Leviticus 24:5
And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
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(5) And bake twelve cakes.—The next order is about the preparation of the shewbread, and the use to be made of it. It was made in the following manner. Twenty-four seahs of wheat, which were brought as a meat offering, were beaten and ground, and after passing through twelve different sieves each finer than the other, twenty-four tenth-deals of the finest flour were obtained. The dough was kneaded outside the court, and after it was put into a golden mould of a definite size and form to impart the prescribed size and shape to each cake, was brought into the court. Here it was taken out of the first golden mould, and put into a second of the same material and form, and baked in it. As soon as it was taken out of the oven the cake was put into a third mould of the like description, and when it was turned out of it the cake was ten handbreadths long, five broad, one finger thick, and square at each end. Each cake, therefore, was made of two omers of wheat, or, as it is here said, of two tenth-parts of anephah, which is the same thing. (See Leviticus 14:10.) As an omer is the quantity which, according to the Divine ordinance (Exodus 16:16-19), supplies the daily wants of a human being, each of these cakes represents the food of a man and his neighbour, whilst the twelve cakes answered to the twelve tribes of Israel. Hence the ancient Ohaldee version has, after the words “twelve cakes,” “according to the twelve tribes.” The baking of these cakes took place every Friday afternoon, or Thursday if a feast which required Sabbatical rest fell on Friday. According to the testimony of those who were eyewitnesses to the baking, these cakes were unleavened.

Leviticus 24:5. Thou shalt take — By the priests or Levites, whose work it was to prepare them, 1 Chronicles 9:32. Twelve cakes — Representing the twelve tribes. Two tenth-deals shall be in one cake — That is, two omers, or two tenth parts of an ephah, consisting of about six quarts of English measure, Exodus 16:36. So that they must have been of a very large size.

24:1-9 The loaves of bread typify Christ as the Bread of life, and the food of the souls of his people. He is the Light of his church, the Light of the world; in and through his word this light shines. By this light we discern the food prepared for our souls; and we should daily, but especially from sabbath to sabbath, feed thereon in our hearts with thanksgiving. And as the loaves were left in the sanctuary, so should we abide with God till he dismiss us.Each cake or loaf of unleavened bread Leviticus 2:11 was to contain about six pounds and a quarter (see Exodus 29:40 note) of fine flour. The material was the same, both in quality and in quantity, with that of each one of the wave-loaves of Pentecost Leviticus 23:17. In the service of the temple the preparation and arrangement of the cakes was committed to the Levites 1 Chronicles 9:32; 1 Chronicles 23:29; 2 Chronicles 13:11.5-9. take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes—for the showbread, as previously appointed (Ex 25:30). Those cakes were baked by the Levites, the flour being furnished by the people (1Ch 9:32; 23:29), oil, wine, and salt being the other ingredients (Le 2:13).

two tenth deals—that is, of an ephah—thirteen and a half pounds weight each; and on each row or pile of cakes some frankincense was strewed, which, being burnt, led to the showbread being called "an offering made by fire." Every Sabbath a fresh supply was furnished; hot loaves were placed on the altar instead of the stale ones, which, having lain a week, were removed, and eaten only by the priests, except in cases of necessity (1Sa 21:3-6; also Lu 6:3, 4).

Thou shalt take; by the priests or Levites, whose work it was to prepare them, 1 Chronicles 9:32.

Twelve cakes, representing the twelve tribes.

Two tenth deals, i.e. two omers. See Leviticus 23:13.

And thou shalt take fine flour,.... Of wheat, and the finest of it:

and bake twelve cakes thereof; answerable to the twelve tribes, as the Targum of Jonathan, which were typical of the spiritual Israel of God:

two tenth deals shall be in one cake; that is, two tenth parts of an ephah, which were two omers, one of which was as much as a man could eat in one day of the manna: so that one of these cakes was as much as two men could eat of bread in one day; each cake was ten hands' breadth long, five broad, and seven fingers its horns, or was so high (g).

(g) Menachot, c. 11. sect. 4.

And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof: two {c} tenth deals shall be in one cake.

(c) That is, two omers, read Ex 16:16.

5. twelve cakes] Though probably alluding in the Jewish ritual to the number of the tribes, the original reference in the corresponding Babylonian rite was doubtless to the signs of the zodiac. See Zimmern, Beiträge zur Kenntniss d. Babylon. Religion, p. 94, for a Babylonian parallel.

cakes] most probably unleavened (Jos. Ant. iii. 6. 6). They were of flour, the fineness of which was secured by sifting eleven times (Menaḥoth, 76 b). In the time of the Chronicler (1 Chronicles 9:32) this was done by the Levitical guild called ‘the sons of the Kohathites.’ The cakes in the early times of the Jewish monarchy were placed hot upon the table (see 1 Sam. above). The rite in its form is probably a survival from a pre-Mosaic stage of Hebrew religion.

5–9. The ordering of the shewbread

Cp. Exodus 25:30; Exodus 37:10 ff.; Numbers 4:7. The ‘twelve cakes’ are not here given this name. For its origin and for parallels to the custom in other religions, see Driver, Exodus 25:30, and HDB. s.v. The undoubtedly correct rendering is presence-bread (lit. bread of the countenance [of God]), as in R.V. mg. there, i.e. bread which was placed as an offering in the presence of the Lord. Cp. the expression used of this bread in the story of 1 Samuel 21:6 [Matthew 7], ‘taken from before [from the presence of] the Lord.’ The LXX. mostly render by ἄρτοι τῆς πρθέσεως, loaves of the setting forth (or, before [God]).

Verses 5-9. - The shewbread, or bread of the face, that is, of the presence, was to be made of fine flour, that is, of wheat, and to consist of twelve cakes or loaves, to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, each loaf containing upward of six pounds of flour. The loaves were placed upon the pure table before the Lord; that is, on the golden table of shewbread within the sanctuary - which stood not far from the vail which partitioned off the holy of holies - toward the north, as the candlestick was toward the south. The loaves were set, not, probably, in two rows, six on a row, as they could have hardly stood in that position on so small a table as the table of shewbread (which was only three feet by one foot and a half), but in piles, six in a pile. Upon them, or more probably between the two piles, were placed two vials or cups filled with frankincense (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 3:07, 6). The shewbread was renewed every sabbath day, with much ceremony. "Four priests," says the Mishna, "enter, two of them carrying the piles of bread, and two of them the cups of incense. Four priests had gone in before them, two to take off the two old piles of shrewbread, and two to take off the cups of incense. Those who brought in the new stood at the north side facing southwards; those who took away the old, at the south side, facing northwards. One party lifted off and the other put on, the hands of one being over against the hands of the other, as it is written, Thou shalt set upon the table bread of the Passover always before me" ('Men.,' 11:7). The loaves that were removed were delivered to the priests for their consumption within the tabernacle, the whole quantity amounting to seventy-five pounds of bread per week. It was this bread which, in the pressure of necessity, Abimelech gave to David and his men (1 Samuel 21:4-6). At the same time that the old loaves were changed, the frankincense was burned on the golden altar of incense for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the Lord. There is nothing in Scripture to prove whether the loaves were leavened or unleavened. As being the meat offering of the tabernacle, we should expect them to be unleavened, like the meat offering of the court, but there was a reason why the meat offering of the court should be unleavened, which did not operate in the case of the shewbread. A part of the ordinary meat offering had to be burnt on the altar of burnt sacrifice; therefore it could not be leavened, because no leaven might be burned on the altar; but the shewbread was not burnt on any altar, and consequently it need not for that reason be unleavened. The two Pentecostal loaves, which were offered to the Lord by waving instead of burning, were leavened. The probabilities derived from Scripture appear to be equally strong on either side. Josephus states that they were unleavened ('Ant.,' 3:06, 6; 10, 7).

CHAPTER 24:10-23 The reason why the narrative of the blasphemer's death (verses 10-23) is introduced in its present connection, is simply that it took place at the point of time which followed the promulgation of the last law. It serves, however, to vindicate by a memorable example the principle which is at the foundation of every Mosaic law. "I am the Lord" is the often-repeated sanction, whether of a moral law or of a ceremonial regulation. But this bastard Israelite, one of the mixed multitude that had followed in the flight from Egypt (Exodus 12:38), blasphemed the Name of the Lord. If such blasphemy were to go unpunished, the obligation of law was dissolved. For, as Lange has said, "A community which suffers the reviling of the principle of their community without reaction, is morally fallen to pieces." He was brought, therefore, to Moses, and so solemn was the occasion, that Moses reserved the case, for which no provision had yet been made, for the special decision of God. The specific judgment on the man is that he shall die by stoning at the hands of the congregation, after the witnesses of his sin had laid their hands upon his head; and a general law is founded on the special case. Leviticus 24:5The preparation of the shew-bread and the use to be made of it are described here for the first time; though it had already been offered by the congregation at the consecration of the tabernacle, and placed by Moses upon the table (Exodus 39:36; Exodus 40:23). Twelve cakes (challoth, Leviticus 2:4) were to be made of fine flour, of two-tenths of an ephah each, and placed in two rows, six in each row, upon the golden table before Jehovah (Exodus 25:23.). Pure incense was then to be added to each row, which was to be (to serve) as a memorial (Azcarah, see Leviticus 2:2), as a firing for Jehovah. על נתן to give upon, to add to, does not force us to the conclusion that the incense was to be spread upon the cakes; but is easily reconcilable with the Jewish tradition (Josephus, Ant. iii. 10, 7; Mishnah, Menach. xi. 7, 8), that the incense was placed in golden saucers with each row of bread. The number twelve corresponded to the number of the twelve tribes of Israel. The arrangement of the loaves in rows of six each was in accordance with the shape of the table, just like the division of the names of the twelve tribes upon the two precious stones on Aaron's shoulder-dress (Exodus 28:10). By the presentation or preparation of them from the fine flour presented by the congregation, and still more by the addition of incense, which was burned upon the altar every Sabbath on the removal of the loaves as azcarah, i.e., as a practical memento of the congregation before God, the laying out of these loaves assumed the form of a bloodless sacrifice, in which the congregation brought the fruit of its life and labour before the face of the Lord, and presented itself to its God as a nation diligent in sanctification to good works. If the shew-bread was a minchah, or meat-offering, and even a most holy one, which only the priests were allowed to eat in the holy place (Leviticus 24:9, cf. Leviticus 2:3 and Leviticus 6:9-10), it must naturally have been unleavened, as the unanimous testimony of the Jewish tradition affirms it to have been. And if as a rule no meat-offering could be leavened, and of the loaves of first-fruits prepared for the feast of Pentecost, which were actually leavened, none was allowed to be placed upon the altar (Leviticus 2:11-12; Leviticus 6:10); still less could leavened bread be brought into the sanctuary before Jehovah. The only ground, therefore, on which Knobel can maintain that those loaves were leavened, is on the supposition that they were intended to represent the daily bread, which could no more fail in the house of Jehovah than in any other well-appointed house (see Bhr, Symbolik i. p. 410). The process of laying these loaves before Jehovah continually was to be "an everlasting covenant" (Leviticus 24:8), i.e., a pledge or sign of the everlasting covenant, just as circumcision, as the covenant in the flesh, was to be an everlasting covenant (Genesis 17:13).
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