Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man of you bring an offering to the LORD…
How laborious, protracted, and intricate a system was this Mosaic worship by presentation! Yet how imposing! No religious ritual of ancient or modern times has appealed more forcibly to the eye or the imagination. It was a stirring and suggestive sight, beyond all question, which greeted such an one as a Levite, as he stood in early morning within the court of the Tabernacle ready to perform those more menial offices to which he had been appointed. Around him ran the white curtains of the sacred enclosure, relieved at regular intervals by the dull gold of the copper uprights and the gleam of the silver capitals. A few paces from where he watches, the more favoured members of his tribe, bearded, clad in their priestly robes of white and their parti-coloured girdles, are standing barefoot near the altar of burnt-offering, on the hearth of which the remnants of last night's sacrifice are still burning, or possibly purifying themselves at the laver in preparation for their sacred duties. The lamb for the morning sacrifice is slain and burnt before his eyes; and a few moments afterwards, the high priest, in his official robes of white and blue, "Holiness to the Lord" glistening in gold upon his fair mitre, the jewelled breastplate flashing in the sun, is passing to the Holy Place, the golden bells and pomegranates at the fringe of his tunic ringing as he goes, Perhaps, as holy hands draw aside the curtain of the sanctuary, a glimpse is caught of the consecrated space within, lit by the golden candlestick and hazy with incense from the golden altar; or, if the interior is sealed, there nevertheless is the tent of Jehovah, its gorgeous parti-coloured curtain in full view, and its immediate covering of blue and gold and scarlet and purple worked upon white, with cherubim, just visible beneath the outer awnings; and the onlooker knew that within, not far from the ark and the mercy-seat and the Shechinah, which were hidden behind the veil, the high priest was performing Divine service, and meeting with Jehovah under exceptional privileges. As private members of the chosen race come streaming in with their offerings, the more active duties of the day begin. At one time, one who has inadvertently broken some commandment of the law is watching the blood of the sin-offering, which he has just brought and killed with his own hand, as it is smeared in atonement upon the horns of the altar; at another, the priest is listening over the head of a ram to a confession of fraud, and computing the amount of monetary indemnity to be paid. 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. Here, in joyful recognition of the Divine favour, a solitary worshipper is presenting a burnt-offering; there, recumbent upon the holy soil, a whole family are merrily partaking of the remains of a peace-offering. 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. Possibly, as the day advances, a consecration to the priesthood is impressively performed. And these and other ceremonies are maintained the whole year round. As the Jewish calendar ran its course in those times, exceptional, alas I when the religious sense of the nation was quick and its practice scrupulous, it was as if one long bleat, one incessant lowing, filled the air; it was as if one long, continuous stream of sacrificial blood choked the runnels of the court. The year opened with the evening sacrifice and the new moon celebration, the expiring flames of which were fed next day by the ordinary morning sacrifice and by a round of individual presentations, which must sometimes have known no interruption until the smoke of the evening sacrifice again rose into the air and another day began. Day after day the customary ceremonial was repeated, till the Sabbath twilight fell and double sacrifices were slaughtered. On the fourteenth day of the first month came the solemn celebration of the Passover, when in every home, with devout recollections and enthusiastic hopes, a Paschal lamb was spread upon the board. Then followed the seven days of Unleavened Bread, with their customary and holy-day ritual, bringing at length, after the repeated diurnal, sabbatic, and mensual formalities, the fuller slaughter of Pentecost. Day after day, Sabbath after Sabbath, new moon after new moon, the authorised worship was again continued, until there came a break to the monotony once more on the first day of the seventh month in the Feast of Trumpets, and on the tenth day of the same month in the awful and grave procedure of the Day of Atonement, followed after five days' interval by the singular and more grateful worship of the Feast of Tabernacles. The year was afterwards brought to a close by the common series of daily, weekly, and monthly effusions of blood.
(A. Caves, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.