Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,VIII.
(1) And the Lord spake unto Moses.—As the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood which the Lord commanded Moses to effect (Exodus 28:1-43) was to be accompanied by different kinds of sacrifices (Exodus 29:1-37), it was first of all necessary to define the ritual of each sacrifice. This was therefore done in Leviticus 1-7, and the lawgiver now proceeds to record the communication which he received from the Lord respecting the appointment to the sacerdotal office, thus resuming the narrative which was broken off at the end of Exodus.
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) Take Aaron and his sons.—That is, order them to come and to bring with them the sacred vestments and the sacrifices to the entrance of the tent of meeting. (See Leviticus 8:3.)
And a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket.—Better, and the bullock, the two rams, and the basket. That is the offering about which directions are given in Exodus 29:1-3, thus showing the intimate connection between this part of Leviticus and the latter part of Exodus.
And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.(3) And gather thou all the congregation together—Better, and gather all the assembly together. The same word is rightly rendered assembly in the Authorised Version in Leviticus 8:4. (See Leviticus 4:13.) That is, call together the assembly of the elders, the heads of the tribes, and the principal men who represented the people. This is confirmed by Leviticus 9:1, where it is distinctly said that “Moses called Aaron and his sous, and the elders of Israel,” and where these elders are called in the following verse “the children of Israel,” by virtue of their representing the children of Israel.
Unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.—Better, to the entrance of the tent of meeting, that is, the courtyard of the same.
And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.(4) And Moses did as the Lord commanded him.—That is, he not only summoned Aaron and his sons, but had their holy vestments, the oil, and the sacrifices brought, which were necessary for the consecration.
Unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.—Better, to the entrance of the tent of meeting. These representatives of the people, and as many more as the place would conveniently hold, occupied the •court-yard, whilst the people at large who wished to witness the solemn consecration of the priesthood probably occupied the neighbouring places which overlooked the enclosure. According to a tradition which obtained in the time of Christ, this ceremony took place on the 23rd of the month Adar, or February.
And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done.(5) This is the thing which the Lord commanded.—That is, these are the instructions which are given in Exodus 29:1-37, and which Moses now published to the assembled representatives of the people.
And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.(6) And washed them with water.—As the first initiatory rite of the consecration, Moses caused Aaron and his sons to bathe (see Leviticus 16:4), thus symbolising their purification from sin. Where the phrase “to wash with water” is used without specifying any particular part or parts of the body, as in Genesis 19:2; Genesis 24:32, Exodus 30:19; Exodus 30:21, Deuteronomy 21:6, it denotes the washing or bathing of the entire body. This was not done in the presence of the people, but in a baptistry, behind a curtain. During the second Temple the sacerdotal immersion could not be effected in a vessel, but had to take place in a hollow made in the ground, containing at least twenty-four cubic feet of water. The installation of the priest, which is here conducted by Moses, as the giver and representative of the Divine law, was during the second Temple performed by the Sanhedrin, who “sat in Moses’ seat.”
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) And he put upon him the coat.—Better, and he put upon him the tunic. For this garment see Leviticus 6:10, and Exodus 28:39. It will be seen that the first article of dress—viz., the drawers—distinctly mentioned in Exodus 28:42, is here omitted. This arises from the fact that, being nearest to the skin, Aaron put them on himself behind the curtain, immediately after his ablution.
And girded him with the girdle.—Not the band of the ephod, which is mentioned further on by the name of “curious girdle,” but the one made of needlework, with which the tunic was girded about the loins. (See Leviticus 6:10, and Exodus 28:39.)
And put the ephod upon him.—The ephod, which was the distinctive vestment of the high priest, was a sleeveless garment, and was worn over the shoulders. It was made of blue, purple, scarlet, and fine-twined linen, interwoven with golden threads. (See Exodus 28:6-7.)
And he girded him with the curious girdle.—Better, and girded him with the band. This band was not only made of the same costly materials as the ephod, but was woven out of the same piece on either side of the garment, so that the ephod had as it were two hands, which constituted the band. (See Exodus 28:8.) It will be seen that this is entirely different from the girdle which was tied around the tunic, mentioned in the former part of this verse.
And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.(8) And he put the breast-plate upon him.—Called more fully, “the breast-plate of judgment,” which was also a distinctive pontifical garment, and which was made of the same costly materials and the same skilful work as the ephod. (See Exodus 28:15, &c.)
Also he put in the breast-plate the Urim and the Thummim.—Better, and he put into, &c. (see Exodus 28:30), that is, Moses put into the bag of the breast-plate (comp. Exodus 25:16) these material objects which were separate from the breast-plate, as well as from the gems set in the breast-plate. (See Exodus 28:30.)
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) And he put the mitre.—See Exodus 28:36-38.
And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.(10) As the Lord commanded Moses.—That is, the making of these pontifical garments here enumerated, and the investiture of the high priest by Moses, were according to the Divine command given in Exodus 28:1-43.
(10) And Moses took the anointing oil.—Having invested the high priest with the visible emblems of his office and holiness, Moses now, in accordance with the directions given in Exodus 30:26-30; Exodus 40:9-11, first anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein—that is, the ark of the covenant, the altar of incense, the candlestick, the table of shewbread, with all the utensils belonging unto them. For the ingredients of this oil, which is also called “oil of holy ointment” (Exodus 30:25), see Exodus 30:23-25.
And sanctified them.—That is, by this unction Moses separated them from the laity, and dedicated them to the service of God, so that they were not to come in contact with any defilement. (See Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:29-30.)
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) And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times.—That is, the altar of burnt offering. This rite of sprinkling the altar seven times is not mentioned in the directions given in Exodus 30:28; Exodus 40:10. For the import of the number seven, see Leviticus 4:6.
And anointed the altar and all his vessels.—That is, the same altar of burnt sacrifice. The altar, having thus been sanctified, was thenceforward considered as sanctifying the sacrifices and oblations offered upon it. Hence the remark of Christ, “Ye fools and blind, for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift ?” (Matthew 23:19).
And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.(12) And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head.—In the anointing of Aaron, the oil was poured upon his head. (See also Leviticus 21:10-12; Exodus 29:7; Psalm 133:2.) This profuse pouring of oil was repeated at the consecration of every successor to the high-priesthood, whilst the common priests were simply anointed, or were simply marked with the finger on the forehead on their first installation, and this anointing descended with them for all futurity. (See Leviticus 6:3.) Tradition informs us that during the second Temple, the person who anointed the high priest first threw the oil upon his head, and then drew with his finger the sign of the letter Caph, being the initial of Cohen, i.e., priest, between the eyebrows of the newly-consecrated pontiff.
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) And Moses brought Aaron’s sons.—Having consecrated the father as high priest, Moses now invests Aaron’s four sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar, with the visible signs of the priestly office by robing them in the sacerdotal garments. For these articles of dress see Exodus 28:40-41; Exodus 29:30; Exodus 40:14.
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.(14) And he brought the bullock for the sin offering—Though duly consecrated, Aaron and his sons had first to be purged of their sins before they could commence their priestly functions in the sanctuary. Hence, Moses, as the mediator of the covenant delegated by God to perform the act of consecration, also performed the sacrificial rites, whilst the installed priests stood as penitent sinners by the side of the sin offering which was now offered for the first time. For the laying on of the hands by the offerer on the victim, see Leviticus 1:4.
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.(15) And he slew it.—Better, and he killed it, as it is rendered in the Authorised Version, in Leviticus 8:19. In ordinary cases the offerer himself slaughtered the victim (see Leviticus 1:5), but in the case before us Moses performed this act in accordance with the command in Exodus 29:11.
And Moses took the blood.—That is, having caught the blood in the bowl, he threw it upon the four corners of the altar, as described in Leviticus 1:5—not, however, on the horns of the altar of incense, or in the tabernacle, as in the case of the sin offering for the high priest and for the nation. (See Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:16-18.)
And purified the altar . . . and sanctified it.—Like the priest, the altar was consecrated to the service of God by the anointing oil (see Leviticus 8:11), and hence, like the priest, the altar is also purified by the expiatory sacrifice from its defilements.
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) And he took all the fat.—That is, in accordance with the directions given in Exodus 29:13. For the different portions of the sacrifice see Leviticus 3:3-5.
But the bullock, and his hide, his flesh, and his dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the LORD commanded Moses.(17) But the bullock . . . he burnt . . . —Though none of the blood of this sin offering was brought into the sanctuary, whereby it became excluded from the rule laid down in Leviticus 6:30, yet the flesh was not allowed to be eaten, but like the sin offering of the high priest (Leviticus 4:3-12), and for the whole congregation (Leviticus 4:13-21), had to be burnt without the camp, since Moses could not eat it. because he was not a legally consecrated priest (see Leviticus 6:25), and the priest could not eat it because it was against the law for the sinner to partake of the sin offering which he brought himself. (See Leviticus 4:35.)
And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.(18) And he brought the ram.—After their sins had been expiated by the sin offering, Moses offered for the consecrated priests one of the two rams which he was ordered to take (see Leviticus 8:2) as a burnt offering. With the exception of performing the sacerdotal rites himself, the ritual here described is in accordance with rules laid down in Leviticus 1:3-9.
And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.(19) And he killed it.—That is, Moses himself slaughtered the victim, and not the offerer, as was usually the case. (See Leviticus 8:15.)
And Moses sprinkled the blood.—Better, and Moses cast the blood. The word here is not the same in the original as in Leviticus 8:15.
And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.(22) And he brought the other ram.—That is, the second of the two rams mentioned in Leviticus 8:2.
The ram of consecration.—That is, the sacrifice of consecration. This concluding sacrifice, which in form resembles the thank offering and the peace offering, was designed to express the gratitude which Aaron and his sons felt for having been chosen to the office of priests, and their peace and fellowship with God.
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.(23) And he slew it.—Better, and he killed, as the same word is rendered in the Authorised Version in Leviticus 8:19, that is, Moses killed it.
And put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear.—To teach him that, as the mediator between God and His people, it was his bounden duty to hearken to the commandments of the Lord.
And upon the thumb of his right hand.—To remind him that henceforth he is to execute God’s will, and walk in the way of His commandments.
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.(24) And he brought Aaron’s sons.—Having performed these symbolical acts upon the high priest, Moses now repeats the same in the case of the four ordinary priests. The right members were chosen for these symbolical acts because they are represented as the strongest, and are therefore most able to execute the will of God (see also Exodus 29:20). The cured leper had the same parts of the body touched with the blood of the trespass offering. (See Leviticus 14:14-17.)
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) And he took, the fat, and the rump.—Better, and he took the fat and the fat-tail (see Leviticus 3:9). For the import of this verse see Exodus 29:22.
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:(26-28) And out of the basket.-The description in these three verses of the rites performed at the sacrifice of consecration is exactly in accordance with the orders given in Exodus 29:23-25. The right shoulder, and one cake of each of the three unleavened kinds, which formed the officiating priests’ share of the sacrifices (see Leviticus 7:12; Leviticus 7:32), and which were ordinarily eaten by them and their families, Moses on this occasion burned upon the altar, after being placed in the hands of Aaron and his sons, and waved before 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) And Moses took the breast.—That is, the breast-piece, which was afterwards the perquisite of the officiating priest (see Leviticus 7:34), fell in this instance to the share of Moses, in accordance with the directions given in Exodus 29:26, to be his sacrificial meal since he was divinely appointed to perform the priestly service.
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 of the blood which was upon the altar.—That is, some of the blood of the ram of consecration, which was probably kept in the bowl, and placed upon the altar for this purpose. Whether the anointing oil and the blood were sprinkled separately, or whether they were mixed together, cannot possibly be gathered either from this passage, or from Exodus 29:21, which gives the order. As the sacred garments were the badge of office, they received the same cleansing and sanctification as the priests themselves. Hence the remark of the apostle, “almost all things were by the law purged with blood” (Hebrews 9:22).
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) And Moses said . . . boil the flesh.—That is, of the ram of consecration; with the exception of the fat parts and the right shoulder, which were burnt upon the altar, and the wave-breast, which was awarded to Moses as the officiating priest on the occasion (see Leviticus 8:8, and Exodus 29:31-32), the flesh of the victim is to be prepared by Aaron and his sons for the sacrificial meal (see Leviticus 7:11, &c.). From the peculiar nature of this offering, however, it is ordained that the flesh is to be boiled at the entrance of the tent of meeting, not at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, as the Authorised Version has it. According to Exodus 29:31, this is to take place “at the holy place,” that is, in the court, and is to be eaten with unleavened bread, thus distinguishing it from the ordinary sacrificial meal of the peace offering.
Aaron and his sons shall eat it.—This is another distinguishing feature of the sacrifice in question. Whilst to the ordinary sacrificial feasts the offerer could invite his family and strangers (see Leviticus 7:15), in this no layman or non-priest could partake of the meal, because the flesh and the bread were peculiarly holy (see Exodus 29:33), as this sacrifice had the same atoning virtue as the burnt offering. (See Leviticus 1:4.)
And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire.(32) And that which remaineth.—That is, if any of the flesh or cakes was not eaten upon the day on which the sacrifice was offered, it had to be burnt, which was the law in the case of the peace offering. (See Leviticus 7:15; Leviticus 7:17; Exodus 29:34.)
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) And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle.—Better, and ye shall not go from the enclosure of the tent of meeting, that is, Aaron and his sons are not to go out of the court, as the consecration was not performed within but at the entrance of the tent of meeting. This is most distinctly stated in Leviticus 8:35.
In seven days.—Better, for seven days. As the ceremony of consecration lasted seven days, it was but natural that Aaron and his sons were enjoined not to quit the sacred enclosure for any secular transactions during the whole of this period.
For seven days shall he consecrate you.—That is, on each of these seven days the same sacrifices are to be repeated, the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the consecration offering are to be offered up, and Aaron and his sons, as well as their garments, are to be sprinkled with the sacrificial blood and the anointing oil. (See Exodus 29:36.)
As he hath done this day, so the LORD hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you.(34) As he hath done this day, so . . . —Better, As hath been done this day, so . . . That is, the rites of consecration which have been performed upon you to-day, or the first day, the Lord hath commanded to be repeated every day for seven days.