And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 1-5. - These verses contain the preliminaries of the ceremony of consecration. Aaron and his sons are to be brought to the door of the tabernacle, together with all that is necessary for the performance of the rite that is about to take place. The words in the second verse, a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread, should be translated, the bullock for the sin offering and the two rams and the basket. The garments, the anointing oil, the bullock, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread and cakes, had all been previously enjoined, when Moses was on the mount (Exodus 28, 29, 30). These previous injunctions are referred to in the words, This is the thing which the Lord commanded to be done (verse 5).
Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;
And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done.
And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.
Verse 6. - Washing, robing, anointing, sacrificing, are the four means by the joint operation of which the consecration is effected. The washing, or bathing, took place in the sight of the people. The whole of the person, except so much as was covered by the linen drawers (Exodus 28:42), was washed. The symbolical significance is clear. Cleansing from sin precedes clothing in righteousness and spiritual unction.
And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith.
Verses 7-9. - The robing. The various articles of the priestly dress had been appointed and described before (Exodus 28, 29). In these verses we see the order in which they were put on. After the priests had, no doubt, changed their linen drawers, there came, first, the coat, that is, a close-fitting tunic of white linen, made with sleeves and covering the whole body; next the girdle of the tunic, that is, a linen sash for tying the tunic round the body, with variegated ends hanging on each side to the ankles; thirdly, the robe, that is, a blue vesture, woven of one piece, with holes for the head and arms to pass through, reaching from the neck to below the knee, the bottom being ornamented with blue, purple, and scarlet pomegranates, alternating with golden bells; fourthly, the ephod, which consisted of two shoulder-pieces, or epaulettes, made of variegated linen and gold thread, fastened together in front and at the back by a narrow strap or band, from which hung, before and behind the wearer, two pieces of cloth confined below by the curious girdle of the ephod, that is, by a sash made of the same material as the ephod itself. Into the ephod were sewn two onyxes, one on each shoulder, in gold filigree settings, one of them engraven with the names of half of the tribes, and the other with the remaining half; and from two rosettes or buttons by the side of these stones depended twisted gold chains for the support of the breastplate. Fifth came the breastplate, which was a square pocket, made of embroidered linen, a span long and a span broad, worn upon the breast and hanging from the gold chains above mentioned, the lower ends of the gold chain being tied to two rings at the upper and outer corner of the breastplate, while the upper and inner corner of the same was attached to the ephod by blue thread running through two sets of rings in the breastplate and ephod respectively. The outer side of the breastplate was stiffened and adorned by twelve precious stones, set in four rows of three, each stone having on it the name of one of the tribes of Israel. The breastplate being double and the two sides and the bottom being sewn up, the pocket formed by it had its opening at the top. Into this pocket were placed the Urim and the Thummim, which were probably two balls of different colours, one of which on being drawn out indicated the approval of God, and the other his disapproval, as to any point on which the high priest consulted him. (The Jewish tradition, that the Divine answer by the Urim and the Thummim came by a supernatural light thrown on certain letters in the names of the tribes, has no foundation.) The last part of the dress to be put on was the mitre, or head-dress of linen, probably of the nature of a turban; to which, by a blue string, was attached the golden plate, in such a way that it rested lengthwise on the forehead, and on this plate or holy crown were inscribed the words," Holiness to the Lord." The investiture took place as the Lord commanded Moses, that is, in accordance with the instructions given in Exodus 28. Its purpose and its meaning in the eyes of the people would have been twofold: first, after the manner of the king's crown and the judge's robe, it served to manifest the fact that the function of priest was committed to the wearer; and next, it symbolized the necessity of being clothed upon with the righteousness of God, in order to be able to act as interpreter and mediator between God and man, thus foreshadowing the Divine Nature of him who should be the Mediator in antitype.
And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.
And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them.
Verses 10, 11. - The anointing is still more specifically the means of consecration than the investing or the washing. (For the anointing oil, which is here referred to as a thing well known, see Exodus 30:22-25, where its component parts are designated.) The consecration of things as well as of persons is sanctioned by the action of Moses, who anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. They were thus set apart for holy purposes. By all that was therein would be meant the ark, the vail, the altar of incense, the candlesticks, the table of show-bread. After the tabernacle and its furniture had been anointed, the altar - that is, the brazen altar - and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, were sprinkled; not once only, as the things within the tabernacle, but seven times, to show that it was specially holy, although situated only in the court. The laver, for the priests' use, was between the door of the tabernacle and the brazen altar of burnt offering. Its foot, or base, is described in Exodus 38:8, as made, according to the translation of the Authorized Version, "of brass, of the looking-glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle."
And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them.
And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.
Verse 12. - He poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head. The change of the verb poured for sprinkled, indicates that the amount of "the precious ointment" poured "upon the head, that ran down unto the beard, and went down to the skirts of his garments" (Psalm 133:2), was far greater than that with which the furniture of the tabernacle had been anointed. The oil sprinkled on the holy things sanctified them as means of grace. The oil poured upon Aaron represents the grace of the Holy Spirit, coming from without, but diffusing itself over and throughout the whole consecrated man.
And Moses brought Aaron's sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the LORD commanded Moses.
Verse 13. - The investiture of Aaron's sons - Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar - follows the consecration of their father. They are robed, according as the Lord commanded Moses in Exodus 28:40, in the white tunic, the sash, and the cap. But there is no statement here of their being anointed, although their anointing is ordered in Exodus 28:41, and still more imperatively in Exodus 40:15. They are spoken of as "anointed" in Leviticus 7:36, and as having "the anointing oil of the Lord upon them" in Leviticus 10:7. On the other hand, the high priest is specially designated as "the priest that is anointed" (Leviticus 4:3). It is probable that the personal anointing of the ordinary priests was confined to their being sprinkled with oil, as described below in verse 30; but that they were regarded as virtually anointed in Aaron's anointing. The Levites had no special dress until they obtained permission from Herod Agrippa I[. to wear the priestly robes (Joseph., 'Ant.,' 20:09, 6).
And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering.
Verses 14-32. - After the bathing, the robing, and the anointing, follow the sacrifices of consecration - the sin offering (verses 14-17), the burnt offering (verses 18-21), the peace offering (verses 22-32). Verse 14. - The sin offering. This was the first sin offering ever offered. There had been burnt offerings and sacrifices akin to peace offerings before, but no sin offerings. At once the sin offering takes its place as the first of the three sacrifices before the burnt offerings and peace offerings. Justification comes first, then sanctification, and, following upon them, communion with God. The victim offered by and for Aaron and his sons is a bullock, the same animal that is appointed for the offering of the high priest (Leviticus 4:3).
And he slew it; 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, to make reconciliation upon it.
Verses 15-17. - And Moses took the blood. Moses continues still to act as priest, and the new sacrifice is once offered by him. He performs the priestly act of presenting the blood; but on this occasion, which is special, the blood is not dealt with in the manner prescribed for the high priest's offerings (Leviticus 4:6). The reason of this is that Aaron was not yet high priest, and also that the offering was made not only for Aaron, but also for his sons; and further, the blood as well as the anointing oil was required to purify the altar, and sanctify it (see Hebrews 9:21). Although the blood was not "brought into the tabernacle," yet the bullock was burnt with fire without the camp, not eaten according to the rule of Leviticus 7:26, 30. This was necessary, as there were as yet no priests to eat it.
And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it upon the altar.
But the bullock, and his hide, his flesh, and his dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
Verses 18-21. - There is no deviation on the present occasion from the ritual appointed for the burnt offering. After the sin offering, righteousness is symbolically imputed to Aaron; after the burnt offering, holiness; then follows the peace offering of the ram, which completes and sacrificially effects the consecration.
And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat.
And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram.
Verses 22-29. - The ram offered as a peace offering is called the ram of consecration, or literally, of filling, because one of the means by which the consecration was effected and exhibited was the filling the hands of those presented for consecration with the portion of the sacrifice destined for the altar, which they waved for a wave offering before the Lord, previous to its consumption by the fire. This portion consisted of the internal fat and tail, which was usually burnt (Leviticus 7:31), and the heave offering of the right shoulder, or hind leg, which generally went to the officiating priest (Leviticus 7:32), and one of each of the unleavened cakes. After this special ceremony of waving, peculiar to the rite of consecration, the usual wave offering (the breast) was waved by Moses and consumed by himself. Ordinarily it was for the priests in general (Leviticus 7:31). The blood was poured on the side of the altar, as was done in all peace offerings, but in addition, on the present occasion, it was put upon the tip of the right ear, and upon the thumb of the right hand, and upon the great toe of the right foot of the priests who were being consecrated, symbolizing that their senses and active powers were being devoted to God's service. The same ceremony is to be used in the restoration of the leper (see chapter Leviticus 14:14).
And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot.
And he brought Aaron's sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about.
And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder:
And out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before the LORD, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder:
And he put all upon Aaron's hands, and upon his sons' hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the LORD.
And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And Moses took the breast, and waved it for a wave offering before the LORD: for of the ram of consecration it was Moses' part; as the LORD commanded Moses.
And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons' garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.
Verse 30. - The sprinkling with oil and blood completes the ceremony of anointing, and suffices of itself for the sons of Aaron, in addition to their virtual participation in the anointing of their father (verse 12). "In the mingling of the blood and oil for the anointing seems to be taught that not sacrifice for sin alone suffices; but that with this must be joined the unction of the Holy Spirit" (Gardiner).
And Moses said unto Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and there eat it with the bread that is in the basket of consecrations, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it.
Verses 31, 32. - The flesh of the peace offering is given to Aaron and his sons to eat, not in the capacity of priests (for the peace offerings were not eaten by the priests), but as the offerers of the sacrifice.
And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire.
And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you.
Verses 33-36. - The sacrificial ceremonies were repeated for seven days, during which Aaron and his sons remained in the court of the tabernacle, but did not enter the holy place, abstaining throughout that time from ministering, as the apostles did during the interval between the Ascension and the day of Pentecost. The words, Ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle, should rather be, Ye shall not go away from the entrance of the tabernacle, and for seven days shall he consecrate you, should rather be, during seven days ye shall be consecrated
As he hath done this day, so the LORD hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you.
Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the LORD, that ye die not: for so I am commanded.
So Aaron and his sons did all things which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses.