Exposition and Homiletics:


rector of blickling, prebendary of lincoln, and examining chaplain to the lord bishop of lincoln

Homilies by Various Authors:







London and New York


Pulpit Commentary



Dean of Gloucester

And By The


an essay on sacrifice

by the

rev. richard collins, m.a.

What is the origin, true character, and proper place of sacrifice as a part of religion? Half a century ago, when many of us were schoolboys, there was certain definite teaching on this subject. Probably nine hundred and ninety-nine out of every thousand educated Englishmen, who had seriously turned their thoughts to the matter, were perfectly satisfied with the view, and regarded it as almost axiomatic, that sacrifice was a divinely appointed religious rite, intended to typify and educate the world for one Great Sacrifice, which Great Sacrifice having been accomplished, there was no need for, or even place for, any future sacrifice, truly so called, in the Christian Church. I do not put the matter thus under the idea that the consensus of antiquity is necessarily any warrant for the truth of a doctrine, but only because the view of sacrifice that I have alluded to has seemed to multitudes so scriptural, so simple, so fully to account for the peculiarities and mysteries of the subject, that in reconsidering it we should be led to use the utmost diligence in finally satisfying our minds as to its true place and character.

For we must reconsider it, if not for our own satisfaction, at least for the satisfaction of those we may have to teach. This duty is forced upon us by the fact that the waves of modern opinion have rudely shaken our ancient, and what perhaps we considered our orthodox, notions about sacrifices; and, indeed, it has been not merely a shaking, but a complex shaking—one wave rolling the notion in one direction and another in an opposite one, so that we feel that we must first secure the notion before we can assign it its true place in history and in reference to the Christian religion.

Men, probably equals in intellectual force and learning, have lately propounded views as to the nature and office of sacrifice so diametrically contradictory the one to the other that both cannot be true: the truth must either reside in the one, to the total exclusion of the other, or it must be found between the two, or beyond either. According to one view, sacrifice is a mistake of man’s still undeveloped reason in the days of his ignorant wonder. The inexorable laws of nature pressed upon man’s infant intelligence, so that he worshipped them in fear, and exalted them into gods. The inevitable begat the idea of an inflexible, exacting justice which must be satisfied or appeased. Hence arose the idea of propitiation before the presence of this rigorous justice, at length personified, by the immolation of the best a man had—the fruit of his body, or some other costly human sacrifice; a sacrifice which was, as human reason became more highly developed, commuted by the offering of animal instead of human life. A further development, as human reason grew, was a more self-sacrifice, not of blood, but of service, as in the case of the Buddhist. And the last stage of development, according to this teaching, is the elimination from mankind of every sacrificial altar and every dogma having a sacrificial aspect.

According to the other view, not only were animal sacrifices of Divine institution, prospective to the Great Sacrifice, but the duty of offering a sacrifice is still the central duty of the Christian Church. The Catholic Church is truly Christ’s body only so long as it contains a sacrificing priesthood, and a sacrifice as truly such as were the sacrifices of Aaron. The offering of the Holy Eucharist is not a commemorative sacrifice in the sense of its being a commemoration of a sacrifice, but in the sense of its being a true oblation of that which shall plead for the quick, and even, as some hold, for the dead. In short, according to this school of thought, the highest development of human reason in respect to this matter is the exact converse of that previously stated. It is that the life of the Church absolutely depends upon its enshrinement of a true sacrificial altar and upon a continually sacrificing priesthood.

Where lies the truth?

As an exponent of the former view, we may take a recent article in the Nineteenth Century, on Shylock’s bond, ‘The Pound of Flesh,’ by Mr. Moncure D. Conway. According to the argument pursued in that article, it is maintained that the idea of sacrifice arose from “non-human nature;” that it was the outgrowth of “nature-worship,” the remorselessness of hard “natural” law calling for recompense; and that forgiveness is the highest development of “human nature”—that mercy is the basis of “purely human religion.”

As an exponent of the other extreme, we may take the writings of Mr. Orby Shipley, who states that Christ becomes “incarnate in the hands of the priest” at the consecration of the elements in the Holy Eucharist, and that there and then a sacrifice is offered for the sins of mankind.

I propose to consider the subject of sacrifice—

I. In its origin;

II. In its limits.


The doctrine that sacrifices were originally the offspring of human ignorance reflected on the Deity, is fairly summed up in the following extract from Mr. Conway’s article to which I have alluded: “Side by side,” Mr. Conway writes, “in all ages and races, have struggled with each other the principle of retaliation and that of forgiveness. In religion the vindictive principle has euphemistic names; it is called law and justice. The other principle, that of remission, has had to exist by sufferance, and in nearly all religions has been recognized only in subordinate alliance with its antagonist. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, blood for blood, is primitive law. Projected into heaven, magnified into the Divine majesty, it becomes the principle that a Deity cannot be just, and yet a Justifier of offenders. ‘Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins.’ Since finite man is naturally assumed to be incapable of directly satisfying an infinite law, all religions, based on the idea of a Divine Lawgiver, are employed in devising schemes by which commutations may be secured and vicarious satisfactions of Divine law obtained. No Deity inferred from the always relentless forces of nature has ever been supposed able to forgive the smallest sin until it was exactly atoned for. For this reason, the Divine mercifulness has generally become a separate personification. The story of the ‘pound of flesh’ is one of the earliest fables concerning these conflicting principles.”

Thus, then, if I understand this line of reasoning clearly, we are brought to the theory that all religions have been the imputations of human feelings and experiences to the Deity. And whether the Deity exist as the Great Unknown or be merely a figment of man’s brain, Mr. Conway’s argument remains the same. According to this theory, as the principle of retaliation and that of forgiveness have struggled for ascendency in man’s moral development, so in parallel lines have the god or gods, real or imaginary, been vindictive or forgiving. In this way, the history of the religions of mankind is merely the history of man’s moral growth reflected on another sphere—where we see the survival of the moral fittest, human mercy, as a purely human force, gradually supplanting human vindictiveness. And thus Divine law, or justice, is translated by human vindictiveness; and the offering of sacrifices, animal or other, is a human scheme by which “commutations may be secured and vicarious satisfactions obtained” to propitiate, or appease, the supposed Divine vindictiveness.

Mr. Conway illustrates and supports his theory by reference to Brahmanic, Buddhistic, and Semitic examples.

“The following legend,” he writes, “was related to me by a Hindu, as one he had been told in his childhood. The chief of the Indian triad, Indra, pursued the god Agni. Agni changed himself to a dove in order to escape; but Indra changed himself to a hawk, to continue the pursuit. The dove took refuge with Vishnu, second person of the triad, the Hindu saviour. Indra, flying up, demanded the dove; Vishnu, concealing it in his bosom, refused to give up the dove. Indra then took an oath that, if the dove were not surrendered, he would tear from Vishnu’s breast an amount of flesh equal to the body of the dove. Vishnu still refused to surrender the bird, but bared his breast. The divine hawk tore from it the exact quantity, and the drops of blood—the blood of a saviour—as they fell to the ground, wrote the scriptures of the Vedas.

“We may see,” Mr. Conway goes on to remark, “in the fable reflection of a sacrificial age; an age in which the will and word of a god became inexorable fate, but also the dawning conception of a divineness in the mitigation of the law, which ultimately adds saving deities to those which cannot be appeased.” Versions of this story are traced in some of the Hindu writings; and advancing to the discussion of Buddhism, Mr. Conway says, “With Buddha the principle of remission supersedes that of sacrifice. His argument against the Brahmanic sacrifice of life was strong. When they pointed to these predatory laws of nature in proof of their faith that the gods approved the infliction of pain and death, he asked them why they did not sacrifice their own children; why they did not offer to the gods the most valuable lives. The fact was that they were outgrowing direct human sacrifices—preserving self-mortifications—and animals were slain in commutation of costlier offerings.” The Semitic story adduced is, of course, that of Abraham and Isaac. “In the case of Abraham and Isaac,” Mr. Conway writes, “the demand is not remitted, but commuted. The ram is accepted instead of Isaac. But even so much concession could hardly be recognized by the Hebrew priesthood as an allowable variation from a direct demand of Jahve, and so the command is said to have been given by Elohim, its modification by Jahve. The cautious transformation is somewhat in the spirit of the disguises of the Aryan deities, who may partially revoke as gods the orders they gave as hawks. It would indicate a more advanced idea if we found Jahve remitting a claim of his own instead of one made by Elohim.”

Thus too the Jewish religion and the Christian religion are brought under the same category with Hinduism and Buddhism, and are made to illustrate the same human principles. The idea, possibility, probability, or claims of revelation are untouched.

I do not enter the arena of controversy to discuss with Mr. Conway the character and revelation of Jehovah; that would be quite beside the mark in this commentary. But standing on the platform of Holy Scripture, I wish thence to consider some portions of his theory.

Now, while Jew and Christian have sufficient reason for believing that certain sacrifices were commanded or sanctioned by Divine revelation, as a part of the religious observances of the Jewish people; yet we find sacrifices of one kind or another common to almost all ancient nations, and practised long before the Israelites were under Mount Sinai. Leaving out of sight, for the present, the object of the Mosaic sacrifices, and the possible question whether Jehovah sanctioned and regulated for the Jewish worship something which was already a part, as it were, of human nature, let us test the question, whether the practice of offering sacrifice can have had any such origin as that suggested by Mr. Conway.

First, take the central idea, if I understand Mr. Conway aright, that the principle of forgiveness, mercy, is a purely human attribute, and that it has been winning its way against the principle of vindictiveness by a kind of natural selection, in the struggle of the noble against the ignoble in the moral world. I fail to read this fact in the history either of the race or of the individual. The principle of retaliation, vindictiveness, we find to-day as robust as when the earliest pages of history were penned. Purely human, it has its origin in the instinct of self-preservation, and seems to be an echo in man of what can be traced through the brute creation. But is mercy, as expressed by the forgiveness of the injurious by the injured, of human origin at all? Is it anywhere to be traced in man’s history apart from the influence of the religion of Jehovah? That there is a germ of mercy in the human constitution, there is no doubt; otherwise we could not understand, appreciate, or practise the principle of forgiveness at all. But where in the history of the human race do we find the principle contained in the words, “Forgive your enemies,” asserting itself, except in what Christians hold to be a Divine revelation? It is undoubtedly true that Koong-foo-tse taught that men should “do as they would be done by.” But we do not know whence he received his philosophy; possibly, in common with Gautama Buddha, from the teaching of pious Jews at the court of Babylon—an influence which may well have had a worldwide character (see Dan. 6:25–28). And “Do as you would be done by” comes very far short of “Love your enemies.” Buddhism, again, contains no teaching, so far as I have been able to discover, on the subject of forgiveness. The nearest approach to it that I have met with, is a story of the queen Sâmawati, who, when her enraged husband was about to shoot her with a poisoned arrow, looked at him with a smile of affection, and so paralyzed his arm that he could not draw the bow; an act that was followed by this wise piece of advice, “When you desire to pacify anger, look upon the angered person with love.” But this could only be in the case, like her own, when love pre-existed. And this story is not related by the Buddhists to enforce forgiveness for its own sake, but to illustrate their doctrine that there is a supernatural power, derived from merit in a former state of existence, which preserves its possessor from danger. Mr. Conway states that “in Buddhism the principle of remission supersedes that of sacrifice.” I do not know upon what quotations from Buddhistic writings he would verify this statement. Certainly sacrifice is impossible in Buddhism, since it forbids the taking of all life. But I have no evidence that that peculiar law of Buddha has any especial reference to the sacrifice of animals as a religious observance. And with respect to the principle of remission, or forgiveness, I am not aware of a word—though it may be that I have not exhausted the Buddhistic lore—in the teachings of Buddha relating to it, either as a duty of man towards man, or as something to be desired from a higher power. Indeed, Buddhism acknowledges no higher power than man, and seeks not forgiveness, but merit, by which the individual man may be freed from the curse of mortality. That the idea of merit, that underlies all Buddhistic teaching, may originally have been connected with the idea of the remission of sins, is not only possible but probable. But in our present ignorance of the true historical origin of the teachings of Buddha, this is a subject, the discussion of which would be without the scope of this essay. The fact with regard to Buddhism as now known is that, while the idea of sacrifice is historically present, it has no reference to remission or forgiveness. Self-sacrifice, which is so essential a part of Buddhism, is nowhere connected with remission, but merit; as when Gautama, while a Bödhisat (i.e. a candidate for the Buddhahood), voluntarily allowed a hungry tigress to devour him, in order to save her life and that of her cubs, as a step towards becoming a Buddha.

In Hinduism, again, there is no teaching on the subject of forgiveness, either as between man and man, or the deity and man, except in a very few passages in some of the earliest hymns of the Rig Veda: as Hinduism progresses, the idea is lost, not developed. When the head of the cock is cut off before the altar of Käli, there is no thought of obtaining forgiveness of the deity; the general idea is, as with the Buddhist, that merit will accrue on the performance of a prescribed act of religion which they have learned from their forefathers. There are whole races of men in whose vocabulary there is no word for forgiveness. The spirit of retaliation seems to be still as potent as ever, apart from the spirit of Christianity. The successful struggle of the principle of forgiveness, as a purely human attribute, against the principle of retaliation, does not appear to me to be made out. There must, therefore, be some other reason why the virtue of forgiveness, theoretically at all events, holds so influential a position in the ethics of the learned men of Europe. The Christian would maintain that this virtue has been learned solely from Holy Scripture by the moderns, and from anterior Divine revelation by the ancients.

Then, again, we have to confront the theory that man, under the influence of a religious instinct (and, of course, the case of the Christian religion is here included), has formed no higher ideal of Divine justice than such as is a reflection of his own innate sense of retaliation of vindictiveness. This, I suppose, to be the meaning of the passages quoted before: “In religion the vindictive principle has euphemistic names; it is called law and justice.… An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, blood for blood, is primitive law. Projected into heaven, magnified into the Divine majesty, it becomes the principle that a Deity cannot be just, and yet a Justifier of offenders.”

Now, this is a subject that requires extremely nice discrimination. For that the idea of vindictiveness, or retaliation, has been “projected,” so to speak, on the Divine justice by the short-sightedness of man, there is no doubt. But that the idea of the Divine justice that underlies the Christian religion is the offspring of such a principle in man’s heart, is a theory which entirely subverts the truth of Christianity.

We may begin by remarking that our natural views of justice, equity, are not, of course, in any degree the children of our natural impulse towards retaliation. Nor can Mr. Conway be supposed to suggest this. Equity, human justice, represented by the ancients under the symbol of an even balance, so far from being the child of the principle, or spirit, of vindictiveness, is that which alone controls it. Justice determines whether the “pound of flesh” and the debts are really in equipoise; justice stops a man when his instinctive vindictiveness sends him in pursuit of his enemy; the laws of England do not allow a man to retaliate, but endeavour to put him into the hands of justice; and so when our Saviour said, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil,” he evidently meant that men should curb the impetuosity of personal vindictiveness, and leave their case in the hands of a more perfect justice.

Man has the power of realizing a perfect, even-handed justice, however often and however far he may have abused the principle in practice. And although he may have reflected his own imperfections on false gods, and may have made them vindictive, the Divine justice that underlies the Christian religion owns none of this imperfection, but is in accordance with that perfect ideal that man is capable of forming, though not always of practising.

How, then, does the Christian religion regard the Divine justice in relation to the forgiveness of sins? Does it impute to that justice vindictiveness, or retaliation, and then “devise a scheme by which a commutation may be secured, and a vicarious satisfaction obtained,” to meet the inexorable demands of that Divine retaliation? The Scripture does indeed say that “by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” But this is no threat of retaliation; for it simply states a self-evident fact, that a man cannot be both guilty and guiltless. And there is no part of Holy Scripture which says that “the Deity cannot be just, and yet a Justifier of offenders.” On the contrary, it says that “God can be just, and yet the Justifier of the ungodly;” and it makes it a part of the justice of God that he does forgive offences, for “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.” But it will be said, this act of God’s justice, in forgiving offenders, is only extended, according to the Christian Scriptures, in view of the “satisfaction” made to the Divine justice in the death of the Saviour Jesus Christ as a vicarious offering; and that a satisfaction implies something to be satisfied. This is in a certain sense true; but there is no word in the New Testament which represents the satisfaction as made to any principle of retaliation. And I may note, in passing, that the word itself, “satisfaction,” though occurring in the Prayer of Consecration in the English Prayer-book, does not anywhere occur in that connection in the New Testament. The utmost care is needed in enforcing the doctrine of the atonement from the pulpit, lest the idea of retaliation should be inferred. The spirit of retaliation would make God thirst for the blood of the sinner, whereas God “willeth not the death of a sinner;” it would represent the Deity as injured, whereas God cannot be injured. We cannot shut up the doctrine of the atonement under the naked formula, that man must be punished on account of his sins unless some one else can be found to be punished for him; that the justice of God must have suffering somewhere, if man is not to suffer. To provide suffering was not the one only object of the atonement; it was not merely to balance suffering against suffering that the one Great Sacrifice was offered.

To what, then, was satisfaction made? It is made to absolute justice, to the truth of God; and it is made not only by the sufferings, but by the perfect life of Jesus, as the perfect man, in obedience to the Law. Justice—not retaliation—demands that what a man sows, that shall he reap. Man sows sin, and reaps the necessary results—death, the forfeiture of God’s presence. Man cannot be pardoned and restored on his own merits. The merits of another are offered to him. The picture of atonement in the Old Testament is that of a covering of sins, and in the New Testament is reconciliation of man to God. In the English version of the New Testament the word “atonement” occurs once, and translates the word which is elsewhere translated “reconciliation” (katallage). The satisfaction on which this covering of sins and reconciliation of man to God is based embraces the life, death, resurrection, ascension, and mediation of the Saviour Godman. The object in view of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus was not one, but manifold. It was to manifest God (“God manifest in the flesh”); to reconcile man’s heart (“You, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight”); to show man that he has a Mediator (“the one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus”); to prove his love (“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends”); to enter death that he might show man that he is the victor over it, as the Firstfruits from the dead (“If Christ be not raised, then is our hope in vain”); to read a lesson to other spheres (“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the Church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”). In all this he stood in man’s place to suffer; the “chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed;” “he redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us.” His merits were so perfect that they outweighed all man’s demerits, so that for his sake man can be justified and accepted according to the covenant of grace. Nay, this doctrine of the atonement is too wonderful, too mysteriously great, too deep to be gauged by man; we have not yet fathomed its depths; nor had even the inspired apostle, who wrote, “Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” But to introduce the spirit of vindictiveness, or retaliation, on the part of the Jehovah of the sacred Scriptures, as thirsting for the blood of the sinner, and demanding the sufferings of Christ from any principle analogous to the human principle of retaliation—as though he would demand the pound of flesh because he could not obtain the sheltered dove—is one of the greatest insults ever offered to the Christian religion, which declares that the whole motive power towards salvation was love. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The fact, however, remains, that the Christian religion does centre round a Sacrifice; and the further fact remains, that not only was the Jewish religion a religion of sacrifices, but that in almost all, if not all, nations sacrifices have been offered from the earliest days of historical man, and in many cases up to the present moment. What has originally given birth to the idea of sacrifices? It is asked, “Are they not substitutions, that have suggested themselves to man, by which to propitiate and avert from himself the supposed Divine vindictiveness, which he has euphemized as Divine law and justice?” The answer must be, first, that it seems impossible that man could invent the system of sacrifice. Suppose a man, in the dawn of human reason, who should have no better idea of Divine justice than as interpreted by his own innate vindictiveness. We may even suppose him to have reasoned up to the conclusion, that the deity cannot be just, and yet the justifier of the guilty; that is, that a man cannot be held to be guiltless unless his complete innocence is manifest. And to this he adds, from his own nature, that Nemesis must overtake him. But what is there in human nature to suggest to him to make an offering in blood, whether human or animal? He fears, it may be, the vengeance, the vindictiveness, or even the malignity of an unseen deity on himself. But what is there in that to suggest the idea of a propitiatory offering, a commutation, a vicarious satisfaction, in lieu of his own person, in blood? Nay, what is there to suggest any offering of any kind? Human vindictiveness might lead him to hurl a dart at the imagined deity, could he hope to reach him; but of what avail would any kind of offering be? Would he think of bribing the deity not to injure him, as he might bribe an earthly judge? Should such a thought arise in his mind, it would perish at the first attempt; for what man would try twice to bribe an earthly judge who persistently refused the bribe? And what man, in fear of an earthly judge, would think of going to his door with the life-blood of his son, or of the best of his flock?

We will suppose the case of such a primitive man, totally unacquainted, from whatsoever cause, with any portion of a Divine revelation. He embodies in his imagination the phenomena of the atmosphere as the attributes of a personal deity, whom we may call Indra. From Indra he receives the bounties of the sun and rain which mature his harvests, and also the floods, torrents, tempests, and thunder and lightning, which make him fear. He surrounds this deity with a moral atmosphere of inflexible, uncompromising remorselessness—the moral shadow, we may say, of the character be attaches to the physical heavens. Suppose, then, that one day, when he and his sons are reaping their harvest, their great desire being for a cloudless heaven to dry their sheaves, an ominous cloud gathers; the heavens are soon black, the forked lightning darts with angry quiver from cloud to cloud, and from cloud to earth: the thunder seems to split the firmament in rage; till out darts a forked tongue of flame, and slays his youngest son at his feet. Will he regard this as Indra’s retaliation on account of some offence he has been guilty of? Suppose it is so. What would human nature suggest to him to do in order to escape, if possible, Indra’s further vindictiveness? Is there anything in his nature that would lead him to cut the throat of his eldest son, and, hurling him on a pile of faggots, to consume his body with fire, as a holocaust, to appease the supposed wrath of Indra, and so, under the idea of sacrificing a substitute of the greatest worth in his estimation, to ward off danger from himself? Would he be likely to fling the blood of his lamb or his kid towards the heavens, under the idea of sheltering himself from Indra’s retaliative stroke? Or could anything in his own nature suggest to him that Indra required some voluntary sacrifice? We cannot touch even the elements of such a thought in man’s nature, much less trace their development. There is nothing whatever, surely, in human nature to suggest such thought or action.

But there is a kind of sacrifice which man has always understood—self-sacrifice for the sake of another. Mr. Conway’s illustrations would seem to me to touch this thought rather than the idea of commutation by sacrifice. History is full of this phase of sacrifice. When Gautama Buddha, as related above, was pictured as giving his body as food to the tigress, the idea was self-sacrifice for the sake of the starving animal and her young. The bravery of Horatius Cocles, though his life was spared, is an illustration of the same thought. There is the idea of substitution: but it is a substitution in the sacrifice of one’s self at one’s own hands for the salvation of another. This is a doctrine which man can understand. But the idea of thrusting forward a substitute for the sake of guarding one’s self is foreign to man’s innate nobility.

Turn the matter as we will, nothing is more difficult than to try to realize what there is in man that would lead him of his own accord to offer the life of a bullock, a sheep, a goat, or a dove, to propititate the Divine justice. But it has been done in all ages. How has the custom originated?

It has arisen about the world-sacrifice of Jesus Christ. That was a self-sacrifice of the highest conceivable import; but it involved the shedding of a life. And that one Sacrifice, coupled with the life, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, was in all its bearings the most significant event that ever happened in the history of the human race. Should not, then, the world of all time be educated for that one great central “mystery of godliness,” the reconciliation of the world by “God manifest in the flesh,” the outward circumstance of which was the life-shedding of Jesus on Calvary?

The world has often been divinely taught by signs; and the deeper the degradation of man, the simpler and more pointed the sign. Jeremiah, with his “marred girdle,” his “potter’s clay,” his “good and evil figs;” Ezekiel, with his “tile,” his “razor,” his “staff upon his shoulder,” and his “seething-pot,” are familiar examples. In these days of the Christian Church we are taught by a very significant symbol to realize, as we look upon it, the offering of Jesus Christ on the cross; a symbol appointed by his own words and acts—”This do in remembrance of me.” The breaking of bread and the eating it, the pouring out of wine and the drinking it, are the symbol under which we are to “show the Lord’s death till he come.”

But how was the world to be educated in prospect of that Sacrifice? The great central fact to be taught was—the shedding of a life the salvation and life of the world. We are taught now to look upon that Sacrifice at a meal, because the atoning power must always be connected with the life-giving power. The eating of bread and the drinking of wine are signs distinct enough to keep the world in memory of the fact and character of the death of Christ, the Life of the world. The Lord’s Supper is, moreover, a bridge of history, taking us back by unerring steps to the hour of its institution, and the hour of Christ’s agony. But to prepare the world for this great idea, to perpetuate through succeeding generations, before the event, an expectation of the coming “mystery,” something more distinct was appointed.

To take the Mosaic dispensation as a starting-point, we find under that dispensation the great analogue to the Lord’s Supper in the system of sacrifice. And we have the authority of the Epistle to the Hebrews for saying that the Jewish sacrifices were a figure of Christ. Then also the symbol was connected with a meal; or had in every case at least some reference to food. Except in the case of the whole burnt offering, either the priests and the offerers of the sacrifice, or the priests alone, solemnly ate the offering, and that for the most part, in “the holy place.” Nor was the animal sacrifice the only sacrifice: the “meat offering” (minchah) was as truly a sacrifice as the lamb, part being also consumed in the holy fire, and part eaten by the priest. Every animal sacrifice was an animal or bird used for food. But to the ritual of the animal sacrificial meal was added a most elaborate ritual as to the previous slaying of the animal itself, and the sprinkling of its blood, the offerer putting his hand on the head of the victim, and being taught to regard the sacrifice as a picture of atonement, the Hebrew idea of which was a covering, or a hiding of sin; and the blood was called the blood of the covenant. Thus, while the lesson of life by food is the same in the Lord’s Supper and the sacrificial feast, the symbol of breaking of bread in token of the death of the Lord’s body is replaced by a much more powerful symbol in the slaying of the animal that supplies the feast, and the solemn sprinkling of its blood. The two ordinances are from the same hand; and while we see the exquisite beauty of the symbolism in the commemorative Supper of the Lord, we cannot fail to see the beauty of power in the parallel symbolism of the shedding of blood in the prospective Old Testament dispensation.

But for the Jews to realize that power they must have been instructed in the fact that God would provide a greater, a perfect atonement in the person of the long-promised Messiah. They must have had an intelligent knowledge of what the “covenant” meant. The Eucharistic service of the Church of the Christian dispensation could have no meaning for the man who was unacquainted with the atonement of Christ. Nor can we conceive the intelligent and devout Jew seeing in the mere blood and death of an animal a covering for his sin. The Jew was not taught that the death of the animal was accepted instead of his punishment; but he was instructed to look upon it as a foreshadowing of a perfect Offering to come. This may not be apparent on a cursory glance at the Pentateuch; but the New Testament commentary leaves no doubt on the question. “It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins;” the first tabernacle was “a figure for the time then present;” “the Law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image” (or full revelation) “of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” This is not a contradiction of the Old Testament, but an explanation of the Mosaic dispensation. Of Moses we know, through our Saviour’s own words, that he saw through and beyond the type to the Antitype: “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me;” as of Abraham, that he “saw Christ’s day, and was glad.” That the sacrifices were nothing in themselves is a lesson constantly brought before the Jews. “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.” That the offering of the sacrifice was efficacious in itself for atonement as an opus operatum, was man’s perversion of the truth; a perversion that is consonant with all that we know of human nature, of which every age testifies that it will hold tenaciously to the outward forms of religion, and with difficulty maintain its spirit. The Jew was never taught that the slaying or offering of the animal was an atonement in itself. Neither the animal nor the minchah was a substitute for something else—a commutation, but a foreshadowing, an educating of the world for the appreciation of the one atonement. As the sabbatical divisions of days and years were to familiarize Israel with the idea of a final rest; as the cities of refuge were to familiarize them with the idea of salvation; as the most remarkable institution of the goel, the kinsman-redeemer, was to familiarize them with the idea of redemption;—so the most elaborate ritual of sacrifice was to train them for the expectation of the offering of Jesus Christ once for all on the cross, for the reconciliation of the world. It was the great sacrament of the old world.

Thus, then, the nature and the object of the Mosaic sacrifice seems very evident; and its origin, with that of all its most remarkable accompaniments, was Divine. The further question now arises, What was the origin of other and previous sacrifices? First of all, the idea of sacrifice, as connected with the worship of Jehovah, was not originated under the Mosaic dispensation. Jethro, before the institutions of Mount Sinai, “took a burnt offering (olah) and sacrifices (zebachim) for God.” These are the same words that are in use afterwards under the Mosaic dispensation, “And Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel, to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God” (Exod. 18:12)—not an ordinary, but, no doubt, the sacrificial feast, the old-world sacrament. Again, Jacob, on the eve of his memorable parting with Laban, “offered sacrifice upon the mount, and called his brethren to eat bread.” The sacrifice here, again, was the zebach; and was not the “eating bread” the same sacrificial feast? Noah also on coming out of the ark “builded an altar” (mizbeach, from zabach, to slay), “and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl” (i.e. such as were eaten), “and offered burnt offerings (oloth) on the altar.” Of Abel also, in the very first generation of historical men, we know that he “brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof,” as an offering unto the Lord; and why was his offering acceptable but that it was brought in obedience to God’s own express direction?

The animals sacrificed were always food animals. Twice the sacrifice is mentioned in connection with a meal. And in Exodus, “to hold a feast” and “to sacrifice” seem to refer to the same event. The inference, therefore, is by no means extravagant, that the pre-Mosaic sacrifices were of precisely the same kind as those of the Mosaic dispensation. The “clean” animals used for sacrifice were so used because they were the animals used for food. (The theory, it may be observed, that animal food was not used before the Deluge seems to rest on no foundation whatever.) And if food was consecrated to the worship of Jehovah from the days of Adam, as food is now consecrated by the words of Jesus himself to the same worship in the Lord’s Supper, where shall we seek for the origin of that significant feast, and the ritual of its observance, but in Jehovah himself?

It may not be unimportant, as a confirmation of such a view of the matter, to note here that the Mosaic dispensation, in probably every point, would seem to have been a renewal of former Divine directions as to the externals of worship. The leading features of the Mosaic dispensation wear the appearance rather of a reformation than of an initial institution. Thus the very form and character of the tabernacle itself, and after it of the temple of Solomon, were precisely the same as we now find in many Hindu temples. We cannot think that the Hindus copied at any time the form of the tabernacle in the wilderness or of the temple on Mount Moriah. Rather we must suppose that the Hindus still perpetuate what was the most primitive form of a temple for Divine worship, the fane with its two rooms and the surrounding court; and that that form was reinstituted under Mount Sinai. Nor was there anything new in the Aaronic priesthood: Melchizedek was a cohen; Jethro was a cohen. Then, again, as to the sacrifices, the minchah is still the daily offering in the Hindu temple; food is offered before the idol in the inner room of the fane, a handful is consumed on the sacrificial fire, and the meal is eaten by the priests. The same kind of food offering was made both by Greeks and Romans. The sacrifice of food animals has also been perpetuated by various other nations. Such were the principal sacrifices among the Greeks and Romans, and among the Hindus there is still the sacrifice of the lamb. Some even of the minutiæ too of the more ancient rites evidently remained intact for ages; as, for instance, compare Numb. 19:2, “They shall bring thee a red heifer … upon which never came yoke,” with Ovid (‘Fasti,’ iii. 375, 376)—

“Tollit humo munus cæsa prius ille juvenca,

Quæ dederat nulli colla premenda jugo.”

We cannot account for these things by supposing that the heathen nations learned the rules of sacrifice from the Jews. The only rational supposition is that they retained many of the externals of primitive worship, while the worship of the Jews was truly the primitive worship divinely restored. Heathen religious rites and sacrifices are fossils of the old-world Church history, the exuviœ of dead faiths. Incrusted, indeed, they are with superstitions many and grievous, petrified, the true primitive life long since crushed out of them; but yet unmistakably the remains of an ancient garden of the Lord’s, of a primitive sacrificial and sacramental worship, the analogue of that which was again seen in the days of Moses, David, and Solomon.

If such be the case, we cannot hesitate to conclude that the whole system of heathen sacrifice, however degraded and distorted in its present application, bears ample witness to a Divine origin. The theory that sacrifice is an outcome of human nature does not bear examination. The fact that man will cling to the externals of religion while losing its spirit, is attested by all history. The very existence, therefore, of priest and sacrifice as worldwide facts would seem to point back infallibly to a day of pure religion and a God-appointed worship.


Is there a sacrifice, a priesthood, and an altar in the Christian Church?

This question is so suggestive, and related to so much that is collateral, that only salient points must here be touched upon, and such as have reference to what has gone before, or this essay would very soon exceed its due limits.

First, perhaps, it is well to guard one’s self against an idea too commonly expressed, that the Mosaic dispensation was “imperfect.” The thought has arisen around the expression in the Epistle to the Hebrews of the “greater and more perfect tabernacle.” The Mosaic dispensation was imperfect, as all human things must be, even when of Divine appointment, when compared with Christ; but it was not imperfect as a dispensation. No ordinance from God’s hands can be imperfect. The sacrificial system must have been the very best method of teaching the ways of God to man, or it would not have been instituted. We must not, therefore, approach the words, “sacrifice,” “priest,” “altar,” with a prejudice. They were once God’s ordinance. Are they so still?

The Lord’s Supper is manifestly a modification of the ancient prospective sacrificial system, for the edification of the Church in retrospect. In what particulars, as regards directions actually recorded, does the institution given under Mount Sinai differ from the Saviour’s institution? In both the Saviour is typified by food at a meal. But in the latter there is no direction as to an “offering;” neither is the Church nor the individual instructed to “present” the bread and the wine before God, as under the former sacrificial system. There is no direction as to animal food; indeed, practically it is prohibited. There is, therefore, no ritual of blood. There is no command to confess sins in connection with an offering, as when under the older dispensation the offerer laid his hand on the head of the victim. There is no command to burn a portion of the food in the sacred fire; no sacred fire is vouchsafed. Hence no altar, of the same character as the Jewish altar, is required; nor is one mentioned by the Saviour. There is no mention made of a priest; those who were commanded to perpetuate the ordinance were not called cohens by Christ, but “apostles,” missionaries. Nearly all the actual ancient sacrificial duties, both of priest and people, were practically abrogated at the institution of the Lord’s Supper, the only point authoritatively preserved being the partaking of the minchah with wine. The Lord’s Supper, then, in that it is a typical feast, a part of the ancient feast, picturing the blessed Redeemer in his sacrifice for the life of the world—”This is my body, which is given for you;” “This is my blood of the new covenant”—has most distinctly a sacrificial aspect; but it is denuded of almost all the observances peculiar to the ancient sacrificial feast. It points to the same offering as the old-world sacrifices, and by the same method, but accompanied, as it is apparently intended to be, with much less elaborate circumstance. An adaptation, however, of the more ancient sacrificial system it most manifestly is; such an adaptation as seemed to him, who is the All-wise, best fittea for the edification of the future Church.

But is it not evident that, by the method of our Saviour’s institution, many details were left to be otherwise determined? Nothing can be more distinct than the matter, the form, and the intention of the Lord’s Supper; but there is no direction as to the how, the when, or the where. Under the Mosaic dispensation every, the most minute, particular was provided for by Divine ordinance. Time, place, person, and manner are most exhaustively described. But our Saviour did not in like manner appoint the priest, the vestments, the accompaniments, the ritual of the Holy Meal. The commission, “Do this in remembrance of me,” was given to the sacred society of apostles, or missionaries, who afterwards received that further commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” They, therefore, were the first celebrants; but their exact method of procedure has not been handed down to us. They were inspired men; had they subsequently any Divine directions? All we know on this matter is found in 1 Cor. 11. Were the apostles left to their private judgments as to the arrangements necessary for the suitable celebration of the Lord’s Supper? or were they divinely directed? We cannot know. But we do know that very early in the history of the Church the Lord’s Supper was separated from the agapæ, and administered at a special service; that at this service there were customs which seem to be a modified revival of the customs of the ancient sacrificial system, notably the confession of sins by the congregation, and the public declaration of God’s acceptance on repentance. It could not have escaped the early Christians, especially the Jewish converts, that the Lord’s Supper (established, too, as it had been, during the observance of the most significant and important of the Jewish sacrificial feasts) was a retrospective adaptation of the once prospective sacrifice. We cannot wonder, therefore—though we know not the exact customs of the apostles themselves—that we should early read of the Christian sacrifice, the Christian priest, the Christian altar. The “elements” of the feast were a continuation of the “meat offering,” the minchah, part of every former sacrifice; the presbyter, elder, or president, who served at the table, though not a priest of the Aaronic line, yet might well be called, in a certain though modified sense, a priest; and the table at which he served, though no longer the seat of the sacred fire, or sprinkled with blood, was to the Christian what the altar had been to the Jew—that from which he fed on the picture of Christ. And I cannot doubt, on a candid examination of the expression, though I once held to the contrary, that there is a reference to the table of the Lord’s Supper in Heb. 13:10, “We (Christians) have an altar, where of they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.” True it is that Christ’s divinity is the actual altar of the universe, which upheld, sustained, and sanctified the humanity of Jesus in his sacrifice of himself; yet, as the Jewish altar was that which held the picture of the Sacrifice to come, and from which the Jew ate the emblematic feast, so the holy table from which we Christians feed in memory of Christ’s death, is, in a parallel though modified sense, an altar. To refuse to the Christian Church, then, the very names of sacrifice, priest, and altar would seem almost to be to deny the propriety and solemnity of the words under the earlier dispensation, and to interfere materially with our understanding the real significance of our Saviour’s institution as an adaptation of the divinely appointed sacrificial system to the Christian dispensation.

Yet as different views may, no doubt, lawfully be taken as to the intention of our blessed Saviour’s silence at the moment of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, we should surely allow that latitude of thought to others who, like ourselves, love the Lord Jesus in sincerity.

What is the error that has grown up about the words “sacrifice,” “priest,” and “altar”? It is idolatry; that is, making the picture more than a picture. When the Jew believed that the blood of bulls and of goats could take away sin, he perverted the truth and the ordinance of God; and when the Christian holds that there is in the Lord’s Supper a propitiatory sacrifice for the quick and the dead for the remission of sins, he equally abuses the truth of God and the beauty of the ordinance. It is the confounding of the inward spiritual grace in the sacraments with the rite itself that has been at the root of the chief of the religious errors of mankind. The inward spiritual grace is the apprehension and appropriation by the intelligence and the affections of that which the outward observance typifies, and therefore to the faithful the actual reception of its benefit; and the observance itself, when rightly understood, becomes an instrument in arousing that apprehension, as well as a pledge and means, by virtue of its institution, of our receiving that grace. But to make a sacrament an opus operatum, to convert the image into that which it represents, is idolatry. It is this astounding, though truly human, error that plunged the ancient world into heathenism, the Jewish world into Pharisaism, and the Christian world into what is now commonly called Popery. The fall of the intelligence when the floods of superstition are let in upon the soul, is great indeed; so that a man can even hold the blasphemous doctrine that the blessed Redeemer can become incarnate in the sacramental elements of bread and wine in the hands of the priest, and that it is necessary for salvation that the body, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ should be digested in the human stomach. This is a fall sorer than any fall on record of the Jews; however much we may pity their unbelief, we have no evidence that any Jew ever taught that every Passover lamb and every victim brought to the altar was God incarnate; and yet, if it be true of the Christian element of sacrifice, it must have been true of the Jewish. We cannot wonder at the reformers of the English Church expunging the word “altar” from the Prayer-book, when we know how the idea of the Christian altar was perverted to serve the purposes of the grossest idolatry. But in meeting the doctrinal errors that have entwined themselves, like Laocoon’s snakes, around the Christian altar, it is surely not necessary for us to blind ourselves to the fact that our Saviour did perpetuate for the Church the principle and method of the ancient sacrificial feast; and that, therefore, in some sense at least, we have, as the Church seems from very early times to have expressed herself, a sacrifice, a priest, and an altar; always remembering that, in reference to sacrifice, that sense, as defined by St. Chrysostom and others in the early Church, who speak of the Eucharist as a sacrifice, is that it is a “commemoration of a sacrifice” (vide St. Chrysostom on Heb. 10:9).

The points to be kept, then, constantly and prominently before the Church are: first, that we must not misinterpret the character of the Jewish sacrifice itself; second, that we must maintain, as a truth for all time, that an image of a thing cannot be the thing itself; and third, that as the Jewish sacrifice was not truly in itself propitiatory, but only the figure and pledge of propitiation and spiritual life, so there is no propitiation, but only a figure and pledge of the propitiatory and life-giving office of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. And then we need not fear to use the Old Testament terms, as in one instance appears to me to have been done in the Epistle to the Hebrews, for designedly parallel Christian ordinances.

And the conclusion of the whole matter seems to be, that the Church still has, in a reasonable though modified sense, not an offering for sin, but still a sacrifice, which the Church of England calls a “sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.”


by the

rev. professor alfred cave, b.a.

That man of steel, as he was called, Origen, the greatest of the great Fathers of Alexandria, had, to judge from his Eclogues and his Homilies on Leviticus, a very poor opinion of the literal interpretation of the ritualistic sections of the Book of the Law. The circumstantial and realistic observances of the Jew, based upon an unquestioning acceptance of the Levitical injunctions, were considered by Origen both inappropriate and useless. Nay, the literal interpretation of this diversified rubric made, he thought, cavillers and infidels; for it led some, to use his own words, to “despise the Law as a vile thing unworthy of the Creator,” and others to “impiously condemn the Creator himself who could ordain such vile commands.” Hence his so-called spiritual sense—a gross misnomer, unless the spiritual is synonymous with the imaginative—was Origen’s great panacea for all the apparent inanities of the sacred records, the infallible harmonizer of all its seeming contradictions. And his talented lead has, alas! been followed by only too many eminent successors. It was but an application of the same method of forcibly squaring Law with Gospel, when in the next age such moulders of opinion as Augustine and Ambrose descended—the former to expound in his treatise, ‘De Isaak et Anima,’ the simple fact of Rebekah’s filling her pitcher at the well, as “the soul descending to the fountain of wisdom to draw the discipline of pure knowledge,” and the latter to find a reference in circumcision to the resurrection of Christ, quæ desvieria carnalia aufert. Even when the reign of Augustine in Biblical hermeneutics gave way before the inllusnce of that delicate exegete, Isidore of Hispala, whose work, ‘De Allegoriis,’ became a type of scriptural exposition in the Middle Ages, it was virtually the same allegorizing principle which was advocated and exemplified. Nor was the case different at the Reformation. When, at that epoch, the close study of Scripture became a vital necessity for the consolidation of belief, the writings of Melancthon and Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, abundantly testify to the predominant fondness for “spiritualizing;” whilst the subsequent history of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches further witnesses to the potency of these revered leaders, until spiritualizing blossomed into such amusing, if not appalling, extravagances as are to be found in Coccejus and his school. To Lund, for example, Aaron’s rod that budded was a type of the rod out of the stem of Jesse; its supernatural greenness was a type of Christ’s supernatural conception; the mystery of its sprouting a type of the mystery of the birth of the Son of the Virgin; the night of its blossoming was a type of the night in which the miraculous birth of Christ occurred; there were three things on the rod, after the miracle, which were not there before—leaves, flowers, and fruits, whereby the threefold work of the Redeemer is prefigured; and, not to linger further upon this illustration, in the preservation of the rod within the holy of holies we have foreshadowed, he supposed, the passing of the risen Christ into the heavens, there to await the advent of his elect. Could exegetical caprice go further?

That this “spiritualizing” method of interpretation has fallen somewhat into disrepute is due to an unexpected source of enlightenment. “It is an ill wind that blows no one good,” and a more vivid conception of the historical character of the Old Testament has been one of the good things which the ill wind of rationalism, with its microscopic and carping criticism of the letter, has blown to the Christian Church. When the rationalists frigidly maintained that the Old Testament was but a collection of the historical records of Judaism, to be regarded in the same light as a collection of the archives of Greece say, or Rome, the Church could at least cheerfully accept one part of the contention, and believe that the Old Testament was a historical record. Thus the Old Testament came to be studied for itself, as well as for its connection with the New. Thus the Old Testament came to be considered at least as worthy of examination for its own sake, and apart from its relation to Christianity, as the sacred books of Mahomet or Zoroaster, Kakya-Mouni or Buddha. In fact, it is now readily acknowledged that the most repulsive details of the ceremonial law, to say nothing of the splendid eloquence of the prophets, are facts in religious history deserving of close investigation as such. Largely thanks to the indirect influence of the rationalistic movement, the Jews are now seen to have had a distinctive religion of contemporary as well as prospective value.

To trace the outline of that Old Testament faith, to authenticate the credibility and the historical character of its records, to contrast that faith with the other religions of the world, to demonstrate its advance upon the creeds of heathendom and towards the creed of Christ,—such a task of elucidation, comparison, and defence is one of the pressing needs of our day, to be satisfied only by the use of all modern appliances, and in view of all modern scholarship. One prominent phase of that Old Testament religion is that of Mosaism, or the religion of the Hebrews as far as it can be deduced from the Pentateuch. Further, of Mosaism the Levitical sacrifices form no unimportant section. To study the nature and significance of these Levitical sacrifices, as they are in themselves, rather than in their connection with Christianity, is the aim of this introduction. In other words, our purpose is to prosecute the literal interpretation of the injunctions of the Law which bear upon these sacrifices, and to see whither such interpretation will conduct us. The Levitical sacrifices will approve themselves a religious cultus not unworthy to be designated Divine.

The course which will be pursued is as follows. A classification of the Levitical sacrifices will first be given. Next, some principles will be deduced from the letter of Scripture by which the comprehension of the Levitical sacrifices will be facilitated. Thirdly, an application will be made of the principles thus deduced to the elucidation of the entire scheme of the Levitical sacrifices. Fourthly, the relation of this sacrificial worship to that of the patriarchal age will be pointed out. Fifthly, the relation of this sacrificial worship to the sacrificial views of the New Testament will call for some remark. And lastly, a few words may be bestowed upon the bibliography of the subject.

And at this point the writer may advisedly call attention to the different standpoint he here assumes to that occupied in his work upon ‘The Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice.’ To put that standpoint briefly, he would say that, whereas his view of the Jewish sacrifices was previously more analytic, he aims in this introduction at a synthesis, at building up into a consistent whole the numerous details of the Mosaic ritual, and displaying thereby the salient and instructive characteristics of the Levitical sacrificial cultus. Let the writer state, however, once for all, that where he has expressed any details of that cultus in as fitting and accurate language as he is capable of in his earlier work, he has not gone about to seek a new dress for old facts, but has freely used his previous materials. Where, therefore, passages occur in inverted commas, without the mention of the name of an author, it will be understood that the writer quotes from his earlier work.

A. The Classification of the Levitical Sacrifices

At the outset it is necessary to classify the numerous sacrificial rites of the old covenant with some accuracy. An indispensable preliminary to such a classification is a precise definition of “sacrifice.” According to the usage of the Old Testament, the most general term for sacrifice is qorban. This word was employed in the Law to describe the genus of which sacrifices of all kinds were species. It is expressly predicated of the burnt offering, the peace offering, the thank offering and the votive offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, the Passover, the sacrifice of the Nazarite on the expiry or breach of his vow, the whole range of national sacrifices, the firstfruits, and even offerings made to Jehovah of the spoils of battle. Qorban is manifestly the generic Hebrew term, equivalent to our English term sacrifice. The important thing, therefore, in defining “sacrifice” in a scriptural sense is to ascertain the customary Biblical significance of this term. Not to delay upon philological considerations, which may be studied by the curious in the Appendix to the writer’s previously mentioned work, suffice it to say that this Hebrew word is expressly used and translated by an unequivocal Greek word in a passage in the seventh chapter of St. Mark’s Gospel. That passage runs thus: “Ἐὰν εἴπῃ ἄνθρωπος τῷ πατρὶ ἢ τῇ μητρί· Κορβᾶν, ὅ ἐστιν δῶρον, ὃ ἐὰν ἐξ ἐμοῦ ὠφεληθῇς:” “If a man shall say to his father or his mother, Qorban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me” (Mark 7:11). This “κορβᾶν, ὅ ἐστιν δῶρον” settles the meaning of the Hebrew sacrificial technicality once for all, at the same time as the insertion of the Hebrew word throws light upon the unfilial pleading alluded to, Qorban, the equivalent of the English word sacrifice in general, is a gift to God. The usage of the LXX. is identical. A sacrifice in the Levitical sense was a gift, or offering, or presentation made to Jehovah. Ewald was, therefore, perfectly at liberty to call abstinence from labour upon the sabbath a sacrifice of rest; nor would it be inconsistent with the usage of the Pentateuch to call obedience to the legal injunctions concerning the seventh year and the year of jubilee by the name of sacrifice, or to regard a scrupulous adherence to the Levitical laws of food a self-denial of the nature of a sacrifice. In the large majority of cases, however, a distinction was perceptible. A sacrifice, in the legal sense, was, it is true, a presentation to Jehovah. But in the stricter sense of the word a presentation could not be indiscriminately made either as regards time or place. Especially is emphasis laid in the Law upon the place of presentation. It is at the place where Jehovah consents to record his Name, at the one appointed place for Divine worship, that sacrifices in the stricter sense can alone be made. Whilst, therefore, Ewald is etymologically correct, it is doubted by many whether he is not inconsistent with the usage of the Law when he designates those offerings sacrifices which were not presented at the one appointed place where man might meet with his Maker. It is true that the usage for which Ewald contends, according to which prayers, and charity, and abstinence, and obedience, may be termed sacrifices, is common to the books of the prophets and of the New Testament, whereas, on the other hand, the legal application of sacrifice seems to be almost restricted to offerings associated with the courts of the Lord. Kurtz avoids the difficulty by dividing the Levitical sacrifices into sacrifices in general and altar sacrifices—an unnecessary distinction, apt to conceal their common significance.

Defining sacrifice, then, in accordance with both usage and etymology, as a gift, a presentation to God, a surrender to God of what has cost the offerer something, a material embodiment of the self-sacrificing spirit, and remembering that in the large majority of cases at least these sacrifices were associated with the holy places,—the several ordinances of the Mosaic Law in reference thereto will arrange themselves under the following classes. There were the national sacrifices, or those presented in the name of the entire Jewish people by their representatives. There were the official sacrifices, or the specific acts of worship by presentation prescribed for the ecclesiastical and political orders. And there were the personal sacrifices, which were made by individual suppliants of the Heavenly Majesty. To the enumeration of the several varieties under each of these three divisions we now proceed, after uttering a proviso. When we speak of the Levitical sacrifices we do not mean those which are recorded in Leviticus simply, but those contained in any of the legal portions of the Pentateuch. The Book of Leviticus does not contain the entire Mosaic ritual; its legal provisions are supplemented by parts of Exodus and Numbers. Indeed, it is doubtful whether the sharp separation of the Leviticus from the other parts of the Pentateuch is not of very late date. Apparently, to judge from the Jewish rolls of the Law, what we now call the Book of Leviticus was simply sections twenty-four to thirty-three of the Torah, the first division of the Hebrew Scriptures.

I. The national sacrifices. Sacrifice, as a form of Divine worship, was not confined under the Law to individuals, whether among the priests or the populace. The nation as such was identified with sacrificial observances. A national rejoicing was regarded as possible, and therefore a national thank offering. The chosen people were supposed to be collectively capable of humiliation and confession of sin, and therefore of a national atonement. Similarly, a national self-surrender to the will of Jehovah was deemed to be frequently appropriate, and hence national burnt offerings were consumed in the national behalf. This national identification with the Levitical sacrifices is a prominent characteristic of the Jewish Church.

The national offerings consisted: 1. Of the serial offerings, or those daily, weekly, and monthly sacrifices ordered to be presented in the nation’s behalf. 2. Of the festal offerings, or the ceremonial appropriate to the several exceptional days of sacrificial observance. 3. Of the offerings for the service of the holy place; and 4. Of some extraordinary offerings instituted in response to a widely felt need for worship or humiliation at extraordinary seasons.

1. The serial offerings. Every day, morning and evening, the priests were bidden to effect, in the name of the congregation, the burnt offering of a lamb of a year old, and to present therewith its appropriate meal offering and drink offering (Exod. 29:38–42; ch. 6:1–4; Numb. 28:3–8). The presentation was made according to the customary ritual for burnt offering. From the regularity of its succession this daily burnt offering is also called the “continual” or “continuous” burnt offering (Exod. 29:42; Numb. 28:6; comp. Dan. 8:11). The only additional feature of this daily offering to which attention need be called is the probability of a direct association with the people at large by a peculiarity of ritual. According to rabbinic tradition, the nation was expressly represented in the court of the Lord’s house by certain אַנְשֵׁי מֲעַמָד, or permanent officials, who performed the customary rites of the imposition of their hands upon the victim, and its slaughter. Should this tradition simply refer to the days of Zerubbabel’s temple, still that later practice must point back to some earlier form of national representation.

Every sabbath the daily burnt offering was doubled night and morning (Numb. 28:9, 10).

On the first day of every month, or on the new moon as it was called, two young bullocks, a ram, and seven lambs, with the prescribed meal and drink offerings, were ordered to be offered, in addition to the continuous burnt offering; a kid was also to be killed for a sin offering (Numb. 28:11–15). The new moon was also emphasized by a rousing blast upon the silver trumpets (Numb. 10:10). Further, on the new moon of the seventh month, dignified pre-eminently with the name of the Feast of the Blast of Trumpets, an additional burnt offering was to be made of a bullock, a ram, and seven lambs, in addition, that is, to the offering of the month and the daily burnt offering (ch. 23:23–25; Numb. 29:1–6).

2. The festal offerings. Following the order of the Levitical calendar, the several festal or solemn seasons were Passover, the Paschal Feast, and Pentecost (or the Passover cycle), and the Day of Atonement, followed by the Feast of Tabernacles (or the cycle of the seventh month).

The Passover cycle. Even in the first celebration of the Passover, amidst all the idolatry and hardship of Egypt, there were features of sacrificial import. It was by Divine command that a lamb or kid, a male and physically immaculate, had been slain at sunset in every household, the sacred blood having been sprinkled with hyssop upon the posts and lintels of the front door. Also it was by Divine command that the victim was roasted whole, and hastily partaken of with loins girt and staff in hand Thus two features—the blood ritual and the sacred feast—were not without their sacrificial reference. And this reference was made yet more distinct when the perpetual celebration of the Passover was enjoined under altered conditions, and when the solemn feast of expectation became the solemn feast of reminiscence. Instead of being slain at home, the Paschal lamb was to be slain in the court of the tabernacle, and instead of being sprinkled upon the doorway of the offerer, it was to be sprinkled upon the altar of burnt offering (comp. Exod. 12; Deut. 16:1–8; 2 Chron. 30:16; 35:11; also Exod. 13:3–10; 34:18–21; ch. 23:4–8; Numb. 9:1–14; 28:16–25).

On the morning after the Paschal Supper, namely, on the fifteenth of the first month, the Paschal Feast commenced. It lasted seven days, the first day and the last partaking of the character of a sabbath; that is to say, work being interdicted, and a public assembly of the people at the one place of worship enjoined. This feast is known under two names. It is most frequently called in the Pentateuch the Feast of Unleavened Bread, from the circumstance that none but such bread was eaten by command throughout its course. It is once designated the Feast of the Passover in the Pentateuch. In after times these names were retained. At this feast, in addition to the abstention from leaven—itself of sacrificial significance—a peculiar ritual was ordered to be observed. Every day, after the offering of the customary burnt offering, a further offering by fire was made. Two bullocks, a ram, and seven lambs, with their accompanying meal and drink offerings, were to constitute the festal burnt offering, and one goat the sin offering; these offerings being repeated every day of the feast. The second day of the feast was also characterized by an additional act, not a little curious. Being the time of early harvest, a sheaf of the firstfruits was brought to the priest, who “waved” it before the Lord, presenting at the same time a lamb for a burnt offering, together with a fifth of an ephah of meal and a quarter of a hin of wine (comp. ch. 23:9–14; Numb. 28:17–25).

Fifty days after the Paschal Supper came the Feast of Harvest—to use one of the several designations of the final feast of the Passover cycle—so called from the time of its observance. Another name for this feast was that of Firstfruits, a designation which is self-explanatory. From the fact that seven full weeks were allowed to elapse after the Passover before its celebration, it was also named the Feast of Weeks, or possible this name refers to the whole period between Passover and Pentecost. The date of its occurrence also explains its later name, just mentioned, of Pentecost. The feast lasted but a day, and partook of the nature of a sabbath. This feast again has a special sacrificial ritual peculiar to itself, consisting of a meal offering, a burnt offering, a sin offering, and a peace offering: the meal offering being two loaves of leavened bread, to be offered as firstfruits; the burnt offering consisting of seven lambs, one ram, and a bullock, together with meal offerings and drink offerings; a kid constituting the sin offering, and two lambs the peace offering. The common details of the ritual of presentation were observed with two exceptions—the two loaves and the two lambs were simply waved before the Lord, and were not consumed by fire; they were “holy to the Lord for the priest” (comp. ch. 23:15–21, Numb. 28:26–31; Deut. 16:9–12).

The cycle of the seventh month. The seventh month stood out in strong relief in the Jewish calendar. It opened, as we have seen, with the Feast of Trumpets, as if to awaken the nation year by year to the high importance of the days in which its lot was cast, and continued with blended solemnity and rejoicing, bringing in due course the great Day of Atonement, upon the tenth of the month, and the Feast of Tabernacles, or Ingathering, upon the fifteenth.

The ritual of the Day of Atonement was peculiarly sacrificial, and although there is combined therein not only offerings referring to national sins, but those of an official nature, it may tend to clearness if that ritual be described in order once for all. “The law concerning the Day of Atonement contains instruction as to the performance of the appropriate ritual, and as to its performance annually. The prescribed ritual was as follows: As a sacrifice for the priesthood, the high priest was to bring a sin offering of a bullock and a burnt offering of a ram; and as a sacrifice for the congregation, a sin offering of two he-goats and a burnt offering of a ram. The priest was to be clothed, not in his state costume, but in a dress entirely of white, to be put on after bathing the whole body, and not simply the hands and feet as customarily. This dress of white was not even the plain official dress of the ordinary priesthood, for that had a coloured girdle. Lots were then cast upon the two he-goats—one lot for Jehovah and one for Azazel; and, according as the lots fell, so were they presented as living sacrifices before the altar. The ceremony of the expiation of the priesthood and the holy places then commenced. The bullock having been slain as a sin offering for himself and his house, the high priest filled the censer with embers from the altar of burnt offering and with incense, and placed the censer within the vail. Some of the blood of the ox was then sprinkled upon the mercy-seat and seven times upon the ground. Atonement was afterwards made for the nation. The he-goat was slain, and its blood, having been taken into the holiest, was sprinkled as the blood of the ox had previously been. The floor of the holy place was next sprinkled with blood, and the altars of incense and burnt offering. The expiation of the priesthood, tabernacle, and nation being now performed, an exquisitely symbolic act of forgiveness was gone through. The high priest placed both his hands upon the head of the live goat, confessed over it all the sins and transgressions of the people, and sent it away by a man who was standing ready into the desert. The high priest then removed his white garments, purified himself at the laver, and, having donned his official robes, offered the burnt offerings for himself and the people.”

Further, the Feast of Tabernacles, time of wild and often libidinous rejoicing as it was, had its specific ritual of gifts and atonement, adjusted to the several days during which it lasted. Seven days long were the booths standing in the sacred court, and a kind of retrogression was observed in the sacrificial procedure. As on the other fast days, a goat was daily offered as a sin offering. The number of rams and lambs was doubled, being two and fourteen respectively. But it was in the number of bullocks that the distinguishing feature of the feast appeared. Seventy bullocks in all were offered, these being so distributed that, on the last day of the feast, seven were slain, eight on the day preceding, nine on the day previous to that, and so on, daily increasing by one until the total reached thirteen, the proportion slaughtered on the first day (comp. Exod. 23:16; ch. 23:34–43; Numb. 29:12–38; Deut. 16:13–16; 31:10–13).

3. The offerings for the service of the holy place. These offerings consisted of the holy oil for the daily replenishing of the lamps of the golden candlesticks, arranged “from evening to morning” by the priesthood; of the incense, peculiarly compounded, and daily burnt upon the golden altar; and of the twelve loaves, arranged in rows, with frankincense and libations of wine, to judge from the furniture of the table of shewbread, which were laid before the Lord as a memorial at the beginning of every week, and eaten by the priests as “a most holy thing” at the close. In the present reference, the significant fact in connection with these offerings is that they were national rather than official, to say nothing of personal. For the materials thereof were selected from offerings representatively made by the people. Thus it is the children of Israel, and not the priests, who are bidden to bring pure olive oil for the lamps of the sanctuary. It would seem also that the constituents of the sacred incense were the gift of the people, seeing that in the first instance they were ordered to be provided by Moses, the representative of the tribes at large rather than of Levi. And, as regards the shewbread, conceding that the number of its loaves did not point to the number of the tribes, as seems probable, it is expressly said, “every sabbath it shall be presented before Jehovah continually on the part of the sons of Israel, an eternal covenant” (ch. 24:8). Compare on the above statements, Exod. 27:20; ch. 24:2; Exod. 30:34–38; 25:30; ch. 24:5–8; Numb. 4:7; Exod. 27:12.

4. The extraordinary offerings. Amongst these offerings, in which we see the general theory of Old Testament sacrifice applied to unlooked-for waves of national sentiment, whether penitential or eucharistic, may be classed such abnormal offerings as those for the erection of the tabernacle; those at the consecration of Aaron; the surrender of their mirrors by the Hebrew women for the manufacture of the brazen laver; the sin offerings presented by the congregation in acknowledgment of some special sin of national bearing, such as the crimes of Korah and Achan; or the multitude of sacrifices slaughtered at the consecration of the temple. A very interesting series of instances, showing as they do a trial of old ordinances in new conditions, an application of the Law to changed circumstances, an apprehension of the spirit which is nobler than an obedience to the letter; and suggesting, as they undoubtedly do suggest, a variety of possible adaptations of the Law to religious ends not expressly contemplated.

II. The official sacrifices. Not only did the officials of the Jewish nation acti as the religious representatives of the tribes in the manner just described, not only did they approach the Majesty on high as individual suppliants in the manner about to be described, but, according to the dictates of the Mosaic Law, there were sacrificial rites administered by them, neither in their representative nor in their individual capacity, but purely as officials. These rites pertained to the officials of Church and State and society at large, and may be conveniently classified according as they attached to the priests, the kings, the elders, and the ministering women.

1. The priestly offerings. Quite apart from their almost endless duties as the religious executive of the Israelites, there was a distinctive sacrificial cultus which belonged to the priests in their exceptional official functions. The following enumeration is exhaustive. There were special sin offerings to be made by any priest who had inadvertently erred in the discharge of his holy calling (ch. 4:3). There was a specific offering of meal to be made by the high priest daily, morning and evening, within the outer vail (ch. 6:14). The solemn expiation of the great Day of Atonement opened, as we have seen, with an atonement for the officiator and the whole priestly order. At the consecration of any high priest, priest, or Levite, characteristic offerings were enjoined, varying in costliness and manner in each case. Thus at the consecration of a Levite, the lowest grade in the hierarchy, there was a consecration itself called a sacrifice (Numb. 8:13); after a process of purification, two young bullocks were offered, the one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering (Numb. 8:5–26). At the consecration of a priest, the intermediate ecclesiastical grade, two sets of three acts were performed: in the first place, the novice was specially purified, solemnly invested, and religiously anointed; and in the second place, a triple sacrifice was presented in his behalf, consisting of a bullock for a sin offering, a ram for a burnt offering, and a ram for a peace offering (Exod. 24:1–37; 40:12–15; ch. 8:1–36). At the consecration, however, of the “anointed priest,” or “the priest” par excellence, afterwards called the “high priest,” a more elaborate ceremonial still was ordained, occupying seven days instead of one, and, whilst consisting of the same series of acts—purification, investiture, anointing, and sacrifice, this last act showing as clearly as the investiture with the “golden garments” the exalted rank of the person concerned—whereas for an ordinary priest one bullock formed a sin offering, for a high priest seven bullocks were offered on successive days. A further evidence of his exalted position may be seen in the sin offering to be made by the high priest upon any infringement of his official duty. “He was to offer an ox without blemish. Having performed the presentation, the imposition of the hand, and the slaughtering in the customary manner, he took a part of the blood into the tabernacle, and sprinkled it seven times ‘in the face of the vail of the holy,’ and having put some of the blood upon the horns of the altar of incense, he poured out the remainder at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering. The same fatty portions which were removed in the case of the peace offerings were afterwards lifted off the carcase and consumed above the daily burnt offering, the high priest carrying the rest of the carcase to a clean place before the camp, and burning it on wood with fire.” A ceremonial of highly significant variations!

2. The offerings of the princes and the ruler. Express mention is made of elaborate offerings made at the dedication of the tabernacle “by the princes of lsrael, heads of the house of their fathers”—gold and silver utensils, a goat apiece for a sin offering, and large burnt offerings and peace offerings (Numb. 7:10–89). Express mention is also made of a sin offering for a ruler, whether judge or king (ch. 4:22–26). Remembering, however, the special offerings of David and Solomon on set occasions, it would appear that the offerings just mentioned are simply instances of an adaptation of the sacrificial cultus to the sanctification of the chief officers of the State, and instances which any occasion of great penitence or gratitude might constitute into an inspiring precedent.

3. The offerings of the holy women. In this case again we seem merely to have an instance of a class of presentations capable of infinite repetition by sections of Jewish society. These holy women “served at the door of the tabernacle” (Exod. 38:8; 1 Sam. 2:22), not assisting, of course, in any of the ritual prescribed for the priests or Levites, but abiding apparently in a holy ministration of prayer and praise, fasting and sacrifice, like the saintly daughter of Phanuel; at least, such is the interpretation of these holy attendants suggested by the Septuagint, the Targum of Onkelos, Jerome, and many rabbis, as shown by Münster and Fagius in the ‘Critici Sacri.’

III. The personal offerings. These are divisible into two classes—the blood and the bloodless sacrifices, the former including the burnt offerings, the peace offerings, the sin and the trespass offerings; and the latter including the meat, or the meal, offerings, as they are better termed, the libations, the offerings of oil and incense, and a variety of oblations, such as the redemption moneys for every Israelite, the tithes, the firstlings, and the vows. Of these two classes in order; certain modifications of the blood and bloodless sacrifices under special circumstances may then be appended.

1. The blood sacrifices. The burnt offerings. Two points call for notice, namely, the injunctions concerning the victims to be slain, and those concerning the ritual to be observed in slaying. The victims varied with the wealth of the offerers. If the offerer was poor, a turtle-dove or pigeon sufficed to neutralize the command not “to appear before the Lord empty,” and in the presentation of this humblest offering the officiating priest simply cleaned the birds and burnt them upon the accustomed altar. Richer offerings were such as an ox, a ram, or a goat, in the transformation of either of which into a sweet savour a more elaborate ritual was observed. This ritual is described at length because it was adopted in all burnt offerings, whether national, official, or personal. “The victim was brought to the altar by the offerer, who then forcibly laid his hand upon the animal’s head, and slaughtered it upon the north side. In the act of slaughtering, the blood was caught by the priest and swung against the four walls of the altar. The offerer then flayed the slaughtered animal, divided it, cleansed the intestines and the lower parts of the legs; whereupon the officiating priest, appropriating the skin, placed the several parts, with the head and fat, in order upon the wood, which had been previously arranged upon the ever-burning fire, and the whole sacrifice rose ‘as an offering of fire of a sweet savour unto Jehovah.’ ” A meal offering and a drink offering always accompanied this form of sacrifice (comp. ch. 1).

The peace offerings. In this case also emphasis must be laid upon the victims and the mode. With respect to the former, it might be a bull, a cow or a calf, a ram, a sheep or a lamb, a he-goat or a she-goat, the selection being regulated by the purse and the inclination of the offerer. As for the ritual, which mutatis mutandis was also observed in all the varieties of the peace offering, national, official, or individual, it in part resembled and in part differed from that of the burnt offering. “The victim having been brought to the altar, the offerer laid his hand upon its head, slaughtered it (but apparently not on the north side)—the priest meanwhile catching the blood and sprinkling it upon the altar—flayed, divided, and cleansed it. The course subsequently followed was essentially different from that employed for the burnt offering. Instead of burning the animal entire, the offerer detached all the separable portions of fat, such as the flare, and that in which the intestines, kidneys, and liver are embedded; and in the case of sheep severed the fat tail; these portions were then burnt with the daily burnt offering. The breast was afterwards ‘waved’ by a kind of horizontal movement, and given to the Aaronites, and the right leg was lifted or ‘heaved off’ as a gift to the officiating priest. The remains of the carcase were carried away by the offerer, and a meal made of it in the sacred precincts of the tabernacle. Meat and drink offerings accompanied this form of sacrifice, one of the cakes of the meal offering always falling to the priest.” Three occasions for the presentation of peace offerings are expressly mentioned: they might be made at special seasons of gratitude, and were then called thank offerings; they were presented when vows were made before the Lord, and were then called votive offerings; or they were voluntarily made at any time when there was a longing for the fellowship of Jehovah, being then called voluntary offerings. The laws of the peace offering are given in chs. 3 and 7:11–36.

The sin offerings. Some of the characteristic features of the sin offering have been already passed under review in connection with the national and official offerings, and it has already become evident that the differentia of this class of sacrifices was to be found in a peculiar manipulation of the blood of the animal slaughtered. This fact becomes very evident indeed when we turn to the regulations concerning the individual sin offerings. “When a ruler or common Israelite sinned through ignorance, they were ordered to bring, on becoming conscious of their fault, the ruler an immaculate he-goat, and the Israelite an immaculate shaggy she-goat; in both cases the offerer then went through the customary process of laying on the hand and slaying, upon which the priest, having collected the blood, smeared some upon the horns of the altar, poured out the rest at the foot, and burnt the whole of the fat upon the hearth; the carcase fell to the priest. The sin offerings were slain where the burnt offerings were. It is also noteworthy that, whilst many victims might be offered as a burnt offering, the sin offering might never consist of more animals than one.” It will be perceived upon a comparison of the several forms of sin offering, that the ritual observed was always the same in certain important points, such as the manipulation with the blood, the burning of the fatty portions, and the destination of the carcase (which always fell to the priest, either for his own use or to burn without the camp). For the law of the sin offering, consult ch. 4.

The trespass offerings. However similar in name, these formed a class quite distinct from the preceding class, and this distinction must be considered later on. At present it is sufficient to tabulate, as has been done in the other three classes, the sort of victims presented and the manner of their presentation. “In all cases the offering consisted of a ram, the blood of which, after the customary presentation, imposition of hands, and slaughtering, instead of being smeared upon the horns of the altar or taken into the holy place like the blood of the sin offerings, was simply swung against the side of the altar, the ritual being thenceforth the same as for the sin offering either of a ruler or common Israelite. This class of sacrifice was always accompanied by a recompense, which was considered as due to God and man; the discharge of the debt to God being effected by the placing by the priest of a fancy value upon the offered ram equivalent to the wrong done; and the human liability being discharged by the payment to the party wronged of the whole amount of the fraud, increased by a retributory fifth.” The laws of the trespass offerings are given in chs. 5:14, etc., and 6:1–7.

2. The bloodless sacrifices. These include the so-called meat offerings, the tithes and the firstfruits, both of which were solemnly presented before the Lord at the altar of burnt offering and consecrated by a solemn dedication by fire of part to the Lord, and the other bloodless sacrifices which were not presented at the altar. Of these only the first class call for any further remarks.

The meat offerings were so called in the Authorized Version because meal was the staple food of the sixteenth century. Times and customs have now changed, and the word “meat” refers now to animal rather than vegetable food. It is now, therefore, advisable to speak of meal offerings, not meat offerings. These offerings were the Levitical vegetable sacrifices, and were preceded, with two exceptions—the daily offering of the high priest and that which was substituted by the poor for the burnt offering—by some form of blood sacrifice, either a burnt offering or a peace offering. “They consisted of fine wheaten flour, or of cakes of the same, variously prepared with oil, according to the culinary arts of the Jews, some being baked in a small oven like the Arab’s tannur, some being prepared on plates, and some in a skillet; they also occasionally consisted of roasted ears of corn. To all these ‘meat offerings’ oil and salt were added, and to those which consisted of flour or grain incense also.… The ritual of presentation was very simple. The offerer brought the offering to the priest, who took a handful of the meal and oil with the incense, and burnt them on the altar, the remainder falling to the priest as ‘a thing most holy.’ ”

3. Certain modifications of the two previous classes enjoined under special circumstances. Not merely did the Law contain directions for individual sacrifices such as have been already described, but some specific adaptations were enjoined of the sacrificial ritual, in order to expressly connect certain states of mind and body with the scenic worship of the sanctuary. The occasion for these modified forms of ritual were the following; they are simply named for the most part, and the references given to the Law for fuller details:—

Upon contact with a corpse (see Numb. 19 and comp. ‘Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice,’ p. 74).

Upon the cure of a leper. The purification of a restored leper was divided into two series of acts performed after an interval of seven days, being at both times a modified sacrificial ritual (comp. ch. 14 and ‘Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice,’ p. 75).

After parturition. The mother who had recovered from childbirth must present herself with a sacrifice at the altar (see ch. 12:1–8).

After cessation of derangement of sexual organs (see ch. 15:1–15; 25–30).

In connection with the Nazarite vow. This vow of abstinence and continency was itself a form of sacrifice. It was also directly associated with the sacrificial ritual. Upon any unintentional defilement of a Nazarite by sudden death in his company, an offering was to be made of two doves, or pigeons, by way of atonement, and a lamb was to be brought as a trespass offering. There was also a peculiar rite to celebrate the expiry of his vow (comp. Numb. 6:13–21).

At the so-called trial of jealousy, a solemn ordeal, by which conjugal infidelity was submitted to an awful sacrificial test. The suspicious husband brought the wife to the priest, together with an offering of barley meal, without oil or incense. The ordeal was this. The priest, taking some holy water from the laver, apparently in an earthen vessel in which he had mixed a little dust from the sacred court, and placing the meal in the woman’s hand, sware the woman according to an appalling formula, to which he says, “Amen, amen.” Further, he wrote the formula in a book, and, having blotted it out with the holy water, caused the woman to drink the water. Nor was the ordeal even yet complete. There was a subsequent waving of the meal before the Lord, a burning of it upon the altar, and a second potation of the holy water. With this result, the thigh of the perjured woman rotted (see Numb. 5:11–31).

B. Scriptural Principles applicable to the Elucidation of the Levitical Sacrifices

To the Christian mind, accustomed to accept instinctively as fundamental postulates the spirituality and universality of worship, it might well seem at first sight that so costly and complicated a ritual as has just been described was something less than Divine. Origen’s dilemma, that this cultus by presentation is either unworthy of its Creator, or its Creator is himself unworthy, seems to have some reason on its side. Nor does his escape from the dilemma appear at first blush irrational; it may seem better to some to inquire as to what these laws may be made to mean, rather than to investigate minutely what they seem to mean. Nevertheless, in real truth, it is needless to constitute one’s self a pupil of the philosophical eunuch of Alexandria. Ascetic rebellion against the actual condition of life providentially arranged for us is not the highest mark of sanctified wisdom, and quite another method of escape than Origen’s from the danger of the flesh may be pursued both in morals and in religion. As marriage may afford finer scope for the spiritual culture of life than celibacy, so a patient study of the reputed materialism of the Levitical sacrifices may issue in a more spiritual view of the Divine dealings than spiritualizing falsely so called. A little care and attention bestowed upon the actual teachings of Scripture show an exquisite adaptation to the needs of the Jew in the process of discipline to which he was divinely submitted. Indeed, a rational interpretation of the language of Scripture will elevate the Levitical cultus into so splendid an agent in the religious development of the chosen people, as not to be derogatory to Deity himself. At least, so we hope to show by an examination into the early records of the Pentateuch. By the sacrifice and offering which Jehovah did not for himself desire, he yet satisfactorily educated, as we shall see, a people to whom the higher revelation in the body could be made. Nay, however Judaism may fall short of Christianity, it is beyond all comparison with any other religious system developed during the world’s course. A worship which could train and satisfy a David and an Isaiah, a Jeremiah and an Ezekiel, must be pre-eminent amongst the non-Christian faiths. The task we now place before ourselves, therefore, is to educe from the Old Testament certain general principles which may be applied to the comprehension of the Levitical sacrifices. What light the Jew had upon the rites he was bidden to perform, we are now to gather into a focus. If the labour be great, it will not be unremunerative; in this toil, too, there will be profit. The inquiry will conveniently range itself under the following heads: We shall first elicit from Scripture some fundamental ideas common to the whole of the Levitical sacrifices; we shall next investigate the significance attached by Scripture to the varied, yet ordained, ritual of those sacrifices; thirdly, we shall ascertain the meaning associated by Scripture with the several varieties of these sacrifices; and lastly, we shall consider the significance of the several feasts and fasts to the celebration of which the sacrificial ritual was accommodated. These details settled, it will then be possible to regard the Levitical sacrifices as a whole. The application of these leading principles to the multitudinous injunctions previously classified will then be easy, and the result, it is believed, will be at once stimulating to faith and evocative of devout thankfulness.

Here a caution may be not unwisely interpolated. It possibly calls for explicit statement that, when we speak of scriptural principles of sacrifices and of principles deducible from the Scriptures, we do not refer to proof texts merely. The interpretation and application of Scripture is not so facile. However poorly the writer has succeeded in his aim, that aim itself is to base the interpretation of the Levitical sacritices upon a series of complete inductions from the scriptural data, including, as they do, the implications of philology and the suggestions of general usage, possibly the hints derivable from a trained sense, as well as the numerous passages for which chapter and verse can be given. Scriptural archæology is only inexpugnable when it consists of perfect inductions from Scripture, and perfect inductions must summarize tenor in addition to positive statements of facts.

1. Certain fundamental ideas common to the Levitical sacrifices. The idea underlying the generic term “qorban.” After what has been already said upon the meaning and Biblical usage of this term for all forms of sacrifice, whether bloodless or marked by the effusion of blood, whether presented at the altar or without discrimination of place, little further need be added. All the Levitical sacrifices were gifts to Jehovah. They gave tangible expression to the innate sentiments of every worshipper down to the lowest grade of the fetichist, that it is necessary to attest the self-denial of his soul by some gift which the hand can bring; a sentiment which Jehovah not only sanctioned in the Jew, but demanded when he said, “Thou shalt not appear before me empty.” He who brought a qorban made a presentation. Undoubtedly the problem of the Levitical sacrifices is like one of those intricate locks which only a combination of keys can open. One master-key has been discovered in this idea of qorban. Whatever else the Levitical sacrifices were, they were presentations to Jehovah, sacrifices symbolic of self-sacrifice.

The idea underlying the term “kipper” and its several forms. This technical term and its derivatives are translated in the Authorized Version by atone and its derivatives. Without discussing the primary significance of the word, suffice it to say that “atone” in its scriptural sense means “to cover sin,” in other words, to neutralize or conceal sin so that it should not offend the Deity—to render the Divine wrath inoperative. To make an atonement, if we probe the Hebrew figure, “was to throw, so to speak, a veil over sin so dazzling that the veil and not the sin was visible, or to place side by side with sin something so attractive as to completely engross the eye. The figure which the New Testament uses when it speaks of the ‘new robe,’ the Old Testament uses when it speaks of atonement. When an atonement was made under the Law, it was as though the Divine eye, which had been kindled at the sight of sin and foulness, was now quieted by the garment thrown around it; or, to use a figure much too modern, yet equally appropriate, it was as if the sinner, who had been exposed to the lightning of the Divine wrath, had been suddenly wrapped round and insulated.” So much for the idea of the word. In addition, let the precise association of the idea be remembered. This idea of atonement is expressly associated with the blood of the sacrifices in an important passage: “For the soul,” it is said, in ch. 17:11, “of the flesh is in the blood, and I (the Lord) have given it you upon the altar to be an atonement for your souls: for the blood it atones by the soul.” In other words, to avoid the lengthy controversy connected with this passage, it is at least alleged that the blood of every animal sacrifice has been appointed by God, for some reason of his own, as a means of neutralizing the sin of the Jew, because the blood is the life of the animal sacrificed. Four truths thus emerge, viz. first, the Levitical sacrifices had a power of atonement; secondly, that atonement was connected only with the blood sacrifices; thirdly, it was the effusion of blood which was declared to be a neutralizing of sin; and fourthly, this act of atonement was an act of substitution, that is to say, a forfeited human life was spared because of an animal life surrendered. Of course, we are not arguing either the reasonableness or irrationality of this fact; it is our present purpose simply to state it. Thus the second master-key to the Levitical sacrifices has been obtained. But although, to continue the figure, the door into the mysterious chamber is opened, the only available light is that which has followed our entrance; there are many windows to be unbarred and blinds to be lifted before the entire chamber is visible to its remotest corner and most secret recess. To this unbarring and illuminating we must now proceed.

The significance of the materials used in sacrifice. As our previous classification has shown, these materials were divisible into animal and non-animal offerings, or, to adopt the yet more significant technicalities, into blood and bloodless offerings. The ideas already educed render the interpretation of these two classes of material easy. The bloodless offerings were presentations simply; they were gifts made to Jehovah upon approach to him in worship; they were this and nothing more. The blood sacrifices were this and something more; they were both presentations and instruments of atonement; in addition to being the gifts of the offerer to Jehovah, they possessed the all-important blood which testified to the substituted life. In every case of animal sacrifice the blood spilt spoke of a substituted life, whilst in every case also the animal itself, of some value to the offerer, spoke of a presentation made. And it is this latter fact which elucidates another point in the ceremonial of animal sacrifice, namely, the variety and the kind of victims enjoined. Offerings were only to be made of such animals as did not contradict the Levitical laws of food—of such animals, therefore, as Jehovah could receive. Further, the victims were of very different value; a bullock was worth more than a cow, a cow than a calf, a calf than a ram, a ram than a sheep, a sheep than a lamb, a lamb than a pigeon, and a pigeon than a handful of meal; the gradation of animal became a gradation of gift. The more costly the gift the more self-sacrificing the offering.

The significance of the place of sacrifice. In the patriarchal age, it would appear, any place might be a place of special Divine revelation, and therefore a place where an altar might be erected; in the Levitical code, the legitimate place of sacrifice was more restricted. The large majority of offerings, as our previous description has already made evident, were ordered to be presented within the precincts of the one spot which Jehovah had consecrated by his presence. As it is said in Deut. 12:5, 6, “But unto the place which the Lord your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his Name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: and thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks.” And yet again, in vers. 13, 14, “Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.” And still more solemnly is the same injunction conveyed in ch. 17:3–9, “What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, and bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: to the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the Lord, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for slain offerings unto the Lord,” etc. If apparent exceptions are seen in the case of Gideon, Manoah, David, and Elijah, it needs to be remembered that their aberrant practice was sanctioned by express Divine revelations; and so little was their example regarded as a type of permissible action, that when the Reubenites wished to build a second altar, all Israel grew furious, and was ready to put two tribes and a half to the sword. It is therefore evident that immense importance was attached under the Law to the place of sacrifice. That place was ordered in such a way that it always fell somewhere within the one sanctuary; and very significantly so, for there Jehovah was supposed and stated to be peculiarly present and approachable. There was a certain localization of the Deity according to the Mosaic Law, and the neighbourhood of the Shechinah was holy ground, as the Law itself represents Jehovah as saying. “And there I will meet” are the words of the Lord at the ordinance of the perpetual burnt offering at the door of tabernacle, “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God” (Exod. 29:43, 44). Let it be noted, however, that, whilst the whole sanctuary was the abode of Jehovah, approach to him was limited by two conditions: first, certain sections of the sanctuary were allotted to certain sections of the people, the high priest alone being allowed to enter the holy of holies, the priests’ peculiar portion being the holy place, and the court being apportioned to the Jew; and secondly, the altars were, so to speak, the centres of the several sections, in which their significance was concentrated and from which their power radiated.

Thus we have express scriptural authority for saying that the various offerings were to be presented within the precincts of the holy place, each according to the status of the worshipper, because there Jehovah, the covenant God, had consented to reveal his Name, and be peculiarly present.

The significance of the officiating priests. Not only was the large majority of sacrifices ordered to be made at a certain place, but by the mediation of a certain ecclesiastical executive. The Jews at large were not priests unto God, they did their priestcraft by deputy; and from the days of their unanimous refusal of the more exalted office of Divine administration, the tribe of Levi was set apart for holy service. The preceding description of the legal commands has already shown how large a part the priest played in sacrificial worship, how minute a rubric instructed the priest in the dutiful discharge of his sacred functions. For our present purpose, the tribe of Levi as a whole may be ignored; it is simply needful to concentrate attention upon the priests proper, the descendants of Aaron, and their official head, the so-called high priest. Had the fact of the mediation of priests any doctrine to convey to the reverent and thoughtful worshipper? Most assuredly. The priests were middle-men; they had an exceptional privilege of Divine approach; they represented God to man, and man to God. Every sacrifice presented through the priest was presented to Jehovah by the appointed medium of legal access.

2. The significance of the several details of the sacrificial ritual. It is next necessary to consider the significance of the curious and precise ritual ordered to be adopted in sacrificial worship, and to see whether and how far religious truths were taught thereby. It will be seen that no prescribed act was meaningless, and that each stage in the elaborate act of worship had its own message to convey.

The act of presentation. The first stage in every act of sacrifice was the deliberate presentation of the offerer and his gift at the appropriate altar. Entrance into the court of the Lord’s house was not casual or heedless, but of set purpose. The offerer presented himself and his offering solemnly before the priest. Nor was this presentation a mere opportunity for an official examination into the fulfilment of the legal conditions of valid sacrifice, although the officiating priest was unquestionably bound to see that the victim had neither spot nor blemish nor any such thing. The presentation was itself a thoughtful religious act. Of what nature? Without entering upon the various replies which have been returned by Neumann, Keil, Kliefoth, Kurtz, and Wangemann, suffice it to say that the thebiah was a symbolical prayer for the privileges accruing to legal sacrifice. To come to the altar was to come to the Lord; to come with a willing and obedient mind, fulfilling the conditions of the Law, was to ask for a share in the promises thereto attached.

The imposition of the hand. The victim having been solemnly presented, “the offerer forcibly laid his hand upon its head; his hand, not his slave’s; his hand, not his substitute’s, nor his wife’s, but his own hand”—to retranslate what Outram extracted from the Talmud. There was a forcible imposition of the hand upon the head of the victim by the offerer, whoever he might be, whether priest or layman, king or elder. And this act was singularly eloquent. Again refraining from entering into the protracted controversy as to the meaning of the rite (discussed in the writer’s previous work), suffice it to say that this act was a dedication of the victim to the purpose for which it was brought. Perfunctory worship Jehovah would not have, and as the deliberate act of presentation kept the mind of the offerer awake to the importance of the rite in which he was engaging, so the deliberate act of the imposition of the hand kept the mind awake to the same great object. Just as the presentation said, “This is my deliberate act,” so the imposition of the hand implied, “This is my deliberate gift.”

The act of slaughter. This, be it observed, was always performed by the offerer (possibly assisted or guided by the Levites), and hence its significance. In offering an animal, he was bringing before God an atonement as well as a presentation. But atonement was by the blood, not by the living animal. Whilst, therefore, sacrifice as a gift was complete when the victim was dedicated to sacred purposes in the two first ritual acts already described and explained, sacrifice as an atonement was not complete until the blood was given to the priest. In the act of slaughter by his own hand, the offerer obediently brought before God the blood of atonement. The slaughtering was important as the consummation of the act of sacrifice by the presentation of the atoning blood before the Lord.

The heaving and waving. Sometimes a peculiar swinging of the offering was appended to the other acts of presentation, called “heaving” and “waving” (therumah and thenupha). This detail was enjoined in the consecration of the Levites and priests, in the vow of the Nazarite, in the offering of jealousy, in the cleansing of the leprous, in the thank offerings and the tithes. Nor are the movements themselves difficult to trace. “Heaving” was a perpendicular motion from below upwards, a swinging from earth towards heaven. “Waving” has been very differently understood. Some of the early Protestant exegetes regarded “waving” as making the sign of the cross, in which they found some mysterious reference to the crucifixion of Jesus; Hengstenburg and Bähr accept this interpretation whilst rejecting the inference. Gesenius, Thalhofer, Keil, Knobel, Schultz, and Oehler seem to regard thenupha as a mere synonym of thebiah, and as forming no distinct part of the ceremonial; in which view there is both truth and falsity, the “waving” being assuredly a part of the act of presentation, but a part of the ritual distinctly emphasized. As Wangemann has pointed out, the compilers of the Mishna—no mean authorities on the details of ancient worship—regard this movement of heniph as a “going and coming,” as if “waving” were a horizontal movement backwards and forwards. With this certain passages in the Old Testament coincide. Thus Isaiah calls the swinging of an axe “waving,” as also the angry shake of the threatening finger. On the whole, therefore, this significant act of the officiator would seem to be a more emphatic presentation. The priest took the offering and “heaved” it towards heaven, as if presenting it to the Deity who had made the heavens his throne, and then returned the gift to the altar by a “waving” process, which only differed from the reverse of “heaving” by the exercise of force to counteract gravity, and place the limb or the firstfruits, for example upon the altar.

The significance of the manipulations with the blood. Although this act varied in the several kinds of sacrifice, it was nevertheless invariably a more or less complete pouring forth of the life-blood before the Lord. The rabbinical interpreters of the Law divided the manipulation in question into three acts—lekicha, serika, and shepicha. To the collection of the blood in a silver bowl they gave the name of lekicha; the application of the blood so reserved to the altar they called serika; and the pouring out of the superfluous blood at the runnel of the altar, whence it flowed into the brook Kedron, they designated shepicha. This triple division is useful as showing the stages of the customary procedure. It was the second stage which was manifestly the important one, the first being a mere preliminary, and the third a mere consequent thereto. This serika, or sprinkling, varied with the sacrifice, sometimes being a sprinkling of the surface of the brazen altar, sometimes a smearing of the horns, and sometimes a general aspersion of all the holy places and their sacred utensils. It was always, however, a bringing of blood in contact with the altar, and thus before Jehovah. Upon the significance of this repulsive proceeding to modern eyes we are left in no doubt. The interpretation thereof is given in the passage which has already been quoted (ch. 17:11), and concerning which, however interpreters may vary as to its exact purport, all are agreed that it defines the use of blood in the Law. “For the soul of the flesh,” it runs, “is in the blood: and I (the Lord) have given it you upon the altar to be an atonement for your souls: for the blood atones by the soul.” In other words, this verse asserts that the blood of the animal legally presented has been appointed by God as a means of atonement for human life, because that blood is really the life of the animal sacrificed, or, to put the same thing in other words, the blood or life of an animal has been graciously accepted by Jehovah (for some reason or other, and by some means or other) as a valid substitute for the life or blood of the sinful offerer. As Kahnis puts it, blood is life in compendio. By the blood manipulation one part of the twofold aim of animal sacrifice was completed, and a legal atonement was made for human sin.

The significance of the combustion upon the altar. In the blood manipulation, as has just been observed, the atoning aspect of animal sacrifices was complete; the two remaining rites were connected with the offerings as gifts to God. There was in every case a burning of the carcase, wholly or in part; this was the first of the remaining acts. The symbolism of this combustion is manifest. It was a sending of the gift to God. After arranging the divided or the selected portions of the carcase in the heaven-born fire, which had issued forth from the Divine presence at the consecration of the tabernacle, and had never been permitted to altogether expire, they were burned, that is to say, they were etherealized, and they rose to heaven as “a sweet savour.” The rite bore a similar interpretation when it had reference to any of the bloodless offerings. To burn was to effectually present.

The significance of the concluding meal. In all offerings but the holocausts and certain forms of the sin offerings, the ritual ended in a sacrificial meal, enjoyed for the most part by the priesthood, but occasionally—that is to say, in the case of peace offerings—shared by the laity. Of necessity, when there was a consummating feast, the entire gift was not burnt; part was consumed by fire in symbolical gift to God, and part was retained. That this remnant commonly fell to the priesthood points to the significance of this closing act. The priests were the representatives of Jehovah; consumption by the priest was as much giving to God as consumption on the altar. There was a mystical union between Jehovah and his priests, and participation by the latter was participation by the former. In the peace offering there was a continuation of the same idea. For a time, the sacrificing family was admitted to the privileges of the priesthood. It consisted for a gracious season of priests unto God. As Kurtz has strikingly said, “Just as the effusion of blood betokened justification, … so the sacrificial meal told its tale of the unio mystica.”

3. The significance of the several species of sacrifice. It will be convenient to reverse out previous order of exposition, and begin with—

The bloodless offerings. In these, as their name minchoth implies, the fact of presentation is alone emphasized. They were gifts to God simply; they were not a means of atonement. The whole ritual of their offering was adapted to express that they were presentations alone. Their further significance varied with their material. They consisted always of the products of labour; they were therefore objective representations of so much self-sacrifice; and it is interesting to see how these pure gifts might be made from all the branches of human activity—agriculture, stock-farming, arboriculture, merchandise, luxuries, even the spoils of battle and the titles of property.

The several blood sacrifices. These conveyed both the leading elements of Jewish worship. They were at once gifts and means of atonement. The ritual enjoined accentuated both features of blood manipulation and presentation. Further, whilst every blood sacrifice made both the aspects of sacrifice prominent, the materials ordered and the ritual enjoined adapted these fundamental facts to varying states of mind and inclination. The burnt offerings, and sin offerings, and trespass offerings, and peace offerings, were all means of adoring God, and covering sin as well; but in each species there was a special adaptation to the more vivid expression and satisfaction of some religious state.

The burnt offering is most nearly allied to the bloodless sacrifices. As its ritual shows most clearly, and as its name of holocaust implies, presentation is its leading characteristic; so far from the blood manipulation constituting a prominent feature, it seems to be, what it is in fact, a mere means to an end, a recognition of sinfulness lest the gift of man be despised. The variation too in the victims allowed points to the same fact—to the relative value of gifts, and is a kind of Old Testament proclamation of the duty of proportionate giving; the poor man’s handful of meal, or pigeon, tells the same story as the widow’s mite. On the other hand, the swinging of the blood collected by the priest against the altar is the least emphatic manner of procedure in atonement, whereas the burning of the whole carcase pointed most conclusively to the animal as a presentation to God.

In the sin offering, on the contrary, it is just the blood manipulation which is strongly emphasized. If the burnt offering was an atonement that it might be a gift, the sin offering was a gift that it might be an atonement. This inference is suggested by the name as well as the ritual. A sin offering was an offering for sin—for sin of an accurately defined nature, sin bishgagah, sin of error, and not deliberate sin. As for the ritual, there is as distinct an accentuation of the blood manipulation as there is an evident withdrawal into the background of the ritual of gift, the carcase simply falling to the priest, or being unostentatiously burnt without the camp, as a thing which has performed its purpose elsewhere. Further, in connection with the ritual of the making a substitute for sin, it is important to notice the increase in the value of the substitute as the status of the offerer rose. There is a well-marked gradation in the victims commanded, from the comparatively worthless she-goat of the common Israelite to the more valuable he-goat of the ruler, and thence to the ox for the priest or the congregation. Again, be it observed that the sin offerings of individuals were not presentable for any sin, but only for the so-called sins of ignorance, error, weakness, whichever word may be most suitably employed for the frequent lapses of sanctified but depraved human nature. Sharply defined, therefore, sin offerings were gifts which were made for atonement of sins of ignorance, sins of ignorance, according to the Levitical conception, being any sins which did not wilfully contravene the dictates of Jehovah.

Similarly, the significance of the trespass offerings may be inferred from the ritual and the law of their presentation. From the former it is manifest that neither the element of gift nor of atonement was the prominent feature, but the element of restitution. In this class of sacrifice there was always an accompanying recompense, which was paid both to God who has been offended by the trespass, and to man who has been defrauded. It was the fancy value which was put upon the ram and which expiated the wrong-doer before the Great Giver of all things, and it was the monetary indemnity which expiated the human fraud, which gave to this offering its peculiar place and value. And this inference is strengthened by noting certain special cases in which this form of offering was ordained. Trespass offerings were to be made upon unconscious negligence in such dues as tithes or firstfruits, upon an unintentional infringement of a Divine command, and upon any deceitful violation of the rights of property; thus, to translate the injunctions into more general terms, trespass offerings were to be made upon any forgetfulness of duty to God or duty to our neighbour. There was always present in this class of sacrifices the idea of retribution.

Similarly, in the peace offerings, it is again manifest that it is neither the fact of gift nor that of atonement which is uppermost, but that of the sacrificial meal. In this class, as in the preceding, the elements of presentation and atonement are but means to an end. The peace offerings were gifts and expiations that they might be feasts. The peace offering was the social offering, the sacrifice of friendship, where a man and his kindred might have loving fellowship with Jehovah and his priests. The burnt offering was the act of one in union with Jehovah, the peace offering of one who would cement union by communion. The peace offering was the Lord’s Supper of the old covenant.

4. The significance of the several feasts and fasts. The several feasts and fasts now call for consideration before we proceed to build up these numerous details into one consistent and instructive synthesis. The significance of these festal or penitential seasons must again be inferred from the scriptural records by means of a careful induction in each case.

The general import of these exceptional times and seasons in the Jewish calendar may be gathered from the name so frequently applied to them. They are called “holy convocations;” whereby is signified that they were not simply seasons of rest, a kind of Décadi, or Sansculottide, an atheistic day of rest, or popular festival; they were holy days as well as holidays. Nor were they, this name implies, like birth and marriage days, like Waterloo memorials and American Days of Independence, like Foundation Days and remembrances of a pious benefactor—mere jubilant or regretful reminiscences of past events, such as the Divine pause after Creation, or the flight from Egypt, or the tenting-out at Succoth; they were religious in the sense of present participation in spiritual privilege; they were sacramental memorials. In short, the Jewish festivals (to use a convenient term not to be understood as excluding days of humiliation), whatever else they were, whether holidays or days of rest, were dedicated to religious exercises, and therefore became media for new experimental participation in the blessings of religious truth.

The sabbaths were times of holy convocation, and nothing more. They were pauses authoritatively demanded in the busy life of the world for spiritual as well as physical ends. They stood out amidst the days of the week as the Lord’s days, and as peremptorily as the fourth commandment bade “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy,” did prophets take up the strain, saying, “Moreover, I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that it is I the Lord that sanctify them.” Of the same general sabbatic character the new moons partook, and the sabbatic and jubilee year also. They were times for holiness and congregation in addition to being seasons of rest. Without calling any special historical event to mind, they were “holy convocations,” labour being remitted that religion might be the more engrossing.

The remaining festal times and seasons had an additional characteristic. Besides being “holy convocations,” when there might be a general adoration of Jehovah, and a general remembrance of his goodness, and a general participation in the blessedness which the truths he had graciously revealed were calculated to impart, there was in these other feasts and fasts a particular remembrance of some special religious crisis in the national history, a particular celebration of some special act of Divine goodness, and a particular reception of some special Divine blessing. It was as though each year there was again a remembrance of the principal needs of the religious life, together with the special Divine methods for ministering to those needs. In fact, as the sabbatic cycle of festivals was fitted to keep alive in the soul the general relations of the Jew to his covenant God, so the remaining festivals were individually adapted to fan the flickering embers of some single spiritual sense only too liable to expire. The several exceptional festivals were ordained to be at once holy convocations, sacred memorials, and blessed sacraments, and both history and precept are inadequately estimated if either element is disregarded.

Thus it is an insufficient interpretation of the Passover if it is spoken of simply as a remembrance of the first constitution of the released Hebrews. The Passover, as it was celebrated from year to year, was a re-enactment, a reiteration, a renewal of that ancient rite which inaugurated the Divine adoption of Israel as “a peculiar treasure, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation,” as Jehovah himself described the liberated Egyptian slaves. Passover was a time of solemn convocation and sacred reminiscence; it was also a repetition of that symbolic ritual by which the children of Israel were admitted into their peculiar relationship to the Deity, wherein they may feast as the ransomed sons of God. Briefly, Passover was a holy convocation, when the first Passover was recapitulated, and the nation again entered upon the amenities of Divine forgiveness and adoption. Or, yet more briefly, Passover was the Feast of Justification, “made year by year continually.”

The days succeeding the Passover constitute one long festal season, commencing with the days of Unleavened Bread, and ending with the Feast of Firstfruits. Again we have an addition to the general significance of a festival for a special end. The justified nation is now submitting itself to rules of abstinence and habits of self-sacrifice. A not unsuitable name for this season would be the Feast of Consecration; or, to modify our previous form of speech, the Feast of Weeks, by which name the Old Testament seems sometimes to designate the whole period from Passover to Pentecost, was marked by special days of holy convocation, in which the first joys of national obedience and deliverance were reiterated, and the people admitted to the privileges of the Divine adoption testified to its blessedness by willing consecration of self and substance to Divine purposes. More briefly, the Feast of Weeks was the Feast of Consecration, “made year by year continually.”

A similar line of remark is applicable to the great Day of Atonement. This day of humiliation was by no means a repetition of the Passover, as some have thought. It does not celebrate the entrance of the people upon covenant rights, nor the beneficial remembrance of that entrance; it is a fast and a penitential season for those who have been already admitted to the Divine intimacy. What else, then, could the Day of Atonement signify than the atonement demanded by the sinfulness inseparable even from the reconciled? What else could the Day of Atonement suggest than the permanent need of atonement even by a nation of priests? And what else did that day proclaim than the means divinely prearranged for meeting that evident need? The Day of Atonement was, as its name implies, that holy convocation in which the covenant people were cleansed from the sin contaminating their holiest service, “year by year continually,”—the Fast of Absolution.

Hence follows the meaning of that festival which formed the climax of the festive seasons of the year, the Feast of Tabernacles. Naturally enough it was jubilant and exultant; dances and singing and mirth were its natural accompaniments. For a time, at least, there was a joyous sojourn in the courts of the Lord’s house, and a kind of Paradise restored where man might hear the voice of God amidst the leaves of the trees in which the swallow had built a nest for herself. The season was a symbolic representation of the joy of the elect, who dwell in Jehovah’s temple fearlessly and gleefully. The Feast of Tabernacles, religiously regarded, was the Feast of the Joy of the Reconciled.

Such, at any rate, were the religious truths these festivals were fitted to convey, and the types of religious life they were adapted to gratify, mould, and objectify. Doubtless the picture drawn is ideal, as has been the whole delineation of the significance of the Levitical sacrifices. Undoubtedly also the realization was but rarely attained, and that not in the entire nation, but in the sanctified heart of some solitary worshipper like David or Ezekiel. Nevertheless, these Divine object-lessons were not without their value. They were at once an exercise and an embodiment of an indispensable form of educational religion. They were admirably qualified for a paternal education of a religious childhood, if they fell short of a personal culture of a religious manhood. Add the further truth, so clearly taught in the old covenant, of the preparatory character of Judaism, and this divinely given cultus by presentation and atonement was blessed and stimulating indeed, “a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.”

C. The Application of the Principles deduced to the Entire Scheme of the Levitical Sacrifices

There is, alas! no royal road to the comprehension of the Levitical sacrifices, and in the esteem of the present writer it is only after a laborious, observant, protracted, and possibly wearisome journey through a wide realm of detail, that anything like sure approach can be made to a mastery of the difficulties of the way. A few jottings only of that journey have been given, a few impressions recorded in transit, but even now some advance can be made to the promised land of intelligibility. To speak without figure, a complete synthesis of the facts and interpretations already obtained could only result upon a full and exhaustive survey by the light of the principles deduced of the entire Jewish calendar of sacrifice. Such a survey is precluded by our limits; but some suggestive outlines thereof may now be drawn.

Let us suppose ourselves standing within the entrance of the court of the tabernacle or the temple as twilight is passing into dawn on the morning of the 1st of Abib, or, as it was afterwards called, the 1st of Nisan. For years the same round of ritual has been pursued, at once reminding the chosen people of their exceptional religious privileges and expressing with eloquent symbol the religious sentiments which so benevolent a religious system could evoke and educate, and once more the blank page of the new year is being presented for completion, and the services of the year are recommencing. Before our eyes the barefooted priests, who are to officiate in their course, are already preparing themselves for their solemn duties by ablution at the brazen laver, whilst, on the hearth of the altar of burnt offerings the remnants of the first evening sacrifice of the new year are still burning. The ceremonies of the day begin. First comes the continuous burnt offering. One of the elders of the people possibly presents himself in the people’s name at the altar, bringing with him the appointed lamb for the sacrifice and the appointed meat and drink offerings. He is seen to lay his hand with some force upon the victim’s head, thus dedicating it in the name of the entire people as a burnt offering in its behalf. He draws his knife and cuts its throat. The priest, who is ready with a basin, collects the streaming blood and dashes it as an atonement against the sides of the altar, then dissects and cleanses the carcase in the prescribed manner, and, laying the pieces in order upon the hearth, the morning oblation rises into the air, “a sweet savour unto Jehovah;” and once more the daily burnt sacrifice has been presented as an acceptable token and memorial of the nation’s consecration to Jehovah.

But the day is a new moon, a more emphatic and memorable day of grace, and a more elaborate offering is added to the ordinary daily presentation. The task of the national representative, whoever he may be, is not yet complete, and he again presents himself in the same place with two young bullocks, a ram, and seven lambs for a burnt offering, together with the prescribed offerings of meat and wine, and also with a kid for a sin offering. Analogy would suggest that the sin offering is first made. Again the offering is formally made to the priests at the brazen altar, clad as before in their white robes and parti-coloured girdles, but increased in number; again the hand is impressed upon the head of the victim; again the animal is slain in the nation’s behalf; again one of the priests, the accredited representatives of Jehovah, collects the blood of the slaughtered beast; but there the similarity of the ceremonial ends. According to the ritual ordained for the sin offering, some of the blood is more carefully smeared upon the horns of the altar, and is thus brought in more solemn memorial before the Lord, whilst the remainder is poured away, its end being achieved, at the base of the altar; some few portions of the fat are alone consumed by fire, the offering partaking more of the nature of an atonement than a gift, and for the same reason the rest of the carcase is not burnt within the sacred precincts of the holy place, but in some clean spot without the camp. Then follows the large monthly burnt offering before described, which puts the larger number of priests in requisition, the same form of ritual being gone through as in the case of the “continuous” sacrifice, and the same truth being signified with more display. Thus, at the opening year, the chosen nation is again reminded of its consecration, and reconsecrated to God in emphatic manner, the doctrine being simultaneously declared by the presentation of the sin offering as well as by the form of blood sacrifice, that even the best hours of religious acknowledgment in the most prominent days of a sanctified people are not untainted by sin, but call for humiliation and atonement.

The national offerings made, and the golden candlestick replenished in the holy place, the official offerings follow. The high priest, in his official robes of white and blue, “Holiness to the Lord” glistening in gold upon his mitre, his jewelled breastplate flashing and sparkling in the early sun, passes to the performance of his exalted functions, the bells and pomegranates at the fringe of his broidered tunic ringing as he goes to present his daily sacrifice. Now he burns his offering of meal at the altar of burnt offering, and, by a gift of his substance, consecrates himself anew to the Lord, no effusion of blood being in his case necessary, because of the peculiar holiness supposed to attach to his sublime office; now he advances to the holy place, and, drawing back the chequered curtain, “a thing of beauty and of glory,” is hidden from view for a time, but within, we know, he is burning incense before the Lord on the golden altar, as a further testimony of priestly consecration—presenting solemnly this exceptional holocaust without blood.

The personal offerings now succeed. These, of course, vary from day to day according to the number of those who are religiously impressed with the necessity of sacrifice, and according to the mode of impression. For, legally compulsory as several of the varieties of individual sacrifices were, there was an element of freedom in some, and of limitation in all; and as manifestly as the burnt offerings and peace offerings were purely voluntary, it is equally evident that the sin offerings and trespass offerings were largely influenced by time and space. A Jew who lived remote from Jerusalem, for example, might know the Law, but could not possibly fulfil it; thus there would be, even with the enthusiastically religious, a more probable remembrance and observance upon certain set occasions, such as the annual feasts. Nor must the hardness of the human heart be forgotten, and the rare virtue of living up to spiritual privileges. Still, the supposition is that we are standing in the court of the tabernacle on a New Year’s Day. Although not dignified with the importance of Pentecost or the great Day of Atonement, it is still a festal day, and offerings of many kinds will certainly be presented. At one hour, full of gratitude to God, and anxious for service and self-abnegation, a man brings his bull, or his ram, or his goat, for a burnt offering, according to his means and inclination, whilst his poorer neighbour presents his pair of pigeons. The customary ritual is gone through, each stage of which is symbolically expressive of the act and method of consecration, until the holocaust rises “as an offering of fire of a sweet savour unto Jehovah,” and the deed of personal consecration is complete. At another time it is an omission of some sacred duty which is to be remembered before the Lord, and in that obedience which is dearer even than sacrifice, an Israelite from the ranks is leading his spotless shaggy she-goat to the altar, when again the ceremonies of presentation, of imposition, and of slaughter are carefully gone through, each stage in the sanguinary proceeding having its own spiritual suggestiveness for the religiously minded, the blood is smeared upon the horns of the altar to bring the medium of atonement before the Lord, and, the expiation for the unwitting sin being ended, the offerer walks away, mentally at rest. Or perhaps it is a trespass offering which is being brought in repentant recollection of some deed of fraud, a kind of conscience money; in acknowledgment of wrong done to God as well as man, the substitutionary ram is presented and slain, whilst the story of the fraud is told over the head of the slaughtered beast, the priest placing a judicial value upon the wrong done to Jehovah, and accepting the ram in lieu thereof, a monetary recompense being made to the injured neighbour. Or it may be a peace offering which is brought by a whole family in joyful recognition of the Divine goodness, the priest being welcomed to the hallowed society; the victim is slain, and the sin present even in such united religious joy atoned; and the feast follows within the sacred precincts of the holy place—a love feast indeed, a banquet where “the banner over them was love.” Or, descending to the less frequent instances of the Levitical ceremonial, “now a Hebrew woman, but recently a mother, is modestly presenting herself with her offering of pigeons; and now the high priest is passing through the gate of the court, attended by a Levite carrying birds and scarlet wool and hyssop—he has been summoned without the camp to examine a restored leper. Anon an application is made for the means of purifying some tent where the dead is lying. At one hour a householder is compounding for the property which he has voluntarily vowed unto the Lord; the next, a Nazarite, with unshorn hair and beard is presenting the prescribed sacrifices for release from his vow.”

Such might have been the sights afforded to the observer by a single day. From early morning to the hour of the evening sacrifice there was oftentimes, we may assume, one long series of presentations by all grades of people and for all varieties of experience; and a similar course was pursued the whole year round, as we shall presently detail at more length after a brief digression which is rather a further explanation.

To test the usefulness and the sufficiency of the explanatory principles already deduced, let attention be concentrated upon two of those peculiar ceremonies which might be occasionally witnessed, namely, that of the purification of the dead and that of the consecration to the priesthood.

Analyze, for example, the rites ordained for the purification of the dead—interpret them by the light of the principles previously deduced—and the ceremony would suggest some such series of thoughts as the following. The rite was a purification, and as such pointed to the great doctrine of original sin. It was a purification of an exceptionally solemn kind, and it was a purification of a solemn kind from its singular blending of the atoning with the cleansing element of the Levitical worship. Such is an induction from the various features in which the ritual resembled, and differed from, the general course of procedure. According to the Law, a dead body contaminated all in its vicinity. “To be in a tent at the time of the death of an inmate, to enter a tent where a dead body lay, to touch a corpse, a grave, or a bone, was to contract uncleanness for seven days.” The process of purification was very arresting, from its peculiarity. Like most processes of purification, it was a form of aqueous ablution; but the water employed had been specifically prepared. A red cow was brought to the son or heir of the high priest, by the popular representatives, for slaughter without the camp. Very little ceremonial was observed, but all was singularly expressive. The blood was sprinkled seven times towards the tabernacle, and then the whole of the carcase—not a part—together with the skin and the blood and dung, was burnt; a little cedar-wood, hyssop, and scarlet wool being thrown into the fire. From the ashes the water of purification was prepared. When occasion called, the ashes were mixed with spring water, and sprinkled, by means of a bunch of hyssop, on the third and seventh day after defilement, upon the tent and the vessels and persons it contained; after the customary ablution of the person, the unclean became pure in the evening. After ablution also, all those who had had any share in the ritual, and who were thus rendered unclean, were also purified. Now, the use of water associates this curious rite with the other rites of purification, and therefore shows that, according to the Levitical conception, contamination by the proximity of death was regarded as a form of involuntary sin, which, like parturition, proclaimed the natural depravity of man, to be obviated by special ceremonial. But the peculiarities of ritual imparted a specific character to this form of purification. Not simply was water to be used, but running or spring water—water at its greatest power of cleansing; living water, as the Hebrew expressively puts it. Further, this “water of iniquity” was a lye prepared by the admixture of these ashes of the red cow. What additional significance is thereby given? These ashes were loudly eloquent of atonement, and nothing but atonement. Let it be noted that this red cow was manifestly a kind of sin offering—indeed, it is actually so called: did not the blood manipulation point to the same conclusion?—but that it differs in many essential points from the sin offering proper. Like the latter, it was a national propitiation, and was therefore brought by the representatives of the tribes; but, unlike the latter, it consisted of a cow—most probably that it be not confounded with the bullock enjoined for the sin offering for the congregation, and that at the same time its inferior grade be denoted. Then let it also be observed that this cow was in no sense a presentation, like the sin offering proper. It was not offered at the altar of burnt offering, but without the camp; no portions were reserved for priestly use. It was not submitted to the customary rites of presentation; even the skin and fæces were burnt, and not separated. In fact, this red cow was an atonement by substitution—this, and nothing more. Its blood was sprinkled, like the blood of the sin offering, before the tabernacle seven times, thus bringing the appointed means of “covering” emphatically before Jehovah; scarlet, wool—blood-coloured wool—was thrown into the flames when the carcase was burnt; nay, the very colour of the cow was selected as the colour of the blood which atoned; and so completely was the victim regarded as a substitute, that every ministrant at the ritual was rendered unclean thereby, and the high priest was precluded from officiating, lest he be incapacitated for his other exalted functions, and so his son, his nearest kinsman, and official representative took his place. Thus, in pictorial and impressive form, the momentous truths were inculcated of death as the punishment of sin ordained by the Divine anger, and of the counteraction of the influence of death by an appointed substitute. There is not a detail of the involved ritual which cannot be explained by the aid of such principles as we have deduced.

So, too, so elaborate a ceremonial as the consecration of a priest becomes at once lucid, brilliant, suggestive, and religious by the application of the principles in question. As we have seen, a bullock and two rams, unleavened bread and wheaten cakes, were brought to the door of the tabernacle, where the candidates to be initiated were washed with water, arrayed in official garments, anointed with the holy oil, atoned for by a sin offering, sanctified by a burnt offering, and admitted to fellowship by a peace offering In one significant particular the ritual of this closing sacrifice differed from that customarily observed in sacrifices of the same class. After the habitual imposition of the hand, and slaughter, some of the collected blood was put upon the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the toe of the right foot, and was sprinkled upon the clothing of the newly ordained priest, in addition to the usual smearing of the horns of the altar. Now, as most investigators have pointed out, this consecration consisted of two sets of three acts. In the first place, there was a solemn purification, an express investiture, and a formal anointing; and in the second place, there followed a triple sacrifice in the noteworthy order of a sin offering, a burnt offering, and a peace offering. Every detail is luminous and has of itself a profound suggestiveness for the age contemporaneous, and although the minutiæ of the rite only receive their full illumination in Christianity, they nevertheless conveyed many a valuable lesson to the Jew. In fact, in its adaptation of the general ritual of Levitical sacrifice to the ordination of priests, the prescribed ceremonial is a simple and intelligible object-lesson in the requisites of acceptable religious service. In the set washing with water we have, as Oehler put it, “a symbol of the spiritual purification without which none can approach God, at least to atone.” In the investiture there is the visible assumption of the priestly office. In the anointing, the Divine seal is attached to such acceptance of office; whereas the sin inherent even in an accepted priest must be removed by a sin offering, upon which may follow the expressive sacrifices of consecration and fellowship. As for the varying features in the peace offering, where a different blood manipulation is gone through, what change could be more significant? Before admission to the communion of priests, and of the Deity whom the priests serve, there must be a specific atonement, and the atoning blood of the ram, “the ram of consecration,” is placed not only in contact with the altar, but with the person and garments of the newly ordained priest, the very ceremonial signifying that the ear and hand and foot, which are to be swift to serve, must be atoned for before they are hallowed, and that the very garments of office must be cleansed before dedication to their sacred use.

With such daily observances, the Jewish year ran its course, the customary worship repeated evening and morning, in combination with the voluntary expression of religion by sacrifice, associating absolution, confession, and adoration with all the phases and grades of the national life. If the tribe of Levi sanctified itself by holy service in sacrifice, by the same means the farmer sanctified his toil, the mother her child, the father his skill, the prophet his calling, the singer his talent, the prince his government, and the elders their nation. Day by day these Levitical sacrifices were capable of proclaiming, in sanctuary, in palace, in market, in house, and in tent, religious truths of the highest importance. To this daily observance let the additional observances of the various festal seasons be added, and it will become yet more manifest how admirably this cultus of sacrifice at once educated and ministered to the Jewish phasis of religion.

From the 2nd of Abib to the 10th, the customary daily celebration of Divine service was observed, the interval being abnormally broken into solely by the increased consecration called for and symbolized by the double burnt offering of the sabbath. When God was especially remembered, man was to be especially consecrated. With the 10th of Abib came the Paschal feast, continued more or less till the Feast of Pentecost. And very full of spiritual suggestions was this opening festival of the year, every detail of the rites enjoined tending to deepen those suggestions. In its first institution, as we have seen, the Passover was a sacrificial admission to covenant rights, and every subsequent celebration thereof was at once a remembrance and a repetition of that initiatory ceremonial. From this fundamental significance all the peculiarities of this sacrifice follow. Thus the Paschal lamb was neither a sin offering pure and simple nor a peace offering; it did not in many important points come beneath the laws of the acknowledged sacrificial ritual. It was a kind of inclusive sacrifice, which conveyed the prominent teaching of several forms of sacrifice under one suggestive form. Thus first and foremost the Paschal lamb was an atonement of so potent a nature as to arrest the destroying arm of the angel of death, and of so emphatic a ritual as to be brought more into contact with the several households of the tribes than was the case in any other festal season. The time allowed to elapse between the selection of the victim and its slaughter, the minute injunctions for the sprinkling of the blood upon the lintel and doorposts, the command that no bone of the lamb was to be broken, the strict command that what remained was to be burnt by fire, the rapid manner of partaking,—all pointed to the offering as less intended for a feast than an atonement, and laid very exceptional stress upon the neutralizing power of the effused blood. Certain features of the feast were undoubtedly ordained because of the peculiar position of the Israelites in Egypt, and if that position be borne in mind, and the fundamental significance of the Passover as the great initiatory rite, all the superficial difficulties of the narrative are removed. It is, of course, not denied, but strongly believed, that there are features in this institution which nothing but the fulfilment of the type could perfectly explain, and which are the outcome of distinct Divine prevision; at the same time, it is contended that even so extraordinary a command as that of keeping the skeleton intact was intelligible to the Jew as a natural consequence of what he was able to apprehend of the meaning of the Passover. Possibly even this nineteenth century is a record of many facts likewise which seem to us to be of a present import only, which will only receive an adequate explanation in the light of a coming dispensation. Similarly with the following days of the Paschal feast and with the day of Pentecost, all the details of the injunctions relative thereto are nothing but exemplifications divinely prearranged of the leading fact taught thereby of the Feast of Consecration. Therefore, for example, was the pleasure of leavened bread eschewed; therefore were the firstfruits presented.

Nor need we go outside the principles already deduced for explanation of the remaining feasts and their observances. Pentecost past, the year rolled upon its course for a time, it is true, in a more level manner, the regularity of the daily celebration being only interrupted by the sabbatic and lunar formalities, every day, therefore, a kind of gospel being proclaimed of Divine mercy and forgiveness and reconciliation, with its invariable postulates of human sin and decadence, death and guilt. At length came the high season of the seventh month, heralded by the rousing blasts of the Feast of Trumpets.

The seventh month affords two very excellent tests of the adequacy of these principles of interpretation, namely, in their application to the elucidation of the great Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles. The ritual of the former need not be repeated; it was undoubtedly exceptional; it was as undoubtedly instructive; indeed, the more minute and accurate the investigation bestowed even upon the more trivial points of observance, the more harmonious does it appear, and the more didactic. At first sight, it may be allowed, the ceremonial shows a laboured and officialistic respect to a mass of legal detail, valuable as a testimony to ecclesiastical thoroughness in routine, and to little else. Viewed more closely, the ceremonial is a complete and balanced whole, exact and even concise, forcible as well as clear in the religious lesson it has to convey. That lesson, as we have seen, is the atonement possible for the sins of the redeemed, for, be it observed, the stranger and the foreigner had no part in the worship of this day of national humiliation. Carrying this principle in the mind, the entire series of acts yields up its meaning. Not a soul in the priestly tribe, however holy and exalted his function, not a utensil in the consecrated place, however sacred and sublime its use, but must be atoned for. Hence the mediators and the instruments of mediation must be first removed from beneath the ban of uncleanness and sin. The solemn proceedings are therefore commenced by the offering of the bullock in expiation of the holy places and ministrants. The high priest, who leads in officiating, may not even wear his official robes till the ceremonial of expiation is completed, but stands at the altar clothed in white; and, on the slaughter of the bullock, sprinkles the mercy-seat and the floors and the altars with the blood of atonement, and presents the blood before the Lord in atonement for his own sin and the sins of his kindred and tribe. The whole ritual is an emphatic act of atonement, as every detail shows. Atonement is likewise solemnly made by the blood of the ram in behalf of the nation. The remaining rite was an exquisitely symbolic act, declarative of forgiveness. Confessing over the head of the live goat the sins and iniquities of the entire nation, the high priest seemed to transfer those sins to the head of the animal, who bore them away from the dwelling-place of Jehovah, and carried them into the abode of Azazel. The sins were removed as well as covered. Now the priest may assume his golden garments; now the people may present acceptable sacrifice; now burnt offerings may typify the national consecration.

The ritual of the Feast of Tabernacles is somewhat less intelligible; nevertheless, its secret was also largely open to the thoughtful and devout Jew. It very expressively followed the more serious service of the Day of Atonement, and gave visible and pleasant expression to the joy of the elect, who have been redeemed at the Passover, consecrated at Pentecost, and absolved at the great day of national expiation. This feast ended, the climax of the doctrinal teaching by symbol had been reached, and the year was brought to a close by the common series of daily, weekly, and monthly sacrificings.

Now, in view of this didactic sacrificial cultus, at once so eloquent and so disciplinary, it would certainly be interesting to inquire what contributions were thereby made towards a system of revealed religion. It would also be interesting to ask with what arguments the pious Jew would combat the assaults of disbelievers in what he regarded the Divine origin of his sacrificial creed. Nor could it be by any means impracticable, whilst it certainly would be of value, to frame both a systematic and apologetic theology of Judaism, in which such notes as the laws of purification and the injunctions for blood sacrifice, the significance of the priesthood and the explanation expressly assigned to the tabernacle, might, by an intellectual effort of no severe kind, be made to disclose the inmost messages of their symbolism, and become part of a concatenated doctrine of Old Testament theology, of its doctrine of sin and of salvation, of its doctrine of God and of man. But after all, it is the practical aspect of this Old Testament faith which most calls for admiring regard. Its theological implications are of interest to the theologian, its practical implications are of human interest. And practically regarded, these Levitical sacrifices are noteworthy, first, as a means of religious education, and next as a means of religious satisfaction. They evolved religious sentiment, and they appeased it. However superficially this sacrificial cultus be regarded, it assuredly proclaimed such truths as these: the sinfulness of man (extending too beyond the bounds of volition, and affecting the race), the Divine alienation consequent thereupon, the need of atonement, its possibility, its method, the acceptability of the service of the reconciled. All these truths—which, to judge from Christianity, constitute the essentials of a religion adapted to man—were taught by arresting symbolism and an imposing ceremonial. They were equally capable of educating up to a high degree of religiousness and of ministering to the religious needs so matured. They affected too the whole range of life, training the Church, sanctifying the State, penetrating the home, and affecting the individual. They interwove the essentials of religion with all the relationships, duties, sorrows, and pleasures of life. According to its own ideal, the Jewish nation was a theocracy where reconciled rebels gave their every allegiance to the King of kings acceptably.

Thus, historically regarded, and without trespassing upon or forestalling the later revelations made by Christ and his apostles, the Levitical sacrifices are seen to be a profound recognition of the wants of man, and a response to his deepest needs. The Levitical sacrifices declared unmistakably, from the hour of their first promulgation, the necessity there was for atonement, and the Divine provision for that necessity. Indeed, it is simple truth to say that there is not a feature of the Levitical sacrifices which does not accentuate in some way, either the fact of estrangement from God with its large disabilities, or the fact of reconciliation to God with its large privileges. To how enormous an extent their teaching relied for confirmation and potency upon Christianity, we shall presently see; just now the point upon which it is necessary to insist is the value of Judaism as a religious system apart from Christianity. The system was, alas! ideal. The Jew seldom realized and never exhausted its magnificent possibilities. Nevertheless, how immense was its practical value, let the hundred and nineteenth psalm testify, with its hundred and seventy-six verses in praise of this very Levitical system, which the Psalmist is glad to recall, and which he feels it no exaggeration to describe—mass of commandments, laws, testimonies, statutes, though it be—as a fitting guide of youth, an object of great delight, a mine of wonders; as the rule of the free and the song of the exile; as sweeter than honey and more valuable than riches; as life, light, and health; a pleasant subject of meditation in this world and also in the eternity of Jehovah.

D. Relation of the Levitical Sacrifices to the Sacrifices of the Patriarchal Age

Contrasting this detailed and expressive system of Levitical sacrifice with the brief records of the pre-Mosaic age, it would appear that the later cultus differed from the earlier in authority, in complexity, in centralization, in doctrine, and in practical value.

As regards the authority of the Levitical sacrifices, they are expressly ascribed to a Divine origin. “And Jehovah said unto Moses” is the almost invariable formula with which the several legal sections begin. In this there is a marked distinction from the days of the great fathers of the Hebrew nation. Whatever Divine influences were brought to bear upon Abel in the first recorded sacrifice—and it is easy to exaggerate those influences to the detriment of the inspiriting teaching of the narrative—it is manifest that from that time onwards the ever-growing system of worship by sacrifice was almost wholly a human development. “Almost wholly,” we say, for saacrificial revelations were given to Noah and Abraham, but the one was simply an exhortation to sacrifice, and the other a correction of an erroneous inference. In fact, the patriarchal sacrifices are apparently representative of pure ethnic sacrifices, whereas the Divine acknowledgment and improvement of human religious ideas testify at once to the hardness of the human heart and to the gracious condescension of Jehovah.

So it is likewise evident that the Levitical sacrifices were an advance upon the patriarchal in complexity. Hereditary priests have taken the place of the father of the family, and all the various ceremonial of the court, the holy place, and the holiest, in all the mutations of the Jewish year, have superseded those two simple varieties mentioned in earlier times, the burnt offering and the festal offering—which were adapted on occasion, as best they could be, to all the changing and contrasted emotion of the religious life.

A third difference between the two dispensations is seen in the later localization. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, wherever God had revealed himself and made his presence known, could present their offerings of praise, and erect their holy places. The Levitical sacrifices are legitimate, so testifies the whole Pentateuch, at one sanctuary alone. There being a localization of Deity, or rather of his gracious presence, acceptable sacrifice must be offered in the neighbourhood of the mercy-seat.

There is a clearness too in the doctrinal implications of the Levitical rites, which is conspicuously absent from the earlier forms of worship. No such array of parallel principles can be inferred from the Genesis as has been deduced from the Exodus and the Leviticus. The acceptability of sacrifice, as a testimony to self-sacrifice even, has very much less evident sanction for Abraham than for Moses. The point is so certain that attention needs simply be drawn thereto. To an additional point, however, it is necessary to refer with some distinctness; the patriarchal cultus was a worship by presentation, the Levitical cultus was a worship by atonement as well. No reference is made in the Genesis, whether direct or indirect, by express statement, by ritual, or by any mention of a special manipulation of the blood of the victims offered, to the Levitical doctrine of expiation by blood. Animal sacrifices were made, it is true, but only because stock-farming as well as agriculture formed part of the staple labour of the ancestors of the Jewish nations, and gifts might be therefore made from the former as well as the latter, or because animal food was eaten by them as well as vegetable. The evidence would seem to be conclusive that not only did the Almighty, according to the testimony of the Pentateuch, adopt the results of human religious thought and practice, giving them at the same time a wider bearing and a more assured interpretation, but that he added to that interpretation the very significant doctrine peculiar to Judaism of the atonement for sin by the blood of a substituted victim.

And of course all these differences culminated in a difference of practice. The educational value of the religion of Moses was higher than that of the pre-Mosaic age, because more accurate and minute in doctrinal significance, just as, for the same reason, its value was increased as a discipline. A more developed and sound theology is always the cause of a profounder and more useful religious education, and a purer and more satisfying religious worship.

E. Relation of the Levitical Sacrifices to the Christian Sacrifices

The religions of Moses and Jesus Christ both agree and differ in their sacrifice teaching.

They agree in dividing their doctrine of sacrifice into two parts; their doctrine of presentation and their doctrine of atonement, according to both presentation being possible and atonement necessary. They also agree in asserting that atonement must precede sacrifice.

They differ in the material, directness, and timeliness of presentation, and in the method and frequency of atonement. To take the latter points first. The New Testament teaches that atonement is made for human sin by the substitution of the life of Jesus for that of the sinner. As Peter expresses it, “Christ, who his own self carried up our sins in his own body to the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live unto righteousness.” Or, as Paul put it, adopting the Jewish synonym of blood for life, “Christ Jesus, … whom God set forth to be a propitiation, through faith, by his blood;” and according to the nature of the case this atonement or propitiation is made once for all. The Old Testament teaches that the Jew is atoned for by the blood, or life, of an animal substitute, which is so far from being presented once for all, that life must be effused on every occasion of worship. Similarly as regards the doctrine of presentation, there is a change of teaching: in the Old Testament, certain prescribed forms of offering are alone allowed, and the man is accepted because of the offering of his substance; in the New, self is more important, and the offering is accepted because of the man. There is an alteration in another respect: the New Testament demands no priestly mediation like that of the tribe of Levi in approaching the Majesty on high. And in yet a third respect there is a change: the offering of a reconciled heart may be made at any time and in any place at the free suggestion of the worshipper, and without legal restriction.

Without entering, therefore, upon abstract doctrinal discussion, and judging solely by the facts presented by the sacrificial conceptions of the two dispensations, they are manifestly connected, and that as the higher and the lower in a prearranged system of development. There is in Christianity an evident growth in reasonableness and freedom. In Christianity the fetters of Judaism are snapped, and its unintelligible features are explained. As Augustine said, “In the epoch of the old covenant the new lay latent, as a fruit does in a root,” or, in the language of more modern times, we may say, the New Testament sacrifices are antitypes of those of the Old. In a word, judged by the definition of final cause, Christianity is the final cause of Judaism.

F. The Literature of the Levitical Sacrifices

From the voluminous literature upon the Levitical sacrifices the following treatises are selected as of especial importance:—

I. Biblical Dictionaries and Cyclopaedias. See the relative articles in Herzog, ‘Realencykloiäadie;’ Riehm, ‘Handwörterbuch des Biblischen Alterthums;’ Smith, ‘Dictionary of the Bible;’ Winer, ‘Biblisches Real-Wörterbuch.’

II. Commentaries. Baumgarten, ‘Theologischer Commentar zum Pentateuch,’ two vols., Kiel, 1843, 1844; Hirsch, ‘Der Pentateuch Uebersetzt and Erklart,’ Frankfort, 1878, five vols. (valuable for its rabbine lore); Joule, ‘Notes on Leviticus,’ London, 1879; Kalisch, ‘Leviticus,’ especially Essay A, London, 1867; Knobel, ‘Exodus and Leviticus,’ 1857 (a second edition, edited by Dillmann, which is almost a new work, was issued last year).

III. Biblical ArchÆology and Theology. De Wette, ‘Lehrbuch der HebrJüdischen Archäologie,’ 4th edit., Leipsig, 1864; Ewald, ‘Die Alterthümer des Volkes Israel,’ 3rd edit., Göttingen, 1866 (English translation, 1876); ‘Die Lehre der Bibel von Gott, oder Theologie des Alten and Neuen Bundes,’ four vols., Leipsig, 1871–1875; Fairbairn, ‘The Typology of Scripture,’ two vols., 5th edit., 1870; Hofmann, ‘Der Schrift-beweis,’ 2nd edit., three vols., Nördlingen, 1857; Hoffmann, ‘Abhandlungen über die Pentateuch-Gesetze,’ Berlin, 1878 (valuable for its acquaintance with the synagogal literature); Jatho, ‘Blicke in die Bedentung des Mosaischen Cultus,’ Hildcsheim, 1876; Keil, ‘Handbuch der Biblischen Archäologie,’ 1st half, 1st edit., 1858, 2nd edit., 1875; Kliefoth, ‘Liturgische Abhandlungen,’ vol. iv., 2nd edit., 1858; Litton, ‘The Mosaic Dispensation,’ the Bampton Lecture for 1856; Lowman, ‘Rationale of the Ritual of the Hebrew Worship,’ London, 1748; Maurice, ‘The Doctrine of Sacrifice,’ new edit., London., 1879; Oehler, ‘Theologie des Alten Testament,’ vol. i., Tübingen, 1873 (translated into English, 1875); Saalschütz, ‘Archäologie der Hebräer,’ two vols., 1855, 1856; Salvador, ‘Histoire des Institutions de Möise et du Peuple Hébreu,’ two vols., 3rd edit., Paris, 1862; Schäfer, ‘Die Religiösen Alterthümer der Bibel,’ Münster, 1878; Schultz, ‘Alttestamentliche Theologie,’ vol. i., Frankfürt, 1869 (2nd edit., adapting results to the hypothesis of Graf and Kuenen, 1878); Steudel, ‘Vorlesungen über die Theologie des Alten Testament,’ Berlin, 1840; Spencer, ‘De Legibus Hebræorum et earum Rationibus,’ 1st edit., 1865; Tholuck, ‘Das Alte Testament im Neuen Testament,’ Gotha, 6th edit., 1868; Umbreit, ‘Die Sünde, Beitrag zur Theologie des Alten Testament,’ Gotha, 1853.

IV. Monographs on the Levitical Sacrifices. Bähr, ‘Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus,’ in two vols., Heidelberg, 1837 (the first volume of a second and largely altered edition was issued at the close of 1875, but upon the doctrine of sacrifice all that has appeared is in the first edition); Hengstenberg, ‘Die Opfer der Heiligen Schrift,’ Berlin, 1859 (translated as an Appendix to his ‘Commentary on Ecclesiastes,’ in the Foreign Theological Library); Kurtz, ‘Der Alttestamentliche Opfercultus,’ Mittau, 1862 (translated in Foreign Theological Library); Outram, ‘De Sacrificiis,’ 1st edit., London, 1677 (translated into English, 1817); Stöckl, ‘Liturgie und Dogmatische Bedeutung der Alttest. opfer, Insbesondere in ihren Verhaltnisse zur Nentest. Opfertheorie,’ 1848; Wangemann, ‘Das Opfer nach Lehre des Heiligen Schrift,’ two vols., Berlin, 1866.

V. Review Articles on the Levitical Sacrifices. De Chareney, ‘Fragments sur la Symbolique Hébraique,’ in the Revue de Linguistique, April, 1879; Listov, ‘Was Bedeutet im Mos. Cultus das Versöhnen,’ in the Theological Tidskrift, 1878; Mannheimer, ‘Der Mosaismus im Gegensatz zum Œgyptenthum,’ Jüdisches Literaturblatt, 1878; Marbach, ‘Das Blut, eine Theologische Studie,’ in Hilgenfeld’s Zeitschrift füur Wissenschufttiche Theologie, 1866; Neumann, ‘Die Opfer des Alten Bundes,’ in the Deutsche Zeitschrift für Christl. Wissenschaftliche, 1852, 1853, and 1857; Park, ‘The Divine Institution of Sacrifice,’ in the Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1876; Riehm, ‘Der Begriff der sühne im Alten Testament,’ in the Studies and Kritiken, 1877.

VI. Monographs on Related Themes. Auber, ‘Histoire et théorie du Symbolisme Réligieuse,’ four vols., Paris, 1872; Ebrard, ‘Die Lehre von der Stellvertretenden Genugthuung in der Heiligen Schrift Begründet,’ Königsberg, 1856; Klaiber, ‘Die Neutest. Lehre von der Sünde und Erlösung,’ Stuttgart, 1836; Küper, ‘Das Priesterthum des Alten Bundes,’ Berlin, 1866.

VII. Jewish and Talmudic Literature. The tractates ‘Sebachim’ and ‘Menachoth;’ Ugolino, ‘Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum.’ The writings of Philo, especially the ‘De Victimis’ and the ‘De Victimas Offerentibus.’ Numerous extracts in Buxtorf, ‘Lexicon Chaldaicum et Talmudicum;’ Godwyn, ‘Moses and Aaron;’ Carpzov, ‘Apparatus Criticus;’ the works of Lightfoot, especially his ‘Temple Service in the Days of our Saviour;’ and Reland, ‘Antiquitates Sacræ.’ The commentary upon Leviticus of Raschi, edited by Berliner, 1866, and Schlossberg’s ‘Sifra,’ 1862.

For a brief statement and criticism of the several schools of interpretation, the reader is referred to the chapter upon the Theories of the Old Testament Sacrifices reviewed in my work on Sacrifice.



1. Subject of the Book

Leviticus forms the centre and nucleus of the five books of Moses Closely attached to it are the two Books of Exodus and Numbers, and outside of them, on either side, stand Genesis and Deuteronomy. The subject of the Book of Leviticus is the Sinaitic legislation, from the time that the tabernacle was erected. It does not, however, comprise the whole of that legislation. There is an overflow of it into the Book of Numbers, which thus contains the laws on the Levites and their service (Numb. 1:49–53; 3:5–15, 40–48; 4:1–33; 8:5–26); on the order in which the tribes were to encamp (Numb. 2:1–31); on the removal of the unclean from the camp (Numb. 5:2–4); on the trial of jealousy (Numb. 5:11–31); on the Nazarites (Numb. 6:1–21); on the form of blessing the people (Numb. 6:23–27); on the second month’s Passover (Numb. 9:6–12); on the silver trumpets (Numb. 10:1–10); besides a repetition of the laws on restitution (Numb. 5:6–10); on the lighting of the lamps (Numb. 8:2–4); on the Passover (Numb. 9:1–5). With these exceptions, the Book of Leviticus contains the whole of the legislation delivered in the district of Mount Sinai, during the month and twenty days which elapsed between the setting up of the tabernacle on the first day of the second year after quitting Egypt, and the commencement of the march from Sinai on the twentieth day of the second month of the same year. But while this was the whole of the Sinaitic legislation “out of the tabernacle,” there were also laws given on Mount Sinai itself during the last nine months of the first year of the march from Egypt, which are recounted in Exod. 19–40. While, therefore, Leviticus is very closely connected with the early part of Numbers on one side, it is very closely connected with the latter part of Exodus on the other.

Analysis of its Contents

The book naturally falls into five divisions. The first part is on sacrifice; the second part records the establishment of an hereditary priesthood; the third deals with the question of uncleanness, ceremonial and moral; the fourth enumerates the holy days and seasons. The book ends with a fifth part, consisting of an exhoration to obedience, and there is attached to it an appendix on vows. The following is a more detailed sketch of the contents.

§ 1. Sacrifice

A question is often asked whether the idea underlying Jewish sacrifice is (1) that of a gift to God, the Giver of all good things, by man, the grateful receiver of his gifts; or (2) that of appeasing and satisfying the justice of an averted Deity; or (3) that of symbolically manifesting full submission to his will; or (4) that of exhibiting a sense of union between God and his people. And this question cannot be answered until the different sacrifices have been distinguished from one another. For each of these ideas is represented by one or other of the sacrifices—the first by the meat offering, the second by the sin offering and trespass offering, the third by the burnt offering, the fourth by the peace offering. If the question be, Which of these was the primary idea of Hebrew sacrifice? we may probably say that it was that of symbolical self-surrender or submission in token of perfect loyalty of heart; for the burnt sacrifice, with which the meat offering is essentially allied appears to have been the most ancient of the sacrifices; and this is the thought embodied in the combined burnt and meat offering. But while this is the special idea of the burnt sacrifice, it is not the only idea of it. It contains within itself in a minor degree the ideas of atonement (ch. 1:4) and of peace (ch. 1:9, 13, 17). Thus it is the most complex as well as the oldest form of sacrifice. If we had no historical information to guide us (as we have Gen. 4:4), we might reasonably argue from this very complexity to the greater antiquity of the burnt and meat offerings. Symbolism first embodies a large idea in an institution, and it then distinguishes the institution into different species or parts in order to represent as a primary notion one or other of the ideas only secondarily expressed or suggested in the original institution. The sin and trespass offerings, therefore, would naturally spring, or, we may say, be divided off, from the burnt and meat offerings, when men wanted to accentuate the idea of the necessity of reconciliation and atonement; and the peace offering, when they wished to express the joy felt by those who were conscious that their reconciliation had been effected.

The sacrifice of Cain and Abel appears to have been a thanksgiving offering of the firstfruits of the produce of the land and of the cattle, presented to the Lord as a token of recognition of him as the Lord and Giver of all. It is called by the name of minchah—a word afterwards confined in its signification to the meat offering—and it partook of the character of the meat offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering (Gen. 4:3, 4). Noah’s sacrifices were burnt offerings (Gen. 8:20); and this was the general character of subsequent offerings, though something of the nature of peace offerings is indicated by Moses when he distinguishes “sacrifices” from “burnt offerings,” in addressing Pharaoh before the departure of the Israelites from Egypt (Exod. 10:25). The full idea of sacrifice, contained implicitly in the previous sacrifices, was first developed and exhibited in an explicit form by the Levitical regulations and institutions, which distinguish burnt offerings, meat offerings, peace offerings, sin offerings, and trespass offerings; and the special significations of these several sacrifices have to be combined once more, in order to arrive at the original, but at first less clearly defined, notion of the institution, and to constitute an adequate type of that which was the one Antitype of them all.

The typical character of sacrifices must not be confounded with their symbolical character. While they symbolize the need of reconciliation (sin and trespass offerings), of loyal submission (burnt and meat offerings), and of peace (peace offering), they are the type of the one Sacrifice of Christ, in which perfect submission was yielded (burnt offering) and exhibited (meat offering) by man to God; by which reconciliation between God and man were wrought by means of atonement (sin offering) and satisfaction (trespass offering); and through which the peace effected between God and man was set forth (peace offering). (See Notes and Homiletics on chs. 1–7)

The Section, or Part, on sacrifice, consists of chs. 1–7.

Ch. 1. contains the law of the burnt offering.

Ch. 2. contains the law of meat offering.

Ch. 3. contains the law of peace offering.

Chs. 4, 5:1–13 contains the law of sin offering.

Chs. 5:14–19; 6:1–7 contains the law of trespass offering.

The following chapter and a half contain more definite instructions as to the ritual of the sacrifices, addressed particularly to the priests, namely—

Ch. 6:8–13. The ritual of the burnt offering.

Ch. 14–23. The ritual of the meat offering, and in particular of the priests’ meat offering at their consecration.

Ch. 24–30. The ritual of the sin offering.

Ch. 7:1–10. The ritual of the trespass offering.

Ch. 11–21; 28–34 The ritual of the peace offering.

Ch. 22–27 contain a prohibition of eating the fat and the blood.

Ch. 35–38 form the conclusion of Part I.

§ 2. Priesthood

The primary idea of a priest is that of a man who performs some function in behalf of men towards God which would not be equally acceptable by God if performed by themselves, and through whom God bestows graces upon men. The first priests were the heads of a family, as Noah; then the heads of a tribe, as Abraham; then the heads of a combination of tribes or of a nation, such as Jethro (Exod. 2:16), Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18), Balak (Numb. 22:40). In many countries this combination of the highest secular and ecclesiastical office continued to be maintained—for example, in Egypt; but among the Israelites a sharp line of separation between them was drawn by the appointment of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood.

Priesthood and sacrifice are not originally correlative. A man who acts in behalf of others towards God, whether by making known to him their wants or interceding for them, is thereby a priest; and again, a man who acts in behalf of God towards man, by declaring to them his will and, conveying to them his blessing, is thereby a priest. Sacrifice being one means, and at a particular time the chief means, of “calling upon” or approaching God and of receiving graces at his hands, it naturally fell to the priest to perform it as one of his functions, and by degrees it came to be regarded as his special function, and yet never in so exclusive a manner as to shut out the functions of benediction and intercession. The man through whose action, sacramental or otherwise, God’s graces are derived to man, and man’s needs are presented to God, is, by that action, a priest of God. To suppose that sacrifice, and in particular the sacrifice of animals, is necessary for either one or the other of the priestly functions, is to narrow the idea of priesthood in an unjustifiable manner.

When so complex a system as that of the Levitical sacrifices had been instituted, the appointment of an hereditary priesthood became necessary. And this appointment took away from the heads of families and the tribe leaders the old priestly rights which up to that time they had maintained, and which we see to have been exercised by Moses. We cannot doubt that this abolition of their ancient privileges must have been resented by many of the elder generation, and we find that it was necessary to enforce the new discipline by a strict injunction, forbidding sacrifices to be offered elsewhere than in the court of the tabernacle, and by other hands than those of the hereditary priesthood (see Notes and Homiletics on chs. 8–10. and 18.).

The Section, or Part, on the priesthood consists of chs. 8–10.

Ch. 8 contains the ceremonies of the consecration of Aaron and his sons.

Ch. 9 recounts their first priestly offerings and benediction.

Ch. 10 contains the account of the death of Nadab and Abihu, and the law against drinking wine while ministering to the Lord.

These three chapters constitute Part II.

§ 3. Uncleanness and Its Removal

Offences are of two kinds, ceremonial and moral; the former must be purged by purifying rites, the latter by punishment. A ceremonial offence is committed by incurring legal uncleanness, and this is done (1) by eating unclean food or touching unclean bodies (ch. 11), (2) by childbirth (ch. 12), (3) by leprosy (chs. 13., 14), (4) by issues (ch. 15); whoever offended in any of these ways had to purge his offence—in light cases by washing, in grave cases by sacrifice.

Moral offences are committed by transgressing God’s moral law, whether written on the human heart or in his Law. The list of these offences commences with an enumeration of unlawful marriages and lusts (ch. 18), to which are added other sins and crimes (ch. 19). They must not be allowed to go impunished; else they bring the wrath of God upon the nation. The penalties differ according to the heinousness of the offence, but if they are not exacted, the guilt passes to the community.Yet a certain concession to human frailty is allowed. Moral offences differ in their character, according as they are committed with a determinate resolution to offend, or have arisen from inadvertence or moral weakness. It is for the former class that punishment, either at the hands of man or of God, is a necessity. The latter are regarded more leniently, and may be atoned for by a trespass offering, after the wrong inflicted by them on others has been compensated.

But after every purification for ceremonial and inadvertent moral faults has been made, and all penalties for presumptuous sins and crimes have been duly exacted, there will remain a residue of unatoned-for evil, and for the removal of this the ceremonial of the great Day of Atonement is instituted (see Notes and Homiletics on chs. 11–22.).

The Section, or Part, on uncleanness and its “putting away,” contained in chs. 11–22., consists of four divisions: chs. 11–15.; chs. 16.,17.; chs. 18–20.; and chs. 21., 22. The first division has to do with ceremonial uncleanness, arising from four specified causes, and its purification; the second with general uncleanness and its purification on the Day of Atonement; the third with moral uncleanness and its punishment; the fourth with the ceremonial and moral uncleanness of priests, and their physical disqualifications.

First division:

Ch. 11. Uncleanness derived from eating or touching unclean flesh, whether of beasts, fishes, birds, insects, or vermin.


Ch. 12. Uncleanness derived from the concomitants of childbirth, and its purification.


Chs. 13., 14. Uncleanness accruing from leprosy to men, clothes, and houses, and its purification.


Ch. 15. Uncleanness derived from various issues of the body, and its purification.

Second division:

Ch. 16. General uncleanness of the congregation and of the tabernacle, and its purification by the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement.


Ch. 17. Corollary to all the preceding part of the book. That sacrifices (chs. 1–8.), which are the means of purification (chs. 11–16.), are, since the institution of the hereditary priesthood (chs. 8–10.), to be only offered at the door of the tabernacle.

Third division:

Ch. 18. Moral uncleanness connected with marriage forbidden.


Ch. 19. Other moral uncleanness forbidden.


Ch. 20. Penalties for moral uncleanness, and exhortation to holiness.

Fourth division:

Chs. 21., 22:1–16. Ceremonial and moral cleanness required in an extra degree in priests, and freedom from physical blemish.


Ch. 22:17–33. Freedom from blemish and from imperfection required in sacrifices.

These chapters constitute Part III.

§ 4. Holy Days and Seasons

The weekly holy day was the sabbath. The injunction to observe it was coeval with the origin of mankind. It kept in mind the rest of God after his creative work, and foreshadowed the rest of Christ after his redeeming work. It anticipated the rest of his people in Canaan, and the further rest of the Christian dispensation, and the still further rest of paradise.

The monthly holy days were the new moons on the first day of each month; among which the new moon of the seventh month held a sevenfold sanctity, and was also observed as the New Year’s Day of the civil year, being sometimes inexactly called the Feast of Trumpets.

The yearly holy days began in the first month with the festival of the Passover, to which was closely attached that of Unleavened Bread. These two festivals, united into one, represented historically the fact of Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, and typically they represented the future deliverance of the spiritual Israel from the bondage of sin, both at the first and at the second coming of Christ. The lamb, the exhibition of whose blood delivered from destruction, was a type of Christ. The festival served also as the spring harvest feast of the year.

The Feast of Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks, observed seven weeks after the Passover, was the second or summer harvest festival. It might possibly have commemorated the gift of the Law at Sinai: it certainly was the day on which was instituted the new Law in Jerusalem (Acts 2.).

The fast of the Day of Atonement, observed on the tenth day of the seventh month, symbolically represented the removal of the sins of the world by Christ, at once the Sacrifice for sin offered on the cross (the sacrificed goat), and the Deliverer from the consciousness of the power of sin (the scapegoat). It also typified the entry of Christ into heaven in the character of our Great High Priest, with the virtue of his blood of Atonement, there to abide as the prevailing Mediator and Intercessor for his people.

The Feast of Tabernacles, celebrated for a week beginning on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, was the last and most joyous harvest-home festival of the year. Historically, it looked back to the day of joy when, safe in their booths at Succoth, the children of Israel felt the happiness of the freedom from Egyptian bondage which they had at last attained (Exod. 12:37); and it looked forward to the period of peaceful enjoyment which was to come with the institution of Christ’s kingdom on earth, and beyond that time, to the glories of the Church triumphant in heaven.

The sabbatical year, which required that every seventh year should be a year free from agricultural toil, enforced on a large scale the teaching of the sabbath, and it taught the lesson afterwards illustrated in the contrast of the lives of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38–42), and the duty of trusting to the providence of God.

The jubilee, which restored all things that had been changed or depraved to their original state every fifty years, while it served as a means of preserving the commonwealth from confusion and revolution, foreshadowed the Christian dispensation, and after that the final restitution of all things (see Notes and Homiletics on chs. 23–25.).

The Section, or Part, on holy days and seasons comprises chs. 23–25.

Ch. 23. The sacred days on which holy convocations are to be held.

Ch. 24. Parenthetical. On the oil for the lamps, and the shewbread, and on blasphemy.

Ch. 25. The sabbatical year and the jubilee.

§ 5. Final Exhortation

Many of the laws in the Book of Leviticus are without the sanction of any penalty. They are commanded, and therefore they ought to be obeyed. In place of a regular code of penalties for individual transgressions, and in addition to the penalties already declared, Moses pronounces blessing and cursing on the nation at large, according as it obeys or disobeys the Law. The rewards and punishments of a future life have no place here, as nations have no future existence. Twice in the Book of Deuteronomy Moses introduces similar exhortations (chs. 11., 28.). As a matter of history, we find that as long as the nation was, as such, loyal to Jehovah, it prospered, and that when it fell away from him the evils here denounced overtook it.

The exhortation is contained in ch. 26.

§ 6. Appendix—Vows

The subject of vows is not introduced into the body of the book, because it was not the purpose of the legislation to institute them or to encourage them. At the conclusion a short treatise is added, giving no special approbation of them, but regulating them, if made, and appointing a scale of redemption or commutation.

This appendix occupies the last chapter—ch. 27.—being attached to the rest by a final declaration that it belongs to the Sinaitic legislation.

2. Authorship and Date

The question of authorship does not properly arise on this book. Whatever may be said of Genesis and Deuteronomy, the second, third, and fourth of the books of Moses stand or fall together nor is there anything in the Book of Leviticus to separate it in respect to authenticity from Exodus which precedes, and Numbers which follows it. There is only one passage in it which can be regarded as seeming to indicate an author of later date than Moses. This is the following passage: “That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you” (ch. 18:28). It has been argued with some plausibility that, as Canaan had not spued out its inhabitants till after the death of Moses, these words must have been written by some one who lived later than Moses. But an examination of the context takes away all the force of this argument. The eighteenth chapter is directed against incestuous marriages and lusts; and, after the lawgiver has ended his prohibitions, he proceeds: “Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these the nations are defiled which I cast out before you: and the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. Ye shall therefore keep my statues and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (for all these abominations have the men of the land done which were before you, and the land is defiled;) that the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.” In this passage, the words translated “vomiteth” and “spued” are in the same tense. It is that tense which is ordinarily called a perfect. But this so-called perfect does not necessarily indicate a past time. Indeed, the Hebrew tenses do not, as such, express time, but only (when in the active voice) action. We must look to the context in order to discover the time in which the act takes place, took place, or will take place. In the passage before us the words, “I cast out,” in ver. 24 are expressed by a participle, “used of that which is certainly and speedily coming to pass” (Keil), meaning, “I am casting out;” and by a law of the Hebrew language, as this participle and the rest of the context indicate present time, the two verbs under consideration must indicate present time also. Even if we were compelled to translate the two words as perfects, there would be nothing impossible or unnatural in God’s saying to Moses, and to the children of Israel through him, that the land “has vomited,” or “has spued out,” the nations of Canaan, the act being regarded as in the Divine mind done, because determined on and in the course of immediate accomplishment. Or, still again, the land might be said to “have spued out” the nations of Canaan in relation to the time when it should spue out the degenerate Israelites.

Putting aside this passage, so easily explained, there is nothing in the whole book which is incompatible with the authorship and the date of Moses. This being so, the fact that it has come down to us as the work of Moses, and that it by implication professes itself to be the work of Moses, and that its character and language are, so far as we can judge, such as would be in accordance with a work of Moses, leave the hypothesis of the authorship of Moses as certain, on the score of internal evidence, as any such hypothesis can be. Nor is there wanting any external evidence which could be expected to exist. The Book of Joshua recognizes the existence of “the Book of the Law of Moses” (Josh. 22:6; cf. 1:8; 8:31–35). In the Book of Judges there is an apparent reference to Lev. 26:16, 17, in ch. 2:15 (“Whithersoever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for evil, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn unto them”); and in ch. 3:4 we find mention of “the commandments of the Lord, which he commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.” In the Book of Judges, “the sacred character of the Levites, their dispersion among the several tribes, the settlement of the high priesthood in the family of Aaron, the existence of the ark of the covenant, the power of inquiring of God and obtaining answers, the irrevocability of a vow, the distinguishing mark of circumcision, the distinction between clean and unclean meats, the law of the Nazarites, the use of burnt offerings and peace offerings, the employment of trumpets as a means of obtaining Divine aid in war, the impiety of setting up a king,” are enumerated by Canon Rawlinson as “severally acknowledged, and constituting together very good evidence that the Mosaic ceremonial law was already in force” (‘Aids to Faith: The Pentateuch,’ London, 1862). In the Book of Samuel, “we meet at once with Eli, the high priest of the house of Aaron, … the lamp burns in the tabernacle, … the ark of the covenant is in the sanctuary, and is esteemed the sacred symbol of the presence of God (1 Sam. 4:3, 4, 18, 21, 22; 5:3, 4, 6, 7; 6:19) … there is the altar and the incense and the ephod worn by the high priest (1 Sam. 2:28). The various kinds of Mosaic sacrifices are referred to: the burnt offering (olah, 1 Sam. 10:8; 13:9; 15:22), the peace offerings (shelamim, 1 Sam. 10:8; 11:15; 13:9), the bloody sacrifice (zebach, 1 Sam. 2:19), and the unbloody offering (minchah, 1 Sam. 2:19; 3:14; 26:19). The animals offered in sacrifice—the bullock (1 Sam. 24:22), the lamb (1 Sam. 16:2), and the ram (1 Sam. 15:22)—are those prescribed in the Levitical code. The especial customs of the sacrifices alluded to in 1 Sam. 2:13 were those prescribed in Lev. 6:6, 7; Numb. 18:8–18:22, 32; Deut. 18:1, sqq.” (Bishop Harold Browne, ‘Introduction to the Pentateuch,’ in ‘The Speaker’s Commentary’). In the Books of Kings and Chronicles there are frequent allusions or references to the “Law of Moses” and its enactments (see 1 Kings 2:3; 8:9, 53; 2 Kings 7:3; 11:12; 22:8; 23:3, 25; 1 Chron. 16:40; 22:12, 13; 2 Chron. 25:4; 33:8; 34:14). So too in Ezra and Nehemiah. (see Ezra 3:2–6; 6:18; 7:6; Neh. 1:7–9; 7:1–18; 9:14); and in Daniel (see. Dan. 9:11–13). (Amos 2:7) apparently quotes Lev. 20:3; (Hosea 4:10) seems to quote Lev. 26:26. Joel, the earliest of the prophets of the southern kingdom, implies throughout his prophecy the existence of the Levitical system, and he and Ezekiel appear to have undoubtedly had before them the twenty-sixth chapter of Leviticus (Joel 1:13, 14, 16; 2:1, 14–27; Ezek. 34:25–31). The New Testament assumes throughout the Mosaic original of the whole Pentateuch.

Taking the authorship of Moses as proved, we have further to inquire as to the date of his composition of the book. On this point we cannot speak with certainty, but we may regard it as in the highest degree probable that the laws were written down as they were delivered to and by Moses during the fifty days previous to the departure of the children of Israel from Sinai, and that they were subsequently put together during one of the encampments in the wilderness.

3. Literature.

The literature on Leviticus is very extensive, and belongs for the most part to two classes—commentaries on the Pentateuch with their introductions, and special dissertations on one or other of the subjects with which the Book of Leviticus deals. We make a selection of works under both headings.

To the first class belong Origen, ‘Selecta in Levit.’ ‘Hom, in Levit.’ (Op., tom. ii. p. 180, edit. Delarue); St. Augustine, ‘Quæstiones in Heptateuchum,’ Liber Tertius (Op., tom. iii. p. 674, edit. Migne); Theodoret, ‘Quæstiones in Levit.’ (Op., tom. i. p.114, edit. Sirmond); Cyril of Alexandria, ‘Glaphyra in Libros Mosis;’ Bede, ‘In Pentateuchum Commentarii—Leviticus’ (Op., tom. ii. p. 334, edit. Migne); Calvin, ‘Commentarii; in Quatuor Mosis Libros’ (Op., tom. i. p. 248, Amsterdam, 1671); ‘Poli Synopsis Criticorum’ (tom. i. p. 510, London, 1669); ‘Critici Sacri’ (vol. ii., Amsterdam, 1698); Clericus (Le Clerc), ‘Mosis Prophetæ, Lib. IV.’ (vol. i. p. 207, Amsterdam, 1710); Carpzov, ‘Introductio ad Libros Veteris Testamenti: De Levitico’ (p. 100, Leipsig, 1727); Matthew Henry, ‘Commentary’ (vol. i., 1737); Rosenmüller, ‘Scholia’ (Leipsig, 1824); Hävernick, ‘Handbuch der Historisch-Kritischen Einleitung in das Alte Testament: Leviticus,’ §§ 117–130 (Erlangen, 1836), and (a part of the above) his ‘Introduction to the Pentateuch’ (published by T. and T Clark, Edinburgh, 1850); Hengstenberg, ‘On the Pentateuch’ (translated by Ryland, Edinburgh, 1847); Keil and Delitzsch, ‘On the Pentateuch’ (translated by Martin, vol. ii., T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1878); Stuart, ‘Introduction to the Old Testament;’ Bush, ‘Commentaries on the Five Books of Moses;’ Baylee, ‘Course of Biblical Instruction’ (vol. i., St. Aidan’s, 1865); Wordsworth, ‘Commentary’ (part ii., London, 1865); Harold Browne, ‘Introduction to the Pentateuch’ (in the ‘Speaker’s Commentary’, vol. i., London, 1871); Clark, ‘Introduction to and Notes on Leviticus’ (ibid.); Bonar, ‘Commentary on Leviticus’ (London, 1875); Lange, ‘Commentary’ (vol. ii., edit. Schaff, published by T. and T. Clark, Edinburgh); Blunt, ‘Annotated Bible’ (vol. i., London, 1878).

Under the second heading come Mede, ‘The Christian Sacrifice, Book 2’ (vol. i., London, 1664); Outram, ‘De Sacrificiis’ (London, 1677: English translation, London, 1817); Lightfoot, ‘The Temple Service as in the Days of Our Saviour’ (vol. i., London, 1684); Spencer, ‘De Legibus Hebrætorum (Cambridge, 1727); J. Mayer, ‘De Temporibus Sanctis et Festis Diebus Hebræorum’ (Amsterdam, 1724); Deyling, ‘Observationes Sacræ’; (Leipsig, 1735); Bähr, ‘Die Symbolik des Mosaischen Cultus’ (Heidelberg, 1837); Davison, ‘Inquiry into Primitive Sacrifice’ (in his ‘Remains,’ Oxford, 1840); Tholuck, ‘Das Alte Testament im Neuen Testament (Hamburg, 1849); Johnstone, ‘Israel after the Flesh’ (London, 1850); Maurice, ‘The Doctrine of Sacrifice deduced from Scripture’ (Cambridge, 1854); Fairbairn, ‘The Typology of Scripture’ (Edinburgh, 1854); Freeman, ‘Principles of Divine Service’ (London, 1855); Hengstenberg, ‘Die Opfer der Heiligen Schrift’ (Berlin, 1859); Kurtz, ‘Der Alttestamentliche Opfercultus’ (Mittau, 1864); Barry, Articles on ‘Sacrifice’ (in Smith’s ‘Dictionary of the Bible,’ London, 1860); Rawlinson, Essay on ‘The Pentateuch’ (in ‘Aids to Faith,’ London, 1862); Kuepfer, ‘Das Priestenthum des Alten Bundes,’ 1865; Ebers, ‘Egypten und die Bücher Moses’ (Leipsig, 1868); Jukes, ‘Law of Offerings;’ Murriott, ‘On Terms of Gift and Offering’ (in his ‘Memorials’ London, 1872); Edersheim, ‘The Temple Services;’ Willte, ‘The Worship of the Old Covenant’ (Oxford, 1880).

Philo Judæus (Op., Frankfort, 1691), and the Mishna (Surenhus, Amsterdam, 1688) should also be consulted.


Book of Leviticus




Chapter 1

The sacrifices (chs. 1–7). There are five classes of sacrifices instituted or regulated in the first seven chapters of Leviticus, each of which has its special signification—the burnt offering, the meat offering, the sin offering, the trespass offering, and the peace offering. The burnt offering, in which the whole of the victim was consumed in the fire on God’s altar, signifies entire self-surrender on the part of the offerer; the meat offering, a loyal acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty; the sin offering, propitiation of wrath in him to whom the offering is made, and expiation of sin in the offerer; the trespass offering, satisfaction for sin; the peace offering, union and communion between the offerer and him to whom the offering is made.

The burnt offering (ch. 1.) typifies the perfect surrender of himself, made by the Lord Jesus Christ, and exhibited by his life and death on earth; and it teaches the duty of self-sacrifice on the part of man.

Ver. 1.—And the Lord called unto Moses. The first word of the verse, in the original Vayikra, meaning “and called,” has been taken as the designation of the book in the Hebrew Bible. The title Leviticon, or Leviticus, was first adopted by the LXX., to indicate that it had for its main subject the duties and functions appertaining to the chief house of the priestly tribe of Levi. The word “and” connects the third with the second book of the Pentateuch. God is spoken of in this and in the next book almost exclusively under the appellation of “the Lord” or “Jehovah,” the word “Elohim” being, however, used sufficiently often to identify the two names. Cf. ch. 2:13, 19:12. And spake unto him. The manner in which God ordinarily communicated with a prophet was by “a vision” or “in a dream;” but this was not the case with Moses; “My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house; with him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently” (Numb. 12:8). The Levitical code of laws, therefore, was delivered to Moses in his ordinary mental state, not intrance, or dream, or ecstasy. Out of the tabernacle of the congregation. The tabernacle had just been set up by Moses (Exod. 40:16). It derives its name of the congregation, or rather of meeting, from being the place where God met the representatives of his people (see. Numb. 16:42). Hitherto God had spoken from the mount, now he speaks from the mercy-seat of the ark in the tabernacle. He had symbolically drawn near to his people, and the sacrificial system is now instituted as the means by which they should draw nigh to him. All the laws in the Book of Leviticus, and in the first ten chapters of the Book of Numbers, were given during the fifty days which intervened between the setting up of the tabernacle (Exod. 40:17) and the departure of the children of Israel from the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai (Numb. 10:11).

Ver. 2.—If any man of you bring. Sacrifices are not now being instituted for the first time. Burnt offerings at least, if not peace offerings, had existed since the time of the Fall. The Levitical law lays down regulations adapting an already existing practice for the use of the Israelitish nation; it begins, therefore, not with a command, “Thou shalt bring,” but, if any man of you (according to custom) bring. Any member of the congregation might bring his voluntary offering when he would. The times at which the public offerings were to be made, and their number, are afterwards designated. An offering. This verse is introductory to the ensuing chapters, and speaks of “offerings” in general. “Korban,” which is the word here used for “offering,” derived from karab, meaning “to draw near for the sake of presentation,” is the generic name including all offerings and sacrifices. It is used in speaking of animal sacrifices of various kinds, including peace offerings and sin offerings (ch. 3:1; 4:23) and it is applied to vegetable offerings (ch. 2:1, 13), and to miscellaneous offerings for the service of the tabernacle, such as wagons and oxen, silver vessels for the altar, gold, jewels, etc. (Numb. 7:3, 10; 31:50). It is translated by the LXX. into Greek by the word δῶρον, equivalent to the Latin donum, and our “gift.” These offerings are now distinguished into their different kinds.

Ver. 3.—If his offering be a burnt sacrifice. The Hebrew term for “burnt sacrifice” is olah, meaning “that which ascends;” sometimes kaleel, “whole offering,” is found (Deut. 33:10); the LXX. use the word ὁλοκαύτωμα, “whole burnt offering.” The conditions to be fulfilled by an Israelite who offered a burnt sacrifice were the following:—1. He must offer either (1) a young bull without blemish, or (2) a young ram, or (3) a young he-goat, or (4) a turtle-dove, or (5) a young pigeon. 2. In case it were a bull, ram, or goat, he must bring it to the door of the tabernacle, that is, the entrance of the court in front of the brazen altar and of the door of the holy place, and there offer or present it. 3. In offering it he must place his hand firmly on its head, as a ceremonial act. 4. He must kill it, either himself or by the agency of a Levite. 5. He must flay it. 6. He must divide it into separate portions. 7. He must wash the intestines and legs. Meantime the priests had their parts to do; they had 1. To catch the blood, to carry it to the altar, and to strike the inner sides of the altar with it. 2. To arrange the fire on the altar. 3. To place upon the altar the head, and the fat and the remainder of the animal, for consumption by the fire. 4. To sprinkle or place a meat offering upon them. 5. The next morning, still dressed in their priestly garments, to take the ashes off the altar, and to place them at the east of the altar (ch. 6:10). 6. To carry them outside the camp to a clean place, the bearer being dressed in his ordinary costume (ch. 6:11). There were, therefore, four essential parts in the ritual of the burnt offering—the oblation of the victim (vers. 3, 4), the immolation (ver. 5), the oblation of the blood, representing the life (ibid.), and the consumption (ver. 9)—the first two to be performed by the offerer, the third by the priest, the fourth by the fire representing the action of God. The moral lesson taught by the burnt offering was the necessity of self-surrender and of devotion to God, even to the extent of yielding up life and the very tenement of life. As the offerer could not give up his own life and body and still live, the life of an animal belonging to him, and valued by him, was substituted for his own; but he knew, and by laying his hand on its head showed that he knew, that it was his own life and his very self that was represented by the animal. The mystical lessons taught to those who could grasp them were—1. The doctrine of substitution or vicarious suffering. 2. The fact that without the shedding of blood there was no acceptance. 3. The need of One who, being very man, should be able to perform an action of perfect surrender of his will and of his life. The fulfilment of the type is found in the perfect submission of Christ as man, throughout his ministry, and especially in the Garden of Gethsemane, and in the offering made by him, as Priest and willing Victim, of his life upon the altar of the cross. The burnt offering is to be without blemish, for had not the animal been perfect in its kind, it would not have served its moral, its mystical, or its typical purpose. The word ἄμωμος, used by the LXX. as equivalent to the Hebrew term, is applied to Christ in Heb. 9:14 and 1 Pet. 1:19; and St. Paul teaches that it is the purpose of God that those who are adopted in Christ should also be “holy and without blemish” (Eph 1:4). A priest had to certify that the victim was free from all defects. He shall offer it of his own voluntary will should rather be translated, He shall offer it for his own acceptance. The animal, representing the offerer, was presented by the latter in order that he might be himself accepted by the Lord. This aspect of the offering is brought out more clearly by the minchah. or meat offering, which always accompanied the burnt offering. The place where the presentation took place was the door of the tabernacle, that is, the space immediately within the eastern entrance into the court of the tabernacle, immediately facing the barzen altar, which stood before the east end of the tabernacle, where was the door or entrance which led into the holy place. “The presenting of the victim at the entrance of the tabernacle was a symbol of the free will submitting itself to the Law of the Lord” (Clarke). Cf. Rom. 12:1: “I beseech you that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.”

Ver. 4.—And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering. This putting, or forcibly leaning, the hand on the victim’s head, which is the most essential part of the oblation of the victim, was a symbolical act implying “This animal is now for present purposes myself, and its life is my life.” It was this act of identification with the offerer which made it be accepted for him to make atonement (literally, covering) for him. The sin offering is the sacrifice which especially symbolizes and ceremonially effects atonement, but the idea of atonement is not absent from the burnt sacrifice. The aspect under which atonement is presented here and elsewhere in the Old Testament is that of covering. But it is not the sin that is covered, but the sinner. Owing to his sin, the latter is exposed to the wrath of a just God, but something intervenes whereby he is covered, and he ceases, therefore, to attract the Divine anger and punishment. No longer being an object of wrath, he becomes at once an object of benevolence and mercy. The covering provided by a sacrifice is the blood or life of an animal, symbolically representing the offerer’s own life freely surrendered by him for his acceptance and typically foreshadowing the blood of Christ.

Ver. 5.—And he shall kill the bullock. After having made the presentation, the offerer proceeds to the second part of the sacrifice, the immolation or slaying, which was to be performed before the Lord, that is, in front of the tabernacle, on the north side of the brazen altar. Then follows the third part of the sacrifice: the priests, Aaron’s sons, shall bring the blood, and sprinkle the blood round about upon the altar. The priests caught the blood (sometimes the Levities were allowed to do this, 2 Chron. 30:16), and sprinkled or rather threw it round about on the altar, that is, so as to touch all the inner sides of the altar. “A red line all round the middle of the altar marked that above it the blood of sacrifices intended to be eaten, below it that of sacrifices wholly consumed, was to be sprinkled” (Edersheim, ‘The Temple’). This was in some respects the most essential part of the ceremony, the blood representing the life (ch. 17:11), which was symbolically received at the hands of the offerer, and presented by the priests to God. In the antitype our Lord exercised the function of the sacrificing priest when he presented his own life to the Father, as he hang upon the altar of the cross.

Ver. 6.—He shall flay the burnt offering. The hide was given to the priest (ch. 7:8). The whole of the remainder of the animal was consumed by the fire of the altar; none of it was eaten by the offerer and his friends as in the peace offerings, or even by the ministers of God as in the sin offerings; it was a whole burnt offering. His pieces, into which it was to be cut, means the customary pieces.

Ver. 7.—The priest shall put fire upon the altar. The fire once kindled was never to be allowed to go out (ch. 6:13). Unless, therefore, these words refer to the first occasion only on which a burnt sacrifice was offered, they must mean “make up the fire on the altar,” or it might possibly have been the practice, as Bishop Wordsworth (after Maimonides) supposes, that fresh fire was added to the altar fire before each sacrifice.

Ver. 8.—And the priests shall lay the parts, the head, and the fat, in order. The head and the fat are designated by name, because, with the “pieces,” they complete the whole of the animal with the exception of the hide. The order in which they were laid is said to have been the same approximately as that which the members held in the living creature.

Ver. 9.—The priest shall burn all on the altar, etc. The fourth and last part of the sacrifice. The word employed is not the common term used for destroying by fire, but means “make to ascend.” The life of the animal has already been offered in the blood; now the whole of its substance is “made to ascend” to the Lord. Modern science, by showing that the effect of fire upon the substance of a body is to resolve it into gases which rise from it, contributes a new illustration to the verse. The vapour that ascends is not something different from that which is burnt, but the very thing itself, its essence; which, having ascended, is of a sweet savour unto the Lord, that is, acceptable and well-pleasing to him. The burnt offering, the meat offering, and the peace offering, are sacrifices of sweet savour (ch. 2:2; 3:5); the expression is not used with regard to the sin offering and trespass offering. St. Paul applies it to the sacrifice of Christ, in Eph. 5:2, “As Christ also loved us, and gave, himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour;” thus indicating, in an incidental manner, the connection between the Jewish sacrifices and the sacrifice of Christ, as type and antitype.

Ver. 10.—If his offering be of the flocks. The ritual of the burnt offering was the same, whether the victim was a bull, sheep, or goat.

Ver. 11.—He shall kill it on the side of the altar, northward before the Lord. In the sacrifice of the bullock it is only “before the Lord” (ver. 5). No doubt the same place is meant in both cases, but it is specified with more exactness here. On the western side of the altar was the tabernacle, on the east side the heap of ashes (ch. 1:16), on the south side probably the ascent to the altar (see Josephus, ‘De Bell. Jud.,’ v. 5, 6); on the north side, therefore, was the most convenient slaughtering-place, and this is probably the reason for the injunction.

Ver. 14.—If the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls. A comparison of ch. 12:8 leads us to infer that the permission to offer a bird was a concession to poverty. The pigeon and the turtle-dove were the most easy to procure, as the domestic fowl was at this time unknown to the Hebrews. The first and only allusion in the Bible to the hen occurs in the New Testament (Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34), nor is there any representation of the domestic fowl in ancient Egyptian paintings. The domicile of the bird was still confined to India. A single pigeon or turtle-dove formed a sacrifice, and there was no rule in respect to sex, as there was in the case of the quadrupeds.

Ver. 15.—The priest shall bring it unto the altar. The difference in the ritual for the burnt sacrifice of fowls is: 1. That the offerer is not commanded to lay his hand on the bird. 2. That the altar is the place of matiation, instead of the space on the north side of the altar. 3. That the priest slays it instead of the offerer. 4.That the blood (owing to its smaller quantity) is pressed out against the side of the altar instead of being caught in a vessel and thrown on it. There is no essential variation here; the analogy of the sacrifice of the animal is followed so far as circumstances permit. It is not certain that the word malak, translated wring off his head, means more than “make an incision with the nail;” but in all probability the head was to be severed and laid on the fire separately, after the manner of the other sacrifices.

Ver. 16.—With his feathers, rather the contents of the crop. This and the ashes are to be placed beside the altar on the east part, as being furthest from the tabernacle and nearest to the entrance of the court, so that they might be readily removed.


Vers. 1, 2.—The sacrificial system. The religion of Israel, as exhibited to us in the Law, bears at first sight a strange appearance, unlike what we should have expected. We read in it very little about a future life, and not much about repentance, faith, and prayer, but we find commanded an elaborate system of sacrifices, based upon a practice almost coeval with the Fall.

I. Sacrifice was used in ante-Mosaic days as a means of approach to God. “In process of time it came to pass that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof” (Gen. 4:4). The covenant with Noah was made by sacrifice: “And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord, and took of every clean beast and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour.… And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my convenant with you, and with your seed after you” (Gen. 8:20, 21; 9:8, 9). When Abraham first entered Canaan, he “builded an altar unto the Lord who appeared unto him” (Gen. 12:7), as the means of communicating with him. At his next halting-place, “he builded an altar unto the Lord,” as the means of “calling upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 12:8; 13:4). On removing to Hebron, again he “built there and altar unto the Lord” (Gen. 13:18). The covenant with Abraham was made by sacrifice (Gen. 15:9); and at Jehovah-jireh, Abraham “offered a ram for a burnt offering in the stead of his son” (Gen. 22:13). At Beer-sheba Isaac “builded an altar and called upon the name of the Lord” (Gen. 26:25). At Shalem Jacob “erected an altar and called it El-elohe-el” (Gen. 33:20). At Beth-el he “built an altar and called the place El-beth-el” Gen. 35:7. At Beer-sheba he “offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac” (Gen. 46:1). During the sojourn in Egypt it is probable that the practice of sacrifice was discontinued through fear of giving offence to the religious feelings of the Egyptians (Exod. 8:26); but the idea of sacrifice being the appointed means of serving God was preserved (Exod. 5:3; 8:27). Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel took part in a sacrificial meal with Jethro in the wilderness (Exod. 18:12). And the covenant made at Sinai was ratified by burnt offerings and peace offerings (Exod. 24:5). Indeed, the Book of Psalms declares the method of entering into covenant with God to be “by sacrifice.” “Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Ps. 50:5). The Christian covenant was thus ratified (Heb. 9:15), as well as the covenants of Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

II. There are three classes of sacrifices under the Mosaic dispensation, essentially differing in character—

Burnt offerings;

Peace offerings;

Sin offerings;

beside Meat offerings, ordinarily attached to the burnt offerings, and

Trespass offerings, a species of sin offering.

III. What was their meaning.

1. In general, they served, as before, as a means of reconciliation between God and men, as a means of access for man to God. This purpose they fulfilled to all humble-minded men, whether their full meaning was understood or no. To the more spiritually minded they were also a means of instruction in sacred my steries to be revealed hereafter.

2. Specifically, they each taught their own lesson and brought about, symbolically and ceremonially, each their own effect.

The sin offering taught the need of, and symbolically effected, the propitiation of God’s anger and the expiation of man’s sin.

The burnt offering taught the lesson of self-surrender, and symbolically effected the surrender of the offerer to God.

The peace offering taught the lesson of the necessity and joyousness of communion between God and man, and symbolically represented that communion as existing between the offerer and God.

IV. Whence they derived their efficacy. Their efficacy was derived from representing and foreshadowing the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the sin offering typi-fying the propitiation and expiation once for all there wrought, the burnt offering the perfect self-surrender of the sinless sufferer, the peace offering the reconciliation thereby effected and continued between God and his people.

Vers. 3–17.—The burnt offering. It was wholly consumed by the fire of God’s altar; nothing was left for the after consumption either of the offerer or even of God’s ministers, as in the other sacrifices.

I. It typifies the entire self-surrender of Christ to God.

1. In his eternal resolve to redeem by becoming man.

2. In the humility of his birth on earth.

3. In the silence in which his youth was spent.

4. In the narrow limits within which he confined his ministry.

5. In the victory won over his human will in the Garden of Gethsemane.

6. In his yielding his life to his Father on the cross.

II. Example herein to us.

1. We must surrender what is evil—

Bad habits, e.g. sloth, drunkenness.

Bad affections, e.g. love of money, bodily indulgence.

Bad passions, e.g. ill temper, pride.

2. We must surrender what God does not think fit to give us, though not in itself such as—


Domestic happiness,

Worldly success.

III. The Christian temper resulting from self-surrender.

1. Acquiescence in God’s will.

2. Cheerfulness in rendering that acquiescence.

3. Spiritual peace and happiness arising from the consciousness of having yielded our will to our Father’s will.

4. Love to the brethren. Cf. Eph. 5:2: “Walk in love, as Christ also loved us, and gave himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.”

Vers. 5–9.—Mediation. The sacrificial act cannot be completed, though it can be begun, by the offerer alone. The intervention of God’s priest is requisite, and it is his hand which performs the most solemn portion of the rite. Thus there is taught the need of mediation and of a mediator when a work of atonement is to be accomplished. “The expiation was always made or completed by the priest, as the sanctified mediator between Jehovah and the people, or, previous to the institution of the Aaronic priesthood, by Moses, the chosen mediator of the covenant.… It is not Jehovah who makes the expiation, but this is invariably the office or work of a mediator, who intervenes between the holy God and sinful man, and by means of expiation averts the wrath of God from the sinner, and brings the grace of God to bear upon him” (Keil). Hence, the great work of atonement, of which all other atonements are but shadows, was performed by the One Mediator between God and man, the man Jesus Christ.


Entire consecration, as illustrated in the burnt offering. Ch. 1.; cf. Rom. 12:1.—We start with the assumption that the Book of Exodus presents “the history of redemption.” It is an account of how the Lord delivered the people he had chosen out of bondage, and brought them to himself (Exod. 19:4). It contains, moreover, an account of the erection of the tabernacle, or “tent of meeting,” where God proposed to dwell as a Pilgrim in the midst of a pilgrim people, and out of which would issue his commands as their Guide and Leader. In this Book of Leviticus, then, we have the Lord speaking “out of the tent of meeting” (ver. 1), that is, to a people in covenant relations with himself.

This helps us to understand why the “burnt offering” is treated first. Not only was it the very oldest offering, but it was to be the daily offering (Numb. 29:6); morning and evening was a holocaust to be presented to the Lord. It was, therefore, manifestly meant to express the proper state or condition of those professing to be God’s covenant people. It is on this account that we entitle this a homily on Entire Consecration.

I. This idea of entire consecration is one which all classes of God’s people are expected to express. The poor, who could only bring “turtle-doves” or “young pigeons,” the representatives of domestic fowls at that time, were just as welcome at the tabernacle as those who could bring lambs or bullocks. Consecration is an idea which can be carried out in any worldly condition. The poor widow with her two mites carried it out more gloriously than her neighbours in the midst of their abundance. Complete self-surrender is not the prerogative of a class, but the possibility and ideal of all.

II. Confession of sin is an expected preliminary to consecration. The Jew, whatever was his grade in society, was directed either expressly to “lean” (סָמַךְ) his hand upon the head of his offering, or, as in the case of the fowls where it was physically impossible, to do so by implication; and this was understood to represent, and some believe it to have been regularly accompanied by, confession of sin. Of course, confession of sin is not of the essence of consecration; we have in the case of our blessed Lord, and of the unfallen angels, similar consecration, where no sense of sin is possible. And we are on the way to consecration in the other life, divorced from the sense of sin. Meanwhile, however, confession is only just, since sin remains with us. Indeed, the consecration of redeemed sinners will not prove very deep or thorough where confession of sin is omitted.

III. The spectacle of a substitute dying in our room and stead is well fitted to deepen our sense of consecration. The slaughter of the animal, upon whose head the sins have by confession been laid, must have exercised upon the offerer a very solemnizing influence. There is nothing in like manner so fitted to hallow us as the spectacle of Jesus, to whom these sacrifices pointed, dying on the cross in our stead. The love he manifested in that death for us constrains us to live, not unto ourselves, but unto him who died for us and rose again (2 Cor. 5:14, 15). The moral power of substitution cannot be dispensed with in a sinful world like this.

IV. The acceptance of the blood upon the altar, that is, of life after the death-penalty has been paid, also helps to deepen the sense of consecration. For when the priest by Divine direction, sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice all round about upon the altar, it was to indicate the acceptance on God’s part of the life beyond death. It indicated that God was satisfied with the substitution, that the penalty had been paid by the death of the victim, and that in consequence the blood, that is, the life—for the life was in the blood (ch. 17:11)—could be accepted. Acceptance in and through another was what this portion of the ritual implied, and this is well calculated to deepen the sense of consecration. For, according to the typology, the Person in whom we are accepted is he to whom we ought to be consecrated. It is when we realize that we are accepted in Christ that we feel constrained to dedicate ourselves unto him. The one good turn deserves another, and we are held under a sense of sweetest obligation.

V. The consecration of the child of God is the complete surrender of self to the operation of the Holy Ghost. Ewald has most pertinently remarked that among the Greeks and other nations such holocausts as were daily presented by the Jews were rarities. The idea of entire consecration is too broad for a heathen mind. Partial consecration was comparatively easy in idea, but a “surrender without reserve” is the fruit of Divine teaching. Now this is what the burning of the holocaust in the sacred fire of the altar signified. For, since all sensation had ceased before the sacrifice was laid upon the altar, the burning could not suggest the idea to the worshipper of pain or penalty. The fire had come out from God as the token of acceptance (ch. 9:24). It is, moreover, one of the recognized symbols of the Holy Ghost. Consequently, the exposure of every portion of the sacrifice to the altar fire represented the yielding of the grateful worshipper in his entirety to the operation of God the Holy Ghost. This, after all, is the essence of sanctification. It is the surrender of our whole nature, body, soul, and spirit, to the disposal of the Holy Ghost. This is devotedness indeed. Nowhere has the idea been more felicitously wrought out than in a little posthumous volume of F. R. Havergal’s, entitled ‘Kept for the Master’s Use.’ We cannot better convey the idea of the burnt offering than by copying her simple foundation lines upon which she has built her chapters.

“Take my life, and let it be

Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.

Take my moments and my days;

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move

At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet, and let them be

Swift, and ‘beautiful’ for Thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing

Always, only, for my king.

Take my lips, and let them be

Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold:

Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my intellect, and use

Every power as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thins:

It shall be no longer mine.

Take my heart; it is Thine own:

It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love: My Lord, I pour

At Thy feet its treasure-store.

Take myself, and I will be

Ever, only, all for Thee.”

R. M. E.

Vers. 1–14.—The weakness of man and the grace of God. Measureless is the distance between man and his Maker. And it is sometimes emphasized in such a way as to repress thought and stifle the aspirations of the human breast. In Scripture it is not brought forward as a rayless truth, but is shown to be replete with profit and joy. To consider it increases humility, indeed, but also intensifies gratitude and love. For the less has been blessed by the Greater, and we are permitted to say, looking upon the attributes of the Eternal as exercised towards us in mercy and favour, “This God is our God: we will rejoice in his salvation.”

I. Man is ignorant: the grace of God is seen in the distinct enunciation of his will. The light of reason, the voice of conscience, the promptings of emotion,—these can inform us only to a slight extent of the worship and service likely to be acceptable to God. Hence the surpassing worth of the full, clear-toned, authoritative utterances of Scripture. That God is Spirit, Light, and Love, that he is holy and almighty, are declarations for which we must be devoutly thankful. The Epicureans pictured the happy gods as dwelling in unruffled serenity far from all cognizance of or interference with the concerns of men. Inspiration removes our suspicions, reassures us with the words, “The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers.” Errors in the manner of our approach are prevented. Some would have presumptuously drawn near without the accustomed offering; others might bring unsuitable gifts—human sacrifices, unclean animals, etc. A God less kind might suffer the people to incur the terrible consequences of ignorance, but no! if Nadab and Abihu perish it shall not be for lack of instruction. “Go ye into all the world, teaching them to observe whatsoever things I have commanded you.”

II. Man is fearful and perturbed in the presence of God: it is graciously ordained that special messengers shall be the appointed channels of communication. “The Lord called unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel.” When God appeared on Sinai and thundered out His Law, the terrified people implored that God might not Himself speak again lest they should die. Their entreaty was regarded, and Moses became the medium of conveying the mind of God. Should Jehovah be for ever appearing in person, his visits would be attended with such over-whelming awe that the purport of his words might be in danger of being lost or mistaken. When embarrassed, man’s thoughts are dispersed, and memory fails. It was better, therefore, that holy men should speak unto men as moved by the Holy Ghost. The striking instance is the assumption of our nature by the Son of God, putting a veil over the features of Deity that weak sinful mortals might draw near without trembling and admire the gracious words proceeding out of his mouth. Even children hear and understand the words of Jesus. And here we may remark that the utterances of the messengers must be received as coming from the Most High. In the appointed place God talked with Moses, and on his repeating the instructions to the Israelites they were bound to attend to them. It is equally incumbent upon us to respect the decrees of God delivered through prophets and apostles, and above all to honour the Father by honouring the Son, believing his words, trusting him as the Teacher sent from God. Preachers are “ambassadors for Christ.” We would give thanks without ceasing when hearers receive the truth from our lips, not as the word of men, but the word of God (1 Thess. 2:13).

III. Man is sinful: the grace of God provides mediatorial access to the Holy One. 1. Sacrifices appointed. “Bring an offering” without blemish, and place your hand upon its head, to show that it is willingly offered and stands instead of the offerer. And “it shall be accepted to make atonement” for you, to cover your person and works with the robe of mercy and righteousness, so that the Divine gaze may he lastened upon you without displeasure. By the grace of God it was arranged that Jesus Christ should taste death for every man. His was the one offering that, through accomplishing the will of God, sanctifies all who make mention of his name. Who will hesitate to appear before the Most High? Let faith lay her hand upon the Saviour, rejoicing in the conviction that “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” 2. A priesthood. The Levites were set apart for the service of Jehovah, instead of all the firstborn of Israel. And of the Levites, the sons of Aaron were to minister continually before the Lord, observing all his regulations and maintaining constant purification of themselves, so that without insulting the holiness of God they might interpose between him and his people. Priesthood bridged the chasm between sinful creatures and a pure Creator. The priesthood sanctified the entire nation, which was theoretically a “kingdom of priests.” Jesus Christ has concentred the priestly functions in himself. He has entered into the heaven as our Forerunner, to sprinkle the atoning blood on the altar. And now with true heart in full assurance of faith we may draw nigh to God.

IV. Man’s condition varies: the grace of God provides for its inequalities. 1. Notice is taken of the poor, and appropriate offerings permitted. Oriental monarchs often despised and rejected the subjects who were unable to enrich their royal coffers. But God is no respecter of persons. It is one of the glories of the gospel that it has been preached to the poor, and is adapted to their needs. God expects every man to come and testify his respect and affection. The poor may bring “turtle-doves or young pigeons.” The way was thus opened for the parents of him who “became poor for our sakes.” It is to be feared that many withhold a contribution because it seems so insignificant. But the Lord is as sorry to see the mite retained in the pocket as the gold which the wealthy refuse to part with. “If there be first a willing mind it is accepted according to that a man hath.” Do not decline to engage in Christian work on the plea of defective ability! Surely some fitting department of service can be found. It is often the one talent that is hid in a napkin. 2. The offering of the poor is pronounced equally acceptable. Note the repetition of “it is a sacrifice, of a sweet savour unto the Lord” after the 17th verse. It is rather the spirit than the action itself which God regards. Not the results of labour so much as its motives and the proportion of ability to accomplishment.—S. R. A.

Vers. 1–9.—The greatness of God. Too wide a field lessens the thoroughness of observation. Hence it is allowable and advantageous to distinguish in thought what is in reality inseparable, in order, by fixing the attention upon certain parts, to acquire a better knowledge of the whole. Such a method recommends itself in dealing with the attributes of God. To attempt to comprehend them all in one glance is, if not impossible, at least of little result in increasing our acquaintance with His character. Let us observe how the hints in this chapter present us with the greatness of God in varied aspects.

I. The holiness of God demands a sacrificial offering from all who would seek his favour. The offerings here spoken of were spontaneous free-will offerings. They indicated a desire on the part of man to draw nigh to Jehovah, and they also manifested a sense of disturbance wrought by sin in man’s relations with his Maker. Once man walked with God in uninterrupted harmony. Then transgression chased innocence away, and shame drove man to hide himself from the presence of God among the trees of the garden. The consciousness of sin renders an offering necessary, under cover of which (“to make atonement for him”) we may venture to an audience with the Holy One. Thus can fellowship be resumed. The Antitype of these sacrifices, Jesus Christ, is now our peace. He was “once offered to bear the sins of many.” “By one offering he hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified.” The old cry, “How shall man be just with God?” is still uttered, and the response comes, “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

II. The majesty of God requires that the regulations for approach which he has appointed be strictly observed. The condescension of God in manifesting himself to the Israelites might be fraught with danger if it led to presumption and to holding in light esteem his awe-inspiring attributes. Instructions are consequently given relating to the minutest details; everything is prescribed. God is pleased with the free-will offering, and it will be accepted if the precepts are adhered to; but it must in no wise be supposed that the sincere expression of affection can excuse wilful neglect of appointed rules. The love of an inferior for his superior must not prevent the exhibition of due respect. God will be had in reverence by all that are about him. Nor is it open to man arrogantly to pronounce that a consecrated way of access through Jesus Christ may be set aside as unnecessary. Christianity may have broadened the road of approach, but it remains true that there is still an appointed road. To refuse honour to Christ is to treat God with disrespect. “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Christless worship, thanksgiving, and prayer, must be shunned.

III. The honour of God expects an offering to consist of the best that man possesses. If poor, a turtle-dove would not be rejected, but for a rich man to offer the same would be treated as an insult to God. And the offering from the herd or flock must be “a male without blemish.” Strength and beauty combined are requisite to satisfy the searching eye of the High and Lofty One. We see these requisites embodied in the Lamb of God, the perfect Sacrifice, “holy, harmless, undefiled.” He knows little of God who imagines that he will be put off with scanty service, mean oblations. We ought to ask, not what is there can be easily spared, but how much can possibly be laid upon the altar. Let us not mock him by indulging in our own pleasures, and then giving to him the petty remnants of our poverty! Let us strive so to act that the firstfruits of our toil, the chiefest of our possessions, the prime of our life, the best of our days, shall be devoted to purposes of religion! Bestow upon God the deepest thoughts of the mind, the strongest resolutions of the will, the choicest affections of the heart.

IV. The perfection of God necessitates orderly arrangement in all that concerns his worship and service. There is an appointed place for the offering, “the tabernacle of the congregation.” The wood must be laid “in order upon the fire” (ver. 7), and the different parts of the victim must likewise be placed “in order upon the wood” (ver. 8).

To constitute a chaos round about the throne is to derogate from the homage a king inspires. It intimates his powerlessness, his want of intelligent forethought and present control. Law reigns everywhere throughout the dominions of Jehovah. The heavenly bodies speak of the symmetry he loves, and plants, animals, and minerals teach the same grand truth. “Order is Heaven’s first law.” “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.” In the worship of the sanctuary order and decency are of pre-eminent importance. Whatever shocks a devout mind is likely to be offensive to him all whose ways are perfect. Arrangement need not degenerate into formality. The Sunday dress, the preparation for God’s house, and the quiet attitude therein, are all important adjuncts to the spiritual education of the young.

Be it observed further that order means economy of space and time. Those who have no room nor leisure to be orderly do least and retain least. The laws of God are ever synonymous with the true interests of man.

V. The purity of God obliges that the offering be cleansed from defilement. Those parts of the victim naturally subject to defilement are to be washed in water, “the inwards and the legs.” One might deem this a superfluous proceeding, since they were to be so soon burnt upon the altar. But this would mean an extremely erroneous view of the solemnity of a sacrifice. Those who have not time to serve God properly had better not try it at all. He who counts it a trouble to read and pray has little conception of the insult he offers to God. Before we bow before the Lord to render our tribute of adoration and praise, it were well to purify our hearts, to hallow the desires that may have become impure, to call home our wandering thoughts, and to loose the dusty sandals from the feet which have been treading in the ways of the world. The Almighty desires no part to be absent from the offering. The affections, the strength, the time, the money, that have been lavished on unworthy objects are not in themselves sinful, they are unclean and require the sanctifying influence of the blood of Christ, and the water of the Word, and then they are fit to be rendered unto God and consumed in the fire that testifies his acceptance of the worshipper.—S. R. A.

Ver. 9.—Our reasonable service. The burnt offering appears to have been the most general of the sacrifices presented to Jehovah, and to have had the widest significance. Its spiritual counterpart is furnished in Rom. 12:1. Meditation upon the prophetic symbol will shed light upon the “living sacrifice” of the gospel dispensation.

I. The nature of the Christian offering as thus symbolized. 1. It is a surrender to God of something that belongs to us. Property inherited and acquired is the material of the sacrifice. Not only what has come to us by natural endowment, but that which is the result of toil—the cattle that were given to us, and the produce we have reared. God demands our hearts, our minds, our talents; and he looks for the devotion to him of any increment that effort may secure. Just as Barnabas sold his land and laid the price at the apostles’ feet, and the Apostle Paul commanded that each Corinthian should “lay by him in store as God hath prospered him.” 2. It is a voluntary surrender. The man “shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering,” to evince his willingness to part with the animal. All “the cattle on a thousand hills” are really owned by Jehovah, yet does he treat man as proprietor, and does not take by violence the necessary sacrifices for his glory, but leaves it to man freely to recognize his God, and to pay his just dues. “Voluntary” in no wise excludes the force of motives, since every decision has motives, as an antecedent if not as an efficient cause. Freedom implies absence, not of inducements, but of constraint. Man has the power to withhold from the service of God his faculties and possessions. He is ever appealed to in Scripture as a reasonable individual, capable of deciding to what purposes his abilities shall be devoted. “Yield yourselves unto God.” 3. The surrender must be complete. It was not possible to offer part of a goat or lamb, the victim must be given in its entirety. The blood is sprinkled round about, and “all” the parts are burnt upon the altar. The disciple must follow the Lord fully. No putting of the hand to the plough and looking back. No keeping back part of the price. The believer is bought by Christ, body and soul. The reason why many seem to have offered themselves to God in vain, is because they have done it in a half-hearted way, they have not “sought him with their whole desire.”

II. The manner in which the offering is devoted to God. 1. By the death of the victim. Death is the total renunciation of present enjoyment—the extremest proof of an intention to set one’s self apart for a certain object. If it does not suffice to prove sincerity and entire consecration, then proof is impossible. “All that a man hath will he give for his life.” Like the apostle, it behoves Christians to “die daily.” At baptism there was the emblem of death to the world. “Old things have passed away.” Our death to sin, however, resembles the crucifixion of our Lord, a lingering painful death. We mortify the deeds of the body, crucify the flesh, deny ourselves. “If any man will lose his life he shall save it.” 2. By cleansing water and purifying fire. “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” “Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” “Every one shall be salted with fire.” “The trial of your faith which is much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire.” All that is earthly is consumed. The smoke, rising from the material sacrifice, reminds us of the pure metal that is free from dross, and remains to “praise, honour, and glory.” Learn to welcome the tribulations of your lot as being the discipline that makes the surrender of yourselves complete. Martyrs have experienced actual flames, the fire may assume another shape to you. Perhaps temptations assail you, and difficulties wear away your strength. Glorify God in the fires. Fire is an emblem of the Holy Spirit, and as Christ offered himself through the Eternal Spirit, so does his Spirit abide with his people, to hallow them, to put away sin, to make them pleasing unto God. 3. By means of the ordained mediator. The priest must take the slain animal to perform the necessary rites. Otherwise, however free from fault, the offering will bring loss, not gain, to the offerer. If all believers are now “a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices,” they are only “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Our Saviour must be our “Daysman,” to come between us and God, and present us to his Father. His life, death, and intercession must be the inspiration of our lives, the spring of our hopes, the constraining influence that shall make us dedicate all we have and are to God. “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” We determine to know nothing save Christ and him crucified. “In Christ Jesus” we “are made nigh.”

III. The effect of the offering. 1. It pleases God. Anthropomorphic expressions are employed, not to degrade the Almighty, but to clarify our conceptions, and to make the truth plain to the dullest eyed. “It is a sweet savour unto the Lord.” The smell is repulsive, and cannot be supposed to be grateful in itself to him who is a Spirit. But it is the disposition to honour and please God that he delights to observe in his children. A parent may admire the rudest sketch if his little one brings it as a token of love, and may esteem the commonest fare a banquet, and ill-dressed food a feast, if regard and affection have contributed to its preparation. The agony and wounds of the Redeemer were not watched by the Father with unraingled delight. As we shudder at the spectacle of the Holy One made a curse for us, and yet rejoice in the all-sufficiency of his burden-bearing; so the Father felt the keenest pangs that rent the breast of his beloved Son, and only joyed in the sublime manifestation of filial devotion, content to endure torture and insult that the blot on his Father’s world through the presence of sin might be erased even at such infinite cost. Wherein we are partakers if the sufferings of Christ our Sacrifice is fragrant to the Father. The apostles, in preaching the gospel, became “unto God a sweet savour of Christ.” If we walk in love, we cause the incense of love to ascend with sweet odour to heaven (Eph. 5:2). Jesus ministered to the wants of many, and the Philippians, in supplying the necessities of Paul, Christ’s servant, were an “odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice well-pleasing unto God.” 2. It procures for the offerer satisfaction of conscience and the favour of God. The sacrifice is accepted, communion is re-established, sin is covered. There is an inward contentment in all religious acts that is of itself evidence of the reality of religion, and its adaptation to our circumstances. Never did any man abstain from selfish, sinful gratification, or pursue the rugged path of holiness and virtue, without being solaced by the consciousness of having done what was right, what was in harmony with the noblest dictates of his nature. The self-denying, God-serving life is the happiest and most blessed life. Then do we walk in the light of God’s countenance, and drink of the river of his pleasures.—S. R. A.

Vers. 1, 2.—Sacrificature. The Book of Exodus closes with an account of the entrance of the Shechinah into the tabernacle; with the manner in which that sacred structure was enveloped by the cloud of the Divine presence; also that in which, by rising from the tabernacle, God gave his order for his people to march, and, by resting upon it, to halt and encamp. The Book of Leviticus is concerned with the revelations which God gave to Israel from this habitation of his holiness, in which the laws published from Sinai were amplified (comp. ch. 7:37, 38). The text lays down broad principles upon the subject of sacrificature, which is considered first in order, because of its great importance to the Levitical system, and to that more glorious system of the gospel which it shadowed forth. We learn that—

I. Sacrificature has God for its Author. 1. It existed before the time of Moses. (1) Its prevalence amongst the nations argues its origin to be prior to the dispersion (Gen. 11:9). How else can this fact be explained? (2) We read of it in patriarchal times. The Hebrew patriarchs offered sacrifices (Gen. 12:7, et al. freq.). So did Job, who lived in the land of Uz, on the border-land between Idumea and Arabia, probably about the time of Joseph (Job 1:5; see also Exod. 18:12), So did Noah (Gen. 8:20). (3) The first family had sacrifices which they presented when they appeared before the Shechinah, which flamed between the cherubic emblems set up eastward of Eden (Gen. 4:3, 4). 2. It could not have been incented by man. (1) It was, in the nature of the thing, most unlikely to have occurred to any finite mind. (2) If it did so occur, would God have accepted it? Does he approve will-worship? (see ch. 10:1, 2). What right has a sinner to propose terms of reconciliation to his Maker? His place is to throw himself absolutely upon the Divine mercy, and wait to “hear what God the Lord may speak” (Ps. 85:7, 8). 3. Here we have it authorized by God. (1). “And the Lord called unto Moses,” etc. (2) So we find God directing Abraham respecting the manner in which sacrifices should be ordered in his worship (Gen. 15:9; see also 22:2). (3) The “coats of skins” in which our first parents were clothed were presumably from animals offered in sacrifice. Animals were not in those days killed for food (Gen. 1:29; comp. with 9:3). Since it was “the Lord God” who clothed them, the institution of sacrificature would date from that time, and be a revelation of mercy immediately from him. God is the Author of reconciliation (John 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:9).

II. It was published from his sanctuary. 1. There are revelations of God in nature. (1) These are exhibited in our treatises on Natural. Theology. Who can fail to see the Designer in the works of design? (2) The Scriptures recognize this voice (Ps. 9:1; 19:1, etc.; Acts 14:17; 17:27; Rom. 1:20). 2. But these are evident only after the hint of them is given. (1) We have no innate ideas. The Namaquans and other African tribes were found by Moffat, Ridsdale, and other missionaries, without a glimmer of an idea of God or of immortality. (2) The traditions of the Gentiles were originally from a pure source, but became corrupted in transmission. (3) There are no “deists,” i. e. natural theologians, where the Bible has not been before them. They do not own the source from whence they derive the hints which guide them in their reasonings. 3. Sacrificature is not taught in nature. (1) The book of nature was written too soon. The Creation preceded the Fall. (2) That it is, is not presumed. Sacrificature is excluded from the creed of the deist. (3) This subject belongs to the sanctuary. “And the Lord called Moses and spake out of the tabernacle of the congregation,” etc. Even the Garden of Eden, where, we presume, it was first instituted, was “planted,” and planted to be a temple for Divine worship. (4) Yet without sacrificature there can be no acceptable worship. Cain, the deist, was rejected because he came before God without blood-shedding (see ch. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). Let no man think he acceptably serves God when he neglects the services of the sanctuary under the pretext of “worshipping the God of nature in the fields.”

III. The sacrifices approved are “from the herd and from the flock.” 1. They are selected from the animals that are clean. (1) They have the marks of cleanness, viz. parting the hoof and chewing the cud (ch. 11:3). But all clean creatures were not proper for purposes of sacrifice. Those of the “herd” (בקר, baker) are distinguished as the bull, heifer, bullock, and calf. Those of the “flock” (צאן, tson) as sheep and goats; for this word is used to describe these animals promiscuously (see ver. 10). (2) This reminds us of the purity of God, who can accept nothing that is polluted—”who will in no wise clear the guilty”—who requires purity in his worshippers (Ps 24:3, 4). (3) It points to the purity of the Great One sacrificed for us, covered in whose righteousness we are justified or accounted as just persons, and in whose atoning blood we are washed and made clean. 2. They are gregarious creatures. (1). This feature is prominently noticed here—”herd,” “flock.” Man is a social being. He is set in families, tribes, nations, and even internationally united. Solitary confinement is amongst the most horrible of punishments. (2) Hence guilt and depravity become hereditary. And as we have been represented to our ruin by our common progenitor, so by the representation of the second Adam we have salvation. (3) Sin is dissocializing. Consider its fruits—Hatred—variance—strifes—murders. (4) True religion perfects the social principle, centres all union in God. A universe can meet in him. A universe can hold communion in him. The genius of religion is love. The heaven of heavens is love.—J. A. M.

Vers. 3–9.—The burnt sacrifice of the herd. Having given general instructions concerning the great business of sacrifice, the Most High descends to particulars, and here describes the burnt sacrifice of the herd. These particulars contain specific directions—

I. As to the quality of the victim. 1. It must be a male. (1) Females were not only admitted for burnt offerings under the patriarchal dispensation, but upon one memorable occasion even prescribed (see Gen. 15:9). The ceremonial distinction between male and female was not then, probably, so strongly defined as afterwards it became under the Law. Under the gospel it is abolished (Gal. 3:28). (2) The male is the stronger animal; and the horns, in the ox, which are symbols of power, are more developed in the male. The male, therefore, would represent the excellence of strength. (3) Thus Christ, as the “Power of God,” would be preindicated (1 Cor. 1:24). By his sacrifice of himself he destroyed him that had the power of death, and became the “power of God unto salvation” to every believer (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18). 2. It must be without blemish. (1) The rabbius reckon no less than fifty things, any one of which would, in their judgment, render an animal unfit for sacrifice; five in the ear, three in the eyelid, eight in the eye, etc.; but they trifle outrageously. Any obvious defect or redundancy of parts would mar it for sacrifice, and so would any disease by which it might be afflicted. (2) This reminds us that Christ, who is accepted of God as our Sacrifice, is without deficiency or redundancy, weakness or malady (1 Pet. 1:19) In everything perfect. (3) We are further taught that the best should be given to God. The best thoughts; the best affections; the best gifts; the best service.

II. As to the duty of the offerer. 1. With a view to procuring the acceptance of his offering. (1) His gift must be offered freely. “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will.” The sacrifice of himself, which Christ offered for us, was voluntary (Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Eph. 5:25; Titus 2:6, 14). God expects the homage of the heart (John 4:23, 24). (2) It must be offered at the door of the tabernacle. The altar was at the door. We enter the heavens through the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19–21). The Jewish sacrifices were never resumed after the destruction of their city and temple, for they hold it unlawful to sacrifice anywhere out of Jerusalem. Yet they will not see that the antitypes have come, and that the types are therefore no longer necessary. (3) He must lay his hand upon its head. This action expressed, (a) That the offerer confessed himself a sinner deserving to be sacrificed. (b) That he ceremonially transferred his guilt to a substitute in anticipation of the Great Substitute promised who should truly bear the punishment of sin (1 Pet. 2:24). (c) That he trusted in the mercy of God through the vicarious sufferings of Messiah (Dan. 9:26). 2. With a view to the making an atonement for his sin. The direction is (1) That he should kill the bullock “before the Lord.” The Shechinah was there in the most holy place. The transaction is between the Lord and the soul of the sinner. In all worship we should realize the presence of the Lord. (2) “He shall flay the burnt offering and cut it into his pieces.” This operation was here performed, not by the priest, but by the offerer. In the time of the temple this was done by the priests, who were then more numerous and better skilled in the proper mode of doing it. For this service they claimed the skin (ch. 7:8; 2 Chron. 29:34). (3) People and priests alike were concerned in the Great Sacrifice on Calvary. It was done with “wicked hands” (Acts 2:23).

III. As to the duty of the priests. 1. With respect to the blood. (1) They were to sprinkle with it round about the altar. The altar upon which Jesus was offered was, in its more restricted sense, the hill of Calvary. On that hill his precious blood was literally sprinkled. (2) The position of the altar is noted, viz. “by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.” In the wider sense the altar on which Jesus suffered was this planet, which is, as it were, the entrance or vestibule of the great temple of the universe, of which the heavens are the holy places (see Heb. 4:14). 2. With respect to the water. (1) Water is one of the great purifiers in the kingdom of nature, and is therefore used as an emblem of the Holy Spirit, the Great Purifier in the kingdom of grace (John 7:38, 39). So a controversy about baptism with water is described as a “question about purifying” (John 3:25). (2) With water the priest was to wash the inwards and the legs. The inwards were a type of the soul; and God requires “truth in the inward parts,” in the “thoughts and intents of the heart.” Every pollution, also, connected with our “walk and conversation” must be laved away. To express this truth Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. 3. With respect to the fire. (1) It was “put” upon the altar. This does not say that it was kindled by the priest. The fire was of God’s own kindling (see ch. 9:24; 10:1, 2). (2). It was, however, fed with fuel by the priests. Human agency co-operates with Divine even in the most sacred things (Phil. 2:12, 13). (3) The parts of the sacrifice were laid in order on the wood. The quarters were laid together in their relative positions. So with the head, the fat, and the inwards. Thus the whole animal was consumed. Our whole being should be offered to God in the flames of love (Deut. 6:5).—J. A. M.

Vers. 10–17.—The burnt offering of the flock and of the fowls. The ceremony of the offering of the flock is almost identical with that of the herd described in the verses preceding. In that of the fowls there is a wider dissimilarity.

I. The variety of the victims claims attention. 1. Five or six kinds of victims were accepted. (1) These were beeves, sheep, goats, turtle-doves, pigeons. To these may be added the clean birds, supposed to have been sparrows, which were required in the particular ceremony of the cleansing of the leper. (2) All these, excepting the last, were proper for burnt offerings. They are notable as mild, gentle, inoffensive, and useful creatures. They are therefore fittingly used as types to describe the innocence and meekness of Jesus (John 1:36; Isa. 53:7). (3) As Christians we have nothing to do with the ferocity of the tiger or the rapacity of the wolf. If we have the wisdom of the serpent, it must be associated with the harmlessness of the dove (see Matt. 10:16). 2. But what are the lessons conveyed in this variety? (1) It evinces the insufficiency of the sacrifices of the Law. If one sacrifice or one kind of sacrifice could really take away sin, why repeat it or have recourse to others? Their usefulness therefore was in the manner in which they foreshadowed the better Sacrifice. (2) By contrast it evinces the sufficiency of the Great Sacrifice of the New Testament. No single sacrifice or kind of sacrifice could body forth all that was required in a sufficient Saviour; therefore the number and variety of the types. But Jesus offered himself alone and once, because everything centred in him. Supplementary sacrifices such as that of the Mass, are blasphemous impertinences. (3) It further evinces the mercifulness of Divine justice. Here was the bullock for the rich man. Here was the sheep or goat for the man in moderate circumstances. Here were the turtle-doves or pigeons for the poor (2 Cor. 8:12). Here is Christ without money and without price for all.

II. There are notable omissions. 1. The placing of the offerer’s hand upon the head of the victim. (1) This is mentioned in connection with the offering from the herd (ver. 4). Omitted in the description of the offering from the flock. Also from the offering from the fowls. It may have been done nevertheless. (2) It was very expressive of the transfer of sin to the victim. Possibly Paul refers to this custom—of course, taking it in its application to the gospel—when he speaks of the “laying on of hands” as amongst the “first principles of the doctrine of Christ” (Heb. 6:2). (3) If in any case it was omitted, it would then suggest the important truth that the hand of God laid upon Christ the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53:6, 10). 2. The flaying of the skin. (1) This is described in the account of the herd, but omitted in that of the flock (ver. 6). It appears, nevertheless, to have been done also in the latter case. (2) The skin is the natural clothing or covering of the animal. If the coats of skins with which God clothed Adam and Eve in substitution for their covering of fig leaves by which they expressed their sense of shame for their sin, were those of sacrificed animals, then it vigorously sets forth the manner in which we receive “beauty for ashes” when invested with the righteousness of Christ. 3. Instead of the “door of the tabernacle of the congregation” which is mentioned in connection with the herd, “northward” is the term used in connection with the flock (comp. vers. 5, 11). These expressions are generally synonymous (ch. 7:2). Standing at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, the worshipper held communion with God and with the whole congregation. He stood at the north side of the altar, because that was the place of rings to which the victims were fastened in order to be slain. The hill of Calvary also was situate northwest of Jerusalem. How humiliating that our communion with God and his Church must be through suffering and blood!

III. Differences are noticeable in the burnt sacrifice of fowls. 1. In this case two birds were brought. (1) One, however, only is offered as a burnt sacrifice. The singular is used in this description. (2) The other was to be used as a sin offering (see ch. 5:7; 12:8; 14:22). 2. They were cloven but not divided. (1) This was in accordance with the directions given to Abraham (Gen. 15:10). (2) The cleaving was required for the removal of the intestines, but the wings must not be divided, for the power for flight of Christ to heaven cannot be impaired (Acts 2:24). (3) The head was wrung off, and the blood wrung out by the side of the altar. 3. The crop and feathers were cast into the place of ashes. (1) This was during the tabernacle “by the side of the altar on the east part.” All the ashes went there (see ch. 6:10). (2) In the temple the place of ashes was a closet under the altar. In allusion to this the souls, that is to say, the bodies, of the martyrs are represented as under the altar, crying for vengeance upon their persecutors (Rev. 6:9–11). Reflect: The poor man’s pigeons as truly as the rich man’s bullock was “of a sweet savour unto the Lord” (see Eph. 5:2; also 1 Pet. 2:5).—J. A. M.

Vers. 1, 2.—God in special manifestation. Always and everywhere God has been revealing himself. There is no time when, no place where, men might not have “seen him who is invisible.” Nowhere has he left himself without witness (Acts 14:17). Always might “his eternal power and Godhead have been understood” (Rom. 1:20). But the eyes of man were blinded, and his “foolish heart was darkened,” so that by his own wisdom he knew not God. It is certain that be would have remained in ignorance but for those special manifestations of which the sacred Scriptures are the record. The text reminds us that these include—

I. His peculiar people. Out of the human race God chose one people, “the congregation,” “the children of Israel,” to whom he would appear, by whom the knowledge of his nature and will should be retained, and through whom he should be made known to others. To this congregation “were committed the oracles of God;” and while surrounding nations were stumbling in the darkness, Israel was walking in the light of the Lord.

II. His own house. “God spake out of the tabernacle,” etc. This his dwelling-place in Israel had just been constructed, and there, in the most holy place, he had signified his presence by the glory-cloud. That was none other than the house of God, his abode in the midst of the congregation.

III. His chosen minister. “The Lord called unto Moses.” The experiences of Sinai had shown that there was need of mediation between the Majesty of heaven and the children of earth. God, therefore, chose to reveal his mind through the one man who was fittest for close access, and who would calmly receive and faithfully announce his will—the courageous, devoted, magnanimous Moses.

IV. His particular directions. “Speak … and say …” Then follow the instructions of this book of the Law: particular and precise regulations, by attention to which the congregation might worship with acceptance and “live in holiness and righteousness before God.”

In the dispensation in which we now stand we have analogous special manifestations. 1. The Church of Christ is now the congregation of the Lord, the “Israel of God;” not the members of any visible organization, but all those of every society who love and honour Christ, “both theirs and ours.” To such “he manifests himself as he does not unto the world;” in them his Holy Spirit dwells; through them he works on the world without. 2. The Christian sanctuary is now the house of the Lord, the “place of his abode.” There he makes his presence felt; there he causes us to behold his glory, the beauties of his character, the glories of his grace. At the table of the Lord, more especially, the risen Master meets with his true disciples, the Divine Host with his human friends and guests, to receive and return their love, to accept their vows, to impart his benediction and his blessing. 3. The Christian ministry is now the chosen channel of his communications. Not necessarily those ordained with human hands; these if sent by God, but only if sent of him; and beside these, all whose hearts he has touched (1 Sam. 10:26), whose minds he has filled with spiritual understanding (Col. 1:9), and whose lips he has opened (Ps. 51:15); all those on whose soul there really rests the “burden of the Lord” 4. The New Testament now contains the Divine instructions. These are (1) few in number; (2) moral and spiritual rather than formal and mechanical in their nature; (3) adequate to penetrate to the deepest springs of the soul, and to cover the widest particulars of the life.

It becomes us, in view of these special manifestations of God in Christ, (a) to associate ourselves immediately with the recognized people of God; (b) to seek, constantly and sedulously, his face and favour and the knowledge of his will, in his house; (c) to hold ourselves ready to speak for him to others or to receive his message from others, as his Spirit shall prompt us or them; (d) to master and foster those principles of righteousness which Christ has taught us, that we may cultivate our character and regulate our lives according to his holy will—C.

Vers. 2–17.—The true end of sacrifice,—entire consecration to God. We shall reach the end for which God introduced all that apparatus of Divine worship so elaborately described in this book if we take the following steps:—

I. The separating presence of sin in the heart and life of man. But for the sin which “separates between us and our God” there would have been unrestrained communion between man and his Maker in every age and land: no need of mediation, of special arrangements, of careful limitations, of means and media of approach. Every line of this chapter, as also of this book, speaks of sin—sin in the soul, sin in the life, sin on the conscience, sin as a hindrance in the way of man.

II. The effort of man to find a way back to God. It is impossible to forget that while Israel was offering its sacrifies as God directed, other nations were bringing their victims in such ways as they deemed best. The commonness of sacrifice, its prevalence outside the holy nation, speaks eloquently enough of man’s conscious distance from God, and of his desire and endeavour to find a way back to his favour. “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?” This is the anxious question of sin-stricken, unenlightened man. “Shall I come with burnt offerings … will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams?” This is his suggestion in reply. It is affecting to think of the multitudes of sacrifices under every sky, as instances of men “feeling after” the mercy of an offended God, groping in the dimness or the darkness towards reconciliation and peace.

III. The Divine provision for man’s return and access to himself. 1. Under the old dispensation. Man was to bring to the altar of God suitable offerings; such as were within his reach; the best of the kind; an unblemished male. It might be from his herd (ver. 2), or from his flock (ver. 10), or it might be a fowl of the air (ver. 14). The priest was to pour the blood round about the altar (vers. 5, 11), and the carcase was to be consumed upon the altar,—a whole burnt offering unto the Lord. 2. Under the new dispensation. Instead of “the blood of bulls and goats,” God has provided one offering which suffices for all souls of every land and age, even his own beloved Son. This was the “Lamb of God” (1), absolutely perfect, “without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:19; Heb. 9:14); (2) shedding his own blood (Heb. 9:12), giving “his soul (his life) an offering for sin” (Isa. 53:10); “putting away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26); (3) accepted of God; “an offering … of a sweet savour unto the Lord” (ver. 17; Eph. 5:2). Through that shed blood of “the Lamb that was slain” for us we have access at all times, forgiveness of sin, reconciliation to God. But not without

IV. Personal spiritual participation. The offerer under the Law took personal part in the offering: he brought his victim to the tabernacle (ver. 10); he killed it with his own hands (vers. 5, 11); he also “put his hands upon the head” of the animal (ver. 4). The sinner, under the gospel, does not provide the sacrifice: “Christ our passover is slain for us.” But he does take a personal participation: “by faith he lays his hand on that dear head of his;” he acknowledges that he himself is worthy of death; believes and appropriates to his own need the fact that Jesus died for his sin; earnestly desires that his guilt may be transferred to the Lamb of God; entreats that that shed blood of his may atone for and cover his iniquity.

V. The end of sacrifice,—entire personal consecration. The consumption of the whole animal in the fire pictures the complete dedication of the Saviour, his absolute and entire consecration to the work which the Father gave him to do. It symbolizes ours also. Accepted by God through the atoning blood of the Lamb, we are to dedicate ourselves to him. Our personal consecration 1. Should follow upon and grow out of our acceptance through a crucified Saviour. 2. Should be thorough and complete: including heart and life, body and spirit, things sacred and things secular. 3. Will then be well pleasing to God, “an offering of a sweet savour unto the Lord” (ver. 17).—C.

Vers. 2–17.—Principles of spiritual sacrifice. All who know God are engaged, frequently, if not continually, in sacrificing unto him. Here are principles of sacrifice by which we may be guided.

I. That God desires and demands the best we can bring. If the offering were of the herd, it was to be a “male without blemish” (ver. 3); so also if of the flock (ver. 10). Not that which was of small account and could be well spared, but the worthiest and best. The best for the Highest. Not “that which costs us nothing” (2 Sam. 24:24) for him who has given us everything; rather the costliest of our treasures for him who, “though he was rich, for our sakes became poor.” We may well break the rarest alabaster for him whose “body was broken” for our sin; may well pour out the most precious spikenard for him who poured out his life-blood for our redemption. “Worthy is the Lamb to receive riches” (Rev. 5:12). When we worship him, or work for him, or give to his cause, we should bring, not our exhaustion, but our vigour; not our languor, but our energy; not costless effort, but that which has taken time and trouble to produce—the gold rather than the silver, the silver rather than the pence; not anything that will pass in the sight of man, but the very best we can bring to his presence.

II. That God accepts the best we are able to bring. If he could not afford a bullock, the Hebrew worshipper might bring a sheep; or if that were beyond his means, a turtle-dove or pigeon (vers. 2, 10, 14). God accepts gifts “according to that a man hath,” etc. (2 Cor. 8:12). He who approved the widow’s mites more than the rich men’s gold still “sits over against the treasury,” and accepts what we can bring, however humble it be, if we bring with it “the willing mind.” In the balances of heaven a conversation in a garret by the bedside of a pauper may weigh more than the greatest sermon before the noblest audience.

III. That God requires the full consent of our own mind. “He shall offer it of his own voluntary will” (ver. 3). The excellency, the beauty, the acceptableness of our offering lies largely in the hearty good will with which we bring it. “The Lord loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). (See 1 Chron. 29:6, 9.)

IV. That our offering must be made consciously unto the Lord. He shall offer it “before the Lord” (ver. 3); he shall kill it “before the Lord” (ver. 11). When the victim was slain the offerer was to have in his mind the presence of God, and was to present it consciously to him. Whatever form our sacrifice may take—prayer, praise, inquiry of the Lord, contribution, exhortation—it must be not mechanical, but spiritual; it must be religious; it must be rendered “as to the Lord, and not unto men.”

V. That God desires obedience in things beyond our understanding. Doubtless the priests of the tabernacle failed to see the import of many of the Divine directions. The people also must have been at a loss to understand the reason of many details of the service (vers. 6, 8, 11, 15, 17). But both priests and people were required to conform under penalty of severe displeasure. In many things unintelligible to them do our children and the uninstructed conform, because they rightly trust to those who are older and wiser. There are many things concerning which we have all to feel ourselves to be the little children we really are in the presence of the heavenly Father, and we must do unquestioningly what he bids us. Let us try strenuously to understand, and when we fail to reach the Divine meaning, trustfully conform.

VI. That there can be no waste in the fullest sacrifice we lay on his altar. In the burnt offering the whole victim was consumed; no part was saved for food. “To what purpose is this waste?” is it asked? We reply: 1. That the God in whom we live and whose we are is worthy of everything we can offer him. 2. That we never so truly realize the end and reach the height of our manhood as when we are devoting ourselves to God. 3. That we may count on a large and generous response at his liberal hand. 4. That we gain in spiritual profit far more than we lose in material reduction.—C.

Ver. 17 (latter part).—God’s pleasure in man. We believe—

I. That God is a being of supreme blessedness. He is the ever-blessed God, the source and fountain of all joy. He who gives such boundless bliss to his creation must be divinely blessed. He could not give what he has not in himself.

II. That some part of his joy he finds in man. What constitutes the happiness of the Supreme? “The Lord will rejoice in his works;” but it is a larger truth that “the Lord taketh pleasure in his people” (Ps. 149:4); that “the Lord’s portion is his people” (Deut. 32:9).

III. That his good pleasure in us is in—

1. Our complete but conscious consecration of ourselves. The “offering made by fire” was “of a sweet savour unto the Lord,” not as typifying the annihilation of our self, absolute absorption of self in God (the Hindoo theory), but as expressing the offerer’s desire to dedicate himself and all that he had to God,—voluntary, conscious devotion.

2. Our self-surrender to his Son our Saviour. That which, above all else, God says to us now is, “This is my beloved Son: hear ye him;” and the initial. essential, decisive step for us to take, in order to give him pleasure, is to “receive” to “believe in,” to accept Jesus Christ as Teacher, Saviour, Lord, and Friend.

3. Our conformity to his revealed will, by (1) reverence (Ps. 147:11); (2) holy confidence in his pardoning love (Ps. 147:11); (3) patient endurance of wrong (1 Pet. 2:20); (4) generous service of others (Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16).—C.

The first part of this book, which may be called the spiritual statute-book of Israel as the congregation of the Lord, is occupied with the the laws of sacrifice, chs. 1–7. The underlying fact is that of sin as separation from God; but the book, as regulating the intercourse between the sinful people and the holy object of their worship, is itself a constituent part of the gracious covenant made with Israel. While it deepens the sense of sin, it provides the means of reconciliation and sanctification, and therefore the laws prescribed, while, as laws, restraining liberty and giving form to religious acts, at the same time embody in themselves the grace of God in the covenant relation between Jehovah and his people.

Vers. 1–17.—Law of the burnt offerings. The object of worship, place, worshipper, offering, are all clearly set forth. The way of obedience made plain.

Ver. 1.—”And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation.” This is the foundation on which the whole of positive religion is built up, the Divine voice speaking through a mediator, at an appointed place, and in a distinct, authoritative manner. Notice—

I. The Divine voice. “The Lord,” Jehovah, that is, the God of revelation and covenant. 1. The beginning of all true religion is the gracious manifestation of God. It is a very different spiritual structure which is built upon this foundation from that which is raised on men’s own thoughts. Compare the corruptions of traditionary religions, heathenism, with the Old Testament revelation; the vague and doubtful attempts of religious philosophy to provide an object of supreme reverence. The name Jehovah betokened a progress in special revelation. The Elohistic worship of the earliest ages, while resting, no doubt, on direct communications of God’s Spirit, without which there can be no living intercourse between the creature and the Creator, was elementary in its character, suited to the childhood of the world—God revealed first as the God of creation, the object of reverential obedience in the sphere of natural life and the simplest laws of righteousness. As the relations of mankind to one another grew more numerous and complicated, the idea of religion enlarged; the object of worship was the God of a people, the God of families, the God whose name was distinctly named, as distinctly as the people’s, between whom and a certain portion of mankind there was a direct covenant, involving gracious vouchsafements on one side, and faithful service on the other. This is the connection between the Book of Exodus and that of Leviticus, which the very opening words remind us is very close. In the former book we are in the presence of Jehovah. In this we are listening to his voice, a voice which speaks clearly and fully what are the ordinances of his will. 2. The invitation and summons. “The Lord called unto Moses.” We must notice here the two elements of law and grace combined, which is the very essence of the book. All the regulations of the Mosaic economy were based upon the fact that Jehovah was in close fellowship with his people. Just as a made road brings the points between which it lies nearer, by opening the means of intercourse, so sacrifices were a token of covenant relation, and a perpetual call of Jehovah to his people to approach him. The Lord called that he might bestow his special grace on those who obeyed his call. He called with the voice of command and authority, that his people might henceforth know fully and without possibility of mistake what they had to do. So still there is a gracious call of the gospel, which invites freely and universally, but it is at the same time the proclamation of a new law of righteousness, as in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the whole revelation of duty in the Christian Church. Notice—

II. The fact of mediation. “The Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him.” “The Law was given by Moses.” “It was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator,” through the instrumentality of an appointed servant, who should be between Jehovah and his people. Moses united in himself remarkably the three elements of the office—the prophetic, as echoing the voice of God; the priestly, as the medium of offered service; the kingly, as the legislator and ruler, both proclaiming and administrating the Divine Law. We see also represented in the case of Moses the union of the two qualifications for the fulfilment of the office of mediator—the personal merit and the Divine appointment. Moses stood apart from the people in his character and personal eminence. He was apointed to his office, and manifestly favoured of God with special communications. In all these respects he is the type of the perfect Mediator. Jesus Christ was in himself able to be between God and man. His mediation is fact, history.

III. The fact of mediation was based upon the fact of covenant, the relation between the people and Jehovah, the God of revelation, mutual pledge, and promise. The whole structure of the ceremonial law was built up on reciprocal obligation. Living intercourse between God and man is the spiritual reality which binds together all the details of this book of the Law. A development, therefore, of the first and greatest commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,” etc. The acceptableness of religious worship lies in the fellowship of love.

IV. The place of meeting between God and man. “Out of the tabernacle of the congregation,” or “the tent of meeting.” A temporary provision, afterwards superseded by a more permanent and elaborate structure, but in its external features betokening the dispensational character of the Law. The central fact was a gracious manifestation of God, a meeting-place inviting to intercourse, an appointed form of worship, the stepping-stone to a higher communion. “God dwelleth not in temples made with hands.” The tabernacle was subsequent to the covenant. The life of fellowship preceded the act of fellowship. The people are God’s before they receive the Law. There are three elements in the tabernacle, representative of universal and abiding truth. 1. The Lord speaks out of it. Positive revelation the foundation of positive religion. The soul waits upon God. Gracious messages the beginning of Divine work in and for man. There were gropings of natural religion worth nothing in themselves. The Spirit of God calls the spirit of man to a higher life. The true faith rests on the Word, honours the ordinances, seeks the place where God speaks in the most distinct and emphatic manner. This finds illustration both individually and in the history of God’s people. 2. Tabernacle of the congregation. Fellowship an essential fact of the religious life. Man a moral being, only as he is in society. As it is the fruit of religion, so it is the seed from which springs the true life, both of nations and individuals. The tabernacle or temple the centre of the Hebrew national existence. The tent of meeting also the palace-chamber of the Great King. Jehovah’s throne amongst his people the true source of all power and centre of all authority. All places of worship, as meeting-places of the congregation or Church, witness to the presence of Jehovah, of Jesus Christ, the Lord, in the midst of his people, and to the kingdom of God in the world. No doctrine of the Church consistent with this fact of Jehovah speaking out of the tabernacle of the congregation but that which recognizes the position of all believes as the same. “Where two or three are gathered together,” etc. 3. The place of meeting was both the centre to which offerings were brought and from which blessings were taken. A true religion must embrace both the passive and the active elements—Mind, heart, will. Christianity did not abolish sacrifice and offerings, lifted up the lower into the higher, the local and temporary into the universal and perpetual. No material edifice, no priestly caste, no more prescription of rites, can limit religious service. The temple of the Jews was destroyed, but in place of it we possess the risen glory of Christ, the spiritual presence of the Living One, the communion of saints, the ceaseless offering up of spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The Law which was given on the mount from the lips of Jesus requires a higher righteousness than the righteousness of legalists.—R.

Ver. 2.—”Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.” Here is the great fundamental principle, as it were the preamble of the law of offerings. Notice—

I. The Divine Law is universal. “Any man of you.” No respect of persons with God. Same law to rich and poor, wise and unwise, as to its essential requirements. These private offerings represented personal religion. There may be differences of official duty, but what we bring to God for ourselves must be without respect to anything but the real relation between our soul and God.

II. All offerings must be voluntary. No compulsion with God but the compulsion of heart and conscience. True worship is not a mere objective obedience. “If any man bring an offering.” It is brought by a willing mind, not out of caprice, not to any place or to any God, but with intelligent acceptance of the will of God as coincident with our own will. When we bring offerings we should know what it is in our hearts to bring, not trust to the impulse of the moment or the variations of fluctuating feelings.

III. The essential characteristic of the offering is surrender, acknowledgdment of the Lord’s claim over us. “Out of the herd or flock.” That is, out of our own possessions, valued, known, intimately associated with ourselves. A religion which costs us nothing cannot be real. The more of one’s self there is in it, the more really offered it is. The mistake of all ritualism is that it leads us to offer up another’s offering instead of our own. We observe the rite, we repeat by rote the words, we listen to the music, but is the offering out of our own herd or flock? Jesus will have no disciple who does not first count the cost.

IV. While the offering is voluntary, it is still prescribed. “Ye shall bring your offering of the cattle.” An enlightened recognition of Divine commandments is necessary to acceptable worship. “Faith cometh by hearing, hearing by the Word of God.” “Not every man that saith. Lord, Lord; … but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven”—”the things that I say.” The liberty of the gospel is not licence. The doctrines, rules, and practical teachings found generally in the New Testament, though not systematized there, are yet positively given. While we are delivered from the bondage of a legal dispensation, we are yet under law to Christ. Will-worship is unchristian. Tendency of our time is to an individualism which is dangerous. The study of the Old Testament in the light of the New a wholesome antitdote. Yet our faith must always work by love (vide Gal. 5).—R.

Ver. 3.—The burnt sacrifice. The most ancient, that which represents all others. Notice—

I. The main principle represented—Self-surrender in order to self-preservation through the covenanted mercy of Jehovah. In this principle there are included these points: 1. Recognition of the supreme claim of God. 2. Substitutionary surrender, a life for a life, the victim for the offerer. 3. Expiation of sin and acceptance, by the restoration of the covenant relations between God and man, proceeding from Divine love, but resting on the offering; as representing a fulfilment on both sides of the contract—God forgiving, man obeying. 4. The union of the two elements of blood and fire, i.e. of atonement and purification, the negative holiness and the positive holiness, justification and sanctification, fulness of grace.

II. Details of the sacrifice. Ver. 3.—”Of the herd, … a male without blemish.” God must have our best. We must make our religious service a reality, putting into it our strongest faculties, best opportunities, counting all things but loss for Christ. Examples in the offerings of great faith. Nothing should be blemished in the house of God, in private religion, in acts of charity. “Thou God seest me.” “Of his own voluntary will.” Although a law, it is of no validity but as an appeal to the free heart of man. Anticipation of the gospel, the Law a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. The highest state of life is when law is absorbed in the activity of the nature; we are likest God when we are by grace a law unto ourselves, “willing to do his will.” “At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord.” Here are the three elements of religion recognized: 1. Publicity. 2. Fellowship. 3. Divine order. Secret religion is a contradiction. The profession is part of the sacrifice. “Thy vows are upon me, O Lord.” The congregation is a cloud of witnesses, both sustaining personal religion and supplying a constant test of sincerity. And whatever we do, we do before the Lord. His face we desire to seek, and in the light of his manifested favour we rejoice. There are special appointments which all true worshippers will honour; the sabbath, the Word, the congregation, the ordered life of the Christian Church.—R.

Ver. 4.—”And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” A most significant commandment, full of gracious meaning for those who observed it.

I. All atonement rests upon free grace. “Accepted for him to make atonement.” God sets forth the propitiation, declares his righteousness for the remission of sins. It shall be accepted, not because it is in itself an equivalent, but because a merciful Father accepts it.

II. The victim accepted proclaims the conditional nature of the grace. It is free as being unmerited, and yet it is the expression of a loving will, and comes forth from an infinite nature. God forgives because he chooses to forgive, yet he forgives by the method which he proclaims. The lower sacrifice points to the higher.

III. The offerer’s faith is as truly needful as the victim he brings. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The hand put upon the head of the victim signified the identification of the offerer and offered. Whether the confession of sins was included or not is of little importance. Faith is self-surrender. In all atonement there are three parties represented—the offender, the offended, the mediator. The hand of the offender sets forth his whole activity and conscious self. His connection with the victim is itself confession of sin and acceptance of the covenanted mercy of Jehovah. We lay our hand on the head of Jesus by the spiritual identification which includes the application of the mind to his truth, the yielding of the heart to his love, and the consecration of the life to his service.—R.

Vers. 5–9.—The killing, flaying, and consuming of the victim. Full, throughout, of the idea of atonement. The three main elements are—I. The blood. II. The fire. III. The sweet savour unto the Lord. Consider—

I. The sprinkled blood. The offerer killed the victim. The priests received the blood and sprinkled it upon the altar. The two chief elements of atonement were thus united—the human and the Divine. Atonement is reconciliation on the ground of a restored covenant through sacrifice. The blood shed represented the fact of life for life offered by faith. The blood sprinkled by priests, represented the Divine offer of mercy through an appointed mediation, at the place and time prescribed by God’s gracious will. His will is our sanctification. The sacrifice of Christ is an outcome of Divine love received on behalf of the sinner as being offered by him in believing surrender to God and renewal of the covenant.

II. The fire. The offering flayed and cut in pieces. Fire and wood placed by the priests on the altar, etc. All these details belong to the one fact that the offering is not only presented, but consumed, and consumed in pieces. The idea is that of the mingling together of the will of Jehovah with the offered obedience of his creature. A representation of the promised sanctifying grace which renews the whole man, gradually, but with comprehensive application of the Spirit of God to every part of the being and character. The ablution would convey the idea of the washing of regeneration. All which is specially significant of life and activity, “the inwards and the legs” is washed in water before placed on the altar. The whole is then termed, “a burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire.” The fire represented at the same time purification and destruction. As applied in the name of God, it promised his bestowment of the supernatural power which should at once destroy the evil and renew the good. Hence the gift of the Holy Spirit was symbolized by fire. We must be wholly offered, we must be penetrated and pervaded by the Spirit. The application of the fire is not only in a first baptism of the Spirit, but in the sanctifying work of life, in which oftentimes consuming dispensations are required, which, while they burn up, do also renew and recreate. Are we yielding up all to this gracious process on God’s altar?

III. The sweet savour unto the Lord. Fragrant ascent of man’s offering. Nothing is said of the addition of incense, therefore the mere smoke and steam of the offering itself is described as “sweet savour.” The obedience of faith is acceptable to the Lord. Nothing can more decidedly set forth the freeness and fulness of pardon and reconciliation. The Divine will is entirely reunited with the human will. Thus every sacrifice pointed to the end of sacrifices. When it is offered, when the fire has done its work, there is peace with God. So the Lord Jesus, anticipating the conclusion of his sufferings and his return to heaven, exclaimed, “The hour is come, glorify, thy Son.” “I have glorified thee on the earth. I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” Resting on that finished sacrifice, we can rejoice in our obedience as a sweet savour to the Lord, notwithstanding that in itself it is necessarily consumed by the perfect righteousness of the Divine Law. The blood and fire of the cross of Calvary are already upon the altar. We are able in the resurrection and ascension to behold the manifest tokens of acceptance. The fragrance of the Saviour’s risen glory and eternal righteousness are not only before God, well pleasing to him, but are also ours by faith, mingling with the imperfection of a fallen humanity, and lifting it up to angelic life and spotless purity and joy in the presence of God.—R.

Vers. 10–13.—The offering from the flocks. Sheep or goat. This is a repetition of the same law as applied to the offering of lower value. The great spiritual fact is thus set forth that God is no respecter of persons. His Law applies to all sorts and conditions of men, and his grace is coextensive with his Law. The rich man’s offering and the poor man’s substantially the same. The only unchangeable condition is the relation of the offering to the offerer. It must represent sincere, heartfelt surrender to God. It must not be a wild animal caught for the purpose, but that which, having been associated with the personality and life, represents both the man himself and his house and family. Hence in the early Church, baptism was a consecration both of the individual and of his household, an offering of all to the Lord. Many applications of this idea. All can give something. Religion sanctifies the world through the sanctification of souls. The Spirit creates afresh the inner man, then all follows.—R.

Vers. 14–17.—The offering of fouls—turtle-doves or young pigeons. The great abundance of these birds in the East would make the provision one which was easy even for the poorest to fulfil. How gracious this appointment! God is no “hard master.” He delights not in mere burdensome sacrifice—no costliness, suffering, or privation has merit with him. He demands the willing obedience of the heart. He asks for that which really represents a surrender of self. All these minute regulations were simply intended to develop the principle of voluntary obedience. There was the same subdivision in the case of the bird as in the case of the quadruped, to remind the very poorest and humblest offerer that he must not shelter himself in the insignificance of his offering from the obligations which it represented. The application of fire to the second bird denoted the application of the righteousness of God to the life of the offerer, and while it was as a prescribed offering a promise of acceptance, and therefore of renewing grace and spiritual restoration, it was on the part of the offerer the pledge and promise of an entire obedience in which body, soul, and spirit, all the life and all the possessions, should be consecrated to God.—R.


Chapter 2

The meat offering. The regulation of the burnt offering as a Levitical institution is immediately followed by a similar regulation of the meat offering, consisting of flour and oil, with salt and frankincense, and usually accompanied by the drink offering of wine. The sacrifice of the animal in the burnt offering had represented the entire surrender of the offerer’s will and life to God; the presentation of the fruits and products of the earth in the meat offering represents man’s gift of homage, where by he acknowledges God’s sovereignty over all things and over himself, by offering to him a portion of that which he had graciously bestowed in abundance. David’s words, “All things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee … all this store cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own” (1 Chron. 29:14, 16), express the idea underlying the meat offering. In the acted language of symbolism, it not only recognized the supremacy of God, but made a tender of loyal submission on the part of the offerer; as gifts of homage did in the case of Jacob and Esau (Gen. 32:20), and as they do to this day throughout our Indian empire, and generally in the East.

Ver. 1.—And when any will offer a meat offering unto the Lord. The word used in the original for “meat offering” (minchah), means, like its Greek equivalent, a δῶρον, a gift made by an inferior to a superior. Thus the sacrifices of Cain and Abel were their “minchah” to God (Gen. 4:3, 4), the present sent to Esau by Jacob was his “minchah” (Gen. 32:13), and the present to Joseph was his brethren’s “minchah” (Gen. 43:11). It is therefore equivalent to a gift of homage, which recognizes the superiority of him to whom it is offered, and ceremonially promises loyal obedience to him. Owing to its use in this passage, it came gradually to be confined in its signification to vegetable gifts,—unbloody sacrifices, as they are called sometimes, in contrast to animal sacrifices—while the word “corban” came to be used in the wider acceptation which once belonged to “minchah.” The conditions to be fulfilled by the Israelite who offered a meat offering were the following. 1. He must offer either (1) uncooked flour, with oil, salt, and frankincense, or (2) flour made into an unleavened cake (whether of the nature of biscuit or pancake), with oil, salt, and frankincense: or (3) roasted grains, with oil, salt, and frankincense. 2. He must bring his offering to the court of the tabernacle, and give to the priests at least as much as one omer (that is, nearly a gallon), and not more than sixty-one omers. The priest receiving it from him must: 1. Take a handful of the flour, oil, and salt, or a proportionate part of the cake (each omer generally made ten cakes) in place of the flour, and burn it with all the frankincense as a memorial upon the altar of burnt offering. 2. With his brother priests he must eat the remainder within the precincts of the tabernacle. Here the essentials of the sacrifice are the presentation made by the offerer, and the burning of the memorial on the altar, followed by the consumption of the remainder by the priests. The moral lesson taught to the Israelite completed that of the burnt offering. As the burnt offering taught self-surrender, so the meat offering taught recognition of God’s supremacy and submission to it, the first by the surrender of a living creature substituted for the offerer, the second by the gift of a part of the good things bestowed by God on man for the preservation of life which, being given back to God, serve as a recognition of his supremacy. Spiritually the lesson taught the Jew was that of the necessity of a loyal service to God; and mystically he may have learnt a lesson (1) as to the force of prayer rising up to heaven as the incense which had to be offered with each form of the meat offering; (2) as to the need of purity and incorruption, symbolized by the prohibition of leaven and honey, and the command to use salt. The supplemental character of the meat, offering accounts for the order in which it here stands, not arbitrarily interposed between two animal sacrifices, but naturally following on the burnt offering, as an adjunct to it and the complement of its teaching. So close was the union between the two sacrifices, that the burnt offering was never offered without the accompaniment of the meat offering (Numb. 15:4). It has been also maintained that the meat offering, like the drink offering, was never made independently of the animal sacrifice; but this cannot be proved. On the contrary, the manner in which laws regulating it are here laid down, lead to the inference that it might be offered, when any willed it, by itself. The close connection between the sacrifice of an animal and the offering of cakes of flour, and of wine, is noticeable in heathen sacrifices likewise. The very word, immolare, translated “to sacrifice,” is derived from the mola or salt-cake offered with the animal; and the other word ordinarily used in Latin for “sacrifice,” that is, mactare, is derived from the victim being enriched (magis auctus) with the libation of wine. Thus we see that the offering of the fruits of the earth was regarded, elsewhere as well as in Judæa, as the natural concomitant of an animal sacrifice, and not only that, but as so essential a part of the latter as to have given a name to the whole ceremony, and not only to the whole ceremony, but to the specific act of the slaughter of the victim. The thought of the heathen in offering the fruits of the earth was probably not much different from that of the Israelites. It was his gift to the superhuman power, to which he thus acknowledged that he owed submission. We may further notice that salt was enjoined in the heathen as in the Jewish sacrifices as indispensable. Pliny says that the importance of salt is seen especially in sacrifices, none of which are completed without the salt-cake (‘Hist. Nat.,’ 31, 7) The now obsolete use of the word “meat” in the sense of “food,” in contrast to “flesh,” creates some confusion of thought. “Fruit offering” would be a better title, were it not that the signification of “fruit” is going through a similar change to that which “meat” has undergone. “Flour offering” might be used, but an alteration in the rendering is not imperative.

Ver. 2.—He shall take thereout his handful. This was the task of the priest. The handful that he took and burnt upon the altar has the technical and significative name of the memorial. It acted as a memorial before God, in the same way as Cornelius’s prayers and alms—”Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4)—being something which should cause God to think graciously of the offerer. The frankincense is not mixed with the flour and the oil and the salt, as a constituent element of the offering, but is placed upon them, and is all of it burnt in “the memorial,” symbolizing the need of adding prayer to sacrifice, that the latter may be acceptable to God.

Ver. 3.—The remnant of the meat offering shall be Aaron’s and his sons’. The meat offerings must have gone far to supply the priests with farinaceous food, as, for every handful of flour burnt on the altar, nearly a gallon went to the priests. They had to eat it within the precincts of the tabernacle, as was the case with all meats that were most holy, viz. the minchahs, the shewbread, and the flesh of the sin offering and of the trespass offering (ch. 10:12). Other meats assigned to the priests might be eaten in any clean place (ch. 10:14). The priests’ own meat offerings were wholly burnt (ch. 6:23).

Vers. 4–11.—The second form of meat offering, when the flour and oil were made up into four varieties of cakes. The ritual of offering is not different from that of the first form. The frankincense is not mentioned, but doubtless is understood. The rabbinical rule, that meat offerings, when following upon burnt offerings or peace offerings, had no frankincense burnt with them, rests on no solid foundation.

Vers. 11, 12.—Ye shall burn no leaven nor any honey, in any offering of the Lord made by fire. Leaven and honey are not forbidden to be offered to the Lord; on the contrary, in the next verse they are commanded to be offered. The prohibition only extends to their being burnt on the altar, owing, no doubt, to the effect of fire upon them in making them swell and froth, thus creating a repulsive appearance which, as we shall see, throughout the Mosaic legislation, represents moral evil. The firstfruits of honey are to be offered (of. Exod. 22:29), and leaven is to be used in the two wave loaves offered at the Feast of Pentecost, as first-fruits (ch. 23:17). The words translated As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord, should be rendered As an oblation of firstfruits ye shall offer them (that is, leaven and honey), but they shall not be burnt on the altar. The mark in A.V. denoting a new paragraph at the beginning of ver. 12, should be removed.

Ver. 13.—Every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt. Salt is commanded as symbolizing in things spiritual, because preserving in things physical, incorruption (cf. Matt. 5:13; Mark 9:49; Luke 14:34; Col. 4:6). It is an emblem of an established and enduring covenant, such as God’s covenant with his people, which is never to wax old and be destroyed, and it is therefore termed the salt of the covenant of thy God. Hence “a covenant of salt” came to mean a covenant that should not be broken (Numb. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5). The use of salt is not confined to the meat offering. With all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt. Accordingly we find in Ezek. 43:24, “The priest shall cast salt upon them, and they shall offer them up for a burnt offering.”

Vers. 14–16.—The third form of meat offering, parched grains of corn, with oil, salt, and frankincense. The mark of a new paragraph should be transferred from ver.12 to the beginning of ver. 14.


Vers. 1–16.—The meat offering. It consisted of a gift to God of the products of the earth most needed for the support of life—flour and oil, to which were added salt and frankincense, and it was generally accompanied by the drink offering of wine. It was offered to God in token of the recognition of his almighty power which gave the corn, the olive, and the vine, and of the submission of the creature to him, the merciful Creator.

I. It was a gift of homage. As such, it had a meaning well defined and well understood in the East, that meaning being an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God, and a promise of loyal obedience on the part of the offerer.

II. Scriptural examples of the gift of homage. 1. The sacrifices of Cain and Abel. Whether the sacrifice was of the fruits of the ground or of the flock made no difference. Each was the “minchah,” or “gift,” of the offerer, acknowledging God as his God—one, however, offered loyally, the other hypocritically (Gen. 4:3, 4). 2. The present sent to Esau by Jacob (Gen. 32.; 33.). Jacob had sent a humble message to his brother (Gen. 32:3), but this was not enough, “The messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to thy brother Esau, and also he cometh to meet thee, and four hundred men with him” (Gen. 32:6). Then Jacob, terror-stricken, sent his gift of homage (Gen. 32:13), which symbolically acknowledged Esau as his suzerain lord. Esau, by accepting it (Jacob “urged him and he took it”), bound himself to give protection to his brother as to an inferior, and offered to leave some of his soldiers with him for the purpose (Gen. 33:15). 3. The present carried by Jacob’s sons to Joseph when they went down, into Egypt (Gen. 43:11). 4. The present without which Saul felt that he could not appear before Samuel (1 Sam. 9:7). 5.The gifts presented to the young Child by the Wise Men of the East (Matt. 2:11).

III. Examples of the gift of homage in the present day. 1. At an Indian durbar, every one of the dependent princes brings his present, and offers it to the representative of the Empress of India. 2. Presents are always brought by natives of India to British officials set over them, when they have a request to make, and ceremonially accepted by the latter by a touch of the hand. 3. In the Abyssinian war a present of a thousand oxen and five hundred sheep was sent by King Theodore of Abyssinia to Lord Napier of Magdala, in token of submission at the last moment, and rejected by the English general. Had he accepted it, he would have been bound to give the king protection.

IV. Lessons to us from the meat offering. 1. To give to God of the worldly goods which God has given to us (1) freely, (2) cheerfully, (3) loyally. Our motive must not be self-ostentation, nor the praise of men, nor our own gratification. By our offering to God we must recognize God’s claims over us, and openly profess our loving submission to them. This throws a new light on the practice of almsgiving in the weekly offertory of the Church. 2. To give a hearty and loyal service to God in other respects besides almsgiving, such as obedience to his commandments, doing his will on earth.

V. The gift of homage calls forth a requiting gift. Esau gave protection in return for cattle. Joseph gave sacks of corn in return for “a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds.” The representative of the Crown of England gives back to each prince at a durbar a present greater than he has received. So we give to God repentance, and receive back from him forgiveness; we give faith, and receive grace; we give obedience, and receive righteousness; we give thanksgiving, and receive enduring favour; we give, in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, the “creatures of bread and wine,” and we receive back “the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ.”

Ver. 13.—Salt was to be used with all the sacrifices. Cf. Ezek. 43:24; Mark 9:49.

I. What it recalled to the mind of the offerer. The eating of bread and salt together being the ceremony which finally ratified an agreement or covenant (as it still is in Arabia), salt was associated in the mind of the Israelite with the thought of a firmly established covenant. Each time, therefore, that the priest strewed the salt on the offering there would have been a reminder to all concerned of the peculiar blessing enjoyed by the nation and all members of it, of being in covenant with God, without which they would not have been in a state to offer acceptable sacrifices at all.

II. What it symbolized. The effect of salt being to preserve from corruption, its being sprinkled on the sacrifice taught the offerer the necessity of purity and constancy in his devotion of himself to God.

III. The symbol taken up and applied in the New Testament. 1. The Christian’s speech is not to be corrupting, but edifying. “Let your speech be always seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good for the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Eph. 4:29). 2. Christian men are to be salted with fire, as the sacrifices are salted with salt (Mark 9:49), and the life of the collective body of Christians, the Church, is to be, in its effects upon the world, as salt. “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13). “Have salt in yourselves” (Mark 9:50). Men influenced by the Spirit of Christ, having been themselves salted with fire, have now become the salt which saves the world from perishing in its own corruption.

IV. The salt may lose its savour (Matt. 5:13; Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34). This is the case when “doctrine” being no longer characterized by “uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity” (Titus 2:7), religion becomes changed into superstition, thenceforward debasing instead of elevating mankind; or when it stirs men to acts of fanaticism, or rebellion, or cruelty; or when the spiritual life becomes so dead within it that it abets instead of counteracting the wickedness of the world.

V. Salt symbolizes permanency as well as purity. Our love for Christ must be, St. Paul teaches us (Eph. 6:24), a love “in sincerity,” or rather, as the word should be translated, “in incorruption,” that is, an abiding love, without human caprice or changeableness; and our obedience to God must be constant, without breaks in its even course, and lasting to the end of life. “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:12, 13). “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).


Consecrated life-work, as brought out in the meat offering. Ch. 2:1–11; cf. John 4:34; Acts 10:4; Phil. 4:18; John 6:27. The idea prominently presented in the burnt offering is, we have seen, personal consecration, on the ground of expiation and acceptance through a substitute. In the meat offering, to which we now address ourselves, we find the further and supplementary idea of consecrated life-work. For the fine flour presented was the product of labour, the actual outcome of the consecrated person, and consequently a beautiful representative of that whole life-work which results from a person consciously consecrated. Moreover, as in the case of the burnt offering there was a daily celebration, so in the case of this meat offering there was a perpetual dedication in the shew-bread. What we have in this chapter, therefore, is a voluntary dedication on the part of an individual, corresponding to the perpetual dedication on the part of the people. The covenant people are to realize the idea of consecration in their whole life-work. Lange has noticed that here it is the soul (נֶפֶשׁ) which is said to present the meat offering, something more spiritual, as an act, than the presentation of the burnt offering by the man (אָדָם). We assume, then, that the leading thought of this meat offering is consecrated life-work, such as was brought, out in all its perfection when our Lord declared, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34).

I. Work done for God should be the best of its kind. The meat offering, whether prepared in a sumptuous oven תַנּוּר such as would be found with the wealthy, or baken in a pan (מַחֲבַת) such as middle-class people would employ, or seethed in a common dish (מַרְחֶשֶׁת) the utensil of the poor,—was always to be of fine flour (סֹלֶת), that is, flour separated from the bran. It matters not what our station in life may be, we may still present to God a thorough piece of work. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Eccles. 9:10) is an exhortation applicable to all. The microscopic thoroughness of God’s work in nature, which leads him to clothe even the grass, which is to-morrow to be cast into the oven, with more glory than Solomon (Matt. 6:28–30), is surely fitted to stimulate every consecrated person to the most painstaking work.

And here we are led of necessity to the life-work of Jesus Christ, as embodying this idea perfectly. How thoroughly he did everything! His life was an exquisite piece of moral mosaic. Every detail may be subjected to the most microscopic criticism, only to reveal its marvellous and matchless beauty.

II. Work done for god should be permeated by his Spirit and grace. The fine flour, be it ever so pure, would not be accepted dry; it required oil to make it bakeable. Oil has been from time immemorial the symbol of divine unction, in other words, of the Holy Spirit’s gracious operation. Hence we infer that work done for God must be done in co-operation with the Spirit. It is when we realize that we are fellow-workers with God, that he is our Partner, that he is working in us and by us, and when, in consequence, we become spiritually minded, walking in the Spirit, living in the Spirit,—it is then that our work becomes a spiritual thing.

And here, again, would we direct attention to the life-work of Christ, as spiritually perfect. The gift of the Spirit at his baptism, the descending dove, an organic whole (Luke 3:22), signalizes the complete spirituality of Jesus. He was “filled with the Spirit,” it was “in the power of the Spirit” he did all his work. Herein he is our perfect Example.

III. Work can only be done for God in a prayerful spirit. This follows naturally from what has been already stated, but it requires to be emphasized in view of the Frankincense which had in every case to accompany the meat offering. This admittedly the symbol of devotion (cf. Kalisch, in loco). A life-work, to be consecrated must be steeped in prayer; its Godward object must be kept constantly in view, and stated and ejaculatory prayer must envelop it like a cloud of incense.

It is, again, worth while to notice how the perfect life-work of Christ was pervaded by prayer. If any one since the world began had a right to excuse himself from the formality of prayer in consequence of his internal state of illumination, it was Jesus Christ. And yet we may safely say that his was the most prayerful life ever spent on earth. As Dr. Guthrie once said, “The sun as it sank in the western sea often left him, and as it rose behind the hills of Moab returned to find him, on his knees.” We need not wonder why he spent whole nights in supplication, for he was bringing every detail of his work into Divine review in the exercise of prayer. There is consequently a most significant appeal issuing out of his holy life, to work prayerfully at all times if we would work for God.

IV. Work for God must be divorced from malice and from passion, and done in calm purity and strength. Much of the world’s work has malice and passion for its sources. These motives seem to be symbolized by the leaven and honey, which were forbidden as elements in the meat offering. Care should be taken in work for God that we do not impart into it worldly and selfish motives. Such are sure to vitiate the whole effort. The Lord with whom we have to do looks upon the heart, and weighs the motives along with the work.

What a commentary, again, was the perfect life of Jesus upon this! Malice and passion never mixed with his pure motives. He sought not his own will, nor did he speak his own words, but calmly kept the Father’s will and glory before him, all through.

V. Work for God should be committed to his preserving care. For it is to be feared we often forget to season our sacrifices with salt. We work for God in a consecrated spirit, but we do not universally commit our work to his preserving grace, and expect its permanency and purity. Work for God should endure. It is our own fault if it do not.

Our blessed Lord committed his work to the preserving care of the Father. He was, if we may judge from Isa. 49:4, as well as from the Gospel, sometimes discouraged, yet when constrained to say, “I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain,” he could add, “Yet surely my judgment is with the Lord, and my work with my God.”

VI. Work done for God is sure to benefit our fellow-men. The meat offering was only partially burnt on the altar—a handful, containing, however, all the frankincense, was placed in the sacred fire, and thus accepted; the rest became the property of the priest. How beautifully this indicated the truth that when one tries to please God, his fellow-men, and especially those of the household of faith, are sure to participate in the blessing! The monastic idea was an imperfect one, suggesting the possibility of devotion to God and indifference to man coexisting in the same breast. We deceive ourselves so long as we suppose so.

Our Master went about doing good; he was useful as well as holy; and so shall all his followers find themselves, if their consecrated life-work is moulded according to the pattern he has shown us. Faithfulness in the first table of the Law secures faithfulness in the second.—R. M. E.

About honouring God with our firstfruits. Ch. 2:12–16; cf. Prov. 3:9; 1 Cor. 15:23; Jas. 1:18. This arrangement about the firstfruits, though appended to the meat offering, demands a special notice. The meat offering, we have seen, affirms the general principle that our life-work should be dedicated to God. But here in the firstfruits we have a special portion which is to be regarded as too sacred for any but Divine use. This leads us directly to affirm—

I. While God has a right to all, he claims a special right to the first-fruits of all our increase. The danger is in losing sight of the special claim in asserting the general principle. For instance, we must not deny God a special claim upon the first day of the week, because we acquiesce in the general principle that he has a right to all our time. Again, we must not withhold our tithes, a certain proportion of our substance, through an easy-going statement that he has a right to all our substance. We must condescend to particulars.

II. The dedication of the firstfruits extended to animals as well as to the vegetable kingdom. The dedication of the firstborn of man and beast is manifestly part and parcel of the same principle (Exod. 13:1–16). This leads up to God’s right to the Firstborn of the human race, to him of whom the Father said, “I will, make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth” (Ps. 89:27). Jesus is the Firstborn of humanity, the flower and firstfruits of the race. Hence we find the expression used regarding the risen Saviour, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:23). He is also called “the firstborn from the dead” (Col. 1:18). Of him, therefore, pre-eminently was the dedication of the firstfruits typical.

If God has a right to the firstfruits of the life-work of the human race, he receives them in the perfectly holy life of Jesus Christ. So that, as we found the meat offering pointing to this, so do we find this arrangement about the firstfruits.

III. God has also a right to service, even though it may not be perfect. This seems to be the principle underlying the “oblation of the firstfruits.” This, as we learn from Ch. 23:15–21, was presented at Pentecost, and consisted of two tenthdeals of flour baked with leaven. Such an arrangement points to the possibility of imperfection in serving God, which was met by the sin offering accompanying it. If, then, the firstfruits at the Passover, presented with oil and frankincense, typified Christ the Firstfruits in all his perfection; the oblation at Pentecost typified believers, Gentiles and Jews, who are trying, though imperfectly, to realize a consecrated life-work. God does not reject the labours of his people, even though they are very far from perfect. He has provided a sin offering to meet the imperfections of the case and render all acceptable to him.

IV. The dedication of the firstfruits was the expression not only of thanksgiving but also of faith. God’s rights first, even before man’s need has been met. It was seeking God’s kingdom first, in the assurance that all the needful things shall be added (Matt. 6:33). It is most important that we should always act in this trustful spirit. This faith is, in fact, a kind of firstfruits of the spiritual life which the Lord expects, and in rendering it to him we experience wondrous comfort and blessing.—R. M. E.

Vers. 1–3.—Mediate and immediate presentation. The abrogation by Christianity of the rites and ceremonies of Judaism does not prevent the necessity nor dispel the advantages of becoming acquainted with the laws by which the ancient sacrifices were regulated. The mind of God may be ascertained in the precepts delivered in olden days, and underlying principles recognized that hold good in every age. The very fact that truth has thus to be searched for, and by patient induction applied to present conditions, should prove an incitement rather than a hindrance to investigation. Freeing the Kernel from its husk, grasping the essence and neglecting the accidents, preferring the matter to the form, we shall behold in the Law prophecies of the gospel, and admit the likeness that proclaims both to have proceeded from the same God.

I. A distinction is made between offerings accepted by God directly, and those presented to him indirectly for the use of his appointed servants. The flour being brought to the priests, a handful was taken, and with frankincense was burnt upon the altar, rising to heaven in the form of smoke and perfume. The remainder of the flour was for the consumption of the priests. This distinction is applicable to many Christian offerings. The money given for the erection or support of a place of prayer, the surrender of time and thought for public worship, or for evangelistic work, the acknowledgement of Jesus Christ by baptism and by partaking of the Lord’s Supper, the devotion of our strength and influence to God’s service,—these may be considered as gifts presented straight to God himself. They are laid upon the altar, enwrapped in the fire of holy love, perfurmed with prayer, and are consumed with the zeal of God’s house. But there are other oblations which must be regarded in the light of mediate presentations to God, such as, supporting the ministry at home and missionaries abroad, ministering to the need of the aged and feeble, and giving the cup of water to the disciples of Christ. This distinction is not meant to glorify the one class in comparison with the other, but to clarify our views, and to lead to the inquiry whether we are doing all we can in both directions. There is an idea in many minds that if the works of benevolence and charity be performed, the other duties of gathering together in the solemn assembly and of avowal of attachment to Christ are of little importance. The burning of a portion of the offering upon the altar rebukes such as conception. And similarly we learn that the punctual attendance upon the means of grace, and the regular offering of praise and prayer, must not exclude the exercise of hospitality and sympathy.

II. Looking at these two classes separately, we remark, respecting the bestowment of the “remnant” upon the priests, that offerings to God must be presented in their entirety. All the flour brought was considered “most holy,” and could not be employed thereafter except for the benefit of “sacred” persons. A man was at liberty to offer or withhold, but once having vowed, he could not withdraw even a portion of his present. God will not be satisfied with a share of a man’s heart. If it be given at all, it must be the whole heart. And once having engaged ourselves to be his, there can be no revocation of faculty, affection or time. To look back after taking hold of the plough is to mar religious dedication. The mistake of Ananias was in pretending to give the full price, and attempting to conceal a portion of it. Oh that we could make religion permeate our lives, hallowing even our secular employments by doing all to the glory of God!

III. With respect to the portion burnt for a “memorial,” observe that an offering has a double intent; it evinces a grateful remembrance by the worshipper of God’s bounty and requirements, and it ensures a gracious remembrance of the worshipper on the part of God. The special significance of the “minchah” lay in its expression of thankfulness, and of desire by that expression to secure the favour of the God by whom our needs are supplied. To appreciate past kindness is to show a fitness to receive additional mercies in the future. To remember God is to be remembered in turn by God. At the communion we take the bread and wine as Christ’s memorial, and he, the Master of the least, approves the spirit and the act, and thinks upon us for good. Self-interest recommends us to honour the Lord. To save a handful of meal would be to lose a coming harvest, and to save ourselves temporally is to lose eternally.

IV. All offerings made in the appointed way are well pleasing unto God. The meal oblation differed from the sacrifice of a lamb or bullock, perhaps was not so expensive, and all of it was not consumed by fire; yet it was also declared to be “of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” We should not trouble ourselves because our kind of service is distinct from that which our fellows render, or is treated by the world as less important. The mites of the widow lie side by side in the treasury with the shekels of the wealthy, and will receive quite as much notice from the Lord of the sanctuary. If a niche in the temple of heroes is denied to us, or if the eloquence that sways the wills of men belongs not to our tongue, yet may we with kindly words and manly actions and loving tones do our little part in Christianizing the world, and our efforts will win the commendation of him who “seeth not as man seeth.” And further, let us not be sad because at different periods we do not find ourselves able to render the same service. In the winter we may sacrifice from our herds and flocks, but must wait till the summer for the firstfruits of the field. Youth, manhood, and age have their appropriate labours. Leisure and business, health and sickness, prosperity and adversity, may present to the Lord equally acceptable offerings.—S. R. A.

Ver. 13.—The salt of the covenant. It has been thought by some unworthy of the notion of an Infinite Being to consider him as concerned about such petty details as those here laid down for observance. But since the Deity had to deal with uninstructed creatures, with men whose ideas of his greatness and holiness were obscure and imperfect, it was surely wise to act according to the analogy furnished by the customs of earthly monarchs, whose courts require attention to be paid to numberless points of behaviour. Only thus could the august nature of Jehovah, the majesty of his attributes, and the solemnity of religious worship be duly impressed upon the minds of the Israelites. Every rite had a meaning, and to add salt to every offering was a command we shall find it interesting to study.

I. Obedience to this command constitutes every offering a part of the covenant between God and his people. It was by virtue of a special covenant that the nation had been selected as the vehicle of Divine revelation and the repository of Divine favours. The relation of superiority in which God stands to man, places in a strong light his condescension in making an agreement by which he binds himself as well as the people. Every covenant implies mutual obligations. God promised to guide and bless the Israelites if they, in their turn, kept his commandments and held him in proper esteem. To put salt, therefore, in compliance with his behest, was to acknowledge that the covenant remained in force, and the act became a present instance of the existence of the covenant. It was as much as to say, “I present this gift because of the covenanted relationship in which I stand to Jehovah.” The covenant of the gospel is ratified in Christ for all his faithful seed, who are made partakers of the blessing promised to Abraham (Gal. 3:16). Hence whatever we do is in the name of Christ, recognizing our sonship, heirship, and co-heirship. The covenant influences, embraces all thoughts and deeds.

II. Salt, as the emblem of hospitality, shows that service to God is a feast of friendship. The offering of flour on which oil was poured was itself indicative of a friendly meal, and this view was strengthened by adding salt to the sacrifice. So surprising is the intimacy to which the Most High admits his people, that they may be said to feed daily at his table; all the fruits of the earth are the product of his bounty, which honours men as his guests. We do but render to God what he first bestowed, and in thus approaching we enjoy his presence and favour. It is permitted us to make ready for the Passover, whereat the Lord shall sit down with his disciples.

III. Salt, as a preservative, reminds us of the purity which should characterize our lives. Nothing that partakes of corruption is fit to be brought unto the ever-living God. “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.” “Flesh and blood” tend to impurity and death, and “cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” Our speech must be with grace, seasoned with salt, lest anything destructive of peace or edification should issue from our lips. Apart from the life that is instilled through faith in Christ, man is dead, and decay is loathsome. Without faith our walk and conversation cannot please God, nor are we “the salt of the earth.” Christians are salted with the purifying fire of trial (Mark 9:49).

IV. Salt teaches us the perpetuity of our friendship with God. A covenant of salt is forever. (See Numb. 18:19 and 2 Chron. 13:5.) It lasts as long as the conditions are observed by us, for God will never change, nor desire on his part to revoke his blessing. Let us rejoice in the truth that he abideth faithful, and in the thought of the indissoluble alliance thereby created. He does not wish to treat us as playthings, invented to amuse him temporarily, and then to be tossed aside. We are put in possession by the great Healer and Life-restorer of imperishable principles, seeds of righteousness, that avert corruption and defy decay. Our devotion is not a hireling service that may soon terminate, but a consecration for the everlasting ages.—S. R. A.

Vers. 7–13.—The offering of daily life. It is interesting to perceive how the instructions here recorded made it possible for all classes of the people to bring sacrifices to Jehovah. None could complain of want of sufficient means or of the necessary cooking utensils. All such objections are forestalled by these inclusive arrangements. Whether consisting of “cakes” or “wafers,” whether baked on a flat iron plate or boiled in a pot, the offering was lawful and acceptable. How, then, can we imagine that Christian work and gifts are so restricted in their nature as to be procurable only be a few?

I. The material of which this offering was composed. “His offering shall be of fine flour.” The sacrifice God desires is of what man deems most precious, viz. life. As the animal was killed, giving up its life to God, so now there is presented in this oblation: 1. Something that belongs to daily life. 2. Contributing to its support; 3. and enjoyment. By bestowing of our substance upon God, all our property is sanctified. To set apart specifically a portion of time in which to worship God, hallows the remainder of the week. See in Jesus the true Meal Oblation, the Bread of Life. We ask the Father to accept his offering on our behalf, and we also live on him as our spiritual food. 4. The sample presented must be of the best of its kind. God will not be slighted with scanty adoration and inferior exercise of our powers. Only wheaten flour is permitted.

II. Accompaniments of the offering. Allusions to the Jewish sacrifices are frequent in the New Testament, and we cannot be wrong in guiding ourselves by such an interpretation of these figurative regulations. 1. Oil must be added. It was the element of consecration, and reminds us of the needful anointing of the Spirit to qualify us for our duties. “Ye have an unction from the Holy One.” As used, like butter, to impart a relish to food, it became a symbol of gladness. So the Christian motto is, “Rejoice in the Lord alway.” 2. Frankincense is required that a pleasant odour may ascend to the skies. So may our service be redolent to earth and heaven of a fragrant savour. In Rev. 8:3, incense is offered with the prayers of the saints, and speaks to us of the intercession of Christ, by which our pleadings are made effectual. Let prayer be the constant attitude of our souls, and let us connect the Saviour with all we do and say. 3. It must be seasoned with salt, a remembrance and an emblem of God’s covenant, by which his people are admitted to intimacy and friendship with him. The status of the believer is an indissoluble alliance with the Almighty on the ground of promise and oath. This is his privilege and motive power. Every sacrifice must be salted with the salt of holy obedience, producing peace and purity, and preserving it from corruption.

III. Things prohibited. 1. Leaven, the emblem of wickedness, of hypocrisy, of fermenting putridity. 2. Honey, which, though sweet and increasing the delight with which food is partaken of, quickly turns to bitterness and corruption. It is regarded as typical of fleshly lusts which war against the soul, that love of the world which mars Christian character. The warning conveyed by these prohibitions is worthy of being sharply outlined in modern days, when the tendency waxes stronger to obliterate the dividing line between the Church and the world, and attempts are made to purify the impure, or to whiten the outside of supulchres, and to seduce Christians into the belief that all the pursuits and pleasures of life may be harmlessly indulged in, and even sanctified to the glory of God. The first intention may be good, but the ultimate issue is unbounded licence. Christ and Belial, light and darkness, can have no lasting concord. We may, however, take the leaven and honey as indicating the truth that some things lawful in themselves and at certain seasons, are at other times displeasing to God. The mirth and music and demeanour that are innocent as such, may not befit us in the solemnity of special circumstances, for example, the worship of the sanctuary. “To everything there is a season.”

Conclusion. The perfect realization of every offering is seen in the Lord our Saviour. What a matchless life was his! No stain of malice or lust; grace, beauty, purity, all exemplified in fullest degree; on him the Spirit ever rested; his words and works a continual sacrifice to his Father, evoking the exclamation, “This is my beloved Son; hear him.” As the heavenly Manna, he satisfies the wants of his kingdom of priests, and his Body was consumed in the flames of Calvary as our memento before God.—S. R. A.

Vers. 1, 2.—The minchah, a type of Christ. Because the minchah was an offering without blood, and therefore was not intended as a sacrifice for sin (Heb. 9:22), some have supposed that it was in use before the Fall. This opinion, however, has but little to sustain it. We certainly read of the minchah as having been offered by Cain (Gen. 4:3); but then Abel, at the same time, offered the holocaust, or sin offering, which no one dreams of having formed any part of the original worship in Eden. Cain’s fault was not in having offered the minchah, but in not associating with it some sin sacrifice. It is questionable whether the minchah, under the Law, was ever offered without such an accompaniment. Yet we may view the minchah as a type of Christ. For—

1. All the holy bread typified Christ. 1. The manna was of this class. (1) It is called “bread from heaven” (see Neh. 9:15). (2) Compare John 6:31–35, 41, 48–51. 2. The shew-bread also was of this class. (1) It was the bread of heaven, for it rested in the sanctuary, which was one of the typical, “heavenly places.” (2) It rested under the splendours of the Shechinah, and therefore took its name, “Bread of Faces,” viz. of God. The Bread of the Sacred Presence. 3. So was this bread of the minchah. (1) This, indeed, was offered in the outer court; for there the altar stood. But so was Christ offered “outside the gate” of Jerusalem, and outside the courts of heaven. (2) But it was, like the shew-bread, destined to be eaten in the sanctuary. So is Christ eaten by his spiritual priesthood in his kingdom of heaven upon earth. So is he destined to nourish the joys of the glorified in the heaven of heavens (Luke. 22:30). (3) This was a Eucharistic offering, and equivalent to the bread of the Christian Eucharist (Matt. 26:26; 1 Cor. 10:16).

II. This bread had the quality of excellence. 1. As bread it was the staple of food. (1) We can dispense with luxuries, but bread is necessary. It is “the staff or life.” So is Christ. (2) Bread is, by a figure of speech, put for everything needful for the body (Matt. 6:12). Christ is, by no figure of speech, everything needful to the soul. 2. This bread was of “fine flour.” (1) It may have been of barley as well as of wheat (see Numb. 5:15). Every variety of spiritual nourishment may be found in Christ. (2) But the flour must be “fine.” The nourishment we find in Christ is of the finest order. Christ is God’s best Gift to us. So is Christ our best Gift to God. All secondary gifts are valuable as they are offered in his Name (2 Cor. 9:15).

III. It had noticeable adjuncts. 1. Oil was poured upon it. (1) The oil was from the olive, a tree full of fatness (Judg. 9:9). It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit’s grace (Matt. 25:4). (2) The fine flour was anointed with it. Messiah is so named because anointed with the Holy Ghost without measure. The Greek synonym of the Hebrew Messiah is Christ (Isa. 61:1; Acts 4:27; 10:38; Heb. 1:9). (3) We are called Christians because anointed by the Spirit of Christ (see 2 Cor. 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27). 2. It was offered with frankincense. (1) This was a favourite spice, which appears not to have been yielded by one tree alone, but probably was compounded from several. We read of “spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense” (Cant. 4:14). (2) It is associated with the Bridegroom in the Song of Songs, to express the perfections of his holy character, by which he is infinitely attractive to his Spouse, the Church. He is there described as coming up out of the wilderness “like pillars of smoke,” probably alluding to the Shechinah, and “perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all the powders of the merchant” (Cant. 3:6). (3) In these perfections he is no less grateful to God when offered up to him (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; 2 Pet. 1:17). As we become Christ-like, we are also well pleasing in his sight. The faithful minister of the Word is “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Cor. 2:15).—J. A. M.

Vers. 1–10.—The feast upon the minchah. In our remarks upon the two first of these verses, we viewed the minchah, or meat offering, as a type of Christ. Upon this point additional light may be incidentally thrown as we now proceed to consider the feast upon the minchah. For this we hold to be designed to represent our fellowship with God in Christ.

I. Feasts have ever been regarded as tokens of friendship. 1. Secular history abounds in examples. (1) These date back to very ancient times. The ancient Egyptians, Thracians, and Libyans made contracts of friendship by presenting a cup of wine to each other. Covenants were made by the ancient Persians and Germans at feasts. The Pythagoreans had a symbol, “Bread no bread,” which Erasmus interprets to mean “Break no friendship.” (2) Similar usages still obtain. It would be considered amongst us a most incongruous thing for persons at enmity deliberately to sit down at the same table. So according to our laws, if a person drinks to another against whom he has an accusation of slander, he loses his suit, because this supposes that they are reconciled. 2. Sacred history also furnishes examples. (1) Isaac and Abimelech made a covenant with a feast (Gen. 26:30, 31); so did Jacob and Laban (Gen. 31:54); so did David and Abner (2 Sam. 3:20). (2) The verb (ברה, bera) to eat, in the Hebrew, if not the root of the word (ברית, berith), covenant, is at least a kindred word. (3) Hence in apostolic times, Christians were forbidden to eat with wicked persons (1 Cor. 5:11; see also Gal. 2:12). It must never be forgotten that the “friendship of the world is enmity against God.”

II. The feast of the meat offering was a symbol of fellowship with God. 1. The “memorial” of the minchah was God’s meat. (1) The offerer separated a portion of the mass, which was called the memorial, or representation of the whole. Thus he took from the bulk of the fine flour a handful. To this he added a suitable proportion of oil. The whole of the frankincense was devoted. (2) The priest then burnt the complete memorial upon the altar of burnt offerings. (3) God signified his acceptance of it by consuming it in fire, which was not of human kindling, but had issued from his Shechinah. The portion thus consumed was regarded as “God’s food,” or “meat,” of the offering which he was pleased to accept. This was one part of the feast. 2. The remnant was then eaten by the priests. (1) The priests here are not to be viewed as types of Christ. The high priest alone seems to have represented him (Heb. 3:1; 8:1; 9:11). (2) The common priests were representatives rather of the holy people. Hence the whole nation of Israel were regarded as a “kingdom of priests” (Exod. 19:6). The people, therefore, and in particular the offerer, representatively, feasted with God. (3) Under the gospel even this official representation is changed. The people of God are now an holy priesthood, not by representation, but in right of their spiritual birth (1 Pet. 2:9). They draw nigh unto God (Heb. 10:19–22). They feast with him at his table and in his very Presence. (4) All this, amongst many other blessed things, is set forth in the Christian Eucharist, or Supper of the Lord.

III. Christ is the medium of the fellowship. 1. Obviously so since the minchah was a type of Christ. (1) This has been sufficiently shown (see Homily on vers. 1, 2). (2) We may add that the argument is sustained by the use of the term “memorial.” When the firstling of the cattle was taken instead of the rest, it is called making a memorial to God (Exod. 34:19; see Hebrew text). This represented the taking of the Great Firstborn instead of all men, and the firstling of the cattle was only a memorial, not the real sacrifice. (3) It is a great truth that Christ is our one way of access to God (John 14:6). “He is our peace;” and it is through the frankincense of his presence that our offering becomes a “sweet savour”—a savour of rest, “unto the Lord” (vers. 2, 9). 2. Christ is delectable food to faith. (1) Sometimes in the minchah the flour was unbaked (ver. 2). In this case the oil accompanying it was unmingled. The portion reserved for the priests might, therefore, be mingled by them in any way they pleased to render it most palatable. (2) In other cases the bread was prepared to their hands. Sometimes baken in the oven in cakes, mingled with oil, or in unleavened wafers, with oil poured upon them (ver. 4). Sometimes in a pan or flat plate, mingled with oil or oil poured over it (vers. 5, 6). Sometimes in the frying-pan or gridiron, with oil (ver. 7). (3) The bread of life is essentially good and nourishing. It is at the same time capable of being served up in such variety as to suit every taste that is not vicious. It is the privilege of the scribe instructed in the kingdom to bring out “nothing new under the sun;” for all things are as old as the councils of eternity.—J. A. M.

Vers. 11–13.—Notable things. After describing the minchah under sundry forms, and before proceeding to the meat offering of the firstfruits, certain notable things are mentioned which the minchah has in common with sacrifices in general. These now claim attention, viz.—

I. The prohibition of leaven (ver. 11). The reasons of this appear to be: 1. Because of its fermenting properties. (1) These, which, under the action of heat, throw the lump into commotion, represent the evil passions of the heart (see 1 Cor. 5:6–8). But since the meat offering is taken as a type of Christ, it was most fitting that everything suggestive of these should be excluded. In him was no ferment of anger or discontent when he was subjected to the fiercest fires of the wrath of God (Isa. 53:7). What an example has he left to us! (2) By its fermenting properties, leaven tended to reduce substances to corruption. But since our “Bread of Life,” our “firstfruit” of the resurrection, could not “see corruption,” because he was the “Holy One,” it was most proper that leaven should be absent from his type (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:31). 2. That the Hebrews might be reminded of their deliverance from Egypt. (1) For they were, at the time of the Exodus, so hurried that they had to take their dough as it was without being leavened (Exod. 12:39). It was most salutary to keep alive the remembrance of such mercies as they then experienced, and of the stupendous works with which they were associated. (2) But since those things were all typical of gospel blessings, so must it be most edifying to us to remember the spiritual bondage and darkness from which we have been emancipated by the hand of that great Prophet “like unto Moses,” to whom it is our duty to hearken in preference to him.

II. The prohibition of honey (ver. 11). The reasons of this appear to be: 1. Because honey was a symbol of carnal pleasures. (1) It was in this light viewed by Philo and by Jerome: and certainly the similitude is apt. Though luscious to the palate, it is bitter to the stomach. So evermore is sensual gratification (see Prov. 25:16, 27). (2) The exclusion of honey from the sacrifices and offerings of the altar will, therefore, convey important morals, viz. (a) considering these as types of Christ, (b) considering them also as types of such spiritual sacrifices as we can present acceptably to God through Christ. Another reason may be: 2. Because honey was offered with the abominations of the heathen. (1) Honey was offered to Bacchus and to the dii superi, the dii inferi, and departed heroes. Hence Orpheus, in beginning his hymns, calls the infernal gods μειλιχιοι θεοι, and the souls of the dead, μελισσαι. The origin of which custom is thus explained by Porphyry, “They made honey a symbol of death; and therefore poured out a libation of honey to the terrestrial gods” (see Brown’s ‘Antiquities,’ vol. i. p. 381). (2) The Hebrews were instructed scrupulously to avoid the customs of the pagans (see Deut. 12:29–31). Let Protestants studiously avoid the abominations of the Romish Antichrist (Rev. 18:4). (3) Leaven and honey might be offered with the obtation of the firstfruits; but they must not come upon God’s altar. This is the teaching of ver. 12. The loaves of the firstfruits, which were perquisites of the priests, were even ordered to be baken with leaven (ch. 23:17). So in like manner honey was to be offered to them (2 Chron. 31:5). There are things which may be lawfully offered to man that may not be offered to God. As leaven and honey minlged with the bread, even of the priests, so human conversation, at its best, is but imperfect.

III. The requisition of salt (ver. 13). The reason of this appears in the many excellent things of which salt was the symbol. 1. It was a symbol of purity. (1) Hence it is described as “the salt of the covenant of God.” The Hebrew term for covenant (ברית, berith) literally signifies purification; and the covenant of God is the gospel which is instituted of God for our purification from sin. (2) Perhaps it was religiously, viz. in relation to the covenant, rather than for hygienic purposes, that infants were rubbed with salt (see Ezek. 16:4). 2. It was a symbol of friendship. (1) The effect of a covenant to the faithful is friendship. So, in token of friendship, the ancient Greeks ate bread and salt together. And the Russian emperors had a custom, derived to them from antiquity, of sending bread and salt from their tables to persons they intended to honour. (2) The delights of friendship are also set forth in this symbol. The following is rendered by Dr. A. Clarke from Pliny:—”So essentially necessary is salt that without it human life cannot be preserved: and even the pleasures and endowments of the mind are expressed by it; the delights of life, repose, and the highest mental serenity are expressed by no other term than sales among the Latins. It has also been applied to designate the honourable rewards given to soldiers, which are called salarii or salaries. But its importance may be further understood by its use in sacred things, as no sacrifice was offered to the gods without the salt-cake.” (3) But that “conversation” of Christians is best “seasoned” that has the “salt of the covenant” (see Job 6:6; Col. 4:5, 6). 3. It was a symbol of perpetuity. (1) This is suggested by its preserving properties. It is used to preserve meat and other things from decomposing. It is in this the very opposite of leaven; so, the reason which includes the one excludes the other. (2) Hence by the symbol of salt the perpetuity of God’s covenant is expressed. Thus, “It is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord” (Numb. 18:19; see also 2 Chron. 13:5). (3) Christians, who are the people of the covenant, are the preservers of the earth (see Matt. 5:13). Take the Christians out of the world, and it will rot. 4. The qualities of salt should distinguish all sacrifices. (1) They do distinguish the Great Sacrifice of Calvary. (2) All Christian offerings should resemble that. In allusion to the salting of sacrifices preparatory to their being offered up in the flames of the altar, our Lord says, “Every one shall be salted with fire,” or rather, “salted for the fire,” viz. of the altar, “and” or rather, “as every sacrifice is salted with salt” (Mark 9:49, 50). “We may reasonably infer, that as salt has two qualities—the one to season meat, the other to preserve it from corruption; so it fifty denotes that intergrity and incorruptness which season every sacrifice, and render men’s persons and services grateful to God” (Old Bible).—J. A. M.

Ver. 14–16.—The minchah of the firstfruits. Having viewed the minchah as a type of Christ, and having considered the feast upon it as expressing fellowship with God in him, we proceed to consider the offering of the firstfruits, which is still the minchah under yet another form. The text brings before us—

I. Things peculiar to the offering of the firstfruits. These are: 1. The matter of the offering. (1) It is specified as “green ears of corn.” Still, observe, it is of the nature of bread, and so still typifies Christ, the Bread of Life. (2) But in this case the life is in the grain. In this view Christ compares himself to a corn of wheat (John 12:24). In this passage there is also a reference to Ps. 72:16, which is construed by learned Jews thus: “He shall be a corn of wheat in the earth on the top of the mountains.” (3) It is specified as “firstfruits.” As the firstborn of every animal was the Lord’s (Exod. 12:29; 13:12, 13; Numb. 18:16), so did he claim the vegetable firstfruits. And as Christ is “the Firstborn of every creature” (Col. 1:15), the Antitype of every firstborn,—so is he the Firstfruits of everything in the creation. Through him all things are blessed to our use and benefit. (4) In this character Jesus will come out in full form in the resurrection. He is the “First-begotten from the dead” (Rev. 1:5). The “Firstfruits of them that slept” and still sleep (1 Cor. 15:20, 23; 1 Thess. 4:14). Thus is he “the Beginning [or Chief] of the [new] creation of God” (Rev. 3:14). 2. The treatment it received. (1) The corn was dried by the fire. It was not allowed to dry gradually and gently in the air, but was violently scorched. Here was set forth expressively that fire of grief and sorrow which parched the soul of Jesus. The fires of his zeal for the glory of God, which was outraged by the sinfulness of men, entered into his very soul (Ps. 119:139). So did the corresponding flames of sympathy for that humanity which he had so wondrously assumed; consuming, because of its sinfulness, under the fires of God’s anger. (2) It was beaten. This threshing of the wheat represented the severity with which Jesus was treated, (a) in the court of Caiaphas; (b) in the hall of Pilate; (c) at the place called Calvary (Isa. 53:5, 8).

II. Things common to the firstfruits and other forms of the minchah. 1. It was offered upon the altar of burnt offerings. (1) Touching the altar, it became a sacrifice to God. (2) Consumed in the fire, it was accepted by God. 2. It was offered with oil. (1) The natural use of this was that the offering thereby became more readily consumed. The flame of oil is bright and fervent. (2) This was a symbol of the Holy Spirit’s grace, which without measure rested upon Christ (see Ps. 69:9; John 2:17). 3. It was offered with frankincense. (1) The physical use of this would be to take away from the tabernacle the smell of a slaughter-house, and to fill the courts with a grateful odour. (2) The spiritual use was to prefigure the fragrance of the merits of Jesus, (a) in his sacrifice (Eph. 5:2); (b) in his intercession (Rev. 8:3, 4). Thus the offensiveness of the flesh in us is destroyed, and the living sacrifice becomes acceptable (Rom. 12:1).—J. A. M.

Vers. 1–16.—Our recognition of the hand of God in the blessings of life. The fact that the law of the meat offering follows that of the burnt offering is itself significant. It suggests—

I. The true order of the Divine life in man. It is, indeed, a mistake for the human teacher to attempt to lay down precise lines of thought and feeling along which souls must move. “The progress of religion in the soul” varies with individual experience. The action of God’s Spirit is not limited, and while we should seek to lead all souls to walk in the road by which we are travelling, we should not be anxious that they should tread in our own steps. On the other hand, there is an order of thought and experience which may not be inverted. First the burnt offering, then the meat offering; first the soul’s presentation of itself as a sinner to ask forgiveness and to offer itself to God, then the service of recognition of him and gratitude for his gifts. It is a serious, and may be a fatal, spiritual error to attempt to gain God’s favour by doing those things which are appropriate to his children, without having first sought and found reconciliation through a crucified Saviour. Start at the starting point of the Christian course, lest, when the goal is reached, the crown be not placed upon the brow.

II. Our grateful recognition of God’s constant goodness to us. The meat offering was a sacrifice in which the worshipper acknowledged that the various blessings of his life came from God and belonged to him. He brought fine flour (ver. 1), and oil (ver. 1), also wine as the accompanying drink offering (ch. 23:13). The chief produce of the land, the principal elements of food were, in a sacred hour, at the holy place, and, by a pious action, solemnly recognized as gifts of God, to be gratefully accepted from his hand, to be reverently laid on his altar. We are thankfully to acknowledge: 1. God’s kindness in supplying us with that which we need. Bread (corn) will stand for that food which is requisite, and when we consider the goodness of our Creator, (1) in originally providing that which is so wholesome and nourishing to all men; (2) in multiplying it so freely that there is abundance for all; (3) in causing it to be multiplied in such a way as ministers to our moral and spiritual health (through our intelligence, activity, co-operation, etc.); (4) in making palatable and pleasurable the daily meals which would otherwise be (as sickness occasionally proves) intolerably burdensome;—we have abundant reason for blessing God for his kindness in respect of the necessaries of life. 2. His goodness in providing us with that which is superfluous. A very large part of the enjoyment of our life is in the use of that which is not necessary but agreeable; in the appropriation of that which is pleasant,—the exquisite, the harmonious, the fragrant, the delicately beautiful, etc. This also is of God. He “makes our cup to run over;” from him come the fruits and the flowers, as well as the corn and the grass. Nay, he has closely associated the superfluous with the necessary in nature as in human life. The common potato does not grow without bearing a beautiful flower, nor the humble bean without yielding a fragrant odour. As the Hebrew brought his oil and his wine to the altar of gratitude, so should we bring our thanksgiving for the delicacies, adornments, and sweetnesses which come from the bountiful hand of Heaven.

III. The necessity for purity in our service. There might not be leaven nor honey (ver. 11); there must be salt (ver. 13). Everything associated with corruption must be avoided; that which was antiseptic in its nature should be introduced; “nothing which defileth” before him; the “clean hands and the pure heart” in “the holy place” (Ps. 24:3, 4). (See “Purity in worship,” infra.)

IV. The acceptableness of our gratitude to God. All the frankincense was to be consumed on the altar, and the burning of the other offerings with this fragrant incense accompanying it betokened that it was, as stated, a “sweet savour unto the Lord” (vers. 2, 12). God is not to be worshipped with men’s hands, as though “he needed anything” (Acts 17:25); but he takes delight in his children: 1. Realizing his presence. 2. Recognizing his hand in their comforts and their joy. 3. Responding to his fatherly love with their filial gratitude and praise.

V. The wholesome influence of grateful service on our own hearts. He who “knows what is in man,” warned his people against saying in their heart, “My power and the might of my hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deut. 8:17). Such a sacrifice as that of the meat offering—a service of grateful acknowledgment of God’s hand—is fitted to render us the greatest spiritual benefit, by: 1. Helping us to keep a humble heart before God. 2. Causing us to be filled with the pure joy of gratitude instead of being puffed up with the mischievous complacency of pride.—C.

Vers. 11–13.—Purity in worship. When the Hebrew worshipper had presented his burnt offering, had sought forgiveness of sin, and had dedicated himself to God in sacred symbolism, he then brought of the produce of the land, of that which constituted his food, and by presenting flour, oil, and wine, with frankincense, he owned his indebtedness to Jehovah. In engaging in this last act of worship, he was to do that which spoke emphatically of purity in approaching the Holy One of Israel. By Divine direction he was—

I. Carefully to exclude that in which there was any element of impurity. Leaven is “a substance in a state of putrefaction;” honey “soon turns sour, and even forms vinegar.” These were, therefore, expressly interdicted; they might not be laid on the altar of God. But so important was this feature that positive as well as negative rules were laid down. The offerer was—

II. Constantly to introduce the corrective of impurity. “Neither shalt thou suffer the salt … to be lacking;” “with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” Salt is the great preservative from putrefaction, fitting type of all that makes pure in symbolic worship.

When we come up to the house of the Lord to “offer the sacrifice of praise” or to engage in any act of devotion, we must remember that—

I. God lays great stress on the purity of our heart in worship. Only the pure in heart can see God (Matt. 5:8). Without holiness no man shall see him (Heb. 12:14). They must be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord (Isa. 52:11). None may ascend his holy hill but “he that hath clean hands and a pure heart.” “If we regard iniquity in our heart; the Lord will not hear us” (Ps. 66:18). We have not now laid down for us any precise directions as to what words we shall use, what forms we shall adopt, what gifts we shall devote, but we know that the chief thing to bring, that without which all is vain, is a right spirit, a pure heart, a soul that is seeking God and longing for his likeness. The interdiction of the leaven and honey, and the requirement of salt, suggest that—

II. God desires a vigilant exclusion of every unholy thought when we draw nigh to him. We may be tempted to allow corruption to enter into and mar our worship or our Christian work, in the form of: 1. An unworthy spirit of rivalry. 2. An ostentation of piety. 3. Self-seeking by securing the favour of man. 4. Sensuous enjoyment (mere artistic appreciation, etc.). 5. A spirit of dislike or resentment towards fellow-worshippers or fellow-workers. Such spiritual “leaven” must not be brought to the altar; such sentiments must be shut out from the soul. We must strenuously resist when these evil thoughts would enter. We must vigorously and energetically expel them if they find their way within the heart (Prov. 4:23).

III. God desires the presence of the purifying thought in devotion. There must not only be the absence of leaven, but the presence of salt; not only the absence of that which corrupts and spoils, but the presence of that which purifies. There must be the active presence of sanctifying thoughts. Such are: 1. A profound sense of the nearness of God to us. 2. A lively sense of our deep indebtedness to Jesus Christ. Let these convictions fill the soul, and the lower and ignobler sentiments will fail to enter or will quickly leave. If we feel our own feebleness and incapacity, we may fall back on the truth that—

IV. God has promised the aid of his cleansing Spirit. We must pray for “the renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5); that he will “cleanse us from our sin;” will give us “truth in the inward parts;” will make us “clean,” “whiter than snow;” will “create in us a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within us” (Ps. 51.; and see Ps. 19:12–14; 139:23, 24).—C.

Vers. 3–10.—Priest and people: reciprocal services. Two things are stated in the Law concerning the priesthood.

I. That every possible thing was done to impact to them peculiar sanctity. They were seperated and sanctified by various ceremonies and services.

II. That special sanctity was associated in the minds of the people with their person and office. So much so that offerings given to them were lawfully regarded as presented to Jehovah. In the meat offering “the remnant” (the greater part) was to be “Aaron’s and his sons’,” and this is declared to be “a thing most holy.” To these statements we may add—

III. That while their nearness to God conferred special privilege, it did not ensure personal holiness (ch. 10:1; 1 Sam. 2:17, 23; Mal. 1:6–10; 2:1–9).

IV. That in proportion to their personal excellence would be the offerings of the people. Few meat offerings would be brought whereby a rapacious, or arrogant, or impare, or unsocial, or irreverent priesthood would be benefited; but free and full offerings would come to the altar where blameless, beloved, and honoured men were ministering.

The Christian ministry is unlike the Jewish priesthood in that: 1. It is not hereditary; it is (or should be) only entered upon where there is individual fitness for the office. 2. It offers no sacrifices (Heb. 10:11, 12). 3. It approaches God with men rather than for them. Yet it is like that ancient priesthood, in that it is a section of God’s people set apart for conducting Divine worship and for the service of society in all sacred things. We are reminded—

I. That it is the will of Christ that Christian ministers should be sustained by the people’s offerings (1 Cor. 9:11, 13, 14).

II. That what is presented to them for their work’s sake, Christ counts as offered to himself (Matt. 10:40, 41; Phil. 4:18).

III. That in the relations of minister and people there should be reciprocal generosity. On the part of the latter let there be: 1. Full appreciation of the high nature and the large number of their services. 2. Generous overlooking of lesser faults, remembering human frailty. 3. Constant credit for purity of motive. 4. Active sympathy and co-operation; and 5. Substantial practical support. He who has “the burden of the Lord” upon his heart should not be weighed down with temporal anxieties. On the part of the former, let there be: 1. Complete subordination of temporal to spiritual solictudes. 2. Free and generous expenditure of love and strength, both on individual souls in special need, and on the Church and the world. Reciprocal indifference and closeness will end in leanness of soul; reciprocal love and generosity in largeness of heart and nobility of life (Luke 6:38).—C.

Vers. 1–3.—The meat offering. The offering of meat or food, consisting of fine flour, with frankincense, cakes and wafers, parched grain, suited to all classes. The general meaning was probably eucharistic. A portion of bread, firstfruits, offered in the fire as a memorial of Divine goodness and pledge of the future life. Several particulars noticeable. 1. It was what made part of the daily meal of the house. 2. Frankincense mingled with it, and oil poured upon it; the prayers and thankful worship of the offerer, which were the work of God’s Spirit, returned to him. 3. It was partly consumed by fire, and partly “a thing most holy,” or set apart to the Lord, eaten by the priests, supporting the temple worship. 4. If baked, no leaven in it nor honey, no corruption, a pure sacrifice. 5. Every offering seasoned with salt, “the salt of the covenant of thy God,” i. e. the emblem of Divine grace, which, while it accepts man’s obedience, overlooks and pardons its imperfection.—R.

Vers. 4–16.—The various kinds of meat offerings. Without dwelling on every minute regulation, the following main points may be distinguished as representative.

I. Offered food. Acknowledgement of dependence. Praise for life and its gifts. Joys and pleasures should be consecrated. The will of God in them and over them. Family worship a duty. Recognition of God in common life. Firstfruits are God’s, not the remnant or gleanings of our faculties and opportunities, but all.

II. Offering divided between offerer and priests. Connection of daily labour and its results with the sanctuary and religious duties. The secular and sacred only nominally distinct. The house of God and the house of man should open into one another. Nothing should be allowed to interfere with the holiness of that which is assigned to God’s service in the sanctuary. “It is most holy.” Too often Christians fall into a carelessness with respect to sacred appointments which reacts on the spirit and life. Our partnership with God involves responsibility.

III. No leaven, no honey. In all things purity and humility. There must be no corrupt principle admitted into our service of God. The doctrine must be purified of leaven. The motives must be examined. We ought not to serve God for the sake of filthy lucre, under the influence of mere sensational excitement. Truth and sobriety in worship.

IV. Salt with every sacrifice. All must be brought to God in the spirit of penitent faith. Salt preserves life, sets forth the dependence of man upon God. The gracious covenant is the source of all. He who commands is himself the giver of all power to fulfil his word. He is the Alpha and the Omega of the spiritual life.

V. Frankincense and oil. Fragrance and brightness. Heaven and earth mingled together. Reconciliation of God and man. The outpoured spirit of light and life. Joy in God and in his gifts. The anointing oil mingled in the fire and increased the flame. The Messiah is the true Anointed One. Every Israelite, in a lower degree, was himself a Messiah, an anointed one, taken up into the Son of God and blessed. The people are a holy, consecrated people, separated unto Jehovah. Every individual act of religion is acceptable as the oil of the Spirit is poured upon it. What a new view of life can thus be obtained! Make all a meat offering to the Lord.—R.


Chapter 3

The peace offering. The peace offering, though the instructions here given respecting it precede those relating to the sin offering (for a reason to be stated here-after), is the last in order of the sacrifices when they were all presented together. First, the sin offering taught the need of, and symbolically wrought, propitiation and atonement; next the burnt offering represented the absolute surrender of man’s will to God’s will; then the meat offering, by its gift of homage, declared the loyal submission of the offerer; and then followed the peace offering, symbolizing the festive joy which pervades the souls of those who are in communion with God. The essential characteristic of the peace offering is the feast upon the sacrifice, participated in symbolically by God (by means of the part consumed on the altar, and the part eaten by his ministers) and actually by the offerer and his companions. It served as a memorial to the Israelites of the institution of the covenant between God and themselves (a covenant in the East being ordinarily ratified by the parties to it eating together), and reminded them of the blessings thence derived, which naturally called forth feelings of joyous thankfulness; while it prefigured the peace wrought for man by the adoption in Christ, through which he has communion with God.

Ver. 1.—Peace offering, Zebach shelamim, “sacrifice of peace offerings.” The singular, shelem, occurs once (Amos 5:22). The conditions to be fulfilled by a Jew who offered a peace offering were the following:—1. He must bring either (1) a young bull or cow, or (2) a young sheep of either sex, or (3) a young he-goat or she-goat. 2. He must offer it in the court of the tabernacle. 3. In offering it he must place, or lean, his hand upon its head. 4. He must kill it at the door of the tabernacle. 5. He must provide three kinds of cakes similar to those offered in the meat offering, and leavened bread (ch. 7:11–13). The priest had: 1. To catch the blood, and strike the sides of the altar with it, as in the burnt sacrifices. 2. To place upon the burnt offering, smouldering upon the altar, all the internal fat of the animal’s body, together with the kidneys enveloped in it, and, in the case of the sheep, the fat tails, for consumption by the fire. 3. To offer one of each of the three different kinds of unleavened cakes, and one loaf of the leavened bread, as a heave offering. 4. To wave the breast of the animal backwards and forwards, and to heave the leg or haunch upwards and downwards, in token of consecration (see notes on ch. 7:14†, 30, 31). 5. To take for his own eating, and that of his brethren the priests, the three cakes and loaf and haunch that had been heaved and waved. 6. To return the rest of the animal, and the remaining cakes and loaves, to the offerer, to serve as a feast for him and his, to be eaten the same or the next day, in the court of the tabernacle. The lesson taught by the peace offering was the blessedness of being in union with God as his covenant people, and the duty and happiness of exhibiting a joyous sense of this relation by celebrating a festival meal, eaten reverently and thankfully in the house of God, a part of which was given to God’s priests, and a part consumed symbolically by God himself. The burnt offering had typified self-surrender; the meat offering, loyal submission; the peace offering typified the joyous cheerfulness of those who, having in a spirit of perfect loyalty surrendered themselves to God, had become his children, and were fed at the very board at which he deigned symbolically to partake. The most essential part of the meat offering was the presentation; of the burnt offering, the consumption of the victim on the altar; of the peace offering the festive meal upon the sacrifice. The combined burnt and meat offering was the sacrifice of one giving himself up to God; the peace offering, that of one who, having given himself up to God, is realizing his communion with him. In this respect the peace offering of the old dispensation foreshadows the Lord’s Supper in the new dispensation. Several other names have been proposed for the peace offering, such as thank offering, salvation offering, etc. No name is more suitable than peace offering, but the word must be understood not in the sense of an offering to bring about peace, but an offering of those who are in a state of peace, answering to the Greek word εἰρηνική, rather than to the Latin word pacifica. “A state of peace and friendship with God was the basis and sine quâ non to the presentation of a shelem, and the design of that presentation, from which its name was derived, was the realization, establishment, verification, and enjoyment of the existing relations of peace, friendship, fellowship, and blessedness” (Kurtz, ‘Sacrificial Worship’).

Vers. 3, 4.—”There were four parts to be burned upon the altar: (1) the fat that covereth the inwards, i. e. the large net, omentum, ἐπίπλους, caul, or adipose membrane found in mammals, attached to the stomach and spreading over the bowels, and which in the ruminants abounds with fat; (2) all the fat which is upon the inwards, i. e. the fat attached to the intestines, and which could be peeled off; (3) the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the flanks, or loins, i. e. the kidneys and all the fat connected with them; the kidneys are the only thing to be burnt except the fat; (4) the smaller net, omentum minus, or caul above the liver, which stretches on one side to the region of the kidneys, hence on the kidneys; עַל = by them, not with them” (Gardiner).

Ver. 5.—Upon the burnt sacrifice. The peace offering is to be placed upon the burnt offering previously laid upon the fire. Symbolically and actually the burnt offering serves as the foundation of the peace offering. Self-surrender leads to peace; and the self-sacrifice of Christ is the cause of the peace subsisting between God and man.

Ver. 9.—The whole rump should no doubt be the whole tail, consisting chiefly of fat, and always regarded as a great delicacy in the East (see Herod., iii. 113; Thompson, ‘Land and the Book,’p. 97). The burning of the fat tail upon the altar, together with the internal fat, is the only point in which the ritual to be used when offering a sheep (vers. 6–11) differs from that used in offering a bull or cow (vers. 1–5), or a goat (vers. 12–16).

Ver. 11.—It is the food of the offering made by fire unto the Lord; literally, It is the bread of the offering by fire to the Lord. The idea of the peace offering being that of a meal at God’s board, the part of the animal presented to God upon the altar is regarded as his share of the feast, and is called his food or bread. Cf. Rev. 3:20, “I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Ver. 17.—Eat neither fat nor blood. These are forbidden to be eaten, as belonging to God. The fat, that is, the internal fat, is his portion in the common feast of the peace offering, and the blood is presented to him in all the animal sacrifices, as the material vehicle of life (see ch. 7:22–27). The remaining regulations as to the various sorts of the peace offerings, the priests’ portions of them, and the festive meal on the sacrifices, are given in ch. 7:11–34.


Vers. 1–17.—The peace offering was not a sacrifice denoting self-devotion like the burnt-offering, nor a tender of homage like the meat offering, but a feast upon a sacrifice, which God and man symbolically joined in partaking of. The offering consisted of an animal and unleavened cakes and (generally) leavened bread, of which a share was given to God’s altar and priests on the one hand, and to the offerer and his friends on the other. It represented the blessedness and joyousness of communion between God and man. “The character of these feasts cannot be mistaken. It was that of joyfulness tempered by solemnity, of solemnity, tempered by joyfulness. The worshipper had submitted to God an offering from his property; he now received back from him a part of the dedicated gift, and thus experienced anew the same gracious beneficence which had enabled him to appear with his wealth before the altar. He therefore consumed that portion with feelings of humility and thankfulness; but he was bidden at once to manifest those blissful sentiments by sharing the meat, not only with his household, which thereby was reminded of the Divine protection and mercy, but also with his needy fellow-beings, whether laymen or servants of the temple. Thus these beautiful repasts were stamped both with religious emotion and human virtue. The relation of friendship between God and the offerer which the sacrifice exhibited, was expressed and sealed by the feast, which intensified that relation into one of an actual covenant; the momentary harmony was extended to a permanent union. And these notions could not be expressed more intelligibly, at least to an Eastern people, than by a common meal, which to them is the familiar image or friendship and communion, of cheerfulness and joy” (Kalisch).

I. It was a federal feast, reminding the Israelites of the institution of the covenant. In early times the method of making a covenant was dividing animals in halves and passing between them (see Gen. 15:9, 10; Jer. 34:18, 19), or otherwise offering them in sacrifice (Gen. 8:20; 15:9; Ps. 50:5), and then feasting together. When Abraham’s servant asked for Rebekah for his master, he refused to eat and drink until he had made his agreement (Gen. 24:33); but after it was completed, “they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him” (Gen. 24:54). Jacob held a solemn feast after he and Laban had made a covenant together (Gen. 31:54). The feast upon the peace offerings, whether offered by the whole congregation or by individuals, served as a memorial of the covenant made between God and their fathers (see Exod. 24:5, where the name peace offering is first used), and it made them rejoice in being God’s peculiar people in union and communion with him.

II. It looked forward as well as backwards. Like the Passover, it at once commemorated an historical event and prefigured a blessing to come. The Passover looked backwards to the deliverance from Egypt, and forward to “Christ our passover sacrificed for us;” and in like manner the peace offering feast commemorated the making of the covenant, and prefigured the blessed state of communion to be brought about by the sacrifice of the cross. Communion is typified and proved in the New Testament as well as the Old by eating and drinking together (Luke 14:15; Acts 10:41; Rev. 19:9).

III. Sacrifice in relation to Christians. We have no sin offering to offer. The full, perfect, and sufficient Sacrifice for sins was made once for all upon the cross; we have only to appropriate the merits of that one offering by faith. Nor have we a burnt offering to offer. The full surrender of himself by a perfect Man was once for all made in the Garden of Gethsemane and on Calvary; we can but follow the great Example. But we may still offer the meat offering, in a spiritual sense, by giving the service which declares us to be faithful subjects of God; and we may spiritually offer the peace offering, whenever with grateful hearts we offer praise and thanksgiving to God for having brought us into union and communion with himself.

IV. The Holy Communion is the special means of our exhibiting the joyous sense of being the children of God. It is not a sin offering, being neither a repetition nor a continuation, but a commemoration, of the great Sin Offering of the cross; it is not, therefore, propitiatory. Neither is it a burnt offering, for Christ’s self-surrender cannot be reiterated or renewed, but only commemorated. But it answers to the meat offering, inasmuch as in it we offer our alms and “the creatures of bread and wine” as tokens of our loyalty, and receive back in requital “the strengthening and refreshing of our souls by the Body and Blood of Christ.” And it is a peace offering, for therein we feast at God’s board, exhibiting our joyful thankfulness for having been admitted into covenant with him, offering “our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,” and rejoicing in the assurance thus given us “that we are very members incorporate in the mystical body of” Christ our Lord.

V. The blessedness of a sense of peace with God. First, we must feel the need of reconciliation, and a desire to rid ourselves of the obstacles in the way of it. Then we must go to Christ to have our sins nailed to his cross; and thus, “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1), “and the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:7), “and the God of peace shall be with us” (Phil. 4:9).


Fellowship with God and man as illustrated in the peace offering. Ch. 3.; also 7:11–21, 28–34; 19:6–8; 22:29,30; cf. 1 John 1:6, 7; John 6:33. We have found in the burnt offering the principle of entire personal consecration, and in the meat offering that of consecrated life-work. We have seen how these have their perfect fulfilment only in the case of Jesus Christ, while in other cases they are preceded by an acknowledgment of sin and shortcoming, and of acceptance as coming through another. In the peace offering we have a further stage of religious experience. Part of the sacrifice, whatever it may be, is burned on the altar, part is assigned to the priests, and part is returned to the offerer, to constitute the staple of a social feast. Moreover, the portion laid upon the altar is expressly called “the bread of God” (לֶחֶם אִשֶׁה לַיהֹוָה), ver. 11. Hence the idea of the offering is that God and his mediating priests and his sacrificing servants are all partaking of the one animal, the one food; that is to say, are all in fellowship. This is the crown of religious experience—conscious fellowship with God and with one another. It is what John refers to when he says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:6, 7).

I. In holding fellowship with God and man large liberty of selection is allowed.The animal presented might be a female or a male, and even, in the case of a free-will offering, and animal might be presented which had something superfluous (ch. 22:23). For, if fellowship is to be expressed, then, provided God is presented with what is perfect, what remains to represent man’s share in the fellowship might fairly enough be imperfect. This wider range of selection emphasizes surely the fact that we may hold fellowship with God through any legitimate thing. We shall presently indicate the subject-matter of fellowship with God; meanwhile it is well to notice the large selection allowed.

II. It is a preliminary of fellowship with God to acknowledge sin and receive acceptance through a substitute. God’s rights are thus respected and acknowledged as our Moral Governor. To venture into the charmed circle of fellowship without the benefit of the bloodshedding is to presume before God. Hence the peace offering was done to death, and its blood sprinkled on the altar before the feast began. The fellowship with God, which has not been preceded on the part of sinners like ourselves by confession of sin and acceptance, is sure to be hollow at the best.

III. In any fellowship with God we must recognize his right to the best portion of the feast. The priest was directed to take the fat that covereth the inwards, and all the fat that is upon the inwards, with the kidneys and the lobe of the liver, and, in case of a sheep, the tail of fat, and he was to burn all these upon the altar of burnt offering, in the ashes of the burnt offering. This was recognizing God’s right to the best portion—to the flos carnis, the “tit-bits,” as we would call them. Now, it is only natural to suppose that, whatever be the subject-matter of our fellowship with God he will enter more fully into the fellowship and make more of it than we can do. This will be more apparent when we notice in the sequel the different legitimate subjects of fellowship.

IV. In fellowship with one another, moreover, we must recognize the possibility of others entering into the subject more fully than ourselves. The priestly class had the wave breast and heave leg assigned to them as their share. Next to God’s portion, these were the best portions of the beast. It indicated plainly the liberal scale of “ministerial support” which God would foster, and it prompted the self-denial of true fellowship. For a feast is a poor thing in which the host retains the best things for himself. His pleasure should be to confer the best on others. For the time being he literally “esteems others better than himself.”

V. Let us now indicate the legitimate subject-matters for fellowship which are typified in the peace offerings. Here, then, we have three sets of individuals partaking of the one organic whole—God on his altar, his mediating priests at the tabernacle, and the offerer and his friends. What does the organic whole represent? And the only answer is, what God and man can have fellowship about. This evidently includes a very wide range indeed.

1. Jesus Christ. He is the great subject-matter of fellowship as between God and man, and between man and man. Hence he is called “the bread of God” which came down from heaven, the bread on which, so to speak, God feeds, as well as the bread he gives to nourish the world. If we think for a moment of the supreme delight which. God the Father takes in his well-beloved Son, it is only faintly imaged by the portions placed upon the altar. What fellowship must God have in looking down upon his Son dedicated to life and death to redeem and sustain a sinful race! Indeed, we cannot enter into such an unparalleled experience; no wonder it should be said, “All the fat is the Lord’s.” Yet this does not prevent us on our part from feasting joyfully and by faith upon Jesus. He becomes the subject-matter of our fellowship and joy.

2. God’s Word. This is another subject-matter of fellowship. How often does God use it in communicating with our souls! and is it not the choicest phraseology we can find in returning his fellowship through prayer? How much more, besides, does God see in the Word, and get out of it, than we do! If the crucible of criticism is only revealing the splendours of the Word, how much more must God see in it! “Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servants love it.”

3. Ourselves. For fellowship is having something in common with another. If, then, we are altogether consecrated to God, if we say from the heart, “Lord, we are thine; undertake for us,” we become, so to speak, the medium of fellowship as between God and us. God’s delight in us is beyond conception. “The Lord taketh pleasure in them that fear him, in them that hope in his mercy.” And, as we realize God’s right and delight in us, life becomes a joyful feast to us. The exercise of all our powers becomes a conscious joy, a feast of love, and all around us are the better for our being.

4. Every legitimate subject or engagement. For all may be made subject-matter of fellowship with God. Nothing worth living for but may be made the medium of communion with him. All learning will prove more delightful if undertaken with God. All social engagements will prove more enjoyable if spent with God. Every occupation, in fact, becomes increasingly blissful in proportion to our fellowship with God in it. It is the feast of life: he sups with us, and enables us to sup with him (Rev. 3:20).

5. Every blessing received and vow registered. For this peace offering was either the expression of praise for some mercy received or the covenant-sign of some fresh resolution. It corresponded very largely to our Eucharistic celebrations. Just as in feasting upon the symbols of our Saviour’s dying love we hold fellowship with God and with each other in thinking of all we have received and all we now resolve, so was it in the older feast. The offerer, as he entertained his friends, rejoiced in the goodness he had got from God, and pledged himself in gratitude. The peace offering thus expresses the truth regarding the fellowship possible between God and man, and between the brotherhood.—R.M. E.

Vers. 1–5—A general view of offerings. A supplementary account of the manner in which the peace offerings are to be presented unto the Lord is contained in ch. 7. Reserving fuller distinct consideration of them till our arrival there, it may be instructive now to derive some general lessons from a comparison between this present chapter and the preceding chapters, which tell us of the burnt and meat offerings.

I. Each season and circumstance has its appropriate offering. Different names are bestowed upon the offerings. A general name for all is corbon, a gift, a means of approach. It may be “a burnt offering” (ch. 1:3), significant of entire dedication; or “an offering of an oblation” (ch. 2:1), a present of Sour or grains, an acknowledgment of God’s goodness, and an expression of desire to obtain his good will; or “a sacrifice of peace” (ch. 3:1), denoting a wish to live in concord with Jehovah, recognizing his will and enjoying his favour. Thus the devout Israelite could never be without a fitting means of approach, whatever his state of mind or whatever the crisis in his life. So we may always have something to offer our heavenly Father, whether in suffering or health, in adversity or prosperity, in age or youth, desiring increased sanctification, or blessing, or usefulness, whether thankful for the past or requesting grace for the future. Even the one atonement of Jesus Christ, like a prism that exhibits different colours according to our position, may seem to be deliverance from wrath, peace, happiness, self-dedication, temporal prosperity, or the light of God’s countenance.

II. By the difference in offerings God seems to desire to awaken and develop different moral sentiments. Our chequered experience has its part to fulfil in calling into play every faculty of the mind and spirit. God likes a good “all-round” character, strong at all points, and only exercise can secure this. He would have his people attend to all the requirements of the Christian life, to manifest all the virtues, knowledge and faith, gratitude and hope, patience and vigour. We must not deem any voyage or journey superfluous; no accident but may benefit us; the holiness meeting, the evangelistic service, the workers’ conference,—each may be profitable in turn.

III. One offering does not interfere with the presentation of another of a different kind. In ver. 5 we read that the fat of the peace offering is placed upon the burnt offering, probably upon the remains of the morning sacrifice. So that the one becomes a foundation for the other, and clashing is obviated. The sacrifice of the congregation does not prevent the sacrifice of the individual, nor does the general offering prove a hindrance to the special. Family prayer is no obstacle to private supplication, nor does the stated worship of the sanctuary exclude extraordinary gatherings. The fear of some good people lest regular meditation and service should grow formal and check any outburst of enthusiasm, or any sudden prompting to special effort, is seen to be groundless.

IV. Certain regulations are common to all offerings. Burning on the altar belongs to bloody and unbloody sacrifices, death and sprinkling of blood of necessity only to the former. In every case the offering must be of the best of its kind, if an animal “without blemish,” if of grain “fine flour.” What we say or do for God should be with our might; in whatever service for him we engage, it must be with full affection and earnest zeal. And every sacrifice required the mediation of a priest. Christ must be the inspiration of our acts, the way of acceptance consecrating all our gifts of money, strength, and time. By him we die (as did the sentient victim) to the world, by him we live to the glory of God.—S. R. A.

Vers. 16, 17.—Jehovah’s portion. As the Author of life and the Giver of all bounty, God might have claimed the whole of every sacrifice. But he discriminated between the parts of the victim, sometimes reserving for himself the greater share, at other times only a small portion of that presented to him. In the peace offering there was selected for the altar, as God’s perquisite, the “fat” of the animal, and the remainder went to the priests and the offerer.

I. Learn that not the meanest but the choicest portions must be reserved for God’s service. Low conceptions of his majesty and perfection lead to such religious observance as is an insult rather than an honour. To defer reading the Scriptures or prayer till the mind and body are fatigued, is an infraction of this rule. Let our freshest moments, our sweetest morsels of thought and power, be set apart for the Lord! And similarly, ask not, How near can I walk to the dividing line between the Church and the world? or, Which of my amusements can I with least self-denial renounce in order to do his will? May we not behold the same lesson inculcated in the distinction indicated in this chapter, between a peace and a burnt offering? The latter, being wholly devoted to the Lord, must consist of a male victim; the former, intended principally for the participation of the offerers, may be male or female, (ver. 1). It cannot be right, then, to imagine that any qualifications will suffice for entire consecration to God’s work. Ministers and missionaries should be numbered amongst men of highest intellect and intensest spirituality.

II. See how God accepts the offerings of his creatures as the materials for his delight and glory. The burnt fat is “food” for the fire offering, and is termed in another place, the “bread of God.” It becomes “a sweet savour” that is, eminently pleasing to the Holy One. In the word “food” we discern the purport of the peace offering as a sacrificial meal, in which, by returning to God what he had previously bestowed, the worshipper: 1. Acknowledged his indebtedness and thanks. 2. Was made a guest at the table of the Lord, inasmuch as he ate part of the animal that was “food for the fire offering;” and 3. Had all his other provisions sanctified for the substance of life, being allowed, to consume the entire portions of animals not fit for sacrifice.

III. Recollect the obligatoriness of Divine statutes. 1. They prohibit as well as command. “Thou shalt not” occupies as prominent a position in the Decalogue as “Thou shalt.” Not only does man need both to try him (as with our first parents) and direct him, but one really involves the other. Observe that what man might not consume himself might be properly consumed on the altar; so the adoration and unquestioning fidelity that are out of place in reference to any finite beings, are becoming in relation to God. 2. They are equally binding on all generations. They respect us as well as our fathers, and herein the laws of God differ from the mutable proclamations of human lawgivers. The precepts of God only change with a new dispensation. This is the meaning of the word “perpetual.” There is a sense, indeed, in which no Divine statute alters, being continued in spirit though the letter may have varied. 3. They
enter into all phases of life. The prohibition was to be acted upon in “the dwellings” as well as at the tabernacle. Let us not make too great a distinction between the homage of the house of God and the home or the workshop and the factory!. It is the characteristic of the gospel times to have the Law written on the heart, so that we carry it with us wherever we go. Thus are we prevented from sinning against God.—S. R. A.

Vers. 1–5.—The peace offering. We may get a clear conception of the peace offering by noticing the points of difference between it and the burnt offering described in the first chapter of this book.

I. It differs in its title. 1. The burnt offering is in the Hebrew called (עולה) olah. (1) This term comes from (עלה) alah, to ascend. The reason is that the whole animal was converted, by the action of the fire of the altar, into flame and sparks, vapour and smoke, in which forms it rose from the altar, and as it were ascended to God. (2) It described the completeness in which Christ offered himself to God in the flames of the “spirit of burning” (Heb. 9:14). (3) It also sets forth how completely we should devote ourselves as living sacrifices to God (Rom. 12:1), and how constantly our thoughts and affections should rise into the heavens (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1–3). 2. This is called (שלמים) shelamin. (1) The verb from which this noun is derived is (שלם) shalem, to complete or make whole; and the noun is well rendered peace offering. (2) It was, therefore, considered as making up that which was lacking in the sinner, in order to reconcile him to God. In cases of distress, peace offerings as well as burnt offerings were offered up (Judg. 20:26). So are we “reconciled to God by the death of his Son.” (3) In making covenants, or entering into the covenant, peace offerings were associated with burnt offerings in like manner (Exod. 24:5). Paul manifestly alludes to the peace offering in Eph. 2:14–19. “He is our peace” is equivalent to saying, “He is our peace offering.”

II. It differs in its victims. 1. In respect to the kinds. (1) Three classes of animal were specified as proper for the holocaust: there were those of the herd; there were those of the flock; and there were those of the fowls. (2) In the peace offering there are only two. Animals from the herd and from the flock are specified, but there is no mention of turtle-doves or young pigeons here. The reason of this is that it would be difficult to treat fowls as peace offerings were treated in relation to the fat; and the animals are so small that if divided as peace offerings the portions would be small. There is thoughtful consideration for the welfare of his people in all the laws of God. 2. In respect to the sexes. (1) The animals devoted as burnt offerings were males. This is specified in relation to the burnt offering of the herd. Also to that of the flock. Masculine pronouns are used in relation to that of the fowls. The neuter, “it,” ver. 15, should have been rendered “him” (see Hebrew text). (2) In respect to the peace offering, the matter of sex is optional. (3) The reason may be this. The burnt offering appears to have been partly an expression of adoration, in which it is proper to give to God all our strength and excellence. The peace offering was divided between God, the priests, and the offerer. Here, then, was a feast of friendship, and the sexes are helpful to our friendships.

III. It differs in the treatment of the victims. 1. There were points of agreement here. (1) The offering must be without blemish. Acceptable service must be without blemish, and this can only be rendered to God through Christ (Jude 24, 25). (2) The hand of the offerer must be laid on the head of the offering. This was intended as a solemn transfer of sin, and acknowledgment that the suffering is vicarious. How graphically expressive of the faith of the sinner in the great Saviour! (3) The sacrifice must be killed at the door of the tabernacle. Christ is the door. There is no other entrance into the holy place of his Church on earth but by him. The holy led to the holiest. If we do not belong to his spiritual Church on earth, we cannot belong to his glorious Church in heaven. There was a visible Church near, but still, in the bulk of its members, outside the door! Still there are multitudes only in the outer courts. (4) The blood must be sprinkled upon the altar round about. It is by the blood of Jesus that we enter the “new and living way.” 2. But there were points of difference. (1) Instead of the holocaust the fat only was offered here (vers. 3–5). The fat in the peace offering appears to correspond to the oil in the meat offering. (2) In this view it will represent those graces of the mind which are the fruits of the Spirit. (3) Burnt offerings and peace offerings were consumed together (ver. 5). The great sacrifice of Christ prepares the altar for sacrifices of praise. These were not accepted till we were reconciled through him.—J. A. M.

Vers. 6–17.—The peace offering of the flock. The ceremony in relation to this is almost identical with that of the herd already described. Nevertheless, there are a few expressions in the course of the description which are not found in the former paragraph. We call attention to—

I. The description of the fat of the lamb. Vers. 8–10. 1. Note the expression, “The fat thereof, and the whole rump.” The “and” here is expletive rather than copulative, thus, “The fat thereof, even the whole rump.” But the “rump,” as vulgarly understood among us, is muscle, not fat. The part here indicated is the tail. This is evident from what follows, viz. “It shall be taken off hard by the back-bone.” The tail of the sheep even in our climate is fat, but in the East it is remarkably so, some of them weighing from twelve to forty pounds. 2. The portions burnt were very inflammable. (1) Here, in addition to the fat of the tail, was all the fat of the inwards, which in a sheep might weigh eight or ten pounds. This, when ignited, would be consumed, whatever else may have been laid upon the altar. (2) These parts were considered to be the seat of the animal passions. In this view the lesson of their consumption upon the altar would be that our passions should be in complete subjection to God. Also to impress upon us that, if not consumed in the milder fires of his love, how obnoxious they are to the fierce fires of his wrath! (3) The rapid consumption of the fat of lambs upon the altar is therefore appropriately used to describe the extermination of the wicked. “But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away” (Ps. 37:20). Fire, it would seem, will be the chief instrument which Providence will summon for the destruction of the forces of Anti-christ (Rev. 17:16; 18:9, 19:3, 20; 20:9, 14).

II. The expression, “food of the offering made by fire unto the Lord” (ver. 11). 1. Thus, what was consumed by fire is called God’s food. (1) Some construe this to mean that what is consumed is food for the fire. But this is to give no information. Nor would this be a sufficient reason for the prohibition of the fat as food for an Israelite (see vers. 16, 17). Note, the fat intermingled with the flesh was not forbidden, but those portions only which were prescribed to be offered upon the altar (see Neh. 8:10). (2) But how could God be said to feast upon such food? Not literally, certainly (see Ps. 50:13). But figuratively. Thus his attributes of justice and mercy are, so to speak, hungry for satisfaction; and this satisfaction they find in that sacrifice of Christ, in virtue of which he is not only merciful, but just in justifying the ungodly (Rom. 3:24–26). (3) To avail ourselves of this mercy of God, we must justify him, viz. by hearty repentance and true faith. While God magnifies his justice in his mercy, we, too, must magnify his justice in his mercy. 2. The portions of the peace offering not consumed upon the altar were eaten by men. (1) Here, then, was the expression of a fellowship between God and men, which is established through sacrifice. This glorious privilege is set forth also in the Christian Eucharist. We feast with the Lord at his table (1 Cor. 10:21). (2) Here also was fellowship between religious men. The priest had his portion, and the offerer his. That the offerer should feast with a Gentile would have been profanity. So the fellowship of Christians is with the holy universe (Heb. 12:22–24).

III. The note prohibiting the eating of blood. Ver. 17. 1. What are the reasons for this? (1) The first is that the blood is the life of the flesh. The prohibition of blood as food is a Noachian precept, and this reason is given there. The object is to set a store upon life (see Gen. 9:4–6). (2) The second is that blood is given upon the altar to make atonement for the soul, viz. life for the life (Lev. 17:10–14). The atoning blood of Christ must not be treated as a common thing (Heb. 10:29). 2. We may here refer to a circumstance in connection with the bleeding of the sacrifice. (1) The Jews tell us that the animal, after the slaughtering, was suspended on hooks near the place of rings for the removing of the skin. How suggestive of the hanging of Jesus upon the tree of his cross! (2) The next thing was the opening of the heart, to let the remaining blood escape. That this should happen to Christ was a special subject of prophecy (Zech. 12:10; John 19:34). (3) To human appearance this prophecy seems to have been fulfilled as by accident. The same remark may be applied to the fulfilment of many prophecies. There are no mere accidents. The careful hand of an allwise Providence is in everything.—J. A. M.

Vers. 1–16.—The foundation of fellowship with God. The “sacrifice of peace offering” was one of fellowship. Its distinctive features are brought out in ch. 7. (see Homily there). The sacrifice enjoined in this (third) chapter is preliminary to the sacred feast which was to follow. Its significance is found in the fact that the act of communion with God could only come after the oblation had been presented. We learn, therefore—

I. That sacred joy before God can only follow reconciliation with him. The Hebrew people might not come to the tabernacle and have a solemn feast near the sacred Presence until the animal had been slain and its blood sprinkled on the altar (vers. 1, 2, 8, 13). Conscious unworthiness must first be taken away by the shed blood of bull or lamb, and then priest and people might rejoice together before the Lord. First purity, then peace (Jas. 3:17). We may aspire (1) to sit down with the people of God at the table here, or (2) to mingle with those who shall partake of the marriage supper of the Lamb hereafter; but there is no welcome from lips Divine until sin has been confessed and forgiven. First, penitence at the cross of the Redeemer and trust in his atoning sacrifice; then fellowship with God and his people.

II. That a full self-surrender must precede the act of communion. When the animal had been slain, the priest was to present to God the fat, the kidneys, etc. (vers. 3, 4, 9, 10, 14, 15), special stress being laid on “the inwards;” the best and richest parts, those which had been the life of the animal, were offered to the Lord, as representing the animal itself, and so the offerer himself. He symbolically offered himself to God through these vital parts of the victim. When we draw near to a service of sacred fellowship and joy, or when we anticipate the commution of the skies, we should act on the truth that “our God has commanded our strength” (Ps. 68:28), that the appeal for his mercy through Christ should be accompanied with a free, full surrender of our whole selves, the consecration of our very best, the “inward parts”—the understanding, the affections, the will—to him and his service.

III. That faith in Christ and the consecration of ourselves result in his perfect pleasure with us: “It is an offering … of a sweet savour unto the Lord” (vers. 5, 16). When the oblation was complete, then the offerer stood in the position of one who might rejoice in the Divine Presence and feast with the holy people and with God. Accepted in Christ, and having “yielded ourselves unto God” in unreserved consecration, we may feel that God’s good pleasure, his full Divine complacency, rests upon us; we may walk in the light of his reconciled countenance all the day long. Two supplementary truths offer themselves to our thought in these verses. 1. That every soul must personally and spiritually engage in acceptable service. The offerer was “to lay his hand on the head of the offering,”—striking and significant act, by which he clearly intimated his consciousness of sin, and his desire that the victim might represent him in the sight of God—its blood his life, its organs his capacities. We may not trust to our mere bodily presence while God is being approached and besought, or while Christ’s redeeming work is being pleaded, or while words of dedication are being-uttered in prayer. There must be the positive, sympathetic, personal participation, or we stand outside the service and the blessing. 2. That we must intelligently discriminate between the obligatory and the optional in the service of God. Certain things were imperative in the act of worship, other things were left to the choice of the individual. In the gospel of Christ and the worship of God there are things essential that none may depart from, e. g. the humble heart, the act of faith and self-surrender, the spirit of obedience toward God and of love toward man; there are other things which are left to personal discretion, e. g. times and methods of devotion, scale of contribution, sphere of usefulness. Yet in these optional matters we are not to act inconsiderately or irrationally, but according to the direction of wisdom and the teachings of experience.—C.

Ver. 17.—The guarding of sacred feeling. No little stress is laid on the prohibition of two things—the fat and the blood of slain animals: it was to be “a perpetual statue for your generations throughout all your dwellings.” The fat thus interdicted was that which was offered in sacrifice (vers. 3, 4, 9, 10), not that which was inter-lined with the lean (Neh. 8:10). We may look at—

I. The meaning of this prohibition in their case. Evidently both the fat and the blood were disallowed as food because they were offered in sacrifice to Jehovah. On this account they were to be preserved sacred. They were not to be treated as ordinary things, vulgarized, lowered in public estimation; a feeling of their sacredness was to be cherished and carefully preserved by daily habit. To be continually using these parts as meat and drink at table would have the effect which was to be deprecated. It was, therefore, an act of religious duty to abstain from them. By such abstinence their feelings of reverence and piety would be guarded and preserved. Was it not for a similar reason, viz. that no violation should be done to the sacred sentiment of maternity, that the law was thrice repeated, “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk” (Exod. 23:19, etc.)? The influence of daily habit on the finer sentiments of the soul is very gradual and imperceptible, but in the end it is very great: it is often decisive for good or evil.

II. Its bearing on our own religious life. We are to guard most sedulously our sacred feelings; to “keep our heart above all keeping” (Prov. 4:23). Among other perils to be avoided is that of allowing sacred things to be vulgarized by too frequent use, to lose their force and virtue by reason of over-familiarity. With this end in view, there will be, on the part of the prudent, a certain measure of: 1. Wise limitation. This will apply to (1) the use of the Divine name (the avoidance of profanity); (2) the employment of pious phraseology in ordinary speech (the avoidance of offensive and injurious cant); (3) the repetition of sacred formulæ (the avoidance of a Pharisaic formalism); (4) the multiplication of holy days (Rom. 14:6). (5) These matters, and such as these, are questions of expediency, to be determined by practical Christian wisdom. Both extremes are to be avoided—the neglect of good things and so the loss of spiritual help, and their excessive use resulting in the loss of the sense of sacredness. The latter is a subtle and strong evil, for when sacred things have lost their sanctity to us, there is little left to elevate and restore. “if the salt have lost its savour,” etc. But beside wise limitation, there must be: 2. Positive spiritual endeavour. It will by no means suffice to conform to good rules of speech and behaviour: such abstinences will not preserve a reverent and loving spirit; we must think seriously and pray earnestly. (1) By serious thought we must be frequently realizing how great is our indebtedness to the heavenly Father; how real is our need, as sinners, of the Divine Saviour; how urgent is our want, as weak and struggling souls, of the influence of the Holy Spirit! (2) By earnest prayer we must be drawing down from on high that spiritual replenishment which God is willing to bestow on all seeking souls, and without which all life will languish, all means and methods prove fruitless and vain.—C.

Vers. 1–17.—The peace offerings, also called thank offerings or salvation offerings. The two fold object—to acknowledge salvation received, to supplicate salvation desired. Three kinds—praise offerings, vow offerings, free-will offerings. Considerable freedom permitted in them, though still restrictions observed. Male and female victims, of the herd and flock, but only those without blemish. No pigeons, permitted, because a pair of pigeons insufficient for the sacrificial meal, which was so important a constituent of the service. Combination of the burnt sacrifice with the peace offering in the consumption by fire of the suet or fat of the internal organs, and of the fat tail of the sheep.The fat and the blood offered to the Lord in a special manner, by fire and sprinkling “on the altar round about.”

Ver. 1.—The offering distinguished. Oblation denotes its voluntary character; sacrifice its intimate connection with the altar, that is, its participation in the atoning significance of all the bloody sacrifices which carried in them the idea of reconciliation with God through the blood of the covenant. Peace offering, the specific distinction, recognizing the fact that, whether the prominent feeling expressed was praise or prayer, still the offerer was standing on the ground of covenant fellowship with God. We may take these offerings generally to symbolize salvation as a realized fact. We find under this general fact these three constituent spiritual realities included: I. Intercourse re-established between God and man, and expressed in grateful praise and willing dependence. II. Salvation as a fact resting on continued faith; the three parts of the sacrifice being the offerer’s part, the priest’s part, and Jehovah’s part,—all essential and harmonized in one offering. III. Joy of salvation, both individual and social, typified in the sacrificial meal, God, as it were, giving back the victim to be the source of delight both to the priest and the offerer. On each of these points the details of the sacrifice have their significance.

I. Reconciliation. Re-established intercourse between God and man, grateful praise, willing dependence. Here we may notice the two sides of the sacrifice: that turned towards man—it is willingly brought, it is a valuable gift, it is brought as a peace offering to give praise or to accompany vows and prayers; that turned towards God, it is a confession of sin, an obedience rendered to the Law, a renewal of the covenant, a confirmation of the promises, a seal of grace. Intercourse between man and God. 1. Distinguish between the truth as set forth Scripture, and man’s self-derived ideas. (1) Consider the non-scriptural views: the notions of the mystic or of the transcendentalist—man’s lifting himself to God, or being lifted up by ecstasy; the rationalistic conception that God and man meet in nature, or in human consciousness, and that such intercourse in the mere laws of fact or thought is sufficient. All such reconciliation ignores the fallen state of man, can supply no gospel of peace, is contradicted by the plain development of righteousness in the course of the world; and therefore the necessity made evident that man, as going on to meet the future, should be prepared to meet his God in judgment, in the great adjustment of right and wrong.The mere moralist falls into a similar error when he teaches that the partial obedience of human life to Divine Law, the recognition practically of an ideal moral standard, is a reconciliation between the highest moral Being and his creature. (2) Place opposite to these defective and erroneous views the teaching of Scripture. Out of the original source of all, the will of God, that is, his infinite nature or character, in actual relation to his universe, comes forth the reconciliation. Revelation from the beginning an invitation of God to man to intercourse. The Mosaic Law was the development of the preceding covenant, which, under patriarchal ministry, was a gospel of peace. The reconciliation was placed on the foundation of sacrifice, that is, man’s surrender, blending with God’s promise of forgiveness and life, the preservation of righteousness in the acceptance of man’s homage to the Divine character, the assurance of peace in a covenant of friendship and interchange of love. 2. This intercourse between God and man being thus established, it is expressed in grateful praise and willing dependence on man’s part, in the bestowment of peace and sanctification on God’s part. The peace offering typified the life of man as a continual reciprocation of covenant intercourse: the presentation of gifts to God, the acceptance in return of Divine grace. Thus was religion set forth. It is not separated from the earthly life, but it is its consecration. It is not a meritorious purchase of Divine favour, or turning away of wrath, or covering of the reality of transgression with sacrifice, but a thankful dedication of saved life, a subjection of all to the will of the Father, an appropriation of heavenly gifts. Perhaps the fact that no poor man’s offering is prescribed may indicate that the truth was already implied, though not so distinctly expressed as afterwards in the Psalms and Prophets, that God would have mercy and not sacrifice, that he laid no stress upon the actual presentation of a peace offering so long as the man himself and his life were offered in devout obedience and thankful spirit. “Whose offereth praise glorifieth me:and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God” (Ps. 50:23).

II. Salvation as a fact rests on continued faith. In every peace offering there were three parts—the offerer’s, the priest’s, Jehovah’s. On each occasion, therefore, the main elements of salvation were recognized, which were these: 1. Free grace. 2. Mediation. 3. Self-surrender. In each the offerer’s faith makes salvation a fact. 1. In bringing a peace offering to Jehovah, the worshipper cast himself by faith on the free grace which opened the way for him to reconciliation and peace. “We love him because he first loved us.” The Jew failed to see this freedom of Divine love, and hence became a bond slave under the power of his ritual. The gospel has exalted the Divine element so high above the human in the advent of the Son of God, that it is no longer possible to hide it. “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.” “The Lord hath visited his people.” We build all on the foundation stone which God himself hath laid. We begin with the person of Christ, divinely glorious. Our faith lays hold of eternal life in him who was the Life and the Light of men. 2.The offerer brought the victim, but the priestly mediation was a necessary part of the ceremony. Salvation as a fact rests not only upon the free and infinite love of God, but upon the manifested righteousness and ceaseless intercession of the Saviour. “Aaron’s sons sprinkle the blood; Aaron’s sons burn the fat on the altar on the burnt sacrifice; a sweet savour unto the Lord.” Our life as a saved life is a continual application to ourselves by faith of the merit and efficacy of the Saviour’s atonement and ministry as our great High Priest. The “truth as it is in Jesus” is the food of our thoughts, the joy of our hearts, the strength of our obedience. Salvation as a fact is realized forgiveness, progressive holiness in communion with Christ, victory through his grace over the world and all enemies, and at last participation in the glorification of the Divine Man, and admission into his eternal kingdom. 3. Self-surrender was both in the presentation of the offering and in the position of the offerer, laying his hand on the head of the victim, killing it, and giving up the assigned portions to the altar and fire; all was confession, consecration, obedience. Our faith is essentially a yielding of ourselves to God. We find our salvation a fact, just as we “put off the old man and put on the new man;” just as we “count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our offering is a peace offering, both of the past and for the future. We are no longer our own. Christ is all to us, and so we are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

III. Joy of salvation, typified in the sacrificial meal, in which the representatives of God and man, in the priests and offerer, met together in social festivity. This was anticipation of the sacred meal, the Supper of the Lord, in which sacrificial joy was celebrated in the new society, in the kingdom of God. The Christian’s joy is pre-eminently joy of salvation. He builds all happiness on the fact of reconciliation with God. He lives his new life not unto himself, but unto Christ and to Christ’s people.The social gladness, which was an element in the peace offering, points to the fact that the redemption of Christ effects a deliverance of society from its bondage and misery, as well as the individual soul from its sin and ruin. Such a message is specially wanted in these times, when the world groans under its burdens, and strives in vain after a true liberty and peace. What offerings are laid on the altar of war! Yet they are consumed in vain. There is no happy banquet of fellowship and brotherhood coming out of such sacrifices. God invites us to the joy of a new-made world. He bids us proclaim the way of peace to be through the obedience of Christ. How sweet the savour to the Lord when the whole human family shall offer up its peace offering, acceptable, because identified with the offering of Calvary, uniting all together in a sacred festivity of gladness!—R.

Vers. 3, 4.—”The fat that covereth the inwards;” “the caul above the liver, with the kidneys;” “all the fat is the Lord’s” (ver. 16). The sweet fat, or suet, was burned as a sweet savour to the Lord. This might be either because fat of this kind was a sign of perfection in the animal life, or because the offering in the fire would be increased by the oily matter, and would make the burnt offering more imposing. Any way the dedication to the Lord is the main idea.

I. Religious service should take up into itself the highest faculties and noblest affections. The worship of the sanctuary; the active efforts of Christians in the spread of the gospel; charity;—in all such sacrifices let “the fat be the Lord’s.”

II. The prosperity of human life is only safe and blessed when the substance of it is consecrated on the altar. Men become victims of their own success because they withhold the fat from the Lord, and it becomes a curse to them.—R.

Ver. 5.—”And Aaron’s sons shall burn it on the altar upon the burnt sacrifice, which is upon the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” Notice the preparation thus made for the acceptance of man’s offering. There is the altar, the fire, the wood, the burnt sacrifice, the offering of the consecrated fat. Thus ch. 6:12, it is said, “the priest shall burn wood every morning at the altar, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings.” The abiding sacrifice, on the abiding altar, with the abiding fire, receives the occasional offering of the individual worshipper. Here is the great truth of an abiding merit, an ever-living intercession set forth.

I. God, by his grace, has provided for us The true method of righteousness and acceptance. 1. The superiority of Christ’s sacrifice to all other—because of his person, his active and passive obedience, his declared acceptance by his baptism, transfiguration, resurrection, ascension. 2. The simple work of faith, in laying the offering on the ashes of the burnt sacrifice, in attaching the imperfect obedience of man to the infinite merit of christ. A peace offering in the highest sense when we thus lay all upon the altar of the true mediation. The fire consuming denoted acceptance. God, in Christ, declares himself not only well pleased in his beloved Son, but in all who spiritually are identified with him. The lesser burnt offering is absorbed into the greater and abiding burnt offering, our obedience in Christ’s.

II. Thus is set forth the true order of the ethical life. The lesser sacrifice upon the greater. The peace offering on the burnt offering. 1. Common mistake to attempt to reverse this order. Man supposes himself capable of building up merit by moral acts. God teaches him that all ethical worth must rest upon religious completeness. The relation between God and man must be true and perfect, otherwise morality is not real, but only disguised selfishness. 2. The offering up of human life in activity, in suffering, cannot be peace offering unless it be religious. We want the greatest motive to actuate and sustain. We seem to waste our offering unless we can see it in its relation with God’s work, with a redeemed and renewed world. 3. The sweetness of life is a return into our own hearts of what the Lord hath found delightful. The “sweet savour” of a consecrated obedience pervades the whole existence, and makes it fragrant both to ourselves and others. Wonderful transmuting power of religion in giving value to the apparently worthless in human character, and beauty to the commonest, and nobleness to the humblest; the whole garment of sanctity covering the native imperfections. Yet no sweet savour without fire. There must be the reality of a spiritual life—the power of God, not the mere form and appearance of the offering.—R.

Vers. 6–16.—Varieties in the offerings—unity in the sacrifice. Whether from the herd or from the flock, an offering of larger or smaller value, the same principle applies—the unblemished gift, the separation of the fat and of the blood, the observance of all prescribed order and detail.

I. Here is the true religious liberty. Obedience according to ability, “doing the will of God from the heart.” The variety which is necessitated in God’s children by their different capabilities and circumstances is not displeasing to him. If we cannot bring an offering from the herd, then from the flock; if not a sheep, then a lamb; if neither, then the will for the deed. Yet all can do something. “Unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Eph. 4 and 1 Cor. 12).

II. Here is the secret of social peace and strength—the only true equality; God’s altar bringing together rich and poor, high and low. All, offering what they can to him, find out, each other’s nearness and worth. In the house of God the poor man may be a higher servant of the sanctuary than the rich. Society rests on religion as its basis. Mistake of philosophy, which gives us not brotherhood but altruism—not family life but mere expediency. The true conception of a State is every one having a place, and every one in his place. None but the religious view, which makes the altar of God the centre, really effects this union of the individual interest with that of the community. The true mother does not despise the sickly child. Philosophy exalts the great and depresses the little. Religion humbles the great and exalts the low. The revelation is to babes. The offering is accepted from the weakest hands. All are one in Christ. The perfect Sacrifice blends all together.—R.


Chapter 4

The sin offering (chs. 4, 5:1–13). At the time of the Mosaic legislation, burnt offerings and meat offerings were already in existence, and had existed from the time of the Fall. A beginning, therefore, is made with them, and the regulations of the peace offerings naturally follow, because these sacrifices succeed in order to the burnt and meat offerings, and because sacrifices in some respects of the same nature as peace offerings had previously existed under a different name (cf. Exod. 10:25 with Exod. 24:5, and see above notes on ch. 3). The sin and trespass offerings, therefore, are left to the last, though, owing to their meaning, they were always offered first of all, when sacrifices of all three kinds were made together. They are the means of ceremonially propitiating God when alienated from his people, or from any individual member of it, by sin, which they legally atone for. The need of expiation is implied and suggested by the offering of the blood, both in the burnt sacrifice and the peace offering (cf. Job 1:5). But this was not sufficient; there must be a special sacrifice to teach this great truth as its primary lesson. The sin offering typifies the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ upon the cross, as the great Sin Offering for mankind, whereby the wrath of God was propitiated, and an expiation for the sins of man was wrought, bringing about reconciliation between God and man.

Ver. 2.—If a soul shall sin. The conditions to be fulfilled in presenting a sin offering differed according to the position held by the offerer in the state. If it were the high priest, he had (1) to offer a young bull in the court of the tabernacle; (2) to place his hand upon it; (3) to kill it; (4) to take the blood into the holy place of the tabernacle, and there sprinkle some of it seven times in the direction of the vail that divided off the holy of holies within which the ark was placed, and to smear some of it on the horns of the golden altar of incense; (5) to pour out the rest of the blood at the foot of the altar of burnt offering in the court of the tabernacle; (6) to burn all the internal fat upon the altar of burnt offering; (7) to carry the whole of the remainder of the animal outside the camp, and there to burn it. If it were the congregation that made the offering, the same conditions had to be fulfilled, except that the elders of the congregation had to lay their hands on the animal. If it were a ruler, the animal offered was to be a male kid, and the priest, instead of taking the blood into the sanctuary, was to smear it on the horns of the altar of burnt sacrifice in the court. If it were an ordinary member of the congregation, the animal was to be a female kid, or ewe lamb, which was to be dealt with in the same manner; or in some cases two turtledoves or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering (whose blood was all sprinkled round the inner side of the altar), the other for a burnt offering (which was to be treated according to the ritual of the burnt offering), or even the tenth part of an ephah of flour (without oil or frankincense), a handful of which was to be burnt, and the remainder delivered to the priest for his consumption. The moral lesson taught to the Jew by the sin offering was of the terrible nature of sin, and of the necessity for an expiation for it in addition to penitence. Mystically he might see that, as the blood of bulls and goats could not of its own virtue take away sin, there must be an offering, foreshadowed by the sacrifice of the animals, which should be effectual as these were symbolical. The type is fulfilled by the atonement wrought by Christ’s blood shed on the cross (see Heb. 10:1–21). Further, the ceremonial cleansing of the sinful Israelite by the sin offering in the old dispensation foreshadows the effect of baptism in the new dispensation, for, as Calvin has noted in his Commentary, “As sins are now sacramentally washed away by baptism, so under the Law also sacrifices were expiations, although in a different way.”

If a soul shall sin through ignorance. The expression, “through ignorance” (bishgagah,) is intended to cover all sins except those committed “with a high hand,” or defiantly, whether the agent was ignorant that they were sins or was led into them by inconsiderateness or infirmity (cf. Ps. 19:12, 13, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins”). A better translation of bishgagah would be by want of consideration, or by inadvertence. Our Lord could say, even of those who crucified him, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do:” and therefore even for them a sin offering might be made and be accepted. But for deliberate and determined sin the Law has no atonement, no remedy. The words, shall do against any of them, i. e. against the commandments, would be better rendered shall do any of them, i. e. the things which ought not to be done. There is no exact apodosis to this verse; it is a general heading to the chapter.

Vers. 3–12.—The case of the high priest. He is designated the priest that is anointed, in respect to which title, see notes on ch. 8. In case he sin in his representative character, his sin is such as to bring guilt on the people (this is the meaning of the words translated according to the sin of the people), and a special sin offering must therefore be made. He is to take of the blood of the animal sacrificed, and bring it to the tabernacle of the congregation: … and sprinkle of the blood seven times before the Lord, before the vail of the sanctuary. And put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense. This was a more solemn method of presenting the blood to the Lord than that used in the burnt offering; the offering of the blood, which was the vehicle of life, being the chief feature in the sin offering, as the consumption of the whole animal by the altar fire was in the burnt offering. In the burnt offerings and peace offerings the blood was thrown once on the altar of burnt sacrifice (see ch. 1:5); now it is sprinkled, in a smaller quantity each time, but as often as seven times (the number seven symbolically representing completeness), before the vail which shrouded the ark. The altar of sweet incense is the golden altar, which stood within the tabernacle, in front of the vail. Perhaps the reason why the horns of the altar are specially appointed to have the blood placed on them is that they were regarded as the most sacred part of the altar, because they were its highest points, in which its elevation towards heaven culminated. The remainder of the victim’s blood is to be poured at the bottom of the altar of the burnt offering, in the court of the tabernacle, to sink into the ground, because no more of it was wanted for ceremonial use. The internal fat is to be burnt upon the altar of the burnt offering, but not actually upon the smouldering burnt sacrifice, as in the case of the peace offerings; the sin offering preceding the burnt offering in order of time, while the peace offering followed it. The remainder of the animal is to be carried without the camp … and be burnt, because its flesh was at once accursed and most holy. It was accursed, as having been symbolically the vehicle of the sins laid upon it by the offerer; therefore it must not be consumed upon the altar of God, but be destroyed with fire outside the camp, typifying the removal from God’s kingdom, and the final destruction of all that is sinful. But yet it was most holy, as its blood had been taken into the tabernacle, and had served as a propitiation; therefore, if it had to be burnt, it yet had to be burnt solemnly, reverently, and as a ceremonial act, in a place appointed for the purpose. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews notices that one of the points in which our Lord was the antitype of the sin offering was that he “suffered without the gate,” “that he might sanctify the people with his own blood” (Heb. 13:12), which was thus indicated to have been carried within the sanctuary, that is, into heaven.

Vers. 13–21.—The case of the whole congregation. A nation may become guilty of national sin in different ways, according to its political constitution: most directly, by the action of a popular Legislature passing a decree such as that of the Athenian assembly, condemning the whole of the Mitylenean people to death (Thucyd., iii. 36), or by approving an act of sacrilege (Mal. 3:9); indirectly, by any complicity in or condoning of a sin done in its name by its rulers. The ritual of the sin offering is the same as in the case of the high priest. The elders of the congregation (according to the Targum of Jonathan, twelve in number), acting for the nation, lay their hands on the victim’s head, and the high priest, as before, presents the blood, by sprinkling it seven times before the Lord, even before the vail; and putting some of the blood upon the horns of the altar which is before the Lord, that is in the tabernacle of the congregation. It is added that he shall thus make an atonement, or covering of sin, for them, and it shall be forgiven them.

Vers. 22–26.—The case of a ruler or nobleman. The clause, Or if his sin … come to his knowledge, should be rather translated, If perhaps his sin come to his knowledge. He is to offer a kid of the goats, or rather a she-goat. The blood is not to be carried into the tabernacle, as in the two previous cases, but put upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, which stood outside in the court, and, as a consequence of the blood not having been taken into the tabernacle, the flesh is not to be burnt outside the camp, but to be eaten by the priests in the court of the tabernacle (see ch. 6:26).

Vers. 27–35.—The case of a common man. He is to offer a kid of the goats, or rather a she-goat. The ritual is to be the same as in the previous case.


Vers. 1–35.—The sin offering signifies and ceremonially effects propitiation and expiation. Its characteristic feature, therefore, is the presentation of the blood of the victim, which in this sacrifice alone (when it was offered for the high priest or the whole congregation) was carried into the taberbacle and solemnly sprinkled before the vail which covered God’s presence.

I. When it was to be offered. On certain solemn public occasions, and when-ever the conscience of an individual was awakened to being out of communtion with God. The contraction of certain defilements and the commission of certain sins excluded the delinquent from God’s people, and when this had occurred, he might not be readmitted until he had brought a sin offering to be offered in his behalf.

II. How it was effective. The fact of God’s appointing it for a certain end made it effective for that end; but we are allowed to see why God appointed it, and this was because it was a shadow of the Great Atonement to be wrought for all mankind by the Christian Sin Offering of the cross. For the result of original sin and the consequent growth and spread of wickedness upon the earth had separated between God and man. How were they to be reconciled? Christ became the representative of sinful man, and the substitute for him, and in this capacity he bore the penalty of sins, (1) in the Garden of Gethsemaue, (2) on the cross—thus restoring man to communion with God.

III. Things to be noted—

1.    The wrath of God against sin.

2.    The love of God towards sinners.

3.    The justice of God.

4.    The love of Christ in his incarnation.

5.    The obedience of Christ in his death.

6.    The blessed result to man, namely, union and communion with God, through Christ the Peace-maker.

IV. The offering made once for all. The Jewish offerings could be brought again and again; the Christian Sin Offering could be made but once. There can be no repetition of it, no continuation of it; but its effects are always continuing, and applicable to all Christ’s people. Its benefits are to be grasped and appropriated, each time that they are needed, by faith. As the Israelite laid his hand on the sin offering, so we lean by faith on Christ, and may constantly plead the merits of the offering which cannot be renewed. In case we have fallen into sin, we may not, like the israelite, bring our bullock for sacrifice; we cannot renew the Great Sacrifice typified by the bullock’s sacrifice; but, by repentance and by faith in the atonement wrought by the sacrifice of Christ’s death, we can be restored.

V. Feelings awakened—

Thankfulness for God’s mercy in finding a way of escape;

Thankfulness for Christ’s love in working out man’s salvation;

A blessed sense of peace resulting from the consciousness that the Great Atoning Sacrifice has been offered.


Atonement for the penitent, as illustrated in the sin offering. Ch. 4; 5:1–13; cf.Ps. 19:12; Gal. 6:1; 1 Tim. 1:13, etc. The offerings already considered, viz. the burnt offering, the meat offering, and the peace offering, have respectively emphasized the ideas of personal consecration, consecrated life-work, and fellowship. Moreover, they are to be regarded as voluntary offerings, depending upon the impulse of the heart for their celebration. Special experience might impel an Israelite to express his consecration or his fellowship, and he would then bring the appointed sacrifice.

But here we come across an offering which is imperative. The moment an Israelite became convinced of sin, then he was bound to bring the offering prescribed. Besides, the sin offering is Mosaic in its origin; it had no existence, as such, before the promulgation of the covenant at Sinai: and consequently it is to be taken as the rule for penitents, whose consciences have been educated in a more thorough detection of sin through the Law. “By the law is the knowledge of sin.” We have at this stage, consequently, a perceptible elevation of the moral standard.

I. The first lesson of the sin offering is that sin is a nature. The superficial treatment of sin deals with outward and conscious acts, such as trespasses; what God declares by his Law is that, behind all conscious acts of the will, there are natural movements of which we are not conscious, and for which, nevertheless, we are responsible. This important principle is affirmed by all these minute regulations about sins of ignorance. The thoughtful Israelite would see from this that sin is a much wider and deeper thing then he at first suspected; that the motions of his personal being are more numerous and varied than he supposed; that deliberation, in fact, is not essential to every sin, and does not cover responsibility. In other words, he would look within and realize that sin is a nature, working on, sometimes consciously and sometimes unconsciously, and that for all its workings he will be held accountable.

No more important principle lies in the field of self-examination. Without it there can be no thorough treatment of sin. With it we stand abashed and humbled under a sense of the unknown sin as well as of the known. We cry with David, “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression” (Ps. 19:12, 13; cf. also Shedd’s ‘Discourses and Essays,’ No. VI.).

II. Sin varies in its heinouseness. The Israelite not only recognized this whole category of sins of ignorance marshalled in the Law before him; he also saw a difference of treatment in the cases under review. A sin of ignorance on the part of the high priest was made more emphatic than one on the part of a prince or a private person. The high priest’s representative position and character modified the whole case. His sin of omission or neglect become much more serious then a private individual’s could be. He was consequently directed to being a bullock, the same offering as for a sin on the part of the collective people; for his representative character made him, so to speak, a moral equivalent to them. While, therefore, it is well to recognize sin as a nature, we must also remember that God does not treat sin in the mass, but discriminates between the more or less guilty. In his morality there are the most delicate appreciations and adjustments. Penitence must likewise be discriminating as well as profound. Self-examination may be a most humiliating and disappointing process, but we should weigh the relations of our faults and sins when we discover them and deal faithfully with ourselves.

III. Yet all sinners are placed within reach of an appropriate atonement. The high priest and the collective people, the prince and one of the common people, each and all had their prescribed offering and guaranteed atonement. And when people proved so poor that they could not offer turtle-doves or young pigeons, they were directed to bring an cphah of fine flour, with which the priest would make atonement. And as for this atonement, it is in all cases secured by the surrender of life. Even the ephah of flour conveyed this idea, for the germ is hopelessly sacrificed in its manufacture. The one idea binding the various sacrifices together is the surrender of life. That this idea is to be attributed to substances in the vegetable kingdom as well as the animal, is evident from John 12:24, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”

And it need scarcely be added that the atonement of which these sin offerings were types is that of the Lord Jesus, who “was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28; also vers. 11–14). In the proclamation of the gospel, this most appropriate atonement it put within the reach of all. No sinner is excluded from the possibility of atonement except through his own self-will.

IV. The reconciliation with the penitent, which atonement secures, is a matter of deep delight to God. For not only is the blood of the sacrifice accepted at the appropriate spot, whether vail and altar of incense, or the brazen altar only, according to the status of the penitent; but there is besides an acceptance of the best portions of the animal upon the alter, indicating that God is delighted with the accomplished atonement. It was, so far as God was concerned, as much a feast as the peace offering. It expressed, consequently, that God was delighted beyond all our conception with the reconciliation.

It is well to make this idea always emphatic. Our blinded souls are ready to imagine that we are more anxious for reconciliation, and would be more delighted with it when it came, than God’scan be. The truth, however, is all the other way. The reconciliation begins with God, the atonement is due to his wisdom and mercy, and over the actual consummation he rejoices with “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

V. The reconciliation is also meant to be a feabt of delight to all God’s servants who are instrumental in bringing it about. For We must notice that, in the cases where the priests are not penitents themselves, but mediators, they are allowed to make a feast of what is left aftei the best portions are dedicated to God. Of course, when they are penitents, as in the case of a personal or a congregational sin, the jarcase is to be considered too holy for the priests to partake of it; hence it is disposed of in its entirety in a clean place beyond the camp. This was the solemn way of disposing of the whole carcase. But in the other cases the priests were directed to feast upon the remainder of the offering, as those bearing atonement. So far they enjoyed what was their lot in the peace offering. As a feast, and not a lugubrious fast, it surely was intended to indicate their personal joy and satisfaction in the reconciliation they were instrumental in bringing about.

Luke 15 presents the joy of the Godhead and of the angels over returning penitents. It is this spirit we should cultivate. It will require, of course, much personal dealing with souls, but it is worth all the trouble to be instrumental in leading them to peace with God, and to the joy that resultB therefrom.—R. M. E.

Vers. 1, 9.—Unintentional transgression. God is the source of authority and law. From him instructions emanate. His words are to be communicated to the people. Like unto Moses, ministers and teachers receive truth not to secrete it in their own breasts, but to impart it for the guidance of those under their charge. “The Lord spake, hhellip; saying, Speak unto the children of Israel.” May we listen carefully, lest the utterances of the “still small voice” should be misheard, and the counsels intended for comfort and direction prove a false light, speeding the unconscious traveller to the very pitfalls he was to avoid.

I. The universality of transgression. Provision is announced for cases of sin, and the possibility of its commission by all classes is thus shown. 1. The ordinary citizen citizen may err; one of “the people of the laud” (see ver. 27). Poverty and obscurity are not safeguards against unrighteous acts. 2. The man of rank, the “ruler” (ver. 22) or prince, is liable to sin. Honour and responsibility do not guarantee or produce immunity from transgression. 3. The whole congregation (ver. 13) is not exempt, for collective wisdom and might are not effectual barriers against the encroachments of unlawful desire and action. In the multitude of counsellors safety is often thought to lie, but the “people” may do wickedly as well as an individual. This was exemplified at Mount Sinai and Baal-peor, and modern instances abound. Even—4. The man specially consecrated to holy service, the “anointed priest” (ver. 3), may incur guilt and bring punishment upon the people. How cautious we should be I What searching of ourselves with the candle of the Lord; what prayer for knowledge and strength should distinguish us all!

II. The possibility of unintentional transgression. A distinction is intimated between sin that arises from mistake (“ignorance,” ver. 2), that is at first “hid” from perception and afterwards becomes known (vers. 13, 14), awaking penitence and a desire to undo the wrong perpetrated, and sin that is wilful, committed with a high hand, with an attitude of defiance, a sin against light and knowledge. Inadvertent sinning is possible through (1) carelessness of behaviour, heedless conduct, acting without previous deliberation; or (2) a misunderstanding of the Law, failure in correct interpretation, or in remembering the precise precept at tbe moment; or (3) a sudden outburst of passion, blinding the judgment and hurrying the will to words and deeds afterwards repented of.

III. The guilt of such transgression. Thiaia assumed by tbe atonement necessary to shield the doer from penalty, and by the expressions employed in vers. 13, 22, and 27, “Guilty” refers to the consequences of sinning, tbe state of wrath into which the sinner enters, and the moral devastation to which he ia liable, and from which preservation is possible only through an offering. Learn, then, that ignorance does not of itself excuse violation of God’s commands, but it permits resort to such an atonement as will procure God’s forgiveness. Paul said, “I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly and in unbelief.” Whereas if we sin wilfully, there is no more sacrifice for sins. The soul that doeth presumptnously shall be cut off from among the people.—S. R. A.

Ver. 3.—”Let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned.” The atonement for involuntary transgression. The Book of Leviticus well repays careful perusal in days when there are many attempts made to lessen men’s sense of the enormity of sin and of the necessity of a propitiatory offering. Its teachings are impressive, its pictures vivid.

I. Sin inflicts an injury upon the holiness of God, and exposes man to penal consequences. The words used to denote sin imply a turning aside from the path marked out, a deviation from rectitude. Man misses his way, goes astray like a lost sheep. He does what he ought not to do (ver. 2), and thereby the precepts of God are slighted and God’s honour is wounded. This cannot be permitted with impunity. The wrath of God, not a base but holy passion, is aroused, and vengeance or holy indignation threatens to visit the transgressor. We think wrongly of our singul acts if we minimize their awful importance, or pay regard simply to the injury done to ourselves. This is the least part. The Supreme Being is concerned, and it is his displeasure we have to fear. Sin cuts at the root of government, assails the foundations of the eternal throne.

II. Every transgression is recognized as sinful, whether arising from ignorance or wilfulness, whether an act of omission or commission. An atonement is insisted on even for what we deem the least flagrant derelictions. Man is so ready to extenuate his crimes, that God strips off the veil, and exposes sin in all its guiltiness, a thing to be loathed and shunned wherever met, requiring purification on our part, however accidentally we may have come in contact with it. That without intention we trod upon a venomous serpent, does not protect us from its fangs. We shall need the remedy, however the poison may have been injected.

III. Penitence and confession are insufficient to obliterate the memory of the sin. To regret the act and to express sorrow and to determine not to offend again, are good as far as they go, but, to wipe out the stain, blood must be shed. This only can whiten the defiled robes. Sinner, behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! To have the sin brought to your knowledge, so that you take a more adequate view of its sinfulness, to pour forth agonizing cries and floods of tears, will no obtain forgiveness, unless accompanied with the presentation to the Father of the righteousness of his Son.

IV. Sin becomes more conspicuous and far-beaching when committed by the occupants of lofty position. The high priest was the representative of the nation, and hence his offering must equal in value that presented by the whole congregation. So likewise the sin of a ruler was more visible than that of a subject, and wronged God the more, and whilst a he-goat sufficed for one of the people, for him only a he-goat was allowed. Not without reason did the apostle export that intercession be made “for kings, and all that are in authority.” Iniquity in high places in the Church and in society causes the greatest scandal, becomes most hurtful in its effects, and is most offensive to God. Both the animal offered and the titual observed testified to the relative enormity of transgressions by different classes. Between the sins of each order in themselves no distinction was made.

V. By the appointed victim reconciliation is possible to all inadvertent offenders. We reserve this to the last, in order that the cheeriest aspect may be upper most. Divest honour of its consequent responsibility we cannot, but we point to the ample provision for forgiveness afforded to comfort the prince and the peasant, the priest and the layman, the individual and the nation. Our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, has given his life a ransom for the many. He satisfies all claims, reconciles us unto God, so that our trespasses are not imputed unto us.—S. R. A.

Vers. 3–12.—Rites essential to an atonement. Who could stand in the tabernacle court without having imprinted on his mind the view takes of the gilt, and the necessity for the sinner’s deliverance from its results? The victims bought for sacrifice, the priests devoted to the sacrificial work, the altars of burnt offering mid incense, the vail that separated the holy from the holiost place—all these were eminently calculated to deepen the Israelites” viction of the holiness of the Almighty, and the awfulness of violating his injunctions. Neglecting the distinctions enumerated in this chapter according to the rank occupied by the transgressor, let us take a general survey of the conditions enforced in a proper offering for sin.

I. The death of an appointed victim. The hand of the offerer is placed on the aimal’s head, and the animal’s life is surrendered to the will of God. “Without hedding of blood is no remission.” This tragic spectacle attests forcibly the rigour of God’s requirements. Christ died as our representative, so that in him we all died (2 Cor. 5), and those who rejoice in the thought of his salvation place their hands byfaith upon him, believing that he was “made a curse” for them. Holiness demandsan unblemished victim in each case. Hence the impossibility of man becoming he is own atonement. Sin cannot expiate sin.

II. The sprinkling of the blood by the high priest upon the horns of the altar. “The blood is the life,” and is in this manner brought into the immediate presence of God, symbolized by the altar of burnt offering in the court or incense in the sanctury. The horns represent the might of the altar, so that to smear them with blood was to carry the offering to the place where the acceptance by God of offerings or praise culminated. Sin dishonours God, and therefore the significance of the offering for sin depends chiefly upon its presentation where God was pleased to vouchsafe his favour to man. Where sin was most dishonouring, as in the event of transgression by the anointed priest, the blood had to be sprinkled before the vail that covered the Shechinah. By his death Christ entered into heaven, presenting his own precious blood to the Fther, and now makes intercession as the appointed Mediator.

III. The pouring outof the blood at the foot of the altar of burnt offering. It is said that, at the building of the temple, conduits were constructed to drain the blood into the valley of Kedron; in the wilderness it sufficed to let it flow into the earth. The life of the animalswas thus completely surrendered to God. Jesus gave himself up to do the will of God. His self-sacrifice is the basis of ours. We must live, not to ourselves, but to him. He considered not his time, words, works. as his own, and we must regard ourselves as devoted to the Father.

IV. The burning of the fat. Thus God would be glorified by the choicest portions, analogous to the ceremony enacted in connection with peace offerings. This resemblance seems designed to teach: 1. That by this sin offering agreement was re-stablished between God and man. 2. And that God’s portion of the victim mightbe treated in the usual way, the transgression not being on God’s side, but on that of man, who therefore is not permitted, as in the peace offering, to eat his part in the enjoyment of a feast. There is thus: 3. A reminder that but for sin man too might have shared in the sacrificial meal with God, but transgression had interrupted the communion, and deprived him of his former privilege. By the obedience unto death of Jesus Christ, God was glorified, and Christ became the “propitiation for our sins.”

V. The consumption of the carcase by fire outside the camp.part of the animal was food man, but the remainder was to be carried to a clean place, and there burnt. Every detail of the ceremony speaks of God’s hatred of sin, and the blessings which man thereby loses, and the need for entire devotion of the victim that is to atone for sin. Nothing must be left, lest it should defile. The Epistle to the Hebrews deash the fact that Christ suffered without the gates of the holy city; to such a death of shame was he exposed in order to bear our sins.

Conliusion. Beware of Behold the sternness of God in dealing withit. Admire his grace in furnishing an expiation, and with grateful love avail yourselvesof the sacrifice of the Saviour.—S. R. A.

Vers. 1–3.—The sin offering for the priest. The revelations contained in the preceding chapters, and commencing with the words, “And the Lord called unto Moses,” etc., appear to have been given at one diet, and now we are introduced to a new series by similar words, “And the Lord spake unto Moses,” etc. The offerings described in the earlier series. viz. the burnt offering, the meat offering, and the peace offering, were similar to those offered by the patriarchs; but these now to be described seem to be characteristic of the Levitical dispensation. In the verses more immediately before us we have to contemplate—

I. The priest as a sinner. 1. May he be viewed in this character as a type of Christ? (1) He is distingnished as “the priest that is anointed.” Some suppose this determines him to be the high priest. That the high priest was a remarkable type of Christ there can be no question (Heb. 3:1). (2) But Christ was sinless. By the miracle in his birth he avoided original sin (Luke 1:35). In his life he “fulfilled all rightecousness” (Matt. 3:15; Heb. 4:15; 7:26). (3) Yet so was our sin laid to his account that he vicariously stood forth as the universal sinner. “The Lord made to meet upon him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6, margin). 2. He may be viewed as a type of the Christian. (1) He was not necessarily the high priest because “anointed.” Aaron’s sons were consecrated with Aaron (ch. 8:2). This expression may, therefore, simply important that he was a priest who had come to official years, and therefore had received consecration (see ch. 7:6, where minors and females are reputed to be “among the priests”). (2) The priests in general were representatives of the nation of Israel, who were, in consequence, viewed as a “kingdom of priests” (Exod. 19:6). (3) And they typified the Christians (1 Pet. 2:9). We do not exercise our priesthood by proxy, but ourselves “draw nigh unto God.” This supplies a good reason for their being “auointed,” for “Christians,” as their name imports, are anointed ones (see 2 Cor. 1:21; Heb. 1:9; 1 John 2:20, 27).

II. The priest as needing a sin offering. 1. His sin is that of ignorance. (1) The case of Eli could not be brought within this statute (see 1 Sam. 3:14). For obseinate sin there is no mercy (see Numb. 15:30, 31; Heb. 10:26–29). True Christians do not wilfully sin (see Matt. 13:38; John 8:44; 1 John 3:6–10). Not sin who profess the Christian name have a right to the title. (2) There are sins that are not wilful: sins of surprise; sins of inattention; sins of neglect in consequence (Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19, 20). But these are sins. (3) The sin offering is the only remedy for these. Though ignorance may be pleaded in extenuation, it cannot be pleaded in exculpation (see 1 John 1:7–9). 2. The priest must bring a bullock. (1) The common people may bring a kid (ver. 28). Even a ruler may bring a kid (ver. 23). But the priest must bring the larger animal. He has to bring the same which is offered for the whole congregation. (2) Much is expected of professors of religion; and more especially soof office-bearers and ministers. They should have more perfect knowledge in the which is the principal business of their life. They may, from their position, more easily misguide the people. The words in the text rendered “If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people,” to sin.” It is a fearful thing to be a “blind leader of the blind” (see Rom. 2:21). (3) Conspicuous men should consider this. Churchwardens in Episcopal Churches; deacons in Congregationalist Churches; leaders in Methodies Churches; ministers in all; they should watch; they should pray; they should seek the prayers of their Churches (Eph. 6:19; Col. 4:3; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1).—J. A. M.

Vers. 1–12—The sin offering viewed as typical of the Sacrifice of Calvery. This subject will be best considered by citing some of the more notable references to it contained in the Scriptures of the New Testament.

I. It is evinced from Rom. 8:3: “For what the Law could not do, in that is was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin,” i.e. by a sin offering (the Greek term here used is that by which the LXX. commonly translate the hebrew for “sin offering”), “condemned sin in the flesh,” etc. The “flesh” that was “weak” here, we take to be: 1. Not our fallen nature. (1) The word “flesh” is used for this. It is soused in the connection of this very passage (vers. 4–8; see also Gal. 5:16, 17). This circumstance has led expositors to accept the term here in that sense. (2) But as a matter of face, is the Law of God weak through our fallen nature? Certainly not. The Law answers all God ever intended it to answer. His purposes cannot be frustrated. 2. But the flesh of the sin offerings. (1) These were constitutionally weak for the purpose of condemning sin. The flesh of bulls and mats is not “sinful flesh.” Therefore sin could not be condemned in it. (2) This weakness was no frustration of God’s purposes, for he never intended that sin should be condemned in such flesh as theirs (Ps. 69:30, 31; 51:16: Heb. 10:4). He intended these to foreshadow something better, viz.: 3. The Sin Offering of Calvary. (1) This was made in a human body. Being in the “likeness of sinful flesh;” there was no constitutional weakness here (Heb. 10:5–10). (2) The glorius Person who assumed the “likeness of sinful flesh” was God’s “own Son.” Thus by virtue of his Divinity not only has he condemned sin in the flesh, but he enables us to fulfil the righteousness of the law in the spirit of the gospel.

II. It is evinced in 2 Cor. 5:21: “He was made sin,” i.e. a sin offering, “for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 1. His righteousness is the righteousness of God. (1) Because he is God himself. The Father was in him. Whoever failed to discern the Father in him did not comprehend him, did not know him (John 14:7–11). (2) He was approved of God (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). His resurrection placed this beyond question (Acts 2:22–24).2. This we receive, by imputation, in exchange for our sin. (1) The transfer of the sin was set forth in the laying on of the hand of the offerer upon the bullock at the altar, while it was yet alive. The Jews give us these as the words uttered by the offerer, “I have sinned; I have done preversely; I have rebelled, and done (here specifying mentally or audibly the cause of his offering). But I return by repentance before thee, and let this be my expration.” (2) The substitute is then condemned while the offerer is justified. Not only is he released from the obligation to die, but is taken into fellowship with God, and feasts with him upon the meat and drink offerings accopanying (Numb. 15:24).

III. It is evinced in Heb. 9:28: “Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin,” i.e. without a sin offering, “unto salvation.” The allusions here are to the sin offering of the Law. The teaching is that, whereas at his first advent he appeared in the similitude of sinful flesh for the purposes foreshadowed in the sin offering, when he comes the second time it will be in the glorious similitude of humanity, in innocence and holiness, to effect in us all the glories destined to follow upon his former meritorious sufferings (1 Pet. 1:11).

IV. It is evinced in Heb. 13:10–13: “We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood. suffered without the gate. Let us go forth, therefore, unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.” 1. This passage, like those already cited, asserts generally the fact that the sin offering was a type of the sacrifice of Christ. 2. But is also points out the typical import of the burning of the body in the place of ashes without the camp. What is this place of ashes but Calvary, Golgotha, the place of a skull, which was outside the gate of Jerusalem? 3. It furthermore proves that the consumption of the body of the beasts in the fire, viz. after they had been bled at the side of the alter, foreshadowed the “suffering” of Christ. “He suffered without the camp.” This suffering then being distinguished from that represented by the bleeding, it must refer to that agony of soul which Jesus suffered from the fire of God’s wrath against sin. 4. Since the altar which supplies our Eucharistic feast is that of Calvary; and since the priests under the Law did not eat of the bodies of those beasts which were burnt without the camp, which were types of Christ, those who serve the tabernacle have do right to eat of our altar. Therefore those who embrace Christ and rejoice in his fellowship must, in the first place, renounce the ceramonial law of Moses (Gal. 2:19–21; 3:1–3).—J. A. M.

Vers. 13–21.—Sin offering for the congregation. The congregation of Israel sustained a twofold character, viz. a political and an ecclesiastical; for it was at once a Nation and a Church. Here we have—

I. The sin of a nation. Ver. 13. 1. The commandments of the Lord concern nations. (1) Nations are constituted under the control of his providence. We see this in the account of their origin at Babel (Gen. 11:6–8). In the teaching of prophecy (Gen. 9:25–27; 17:4, 6, 16). In the inspired review of their history (Acts 17:26). (2) God has ever held nations responsible to him (Job 12:18; Jer. 27:6; Dan. 2:21; 4:32). (3) The Hebrew nation more especially so. He raised them up in pursuance of his promise to their fathers. He preserved them in Egypt. He brought them forth with an outstretched arm. He gave them a code of laws at Sinai. He gave them possession of the land of Canaan. In visible symbole guided their government. (Ps. 147:19, 20; Rom. 9:4, 5). 2. Therefore nations may sin against him. (1) Where a law is there may be transgression (1 John 3:4). God has not left himself without witness (Acts 14:17). (2) The Gentile nations sinned in throwing off their allegiance to the true God and joining themselves to idols. They have in consequence sunk into the most abominable immoralities (Rom. 1:21–32). (3) The Hebrews followed the bad example of their neighbours. (a) In asking a king to be like them (1 Sam. 8:7, 8). (b) In their idolatries (1 Kings 12:26–30; 2 Kings 21:11). They became demoralized by licentiousness and violence (Isa. 1:4).

II. The sin of a Church. 1. The commandments of the Lord concern Churches. (1) The Church of God in the noblest sense is a grand unity existing throughout the universe and throughout the ages. This is the corporation against which the gates of hell cannot prevail (Matt. 16:18). (2) This invisible Church has visible representatives on this earth. The congregation of Israel was such a representative (Acts 7:38; collate Ps. 22:22 with Heb. 2:12). Now under the gospel these representatives are many. There is a Church where two or three are met together in the name of Jesus. 2. These Churches are responsible to God. (1) They have to maintain the purity of faith (Titus 3:10; 2 John 10; Jude 3; Rev. 2:13). (2) They have to maintain purity of discipline, viz. by persuasion, by admonition, and by expulsion of incorrigible offenders. Excision in the Jewish Church was accompanied by the infliction of death; for the laws of the nation and those of the Church were one (Exod. 31:14; Numb. 15:34, 35). Now it means withdrawment from the companionship of the offerder (Matt. 18:17; Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14; 2 Tim. 3:5).

III. The offering for sin. 1. Communities are punished in this world. (1) This is evident from the nature of the case. There is no future resurrection of communities. Disintegration to a community is its utter extinction. (2) Nations meet their punishment in adversities which are ordered by Providence. These are the sword (1 Sam. 12:9–15); the pestilence (Deut. 28:21); the consequence is famine, and wasting, possibly, unto extinction. God stirs up one nation against another to punish its pride (Isa. 41:2, 25; 45:1–4; 46:10; Jer. 50:21–32). (3) Churches have their punishment in this world. It may come in the from of spiritual leanness. In abandonment to apostacy (Isa. 66:3, 4; 2 Thess. 2:11). The candlestick may be taken out of its place (Matt. 21:41–43; Rev. 2:5). 2. Punishment may be averted by sacrifice. (1) Sacrifices of the Law were concerned with communities. The text furnishes an example. The community may be civil. it may be ecclesiastical. When sacrifice is accepted, no punishment is inflicted. This is the import of he assurance, “It shall be forgiven them.” (2) The sacrifice of Calvary is no less concerned with communities. Churches and nations also should plead it far more than they do. 3. There in no mercy for wilful sin. (1) To avail ourselves of the benefits of atonement, there must be repentance. This was expressed when the elders of the congregation on behalf of their constituents, laid their hands upon the bullock (see ver. 15). The gospel of this is obvious. (2) There must also be faith. The faith expressed in the laying on of hands was carried further in the sprinkling of blood (see vers. 16, 18). The vail was a type of Christ, who is our “Way” to God, the “Door” to us into the temple of the Divine Presence (Heb. 10:19, 20). The blood sprinkled upon the vail set forth the laying of our sin upon him who thereby consecrates for us the way. He also is our altar of incense upon when the blood of our guilt is laid, and by those intercession we are rendered acceptable to God (1 Pet. 2:5). (3) Judgment is reserved for the obstinate. When a Church becomes apostate and will not repent, it must be destroyed. Such was the case with Judaism, which was removed amidst the slaughter of the destruction of Jerusalem. Such will be the doom of the Babylonish harlot (Rev. 18:4–8). And what hope is there for nations when they become infidel? If sins of ignorance cannot be forgiven without a sin offering, what must be the fate of communities guilty of presumptuous sins!—J. A. M.

Vers. 22–35.—The sin offering of the ruler and of any of the people. As in the proceding paragraph we have lessons from the relation of sin offering of communities, here we are reminded—

I. That individuals are responsible to God. We have: 1. The responsibility of the ruler (1) Rulers stand related to subjects.Their influence is extensive in pro-portion to the elevation of their rank. The Jews construe this law to relate to the king; but the term for ruler (נשיא, nasi) is not so restricted in Scripture (see Numb. 10:4). This law was in force 400 years before there existed a king in Israel. (2) As rulers of subjects they stand related to God (Prov. 8:15, 16; 2 Sam. 23:3). Note: here only, the commandment transgressed is said to be the “commandment of the Lord his God” (ver. 22). This is to remind him that if he rules others, God rules him, and will call him to account for the manner in which he uses his authority. (3) The individual is not sunk in the office. Men are too apt to forget this, particularly so when they sit in conclave. So far from neutralizing, it makes individuality more conspicuous, and should render it more intense. 2. The responsibility of the private person. (1) Subjects stand related to rulers. They have relative as well as personal duties. They have public as well as private interests and obligations. (2) They stand as subjects to rulers in relation to God. This is recognized in his laws. (See Exod. 22:28; the margin construes the term אלהים, rendered “gods,” by “judges.” Magistrates are here presented as representatives of the Elohim.) They are to respect and sustain authority in righteousness (1 Tim. 6:1). To pray for those in authority (1 Tim. 2:1, 2). (3) The individual is not sunk in the subject. None are too obscure to be noticed by God; too insignificant to escape his inquisition.

II. That sin offering is provided for individuals. 1. It is appointed for the ruler (vers. 22–26). (1) He has to bring a “kid of the goats,” not a bullock, which was required from the priest and from the congregation. The blood of the kid was to be sprinkled simply upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, whereas the blood of the bullock was also sprinkled upon the alter of incense and the vail. A further difference was that whereas the bodies of the beasts offered for the priest and for the, congregation were burnt without the camp, the kind of the ruler was treated as the peace offering. (2) These differences show that the sin of the ruler, thought so herinous as not to be forgiven without sacrifice, was yet not so heinous as that of the priest. More is expected from men of religious profession. Nor was the sin of the ruler regarded as so heinous as that of the congregation. “It is bad when great men give ill examples, but worse when all men follow them” (Matthew Henry). 2. It is appointed for the common person (vers. 27–35). (1) Whereas the offering of the ruler is defined to be “a kid of the goats,” that of the private individual may be either a kid or a lamb. As he has more liberty in his sacrifice, so has he in his conduct. Freedom is limited in the ratio of elevation. The humble should not be envious of the great. (2) The offering of the private person was to be a female, which was proper to one having no authority; whereas, and for the opposite reason, the ruler had to bring a male. (3) There person. if this privileges are greater, so are his responsibilities. If his position is elevated, his influence, for good or evil, is proportionately great.

III. That sin offering is discriminative. 1. As to the nature of the sin. (1) It is for sin against God. It seems to have nothing to do immediately with sins against our fellows or against society. These, of course, may be constructively viewed as offenses also against God. It this were more considered, men would be more respectful to their fellows, who are “made after the image of God” (see Jas. 3:9). (2) It is for sin against his negative commandments. This is the teaching of vers. 2, 15, 22, 27. (3) It is for sin ignorantly committed against them (see John 16:2, 3; Acts 3:17; 1 Cor. 2:8). Ignorance is no plea for mercy without sacrifice. It is a plea for mercy with a sacrifice (see Luke 23:34; 1 Tim. 1:13). 2. As to the time of the offering. (1) “And is guilty,” viz. before the punishment of his sin has come upon him. If he discover his sin in time and bring his sin offering, it may avert that punishment. Men should never try to hide their sins from their own souls. On the contrary, they should diligently seek to discover them. We should plead the sin sacrifice for those we have not discovered (see Ps. 19:12; 139:23, 24; 1 John 1:7). (2) “Or if his sin, wherein he hath sinned, come to his knowledge,” viz. by the punishment of it overtaking taking him (see 1 Sam. 31:1). When calamity comes we must not too readily relegated it to the category of mere physical sequence, but confess the hand of God. Timely sacrifice may stay a plague (see 2 Sam. 24:25). 3. For obstinate infidelity there is no mercy. (1) This is what Paul, alluding to the sin offering, calls wilful sin (Heb. 10:26). His argument goes to show that the Great Sacrifice of Calvary is the antitype of the offering. (2) The Law had no provision of mercy for presumptuous sins, whether the precept outraged were negative or positive (see Numb. 15:27–31). Anawful instance of the severity of the Law is described in Numb. 15:32–36. This instance is referred to by Paul, who goes on to state that the gospel has its corresponding law of extermity, but with a “much sorer punishment” (Heb. 10:28, 29). If the extreme penalty of the Mosaic Law was the infliction of death upon the body, what punishment can be “much sorer” but the “destruction of both body and soul in hell” (Matt. 10:28)?—J. A. M.

Ver. 2.—The mind of God respecting the sin of man. “It a sould shall sin.” This chapter which treats of this sin offering, and more especially these words of the second verse, may remind us—

I. That all men have sinned, and are guilty defore God. The stern facts of the case make the words, “If a soul shall sin,” equivalent to “When a soul sins.” The succeeding chapters provide for all possible cases, as if it were only too certain that men in every station and in every position would sin. So in John we have, “If any man sin,” accompanied by the plain utterance, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves,” etc. (1 John 1:8; 2:1). It is a significant fact that, in providing for the people of God, the Divine Legislator had to contemplate the moral certainty that all, even those standing in his immediate presence and engaged in his worship, would fall into sin and condemnation. This significant provision is only too well confirmed by: 1. The record of Hebrew history. 2. Other statements of Scripture (Ps. 14:2, 3; Rom. 3:10, 23; Gal. 3:22; 1 John 1:10). 3. Our observation and knowledge of mankind. 4. Our own conscience: every soul does sin in thought, in word, in deed; doing those “things which ought not to be done” (ver. 2), and leaving undone (not thought, not spoken, not fulfilled) those things God righteously requires. “The God in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways, have we not glorified” (Dan. 5:23).

II. That sin was (and still may be) divided into the pardonable and unpardonable. The words, “If a soul shall sin,” are preparatory to the announcement of Divine provision for pardon. But there is a line drawn between sin and sin. Reference us frequently made to sinning “through ignorance” (vers. 2, 13, 22, 27). This is distinguished from “presumptuous sin” (Numb. 15:30, 31; Deut. 17:12). For the one there was pardon; for the other, instant execution. The word “ignorance” was not confined to mere inadvertence; it extended to sins of unpremeditated folly and passion; probably to all sins but deliberate, high-handed rebellion against God and his Law (ch. 16:21; comp. Acts 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:13). Pardon was provided, but there was a limit to the Divine mercy; there was iniquity for which no sacrifice availed (1 Sam. 3:14). Under the gospel there is one “unpardonable sin,” the sin “against the Holy Ghost” (Matt. 12:31, 32). In the time of our Lord, this sin took the special form of blasphemy against the Spirit of God. In our time it resolves itself into a peristent and obdurate resistance of his Divine influence. This necessarily ends in final impenitence and ultimate condemnation. This one sin excepted, the mercy of God in Christ Jesus extends (1) to the blackest crimes; (2) to the longest career in wrong-doing; (3) to the guiltiest disregard of privilege and opportunity.

III. That God has provided for the pardon of sin by sacrifice. It is a stricking fact that the same word in Hebrew which signifies sin is also used for “sin offering.” So closely, so intimatelu in the will of God, and hence in the mind of man, were the two things connected—sin and sacrifice. All unpresumptuous sins might be forgiven, but not without sheeing of blood. Sin, in God’s thought, means death, and the sinner must be made to feel that, as such, he is worthy of death. Hence he must bring sinner the animal from his herd or flock, and it must be slain, the guilt of the offerer having been solemnly confessed over, and (by imputation) formally conveyed to the victims’s head. The life of the one for the life of the other. Doubtless it sufficed for the time and for the purpose, but it was not the redemption which a guilty race needed, and which a God of boundless peace was intending and was thus preparing to supply. The sin offering was prophetic, symbolical. The blood of bulls could not take away the sin of the world; only the slain Lamb of God would avail for that (Heb. 10:4; John 1:29). But “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin;” “If any man sin, … he is the propitiation for our sins … for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 1:7; 2:1, 2). “He hath made him to be sin (a sin offering) for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made,” etc. (2 Cor. 5:21). We learn from the foregoing: 1. The one great and deep want of the world. We have bodies that need to be clothed, fed, etc., but this is nothing to the fact that we are souls that have sinned, needing to be forgiven and accepted of God. 2. The inestimable advantages we now enjoy. If the Jew had great advantages over the Gentile, we are far more privileged than he. There has been offered for us “one sacrifice for sins for ever” (Heb. 10:12), available for all souls, under the heaviest condemnation, for all time. 3. Our proportionate guilt if we are negligent (Heb. 10:29),—C.

Vers. 3, 13, 22, 27.—Gradations in guilt. In Israel, as we have seen, sin was divided into the pardonable and the unpardonable—into “sins through ignorance” and sins of presumption. But this was not the only distinction. Of those which might be forgiven there were some more serious than others, demanding variety in expiation. Special regulations were given as to the sin of the “priest that is anointed” (ver. 3), the “whole congregation of Israel” (ver. 13), the ruler (ver. 22), etc. These distinctions teach us—

I. That special privilege carries with it peculiar responsibility. The high priest, if he sinned, was to bring a bullock without blemish (ver. 3), and every detail of the sin offering was to be carefully observed in his case (vers. 4, 5, etc.). His transgression was accounted one of greater guilt, needing a more considerable sacrifice. His nearer access to God, his larger share of sacred privilege, made his accountability and his guilt the greater. The children of privilege are the heirs of responsibility; the more we have from God, the closer we are admitted to his presence, the clearer vision we have of his truth and will,—the more he expects from us, and the more heinous will be our guilt in his sight if we depart from his ways.

II. That the profession of piety carries with it increase of obligation. The high priest’s enlarged accountability was partly due to the fact that, as high priest, he professed to stand in very close relation to God; he was, in public estimation, the first minister of Jehovah; he was regarded as the holiest man in the whole congregation. Special obligation, therefore, rested on him, and any slight irregularity on his part was most serious. Profession of godliness is a good and desirable thing. 1. It is the right thing: it places us in the position in which we ought to stand; it is being true to ourselves. 2. It is the will of Christ as revealed in his Word (Matt. 10:32). 3. It adds to our influence on behalf of righteousness and wisdom. 4. It is an additional security against the power of temptation. But it enhances responsibility; it increases obligation. For if, professing to love and honour Christ, we do that which he has expressly forbidden, we bring his sacred cause into contempt, and “make the enemy to blaspheme.” Rise to the full height of duty, influence, privilege, but remember that on that height are some special dangers, and that a fall therefrom is to be dreaded with holy fear, to be shunned with devoutest vigilance.

III. That influence confers added responsibility on those who wield it. Special provision is made for the sin of the ruler, “When a ruler hath sinned,” etc. (vers. 22, 23, etc.). A ruler enjoys a position of prominence and power; his influence is felt afar. What he does will decide, to some considerable extent, what others will do.He has the peculiar joy of power; let him remember that power and responsibility are inseparably united. Let all those who hold positions of influence, all whose judgement and behaviour are importantly affecting the convictions and character of their fellows, realize that if they sin, and thus encourage others in error and transgression, they are specially guilty in the sight of God.

IV. That communities of men, as such, may fall into serious condemnation. “The whole congregation of Israel” might “sin through ignorance;” it might be led, unwittingly, into practices that were forbidden. In that case, though men have great confidence when they err in large companies, it would be guilty before God; and though it might be inadvertently betrayed into folly, it would be condemned of him, and must bring its oblation to his altar (see Homily on “Collective,” etc., infra).

V. That no measure of obscurity will cloak sin from the sight of God. “If anyone of the common people sin through ignorance,” etc. (ver. 27, etc.), he must bring his kid (ver. 28) or his lamb (ver. 32), and the atoning blood must be shed. We shall not escape in the throng. In the hundreds of millions of fellow-travellers along the path of life, God singles each of us out, and marks our course, and searches our soul. He esteems every human child, however disregarded of men, to be worthy of his watchful glance; is displeased with each sinful deed or word, but is ready to forgive when the penitent seeks mercy in the appointed way (vers. 31, 35).—C.

Vers. 13, 14.—Collective guilt unconsciously incurred. We learn from the special provision made for the “sin in ignorance” of “the whole congregation of Israel”—

I. That, though God deals primarily with individual souls, He has direct relations with communities. Ordinarily, constantly, God comes to the individual soul, and says, “Thou shalt” or “Thou shalt not;” “My Son,” do this and live, etc. But he has his Divine dealings with societies, with secular and sacred communities also; with (1) nations, (2) Churches, (3) families.

II. That communities, as such, may incur his condemnation. A “whole congregation,” an entire people, may sin (ver. 13). 1. The nation: witness the Jewish people, again and again denounced and punished. 2. The Church: witness the Churches of Galatia (Epist. to Gal.), the Churches of Asia Minor (Rev. 2, 3). 3. The family.

III. That this guilt may be contracted unconsciously. “The thing be hid from the eyes of the assembly” (ver. 13). 1. The Jewish nation, “through ignorance, killed the Prince of Life” (Acts 3:15, 17). Under some of the better and worthier emperors as well as under the viler, Rome martyred the Christians, thinking them injurious to that human race which they were regenerating. 2. The Church of Christ has unconsciously fallen, at different times and places into (1) error, (2) laxity of conduct, (3) unsiarituality in worship and life, (4) inactivity. 3. Families fall into (1) undevoutness of habit; (2) unneighbourliness and inconsiderateness; (3) ungraciousness of tone, and unkindness of behaviour in the home circle.

IV. That recognition of wrong must be immediately followed by peritence and faith. When “the sin was known,” the congregation was to “offer a young bullock,” etc. (ver. 14). Let every nation, Church, society, family: 1. Remember that it is fallible, and may fall unconsciously into sin. 2. Readily, and with open mind, receive expostulation and warning from others. 3. Upon conviction of wrong, resort in penitence and faith to the all-sufficient Sacrifice of which the sin offering was the type.—C.

Vers. 11, 12—Full acceptance with God. The carrying away of all the offered animal (save that part which had been presented to God in sacrifice) and the burning it in “a clean place” (ver. 12), was probably meant to represent the full and perfect acceptance of the offerer by the Holy One of Israel. When the victim had been slain and its blood outpoured on the altar and its richest part accepted in sacrifice, there might seem to have been sufficient indication of Divine mercy. But one sign more was added: the animal which represented the worshipper having shed its blood, and that shed blood having been received as an expiation, it became holy; when, therefore, its flesh was not eaten by the priest (ch. 6:26) in token of its sanctity, every part of the animal was solemnly and reverently consumed, in “a clean place.” Nothing pertaining to that which had become holy through the shed blood should be treated as an unholy thing. Looked at in this light, we gain the Valuable thought that when sin has been forgiven through faith in the shed blood of the.Redeemer, the sinner is regarded as holy in the sight of God. As everything was thus done by pictorial representation to express the thought of the fulness of Divine forgiveness, so everything was stated in explicit language through the psalmists and prophets to the same effect (Exod. 34:6, 7; Ps. 86:5, 15; 103:8; 145:8; Isa. 1:18; 55:7). So, also, our Lord, in the “Prince of parables,” included everything that could be introduced—the robe, the ring, the shoes, the fatted calf—to present in the strongest colouring the precious truth that God does not grudgingly or imperfectly forgive, but that he “abusedantly pardons.” The subject demands our consideration of two things—

I. The fulness of God’s acceptance. God’s mercy in Christ Jesus embraces: 1. The entire forgiveness of all past sins, so that all our numerous transgressions of his Law, both the more heinous and the less guilty, are “blotted out” of his “book of remembrance,” and no more regarded by him; and so that all our more numerons shortcomings, our failure to be and to do that which the heavenly Father looked for from his children, are entirely forgiven. 2. The overlooking of our present unworthiness; so that the scantiness of our knowledge, the imperfection of our penitence, the feebleness of our faith, the poverty of our resolutions, and our general unworthiness do not stand in the way of his “benign regard.” 3. The bestowment of his Divine complacency; so that he not only “receives us graciously,” but “loves us freely” (Hos. 14:2, 4). He feels toward us the love and the delight which a father feels toward the children of his heart and his home. But to gain this inestimable blessing, let us be sure that we have fulfilled—

II. The conditions on which it is bestowed. These are twofold. Paul has expressed them thus: (1) repentance toward God; and (2) faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). He who inspired Paul has taught us the same truth in his own words (Luke 24:47; Acts 26:18). There must be the turning of the heart, in Christ as the Divine Teacher, the all-sufficient Saviour, the rightful Lord of heart and life, which he claims to be.—C.

Vers. 3, 13, 22, 27.—Access for all: comparison and contrast. In the statutes of the Law given in this chapter we are reminded, by comparison and by contrast, of two of the main features of the gospel of Christ. We are reminded by comparison of—

I. The access that was permitted to every Israelite, and is now chanted to us. No single individual in the whole congregation of Israel could feel that he was forbidden to go with his offering “before the Lord,” to seek forgiveness of his sin. The priest could not think his office stood in his way (ver. 3); nor the ruler his function (ver. 22); nor could any humble son of Abraham suppose himself too obscure to find attention at the door of the tabernacle (ver. 27). Special and explicit legislation provided for each case, and there could not have been one Hebrew family which did not know that the tabernacle of the Lord was open to all, and that on the altar of sacrifice every offender might have his offering presented and come “down to his house justified.” Thus broad, and indeed broader still, is the permission to approach which is granted in the gospel. For not only is the Christian sanctuary open to prince and people, to minister and member, to every class and rank, but in Christ Jesus there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision, neither Greek nor Jew, neither male nor female; every distinction of every kind has disappeared, and is utterly unknown. We are reminded by contrast of—

II. That access which was denied to them, but which is offered to us. The ordinary Jew, one of the “common people,” could go no further than the “door of the tabernacle:” there his entrance was barred. At that point he had to leave everything to the officiating priest; it was not permitted to him to enter the holy place, to sprinkle the blood upon the altar, to present any part of the victim in sacrifice;—another must do that in his stead. But in Christ Jesus we have: 1. Access to God our Father in every place (Eph. 2:18; 3:12; Heb. 13:15). 2. Right to plead, ourselves, the one Great Propitiation for sin. 3. Right to present ourselves and our gifts on his altar to God and his service (Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:16). 4. Access to the table of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:28). Let us try to realize (1) the height of our Christian privilege, and (2) the corresponding weight of the responsibility we bear. From us to whom such full and close access is given will much fruit be required to the glory of his Name, in the growth of our own souls and the salvation of others.—C.

Vers. 1, 2.—The sin offering. The main points in this offering were these: I. The Law of God is made the standard of righteousness. II. Sin is offence against the Law. III. Offences of ignorance or error involve guilt; that is, requre that the Law shall be honoured in view of them. IV. There is forgiveness with God for all sin. V. Those who are in the most responsible position are the most called to offer sacrifice for their sin. VI. The forgiveness of sin is only through expiation, in recognition of an atonement. These points embrace much of the teaching of the Mosaic economy. Consider—

1. The Law of God the standard of righteousness. The sin which has to be expiated is “Sin against any of the commandments of the Lord.” While distinction was plainly made from the first between the fundamental moral law, as in the ten commandments, and the ceremonial law—still all that was “commanded of the Lord” was law to Israel—was to be strictly observed, involved the covenant relation between God and man, to violate which was to be estranged from the peace of God. The ceremonial law, taken in connection with the Decalogue and the whole of the Mosaic appointements, set forth this great truth, that the existence of man in all its extent was subject to the will of God, and that that will as declared was law, which must be obeyed at peril of Divine displeasure. so there is still the same subjection of man to law, which is: 1. The law of the heart or of the inward man. 2. The law of ethics, of man’s relations to his fellow-man. 3. The law of the religions life, of man’s worship of God. The standard of righteousness must be applied in each of these spheres of Law, which our Lord shows by his Sermon on the Mount, when he proclaims the will of God to be holiness in all these respects—poverty and purity of heart, love to neighbours, sincerity and devotion in the worship of God. Against the Law any offence is sin. Therefore, as the gospel was a new proclamation of the Law, so was it a new revelation of sin; for Christ, by the spirit, came to “convince the world of sin,” by revealing the law of reghteousness.

II. Sin is offence against the Law. The fundamental conception of the Mosaic economy was the fellowship of God and man—the true blessedness of human existence. The Law was a setting out of the boundaries of that ground of fellowship where alone God and man could meet together. Whether it was civil law, or moral law, or ceremonial law, the same twofold reference was in each to the will of God as Creator, King, Redeemer, to the trustful subjection of man to Divine authority. An offence against Law in this wide sense of the word must include not only a deliberate setting up of the will of the creature against the Creator as in immorality or intentional disobedience of any kind, but anything in the conduct which hinders the fulfilment of the Divine purposes, anything which opposes the Law as an active principle. We recognize the same universality of sanction to law in that inevitableness which we attach to the laws of nature, whether physical or social. They work out their results both in the individual and in society, apart from all respect of persons. The good man violating a law of nature must suffer the consequences. Not because he is punished by the God of providence, but because he has put himself in the way of the great chariot of the world’s onward progress, and has become so far an ofrence and a stumbling-block, which must be treated as such. It was grand advance in revelation that all human life was regarded as based upon law, and all law was declared to be God’s Law. Therefore, all reightness, all happiness, both positive and negative, must be from God, the fruit of a living fellowship between the creature and the Creator.

III. Extension of guilt to offences of ignorance and error. The word rendered ignorance signifies wandering from the way. Therefore the idea of the offence is not that of absolute ignorance of the Law itself, which would exclude the idea of guilt altogether, but rather that of inadvertence, through carelessness, through human infirmity of any kind, or through the connection of our own life with the life of others. “There are many things which man’s conscience would pass over, many things which might escape man’s congnizance, many things which his heart might deem all right, which God could not tolerate; and which, as a consequence, would interfere with man’s approach to, his worship of, and his relationship with God” (Macintosh). Hence the need of a Divince atonement—for as David prays we must all pray. “Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Ps. 19:12). Now, the sin offering pointed to the fact that such secret faults, unintentinal violations of the Law, involved guilt, inasmuch as they were occasions demanding that the Law should be vindicated and honoured as truly as the greatest offences. This has been universally recognized in the law of nations as a natural principle of justice. The over act is alone before the eye of the law, not the secret intention except as it changes the character of the overt act. The offence of man-slaughter embraces a large number of cases where ignorance and error might be pleaded, but are not sufficient to remove the liability of the offender. Guilt is not merely conscious or subjective liability to punishment, but objective liability as well. Thus is the conscience of man enlightened and its power enlarged by the revelation of God. As Adam knew his sin much more clearly when God had called him into colloquy, so the Law of Moses was an appeal to the conscience, a quickening of it, a setting up of the Divine mirror before man, that he might know himself. See this whole doctrine of guilt treated by St. Paul in Rom. 7, “Sin by the commandment became exceeding sinful.” “I was alive without the Law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.”

IV. The offering for sin is the pledge of Divine forgiveness. The sin of ignorance represented God’s view of sin as contrasted with man’s view. Therefore, as it was an atoning offering, it proclaimed both the righteousness of God as condemning all sin, and the covenant mercy of God as forgiving all sin. Man would naturally take account only of known sins, but the true peace is that which proceeds from the assurance of entire and infinite atonement. How different is such a revelation of mercy from any of the heathen satisfactions which were mere attempts to appease the Divine wrath as a recognized danger! But dangers are not only seen, but unseen. In the case of natural laws, how often we find that we have broken them when we knew not! The true safety is that which we know is not only partial and probable, but absolutely secured against all possible contingencies. God’s thoughts are not as our thoughts. He invites us to hide under the shadow of his wings.

V. Responsibility in proportion to privilege. The priest represented the people.The congregation was the nation in its collective capacity, therefore it represented not only the individuals as sinners, but the special relation of the community to Jehovah as the body to the head. The official position of the high priest was one of peculiar dignity and solemnity, therefore the sin of the individual in his case was more than his own sin—it was the violation of that larger relation in which the people as a whole stood to their God. All superior knowledge, all elevation of office and vocation, all representation, carries with it special responsibility. Those who are ministers of God must feel their sins as heavier burdens, requiring to be put away by special acknowledgement, by extraordinary effort. There are sins which none but the high priest and the congregation could commit. So there are sins of official life and sins of Church life, which we are apt to overlook because they are less upon the individual conscience than our own personal sins; but God shows us by the regulations of his Law, that we must hate them and avoid them and seek their forgiveness, even as though they were deliberate and individual offences. How often men have done, in the name of their religious system or in their official capacity, what, if it had been ascribed to themselves in their private life, they would have immediately condemned! The purity of Church officers and of Church life in general has much to do with the growth of Christianity. The history of ecclesiastical errors is a very sad one. It was the absolute purity of Christ which so severely condemned the religious leaders of his time. They suffered their consciences to be blinded by the corruption of the system under which they lived. They did evil, thinking ofter that they did God service. Yet the Church and its rulers will be judged, not by the standard of its own degeneracy, but by the Law of God. Judgement, begins at the house of God. There are the most responsible men, there are the greatest offences, and there must be the most exemplary manifestation of Divine righteousness.The clearing away of sin from the Church is the preparation for the pure worship of God, for the re-established relation between the convenant king and his people, for the outpoured blessings of the throne of grace.

VI. The forgiveness of sin, only by expiation, through atonement. This is especially set forth by the sin offering, for it represented the Divine demand of expiation in cases where human ignorance or error might be pleaded in excuse on man’s side. What we require is not mere proclamation of pardon, but a peace which is settled on eternal foundations. So long as there remains in the mind of the sinner the thought that God is not satisfied, there must be a barrier to fellowship. The setting forth of the sin offering was a provision of Divine righteousness as the condition of peace. God does not overlook sin as that which has excuse made for it; he puts it away as that which is atoned for. All the details of the ceremony, especially the connection of the blood of the sin offering with the two altars—that of incense and that of burnt offering—pointed to the completeness of the atonement which God provided. In the antitype, the great sacrifice offered by our Lord Jesus Christ, whose soul was made an offering for sin, we must lay great stress on the Divine perfection of the Victim offered, his coming forth from God, his representation in himself of Divine righteousness; for Christ is not a Saviour merely from individual transgressions, but from sin itself as an evil principle at work in the nature of man. Unless we hold firmly to this atoning perfection of Christ, we cannot proclaim the regenerating gift of the Holy Spirit, for the new life must be founded in a perfect justification; the same faith which admits us into the forgiveness of sins through the blood of Christ, also admits us into that fellowship and vital union with the living Redeemer, which is the commencement of a new life in the Spirit. The Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 1:2) puts the sanctification of the Spirit and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ in juxtaposition. They are included in the one Sacrifice of Calvary, whereby atonement is made, and the power of an endless life is revealed in him who, having offered himself through the Spirit without spot, rose again from the dead to become the Captain of salvation, the Firstborn among many brethren, the second Adam, the man who is made, by his Divine work, a quickening spirit. “Christ is God’s” and “ye are Christ’s.”—R.

Vers. 3–12.—The high priest’s burnt offering. The difference between the high priest’s offering and that for the whole congregation on the one hand, and the offering for an offending ruler or any of the common people on the other, lay in the sprinkling of the blood of the victim seven times before the Lord, before the vail of the sanctuary. This betokened the purifying by this sacrifice of the public worship of the people as distinguished from their private and individual life. The different modes of sprinkling the blood marked successive degrees of consecration, from the altar of burnt offering without to the vail in the sanctuary, which especially represented Jehovah’s presence. The high priest was an embodiment of the people’s sanctity as a worshipping people. The great truth taught is the necessity of connecting together worship with the revelation of Divine righteousness and grace. The only true religion is that which rests on the twofold basis—God’s provided atonement for sin; man’s faith and obedience towards God.

Show that there is “iniquity in our holy things.” This was recognized by the Apostle Paul at Athens. “Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.” The want of true knowledge renders the worship unacceptable. But not ignorance only; indifference, heedlessness, the superstition which proceeds from a corrupt heart, the falsehood which has grown up from the root of sin in human nature and which the individual man may adopt from tradition without perceiving its falsity. The religious leaders of a people may be especially guilty of defiling the popular worship. The priest, by his false theology, or his corrupt titual, or his lack of spirituality, may involve the congregation in sin. In the house of God itself there may be sinful defect of reverence, sinful disorder, sinful coldness and dulness, sinful pride and worldliness, sinful wanderings of thought and self-assertion. Our worship needs to be sprinkled with the blood of our Great Sacrifice before it can be accepted. It is especially incumbent on the religious teachers and ministers of the sanctuary that they be prominent in confessing sin, in urging the necessity of more sanctification, in exalting the merit of Christ that worship be presented through him.—R.

Vers. 13–21.—The whole congregation sinners through ignorance. The sacrifice is very similar to the high priest’s. The ruling thought in both cases is that of sin attaching to those who represent the covenant of God. The people, whether as a nation or assembly, or as a house of God, a worshipping congregation, whether in its elders or rulers, or in its high priest, were in a convenant relation to Jehovah; therefore might offend against that relation, and required atonement to be made. Take up the subject of national sins.

I. A nation may be guilty. 1. Negatively, violating the commandments of God. Political unwisdom, producing national disorder, ignorance, division of classes from one another, decay of commerce, and distress. International confusion and war. Positively irreligious. Growth of vices till they become national. Combinations of great masses of people to uphold wrong and protect interests which impede the advance of morality. Sins of rulers in dishonest legislation. State interference with religious liberty. Spread of superstition, for which the nation as a whole is accountable. Indifference of the more privileged classes to the moral and religious condition of the multitudes. Guilty leaders followed.

II. National sins should be nationally confessed and put away. While there are prominent members of the nation who should set an example of penitence and sacrifice, the whole people should be summoned to a united acknowledgment of their position before God. The national fast, if rightly conducted, and emanating from a widespread sense of sin, and not from a mere royal command, must be pleasing to God. At such times this chief stress should be laid not upon the performance of external rites, but upon the facts of the moral state of the people and the gospel call to repentance and faith.

III. There is a forgiveness of nations as well as of individuals. “And the priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.” We cannot doubt that God, as a Moral Governor, punishes nations. History proves, that there is not a mere natural rise and fall of great powers by the working of ordinary physical, social, and economical laws; but there is an ordering of events, so as to visit national sins upon nations. Great illustrations: in France; in United States for slavery; in our own history, Spanish Armada—”Afflavit Deus, et dissipantur.” Many instances of change for the better in affairs of nations: France, Italy, America, England at the Commonwealth. Preservation from impending evils. Special help in internal troubles and international relations. We must watch the will of Providence over long periods, and adapt facts and principles to one another. Testimony in the Old Testament, and especially in the Psalms, to the government of God in nations.—R.

Vers. 22–26.—A ruler can sin through ignorance, and requires atonement. I. Official position is moral responsibility. Whether the office be inherited or appointed, the ruler is in a special relation to God and to the people. He must jealously guard his office, and the more exalted he is, the more he should preserve a conscience void of offence towards God and towards man.

II. The ruler should set the example of respecting the requirements of God’s Law. If the people see their natural leaders and official superiors confessing sin and seeking atonement, religious reverence and obedience will spread through all classes. Fearful curse of wicked rulers. Those in high positions should search their lives and hearts, lest, by their neglect, or ignorance, or sin of any kind, they bring Divine displeasure on the people.

III. The sacrifice is not the same for the ruler as for the man. An official position is not to hide an individual and personal accountability. Too often sins are committed in office, of which men would be ashamed if their own names were cutinected with them. We may distinguish the official from the personal, but we must remember that God requires both to be pure and holy.—R.

Vers. 27–35.—The sins of the common people. The idea of the distinction is that those who, by their distance from the sanctuary and their lack of education, are more exposed to the possibility of offence, are less guilty, and therefore require a somewhat lower sacrifice. A female kid or a lamb would suffice; but the same ceremonies were indispensable—the laying on of hands, the touching of the horns of the altar of burnt offering with blood, the pouring out of the blood at the bottom of the altar, the fire offering of sweet savour to the Lord. Thus the least sins, the sins of the altar, the fire offering of sweet savour to the Lord. Thus the least sins, the sins of the least responsible people, the sins of ignorance and mere ceremonial uncleanness, were connected with the greatest, and the people were reminded that all sin, as transgression of the Law, must be atoned for, and without atonement there is no forgiveness. Subject—Sins of the common people.

I. We are taught to deal with them pitifully, with consideration of circumstances, with remembrance of their comparative lesser guilt. Mere depunciations, unqualified condemnation, injurious. We should teach people the Law that they may see the sinfulness of sin, but in the spirit of love, lest they be blinded and hardened by a bewildering confusion of conscience and despondency. The traditional condemnation attached to those sins to which the masses are especially tempted might mislead, if not modified by the respect to antecedents.

II. We must hold fast to the Scripture representation—all sins is guilt. The attempt to uplift the lower classes, without the power of atonement, by means of mere moral or intellectual appliances or social influences, must be a failure in the long run. Those who make it injure themselves. Nothing delivers them from sin but the power of Christ. Nor will it avail to imitate the folly which “makes light of sin,” Of the Saviour’s instructions in Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 7). While we avoid censoriousness and uncharitable judgment, we must cultivate a wise caution, lest we cast our pearls before swine. The Spirit of Christ is our only guide and strength.

III. The prescriptions of the Law varied according to the opportunity of the offender. We must smooth the way for return to God. By adapting the commandments to the capacity and opportunity of men. By teaching them the spirituality of the gospel method, which lays the chief stress on motive and affection, not on mere external value in the gift. By sympathy and co-operation helping them to find the way, holding them up in it for a time, surrounding them with cheerful companionship and encouraging words.

IV. The common people being thus marked out, reminds us that there is a special urgency upon the Christian Church in the mission of the gospel to those that are afab off. We are apt to think it enough to care for those in and about the temple. The common people heard Jesus gladly. To the poor his gospel is especially preached. If all the sacrifices typify the Great Sacrifice of Calvary, and the sin offering more particularly, the adaptation of the doctrine of Christ to the masses is thus set forth; we must present the sin offering, if we would redeem society from its teeming miseries.


Chapter 5

The sin offering—continued (vers. 1–13). The subject of the next thirteen verses is still the sin offering, not the trespass offering, as has been supposed by Borne. The first six verses state three specific cases for which sin offerings are required, and the remaining seven verses detail the concessions made to poverty in respect to the offerings required. The cases are those of a witness, of one ceremonially defiled, and of one who had sworn thoughtlessly. The concessions granted are two: two turtledoves or young pigeons are allowed instead of a lamb, and the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour, without oil or frankincense, is allowed instead of the two turtle-doves or young pigeons. The latter concession is the more remarkable as the sacrifice by its means changes its character from a bloody to an unbloody offering.

Ver. 1.—The case of a witness on oath. If a man hear the voice of swearing, that is, If he was one of a number of personal adjured to speak according to the manner in which oaths were administered in Jewish courts of justice (see Matt 26:63; 2 Chron. 18:15), and he did not give evidence of what he had seen or heard, he had to bear his iniquity, that is, he was regarded as guilty; and as this was an offence which could be atoned for by a sacrifice, he was to offer as a sin offering a ewe lamb, or a female kid, or two turtle-doves, or two pigeons, or the tenth part of an ephah of flour. This injunction is a direct condemnation of the approved teaching of Italian moral theologians of paramount authority throughout the Roman Church, who maintain that, in case a crime is not known to others, a witness in a court of justice “may, nay, he is bound to, say that the accused has not committed it” (St. Alfonso de’ Liguori, ‘Theol, Mor.,’ iv. 154).

Vers. 2, 3.—Two cases of a man ceremonially defined. If he had touched a dead body or any other substance conveying uncleanness, and it were hidden from him, that is, if he had done it unwittingly, or from forgetfulness or neglect, had failed to purify himself immediately, he must offer his sin offering, as above.

Ver. 4.—The case of a man who had neglected to fulfil a thoughtless oath. If he sware to do evil, or to do good, that is, to do anything whatever, good or bad (see Numb. 24:13), and failed to fulfil his oath from carelessness or negligence, he too must bring his offering, as above.

Vers. 5, 6.—In the four cases last mentioned there is first to be an acknowledgement of guilt, he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing, and then the sin offering is to be made. Confession of sin probably preceded or accompanied all sin offerings. The use of the word asham, translated trespass offering in ver. 6, and the character of the four cases have led many commentators to regard vers. 1–13 as dealing with the trespass offering rather than the sin offering. But if this were so, the words trespass offering and sin offering would be used synonymously in this verse, which is very unlikely, when they are immediately afterwards carefully distinguished. It is best to render asham “for his trespass,” that is, in expiation of his guilt, as in the next verse, in place of a trespass offering.

Vers. 7–13.—If he be not able to bring a lamb. Sin offerings being not voluntary sacrifices but required of all that were guilty, and the four last-named cases being of common occurrence amongst the poor and ignorant, two concessions are made to poverty: two birds (one to be offered with the ritual of the sin offering, the other with that of the burnt offering), or even some flour (either three pints and a half or three quarts and a half, according as we adopt the larger or smaller estimate of the amount of the ephah), are allowed when the offerer cannot provide a lamb or a kid. There is thus typically set forth the freedom with which acceptance through the great propitiation is offered to all without respect of persons. The non-bloody substitute, being permitted only as an exception for the benefit of the very poor and only in the fourcases above specified, does not invalidate the gerneral rule that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin.


Ver. 5.—Confession of the sin committed is required of the man who is allowed to offer a sin offering. It is likewise required before a trespass offering is accepted, as appears from Numb. 5:6, 7. “When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to do a trespass against the Lord, and that person be guilty, then they shall confess their sin that they have done.”

I. Traditional form of confession. “The sacrifice was so set, as that the offerer, standing with his face towards the west, laid his two hands between his horns and confessed his sin over a sin offering and his trespass over a trespass offering; and his confession was on this wise: ‘I have sinned, I have done grievously, I have rebelled and done thus and thus; but I return by repentance before thee, and let this be my expiation’ ” (Lightfoot, ‘Temple Service,’ ch. viii.). “I beseech thee, O Lord; I have sinned, I have transgressed, I have rebelled, I have (here the person specified the particular sin which he had committed, and for which he wanted expiation); but now I repent, and let this be my expiation” (Outra, ‘De Sacrificiis,’ I. xv. 9). That some such form as this was used, according to the universal tradition of the Jews, we may conclude with tolerable certainty from the present passage in Leviticus and that in Numb. 5:6, 7.

II. This confession was intended to spring from feelings of repentance. All that could be enforced as a common and public discipline was the open confession of the sin. But no Israelite could have believed that the confession would be acceptable unless it proceeded from a penitent heart. This was left, as it must be left, to the individual conscience, but it was suggested and morally demanded by the injunction to confess.

III. The offering of the sin offering and trespass offering was not therefore an external ceremony only, but a spiritual penitential act. As the offering of the burnt offering implied the spiritual act of self-surrender, and of the meat offering the spiritual act of submission, and of the peace offering the spiritual act of holy joy, so the offering of the sin and trespass offering implies the spiritual act of repentance, None of these sacrifices perform their work as opera operata, without reference to the religious state of the offerer’s mind and soul.

Vers. 7–13.—The sacrifices to be offered as sin offerings are specified, nor may they be multiplied. They do not differ according to the heinousness of the offence which they are to atone for, but according to the means of the offerer. The moral reason of this was probably to prevent the idea arising that the costliness of the sacrifice might, compensate for the greater sin, and that men might sin the more if they were willing to pay for it by more sacrifices. The difference in the sacrifice appointed for each class might serve to point out that a sin is greater in a man of prominent position that in a man of less influence, owing to its effects upon a larger circle. The concession made to the poor shows that none are to be shut out from communion with God for their want of worldly means. The expiation must be made, that the sinner may recover his covenant relations with God; but it shall be of such a nature that none shall be prevented from making it by their poverty. Here then is a foreshadowing of the free grace of God in the gospel dispensation. “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isa. 55–1.). “Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).


Vers. 1–13.—Guilt removed. The Psalmist cried out, “Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.” To dwell upon the manner in which sin may be committed, and to try to deepen our sense of its flagrancy, is not a pleasant employment, but it is highly necessary. And, blessed be God! a rainbow of cheerful hope spans the dark cloud of transgression; the same page that speaks of sin tells also of forgiveness.

I. This chapter reminds the Israelites of several ways in which, without having been resolutely determined upon, sin might result. Through silence and concealment of knowledge (ver. 1), through defilement by contact with uncleanness of man or beast (ver. 2), or through rash declarations (ver. 4), it was possible inadvertently to transgress the laws of God. Sin assumes many forms. It may be of the voice or the finger, by word or deed. It may be by forcible repression of the truth or by careless voluble utterance. It may be incurred in connection with the noblest or the lowest parts of God’s creation. This thought should beget constant watchfulness in speaking and acting. We can never be sure of preserving ourselves from contamination with evil. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The abolition by the gospel of ceremonial restrictions has rather increased than diminished the strictness of the universally obligatory precepts, making them more searching in character. Our Lord taught that there may be adultery in a look, murder in a thought.

II. We find one law applicable to these different cases, one sentence pronounced, one ordinance appointed. The important fact common to all forms of sin is that they involve the offender in guilt. About the particular sin we need not trouble so much as about the fact of transgression and consequent demerit. “He shall bear his iniquity” (ver. 1). “He shall be unclean and guilty” (ver. 2). Jehovah can no longer look upon his subject with favour; sin places him under a cloud, mars him in the sight of God. Only ignorance can keep a man at ease under such circumstances. The awakened soul exclaims, “I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord.” The peace of the wicked is like the calm that often precedes the tempest. It is the office of the Word of God to convince the ungodly of their hard speeches and ungodly deeds, and the question the preacher loves to hear is that which shows that the arrow has reached its mark, when the agonized sinner inquires, “What must I do to be saved?”

III. “By the Law is the knowledge of sin,” but to leave the matter here would he to subject the transgressor to intolerable anguish. There is a twofold method of expiation, to restore communion with God. There must be confession of blameworthness. “I have sinned against heaven and before thee.” “He shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing” (ver. 5). This acknowledgment by the individual is due to the majesty of God, and is the first step towards obliterating the injury caused by sin. The forces of government have not henceforth to fear assault by the criminal; once arrayed against him in hostile phalanx, they now wear a milder look. The rebel has voluntarily put the yoke of submission upon his neck, and this public token goes far to countervail the damage suffered by the king’s honour. And, secondly, there must be the the presentation of an atonement by the priest. The transgressor is net holy enough to appease offended Deity himself; an unblemished offering is demanded, which must be slaughtered by God’s servant and its blood sprinkled upon the altar, and the other rites of a sin offering duly performed. It is not sufficient to acknowledge and repent of our misdeeds; we want a sin offering, the Lamb of God, so that we can make mention of his righteousness and enjoy the atoning virtue of his precious blood. It is not the offender but the priest who makes atonement (ver. 6). Apart from our great High Priest, our prayers, confessions, vows, and gifts are of no avail. “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.”

IV. Either a lamb or a kid, two turtle-doves or pigeons, or a homer of fine flour would be accepted as a propitiatory offering. No class of the community is debarred from an atonement by lack of means. Regard is here paid to the resources of the humblest ranks. The same end is attained under the gospel by providing a way of salvation accessible to all, suited to the illiterate and the learned, the men of substance and the poor. And in each case the forgiveness is complete. “It shall be forgiven him.” The deed done cannot be undone, but its consequences may be averted. God treats the believer as if he had never sinned; his iniquities are cast behind the back of Deity and remembered no more. Fears are banished, fellowship is resumed. With every subsequent transgression the same course must be adopted. Whilst in the world stains are frequent, and frequent must be our resort to the crimson tide that flows from the cross of Christ. What unity of plan and procedure is visible in the Law and the gospel!—S. R. A.

Vers. 1–13.—The trespass offering. This was very much of the nature of the sin offering. Julius Bate translates the word (אשם, asham) “guilt offering.” Possibly the “sin offering” and the “burnt offering” may be here comprehended under the general expression, “trespass offering” (see ver. 7). We have here brought under our notice—

I. Examples of the trespass. Vers. 1–4. Taken in order these are: 1. Concealing the truth when adjured. (1) The Hebrew law recognized a power of adjuration. This is assumed in the words “And if a soul sin,” etc. (ver. 1). The adjuration in such a case is called the “oath of the Lord” (see Exod. 22:11). Paul refers to this law when he says, “An oath for confirmation is the end of all strife” (Heb. 6:16). (2) The Hebrew history furnishes notable examples of adjuration. Saul, pursuing the Philistines, “adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth food until the evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies” (1 Sam. 14:24). Caiaphas said to Jesus, “I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell me whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God” (Matt. 26:63). (3) To conceal the truth when adjured was a crime meriting death. Achan and his family perished in the valley of Achor for his crime in concealing the “accursed thing” (see Josh. 6:17–19; 7:11, 23–26). Jonathan, in unwittingly trespassing in the adjuration of Saul, was in danger of losing his life (1 Sam. 14:43). 2. Touching an unclean thing. (1) The law of the case was that whoever touched any unclean thing, the carcase of an unclean animal, a living person who was leprous or otherwise unclean, or the corpse of a man, became unclean. The purpose was to show how scrupulously we should avoid social contact with those whose influence would be demoralizing (see Jas. 4:4). (2) Being thus unclean, before he can appear in the sanctuary, he must “wash his clothes, and be unclean until the even,” viz. when the daily sacrifice was offered. This shows how we must be purified by the washing of regeneration before we can mingle in the congregation of the heavenly temple. (3) But if a person had inconsiderately entered the sanctuary unclean, not knowing that he was polluted, he has trespassed against the Law, and is guilty. As soon as he becomes aware of his guilt he must bring a trespass offering or bear his sin. 3. Swearing rashly. (1) Ver. 4 is somewhat obscure, but this appears to be the meaning: If a man swear to do something without knowing whether it be good or evil, but afterwards it becomes evident that to carry out his oath would be evil; now he is in a dilemma: If he perform his oath he is guilty of doing evil; if he refrain he is guilty of violating his oath. (2) In either case, then, he has to bring a trespass offering with an humble confession of his sin. If he fail in this then his guilt is upon him. The lesson is that we should be slow to swear, lest our oaths should prove rash and involve us in humiliation or ruin.

II. Provisions of mercy. 1. Confession must be made. (1) Not of sin in general. There is comparatively little humiliation in general confession. Individuality loses itself in the multitude. (2) But in particular, “that he hath sinned in this thing.” Sin thus carried home humbles us into the dust. Such was the confession of Achan (Josh. 7:20), who, though his sin was “unto death,” may yet have found the mercy of God to his soul. Such was the confession of David (Ps. 51:4). 2. It must be accompanied with sacrifice. (1) “And he shall bring,” etc. (ver. 6). Here the “trespass offering” is also called a “sin offering.” It is in this case specified to be “a female from the flock, a lamb or kid of the goats.” This was the sin offering for any of the common people. The presumption therefore is that for a ruler a male kid should be brought for a trespass as for a sin offering; and for a priest, a bullock (comp. 4:4, 23, 28). (2) Confession without atonement will not be accepted. If Achan found acceptance with God in the spirit it must have been immediately through the atonement of Calvary. Atonement without confession will not avail. We have to “work out our own salvation;” meanwhile “God worketh in us both to will and to do.” 3. The poor have special consideration. (1) Those who may not be able to furnish a lamb may bring either a pair of turtle-doves or a brace of young pigeons. The alternative here appears to be because in certain seasons pigeons in the East are hard and unfit for eating. Turtle-doves are then very good. That must not be given to God which would not be acceptable to man. (2) Two are specified, which are to be thus disposed of: one is offered for a sin offering, the other for a burnt offering; and they are offered in this order. The sin offering goes first to make an atonement; then follows the burnt offering, which is a sacrifice of adoration. Before we can properly praise God we must be at peace with him. (3) Those so very poor as not to be able to bring a brace of pigeons may bring a tenth part of an ephah (about three quarts) of flour. A memorial of this is burnt upon the altar. There must be no oil in the flour to render it tasteful; no frankincense with it to give it fragrance: “it is a sin offering,” and sin is distasteful and odious. The remnant is the priest’s as a “meat offering.”

The interchanging of these offerings, sin and trespass, sin and burnt, sin and meat, shows how they are intended to represent the same great subject under its various aspects. No one typical sacrifice could sufficiently body forth all the merits of that blessed Person who “made his soul a (אשם, asham) trespass offering” (Isa. 53:10).—J. A. M.

Ver. 1.—Fidelity in bearing witness. The sinfulness of withholding evidence in a court of law is here formally and solemnly incorporated in the divine statutes. We may remind ourselves—

I. That we spend our life in the sight of man as well as under the eye of God. That we do everything in God’s view is a truth the fulness and the greatness of which we cannot exaggerate. “Thou God seest me” should be as a frontlet for every man to wear between the eyes of his soul. But not unimportant is the truth that we act daily and hourly in the sight of man. 1. A very large proportion of our deeds is done obviously and consciously before man. 2. Many that we think are wrought in secret are seen by some unknown witness. 3. Many leave traces which point unmistakably to our agency. “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Sooner or later, in unsuspected ways, our evil doings come under the eye of human observation, and under the ban of human condemnation.

II. That it is often our duty to screen an offender from public notice. This is not in the text, but it belongs to the subject. He who would “do what wrong and sorrow claim” must sometimes “conquer sin and cover shame.” There are many cases in which public justice does not demand inquiry and reprobation, but private consideration does call for tenderness and mercy (John 8:7). “Of some have compassion, making a difference” (Jude 22).

III. That it is often our duty to bear witness against a wrong-doer. 1. It is our duty to God, for he has ordined human justice. “The powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1–4). The Jewish judges had the right to adjure a witness to speak the truth in the name of the Supreme Judge (“hear the voice of swearing:” see 1 Kings 8:31; Matt. 26:63, 64). If, therefore, under an oath we withhold what we know, we are disregarding a demand that comes indirectly and ultimately from God himself. 2. It is also our duty to society. The common wealth of which we are members has a right to expect that we shall take our share in the necessary conviction and punishment of crime. When solemnly summoned to state what we know, and especially when an oath of the Lord is upon us, we are not free to keep back evidence, but are bound to disclose it. 3. It may be our duty to the offender himself. For it is better for him that he should bear the penalty due to his crime than that he should elude justice and be encouraged in transgression. 4. It is further our duty to ourselves, for if we are called on to bear witness, and if we undertake, or are even supposed to undertake, to speak all we know, and if then we suppress important testimony, we are consciously misleading those who hear; we are not “doing the truth,” but are acting falsely, and are injuring our own soul thereby.

IV. That negligence in such social obligations is a serious offence in the sight of God. It is sin. It is a thing to be repeated of and to be forgiven.—C.

Vers. 2, 3.—Shunning the impure. We naturally ask, Why such stringent regulations as to everything of man or beast that was “unclean”? We may understand—

I. The explanation (The rationale) of these requirements. 1. The two main truths God was teaching his people were the divine unity, and purity of heart and life. The state of surrounding heathendom made these two lessons emphatically and particularly necessary. 2. God’s method of teaching was pictorial: it was by rite, symbol, illustration. The world was in its religious childhood. 3. Under this method bodily ills naturally stood for spiritual evils; as wholeness of the body stood for health of the soul, so the sickness of the body answered to the malady of the soul, and the uncleanness of the one to the impurity of the other. 4. Hence would result the fact that the careful avoidance of the one would be an instructive lesson in the shunning of the other. Associating the two things so closely in their minds, commanded to shun most scrupulously all bodily uncleanness, taught to look at the least defilement as a transgression of the law, they would necessarily feel, with all desirable intensity, that every moral and spiritual impurity must be most sensitively avoided. Therefore such enactments as those of the text.

II. Their moral significance. They say to us: 1. That we should avoid all that is suggestive of impurity. 2.That we should shun everything which can, in any way or in the least degree, be communicative of spiritual evil. 3.That a stain upon the soul may be contracted without our own knowledge; “if it be hidden from him.” This may be through books, friends, habits of speech. 4.That we should point out to the unwary their danger or their error. 5.That on the first intimation of error we should penitently return on our way.—C.

Ver. 4.—Redeeming promises. The reference in the text is to inconsiderate oaths: the hasty undertaking, before God, to do some act of piety or kindness on the one hand (swearing “to do good”), or of retribution and permissible punishment on the other (swearing “to do evil”). It is contemplated that such pledges into which the Divine Being is introduced, rashly and thoughtlessly taken, may be overlooked and remain unfulfilled. We learn—

I. That the formal association of the divine being with any act lends to it an inviolable sacredness. That which is done before God, or with which his holy name is intentionally associated, must be regarded as peculiarly sacred: even if done impulsively and without due deliberation, and obligation is thereby incurred: “God’s vows are upon us.”

II. That it is wise on ordinary occasions not to incur such multiplied responsibility. Better to use the yea, yea, or nay, nay; the simple affirmation or denial with the lesser obligation than to strengthen our utterance with and oath, and so run the risk or more serious sin in non-fulfilment. Calm, quiet, unimpassioned words are best for daily use. Reserve oaths for large occasions.

III. That such responsibility as we do incur we must religiously discharge. If we only affirm in our own name, but far more if we introduce the Divine name, we must see to it that we redeem our word. Negligence, on whatever grounds, though it be through sheer inadvertence—if “it be hid” from us—is culpable in the sight of God. Wherefore: 1. Study to avoid promising without a due sense of the bond that is entered into. 2. Take the earliest opportunity of redeeming your word, for good or evil. 3. Make an opportunity, if one does not soon offer. 4. Take necessary means of keeping the promise in remembrance; by natural, or (if necessary) by artificial means. We may infer—

IV. That if special responsibility attaches to a promise with which god’s name is associated, so does it to one in connection with his cause. If we cannot vow, before him, to do any humblest thing without incurring added liability, neither can we undertake to serve in the affairs of his kingdom without similar obligation. A promise made to take any post or fill any office in the Church of Christ should be regarded as exceptionally sacred and binding; neglect by inadvertence is wrong, sinful. We are bound to keep before our mind and on our heart anything with which God’s name and cause are immediately connected.—C.

Vers. 5–13.—Pardon possible to all. The requirements of the Law, as stated in these verses, speak of the possibility of pardon for every offender, if he be willing to submit himself to the will of God. We have—

I. Confession of sin. “He shall confess that he hath sinned” (ver. 5). It is believed that confession was always required from the offerer when he laid his hand on the victim’s head. It was a marked feature in the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement; it is expressly enjoined here. This was not only necessary from all, but possible to all; within every one’s power: none would be unable, and none would be unwilling, but the impenitent who were unprepared for pardon.

II. An offering which every one could present. He that could do so was to bring a lamb or kid (ver. 6); he that could not might bring “two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons” (ver. 7); if this were beyond his means, he might bring a portion of “fine flour” (ver. 11). The costliness of the offering was thus graciously graduated to the circumstances of the offerer. And of so much importance did it appear to the Divine Legislator that the sacrifice should be within the reach of all, that he allowed a deviation from the otherwise unalterable rule that there must be the shedding of blood for the remission of sins (ch. 17:11; Heb. 9:22). The very poor might bring flour (ver. 11), though, in order that there might be no mistake as to the import of it, it was specially prohibited to mix oil or frankincense with it (ver.11).

III. A place of approach open to all. The transgressor, convinced of his error, was to take his offering “unto the Lord,” by taking it “to the priest.” The priest at the door of the tabernacle was always approachable; never a day when he might not be found.

IV. Instructions that all could understand. There could be no doubt or difficulty as to what precise things were to be done. What offering should be presented, whither it should be taken, what should be done with it,—all this was so explicitly and clearly laid down in the Law (vers. 6–12), that every Israelite who had the burden of conscious sin upon his soul, knew what he should do that the guilt might be removed, and that he himself might stand clear and pure in the sight of God.

In the gospel of Christ we have analogous but fuller advantages. We have—

1. Confession of sin. We must all say, as we all can say, “Father, I have sinned” (Luke 15:21). (See Rom. 10:10; John. 1:9)

2. One offering that all can plead. No need of lamb, or goat, or turtle-dove, or even the humble measure of flour. The rich and the poor of the land may say, “Nothing in my hand I bring;” for they have but to plead the one Great and All-sufficient Sacrifice that has been presented, once for all (Rom. 6:10; Heb. 9:28; 1 Pet. 3:18), and they will find mercy of the Lord. The richest can do no more; the poorest need do no less.

3. An open throne of grace. “In Christ Jesus our Lord we have boldness and access with confidence” (Eph. 3:11, 12). No day nor hour when the way to the mercy-seat is barred; from every home and chamber the sin-laden, struggling soul finds its way thither: one earnest thought, and it is there!

4. Familiar knowledge of the will of God. Every unlettered man and untutored child may know what is “the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us.” Our statute book, our New Testament, makes it clear as the day that, if we would find forgiveness of our sin, we must not only confess our transgression, but have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and by faith we shall be saved.—C.

Vers. 1–13.—Cases of concealment of knowledge and ceremonial uncleanness. They are in some sense trespasses, although not properly under the head of trespass offerings. The ground of guilt is covenant relation violated. We may take this in its twofold aspect—

I. As revealing the positive value of that covenant relation. 1. It separated from the unclean, and therefore enforced holiness. 2. It maintained society. Man’s duty to his fellows was exalted. He must speak the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth; for we are members one of another. 3. It promoted vigilance and circumspection in conduct, both personal and relative. See that you are pure both in your intentional acts and in your circumstances; walk in wisdom towards them that are without.

II. The offering provided and the atonement possible in all cases, even the most minute, plainly said. God will abundantly pardon; his law is liberty.” The covenant was not intended to be bondage; it was salvation, not destruction. If any man sin, there is forgiveness. But this waited to be gloriously illustrated when the perfect fulfilment of the Law was set forth in him who offered himself without spot, “able to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God through him.”—R.


The trespass offering (ch. 5:14–19, 6:1–7). The new heading with which ver. 14 begins indicates that it is here and not at ver. 1 that the section on trespass offerings commences. Sin offerings and trespass offerings are not distinguished from each other in Ps. 40:6; Heb. 10:8; and the classification of the sins which require one or the other offering has caused great perplexity to commentators. It would appear that, primarily, the trespass offering was reserved for those cases in which reparation had to be made. Thus, if a man failed to pay his tithes and offerings to the Lord (ver. 14), he must bring his trespass offering; or if he refused to restore a deposit to his neighbours (ch. 6:2), he must bring his trespass offering; and his trespass offering is not received until he has made satisfaction to the party wronged, and paid, as a fine, one-fifth of the value of the thing that he had appropriated. But the class of crimes for which the trespass offering was required came to be enlarged by the addition of other cases, similar in character to the first, but not identical, whereby wrong was done to the Lord (as by transgressing his commands otherwise than by withholding tithes and offerings, ver. 17), or to man (as by wronging a female slave, ch. 19:20, where the wrong is not estimated by money).These cases are distinguished with difficulty from those for which a sin offering is required. The same act might render it incumbent on a man to offer either a sin offering or a trespass offering, or both: the sin offering would teach the need of, and would symbolically effect, expiation for sin; the trespass offering would teach the necessity of, and would require at the offerer’s hands, reparation for wrong. While the sin offering typified the expiation wrought upon the cross, the trespass offering typified the satisfaction for sin effected by the perfect life and voluntary death of the Saviour.

Vers. 14, 15.—If a soul commit a trespass. Two previous conditions were required of the Israelite before he might offer his trespass offering. 1. He must make compensation for any harm or injury that he had done. 2. He must give to the injured party a fine equal to one-fifth (i.e. two-tenths) of the value of the thing of which he had deprived him, if the wrong was capable of being so estimated. In performing his sacrifice, he had (1) to bring a ram to the court of the tabernacle; (2) to present and to kill it: while the priest (1) cast the blood on the inner sides of the altar; (2) burnt the internal fat and the tail; (3) took the remainder to be eaten by himself and his brother priests and their sons in the court of the tabernacle (ch. 7:2–7). The special lesson of the trespass offering is the need of satisfaction as well as of oblation, and thus it supplies a representation of one feature in the great Antitype, who was the “full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world.” Through ignorance (see note on ch. 4:2).

Vers. 15, 16 refer to sins of omission, offences in the holy things of the Lord; that is, withholding tithes and offerings. The non-payment of tithes and offerings was looked upon as robbing Jehovah (Mal. 3:8), and therefore it is that a trespass offering, involving compensation, and not only a sin offering, is required to atone for the offence. The ram that is to be offered is to be of a value fixed by the priest (with thy estimation, i. e. according to the estimation of the priest), and the priest is to estimate it by shekels of silver; implying that its value must amount at least to shekels (in the plural), meaning two shekels (see Ezek. 47:13, where “portions” means “more than one portion,” i.e. “two portions”). The shekel is considered to be equal to 2s. 7d. The shekel of the sanctuary means the shekel according to its exact weight and value, while still unworn by traffic and daily use. Beside offering the ram, he is to make amends for the harm (or rather sin) that he hath done in the holy thing, and … add the fifth part. The fifth part is probably appointed as being the same as two-tenths of the principal sum. Full satisfaction is the marked feature of the trespass offering. In Luke 19:8, “Zacchæus stood, and said, … Behold, Lord,.… if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” He went far beyond his legal obligation in respect to compensation. (Cf. 2 Sam. 12:6, “He shall restore the lamb fourfold.”)

Vers. 17–19. Sins of commission may be atoned for by the trespass offering as well as sins of omission.


Vers. 14–19.—The trespass offering differs from the sin offering in that it was not allowed to be presented until reparation had been made for the evil done by him who desired to offer it. Its special lesson to the Israelite was that satisfaction for sin is necessary for restoration to communion as well as sacrifice.

Its typical lesson. Satisfaction implies that there is a debt due which must be paid. The debt is due to God; the debtor is man. Christ took upon himself the payment of the debt, which man could not pay. He paid it in two ways: 1. By bearing the punishment due for its non-payment by man. 2. By rendering in his own person that perfect obedience which man had failed to render, and by that failure had become a helpless debtor. Having compensated for man’s disobedience by the perfect obedience of his life, he bore the punishment still due for that previous disobedience by the sacrifice of his death. Thus man’s forgiveness became not only a matter of mercy on God’s part, but of his justice. (See St. Anselm’s ‘Cur Deus Homo?’ and Archbishop Thomson’s ‘Essay on the Death of Christ’ in ‘Aids to Faith.’)


Restitution as inculcated in the trespass offering. Ch. 5:14–6:7; comp. Phil. 4:8, 9; Luke 19:8; Matt. 5:23, 24. The trespass offering, in emphasizing the idea of restitution, is needful to complete the list of sacrifices. Without the just dealing this sacrifice demands, the personal consecration, fellowship, and atonement would savour of what was unreal and vain. God’s mercy secures morality, and his Word condemns every desire to enjoy his grace and the fruits of injustice at the same time. Let us, then, notice—

I. The possibility of wronging both God and man unintentionally. This passage presents this possibility. An Israelite might miscalculate the amount of his offerings, and find, on examination, that he has defrauded his God. This omission must be made good. Or again, he might commit, through want of thought, something God had forbidden, and for this sin of commission he must make restitution according to the estimation of the priest. The possibility of wronging a fellow-man unintentionally is too obvious to require illustration.

Of the first wrong we have, in these gospel times, an instance in defective liberality on the part of Christians. How many fail to calculate how much they owe to God! Systematic beneficence is a general principle, but it is applied only in the rough, and a faithful analysis will generally prove that God has been defrauded. We defraud God also in the matter of time and of work. We grudge him his own day; we give him stinted service. A quite appreciable defalcation under such heads as these might be made out against most of us.

Again, unintentional wrong is often done a neighbour in, for example, an unexpected failure in business. There are many, let us believe, who reach bankruptcy without intending it. They erred with the very best intentions, and through faulty management allowed their affairs to become hopelessly involved. But the loss suffered by a man’s neighbours is not the less real because of his good intentions. Nor will these good intentions pass as good bills with the wronged neighbour’s creditors.

II. Let us notice the possibility of deliberately wronging our neighbour. We have intentional trespass against man brought out in the opening verses of the sixth chapter. We have here such sins contemplated as falsity in trust, robbery, oppression, and tergiversation about property which has been found. Here the intention as well as the act is at fault.

Our present mercantile immoralities afford ample illustrations. In fact, business qualities are regarded by many as consisting in the advantage which a man is able, legally, to take of his neighbour. Men, without sufficient courage to become highway robbers, can take advantage of a neighbour behind the hedge of some blundering act of parliament.

III. The Law of Moses demanded restitution in all these cases as a condition of pardon. Unless the trespassers brought the amount of the defalcation, with a double tithe in addition, and the prescribed ram for a trespass offering, God refused them pardon and fellowship.

The case of Zacchæus is in point. His interview with Jesus led to the desire of restitution arising naturally in his heart. “If I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold” (Luke 19:8). God’s forgiveness is not independent of moral feeling. God will not forgive trespass so as to encourage the continuance of injustice. There must be restitution and compensation, or he will not grant pardon.

IV. At the same time, that restitution should not be regarded as meritorious the Law required a trespass offering in addition. There have been cases of restitution by bankrupts and other trespassers, but they are so blazed abroad in the newspapers, that the public is ready to set them down as meritorious, and almost supererogations. But the Divine Law excluded all possibility of boasting, by attaching a trespass offering to the restitution. A ram must be brought; confession of sin must be made over it in the usual fashion; it must be slain; its blood must be sprinkled as in the former cases; the choice portions are dedicated to God on his altar; and the remainder eaten by the priests.

All this was to show that, even for such an act as restitution, atonement was needful. It could not stand alone; it had no inherent merit; it was only tardy justice; and for the wrong there is need of atonement as well as reparation. And surely the same great truth meets us in the Christian life. Jesus as the Trespass Offering—and this is the phraseology employed in Isa. 53:10 regarding him—must encircle us with his merits, even when we are conscientiously making restitution. It is as penitents we should do this. Even though the world glories in the reparation of wrong as something in its view most meritorious, the persons making reparation should do so in a penitent spirit, having regard always to the atoning merits of the Saviour.

V. The courage necessary to make restitution must be sustained by the fearless proclamation of God’s Law. A certain antinomianism is encouraged, if not proclaimed, by a loose presentation of God’s gospel. Immoralities are tolerated in commerce on the part of professing Christians, that go far to defeat the mission of Christianity. It is essential, in these circumstances, that we should cultivate the courage of men, and sustain their resolutions to be honest and just in making all possible restitution. God requires no less honesty in his gospel than he did in his Law. He never meant his pardon to be enjoyed along with the fruits of wrong-doing. These must be surrendered if it is to be enjoyed. “If it is absolutely impossible to be saved by the works of the Law, it is not less impossible to be saved without the works of faith, for faith without works is no faith at all.” We must consequently think on “whatsoever things are honest” (Phil. 4:8), and remember our Saviour’s words, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift” (Matt. 5:23, 24).—R. M. E.

Vers. 14–16.—Trespass amended. I. To withhold from God his dues is sinful. The rigour of Leviticus may well sharpen that perception of sin which is so apt to become dim. God is wealthy, and yet will not submit tamely to robbery. Minute instructions were given concerning the offering of tithes, etc., for the use of his servants at the tabernacle, and for his glory; and to omit such offerings and to employ them in profane uses is here counted as acting covertly, as faithless dealing. For it was a condition of the covenant that the people should purchase their exemption from entire devotedness, by recognizing that it was incumbent on them to support those engaged wholly in God’s service; and to neglect this condition was, in truth, a breach of trust. It is not less needful to-day that Christians should contribute of their substance to the carrying on of the work of the Church. Nor is it less important to call attention to the trespass committed by failing to present to God the emotion he claims. Many imagine that they are comparatively faultless if they abstain from open notorious wickedness, and they overlook their fatal omissions in the matter of religious service, affection, and faith. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart,” etc. “Trust ye in the Lord for ever.” Not to confess Christ is considered as denying him. Besides, it is in the passage before us assumed that the property which ought to have been devoted to the Lord has been consumed for personal enjoyment. And similarly, we may argue that the love and time and strength not used as required for God, are lavished upon other objects, and a wrong is done to our Father in heaven.

II. To commit a trespass unintentionally does not prevent the necessity of an atonement. This is a lesson frequently enforced in the Law. “Though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his iniquity” (ver. 17). Evidences of the same Divine Law are visible in the consequences that follow mistakes in life, where accidental errors, wrong judgments, hasty steps, are productive of as injurious effects as if the word or action had been planned with utmost deliberation, and its result foreesen. Any other arrangement might augment men’s carelessness, and prove in the end more harmful than the apparently inequitable law. We are taught the infinite importance that attaches to our actions, linked on as they are with a chain of invariable results. To sin is to run counter to widespreading principles it is not a little matter that may be contemned; it makes a breach in the fortress of right and justice, and this breach must be repaired ere the offender can be regarded as on the side of the eternal verities. “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” If not the transgressor, then an unblemished ram must be slaughtered as his substitute, that blood may cleanse the stain, and cover the transgressor from wrath. How easy is the way made under the gospel, whereby, after the sin offering of Christ, all our sins are forgiven us for his name’s sake!

III. Acquaintance with the wrong done must be followed by an endeavour to amend it. The high priest is to value the “harm,” and a fifth being added to the amount, the priest receives it as compensation. The offender has gained nothing by his sin. Sin never profits in the end. The restitution in thorough. We may reasonably distrust the sincerity of a repentance that is unaccompanied by reformation. When conscience money is brought, then the confession and desire of the offender to undo the evil wrought, as far as possible, are patent. The atonement and the restitution together procure the forgiveness of the supplicant. What avails it that men have learnt their “trespass,” unless it lead to amendment? Knowledge is designed to be the forerunner of action. Like electricity, it furnishes light and moving power.—S. R. A.

Vers. 14–19.—Trespass in sacrilege. The verse now under consideration form a distinct matter of revelation, or were communicated to Moses at a separate time. This we infer from the opening words, “And the Lord spake unto Moses,” comparing them with like expressions twice used already (see ch. 1:1; 4:1).

I. Wilful sacrilege was punishable with death. 1. It is fraud “in the holy things of the Lord.” (1) These are such things as belong to him by requirement of his Law or by solemn dedication. Thus he claims half a shekel per head ransom money when the people are numbered (Exod. 30:11–16). He claims the firstborn or a redemption for it (Exod. 34:11, 20; Numb. 18:16). He claims the firstfruits of the harvest (ch. 23:10–14; Prov. 3:9). He claims tithes (ch. 27:30–32). The treasures of the temple of whatever kind were also holy things. (2) To withhold any of these dues, or to profane by eating that which belonged to the priests, was a sacrilege, and, if wittingly done, exposed the criminal to death (see Lev. 22:14–16; comp. ver. 9). 2. This was the crime of Achan. (1) Joshua’s adjuration devoted all the spoils taken at Jericho to the Lord (Josh. 6:17–19). Achan, therefore, not only incurred the curse of the adjuration, but was also guilty of sacrilege. He is, therefore, said to have “transgressed the convenant of the Lord” (Josh. 7:11, 15). (2) His punishment was consequently signal. For his sake the children of Israel were smitten before the men of Ai, and the anger of the Lord was only averted from the nation by their stoning and burning Achan, his family, and all pertaining to him (Josh. 7:24–26). 3. This also was the crime of Ananias and Sapphira. (1) Under the glorious influences of the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost, the Church agreed to have all things in common, to which Ananias and Sapphira were consenting parties. They accordingly sold a possession which had been thus devoted to God, but secretly reserved part of the price, placing the balance only at the apostles’ feet. (2) This crime was miraculously punished with death. The punishment evinced that the spirit of the Law is still in the gospel. Query: How does this bear upon those who have vowed that a proportion of their revenue should be sacred to God, but with increasing prosperity have become worldly, and withdrew the hand (see Mal. 3:8–12)?

II. Sacrilege through inadertency admits of reparation. 1. In cases that are undoubted. (1) This class of cases is described ver. 15; “If a soul commit a trespass, and sin through ignorance, in the holy things of the Lord,” etc. He knows what he did, though ignorant that it was sacrilege, but is now better informed. (2) His duty now is clear: “He shall bring for his trespass unto the Lord a ram without blemish out of the flocks.” He brings a male, probably in recognition that his sin was an interference with things concerning rulers ecclesiastical. “With thy estimation by shekels of Silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for a trespass offering.” (3) But how are we to understand this? It may mean that payment may be made in money or silver, according to the estimated value of the harm sustained by the trespass. Some read, “by thy estimation two shekels of silver,” etc., which would be a restoring fourfold, half a shekel being the atonement money. This is given to the temple (see Exod. 30:13). “And he shall add to it a fifth, and give it to the priest.” With this he is accepted. 2. In cases that are doubtful. (1) These are described ver. 17: “And if a soul sin, and commit any of these things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord; though he wist it not, yet,” etc. He suspects that he may have trespassed in sacrilege, but is not sure; “Yet is he guilty.” The very doubt makes him guilty. (2) This principle is recognized in the precepts of the New Testament. Paul doubtless deduced from this Law his declarations, that “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin,” and that “He that doubts is damned,” or condemned. (3) This person also must bring a ram with his estimation for the hypothetical harm; but in this case there is no addition of the fifth. Learn that ignorance is a crime, as it leads to transgression: therefore study God’s Law. Cultivate a tender conscience.—J. A. M.

Vers. 15, 16.—Restitution to God. The trespass for which “God spake unto Moses” that the children of Israel should make atonement, was an offence in which there was present the element of reparable wrong-doing. Something, it was contemplated, would be done which could be in some respects made good, and where this was possible it was to be done. In most cases this would refer to wrong done to man; but here we have the truth that God may be wronged, and that he condescends to receive restitution at our hands. We may look at—

I. Sin regarded as a debt which is due to God. Jehovah was sovereign Lord of the Hebrew commonwealth, and actual proprietor of all; anything withheld from those who were his ministers was a sacred due withheld, a debt undischarged. Our God is he: 1. Who has placed us under immeasurable obligation—by creation, preservation, benefaction, fatherly over. Divine interposition. 2. To whom we owe everything we are and have—our hearts and lives. 3. From whom we have withheld that which we shall never be able to pay: our reverence, gratitude, obedience, submission; “ten thousand talents” (Matt. 18:24). But there are some special defaults:—

II. Arrears in holy things. “If a soul commit a trespass … in the holy things of the Lord” (ver. 15). The Israelites were under many injunctions; they probably received professional instruction from the Levites, as well as religious teaching at home (Deut. 6:7). But they might be betrayed into ignorance or fall into forgetfulness, and they might come short of their duty (1) in the offerings they were to bring to the altar, (2) in the contributions they were to make to the ministers of God. They might ignorantly rob God in offerings and in tithes, as they even did intentionally (Mal. 3:8). We also may fall far short of what we should bring to God; we may take a totally inadequate view (1) of the nature of the worship we should render, (2) of the frequency of our devotional engagements, (3) of the contribution we should give to the support of the Christian ministry, (4) of our due share in the maintenance of the cause and the extension of the kingdom of Christ. Thus we may ignorantly but guiltily (ver. 17) fall short of our sacred obligations.

III. The atonement which must be first presented. First of all, there was the offering “not without blood” to be made: the ram must be brought by the offender, and “the priest shall make an atonement for him with the ram, … and it shall be forgiven him.” First, we must plead the atoning blood of the slain lamb, seeking and finding forgiveness through the Saviour’s sacrifice. But this is not all; there is—

IV. The restitution which should subsequently be made. The Jew was required to “make amends for the harm he had done in the holy things,” and not only to give an equivalent to that which he had withheld, but to “add the fifth part thereto;” he was not only to make up, but do more than make up for his default. We cannot and we need not attempt to act according to the letter of this injunction, but we may and should act in the spirit of it, by letting our consciousness of past deficiency in the worship and the service of Christ incite us to multiplied endeavours in the future. In looking back we recall negligences to attend the sanctuary, to come to the table of the Lord, to worship God in the secret chamber of devotion; therefore let us seek his face and his favour with constancy and earnestness in the days to come. We have not served his cause and our generation according to the measure of his bountiful dealings with us; therefore let us open our hand freely, and give far more generously than we should otherwise have done to those various agencies of beneficence which are turning the wilderness of wrong into the garden of the Lord.—C.

Ver. 17.—Unconscious sin. Is there not something here contrary to our generally received ideas respecting sin? Can a man sin “though he wist it not”? The text suggests—

I. That we commonly connect with our idea of sin the consciousness of guilt at the time of transgression. Sin is only possible to intelligent, responsible beings; it implies the power of discernment; it is usually followed by self-reproach; it seems, at first sight, to involve a consciousness in the soul of error and wrong-doing at the moment of commission. Hence men expect to be excused if they can say they did not know it was wrong at the time, etc.

II. That this thought about sin is based on truth. It is true: 1. That sin a wilful departure from rectitude: it is the soul consenting to commit some one of “those things which are forbidden to be done by the commandments of the Lord.” Where the will does not consent, there is no moral character in the act at all. 2. That the less there is of knowledge, the less there is of guilt (Luke 12:48). 3. That in the absence of all possible knowledge, there is entire freedom from guilt. “Where no law is, there is no transgression” (Rom. 4:15). Scripture confirms what our reason declares, that there can be no condemnation where there are no means of knowing “the commandments of the Lord.” But we are bound to remember for ourselves, and to impress on others, the opposite aspect, viz.—

III. That this truth is subject to very grave qualifications. 1. Attainable knowledge not gained involves sin. The Jews ought to have known that it was obligatory on them, and highly beneficial to them, to be loyal to Jehovah, to be obedient to his servant Moses, to receive the exhortations of the prophets; their ignorance was culpable, and therefore their errors were sinful. So with their non-recognition of Jesus Christ. So with our ignorance of that which is most binding on us and most beneficial to us. We ought to know that the service of Christ is the chief duty and the supreme blessing; in our ignorance is our guilt. 2. Needless forgetfulness is sin. It was criminal on the part of the Jews of the prophetic age to forget the merciful and mighty interpositions of God in earlier days; on the part of those of our Lord’s day to forget the mighty works by which he proved himself to be the very Son of God. It is criminal on our part to forget those vital truths of which God’s Word reminds us. 3. The blunting of our spiritual perceptions is sin. When we are blind to the truth which is before us, because our prejudice, or our pride, or our passion, or our worldly interests distort our vision, or because long continuance in folly has blunted our spiritual powers, we are guilty: we “know not what we do,” even when we are crucifying a Messiah; but the guilt in the action lies chiefly in the existence of these enfeebled or perverted faculties, and, though we “wist not,” yet we “are guilty” in the sight of God.

IV. That unconscious sin carries its penalty with it. “He shall bear his iniquity.” The penalty is threefold: 1. The displeasure of God—his condemnation. 2. Serious harm done to our own soul. 3. Awaking, soon, to the conviction that we have done grievous wrong to others,—it may be a reparable, but it may be an irreparable, wrong.—C.

Vers. 14—ch. 6:7.—The trespass offerings. Distinguished as: 1. Being violations of rights of property, either religious or non-religious property. 2. Including a fine, apportioned by the priest, for restoration. 3. Without distinction of persons or circumstances. 4. The victim, a ram without blemish from the flocks, and the atonement both sacred as producing Divine forgiveness, and secular as including pecuniary indemnity; the blood being in this case merely swung against the side of the altar, not smeared on the horns.

Ver. 17.—The unwitting trespass. “Though he wist it not, yet is he guilty, and shall bear his inquity.”

I. The absolute perfection of the Divine law. It must be maintained: 1. As a revelation of the character of God. 2. As a basis on which the moral law is placed. 3. As a means of convincing man of sin, separating the idea of guilt from arbitrary, capricious, local, individual, emotional respects.

II. The infinite fulness of the Divine compassion. 1. Atonement is provided not only for sins repented of and confessed, but for offences unwittingly committed. God is thus represented as the shield of his creature, amid the working out of his inscrutable will in the universe. 2. The mind obtains wonderful peace when it is assured that all possible liabilities are foreseen and averted. 3. Forgiveness is not a mere doing away of sin in the conscience, but a removal of the burden from the life. The Law has nothing more against us.—R.


Chapter 6

The trespass offering—continued (vers. 1–7). The next seven verses, which in the Hebrew arrangement from the conclusion of the previous chapter, enumerate cases of fraud and wrong, for which a trespass offering is required. They are moral, not ceremonial offences. Reparation and the payment of a fine are demanded before the offering is made.

Ver. 1.—And the Lord spake. The six following verses contain a separate communication from the Lord to Moses, but in continuance of the subject which began at ch. 5:14.

Ver. 2.—This verse would be better translated as follows:—If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord, and falsely deny to his neighbour something that was delivered to him to keep, or something that he had received in pawn, or something that he had taken away by violence, or hath got something by oppression from his neighbour. Cf. the injunction in ch. 19:11: “Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another.” Exod. 22:7–13 contains earlier legislation on the subject of things taken in trust.

Ver. 3.—Or have found that which was lost. Cf. Deut. 22:2, 3, “Thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise.” And sweareth falsely. By previous legislation it had been appointed that, in case of a doubt arising as to what had become of property delivered to another to keep, there should be “an oath of the Lord between them both, that” the latter “hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept thereof, and he shall not make it good” (Exod. 22:11). This opened the way to false swearing where men were dishonest. Sinning therein. Wrong to man is sin against God in every case, but a special sin against God is committed when an appeal has been made to him by oath, and the oath has been false.

Ver. 4.—As before, the profit gained by fraud or violence is to be given up, and with it a fine is to be paid, amounting to one-fifth of the value of the thing appropriated.

Ver. 5.—In the day of his trespass offering is a better rendering than that of the margin, “in the day of his being found guilty.” or “in the day of his trespass.” The reparation is to take place, and immediately afterwards the offering is accepted.


Ver. 3.—Swearing falsely is in an especial manner a sin against God, because in an oath an appeal is directly made to God, and if the thing sworn to is false, God is called to witness to a thing as true which the swearer knows to be false. It is also in an especial manner a sin against society, as mutual truth-telling is the very bond of social trust. When the moral and religious tone of a nation stands high “an oath for confirmation is the end of all strife” (Heb. 6:16), and on the other hand, when either a disbelief in God’s providence or a casuistical theology saps the confidence placed in promises confirmed by oaths, society is perilously near its dissolution (see Bishop Sanderson’s ‘Obligation of Oaths’). The sanctity of an oath is guarded by a special commandment in the Decalogue.

Ver. 5.—Repentance, confession, satisfaction, absolution, follow each other in order. Without repentance confession is vain; without confession satisfaction is impracticable; without satisfaction there is no absolution. In the present case, the sense of absolution was conveyed to the soul of the sinner by the acceptance of his offering for trespass, after which he ceased to be, what he was before, virtually excommunicate from God’s people. The greater moral offences were punished either by death (Exod. 21:12–17; 31:15; 32:27; ch. 20:9–16; 24:23; Numb. 25:5; Deut. 13:9; 19:11; Josh. 7:25), or by formal excommunication, when the offenders were cut off from the people of the Lord, though their lives were spared (ch. 7:20, 21; Gen. 17:14). But there was, and there is, an excommunication, not formally pronounced, when a man feels that his sin has separated between him and his God. In these cases the sin offering or the trespass offering restored to communion, but they might not be offered, that is, absolution might not be effected by them, unless preceded by repentance and confession, and, where the nature of the case admitted of it, by satisfaction for the wrong done


Vers. 1–7.—Dishonesty atoned for. The rebukes tacitly administered by the Law in cases of unjust dealing are neither effete nor unnecessary in modern days. The practices here reprehended still survive, commercial immorality is even yet a fruitful topic of remark. Temptations to dishonesty abound, and are as potent as of yore, for the springs of evil in the human breast remain unaltered, pouring forth their dark and bitter waters. And whilst it is not by works that the children of God expect to be justified, yet may their good works glorify God; and to guard against the deeds of injustice to which men are prone is to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour. Happy the congregation of Christians none of whose members has ever been convicted of the transgressions mentioned in these verses!

I. The sin described. 1. Its main feature is the unlawful possession of another’s property, through wrongful acquisition or detention. Force or deceit has been employed in procuring or retaining the goods. This sin may be committed in little things or great, and by communities as well as individuals. 2. Its source is avarice. The eye beholds, the heart covets, the will consents, and the hand grasps, as in the history of Achan, who robbed God (Josh. 7:21). There is thus the evil co-operation of the senses and faculties, sin in inward thought and outward act. The temporary gratification of the flesh is preferred to the durable contentment of the spirit; self is brought into hideous prominence, as if it could never be coincident with the interest of others and of God. It is classes with sins of ignorance because, though wittingly done, the covetous desire seems to blind the moral sight, and man acts as if under the constraint of a foreign power. Beware of greed! it is insidious in its approaches, and awful in its effects. 3. It is aggravated by falsehood. One sin drags another in its wake; avarice prepares the way for lying, even demands it that its designs may be achieved. What has been taken by force is often defended by perjury. The pillars of wickedness are unstable; they need each other’s support, for they cannot stand alone in their own native strength. A covetous heart calls for a deceitful tongue.

II. The reparation. Real happiness does not accompany sin; it is a thorny rose, a cup with nauseous elements, a nightmare sleep. Though no human eye detect the wrong, the sinner is guilty, and knows that One above will not recognize the right of might and violence, nor allow his name to be used with impunity as a shield to vice. Remorse tortures the transgressor, until he is driven to confess his crime and to make amends for it. The Law mercifully appoints a salve for the bleeding conscience. 1. Full restitution to the rightful owner. The property stolen or retained, together with an added fifth, is returned as compensation for the injury suffered. Sin is shown to be unprofitable, and no length of possession is allowed to supply a reason for inequitable retention. Lapse of time must never be supposed to bar recovery of rights. Are there no persons in our assemblies to whom this law is applicable? 2. Acknowledgement of an offence committed against God. It was “a trespass against the Lord” (ver 2), and in several respects. His commandments were broken, notably the second, third, eighth, and tenth (Exod. 20). An atonement is required, the sacrifice of a ram, the fat parts of which are burnt on the altar, and the rest eaten by the priests. The two branches of the moral law are closely connected. To violate the one is to dishonour the other. Experience attests their contiguity. Those who best regard the interests of their neighbours are the men that are jealous for the honour of God. Forget not to impress upon children the importance of asking, not only their parents pardon, but the forgiveness of their heavenly Father when they have acted dishonestly or unkindly. Frequently the newspapers record the receipt by the Chancellor of the Exchequer of money sent because of unpaid taxes. Do the senders always remember that they have sinned against God as well as man; and implore forgiveness in the name of Jesus Christ?—S. R. A.

Vers. 1–7.—Restitution. This paragraph ought to have been included in the preceding chapter, as it is the conclusion of the subject there considered. The last paragraphs treated of sacrilege, or trespass in the holy things of God; this has reference to trespass between man and man. We have here—

I. An enumeration of wrongs. These may be distributed into two classes, viz.: 1. In matters of fraud. These may be (1) in respect to things in custody, “that which was delivered him to keep.” Under this heading may be ranged things left in pledge, the possession of which is afterwards denied. Also things borrowed and fraudulently retained. (2) In respect to “fellowship.” This may refer, in matters of partnership, to claiming for sole interest profits that should be divided, or shifting liabilities which should be jointly borne wholly to the partner’s account. The Hebrew here is “putting of the hand,” which the margins interprets “in dealing.” Any fraud in trade would, therefore, come under this head, viz. by light weight, short measure, false balances, false samples, adulterations, misrepresentation of values, or saunterings by which an employer is robbed of his time. (3) In respect to trusts. Executors so managing estates as to enrich themselves at the expense of their wards. Public servants manipulating accounts to pocket balances, or taking bribes to favour particular contractors to the prejudice of competitors or of the public. (4) In respect to “the lost thing which he found.” Solon’s law was, “Take not up that which you laid not down.” Historians relate that in England, in the days of Alfred the Great, golden bracelets might be safely hung up in the road. Whoever retains what he found when he knows who the owner is, or without using diligence to discover him, is a thief.

2. In matters of violence. Such as (1) “A thing taken away by violence.” A horrible example is furnished in the case of the vineyard of Naboth (1 Kings 21:15, 16). (2) Any kind of oppression. Exactions under pressure of necessity. Exactions under threats. Withholding adequate remuneration for service (see Jas. 2:6; 5:4–6).

II. Aggravations of the wrongs. These are: 1. When lies are told to cover them. (1) Some may have the hardihood stoutly to deny, in the face of witness to the contrary, that they came into fraudulent possession of property. (2) It is more easily denied when there are not witnesses to attest delivery, or prove custody or trust against the holder. (3) Lies are told in the forms of evasion, shuffling, and false colouring. 2. When oaths are taken to give countenance to the lies. (1) God is a witness of everything (2 Chron. 16:9; Ps. 34:15; Prov. 15:3). He is often a silent observer. It is an awful aggravation of a wrong to think that it is done under the eye of God. (2) But when an oath is taken to cover a wrong, God is appealed to. What a fearful outrage against the God of truth, to be thus called in to attest a lie! (3) Whether a wrong be done before God as a “witness,” which it must be if it is done at all; or whether he be “appealed” to by an oath, every trespass against man is also “a trespass against Jehovah” (see Jas. 5:4). Trespasses cannot, therefore, be treated lightly because of the insignificance of the person wronged, when the Almighty also is concerned. In all the interest which God takes in the justice of human actions, he has the good of man at heart.

III. The law of reparation. 1. He shall make up the wrong to the person injured. (1) “He shall restore it in the principal.” If this cannot be done in the identical thing, then an “estimation” of its value must be taken, and payment made, viz. “in shekels of silver, after the shekel of the sanctuary” (comp. ch. 5:15). (2) “He shall add the fifth part more thereto.” This is a proper consideration for the inconvenience the owner may have suffered through the fraud. But if the “estimation” be, as some read it in ch. 5:15, “two shekels,” then the restoration would be “fourfold,” since the atonement money was “half a shekel.” This would agree with Exod. 22:1 (comp. also 2 Sam. 12:6; Luke 19:8). (3) And he shall “give it unto him to whom it appertained, in the day of his trespass offering.” The trespass offering will not be accepted else. Job’s friends had to make peace with him before their sacrifices would be accepted (Job 42:8; see also Matt. 5:23, 24). 2. He shall thenbring his trespass offering unto the Lord.” (1) “A ram that is perfect.” God will accept nothing that is imperfect. Therefore we must come to him through Christ, who can invest us with his righteousness. (2)”With thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest.” This, according to ch. 5:15, would be of the value of two shekeis. (3) “And the priest shall make an atonement for him,” etc. Reflect: What a power there is in conscience! What a costly thing is sin! How carefully should it be avoided! Let us avail ourselves of the benefits of redemption.—J. A. M.

Vers. 1–7.—Human ownership and dishonesty. From the Divine directions here given as to the trespass offering, in the case of wrong between man and man, we gather—

I. That God allows us to consider his gifts as belonging to ourselves. By inheritance or by labour we acquire property; a man has a right to say, concerning an object thus legally acquired, “This is mine.” The possession of property is carefully guarded by the declarations of God’s Word; “the commandments of the Lord” make the violation of this right a very serious sin (see text). It is well, however, to remember that human ownership is never absolute; it is subject to: 1. God’s prior and supreme claim (Ps. 24:1; 1 Chron. 29:11; Hag. 2:8). 2. Our duty, in holding it, to keep in view the general good; e.g. large landowner has no right to let ground lie waste, and be covered with seed-sowing weeds. 3. Our liability, at any hour, to lay it down at God’s will.

II. That men find various ways of disregarding this right. Many forms of dishonesty prevail in every land; it is an inevitable excrescence of sin. Five special cases are here provided against: 1. Breach of trust, or failure to return anything borrowed; lying in “that which was delivered him to keep” (ver. 2). 2. Unfairness in partnership or co-operation; “in fellowship.” 3. Violent appropriation or hardship (oppression),—”a thing taken away by violence” (ver. 2). 4. Fraud in trading,—”hath deceived his neighbour” (ver. 2). 5. Illegal retention of something accidently acquired,—”have found that which was lost,” etc. (ver. 3).

III. That dishonesty in any form is a serious sin against God, as well as a wrong done to our neighbour. By committing any one of these offences a soul is said to “sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord” (ver. 2); “he sins therein” (ver. 3) “he hath sinned, and is guilty.” Evidently the taking from our neighbour “that which is his” is a high misdemeanour in the sight of God. Two of the “ten commandments” (Exod. 20) are directed against it: “Thou shalt not steal;” “Thou shalt not covet,” etc. Theft, dishonesty, is a treble sin: it is a wrong to our fellow; it is an injury to ourself (spiritual demoralization); it is an offence against God.

IV. That it calls for restitution as well as sacrifice. 1. We must, indeed, bring our sacrifice to God. The Jews was to bring his “ram without blemish” (ver. 6), and an atonement was to be made before the Lord, and his trespass was forgiven him (ver. 7). We must bring the sacrifice of a contrite spirit, and plead the One Sacrifice for all sin, and we shall be forgiven. 2. But we are also bound to make restitution where that is possible. The Jew was to “restore it in the principal, and … add the fifth part more thereto” (ver. 5); he was to more than make up for the injury he had done. And (1) in order that the will of Christ concerning us in such case may be fully done (see Matt. 5:24), (2) that our own conscience may be perfectly clear and unstained, and (3) that our brother may have reason to be entirely satisfied with us,—let us make not only adequate but ample or even overflowing compensation for the wrong which we have done.—C.

Ver. 3.—Sin a germ as well as a fruit. It is contemplated by the Supreme Legislator, that if a man once cherish a dishonest thought, he will probably go beyond, fraud to falsehood (“and lieth”), and, when necessary, from falsehood to perjury (“and sweareth falsely”). This is true to life. Sin is not only the consequence of the evil that came before it, but it is the cause of more sin which is to follow; it is not only the child but the parent of wrong. Learn that—

I. No man who sins can tell how far his sin will take him. Hazael, Gehazi, Ahab, Judas, etc.; “facilis descensus Averni.”

II. It is in the nature of sin to tempt to further sin. The instances with which we are familiar are not remarkable exceptions; they are illustrations of a principle at work everywhere and always. “There’s not a crime but takes its change out still in crime, when once rung on the counter of this world;” dishonesty naturally, if not necessarily, leads to lying, and lying to perjury. One sin is the germ of another, and is sure to bear fruit.

III. It is a part of the penalty of sin that it should do so. We sometimes think that sin carries no penalty; so it seemed to the Psalmist (Ps. 73), but he was wrong, as he owned (ver. 15). It not only ends disastrously (“then understood I their end“), but it results in certain, immediate, spiritual injury. On the day in which the forbidden fruit is eaten, we do die,—in the soul.

IV. This fact of the diffusiveness of sin helps to explain the exceeding evil of it in the sight of God. It may well be accounted “an evil and bitter thing,” a thing which he “hates,” which he “abhors,” etc.

These considerations furnish (1) a very strong reason for repentance, etc; and (2) an equally strong inducement for the cultivation of holiness in the heart and life of the good.—C.

Vers. 1–7.—Trespasses done wittingly. These were acts of lying, fraud, deceit, violence, or any social wrong involving conscious trespass on the rights of our neighbour.

I. Social morality rests upon religion. Offences against neighbours, offences against God. No true support of society apart from faith. Follies of the modern sceptical school. Enthusiasm of humanity, atheism, development of morality out of a physical basis,—mere dreams of the intellect. Facts of history show that corrupt religion is corrupt morals; that an atheistic society is mere organized selfishness.

II. The true healing principle of society. The preservation of individual rights in the spirit of a common allegiance to God. We are all brethren. If one offend, let his offence be both readily acknowledged and atoned for, and readily forgiven. So long as we simply pay back, we do not heal the hurt; we must more than pay back. His restitution was of the principal and the fifth part more thereto. Such a regulation was founded on the Divine love, as the essence of the Divine Law. We must remedy wrongs in the spirit of benevolence.

III. As typical of the cross of Christ, the Divine fulness of redemption is set forth. The offences of men are more than made up for. Their redeemed state is an advance upon their state of innocence. The new Law is better than the old. Christ in us is not only the crucifixion of sin and the world, but “the hope of glory.” The believer will find in the blood of the atonement both a cleansing away of guilt, and a washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost.—R.


The following section (ch. 6:8–7:38) is a supplement to ch. 1–6:7, containing the regulations addressed to the priests relating to the ritual of the several sacrifices. Vers. 8–13 of ch. 6 contain the further ritual of the burnt sacrifice; vers. 14–23, that of the meat offering; vers. 24–30, that of the sin offerings; vers. 1–6 of ch. 7 that of the trespass offering; vers. 11–36, that of the peace offering; vers. 7–10 declare the portion of the priests in all the offerings; vers. 37, 38 conclude the section.

Vers. 8–13.—(See note on ch. 1:3.) The further ritual of the burnt offering is exhibited in the particular instance of the lamb sacrificed every evening (Exod. 29:38). In other cases the ritual was to be the same. Instead of It is the burnt offering, because of the burning upon the altar all night unto the morning, the reading should be, It, the burnt offering (viz. the evening sacrifice), shall burn upon the hearth upon the altar all night unto the morning. The priest is to wear his priestly dress already appointed (Exod. 28:40)—which was a white linen garment, covering the whole person like a close-fitting English surplice, fastened by a sash—while he is actually officiating at the altar; and thus vested, he is to remove from the altar the ashes which the fire hath consumed with the burnt offering, or rather as it would be better translated, the ashes to which the fire hath reduced the burnt offering, and put them beside the altar, that is, on the ash-heap to the east of the altar. On leaving the court of the tabernacle, he is to change his dress, and to carry the ashes of the sacrifice without the camp unto a clean place. The priest is also instructed to lay fresh wood on the altar fire every morning, in preparation for the morning sacrifice of the lamb (Exod. 29:38). The fat of the peace offerings, that is, the parts of the peace offerings that were burnt on the altar, were laid on the burnt offering. The altar fire was never to go out, because the daily sacrifices constantly burning on the altar symbolized the unceasing worship of God by Israel, and the gracious acceptance of Israel by God. The ever-burning sacrifice was the token of the people being in communion with God.

Vers. 14–18.—The further ritual of the meat offering (see note on ch. 2:1). The greater part of it is to be given to the priests, and they and the males of their families are to eat it without adding leaven to it. With unleavened bread shall it be eaten (ver. 16) should rather be rendered, Unleavened shall it be eaten. Not only is it most holy itself, but every one (or rather everything) that toucheth the offerings shall be holy. The touch of the offering conveys the character of holiness to the thing touched, which must, therefore, itself be treated as holy.

Vers. 19–23.—The meat offering of the high priest at his institution. This was to be not of uncooked flour, but in the form of a pancake, made out of one-tenth of an ephah of flour. It, of course, accompained the burnt offering appointed for the occasion. Half of it was burnt in the morning, that is, at the morning sacrifice, and half thereof at night, that is, the other half at the evening sacrifice, none being reserved for consumption by the priests. This meat offering, having first been offered at the consecration of Aaron, was afterwards to be offered at the consecration of each succeding high priest, the expression Aaron and his sons meaning here the successive high priests. The statement that the offering is the perpetual, has led to the belief that it was made every day by the high priest, from the time of his consecration onwards, and there is thought to be an allusion to this sacrifice in Ecclus. 45:14; but the more probable opinion is that it was only made on the day of consecration, that is, on the first day that he was qualified to act as high priest.

Vers. 24–30.—Further ritual of the sin offering (see note on ch. 4:2). The flesh of the sin offerings is to be eaten by the priests and the males of their families in the holy place, that is, within the precincts of the sanctuary, with the exception of the sin offerings of the high priest and of the congregation, whereof … the blood is brought into the tabernacle of the congregation to reconcile withal in the holy place, which was to be burnt in the fire without the camp. The holiness of the offering is manifested: 1. By the command that no drop of the blood which might have been accidentally spilt upon the offerer’s dress should be taken out of the tabernacle court. 2. By the order to break or scour the pot in which it was boiled for the priests’ eating.


Vers. 8–30.—The priests’ ritual. Hitherto the command had been, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them” (ch. 1:2; 4:2); now it is, “Command Aaron and his sons;” the reason being that the injunctions which follow are specially addressed to the future priesthood.

I. Precision of the positive rules and regulations given to the Aaronic priesthood. Nothing is left to the individual’s origination, all is ruled for him—every act that he performs, and each word that he speaks; and any failure in the ritual vitiates the whole ceremony.

II. Contrast in this respect with the ritual of the Christian Church. In the New Testament there are no such minute ritual regulations as in the Book of Leviticus. Search through the Gospels, and we find the principles of worship established. Search the Epistles, and we find order and uniformity in religious ministrations commanded, but no such specifications of manual acts as those given in the earlier dispensation.

III. The reason of the difference. It is a higher and a nobler state to be allowed freely to apply a principle than to be bound down to a certain course by a definite and unchanging rule. The former is the conditions of sons, the latter of servants. “The servant knoweth not what his lord doeth.” The Jew was in this position. He did not know what it was that he was representing and rehearsing in type. He must, therefore, be hedged about with rules, lest, in his darkness and ignorance, he should go astray and mar the lesson that he had unwittingly to teach. But “henceforth,” says our Lord, “I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth, but I have called your friends.” Accordingly, just as in matters of morals the principles contained in the Sermon on the Mount are given to Christians instead of bare negative or positive rules of conduct; so in matters of worship, certain principles are laid down as to the nature of true worship and how it is to be offered (John 4:21–24), and a few general rules commending uniformity and order in public worship (1 Cor. 4:17; 11:16; 14:33, 40), and declaring its ends to be the edification of the people (1 Cor. 14:26); and then the work of composing its Liturgy and common prayers is delivered to the Church without any other restraint than that of embodying in them settled forms of administration of the two sacraments of Baptism (Matt. 28:19) and of the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:26), using the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:2), and of “asking” in the name of Jesus Christ (John 16:24). Therefore, “it is not necessary” in the Christian Church, as it was in the Jewish Church, that “ceremonies be in all places one, and utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries, times and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word.… Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, ceremonies or rites of the Church ordained only by man’s authority, so that all things be done to edifying” (Art. XXXIV.).

IV. A precomposed liturgy is not displeasing to God. However much the liberty of the Christian Church may in this respect be superior to Jewish bondage, yet it is evident from the Levitical laws and regulations that a prearranged and formal method of approaching God is in accordance with his will, as recorded in his holy Word.


Quench not the Spirit. Ch. 6:8–30. Cf. Eph. 4:30; 1 Thess. 5:19. “We have here sundry sacrificial laws enabling us the better to understand the details of the preceding sacrifices; but the cardinal idea in them all, as we shall now see, is that which heads this homily, “Quench not the Spirit.” And—

I. The fire of the burnt offering was to be carefully preserved, so that it should never go out. This necessitated a regular removal of the ashes to the clean place selected for their reception without the camp. These ashes represented what would not ascend in the fire, and were a fitting symbol of the dross and corruption which attaches to all human services. Everything which would prevent the fire from burning was to be removed. Now, we have already seen that the fire of the altar symbolizes the Holy Spirit. It is what came from God in the first instance, and what renders the sacrifice acceptable. Hence the lesson about the perpetuation of the altar-fire is to remove everything which would hinder or would quench the tree action of the Spirit within us. The purer we try to be, the freer will the movements of the Holy Ghost be within us. On the other hand, negligence, in life must interrupt the spiritual action. Let us diligently use every means, like the priest laying on the wood and clearing away the ashes from the altar, and the Holy Spirit as a fire within us will make us ardent and enthusiastic in the Divine life.

II. New obedience ought to be as holy in our eyes as atonement. This principle is symbolized for us in the details about the meat offering (vers. 14–18). For the priests are not only to burn carefully the due proportion upon the altar, but also to prepare the remainder for themselves without leaven, and to regard it as a “holy of holies” (קֹדֶשׁ קָֽדָשִׁים), like the sin offering and the trespass offering. If, then, we saw reason to regard the meat offering as emphasizing the idea of consecrated life-work, this direction to the priests about regarding the meat offering as just as holy as the sin offering or trespass offering, embodies the idea that “new obedience” should be as holy in our eyes as “atonement.” Now, there is no principle more likely to please the Holy Spirit, to foster his indwelling, and to maintain his reign. The whole Christian life is elevated in tone when this ideal is comprehended. The perfection of our Saviour’s atonement and righteousness is to be the model of our lives.

III. A class is needful whose self-denying lives are above suspicion. This seems taught by the arrangement that the meat offering of the priests must be wholly burnt (vers. 19–23). The life-work is to be all consecrated, all a dedicated thing. Never are the officers of God to be “off duty,” “out of season” as well as “in season” should they serve God.

Now, the self-denial of a class of men, if realized, goes far to secure the continuance and blessing of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of self-denial—this is the most important evidence of his work—and the demonstration of this to men is a concomitant of his abiding.

It need hardly be observed—it is so evident—that Jesus, our Great High Priest, realized self-denial in all its fulness. He could say, as none other can, “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work” (John 4:34). Every portion of our Lord’s life-work was laid upon the altar, permeated with the oil of the Spirit, and enveloped in the incense of prayer. It is for priestly believers to follow in his steps.

IV. The consecrating power of the atoning sacrifice should be kept constantly in view. In the remaining verses (vers. 24–30), we have brought before us the intense holiness of the sin offering. It is to be regarded as a “holy of holies” (קֹדֶשׁ קָֽדָשִׁים). In ordinary cases the priest is to eat that which remains after God’s share has been offered on the altar, to sustain him in his atoning duties, and to sustain also his sense of consecration. In the more important cases, such as are referred to in ch. 4:1–21, the remainder of the animal was to be carried out to the clean place outside the camp, and burned there in the place of the ashes. Moreover, every person and the thing which touched the flesh was thereby consecrated. So intensely holy was the atoning sacrifice, that it pervaded with its sanctifying power everything in contact with it.

That this is typical is clear. A similar but much more real consecration attaches to the atoning sacrifice of Christ. And this great truth must be kept in view if we would preserve the Spirit within us. To separate consecration from the atoning work of Jesus must ever be grieving to the Spirit, whose chief mission is to take of the things of Christ and show them unto men (John 16:14, 15).

We have thus discovered in these miscellaneous laws what course we should follow, if the Spirit is not to be quenched within us but is to abide. We must diligently use the appointed means, we must have the highest possible ideal of a consecrated life, and we must give all honour to the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. In such circumstances we shall retain, in large and abiding measure, the Holy Spirit within us.—R. M. E.

Ver. 13.—The ever-burning fire. The special directions for the benefit of the priests are fittingly separated from the instructions common to all the people. In front of the tabernacle stood the altar of burnt offering, and on this a fire was kept constantly burning, in obedience to the injunction of the text. For a description of the altar, see Exod. 27:1–8. Let us advance in thought, and behold the flames and curling smoke, and hear the lessons the fire preaches.

I. Consider it as the fulfilment of an ordinance. From his relationship to God, man is bound to obey him, and this same relationship causes that the majority of God’s utterances to man are in the nature of commands, such commands, however containing virtual promises. And those are most honoured who have most commands. The priests occupied the highest posts in the estimation of the people, simply because they were entirely devoted to the behests of the Almighty. To lay sticks in order upon the altar and set fire to them, was in itself a humble occupation, but the fact that it was performed for the glory of God elevated its character in the eyes of all. Menial duties are ennobled when discharged as unto the Lord. The fire was an emblem of worship, of praise, and supplication, ascending to the Most High from his faithful people. That it was perpetual indicated God’s desire to be worshipped, not with fitful enthusiasm, but with steady regularity. There were times when the fuel was renewed, just as men may have their seasons of devotion at morning and at night, on the Lord’s day and on a certain week-day, but there must be always a flame of service to testify to the obedience and affection of the people. The fire was kept alight by successive generations in their turn. To no one age is it exclusively given to sound the praises and do the will of the Eternal. When one servant falls asleep, having done the will of God, his younger comrade must step into his place and continue the work. Even the materials so soon to be consumed must be deposited upon the altar in an orderly manner. It is said by the rabbins that care was taken in selecting the sticks, no rotten ones being allowed. Whatever is done for God must be done to the best of our ability.

II. Consider it as the enjoyment of a privilege. Once the fire was consecrated by the approach thereto of the glorious fire from God’s presence instantly consuming the sacrifice (ch. 9:24). The flames became henceforth a token of God’s acceptance of the offerings of his servants, and his consequent reconcilation and favour. If any Israelite doubted the reality of Jehovah’s existence or his willingness to bless the nation, a glance at the fire was sufficient to dismiss all doubt, and to inspire his breast with a consciousness of blessing.

The perpetual fire symbolized God’s unchangeable protection of his people. Through the hours of daylight and through the watches of the night the flames ascended on high; they knew no cessation; they spoke of him who “never slumbers nor sleeps,” upon whose brightness no darkening shadow ever rests. This altar-free consumed the various offerings presented. It kindled other fires—from it the burning coals for the golden altar of incense were taken; it was the fire-foundation on which the sacrifices were laid, and by which they were consecrated. It is the loving sacrifice of Christ that generates holy lives in his followers. By his ascension the fire of the Holy Spirit descended upon the Church, kindling sparks of hallowed emotion, and making the thoughts and words and acts of Christians an ever-brightening blaze of sacred service.—S. R. A.

Vers. 25–29.—The holiness of the sin offering. This offering was to expiate offences committed directly against God, and which involved, therefore, the deeper wrong. A peculiar sacredness attached to the sacrifice. Only the priests might partake of it, for it was “most holy.” As all Christians are made “priests unto God,” it is permitted them to feed upon him who died to save them from sin. They live by faith in the Son of God. Union with their Divine Lord consecrates them, imperishable principles sustain them.

I. What is offered unto God acquires thereby a sacred character. It is set apart, belongs to him henceforth. He accepts the gift, and his holiness is imparted to all his possessions. His people are holy, and so are his house and his statutes. Christ, having dedicated himself to the Father, could declare “I sanctify myself.” It is no light matter for a man to take upon himself allegiance to a holy God, to “vow to be his, yea, his alone.” God himself must sanctify us wholly, that body, soul, and spirit may be preserved blameless. Some article of furniture that is owned by a celebrated monarch is invested with importance by that fact, and numbers view it with eager interest. The servant wearing his famous master’s livery is regarded with attention. Surely, then, those are worth our notice who are consecrated to the service of the King of kings, vessels meet for his use.

II. Holiness tends to communicate itself to all that is brought into contact with it. Whoever touches the sin offering shall be holy. Like leaven, the sacredness spreads. The prospect of the world’s improvement lies in the hope of its permeation by Christian principle. By touching the Saviour, the sick were healed, and by placing the hand of faith now upon Christ’s bleeding body, the sinner is sanctified in the sight of God. That holiness extends is recognized in the apostle’s declaration, that “the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife.” Continual contact with sacred rites and offerings renewed the holiness of the priests. So let us seek to draw near unto our God by the Living Way, having our hearts sprinkled and bodies washed.

III. In spite of this consecrating power, what is holy must not be thoughtlessly placed in propinquity with what is defiling. Let blood from the offering stain the garment, and it must be cleansed “in the holy place,” not carried without into the region of things common and unclean. If the flesh was boiled in an earthen vessel, the fat might penetrate through the porous surface, so that no after rinsing or scouring would remove it, as in the case of copper (“brazen”) vessels. The earthen pot must consequently be broken, to prevent all risk of any portion of a sin offering being contaminated by touching subsequent food. Learn from this not to profane what is dedicated to God. Our Lord’s words to Mary after his resurrection are significant; “Touch me not.” The percept of Paul was, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?” We must not cast pearls before swine. Let us not commingle sordid motives and methods with the worship of the sanctuary. Jests founded upon the Word of God are to be shunned. Previous prayer will not sanction worldly entertainments and amusements. In many directions the regulations of Leviticus may be remembered with advantage to-day.—S. R. A.

Vers. 8–13—The law of the burnt offering. With this paragraph the Jews begin the twenty-fifth section of the Law; and, as a new subject is here introduced, this ought to have been the commencement of the chapter. In some of the best editions of the Hebrew Bible, the paragraph preceding this is properly made the sequel of the fifth chapter, and the sixth commences with this. The burnt offering was treated of before, viz. in the first chapter, with more particular reference to ceremonies relating to those who brought it; here it is considered in relation to the priests who offered it. We have now to consider—

I. The law of the burnt offering as to the sacrifice. And we observe: 1. That the offering was ever upon the altar. (1) The evening sacrifice was “burning upon the altar all night upto the morning.” For the particular reference here is to the daily sacrifice of a lamb for the whole congregation. (2) This was then followed by the corresponding morning sacrifice. This, together with the occasional sacrifices which were offered throughout the day, would keep the altar fully occupied until the evening. (3) Thus there was kept up a constant “remembrance of sins” day by day, the year round, and “year by year continually.” For the repetition of the sacrifices showed that “they could never take away sins.” These could only be removed “through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once” (see Heb. 10:1–10). 2. That the fire was kept ever burning. (1) This was not common fire, but came forth from God (see ch. 9:23, 24). It was an emblem of the Holy Spirit; and sometimes represented his wrath, sometimes his love (Isa. 4:4; Mal. 3:2, 3; Matt. 3:11; Acts 2:3, 4; Heb. 10:26, 27; 12:29). (2) God commanded that it should “not be put out.” He will consume with the fire of his wrath those who quench the fire of his love. Even if we be not always offering sacrifices, love must be kept always burning in the heart (1 Thess. 5:19; 2 Tim. 1:6) (3) The priests were instructed how they should keep it alive. They were to put on wood. On this to lay the burnt offering. So the Great Sacrifice was laid on the wood of the cross, when the fires of God’s wrath entered into his very soul. The fat of the peace offerings was placed on the burnt offering. So the fire was maintained (see Isa. 31:9). The fire was kept ever burning, to show that God’s wrath could never be quenched until the blood of Christ should quench it.

II. The law of the burnt offering as to the priest. 1. “Aaron and his sons” together are addressed. Ver. 9. (1) The high priest of the Law was undoubtedly a type of the “Great High Priest of our profession.” When Aaron, the high priest, is here mentioned with his sons, the priests, the suggestion is that in his absence they acted as his representatives in connection with the burnt offering. So here they also may be viewed as types of Christ. (2) The sons of Aaron, in their character of ordinary priests, represent Christians. In what they did, therefore, there may have been a two-fold typical meaning. 2. They attended the altar in their holy garments. (1) These were composed of white linen. “His linen garment, and his linen breeches” (Exod. 28:40–43). They symbolized purity and righteousness (Ps. 132:9; Rev. 3:4; 7:13, 14; 19:8). (2) As types of Christ in offering up his own sacrifice of himself to God, they would shadow forth his righteousness. As typifying Christians, they would foreshow how we must be clothed with the “robe of righteousness and garment of salvation” through Christ’s merits, before our spiritual sacrifices can be accepted. (3) Even when the priest took up the ashes from the consuming burnt offering to put them beside the altar, he wore his holy garments. This was proper, for the fire was still consuming the sacrifice. But, 3. He changed his garments to carry the ashes outside. (1) He had to carry them forth without the camp. Was not Calvary this place of ashes (comp. ch. 4:12; Heb. 13:11, 12)? (2) But they were to be laid in a “clean place.” The tomb of Joseph was such a place. It had not been polluted by the touch of a dead body (see John 19:41, 42). Nor did the ashes of the world’s Great Burnt Offering pollute it. They were holy. Because he was the “Holy One” of God, his body “could not see corruption” (Acts 2:31). (3) The holy raiment was laid aside when this service was performed, to show that now, as far as the work of sacrifice was concerned, that was “finished” when Jesus expired upon the cross. Let us rejoice in an “eternal redemption,” in an “everlasting salvation.”—J. A. M.

Vers. 14–23.—The law of the meat offering. As the law of the burnt offering, laid down in the preceding paragraph, viz. in relation to the service of the priest, was before mentioned, more particularly in respect to the offerer, so is the law of the meat, or more properly the bread, offering, here introduced for a similar reason, after being formerly mentioned likewise (see ch. 2). The subject is presented in two aspects, and we have to consider—

I. The law of the bread offering of the people. In this case: 1. A memorial of it was burnt upon the altar. (1) The memorial represented the whole. The bulk consisted of at least an omer, or about three of our quarts, of fine flour, of which a handful was taken for the memorial. There was with the omer of flour, a log, or little more than a half pint, of oil, of which a fitting quantity was added to the handful of flour. The memorial was completed by the addition of all the frankincense. As the name of a thing stands for the thing, so did the memorial stand for the whole offering; it was like a quit rent, a discharge for all demands on the estate. (2) It was burnt upon the altar for a sweet savour unto the Lord. It could not be that to him in a physical sense; this expression must be morally interpreted. (a) It was a thank offering, and gratitude from his intelligent offspring is ever pleasing to his goodness (Ps. 27:6; 50:23; Rom. 12:1; 1 Thess. 5:18). (b) It was placed on the altar of burnt offerings, and mingled among the sacrifices offered, to make atonement for sin, and so, coming up as it were “through Jesus Christ” in whom the Father is ever well pleased, it becomes “acceptable” (1 Pet. 2:5). 2. The remainder was eaten by Aaron and his sons. (1) Aaron ate of it, who was the type of Christ; and his sons also, who were types of Christians. So Jesus and his disciples together ate the Passover (Luke 22:15). And he gave to his disciples the bread and wine of his Eucharist. (2) The bread offering was to be eaten without leaven. This substance was regarded as an emblem of evil dispositions, malice, wickedness, insincerity (1 Cor. 5:6–8). These must be absent from those who feast with Jesus. (3) It was to be eaten in the holy place. This holy place was not the innermost court, which was a type of “heaven itself” (Heb. 9:24). It is explained to be the “court of the tabernacle of the congregation,” which was a figure of the Church in its earthly aspect—the kingdom of heaven upon earth. Those who elect to worship God outside his Church, are not following out his instructions. (4) The males only must eat of it. The daughters of the priests were permitted to eat of the “holy things,” such as might be carried out of the court, such as the tithes and firstfruits, and the shoulder and breast of the peace offerings. But of the “most holy things” eaten in the sanctuary they may not eat. It was the Seed of the woman who is most holy, not the woman herself; the son, not the daughter, therefore, was holy unto God. Now that most holy Seed has come, the distinction between male and female is abolished (Gal. 3:28). (5) The priest must not eat it unless he be clean. “Every one that toucheth it shall be holy” (ver. 18). To eat and drink unworthily of the Christian Eucharist is a serious thing (see 1 Cor. 11:27–34).

II. The law of the bread offering of the priests. In this case: 1. The whole was offered upon the altar. (1) Here was no “memorial,” as in the offering of the people. The omer of fine flour was all burnt upon the altar (ver. 23). “Had the priests been permitted to live on their own offerings, as they did on those of the people. it would have been as if they had offered nothing, as they would have taken again to themselves what they appeared to give unto the Lord” (A. Clarke). (2) It was offered in two portions: half in the morning, and the complement at night (ver. 20). And as it is called a “meat offering perpetual,” it is generally understood that the high priest repeated this offering daily throughout his pontificate. (3) This he appears to have done not for himself only, but on behalf of the priesthood in general. This seems expressed in the words, “This is the offering of Aaron and of his sons, which they shall offer unto the Lord in the day when he is anointed,” etc. (ver. 20). Here “they” offer it; but afterwards we read, “And the priest of his sons that is anointed in his stead,” viz. as high priest at his demise, “shall offer it” (ver. 22). Taken together, these passages show that the high priest offered it for the priesthood in general. 2. None of it was to be eaten by the priests. (1) It appears to have been of the nature of the sin offering; for there is no frankincense offered with it. This was the case with the poor man’s sin offering (see ch. 5:11). In sin there is nothing grateful to God. (2) By his eating of the sin offerings, the typical transfer of the sins of the people to the priest was signified (see ch. 10:17). It would not be proper, therefore, for him to eat the sin offering in which he was personally concerned. He must rather see his sin transferred to the altar, and there consumed along with the lamb of the daily sacrifice. So may we see our sins consumed.—J. A. M.

Vers. 24–30.—The law of the sin offering. This law comprehends a variety of particulars, which may be ranged under two heads—

I. As it respects the bleeding. The particulars under this head are: 1. The place: “Where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed.” (1) In the account of the sin offering (ch. 4), the place is implied rather than specified; but the position of the altar is described in the account of the burnt offering. It stood “at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation,” and the burnt offering was killed “on the side of the altar northward” (ch. 1:3, 5, 11). Accordingly, Jesus “suffered without the gate,” and Calvary was northward of Jerusalem. The evangelical teaching is that a sinner has access to God only through Christ, who declares himself to be the “Door” and the “Way” (John 10:9; 14:6). (2) The association here of the sin offering with the burnt offering is significant. The burnt offering expressed adoration, and was offered for sin generally. The sin offering was more specific. Confession of sin should be particular, and faith individual, fully to realize the benefits of the common salvation (1 Tim. 4:10). Let no man trust vaguely to the provisions of mercy. Let the sinner see in the death of Christ the very image of himself, with all his iniquities and abominations, suffering and satisfying the claims of Divine justice. 2. The presence: “Before the Lord” (ver. 25). (1) This means more than being in the presence of One who is omnipresent. There was a manifestation of a special presence of Jehovah in the glory behind the vail. In a special sense Jesus promises to be present where two or three are met in his name. (2) This presence of God was at once judicial and merciful. The throne of his glory was a prophiatory, but he was there armed with fire to smite with destruction any who dared to set him at defiance (Ps. 97:2, 3; 89:14). 3. The reason: “It is most holy” (ver. 25). What? (1) Not the sin laid on the sacrifice. Sin seen in the sacrifice is exceeding sinful. That which could cause the Son of God his agonies is horrible and abominable in the extreme. (2) Not the sin, but its condemnation in the sacrifice. The sacrifice of Christ, by which sin is removed out of the sight of God, is indeed “most holy.” Had Jesus not been “most holy,” he could never have accomplished this miracle of grace and mercy. (3) The blood of the sin offering, if sprinkled upon any garment, must be washed out within the sanctuary. And if the blood of the type must not be treated as a common thing, much more must we reverence that blood which cleanseth from all sin.

II. As it respects the eating. 1. It was to be eaten by the priest. “The priest that offereth it for sin shall eat it.” (1) By this ceremony the “sin” (חטאה, chattath) became, in a sense, assimilated in the body of the priest (see ch. 10:17; Hos. 4:8). This represented the manner in which Christ, becoming incarnate among us, appeared “in the likeness of men,” and “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rom. 8:3; 2 Cor. 5:21; Phil. 2:6–8). (2) The converse of this is in the Eucharist, in which we symbolically partake of the pure body of Christ. As he became assimilated to our likeness that he might expiate sin by the sacrifice of himself, so we now become assimilated to his pure nature that we may inherit the rewards of his righteousness. There is a mystical incarnation of Christ in his believing people (Eph. 3:16–19). 2. It was to be eaten in the holy place (ver. 26). (1) Observe, not in the most holy place; that place within the vail in which the Shechinah abode between the cherubim. That was the type of the heaven of heavens, where the “angels do always behold the face of God” (Matt. 18:10). No sin could enter there (Isa. 35:8–10; 60:20–22; Rev. 21:27; 22:14, 15). (2) But “in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation,” the type of the Church in its earthly aspect, which is entered by way of the laver of washing and the altar of sacrifice. It is while we remain in this world that we can avail ourselves of the provisions of mercy. 3. But certain sin offerings must not be eaten. (1) The priests were forbidden to eat of those whose blood was brought into the tabernacle to reconcile withal (ver. 30; see also ch. 4:5, 6, 16, 17). (2) In this the gospel is superior to the Law. Jesus has carried his blood into the holy place of the true temple, to reconcile withal (Heb. 9:11, 12). Yet we may eat of his altar (Heb. 13:10–12). (3) Those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat of our altar, because the tabernacle law forbids them; therefore to avail themselves of the gospel they must renounce the Law (see Gal. 5:3, 4). And their case is fearful who now attempt to make atonement for themselves, for they “shall be burnt in the fire” (ver. 30). Such is the peril of those who trust to works of supererogation or to anything but Christ—J. A. M.

Vers. 8–13.—Three principles of piety. We gather from this clause—

I. That holiness becomes the house of God. It seems generally agreed that the linen garments, in which the priests were to be robed when engaged in sacrificial acts (ver. 10), signified the purity of heart which should characterize the worshipper of God (see Exod. 28:42; Ezek. 44:19). Certainly it is only the “pure in heart” who can hope to “see God,” either by faith here or in beatific vision hereafter (see Ps. 93:5).

II. That there is no drudgery in the service of God. Very homely and humble details of sacred work were to be done by the officiating priest. He was to be very careful as to the clothes he wore, changing them at regulated times (vers. 10, 11); he was to “take up the ashes … and put them beside the altar” (ver. 10), and to “carry forth the ashes without the camp,” etc. (ver. 11). These acts were mean enough in themselves. Elsewhere they would have been accounted menial, but in so sacred a service as the direct worship of Jehovah they acquired sanctity, and even dignity. They were solemn ceremonies, reverently performed. The slightest engagement in the worship of God deserves to be esteemed sacred (Ps. 84:10). Any humble deed done or simple word spoken, (1) as in the presence of the observing and approving Master, or (2) consciously and designedly for the glory of his name, or (3) as unto one for whom he died and whom he loves (Matt. 10:40–42), rises to high rank in the esteem of Heaven. The cheerful, loving service of a Divine Redeemer does not contain one act of drudgery; it is all upon the high level of holy, happy, elevating service.

III. That there must be constancy in our consecration to God. “The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out” (ver. 13). As soon as the victim was slain and his shed blood was sprinkled on the altar, there was forgiveness and acceptance, and the burning of the whole animal by the heaven-kindled fire indicated the accepted consecration of the offerer. When, therefore, the priest was instructed to keep the fire perpetually burning on the altar, it signified God’s readiness to receive the perpetual devotion of the Israelites themselves to him and to his service. To us the most instructive lesson it conveys is that we must keep steadily and unfailingly burning the fire of consecration in our hearts;—that must “never go out.” 1. The passions of youth must not be permitted to extinguish it. 2. Nor the toils and anxieties of our prime. 3. Nor the mysterious and perplexing troubles that, like whelming billows (Ps. 42:7), go over us. 4. Nor the distressing doubts which the enemies of the faith raise within us. 5. Nor the comforts and indulgences of prosperous periods in our life. It must be diligently and devoutly fed by (1) earnest thought—meditation; (2) regular worship with the people of God; (3) steadfast Christian work; and (4) the private believing prayer which finds such utterance as this, “O thou who camest from above!” etc.—C.

Vers. 14–18.—”Fellowship with the Father.” In these renewed directions (see ch. 2) concerning the meat offering, we have the striking expression, “I have given it unto them for their portion of my offerings” (ver. 17). So that this sacrifice, beside furnishing an opportunity to the people of acknowledging their indebtedness to God as the generous Giver of all blessings, provided an opportunity to the priests of fellowship with God. He shared these “his offerings” with his ministers, and they ate with him “in the holy place” (ver. 16), within the precincts of his house. “And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). In Divine and human fellowship under the gospel, there is—

I. Feasting together. The truest Christian counterpart of the sacred service described in the text is found in the Lord’s Supper. There we, who are all “priests unto God” (Rev. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9), meet at the table of the Lord (1 Cor. 10:21), and eat and drink in his presence, rejoicing in his redeeming love, renewing before him our vows.

II. Speaking one to another. 1. God to man in (1) the pages of revelation; (2) the words of those whom his Spirit prompts to remind us of his will or to explain it; (3) the direct communications of his Spirit. 2. Man to God in (1) the accents of praise; (2) the breath of supplication.

III. Rejoicing in one another. 1. God in man (Deut. 32:9; Ps. 35:27; 147:11; Hab. 3:18; Eph. 5:27; Rev. 21:2). 2. Man in God (Ps. 16:5; 89:16; 149:2; Phil. 3:3; 4:4).

IV. Working together. We are “workers together with him” (2 Cor. 6:1); “labourers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). While God is working in us and through us, he is also working with us; united with us in working out the reconciliation and regeneration of the world.—C.

Vers. 27–29.—Communicated sanctity. When any victim had been presented in sacrifice to God, and had been slain, its blood (the “blood of atonement”), and also its flesh, became “most holy” (ver. 29). And whatsoever was touched by the one or the other received, in virtue of such contact, a communicated sanctity (vers. 27, 28). The lesson here conveyed is that whatsoever comes into close association with a holy one or a holy thing does thereby acquire a measure of sacredness, and should be treated accordingly by us. This imparted sanctity gives back again to that which acts upon it some additional importance; it reflects that which it receives on the object from which it comes. We have abundant illustration of this truth; sanctity is communicated—

I. From the God-Man to human nature. Man is far more to God and to the spiritual universe now that the “Word was made flesh,” that “himself” was “partaker of flesh and blood.” In Jesus Christ the Divine touched the human, and henceforth the human is holy.

II. From the life and death of Jesus Christ to the life and death of men. Poverty, shame, sorrow, tears, the grave,—are not these other than they were, sacred things, since he “had not where to lay his head;” since the crown of thorns rested on that sacred head; since the Man of sorrows bore his burden; since “Jesus wept;” since they “laid him in a sepulchre”?

III. From the service to the sanctuary. “This is none other than the house of God.”

IV. From the function to the minister. “Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”

V. From the spirit to the body. The exceeding preciousness of the human spirit imparts a sanctity to the body which is its residence and organ.

VI. From the truth to the Word. We must deal reverently with the words in which the eternal truth of God is uttered.—C.

Vers. 19–23.—Ministerial function and obligation. This instruction is supplementary to that given in Exod. 29. We may gather from it—

I. That entrance on sacred work should be accompanied with special solemnities. The commencement of any ministry may well be attended with such observances as shall impress upon the mind the sanctity and weight of the obligations which are incurred.

II. That the acceptance of sacred obligations should be regarded as a time for thankfulness as well as seriousness of spirit. The priest was to bring a “meat offering”—fine flour and oil (vers. 20, 21)—the token of gratitude for God’s bountiful provision. There are, in truth, few things for which we have such reason to be thankful to God as for his providential guidance to that post for which we are fitted, at which we can usefully expend our powers; more particularly if this be one in close connection with his service.

III. That those who hold sacred offices are, with all the people of God, stewards of their secular possessions. The priest, as well as the layman in Israel, was to bring his meat offering. He, too, was indebted to the Divine Sovereign for all temporal blessings, and should make suitable acknowledgment of his debt. Those who now serve in sacred things, in the gospel of the Saviour, are men who receive and hold secular as well as spiritual treasures, and they, too, have their obligations, which they must not disregard.

IV. That what we give to God and his cause should be given absolutely, without thought of return. The people gave their offerings, part being burnt and the rest being the portion of the priests; but every “meat offering for the priest was to be wholly burnt: it was not to be eaten” (ver. 23). The priests were not to take back again for their own use that which they had presented to God. What they offered was to be given wholly, utterly, with no thought of receiving it again. When we give to our brother, we do best when we are “hoping for nothing again” (Luke 6:35). When we give to God, either in worship or in contribution to his cause and kingdom, we do best when we are filled with a sense of his immeasurable goodness to us, and with a desire to do something to his praise. We should feel that (1) it is a high honour to be allowed to give anything to him, and that (2) the utmost we can give is a poor tribute indeed when presented to him who gave himself for us.—C.

Vers. 8–30.—Instructions on the offerings for the priests. Ver. 13, “The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.”

I. The perpetuity of religious obligation. 1. As springing out of the relation between man and God, as underlying the whole of human existence. “In him we live, and move, and have our being.” 2. The all-embracing love of God. The fire came originally from him, and must be kept up to betoken his ceaseless care of his creatures. 3. The positive expression of religious feeling can never be dispensed with, should be maintained in interrupted order.

II. The maintenance of worship is a duty which is devolved upon consecrated persons, and their official position, in an especial manner. Vain to expect that the fire will not go out, unless appointed persons attend to it. Mere individualism is abuse of liberty, and ends in irreligious disorder and extinction of the fire of God’s house. Priestcraft is no argument against a special ministry in the Church. All must help to maintain the fire, but some must take the command as addressed to them in a special manner. They must separate themselves to the work, both by appropriate manner of life and recognition of special duties. Religion is not only in temples, but if the fire goes out there, it will go out everywhere.—R.

Vers. 14–18.—Meat offering. “All the males of the sons of Aaron shall eat of it.” with unleavened bread, in the court of the tabernacle of the congregation. “It is most holy, as is the sin offering, and as the trespass offering.” “Every one that toucheth them shall be holy.”

I. The ministry of religion should be fulfilled in the spirit of thankful devotion. 1. The best of the Church should be consecrated to its highest positions. 2. Their service should be rendered as a delight. 3. Their religious earnestness and cheerfulness should be cultivated by fellowship and brotherhood. 4. They should be closely united with the people, not separated from them by spiritual pride and a misanthropic asceticism.

II. Holiness the imperative requirement of God’s ministers. Not mere ceremonial holiness. 1. Holiness of character and life. 2. Holiness in the service of the sanctuary—purity of worship, singleness of heart, orderliness and decency, with simplicity and manifest sincerity.

III. The sanctifying influence of a true and pure worship extends through society. Every one holy by contact with the holy. 1. The persuasive effect of a real and well-sustained religious service. The common mistake is to suppose that morality leads of itself to religion or may be substituted for it. 2. The true order of life is set before us here in the Law of Moses: the nearer to God, the holier; the more closely connected with the worship of God, the more separated from and defended against the impurities of the world. 3. The reaction of the holy life on the sanctuary. The revival of religion must be a reciprocal action of the Church on the ministry, and of the ministry on the Church.—R.

Vers. 19–23.—The high priest’s offering in the day when he is anointed—a perpetual meat offering; offered not during the days of the anointing, but when it was completed, and it was wholly burnt. Fine flour baked as an oil-cake; not a bleeding sacrifice, therefore, but only a thank offering, to denote that expiation was always made. and the high priest offered the fruits of sanctification. This may be viewed—

I. In its typical application to the Lord Jesus Christ. 1. His entire consecration to his mediatorial office. 2. His personal perfection as needing no expiation, offering only the fine flour of his unspotted humanity, mingled with the oil of the Spirit of God, and with the fire of actual human experience applied to it. 3. His acceptance by the Father on our behalf; “wholly burnt.”

II. In its lesser application to the ministry of the sanctuary. 1. The true ordination not a mere human rite, but a Divine acceptance of personal consecration. “I have chosen you,” said Jesus, “and ordained you.” 2. The minister of God should offer his fine flour, his highest gifts—his intellect, culture, sifted knowledge, prepared thought. He should put nothing which he himself has not toiled to make worthy on the altar. 3. With all we present, the oil of grace must be mingled, and it must be prepared by actual fire of experience. No man can teach and minister spiritual blessings to others who is not himself practically acquainted with the truth. 4. “Every meat offering for the priest shall be wholly burnt: it shall not be eaten.” No ministry can be divinely blessed which is not fulfilled in the spirit of single-hearted, self-consuming devotion. We must hate our life for Christ’s sake, and take up his cross, if we are to follow him.—R.

Vers. 24–30.—Special regulations as to the sin offering. Peculiar sanctity of the flesh and blood of the sin offering, pointing to the atonement. In all cases, whether the sin offering of the people, or of the priest, or of the great day of atonement, the same holiness of the victim and of the blood is insisted upon. Here there is—

I. The necessity of atonement. 1. As prescribed by God, coming forth from his infinite holiness. 2. As connected with mediation, not in atonement upon the chance merit of man, but the gracious promise of God’s free and sovereign mercy. 3. As set forth in the flesh and blood of the victim, clearly indicating a substitutionary merit.

II. The typical fulfilment of the sin offering in Jesus Christ, at once the High Priest and the Victim. 1. Most holy in his person and his blood. 2. Connected with the burnt offering, as presented in the same place. The cross was a whole offering in the fire of suffering, in the consuming righteousness of the Divine Law. 3. Imparting the holiness to him who shall touch it. Healing virtue from Christ; sanctification from the cross. 4. The very vessels are sanctified. So the Spirit of Christ cleanses the world. The diffusion of the Christian doctrine and life lifts up all that belongs to human existence into a higher sphere.—R.


Chapter 7

Continuation of the supplemental regulations addressed to the priests, respecting the ritual of the sacrifices. This chapter treats of the ritual of the trespass offering and the peace offerings, as the last chapter treated of that of the burnt offering, the meat offering, and the sin offering. The LXX. version attaches the first ten verses of this chapter to ch. 6, beginning ch. 7. with our ver. 11.

Vers. 1–6—Further ritual of the trespass offering (see note on ch. 5:14). It is to be noted that the blood of the trespass offering is not to be placed on the horns of the altar, as was the rule in the ordinary sin offering, but cast against the inner side of the altar, as in the burnt offering and peace offering. The rump in ver. 3 should be translated tail, as in ch. 3:9.

Vers. 7–10 contain a general precept or note as to the priests’ portion in the sin offering, trespass offering, burnt offering, and meat offering. The officiating priest was to have the flesh of the trespass offering and of the sin offering (except the fat burnt on the altar), and the skin of the burnt offering and the cooked meat offerings (except the memorial burnt on the altar), while the meat offerings of flour and of parched grains, which could be kept longer, were to be the property of the priestly body in general, all the sons of Aaron, … one as much as another. The skins of the peace offerings were retained by the offerer (‘Mishna, Sebach,’ 12, 3).

Vers. 11–21—Further ritual of the peace offering (see note on ch. 3:1). There are three sorts of peace offering—thank offerings (vers. 12–15), votive offerings, and voluntary offerings (vers. 16–18). Of these, the thank offerings were made in thankful memorial for past mercies; votive offerings were made in fulfilment of a vow previously taken, that such offering should be presented if a certain condition were fulfilled. Voluntary offerings differ from votive offerings by not having been previously vowed, and from thank offerings by not having reference to any special mercy received. The thank offering must be eaten by the offerer and his friends, on the same day that it was offered; the votive and the voluntary offerings, which were inferior to the thank offering in sanctity, on the same day or the next. The reason why a longer time was not given probably was that the more the meal was delayed, the less would a religious character be attached to it. The necessity of a quick consumption also took away the temptation of acting grudgingly towards those with whom the feast might be shared, and it likewise precluded the danger of the flesh becoming corrupted. If any of the flesh remained till the third day, it was to be burnt with fire; if eaten on that day, it should not be accepted or imputed unto him that offered, that is, it should not be regarded as a sacrifice of sweet savour to God, but an abomination (literally, a stench), and whoever ate it should bear his iniquity, that is, should be guilty of an offence, requiring, probably, a sin offering to atone for it. The bread gift accompanying the animal sacrifice was to consist of three kinds of unleavened cakes, and one cake of leavened bread, and one out of the whole oblation, that is, one cake of each kind, was to be offered by heaving and then given to the officiating priest, the remaining cakes forming a part of the offerer’s festive meal. If any one took part of a feast on a peace offering while in a state of Levitical uncleaness, he was to be cut off from his people, that is, excommunicated, without permission to recover immediate communion by offering a sin offering. St. Paul joined in a votive offering (Acts 21:26).

Vers. 22–27—Repetition of the prohibition of eating the fat and the blood, addressed to the people in the midst of the instructions to the priests. Ye shall eat no manner of fat must be taken to mean none of the fat already specified, that is, the internal fat, and, in the case of the sheep, the tail. It is uncertain whether the law as to fat was regarded as binding upon the Israelites after they had settled in Palestine. Probably it was silently abrogated; but the prohibition of blood was undoubtedly perpetual (Deut. 12:16), and it is based on a principle which does not apply to the fat (ch. 17:11).

Vers. 28–34—Continuation of the ritual of the peace offerings (see note on ch.3:1). The equal dignity of the peace offerings with the other offerings is vindicated by the command that the offerer shall bring it with his own hands, whereas it might have been regarded as merely the constituent part of a feast, and so sent by the hand of a servant. The breast and the right shoulder were to be waved and heaved (for “heaved” does not merely mean “taken off,” as some have said). The waving consisted of the priest placing his hands beneath those of the offerer who held the piece to be waved, and moving them slowly backwards and forwards before the Lord, to and from the altar; the heaving was performed by slowly lifting the pieces heaved upwards and downwards. The movements were made to show that the pieces, though not burnt on the altar, were yet in a special manner consecrated to God’s service. The right shoulder was most probably the hind leg, perhaps the haunch. The Hebrew word is generally translated “leg” (Deut. 28:35; Ps. 147:10). This part was the perquisite of the officiating priest; the waved breast was given to the priests’ common stock. Afterwards an addition was made to the priests’ portion (Deut. 18:3; see 1 Cor. 9:13).

Vers. 35, 36—Conclusion of the section. This is the portion of the anointing of Aaron, and of the anointing of his sons, may be translated simply, This is the portion of Aaron, and the portion of his sons, as the word “mischah” will bear the meaning of portion as well as of anointing. This rendering, however, is not necessary, as it was the anointing of Aaron and his sons that entitled them to these portions.

Vers. 37, 38—Conclusion of Part I. The law of the burnt offering is contained in ch. 1:1–17; 6:8–13: of the meat offering, in ch. 2:1–16; 6:14–23: of the sin offering, in ch. 4:1–35; 5:1–13; 6:24–30: of the trespass offering, in ch. 5:14–19; 6:1–7; 7:1–6: of the consecrations, in ch. 6:19–23, supplementing Exod. 29:1–37; of the sacrifice of the peace offerings, in ch. 3:1–17; 7:11–21; 28–34. Together, the sacrifices teach the lessons of self-surrender, loyalty, atonement, satisfaction, dedication, peace.


Ver. 13.—Leavened bread was not to be offered on the altar, for a reason before assigned; but, though not offered on the altar, it may yet be consecrated to God, not by burning, but by heaving. Thus there are lives which cannot be wholly devoted to God and his active service, and yet can be consecrated to him. Leavened bread was the bread commonly used, and the secular life of a man engaged daily in the occupations of politics, or of business, or of labour, may be sanctified, and, being sanctified, may be accepted by God as freely and fully as are those directly given up to his especial service.

Ver. 19.—That which is itself unclean makes whatever it touches unclean also. So in the moral sphere, “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33), and “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6), and so with respect to the spread of heresy, “Their word will eat as doth a canker (or gangrene)” (2 Tim. 2:17).

On the other hand, that which is itself holy makes that which it touches to be holy (ch. 6:18). Therefore, when the Holy One was on the earth, “the whole multitude sought to touch him: for there went virtue out of him, and healed them” (Luke 6:19); and they “brought unto him all that were diseased; and besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole” (Matt. 14:35, 36). That the woman with an issue of blood “came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched … And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately” (Luke 8:44–47). Hence, when mankind had fallen in Adam, for the restoration of the race a new Head was found in Christ Jesus, into whom each person is baptized, and by a mystical contact with whom he may be sanctified.

Ver. 25.—To eat of the fat of which men offer an offering made with fire unto the Lord, is to rob God of his chosen offering. The injunction condemns sacrilege in all its forms. Whoever takes to his own use things dedicated to God, “eats the fat;” and “the soul that eateth it shall be cut off from his people.”

Ver. 34.—The wave breast and the heave shoulder were to be the priests’, as well as the meat offering (ver. 10) and other portions. Thus is taught the lesson enforced by St. Paul (1 Cor. 9:13, 14), “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” The adequate maintenance of the Levitical priesthood was carefully provided for under the old dispensation by means of offerings and of tithes; and “the labourer is worthy of his hire” (Luke 10:7), and “let him that is taught in the Word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Gal. 6:6), are principles of the new dispensation likewise.


Ministerial support. Ch. 7; cf. 1 Cor. 9:13; 10:18. We have in this chapter a detailed account of the disposal of the offerings already referred to. The leading idea of the passage is the perquisites of the priests, and the Christian counterpart of this is ministerial support. And in this connection let us observe—

I. In all the offerings the first concern was to allocate to God himself his due. In particular he had appropriated to his own use, that is, to manifest atonement, the blood of all the sacrifices; and consequently it was never to be eaten, for this would be a profane use of such a sacred thing (vers. 26, 27). It is only when we come to the realities out of the types and shadows, that we find Jesus declaring, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed” (John 6:54, 55). Atoning blood can only be partaken of by faith. Moreover, the Lord appropriated the fat—the large amount of suet about the animal—which was absolutely necessary to feed the fire. This was to be devoted, therefore, to this sacred use and withdrawn from all profane use. There were other portions, such as the sheep’s tail, the kidneys, and the caul above the liver, which were burned always on the altar as God’s portion. The general principle, therefore, is plain of first giving unto God his due.

Now, in this particular question of ministerial support, it is with this idea of stewardship unto God that we must begin. Men must first realize their obligation to God above before they will do justly by his ministers. The human obligation is best enforced by emphasizing the Divine. If men give God his due, if they are faithful stewards unto him, if they keep zealously the first table of the Law, they will not wrong their neighbours by disregarding the second table; above all they will not wrong God’s ministers.

II. After God’s portions were dedicated, the best of the residue became the priests’. In some cases the priest got the whole; for example, in a private sin offering or trespass offering, and when, as in the peace offerings, the remainder was shared with the person presenting the sacrifice, the priest’s portion was always the best. The wave breast and the heave leg, the “choice cuts,” as we would now call them, of the carcase, were assigned to the priests. In fact, there is peculiar generosity enjoined in supporting the officers of God.

There is a fashion in a business age of regarding the minister very much as an ecclesiastical tradesman, who is to be dealt with on business principles; that is, as much work is to be got out of him as possible for the minimum of pay. The sooner such poor notions cease, the better for the cause of God. “And we beseech you, brethren,” says the apostle, “to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake” (1 Thess. 5:12, 13). If ministers are rightly regarded, the people will feel it to be their duty, as Israel was instructed to do, to give them the best support they can.

III. A properly sustained priesthood was in a position to exercise faithful discipline in the Church. This ministerial support chapter, as we may properly regard ch. 7., is most particular in debarring the unclean from Church privileges. Whether we are to understand the “cutting off from the people” as death, as the Vulgate appears to do, or as only excommunication, one thing is certain, that the priesthood, assigned its true dignity and supported accordingly, were thereby encouraged to be faithful in the exercise of discipline.

And this relation of proper ministerial support to Church discipline is most important. It is when the office is degraded in men’s minds to a mere profession, and they consequently refuse it adequate support, that they are unwilling to submit to the discipline God’s ministry should wield. To the elevation of the office in the eyes of men, and to the consequent increase of its support, all wise members of the Church of Christ should devote their attention.—R. M. E.

Vers. 15–18.—Fidelity to precept enforced. The peace offering was essentially a tribute of gratitude and praise. It was especially suited to national festivities and family rejoicings. Cakes and bread accompanied the flesh of the sacrificial animal. Three classes of peace offering are spoken of, viz. for thanksgiving, or for a vow, or as a free-will offering. The flesh must be partaken of by the offerers (the priests having received their portion) and consumed on the first day in the case of the first-mentioned class, and by the close of the second day in the case of the others. The stress laid upon this command may set in clear light the obligatoriness of Divine instructions.

I. Strict observance is demanded, even though the significance of the precept be not perceived. Little explanation is afforded in the Law of the many ceremonies instituted. The Israelites were treated as children, whose chief virtue is unquestioning obedience. Why should the flesh be so quickly consumed? The devout Israelite might not know, yet must he rigidly conform to the order. He is not to reason, but to do. This course may be recommended to the many who wish a full explanation of the reasons for the institution of the ordinances connected with the Christian Church. Reliance may be placed upon the wisdom of the Divine Legislator, and faith rather than knowledge may glorify God. “The secret things” (the explanations, the reasons) “belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed” (the facts, the commands) “belong unto us for ever, that we may do all the words of the Law.” That Jesus Christ has ordained Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is sufficient to lead us to practise them, however confused may be our apprehension of the mysteries and principles involved. And in relation to the counsels addressed to us for the guidance of our lives, and the events that are seen to necessitate certain action upon our parts, it may still be said, “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”

II. More light may be expected to dawn upon us continually as to the meaning of Divine ordinances. Faith is not intended to exclude or supersede knowledge, but to form a basis for it, an avenue through which it may pass to the mind, an appendix by which its volume may be supplemented. Patient and prayerful study is ever rewarded with keener appreciation of the will of God. If the Israelites reflected for a moment, they would call to mind warnings against desecrating holy things, and against treating what was offered to God as if it were a portion of common food. Surely God would distinguish thus between ordinary slaughter and sacrificial victims, and would guard against that additional risk of putrefaction to which flesh is liable in a hot climate, and which, if it occurred, would be an insult to his majesty. For us at any rate the types and ceremonies of Judaism have been interpreted by Christianity. The Great Prophet has revealed the obscure, and, endowed with his Spirit, apostles have been inspired to comment authoritatively upon the preceding dispensation. And we need not limit our aspirations alter an intelligent perception of the meaning of Christian laws. Events as they occur, and reverent, persevering investigation, may unfold to us with increasing clearness the ways of God. But we ought not to delay observance of his precepts until their design is fully manifest. That servant is slothful who refuses to work by candle-light, and waits for the brightness of the sun.

III. Partial disobedience neutralizes the effect of a religious observance, and may appear more offensive than total neglect of the Divine commands. Let the worshipper trifle with the Law and venture to eat the flesh on the third day, and he shall find to his cost that the whole of his offering is rejected; it is not pleasing to God, and will not procure him favour. His effort proves useless, it shall not be reckoned to his credit. Worse still, his offering “shall be an abomination” in the eyes of God; there shall be no grateful odour exhaled, but it shall be a stench in his nostrils. Sin has not been, obliterated but augmented by the sacrifice. When the Earl of Oxford would honour King Henry VII. by the presence of a large body of retainers, the king only saw in the men an infraction of the law, and could not consent to have his laws broken in his sight. Honour and dishonour are an ill-assorted pair. The partially obedient worshipper shows himself as knowing God’s will and doing it not. Total abstinence might have proclaimed him sinful through ignorance. Halfheartedness is often as productive of evil effects as flat rebellion. It is not for us to presume to say what may be disregarded and what not. To follow the Lord fully is the path of duty and of safety.—S. R. A.

Vers. 29–34.—The threefold participation. In the case of the peace offerings, there was a recognition of rights due to God, to his priests, and to the people presenting the victims.

I. The portion reserved for God. The fat parts and the blood were not to be eaten by man; the former must be burnt upon the altar, the latter poured out at its foot. There are claims God will not waive. The homage man owes to his Maker can never be remitted. Full trust and unfaltering obedience can be demanded only by an infinite Being. Life must be acknowledged an dependent upon him. “The blood is the life,” and for the Israelite to drink it is to be cut off from the congregation. The choicest portion belong to God. He will not put up with inferior parts. They mock him who fancy that a remnant of time and money and strength will suffice for his service.

II. The share allotted to the priests. God takes care of his chosen servants, provides amply for their wants. The priests devoted wholly to the work of the tabernacle shall not be forgotten, but considered as one with their Master, so that whenever he is honoured they shall be likewise thought of. To wear God’s uniform is to be well cared for, to receive good wages, to be sure of a pension. Once taken into his employ, our future comfort is assured. And those who preach and gospel may claim to live by it. See this principle enunciated and inculcated in 1 Cor. 9:7–14. Variety is secured. Food to eat, skins to wear. The atonement of the priest “covered” the sinner, and the covering of the animal was naturally appropriated to the use of the officiating priest. Both flour and flesh fell to the lot of the priests. The quality shall not be inferior. Portions are selected, the breast and the shoulder, which were counted as most delicate in flavour and nutritious in substance. Why should God’s messengers yield to fear lest they should be neglected? He feedeth the ravens, clothes the lilies in splendour, and will not forsake those whom he has called to do his work in the world.

III. The remainder handed back to the people. We have not to do with an avaricious, unreasonable God. He might justly have claimed the absolute disposal of all brought to his shrine as an offering, but he graciously received a “memorial” for himself and a portion for his ministers, and the rest was returned to the worshippers, consecrated, and for their festal enjoyment. Let us but acknowledge God’s requirements, and we shall find that we are not debarred from the innocent pleasures of life, but can enter upon them with sacred enhancing zest. By spending money in the purchase of ointment for the Saviour, Mary did not deprive herself of all her store, but rather increased the satisfaction with which she indulged in the customary household expenses. We are sure that the widow who cast her all into the treasury was not allowed to remain utterly destitute. She had really made a profitable investment of her little capital. Emptying her hands was only preparatory to having them filled. How ennobling the thought of being sharers with God and his servants! We all partake of the same food, and are made “one bread and one body” (1 Cor. 10:17). There is a better sauce than hunger! It consists in previous dedication to God. Selfish exclusion of the rights of God diminishes the intensity and narrows the sphere of our delights. Not the miser, but the Christian donor, knows the joys of property.—S. R. A.

Vers. 1–8.—The law of the trespass offering. This, like the other offerings, was generally considered before (see chs. 5. and 6:1–7). The repetition here, according to Hebrew usage, gives emphasis and solemnity to the injunctions. The subject is reopened to show more particularly the duties and privileges of the priesthood concerning it. And we notice—

I. That the trespass offering is described as most holy. 1. It was most holy as typifying Christ. (1) Intrinsically there could be neither sin not holiness in the animal that was offered up. It was not a moral being. Nor could it be most holy in the sense of removing moral guilt; for it could not do this. For this purpose God never “required” it; never “desired” it (1 Sam. 15:22; Ps. 40:6; 51:16; Isa. 1:11; Hos. 6:6; Heb. 10:1–4). (2) But the guilt offering of Calvary can literally “take sin away,” and so accomplish the will, the desire, and the requirement of a just and merciful God (Ps. 40:6–8; Heb. 10:4–10). Christ is therefore indeed “Most Holy;” and the guilt offering of the Law was so called putatively as typifying him. Accordingly. 2. It was killed at the north side of the altar. (1) “It is most holy. In the place where they kill the burnt offering shall they kill the trespass offering” (vers. 1, 2). But the burnt offering was killed at the north side of the altar (ch. 1:11). So was Calvary at the north side of Jerusalem. (2) Because this is given as a reason why the trespass offering was to be accounted “most holy,” the Jews have countenance here for their tradition that the less holy sacrifices were slain at the south-west corner of the altar. 3. It was eaten in the holy place. (1) “Every male among the priests shall eat thereof: it shall be eaten in the holy place: it is most holy” (ver. 6). This was what the Jews distinguished as “the eating within the curtains.” in allusion to the court of the tabernacle, which was enclosed with curtains. (2) In these feastings the priests cultivated fellowship; and the fellowship was religious in proportion as they had the vision of their faith clear to look to the end of the things to be abolished. Faith is the true principle of religious fellowship. (3) The females “among the priests” might eat of the “holy things;” but of the things distinguished as “most holy” they had no right to eat. Since the Fall down to the coming of the “Seed of the woman,” a distinction between male and female was maintained, but now it is abolished. God’s curse upon the woman has strangely been converted into the greatest blessing to mankind. Even in anger God is love.

II. Sundry directions given to the priests. 1. With the blood of the guilt offering they were to sprinkle the altar. (1) The altar was the raised platform upon which the sacrifices were offered up to God. The eminence of Calvary was, more particularly considered, the altar upon which the Great Sacrifice was offered. But in the grander sense, when the great universe is viewed, as Paul views it, as the true temple of God, the earth itself was the altar. The welfare of the universe is concerned in the death of Christ (Eph. 1:10; Phil. 2:9, 10; Col. 1:20). (2) The sprinkling of the altar with the blood, in this view, would show that the earth, the common inheritance of man, which was cursed for his sake, is redeemed with the price of the precious blood of Jesus. And being redeemed by the price of his blood, it is destined also to be redeemed by the power of his arm (see Eph. 1:14; 4:30). What glorious things are in reversion! (3) The Mishna records a tradition thus rendered by Bishop Patrick: “That there was a scarlet line which went round about the altar exactly in the middle, and the blood of the burnt offerings was sprinkled round about above the line, but that of the trespass offerings and peace offerings round about below it.” But these traditions are generally refinements without authority. Let us be thankful for the “sure word of prophecy.” 2. They were to burn the fat upon the altar. (1). Not the fat intermingled with the flesh. This was not offered upon the altar, except, of course, in the holocaust; nor was it forbidden as food. Had it been so, what embarrassments must tender consciences have suffered! There is nothing unreasonable in the service of God. (2) The fat burnt was chiefly that found in a detached state, viz. the omentum, or caul, the fat of the mesentery and that about the kidneys, with the rump or tail of the sheep. This last was in the East so enormous that it had in some cases to be supported by a little cart fastened behind the animal (see Lodof’s ‘History of Ethiopia,’ p. 53). 3. They had the privilege of claiming the skin (vers. 7, 8). (1) This privilege probably dates from the days of Eden. Immediately after the Fall, our first parents covered themselves with the leaves of the fig, symbolically to express their sense of shame on account of their sin. In exchange for these, God graciously clothed them with skins, which we may presume were those of animals offered in sacrifice. Here, then, was the robe of an imputed righteousness to cover their sin and shame (2) If these skins were those of animals offered in sacrifice, then Adam must have acted as a priest, and of course by Divine appointment. As a priest, then he would receive the skins. To this hour those descendants of Adam who act as spiritual priests are those who are invested with the robe of the righteousness of Christ.—J. A. M.

Vers. 9–15.—The peace offering of thanksgiving. At the conclusion of the instructions concerning the trespass offering, we have a few directions concerning the meat offering (vers. 9, 10). Whatever of it was dressed was to be given to the priest that offered it, to be consumed by himself and his family. But that “mingled with oil, and dry” was to be divided amongst the sons of Aaron. The reason appears to be economical. What was prepared would not keep, and was therefore to be consumed at once; that which would keep was to be divided, to be used according to convenience. The God of grace is also the God of providence. And his providence is especially concerned for those who seek his grace. After these notes, the law of the sacrifice of the peace offering is formally considered.

I. The peace offering of thanksgiving. 1. There is fitness in this association. (1) The peace offering has its name, שלמים (shelamim), from שלם (shalem), to complete or make whole. It was instituted to express the manner in which our breaches of the covenant are made up by Christ. How the variance between God and man is composed through his atoning sacrifice! (2) What, then, more fitting than that we should express our thankfulness to God in connection with the peace offering? Praise breaks spontaneously from the heart that is “reconciled to God through the death of his Son” (see Isa. 12:1). 2. A bread offering accompanied this. (1) One portion of this bread offering was unleavened (ver. 12). This portion was presented upon the altar. As leaven symbolized evil dispositions, no trace of it should be found in anything that touched God’s altar (ch. 2:11). (2) But the other portion was leavened (ver. 13). This portion was eaten by the worshipper, and expressed that he had evil dispositions that needed purging out. What a difference there is between the holy God and sinful man! What a merciful provision is that of the gospel of peace, that reconciles sinners to God!

II. The thanksgiving in the heave offering. (Vers. 14, 15.) 1. This was taken from the whole oblation. (1) The word for oblation, משאת. (masseath), denotes that which is borne or carried, from נשא (nasa), to bear or carry. It generally describes anything which was carried to the temple to be offered to God. It also expresses the design of all sacrifices to be the carrying or bearing of sin (see Exod. 28:38; also ch. 10:17; 16:21). (2) In the offerings of the Law this was typical; but in the offering of Christ real (see Isa. 53:4, 12; John 1:29, margin; 1 Pet. 2:24). (3) From the number of these typical sin-bearers borne to the temple, the heave offering was to be taken. It was a representative of the whole of them, and suggested that what was specifically expressed in it might be predicated of any of them. 2. It was lifted up in faith and gratitude to God. (1) The heave offering had its name, תרומה (terumah), from רם (rum, to lift up), because it was lifted up, viz. toward heaven, by the priest. (2) This action expressed thankfulness to the source whence all blessings come to us, and especially those of redemption. Christ is the “Lord from heaven,” the “heavenly gift” of a gracious Father (see John 3:13, 16, 31; 4:10; 6:32, 33; 1 Cor. 15:47; Heb. 6:4). 3. It became the priest’s who sprinkled the blood of the peace offering. (1) Those who make their peace with God through the blood of the cross not only offer thanks, but enjoy the blessings of thanksgiving. Thus a grateful heart is a “continual feast.” (2) It was eaten the same day that it was offered. In the very act of thanksgiving to God for his blessings we are blessed. Those who in everything “give thanks” can “rejoice evermore” (1 Thess. 5:16–18). (3) It was shared by the priest in his own community (see Numb. 18:8, 11, 18, 19). Shared domestically. Shared religiously. The stranger had no part nor lot in the matter.—J. A. M.

Vers. 16–27.—The sanctity of the service of God. The peace offering may be offered for thanksgiving, in which case it has appropriate ceremonies (vers. 12–15). There is also the peace offering of a vow, the ceremonies of which are the same as those of the voluntary offering (ver. 16; also ch. 19:5–8). In connection with this subject, we are admonished of the sanctity of the service of God; and similar admonitions are given in what follows.

I. We see this sanctity in the sanctions of the law of the peace offering. 1. Consider the precept. (1) Look at it in the letter. “It shall be eaten the same day that he offereth his sacrifice.” The same day in which the fat is burnt on the altar, the flesh is consumed by the worshipper and his friends. What remains must be eaten on the morrow. If any remain over to the third day, it must not then be eaten, but burnt with fire. (2) The first reason for this is hygienic. The flesh would, of course, be wholesome on the day it was killed, and so it would continue to be on the day following. But on the third day, in a hot climate, it would tend to corruption. The laws of health are well considered in the Levitical system, upon which account the study of that system may be commended to the votaries of social science. (3) But there must be a deeper reason still, else the penalties would not he so fomidable as they are. The peace offering was undoubtedly a type of Christ in his passion (Eph. 2:13–18). Our Lord was two days in the tomb after his death without seeing corruption. Then rising from the dead on the third day, the typical sacrifices of the Law, having answered their end, were abolished. This abolition was foreshadowed in the burning of what remained of the peace offering on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3). To eat of the typical peace offering on the third day would be therefore highly improper, as it would suggest return to the “beggarly elements” after the “bringing in of the better hope” (Gal. 3:3; 4:9–11, 30, 31; 5:1–4). (4) If the “third day” represent the Christian dispensation in which typical sacrifices are done away, how are we to view the “two days” during which they were serviceable? There were exactly two great dispensations before the Christian, in which typical sacrifices were ordained, viz. first, the Patriarchal, from Adam to Moses; and secondly, the Levitical, from Moses to Christ. 2. Consider the penalties. (1) If the flesh of the peace offering be eaten on the third day, the sacrifice “shall not be accepted.” The reason will now be obvious. In the third, or gospel, dispensation, there is a better Sacrifice. Typical sacrifices are now out of place and worthless, since the Antitype is come. (2) “It shall not be imputed to him that offereth it.” The typical sacrifices were useful in procuring the “forbearance of God” until the true atonement should be made; but now it is made, Christ will profit them nothing who return to the Law. (3) “He shall bear his sin.” He shall be treated as the sacrifice was treated. He shall himself be sacrificed for his own sin.

II. This sanctity is further seen in the penalties imposed in other cases. This: 1. When the flesh of sacrifice is unlawfully eaten. (1) This would happen if it had touched “any unclean thing” (ver. 19). Instead of being eaten, it should then be “burnt with fire.” The teaching is that an unclean thing is of no use for purposes of atonement. The sacrifice of Christ could not be accepted were he not immaculate. (2) It would happen if the eater were unclean. “As for the flesh, all that be clean shall eat thereof” (Hebrew, “The flesh of all that is clean shall eat the flesh”), i.e. every clean person shall eat the flesh of his peace offering. As Christ is without spot of sin, so is his flesh meat only to the holy. “But the soul” etc. (vers. 20, 21). To the wicked, the very gospel becomes the savour of death (1 Cor. 11:29; 2 Cor. 2:15, 16). 2. When holy things are profaned. (1) When the fat is eaten (ver. 23)—the fat of such animals as were offered in sacrifice. There is no law against the eating of the fat of the roebuck or the hart. And that portion of the fat which was offered in sacrifice. The fat mingled with the flesh, which was not burnt on the altar, was not forbidden. There must be the most careful avoidance of whatever would profane the sacrifice of Christ. The fat even of an animal of the sacrificial kind, which by any accident might be rendered unfit for sacrifice, must not be eaten (ver. 24). The moral here is that the very appearance of evil must be avoided. (2) When the blood is eaten. This law is universal. Blood, viz. of every description of animal, is forbidden. The Jews property expound this law as forbidding the blood of the life as distinguished from the gravy And the reason given for the prohibition is that the life maketh atonement for the life. Our life, which is redeemed by the life of Jesus sacrificed for us, must be wholly given to God. The highest sanctity is associated with the blood of Christ. (3) “That soul shall be cut off from his people” (vers. 20, 21, 25, 27). The penalty in all these cases is extreme. It means separation from religious and civil privileges, if not also death. The penalties of the Mosaic Law terminated in the death of the body; but “a much sorer punishment” is reserved for those who despise and desecrate the blood of Christ (Heb. 10:28, 29).—J. A. M.

Vers. 28–38.—The service of the oblation. In the service of the oblation of the peace offering there are two actors, viz. the offerer and the priest. These had their respective duties, which are severally brought under our notice in the text. We have—

I. The duty of the offerer. 1. He had to bring his oblation unto the Lord. (1) The “oblation” here is not the “sacrifice,” but “of the sacrifice” (vers. 28–30). It was that portion of the sacrifice which, more especially, was claimed by God, viz. the fat prescribed to be burnt upon the altar. It included also the breast and right shoulder. (2) This he was to bring in person. “His own hands shall bring the offerings of the Lord made by fire,” etc. This requistion is so express that even women, who under other circumstances never entered the court of the priests, did so when they had offerings to bring. The Hebrew name for oblation (קרבן, korban) is derived from a root (קרב, koreb) which signifies to approach or draw near. By the introduction of our Great High Priest, we personally, under the gospel, “approach” or “draw nigh” unto God (see Heb. 7:19; 10:21, 22). We cannot save our souls by proxy. We cannot acceptably serve God by proxy. 2. He had to bring the fat laid upon the breast. (1) What our version construes “the fat with, the breast” (ver. 30), may be better rendered, as it is by the learned Julius Bate, “the fat upon the breast,” i.e. laid upon the breast (comp. ch. 8:26, 27). The breast was that appointed to be waved before the Lord; and it would appear that it was waved with the fat laid upon it. The breast was the natural symbol of heartiness and willingness. This action would, therefore, express the cheerful and grateful willingness of the offerer, and his earnest desire that his offering might be graciously accepted. What we devote to God should be heartily given (2 Cor. 9:7). (2) The “heave shoulder” was also brought. This was the right shoulder, It had its name from the ceremony in which it was moved up and down before the Lord. As the “breast” symbolized affection, so the “shoulder” expressed action, and the “right” shoulder, action of the most efficient kind. Love expresses itself in deeds (Matt. 22:37–40; Luke 6:46; Rom 13:9; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8).

II. The duty of the priest. 1. He had to offer up the oblation. (1) The Mishna says this was done by the priest placing his hands under those of the offerer, upon which the wave breast was laid, and then moving them to and fro. The priest certainly had a hand in the ceremony of waving the breast (see Numb. 6:20). And if we regard him as a type of Christ in this, then the teaching appears to be that we should look to Jesus to sustain the fervency of our love in the offering of our oblations of prayer and praise and service. (2) The priest in the next place, it appears, offered up the fat in the fire of the altar (ver. 31). Then the right shoulder was “given to the priest for an heave offering” (ver. 32). This, we are told, was moved up and down. Thus these motions of the wave breast, and heave shoulder were at right angles, and so they formed the figure of a cross. Honbigant thinks that by this “was adumbrated the cross upon which that Peace Offering of the human race was lifted up, which was prefigured by all the ancient victims” (comp. John 21:18, 19; 2 Pet. 1:14; together with the historical tradition concerning the crucifixion of Peter). 2. The breast and shoulder were then claimed by the priest. (1) They had these by a Divine ordinance (vers. 31–34). They were first given to God, and now became God’s gift to his ministers. What is given to sustain the ministry should not be regarded by the giver as a gratuity, but as a service loyally and faithfully rendered to God (see Numb. 18:20–24). Ministers should receive their support as from the hand of God (see 2 Cor. 9:11: Phil. 4:18). (2) They had it by a birthright. It was given to “Aaron and his sons.” Those who were not sons of Aaron had no part nor lot in the matter. And true ministers of the gospel must be sons of Jesus; they must be spiritually born, or they are intruders into sacred functions (see Ps. 50:16; Acts 1:25; Rom. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:12; 2 Tim. 4:5). (3) They had it also by consecration. The sons of Aaron, though as their brithright were served from the altar, had no title to serve the altar until anointed for that service. So the birth of the Spirit, by which we become sons of Jesus, does not alone constitute ministers. For the ministry they must have a special vocation. Note: “Aaron presented his sons to minister unto the Lord,” in which he acted as the type of Christ, who calls and qualifies those he sends. If the harvest be plenteous and the labourers few, the more urgently should we “pray the Lord of the harvest that he would send forth labourers.”—J. A. M.

Vers. 1–10.—Emphatic truths or things God lays stress upon. The great particularity and the occasional repetition shown in these ordinances point to the truth that God desired his people to attach very great weight to them. His servants were to understand that he laid great stress upon—

I. The way in which he was approached in worship. Distinctions were drawn beween different offering, the import of which we now find it hard to trace. Though, indeed, it is stated that “as the sin offering so the trespass offering; there is one law for them” (ver. 7), yet there were differences in the way in which the blood was disposed of by the priests, etc. (cf. ver. 2 and ch. 4:6, 7). Minute details were entered into respecting the disposal of the various parts of the animal (vers. 3, 4, 8). Precise directions were given regarding the eating of the offerings by the priests (vers. 5, 9, 10). It appears to us that there must have been but very faint moral significance in these arrangements to the mind of the Hebrew worshipper. But if this were so, the very particularity of the precepts indicated God’s determination that his people should show the utmost vigilance and attention in their approaches to himself. We may wisely learn therefrom that, though our Divine Master has left all details in worship to our spiritual discernment, he is far from indifferent to the way in which we approach him. We should show the utmost care: 1. To draw nigh to his throne of grace in a right spirit—a spirit of reverence, trust, expectation, holy joy. 2. To use those methods of approach which are most likely to foster the true spirit of worship—having enough of simplicity to favour spirituality of mind; having, at the same time, enough of art and effort to meet the cultivated tastes of all who take part in devotion.

II. The fact that sin means death in his sight. The first “law of the trespass offering” (ver. 1) relates to the killing of the animal and the sprinkling of its blood “round about the altar” (ver. 2). The thing in these sacrifices is the application of the blood for atonement: no offering on the altar, no eating of the flesh, until life had been taken, until blood had been shed and sprinkled. The sinner must own his worthiness of death for his trespass, and, if he is to find acceptance, must bring a victim, whose life shall be forfeited instead of his own, whose atoning blood shall make peace with God. This is the foundation truth of Old Testament sacrifices; it is the ground truth of the sacrifice on Calvary.

III. The truth that our very best, our own self, is to be consecrated to God. The best of the slain animals, the vital parts, had to be presented in holy sacrifice on the altar (vers. 3–5). When the atoning blood has brought reconciliation, we are to present our best, our very selves, in acceptable sacrifice to our Saviour.

IV. The truth that all which is presented to God is to be regarded as holy in his sight. Only the priests might eat of the flesh of the offered animal, and they only “in the holy place,” for “it is most holy” (ver. 6). Everything became holy when brought to “the door of the tabernacle” and presented to Jehovah. When we dedicate ourselves to his service in the act of self-surrender, we yield everything to him. And then: 1. Our bodies become a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:13, 20). 2. Our whole lives are to be lived and spent before him as holy (1 Cor. 10:31).—C.

Vers. 14, 28–34.—The kingdom of God: lessons from the have offering. The ceremony of the heave offering and wave offering was a striking incident in the rite of the peace offering. “According to Jewish tradition it was performed by laying the parts on the hands of the offerer, and the priest, putting his hands again underneath. then moving them in a horizontal direction for the waving and in a vertical one for the heaving … the waving was peculiarly connected with the breast, which is thence called the wave breast (ver. 34), and the heaving with the shoulder, for this reason called the heave shoulder” (ver. 34). The main truth to which this symbolic act pointed was probably—

I. God’s universal sovereignty. As these parts of the animal were solemnly directed upwards and downwards and laterally, in all directions, the offerer intimated his belief that the realm of Jehovah was a boundless kingdom, reaching to the heavens, above, to the dark regions below, to every corner and quarter of the earth. We do well to meditate on the truth thus pictorially presented; but in so doing we are necessarily reminded how much more we have learned both from revelation and human science of the wide reach of his reign. We may think of his Divine kingdom as including: 1. Heaven and all its worlds and inhabitants. 2. Hades—the grave and those who have “gone to the grave.” 3. The earth and all that is thereon: (1) all human beings; (2) all unintelligent creatures; (3) all vegetable life; (4) all inanimate treasure—gold, silver, etc. We are reminded of the propriety of—

II. Our formal recognition of this fact. The Hebrew worshipper was encouraged to bring his peace offering to the altar, and then to go through this simple but suggestive ceremony, thus formally acknowledging the truth. No similar provision is made for our utterance of it; but it is open to us to declare it in sacred words and in most solemn forms: 1. In adoration. “Thine,” O Lord, is the greatness and the power … for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine,” etc. (1 Chron. 29:10, 11; 1 Tim. 1:17; Deut. 10:14; Ps. 24:1). 2. In praise. When we “sing unto the Lord,” there should be full and frequent ascription of everything “in the heavens above and the earth beneath” to him as the Author and Owner and Ruler of all. We also see—

III. Our appropriate action thereupon. The Jewish worshipper was directed to “wave” and “heave” the breast and shoulder; these joints in particular and in preference to any other, “probably from their being considered the more excellent parts.” When the fat had been burned upon the altar (ver. 31), these joints were reserved “unto Aaron the priest and unto his sons for ever” (ver. 34). We gather therefrom that we are to make practical recognition of the truth that God’s kingdom extends everywhere, and includes every one, by: 1. Dedicating our best to his service: our affections (suggested by the breast); our strength (suggested by the shoulder). 2. Bringing our offerings to his cause—for the support of those who minister in holy things, and for the maintenance of those various agencies which are working for the glory of his Name.—C.

Vers. 11–18, 30.—Four thoughts on sacred service. We gather from these words—1. That there is a joyous and social element in sacred service. There were not only sin and burnt offerings, but also meat and peace offerings, in the Hebrew ritual. Those who were reconciled unto God might rejoice, and might rejoice together, before him. They might hold festive gatherings as his servants and as his worshippers; they might eat flesh which had been dedicated to him, and bread, even leavened bread (ver. 13), and they were to “rejoice in their feast” (Deut. 16:14). The prevailing tone of the true Christian life is that of sacred joy. Even at the remembrance of the Saviour’s death humility and faith are to rise into holy joy.

“Around a table, not a tomb,

He willed our gathering-place should be.

When going to prepare our home,

Our Saviour said, ‘Remember me’ ”

Whether in ordinary worship, or at “the table of the Lord,” or in any other Christian festival, we are to “rejoice before the Lord” together.

II. That there is a spontaneous as well as a statutory element in sacred service. “If he offer it for a thanksgiving then he shall offer,” etc. (ver. 12). “If the sacrifice … be a vow, or a voluntary offering, it shall be eaten,” etc. (ver 16). God’s Law says, “thous shalt,” but it finds room for “if thou shalt.” There are many things compulsory, and we have nothing to do but cheerfully and unquestioningly obey. There are also many things optional, and we may allow ourselves to act as devotional and generous impulses may move us. The mind which is constitutionally legal should cultivate the spontaneous in worship and benefaction; the impulsive must remember that there are statutes as well as suggestions in the Word of God.

III. That there may be not only futility but even guilt in connection with sacred service. Disregard of the prohibition to eat on the third day entirely vitiated the withiness of the offering: in such case it would “not be accepted,” neither “imputed unto him that offered it;” it would be counted “an abomination,” and the soul that so acted was to “bear his iniquity” (ver. 18). The service we seek to render God may be: 1. Wholly vitiated so as to be entirely unacceptable, and draw down no blessing from above; or may even be: 2. Positively offensive in the sight of God, and add to our guilt, if it be (1) unwilling, grudging; (2) unspiritual, soulless; (3) slovenly, careless, the offering of our exhaustion instead of our energy; (4) ostentatious or (still worse) hypocritical; (5) much mixed with worldly, or vindictive, or base thoughts.

IV. That personal spiritual participation is necessary in sacred service. “His own hands shall bring the offerings” (ver. 30). God would be approached by His people themselves, and though, he had graciously granted human mediation in the form of a sacrificing priesthood, yet he desired that every Israelite who had an offering to present should bring it with his own hand to the door of the tabernacle. Religion is a personal thing. We may accept human ministry, but we must come ourselves to God in direct, immediate devotion and dedication. Every man here must bear his own burnder (Gal. 6:5). There is a point beyond which the most ardent affection, the most earnest solicitude, the most burning zeal cannot go—for others. They must, themselves, approach in reverence, bow in penitence, look up in faith, yield in selfsurrender, present daily sacrifices of gratitude, obedience, submission.—C.

Vers. 20, 21.—Divine and human severity. There is something almost startling in the closing words, “That soul shall be cut off from his people” It suggests thoughts of—

I. Apparent Divine severity. 1. That God sometimes seems to be severe in his dealings with men. These particular injunctions must have had to the Jews an aspect of rigour. An Israelite excommunicated for one of these offences probably felt that he had been hardly dealt with. God’s dealings have an occasional aspect of severity (see Rom. 11:22). So with us. In his providence comparatively slight faults, errors, transgressions, are sometimes followed by most serious evils—disgrace, sorrow, loss, death. 2. That the light of after-days often explains his dealing with us. We can see now that the paramount and supremee importance of maintaining the purity of Israel, its separateness from all the abominations of surrounding heathendom, made the most stringent regulations on that subject necessary and wise, and therefore kind. So with us. Looking back on the way by which we have been led, we frequently see that that very thing which at the times was not only distressing but perplexing, was the most signal act of the Divine wisdom and goodness, the providential ordering for which, above every other thing, we now give thanks. 3. That present faith should rise to the realization that, somewhere in the future, apparent severity will bear the aspect of wise and holy love. “What we know not now we shall know hereafter.” “Then shall we know,” etc. (1 Cor. 13:12).

II. Occasional human severity. 1. That we are sometimes obliged to seem severe towards those for whom we are responsible. (1) The statesman is obliged to introduce a severe measure; (2) a father to take a strong and energetic course; (3) a Church to excommunicate a member. 2. That apparent severity is sometimes the only rightful course which wise and holy love can take. It is the action which is (1) due to itself (Jas. 3:17); (2) due to the object of its affection (1 Tim. 1:20).—C.

Vers. 15–17.—Three features of acceptable service. We have commanded or suggested here—

I. Careful preservation of purity. The “flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering” was to be eaten on the very day of its presentation (ver. 15); that of another kind of offering might be eaten partly on the day following (ver. 16), but on no account might anything offered in sacrifice be partaken of on the third day (vers. 17, 18). It was one of the objects, probably the primary intention, of this restriction, that nothing offered to God should be allowed to become unsound. No danger was to be incurred in the way of putrefaction. Another statute in defence of purity in worship! In the service of the Holy One of Israel we must be pure in thought, in word, in act. He is “of purer eyes than to behold evil,” etc. (Heb. 1:13), and can find no pleasure in any service tainted with iniquity. The connection in which this restriction occurs suggests that, especially in those religious engagements in which we find social pleasure, we should be careful to maintain purity of spirit, integrity of heart.

II. Careful retention of sacredness of thought. The partaking of the flesh and the bread which had been presented to God, though these were eaten at home, was to be regarded as a sacred act. It was sacramental. Therefore it was fitting that no great interval of time should come between the act of presentation and the consumption. For the consequence would inevitably be that the sacred festival would tend to sink to the level of an ordinary meal. Sacred thoughts would be less vivid and less frequent; the engagement would become more secular and more simply social as more time intervened. We learn that we should take the greatest care to retain in our mind the sense of the sacredness of religious acts during their performance. When they become mechanical, or wholly bodily, or simply social; when the realization of the religious and the Divine element falls out, then their virtue is gone; they are no longer “an acceptable offering unto the Lord.” We must accomplish this end by: 1. Studious spiritual endeavour to realize what we are doing. 2. By wise precautions, judicious measures, which will tend to preserve sanctity and to guard against secularity of thought.

III. Unselfishness in religious service. The commandment to consume everything within one or two days pointed to an increase in the number of partakers; it suggested the calling together friends and dependents; also the invitation of the poor and needy. This was not only the design but the effect of the injunction (see Deut. 12:18; 16:11). The Israelites, in “eating before the Lord,” showed a generous hospitality while they were engaged in an act of piety and of sacred joy. Let unselfishness be a prominent feature in our religious institutions. It is well to remember: 1. That selfishness is apt to show itself here as elsewhere. 2. That it is never so inconsistent and unsightly as in connection with the service of God. 3. That it is a painful exhibition to the Lord of love. 4. That the more generous and self-forgetting we are in sacred things, the more we approach the spirit and life of our Divine Exemplar (Phil. 2:4–8)—C.

Vers. 1–10.—The trespass offering, burnt offering, and meat offering, affording support to the minister of the sanctuary and occasion for feasting.

I. It is the intent of true religion that those consecrated to its service should be provided for liberally.

II. Acknowledgment of sin and atonement, made lead to rejoicing, and the festival life of man grows out of reconciliation with God.

III. Typically; Christ the High Priest is rewarded in the sanctification of his people. “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied.”—R.

Vers. 11–21.—The peace offerings and thank offerings. The unleavened bread and the leavened bread, both offered. The offerings must be quickly eaten, and all uncleanness must be avoided as iniquity. Thus are taught—

I. The duty of thankfulness. 1. It should be cheerful, glad, pure, speedy. 2. It should be religious, expressed towards God as the Author and Giver of every good gift. 3. It should be social, recognizing both the house of God and family life.

II. The necessity of holiness in all things and at all times. Thanks—vows—voluntary offerings;—in all there must be separation to God, and from the corrupt and unclean. 1. In nothing more need of vigilance than in expressing the heart’s more joyful feelings. Possibility of prolonging the joy will till it becomes corrupt. Hilarity over balancing the soul. Intemperance in enjoyments. 2. The uncleanness of the world is apt to cling to us. We should especially watch against carrying the impure spirit into the sanctuary. The mind should be free, the heart calm, the soul hungering and thirsting after spiritual delights, when, on the Lord’s day, we enter the courts of his house to offer sacrifice. 3. Fellowship with God’s ministers and his services. One voice, but many hearts. True mediation when all alike by faith depending on Christ.—R.

Vers. 22–27.—Instructions for the people on the fat and on the blood. The prohibition of fat was to secure the rights of Jehovah from invasion. The fat was a gift sanctified to God. The prohibition of the blood was to keep up the idea of atonement, the blood being regarded as the soul of the animal which God had appointed as the medium of atonement for the soul of man. Here is—

I. The supremacy of the Divine claims. 1. The recognition by the conscience in doctrine, in the place religion holds in the life. 2. The social state should be regulated on this principle. Man must not invade God’s rights if he would retain God’s blessing. Observance of the sabbath. The law of nations rests on the Law of God. 3. The individual believer will take care that he robs God of nothing. His service demands the fat, the choicest faculties, the deepest feelings, the largest, gifts.

II. The righteousness of God made the righteousness of man. Life for life. The blood sanctified, the blood saved. On the foundation of a perfect reconciliation alone can a true humanity be preserved and developed. Mistake of the ancient Greeks in worshipping humanity unredeemed, leading to animalism, and eventually to the substitution of mere art for morality, therefore the degradation of humanity. The elevation of the soul is the elevation of the whole man; “Im ganzen, guten, schoenen resolut zuleben,” is a motto only to be adopted in the Christian sense. “He that saveth his life shall lose it;” he that offers it up to God shall redeem it.—R.

Vers. 28–38.—The wave breast and the heave shoulder given to the priests. God’s share and his ministers’ share must be both fully given and carefully set aside and publicly offered up. Generous support of the sanctuary.

I. Service of God’s house requires special offerings; which should be: 1. Large and freely bestowed. Reciprocal blessings; those that give receive, and as they give, they receive. 2. The ministry should be so provided for that the service rendered be joyful and unrestrained. 3. The subordinate arrangements of the sanctuary should partake of the cheerfulness which flows from abundance. A festival of worship.

II. Sanctification of gifts. Both by personal preparation and by systematic beneficence. Lay aside for God as we are prospered. God’s claims should precede all others. The blessing of the sanctuary overflows into common life.

III. Publicity a powerful stimulus and a binding pledge. Waving and heaving represented extent and elevation. Much in example. Our gifts should not be ostentatiously published, but yet, if held up to God, and so presented as to set forth the universality of our consecration to him. They will both glorify his Name and incite others to his service.—R.




Chapter 8

The consecration of Aaron and his sons is the natural sequel of the foregoing division of the book. The sacrificial system, which had now been instituted in its completeness, required a priesthood to administer it. Originally the head of each Hebrew family was priest to his own household, to offer gifts betokening self-surrender and communion with God—burnt sacrifices and sacrifices similar in character to the peace offerings. The first step from hence to the hereditary priesthood was the hallowing the firstborn of the Israelites to God’s service, after the Israelitish firstborn had been delivered from the destruction which fell upon the firstborn of Egypt (Numb. 3:13). The second was the substitution of the tribe of Levi for the firstborn (Numb. 3:41–45), on account of the zeal which the Levites exhibited above the other tribes at the time of the idolatry of the golden calf (Exod. 32:26). Now, out of the tribe of Levi is chosen the one family of Aaron, to form an hereditary priesthood, consisting at first of five persons, quickly reduced to three by the death of Nadab and Abihu. This small body would have been sufficient for the needs of the people while they were still in the wilderness, and leading the life of the camp. With the increase of the nation the family of Aaron and his sons increased likewise, until, in the time of David, it was necessary to subdivide it into twenty-four courses for the orderly fulfilment of the functions of the priesthood. As the institution of the priesthood was necessary for carrying out the sacrificial system, so the sacrifices were necessary for the consecration of the priests. By means of the sacrifices the priests are consecrated, Moses performing on the occasion, and for the last time, the priestly functions. Appended to the record of their consecration is an account of the first acts of the newly created priests (ch. 9.), and of the death of two of them (ch. 10.). This is the only historical section in the book; and the death of the blasphemer (ch. 24.) is the only other historical event recorded in it, if at least we except such passages as, “And he did as the Lord commanded Moses” (ch. 16:34; 21:24; 23:44).

Vers. 1–5.—These verses contain the preliminaries of the ceremony of consecration. Aaron and his sons are to be brought to the door of the tabernacle, together with all that is necessary for the performance of the rite that is about to take place. The words in the second verse, a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread, should be translated, the bullock for the sin offering and the two rams and the basket. The garments, the anointing oil, the bullock, the two rams, and the basket of unleavenet bread and cakes, had all been previously enjoined, when Moses was on the mount (Exod. 28., 29., 30.). These previous injunctions are referred to in the words, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done (ver. 5).

Ver. 6.—Washing, robing, anointing, sacrificing, are the four means by the joing operation of which the consecration is effected. The washing, or bathing, took place in the sight of the people. The whole of the person, except so much as was covered by the linen drawers (Exod. 28:42), was washed. The symbolical significance is clear. Cleansing from sin precedes clothing in righteousness and spiritual unction.

Vers. 7–9.—The robing. The various articles of the priestly dress had been appointed and described before (Exod. 28., 29.). In these verses we see the order in which they were put on. After the priests had, no doubt, changed their linen drawers, there came, first, the coat, that is, a close-fitting tunic of white linen, made with sleeves and covering the whole body: next the girdle of the tunic, that is, a linen sash for tying the tunic round the body, with variegated ends hanging on each side to the ankles; thirdly, the robe, that is, a blue vesture, woven of one piece, with holes for the head and arms to pass through, reaching from the neck to below the knee, the bottom being ornamented with blue, purple, and scarlet pomegranates, alternating with golden bells; fourthly, the ephod, which consisted of two shoulder-pieces, or epaulettes, made of variegated linen and gold thread, fastened together in front and at the back by a narrow strap or band, from which hung, before and behind the wearer, two pieces of cloth confined below by the curious girdle of the ephod, that is, by a sash made of the same material as the ephod itself. Into the ephod were sewn two onyxes, one on each shoulder, in gold filigree settings, one of them engraven with the names of half of the tribes, and the other with the remaining half; and from two rosettes or buttons by the side of these stones depended twisted gold chains for the support of the breast-plate. Fifth came the breastplate, which was a square pocket, made of embroidered linen, a span long and a span broad, worn upon the breast and hanging from the gold chains above mentioned, the lower ends of the gold chain being tied to two rings at the upper and outer corner of the breastplate, while the upper and inner corner of the same was attached to the ephod by blue thread running through two sets of rings in the breastplate and ephod respectively. The outer side of the breastplate was stiffened and adorned by twelve precious stones, set in four rows of three, each stone having on it the name of one of the tribes of Israel. The breastplate being double and the two sides and the bottom being sewn up, the pocket formed by it had its opening at the top. Into this pocket were placed the Urim and the Thummim which were probably two balls of different colours, one of which on being drawn out indicated the approval of God, and the other his disapproval, as to any point on which the high priest consulted him. (The Jewish tradition, that the Divine answer by the Urim and the Thummim came by a supernatural light thrown on certain letters in the names of the tribes, has no foundation.) The last part of the dress to be put on was the mitre, or head-dress of linen, probably of the nature of a turban; to which, by a blue string, was attached the golden plate, in such a way that it rested lengthwise on the forehead, and on this plate or holy crown were inscribed the words, “Holiness to the Lord.” The investiture took place as the Lord commanded Moses, that is, in accordance with the instructions given in Exod. 28. Its purpose and its meaning in the eyes of the people would have been twofold; first, after the manner of the king’s crown and the judge’s robe, it served to manifest the fact that the function of priest was committed to the wearer; and next, it symbolized the necessity of being clothed upon with the righteousness of God, in order to be able to act as interpreter and mediator between God and man, thus foreshadowing the Divine Nature of him who should be the Mediator in antitype.

Vers. 10, 11.—The anointing is still more specifically the means of consecration than the investing or the washing. (For the anointing oil, which is here referred to as a thing well known, see Exod. 30:22–25, where its component parts are designated.) The consecration of things as well as of persons is sanctioned by the action of Moses, who anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. They were thus set apart for holy purposes. By all that was therein would be meant the ark, the vail, the altar of incense, the candlesticks, the table of shew-bread. After the tabernacle and its furniture had been anointed, the altar—that is, the brazer altar—and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, were sprinkled; not once only, as the things within the tabernacle, but seven times, to show that it was specially holy, although situated only in the court. The laver, for the priests’ use, was between the door of the tabernacle and the brazen altar of burnt offering. Its foot, or base, is described in Exod. 38:8, as made, according to the translation of the Authorized Version, “of brass, of the looking-glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle.”

Ver. 12.—He poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head. The change of the verb poured for sprinkled, indicates that the amount of “the precious ointment” poured “upon the head, that ran down unto the beard, and went down to the skirts of his garments” (Ps. 133:2), was far greater than that with which, the furniture of the tabernacle had been anointed. The oil sprinkled on the holy things sanctified them as means of grace. The oil poured upon Aaron represents the grace of the Holy Spirit, coming from without, but diffusing itself over and throughout the whole consecrated man.

Ver. 13.—The investiture of Aaron’s sons—Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar—follows the consecration of their father. They are robed, according as the Lord commanded Moses in Exod. 28:40, in the white tunic, the sash, and the cap. But there is no statement here of their being anointed, although their anointing is ordered in Exod. 28:41, and still more imperatively in Exod. 40:15 They are spoken of as “anointed” in ch. 7:36, and as having “the anointing oil of the Lord upon them” in ch. 10:7. On the other hand, the high priest is specially designated as “the priest that is anointed” (ch. 4:3). It is probable that the personal anointing of the ordinary priests was confined to their being sprinkled with oil, as described below in ver. 30; but that they were regarded as virtually anointed in Aaron’s anointing. The Levites had no special dress until they obtained permission from Herod Agrippa II. to wear the priestly robes (Joseph., ‘Ant.,’ xx. 9, 6).

Vers. 14–32.—After the bathing, the robing, and the anointing, follow the sacrifices of consecration—the sin offering (vers. 14–17), the burnt offering (vers. 18–21), the peace offering (vers. 22–32).

Ver. 14.—The sin offering. This was the first sin offering ever offered. There had been burnt offerings and sacrifices aking to peace offerings before, but no sin offerings. At once the sin offering takes its place as the first of the three sacrifices before the burnt offerings and peace offerings. Justification comes first, then sanctification, and, following upon them, communion with God. The victim offered by and for Aaron and his sons is a bullock, the same animal that is appointed for the offering of the high priest (ch. 4:3).

Vers. 15–17.—And Moses took the blood. Moses continues still to act as priest, and the new sacrifice is once offered by him. He performs the priestly act of presenting the blood; but on this occasion, which is special, the blood is not dealt with in the manner prescribed for the high priest’s offerings (ch. 4:6). The reason of this is that Aaron was not yet high priest, and also that the offering was made not only for Aaron, but also for his sons; and further, the blood as well as the anointing oil was required to purify the altar, and sanctify it (see Heb. 9:21). Although the blood was not “brought into the tabernacle,” yet the bullock was burnt with fire without the camp, not eaten according to the rule of ch. 7:26, 30. This was necessary, as there were as yet no priests to eat it.

Vers. 18–21.—There is no deviation on the present occasion from the ritual appointed for the burnt offering. After the sin offering, righteousness is symbolically imputed to Aaron; after the burnt offering, holiness; then follows the peace offering of the ram, which completes and sacrificially effects the consecration.

Vers. 22–29.—The ram offered as a peace offering is called the ram of consecration, or literally, of filling, because one of the means by which the consecration was effected and exhibited was the filling the hands of those presented for consecration with the portion of the sacrifice destined for the altar, which they waved for a wave offering before the Lord, previous to its consumption by the fire. This portion consisted of the internal fat and tail, which was usually burnt (ch. 7:31), and the heave offering of the right shoulder, or hind leg, which generally went to the officiating priest (ch. 7:32), and one of each of the unleavened cakes. After this special ceremony of waving, peculiar to the rite of consecration, the usual wave offering (the breast) was waved by Moses and consumed by himself. Ordinarily it was for the priests in general (ch. 7:31). The blood was poured on the side of the altar, as was done in all peace offerings, but in addition, on the present occasion, it was put upon the tip of the right ear, and upon the thumb of the right hand, and upon the great toe of the right foot of the priests who were being consecrated, symbolizing that their senses and active powers were being devoted to God’s service. The same ceremony is to be used in the restoration of the leper (see ch. 14:14).

Ver. 30.—The sprinkling with oil and blood completes the ceremony of anointing, and suffices of itself for the sons of Aaron, in addition to their virtual participation in the anointing of their father (ver. 12). “In the mingling of the blood and oil for the anointing seems to be taught that not sacrifice for sin alone suffices; but that with this must be joined the unction of the Holy Spirit” (Gardiner).

Vers. 31, 32.—The flesh of the peace offering is given to Aaron and his sons to eat, not in the capacity of priests (for the peace offerings were not eaten by the priests), but as the offerers of the sacrifice.

Vers. 33–36.—The sacrificial ceremonies were repeated for seven days, during which Aaron and his sons remained in the court of the tabernacle, but did not enter the holy place, abstaining throughout that time from ministering, as the apostles did during the interval between the Ascension and the day of Pentecost. The words, Ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle, should rather be, Ye shall not go away from the entrance of the tabernacle, and for seven days shall he consecrate you, should rather be, during seven days ye shall be consecrated


Vers. 1–36.—Priesthood, which had existed from the beginning of the world, is now for the first time made the exclusive and hereditary function of one family so far as the Israelitish nation is concerned.

I. Aaron and his sons are appointed, not by the nation, but by God. In Exod. 28:1, we read, “And take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office,” In ch. 8:2–5, “Take Aaron and his sons with him.… And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done.” In Numb. 18:7, “I have given your priest’s office unto you as a service of gift.” In 1 Sam. 2:28, “Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?” These texts and the whole tenor of Holy Scripture clearly declare that the appointment of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood was the act of God. On the other side, there is no statement whatever to prove or to indicate that they were, as has been affirmed, merely the delegates of the people, so far as the priestly capacity of the latter is concerned. The only passage alleged to have a bearing in that direction is the following:—”Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them.… And thou shalt bring the Levites before the Lord: and the children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites” (Numb. 8:6–10). It is argued that the laying on of hands upon the Levites by the congregation was a delegation of power already existing in the congregation to them. If this were so, still the Levites were not the priests; the act would have been a delegation of the right and function only which the Levites possessed—and these were not priestly functions, but the office of waiting upon the service of the tabernacle. But the laying on of hands, in itself, means no more than setting apart, and, in the case of the Levite, we are told that its special meaning was setting apart as an offering or sacrifice. “And Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord for an offering of the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord.… And Aaron offered them as an offering before the Lord; and Aaron made an atonement for them to cleanse them. And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tabernacle of the congregation before Aaron, and before his sons: as the Lord had commanded Moses concerning of the Levites, so did they unto them” (Numb. 8:11–22). The consecration of the priests was entirely distinct from the dedication of the Levites, and had taken place previously to it. The priest was the minister of God; the Levite was the minister of the priest. None can make a priest of God but God himself.

II. Qualification for the priesthood. 1. Aaronic descent (see Exod. 28.; ch. 8; 2 Chron. 31:17–19; Ezra 2:62; Neh. 7:64). 2. Physical integrity and freedom from blemish. “No man that bath a blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest shall come nigh to offer the offerings of the Lord made by fire: he hath a blemish; he shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God. He shall eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy. Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries” (ch. 21:21–23). 3. Respectable marriage (ch. 21:7); in the case of the high priest, marriage with one previously unmarried, “in her virginity” (ch. 21:13). The two last qualifications symbolize the integrity of heart and purity of life and surroundings which are requisite in the minister of God. Further, at the time of his ministrations, the priest must be free from any ceremonial uncleanness (ch. 22:3, 4). and must abstain from wine (ch. 10:8, 10), the purity and collectedness demanded of God’s minister at all times being specially required while he is officiating.

III. Wherein the priest’s office consisted. 1. It consisted in “offering gifts and sacrifices for sins” (Heb. 5:1), this expression including all kinds of offerings and sacrifices by which men drew near to God, together with the burning of incense symbolical of prayer. The priest’s action was necessary for the offering of the sacrificial blood and burning the flesh upon the altar, and in some cases for consuming a portion of the victims themselves. 2. It consisted in bestowing benedictions (see Numb. 6:23–27, “Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel.… And they shall put my Name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them”). 3. It consisted in mediating between God and man, as in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, when “Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make and atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed” (Numb. 16:46–48). 4. It consisted in their being the teachers of the people, “That ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses” (ch. 10:11). “They shall teach Jacob thy judgements, and Israel thy Law” (Deut. 33:10). “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his month.” (Mal. 2:7). Besides being teachers, they were judges of differences, “By their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried” (Deut. 21:5; see Deut. 17:8–12; 2 Chron. 19:8–10). They were also leaders of the people’s devotions: “Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?” (Joel. 2:17). 5. In addition, “to the priests belonged the care of the sanctuary and sacred utensils, the preservation of the five on the brazen altar, the burning of incense of the golden altar, the dressing and lighting of the lamps of the golden candlestick, the charge of the shew-bread and other like duties. They were necessarily concerned in all those multitudinous acts of the Isaraelites which were connected with sacrifices, such as the accomplishment of the Nazarite vow, the ordeal of jealousy, the expiation of an unknown murder, the determination of the unclean and of the cleansed leprous persons, garments, and houses; the regulation of the calendar, the valuation of devoted property which was to be redeemed;—these and a multitude of other duties followed naturally from their priestly office. They were also to blow the silver trumpets on various occasions of their use, and, in connection with this, to exhort the soldiers about to engage in battle to boldness, because they went to fight under the Lord” (Gardiner).

IV. The exercise of the priest’s essential functions was confined exclusively to their order. It has been argued that the office of performing sacrifice was shared by (1) the Jewish monarchs, (2) the rulers, (3) the Levites, (4) the people in general. 1. The first hypothesis has been, supported by an appeal to the following passages:—Solomon “came to Jerusalem, and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast to all his servants” (1 Kings 3:15); “And the king, and all Israel with him, offered he offered sacrifice before the Lord. And Solomon offered a sacrifice of peace offerings, which he offered unto the Lord” (1 Kings 8:62, 63). They do not, however, mean more than that Solomon presented the offerings for sacrifice, the essential part of which ceremony was no doubt performed, as always, by priests. Saul, indeed, sacrificed at Gilgal, on plea of necessity, but, in spite of even that plea, was reproved by Samuel as having “done foolishly” (1 Sam. 13:13); and Uzziah “went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense;” but Azariah the priest “withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God.… And the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord” (2 Chron. 26:16–20). These cases disprove the priestly power of the monarch. 2. The supposition that the nobles could perform priestly acts rests upon the fact that the name cohen is sometimes applied to them (2 Sam. 8:18; 1 Kings 4:2, 5); but the word (the derivation of which is doubtful) appears to have a wider usage than that of “priest” and to mean also “officers” (cf. 1 Chron. 18:17). 3. The destruction of the company of Korah, because, being Levites, they “sought the priesthood also” (Numb. 16:10), disposes of the priestly rights of the tribe of Levit. 4. And the swallowing up of Datban and Abiram, whose sin was that of desiring to equalize themselves with the family of Aaron, on the plea that the latter “took too much upon them, seeing that all the congregation were holy, every one of them” (Numb. 16:3), disproves the right of all the congregation to exercise priestly function, however much they might be, in a sense, a nation of priests. According to the Mosaic legislation, the spiritualty and temporalty were kept apart, nor were they united, except when royal powers came, in the later days of the nation’s history, to be attached to the office of high priest—a course which a considerable section of the Christian Church attempted, with less excuse, to follow in mediæval and subsequent times, when the principle, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 19:36) became obscured or forgotten.

V. The ceremonies of the consecration. 1. Bathing, robing, anointing, signifying cleansing, justifying, sanctifying. 2. Sacrifices in their behalf—sin offerings, burnt offerings, peace offerings, symbolizing their reconciliation with God, the surrender of themselves to him, and their peace with him. 3. Watching for seven days in the tabernacle court, each day renewing the sacrifices; giving opportunity for self-recollection, and for devoting themselves heart and soul to him whose special servants they were to be.

VI. The Aaronic priesthood was a type of the priesthood of Christ. The type was accomplished in the Antitype, and the Levitical priesthood is now wholly abolished (see Heb. 7. and 8.).

VII. Likeness yet contrast of the Christian ministry. We learn from Eph. 4:8, 11, 12, that on Christ’s ascension into heaven, he received of his Father the gifts of the holy Ghost, which he then bestowed upon his Church, to be administered and dispensed by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers; the grace of government being ministered by apostles, and, after they had died out, by bishops; the grace of exposition by prophets; the grace of conversion by evangelists; the grace of edification by pastors and teachers, or presbyters. We should note here the superiority of the Christian to the Jewish ministry, the functions of offering sacrifice and of mediating between God and man being far inferior to that of being the dispensers to man of the gifts of the Holy Ghost himself; and the error of any who think to dignify and elevate the character of the Christian ministry by assimilating it to the Jewish.

VIII. The need of an outward call in both cases. “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4); so that even Christ waited to be “called of God” before commencing his ministry. The outward sign of Aaron’s having been called of God was his anointing, and the other ceremonies of initiation; and every subsequent high priest had to be anointed and initiated in the same manner as Aaron, and by the same forms, before he was regarded, and before he could become, high priest. The outward sign of the call in the Christian ministry is the laying on of hands. So it was in the case of the seven deacons (Ac 6:6). and in St. Paul’s case (Acts 13:3), and in that of Timothy (1 Tim. 4:14). And all subsequent ministers of Christ have to be appointed in like manner by those “who have publick authority given unto them in the Congregation, to call and send Ministers into the Lord’s vineyard” (Art. XXIII.).

IX. All Christians are a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:9). As the Israelites were a kingdom of priests (Exod. 19:5), so too are Christians consecrated to God in baptism, channels of grace to each other, and therefore each in a special manner his brother’s keeper. Practical duties thence following—brotherly affection, loving-kindness, care for the souls of others, tenderness to the weak.


Priestly consecration. Ch. 8.; cf. Luke 3:21, 22; Heb. 4:14–16; 5.; 7.; 8.; 9.; 1 Pet. 2:4, 5, 9. In this chapter we have the history of the consecration of the Aaronic priesthood. The stages were briefly these:—Lustration, or, as we would now say, baptism; investiture; anointing; atonement; dedication; consecration; and, finally, communion. The mediation and ministry of this priesthood were essentially dramatis in character, hence it took a long time to present, in the dramatic form, the various ideas which have been just set down as the stages of consecration. Not only so, but they were comphasized by a sevenfold repetition; for seven days the process was to be repeated, at the end of which time Aaron and his sons were regarded as duly set apart for their work. Let us, then, compare the consecration of the high priests with the consecration of the immortal High Priest, Jesus Christ; and, secondly, the consecration of the minor priests with the consecration of believers, who are, as the passage cited from 1 Peter shows, “priests unto God.”

I. The consecration of Aaron compared with the consecration of Christ. Now we have in this comparision, first a contrast, and then a parallel. It will be useful to take these up in this order—

1. The elements of contrast in the consecrations. And here we notice: (1) That Aaron’s consecration implies his infirmity and sinfulness, whereas Christ never assumed the penitential position. The baptism of Jesus Christ (Luke. 3:21, 22) is the historical counterpart of Aaron’s consecration. And although John’s baptism was unto repentance, we know our Lord took up the sinless position even unto the end, challenging all comers to convince him of sin (John. 8:46). We shall see presently what his acceptance of John’s baptism signified. One thing meanwhile is clear, that he professed to be “holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” Now, in this respect he was a complete contrast to Aaron. Aaron, in the consecration, takes up the penitential position. He has to be typically washed and sprinkled with blood. (2) Aaron’s consecration implied a temporary high priesthood, while Jesus is set apart to an everlasting priesthood. The association of Aaron’s sons with him in the priesthood indicated plainly that death would sooner on later necessitate a successor. Moreover, there are sundry indications in the regulations about the successors. It was, therefore, only a temporary office. “They were not suffered to continue by reason of death.” But Jesus was set apart to an everlasting office. “This man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Heb. 7:24–28). So much briefly about the contrast.

2. The parallel in the consecrations. And here we have to notice: (1) Both Aaron and Christ are formally set apart. What Moses did for Aaron, John the Baptist did for Christ. Not, of course, that our Lord’s priesthood had an existence only after his baptism; we merely mean that the baptism in the Jordan was the formality with which his ministry began, and corresponded to the consecration of Aaron by Moses. The crowd at the tabernacle door to witness Aaron’s consecration corresponded to the crowd of candidates at the Jordan who witnessed the baptism of Jesus, though its significance and singficance and singnlarity they did not appreciate. (2) Both Aaron and Christ willingly dedicated themselves to their work. We have already noticed how Aaron needed a cleansing by water and blood, which Jesus did not. The sin offering is what Jesus provided for others, not what he required for himself. But when we enter this caveat about the different relations of the two persons towards atonement, we are in a position to appreciate the parallel between them in personal dedication. This was what Aaron’s burnt offering implied. He offered himself willingly for the priestly work. And the same dedication of self we find in the baptism of Jesus. He claimed baptism after all the people (ἅπαντα τὸν λαόν) were baptized (Luke. 3:21), in other words, after the movement inagurated by John had become national. John did not at first understand why a sinless One like Jesus should demand baptism from one who was sinful. But Jesus quieted his fears by the assurance, “Thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). The meaning of the act of Christ’s part can only have been that he dedicated himself to the fulfilment of all that was needed to realize the national hope. Now, the national repentance was in hope of pardon, and so Jesus’ dedication at the Jordan was to death and to all that his priesthood implies, that the people may have their place as pardoned and accepted ones in the kingdom of God (cf. Godet upon Luke. 3:21, 22; also his ‘Etudes Bibliques,’ tom. ii. p. 105). This dedication of Jesus at the Jordan was the spirit of his ministry, and above all of his death. It is this he refers to in the momentous words, “For their sakes I sanctify (ἁγιάζω) myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth” (John. 17:19). (3) Both Aaron and Jesus received certain blessings from God in response to their selfdedication. The gracious gifts of God to his high priests may for brevity’s sake be summed up into three. (a) The gift of revelation, to enable them to understand their office, and faithfully to fulfil it. This is presented in the investiture of Aaron, especially in the arrangement about the Urim and Thummim. The beautiful garments and this mysterious portion which iay upon the high priest’s bosom were to convey certain ideas about the office, and to secure in him the oracular man (cf. Ewald’s ‘Antiquities of Israel’ pp. 288–98). Now, in the baptism of Christ, as he was praying with uplifted eye, he saw “heaven opened;” that is, the source of light, the fountain of all knowledge, was opened to him. In other words, he obtained and had continued to him a full revelation of all which he needed for his work, (b) The gift of unction or inspiration, to enable them to interpret the revelation already guaranteed. This was indicated by the anointing of Aaron, not only on the head, but on the ear, hand, and foot. In this way the needful inspiration was symbolized, and the ritual of the ram of consecration coincided therewith. In Chiist’scase the perfect inspiration was symbolized by the descent of the dove. The dove being an organic whole, a totality, indicates that to Jesus there was communicated the entirety of the Holy Spirit, for the purposes of his priesthood. “The Holy Spirit was not given by measure unto him,” and “out of his fulness do all we receive, and grace for grace” (John 3:34; 1:16). (c) The gift of communion and abiding. Aaron, after trie ritual of the sin offering, burnt offering, and consecration offering was over, and the best portions had been laid upon God’s altar, was called to communion in the feast at the door of the tabernacle. There he was to abide in the enjoyment of fellowship with God, and in this spirit was to do all his work. And the assurance of sonship which Christ received in baptism corresponded to this. The words of the Father, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased;” and “Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17; Luke 3:22), spoken respectively to John and to Jesus, convey the state of sweet assurance of sonship in which our Lord lived all his life. It was this supported him when he foresaw the dispersion of the disciples, “Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me” (John 16:32). The Great High Priest performed his mediatorial work in an assurance of sonship and in the enjoyment of fellowship. It was only in the climax of his sufferings on the cross, when the desolation came upon him, that for a season he seemed to loss sight of bis sonship, and was constrained to cry, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

II. The consecration of the minor priests compared with the consecration of believers. Now here we have to notice—

1. That the sons of Aaron were consecrated along with Aaron. It was one consecration. Although the high priest received special anointing, and was chief of the group, the others shared his consecration. The one oil and the one consecrating blood went upon all. The one burnt offering was presented on behalf of all, and they all partook of the one feast and fellowship at last. And is this not to indicate that all believers share in the consecration of Jesus, their Great High Priest? It is the Spirit of Christ and the mind of Christ which is made over to them. He is the reservoir, and out of his fulness all the minor receptacles receive.

2. This fellowship in consecration was with a view to fellowship in service. The priestly service was so arranged that all had a share in it. There were, of course, services in connection with atonement which only the high priest could perform, but there was ample work about the tabernacle for all the minor priests. In the same way the life of believers is to be a consecrated fellowship with Christ in work. “Fellow-workers with God” is the great honour of the religious lite. A Divine partnership is what we are asked to enter upon. And this is the greatest honour within the reach of man.—R. M. E.

Vers. 4, 5.—The installation of Aaron. The origin of any order of men is traced with interest, and the account given of the appointment of a special clasa to wait upon the Lord in the service of his sanctuary cannot be read without profit.

I. The assembling of the people to witness the installation. 1. It deeply concerned them; the office was created for their benefit. We may witness the investiture of a knight of the Garter, and deem it a gorgeous scene, but one bearing no practical relationship to us. Not so with the coronation of our prince or the ordination of our pastor. By the mediation of the priests the Israelites were to find acceptance with God. And Jesus Christ has been inducted into his lofty position for the advantage of his people. Why, then, turn away and refuse to enjoy this best of privileges? He waits to intercede on our behalf. It is no idle ceremony that the Word of God records, but one having to do with our daily sins, fears, trials, troubles, joys, and blessings. The titles and qualifications of Jesus Christ are of vital moment to our welfare. 2. It was designed to impress them with a sense of the dignity and authority of the priesthood, and of the need of holiness in order to have access unto God. How important the functions to be fulfilled by men who are thus solemnly prepared for their efficient discharge! And how augnst the Being who could demand such qualifications in those devoted to his service! No careful student of the Gospel narratives but must be struck with the manner in which Jesus Christs was fitted for his office, “perfected” by his obedience, made a “a merciful and faithful High Priest” by his humiliation, and with “the blood of his cross” making reconciliation with God. 3. The presence and tacit concurrence of the people signified a willingness to obey the priests, to honour and support them. They were made parties to the transaction, and acquiesced in its significance. It were well that the meaning of our presence at various meetings were better realized, and that we did more fully redeem the pledges thus implicitly given. God would have all his people enter into contracts with a clear understanding. To secure a compact by concealment of the obligations imposed is no part of his plan of procedure.

II. The declaration of Moses: “This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done:” 1. Reminds us of the caution to be exercised lest human devices should be thrust forward in religious notions or practices. Men are ready to formulate their own ideas, and to make them ordinances of God’s house or kingdom. Ready, too, to reduce as what has been instituted, to abolish observances as unnecessary, or to relegate Certain attitudes of the Spirit to heathenism and infancy, to make light of sin and of the need of a high priest or a sacrifice. 2. A Divine call is requisite to the undertaking of religious functions. Moses acted as the representative of Jehovah, empowered to consecrate Aaron and his sons. “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but he that said unto him,” etc. 3. Contained an intimation that he who appointed could also dismiss the Aaronic priesthood. The legislator has power to revoke his edits. It was God who caused the order of Aaron to be succeeded by the order of Meichizedek. 4. Indicates the intrinsic superiority of the prophetic to the priestly office. Moses institutes Aaron, the prophet consecrates the priest. Priesthood is remedial, adapted to a peculiar constitution of things. It is a sort of interregnum that is finally to pass away when “the Son shall have delivered up the kingdom to God the Father.” It is connected with sin, and sin is being destroyed. Before Adam fell, he received communications from God; the prophetic revelation preceded the priestly sacrifices. The subordination of the priests is often evinced in the Hebrew records, where the denuciations of the prophets show that the priestly ceremonies were intended to be subservient to, not exclusive of, moral sentiments and duties.—S.R.A.

Vers. 6–12.—The High Priesthood of Christ. To direct the thoughts of a congregation to Jesus Christ is never unseasonable. The Epistle to the Hebrews warrants the assumption that in the rites here described are symbolized the characteristics of our Great High Priest. The consecration consists of two parts—the anointing and clothing of the person of Aaron, and his offering of sacrifices; and it is on the former we are now to dwell, reminding us of that Person in whom “all beauties shine, all wonders meet, all glories dwell.”

I. See typified the purity of Christ in the washing of the priest from head to foot. As an Eastern climate demands thorough ablution for cleanliness, so was this a lesson man needed to learn, that only purity is fit to come into contact with God. Priesthood bridged the gulf between sinful man and a Being unsullied by admixture of evil. Iike all God’s dealings, it humbled and exalted man. Taught plainly that he was too polluted to approach his Maker, with equal distinctness he was shown a way in which he might draw near with clean hands and a pure heart. The material and ceremonial purity of Aaron was eclipsed by the total freedom from taint of Christ. He bathed, indeed, in the crystal waters of Jordan at his entrance upon his public ministry, but those waters were stained compared with the purity of his soul.

II. Observe the splendore of his endowments. For every post a certain character rather is requistie. The putting on of garments represented the bestowment upon Aaron of the qualities essential to the proper discharge of his duties. This was the apparel respecting which the Lord said unto Moses, “Thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, for glory and for beauty.” Looking at the high priest thus arrayed, we see symbols of the ornaments and graces of Jesus Christ. Note the choice quality of the attire. Everything of the best, fine linen, gold unalloyed, stones precious and rare. The oil is “costly ointment.” Search out all that is best in human nature, all that challenges admiration and excites esteem, and and example of all is found in Jesus Christ. Possessed of every gift, power, and skill, loveliness and majesty, perfect in intellect, emotion, and will, he was victorious over every temptation, and unscathed by every trial. This dress of Aaron emblematized positive virtue; so Christ was upright, not only like Adam as he left the hands of God, but as acquiring and exhibiting every grace that can adorn humanity. There was virtue in exercise, virtue visible and potent. The tree put forth its leaves, its blossoms, and its fruit.

III. The high priest maintained A constant remembrance of the people. Hence the breast-plate bearing the names of the twelve tribes, which were also inscribed upon the onyx stones of the shoulder. The people were borne in the positions that indicated power and sympathy. What the bosom desires the arms accomplish. Let others write their names upon lofty pillars or granite rocks; let statesmen, warriors, nobles, inscribe themselves upon the roll of fame; “Give me,” says the Christian, “a place upon the Saviour’s breast; for there on the heart of Christ, under the glance of infinite mercy, where the love of God delights to rest, are the names of all his followers graven for ever.”

IV. In the breast-plate were put the Urim and Thummim, by means of which was ascertained and made known the will of god. Revelation of God was thus part of the high priest’s function. The priestly and prophetic offices were intertwined. Though we may’ single out an office of Christ for distince consideration, as we may distinguish one of the hues of the rainbow, yet let us not forget that it is the combination which is of such surpassing excellence and glory. It has been well said that Christ is called the Wisdom of God in the Old Testament, and the Word in the New Full vocal expression was reserved for the time when he could you to say, “I have declared unto them thy Name, and will declare it.” It is by the priesthood of Christ that we learn in particular the grace of God. It is written on all creation, but to our blurred vision the letters are oft obscure. On the cross of Christ, where he becomes at once offerer and Victim, these words glisten with heavely radiance, luminons not only in noontide prosperity, but in the dark midnight of afflicion, “God is love.”

V. The high priesthood is An office of authority, and this authority is the Supremacy of holiness. Upon the head is placed the mitre, a cap or turban, and upon the mitre is fastened a golden plate or diadem, inscribed “Holiness unto the Lord.” Christ’s is a royal priesthood, and his sway is the result of his consecration to God. He rules by right of character, by right of rank, by right of work. The “holy crown” is the guarantee for the acknowledgment of his claims to hearty, unreserved obedience. If to-day men demand authority as priests, at least let the holiness of their lives support their pretensions.

VI. By the pouring of the oil upon Aaron’s head we see intimated entire dedication to God’s service. This holy unction set apart the high priest for hallowed toil, and became an emblem of the fortifying, sustaining, vitalizing presence of the Spirit of God. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me.” It is the oil of gladness, the dew of the blessing of the Lord. It is a token of perpetuity. The brightest pageant fades, the show of to-day is forgotten are the morrow dawns, but the priesthood of Christ knows neither ebb nor flow.—S. R. A.

Vers. 14–30.—The triple offering. Under the Christian dispensation only two classes of priests remain—the real High Priest, Jesus Christ, and his people who are figurative priests offering up spiritual sacrifices. The ceremonies described in this chapter may throw light upon our position and duties as the followers of Christ, and remind us of the superiority of Christ to Aaron.

I. Our resemblance to Aaron in the triple offering we are required to make. 1. The sin offering. Priesthood commences by self-abnegation, the confession of sin and renunciation of personal merit. By this offering the altar is sanctified (ver. 15), on which afterwards all other gifts will in due course be laid. Until the Saviour has been recognized as made a curse for us, there is no foundation for the life that will please God. The house must be cleansed ere its worthiest inhabitant will condescend to enter. 2. The burnt offering. Here the positive side begins, of devotion to God. The parts of the ram are placed upon the purified altar, and the flames emit an odour fragrant to God. The man who has confessed his unworthiness and pleaded the merits of Jesus Christ, dedicates himself to him who died for him. He is not his own, and must henceforth glorify God. “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” is his cry. 3. The consecration offering. This results from the others, and is their natural completion by bringing full hands (consecration equals “fulnesses” in original) to God. Entire dedication, and consequent communion with God its signification. The blood of the ram is sprinkled upon the ear, that it may hearken to the commands of God, and, whilst attentive unto him, disregard the whispers of evil. Also upon the right hand, that all its acts may be in conformity with righteousness, the might of the man going forth in holy deeds. And upon the right foot, that its steps may be ordered by the Lord and its owner may ever tread the ways of obedience and sanctification. Every faculty is enlisted in the service of God. By the wave and heave offerings and the presentation of cakes we learn the necessity of looking upon all our property and all that supports life as belonging to God, who must have his special share and be glorified thereby as well as by our joyful use of the remainder. To fill the hands for God is to complete our consecration, and to live upon heavenly food in the enjoyments of his blessing. By giving to him we get for ourselves.

II. The superiority of Christ to Aaron. 1. His consecration was total, whilst Aaron’s was out partial. There were many periods when the high priest was seeing to his own peculiar wants and offering for his own especial infirmities. The whole career of Jesus Christ was an offering for others, originated and executed for the good of man and the glory of his Father. He “came not to do his own will.” Aaron might lay aside his robes of office and take his reposed, but the Son of man was ever clothed with his official character. And this is still clearer when we remember the present position of our High Priest and his unceasing, unintermitted intercession. 2. The holiness of Aaron was ceremonial and symbolical, that of Christ is literal and real. Jesus was on earth holy, harmless, undefiled. The searching eye of God can discern in his righteousness no stain nor flaw. So far was Aaron from reaching perfection that, because of rebellion at Meribah (Numb. 20:24), he was not permitted to enter the land of promise. 3. The atonement of Jesus Christ is actual, that of Aaron was only typical. After these rites of consecration were observed, the priests were qualified to present the offerings and sacrifices of the people unto God, and to make reconciliation for them. But there was no inherent virtue in those sacrifices to remove the guilt of sin; it is the blood of Christ that has power to cleanse the conscience from dead works. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree, and brought in everlasting righteousness. 4. The priesthood of Christ is perpetual, that of Aaron only survived by successors. The high priests died and passed away, their places occupied by others. Jesus abides for ever; he hath an unchangeable priesthood, after the order of Melchizedek. If, then, the Israelites found satisfaction in contemplating the functions of dying men, with what profound delight should we avail ourselves of the intercession of him who ever lives to save!—S. R. A.

Vers. 1–6.—The baptism of Aaron and his sons. Hitherto this book consists of precepts and directions concerning the sacrifices and services of the tabernacle; but here a new section commences, in which the directions are described as carried into effect. This section appropriately commences with the history of the consecration of Aaron and his sons, with whom principally was to rest the carrying out of the laws. The verses before us describe—

I. The preparations for the ceremony. 1. These were directed by the Lord. (1) He had formerly given very particular directions from the summit of Mount Sinai (Exod. 28., 29.). In pursuance of these instructions, the holy garments were made and other preparations completed. Note: The leadings of providence should be closely followed. (2) Now the time has come for carrying the directions of Deity into fuller accomplishment. The tabernacle has been finished and occupied by the presence of God; the laws have been published; and the next thing in order is the consecration of the priests to serve the tabernacle. The Lord is a God of order. In his service “all things” should be done “decently and in order.” 2. His directions were given by the hand of Moses. (1) Moses was instructed to “take Aaron and his sons,” etc. (vers. 2, 3). These instructions he punctually obeyed (ver. 4). In this fidelity Moses was a type of Christ, with these differences: (a) Moses was faithful “as a servant,” Christ “as a Son.” (b) The house of Moses was ceremonial and typical, that of Christ spiritual and living (see Heb. 3:1–6). (2) Moses, who was instructed to consecrate Aaron and his sons, had himself no human consecration. He was an extraordinary servant of God. We do not read of the apostles of Christ receiving any baptism of water or ordination by imposition of hands. God can send by whom he pleases and when he pleases, without any human sanction (see Gal. 1:15–19). 3. The congregation was assembled to witness the ceremony. (1) This was a wise arrangement, to inspire them with proper respect for the servants of God. They were prone enough to say, “Ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.” Ministers were publicly ordained in the primitive Church. (2) The address of Moses to the congregation was brief and to the point: “This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done” (ver. 5). The command, which was given from Sinai, the congregation were acquainted with. The time to carry it out was now given from the sanctuary (ch. 1:1). We should look to God for guidance in reference to times and seasons, as well as to the services to be rendered for him.

II. The baptism of Aaron and his sons. 1. This was the initiatory rite of the consecration. (1) It was the first act (ver. 6). And as Moses washed Aaron at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, so was Jesus washed by John at his entrance upon his public ministry (see Matt. 3:16; 4:1, 17). Like Moses, John also was a Levite. (2) The sons of Aaron were baptized with him. To them also it was the rite of initiation. So are the sons of Jesus initiated into his discipleship by baptism (see Matt. 28:18–20, margin; Acts 2:41; 10:48). The initiatory office of baptism is also expressed in the phrase “born of water” (John 3:5). 2. It set forth the necessity of purity in the servants of God. (1) Water, being one of the great purifiers in the kingdom of nature, is used in Scripture as an emblem of the Holy Spirit, the Great Purifier in the kingdom of grace (Isa. 44:3; John 7:38, 39). Hence a dispute about “baptism” is called a “question about purifying” (John 3:25, 26). (2) The requisition of baptism declared the necessity of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. This is the source of the spiritual birth in which commences the spiritual life which is the life of heaven. 3. As to the form of this baptism. (1) The record here is simply that “Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water” (ver. 6). But by reference to Exod. 30, we learn that this washing was done at the laver. In allusion to the ceremonial baptisms of the Law, the baptism of the Spirit under the gospel is described as the “laver of regeneration” (Titus 3:5, 6). (2) From the same reference in Exodus we learn, further, that the washing of Aaron and his sons extended to their “hands and feet.” There is no proof that they were bodily plunged in the laver. We are reminded how Jesus washed his disciples feet (see John. 13:8–10). The Jews have a tradition that a tap was turned on, from which, by the flowing of the water over their hands and feet, the washing was accomplished (see Brown’s ‘Antiquities,’ vol. i. p. 148). In baptism, the element should be active and the subject passive, for the thing signified, the Holy Ghost, certainly is not passive (see Acts 2:16–18, 33; 10:44–48).—J. A. M.

Vers. 7–9.—The holy garments of Aaron. The high priest of the Lovitical dispensation is allowed to be an eminent type of the “Great High Priest of our profession.” His attire was intended to foreshow the qualities by which the Redeemer is distinguished. Else it would be difficult to account for the minute care with which they were designed, and the manner in which the workmen were inspired to make them (see Exod. 28:2–4; 31:3–6). Let us attend to—

I. The coat with its girdle. 1. The coat. (1) According to Josephus, “it was a tunic circumscribing the body, with light sleeves for the arms, and reaching to the heels” (‘Ant.,’ iii. 7). It was white, to denote purity. (2) It was bound with the girdle about the loins. This also was white, and denoted truth, which is another expression for purity (see Eph. 6:14). (3) The coat was an inner garment, and bound close to the body with the girdle, to suggest that purity and truth should be found “in the inner parts” (Ps. 51:6; Jer. 31:33 Rom. 2:29). 2. There were also breeches. (1) These are not mentioned here, but they are described in Exod. 28:42, “And thou shalt make them linen breeches to cover their nakedness” (Hebrew, “the flesh,” etc.); “from the loins even unto the thighs they shall reach.” (2) These also were white, expressive of purity, and without these the priest may not appear in the presence of God. They imported that “flesh and blood cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven” until “clothed upon” (see Ezek. 44:17, 18; 2 Cor. 5:2, 3; Rev. 3:18).

II. The ephod with its robe. 1. The ephod. (1) It was a short time, according to Josephus, reaching to the lions. It consisted of a rich cloth composed of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, interwoven with threads of gold, and wrought, some think, into figures of cherubim and palm trees. It was without sleeves, but resting upon the shoulders. (2) It was an emblem of redemption. Ephod (אפוד) comes from the verb (פד or פדה), to redeem. This is the derivation given by Alexander Pirie, the author of a learned ‘Dissertation on Hebrew Roots.’ 2. The robe of the ephod. (1) This, and the holy garments in general which were associated with the ephod, from it derive the name of the “robe of righteousness” and “garments of salvation” (see Isa. 61:10, margin). They were the garments in which the typical high priest carried out the business of redemption. (2) The colour of the robe was blue—the dye of heaven, which was with the ancients the symbol of divinity. This over the coat, the emblem of purity, would mark the purity of Messiah to be Divine; so, not derived, but essential and absolute. (3) Upon the hem of the robe round about were “golden bells,” which, when they sounded, indicated the sound of salvation. And they were on the “hem” of the robe when the high priest went up into the holy place, that the sound might be heard below. The sound of the gospel accordingly was heard below, as a “sound from heaven,” when Jesus went up into the heavens. (4) The pomegranates alternating with the bells suggested the fruit which follows the preaching of the gospel.

III. The breastplate with the Urim and Thummim. 1. The Urim and Thumim were the stones set in the breastplate. (1) In the text we read of the Urim and Thummim, but here is no mention of the stones. In the parallel place (Exod. 29:8–12) the stones are mentioned, but we read there nothing of the Urim and Thummim. This is intelligible if they be the same; but if not, the double omission in things so important is inexplicable. (2) An attentive consideration of Exod. 28:29, 30 will show that the Urim and Thummim are the substance upon which the names of the tribes were engraven. The use ascribed to the stones in one verse is in the next ascribed to the Urim and Thummim. 2. They represented the saints as cherished in the heart of Christ. (1) The names of the tribes of Israel were there; and the spiritual Israel are upon the heart of Jesus. These names were engraven to show how deeply and permanently our interests have entered into his sympathies. They are engraven in gems to show how precious to him are his saints (Mal. 3:17). The gems were various, and yet all were united in the breastplate of the high priest, to show how individuality can be preserved in those who are united in the love of Jesus. (2) These were called the Urim and Thummim, lights and perfections, or lights and perfect ones. So are Christians called the lights of the world, because they reflect the splendours of the Light of the world. They are perfect ones also, viz. in the loveliness of Jesus (Matt. 5:15, 16; Jude 24). (3) The breastplate was fastened to the ephod with golden chains, which were also connected with rings in the curious girdle of the ephod, from which it was forbidden to separate it (Exod. 28:28). So are we with precious bonds girded to the Redeemer, from which blessed union it would be sinful and disastrous to become dislinked. (4) There were also connected with this robe of redemption on the shoulders of the high priest onyx stones, set in sockets of gold, upon which the names of the tribes of Israel were again engraven. So does Jesus bear his saints upon his shoulder as well as upon his heart. They have his sustaining power as well as the animation of his love.

IV. The mitre with its golden plate. 1. The mitre. (1) This was like a turban bound round the head. (2) It was an ornament of honourable distinction. The term here used is rendered “diadem” in Job 29:14. 2. The golden plate. (1) This was upon the front of the mitre. It appears to have been ornamented with flowers and leaves. Possibly there is an allusion to this when the Psalmist, speaking of Messiah, says, “but upon himself shall his crown flourish.” This plate is called the “holy crown” in the text. (2) The inscription upon it characterized Christ. The words were “Holiness unto the Lord,” or “The Holy One of Jehovah.” If these holy garments were intended to create respect for the priesthood among the people of Israel how we should reverence the glorious Antitype!—J. A. M.

Vers. 10–12.—Levitical anointings. The subjects of these anointings, as brought under our notice in the text, are, generally, “the tabernacle and all that was therein.” From amongst these included things we have afterwards particularly specified, “the altar and all his vessels,” and “the laver and his foot.” The anointing of Aaron also is distinctly mentioned. We shall review these in order.

I. The tabernacle. 1. This was an emblem of the moral universe. The holy places represented the heavens (Heb. 8:1, 2). Thus (1) the most holy places, where the shechinah was, represented the “heaven of heavens,” the “third heaven,” or that which, by way of distinction and excellence, is called “heaven itself” (Heb. 9:24). (2) The holy place, which must be passed through in order to reach the most holy, represented those regions of the moral universe through which Jesus passed on his way from his cross to the throne of his majesty (Heb. 4:14; 7:26). In that passage he was “in paradise,” and sometimes manifesting himself to his disciples (see Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:23–32; Luke 23:43; 24:15, 16, 31, 36, 51). The spiritual world is not far from us. (3) If the most holy place represented the “third heaven,” and the holy place leading to it the second, then the court of the priests will stand for the first. It describes the “kingdom of heaven” on earth, in other words, the spiritual Church of God. In this we are already “come,” in faith and hope and joy, “unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem,” etc., and hear the very voice of Jesus from the heavens above us (see Heb. 12:22–25). (4) The courts outside represented the Church in its visible part, viz. the court of Israel, the court of the women, and the court of the Gentiles. The distinctions which formerly existed here are now done away, so that instead of three, the courts are one (see Gal. 3:25–28; Eph. 2:11–19). It is well to be found in these courts, for all outside are in alienation. But we should not rest satisfied with the profession of the outer court. Without the spiritual experience of the court of the priests we can never pass into the heavens “whither the Forerunner is for us entered” (Heb. 6:19, 20). 2. It was sanctified with the holy anointing oil (ver. 10). (1) This oil represented the Holy Spirit in his gifts and graces (comp. Acts 1:5 with 10:38; see also 2 Cor. 1:21; 1 John 2:20, 27). It was of peculiar composition. The formula is given in Exod. 30:23–25; but on pain of excommunication it must not be put to common use (Exod. 30:31–33). The person and offices of the Holy Ghost must be held in the greatest reverence; to profane these is fatal wickedness (Matt. 12:31, 32). (2) With this oil the tabernacle was “sanctified,” that is, separated to God. It was so separated to him for services of worship. Also to be a shadow of heavenly things. So the moral universe is claimed by God. The gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit are the principles of universal sanctification.

II. The altar and the laver. 1. The altar and all his vessels. (1) This is obviously the altar of burnt offerings which stood in the court of the priests. The “vessels” were those for receiving the blood of the sacrifices, and all the implements used in connection with the service of the altar. (2) It typified Calvary, the altar upon which the Great Sacrifice of the gospel was offered. And taken in a grander sense, in consistency with the magnificence of the figure in which the tabernacle represents the great universe of God, this earth was the altar upon which our Lord was offered. (3) The altar was sprinkled with the oil “to sanctify it.” The earth is thereby marked out as destined to be sanctified to God, and sanctified too by the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. It was sprinkled “seven times,” to show the perfectness of that sanctification. And is not this the burden of prophetic hope (Ps. 37:10, 11, 34; Isa. 11:6–9)? 2. The laver and his foot. (1) This also was located in the court of the priests. In it they washed their hands and feet, and also the parts of the sacrifices requiring washing according to the Law. (2) The anointing of this was “to sanctify it,” or separate it to God. It was separated to him for the purposes of the ceremonial service. It was also separated, to represent the “laver of regeneration” under the gospel, or the “renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). Those who are spiritually baptized into Christ are anointed with the gifts and graces of his Holy Spirit.

III. Aaron. 1. The oil was poured upon Aaron’s head. (1) This anointing was profuse. “Poured” (see Ps. 133:2). (2) It was “to sanctify him.” He was thus separated to accomplish the service of God in the tabernacle. He was also separated to typify the Great High Priest of the gospel. 2. But when was the true oil poured upon Jesus? (1) We have seen that, as Aaron was washed with water, so was Jesus, viz. at the Jordan (notes on vers. 1–6). But the baptism of Jesus there was not so truly that conferred by John as that which came upon him from heaven (Matt. 3:16). (2) The second act in the consecration of Christ appears to have been in the mount of transfiguration. There he had the “oil that maketh the face to shine,” and was “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows” (Ps. 45:7). This dazzling lustre of the Holy Spirit was so profuse as to stream not only out of the pores of his skin, but to brighten all his rainment (comp. Ps. 133:2; Matt. 17:2). (3) As at the Jordan the voice of the Father was heard from the excellent glory approving, so on Tabor the same voice is heard again (comp. Matt. 3:17; 17:5). He that received the Spirit “not by measure” is emphatically the Messiah, the Anointed One.—J. A. M.

Vers. 13–21.—The vesting of the priests and the offerings for them. In the order of the ceremonies at the consecration of the priests, after the anointing of Aaron, we have—

I. The clothing of Aaron’s sons. (Ver. 13.) 1. They were types of Christians. (1) The high priest, as we have seen, was a type of Christ. So were the priests in general types also of him, viz. in everything in which they acted as representatives of the high priest. (2) But under usual conditions they should be viewed as emblems of Christians. This is evidently taught in such references as Exod. 19:6; Heb. 10:9–22; 1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6; 5:10. 2. Their holy garments resembled some of Aaron’s. (1) Aaron had some by which he was distinguished from his sons, and so has Christ unique qualities. In everything pertaining to his Divinity he stands alone He claims the deepest reverence. (2) The coats and girdles which Moses put upon the sons of Aaron were similar to those articles bearing the same name in which Aaron was clothed. In Aaron’s case, as we have seen, they denoted purity and truth; and so do they denote these qualities in relation to his sons (see Eph. 6:14; Rev. 19:8). (3) This identity suggests that Christians have their righteousness in virtue of their association with Christ (see Jer. 23:6; Rom. 3:22; 1 Cor. 1:30; Phil. 3:9). This is otherwise shown in the fact that the claim of the Levitical priests to those holy garments was in virtue of their being sons of Aaron. Only the “seed” of Messiah (Isa. 53:10, 11), are clothed in the “white linen which is the righteousness of the saints.” 3. Moses also “put bonnets upon them.” (1) These, like the coats, were made of white linen, and so, likewise, expressed purity. They were similar to the turban of Aaron, minus the “plate of the holy crown of pure gold,” and its fastenings of lacework of blue (Exod. 39:30, 31). (2) These bonnets were “for glory and for beauty” (Exod. 28:40). For “glory,” i.e. honour, viz. as they served to distinguish the priests as the ministers of God. If a messenger be despised, his message may be brought into contempt. And for “beauty,” viz. as they represented the “beauty of holiness.” True Christian honour is evermore the associate of holiness.

II. The offerings for the priests. In respect to these we observe: 1. The priests laid their hands upon the heads of the animals (vers. 14, 18). (1) This was the sign of the confession of sin. It was also the sign of the transfer of sin, so constituting the animal (in type) vicariously a sinner or sin-bearer, liable to suffer its penalty. (2) The next thing in order, therefore, was the bleeding of the animal, in consideration of which the offerer stands justified or released from the obligation to suffer. (3) The reference in all this to the vicarious sacrifice of Christ and our justification through faith in him cannot be mistaken. (4) But why did Aaron, the type of Christ act thus? Christ had no sin of his own to confess, and needed no sacrifice for himself. The answer is that Aaron, in this, acted not as a type of Christ, but for himself as a sinful man, and representatively for the people (see Heb. 5:1–3). In this Aaron is contrasted with Jesus (see Heb. 7:26–28). 2. The altar was purified with the blood (vers. 15, 19). (1) The earth, as the altar upon which the great Antitype was offered, is purified by his blood. (a) As respects its inhabitants. (b) As respects itself. The inheritance of man is also redeemed by Christ from the curse of sin. (c) The full effects of this will be seen “in the regeneration” or renewed state of the earth indicated in prophecy. (2) The altar was purified with the typical blood “to make reconciliation upon it.” So is this earth for the same purpose sanctified by the blood of Jesus. There is no other planet, at least so far as we are concerned, thus sanctified. Therefore if we be not here “reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” there is no hope for reconciliation hereafter or elsewhere (see Heb. 10:26, 27). 3. The offerings were presented upon the altar. (1) In the case of the sin offering, the fat was burnt upon the altar, while the body of the beast was burnt without the camp (ver. 16, 17). Not only was Christ offered up as a sacrifice for sin generally upon this earth, but more particularly “without the gate,” viz. of Jerusalem (comp. Heb. 13:11, 12). (2) In the case of the burnt offering, the whole ram was burnt upon the altar. This holocaust showed how absolutely God claims us, and therefore how completely we should be devoted, and, so to speak, consumed, in his worship and service (Ps. 69:9; John 2:13–17).—J. A. M.

Vers. 22–36.—The ram of consecration. This and the ceremonies connected form the principal subject of the verses now recited. We notice—

I. That it was a peace offering. 1. The first ram was a burnt offering. (1) It was wholly consumed upon the altar. It was regarded wholly as the “food of God” (ch. 3:11; 21:6; Ezek. 44:7; Mal. 1:7, 12). (2) In this sacrifice God is contemplated as a righteous Judge, whose justice claims everything we are and have, and who, until that justice is satisfied, can have no fellowship with man. 2. Burnt offerings were usually accompanied by peace offerings. (1) Of these a portion was eaten by the worshipper. This was the expression of peace, reconciliation, fellowship. Constantly associated with the holocaust, the opportunity of ceremonially feasting with God was never wanting. In the peace offering faith discerns the sacrifice of Christ to have so completely met the claims of infinite justice, that we are now accepted into favour. (2) As in the other sacrifices, the hands of Aaron and his sons were laid upon it to confess their sinfulness, their need of a Saviour, and their faith in the Redeemer of promise. It was slain accordingly, to foreshadow the death of Messiah. The fat and gall were burnt, to show how our evil passions, the old man, must be crucified with him, that the body of sin may be destroyed.

II. That its blood was used in a remarkable way. 1. It was sprinkled upon Aaron. (1) Upon his person. (a) On the tip of his right ear, to express obedience (Exod. 21:6). And our Lord’s obedience was unto death (Phil. 2:8). (b) On the thumb of the right hand, to express the service of doing. Christ fulfilled all righteousness, and finished the work that was given him to do (John 4:34; 5:17; 9:4; 17:4; Heb. 10:5–7). (c) On the great toe of the right foot, to express the ways. All the ways of Jesus were infinitely pleasing to God (Ps. 1:6; 18:20, 21; Acts 10:38). (d) The comprehensive teaching here is the complete consecration of all faculties and energies (see 1 Pet. 1:15). (2) Upon his garments. In this baptism oil also was used (ver. 30). While in detail these garments represented moral qualities, collectively taken they expressed office. Hence from the earliest times a person introduced into office is said to be invested in it, from in, used intensitively, and vestio, I clothe. The office of the high priest was to minister in the very presence of God (see Heb. 8:1, 2). (3) Jesus, who was washed with water at the Jordan, and anointed with oil on the mount of transfiguration, received the final baptism of his consecration, that of his own blood, in Gethsemane and Calvary. As the voice of God accredited him in each of the earlier baptisms, so it accredited him again as he was about to enter into this (comp. Matt. 3:17; 17:5; John 12:27–33). 2. It was sprinkled upon Aaron’s sons. (1) Upon their persons (ver 24). The sons of Aaron were here treated in like manner as Aaron was, to show how in all these things Christians are called to be like Christ (see Matt. 20:22, 23). This remark will be especially applicable to ministers, who should be “examples to the flock” (see Isa. 66:21; 1 Cor. 9:13). (2) Upon their garments (ver. 30). The office of the priesthood was to minister in the presence of God in his tabernacle. So the spiritual priesthood have access to God in heaven. We must be anointed with the unaction of the Holy One, and sprinkled with the blood of Christ, that we may enter into that most holy place (Heb. 10:19–22; 1 John 2:20, 27).

III. That it filled the hands of Aaron and his sons. 1. It was treated as a wave offering. (1) The breast had the fat laid upon it. A bread offering also was laid upon it. The whole was then waved before the Lord. The shoulder also was heaved (see Exod. 29:27). Thus God was praised as the Creator and Dispenser of every good and perfect gift. (2) Moses acted as priest in all this ceremony. He put these things upon the hands of Aaron and his sons, and waved and heaved them. From this action the ram of consecration took its name (איל מלאים, eil milluim), the ram, of filling up. Thus the essence of the consecration was the filling the hand with the oblation, or conferring the right to offer sacrifices to God (see Ezek. 43:26, margin). (3) The wave breast then came to the lot of Moses, and Aaron and his sons appear to have shared it with him as the feast upon the sacred food (see ver. 31). 2. The ceremonies of the consecration lasted seven days. (1) Seven is the numeral of perfection, so at the close of the seven days this was a perfect consecration, intimating that all the powers of the consecrated ones should be wholly given to God. (2) They “kept the charge of the Lord,” during these seven days, “at the door of the tabernacle.” They were not as yet qualified to enter the holy place, and they must not leave the court of the priests on pain of death (see 1 Kings 19:19–21; Matt. 8:21, 22; Luke 9:61, 62). (3) “Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses.” Had Jesus failed in any point, his consecration would be imperfect; he could not have become our Saviour.—J. A. M.

Vers. 3–5.—A time for publicity. The solemn inauguration of Aaron and his sons into their sacred office was to have the utmost possible publicity. This was—

I. A Divine instruction. The Lord said, “Take Aaron … and gather thou all the congregation together,” etc. (vers. 1–3). “This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done” (ver. 5).

II. A provision against popular jealousy. The scene described in Numb. 16. shows only too well how necessary it was to convey to “all the congregation” the truth that Aaron and his sons were divinely appointed to their office. This the more because of the near relationship between Moses and Aaron.

III. A provision for popular esteem. It was in the last degree desirable that the people should have an exalted idea of the priesthood, and, more especially, of the high priesthood. Everything which would contribute to this would be of real religious service. It was, therefore, fitting that “all the congregation” should be spectators of the impressive solemnities of the inaugural scene.

IV. A helpful influence on their own minds. It was of equal importance to the Hebrew common wealth that the priests themselves should cherish a profound sense of the sacred and elevated character of their work. For any irreverence or neglect of theirs was calculated to involve the community in sin and in disaster (see 1 Sam. 1:17; Mal. 2:8). So solemn and impressive a ceremony as this, in the sight of all the people, would exert a salutary influence on the mind both of father and sons.

In ordinary life, piety and publicity are strangers. Devotion shuts itself in the inner chamber (Matt. 6:6), or climbs up into the fold of the mountain (Matt. 14:23). We nourish our holiest thoughts, and form our best resolves, not in the glare of the public gathering, but in the secret place, when alone with God. Nevertheless, there are occasions when we should not shun publicity; when it is not modesty but weakness to do so. When we avow our attachment to our Saviour, and thus “confess him before men” (Matt. 10:32); still more, when we enter upon any responsible office in connection with his Church (e.g. the Christian ministry); and yet more, if we are summoned, as Aaron was, to any post of unusual eminence and responsibility, we do well to take the vows of God upon us before “all the congregation.” If not “a thing which the Lord commanded to be done,” it is (1) a Divine suggestion (Acts 6:7, 13:3; 1 Tim. 6:12); (2) instructive to the people; (3) helpful to ourselves. We need all the influences we can gain from every source to incite us to zealous labour, and to strengthen us against temptation. It is right and wise to avail ourselves of all the help we gain from the remembrance that we have confessed Christ our Lord, and pledged ourselves to do his work before “all the congregation,” “before many witnesses.”—C.

Vers. 6–9, 14.—The human and Divine priesthood—contrast. The setting apart of Aaron for his life-work, the high priesthood of Israel, naturally suggests to us the entrance of our Great High Priest on the work which his Father gave him to do. Between Aaron and Christ there are many points of resemblance (see below); there are also significant contrasts. Respecting “the High Priest of our profession” (Heb. 3:2), it is not the case that there was—

I. Appointment to office in virtue of human birth. Aaron was chosen to the office of high priest, partly in virtue of his descent from Levi (perhaps partly in virtue of his brotherhood to Moses). His personal qualities were not such as to make him the most suitable man for the office, independently of considerations of lineal descent and human relationship. Jesus Christ did not owe his position as our High Priest to his human birth. He was not, indeed, of the tribe of Levi, but of Judah, “after the flesh.” And though, through his mother, he was a son of David, in the matter of human descent, this was not in any way material to his ascent to royal power. His light of office came not thence.

II. Imposing inaugural ceremony. The scene described in this chapter was striking, imposing, memorable; it would long be borne in mind, never, indeed, forgotten by those who witnessed it. It formed part of the national history. Imagination on our part readily places before us the solemn and suggestive ceremonies which riveted the eyes of the congregation of Israel. Through no such solemnities did One greater than Aaron think well to pass as he entered on his work. It is said that his contemporaries expected the Messiah to descend amongst them from the heavens while they were worshipping in the temple. This he distinctly refused to do (Matt. 4:5–7). The ceremony of the baptism by John was simple in the extreme. Long chapters of Old Testament Scripture (Exodus and Leviticus) are occupied in narrating the inaugural ceremonies of the human priesthood; five verses suffice to chronicle those of the Divine (Matt. 3:13–17). The profounder work of the Lord from heaven was more fittingly commenced by that quiet scene on the banks of Jordan.

III. Outward and visible distinction. (Vers. 7–9.) The appearance of Aaron and of his successors in their pontifical attire, as described in this chapter, with rich and coloured garments about them, and the mitre on their head glittering with golden diadem, must have been impressive and imposing enough in the eyes of the people. How striking the contrast with him who was the carpenter’s Son of Nazareth, who shunned all ostentation and parade (Matt. 12:19), who had “no beauty” (of outward appearance) “that we should desire him” (Isa. 53:2), who attracted disciples to his feet, and sinners to his side, only by the wisdom of his words, and the grace of his spirit and the beauty of his life!

IV. Need of purification. “Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water” (ver. 6). It was needful that they should go through a ceremony which signified the putting away of “all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7:1). No need of this in the case of the holy Saviour. Whatever his baptism signified, it did not mean this. He was “a High Priest, holy, harmless, undefiled,” requiring no cleansing streams whatever (Heb. 7:26; see John 14:30).

V. Need of pardon. “And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron,” etc. (ver. 14). Before the human high priest could be admitted to the altar, his own sin must be forgiven. Christ entered on his work, not needing to present any oblation. With him, as he was, the Divine Father was “well pleased” (Matt. 3:17).

In entering on any work to which we may be called of God, we must remember that (1) we have need to purify ourselves of the sin-stains that are left on the soul; (2) we have need to seek for pardon for a faulty past before we go forth to a new future; (3) we may be careless of outward distinctions, considering the lowliness of our Lord.—C.

Vers. 7–9.—The human and Divine priesthood—comparison. Between the priesthood of Aaron and that of the Lord Jesus Christ there are not only points of contrast (see above) but also of resemblance. The “holy garments” in which the human priest was attired supplied marked and intentional suggestions of the attributes and the work of the Divine. Thus we are reminded by Aaron’s appearance of—

I. His personal holiness. “The stuff of all of them was linen, and … must be understood to have been white.” This was associated with the idea of bodily cleanness, and hence with righteousness of soul (see Rev. 19:8). The High Priest of our profession was he “that loved righteousness,” of whom it was true that “the sceptre of righteousness was the sceptre of his kingdom” (Heb. 1:8, 9).

II. His all-sufficient strength. The girdle with which Aaron was girded (ver. 7) was suggestive of strength, activity, readiness for the appointed work. To “gird up the loins” was to be prepared for immediate and effective action. Christ is he who always stands ready and mighty to save; prepared at the moment of our readiness to put forth his arm of power, and to redeem us with the “saving strength of his right hand.”

III. His representative character. On the breastplate of the ephod (ver. 8) were the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. With these on his person he appeared before God in the holy place; evidently representing them and appearing on their behalf. Our Divine Redeemer, assuming our human nature, suffered and died in our stead, and now “appears in the presence of God for us” (Heb. 9:24).

IV. His spiritual fitness for his great work. The “Urim and Thummim” (ver. 8) signified “lights” and “perfections;” they were the means by which Aaron received inspiration from Jehovah. Our Lord was one “in whom dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily” (Col. 1:9), particularly (see context) Divine wisdom. He is—not merely has, but is—”the truth” (John 14:6), and He is “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24, 30; Col. 2:3). He who, in the exercise of absolute wisdom, knows the mind of the Father, and “knows what is in man” also, is that omniscient One who is perfectly equipped for the wondrous problem he has undertaken to work out.

V. The final triumph of his cause. “He put the mitre upon his head” (ver. 9). The high priest of Israel had a touch of royalty—he wore a crown upon his head” The High Priest of man is royal also. “Upon his head are many crowns.” He is “exalted to be a prince” as “well as a Saviour. And he is “able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil. 3:21; see Phil. 2:9, 10).

VI. His ultimate design. “Upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate” (ver. 9), and on this golden diadem were inscribed the sacred, significant words, “Holiness to the Lord” (Exod. 28:36). Did not this sentence, placed in the forefront of the high priest’s mitre, signify that the great end of his ministrations was the establishment among all the tribes of Israel of “Holiness to the Lord”? The purpose for which he was appointed would not be attained until that great and noble aim was reached. For that he lived and wrought. That, too, is the end of the Divine priesthood. Christ came to “put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26), to establish on the earth that kingdom of God which is “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Let us learn—1. The exceeding greatness of our privilege. In Jesus Christ himself (and in his salvation) are these great excellencies; they were only upon and outside the Hebrew priest. 2. The corresponding guilt of (1) defiant rejection, (2) frivolous disregard, (3) continued indecision (Heb. 2:3).—C.

Ver. 2.—Spiritual apparel. “Take Aaron and his sons with him and the garments.” Aaron and his sons were about to be invested. Their formal investiture of the priestly office was to be signified and symbolized by their putting on the sacerdotal garments. The robes of office are fully described (vers. 7–9). These “holy garments” (Exod. 28:2) not only gave an imposing and inspiring appearance to the officiating priests, but they severally and separately suggested certain spiritual qualities. The white linen spoke of righteousness, the girdle of activity or strength, etc. (see above).

We who are servants of Jesus Christ are also priests (1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:6). There are certain things in which we are to be robed. We are, speaking generally, to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14); to put on “the new man,” etc. (Eph. 4:24). But there are certain graces which we are more particularly to wear.

I. The robe of humility. This is the beginning and the end, the first and the first grace, the foundation and the topstone of Christian character we may call it an under-garment and an overcoat of the Christian wardrobe. “Be clothed with humility” (1 Pet. 5:5).

II. The garment of faith. This is that clothing without which we cannot be justified before God now, nor permitted to sit down to the heavenly banquet hereafter (Matt. 22:11, 12).

III. The girdle of truth. (Eph. 6:14.) It is truth, heavenly wisdom, which knits all other things together, and gives play and, power to the spiritual faculties.

IV. The sandals of peace. (Rom. 10:15; Eph. 6:15.)

V. The crown of righteousness. (2 Tim. 4:8.) Righteousness is the regal thing, when that is gone the crown is fallen from our head (Lam. 5:16).

To those who “overcome” (Rev. 3:5), who are “faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10), who “keep the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7), it shall be given to: 1. Be clothed in white raiment” (spotless purity). 2. To receive “the crown of life” (life in all its celestial fulness and blessedness). 3. To wear “the crown of righteousness”—”a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 5:4).—C.

Vers. 6, 8, 23, 24, 30.—Equipment for special work. There was a sense in which the whole congregation of Israel constituted a priesthood. It was an early promise that they should be a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod. 19:6). And such, indeed, they were, so far as they entered into and fulfilled the purposes of God. They were: 1. Separate from surrounding people (holy unto the Lord). 2. Permitted to draw near to God. 3. Allowed to bring the sacrificial victim to the holy place and slay it; indeed, in the case of the paschal lamb, they acted as priests without aid from any other hand.

But there were those who were: 1. Separated from them, and were thus holier than they. 2. Allowed to draw nearer to the Divine presence. 3. Designated to be continually offering up sacrifices to Jehovah. These were the priests and the high priests of the Lord in an especial sense, and they needed special equipment for their special work. From this chapter we select four principal points—

I. Special cleansing of soul. (Ver. 6.)

II. Special consecration of spirit. (Vers. 23, 24.) One of the most significant rites in the entire ceremony of consecration was the taking by Moses of the blood of the “ram of consecration” (ver. 22), and putting it “upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot.” The interpretation of this symbolism hardly admits of error. What other truth could it import but that Aaron was thus set apart, not only generally for the service of the Lord, but specially in every member of his frame, in every faculty of his mind? He was to have: 1. An open ear, to welcome every word of the Lord. 2. A ready hand, to discharge diligently and conscientiously his daily duties. 3. A quick foot, to run in the way of God’s commandments.

III. Special sympathy with men. (Ver. 8.) The plate on which were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes was, as the word indicates, a breast-plate: so that the high priest symbolically bore the children of Israel on his heart. He carried their burden into the presence of God.

IV. Special endowment. (Ver. 30.) The precious ointment, the anointing oil, upon the head that ran down upon Aaron’s beard, that went down to the skirts of his garments (Ps. 133:2), probably symbolized the grace of the Spirit of God outpoured upon the heart, affecting the whole nature, diffusing the delightful fragrance of piety and virtue.

We learn from these particulars—1. That we must not covet posts of special difficulty except we are equipped with peculiar qualifications. Not every good or every earnest Christian man is fitted to take high office in the kingdom of God. 2. That if we feel ourselves summoned to special work, we must seek all possible spiritual equipment. The conditions of successful service are those indicated above: (1) The full cleansing of our souls and lives from impurity (Ps. 51:7, 10, 11, 13; Isa. 52:11; 1 John 3:3). (2) The dedication of our whole selves to the service of Christ; heart and life; soul and body; having every faculty of the mind, every organ of our frame (ear, hand, foot), ready for sacred work. (3) Tender sympathy with men; “a heart at leisure from itself to soothe and sympathize.” We shall do but little for men except we acquire the blessed art of sympathizing with them. A sympathetic spirit is a helpful, influential, winning spirit. (4) Endowment of all needful grace from on high. This must be gained from God, who, in answer to believing prayer, “giveth liberally.” Purity, consecration, sympathy, grace,—these are the qualifications for high office, the sources of power, the assurance of success.—C.

Vers. 33–36.—The burden of the Lord. It is in our nature to love distinction, office, power. The instincts and impulses of our humanity enter with us into the service of the Lord; they belong to us as subjects of the kingdom of Christ (see Mark 10:28, 35, etc.). But here, as elsewhere, distinctions and duties, prizes and perils, honours and anxieties go together. We are reminded—

I. That protracted preparation may be necessary for high office in the Church (ver. 33). Aaron and his sons were required to go through consecration services for seven days. It seems to us as if they must have become wearisome by exceeding length. But for such services as he and they were to render, such preparation was none too long. Consider how Moses was long in Midian, and Paul in Arabia, preparing for after-work. Our Lord himself went “into the wilderness” and into “desert places,” preparing himself for his Divine ministry. In proportion to the seriousness, the greatness of the work we have to do, we may expect to find the extent and severity of the preparatory work.

II. That unpalatable communications may have to be made, in conformity with God’s will. Moses might have shrunk (probably would have done so) from voluntarily imposing such protracted services on Aaron; but he had no option. God’s will was clear, and he had no course but to obey; “so I am, commanded,” said he (ver. 35). Again and again the minister of Christ has to say or do things he would gladly leave unsaid or undone. But in such cases he must “not confer with flesh and blood” (Gal. 1:16), but do the will of the Master he serves (see 1 Sam. 3).

III. That disobedience to the clear will of God involves great danger: “Keep the charge of the Lord, that ye die not” (ver. 35). We cannot undertake great duties without incurring the most serious responsibilities and running grave risks. If we take the post of “watchman unto the house of Israel,” we must speak the true and faithful word, or the blood of souls will be required at our hand (Ezek. 33:7, 8). They who stand in God’s house and speak in his Name, but who depart from his Word, grievously mislead their brethren, and must be answerable to the Lord their Judge at the day of account.

IV. That an obedient heart need not, and will not, shrink from the commandments of the Lord. (Ver. 36.) Aaron and his sons did not question or hesitate; they obeyed. Doubtless they found, as we shall find, that: 1. What seems formidable in prospect becomes simple and manageable in actual engagement. 2. God helps with his inspiring Spirit those who go with alacrity to their work. 3. There are unsuspected pleasures in sacred service. “His commandments are not grievous;” his “yoke is easy, his burden light;” his statutes are not our complaints but our songs in the house of our pilgrimage (Ps. 119:54).—C.

Vers. 1–5.—Public inaúguration of Divine service. I. All the people gathered together. 1. Religion is universal, as human necessity and sin. God and man reconciled and united in fellowship. No human condition dispenses with worship. We should labour to get all the people to the tabernacle. God invites them. His ministers should summon them. No excuse can be suffered either for their absence or for the lack of success in gathering them together. We shall succeed best when we speak to them in the Name of God and with his own Word. Lower means and motives, if employed at all, must be kept in subordinate places. 2. There are no secrets in religion; no esoteric doctrine; no rites or privileges which are not for the people. If the priests are set apart, the people witness their consecration, and sanction it and take part in it. The priests are for the people. A Church which withholds a part of the Lord’s Supper from the congregation cannot be a true Church. In the commandment to gather the people was the implicit doctrine of universal priesthood, afterwards (as in 1 Pet.) more perfectly expressed when the great High Priest had come.

II. The foundation on which all religion stands is the revealed Word and will of God. The Lord spake to Moses. Moses did as the Lord commanded him. Moses said to the congregation, “This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done.” Mere will-worship is unacceptable to God. We must beware of two errors. 1. Dependence on mere tradition in contrast with the Word. No need of a supplementary revelation, for it implies that the Word was not sufficient—no authority in it, for the fathers and those who handed on the tradition were liable to err and falsify. 2. Expediency may mislead us into disobedience; fashion in worship; convenience consulted; pure truth hidden; man usurping God’s place.

III. Public consecration of priesthood. The people saw the men, their garments, the consecrating oil, the atoning sacrifices, the basket of unleavened bread. 1. Spiritual leaders should be distinguishable, both personally and officially. 2. We should remember they are men, and liable to sin, and needing the same sacrifices as all others. 3. The unleavened bread of sincerity and truth is their main qualification. 4. They are nothing unless anointed, i.e. they are wholly dependent on the Spirit of God—not a line of succession, but a personal inspiration. 5. Their ministry being for the people, among the people, and with the help of the people, let the people by their assembly sanction their election and approve their consecration. A God-given ministry is not imposed upon congregations, but welcomed by their free choice.—R.

Ver. 6.—”And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.” Not hands and feet only, as in daily ministrations, but the whole body, symbolizing entire spiritual cleansing.

I. Take this cleansing as Man’s obedience. It set forth: 1. Confession of sin and dependence on Divine grace. 2. Personal consecration—entire devotion to the service of God. 3. As performed by priests, the acceptance of a place in the priestly office and before the altar demanded conspicuous holiness and purity.

II. Thus was typified The Divine promise. 1. That man should be cleansed really by the Spirit. 2. That a perfect high priesthood should be provided. 3. That the necessary imperfection and impurity of an earthly service should be swallowed up hereafter in the holy perfection of the heavenly service, when all that approach God shall be like him.—R.

Vers. 7–9.—Aaron’s dress. Coat, girdle, robe, ephod, breastplate, Urim and Thummim, mitre, golden plate, and crown,—all significant, and fulfilled in Christ. The two main ideas are mediation and government.

I. The high priest is clothed as mediator. 1. To offer sacrifice for sins. 2. To enter into the presence of Jehovah as intercessor. 3. To obtain and pronounce, as representative, the Divine benediction.

II. The high priest is clothed as king. 1. With power to guide, counsel, command as an oracle. 2. With exalted personality to receive homage as the king of righteousness, the glory of God revealed. 3. As crowned, to establish and maintain his kingdom among men—ruling their hearts and lives, not by the power of this world, but by the priestly power of fellowship with God, for man is himself made kingly as he is admitted into the innermost chamber of God’s presence.—R.

Vers. 10–12.—Anointing. The tabernacle, the altar, the vessels, the laver and its foot, Aaron the high priest. The main intention to lift up the thoughts of all, both priests and people, to Jehovah as the Source of all good gifts. The sprinkling was seven times, to denote the covenant relation between God and Israel.

I. The service of God requires special consecration—both of persons and places and instrumentalities. 1. To keep the world’s corruption away. 2. To exalt the faculties and feelings. 3. To help us to maintain the remembrance of the Divine covenant, and therefore to lay hold by special intercourse with God of his gifts. 4. To enable us, by concentration of efforts, to make the influence of religion more powerful in the world. Great mistake to suppose that, by breaking down distinctions between the believing and the unbelieving, the multitudes are brought nearer to God; on the contrary, the effect is to lessen the spiritual efficacy of religious ordinances, and to postpone the triumph of God’s people.

II. The true anointing of the Spirit, the true distinction of the ministry and of the means employed. 1. Distinguish between the rite itself and its fulfilment. Man anoints with oil, God with the Spirit. The two baptisms with water and with the Holy Ghost. 2. Special responsibility of those in office for the possession of spiritual power. We must not worship our own nets. They are nothing if not successful. By their fruits the living trees will be known. 3. God will be inquired of to bestow his grace; the anointing by his commandment was a renewal of his promise to bestow his gifts when they are asked. It was a covenant ceremony, and represented a covenant life. 4. Spiritual men engaged in the fulfilment of spiritual duties will, as much as possible, separate themselves from all earthly entanglements and incumbrances. The oil was poured on the head of the priest, and flowed downwards to the skirts of his garments, to signify that he must be totally possessed by the claims of his office, and endowed in every energy and act by the bestowment of the Spirit. What an encouragement to holiness, and at the same time what an incentive to prayer! We are kings and priests. If we forget our anointing, we not only lose our priestly purity, but our princely power over the world. A degraded priesthood the curse of the Church and the plague of mankind. A revived ministry the hope of the future. “Brethren, pray for us.” “Ye have an unction from the Holy One.”—R.

Vers. 13–36.—The sacrifices of consecration. Aaron and his sons. Holy week of separation. “So Aaron and his sons did all things which the Lord commanded by the hand of Moses”.Moses, the mediator of the covenant, consecrated those who should afterwards fulfil the functions of the sanctuary. The order of the sacrifices was: 1. The sin offering. 2. The burnt offering. 3. The peace offering. Or (1) expiation, (2) obedience, (3) acceptance—the three great facts of the covenant life of God’s people. That all these should be included in the consecration of the priesthood betokened the entire subordination of that mere temporary mediation to the fundamental relation between God and man. No priest was between the holiness of God and the sinfulness of men in any other sense than as a servant of that covenant which came out of the free grace of God. Here there is—

I. The true basis of religion set forth. It rests on (1) the universal necessity of man, and (2) the universality of Divine grace. Illustrate from history of man’s religions how this basis has been ignored. Priesthood raised above people as though holy in themselves. Favouritism in heaven the exciting motive to sacrifices. Merit in man the measure of peace.

II. The typical significance of the Mosaic economy pointing to the perfection of the Divine provision for human salvation. All the priests, Aaron and his sons, are sinful, and require sacrifices of atonement. Their confession of imperfection was itself an appeal to God to supply the sinless priest, the perfect service, the everlasting mediation. Jesus Christ the High Priest. 1. His official perfection, arising out of his personal dignity as Son of God, and yet able to sympathize with those for whom he intercedes as Son of man. Spotless purity and perfect obedience could alone satisfy the requirements of a perfect Law. 2. Our faith in Christ sees in him not only a priestly Person, but a Sacrifice actually offered. The true sacrificial work of Christ was not merely his humiliation in living a human life, but his death on the cross, which was supremely the offering up of his blood, his life, as a true substitution for man. The death of the victim was a necessary part of the ceremony. Thus our High Priest must enter the holest with blood, and no blood but his own could represent the whole humanity of man offered up—no sufferings but his could express perfect fulfilment of the Father’s will. 3. The priesthood of Christ secures our acceptance, and makes our religious life liberty, not bondage.—R.


Chapter 9

The first priestly acts of Aaron and his sons are recounted in the chapter following that which narrates their consecration.

Vers. 1–6.—On the eighth day. The seven days of consecration being now over, Aaron for the first time offers a sin offering and burnt offering for himself, and a sin offering, a burnt offering, a peace offering, and a meat offering for the congregation. He is still instructed by Moses as to what he is to do, but it is through him that the command is given to the people to present their offerings, and it is he that slays the victims and offers their blood. His own sin offering is a young calf, or young bull calf, whereas the sin offering commanded for the high priest on ordinary occasions was a young bull, further advanced in age (ch. 4:3); and in presenting the blood he does not take it into the sanctuary according to the regulations in ch. 4:6, but uses it as Moses had done in the sin offerings of the previous week, the purpose of the difference being to show that Aaron’s full dignity had not yet devolved upon him. This did not take place until he had gone into the tabernacle with Moses (ver. 23). A ram is again taken for the burnt offering, as had been the case in Moses’ sacrifice of the previous week. The children of Israel now present a kid, the offering generally made by a prince, that for the congregation being a young bull. In the words for to day the Lord will appear unto you, Moses promises the Divine appearance afterwards vouchsafed (ver. 23).

Ver. 7.—Make an atonement for thyself, and for the people. By means of the sin offering for the high priest, whose sin brought guilt both on himself and upon the people (ch.4:3). After he had (symbolically) purified himself and them of this guilt, he was to offer the offering of the people, which should purify them from the guilt contracted by their own sins, and make an atonement for them.

Vers. 8–14.—The high priest’s sin offering and burnt offering for himself. The meat offering does not appear to have accompanied the burnt offering—the law having not yet been promulgated which ordered that the two sacrifices should always be presented together (Numb. 15:4). The burnt offering, with the pieces thereof, in ver. 13, should rather be the burnt offering in its several pieces. The sinfulness of the Aaronic priesthood and the need of a perfect priest is indicated by this sacrifice (see Heb. 7:24–27).

Vers. 15–21.—The people’s sin offering, burnt offering, meat offering, and peace offering follow. The meat offering is said to have been burnt upon the altar, beside the burnt sacrifice of the morning. It is probable that, on this occasion, the people’s burnt offering, which consisted of a calf and a lamb, took the place of the ordinary morning sacrifice of a lamb (Exod. 29:38). Aaron is said to have offered the burnt offering according to the manner, or, as it is given in the margin, ordinance, that is, he burnt the flesh on the altar (ch. 1:7–9); he also burnt the handful of the meat offering, and he burnt the fat of the peace offering, upon the altar. He had previously burnt the fat of his own sin offering, and the flesh of his burnt offering. Fire, therefore, was present upon the altar, and was used by Aaron, as by Moses, for sacrificial purposes before the fire came out from the Lord as described in ver. 24.

Ver. 22.—And Aaron lifted up his hand or (according to the more probable reading) hands. This was the first priestly benediction by Aaron, given from the elevated standing-place which he occupied by the side of the altar.

Ver. 23.—Moses (for the last time) and Aaron (for the first time) went into the tabernacle in the character of priest. During this visit Moses committed to Aaron the care of the things within the tabernacle, as he had already given him the charge of all connected with the sacrifices of the court. Not till after this is Aaron fully initiated into his office. “No man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4). On coming out from the tabernacle, Moses and Aaron, standing near the door, unite in blessing the congregation, in order to show the harmony between them and the capacity of blessing in the Name of the Lord enjoyed by Aaron as by Moses. The latter has now divested himself of that part of his office which made him the one mediator between God and his people. Aaron is henceforth a type of Christ as well as Moses. While giving the joint blessing, the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the people, proceeding from the ark, and enveloping the lawgiver and the priest as they stood together.

Ver. 24.—And there came a fire out from before the Lord. The sacrifices were already smouldering on the altar, a ram, a calf, and a lamb, besides the internal fat of a young bull, a kid, a bullock, and a ram, and a handful of flour. They would have continued smouldering all the day and the night, but a miraculous fire issued from the tabernacle, and consumed the whole in the sight of the people. So fire fell and consumed Solomon’s sacrifice at the dedication of the temple. Jewish tradition reports that the fire was always kept alive until the reign of Manasseh, when it became extinguished. When the people saw this sight, they shouted, and fell on their faces. They had been standing in a state of intense expectation, awaiting the fulfilment of the promise that the Lord would appear unto them to-day, and watching the acts of the two brothers; and their feelings are now raised to the utmost enthusiasm and awe by the appearance of the glory of the Lord and the action of the Divine fire. See 2 Chron. 7:3.


Vers. 8–23.—The first act of the new priesthood is sacrifice, by which reconciliation was ceremonially effected; the second (vers. 22, 23), a double benediction. As soon as the people are reconciled to him, God’s blessing abundantly pours itself on them. The sacrifice is: 1. For themselves, showing the weakness of the Aaronic priesthood. 2. For the people, showing its power.

Ver. 24.—Miraculous confirmation of the new polity is given by a fire issuing from the presence of God.

I. Instances of a like kind of Divine agency by fire. 1. The case of Gideon. “And the angel of God said unto him, Take the flesh and the unleavened cakes, and lay them upon this rock, and pour out the broth. And he did so. Then the angel of the Lord put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes” (Judg. 6:20, 21). 2. The case of Elijah. “Call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the Name of the Lord: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.… Then the fire of the Lord fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench” (1 Kings 18:24–38). 3. The case of Solomon. “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chron. 7:1, 2).

II. The result in each case is awe. 1. “Gideon said, Alas, O Lord God! for because I have seen an angel of the Lord face to face. And the Lord said unto him, Peace be unto thee; fear not: thou shalt not die” (Judg. 6:22, 23). 2. “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The Lord, he is the God; the Lord, he is the God” (1 Kings 18:39). 3. “And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (2 Chron. 7:3).

III. The present a fitting occasion for a miraculous intervention. A miracle is to be expected at the introduction of any new system which emanates from God, because it is a means of showing Divine approval which cannot be gainsaid; but it is not to be expected frequently afterwards, or it would lose its special effect of impressing by its strangeness. The institution of the Law is such an occasion, and accordingly fire and smoke and earthquake showed the presence of God on Sinai. The institution of an hereditary priesthood was a part of the legislation which, being a vast change on the previously existing system, specially required a sign of God’s approval which all might see. The erection of Solomon’s temple was a like occasion. So at the institution of the Christian dispensation, miraculous gifts were vouchsafed to the apostles—speaking with tongues, prophecy, gifts of healing, and the rest—which were not intended to continue, and died out as soon as the Church was regarded as no longer coming into being, but fully formed. No new doctrine must be accepted except upon the testimony of miracle, but a succession of miracles is not required to certify doctrine which has been once confirmed by miraculous means.

IV. Similarity yet difference of the Pentecostal fire. It was given at the institution of the new apostolic ministry. It was a confirmation of its authority to the minds of the recipients as well as others. But it indicated more than a mere Divine approval of a new system. It symbolized the gift of the Holy Ghost, and therefore it did not consume a sacrifice, but “it sat upon each” of those who were to be the instruments of the Holy Ghost in converting the world, and the ministers of the new dispensation. The fire of jealousy, which struck to the earth those who approached the Divine presence unbidden, has become the fire of love.


A sign expected and received. Ch. 9.; cf. 2 Chron. 5:13, 14; Ezra 6:16–22; Acts 1; 2. We have now before us the hopeful fashion in which Aaron and his sons entered upon their work. The consecration being completed on the eighth day, Moses directed them to take for themselves a sin offering and a burnt offering, and to receive at the hands of the people similar offerings, and, in addition, a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, with the usual accompaniment of a meat offering, and to expect a sign from the Lord at the conclusion of the service. “To-day,” said he, “the Lord will appear unto you.” A penitent yet consecrated priesthood, acting on behalf of a penitent and consecrated people, are warranted in expecting a sign from God himself. The first priestly service is thus filled with hope, and the hope was realized at the end of it. The following lessons are plainly taught by this passage—

I. The one indispensable preliminary to exaltation from God is humiliation before him. Both priests and people must bring their sin offering and appear in penitential mood. Unless we humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, we need not expect to be exalted (Matt. 23:12; 1 Pet. 5:6). Hence the Law of the Divine dealings has been to “hide pride from man” (Job 33:17). It is only when we have pride eliminated that we have room for blessing.

II. Conscious dedication to God is an earnest of blessing on its way. The priests and people both bring their burnt offerings as well as their sin offerings. They realize now reasonable it is to dedicate themselves to the Lord, who has been so merciful in his dealings with them. It was the same with Solomon and his associates at the dedication of the temple. It was the same with the disciples previous to the Pentecostal baptism. It was consecrated men and women who expected special blessing. And it is the same still; self-emptied, self-dedicated sinners are being qualified for special blessing.

III. The union of numbers in desire and in hope is also a sign of a coming blessing. The people assembled in their thousands before the tabernacle, and the priests co-operated with them in their offices. One heart and hope animated the host. We see the same unity at the dedication of Solomon’s temple. “It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers, were as one, to make one sound,” etc. (2 Chron. 5:13). We see the same unity before Pentecost. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14). Such a union of numbers in desire and in hope should be encouraged continually. It need not be disregarded. It is a sign surely that blessing is on its way when such happy union of heart and hope takes place.

IV. God’s rights must be carefully regarded if his special blessing is to be obtained. The priests were directed to lay the best portions on the altar, to pay thus their due to God, before the blessing is vouchsafed. This element is sometims overlooked. People make “systematic beneficence” depend upon special blessing, instead of preceding it. But it is manifest, from Mal. 3:10, that God asks for proof, in the payment of Divine dues, of people’s desire for special blessing. It is idle to expect great blessing from above if men wrong God as they do. His proportion of our substance can be calculated in cool blood and paid conscientiously, without waiting for a baptism in order to do so, and if we are prepared to exhibit our sense of obligation to God in this real way, we may hope for a very special baptism.

V. Benediction may be pronounced with confidence in the light of promised blessing. At the conclusion of the ritual, Aaron proceeded to bless the people. His benediction preceded the Divine manifestation. It was pronounced in full view of the promise. It was, as we shall soon see, amply redeemed. And does not this fact throw light upon all benedictions? They are not blessings conveyed through the person pronouncing them, but blessings guaranteed, so to speak, to proceed from God himself on the ground of his own promise. It is the faithful Promiser the people are to look to, not his officer in pronouncing the benediction.

VI. God was pleased to manifest himself as consuming fire upon his altar. What God gave was additional fire to the sacred deposit already so carefully preserved. An intense flame rose up from the altar, having first issued from the tabernacle; and all the people rejoiced because of it. “When all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.” God is a consuming fire in the way of acceptance, just as well as in the way of wrath. The psalmist gives us clear evidence of this in his prayer, “Remember all thy offerings, and accept (‘reduce to ashes,’ יְדַשְׁנֶה) thy burnt sacrifice” Ps. 20:3). The case of Elijah at Carmel goes to demonstrate the same thing (1 Kings 18:24, 36). And when we reach the history of Pentecost, with the Spirit as “tongues of fire” settling down on the disciples, we can have no doubt as to the significance of the manifestation (Acts 2). “God is light,” and along with light there is heat and sublimation. He interposes no screen to prevent the heat-rays from reaching men’s hearts. They become fervent in spirit, and thus serve the Lord (Rom. 12:11). It is this visitation we all need—God accepting us as “living sacrifices,” and enabling us most ardently to serve him. May none of us experience the consuming fire of the Divine wrath, but that of the Divine love and mercy!—R.M.E.

Vers. 23, 24.—The glory of the Lord. The petition of Moses was, “Show me thy glory.” The wisdom, power, and goodness of the Almighty are visible in all his works, and “the heavens declare his glory,” but man longs for a fuller display of the matchless perfections of Deity. The artist is superior to his handiwork, and to view God is a greater satisfaction than to contemplate the evidences of his existence and skill that lie around us. To behold him as he is, to “see his face” in its undimmed lustre,—this is reserved as the special joy of heaven. In the mean time, it was permitted the Israelites to gaze upon material manifestations of his presence, and it is the delight of Christians to catch spiritual glimpses of his glory, by faith seeing him who is invisible.

I. The form assumed by the glory of the Lord. 1. A brightness manifest to all the people. Compare this passage with Numb. 16:42, and the conclusion is natural that there was a brilliant illumination of the cloud that ordinarily rested upon the tabernacle. Therein Jehovah was ever visible, but now revealed in such wondrous guise that his glory was patent to the dullest eye. Deity no longer concealed but expressed. When Jesus Christ came as the Word, the evangelist declares, “We beheld his glory, as of the only begotten of the Father.” The face is the noblest part of the body, the dial-plate of character, the index of the soul; hence in the face of Jesus Christ we behold the light of the knowledge of the glory of God. The gospel dispensation “exceeds in glory” (2 Cor. 3:9), for it is the “ministration of the Spirit.” the “ministration of the righteousness” of God. The answer to the request of Moses was contained in the assurance that all the goodness of God should pass before him; and when there is an outpouring of the Spirit, so that many turn to the Saviour and rejoice in the mercy and loving-kindness of God who will have all men to be saved, then is the glory of the Lord revealed and all flesh see it together. 2. A mighty energy, as flaming fire, attesting the acceptance of the sacrifices. These were suddenly consumed, showing that the power of God can accomplish at once what at other times requires a long period under the operation of customary laws. There is not merely attractive brilliancy in God, there is majestic might which may be used for or against us, according to our obedience or disobedience. When tongues of fire sat upon the disciples at Pentecost, their whole being—body, soul, and spirit, mind, affection, and will—seemed immediately permeated with the Spirit of Christ, and they spoke with boldness and witnessed with great power, so that thousands were added to the Church. Let God appear, and men shall be saved, not in units, but in multitudes. Who can tell what shall be the result of Christ’s appearing in glory? This we know, that the offerings upon the altar, the Christians dedicated to his service, shall be transformed into his likeness, the imitation not gradual as in ordinary seasons, but instantaneous. 3. The unusual glory proceeding from the ordinary manifestation. The fire “came out from before the Lord.” It was not a different power, therefore, but the usual Shechinah fire exhibited to all in wondrous operation. The truths that evoke such feeling and lead to such holy action in times of refreshing and revival, are those which have been previously insisted on, only now accompanied with potency, the breath of the Spirit kindling the embers into a glow, and causing the heat so to radiate as to affect large circles of humanity. The arm of the Lord, alway present, is revealed; its might, perceived by the few, is shown to the many.

II. The time at which the glory of God appears. 1. We may expect it at eventful stages in the history of his Church. Here at the establishment of the order of priesthood, to sanction it, to express approval of the men appointed, and to complete their consecration. The altar fire and all its future offerings were thus hallowed. When some principle of the Divine government is to be vindicated, or some messenger honoured in the sight of the people, or a new departure made in the accomplishment of his purposes, then may we anticipate displays of supernatural beauty and force. 2. When his instructions have been respected, his commands faithfully observed. There had been seven days of watching, and the eighth day was marked by confession of sin and dedicatory sacrifices. God was honoured, and evinced his delight thereat. Sanctification precedes the manifestation of Divine power (Josh. 3:5; ch. 9:4). 3. When it has been prophesied by his servants. This was a fulfilment of Moses’ prediction, and may incite us to study Scripture and value its prophetic statements. It is remarkable how the way has been ever prepared for “mighty works” by previous announcement, as if to fit men to appreciate the miracles and to recognize them as coming from God. The herald proclaims the advent of the king. 4. When his servants have drawn nigh to his presence, and invoked a blessing upon the people. Prayer is the fleeting breath that proves of such marvellous efficacy in securing tokens of God’s favour. Would we see the glory of God in the sanctuary? then let us try to approach the very throne of Deity. To be led in supplication into the holiest of all is to “bring all heaven before our eyes.” Jesus, our Prophet-Priest, ascended as he was blessing the disciples; the fruits of his invocation were quickly seen at Pentecost, and they continue to enrich and gladden the Church.

III. The effect it produces. 1. Enthusiasm. The people “shouted” for joy and thanksgiving, they gave utterance to their admiration and excitement. That Jehovah should condescend thus to visit his children, that the Infinite One should so openly reveal himself! The coldest are warmed into emotion, the hardest surfaces yield, the sternest natures cannot repress exclamations of astonishment when they perceive the signs of a presence more than mortal. 2. Reverence. “They fell on their faces,” to worship. Awe filled their minds and prostrated their bodies. Never should excitement lead to forgetfulness of the respect due to God. And if it be otherwise, there is reason to suspect the genuineness of the professedly Divine exhibition of approval. We may fear lest the fire has been begotten not of heaven but of earth.

Conclusion. Will any refuse to behold in Christ “the brightness of the Father’s glory”? Here “all” the people saw the glory. Age, sex, or rank no hindrance. There may be a difference in the apprehension of the significance of the spectacle, but it should awaken gratitude and veneration in every breast.—S.R.A.

Vers. 1–7.—The eighth day. There is sacred mystery in the numbers of Holy Scripture well worthy of attention. We have an example before us.

I. On this day the consecrations were completed. 1. The eighth is a day signalized by sanctity. (1) All children were, according to the Law, in the uncleanness of their birth until the eighth day. Then they received circumcision, and thenceforward were recognized as holy, having the seal of the covenant or purification of God upon them (ch. 12:2, 3). (2) The young of beasts, in like manner, were ceremonially unclean before their eighth day. They were therefore unfit to be offered as sacrifices. But on the eighth day and thenceforward that unfitness ceased; they were accounted clean (ch. 22:27). (3) Persons unclean through leprosy, or through any issue, or a Nazarite in case of accidental defilement by the dead, all had to abide seven days in uncleanness. The eighth day, in all such cases, was memorable as that upon which they were accounted clean (ch. 14:8–10; 15:13, 14; Numb. 6:9, 10). (4) So here, the tabernacle, the altar, all the vessels of the ministry, together with the priests, were seven days in the process of purification, and on the eighth day the purity of all became established (comp. Ezek. 43:26, 27). 2. These things point to gospel times. (1) The pollutions of the birth refer to original sin. This, in the case of the children, is so obvious as to need no comment. The reason of the law of uncleanness in relation to the young of animals is that in the Levitical system they were made representatives of human beings. (2) The pollutions of adults would stand for sins committed “after the similitude of Adam’s transgression.” (3) All were “purged with blood,” the blood of circumcision or that of animal sacrifices, which anticipated that precious blood of Christ by which we are redeemed from R