Leviticus 8
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
The Consecration of Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 8:1-17)

1. See critical note on these chapters in App. I (b), pp. 159 ff.

Instructions to consecrate Aaron and his sons have already been given, Exodus 29:1-37. The account given in this chapter follows very closely the words of Exodus 29, with which it should be carefully compared.

The ceremonies connected with the consecration were: (a) washing (Leviticus 8:6), (b) vesting (Leviticus 8:7-9; Leviticus 8:13), (c) anointing (Leviticus 8:10-12), (d) offering sacrifices, which were of three kinds; (1) a Sin-Offering (Leviticus 8:14-17), (2) a Burnt-Offering (Leviticus 8:18-21), (3) the ram of consecration (Leviticus 8:22-32), which was treated as a Peace-Offering, but with additional ritual appropriate to the special occasion.

Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;
2. the bullock of the sin offering, and the two rams, and the basket …] As all the objects to be brought have already been prescribed in Exodus 29, they occur in this chapter with the definite article. The garments are described Exodus 28, 39. The anointing oil was made by Bezalel (Exodus 37:29) according to the prescription in Exodus 30:23-33.

of unleavened bread] unleavened cakes. The Heb. word is plural, and denotes thin biscuits. See Driver (C. B.) on Exodus 12:8. This introductory verse does not describe the contents of the basket in full, as does Exodus 29:2, but defers the mention of them till Leviticus 8:26, when the contents are used. On the other hand, it mentions the anointing oil, which in Exodus 29 first occurs in Leviticus 8:7, where the directions for its use are given.

And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
4. the congregation] A.V. by rendering ‘assembly’ obscures the fact that the Heb. word is the same as in the preceding verse.

And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done.
And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.
6. (a) washing; cp. Exodus 29:4.

And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith.
7–9. (b) vesting; cp. Exodus 29:5-6. The garments are mentioned in a different order in Exodus 28:4, and some of them are there described more fully in Leviticus 8:6 ff. The reader may refer to the notes in Driver’s commentary. The ‘linen breeches’ (Exodus 28:42) are not mentioned here.

the coat] the tunic, Heb. kuttoneth or kĕthoneth. A long tunic with sleeves, secured by a girdle, or sash, somewhat like a dressing gown. It was the principal garment of ordinary life, and made of cotton, linen, or wool. The high priest’s coat, or tunic, was made of fine linen (shçsh) and ornamented with a pattern. Cp. Exodus 28:4, where it is described as ‘a coat of chequer work’ (a broidered coat, A.V.), and in Exodus 28:39 as woven ‘in chequer work of fine linen’; the exact meaning of the Heb. is uncertain, but it not improbably denotes something of the nature of a check.

the girdle] sash, the work of the embroiderer (Exodus 28:39), made in the same way as the screen (hanging A.V.) for the entrance to the Tent (Exodus 26:36) and to the Court (Leviticus 27:16). It was of considerable length (according to the Talmud about 48 ft.) and was passed round the body several times (Jos. Ant. iii. 7. 2). It seems to have been accidentally omitted in Exodus 29:5. It must be distinguished from the ‘cunningly woven band of the ephod’ (cp. Exodus 28:8, etc.), translated in A.V. ‘curious girdle.’

the robe] called ‘the robe of the ephod,’ Exodus 28:31; Exodus 29:5; Exodus 39:22 f. A garment all blue with a hole for the head, and a binding of woven work round the whole to prevent its being rent. The Heb. word mě‘îl is applied to the robe (A.V. coat) made by Hannah for her son Samuel (1 Samuel 2:19), and to the robe (A.V. mantle) of Samuel which was rent by Saul (1 Samuel 15:27). The clothing of the High Priest, though of costly material, is so far like that of other people, and similar to that worn by the Arabs of the present day; an under garment bound with a sash, and an outer robe reaching nearly to the ground, but this outer garment is now worn open in front. According to Josephus (Ant. iii. 7. 4, B.J. 8:5. 7) the robe of the ephod reached to the feet, but some writers describe it as shorter than the tunic. Its fringe of pomegranates and bells is described Exodus 28:33-35; Exodus 39:24-26 note the addition of ‘pure’ to ‘gold’ in the second passage), but being a part of the robe is not mentioned here or in Exodus 29.

the ephod] This garment (described Exodus 28:6 ff; Exodus 39:2-5) was made of fine twined linen with blue purple and scarlet threads, and fine gold wire. Its exact shape cannot be determined. There were two shoulder straps, on each of which was an engraved onyx stone, and a band made of the same material as the ephod and woven with it in one piece, which served to gird the ephod over the other garments. This band is called ‘the cunningly woven band’ (the curious girdle A.V.) of the ephod; the Heb. ḥçshĕb denotes textile work of the highest grade, employed only for the curtains of the Dwelling, the veil, the ephod, and the pouch for the Urim and Thummim. See note on Exodus 26:1, where terms used for the different kinds of woven work are distinguished. The words ‘cunning,’ ‘cunningly’ were in Old English used to denote what is now termed ‘skilful,’ ‘skilfully.’ If the ephod consisted of front and back pieces, then the whole garment with its band would form a kind of waistcoat; if it consisted of a front piece only, it would resemble an apron. See Driver on Exodus 28:5-12 and p. 312.

And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.
8. And he placed the breastplate upon him] The breastplate of Judgement, described Exodus 28:15-30; Exodus 39:8-21, was made of the same material as the ephod, and being twice as long as it was broad, became when folded a square of which each side was a span long, and served as a pocket to contain the Urim and the Thummim. It was fastened to the ephod by means of rings of gold, golden cords, and ‘a lace of blue’ or ribbon, though the exact manner of its attachment is not clear. The meaning of the word ‘breastplate’ (Heb. ḥôshen) is uncertain; either ‘ornament,’ referring to the richness of its material, or ‘pocket,’ indicating the purpose for which it was used. Cp. Exodus 28:13-30 and the notes on the passage.

the Urim and the Thummim] That is, the Lights and the Perfections, as R.V. mg. Neither here nor in any other place where Urim and Thummim are mentioned is any further description of these objects given, nor of the manner in which they were employed. See Driver on Exod. pp. 313 f.

And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses.
9. the mitre] turban as R.V. mg. Heb. miẓnépheth in Lev. here and Leviticus 16:4 (the linen mitre) only: in Exod. (in the cognate passages) Exodus 28:4; Exodus 28:37; Exodus 28:39, Exodus 29:6, Exodus 39:28; Exodus 39:31. It was made of fine linen; tradition describes it as 24 ft. long, so it was probably wound round the head like a turban. Besides the passages quoted, where it denotes the headdress of the high priest, it occurs only in Ezekiel 21:26 (Heb. 31). (mitre R.V., diadem A.V.). Another word (ẓânîph) from the same root occurs Isaiah 62:3 (Ḳ’ri), translated ‘diadem,’ in parallelism with the common Heb. word for ‘crown’; and in Zechariah 3:5 with reference to the high priest Joshua. It is strange that ẓânîph should be used in the Zechariah passage to denote a mitre for the high priest, if miẓnépheth were already the technical term used for that portion of his attire.

Josephus (Ant. iii. 7. 6) says that the high priest’s mitre was like that of all the other priests, but another word is used (see Leviticus 8:13) for the head-dress of Aaron’s sons. He describes fully another mitre with a triple golden crown. This was probably an ornament added in later times. Alexander Balas sent a purple robe and a crown of gold to Jonathan which he wore at the Feast of Tabernacles b.c. 153 (1Ma 10:20). This may be the crown described by Josephus.

upon the mitre, in front] In A.V. ‘upon his forefront,’ ‘his’ refers to the mitre and in modern English would be ‘its.’

the golden plate, the holy crown] The golden plate is described Exodus 28:36-37. The Heb. word (ẓîẓ), translated ‘plate,’ implies something bright and glittering, and is elsewhere used of a flower. The plate was fastened by its lace of blue to the turban (Exodus 28:37, Exodus 39:31) and would appear as an ornament or diadem in the headgear of the high priest. It is called ‘the holy crown’ in Exodus 29:6, and here both names are given to it. The same combination occurs in Exodus 39:30 where the English ‘the plate of the holy crown of pure gold’ conveys the impression that the ‘plate’ and the ‘crown’ are different instead of synonymous.

And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.
10. Probably an interpolation, as (1) there is no parallel for it in Exodus 29, and (2) the LXX. places Leviticus 8:10 b after Leviticus 8:11.

10–12. (c) anointing. The first definite variation from Exodus 29 is found in these verses. Exodus 29:7 contains the command: ‘Then shall thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.’ To this correspond the opening words of Leviticus 8:10, ‘And Moses took the anointing oil …’ and Leviticus 8:12, ‘And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him.’ The clauses of Leviticus 8:10-11 which intervene, record the anointing of the tabernacle, the altar, and the laver, in words closely parallel to those of Exodus 40:9-11. Other passages which refer to the ceremony of anointing are: Exodus 29:7 (referring to Aaron only), Exodus 29:36 (to the altar), Exodus 30:26-29 (a full list of things to be anointed) and Exodus 40:9-11 (a shorter list). It will be seen that the verbal coincidences in Leviticus 8:10-12 are with Exodus 29:7; Exodus 40:9-11. But it should be noticed that whereas in Exodus 40:12-15 mention is made of anointing Aaron’s sons as well as Aaron himself, there is no account of such a ceremony in Leviticus 8.

And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them.
11. upon the altar seven times] The sprinkling seven times is not enjoined in Exodus 29, but in Leviticus 8:36 of that ch. the sanctification of the altar is appointed for seven days, on each of which the altar is to be anointed.

And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.
And Moses brought Aaron's sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the LORD commanded Moses.
13. Aaron’s sons are clothed with tunics, sashes, and caps. The tunics and sashes are not described; whether they were less elaborate than those of the high priest does not appear, but is probable. The caps (headtires R.V., bonnets A.V.) were of fine linen (Exodus 39:28), and the Heb. word is used only of the head-gear of the ordinary priests. The description of Josephus (Ant. iii. 7. 3) is not very clear. See on Leviticus 8:9, and the note on Exodus 28:40.

And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering.
And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it.
14–30. (d) the sacrificial part of the rite, consisting of:

(i) The Sin-Offering (Leviticus 8:14-17, cp. Exodus 29:10-14)

A bullock, the most costly animal, appointed for ‘the anointed priest,’ or for ‘the whole congregation’ (Leviticus 4:3; Leviticus 4:14), on which Aaron and his sons laid their hands (see on Leviticus 1:4). It appears that the selection of the animal indicates the sacred office to which Aaron and his sons are to be admitted, but until they are consecrated, the ritual of the offering is the same as that prescribed in the case of private individuals (cp. Leviticus 4:30; Leviticus 4:34). Some of the blood is put on the horns of the altar, and the rest is poured out at the base of the altar.

15. And he slew it] Comparison with Exodus 29:11 shews that Moses slew it, but the text here might be interpreted, and he (Aaron) slew it, especially as it is followed by ‘and Moses took.…’ The same remark applies to Leviticus 8:19 and Leviticus 8:23; cp. Exodus 29:16; Exodus 29:20. In all the verses here cited, the Heb. verb is the same, but is rendered by both ‘kill’ and ‘slay.’

at the base of the altar] see on Leviticus 4:7.

and purified the altar … and sanctified it by making atonement for it] These clauses are not found in Exodus 29:12, but occur in Exodus 29:36-37 of that ch. The altar had already been anointed (Leviticus 8:11); it is now further sanctified by the blood of the Sin-Offering.

The words ‘purify’ here, and ‘cleanse’ (purge R.V. mg.) in Exodus 29:36 are translations of the same Heb. verb. As in English ‘to stone plums’ means to remove the stones, so in Heb. a verb corresponding to a noun is sometimes used in the same way. Here the Heb. verb corresponds to the noun ‘sin,’ and means to ‘remove sin’; it occurs also in Leviticus 14:49; Leviticus 14:52 (of a leprous house), and Ezekiel 43:20-23 with reference to the altar (see note on Exodus 29:36). The rendering ‘by making atonement’ is like R.V. mg. of the passage in Exodus 29:36.

And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it upon the altar.
16, 17. The Heb. words for ‘burned,’ ‘burnt’ in these verses are different. That in Leviticus 8:16 means to make into sweet smelling smoke, and is cognate to the Heb. word for ‘incense’; it is used always of burning sacrificial victims as in Leviticus 8:20-21; Leviticus 8:28. The burning that is done outside the camp is expressed by the ordinary Heb. word for burning.

The same difference is to be noted in Leviticus 9:10-11 See Driver on Exodus 29:13.

But the bullock, and his hide, his flesh, and his dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
(ii) The Burnt-Offering (18–21)

The Burnt-Offering indicating complete surrender on the part of Aaron and his sons follows the sacrifice of atonement and purification. The ram is offered here by Moses, by Aaron for himself (Leviticus 9:2; Leviticus 9:12-13, Leviticus 16:3), for the people (Leviticus 16:5), for the princes of the tribes at the dedication of the altar (Numbers 7:15 etc. where the ram is one of three animals constituting the Burnt-Offering) and on the occasions enumerated in Numbers 28:29. Balak’s offering prescribed by Balaam consisted of seven bullocks and seven rams (Numbers 23:1-2; Numbers 23:14; Numbers 23:29-30).

And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
19. sprinkled] See note on Leviticus 1:5; threw against.

And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat.
20. and the fat] a different Heb. word from that in Leviticus 8:16; Leviticus 8:25, used here and in Leviticus 1:8; Leviticus 1:12 only. The fat of the intestines is probably indicated.

And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
21. for a sweet savour] See on Leviticus 1:9.

an offering made by fire] See on Leviticus 23:8.

And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
(iii) The ram of consecration (22–36), cp. Exodus 29:19-26The last sacrifice is that of the ram of consecration. As some portions are consumed by the offerers (Leviticus 8:31) it resembles the Peace-Offerings, but special rites are added, indicating the character and duties of the priestly office. The blood of the ram is applied to the ear, hand, and foot of Aaron and his sons. The ear attentive to the commands of God, the hand ready to do His will, the foot prepared to walk in His ways are thus signified. The blood is also thrown (as enjoined in Leviticus 3:2) against the altar round about.

In Leviticus 8:23-24 the blood is put first on Aaron and afterwards on his sons; cp. Exodus 29:20, where a separate bringing near of the sons is not enjoined.

And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put 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.
And he brought Aaron's sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder:
25. Moses then puts on the hands of Aaron and his sons (1) the fat and other parts of the sacrifice which were always burnt upon the altar (cp. Leviticus 3:9-10), (2) the right thigh (not shoulder R.V. mg. and A.V.) and (3) one of each of the oblations that were in the basket brought in accordance with the injunctions of Exodus 29:3; Exodus 29:23 (cp. Leviticus 7:12-14, and the note there). The whole is waved as a Wave-Offering before the Lord and burnt upon the altar. Parts (2) and (3) are priestly portions (Leviticus 7:14; Leviticus 7:32), but as on this occasion Aaron and his sons were not entitled to them (for their consecration was not yet complete) they are offered to the Lord.

The act of placing these portions on the hands of Aaron and his sons seems to indicate that they were assigned to the priests for certain purposes; those portions which were reserved for the altar were to be offered by them upon it, those which were priestly dues were to be retained by themselves.

The name of the sacrifice—the ram of consecration—is connected with this action of Moses. The usual term for appointing a priest is to ‘fill his hand’ (Jdg 17:5; Jdg 17:12), where the word consecrate is rendered in the margin ‘filled the hand of.’

Moses here fills the hands of Aaron and his sons with materials for an offering and the word ‘consecration’ may be rendered ‘fillings’ [of the hand].

And out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before the LORD, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder:
And he put all upon Aaron's hands, and upon his sons' hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the LORD.
And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And Moses took the breast, and waved it for a wave offering before the LORD: for of the ram of consecration it was Moses' part; as the LORD commanded Moses.
29. The sacrifice having been offered Moses waves the breast and it is reserved as his portion. It has been asked Why, if Moses receives the breast as a priestly due, does he not also receive the right thigh and cakes? In answer it may be said that the whole ceremony is twofold in character. It is an inauguration of the priesthood and at the same time an instruction to the future priests how they should discharge their functions. The ceremony of waving the breast being prescribed for all Peace-Offerings is observed by Moses. The inauguration of the priests, both as offerers of sacrifice and receivers of priestly dues, is indicated by the composite character of that which is placed in their hands, and the first Wave-Offering is given entirely to the Lord to shew that all belongs to Him and that He is the real giver of the priestly dues or, as it is said, He ‘is their inheritance.’ (Deuteronomy 18:2.)

And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.
30. And Moses took of the anointing oil] In Exodus 29:21 this ceremony is enjoined before the offering of Leviticus 8:25-29 = Exodus 29:22-26. It is not clear whether the oil and the blood are mingled together for one sprinkling (here the word is a correct rendering of the Heb.), or whether each is sprinkled separately. The difference of order in Exodus 29:21, where the blood is mentioned before the oil, is easily explained on the first hypothesis, but a separate sprinkling seems required if the ceremonial described in this verse is regarded as carrying out the injunctions of Exodus 28:41 to anoint Aaron and his sons. See note on Leviticus 8:13. The reason for sprinkling Aaron with oil after the anointing of Leviticus 8:12 is not apparent. The absence of the conjunction after Aaron twice in the Heb. text of this verse (note and A.V., twice in italics, omitted in R.V.), may indicate a doubt whether any further unction of Aaron was necessary. But the injunction in Exodus 29:21 is definite, including the person of Aaron as well as his garments.

And Moses said unto Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and there eat it with the bread that is in the basket of consecrations, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it.
31. Anyone who was not unclean might eat the portions of the Peace-Offering which remained when the parts for sacrifice and for the priests were taken. On this occasion the flesh is eaten by Aaron and his sons only, and at the door of the tent of meeting. The ceremonies of the first day are repeated on each of the following six days. What remains from the sacrifice of each day must be burnt, as ordered in Leviticus 7:15.

as I commanded] See R.V.’s marginal note above.

And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire.
And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you.
33. shall consecrate you] See R.V. mg. for Heb. idiom, meaning to institute to a priestly office. The reference apparently is to filling the hand (see on Leviticus 8:25) with the joint sacrifices, which they were to offer.

As he hath done this day, so the LORD hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you.
Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the LORD, that ye die not: for so I am commanded.
35. shall ye abide day and night] an additional command not given in Exodus 29.

So Aaron and his sons did all things which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.
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