Leviticus 9:24
And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
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(24) And there came a fire.—As a further indication of His acceptance of all the forementioned rites, the Lord sent forth from the luminous cloud flashes of fire, which, on this occasion, suddenly consumed in the sight of the people the victims that ordinarily continued smouldering on the altar all the day and all the night. In this manner God afterwards testified His acceptance of the sacrifice of Gideon (Judges 6:20-21), of Elijah, (1Kings 18:28), and of the sacrifices of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple (2Chronicles 7:1-2). Tradition assures us that the sacred fire which thus issued forth from the immediate presence of God continued to be nourished on the altar with the fuel especially provided by the congregation, and constituted the perpetual fire. (See Leviticus 6:13.)

They shouted, and fell on their faces.—On seeing these visible tokens of the Divine acceptance of the services, the people expressed their thankfulness in the same manner as they showed it on a similar occasion. Thus we are told—“When all the sons of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord shone 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” (2Chronicles 27:3).

Leviticus 9:24. And there came a fire — In token of God’s approbation of the priesthood now instituted, and the sacrifices offered, and consequently of others of the like nature. And this fire now given was to be carefully kept, and not suffered to go out, (Leviticus 6:13,) and therefore was carried in a peculiar vessel in their journeys in the wilderness. It is said to have lasted till the time of Solomon, when God sent fire anew from heaven to consume the sacrifices offered at the dedication of the temple. And that again is said to have been preserved till the destruction of that first temple. From before the Lord — Or, From the presence of the Lord; that is, from the place where God was in a special manner present, either from heaven or from the holy of holies. They shouted — As wondering at, rejoicing in, and blessing God for, this gracious discovery of himself, and his favour.

This also was a figure of good things to come. Thus the Spirit descended in fire upon the apostles, so ratifying their commission, as this did that of the priests. And the descent of this holy fire into our souls, to kindle in them devout affections, and such a holy zeal as burns up all unholiness, is a certain token of God’s gracious acceptance.

9:22-24 When the solemnity was finished, and the blessing pronounced, God testified his acceptance. There came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed the sacrifice. This fire might justly have fastened upon the people, and have consumed them for their sins; but its consuming the sacrifice signified God's acceptance of it, as an atonement for the sinner. This also was a figure of good things to come. The Spirit descended upon the apostles in fire. And the descent of this holy fire into our souls, to kindle in them pious and devout affections toward God, and such a holy zeal as burns up the flesh and the lusts of it, is a certain token of God's gracious acceptance of our persons and performances. Nothing goes to God, but what comes from him. We must have grace, that holy fire, from the God of grace, else we cannot serve him acceptably, Heb 12:28. The people were affected with this discovery of God's glory and grace. They received it with the highest joy; triumphing in the assurance given them that they had God nigh unto them. And with the lowest reverence; humbly adoring the majesty of that God, who vouchsafed thus to manifest himself to them. That is a sinful fear of God, which drives us from him; a gracious fear makes us bow before him.The very ancient Jewish tradition has been widely adopted that the sacred fire of the altar originated in this divine act, and that it was afterward preserved on the altar of the tabernacle until the dedication of the temple, when fire again "came down from heaven." 2 Chronicles 7:1. But according to the sacred narrative the altar-fire had been lighted in a natural way before this occasion. (Compare Leviticus 8:16; Leviticus 9:10, Leviticus 9:13, etc.; Exodus 40:29.) It would therefore seem that the fire which "came out from before the Lord" manifested itself, according to the words of Leviticus 9:24, not in kindling the fuel on the altar, but in the sudden consuming of the victim. For the like testimony to the acceptance of a sacrifice, see Judges 13:19-20; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26, and probably Genesis 4:4. The phrase to turn a sacrifice to ashes, became equivalent to accepting it (Psalm 20:3, see the margin). The fire of the altar was maintained in accordance with Leviticus 6:13. 24. there came a fire out from … the Lord—A flame emanating from that resplendent light that filled the holy place flashed upon the brazen altar and kindled the sacrifices. This miraculous fire—for the descent of which the people had probably been prepared, and which the priests were enjoined never to let go out (Le 6:13)—was a sign, not only of the acceptance of the offerings and of the establishment of Aaron's authority, but of God's actual residence in that chosen dwelling-place. The moment the solemn though welcome spectacle was seen, a simultaneous shout of joy and gratitude burst from the assembled congregation, and in the attitude of profoundest reverence they worshipped "a present Deity." There came a fire, in token of God’s acceptation and approbation of the priesthood now instituted, and the sacrifices now offered, and consequently of others of the like nature. See the like instances, Judges 6:21 13:19,20 1 Chronicles 21:26. And this fire now given was to be carefully kept, and not suffered to go out, Leviticus 6:13, and therefore was carried in a peculiar vessel in their journeys in the wilderness.

From before the Lord; or, from the face or presence of the Lord; i.e. from the place where God was in a special manner present: either,

1. From heaven, as 1 Kings 18:38 2 Chronicles 7:1, which is oft called God’s dwelling-place, as Deu 26:15 Isaiah 63:15. Or,

2. From the holy of holies, where also God is said to dwell, 2 Kings 19:15 2 Chronicles 6:2 Psalm 80:1. And what is done before the ark is said to be done before God, as 1 Chronicles 13:8,10 16:1, &c. And this may seem more probable by comparing this with Leviticus 10:2.

They shouted; as wondering at, rejoicing in, and blessing God for this wonderful and gracious discovery of himself, and of his favour to them therein.

And there came a fire out from before the Lord,.... Either from heaven, or from the holy of holies, where was the symbol of the divine Presence, and Jehovah had now took up his residence:

and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering, and the fat; according to Aben Ezra, the burnt offering of Aaron, and of the people, and of the daily sacrifice, for so it is written, besides the burnt offering of the morning, Leviticus 9:17 and the fat of the calf and ram of Aaron, and of the goat, ox, and ram of the people, which though they were laid upon the altar at the time of their offering, yet it is thought by some they were not burnt till now: it is a conjecture of Bishop Patrick's, that this burnt offering was the burnt offering of the evening sacrifice, which was consumed by the fire from the Lord; he supposes that the offering of the above sacrifices had taken up the whole day, from the time of the morning sacrifice until the evening; and that all the other sacrifices were burnt with common fire, but this with fire from the Lord; but then, what was the fat that was consumed? however, this was a token of acceptance; in like manner as it descended on the sacrifice of Abel, as is thought, Genesis 4:4 and on the sacrifices offered at the dedication of the temple, 2 Chronicles 7:1 and on the burnt sacrifice of Elijah, 1 Kings 18:38 testifying the divine approbation and acceptance of them: for though in the mystery, the fire may design the wrath of God as a consuming fire, which was very distressing to Christ, and brought him to the dust of death; yet, with respect to the persons for whom this sacrifice was offered, it denotes acceptance of it, that it was an offering by fire, and of a sweet smelling savour to God, his law and justice being satisfied, and having honour done them: concerning this fire, and the perpetual burning of it; see Gill on Leviticus 6:12, Leviticus 6:13. The Heathens, in imitation of this, have pretended to have fire come down also from heaven on their altars, as the Brahmans, among the Indians, taken notice of in the above note. And so Solinus (h) speaks of the Vulcanian hill in Sicily, where they that serve in sacred things lay wood of vines on the altar, but put no fire; and if God is present (and so the sacrifice is approved) the branches, though green, will take fire of themselves, and a flame is kindled by the deity sacrificed to, no one setting them on fire. And Servius says (i), that with the ancients fires on altars were not kindled, but they procured a divine fire by their prayers, which kindled on the altars; but these were mere pretences, and juggling tricks, in which they were assisted by Satan to vie with this wonderful appearance of God in the acceptation of the sacrifice of his people:

which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces; Aaron blessing them, and the appearance of the glory of God unto them, no doubt, gave them joy and pleasure, as the spiritual blessings by Christ, and the gracious presence of God do to his people, Psalm 103:1 but what filled them with joy unspeakable was the acceptance of their sacrifices, as typical of the sacrifice of Christ, and atonement by it, which made them shout, and the court to ring with it; and yet fell down on their faces with all reverence and humility, under a sense of the divine Majesty being so near unto them, in this sensible token of his presence.

(h) Polyhistor. c. 11. (i) In Virgil. Aeneid. l. 12. ver. 200.

And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.
24. A second blessing follows after Moses and Aaron come out from the temple. God’s approval is signified, for His servant has returned from His presence with gifts of grace for His people. It is further signified by the appearance of the glory of the Lord (cp. Leviticus 9:4; Leviticus 9:6), and the fire from before the Lord which consumes the Burnt-Offering and the fat. Similar manifestations of approval are recorded in Jdg 6:21; 1 Kings 18:38; 1 Chronicles 21:26. In 2 Chronicles 7:1 the fire comes down from heaven.

24 a is perhaps an interpolation. In Leviticus 9:13; Leviticus 9:16 (cp. Leviticus 8:20) the ‘fat’ is not mentioned in connexion with the Burnt-Offerings, while it is stated (Leviticus 9:13) that Aaron burnt the pieces one by one. Moreover, the sacrifice was already ended (Leviticus 9:22), so that there is difficulty in supposing the fat and burnt-offering to be still upon the altar.

Perhaps the LXX.’s ‘offered’ and ‘put’ for ‘burnt’ in Leviticus 9:13; Leviticus 9:17; Leviticus 9:20 may be influenced by this consideration. This is, however, a somewhat precarious deduction.

Verse 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 fulfillment of the promise that the Lord would appear unto them today, 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 notion of the Divine fire. See 2 Chronicles 7:3.

Leviticus 9:24After this Moses went with him into the tabernacle, to introduce him into the sanctuary, in which he was henceforth to serve the Lord, and to present him to the Lord: not to offer incense, which would undoubtedly have been mentioned; nor yet for the special purpose of praying for the manifestation of the glory of Jehovah, although there can be no doubt that they offered prayer in the sanctuary, and prayed for the blessing of the Lord for the right discharge of the office entrusted to them in a manner well-pleasing to Him. On coming out again they united in bestowing that blessing upon the people which they had solicited for them in the sanctuary. "Then the glory of Jehovah appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the face of Jehovah and consumed the burnt-offering and fat portions upon the altar" (i.e., the sin and peace-offerings, not the thank-offerings merely, as Knobel supposes, according to his mistaken theory). The appearance of the glory of Jehovah is probably to be regarded in this instance, and also in Numbers 16:19; Numbers 17:7, and Numbers 20:6, as the sudden flash of a miraculous light, which proceeded from the cloud that covered the tabernacle, probably also from the cloud in the most holy place, or as a sudden though very momentary change of the cloud, which enveloped the glory of the Lord, into a bright light, from which the fire proceeded in this instance in the form of lightning, and consumed the sacrifices upon the altar. The fire issued "from before the face of Jehovah," i.e., from the visible manifestation of Jehovah. It did not come down from heaven, like the fire of Jehovah, which consumed the sacrifices of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 21:26; 2 Chronicles 7:1).

The Rabbins believe that this divine fire was miraculously sustained upon the altar until the building of Solomon's temple, at the dedication of which it fell from heaven afresh, and then continued until the restoration of the temple-worship under Manasseh (2 Chronicles 33:16; cf. Buxtorf exercitatt. ad histor. ignis sacri, c. 2); and the majority of them maintain still further, that it continued side by side with the ordinary altar-fire, which was kindled by the priests (Leviticus 1:7), and, according to Leviticus 6:6, kept constantly burning by them. The earlier Christian expositors are for the most part of opinion, that the heavenly fire, which proceeded miraculously from God and burned the first sacrifices of Aaron, was afterwards maintained by the priests by natural means (see J. Marckii sylloge diss. philol. theol. ex. vi. ad Leviticus 6:13). But there is no foundation in the Scriptures for either of these views. There is not a syllable about any miraculous preservation of the heavenly fire by the side of the fire which the priests kept burning by natural means. And even the modified opinion of the Christian theologians, that the heavenly fire was preserved by natural means, rests upon the assumption, which there is nothing to justify, that the sacrifices offered by Aaron were first burned by the fire which issued from Jehovah, and therefore that the statements in the text, with reference to the burning of the fat portions and burnt-offerings, or causing them to ascend in smoke (Leviticus 9:10, Leviticus 9:13, Leviticus 9:17, and Leviticus 9:20), are to be regarded as anticipations (per anticipationem accipienda, C. a Lap.), i.e., are to be understood as simply meaning, that when Aaron officiated at the different sacrifices, he merely laid upon the altar the pieces intended for it, but without setting them on fire. The fallacy of this is proved, not only by the verb הקטיר but by the fact implied in Leviticus 9:17, that the offering of these sacrifices, with which Aaron entered upon his office, was preceded by the daily morning burnt-offering, and consequently that at the time when Aaron began to carry out the special sacrifices of this day there was fire already burning upon the altar, and in fact a continual fire, that was never to be allowed to go out (Leviticus 6:6). Even, therefore, if we left out of view the fire of the daily morning and evening sacrifice, which had been offered from the first day on which the tabernacle was erected (Exodus 40:29), there were sacrifices presented every day during the seven days of the consecration of the priests (ch. 8); and according to Leviticus 1:7, Moses must necessarily have prepared the fire for these. If it had been the intention of God, therefore, to originate the altar-fire by supernatural means, this would no doubt have taken place immediately after the erection of the tabernacle, or at least at the consecration of the altar, which was connected with that of the priests, and immediately after it had been anointed (Leviticus 8:11). But as God did not do this, the burning of the altar-sacrifices by a fire which proceeded from Jehovah, as related in this verse, cannot have been intended to give a sanction to the altar-fire as having proceeded from God Himself, which was to be kept constantly burning, either by miraculous preservation, or by being fed in a natural way. The legends of the heathen, therefore, about altar-fires which had been kindled by the gods themselves present no analogy to the fact before us (cf. Serv. ad Aen. xii. 200; Solin. v. 23; Pausan. v. 27, 3; Bochart, Hieroz. lib. ii. c. 35, pp. 378ff.; Dougtaei analect. ss. pp. 79ff.).

The miracle recorded in this verse did not consist in the fact that the sacrificial offerings placed upon the altar were burned by fire which proceeded from Jehovah, but in the fact that the sacrifices, which were already on fire, were suddenly consumed by it. For although the verb תּאכל admits of both meanings, setting on fire and burning up (see Judges 6:21, and 1 Kings 18:38), the word literally denotes consuming or burning up, and must be taken in the stricter and more literal sense in the case before us, inasmuch as there was already fire upon the altar when the sacrifices were placed upon it. God caused this miracle, not to generate a supernatural altar-fire, but ut ordinem sacerdotalem legis veteris a se institutum et suas de sacrificio leges hoc miraculo confirmaret et quasi obsignaret (C. a Lap.), or to express it bore briefly, to give a divine consecration to the altar, or sacrificial service of Aaron and his sons, through which a way was to be opened for the people to His throne of grace, and whereby, moreover, the altar-fire was consecrated eo ipso into a divine, i.e., divinely appointed, means of reconciliation to the community. The whole nation rejoiced at this glorious manifestation of the satisfaction of God with this the first sacrifice of the consecrated priests, and fell down upon their faces to give thanks to the Lord for His mercy.

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