it was an offering made to Him, these were to be retained for the benefit of the priests. In this case because all the priests were involved in the peace sacrifices all would partake equally. Normally the thigh would belong to the officiating priest.

So, having been consecrated, Aaron’s next immediate responsibility had been first for himself and then for God’s people. We too when consecrated to God through salvation must watch for our own lives and then for the lives of others. We will need daily cleansing, but it should be followed by daily service. Our lives as His priests are to be wholly His, and to have ‘all the people’ in mind.


Verse 22

‘ And Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people, and blessed them, and he came down from offering the purification for sin offering, and the whole burnt offering, and the peace offerings.’

Then having satisfactorily completed the offerings and sacrifices Aaron lifted up his hands and blessed the people. It is probable that he had seen Moses do it time and again, but now it was his responsibility. He was their mediator and representative, and God’s mediator towards them. Then he ‘came down’. This may suggest that in order to bless the people he had mounted some kind of dais so that he might be seen by all.


Verse 23

‘And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and came out, and blessed the people, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people.’

Moses and Aaron, the veteran and the new boy, then went into the Holy Place through the entrance curtain. But we are told nothing of what they did. Perhaps Moses was showing to Aaron all the different furniture in the Holy Place with which he would have to be familiar, for it was he who had set them up (Exodus 40:18-30; Exodus 40:33). But this was known only to themselves. The person who is recording what happened had no knowledge of what occurred within the tent, and therefore merely says, ‘they went in -- and came out’. What better evidence could we have that these are the words of an eyewitness. Such subtlety would have been beyond an inventor.

On coming out they once again blessed the people. And then as promised the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people. The One Who had led them up to this point, Who had appeared to them in a pillar of cloud and fire, Who had revealed His glory on Mount Sinai, Whose glory at this time filled the tent of meeting (Exodus 40:34), now let His glory break forth through the cloud that covered the tent of meeting, and so that He could appear before all the people. They beheld the glory of God. But even so it was no doubt through the cloud, or else they would have been unable to bear it.


Verse 24

‘And there came forth fire from before Yahweh, and consumed on the altar the burnt-offering and the fat. And when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.’

God then sent forth a streak of fire from the tabernacle and consumed on the altar the whole burnt offering and the fat. Of course there was much more than that on the altar. On top of the whole burnt offering of the morning sacrifice had been piled the parts of the sacrifices of peace offerings. Thus they too would be wholly consumed in a moment by this fierce flame. But the point being emphasised is that God was making clear His acceptance of the whole burnt offering for atonement, dedication and tribute.

For we must recognise that these offerings did not usually all burn up instantly. In Leviticus 6:6 we saw that the evening whole burnt offering was expected to continue burning through the night until the morning. Thus what God consumed was the burning carcases that were still burning away through the morning. They had offered them by fire, now He revealed by His act that He had personally received them through fire. He too was participating in the ceremony.

“And when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” The appearance of the glory of Yahweh, and the flame coming to consume the whole burnt offering, produced an immediate reaction in the crowd. They yelled out in wonder, awe and fear, and fell on their faces. This was the full prostration offered to a powerful overlord, but it was also the reaction of those who could not bear the sight of what had appeared to them. Like the seraphim in the presence of the glory of God (Isaiah 6:2) they had to hide their faces. Once again they had beheld something that they would never forget (or at least for short time). In the face of this how could there be opposition to the appointment of Aaron and his sons? We will soon see.

So was the priesthood established, and so did God reveal His satisfaction at what had taken place. The procedure had been long and to some extent repetitious, but surely that would mean that lessons had been learned. Who now could do anything but walk in awe of the Holy One of Israel, and obey Him implicitly? (The answer is, of course, ‘sinful man’).

It is a reminder to us as Christians that our position before God was also not bought lightly and without a price. Jesus Christ came as our High Priest, appointed by God and carried through the offering and sacrifice necessary for our salvation, for our purification, for our atonement, for our reconciliation, and so that He might sanctify us as His priests. And the road for Him was long and arduous, but He succeeded at last, and His work on our behalf now continues as He acts as our Trek Leader in Heaven (Hebrews 2:10). And we too, if we would serve with Him, must go through a divinely appointed period of sanctification so that we might be useful in His service, first accepted in the Beloved, and then brought to full dedication, and then shaped by Him in accordance with His will (Philippians 2:13). For some it takes longer than others, but until we have come as Aaron did, laying aside all else that we might serve Him, our lives will not be fruitful in His service. But when we do, then the glory of the Lord will break forth upon us, and we will shout and throw ourselves at His feet.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Leviticus 9:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/leviticus-9.html. 2013.

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Sunday, January 19th, 2020
Second Sunday after Epiphany
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