Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
Ceremonies to be used in consecrating Aaron and his sons, Exo 29:1-3. They are to be washed, Exo 29:4. Aaron is to be clothed with the holy vestments, Exo 29:5, Exo 29:6; to be anointed, Exo 29:7. His sons to be clothed and girded, Exo 29:8, Exo 29:9. They are to offer a bullock for a sin-offering, Exo 29:10-14; and a ram for a burnt-offering, Exo 29:15-18; and a second ram for a consecration-offering, Exo 29:19-22. A loaf, a cake, and a wafer or thin cake, for a wave-offering, Exo 29:23-25. The breast of the wave-offering and the shoulder of the heave-offering to be sanctified, Exo 29:26-28. Aaron's vestments to descend to his son, who shall succeed him, Exo 29:29, Exo 29:30. Aaron and his sons to eat the flesh of the ram of consecration, Exo 29:31, Exo 29:32. No stranger to eat of it, Exo 29:33. Nothing of it to be left till the morning, but to be burnt with fire, Exo 29:34. Seven days to be employed in consecrating Aaron and his sons, Exo 29:35-37. Two lambs, one for the morning and the other for the evening sacrifice, to be offered continually, Exo 29:38-42. God promises to sanctify Israel with his glory, and to dwell among them, Exo 29:43-46.
Take one young bullock - This consecration did not take place till after the erection of the tabernacle. See Lev 8:9-14.
Unleavened bread - Three kinds of bread as to its form are mentioned here, but all unleavened:
1. מצות matstsoth, unleavened bread, no matter in what shape. See Exo 12:8.
2. חלת challoth, cakes, pricked or perforated, as the root implies.
3. רקיקי rekikey, an exceeding thin cake, from רק rak, to be attenuated, properly enough translated wafer. The manner in which these were prepared is sufficiently plain from the text, and probably these were the principal forms in which flour was prepared for household use during their stay in the wilderness.
These were all waved before the Lord, Exo 29:24, as an acknowledgment that the bread that sustains the body, as well as the mercy which saves the soul, comes from God alone.
Thou - shalt wash them - This was done emblematically, to signify that they were to put away all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of God; Co2 7:1.
Thou shalt take the garments - As most offices of spiritual and secular dignity had appropriate habits and insignia, hence, when a person was appointed to an office and habited for the purpose, he was said to be invested with that office, from in, used intensively, and vestio, I clothe, because he was then clothed with the vestments peculiar to that office.
Then shalt thou take the anointing oil - It appears, from Isa 61:1, that anointing with oil, in consecrating a person to any important office, whether civil or religious, was considered as an emblem of the communication of the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit. This ceremony was used on three occasions, viz., the installation of prophets, priests, and kings, into their respective offices. But why should such an anointing be deemed necessary? Because the common sense of men taught them that all good, whether spiritual or secular, must come from God, its origin and cause. Hence it was taken for granted,
1. That no man could foretell events unless inspired by the Spirit of God. And therefore the prophet was anointed, to signify the communication of the Spirit of wisdom and knowledge.
2. That no person could offer an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of men, or profitably minister in holy things, unless enlightened, influenced, and directed by the Spirit of grace and holiness. Hence the priest was anointed, to signify his being Divinely qualified for the due performance of his sacred functions.
3. That no man could enact just and equitable laws, which should have the prosperity of the community and the welfare of the individual continually in view, or could use the power confided to him only for the suppression of vice and the encouragement of virtue, but that man who was ever under the inspiration of the Almighty.
Hence kings were inaugurated by anointing with oil. Two of these officers only exist in all civilized nations, the sacerdotal and regal; and in some countries the priest and king are still consecrated by anointing. In the Hebrew language משח mashach signifies to anoint, and משיח mashiach, the anointed person. But as no man was ever dignified by holding the three offices, so no person ever had the title mashiach, the anointed one, but Jesus the Christ. He alone is King of kings and Lord of lords: the king who governs the universe, and rules in the hearts of his followers; the prophet, to instruct men in the way wherein they should go; and the great high priest, to make atonement for their sins. Hence he is called the Messias, a corruption of the word המשיח hammashiach, The anointed One, in Hebrew; which gave birth to ὁ Χριστος, ho Christos, which has precisely the same signification in Greek. Of him, Melchizedek, Abraham, Aaron, David, and others were illustrious types. But none of these had the title of The Messiah, or The Anointed of God. This does, and ever will, belong exclusively to Jesus the Christ.
Shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock - By this rite the animal was consecrated to God, and was then proper to be offered in sacrifice. Imposition of hands also signified that they offered the life of this animal as an atonement for their sins, and to redeem their lives from that death which, through their sinfulness, they had deserved. In the case of the sin-offering and trespass-offering, the person who brought the sacrifice placed his hands on the head of the animal between the horns, and confessed his sin over the sin-offering, and his trespass over the trespass-offering, saying, "I have sinned, I have done iniquity; I have trespassed, and have done thus and thus; and do return by repentance before thee, and with this I make atonement." Then the animal was considered as vicariously bearing the sins of the person who brought it - Exo 29:14
It is a sin-offering - See Clarke's note on Gen 4:7; See Clarke's note on Gen 13:13; See Clarke's note on Lev 7:1, etc.
It is a burnt-offering - See Clarke's note on Lev 7:1, etc.
The other ram - There were two rams brought on this occasion: one was for a burnt-offering, and was to be entirely consumed; the other was the ram of consecration, Exo 29:22, איל מלאים eil milluim, the ram of filling up, because when a person was dedicated or consecrated to God, his hands were filled with some particular offering proper for the occasion, which he presented to God. Hence the word consecration signifies the filling up or filling the hands, some part of the sacrifice being put into the hands of such persons, denoting thereby that they had now a right to offer sacrifices and oblations to God. It seems in reference to this ancient mode of consecration, that in the Church of England, when a person is ordained priest, a Bible is put into his hands with these words, "Take thou authority to preach the word of God, etc. The filling the hands refers also to the presents which, in the eastern countries, every inferior was obliged to bring when brought into the presence of a superior. Thus the sacrifice was considered, not only as an atonement for sin, but also as a means of approach and as a present to Jehovah.
Take of his blood - The putting the blood of the sacrifice on the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, was doubtless intended to signify that they should dedicate all their faculties and powers to the service of God; their ears to the hearing and study of his law, their hands to diligence in the sacred ministry and to all acts of obedience, and their feet to walking in the way of God's precepts. And this sprinkling appears to have been used to teach them that they could neither hear, work, nor walk profitably, uprightly, and well-pleasing in the sight of God, without this application of the blood of the sacrifice. And as the blood of rams, bulls, and goats, could never take away sin, does not this prove to us that something infinitely better is shadowed out, and that we can do nothing holy and pure in the sight of a just and holy God, but through the blood of atonement? See Clarke's note on Exo 30:20.
The fat and the rump - The rump or tail of some of the eastern sheep is the best part of the animal, and is counted a great delicacy. They are also very large, some of them weighing from twelve to forty pounds' weight; "so that the owners," says Mr. Ludolf, in his History of Ethiopia, "are obliged to tie a little cart behind them, whereon they put the tail of the sheep, as well for the convenience of carriage, and to ease the poor creature, as to preserve the wool from dirt, and the tail from being torn among the bushes and stones." An engraving of this kind of sheep, his tall, cart, etc., may be seen at p. 53 of the above work.
And one loaf of bread - The bread of different kinds, (see Clarke on Exo 29:2 (note)), in this offering, seems to have been intended as a minchah, or offering of grateful acknowledgment for providential blessings. The essence of worship consisted in acknowledging God,
1. As the Creator, Governor, and Preserver of all things, and the Dispenser of every good and perfect gift.
2. As the Judge of men, the Punisher of sin, and he who alone could pardon it.
The minchahs, heave-offerings, wave-offerings, and thank-offerings, referred to the first point. The burnt-offerings, sin-offerings, and sacrifices in general, referred to the second.
For a wave-offering - See Clarke's note on Lev 7:1 etc., where an ample account of all the offerings, sacrifices, etc., under the Mosaic dispensation, and the reference they bore to the great sacrifice offered by Christ, is given in detail.
Thou shalt receive them of their hands - Aaron and his sons are here considered merely as any common persons bringing an offering to God, and not having, as yet, any authority to present it themselves, but through the medium of a priest. Moses, therefore, was now to Aaron and his sons what they were afterwards to the children of Israel; and as the minister of God he now consecrates them to the sacred office, and presents their offerings to Jehovah.
The breast of the wave-offering, and the shoulder of the heave-offering - As the wave-offering was agitated to and fro, and the heave-offering up and down, some have conceived that this twofold action represented the figure of the cross, on which the great Peace-offering between God and man was offered in the personal sacrifice of our blessed Redeemer. Had we authority for this conjecture, it would certainly cast much light on the meaning and intention of these offerings; and when the intelligent reader is informed that one of the most judicious critics in the whole republic of letters is the author of this conjecture, viz., Houbigant, he will treat it with respect. I shall here produce his own words on this verse:
Hic distinguuntur, תנופה et תרומה, ut ejusdem oblationis caeremoniae duae. In תנופה significatur, moveri oblatam victimam huc et illuc, ad dextram et ad sinistram. In תרומה sursum tolli, et sublatam rursus deprimi; nam pluribus vicibus id fiebat. Rem sic interpretantur Judaei; et Christianos docent, quanquam id non agentes, sic adumbrari eam crucem, in quam generis humani victima illa pacifica sublata est, quam veteres victimae omnes praenunciabant.
"The heave-offering and wave-offering, as two ceremonies in the same oblation, are here distinguished. The wave-offering implies that the victim was moved hither and thither, to the right hand and to the left; the heave-offering was lifted up and down, and this was done several times. In this way the Jews explain these things, and teach the Christians, that by these acts the cross was adumbrated, upon which that Peace-offering of the human race was lifted up which was prefigured by all the ancient victims."
The breast and the shoulder, thus waved and heaved, were by this consecration appointed to be the priests' portion for ever; and this, as Mr. Ainsworth piously remarks, "taught the priests how, with all their heart and all their strength, they should give themselves unto the service of the Lord in his Church." Moses, as priest, received on this occasion the breast and the shoulder, which became afterwards the portion of the priests; see Exo 29:28, and Lev 7:34. It is worthy of remark, that although Moses himself had no consecration to the sacerdotal office, yet he acts here as high priest, consecrates a high priest, and receives the breast and the shoulder, which were the priests' portion! But Moses was an extraordinary messenger, and derived his authority, without the medium of rites or ceremonies, immediately from God himself. It does not appear that Christ either baptized the twelve apostles, or ordained them by imposition of hands; yet, from his own infinite sufficiency, he gave them authority both to baptize, and to lay on hands, in appointing others to the work of the sacred ministry. Exo 29:29
The holy garments - shall be his son's after him - These garments were to descend from father to son, and no new garments were to be made.
Seven days - The priest in his consecration was to abide seven days and nights at the door of the tabernacle, keeping the Lord's watch. See Lev 8:33, etc. The number seven is what is called among the Hebrews a number of perfection; and it is often used to denote the completion, accomplishment, fullness, or perfection of a thing, as this period contained the whole course of that time in which God created the world, and appointed the day of rest. As this act of consecration lasted seven days, it signified a perfect consecration: and intimated to the priest that his whole body and soul, his time and talents, should be devoted to the service of God and his people.
The number seven, which was a sacred number among the Hebrews, was conveyed from them down to the Greeks by means of the Egyptian philosophy, from which they borrowed most of their mysteries; and it is most likely that the opinion which the Greeks give is the same that the original framers of the idea had. That there was some mystical idea attached to it, is evident from its being made the number of perfection among the Hebrews. Philo and Josephus say that the Essenes, an ancient sect of the Jews, held it sacred "because it results from the side of a square added to those of a triangle." But what meaning does this convey? A triangle, or triad, according to the Pythagoreans, who borrowed their systems from the Egyptians, who borrowed from the Jews, was the emblem of wisdom, as consisting of beginning (Monad), middle (Duad), and end (Triad itself); so wisdom consists of three parts - experience of the past, attention to the present, and judgment of the future. It is also the most penetrating of all forms, as being the shape of the wedge; and indestructibility is essential to it, as a triangle can never be destroyed. From those three properties it was the emblem of spirit. The square, solid, and tetrad, by the same system were interchangeable signs. Now a square is the representation of a solid or matter, and thus the number seven contains within itself the properties of both the triangle or solid, and the square or tetrad, i.e., is all emblem of body and spirit; comprehends both the intellectual and natural world; embraces the idea of God, the chief of spirits or essences; and all nature, the result of his power; thus a very fit emblem of perfection. It is perhaps in this way that we must explain what Cicero, Tusc. Quest., lib. i., cap. 10, says of the number seven, where he calls it the knot and cement of all things; as being that by which the natural and spiritual world are comprehended in one idea. Thus the ancient philosophers spoke of numbers, themselves being the best judges of their own meaning.
But a stranger shall not eat thereof - That is, no person who was not of the family of Aaron - no Israelite, and not even a Levite.
Burn the remainder with fire - Common, voluntary, and peace-offerings, might be eaten even on the second day; see Lev 7:16; Lev 19:5, Lev 19:6. But this being a peculiar consecration, in order to qualify a person to offer sacrifices for sin, like that great sacrifice, the paschal lamb, that typified the atonement made by Christ, none of it was to be left till the morning lest putrefaction should commence, which would be utterly improper in a sacrifice that was to make expiation for sin, and bring the soul into a state of holiness and perfection with God. See Clarke's note on Exo 12:10.
Thou shalt cleanse the altar - The altar was to be sanctified for seven days; and it is likely that on each day, previously to the consecration service, the altar was wiped clean, and the former day's ashes, etc., removed.
Whatsoever touches the altar shall be holy - To this our Lord refers Mat 23:19, where he says the altar sanctifies the gift; and this may be understood as implying that whatever was laid on the altar became the Lord's property, and must be wholly devoted to sacred uses, for in no other sense could such things be sanctified by touching the altar.
One lamb thou shalt offer in the morning - These two lambs, one in the morning, and the other in the evening, were generally termed the morning and evening daily sacrifices, and were offered from the time of their settlement in the promised land to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. The use of these sacrifices according to the Jews was this: "The morning sacrifice made atonement for the sins committed in the night, and the evening sacrifice expiated the sins committed during the day."
A tenth deal of flour - Deal signifies a part, from the Anglo-Saxon word, to divide; hence, a part, a portion taken from the whole. From Num 28:5 we learn that this tenth deal was the tenth part of an ephah, which constituted what is called an omer. See Exo 16:36; and see Clarke's note on Exo 16:16 of the same chapter, where an account is given of different measures of capacity among the Hebrews. The omer contained about three quarts English.
The fourth part of a hin - The hin contained one gallon and two pints. The fourth part of this was about one quart and a half of a pint.
Drink-offering - A libation poured out before the Lord. See its meaning, Lev 7:1, etc.
There I will meet with the children of Israel - See Clarke's note on Exo 25:22.
I will sanctify - both Aaron and his sons - So we find the sanctification by Moses according to the Divine institution was only symbolical; and that Aaron and his sons must be sanctified, i.e., made holy, by God himself before they could officiate in holy things. From this, as well as from many other things mentioned in the sacred writings, we may safely infer that no designation by man only is sufficient to qualify any person to fill the office of a minister of the sanctuary. The approbation and consecration of man have both their propriety and use, but must never be made substitutes for the unction and inspiration of the Almighty. Let holy men ordain, but let God sanctify; then we may expect that his Church shall be built up on its most holy faith.
I will dwell among the children of Israel - This is the great charter of the people of God, both under the Old and New Testaments; see Exo 25:8; Lev 26:11, Lev 26:12; Co2 6:16; Rev 21:3. God dwells Among them: he is ever to be found in his Church to enlighten, quicken, comfort, and support it; to dispense the light of life by the preaching of his word, and the influences of his Spirit for the conviction and conversion of sinners. And he dwells In those who believe; and this is the very tenor of the New Covenant which God promised to make with the house of Israel; see Jer 31:31-34; Eze 37:24-28; Heb 8:7-12; and Co2 6:16. And because God had promised to dwell in all his genuine followers, hence the frequent reference to this covenant and its privileges in the New Testament. And hence it is so frequently and strongly asserted that every believer is a habitation of God through the Spirit, Eph 2:22. That the Spirit of God witnesses with their spirits that they are the children of God, Rom 8:16. That the Spirit of Christ in their hearts enables them to call God their Father, Gal 4:6. And that if any man have not this Spirit, he is none of his, Rom 8:9, etc. And hence St. Paul states this to be the sum and substance of apostolical preaching, and the riches of the glory of the mystery of the Gospel among the Gentiles, viz., Christ In you the hope of glory; whom, says he, we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect In Christ Jesus; Col 1:27, Col 1:28.
And they shall know that I am the Lord their God - That is, They shall acknowledge God, and their infinite obligations to him. In a multitude of places in Scripture the word know should be thus understood.
That I may dwell among them - For without this acknowledgment and consequent dependence on and gratitude and obedience to God, they could not expect him to dwell among them.
By dwelling among the people God shows that he would be a continual resident in their houses and in their hearts; that he would be their God - the sole object of their religious worship, to whom they should turn and on whom they should trust in all difficulties and distresses; and that he would be to them all that the Creator could be to his creatures. That in consequence they should have a full conviction of his presence and blessing, and a consciousness that He was their God, and that they were his people. Thus then God dwells among men that they may know him; and they must know him that he may continue to dwell among them. He who does not experimentally know God, cannot have him as an indwelling Savior; and he who does not continue to know - to acknowledge, love, and obey him, cannot retain him as his Preserver and Sanctifier. From the beginning of the world, the salvation of the souls of men necessarily implied the indwelling influences of God. Reader, hast thou this salvation? This alone will support thee in all thy travels in this wilderness, comfort thee in death, and give thee boldness in the day of judgment. "He," says an old writer, "who has pardon may look his judge in the face."