The Priests' Entry into Office.
1-7. Moses called … Take thee a young calf
for a sin offering—The directions in these sacred things were
still given by Moses, the circumstances being extraordinary. But he was
only the medium of communicating the divine will to the newly made
priests. The first of their official acts was the sacrifice of another
sin offering to atone for the defects of the inauguration services; and
yet that sacrifice did not consist of a bullock—the sacrifice
appointed for some particular transgression, but of a calf, perhaps not
without a significant reference to Aaron's sin in the golden calf
32:22-24]. Then followed a
burnt offering, expressive of their voluntary and entire
self-devotement to the divine service. The newly consecrated priests
having done this on their own account, they were called to offer a sin
offering and burnt offering for the people, ending the ceremonial by a
peace offering, which was a sacred feast. This injunction, "to make
atonement for himself and for the people" (Septuagint, "for thy
family"), at the commencement of his sacred functions, furnishes a
striking evidence of the divine origin of the Jewish system of worship.
In all false or corrupt forms of religion, the studied policy has been
to inspire the people with an idea of the sanctity of the priesthood as
in point of purity and favor with the Divinity far above the level of
other men. But among the Hebrews the priests were required to offer for
the expiation of their own sins as well as the humblest of the people.
This imperfection of Aaron's priesthood, however, does not extend to
the gospel dispensation: for our great High Priest, who has entered for
us into "the true tabernacle," "knew no sin" (Heb 10:10, 11).
8. Aaron … went unto the altar, and slew the
calf of the sin offering—Whether it had been enjoined the
first time, or was unavoidable from the divisions of the priestly labor
not being as yet completely arranged, Aaron, assisted by his sons,
appears to have slain the victims with his own hands, as well as gone
through all the prescribed ritual at the altar.
17-21. meat offering … wave
offering—It is observable that there is no notice taken of
these in the offerings the priests made for themselves. They could not
bear their own sins: and therefore, instead of eating any part of their
own sin offering, as they were at liberty to do in the case of the
people's offering, they had to carry the whole carcasses
"without the camp and burn them with fire" [Ex 29:14; Le
22. Aaron lifted up his hand … and blessed
them—The pronouncing of a benediction on the people assembled
in the court was a necessary part of the high priest's duty, and the
formula in which it was to be given is described (Nu 6:23-27).
came down from offering—The altar was
elevated above the level of the floor, and the ascent was by a gentle
23. Moses and Aaron went into the
tabernacle—Moses, according to the divine instructions he had
received, accompanied Aaron and his sons to initiate them into their
sacred duties. Their previous occupations had detained them at the
altar, and they now entered in company into the sacred edifice to bear
the blood of the offerings within the sanctuary.
the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the
people—perhaps in a resplendent effulgence above the
tabernacle as a fresh token of the divine acceptance of that newly
established seat of His worship.
24. there came a fire out from … the
Lord—A flame emanating from that resplendent light that
filled the holy place flashed upon the brazen altar and kindled the
sacrifices. This miraculous fire—for the descent of which the
people had probably been prepared, and which the priests were enjoined
never to let go out (Le 6:13)—was a sign, not only of the
acceptance of the offerings and of the establishment of Aaron's
authority, but of God's actual residence in that chosen dwelling-place.
The moment the solemn though welcome spectacle was seen, a simultaneous
shout of joy and gratitude burst from the assembled congregation, and
in the attitude of profoundest reverence they worshipped "a present