In this chapter we have divers laws concerning the priests and
sacrifices all for the preserving of the honour of the sanctuary.
I. That the priests should not eat the holy things in their
II. That no stranger who did not belong to some family of the
priests should eat of the holy things
and, if he did it unwittingly, he must make restitution,,
III. That the sacrifices which were offered must be without blemish,
IV. That they must be more than eight days old
and that the sacrifices of thanksgiving must be eaten the same day they
Leviticus 22:29-33, &c.
|Laws Concerning the Priests.
||B. C. 1490.|
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate
themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and
that they profane not my holy name in those things which they
hallow unto me: I am the LORD.
3 Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your
generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children
of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him,
that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.
4 What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a
running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be
clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the
dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;
5 Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be
made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness,
whatsoever uncleanness he hath;
6 The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until
even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his
flesh with water.
7 And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall
afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.
8 That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he
shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.
9 They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin
for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do
Those that had a natural blemish, though they were forbidden to do the
priests' work, were yet allowed to eat of the holy things: and the
Jewish writers say that "to keep them from idleness they were employed
in the wood-room, to pick out that which was worm-eaten, that it might
not be used in the fire upon the altar; they might also be employed in
the judgment of leprosy:" but,
I. Those that were under any ceremonial uncleanness, which possibly
they contracted by their own fault, might no so much as eat of the holy
things while they continued in their pollution.
1. Some pollutions were permanent, as a leprosy or a running issue,
These separated the people from the sanctuary, and God would show that
they were so far from being more excusable that really they were more
abominable in a priest.
2. Others were more transient, as the touching of a dead body, or any
thing else that was unclean, from which, after a certain time, a man
was cleansed by bathing his flesh in water,
But whoever was thus defiled might not eat of the holy things,
under pain of God's highest displeasure, who said, and ratified the
saying, That soul shall be cut off from my presence,
Our being in the presence of God, and attending upon him, will be so
far from securing us that it will but the more expose us to God's
wrath, if we dare to draw nigh to him in our uncleanness. The
destruction shall come from the presence of the Lord
(2 Thessalonians 1:9),
as the fire by which Nadab and Abihu died came from before the
Lord. Thus those who profane the holy word of God will be cut off
by that word which they make so light of; it shall condemn them. They
are again warned of their danger if they eat the holy thing in their
lest they bear sin, and die therefore. Note,
(1.) Those contract great guilt who profane sacred things, by touching
them with unhallowed hands. Eating the holy things signified an
interest in the atonement; but, if they ate of them in their
uncleanness, they were so far from lessening their guilt that they
increased it: They shall bear sin.
(2.) Sin is a burden which, if infinite mercy prevent not, will
certainly sink those that bear it: They shall die therefore.
Even priests may be ruined by their pollutions and presumptions.
II. As to the design of this law we may observe,
1. This obliged the priests carefully to preserve their purity, and to
dread every thing that would defile them. The holy things were their
livelihood; if they might not eat of them, how must they subsist? The
more we have to lose of comfort and honour by our defilement, the more
careful we should be to preserve our purity.
2. This impressed the people with a reverence for the holy things, when
they saw the priests themselves separated from them (as the
so long as they were in their uncleanness. He is doubtless a God of
infinite purity who kept his immediate attendants under so strict a
3. This teaches us carefully to watch against all moral pollutions,
because by them we are unfitted to receive the comfort of God's
sanctuary. Though we labour not under habitual deformities, yet actual
defilements deprive us of the pleasure of communion with God; and
therefore he that is washed needeth to wash his feet
to wash his hands, and so to compass the altar,
Herein we have need to be jealous over ourselves, lest (as it is
observably expressed here) we profane God's holy name in those
things which we hallow unto him,
If we affront God in those very performances wherein we pretend to
honour him, and provoke him instead of pleasing him, we shall make up
but a bad account shortly; yet thus we do if we profane God's name, by
doing that in our uncleanness which pretends to be hallowed to him.
10 There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner
of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy
11 But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall
eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of
12 If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger,
she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.
13 But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and
have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her
youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no
stranger eat thereof.
14 And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he
shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it
unto the priest with the holy thing.
15 And they shall not profane the holy things of the children
of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD;
16 Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they
eat their holy things: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
The holy things were to be eaten by the priests and their families.
I. Here is a law that no stranger should eat of them, that is, no
person whatsoever but the priests only, and those that pertained to
The priests are charged with this care, not to profane
the holy things by permitting the strangers to eat of them
or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass
that is, suffer them to bring guilt upon themselves, by meddling with
that which they have no right to. Thus it is commonly understood. Note,
We must not only be careful that we do not bear iniquity ourselves, but
we must do what we can to prevent others bearing it. We must not only
not suffer sin to lie upon our brother, but, if we can help it,
we must not suffer it to come upon him. But perhaps there is
another meaning of those words: the priests' eating the sin-offerings
is said to signify their bearing the iniquity of the congregation,
to make an atonement for them,
Let not a stranger therefore eat of that holy thing particularly, and
so pretend to bear the iniquity of trespass; for it is daring
presumption for any to do that, but such as are appointed to do it.
Those that set up other mediators besides Christ our priest, to bear
the iniquity of trespass, sacrilegiously rob Christ of his honour,
and invade his rights. When we warn people not to trust to their own
righteousness, nor dare to appear before God in it, but to rely on
Christ's righteousness only for peace and pardon, it is because we dare
not suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, for we know it
is too heavy for them.
II. Here is an explanation of the law, showing who were to be looked
upon as belonging to the priest's family, and who not.
1. Sojourners and hired servants abode not in the house for ever; they
were in the family, but not of it; and therefore they might not eat of
the holy things
but the servant that was born in the house or bought with money, being
a heirloom to the family, though a servant, yet might eat of the holy
Note, Those only are entitled to the comforts of God's house who make
it their rest for ever, and resolve to dwell in it all the
days of their life. As for those who for a time only believe, to
serve a present turn. They are looked upon but as sojourners and
mercenaries, and have no part nor lot in the matter.
2. As to the children of the family, concerning the sons there could be
no dispute, they were themselves priests, but concerning the daughters
there was a distinction. While they continued in their father's house
they might eat of the holy things; but, if they married such as were
not priests, they lost their right
for now they were cut off from the family of the priests. Yet if a
priest's daughter became a widow, and had no children in whom she might
preserve a distinct family, and returned to her father's house again,
being neither wife nor mother, she should again be looked upon as a
daughter, and might eat of the holy things. If those whom Providence
has made sorrowful widows, and who are dislodged from the rest they had
in the house of a husband, yet find it again in a father's house, they
have reason to be thankful to the widows' God, who does not leave them
3. Here is a demand of restitution to be made by him that had no right
to the holy things, and yet should eat of them unwittingly,
If he did it presumptuously, and in contempt of the divine institution,
he was liable to be cut off by the hand of God, and to be beaten by the
magistrate; but, if he did it through weakness in inconsideration, he
was to restore the value, adding a fifth part to it, besides which he
was to bring an offering to atone for the trespass; see
III. This law might be dispensed with in a case of necessity, as it was
when David and his men ate of the show-bread,
1 Samuel 21:6.
And our Saviour justifies them, and gives a reason for it, which
furnishes us with a lasting rule in all such cases, that God will
have mercy and not sacrifice,
Rituals must give way to morals.
IV. It is an instruction to gospel ministers, who are stewards of
the mysteries of God, not to admit all, without distinction, to
eat of the holy things, but to take out the precious from the
vile. Those that are scandalously ignorant or profane are strangers and
aliens to the family of the Lord's priests; and it is not meet to take
the children's bread and to cast it to such. Holy things are for holy
persons, for those who are holy, at least, in profession,
|Laws Concerning Sacrifices.
||B. C. 1490.|
17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18 Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children
of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of
Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his
oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings,
which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering;
19 Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of
the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.
20 But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer:
for it shall not be acceptable for you.
21 And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto
the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in
beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall
be no blemish therein.
22 Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or
scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an
offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.
23 Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous
or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill
offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
24 Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or
crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering
thereof in your land.
25 Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of
your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them,
and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.
26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
27 When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth,
then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth
day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by
fire unto the LORD.
28 And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her
young both in one day.
29 And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the
LORD, offer it at your own will.
30 On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of
it until the morrow: I am the LORD.
31 Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am
32 Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be
hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which
33 That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I
am the LORD.
Here are four laws concerning sacrifices:--
I. Whatever was offered in sacrifice to God should be without blemish,
otherwise it should not be accepted. This had often been mentioned in
the particular institutions of the several sorts of offerings. Now here
they are told what was to be accounted a blemish which rendered a beast
unfit for sacrifice: if it was blind, or lame, had a wen, or the mange
it was bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut
that is, as the Jewish writers understand it, if it was, in any of
these ways, castrated, if bulls and rams were made into oxen and
weathers, they might not be offered. Moreover a difference is made
between what was brought as a free-will offering and what was brought
as a vow,
And, though none that had any of the forementioned blemishes might be
brought for either, yet if a beast had any thing superfluous or lacking
(that is, as the Jews understand it, if there was a disproportion or
inequality between those parts that are pairs, when one eye, or ear, or
leg, was bigger than it should be, or less than it should be)--if there
was no other blemish than this, it might be accepted for a free-will
offering, to which a man had not before laid himself, nor had the
divine law laid him, under any particular obligation; but for a vow it
might not be accepted. Thus God would teach us to make conscience of
performing our promises to him very exactly, and not afterwards to
abate in quantity or value of what we had solemnly engaged to devote to
him. What was, before the vow, in our own power, as in the case of a
free-will offering, afterwards is not,
It is again and again declared that no sacrifice should be accepted if
it was thus blemished,
According to this law great care was taken to search all the beasts
that were brought to be sacrificed, that there might, to a certainty,
be no blemish in them. A blemished sacrifice might not be accepted even
from the hand of a stranger, though to such all possible
encouragement should be given to do honour to the God of Israel,
By this it appears that strangers were expected to come to the house of
God from a far country
(1 Kings 8:41,42),
and that they should be welcome, and their offerings accepted, as those
The heathen priests were many of them not
so strict in this matter, but would receive sacrifices for their gods
that were ever so scandalous; but let strangers know that the God of
Israel would not be so served. Now,
1. This law was then necessary for the preserving of the honour of the
sanctuary, and of the God that was there worshipped. It was fit that
every thing that was employed for his honour should be the best of the
kind; for, as he is the greatest and brightest, so he is the best of
beings; and he that is the best must have the best. See how greatly and
justly displeasing the breach of this law was to the holy God,
2. This law made all the legal sacrifices the fitter to be types of
Christ, the great sacrifice from which all these derived their virtue.
In allusion to this law, he is said to be a Lamb without blemish
and without spot,
1 Peter 1:19.
As such a priest, so such a sacrifice, became us, who was harmless and
undefiled. When Pilate declared, I find no fault in this man, he
did thereby in effect pronounce the sacrifice without blemish. The Jews
say it was the work of the sagan, or suffragan, high priest, to view
the sacrifices, and see whether they were without blemish or no; when
Christ suffered, Annas was in that office; but little did those who
brought Christ to Annas first, by whom he was sent bound to Caiaphas,
as a sacrifice fit to be offered
think that they were answering the type of this law.
3. It is an instruction to us to offer to God the best we have in our
spiritual sacrifices. If our devotions are ignorant, and cold, and
trifling, and full of distractions, we offer the blind, and the
lame, and the sick, for sacrifice; but cursed be the deceiver that
does so, for, while he thinks to put a cheat upon God, he puts a
damning cheat upon his own soul.
II. That no beast should be offered in sacrifice before it was eight
It was provided before that the firstlings of their cattle, which were
to be dedicated to God, should not be brought to him till after the
Here it is provided that no creature should be offered in sacrifice
till it was eight days old complete. Sooner than that it was not fit to
be used at men's tables, and therefore not a God's altar. The Jews say,
"It was because the sabbath sanctifies all things, and nothing should
be offered to God till at least one sabbath had passed over it." It was
in conformity to the law of circumcision, which children were to
receive on the eighth day. Christ was sacrificed for us, not in his
infancy, though then Herod sought to slay him, but in the prime of his
III. That the dam and her young should not both be killed in one day,
whether in sacrifice or for common use,
There is such a law as this concerning birds,
This was forbidden, not as evil in itself, but because it looked
barbarous and cruel to the brute creatures; like the tyranny of the
king of Babylon, that slew Zedekiah's sons before his eyes, and then
put out his eyes. It looked ill-natured towards the species to kill
two generations at once, as if one designed the ruin of the kind.
IV. That the flesh of their thank-offerings should be eaten on the same
day that they were sacrificed,
This is a repetition of what we had before,
The chapter concludes with such a general charge as we have often met
with, to keep God's commandments, and not to profane his holy
Those that profess God's name, if they do not make conscience of
keeping his commandments, do but profane his name. The general reasons
are added: God's authority over them--I am the Lord; his
interest in them--I am your God; the title he had to them by
redemption--"I brought you out of the land of Egypt, on purpose
that I might be your God;" the designs of his grace concerning
them--I am the Lord that hallow you; and the resolutions of his
justice, if he had not honour from them, to get himself honour
upon them--I will be hallowed among the children of Israel. God
will be a loser in his glory by no man at last; but sooner or later
will recover his right, either in the repentance of sinners or in their