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Exodus 30:17-21

17. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

17. Loquutus est etiam Jehova ad Mosen, dicendo:

18. Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.

18. Facies et concham aeneam, et basin ejus aeneam ad lavandum, ponesque illam inter tabernaculum conventionis et altare, et pones aquam ill ea.

19. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:

19. Lavabuntque ex ea Aharon et filii ejus manus suas et pedes suos.

20. When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:

20. Quando ingredientur tabernaculum conventionis lavabunt se aqua, ut non moriantur: aut quum appropinquabunt ad altare, ut ministrent, ut incendant oblationem ignitam Jehovae.

21. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

21. Lavabunt inquam manus suas et pedes suos, ne moriantur: eritque illis statutum perpetuum, ei scilicet et semini ejus per generationes suas.

 

18. Thou shalt also make a laver of brass. Although this oblation was a sign of the purity which God required in His priests, yet, inasmuch as this hollow vessel (concha) or laver, which supplied the water, was a part or utensil of the sanctuary, I have thought it best to insert here what is ordained respecting it, not only as to its fashion, but also its use, which could not be well separated: for if bare mention had only been made of a laver or water-vessel, 155155     Addition in Fr., "Sans savoir pourquoy il estoit basti;” without knowing what it was made for. the reader would have received no profit from it. But, when God expressly commands that water should always be ready in this basin for the priests to wash their hands and feet, we gather from hence with what reverence and sanctity God would have His holy service performed. It was, indeed, a common proverb among the Gentiles that they were guilty of impiety who handled holy things with unwashen hands, and they testified in this ceremony that they could not worship God aright except when purified from all pollution and uncleanness. One in Virgil says: —

"——— donec me flumine vivo Abluero." 156156     AEn. 2:719, 720. They are among the words which AEneas reports himself to have spoken to Anchises, when about to bear him out of Troy:
   "Tu, genitor, cape sacra manu, patriosque Penates.
Me, bello e tanto digressum et caede recenti,
Adtrectare nefas; donec me flumine vivo Abluero
."

"Till in some living stream I cleanse the guilt
Of dire debate and blood in battle spilt.” — Dryden.

And such expressions are of constant occurrence. Sometimes they even seemed almost to hit the right point; as where the poet commands the ungodly and the criminal to depart from the sacrifices, lest they should contaminate them; 157157     Doering’s note on Hor. Carm. 3:1. 1. — “Odi profanum vulgus et arceo,” contains the following words: “He uses these formulas which the priests were accustomed to use at the commencement of their ceremonies, in order to drive away the profane, ἑκάς, βέβηλοι! or ἑκάς, ἑκάς, ὅστις ἀλιτρός· (Callim. Hymn., Ap. 2.) Procul o procul este, profani. (Virg. AEn. 6:258.)" but this was only a fleeting imagination, since no anxiety to repent had awakened in them a desire to propitiate God; and so, even whilst they were diligent in performing ablutions, their minds, darkened with error, knew not what it meant. But the Israelites were thus chiefly reminded how unworthy they were to offer sacrifices to God, since the impurity of the very priests, who were chosen to this once, prevented them from exercising it, until they were cleansed with water. The washing of the hands and feet denoted that all parts of the body were infected with uncleanness; for, since Scripture often uses the word “hands” for the actions of life, and compares the whole course of life to a way or journey, it is very suitable to say by synecdoche that all impurity is purged away by the washing of the hands and feet. The comparison with Christ now remains to be considered; but this we shall understand better a little beyond in reference to the sacrifices.


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