|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:1-14 Without entering into particulars of the sacrifices on the great day of atonement, we may notice that it was to be a statute for ever, till that dispensation be at an end. As long as we are continually sinning, we continually need the atonement. The law of afflicting our souls for sin, is a statue which will continue in force till we arrive where all tears, even those of repentance, will be wiped from our eyes. The apostle observes it as a proof that the sacrifices could not take away sin, and cleanse the conscience from it, that in them there was a remembrance made of sin every year, upon the day of atonement, Heb 10:1,3. The repeating the sacrifices, showed there was in them but a feeble effort toward making atonement; this could be done only by offering up the body of Christ once for all; and that sacrifice needed not to be repeated.
CHAPTER 16. THE CEREMONIAL PURIFICATION OF THE WHOLE CONGREGATION ON THE GREAT DAY OF ATONEMENT. This chapter, containing the account of the institution of the ceremonial to be used on the Day of Atonement, would take its place chronologically immediately after the tenth chapter, for the instructions conveyed in it were delivered to Moses "after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord and died" (verse 1), when the fate of Nadab and Abihu would naturally have led Aaron to desire a more perfect knowledge than had as yet been imparted to him as to the manner in which he was to present himself before the Lord. Logically it might either occupy its present position, as being the great and culminating atoning and cleansing ceremony, or it might be relegated to a place among the holy days in chapter 23, where it is, in fact, shortly noticed. That it is placed here shows that the most essential characteristic of the Day in the judgment of the legislator is that of its serving as the occasion and the means of "making an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and making an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and for making an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation" (verse 33). Annually there gathered over the camp, and over the sanctuary as situated in the midst of the camp, a mass of defilement, arising in part from sins whose guilt had not been removed by the punishment of the offenders, and in part from uncleannesses which had not been cleansed by sacrifices and the prescribed ceremonial rites. Annually this defilement had to be atoned for or covered away from the sight of God. This was done by the solemn observance of the great Day of Atonement, and specially by the high priest's carrying the blood of the sacrifices into the holy of holies, into which he might enter on no other day of the year; while the consciousness of deliverance from the guilt of sin was quickened on the part of the people by their seeing the scapegoat "bear away upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited" (verse 22). Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord spake unto Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron,.... That is, either immediately after their death, and so this chapter would have stood in its natural order next to the tenth; or else after the above laws concerning uncleanness on various accounts were delivered out, designed to prevent the people entering into the tabernacle defiled, whereby they would have incurred the penalty of death; wherefore, as Aben Ezra observes, after the Lord had given cautions to the Israelites, that they might not die, he bid Moses to caution Aaron also, that he might not die as his sons died; these were Nadab and Abihu:
when they offered before the Lord, and died; offered strange fire, and died by flaming fire, as the Targum of Jonathan; or fire sent down from heaven, as Gersom, by lightning; see Leviticus 10:1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Le 16:1-34. How the High Priest Must Enter into the Holy Place.
1. after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they offered before the Lord, and died—It is thought by some that this chapter has been transposed out of its right place in the sacred record, which was immediately after the narrative of the deaths of Nadab and Abihu [Le 10:1-20]. That appalling catastrophe must have filled Aaron with painful apprehensions lest the guilt of these two sons might be entailed on his house, or that other members of his family might share the same fate by some irregularities or defects in the discharge of their sacred functions. And, therefore, this law was established, by the due observance of whose requirements the Aaronic order would be securely maintained and accepted in the priesthood.
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