Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
PRIESTS AND THE
1. hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest's office--The
act of inaugurating the priests was accompanied by ceremonial
solemnities well calculated not only to lead the people to entertain
exalted views of the office, but to impress those functionaries
themselves with a profound sense of its magnitude and importance. In
short, they were taught to know that the service was for them as well
as for the people; and every time they engaged in a new performance of
their duties, they were reminded of their personal interest in the
worship, by being obliged to offer for themselves, before they were
qualified to offer as the representatives of the people.
this is the thing that thou shalt do--Steps are taken at the
beginning of a society, which would not be repeated when the social
machine was in full motion; and Moses, at the opening of the
tabernacle, was employed to discharge functions which in later periods
would have been regarded as sacrilege and punished with instant death.
But he acted under the special directions of God.
4-9. Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the
tabernacle--as occupying the intermediate space between the court
where the people stood, and the dwelling-place of Israel's king, and
therefore the fittest spot for the priests being duly prepared for
entrance, and the people witnessing the ceremony of inauguration.
wash them with water. And . . . take the garments--The
manner in which these parts of the ceremonial were performed is
minutely described, and in discovering their symbolical import, which
indeed, is sufficiently plain and obvious, we have inspired authority
to guide us. It signified the necessity and importance of moral purity
In like manner, the investiture with the holy garments signified their
being clothed with righteousness
and equipped as men active and well-prepared for the service of God;
the anointing the high priest with oil denoted that he was to be filled
with the influences of the Spirit, for the edification and delight of
and as he was officially a type of Christ
Mt 3:16; 11:29).
10-22. And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the
tabernacle--This part of the ceremonial consisted of three
sacrifices: (1) The sacrifice of a bullock, as a sin offering; and in
rendering it, the priest was directed to put his hand upon the head of
his sacrifice, expressing by that act a consciousness of personal
guilt, and a wish that it might be accepted as a vicarious
satisfaction. (2) The sacrifice of a ram as a burnt offering
The ram was to be wholly burnt, in token of the priest's dedication of
himself to God and His service. The sin offering was first to be
presented, and then the burnt offering; for until guilt be
removed, no acceptable service can be performed. (3) There was to be a
peace offering, called "the ram of consecration"
And there was a marked peculiarity in the manner in which this other
ram was to be disposed of. The former was for the glory of God--this
was for the comfort of the priest himself; and as a sign of a mutual
covenant being ratified, the blood of the sacrifice was divided--part
sprinkled on the altar round about, and part upon the persons and
garments of the priests. Nay, the blood was, by a singular act,
directed to be put upon the extremities of the body, thereby signifying
that the benefits of the atonement would be applied to the whole nature
of man. Moreover, the flesh of this sacrifice was to be divided, as it
were, between God and the priest--part of it to be put into his hand to
be waved up and down, in token of its being offered to God, and then it
was to be burnt upon the altar; the other part was to be eaten by the
priests at the door of the tabernacle--that feast being a symbol of
communion or fellowship with God. These ceremonies, performed in the
order described, showed the qualifications necessary for the priests.
Heb 7:26, 27; 10:14).
35. seven days shalt thou consecrate them--The renewal of these
ceremonies on the return of every day in the seven, with the
intervention of a Sabbath, was a wise preparatory arrangement, in order
to afford a sufficient interval for calm and devout reflection
(Heb 9:1; 10:1).
Ex 29:36, 37.
CONSECRATION OF THE
36. and thou shalt cleanse the altar--The phrase, "when thou
hast made an atonement for it," should be, upon it; and the
purport of the direction is, that during all the time they were engaged
as above from day to day in offering the appointed sacrifices, the
greatest care was to be taken to keep the altar properly cleansed--to
remove the ashes, and sprinkle it with the prescribed unction that, at
the conclusion of the whole ceremonial, the altar itself should be
consecrated as much as the ministers who were to officiate at it
It was thenceforth associated with the services of religion.
38. two lambs of the first year day by day continually--The
sacred preliminaries being completed, Moses was instructed in the end
or design to which these preparations were subservient, namely, the
worship of God; and hence the institution of the morning and evening
sacrifice. The institution was so imperative, that in no circumstances
was this daily oblation to be dispensed with; and the due observance of
it would secure the oft-promised grace and blessing of their heavenly