William Kelly Major Works Commentary
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,Leviticus Chapter 22
PRIESTLY PRIVILEGE AND RESPONSIBILITY.
This chapter continues, as in the preceding, the like strain of imperative sanctification in the priestly family to Jehovah. Here it is not indelible disqualifications, as in the last section, but passing defilements. But no defilement was to be treated as a light thing. Reverence was due to Him who is a consuming fire. His will and word ruled all, and especially such as drew near to Him.
" 1 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 2 Speak to Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name [in] what they hallow to me: I [am] Jehovah. 3 Say to them, Whosoever of all your seed among your generations that goeth unto the holy things which the children of Israel hallow to Jehovah, having his uncleanness upon him, that person shall be cut off from my presence: I [am] Jehovah. 4 Whatsoever man of the seed of Aaron [is] a leper, or hath a running of the reins, shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean; and whosoever toucheth anything unclean of the dead, or a man whose seed passeth from him; 5 or whosoever toucheth any reptile whereby he may be made unclean, or a man from whom he may take uncleanness whatsoever uncleanness he hath; 6 the person that hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water. 7 And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things, because it [is] his food. 8 That which dieth of itself, or is torn, he shall not eat to defile himself with it: I [am] Jehovah. 9 They shall therefore keep mine ordinance lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I Jehovah sanctify them. 10 No stranger shall eat the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or a hired servant shall not eat the holy thing. 11 But if the priest buy a person with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house; they shall eat of his meat. 12 If the priest's daughter also belong to a strange man, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things. 13 But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned to her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her fattier's meat; but no stranger shall eat of it. 14 And if a man eat the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth thereof to it, and shall offer [it] to the priest with the holy thing. 15 And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer to Jehovah; 16 or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass when they eat their holy things; for I Jehovah sanctify them" (Leviticus 22:1-16).
The care with which Moses was charged by Jehovah, and the sons of Aaron through him, is most impressive (1, 2). Compromise in divine things is hateful to God. It is the boast of men, and especially in these days where liberalism is the popular idol, in opposition to the old idol of man's tradition and sacerdotalism, which theoretically is unbending but in practice accommodating enough for a tariff of sin. The priests of Jehovah were bound under the strictest obligation not to profane His holy name in the holy things of Israel.
There might be uncleanness from day to day known only to each priest himself. Conscience was thus tested, and the fear of God. He might easily hide his uncleanness from his fellows, and from the children of Israel; but he could only do so at the peril of being cut off from Jehovah's presence (3). His being of Aaron's seed gave him no sanctuary shelter; but the contrary, whether he suffered from leprosy, or an issue from the reins, or even from the touch of the dead, or of one under an unclean infirmity, or of a defiling reptile, or the like. The variety or the degree might differ; but Jehovah tolerates no uncleanness in those that draw nigh. He must at least be unclean till evening, and not eat of the holy things till he wash his flesh with water. After that he was free to eat of them; for the Holy One is merciful and gracious (4-8).
Jehovah is the living God. Death is sin's wages; not all indeed, for judgment remains as every Christian should know, Christ revealing the whole truth. Hence the touch of death defiled anyone; much more the priest. No Israelite was free to eat even what was torn of beasts of the field, but called to cast it to the dogs (Exodus 22:31). "I [am] Jehovah" debarred the sons of Aaron beyond all. They were therefore to keep His ordinance, lest they should bear sin and die in their profanation. He sanctified them pre-eminently (9).
But the inverse was equally binding and expressed. No stranger was to eat the holy thing. He who separated Israel to Himself separated the priest by a closer severance. A sojourner of the priest even had no licence, nor a hired servant however at home or valued. But one that belonged to the priest, bought or born in his house, was allowed that privilege: they might eat of his meat (10, 11).
Then we have modified cases distinctly provided for. Were the priest's daughter married to a strange man (i.e. outside the Aaronic family), she forfeited for the while her title to eat of an offering of the holy things. But if she became a widow, or divorced, without a child, back in her father's house as in her youth, she resumed her title, and might eat of her father's meat; she was no longer a forbidden stranger (12, 13).
Again (14), a man might eat the holy thing unwittingly, and in this case he was enjoined to add the fifth of it, and to give it to the priest with the holy thing, as a double tithe of trespass. There was no superstition or human exaggeration. The true God must of necessity be a jealous God; yet He weighed all considerately.
But as we began with the responsibility attached to the priests, so this section ends. They in particular were not to profane the holy things of the children of Israel which they offered to Jehovah, nor to lade themselves with the iniquity of trespass in eating their holy things, remembering that Jehovah it was that sanctified. Alas! it was just here they failed, not only as we have seen before their consecration was complete, but more and more till they became leaders, not only in profanation but in the grossest impurity (1 Samuel 2:12-22). And the prophetic word through a man of God game, that the high priest's sons should both die in one day, and that Jehovah would raise up a faithful priest to do according to what was in His heart and in His mind, for whom He would build a sure house, Himself as King before His anointed for ever. Messiah is the only full answer to both Priest and King.
We as Christians know Him in a still more glorious position, not only in heaven but at the right hand of God on His throne. And we know Him as the Eternal Son, not merely as His Son in time, and as Son of man crowned with glory and honour. It is not, it is true, the many diadems of, the world to come, but the chaplet of a deeper and higher victory than those to be achieved and displayed in that day when the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea. For it is ours to approach with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy, and find grace for seasonable help (Hebrews 4:16).
" Having therefore, brethren, boldness for entering the holies in virtue of the blood of Jesus, a new and living way which he dedicated for us through the veil, that is, his flesh, and [having] a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having been sprinkled as to our hearts from a wicked conscience, and washed as to the body with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22).
SANCTIFICATION REQUIRED OF PRIESTS AND PEOPLE:.
These verses join the sons of Aaron with the children of Israel in the injunctions of Jehovah the Mediator.
" 17 And Jehovah spoke to Moses, saying, 18 Speak to Aaron and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, If there be any man of the house of Israel, or of the sojourners in Israel, that presenteth his gift (corbon) for any of his voluntary offerings which they present to Jehovah as a burnt offering, 19 it shall be accepted for you without blemish, a male of the oxen, of the sheep, and of the goats. 20 Whatsoever hath a blemish shall ye not offer, for it shall not be acceptable for you. 21 And when a man offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings to Jehovah as a vow or an offering of the herds or of the Hocks, it shall be without blemish to be accepted: no defect shall be therein. 22 Blind or broken. or maimed or ulcerous or scurvy or scabbed, ye shall not offer these to Jehovah; and a fire offering shall ye not make of these on the altar to Jehovah. 23 A bullock and a sheep (or goat) that hath any limb superfluous or lacking that mayest thou offer as a voluntary offering; but as a vow it shall not be accepted. 24 That which is bruised or crushed or broken or cut shall ye not present to Jehovah; neither in your land shall ye do (so). 25 And from a stranger's hand shall ye not offer the bread of your God from any of these; because their corruption [is] in them; a blemish [is] in them: they shall not be accepted for you" (vers. 17-25).
We can readily understand how prone the people were to forget His honour and all-seeing eye in presenting as an offering for His altar what was damaged or defective; and how disposed the priest would be to wink at such artifices. It was really a heinous transgression, and in effect denied His being the living God. Was the God of Israel such a one as His selfish and professed worshippers? This is indeed what sin implies; and especially in divine things.
But let us remember how much more wicked it is in a Christian whose very profession is to walk in the light as God is in the light. The true light already shines. Though not under law like Israel, we, once darkness, are made light in the Lord and are called to appear luminaries in a squalid world, holding forth the word of life. Surely we ought not to be in our relationship less careful than a Jew in his: the least that became either was to be honest before God and man. If not, the less we speak of grace, the better; nothing condemns looseness 80 much as the true grace of God.
Yet even the law tolerated a lower note in a voluntary peace offering, because man was there allowed an unusual place. Leavened bread, besides the unleavened cakes mingled with oil, was presented with the sacrifice of his peace offering of thanksgiving. But for a vow it was forbidden, as being strictly to Jehovah. Yet neither in wilderness nor in promised land was any thing abnormal permissible for acceptance. An unblemished male was imperative, as representing the Holy one of God. And a stranger had no more licence than an Israelite.
How plain that in every way perfection was not in, nor by, the Levitical priesthood. It was given of God provisionally for an earthly people, a dying priesthood for a dying people; for the people had the law given based upon it. If there had been perfection thereby, what need still that a different priest should arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be named according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there cometh to pass of necessity a change also of the law. . . . And it is yet more abundantly manifest, if according to the likeness of Melchizedek a different priest ariseth who hath not been constituted according to a law of fleshly commandment but according to power of indissoluble life. For he is testified, Thou [art] priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek. For there cometh to pass a disannulling of foregoing commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness (for the law made nothing perfect), and an inbringing of a better hope through which we draw near to God. Heb. 7.
These are communications of Jehovah with a supplement of a general kind, and therefore spoken to Moses simply, not to the sons of Aaron as well as Aaron as in 1-16, and to Aaron and his sons, as well as to the sons of Israel as in 17-25. High priest and priests must beware of uncleanness on them in approaching to the holy things, on pain of being cut off from before Jehovah, for He it is that hallows them. But the offerers of any offering, vow or voluntary, must beware of defect in what they present. It is wholly unacceptable. To these rules is now added a final word.
" 26 And Jehovah spake to Moses, saying, 27 An ox, or a sheep, or a goat, when it is brought forth, shall be seven days under its dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted as a fire offering to Jehovah. 28 A cow or sheep - it and its young - shall ye not slaughter in one day. 29 And when ye sacrifice a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Jehovah, ye shall sacrifice for your acceptance. 30 On that day shall it be eaten; ye shall leave none of it until morning: I [am] Jehovah. 31 And ye shall observe my commandments and do them: I [am] Jehovah. 32 And ye shall not profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I [am] Jehovah that hallow you, 33 that brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I [am] Jehovah" (vers. 26-33).
" To everything is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heavens." Man, Israelite, Christian, is apt to mistake. Besides, his true place is subjection and obedience. God Himself has an aim before Him which He puts before us. He would glorify the Second man whom the first is so prone to forget, even when be intends to honour God, who alone can judge infallibly of what pleases Him, and graciously lets us know it for our acquiescence.
Here the animal, when brought forth, must be seven days under its dam. It was otherwise in nature. The Jews say a sabbath must pass over it. Jehovah says from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted. It is not the test of creation or of the law which is the grand point, important as both are, but the witness of the all-important resurrection day, when He rose who is the Beginning, not the first but the Last Adam, Firstborn from among the dead, that He might have in all things the foremost place. Is it not His due?
Another injunction follows: "a cow or a sheep - it, and its young - shall ye not slaughter in one day." Jehovah cultivates seemliness in His people. If He commanded sacrifice strictly and reverently, it was both to make guilt and self-will felt and confessed, and yet more the One Saviour and only sacrifice of efficacy for sin before Him. But He also would have delicacy of feeling, even when a dumb or dead beast was concerned, as when He forbade seething a kid in the milk of its dam. All scripture is against the coarse brutality habitual to the heathen who knew not the true God.
Further, a sacrifice of thanksgiving, as involving right feelings and human sympathy, must be eaten on the same day; it must not be longer severed from the altar, and offering up, and Jehovah Himself: "I am Jehovah." It is the salt that keeps pure. There must be faith, yet more than feeling which is human and at best evanescent.
How solemn, too, the repeated seal impressed on observing and doing His commands, "I am Jehovah." Obedience is thus demanded, as profaning His holy name is quite forbidden, that He might be hallowed in His people. For indeed it was Jehovah hallowing them, He that brought them out of the land of Egypt to be their God: I am Jehovah. Such was their place as His people here below on the earth, a witness to the nations. Can any thing indeed be more empty from the nature of the case than the profession of God's name without habitual reference to His word and obeying His will? Even an earthly law has its sanction if infringed, and what people call passive resistance is active evil and folly. Can men who profess the true God forget the solemnity of an everlasting judgment, not for ungodly deeds only but for ungodly words, as if they were independent of God, and their tongues or aught else were their own? If they walk in the ways of their defiled and defiling heart, and in the sight of their eyes which turn from the word of God, is it not indisputably just that for all these things God should bring men into judgment? How much more for despising His saving grace in Christ, which has appeared to all men, and enjoins men, that they all everywhere should repent and believe the glad tidings!
But Oh the love to us who through mercy believe already! Our place is deliverance out of this present evil age for association with Christ, not merely to reign with Him, but to be with Him where He is in the Father's house. It is heavenly. We are not of the world as Christ is not.
Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.
Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.
What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;
Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath;
The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.
And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.
That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.
They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them.
There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.
But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.
If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.
But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.
And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.
And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD;
Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the LORD do sanctify them.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering;
Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.
But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.
And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.
Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.
Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.
Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day.
And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD.
Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.
Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you,
That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.