Leviticus 16:4
He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches on his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen turban shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
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(4) He shall put on the holy linen coat.—Better, a holy linen tunic. The four articles of clothing here mentioned, all of which were of white linen, constituted the sacerdotal “white vestments,” in contra-distinction to “the golden garments.” Of the white garments he possessed two sets, one of Egyptian linen, and the other of Indian and less costly linen. The community allowed the high priest thirty minæ to purchase these garments, and he could add as much as he liked from his own money if he wished them to be more costly, provided the material was linen made of six double twisted threads and of flax. It was the more costly vestments of Egyptian linen which the high priest wore on this occasion. The latter he put on in the after part of the day when he entered the Holy of Holies to bring out the censer. These garments were the same as those of the ordinary priests, except the turban, which was a little taller.

And he shall wash.—He had to bathe his body every time when he changed his vestments.

Leviticus 16:4. He shall put on the holy linen coat — Upon other days, when the high-priest officiated, he was bound to put on all the garments mentioned Exodus 28:4, four of which were called golden garments, because there was a mixture of gold in them; but on this day he put on only the four linen garments here specified, which were common to him with the ordinary priests. The reason whereof was, that this was not a day of feasting and rejoicing, but of mourning and humiliation, at which times people were to lay aside their ornaments. At this solemn season the high- priest was to wear nothing but linen, and that probably not only in token of humiliation, but also because it is a more proper emblem of purity than woollen, as it is more easily cleansed, and washes whiter. These are holy garments — Peculiarly so; to be used only when he was in the exercise of this solemn part of his sacred office. Therefore shall he wash his flesh in water — Besides the washing of his hands and feet, as upon other days, at the beginning of the service, the high-priest was, on this day, to wash his whole body before he put on these holy garments, and entered on the solemn service of the day; which significant rite fitly betokened that peculiar holiness and purity which become all that approach God in his worship, and especially all that minister in holy things.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.The high priest when he changed his dress on this day was required to bathe himself. In his "golden garments" he had, on this day, and for the previous week, to offer the regular daily sacrifices, and to perform the other sacerdotal duties of the sanctuary, which were usually performed by a common priest. The dress of white linen, which he now put on, appears to have been like the ordinary dress of the common priests, except in the substitution of a linen mitre for the bonnet (or cap), and of a plain linen girdle for the variegated one (Exodus 28:40-43 notes). In preparing to enter the holy of holies, he attired himself in spotless white as a token of the holiness without which none, in a spiritual sense, can enter the divine presence. He thus became a more distinct foreshadow of the greater high priest Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 6:19-20. This significance belonged to the high priest only in his official capacity as mediator: in his own person he had infirmity, and was required "to offer up sacrifice, "first" for his own sins, and then for the people's." Hebrews 7:27. See the notes at Leviticus 9:7-14. On the same ground it was that, although as a mediator he had to enter the most holy place, as sinful man he needed the cloud of incense as a veil to come between him and the holiness of Yahweh. See Leviticus 16:13. 3, 4. Thus shall Aaron come into the holy place—As the duties of the great day of atonement led to the nearest and most solemn approach to God, the directions as to the proper course to be followed were minute and special.

with a young bullock … and a ram—These victims he brought alive, but they were not offered in sacrifice till he had gone through the ceremonies described between Le 16:3-11. He was not to attire himself on that occasion in the splendid robes that were proper to his sacred office, but in a plain dress of linen, like the common Levites, for, as he was then to make atonement for his own sins, as well as for those of the people, he was to appear in the humble character of a suppliant. That plain dress was more in harmony with a season of humiliation (as well as lighter and more convenient for the duties which on that occasion he had singly to perform) than the gorgeous robes of the pontificate. It showed that when all appeared as sinners, the highest and lowest were then on a level, and that there is no distinction of persons with God [Ac 10:34].

It is observable that the high priest did not now use his peculiar and glorious robes, but only his linen garments, which were common to him with the ordinary priests. The reason whereof was, either because this was not a day of feasting and rejoicing, but of mourning and humiliation, at which times people were to lay aside their ornaments, Exodus 33:5. Some conceive, that under the linen garments here named are comprehended his more glorious robes also by a synecdoche. But that doth not appear neither from hence, nor from other places alleged. Had only his holy garments been mentioned in general, all might have been understood; but when only the linen apparel is mentioned here, and after, Leviticus 16:23, and when that is so particularly expressed in four several parts of it, and not a word of the other either here or in the rest of the chapter, it seems presumptuous to add them here without any ground or evidence. Or because it was fit he should not exalt, but abase himself, when he was to appear before the Divine Majesty, and therefore he was to come in the meanest of his priestly habits. Or that it might be an evidence of the imperfection of this priesthood and of the great difference between the Levitical and the true High Priest Christ Jesus, whose prerogative alone it is to go into the true holy of holies with his glorious robes, when this must carry thither the characters of his meanness.

These are holy garments, because appropriated to a holy and religious use, for which reason other things are called holy. See Exodus 29:31 30:25 2 Chronicles 5:5. He shall put on the holy linen coat,.... Which he wore in common with other priests:

and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh; upon those parts of his body which are more secret, and less honourable flesh, meaning the same, as in Leviticus 15:2,

and shall be girded with a linen girdle and with the linen mitre shall he be attired, as the other priests were; which were an emblem of the purity and holiness of Christ, whereby he became a proper and suitable high priest, to make atonement for sin, he having none in himself; and of his mean estate of humiliation afflictions, and sufferings, whereby he expiated sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity; the high priest on the day of atonement not appearing in his golden garments, as the Jews call others worn by him, because there were some gold in them, as being unsuitable to a day of affliction and humiliation, but in garments of flax, a meaner dress; and which also were an emblem of the righteousness of Christ, and his saints, called fine linen, clean and white; which is wrought out by him, as the author of it, is in him as the subject of it, and worn by him as the Lord our righteousness, and in which, as the instilled head and representative of his people, he entered into heaven to show it to his Father, and plead it with him:

these are holy garments; and to be used only in sacred service: there were four more holy garments besides these worn by the high priest, as the breastplate, the ephod, the robe, and the plate of gold, and which also were put on at certain times on this day, as at the offering of the morning and evening sacrifice, and at the slaying and offering of the several creatures on this day (u), see Leviticus 16:23,

therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on; by dipping, and that in forty seahs of water, as the Targum of Jonathan; and this he did as often as he changed his garments, which were no less than five times on this day. The tradition is (w), no man goes into the court for service, even though clean, until he has dipped himself: the high priest dips five times, and sanctifies, i.e. washes his hands and feet ten times on that day, and all are done in the holy place, over the house of Parvah, excepting this only, that is, first here: Jarchi on the text observes, on this day, he (the high priest) is bound to dipping at every change, and five times he changes, and to two washings of his hands and feet at the laver: this washing may be either an emblem of Christ's baptism, which he submitted to before he entered on his public ministry, and was, by dipping; or rather of his being cleared, acquitted, and justified from all sin, upon his resurrection from the dead, after he had made atonement for it, and before his entrance into heaven; as he had no sin of his own he needed not the washing of regeneration, or the water of sanctifying grace to be sprinkled on him, to cleanse him from it but inasmuch as he had sin imputed to him, and which he took upon him to make atonement for, it was proper and necessary, when he had made it, that he should be justified in the Spirit, that so he might enter into heaven without sin imputed, as he will appear without it when he comes a second time.

(u) Misn. Yoma, c. 3. sect. 4, 6. (w) Ib. sect. 3.

He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on.
4. The linen garments here mentioned are the garments described in Exodus 28:39-43. Cp. Leviticus 16:23-24.Verse 4. - His special garments for the occasion are the holy linen coat,... the linen breeches,... a linen girdle,... and the linen mitre. In the original the definite article is not expressed. The reading should therefore be, He shall put on a holy linen coat, and he shall have linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with a linen mitre shall be attired. The clothing was white from head to foot, differing therein from the dress of the ordinary priest, inasmuch as the sash or girdle of the latter was of variegated materials, and differing also in the shape of the mitre. The white clothing was not intended to symbolize humility and penitence, as some have thought, for white is not the colour in which penitents are naturally dressed. Rather it was symbolical of the purity and holiness which the ceremonies of the day symbolically affected, and which was specially needed to be exhibited in the person of the high priest. In the visions of Ezekiel and Daniel, the angel of God is clothed in linen (Ezekiel 9:2, 3, 11; Ezekiel 10:2, 6, 7; Daniel 10:5; Daniel 12:6, 7). And the colour of the angelic raiment is described in the Gospels as white: "his countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow" (Matthew 28:3); "they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment" (Mark 16:5); "two men stood by them in shining garments" (Luke 24:4); she "seeth two angels in white sitting" (John 20:12). So, too, the wife of the Lamb, in the Book of the Revelation, has it "granted to her that she should be arrayed in fine linen clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints" (Revelation 19:7, 8). The white linen dress of the high priest, therefore (which must have given the appearance of the English surplice tied in at the waist), was intended to symbolize the purity and brightness which forms the characteristic of angels and saints, and, above all, of the King of saints. "The white material of the dress which Aaron wore when performing the highest act of expiation under the Old Testament was a symbolical shadowing forth of the holiness and glory of the one perfect Mediator between God and man, who, being the radiation of the glory of God and the image of his nature, effected by himself the perfect cleansing away of our sin, and who, as the true High Priest, being holy, innocent, unspotted, and separate from sinners, entered once by his own blood into the holy place not made with hands, namely, into heaven itself, to appear before the face of God for us and obtain everlasting redemption (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 7:26; Hebrews 9:12, 24)" (Keil). The symbolism of the holy garments as indicating holiness and purity, is strengthened by the command that Aaron is to wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. The high priest's acts on this day, so far as they are recounted in this chapter, were the following.

1. He bathed.

2. He dressed himself in his white holy garments.

3. He offered or presented at the door of the tabernacle a bullock for a sin offering for himself and his house.

4. He presented at the same place two goats for a sin offering for the congregation.

5. He cast lots on the two goats, one of which was to be sacrificed, the other to he let go into the wilderness.

6. He sacrificed the bullock.

7. He passed from the court through the holy place into the holy of holies with a censer and incense, and filled the space beyond the vail with a cloud of smoke from the incense.

8. He returned to the court, and, taking some of the blood of the bullock, passed again within the vail, and there sprinkled the blood once on the front of the mercy-seat and seven times before it.

9. He came out again into the court, and killed the goat on which the lot for sacrifice had fallen.

10. For the third time he entered the holy of holies, and went through the same process with the goat's blood as with the bullock's blood.

11. He purified the other part of the tabernacle, as he had purified the holy of holies, by sprinkling with the atoning blood, as before, and placing some of it on the horns of the altar of incense (Exodus 30:10).

12. He returned to the court, and placed the blood of the bullock and goat upon the horns of the altar of burnt sacrifice, and sprinkled it seven times.

13. He offered to God the remaining goat, laying his hands upon it, confessing and laying the sins of the people upon its head.

14. He consigned the goat to a man, whose business it was to conduct it to the border of the wilderness, and there release it.

15. He bathed and changed his linen vestments for his commonly worn high priest's dress.

16. He sacrificed, one after the other, the two rams as burnt offerings for himself and for the people.

17. He burnt the fat of the sin offerings upon the altar.

18. He took measures that the remainder of the sin offerings should be burnt without the camp. In Numbers 29:7-11, twelve sacrifices are commanded to be offered by the high priest on this day, namely, the morning and evening sacrifice; a burnt offering for the people, consisting of one young bullock, one ram (as already stated), and seven lambs; and cue goat for a sin offering; so that in all there were fifteen sacrifices offered, besides the meat and drink offerings. The punctiliousness of the Jews in later times was not content that the ceremonies should begin on the day itself. Preparations commenced a full week previously. On the third day of the seventh month, the high priest moved from his house in the city into the temple, and he was twice sprinkled with the ashes of the red heifer, by way of precaution against defilement. He spent the week in practicing and rehearsing, under the eye of some of the elders of the Sanhedrim, the various acts that he would have to perform on the great day, and on the night immediately preceding it he was not allowed to sleep. In case of his sudden death or disqualification, a substitute was appointed to fulfill his function. After the issue had ceased, she was to purify herself like the man with an issue, as described in Leviticus 15:13-15. - Obedience to these commands is urged in Leviticus 15:31 : "Cause that the children of Israel free themselves from their uncleanness, that they die not through their uncleanness, by defiling My dwelling in the midst of them." הזּיר, Hiphil, to cause that a person keeps aloof from anything, or loosens himself from it, from נזר, Niphal to separate one's self, signifies here deliverance from the state of uncleanness, purification from it. Continuance in it was followed by death, not merely in the particular instance in which an unclean man ventured to enter the sanctuary, but as a general fact, because uncleanness as irreconcilable with the calling of Israel to be a holy nation, in the midst of which Jehovah the Holy One had His dwelling-place (Leviticus 11:44), and continuance in uncleanness without the prescribed purification was a disregard of the holiness of Jehovah, and involved rebellion against Him and His ordinances of grace.
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