Hebrews 9:19
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people,
Jump to: BarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGSBGillGrayGuzikHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKJTLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBVWSWESTSK
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people - When he had recited all the Law, and had given all the commandments entrusted him to deliver; Exodus 24:3.

He took the blood of calves and of goats - This passage has given great perplexity to commentators from the fact that Moses in his account of the transactions connected with the ratification of the covenant with the people, Exodus 24, mentions only a part of the circumstances here referred to. He says nothing of the blood of calves and of goats; nothing of water, and scarletwool, and hyssop; nothing of sprinkling the book, the tabernacle, or the vessels of the ministry. It has been made a question, therefore, whence Paul obtained a knowledge of these circumstances? Since the account is not contained in the Old Testament, it must have been either by tradition, or by direct inspiration. The latter supposition is hardly probable, because:

(1) the information here can hardly be regarded as of sufficient importance to have required an original revelation; for the illustration would have had sufficient force to sustain his conclusion if the literal account in Exodus only had been given, that Moses sprinkled the people, but

(2) such an original act of inspiration here would not have been consistent with the object of the apostle. In that argument it was essential that he should state only the facts about the ancient dispensation which were admitted by the Hebrews themselves. Any statement of his own about things which they did not concede to be true, or which was not well understood as a custom, might have been called in question, and would have done much to invalidate the entire force of the argument. It is to be presumed, therefore, that the facts here referred to had been preserved by tradition; and in regard to this, and the authority due to such a tradition, we may remark:

(1) that it is well known that the Jews had a great number of traditions which they carefully preserved;

(2) that there is no improbability in the supposition that many events in their history would be preserved in this manner, since in the small compass of a volume like the Old Testament it cannot be presumed that all the events of their nation had been recorded;

(3) though they had many traditions of a trifling nature, and many which were false (compare notes on Matthew 15:2), yet they doubtless had many that were true;

(4) in referring to those traditions, there is no impropriety in supposing that Paul may have been guided by the Spirit of inspiration in selecting only those which were true; and,

(5) nothing is more probable than what is here stated. If Moses sprinkled "the people;" if he read "the book of the law" then Exodus 24:7, and if this was regarded as a solemn act of ratifying a covenant with God, nothing would be more natural than that he should sprinkle the book of the covenant, and even the tabernacle and its various sacred utensils.

We are to remember also, that it was common among the Hebrews to sprinkle blood for the purpose of consecrating, or as an emblem of purifying. Thus, Aaron and his sons and their garments were sprinkled with blood when they were consecrated to the office of priests, Exodus 29:19-21; the blood of sacrifices was sprinkled on the altar, Leviticus 1:5, Leviticus 1:11; Leviticus 3:2, Leviticus 3:13; and blood was sprinkled before the veil of the sanctuary, Leviticus 4:10, Leviticus 4:17; compare Leviticus 6:27; Leviticus 7:14. So Josephus speaks of the garments of Aaron and of his sons being sprinkled with "the blood of the slain beasts, and with spring water." "Having consecrated them and their garments," he says, "for seven days together, he did the same to the tabernacle, and the vessels thereto belonging, both with oil and with the blood of bulls and of rams." Ant. book iii, chapter 8, section 6. These circumstances show the strong "probability" of the truth of what is here affirmed by Paul, while it is impossible to prove that Moses did not sprinkle the book and the tabernacle in the manner stated. The mere omission by Moses cannot demonstrate that it was not done. On the phrase "the blood of calves and of goats," see note on Hebrews 9:12.

With water - Agreeably to the declaration of Josephus that "spring water was used." In Leviticus 14:49-51, it is expressly mentioned that the blood of the bird that was killed to cleanse a house from the plague of leprosy should be shed over running water, and that the blood and the water should be sprinkled on the walls. It has been suggested also (see Bloomfield), that the use of water was necessary in order to prevent the blood from coagulating, or so as to make it possible to sprinkle it.

And scarlet wool - Margin, "Purple." The word used here denotes crimson, or deep-scarlet. The colour was obtained from a small insect which was found adhering to the shoots of a species of oak in Spain and in Western Asia, of about the size of a pea. It was regarded as the most valuable of the colours for dyeing, and was very expensive. Why the wool used by Moses was of this colour is not known, unless it be because it was the most expensive of colours, and thus accorded with everything employed in the construction of the tabernacle and its utensils. Wool appears to have been used in order to absorb and retain the blood.

And hyssop - That is, a bunch of hyssop intermingled with the wool, or so connected with it as to constitute a convenient instrument for sprinkling; compare Leviticus 14:51. Hyssop is a low shrub, regarded as one of the smallest of the plants, and hence, put in contrast with the cedar of Lebanon. It sprung out of the rocks or walls, 1 Kings 4:33, and was used for purposes of purification. The term seems to have comprised not only the common hyssop, but also lavender and other aromatic plants. Its fragrance, as well as its size, may have suggested the idea of using it in the sacred services of the tabernacle.

And sprinkled both the book - This circumstance is not mentioned by Moses, but it has been shown above not to be improbable. Some expositors, however, in order to avoid the difficulty in the passage, have taken this in connection with the word λαβὼν labōn - rendered "he took" - meaning "taking the blood, and the book itself;" but the more natural and proper construction is, that the book was sprinkled with the blood.


When Moses had spoken every precept - The place to which the apostle alludes is Exodus 24:4-8, where the reader is requested to consult the notes.

And sprinkled both the book - The sprinkling of the book is not mentioned in the place to which the apostle refers, (see above), nor did it in fact take place. The words αυτο τε το βιβλιον, and the book itself, should be referred to λαβων, having taken, and not to ερῥαντισε, he sprinkled; the verse should therefore be read thus: For after every commandment of the law had been recited by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves, and of the goats, with water and scarlet wool, and the book itself, and sprinkled all the people. The rite was performed thus: Having received the blood of the calves and goats into basins, and mingled it with water to prevent it from coagulating, he then took a bunch of hyssop, and having bound it together with thread made of scarlet wool, he dipped this in the basin, and sprinkled the blood and water upon the people who were nearest to him, and who might be considered on this occasion the representatives of all the rest; for it is impossible that he should have had blood enough to have sprinkled the whole of the congregation.

Some think that the blood was actually sprinkled upon the book itself, which contained the written covenant, to signify that the covenant itself was ratified by the blood.

For when Moses had spoken every precept,.... Contained in the decalogue, in the book of the covenant, everyone of the precepts in Exodus 22:1 for this is to be understood of the written law, and not of the oral law the Jews talk of, which they say Moses first delivered by word of mouth to Aaron, then to his two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, then to the seventy elders of Israel, and then to the whole congregation; so that Aaron heard it four times, his sons thrice, the seventy elders twice, and all Israel once (g): but this is the written law which he spoke audibly, and in a known language,

to all the people according to the law; which God gave him on the Mount: this may instruct persons concerned in the public ministry, to speak out plainly and clearly the whole counsel of God, to all to whom they are sent, according to the word of God, which is the rule of faith and practice:

he took the blood of calves, and of goats; in the relation of this affair in Exodus 24:5 which is referred to, only mention is made of oxen, bullocks, or heifers, here called calves, which were sacrificed for peace offerings, and not of goats; though perhaps they may be intended by the burnt offerings there spoken of, since they were sometimes used for burnt offerings, Leviticus 1:10. The Syriac version only reads, "he took the blood of an heifer"; and the Arabic version, "he took the blood of calves"; but all the copies, and other versions, read both. "With water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop"; neither of these are mentioned in Exodus 24:1, but since sprinkling is there said to be used, and blood and water mixed together, and scarlet and hyssop were used in sprinkling, as in sprinkling the leper, and the unclean house, Leviticus 14:5 the apostle justly concludes the use of them here; the blood, with water, was typical of the blood and water which sprung from the side of Christ pierced on the cross, the one signifying justification by him, the other sanctification; the scarlet wool, which is originally white, but becomes scarlet by being dyed, may denote the native purity of Christ, and his bloody sufferings and death; the hyssop may signify his humility, and the purging virtue of his blood, and the sweet smelling savour of his person, righteousness, and sacrifice. The apostle calls scarlet, scarlet wool; though whenever the word is used in the Jewish laws of the Old Testament, wool is not expressed, but it is always intended; for it is a rule with the Jews (h), that

"the blue, which is spoken of in every place, is wool dyed of a sky colour; purple is wool dyed red, and scarlet is wool dyed in scarlet.''

And sprinkled both the book, and all the people. In Exodus 24:8 no mention is made of the sprinkling of the former, only of the latter, which the apostle either concludes from the sprinkling of the blood upon the altar, upon which the book might lie, or from tradition, or from divine revelation: some think it does not necessarily follow from the text, that the book was sprinkled; and repeating the word "he took", read the words, "and he took the book and sprinkled all the people"; but this seems not natural, but forced; and besides, all the Oriental versions are express for the sprinkling of the book: the book of the law was sprinkled, not because of any impurity in it, but to show the imperfection of it, and its insufficiency to justify men; or rather the imperfection of man's obedience to it, and to point out what the law requires in case of disobedience, even the blood and life of men; and what it would be, was it not sprinkled with blood, or satisfied by the blood of Christ, namely, an accusing, cursing, and condemning law: the people, all of them, being sprinkled with the blood, were typical of God's peculiar people, even all the elect of God, being sprinkled with the blood of Christ, called the blood of sprinkling, by which they are redeemed, and which speaks peace and pardon to them. Some have thought only the seventy elders were sprinkled, as representing the whole congregation; and others, that the twelve pillars were only sprinkled, as representing the twelve tribes of Israel; but Moses and the apostle agree, that they were the people that were sprinkled.

(g) Maimon. Praefat. ad Yad Chazaka. (h) lb. Hilchot Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 13.

For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people {m} according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and {n} sprinkled both the book, and all the people,

(m) As the Lord had commanded.

(n) He used to sprinkle.

19. For—confirming the general truth, Heb 9:16.

spoken … according to the law—strictly adhering to every direction of "the law of commandments contained in ordinances" (Eph 2:15). Compare Ex 24:3, "Moses told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments; and all the people answered with one voice," &c.

the blood of calves—Greek, "the calves," namely, those sacrificed by the "young men" whom he sent to do so (Ex 24:5). The "peace offerings" there mentioned were "of oxen" (Septuagint, "little calves"), and the "burnt offerings" were probably (though this is not specified), as on the day of atonement, goats. The law in Exodus sanctioned formally many sacrificial practices in use by tradition, from the primitive revelation long before.

with water—prescribed, though not in the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus, yet in other purifications; for example, of the leper, and the water of separation which contained the ashes of the red heifer.

scarlet wool, and hyssop—ordinarily used for purification. Scarlet or crimson, resembling blood: it was thought to be a peculiarly deep, fast dye, whence it typified sin (see on [2564]Isa 1:18). So Jesus wore a scarlet robe, the emblem of the deep-dyed sins He bore on Him, though He had none in Him. Wool was used as imbibing and retaining water; the hyssop, as a bushy, tufty plant (wrapt round with the scarlet wool), was used for sprinkling it. The wool was also a symbol of purity (Isa 1:18). The Hyssopus officinalis grows on walls, with small lancet-formed woolly leaves, an inch long, with blue and white flowers, and a knotty stalk about a foot high.

sprinkled … the book—namely, out of which he had read "every precept": the book of the testament or covenant. This sprinkling of the book is not mentioned in the twenty-fourth chapter of Exodus. Hence Bengel translates, "And (having taken) the book itself (so Ex 24:7), he both sprinkled all the people, and (Heb 9:21) moreover sprinkled the tabernacle." But the Greek supports English Version. Paul, by inspiration, supplies the particular specified here, not in Ex 24:7. The sprinkling of the roll (so the Greek for "book") of the covenant, or testament, as well as of the people, implies that neither can the law be fulfilled, nor the people be purged from their sins, save by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ (1Pe 1:2). Compare Heb 9:23, which shows that there is something antitypical to the Bible in heaven itself (compare Re 20:12). The Greek, "itself," distinguishes the book itself from the "precepts" in it which he "spake."

scarlet: or, purple9:15-22 The solemn transactions between God and man, are sometimes called a covenant, here a testament, which is a willing deed of a person, bestowing legacies on such persons as are described, and it only takes effect upon his death. Thus Christ died, not only to obtain the blessings of salvation for us, but to give power to the disposal of them. All, by sin, were become guilty before God, had forfeited every thing that is good; but God, willing to show the greatness of his mercy, proclaimed a covenant of grace. Nothing could be clean to a sinner, not even his religious duties; except as his guilt was done away by the death of a sacrifice, of value sufficient for that end, and unless he continually depended upon it. May we ascribe all real good works to the same all-procuring cause, and offer our spiritual sacrifices as sprinkled with Christ's blood, and so purified from their defilement. 9:19 For when Moses had. For the events alluded to, see Ex 24:1-8.

Spoken every precept to all the people according to the law. Ex 24:3. All that God had proclaimed in the ten commandments and the accompanying precepts (Ex 21:1-23:33) was written in the book of the covenant. This was read to the people, and they promised obedience (Ex 24:7).

And sprinkled both the book, and all the people. Then the book and all the people were sprinkled with blood (Ex 24:8).

Verses 19, 20. - For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the covenant (A.V. testament) which God enjoined unto you (strictly, to you-ward; i.e. enjoined to me for you). The reference is to Exodus 24:3-9, where the account is given of the inauguration of the covenant between God and the Israelites through Moses. He "came and told the people all the words of the LORD, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the LORD hath said will we do." And then he wrote all the words of the LORD in a book, and builded an altar under the mount, and sacrifices were offered, and half of the blood was sprinkled on the altar, and the words were read from the book, and again the people undertook to observe them, and the other half of the blood was sprinkled on the people, and so the covenant was ratified. The essential part of the whole ceremony being the "blood-shedding," it is of no importance for the general argument that the account in Exodus is not exactly followed. The variations from it are these:

(1) The mention of goats as well as calves or bullocks - of water - of the scarlet wool and hyssop - and of the sprinkling of the book, instead of the altar, as in Exodus.

(2) The words spoken by Moses are differently given, τοῦτο being substituted for ἰδοὺ ὁ Θεός for Κύριος. and ἐνετείλατο for διέθετο. On these variations we may observe that the mention of goats may have been suggested to the writer's mind by the ceremonies of the Day of Atonement, previously alluded to; and it is not inconsistent with the account in Exodus, where the victims used for the "burnt offerings" are not specified, only the bullocks for "peace offerings." Nor is there inconsistency in the other additions to the ceremonial. The scarlet wool and hyssop were the usual instruments of aspersion (a bunch of the latter being apparently bound by the former to a stick of cedar; cf. Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:50; Numbers 19:6, 18). It may have been usual to mix water with the blood used for aspersion, if only to prevent coagulation (see Lightfoot on John 19:34), though in some cases certainly also with a symbolical meaning (cf. Leviticus 14:5, 50); and, if the book was, as it was likely to be, on the altar when the latter was sprinkled (Exodus 24:6, 7), it would itself partake of this sprinkling, and, being thus consecrated, would be then taken from the altar to be read from to the people and to receive their assent, previously to the sprinkling of themselves with the moiety of the blood reserved. Probably the whole account, as here given, was the traditional one at the time of writing (see below, on ver. 21). With regard to the slightly altered form of the words spoken by Moses, it is an interesting suggestion that the writer may have had in his mind our Lord's corresponding words in the institution of the Eucharist, beginning in all the accounts with τοῦτο, and being thus worded: in St. Luke, Τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθηκη ἐν τῷ αἱματί μου τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐκχυνομενον: and in St. Matthew and St. Mark, Τοῦτο ἐστι τὸ αἱμά μου τὸ τῆς καινῆς διαθήκης τὸ περὶ πολλῶν ἐκχυνόμενον, St. Matthew adding εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν. That Christ in these words referred to those of Moses is obvious, speaking of his own outpoured blood as the antitype of that wherewith the old διαθήκη was dedicated; and it is likely that the writer of the Epistle would have Christ's words in his mind.

the blood.

Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he …

Hebrews 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should …

Exodus 24:5,6,8 And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt …

Leviticus 1:2,3,10 Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man of you …

Leviticus 3:6 And if his offering for a sacrifice of peace offering to the LORD …

Leviticus 16:14-18 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with …

scarlet. or, purple.

Leviticus 14:4-6,49-52 Then shall the priest command to take for him that is to be cleansed …

Numbers 19:6 And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and …

Matthew 27:28 And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.

Mark 15:17,20 And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, …

John 19:2,5 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, …


Exodus 12:22 And you shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that …

Numbers 19:18 And a clean person shall take hyssop, and dip it in the water, and …

Psalm 51:7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall …


Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of …

Exodus 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, …

Isaiah 52:15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths …

Ezekiel 36:25 Then will I sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean: …

1 Peter 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification …

The statement of Hebrews 9:18 historically confirmed by the story of the establishment of the law-covenant, Exodus 24.

Of calves and goats (τῶν μόσχων καὶ τῶν τράγων)

Not mentioned in the O.T. account. The goat was always for a sin-offering, and the sacrifices on this occasion were oxen, and are described as burnt offerings and sacrifices of peace, Exodus 24:5. In the original covenant with Abraham a she-goat and a heifer are specially mentioned, Genesis 15:9.

Water, scarlet wool, hyssop - sprinkled the book (ὕδατος, ἐρίου κοκκίνου, ὑσσώπου αὐτό τε τὸ βιβλίον ἐράντισεν)

None of these are mentioned in the O.T. account, which the writer appears to have filled up from the details of subsequent usage. Comp. the additions in Hebrews 9:5, Hebrews 9:10. It will also be observed that the sacrifices on the occasion of establishing the law covenant were not made according to the Mosaic ritual. They were offered, not by the priests, but by the young men, Exodus 24:5. For κόκκινος scarlet, see on Matthew 27:6. Ὕσσωπος hyssop appears in Exodus 12:22; Leviticus 14:4, Leviticus 14:6, Leviticus 14:49; Numbers 19:6, Numbers 19:18; Psalm 51:9; John 19:29. Mostly in connection with lustral ceremonies. The vexed question of the precise botanical character of the plant has never been decisively settled.

9:19 He took the blood of calves - Or heifers. And of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop - All these circumstances are not particularly mentioned in that chapter of Exodus, but are supposed to be already known from other passages of Moses. And the book itself - Which contained all he had said. And sprinkled all the people - Who were near him. The blood was mixed with water to prevent its growing too stiff for sprinkling; perhaps also to typify that blood and water, John 19:34. Ex 24:7,8
Hebrews 9:19 NIV
Hebrews 9:19 NLT
Hebrews 9:19 ESV
Hebrews 9:19 NASB
Hebrews 9:19 KJV

Hebrews 9:19 Bible Apps
Hebrews 9:19 Parallel
Hebrews 9:19 Biblia Paralela
Hebrews 9:19 Chinese Bible
Hebrews 9:19 French Bible
Hebrews 9:19 German Bible

Bible Hub
Hebrews 9:18
Top of Page
Top of Page