a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above


The L ord spoke to Moses, saying: 2When any of you sin and commit a trespass against the L ord by deceiving a neighbor in a matter of a deposit or a pledge, or by robbery, or if you have defrauded a neighbor, 3or have found something lost and lied about it—if you swear falsely regarding any of the various things that one may do and sin thereby— 4when you have sinned and realize your guilt, and would restore what you took by robbery or by fraud or the deposit that was committed to you, or the lost thing that you found, 5or anything else about which you have sworn falsely, you shall repay the principal amount and shall add one-fifth to it. You shall pay it to its owner when you realize your guilt. 6And you shall bring to the priest, as your guilt offering to the L ord, a ram without blemish from the flock, or its equivalent, for a guilt offering. 7The priest shall make atonement on your behalf before the L ord, and you shall be forgiven for any of the things that one may do and incur guilt thereby.

Instructions concerning Sacrifices

8 The L ord spoke to Moses, saying: 9Command Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the ritual of the burnt offering. The burnt offering itself shall remain on the hearth upon the altar all night until the morning, while the fire on the altar shall be kept burning. 10The priest shall put on his linen vestments after putting on his linen undergarments next to his body; and he shall take up the ashes to which the fire has reduced the burnt offering on the altar, and place them beside the altar. 11Then he shall take off his vestments and put on other garments, and carry the ashes out to a clean place outside the camp. 12The fire on the altar shall be kept burning; it shall not go out. Every morning the priest shall add wood to it, lay out the burnt offering on it, and turn into smoke the fat pieces of the offerings of well-being. 13A perpetual fire shall be kept burning on the altar; it shall not go out.

14 This is the ritual of the grain offering: The sons of Aaron shall offer it before the L ord, in front of the altar. 15They shall take from it a handful of the choice flour and oil of the grain offering, with all the frankincense that is on the offering, and they shall turn its memorial portion into smoke on the altar as a pleasing odor to the L ord. 16Aaron and his sons shall eat what is left of it; it shall be eaten as unleavened cakes in a holy place; in the court of the tent of meeting they shall eat it. 17It shall not be baked with leaven. I have given it as their portion of my offerings by fire; it is most holy, like the sin offering and the guilt offering. 18Every male among the descendants of Aaron shall eat of it, as their perpetual due throughout your generations, from the L ord’s offerings by fire; anything that touches them shall become holy.

19 The L ord spoke to Moses, saying: 20This is the offering that Aaron and his sons shall offer to the L ord on the day when he is anointed: one-tenth of an ephah of choice flour as a regular offering, half of it in the morning and half in the evening. 21It shall be made with oil on a griddle; you shall bring it well soaked, as a grain offering of baked pieces, and you shall present it as a pleasing odor to the L ord. 22And so the priest, anointed from among Aaron’s descendants as a successor, shall prepare it; it is the L ord’s—a perpetual due—to be turned entirely into smoke. 23Every grain offering of a priest shall be wholly burned; it shall not be eaten.

24 The L ord spoke to Moses, saying: 25Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying: This is the ritual of the sin offering. The sin offering shall be slaughtered before the L ord at the spot where the burnt offering is slaughtered; it is most holy. 26The priest who offers it as a sin offering shall eat of it; it shall be eaten in a holy place, in the court of the tent of meeting. 27Whatever touches its flesh shall become holy; and when any of its blood is spattered on a garment, you shall wash the bespattered part in a holy place. 28An earthen vessel in which it was boiled shall be broken; but if it is boiled in a bronze vessel, that shall be scoured and rinsed in water. 29Every male among the priests shall eat of it; it is most holy. 30But no sin offering shall be eaten from which any blood is brought into the tent of meeting for atonement in the holy place; it shall be burned with fire.

1. Likewise this is the law. I have just confessed that I do not sufficiently understand how these two words, חטאה, chateah, and אשם, asham, differ from each other; and I have therefore followed the sense which is commonly received, and called them the sin and the trespass-offering, (hostiam pro peccato vel pro delicto.) Although in this second kind of offering he commands the same ceremony to be observed as in the former one, yet he mentions some things which he had before omitted, such as the sprinkling of blood around the altar, the offering of the fat, kidneys, etc., which had not been before expressed. The sum amounts to this, that they were to sacrifice in the same manner, and with the same rites for sin as for trespass, and make not the smallest alteration in the rule laid down for them.

9. Command Aaron and his sons. He more distinctly explains what might have appeared to be omitted; nor is it without reason that he carefully enters into these full details, for since God prefers obedience to all sacrifices, he was unwilling that anything should remain doubtful as to the external rites, which were not otherwise of great importance; that they might learn to observe precisely, and with the most exact care, whatever the Law commanded, and that they should not obtrude anything of themselves, inasmuch as the purity of the holy things was corrupted by the very smallest invention. He would, therefore, leave nothing to the people’s judgment, but directed them by a fixed rule even in the most trifling matters. As to the burnt-offerings, he commands that they should not be taken away from the altar till they were consumed by the fire; but after they were put on, he commands them to be burnt in a constant fire till the morrow. With this intent, he expressly says, that the fire should be kept alight on the altar all the night, since the sacrifices would not have been reduced to ashes without the application of fuel. Secondly, he commands the priest, clothed in the linen garment, and breeches, as he was wont to be in the performance of his sacred duties, to go to the altar, and to take away the ashes and put them by the side, or at some part of the altar; but when he shall have gone away from the altar, he bids him take off his holy garments, and carry the ashes out of the camp to a clean place. But what he had before briefly adverted to as to the supply of wood, he immediately declares more fully to be, lest the fire should go out. Again, he assigns to the priest the office of setting the wood in order every morning. But, because in the sacrifices 275275     Or peace-offerings, vide supra, p. 105. of prosperities the Law commanded the fat only to be burnt, Moses now adds, verse 12, that the fat was to be burnt on the same fire. It is worthy of particular observation, that he finally subjoins a precept as to so keeping up the fire that it may never go out.

The intent of this perpetuity was, that the offerings should be burnt with heavenly fire; for on the day that Aaron was consecrated, the sacrifice was reduced to ashes not by human means but miraculously, in token of approbation. True that God did not choose daily to exert this power; but He interposed the hand and labor of men in such a manner that the origin of the sacred fire should still be from heaven. The same thing afterwards happened at the dedication of Solomon’s temple, because that alteration of the divine decree demanded a sign (tesseram,) lest any should think that it was at the will of man that the splendor of the temple should outvie the tabernacle. Finally, the sacrifice of Elijah was graced by the same privilege when he restored the abolished legal service; and then also God upheld what He had ordained in His Law, in opposition to all corrupt and degenerate rites. Meanwhile, in order to prevent any adulterations, He chose to have the fire continually burning on the altar day and night, nor was it allowable to take it from elsewhere. There was, indeed, amongst the Persians 276276     “The Persians regarded with reverence the sun and every kind of fire. The fire continually kept alive in their temples, was considered as sacred. It had been kindled from fire, which Zoroaster pretended to have brought down from heaven. It was fed by a particular kind of wood, and was supposed to be polluted even by the breath of those who approached it.” — Hill’s Essays on Ancient Greece, Essay 20. The sacred fire was kept alive even in their marches. — Curt, 3 3; Ammian Marcel., 23:6. a perpetual fire, and at Rome also under the guardianship of the Vestal virgins; 277277     “Virgines Vestales in urbe custodiunto ignem loci publici sempiternum.” — Cicero de Legg. 2:8. and it may be, that in foolish mimicry they transferred to themselves the custom which they had heard of being observed by the Jews; for thus it is that, for the purpose of deceiving unbelievers, the devil often falsely makes a pretense of something divine, and imitates God just as an ape imitates man: but the purpose of God in rejecting strange fire was to retain the people in His own genuine ordinance prescribed by the Law, lest any inventions of men should insinuate themselves; for the prohibition of strange fire was tantamount to forbidding men to introduce anything of their own, or to add to the pure doctrine of the Law, or to decline from its rule. Meanwhile, since God had once testified, as if by stretching forth His hand from heaven (to receive them, 278278     Added from Fr. ) that the sacrifices were acceptable to Him, believers were confirmed in their confidence of this by the pledge of the perpetual fire.

VIEWNAME is study