And this is the thing that thou shalt do unto them to hallow them, to minister unto me in the priest's office: Take one young bullock, and two rams without blemish,
Verses 1-37. - THE CONSECRATION OF THE PRIESTS. From the description of the priestly attire, the Divine Law-giver passed to the form of priestly consecration, whereof investiture in the "holy garments" was a part. The ceremony of consecration was to consist of four things: -
3. Chrism or Anointing with oil; and
In the directions given, we have, first, the preparation of the offerings (vers. 1-3); secondly, directions for the ablutions (ver. 4); thirdly, directions for the investiture of Aaron (vers. 5, 6), of his sons (vers. 8, 9); fourthly, directions for the anointing (ver. 7); and fifthly, directions as to the mode in which the sacrifices should be offered and disposed of (vers. 10-34). A command is then given that the ceremonies should be repeated every day for a week (ver. 35); and another, that the altar should receive consecration at the same time as the priests (vers. 36, 37). Additional light is thrown on most of these matters by the account contained in Leviticus (ch. 8.), of the manner in which Moses carried oat the directions here given to him. Verse 1. - This is the thing that thou shalt do to them - i.e., "This is the ceremonial that thou shalt use on the occasion." There is a tacit reference to verse 41 of ch. 28, which had announced that the priests were to be consecrated. Take one young bullock. The offerings were to be provided beforehand, so as to be in readiness when the investiture and anointing were over. Hence they are mentioned first. Rams without blemish. Literally "perfect." On the offence to God of offering him blemished offerings, see Malachi 1:6-14.
And unleavened bread, and cakes unleavened tempered with oil, and wafers unleavened anointed with oil: of wheaten flour shalt thou make them.
Verse 2 - Unleavened bread was regarded as purer than leavened, since fermentation is a sort of corruption. See the comment on Exodus 12:15. Cakes tempered with oil. Literally, "mixed with oil," i.e., having oil as one of their ingredients, in contrast with the wafers, which had oil poured over them.
And thou shalt put them into one basket, and bring them in the basket, with the bullock and the two rams.
Verse 3. - Thou shalt bring them in the basket. Rather, "Thou shalt offer them." A preliminary offering of the animals and of the "meat-offerings," in the lump seems to be intended. This, apparently, preceded the ablution.
And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water.
Verse 4. - The Ablution. Verse 4. - Unto the door of the tabernacle. The great laver was to be placed between the entrance to the tabernacle and the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 30:18). It was to this probably that Aaron and his sons were to be brought. Its main purpose was to be a lustral vessel, placed ready for the various ablutions which the law required (ib, 19-21). Thou .... shalt wash them with water. Ablutions were an important part of the ceremonial of almost all ancient religions. In Egypt, the priests were compelled to wash themselves from head to foot in cold water twice every day, and twice every night (Herod. 2:37). In the religion of Zoroaster frequent washing with water was prescribed for many kinds of impurity (Zendavesta, 8. p. 271, et seq.). The Greeks were particularly addicted to ceremonies of which ablution formed a part; and it is to Rome that we are indebted both for the word and for the idea of "lustration." It is a true instinct which has taught men the analogy between physical and moral purity, and led them to typify the removal of spiritual, by the cleansing from physical, defilement. The religion given at Sinai set a stamp of approval in many points on what may be called "the religion of nature;" and among them on this. Ablutions were required of the priests, not only at consecration, but every time that they entered the tabernacle, or sacrificed on the altar of burnt-offering (Exodus 30:20). Washing was a main feature in the cleansing of leprosy (Leviticus 13:54, 58) and of the leper. (Leviticus 14:8). It was also employed for the purification of many minor defilements (Leviticus 11:25; Leviticus 15:5; Leviticus 17:15, etc.). At what date it first came into use in the admission of proselytes is uncertain. Whether the washing of consecration extended to the whole body, or was limited to the hands and feet, is also a point on which critics have disagreed, but one of no great importance. (See John 13:9, 10.)
And thou shalt take the garments, and put upon Aaron the coat, and the robe of the ephod, and the ephod, and the breastplate, and gird him with the curious girdle of the ephod:
Verses 5, 6. - The Investiture of Aaron. Verse 5. - Thou shalt take the garments. The directions, as here given, are incomplete, and not quite in the right order. In the LXX. they are still more incomplete. For the full process of investiture, we mast look to Leviticus 8:7-9. There we find that the process included nine acts. -
1. The putting on of the linen tunic.
2. The girding with the under-girdle.
3. The putting on of the robe of the ephod.
4. The putting on of the ephod.
5. The girding with the curious girdle of the ephod.
6. The putting on of the breast-plate.
7. The putting into the breast-plate of the Urim and Thummim.
8. The putting on of the mitre.
9. The affixing to the mitre of the golden plate.
The second and seventh are omitted here; and the order of the fifth and sixth is inverted.
And thou shalt put the mitre upon his head, and put the holy crown upon the mitre.
Verse 6. - The holy crown. The plate of gold with its blue ribbon, or lace, formed a species of diadem, such as in the East seems to have been always regarded as the special emblem of royalty. An ornament of the kind seems to have been introduced into Egypt by Khuenaten or Amenophis IV. It marked the royal character of the high priest, who, as the main type of Christ in the Mosaic law, was bound to be "Prophet, Priest, and King." (Compare Leviticus 8:9.)
Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.
Verse 7. - The Chrism or Anointing. Verse 7. - The anointing oil had been mentioned previously in Exodus 25:6, when "spices" had been required from the congregation to form a portion of it. Its composition is given in Exodus 30:23-25; a passage from which we gather that it was exceedingly rich and costly. And pour it upon his head. Compare Psalm 133:2. While ablution is a rite common to many religions, the religious use of unction is peculiar to the Mosaic and the Christian. In the Mosaic it was applied to initiate into their office the prophet, the priest, and the king. In Christianity it was originally a rite by which sick persons were miraculously cured (James 5:14, 15), from which use it was afterwards extended by ecclesiastical authority to other important ceremonies. The typical meaning under Christianity is clear; the oil represents the Holy Spirit, and the anointing the outpouring of that Spirit on those who are the objects of it. Christ himself obtained his title of Christ (or Messiah), because he was "anointed with the Holy Ghost and with power" (Acts 10:38). Under Mosaism this idea was, at most, latent. Unction was understood to mark
(1) Dignity, because the olive was the first of trees (Judges 9:9); and
(2) Continuance, because oil preserves things for a long time from corruption. Unction with the holy oil of the sanctuary no doubt further signified consecration to God's service. It was applied not only to the priests, but to the tabernacle, the ark, the table of shew-bread with its vessels, the seven branched candlestick, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt offering, and the laver, all of which thereupon became "most holy" (Exodus 30:26-29).
And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them.
Verses 8, 9. - The Investiture of Aaron's sons. Verse 8. - Thou shalt bring his sons. See verse 4. They were to be brought to the door of the tabernacle. Put coats upon them. The investiture of the high priest consisted of nine acts (see the comment on ver. 5); that of the ordinary priests of three only.
1. The putting on of the linen tunics.
2. The girding with the girdles.
3. The putting on of the cap.
They do not seem to have been anointed, as Aaron was, by having the holy oil poured upon their heads, but only by having some of it sprinkled upon their garments (ver. 21; Leviticus 8:30).
And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.
Verse 9. - The bonnets. Rather "caps." There is no article. Thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons. Literally, "Thou shalt fill the hand of Aaron and the hand of his sons." Installation in an office was usually effected among the Eastern nations by putting into the hand of the official the insignia which marked his functions. In this particular case certain portions of the offerings were used as the insignia. See ver. 24.
And thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought before the tabernacle of the congregation: and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the bullock.
Verses 10-34. - The Consecration Offerings. Verse 10. - Thou shalt cause a bullock to be brought. Rather, "the bullock," - i.e., "the bullock mentioned in ver. 1, which was to be made ready before the ceremonies commenced." Aaron and his sons were to put their hands upon the head of the bullock, in order to identify themselves with it, and transfer to it the guilt of their own sins and imperfections, since it was to be a "sin-offering" (ver. 14; compare Leviticus 4:4).
And thou shalt kill the bullock before the LORD, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger, and pour all the blood beside the bottom of the altar.
Verse 12. - Thou shalt take of the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar. The virtue of the altar was regarded as residing especially in its horns. Here expiation was obtained by the blood - "which is the life " - of the victim being first smeared upon the four horns, and then the remainder poured out at the altar's base. Such was the usual practice with "sin-offerings" (Leviticus 4:7) whereof this was to be the first example.
And thou shalt take all the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul that is above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and burn them upon the altar.
Verse 13. - Thou shalt take all the fat, etc. Among all nations who have offered sacrifices, it has been very usual to select certain parts of the victim only for burning upon the altar, and to dispose otherwise of the remainder. The Greeks commonly burnt on the altar the thighs and the fat only. The Romans burnt certain parts of the intestines only, and called them prosecta, prosiciae, or ablegmina. In Egypt, according to Herodotus, the greater part of the body was burnt; but the head, the neck, the shoulders, and the lower part of the legs, as well as the paunch, were reserved and not burnt (Herod. 2:40). The fat was generally regarded as the best part of the offering, and most acceptable to the gods. This was probably on account of its burning with a bright flame and helping to consume the rest of the offering. The caul that is above the liver. Probably the membrane which covers the upper part of the liver, sometimes called "the small omentum." (reticulum jecoris, Vulg.)
But the flesh of the bullock, and his skin, and his dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp: it is a sin offering.
Verse 14. - The flesh... shalt thou burn with fire without the camp. Such was the rule with sin-offerings generally (Leviticus 4:11, 12). The curse of sin which was on them, made them unfit for food and even unworthy of burial within the camp. On the symbolism of the burial, see Hebrews 13:11-13. His dung. That which the bowels contained at the time of death.
Thou shalt also take one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
Verse 15. - One ram. Literally "the one ram" - i.e., "one of the two rams mentioned in verse 1. Put their hands. Here, again, the object was to identify themselves with the victim, and make it their representative; though now, as the ram was to be a burnt offering, self-sacrifice, rather than expiation, was the leading thought.
And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take his blood, and sprinkle it round about upon the altar.
Verse 16. - Thou shalt take his blood and sprinkle it. Rather, "and cast it." The blood was to be thrown from a basin, not sprinkled with the hand or with hyssop. Rabbinical tradition says that it was so cast at two of the corners, and thus moistened all the four sides. This was regarded as casting it "on the altar round about."
And thou shalt cut the ram in pieces, and wash the inwards of him, and his legs, and put them unto his pieces, and unto his head.
Verse 17. - Thou shalt cut the ram in pieces. Literally, "into its pieces," which Kalisch supposes to mean "into its natural limbs." Egyptian sculptures show us animals thus cut up, and offered at sacrificial feasts to ancestors. Wash its inwards - i.e., its "intestines" - probably the stomach and bowels only. Its legs. The lower joints of the leg, with the foot, to which it was likely that dust might attach. Put them unto his pieces - i.e., "replace them after washing with the other pieces," or joints, into which the animal had been cut.
And thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar: it is a burnt offering unto the LORD: it is a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Verse 18. - Thou shalt burn the whole ram upon the altar. This became the general law of the burnt-offering (Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17). It indicated that self-sacrifice was wholly acceptable to God; whereas in sin-offerings there was a taint of evil which rendered all but certain parts of the victim unacceptable (ver. 14). A sweet savour. This is not to be understood in the coarse sense in which heathen writers used similar expressions, meaning by them (as it would seem) that the gods were really pleased with the odour of sacrifices. No candid mind can ascribe to the Hebrews such anthropomorphism. Evidently no more is meant than that the offering would be pleasing to God. See Genesis 8:21; Leviticus 1:9, 13, 17, etc.
And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands upon the head of the ram.
Verse 19. - The other ram. Compare ver. 15; and see also vers. I and 3, where two rams had been mentioned. This second ram is called, "the ram of consecration" in ver. 22, and again in Leviticus 8:22. It was "by far the most peculiar part of the whole ceremony" (S. Clark). It must be viewed as a "peace-offering" (Leviticus 3:1-17), but one of a peculiar character. The application of the blood to the persons of the priests was altogether unique, and most significant. It was the crowning act of consecration, and implied the complete dedication of their life and of all their powers to the service of the Almighty.
Then shalt thou kill the ram, and take of his blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and sprinkle the blood upon the altar round about.
Verse 20. - The victim having been offered and accepted, its blood had a sanctifying power. Placed upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron and his sons, it sanctified that organ, which was to be ever open to the Divine voice; placed upon the thumb of their right hand, it sanctified their ministerial actions; placed upon the great toe of their right foot, it sanctified their whole walk in life, their "going out," and their "coming in." The consecrated life of the victim which they had offered "was given back to them, in order that it might be devoted to the service of the Lord."
And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him: and he shall be hallowed, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.
Verse 21. - Thou shalt take of the blood... . and of the anointing oil. Apparently, this is the only unction that the ordinary priests were to receive. (Compare Leviticus 8:30.) The mixture of the blood with the oil is unusual, and presents some difficulties; but perhaps it is best to view it as symbolising the intimate union which exists between justification and sanctification - the atoning blood, and the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit. And sprinkle it. The verb is different from that used in ver. 16, and is rightly rendered, "sprinkle." He shall be hallowed and his garments. As the garments shared in the sprinkling, they shared also, so far as was possible, in the consecration. It was hence especially that they became "holy garments."
Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat and the rump, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right shoulder; for it is a ram of consecration:
Verse 22. - The rump. Rather, "the tail." Oriental sheep have very commonly a broad fat tail, which weighs from six to twenty pounds, and is sometimes laid upon a little cart with two wheels, which the sheep drags after it (Herod. 3:113; Leo African. 9. p. 293 A; Fellows, Asia Minor, p. 10; Gesenius ad voc. אליה). There is no doubt that a "tail" of this kind is here meant. The caul. Rather, "the membrane." See the comment on ver 13. The right shoulder. Or "leg," according to some. The difference is not important.
And one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer out of the basket of the unleavened bread that is before the LORD:
Verse 23. - One cake of oiled bread - i.e., one of the "unleavened cakes tempered with oil," mentioned in ver. 2. Out of the basket of the unleavened bread. See ver. 3.
And thou shalt put all in the hands of Aaron, and in the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave offering before the LORD.
Verse 24. - Thou shalt put all in the hands, or "on the hands." The offerings were to be laid first, on the hands of Aaron, and then on those of his sons, which were to support them; while Moses, putting his hands under theirs, made a waving motion with them towards the four corners of the heavens, to indicate that the gifts were offered to the omnipresent God. This process was that "filling of the hand," by which the actual installation in office took place. Moses, by the act, transferred the priestly functions, which he had hitherto exercised, to his brother and his brother's descendants. He made them by his muscular energy perform their first priestly act.
And thou shalt receive them of their hands, and burn them upon the altar for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour before the LORD: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Verse 25. - Thou shalt receive them at their hands and burn them. Moses was still to continue the priestly acts, and to complete the peace-offering by burning the selected parts (ver. 22) on the brazen altar. (See Leviticus 3:3-5.)
And thou shalt take the breast of the ram of Aaron's consecration, and wave it for a wave offering before the LORD: and it shall be thy part.
Verse 26. - Thou shalt take the breast. Henceforth Aaron and his sons were to have the breast of all wave-offerings (Leviticus 7:31-34); but on this occasion, as Moses officiated, the breast was to be his.
And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave offering, and the shoulder of the heave offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of the consecration, even of that which is for Aaron, and of that which is for his sons:
Verses 27, 28. - A short digression is here made, from this particular offering, to all future offerings for consecration. For the future both the breast and the right shoulder are to belong to the priests. The shoulder, moreover, is to be "heaved," and only the breast "waved; .... heaving" being a single lifting up of the offering towards heaven, while" waving" was a repeated movement in a horizontal direction. Wave and heave offerings are always connected with the portions of the priests, or with things dedicated to God's service. (See Exodus 25:2; Exodus 35:22, 24; Exodus 38:24, 29; Leviticus 7:30-34; Numbers 18:11, 19, 24, etc.)
And it shall be Aaron's and his sons' by a statute for ever from the children of Israel: for it is an heave offering: and it shall be an heave offering from the children of Israel of the sacrifice of their peace offerings, even their heave offering unto the LORD.
And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons' after him, to be anointed therein, and to be consecrated in them.
Verses 29, 30. - Here we have a second digression, also concerning future consecrations. The holy garments made for Aaron were to be preserved after his death, and used at the consecration of each successive high priest, who was to be anointed and consecrated in them, and to wear them for seven days from the time that he entered upon his office. Eleazar's investment in them is mentioned (Numbers 20:28); but not that of any later high priest.
And that son that is priest in his stead shall put them on seven days, when he cometh into the tabernacle of the congregation to minister in the holy place.
And thou shalt take the ram of the consecration, and seethe his flesh in the holy place.
Verse 31. - The ram of consecration - i.e., the part of the ram that was left and had not been burnt (ver. 25). Seethe his flesh in the holy place. This was understood to mean boiling at the door of the tabernacle (Leviticus 8:31). A sacrificial meal followed on every peace-offering, in which the offerers participated. (See above, Exodus 18:12.)
And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, by the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
Verse 32. - The bread that is in the basket - i.e., the loaf, cake, and wafer which still remained in the basket after one of each had been subtracted (see ver. 23, and compare vers. 2, 3).
And they shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them: but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.
Verse 33. - They shall eat those things wherewith the atonement was made. An atoning force pervaded all sacrifice. Sin-offerings were wholly expiatory; burnt-offerings and peace-offerings partially so (Leviticus 1:4). A stranger shall not eat thereof. "A stranger" in this place does not mean a foreigner, but anyone who is not a priest.
And if ought of the flesh of the consecrations, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire: it shall not be eaten, because it is holy.
Verse 34. - Thou shalt burn the remainder with fire. Compare above, Exodus 12:10.
And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all things which I have commanded thee: seven days shalt thou consecrate them.
Verses 35-37. - The repetition of the ceremonial, and the consecration of the altar. Verse 35. - Seven days shalt thou consecrate them. The repetition of the ceremony seven times on seven separate days seems to be intended. Thus was an ideal completeness given to it. Compare the seven days' compassing around of Jericho (Joshua 6:3, 4,), the seven washings in Jordan by Naaman (2 Kings 5:14), the seven ascents to the top of Carmel by the servant of Elijah (1 Kings 18:43, 44), etc.
And thou shalt offer every day a bullock for a sin offering for atonement: and thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it, and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.
Verse 36. - Thou shalt cleanse the altar, when thou hast made an atonement for it. Rather, "thou shelf purify the altar by making an atonement for it." The sin-offering for the altar was the same bullock which served for Aaron and his sons. Its virtue was applied to the altar by smearing the blood upon its horns and pouring the remainder at its base (ver. 12). See Leviticus 8:15: - "And Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it." And thou shalt anoint it. In his execution of these directions, Moses separated the anointing of the altar from the cleansing, placing it even before the anointing of Aaron. He anointed it by sprinkling the holy oil upon it seven times (Leviticus 8:11).
Seven days thou shalt make an atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; and it shall be an altar most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy.
Verse 37. - Seven days shalt thou make an atonement. All the ceremonial was to be repeated seven times, not only the atonement for the altar (Leviticus 8:33). An altar most holy. Literally, "holiness of holinesses," as in Exodus 40:10. Whatever toucheth the altar shall be holy. Rather, "must be holy." Nothing that is not holy must touch it (Kalisch).
Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually.
Verses 38-42. - THE DAILY SACRIFICE. The consecration of the altar, which is made a part of the consecration of the priests, is to be followed immediately by the establishment of the daily sacrifice. Two lambs are to be offered day by day to the Lord, one in the morning and the other in the evening, as "a continual burnt-offering" (ver. 42), in acknowledgment that the life of the people belonged to Jehovah (Cook), aria that they were bound to offer perpetually "themselves, their souls and bodies, to be a reasonable holy, and lively sacrifice" to him. The burnt-offerings were to be accompanied by appropriate "meat and drink-offerings" - i.e., by a certain quantity of flour mingled with olive oil for the one, and a certain quantity of wine for the other - indications of the debt of gratitude which the nation owed to God for his continual benefits Verse 38. - Lambs of the first year. Compare Exodus 12:5. The LXX. add "without blemish." But this is unnecessary, as all victims were to be without blemish (Leviticus 22:20: Deuteronomy 15:21, etc.)
The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at even:
Verse 39. - At even. Literally, "between the two evenings." (See the comment on Exodus 12:6.) Josephus says (Ant. Jud. 14:4, § 3) that the hour in ordinary use was three.
And with the one lamb a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering.
Verse 40. - A tenth deal - i.e., a "tenth part." The tenth part of an ephah is no doubt meant. This was sometimes called "an omen" (Exodus 16:36), and would be about three pounds weight of flour, or a little more. One fourth part of an hin of beaten oil. The word hin is said to be Egyptian. It occurs here for the first time. The bin was the sixth part of a bath, and probably contained about one pint and a half English. The fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink-offering. The application of the "drink-offerings" is uncertain. Josephus says (Ant. Jud. 3:9, § 4) that they were poured out round the brazen altar. But the analogy of the "meat offering" makes it probable that a portion only was thus treated, while the greater part belonged to the priests. In the entire provision by which burnt and peace-offering were to be necessarily accompanied with meat-offerings and drink-offerings, we can scarcely be wrong in seeing an arrangement made especially for the convenience of the priests.
And the other lamb thou shalt offer at even, and shalt do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
Verse 41. - Thou shalt do thereto according to the meat-offering, etc. "Thou shalt offer" - i.e., "the same meat-offering and drink-offering with the evening as with the morning sacrifice." For a sweet savour, See the comment on ver. 18.
This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.
Verse 42. - Throughout your generations. Rather, "for your generations." The tabernacle of the congregation. Rather, "of meeting" - "the tabernacle of meeting, where I will meet you." The verb and substantive are modifications of the same word, ועד. It is this passage which definitely fixes the meaning of the phrase incorrectly rendered "the tabernacle of the congregation" by our translators.
And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory.
Verses 43-46. - GOD'S PROMISES. The chapter terminates with a parenthetic insertion of various promises, intended to cheer the Israelites under the hard circumstances of their wanderings in the wilderness, and growing out of the mention of the tabernacle as "the tabernacle of meeting" (ver. 42). "There," says God, "He will meet, not only Moses, to speak to him, but also the children of Israel, to receive their offerings, hear their prayers, and grant their requests. There will he meet them, and there his glory shall be; and the tabernacle shall be thereby sanctified. He will sanctify both the tabernacle and the altar; he will sanctify, moreover, both Aaron and his sons; and he will dwell among the children of Israel, and be their God; and they shall know him." Very precious and gracious promises, made absolutely; though, as the result showed (2 Chronicles 36:14-18), contingent on their obedience; and faithfully performed, as long as even a remnant was obedient, during a space of above seven hundred years from the Exodus to the Captivity! Verse 43. - There will I meet the children of Israel. Lay Israelites might not enter the tabernacle, and could only "meet God" at its entrance, when they brought their sacrifices to the altar. He promises, however, to meet them on these occasions with favour and. acceptance. The tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory. Compare Exodus 40:34. The presence of the Shechinah was the true sanctification of the tabernacle - all the rest was mere type and figure. God not only "put his name there," but put his presence there visibly.
And I will sanctify the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar: I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons, to minister to me in the priest's office.
Verse 44. - I will sanctify... the altar. See Leviticus 9:24, where we learn that on the first occasion of Aaron's offering sacrifice upon the brazen altar, "there came a fire out from before the Lord, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat." Thus the altar had its miraculous sanctification, as well as the tabernacle, and was not merely consecrated by human instrumentality. I will sanctify also both Aaron and his sons. It would seem to follow, by parity of reasoning, that here also something more is intended than had been accomplished by the rites of consecration. The verb is in the future - "I will sanctify" - and must allude to something which has not yet taken place. Probably, sanctification of the spirit is intended - that Divine influence upon the heart which alone makes men really and truly "holy." (Compare Leviticus 21:8, 15; Leviticus 22:9, 16.) But in this case the promise must have been conditional. God would sanctify them so far as they would allow him.
And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
Verse 45. - I will dwell among the children of Israel. Compare Exodus 25:8. Primarily, the indwelling of the Shechinah in the holy of holies is, no doubt, meant; but the expression need not be limited to this. God would be present with his people in manifold ways - to direct, sustain, enlighten, defend, and save them. And will be their God. Compare Exodus 6:7. What treasures of love, protection, bounty, tenderness, and pardon, are there in this phrase!
And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God.
Verse 46. - And they shall know, etc. When they experience my protection, bounty, love, tenderness, pardon, they shall truly feel and know in their inmost hearts, that I am the same God who delivered them out of the bondage of Egypt, and brought them forth, for the very purpose of "dwelling among them." I am Jehovah, their God. No other God could deliver after this sort. No other God could be so long-suffering to a "stiff-necked people."