Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
38. Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.
38. Hoc est quod facies super altare, agnos anniculos jugiter in singulos dies.
39. The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even:
39. Agnum unum facies mane, et agnum unum inter duas vesperas.
40. And with the one lamb a tenth-deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.
40. Et decimam partem similae mistae oleo contuso, quartam partem hin et libamen, quartam partem hin vini in agnam unum.
41. And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
41. Agnum alterum facies inter duas vesperas sicut minha matutino, et sicut libamini ejus facies ei in odorem quietis, oblationem ignitam Jehovae.
42. This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations, at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
42. Holocaustum juge in generationes vestras, ad ostium tabernaculi conventionis coram Jehova, quo conveniam vobiscum nt tecum loquar.
43. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
43. Et conveniam illie cum filiis Israel, et locus sanctificabitur in gloria mea.
44. And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest’s office.
44. Sanctificabo tabernaculum conventionis et altare, Aharonem quoque et filios ejus, et sacrificia, ut sacerdotio fungantur mihi.
45. And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
45. Habitaboqne in medio filiorum Israel, et ero ipsis in Deum.
46. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.
46. Et scient quod sum Jehova Dens eorum, qui eduxi eos e terra AEgypti: ut habitarem in medio eorum. Ego Jehova Deus eorum
The custom of sacrificing has always been in use among all nations, and its origin is doubtless to be traced to the ancient Fathers; but after the whole world had fallen away into superstition, first of all, the rites themselves became degenerate, when every one invented something new for himself, and made an absurd mimicry of whatever remained having any similarity, since they no longer retained their proper end and use. All heathendom was ignorant of the reason why it was needful that God should be appeased by blood; and therefore they shed the blood of their victims unreasonably, inasmuch as they did not know themselves to be guilty before God, so as humbly to seek for pardon; and much less did they apply their minds to embrace the atonement, which was not only predestinated in God’s secret counsels, but likewise promised to men. Hence we infer that all the religious services of the Gentiles were rejected of God, (reprobatos,) since they were not based upon His word. Only let this be deemed sure, that, by the very custom of sacrifice, adulterated as it was, they were convicted of their own unworthiness, so that they should have acknowledged that God can only be propitiated towards the human race through the medium of a reconciliation. Foolish, then, was the philosophy of Pythagoras, which held that God’s name was contaminated by sacrifices; for thus does the Poet introduce him, inveighing against the eating of flesh, (εἰς τὴν σαρκοφαγίαν)
"Nor will the sin itself their hearts content:
The very gods must share that guilty deed,
And He, they think, who reigns omnipotent,
Joys to behold the patient victim bleed.
Spotless it stands, of perfect form confess’d,
(Its beauty nerves the hand which else might spare,)
Before the shrine, with gold and fillets dress’d,
And all unconscious, hears its murderer’s prayer.
It sees the fruits itself has toiled to rear
Placed on its horned brow; and as the blow
Descends, perchance the blood-stained knives appear,
Mirror’d before it in the streamlet’s flow.” 228
He 229 was pained that an innocent animal should be slain for man’s sin; but he might have considered, what it was gross ignorance not to feel, that men are but too impudently audacious and foolhardy if they come into God’s presence to ask His pardon, seeing that He is justly offended with them all. There is, therefore, nothing absurd in submitting to the eyes of sinners that judgment of death which they deserve, in order that, descending into themselves, they may begin seriously to abominate the sin in which they fondly indulged themselves. But this was the chief cause of the error of Pythagoras, that he knew not that God could not be reconciled without an expiation. Since, however, this is a thing which is beyond the reach of the human mind, let us, who have ever truly sought after God, learn, under the guidance and teaching of Scripture, that He has appointed the propitiation to be by blood; so that, before the delivery of the Law, religion was always sanctioned by sacrifices. Nor can it be doubted but that by the sacred inspiration of the Spirit, the holy fathers were directed to the Mediator, by whose death God was hereafter to be appeased; and surely if Christ be put out of sight, all the sacrifices that may be offered differ in no respect from mere profane butchery. But afterwards a clearer revelation was added in the Law; and since many modes of sacrificing were heaped together by the Gentiles, God left out no part of them at all which might afford a profitable exercise for believers, whether their piety was to be testified, or thanksgivings to be made, or zeal to be added to their prayers, or purification to be sought, or sins to be atoned for. Yet the twofold division of them is complete and clear when we say that some of them were expiatory, and others testimonies of gratitude. Thus, under the first head I include the rites of consecration, by which God would have the priests initiated, since purification was their main object. Moreover, since it is plain that God can listen to no prayers without the intercession of Christ, the constant morning and evening sacrifice was instituted to consecrate the prayers of the Church; and, even when they only celebrated the bounties of God, blood was shed, that they might know that not even their gratitude was acceptable to Him, except through the sacrifice of the Mediator; in a word, that nothing pure can proceed from men unless purged by blood.
38. Now this is that which thou shalt offer. I have thought it well to give the first place among the sacrifices to that daily one which is called the continual sacrifice; for God would have two lambs offered to Him every morning and evening, that the people might perpetually exercise themselves in the recollection of the future reconciliation. But, although the sacrifices were constantly repeated under the Law, inasmuch as their offering had no efficacy in expiating sin, yet it must be observed that, as the priest entered once every year into the holy of holies with blood, so it was profitable that another kind of victim should be daily set before the people’s eyes, in order that they might reflect that they had constant need of being reconciled to God. Propitiation was, therefore, daily made with two lambs, that the Israelites, being reminded of their guilt and condemnation, from the beginning to the end of the day, might learn to fly to God’s mercy. The lamb chosen for this sacrifice was spotless and entire, for the mention of its age (one year) implies its perfection or entireness. It was offered with a cake made with oil, and a libation of wine; and doubtless the ancients were reminded by these symbols that it is not lawful to offer anything tasteless to God. True that God was not gratified by their sweet savor, neither did He desire to accustom the priests to delicacies that they might be epicures under color of religion; for the scent of wine cannot in itself be pleasing to God; but the object of these seasonings was that the people should not rest in the bare and empty figures, but should acknowledge that something better and more excellent underlay them. The savor of the wine and oil, then, was nothing else than the spiritual truth; that the people, for their part., might bring to the sacrifices faith and repentance. And assuredly the external ceremony without the reality would have been mere folly. Even heathen nations partially imitated this rite; whence those words of Horace, —
"Utque sacerdotis fugitivus, liba recuso:” 230
"And like a runaway from priests, cakes I refuse:"
whereby he implies that cakes were universally offered to idols. But this was a mere blind mimicry, for they looked no higher, but thought that their gods took delight, like, human beings, in sweet and delicate foods; whilst, as I have above hinted, God’s intention was very different; for, by the, external savor, He desired to arouse His people, so that, being affected by a serious feeling of repentance, and by pure faith, they should seek for the remission of their sins, not in these lambs which they saw slain, but in the victim promised to them. They called it the “continual” sacrifice, because God commanded it to be offered continually through all generations; but it appears from Daniel that it was temporary, for it ceased at the coming of Christ; for so speaks the angel: Christ
"shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the continual sacrifice, and the oblation (minha) to cease.” 231 (Da 9:27.)
It is clear that he speaks of this kind of sacrifice. Hence we assuredly gather that by this sacrifice the minds of the people were directed to Christ. But if this was its use and object with the ancients, the profit of it now returns upon us, that we may know that whatever was then shewn under the figure was fulfilled in Christ. God promises that this sacrifice would be to Him “a savor of rest.” 232 We may not, therefore, doubt but that He has been altogether propitiated to us by the sacrifices of His only-begotten Son, and has remitted our sins. But although Christ was once offered, that by that one offering He might consecrate us for ever to God, yet by this daily sacrifice under the Law, we learn that by the benefit of His death pardon is always ready for us, as Paul says 233 that God continually reconciles Himself to the Church when He sets before it the sacrifice of Christ in the Gospel As to the word minha, 234 although it is derived from, נחה nachah, which means to offer, still we must consider it to be peculiarly applied to this oblation, which was a kind of appendix to the daily sacrifice. There are some, too, who restrict it to the evening sacrifice alone, but, when it is used in connection with victims, it is also extended generally to other offerings.
42. At the door of the tabernacle 235 of the congregation. This passage shews us in what sense the word מועד mogned, is used, when it is employed in connection with the tabernacle. Some translate it “testimony:” others, “church:” others, “assembly,” (conventum;) others, “appointment,” (constitutum;) but its etymology is sufficiently shewn in this passage; for, when Moses gives the reason of its appellation, he uses the word יגד yagnad, from whence it is derived. What, then, is the tabernacle of the convention? God Himself answers, that it is the place which He has chosen and appointed unto His people, that they may there mutually come to agreement with each other. Some conceive its root to be, עדה gnadah, which is to make protestation as by a solemn rite; but since this is opposed to grammar, I will take what is certain. The word יעד yagnad, in this construction, means to contract or agree with another, or at least to meet for the transaction of mutual business; no word, therefore, has appeared to me more nearly equivalent to it than convention; for the fact that God invited them to familiar colloquy, was of the greatest weight in preserving the modest reverence of the faithful towards the priests. In the next verse He repeats to them, addressing them in the third person, that whosoever shall desire to be reckoned among the Israelites, should not turn away or wander elsewhere; for a law is laid down for all the children of Israel, that they should seek God there. Another confirmation is subjoined, i.e., that this place ought to be sanctified, because God will there magnificently display His glory. In fine, from the whole passage, it appears that God’s design was to keep the people bound to Him by the tie of the Levitical priesthood; yet we must observe that it is God alone who sanctifies both the place and the offerings, as well as the men themselves. Wherefore frivolous is the boast of those who arrogate more than God has conferred upon them. If we believe the Pope, in him is the holiness of holiness; yet, since he does not produce God’s authority for this, but vaunts himself of titles invented without foundation, we may safely laugh at his stupid impudence. But from this and similar passages, our doctrine is taken that Christ ought not to be estimated humanly, but according to His heavenly and divine power. Hence, too, is refuted the boast of the Popish priests that they offer Christ; for we must always ask them, By what authority? since God claims for Himself alone this right of sanctifying those who exercise the lawful priesthood.
46. And they shall know that I am the Lord. In these words God signifies that He has not only been the deliverer of His people on one occasion, but with the object of presiding over their welfare, and of demonstrating practically that He dwells among them. He, moreover, appointed the sanctuary to be the symbol of His presence, and, as it were, its pledge; from whence He would have the rule of piety proceed, and be sought for by His worshippers.
Ovid Metam. 15:127. The version here attempted is at least literal. That in Garth’s Translation, though sanctioned by a great name, is but a poor paraphrase. The Fr. omits the whole quotation. The original stands thus, —
"Nec satis est quod tale nefas committitur: ipsos
Inscripsêre deos sceleri, numenque supernum
Ctede laboriferi credunt gaudere juvenci.
Victima labe carens, et prtestantissima form’a,
(Nam placuisse nocet) vittis prsesignis et auro
Sistitur ante aras, auditque ignara precantem;
Imponique sum videt inter cornua fronti
Quas colttit fruges: percussaque sanguine cultros
Inficit in liquid& prmvisos forsitan unda."
“Ce fantastique, etc.” — Fr.
Hor. Epis. 1 10:10.
A. V., “The sacrifice and the oblation to cease."
See Nu 28:2. Margin, A. V. “a savor of my rest."
The reference here is to 2Co 7:2, a misprint, I presume, for 2Co 6:2.
מנחה, A. V., “meat offering.” In deriving this word from, נחה, C. follows S. M.; but later lexicographers observe that this verb means to go or lead, and not to offer; while they tell us that the root מנח has been preserved in Arabic, and signifies to give freely. — W.
“Conventionis:” of the convention. — Lat.