|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
20:22-29 God bids Aaron prepare to die. There is something of displeasure in these orders. Aaron must not enter Canaan, because he had failed in his duty at the waters of strife. There is much of mercy in them. Aaron, though he dies for his transgression, dies with ease, and in honour. He is gathered to his people, as one who dies in the arms of Divine grace. There is much significancy in these orders. Aaron must not enter Canaan, to show that the Levitical priesthood could make nothing perfect; that must be done by bringing in a better hope. Aaron submits, and dies in the method and manner appointed; and, for aught that appears, with as much cheerfulness as if he had been going to bed. It was a great satisfaction to Aaron to see his son, who was dear to him, preferred; and his office preserved and secured: especially, to see in this a figure of Christ's everlasting priesthood. A good man would desire, if it were the will of God, not to outlive his usefulness. Why should we covet to continue any longer in this world, than while we may do some service in it for God and our generation?
Verse 29. - They mourned for Aaron thirty days. The Egyptians prolonged their mourning for seventy days (Genesis 1:3), but thirty days seems to have been the longest period allowed among the Israelites (cf. Deuteronomy 34:8).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And when all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead,.... Not that they saw his dead body, but they perceived by the relation of Moses, and by various circumstances, as not seeing Aaron come down, whom they saw go up, and seeing Eleazar with Aaron's garments on him, and perhaps by tokens of mourning in Moses and Eleazar; so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem say, they saw them come down from the top of the mountain, with their garments rent, and ashes on their heads, weeping and lamenting:
they mourned for Aaron thirty days; the whole month out; so long public mourning with the Jews lasted, as Josephus (m) relates:
even all the house of Israel; men and women, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi: no doubt it was for the amiable virtues and abundant grace that were in him, and the many services he had done for them, both before and since he was invested with the priestly office; and oftentimes the memory of such things is revived after the death of a good man, which are not so much taken notice of in his life, nor he be thanked for them, or have honour and respect shown him on account of them; but when dead, he, and what he has done, are spoken well of, and his loss lamented.
(m) De Bello Jud. l. 3. c. 8. sect. 5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
29. When all the congregation saw that Aaron was dead—Moses and Eleazar were the sole witnesses of his departure (Nu 20:28). According to the established law, the new high priest could not have been present at the funeral of his father without contracting ceremonial defilement (Le 21:11). But that law was dispensed with in the extraordinary circumstances. The people learned the event not only from the recital of the two witnesses, but from their visible signs of grief and change; and this event betokened the imperfection of the Levitical priesthood (Heb 7:12).
they mourned for Aaron thirty days—the usual period of public and solemn mourning. (See on De 34:8).
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