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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
Leviticus 8; 9; 10: The Service of the Sancuary Inaugurated
This is the only historical portion of the Book of Leviticus, with the exception of Leviticus 24:10-23.
1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;
A bullock ... two rams ... a basket - compare Exodus 29:1-3. This shows the coherence of this part of Leviticus with the latter part of Exodus. The basket of unleavened bread used on this occasion appears to have contained:
(1) cakes or loaves of the ordinary unleavened bread;
(2) cakes of oiled bread, rather, oil bread (see Leviticus 2:1, Leviticus 2:4); and
(3) oiled wafers (see Leviticus 2:4, Leviticus 2:6).
Rabbinical tradition says that there were six cakes of each sort.
3And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Gather ... - Rather, gather all the assembly together toward the entrance of the tent of meeting. See Leviticus 4:13. The whole body of the people were summoned on this occasion, and the elders probably occupied the first places. The elders are especially called together in an unequivocal manner to receive directions to provide the first sacrifices for the nation to be offered by the newly consecrated priests Leviticus 9:1, and the body of the people afterward assemble as they do here Leviticus 9:5. The spot designated was the portion of the court in front of the tabernacle (see Leviticus 1:3 note). Toward this space the people were commanded to assemble to witness the great national ceremony of the consecration of the priesthood, the solemn setting apart of one of their families, the members of which were henceforth to stand as mediators between them and Yahweh in carrying out the precepts of the ceremonial law. Those who could do so, may have come into the court, and a great number of others may have occupied the heights which overlooked the enclosure of the court. As the series of ceremonies was repeated every day during a week Leviticus 8:33, it is natural to suppose that some of the people attended on one day and some on another.
4And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
5And 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 them with water.
Washed them with water - Moses caused them to bathe entirely (compare Leviticus 16:4), not merely to wash their hands and feet, as they were to do in their daily ministrations. See the marginal reference. This bathing, which the high priest had also to go through on the day of atonement, was symbolic of the spiritual cleansing required of all 2 Corinthians 7:1, but especially of those who had to draw near to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people Hebrews 7:26; Matthew 3:15.
7And 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 curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith.
See the notes at Exodus 28.
8And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.
9And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses.
The holy crown - The golden plate of the mitre was so called as the distinctive badge of the high priest's consecration. See Leviticus 21:12.
10And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.
Moses first anointed with the holy oil Exodus 30:25 the tabernacle and all therein, that is, the ark of the covenant, the table of showbread, the candlestick and the golden altar, with all the articles that belonged to them.
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.
Sprinkled ... the altar seven times - The altar of burnt-offering was distinguished by this sevenfold sprinkling with the holy oil. The number of the covenant was thus brought into connection with those acts of sacrifice by which the covenant between Yahweh and the worshipper was formally renewed and confirmed.
12And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.
As investing the priest with official garments was a recognition before men of the official position of the person (see Exodus 28:3 note), so the anointing him with oil was an acknowledgment that all fitness for his office, all the powers with which he would rightly fulfill its duties, must come from the Lord.
So, again, with the sanctification of the holy things. Each of them was intended by divine wisdom to convey a spiritual meaning to the mind of man. They were means of grace to the devout worshipper. The oil poured upon them was a recognition of this fact, and at the same time it made them holy and set them apart from all profane and ordinary uses. On kindred grounds, though to express another idea, the altar was to be sanctified also by blood. See Leviticus 8:15 note.
13And Moses brought Aaron's sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the LORD commanded Moses.
Aaron's sons - The common priests. Nothing is said here, or in Exodus 29:7-9, of the anointing of the common priests, though it is expressly commanded in Exodus 28:41; Exodus 40:15, and is evidently implied as a fact in Leviticus 7:36; Leviticus 10:7; Numbers 3:3. It would seem that the anointing of the common priests consisted in some rite common to them and the high priest Exodus 40:15, and this was the sprinkling mentioned in Leviticus 8:30. Compare further Leviticus 10:7 with Leviticus 21:12.
14And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering.
Moses as the mediator of the covenant of the Law Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 8:6 was called to perform the priestly functions, in consecrating those on whom henceforth those functions were to devolve, and in inaugurating the legal order of sacrifices. See Exodus 40:23 note. The sin-offering was now offered for the first time. The succession in which the sacrifices followed each other on this occasion, first the sin-offering, then the burnt-offering, and lastly the peace-offering, has its ground in the meaning of each sacrifice, and became the established custom in later ages. The worshipper passed through a spiritual process. He had transgressed the Law, and he needed the atonement signified by the sin-offering: if his offering had been made in truth and sincerity, he could then offer himself as an accepted person, as a sweet savour, in the burnt-offering; and in consequence, he could enjoy communion with the Lord and with his brethren in the peace-offering.
See the marginal references. The flesh of the sin-offering could not be eaten by any but a legally consecrated priest (Leviticus 6:25 note). Moses therefore could not eat of it himself, though he was, for the occasion, performing the duties of a priest. Those whom he was consecrating could not eat it, not only because they were not yet duly installed, but because the sacrifice was offered on their behalf, and the body of the victim stood to them in the same relation as that of the regular sin-offering afterward stood to the high priest.
15And 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.
Purified the altar ... sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it - The altar had been sanctified by the anointing oil Leviticus 8:11 like the priests who were to officiate at it; it was now, like them, sanctified by blood, in acknowledgment of the alienation of all nature, in itself, from God, and the need of a reconciliation to Him of all things by blood. Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:21-22. See Leviticus 17:11; Exodus 28:38.
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 burned it upon the altar.
17But the bullock, and his hide, his flesh, and his dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the LORD commanded Moses.
18And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
Atonement having been made, Aaron and his sons were now permitted, by the laying on of their hands, to make themselves one with the victim, which was to be sent up to Yahweh as "a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord." All was done strictly according to the ritual Leviticus 1:3-9, except that Moses performed the duties of the priest.
19And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
20And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat.
21And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
22And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
The ram of consecration - The sacrifice of this ram was by far the most unique part of the whole ceremony. The words may be literally rendered "the ram of the fillings", and the name has been supposed to have reference to the ceremony in which Moses filled the hands of the priests; see Leviticus 8:27. The offering was in the highest sense "the sacrifice of completion or fulfilling", as being the central point of the consecrating rite. The final perfection of the creature is consecration to the Lord.
23And 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 great toe of his right foot.
Before casting forth the blood round the altar in the usual manner, Moses took a portion of the blood and put some of it on the right extremities of each of the priests. This, being performed with the blood of the peace-offering, has been supposed to figure the readiness of the priest who is at peace with Yahweh to hear with the ear and obey the divine word, to perform with the hand the sacred duties of his office, and to walk with the feet in the way of holiness.
24And he brought Aaron's sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
25And he took the fat, and the rump, 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:
In the rite of filling the hands of the priests, Moses took the portions of the victim which usually belonged to the altar, with the right shoulder (or leg); he placed upon them one cake of each of the three kinds of unleavened bread contained in the basket (see Leviticus 8:2 note), and then put the whole first upon the hands of Aaron and in succession upon the hands of his sons: in each case, according to Jewish tradition, he put his own hands under the hands of the priest, moving them backwards and forwards, so as to wave the mass to and fro.
In this remarkable ceremony the gifts of the people appear to have been made over to the priests, as if in trust, for the service of the altar. The articles were presented to Yahweh and solemnly waved in the hands of the priests, but not by their own act and deed. The mediator of the Law, who was expressly commissioned on this occasion, was the agent in the process.
The rump - See Leviticus 3:9 note.
26And out of the basket of unleavened bread, 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:
27And he put all upon Aaron's hands, and upon his sons' hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the LORD.
28And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
29And 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.
The heave-shoulder was the ordinary perquisite of the officiating priest, but the wave-breast appears to have been awarded to Moses as the servant of Yahweh now especially appointed for the priestly service.
30And 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.
The sprinkling was on their garments as well as their persons, because it belonged to them in reference to the office with which they had been formally invested by putting on the garments. (See Exodus 28:3 note). The union of the two symbols of the atoning blood and the inspiring unction appears to be a fit conclusion of the entire rite.
31And Moses said unto Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and there eat it with the bread that is in the basket of consecrations, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it.
32And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire.
33And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you.
The rites of consecration were to last a whole week, and thus, like the longer of the annual festivals, were connected in an emphatic manner with the sabbatical number of the covenant. During this period the priests were not to leave the holy precinct for the sake of any worldly business; and the whole series of ceremonies, including the sacrifice of the Ram of consecration, was to be gone through on each day. Compare the marginal references.
Rather, ye shall not go away from the entrance of the tent. With this agree Cranmer, the Geneva Bible, etc. The meaning is evidently that they were not to go out of the court, as is more clearly expressed in Leviticus 8:35.
34As he hath done this day, so the LORD hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you.
35Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the LORD, that ye die not: for so I am commanded.
That ye die not - See Exodus 28:35 note.
36So Aaron and his sons did all things which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.