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GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS 1.1-7.38 --- 8.1-11.47 --- 12.1-16.34--- 17.1-27.34--- NUMBERS 1-10--- 11-19--- 20-36--- DEUTERONOMY 1.1-4.44 --- 4.45-11.32 --- 12.1-29.1--- 29.2-34.12 --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- PSALMS 1-17--- ECCLESIASTES --- ISAIAH 1-5 --- 6-12 --- 13-23 --- 24-27 --- 28-35 --- 36-39 --- 40-48 --- 49-55--- 56-66--- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL 1-7 ---DANIEL 8-12 ---



Commentary on Leviticus 2

By Dr Peter Pett BA BD (Hons-London) DD

Chapter 8 The Anointing of the High Priest.

This chapter again, as with chapter 1, takes up from the last part of Exodus (see Exodus 40.33). It describes the anointing of Aaron as the first High Priest of Israel, to oversee the tabernacle. Or, as he is mainly known in the text, as 'The Priest'. This was together with his sons who would be his deputies as 'priests', and one of whom would replace him when he died. Nations around all had High Priests and it is not therefore surprising that it was an idea that Israel took up under God (for the actual term High Priest see 21.10; Numbers 35.25, 28). Had they not had a High Priest they would have been an oddity among the nations.

His responsibility was to look after the religious life of Israel, and to act as Israel's representative before, and mediator with, God. As such he had to ensure the proper working of the cult, to ensure that all was done rightly, and to ensure that the people knew the Law of God. He had to ensure that all the correct procedures were carried through with regard to the offering of sacrifices, that the daily and weekly ministrations were fulfilled, and that the people were made aware of the Law of God and what was required of them. And above all he was responsible for ensuring the successful celebration of the great Day of Atonement when all Israel's sins were 'atoned for' for each year, for another year (see chapter 16).

The importance of all this for us today is that we too have all been called to be priests under our own Great High Priest (1 Peter 2.5, 9; Revelation 1.6), and in what happened to Aaron and his sons we can see something of our privileges in Christ. But like Jesus Himself our priesthood is not earthly, but heavenly. According to the Law no one, apart from the descendants of Aaron (Hebrews 8.4), can serve as a priest on earth, not even Jesus. But their ministry has ceased, both because invalidated by the offering up of Christ, and because of world events. Earthly sacrifices are therefore no longer acceptable, and can no longer be offered. Thus we do not serve on earth as an earthly priesthood, we serve in a heavenly priesthood (Hebrews 10.19-22). Through the work of Christ all earthly priesthood has lost both its function and its validity. They were but shadows and types of a reality to come (Hebrews 8.5; 10.1). Any man who claims to carry out priestly functions on earth on behalf of others, who is not descended from Aaron, is a fake. And anyone who does as a descendant of Aaron is out of date.

Our responsibilities and privilege are made clear in the New Testament. As His priests we are to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2.5), the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13.15; Philippians 4.6), and to show forth the excellences of Him Who has called us out of darkness into His most marvellous light (1 Peter 2.9). This includes a constant presentation of our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is our reasonable service, in order that we might carry out His will (Romans 12.1-2), praying with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit for all God's true people (Ephesians 6.18; Philippians 4.6), offering up the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13.15; Philippians 4.6; Colossians 2.7; 4.2) and ministering to God's people and to the world (Philippians 2.17; 4.18; Hebrews 13.16; Romans 15.16). And we do this in the Name of the One Who offered up one final sacrifice for sins for ever, a sacrifice never needing to be repeated. Thus the only offering and sacrifice that we can now make is the offering of ourselves to and through Him, as we are made one with Him in His sacrifice (Galatians 2.20).

And this is the basis on which we can read ourselves into these chapters. For like Aaron and his sons we too have been called to priesthood. And like them we must treat it as a serious business. Aaron is a type and shadow, partly of the High Priesthood of Christ, and partly of our position as priests under Christ's High Priesthood.

The Beginnings of the Priesthood (8.1-10.20).

In these chapters Aaron and his sons are installed by Moses as priests on earth, with Aaron as 'the Priest' (chapter 8). This can be compared with how Christ installs all Who come to Him as priests, in order that they may be worshippers of God and His ministers to the world. These new priests then carry out their first duties which God seals in a miraculous way (chapter 9), but sadly pride will overcome two of Aaron's sons and they will be smitten by God which causes Aaron great grief (chapter 10). High privilege in the things of God brings great responsibility.

8.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

The chapter begins with these words. They probably indicate a new revelation from God to Moses at this point, rather than just a continuation link. However, either way we are being assured that the words that follow are those spoken by God to Moses.

At Yahweh's Command The People Are Called Together And Informed That What They Are About To See Is Taking Place At The Command of Yahweh (8.2-5).

An epoch making moment was about to take place. It was therefore important that all should see that it was of God. On this day God would establish a priesthood that would have responsibility before God for the whole people of God over the next a thousand years and more, until they were finally replaced by Jesus Christ. Over that period they were to be His representatives on earth. It would be a great responsibility.

Some would bear it nobly and their lives would reveal something of the glory of God, and many would be blessed through their activity. We may consider such as Eleazar, who with Joshua led the people into Canaan, Samuel who restored the reputation of the priesthood, only for it to fail at the hands of his sons, and Joshua who with Zerubbabel helped to restore the nation after the Exile (Zechariah 3.1-9; 6.11-13). And there were others too, many unknown, who laboured faithfully for God through the ages.

Note on the Priesthood.

On the death of Aaron, his son Eleazar succeeded to the office of 'the Priest' and was inaugurated by Moses on Mount Hor alone with God (Numbers 20.28; compare Deuteronomy 10.6). He was already 'prince of the princes of the Levites', and had had oversight of those who had charge of the Sanctuary (Numbers 3.32 compare 4.16). He was clearly a figure of high authority, first with Moses (Numbers 26.1; 27.2, 19, 21-22; 31.12, 13, 21; 31.13-54; 32.2, 28; 34.17) and then with Joshua (Numbers 27.21 where he was to use 'the Urim' on Joshua's behalf; 34.17; Joshua 14.1; 17.4; 21.1 where he has precedence over Joshua). His death is recorded in Joshua 24.33.

In Joshua 22.30, Phinehas his son, who is usually called 'the son of Eleazar the Priest', is called 'the Priest', suggesting that he now acted in his father's place, his father being old, and in Judges 20.28 he is named as 'the one who stood before the Ark of Yahweh' and he clearly used the Urim and Thummim. That someone had taken over comes out in what was almost certainly a use of the Urim and Thummim in Judges 1.1, and is confirmed by the fact that when Joshua died the people 'served Yahweh' all the days of the elders that outlived Joshua (Judges 2.7). This required both a priesthood and a central Sanctuary. For an example of how the central Sanctuary still came into play see Judges 19-21, especially 20.1-2, 18 and 23 where the Urim and Thummim are used, 26 where whole burnt offerings and peace offerings are offered before Yahweh, 27-28 where Phinehas is clearly in authority and is 'before the Ark of Yahweh' and uses the Urim and Thummim; Judges 21.4 where an altar was 'built' at Mizpah, which seems to have been where the tabernacle was for a time, and probably signifies the making ready of the bronze altar of burnt offering, the building up of the fire on it, with that followed by the offering of whole burnt offerings and peace sacrifices on it.

The movements from place to place probably signify that the Ark was on the move (Mizpah (Judges 20.1; 21.1); Bethel (Judges 20.18, 26-29; 21.2)) in order that Yahweh would be with them in battle (compare Numbers 10.35-36). Whether the tabernacle moved with it we are not told, but it was probably so.

But by the time of Eli the Sanctuary was at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1.3. 7; 4.4; Jeremiah 7.12), where it seems to have been permanently stationed until it was destroyed by the Philistines (Jeremiah 26.6-9). 1 Samuel 1.9 speaks of 'the doorpost of the temple of Yahweh', but 'doorpost' could mean tentpole (compare 'the door of the tent of meeting'), and the tabernacle is elsewhere named a temple by David (2 Samuel 22.7; Psalm 5.7), at a time when the tabernacle is regularly spoken of. The 'temple' (heycal - 'a spacious, magnificent structure') of a god could be a tent, or could be a building. Thus here it is the magnificent tabernacle. And it may well also be that on the tabernacle's 'permanent' site buildings to house the skins and the tithes had been erected, and even a defensive wall with a 'door'.

Eli was informed by God that He had called his 'father' Aaron by choosing him out of all of Israel to be His Priest, to go up to His altar, to burn incense and to wear the ephod (1 Samuel 2.28) with the inference that Eli now did the same. But he was to be replaced by one chosen by God (1 Samuel 2.35), which in context must, at least in the first place, indicate Samuel his adopted son, for Samuel interceded for Israel (1 Samuel 7.5, 8;), offered sacrifices (1 Samuel 7.9, 17), anointed those who would be king and wore a linen ephod (1 Samuel 2.18). Samuel is never named 'the Priest', but he certainly acted as a priest, presumably through adoption (while Eli's grandsons were growing up?). A child by adoption was treated as a true son. Eli is not mentioned in the genealogies in 1 Chronicles, because, like Ahimelech and Abiathar after him, he was descended from Ithamar (1 Kings 2.27).

By the time of David Ahimelech, descended from Ithamar and of the house of Eli (1 Samuel 21.2; 1 Kings 2.27; 1 Chronicles 24.3), was 'the Priest', and he was followed by Abiathar who bore the ephod and 'the Ark of the Lord Yahweh' (1 Samuel 30.7; 1 Kings 2.26), who because of treachery was replaced by Zadok (1 Kings 2.35), of the house of Eleazar.

(End of note).

But this priesthood, which was intended to bind the nation together within the covenant and keep it in the truth, in the end proved unworthy, and while some sometimes genuinely sought to do so, only too often the priests as a whole would fail in their responsibility. They would become too taken up with other things, with politics, with seeking power and riches, and with the lure of false gods, so that the covenant and its significance ceased to be important. We see in the time of Jesus the faithful among the priests (Luke 1.5), but this did not tend to extend to the hierarchy (John 2.16; Mark 11.17). And none would fulfil it as it should be fulfilled until the One came Who would be God's perfect High Priest in things pertaining to God (Hebrews 2.17), Jesus Christ Himself.

However, at the time in which this was written all that was still in the future. This day was a day of great hope. Israel's future with God was being catered for in the light of their establishment as a nation.

8.2-3 'Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and the bull ox of the purification for sin offering, and the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread, and assemble all the congregation at the door of the tent of meeting.'

Moses is first called on to bring Aaron and his sons into the court of the tabernacle at the door of the tent of meeting, and to gather the people and all the equipment that will be necessary for their consecration. The bull ox was for the purification for sin offering, one of the rams for a whole burnt offering and the other for the 'consecration' (the 'filling'). Also brought are the unleavened bread and cakes in their basket. Then the people are to be gathered together.

Note how the instruction assumes that full details have already been given. Thus the existence of the information in Exodus 29 is here assumed.

We have in this a reminder of what Christ did for us in consecrating us to His service. He offered Himself up (as our purification for sin offering) that we might be purified, that He might set us apart to Himself and sanctify us in God's eyes (as our whole burnt offering and ram of consecration), and that He might feed us with Himself as the bread of life (our unleavened bread)

8.4 'And Moses did as Yahweh commanded him, and the congregation was assembled at the door of the tent of meeting.'

Godly man as he was Moses did exactly as Yahweh had commanded him, with the result that all was soon ready and the whole of the people were gathered round the tabernacle in expectancy. It was a great day. Their leaders and important men would be pressed into the court of the tabernacle, while the people amassed round about, mainly outside the court, but facing the door of the tent of meeting.

8.5 'And Moses said to the congregation, "This is the thing which Yahweh has commanded to be done." '

Moses then explained why they were gathered. His explanation, received by the leaders would be conveyed to the wider crowds through messengers. Note that his first concern was that they should be aware that what he was about to do was on Yahweh's command. 'Be sure to realise,' he kept repeating, 'that this is the command of Yahweh' (verses 4, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 29).

While the people constantly complained about Moses he was in the last analysis the one whom they trusted. And while Aaron had been with him throughout their adventures in Egypt it was Moses whom they had looked on as the prime figure. It was he who had divided the Reed Sea. It was he who had been with God in the Mount, who had brought them the Law, and who had previously acted as priest when it was necessary. It was he whom they had seen go into the old tent of meeting to meet with Yahweh. It was he who had organised the making and erection of the tabernacle. They might well have asked, why then should Aaron now supplant him? Others might simply have looked on it as Mosaic nepotism, a favouring of his own brother. So Moses wanted them to be sure that they were aware of the truth. That Aaron was being appointed at the command of God. That Aaron was appointed by none other than God to be their High Priest. (Inevitably, man being what he is, it would not be long before this was challenged - Numbers 16)

The Preparation for The Consecration Of Aaron and His Sons - The Sanctifying of The Tabernacle and Its Contents, The Robing of the Priests, and The Anointing of Aaron (8.6-13)

Aaron and his sons are first robed in the robes of their office. For the full details of these robes, and their manufacture, see Exodus 28. It is a reminder that as Christians who have responded fully to Christ we too have been robed in the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5.21 compare Isaiah 61.10) so that we may serve Him as priests before God. Without that robe, giving us status and authority in Him, we could not serve a holy God.

8.6 'And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water.'

Moses first action with Aaron and his sons was to wash them with water. This was a ceremonial washing and indicated the preliminary removal from Aaron and his sons of the taint of earthiness. They were to be made outwardly as free of earthly taint as when they came into the world (that is, once they had been washed after birth). No earthly stains of life should remain on them. They were coming into the presence of the Holy One, the One Who was not of this earth. Nothing earthy must cling to them.

Like all ceremonial washing this had nothing to do with spiritual 'cleansing'. Water did not 'cleanse' (unless mixed with sacrificial ashes as in the water of purification - Numbers 19). It washed off earthiness preparatory to cleansing. The constant refrain after ceremonial washing is 'and shall not be clean until the evening'. Men were cleansed as they waited on God in their tents, (as Aaron and his sons would wait in the Sanctuary - verses 33-35) not by the washing of water. The point being made by the washing in water was that in order even to enter God's presence they needed to leave 'earthiness' behind.

We too when entering into the presence of God must learn to leave earthiness behind. We should 'wash' our hearts and our minds clear of earthly things (Isaiah 1.16-18) that in His presence our concentration may be on heavenly things, and on what is pleasing to God. And then we should seek cleansing through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1.7), and washing of water with the word (Ephesians 5.26), a 'washing' that goes deeper than the mere removal of earthiness. Bold we may be (Hebrews 10.19) but we should not enter God's presence lightly.

Through loose interpretation some equate baptism with this washing in water. But washing is not the idea behind baptism. Baptism is symbolic of the rain, which watered the earth and resulted in the rivers and springs, which was life-giving and fruit-bearing as John the Baptiser's (Matthew 3.7-12; Luke 3.8-9, 17) and Jesus' teaching (John 4.10, 14, 23; 7.37-39) makes clear, and as is described vividly in the prophets (Isaiah 32.15; 44.1-5). It is not symbolic of a cultic rubdown which symbolises simply the removal of earthiness. Peter in fact specifically points out that baptism is 'not the removal of the filth of the flesh' (1 Peter 3.21), it is not to be seen as like a cultic washing, but rather it is like the water that lifted up the Ark to bring deliverance and salvation. Paul talks of it as illustrating dying and living again. All speak of life and deliverance.

Note On Washing With Water.

We will come across this cultic washing again and again. We should therefore recognise what is involved. Water was in short supply in the wilderness, except when at large oases, and, apart from the rainy months, it was short in Palestine as well, especially in the hills. In many places in Palestine, in order to survive, rainwater when it came had to be gathered in cysterns, which were holes in the ground, narrowing in at the top and lined with lime-plaster. And while it was carefully guarded, the water soon became soiled as people regularly came to the cystern and drew from it, and it had to be used sparingly. Cities would be built by copious springs, from which water could also be collected and kept in earthenware jars, but even then it was rarely available, except to the rich, in ample quantities. So water, especially in the summer months, had to be preserved and used sparingly. Bathing was a luxury for the rich and for kings. Men and women did not see themselves as dirty. They saw no need to wash for that reason. And for those who could afford it and felt it necessary, the smells, which were for most a normal part of life, were disguised by the use of perfumes.

Thus water was not seen as something by which you kept clean. It was rather seen as intended for drinking and for watering the fields, producing life. However, through the cult, washing in order to remove the worst of dirt was encouraged, and this was undoubtedly hygienically beneficial, but cultically it was in order to remove men's earthiness, the earthiness that inhibited approach to a heavenly God. While it thus had its part in removing cultic uncleanness, it was not because the water was itself seen as symbolising cleansing within. The water was seen as simply removing earthiness so that men could approach God in order to be cleansed. That is why regularly after speaking of washing in water the refrain is added, 'and shall not be clean until the evening'. Spiritual cleansing took place through spending time before God.

And even cultic washing was not the equivalent of 'bathing'. Where it was 'necessary' hands and feet would be washed (Exodus 30.19-21), and water might be applied to the body, but it was perfunctory rather than adequate. Even the High Priest's washing on the Day of Atonement would probably not be a full-scale bath (16.4) in those early days. It was 'earthiness' that was being removed, not dirt. And it was mainly symbolic. (Even the later proselyte conversion bath had this aim in mind, the removal of cultic 'uncleanness' resulting from living in the Gentile world, and was not for the removal of dirt or sin as such).

On the whole then the idea that baptism symbolises spiritual 'cleansing' (as against renewal) does not come from the Scriptures. In fact it is rather remarkable how little suggestion there is of this. The only possible reference to it is in Acts 22.16, and even then it is doubtful if it bears the weight put on it, for Ananias probably had in mind Isaiah 1.16-18, seeing the washing as preliminary, and the baptism rather as following it and related to calling on the name of the Lord resulting in reception of the Spirit. The idea of baptism as washing came from societies who saw washing as necessary in order to be clean. But these were not in Palestine. In Palestine water was rather the symbol of life and hope and growth. John the Baptiser spoke in terms of fruitful fields and trees, not in terms of bathing and being clean, and Jesus spoke in terms of 'new birth' and of water giving life. Paul saw baptism as symbolising the rising from the dead, and Peter as lifting men up to salvation. It spoke of new life and new hope. Spiritual 'cleansing' was through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1.7).

Thus this 'washing with water' should not be equated with baptism. It should rather be seen as denoting the need for us to recognise our earthiness in contrast with the heavenly. To put it in modern terminology we should, when we seek to approach God, put aside our earthly way of thinking and should think in heavenly terms, recognising that we are approaching a heavenly God, with the result that God may then be able to deal with us and bring us to cleansing through His blood.

In fact the wrong interpretation of baptism actually caused great harm in the church, with people refusing to be baptised until their death bed lest they lose its benefit by sinning after being baptised. They saw it as a once for all 'cleansing from sin'. But this was to totally destroy the true essential significance of baptism which was that when a man became a Christian the 'drenching' of the Spirit as with life-giving rain, and the springing up of new life, came upon him. There was, of course a sense in which that was cleansing, but not in the sense of washing.

End of note.

8.7 'And he put on him the coat, and put round him the sash (or 'girdle'), and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod on him, and he girded him with the skilfully woven band of the ephod, and bound it to him with it.'

Moses now carried out the process of arraying Aaron with the detailed clothing of The Priest, with all the robes that had been prepared under God's guidance. These priestly garments were to be 'for glory and for beauty' (Exodus 28.2). They were unique and were to separate him off as holding an office of splendour, as being a reflection of God's beauty, as being distinguished from all others in his being 'sanctified', which signified that he was 'set apart as holy', as belonging to God, as being God's supreme representative to His people, as being God's mediator between God and man. They were not intended for his glory. They were in order to reveal to the people a hint of Yahweh's own glory and beauty, and that this one acted before God on their behalf, and that when he came from the tabernacle he came to them from God. He was to be a shadow of the Greater Who was yet to come.

So God was concerned that men should honour 'the Priest' as His representative and mediator, and through his clothing God intended to reveal some small hint of His own glory and beauty. In comparison with what they all wore in the wilderness he would be beautiful indeed. And the intention was that the outer clothing would also reflect the inner life. To wear the one and not do the other would be hypocritical indeed. Aaron was called on to also reveal 'the beauty of holiness' (Psalm 29.2; 96.9; 1 Chronicles 16.29), the beauty of total dedication and separation to God. And in fact his failure to fully do so would sadly lead to his death (Numbers 20.24). But not before two of his sons had died before him for deliberate disobedience with regard to the ritual of the Sanctuary (10.1). Aaron and they were called to a high office. But it was also a demanding one. Those who wore the uniform were called on to live the life. And if they did not do so they would die. As so often through salvation history at the first establishment of something spiritually significant those involved who sinned were punished severely (10.2; Numbers 16.1-50; Joshua 7.1-26; 2 Samuel 6.6-7; Acts 5.1-11).

But at this moment of consecration all that was in the unknown future. On this day no clouds gathered over their heads. Aaron and his sons were proud and content as they approached Moses in order to be arrayed in their priestly garments, as the whole of Israel looked on.

First he put on Aaron the undercoat, which was of patterned work. It was probably of fine linen. This covered him from head to toe and included sleeves that he might not be 'naked' before God. Then the first 'belt' or 'girdle' was put round him, possibly a sash, in order to hold the coat in, and this was then followed by his over-robe. This was an embroidered robe of bluey-purple fine linen (Exodus 28.39) put on over the top. After this the ephod was put on him and belted on with the skilfully woven band of the ephod.

The ephod was made of costly material embroidered in gold, bluey-violet, purpley-red and scarlet. To put it simply it consisted of front and back pieces which reached from below the shoulders to the hips and was held in place by two shoulder bands, and was tied round the waist. Two precious stones were on its shoulder pieces which bore the names of the children of Israel. Attached to it by gold fittings was the breastpouch of judgment.

We may see in the colours a connection with splendour and glory (the gold), Heaven itself (the blue), royalty (purple) and the blood (scarlet). They represented different aspects of the High Priest's position. He was a figure of splendour, was to connect with Heaven, was to be royal in status and was to be the one who made atonement for men. They are a fitting picture of Jesus Christ Who was Himself all this and more.

The High Priest was always intended to be a national leader under God, as Aaron had already proved himself to be, and as Eleazar his son was after him. See Number 26.63; 27.2, 19-22; 31.12-31; Joshua 14.1; 17.4. Note Eleazar's precedence to Joshua in Numbers 34.17; Joshua 14.1. As spiritual leader he stood alongside the one who acted as war leader and 'judged' Israel. Phinehas then followed on (Numbers 31.36; Joshua 22.13, 30-32; Judges 20.28). It was partially the failure of the High Priest to fulfil this function properly that resulted in the laxness and weakness of the period of the Judges, and Eli later judged Israel, followed by Samuel.

In Samuel, war leader and High Priest were probably combined. But though the High Priest had royal power he was never king. God was Israel's king (Numbers 23.21; Deuteronomy 33.5; 1 Samuel 8.7), and the High Priest his deputy. It was the people's dissatisfaction with God as king (1 Samuel 8.7) and the failure of the priesthood (8.5) that led to Saul's appointment. They wanted a charismatic war leader, not to be dependent on a possibly failing and weak High Priest.

Christ was arrayed in His priestly robes through His exemplary life, girded with truth, and 'wore the ephod' as One Who was spoken to directly from God. On the Mount of Transfiguration the beauty of His garments, so hidden on earth, was revealed (Mark 9.3; Matthew 17.2; Luke 9.29), and He was appointed God's High Priest (Mark 9.7 with Hebrews 5.5, 6, 10, see also Mark 1.11) so that He could offer up Himself as a sacrifice for sin.

We too as Christians need to be clothed properly if we are to be servants of Jesus Christ and are to approach God as His priests. We need the robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61.10; 2 Corinthians 5.21), and the belt of truth (Ephesians 6.14), the one provided by the righteousness of Christ being imputed to us, the other by being saturated in His word. Only those can serve Him who have received His covering righteousness and who love the truth.

8.8 'And he placed the breastpouch on him, and in the breastpouch he put the Urim and the Thummim.'

This Breastpouch of Judgment was so-called (Exodus 28.5, 29, 30) because it contained within it the Urim and the Thummim by which decisions were reached before Yahweh. It was like a 23 centimetre (nine inch) bag, was foursquare, and also contained on it twelve semiprecious stones on which were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes of Israel whom he represented before God. It would be attached to the ephod when Aaron was preparing to go in to the Holy Place before Yahweh. The Urim and Thummim, contained in the pouch, were probably used in a similar way to how we would toss a coin. Tossed down they probably gave two or three alternatives read from how they fell, possibly 'yes', 'no' and 'no verdict', but all this is highly conjectural on the basis of instances of its usage (in fact there is no specific example in Scripture of a negative answer by them, but that may be because no one was interested in recording details of such an answer).

This meant that when the nation needed to know God's will it was to the High Priest that they looked. Once the men who knew God face to face (Moses and Joshua) had departed, he alone had the means for its discernment (Judges 20.28). Joshua probably looked to the Urim and Thummim in Joshua 7.16-19. David also at first looked to the Urim and Thummim in the ephod (1 Samuel 14.3 with 41-42; compare also 23.9-12; 28.6; 30.7-8; 2 Samuel 2.1-2). They are later mentioned after the Exile as something which might one day return (Ezra 2.63; Nehemiah 7.65) when disputed questions could be decided. The meaning of the two words used is unknown.

Jesus Christ had better than the Urim and Thummim, for He received communication directly from the Father and thus knew all the Father's will (John 5.19-20; 8.28-29, 38. 40; 17.8).

Today we do not look to the Urim and Thummim. Rather do we look to the Spirit of God to guide us as we come together to seek to determine His will. We are confident that if our hearts are truly open and willing He will direct us in the right way (Genesis 24.27). But as with the Urim and Thummim we may receive no answer. If this be so, and our hearts be truly right, then we can go forward confident that He will go before us to prepare the way. But if our hearts are not right, then like Saul we may be led astray (1 Samuel 28.6). Spiritual discernment is an important gift.

8.9 'And he set the turban on his head; and on the turban, in front, he set the golden plate (literally 'flower'), the holy crown, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

It should be noted that the turban is secondary, only worthy of mention because of the plate or flower of gold which had on it HOLY TO YAHWEH which was to be on Aaron's forehead. The turban is not itself anywhere described in any way, except to say that it is of fine linen. All eyes are to be on the golden plate/flower with its powerful declaration.

This plate/flower is remarkable. It sums up why Aaron can come before Yahweh as the representative of the people. It is because he has in his official capacity as 'the Priest' been made 'holy to Yahweh', set apart as 'holy', as belonging to Yahweh, through due process as His 'set apart one'. He has an aura from God about him. It sums up the significance of his office. It is why he can make atonement for all the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel had 'set apart to God', and can 'bear the iniquity of sacred things' (Exodus 28.38). He stands alone, a picture of a Greater yet to come.

He can be this because of God's appointment, the shedding of blood on his behalf, and his various preparations which we have yet to consider. He is God's appointee. But as such he represents all Israel. Thus in him Israel too is holy to Yahweh. The whole of the sacrificial system and the ordinances, and the covenant, are summed up on that plate/flower of gold. They are Yahweh's provision for those who desire to be true to the covenant. The High Priest is ready to function as Yahweh's anointed on their behalf.

The 'flower' shape may indicate the blossoming forth in new life of the priesthood from God in holiness, or it may be a reminder of mortality, that as the flower of the field he will die. The former seems more probable, but the latter ever a warning. Blossoming forth is often the symbol of new life (Isaiah 35.1; 58.11).

And no one was more worthy of that head plate/flower than Jesus Christ. He was God's blossoming forth (see Hebrews 1.2). And His whole life testified to the fact that He was 'holy to Yahweh'. The High Priest bore it on his head in the temple, but Jesus bore it to the cross (unknowingly Pilate would spell it out on the cross as 'this is the King of the Jews', that is, the anointed one of God). That was why He suffered 'outside the camp' (Hebrews 13.12-13). As with the purification for sin offering for the High Priest and the nation, and on the Day of Atonement (see on 4.12, 21; 16.27), He was too holy to be finally committed to God within the camp. On that day Jerusalem ceased to count. It was no longer worthy. The true sacrifice had been offered outside the gates. And from that day it was the true High Priest in Heaven who bore the title 'holy to Yahweh'. He was the One Who could truly wear gold, and blue, and purple and scarlet, for He was truly the One Who enjoyed the glory of God, was welcome in Heaven, was of full royal status and was the complete sacrifice for sin.

Note that this was all done 'as Yawheh commanded Moses'. On such a solemn occasion, nothing must be done that Yahweh has not specifically commanded. The emphasis all though is on Moses' total obedience.

8.10 'And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was in it, and sanctified them.'

Having clothed Aaron in his splendour before the spellbound crowd, Moses now moved on to the task of 'making holy' (sanctifying, setting apart to God) the tabernacle and all the furniture in it. This was done by use of the holy anointing oil (see Exodus 30.22-33). All the crowd would probably see was Moses disappearing into the tabernacle with the anointing oil and emerging a short time later. That it is not described in any detail is a sign of authenticity. This record was made by someone standing outside, possibly Joshua. (Alternately we may see it as being intended to be a literal fulfilment of Exodus 40.9 where it is similarly abbreviated, indicating that as Yahweh had commanded, so was done).

The oil, made with God's own unique constituents and never to be used except in relation to the prescribed holy things, signified that this was all set apart to God's holy service. From now on it was His. It was most holy. None must touch it except those whom He had appointed.

Jesus as the tabernacle of God among men (John 1.14-18) was on His appointment also anointed, but in His case with the Holy Spirit Who came down from Heaven (Acts 4.27; 10.38). Here was greater wonder and a better anointing, the real as against the shadow. He was supremely the Anointed One.

8.11 'And he sprinkled of it on the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all its vessels, and the laver and its base, to sanctify them.'

Once Moses came back outside more detail begins to enter the narrative. First he sprinkles the anointing oil on the altar seven times, thus is the altar anointed, then he anoints the vessels, the laver for holding the water for priestly washing, together with its base (even the base is now mentioned. All is detail now that it is visible to the recorder). The purpose again is to make them holy. The sevenfold anointing demonstrates the importance of the altar which needs divinely perfect dedication. But can we doubt that some of the important items inside the sanctuary had similar treatment, possibly the ark of the covenant and the altar of incense? Yet we are not told so because the one who recorded this did not see what happened. A later inventor would have known exactly what happened inside! And he would have been eager to describe the anointing of the sacred items that had by then disappeared, especially the holy Ark and the holy altar of incense.

Even more was that holy place temporarily anointed that bore the cross, where was the spiritual altar on which Christ offered Himself (Hebrews 13.10). It was not in Jerusalem, for that city was not worthy, but at an unknown site 'outside the gates'. And its holiness was lifted up to Heaven with Him. We should not seek holy places on earth. God is in Heaven, and we live in heavenly places with Christ (Ephesians 2.6; Philippians 3.20; Colossians 3.1-3)

8.12 'And he poured of the anointing oil on Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him.'

See Exodus 29.6. The anointing oil was then poured on Aaron's head. The head was probably chosen because it was on the head that the crown would be placed which declared him 'Holy to Yahweh'. This anointing identified him directly with the tabernacle and its furniture, and made him equally 'holy', as set apart to God in His service so that his person should be revered (that is why later David will not touch one who is 'Yahweh's anointed' - 24.10; 26.9, 11, 23; 2 Samuel 1.14, 16). He was brought into a new sphere, the sphere of being God's unique representative. He could now go once a year where no other could go, into the very Holy of Holies. But he was still not greater than Moses, and it did not save him from the criticism of men, nor from judgment. Indeed it made him more open to it.

The anointing on the head separated him off as supreme over the whole priesthood. The other priests would be anointed (verse 30), but not on the head.

Such anointing would later also be applied to kings and prospective kings of Israel (1 Samuel 10.1; 16.13 and often) and prophets (1 Kings 19.16), so much so that the coming, expected great King would be called the Messiah, the Anointed One (Daniel 9.25).

In the same way was Jesus anointed with the Holy Spirit at His baptism, as God's great alternative High Priest, King and Prophet (Luke 4.18; Acts 4.27; 10.38). He too could go where no other has gone, into Heaven itself (Hebrews 9.24). And He too will anoint His own with the same Holy Spirit. He 'drenches with the Holy Spirit' (Mark 1.8; Matthew 3.11) all who come to Him.

8.13 'And Moses brought Aaron's sons, and clothed them with coats, and girded them with girdles, and bound caps on them, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

For fuller detail see Exodus 29.9. The sons of Aaron, while not being clothed in quite the same splendour, were also clothed with their priestly garments, but there is no mention of anointing (although see verse 30 which brought them within the anointing). They came, as his assistants, within the anointing of the High Priest. The one who was approved to exercise the office also bore the anointing, which was why they shared his anointing later (verse 30).

The robes of Aaron's sons were probably, like Aaron's under-robe (kethoneth), from neck to toe and with sleeves. They were probably also of fine linen. The verb used in Exodus 28 may indicate that they were not patterned like Aaron's, but it may be that the patterning was assumed. They were fastened with a sash, girdle, or belt, and they were to wear caps, probably close-fitting. Such caps were often worn in Egypt, but not by priests. It would consist of a piece of cloth tied with ties. The caps were in order to retain the hair. Man must be totally covered in the presence of God in order to cover his unworthiness. The letting down of the hair was also a symbol of sadness and distress (Leviticus 10.6), and this must not occur in the Sanctuary where all was holy joy. The caps would also have another practical purpose. They would prevent sunstroke through constant service in the courtyard in connection with the altar.

The word used for their robe was used of the provision of robes for Adam and Eve in the Garden. Man in his puniness and his sinfulness must be totally covered before God. He is no longer fit to come before God as he is in himself.

We are given no information about the sash/girdle, except that it was embroidered (Exodus 28.39), but 39.29 shows it to be of fine linen, and possibly bluey-violet, and purpley-red, and scarlet, unless that is just describing Aaron's. The remainder of their clothes were probably white. They also were to be clothed in purity from head to foot.

Their clothes too were 'for glory and for beauty'. As priestly garments they covered their wearers, as it were, in the glory and beauty of God, depicting their status. Indeed white robes are regularly elsewhere depicted as the mark of the heavenly and the garb of angels and of the redeemed who have died (Mark 9.3; Matthew 28.3; Mark 16.5; John 20.12; Acts 1.10; Revelation 4.4; 6.11; 7.9, 14; 19.14).

We can see in these priests a picture of ourselves. We too are to be clothed with white, the righteousness of Christ; we too are to be girded with truth ready for service on Christ's behalf. But our heads are to be uncovered because we are no longer under the Law, but share in Christ's headship (1 Corinthians 11.4). And yet we must still wear the 'cap' of humility.

The Offering of the Purification For Sin Offering (8.14-17).

8.14 'And he brought the bull ox of the purification for sin offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the bull ox of purification for sin offering.'

Having sanctified the tabernacle and it contents, and having put the priestly garments on Aaron and his son's, and having anointed Aaron with oil to inaugurate the priesthood, Moses now commenced the offerings and sacrifices to seal the occasion.

The first stage was the purification for sin offering. In order to be initiated all must first be purified from their sins. This is the first stage for all of us. And it was so for Aaron. If we would be become God's priests, anointed to serve Him, we must commence with being purified, in our case through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9.14; 10.10).

The bull ox was brought forward, and Aaron and all of his sons laid their hands on it. By this they united themselves with the bull ox and it became their representative. It may be that they confessed their sins over it, but in fact confession of sin is only specifically linked to guilt offerings and to the live goat on the Day of Atonement, never to the purification for sin offerings, although the latter were certainly in recognition of having sinned.

8.15 'And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, and sanctified it, to make atonement for it.'

Aaron then slew the bull ox, and Moses would catch the blood in a basin. We may also assume that they skinned the bull ox and cut it in pieces. Moses then took the blood and with his finger applied it to the horns of the altar, thus purifying the altar, and poured the blood at the base of the altar, sanctifying it and making atonement for it. It would seem clear from the fact that the altar which has just been sanctified (verse 11) needs to be sanctified again, that the bringing of the bull ox and the slaying of it has in some way affected the altar. It is becoming as one with the sacrifice and the offerers, and needs to be purified and atoned for so that it can offer the offerings. Thus the purifying of the altar and the making of atonement for it includes the purifying of those involved at this stage, and the making of atonement for them. Their sin is seen as being in some way transferred to the altar, which was then purified so that the sin was neutralised.

The altar was in a way seen as the gateway to God. In Ezekiel's heavenly temple the only thing actually commanded to be built is the altar (Ezekiel 43.18). It was through that earthly altar (in the relatively diminutive second temple) that the heavenly temple could be accessed. The heavenly temple was God's own dwellingplace, never intended to be built on earth. It descended from God and finally returned to God, and is depicted in Revelation as the place from where He dispenses His blessings and judgments, and from which will flow the rivers of living water (Ezekiel 47.1-12; compare Revelation 22.1-5; John 7.38).

8.16 'And he took all the fat that was on the innards, and the covering of the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it on the altar.'

All the fat and the innards, including the vital parts, were now burned on the altar. The procedure follows that of the purification for sin offering for the priest described in chapter 4.3-12. The fat is the choice part of the offering, and the vital parts represent the soul of the animal, its vital life. All are offered to God in homage and worship. They are not to be partaken of even by the priests.

8.17 'But the bull ox, and its skin, and its flesh, and its dung, he burnt with fire outside the camp, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

Then all that remains of the bull ox is taken outside the camp and burned in a clean place, just as Yahweh had commanded Moses. All that Moses did was precisely as commanded by Yahweh. This was because these remains were so holy that they could not be burned on the altar, and could not be allowed to remain in the camp. They were passed on to God in His own place in the wilderness, in 'a clean place', a place not contaminated by any aspect of His living and dying creation.

Thus was Aaron, along with his sons, purified with the type and shadow that pointed forwards to the coming of Jesus Christ Who, as the holiest of the holy, came as God's purification for sin offering, an offering made once-for-all for them and for the whole world, an offering so holy that He had to be offered outside Jerusalem. Without His first offering for sin, and our response to it by spiritually laying our hands on Him, we could not even begin to approach God.

Purification is thus foundational and central to the whole ceremony. It is ever so. If we would serve God we too must be purified, and be kept continually pure, and this purification is only possible through His blood. He offered Himself up as a sacrifice for our sins so that He might make purification for sins (Hebrews 1.3), and when we are open to Him and come to Him the blood of Christ through the eternal Spirit will purge our consciences from dead works to serve the living God (Hebrews 9.14), and from then on as we continue walking in His light, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son, will go on cleansing us from all sin (1 John 1.7). But if we refuse His light there is nothing left but darkness.

The Offering of The Whole Burnt Offering (8.18-21).

8.18 'And he presented the ram of the whole burnt-offering, and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram.'

Moses then took the ram of the whole burnt offering, and called on Aaron and his sons to solemnly identify themselves with it by laying their hands on it. Without active participation and genuine response the whole ceremony would have been meaningless.

8.19-21 'And he killed it, and Moses sprinkled the blood on the altar round about. And he cut the ram into its pieces, and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat. And he washed the innards and the legs with water; and Moses burnt the whole ram on the altar: it was a whole burnt-offering for a pleasing odour, it was an offering made by fire to Yahweh; as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

The procedure for the whole burnt offering as described in chapter 1 was now carried through. Aaron slit the ram's throat, and Moses then caught the blood in a basin and sprinkled it on all four sides of the altar. Atonement was to be made for the altar each time an offering was made, atonement which applied to all connected with the offering. The Aaron cut the ram in pieces and Moses burnt all on the altar, the pieces, the head, and the fat. And the innards and legs were washed and they too were burnt on the altar. The whole ram was burned on the altar. It was a whole burnt offering for a pleasing odour. It was an offering made by fire to Yahweh.

So were Aaron and his sons atoned for, and lifted up in dedication to God, in what was a shadow and type of the offering up of Jesus Christ as the perfectly obedient One, the One Whose dedication was total and complete. And so were they accepted for His sake. And we too, if we would serve Him must also be offered up in His dedicatory and atoning offering that we might be totally acceptable to God in His righteousness. We must be united with Him Who said, 'Lo I come --- to do your will, O God' (Hebrews 10.9). First we come to Him in humility and repentance as our purification for sin offering, and then we come to Him for reconciliation and atonement, that we may fully dedicate ourselves in Him and offer Him as our tribute to God, and offer ourselves in Him (we have nothing else that is worthy to be offered. It is all of grace).

The Offering of the Ram of Consecration Along With A Grain Offering As A Pleasing Odour (8.22-29).

In view of the fact that they all partake of this sacrifice (verse 31) it would appear to be a Peace Sacrifice. It represents Christ Who was made our Peace and our Wellbeing. By partaking of Him we find peace with God and are made spiritually whole.

8.22 'And he presented the other ram, the ram of consecration (of 'filling up'), and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram.'

The other ram to be offered is now brought forward. It is called the ram of consecration. The word for consecration is used only of this ceremony. It comes from a root meaning 'to fill up'. Compare Exodus 29.9, 'to fill the hand', which also indicated consecration to the priesthood. In texts from Mari of about the eighteenth century BC a similar word is used of conquerors being 'filled' with the booty of the conquered. Thus the thought here is of what Aaron and his sons receive by this consecration.

Through the offering of this ram they are being given a permanent privilege which will last through many generations, to be living representatives of God. And along with that goes the tithes and offerings of the people, participation in a portion of many offerings and sacrifices, and in cities in which to dwell, and in rights to teach the Law. Their hands are being filled to overflowing, as symbolised by the offerings placed in their hands (verse 27), but all so that they may be available to be the servants of God. Their hands are being filled with blessings and with great responsibilities. The 'filling of the hand' has in the first place the parts of the ram of consecration, the fat and the shoulder, and the unleavened bread, in mind (verse 27). But these were symbols of what would in future be theirs.

And it is through our Ram of Consecration Himself that, having been purified and dedicated through Him as our purification for sin offering and our whole burnt offering, we can be raised to serve as His heavenly priests, ministering on earth with sacrifices of praise (Hebrews 13.15) and thanksgiving, offering ourselves up constantly as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God (Romans 12.1) and being a pleasing odour to Him and to others through our witness and testimony (2 Corinthians 2.14-15).

8.23-24 'And he slew it, and Moses took of its blood, and put it on 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 on the tip of their right ear, and on the thumb of their right hand, and on the great toe of their right foot, and Moses sprinkled the blood on the altar round about.'

Aaron then slew the offering and Moses caught the blood in a basin and his first act was then to put some of the blood on the tip of Aaron's right ear, and on the thumb of his right hand, and on the great toe of his right foot. It was put on each extremity. As with the application of the blood to the horns and base of the altar (the extremities of the altar) in the case of the purification for sin offering this was for purification. The Priest had to be pure in ear and hand and foot. He had to have an ear to hear the voice of God, a hand to do the will of God and a foot to go in the way of God. Thus was he to be totally dedicated to the service of God.

So the dedication signified by the whole burnt offering was now sealed in depth by this individual application. The same ceremony applied to his sons. They too were dedicated in full in the same way. And then the same blood was applied to the sides of the altar for atonement. All that the Priest and his sons had done in the past was now atoned for. They came into office made at one with God, and with their sins forgiven. Their ears were purified, their hands clean, their feet dedicated. They were, as it were, made whole, and in their wholeness they were bound to His service for ever with every faculty that they possessed.

So when a person comes to Christ for forgiveness is he set apart to God, and his ear, hand and foot are marked with the blood of Christ as from then on dedicated to the service of Christ. We are no longer our own, we are bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6.19-20). From then on we are here only to hear His voice, to do His will and to walk in His way (John 10.27-29). Anything less falls short of true Christian conversion (although in our case too the initial process may take 'seven days', that is, a divinely perfect period).

8.25-27 'And he took the fat, and the fat tail, and all the fat that was on the inwards, and the covering of the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right thigh, and out of the basket of unleavened bread, which was before Yahweh, he took one unleavened cake, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and placed them on the fat, and on the right thigh, and he put the whole on the hands of Aaron, and on the hands of his sons, and waved them for a wave-offering before Yahweh.'

The fat and vital parts of the ram of consecration, and the right thigh, together with some of the grain offering, was then placed on the hands of Aaron and his sons so that they could wave them before Yahweh as a wave-offering, possibly by moving them from side to side. This indicated that they were offering them to God and that they came to God on their behalf.

It was also the first time that they had carried out this action which in future they would perform countless times. It was an initiatory act.

As His priests we also must offer the fat on the altar. All that is best, all that is surplus to our necessity should be offered and 'burned up' in the service of God as an offering to Him, that He might receive it to do with as He will, thereby laying up for ourselves treasure in Heaven where it can never fail (Matthew 5.19-21).

8.28 'And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar on the burnt-offering. They were a consecration for a pleasing odour. It was an offering made by fire to Yahweh.'

Moses then took what they had waved before Yahweh and burnt them on the altar of burnt offering. The fat and vital parts were that which was always offered to Yahweh, as representing both the choicest portions and as representing the vitality of the animal; the thigh was that which was usually set apart for the priest. Here therefore it was a voluntary gift to Yahweh by the priests and an indication that they recognised that all that they in future received would have come from God; and the grain offering was the memorial portion offered from every grain offering. They all came up to Yahweh as a pleasing odour, and as an offering made by fire. They were received with pleasure as something fully purified and belonging to God.

Thus what they had to offer up to Him included what was their right, as a token that what they would afterwards receive came from His hand. We have in this a reminder that all that we have comes from God, and that we too should offer it back to Him so that He may use it as He will. Such an offering, genuinely made, is a pleasing odour to Him.

8.29 'And Moses took the breast, and waved it for a wave-offering before Yahweh. It was Moses' portion of the ram of consecration, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

Moses then took the breast, and that he waved before Yahweh. Again it was being offered to Yahweh as belonging to Him to be utilised as He proposed. Perhaps in this case God's purpose was that it should be set aside for Moses as the officiant, for we are not told that it was burned on the altar.

8.30 'And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was on the altar, and sprinkled it on Aaron, on his garments, and on his sons, and on his sons' garments with him, and sanctified Aaron, his garments, and his sons, and his sons' garments with him.'

Compare Exodus 29.21 where the blood is mentioned first. They are of equal value. Aaron having been anointed, and the various offerings having been made, Moses now took the anointing oil, together with some blood from off the altar, and sprinkled it (nazah, as in verse 11) on Aaron, and on his clothing, and on his sons, and on their clothing thereby 'sanctifying' ('making holy and separate to God' as the Sanctuary had been made holy and separate to God) both them and their clothing, as was necessary if they were to continually enter the Holy Place.

This anointing and sprinkling of blood would seem to be intended to make Aaron and his sons one with the Holy Place and the holy things, including the altar and laver (verse 11 - also nazah). They now participated in their dedication and were made a part with them of the things of the Sanctuary. Like the Sanctuary they were now Yahweh's own. We can understand something of the awe with which the priesthood was regarded when we recognise that they, as it were, bore something of the holiness of the Sanctuary with them wherever they went. They 'carried the Sanctuary with them'. But it placed on them a great responsibility.

We note the constant introduction of the blood. Whereas the oil alone was sprinkled on the furniture, when sprinkled on Aaron and his sons it had to be conjoined with sacrificial blood. Whatever Aaron and his sons were to be they were first of all sinners. The blood must be introduced at every point. There must always be atonement. Only then could they be accepted for other things.

There may also be a connection in this sprinkling (nazah) with the sprinkling (zaraq) of the blood on the people at the making of the original covenant (Exodus 24.8), so that this may be seen as giving them their unique position as covenant upholders, while others have connected it with the blood applied (nathan) to the doorposts at the Exodus (Exodus 12.7), a sign of their security from all evil under the protection of God. But both use different verbs. Nazah is rather used later for the sprinkling of purification of those with skin diseases. Compare also 4.6. It has to do with purification (although it can also simply mean 'splashed' (6.27)).

It should be a thing of great wonder to us that we too have been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 10.10; 13.12) and by the anointing of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2.20, 27; 2 Corinthians 1.27) so that as we walk on earth we may carry around something of the sanctity of Heaven. We have thereby been made citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3.20), and in Him belong to Heaven (Ephesians 2.6; Colossians 3.1-3; 1 John 5.19 compare 4.4-6), and we should therefore carry Heaven with us wherever we go. Our responsibility too is great lest our behaviour be a denial of the very sanctity of Heaven.

8.31-33 'And Moses said to Aaron and to his sons, "Boil the flesh at the door of the tent of meeting: and there eat it and the bread that is in the basket of consecration, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it. And what remains of the flesh and of the bread shall you burn with fire. And you shall not go out from the door of the tent of meeting seven days, until the days of your consecration be fulfilled, for he shall consecrate you seven days." '

Aaron and his sons were now commanded to remain at the door of the tent of meeting for seven days. That is, they were not to leave the precincts of the Sanctuary. There they were to boil the flesh of the ram of consecration and eat of it in the presence of Yahweh, and also of the bread in the basket of consecration. After which all that remained uneaten must be burned with fire. They were holy to God, and may eat of God's provision. And they must not leave the Sanctuary precinct for seven days. It was the period of their consecration.

We can compare this eating before God with the incident on Mount Sinai where Moses, Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel ate in the presence of God (Exodus 24.9-11). That was preparatory to the giving of the Law. Now that the Law is being carried into action the same opportunity is given to Aaron and his sons. This eating before God would confirm to the people the unique status that the priests now enjoyed.

This waiting for seven days in the presence of God was an indication and reminder that with all the ceremonies that they had been through their final sanctification came from God. It was by waiting as it were in His presence for a period of divine perfection that their cleansing and 'holiness' would be made complete. Moses could conduct the initiating ceremonies, but only God could sanctify as they waited in His presence. There was nothing automatic about it. It was His work, as at creation. It was as though a new creation was taking place. Every seven day period was a reminder of the fact that God was the God of creation.

And during this seven days the consecration ceremony would be to some extent repeated (Exodus 29.35-37). Certainly the sin offering would be offered daily (Exodus 29.36-37). And if they were to continue feasting before Yahweh a daily peace sacrifice would be required, paralleling the ram of consecration. It may be this latter that is in mind in Exodus 29.35. But the details are not given. The final result would be that the altar would become most holy so that whoever touched it became holy (Exodus 29.37). It would not be directly approachable or usable by the ordinary Israelite. They would have to come through the priest. So was 'sanctified' what would in future be man's means of access to God for atonement and purification, and those through whom that way would be open. The solemnity of the ceremony emphasised the solemnity of the result.

How much more solemn then was that offering by which an altar was provided for us on which died the Saviour of the world, so that through Him we might have continual atonement and access into the presence of God (Hebrews 13.10-12). And we too, once we are converted and become His through the sacrifice of the cross, should set aside special times that we might through His word and through prayer become more full sanctified as we wait in His presence. First we need to be weaned from the atmosphere of the world, and then we need to be weaned from ourselves and our own selfish living. As they did, we too must recognise that we carry a solemn responsibility towards those who are outside the Sanctuary. It will not lightly be fulfilled.

8.34 'As has been done this day, so Yahweh has commanded to do, to make atonement for you.'

Indeed all that had been done and would be done that day had been in order to make atonement for them so that they might become His priests, to make them 'at one' with God. The making of them holy could not be accomplished in a moment, or even in a swift ceremony. It was necessary that they recognise the barrier that sin made between man and God. And once atonement was made the remainder of their sanctification would lay in the hands of God. And it was all at the command of Yahweh. We should in fact pause to consider just how much it was so. God said it and it was done (verse 4, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 29). All this was done in accordance with God's direct command to Moses.

8.35 'And at the door of the tent of meeting shall you abide day and night seven days, and keep the charge of Yahweh, that you die not: for so I am commanded.'

So, the initial solemn celebration now being over as far as men were concerned, they could return to their homes, but Aaron and his sons were commanded to remain within the Sanctuary precincts for seven days. They were to be there for a taking part in further ritual ceremonies. including the atoning for and sanctifying of the altar each day. They were charged by Yahweh to remain there, and to keep His charge, lest they die. They were no longer free agents. If they did not do as He said they would die (which in those days was the natural end for anyone who refused to obey his overlord). They had voluntarily put themselves under His aegis, and now they must obey totally. It is a solemn thing to become a servant of the living God, and that is what they had done.

8.36 'And Aaron and his sons did all the things which Yahweh commanded by Moses.'

And at this juncture Aaron and his sons obeyed God. They did all that God had commanded. If only they had continued in such obedience what blessing would have been theirs.

Chapter 9 The Priests Participate in Their First Offerings And The Glory Of Yahweh Is Revealed.

The seven days of consecration now being completed the priests are called on to conduct their first series of offerings in order to sanctify the people to Yahweh. It is noteworthy that the Priest's purification for sin offering for himself now offered does not follow the pattern earlier laid down. Its blood is not borne within the Holy Place. This may be because as yet he has not entered the Holy Place, nor has it yet become his own preserve, and thus the blood of his purification for sin offering is at this point applied to the altar of burnt offering, and not taken within the Sanctuary. For he cannot yet have defiled the Sanctuary. This again is an indication of the authenticity of the narrative and of its early date.

But once he has entered the Sanctuary for the first time, conducted by Moses, and has re-emerged, God will seal His approval by miraculously burning up the whole burnt offering on the altar of burnt offering which usually took a considerable time to be consumed (6.9).

9.1 'And it came about on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel.'

The seven days of consecration being completed Moses now calls on Aaron, his sons and the elders of Israel for the next stage in these solemn events. The whole of Israel is now to be involved. Aaron and his sons are beginning the ministry that will take up the remainder of their lives, and they will now make their first offerings on behalf of the people.

For us the eighth day occurs once we have come to Christ and put our trust in Him, and are sanctified in Him (1 Corinthians 1.2, 30; 6.11; Hebrews 2.11; 13.12). Then we too are set apart for His service for the remainder of our lives.

9.2 'And he said to Aaron, "Take a calf of the herd for a purification for sin offering, and a ram for a whole burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before Yahweh." '

It is noteworthy that instead of the mature bull ox (4.3) Aaron is to offer a bull calf for his own purification for sin offering. This is the only time when a calf is offered. Some see it as having in mind his failure with respect to the golden calf (Exodus 32.4) which is now especially atoned for. But the significance may rather lie in the fact that this is not for a particular sin, nor is it to cleanse the Holy Place. His priesthood is yet in its infancy. He has not yet failed as a priest, and he has not yet entered the Holy Place, and a bull ox has already been offered for him in 8.14. Thus the bull ox here is younger, and in its infancy. (It may also have had the practical purpose that it would take less time for the flames to consume it, with so much to follow).

With it he will offer a ram for a whole burnt offering as in his consecration. Both are to be without blemish. They are to be offered to Yahweh.

When we consider the process of consecration that he and the priests have already gone through it makes us recognise that none of these sacrifices could really deal with the problem of sin. Continually therefore the fact of his sinfulness has to be brought before God, and the means provided by which he can find ceremonial purification and atonement. Really, like all who were accepted in Old Testament days, they were accepted by the unmerited love and compassion of God, with in mind the Great Sacrifice yet to come.

And as Aaron and his sons had to offer purification for sin and whole burnt offerings for themselves constantly before Yahweh, so are we to come continually into His light and seek for the blood of Jesus Christ, God's Son, to cleanse us from all sin (1 John 1.7), and to continually rededicate ourselves to His service. It is a reminder that while on earth none of us are wholly free from the tyranny of sin. The one who thinks that he stands, should ever take heed lest he fall.

9.3-4 'And to the children of Israel you will speak, saying, "Take a he-goat for a purification for sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both a year old, without blemish, for a whole burnt offering, and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before Yahweh, and a grain offering mingled with oil, for today Yahweh appears to you.'

Having offered for himself he can then offer for the people, 'the children of Israel'. For the people the offerings are to be a he-goat for the purification for sin offering, a year old calf and lamb for a whole burnt offering, and a bull ox and a ram for peace sacrifices, together with a grain offering mingled with oil. And being on behalf of the whole people they are male.

Again there is a lowering in level of the offerings. This may be because again the people have not yet had time to 'sin' to any extent since the consecration of the priests has taken place and the new way of worship has been introduced, so that instead of a bull ox for a purification for sin offering for the people (4.14), there is a he-goat. But it may also be because this was the people's offering excluding the priests, while that for the 'whole congregation of Israel' (4.13) was seen as including the priest (see on 10.16-20)

For the whole burnt offering there was here a calf and a lamb. This was probably in order to indicate that their new status and need for atonement was in its infancy. But it was also because the lamb was also for the morning sacrifice, for the regular morning and evening sacrifices were to be of a similar lamb (Exodus 29.38).

The third group of offerings was to be of a bull ox and a ram for their peace sacrifice. Here they would be partaken of and represented Israel's present well being and position of peace with God which was full developed. Thus the constituents are carefully selected.

9.5 'And they brought what Moses commanded before the tent of meeting, and all the congregation drew near and stood before Yahweh.'

The priests and the elders brought to Moses in front of the tent of meeting all that he had commanded. Then all Israel gathered and 'stood before Yahweh'. That is they stood, rank after rank, looking towards the door of the tent of meeting behind which was the Sanctuary which included the earthly resting place of Yahweh as King (compare Isaiah 6.1). Here for the first time would their new Representative make these offerings on their behalf, an assurance of God's provision for the future if they remained faithful to His covenant.

9.6 'And Moses said, "This is the thing which Yahweh commanded that you should do, and the glory of Yahweh shall appear to you." '

Moses then informed them that in some way Yahweh intended to manifest Himself to them. As long as they followed his instructions closely, the glory of Yahweh would appear to them. We can imagine the awe and expectancy and reverence with which they watched that day. And if we would know the presence of God with us it can also only be by full obedience.

9.7 'And Moses said to Aaron, "Draw near to the altar, and offer your purification for sin offering, and your whole burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself, and for the people, and offer the oblation of the people, and make atonement for them, as Yahweh commanded." '

Then Moses commands Aaron to carry on and for the first time fulfil his function as the Priest. Imagine the situation. Aaron had watched Moses do it time and again, but now the responsibility was his. From now on Moses would no more engage in priestly duties, the onus would be on Aaron and his sons.

First he is to offer a purification for sin offering for himself, followed by a whole burnt offering. Cleansing from sin for himself must come first, and then atonement and reconciliation, dedication and tribute. But even as he offers these for himself he will be obtaining a level of atonement for the people, for it was to be 'for yourself, and for the people'. As 'the Priest' even in this he represents the people. Any offering for himself is therefore also on behalf of all.

But then he is to offer the people's oblation (their 'required offering') finalising their atonement, finalising the covering before God of all their sin so that it is no more. It would be a process that would begin here and go on daily until sacrifices themselves ceased.

9.8 'So Aaron drew near to the altar, and slew the calf of the purification for sin offering, which was for himself.'

Aaron accordingly drew near to the altar and as the suppliant slew the calf of purification for sin, which was for himself. He first had to be purified

9.9 'And the sons of Aaron presented the blood to him, and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it on the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the base of the altar, but the fat, and the kidneys, and the covering from the liver of the purification for sin offering, he burnt on the altar, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

Then he switched roles, for he moved to the altar ready to receive the necessary parts of the sacrifice from his sons who had meanwhile been acting as priests. His sons, who had caught the blood in a vessel when Aaron slew the calf, then brought the blood to Aaron, who dipped his finger in the blood and applied it to the horns of the altar to purify the altar which would offer up his purification for sin offering.

Normally in the case of a purification for sin offering for a priest the blood was to be taken within the Holy Place and sprinkled before the veil, and be applied to the horns on the altar of incense (4.6-7). But as yet no one apart from Moses had entered the Holy Place, and he had not defiled it by specific sin. Therefore no purification was needed there. All that had had contact with Aaron was in the courtyard, and the most holy of these was the altar. The blood was therefore applied to the horns of the altar.

Then the blood was applied to the base, and the fat and vital parts were burned on the altar, just as Yahweh had commanded Moses. This is the last reference to Moses' obedience to God's commands, an idea which has been repeated again and again in order to emphasise his obedience (see 8.4, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21, 29, 34, 36; 9.6, 7, 10). All that was done was done at God's command, and Moses obeyed implicitly and without question. But from now on obedience is in the hand of Aaron and his sons. Moses was no longer involved. Sadly it would not last for long, and a terrible lesson would have to be learned, that God's ordinances must not be interfered with.

The fact that the phrase ceases here demonstrates that it was the writer's intention to bring home the obedience of Moses. Had it just been a stereotyped phrase it would have continued. He wants us to know that Moses had done in all this exactly as God had commanded.

9.11 'And the flesh and the skin he burnt with fire outside the camp.'

The remainder of the purification for sin offering was then taken outside the camp (to a clean place) and burned so as to take it out of reach of earth. It was so holy that it went up to God outside the camp.

9.12 'And he slew the whole burnt offering, and Aaron's sons delivered to him the blood, and he sprinkled it on the altar round about.'

Then similar procedures were observed for the whole burnt offering. It was for his atonement and dedication, as well as that of the people. Aaron slew it, his sons caught the blood, and Aaron sprinkled it on all four sides of the altar. Atonement was made and he was thereby dedicated to God.

9.13 'And they delivered the burnt-offering to him, piece by piece, and the head, and he burnt them on the altar.'

Then his sons handed him 'piece by piece' the parts of the sacrifice, including the head. It is clear that the task of skinning it and cutting it up had been left to them due to the necessities of the situation (Aaron could not do two things at once). Thus as each cut off a part they handed it to Aaron. This accurate and unusual description again confirms that we are reading the evidence of an eye-witness. And as he received each piece he laid it on the flames of the altar.

9.14 'And he washed the innards and the legs, and burnt them on the whole burnt offering on the altar.'

Then Aaron washed the innards and the legs and burnt them also on the altar. Thus was purification and atonement made for him. In the same way Jesus too was offered 'piece by piece' as through His earthly life He suffered many things, and would suffer worse at the end. But thereby His offering when it was made was sufficient for the whole world.

9.15 'And he presented the people's oblation, and took the goat of the purification for sin offering which was for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first.'

Now he was in a position to offer the people's oblation (gift which they were obliged to make). The elders mentioned in verse 1 may have provided representatives for the slaying of the beast, or it may be that Aaron himself slew it as the people's representative (depending on how literally we take 'he slew it'), and Aaron then offered the purification for sin offering in accordance with the required method, as he had done with his own purification for sin offering, which had also been on behalf of the people because he was their representative. He would be ultra-careful, at this his first attempt, to ensure that the whole procedure was correctly carried through. He must have been as nervous as any novice.

9.16 'And he presented the whole burnt offering, and offered it according to the ordinance.'

Then he presented their whole burnt offering and offered it 'according to the ordinance', that is, as laid down in the Law.

9.17 'And he presented the grain offering, and filled his hand from it, and burnt it on the altar, besides the whole burnt offering of the morning.'

After this he took a handful of the grain offering as a memorial and burned it on the altar 'besides the whole burnt offering of the morning'. This presumably meant the whole burnt offering that he had just offered. It was the morning offering on behalf of the people. From this time on this lamb (LXX amnon, compare John 1.29) for a whole burnt offering would be offered morning and afternoon continually.

9.18-21 'He slew also the ox and the ram, the sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people, and Aaron's sons delivered to him the blood, which he sprinkled on the altar round about, and the fat of the ox and of the ram, the fat tail, and that which covers the innards, and the kidneys, and the covering of the liver, and they put the fat on the breasts, and he burnt the fat on the altar, and the breasts and the right thigh Aaron waved for a wave-offering before Yahweh, as Moses commanded.'

Aaron then offered the bull ox and the ram which were to be the sacrifices of peace offerings on behalf of the people. He slew them, his sons caught the blood, then they passed it to him for its application to the sides of the altar.

After this he burnt on the altar the fat and the vital parts, while the breasts and the right thighs he waved as a wave-offering before Yahweh. But while they belonged to Yahweh, as the waving indicated, for it was an offering made to Him, these were to be retained for the benefit of the priests. In this case because all the priests were involved in the peace sacrifices all would partake equally. Normally the thigh would belong to the officiating priest.

So, having been consecrated, Aaron's next immediate responsibility had been first for himself and then for God's people. We too when consecrated to God through salvation must watch for our own lives and then for the lives of others. We will need daily cleansing, but it should be followed by daily service. Our lives as His priests are to be wholly His, and to have 'all the people' in mind.

9.22 ' And Aaron lifted up his hands towards the people, and blessed them, and he came down from offering the purification for sin offering, and the whole burnt offering, and the peace offerings.'

Then having satisfactorily completed the offerings and sacrifices Aaron lifted up his hands and blessed the people. It is probable that he had seen Moses do it time and again, but now it was his responsibility. He was their mediator and representative, and God's mediator towards them. Then he 'came down'. This may suggest that in order to bless the people he had mounted some kind of dais so that he might be seen by all.

9.23 'And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting, and came out, and blessed the people, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people.'

Moses and Aaron, the veteran and the new boy, then went into the Holy Place through the entrance curtain. But we are told nothing of what they did. Perhaps Moses was showing to Aaron all the different furniture in the Holy Place with which he would have to be familiar, for it was he who had set them up (Exodus 40.18-30, 33). But this was known only to themselves. The person who is recording what happened had no knowledge of what occurred within the tent, and therefore merely says, 'they went in -- and came out'. What better evidence could we have that these are the words of an eyewitness. Such subtlety would have been beyond an inventor.

On coming out they once again blessed the people. And then as promised the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the people. The One Who had led them up to this point, Who had appeared to them in a pillar of cloud and fire, Who had revealed His glory on Mount Sinai, Whose glory at this time filled the tent of meeting (Exodus 40.34), now let His glory break forth through the cloud that covered the tent of meeting, and so that He could appear before all the people. They beheld the glory of God. But even so it was no doubt through the cloud, or else they would have been unable to bear it.

9.24 'And there came forth fire from before Yahweh, and consumed on the altar the burnt-offering and the fat. And when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.'

God then sent forth a streak of fire from the tabernacle and consumed on the altar the whole burnt offering and the fat. Of course there was much more than that on the altar. On top of the whole burnt offering of the morning sacrifice had been piled the parts of the sacrifices of peace offerings. Thus they too would be wholly consumed in a moment by this fierce flame. But the point being emphasised is that God was making clear His acceptance of the whole burnt offering for atonement, dedication and tribute.

For we must recognise that these offerings did not usually all burn up instantly. In 6.6 we saw that the evening whole burnt offering was expected to continue burning through the night until the morning. Thus what God consumed was the burning carcases that were still burning away through the morning. They had offered them by fire, now He revealed by His act that He had personally received them through fire. He too was participating in the ceremony.

'And when all the people saw it, they shouted, and fell on their faces.' The appearance of the glory of Yahweh, and the flame coming to consume the whole burnt offering, produced an immediate reaction in the crowd. They yelled out in wonder, awe and fear, and fell on their faces. This was the full prostration offered to a powerful overlord, but it was also the reaction of those who could not bear the sight of what had appeared to them. Like the seraphim in the presence of the glory of God (Isaiah 6.2) they had to hide their faces. Once again they had beheld something that they would never forget (or at least for short time). In the face of this how could there be opposition to the appointment of Aaron and his sons? We will soon see.

So was the priesthood established, and so did God reveal His satisfaction at what had taken place. The procedure had been long and to some extent repetitious, but surely that would mean that lessons had been learned. Who now could do anything but walk in awe of the Holy One of Israel, and obey Him implicitly? (The answer is, of course, 'sinful man').

It is a reminder to us as Christians that our position before God was also not bought lightly and without a price. Jesus Christ came as our High Priest, appointed by God and carried through the offering and sacrifice necessary for our salvation, for our purification, for our atonement, for our reconciliation, and so that He might sanctify us as His priests. And the road for Him was long and arduous, but He succeeded at last, and His work on our behalf now continues as He acts as our Trek Leader in Heaven (Hebrews 2.10). And we too, if we would serve with Him, must go through a divinely appointed period of sanctification so that we might be useful in His service, first accepted in the Beloved, and then brought to full dedication, and then shaped by Him in accordance with His will (Philippians 2.13). For some it takes longer than others, but until we have come as Aaron did, laying aside all else that we might serve Him, our lives will not be fruitful in His service. But when we do, then the glory of the Lord will break forth upon us, and we will shout and throw ourselves at His feet.

Chapter 10 A Stark Lesson and a Glorious Continuation.

But as so often when there is blessing, disobedience comes. Men have a strange ability to forget their own weakness and begin to think that they know better than God, to declare, 'I am the captain of my soul, I am the master of my fate', even at such times as this. And thus it was with Aaron's elder sons. In overweening pride, or overweening folly, or both, they ignored what God had revealed and chose to follow their own way. They offered what Yahweh had not laid down in a way that demonstrated that they despised the set service of the tabernacle. They did not fully follow His will. Were they not now superior to common mortals? Had they not been with Yahweh in the Mount? (Exodus 24.9). Could they not now lead the way with their own innovations (which were simply pagan practises)?

This whole chapter concerns the holiness of God and the necessity for His people to be fully holy if they are to meet with Him. It first declares that His ordinances must be followed exactly. It then goes on to declare that the priests, in preparation for their service, are to keep away from alcohol when about to enter His presence, are to be careful to discern at all times between what is clean and unclean, and are therefore to avoid all that is 'unclean', and that they are to ensure that the people are made fully aware of all covenant requirements, that they sin not in any way. It commences with this example of those who failed in holiness, and died for it, and then goes on to deal with various requirements in order to maintain the holiness of the Sanctuary, all of which are made more serious by these untimely deaths of those who failed to discern God's holiness. The stress all through is on the holiness of God.

Disobedience Brings Death For the Disobedient And A Test For The Faithful (10.1-7)

10.1 'And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire in it, and laid incense on it, and offered strange fire before Yahweh, which he had not commanded them.'

Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, transgressed against the holiness of God. They treated holy things lightly, and brought God's judgment on themselves. When dealing with God we too need always to remember with Whom we have to do.

As sons of Aaron Nadab and Abihu might possibly one day have had the right as his deputies to put fire in the holy censers from the altar of incense, and to put incense on it, and bear it within the veil (if Aaron was unwittingly ceremonially unclean or ill on the Day of Atonement), and they would certainly have had the right to offer incense on the altar of incense at the time of the morning and evening sacrifices that its odour might go within the veil. But the right was carefully restricted and limited. God must not be demeaned, nor must His holy things be treated lightly. He had given no authority otherwise to burn incense in censers.

So what they had not the right to do was to 'do their own thing'. Indeed at such a time at this when the very priesthood was new, such an attitude would only lead swiftly into error. It had to be severely dealt with. We must recognise that what they did was done deliberately and with an ungodly attitude. They would certainly have had to hide what they were about from Aaron and their other brothers.

'Strange fire.' It was strange fire because it was unauthorised fire. It may be that the coals had not been taken from the altar of incense, the altar 'before Yahweh' (Leviticus 16.12), and thus were not holy (they probably had to sneak in their ashes for otherwise Aaron would have asked what they were doing), that the censers were their own and not sanctified, and that the incense was not of the prescribed type and was therefore also not holy (Exodus 30.9, compare 30.34-38; 37.29). Thus would they be bringing in what was not holy to the Holy Place. That was bad enough. But what was far worse was that they did in His Holy Place what Yahweh had not commanded. They grossly slighted Yahweh. They took to themselves the right to worship in ways that Yahweh had not commanded or revealed, in a way that was not acceptable, and they did it in Yahweh's very presence. It revealed an attitude of heart that was thoroughly blasphemous.

Had it not been stopped it would have led to an 'anything goes' situation. Compare how later Uzziah would sin in a similar way and also paid the penalty (2 Chronicles 26.16-21). We may hesitate at the seriousness of the penalty. But consider the situation. They had been by their own voluntary will sanctified as God's priests. They had taken on a holy appointment. They had sworn to obey Yahweh absolutely. They had been made 'holy to Him'. But now they had demonstrated that in heart they were not so. They could not be allowed therefore to continue as priests. What then was to be done? They were holy to Yahweh. They could not therefore return to what they had been. There could only be one solution, that Yahweh would remove them by fire as was done with all sanctified things that were no longer of use or that were offered to Him. (What happened to them then was between God and them).

That censers could be used in this way when commanded by Yahweh comes out in Numbers 16.46 but the incident in 16.6-38 had similarities to this. There Moses challenged the malcontents sarcastically that if they wished to take on themselves the Aaronite priesthood against God's clear commandment they follow the example of Nadab and Abihu. He was warning them that men do not take such privileges on themselves. He wanted them to remember what had happened to Nadab and Abihu when they went outside Yahweh's remit and burned incense in censers. They should all have remembered and taken heed. But foolishly they ignored the warning, they too burned incense in censers before Yahweh and they too were consumed with fire.

10.2 'And there came forth fire from before Yahweh, and devoured them, and they died before Yahweh.'

We do not know whether Aaron's sons were just rash and arrogant, or foolishly deliberately blasphemous, recklessly following examples that they had seen elsewhere, but either way they were deliberately doing the very thing that Yahweh had warned against, following the ways of the nations. They were being deliberately disobedient 'with a high hand' (Numbers 15.30). There is no hiding from that. And the penalty for that, as they well knew, was death. It had to be dealt with severely for the sake of future generations. For the lesson must be learned at any cost that there must be no innovations on top of what Yahweh had commanded. They offered up strange fire, Yahweh dealt with it by the fire of judgment. They were 'devoted' (given over to judgment) to Yahweh (compare Joshua 7.25). 'They died before Yahweh' might be seen as indicating that it was within the Holy Place. God took His disobedient 'holy ones' to Himself.

It must be noted that this was not just a rash mistake. It was a deliberate flouting of Yahweh's prescribed way of worship because of their contempt for what was prescribed. And such flouting of His ways had to be cut off immediately before it became worse. If God's revelation was to continue unmarred then there was no alternative to severe action that would be a once for all warning (but still unheeded by the foolish) of what would happen to those who distorted God's ways. (Compare Numbers 16.1-50; Joshua 7.1-26; 2 Samuel 6.6-7; Acts 5.1-11).

Note the contrast with 9.24. There Yahweh had consumed with His fire the offerings on the altar which were dedicated to Him. They were pleasing to Him. Here he consumes with fire what is an insult to Him. The one was consumed with great pleasure, the other with great anger. God cannot be treated lightly, especially by those who have dedicated themselves. He must be obeyed.

10.3 'Then Moses said to Aaron, "This what Yahweh spoke, saying, "I will be sanctified in those who come near me, and before all the people I will be glorified." And Aaron held his peace.'

Moses then communicated to the grieving father a message from Yahweh, explaining why He had done what He had done. Those who approached Him as priests must do so in a way that reveals Him for what He is, ('sanctifies' Him, sets Him apart in His distinctive holiness) not in a way that disparages Him or reveals Him as just another local god looking for titbits, and they must do it in a way that glorifies Him before the people. It was a serious responsibility. Aaron did not reply. He had to recognise that what God had done was just. By their action his sons had at their very inauguration reduced the living God to a nonentity who flew around in the air looking for sweet odours (compare Jeremiah 44.25). They had demeaned God before the people.

10.4-5 'And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said to them, "Draw near, carry your relatives from before the sanctuary out of the camp." So they drew near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp, as Moses had said.'

But the priesthood, now established, had to continue unchecked. Moses therefore called on close relatives of the dead men to remove their bodies. Their bodies had to be taken outside the camp, the fate of all 'devoted' things, and had to be buried by close relatives. But this could not be by Aaron and his sons for it would have rendered them 'unclean'. Thus he chose the best alternative.

They 'carried them in their coats'. The question is whether this means the dead men's coats, or the coats of the bearers. Either way it was possibly referring to a way of limiting ritual defilement by not touching the bodies, which were no doubt seen as 'most holy', possibly for fear of the consequences. They could be levered into the coats, or carried by the loose folds. All such detail confirms the genuineness of the account. Even so they would probably then have to go through a period of 'cleansing' (Numbers 19.11). This was why the serving priests could not do it.

10.6 'And Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons, "Do not let the hair of your heads go loose, nor rend your clothes, so that you do not die, and that he be not wroth with all the congregation, but let your brothers and sisters, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which Yahweh has kindled." '

Then Moses warned Aaron and the two surviving brothers that in spite of their natural grief they must not show signs of mourning while still serving in the tabernacle, for to bring tokens of death into the tabernacle was forbidden. They must retain their caps and their robes in place, and fulfil their duties in the required way, lest they die. For they were now the anointed of Yahweh ministering in the Holy Place, and for them to fail to do such things would be to incur the holy wrath of God, not only on themselves, but on the whole of Israel. It would be to defile the Holy Place. Their unique ministry must continue at all costs. They must leave the mourning to the remainder of their family and to the people of Israel, each until his time of service was complete.

The fact that these were on duty may suggest that the two who died had been off duty and had come to the tabernacle deliberately in order to carry out their folly. For not all would necessarily be on duty at the same time, although as this was 'the first day' after the seven day consecration it is always possible that all were on duty. Verse 9 may suggest that they were indeed drunk.

10.7 "And you shall not go out from the door of the tent of meeting, lest you die, for the anointing oil of Yahweh is on you." And they did according to the word of Moses.'

'For the anointing oil of Yahweh is on you.' The point would seem to be that their time of duty must be completed because they were anointed priests and must fulfil their duties as such. These could not be broken into by outside circumstances. Those in special positions of privilege must live in accordance with the privilege, and not allow personal matters to interfere. Great privilege brings great responsibility. As men set apart to Yahweh by the holy oil their first duty was to His service. It came even before the demands of family.

It did not, of course, mean that they could never leave the tabernacle, only that they could not leave it while they were on duty. Now that they were mediators and representatives of Israel, there must always be priests on duty, for otherwise there would be no mediator or representative before God. And without God's protection and care where would they be?

Fortunately, unlike their brothers they were determined to remain faithful to the command of Yahweh even though it might prove difficult in trying circumstances, and they remained to carry out their responsibilities. Sometimes God asks hard things of us, and by our faithfulness to Him and His service we will be assessed.

God's Instructions To Aaron About Maintaining The Purity of the Sanctuary and Its Precincts (10.8-11).

Because of what has happened Yahweh now speaks directly to Aaron about the priestly responsibility for the maintenance of the holiness of the Sanctuary. This, coming after what has happened, links the words back to the previous events and may serve to confirm that Nadab and Abihu had been drunk. His warning is threefold. The lesson that must be learned is that priests must never enter the tabernacle under the influence of alcohol and therefore in a state unworthy of being in the presence of Yahweh, they must be careful to distinguish the clean from the unclean, so that they do not enter the tabernacle unclean and defile it, and they must ensure that all the people are fully aware of all God's requirements so that they also do not offend in these ways. Each of these instructions is to ensure the maintenance of the holiness of the Sanctuary and its precincts, stressing the holiness of God.

If we in our turn had more concern for the holiness of God there would be much that we now do which we would not do. Our great problem is that we fail to recognise how by our behaviour we defile the holy name by which we are called. But the consequences will not be less, they are merely delayed. That is why we must come to His light continually for cleansing through His blood (1 John 1.7).

10.8 'And Yahweh spoke to Aaron, saying,'

This is the first time that God has spoken directly to Aaron, demonstrating his new status. From now on until chapter 15 God will speak sometimes 'to Moses and to Aaron' (11.1; 13.1; 15.1) and sometimes just 'to Moses' (12.1; 14.1). The alternation suggests that the aim is to bring in Aaron while retaining the priority of Moses. But speaking solely to Aaron here, the only example, demonstrates the importance of the subject for Aaron. It is he and his remaining sons who are directly responsible for maintaining the holiness of the Sanctuary.

10.9 "Drink no wine nor strong drink, you, nor your sons with you, when you go into the tent of meeting, so that you do not die, it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations,"

The first important requirement is that priests do not enter the tent of meeting while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol dulls the senses and clearly makes someone 'blemished'. Only those in full possession of their faculties must enter the Sanctuary, for anything less is not worthy of God. God requires the very best.

Thus to be under the influence of alcohol is clearly to be 'unclean'. And the uncleanness remains until the total effects of the alcohol have worn off.

And if they do enter under the influence of alcohol they will be in danger of immediate death, for it will be seen as a direct insult to the holiness of God. This is a statute which is permanent for all time, stressing its seriousness. God does not find drunkenness amusing. Paul takes this up with respect to Christian worship when he says, 'Do not be drunk with wine, in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit, singing to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things' (Ephesians 5.18-20). This makes quite clear that a state of inebriation is dishonouring to God. To be in such a state is to be less than the best for God, and is to debar us from His presence.

In the Old Testament 'wine and strong drink' covers all liquids that cause inebriation especially those which lead men into folly (compare Numbers 6.3; Deuteronomy 29.6; Judges 13.4, 7, 14; Proverbs 20.1; 31.4, 6). However, it is accepted that men do desire it for themselves and that they may enjoy it in moderation (Deuteronomy 14.26). In this context it must be remembered that when fresh, drinkable water was not available, which was often, wine was the main alternative. But it was wine that brought Noah into folly and brought shame on his household (Genesis 9.21-27), an incident which was from the beginning a constant reminder of its dangers when taken in excess. In its best form wine makes glad the heart of man (Psalm 104.15), but not with the kind of gladness that being present in the tabernacle was intended to give, and misused it is pointed to as leading to disaster. In the light of this each must decide whether he or she wants to be always the best for God or not. But those who would be in His holy place must certainly not be so when under the influence of wine.

'Strong drink' may be a reference to beer brewed from dates or barley, or other such constituents, in contrast with fermented wine. It must be remembered that with water often undrinkable, except direct from springs and some oases, the ancients had to look for palatable alternatives. Variously produced wines and strong drinks provided a ready at hand solution.

But as Paul pointed out. While the world looks to wine for its enjoyment the people of God are to look to the fullness of the Spirit. They are to seek to manifest not vulgar behaviour but the fruit of the Spirit (Ephesians 5.18-20).

10.10 "And that you may make a distinction between the holy and the common, and between the unclean and the clean,"

The next important point is the distinction between the holy and the common (the unholy), the clean and the unclean. This distinction will be taken up later in Leviticus in detail. But the point is being made by it that God is holy, and that nothing that comes short of that holiness is to be permitted into His presence. Nothing ritually unclean must enter the Sanctuary and its precincts, for it will defile it. So God enjoins that it is to be the responsibility of the priests to make the distinction and see that it is observed.

Uncleanness covers a wide variety of things and states, from differences between what may be eaten and what may not, and what may be touched and what may not, to bodily imperfections and discharges, to uncleanness resulting from contact with death, and so on, to uncleanness caused by disobedience to God's commandments, and such uncleanness must be removed before men enter the Sanctuary. For God is holy, and it is the priest's duty to discern whether men are clean or unclean, and to instruct them on all such matters so that they may themselves discern their own state. The stress is on the importance of keeping the Sanctuary and its precincts holy so as to bring home the holiness of God. It meant that the concern for holiness would become a daily concern for all the people, both physically and morally.

10.11 "And that you may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which Yahweh has spoken to them by Moses."

The idea here is that for anyone to come short of God's requirements is to be rendered unclean. Thus it is the duty of the priesthood to make all aware of God's statutes and requirements, both with regard to ritual and with regard to life. For to fall short of any would require cultic treatment in order to bring them back into a state where they can come to the Sanctuary and meet with God (that is partly what the guilt offerings were for). God's people must seek at all times to avoid all possible sources of defilement. They too must be holy

For us the question must always be, how can we ensure that we are the best for God? What should we avoid that might make us less than the best? In our case it is spiritual cleanness that we must encourage, and spiritual uncleanness that we must avoid (2 Corinthians 7.1 compare Mark 7.20-23). And we should be daily concerned that we do so. We must not enter His presence unclean.

What The Priests May Partake of Concerning the Holy Things (10.12-15).

He now moves on to the portions of the Priests from grain offerings and from peace sacrifices and the distinctions concerning the holiness of them. It is again concerned with the question of the holiness of the Sanctuary. What is 'most holy' must be eaten before Yahweh. It must not be defiled by being taken from the Sanctuary. But what is merely 'holy' can be shared by the priests with their families in any 'clean place'. For the people themselves are a holy nation.

10.12-13 'And Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar and to Ithamar, his sons who were left, "Take the grain offering that remains of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire, and eat it without leaven beside the altar, for it is most holy, and you shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your portion, and your sons' portion, of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire, for so I am commanded."

The grain offering was 'most holy'. It was an offering to God 'made by fire', that is wholly given to God. It was an offering from the people. And as such it must be contained and eaten within the Sanctuary. There it could be eaten by the priests 'without leaven' (for it must not be marred in any way) in the place where the altar was situated (thus they were seen as eating it as an offering) for it was given to them by God as a portion for their benefit, and they ate it in His name. Because they were God's anointed priests this was seen as God receiving it through them.

So may we through coming to Him and believing on Him partake of Him Who is the bread of life (John 6.35). But we must recognise that what we partake of is 'most holy'. That we can come to Him daily through faith, continually receiving His power and His fullness (Ephesians 3.16-19), and having Christ living in us (Galatians 2.20), is something which must never be treated lightly. When we so come we must ensure that there is no 'leaven' in our lives, nothing that is corrupting, no influence of the world, and we must recognise that He is ours through the altar, that is, through His offering Himself to death for us on the cross (Hebrews 13.10). Without that we could not know Him.

10.14-15 "And the wave breast and the contribution thigh shall you eat in a clean place, you, and your sons, and your daughters with you, for they are given as your portion, and your sons' portion, out of the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the children of Israel. The contribution thigh and the wave breast shall they bring with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave it for a wave offering before Yahweh, and it shall be yours, and your sons' with you, as a portion for ever; as Yahweh has commanded."

However, the wave breast and the contribution thigh of a peace sacrifice are holy but not 'most holy'. They are the priest's portion of what may be eaten by all who are clean, the flesh of the sacrifice. They must be waved before Yahweh, but then they can feed the priest's family, both male and female as long as it is in a clean place (one not affected by defilement from anything unclean). 'Your daughters' is an overall reference to all their womenfolk.

In Israel whenever a clean animal, whether ox, or goat or sheep, were to be slain and eaten it had to be done by sacrifice (17.1-7), and if it were not to be a whole burnt offering, or a purification for sin or guilt offering, then it must be as a peace/wellbeing sacrifice. The offering of the fat by fire to Yahweh meant that it was an offering 'made by fire', but the type of offering, a peace sacrifice, ensured that the flesh could be eaten by those appointed by the offeror, with the priests receiving the breast and thigh, the latter for the officiating priest. The breast and thigh was the priests' portion 'for ever' (into the distant future). And it could feed their whole families. The peace sacrifice was the way by which Israel could partake of the meat of clean animals in fellowship with each other and with God, while at the same time suitably expressing their love, penitence and gratitude to God, and contributing by it to the continuing atonement achieved by the priests on behalf of Israel, and it was one way by which the priests received their daily supplies.

These sacrifices would usually occur on special occasions. On the whole, apart from the very wealthy, the Israelites preferred to preserve their valuable livestock and use them to provide milk and clothing. They subsisted more on the milk, and on bread, fruit, honey, berries, and roots, and on what they could hunt, and while in the wilderness on manna and quails. This would be especially so in the wilderness. Note how when they grumbled in the wilderness for lack of food they did not immediately set about eating their livestock.

A Problem Arises Concerning the Purification for Sin Offering For The People (10.16-20).

This incident is quite remarkable, and is very unlikely to be a later invention, for it depicts Moses' uncertainty in the face of a ritual situation. It confirms that here we are dealing with what actually happened. Presumably in the light of what had happened to Nadab and Abihu Moses was checking on Aaron and his sons to ensure that they had carried through the correct rituals. He was clearly quite satisfied until he came to the question of the disposal of the flesh of the goat offered as a purification for sin offering for the people. When he discovered that it had been burnt on the altar and not eaten by the priests he was angry.

10.16 'And Moses diligently sought the goat of the purification for sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt, and he was angry with Eleazar and with Ithamar, the sons of Aaron who were left, saying,'

His anger centred on 'the sons of Aaron who were left', a deliberate reminder of what had happened earlier that day. They surely should have ensured the correct carrying out of the ritual. Were they being rebellious like their brothers?

10.17-18 "Why have you not eaten the purification for sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, seeing it is most holy, and he has given it you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before Yahweh? Behold, the blood of it was not brought into the sanctuary within. You should certainly have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded."

His question was specific. Why had they burnt the flesh of the purification for sin offering offered on behalf of the people, and not eaten it. They should have eaten it 'in the place of the Sanctuary', that is, within the tabernacle precincts, for that was all a part of bearing the iniquity of the offeror (6.26, 29; 7.6). The purification for sin offering must be mainly burnt on the altar with the flesh eaten by the priests in order to bear the iniquity of the offerer and to make atonement for him. In this case the 'him' was the people of Israel. This description reveals how the holiness of the priests renders even the 'sin' content holy. It is neutralised through forgiveness and atonement, through 'covering'.

The only exception allowed to this was in the cases where the blood was offered before the veil within the Holy Place. And that had not happened with this offering.

But we can understand their confusion as beginners in the priesthood. Usually when a purification for sin offering was made either for a priest or for 'the whole congregation' its blood was taken within the Holy Place and offered before the veil (4.6, 17), and the whole carcase apart from the fat and vital parts was burned outside the camp in a clean place. But in the case of the Priest's offering this day that had not been done. Should they then have eaten of the Priest's offering? The answer, even in Moses' eyes was clearly, No. The priests could not eat of the purification for sin offering of one of their own. He was not questioning that.

But in Moses' eyes the question seemed different when it came to the offering on behalf of 'the people'. Possibly because the elders had brought the offering he did not consider that that offering must also include the two brothers, although they had not strictly been included in Aaron's offering. Moses, however, probably considered that they had (compare 8.14). He no doubt saw the priesthood as one. It was a matter of interpretation. Thus because unusually the blood had not been presented in the Holy Place (possibly because it was for the people and not the whole congregation) he considered that it could be eaten by the priests. Probably the two brothers had taken the opposite view, that because the purification for sin offering included themselves they should not eat of it, and had been terrified at the thought of eating the purification for sin offering wrongly. We may assume from what followed that they appealed to their father, whose decision it had probably been.

10.19 'And Aaron spoke to Moses, "Behold, this day have they offered their purification for sin offering and their whole burnt offering before Yahweh, and there have befallen me such things as these, and if I had eaten the purification for sin offering today, would it have been well-pleasing in the sight of Yahweh?"

For Aaron, wiser and older, steps in to deal with the situation. He does not argue one case or the other. He points out that the two young men had this very day offered their purification for sin offering and their whole burnt offerings before Yahweh. They are concerned for their sin and dedication. He does not define which he sees as theirs. That is not the grounds on which he is going to argue.

Then he draws attention to his own invidious position. How does Moses see his case? After his offerings for himself he had endured unbearable events. He was in great grief. His heart was in mourning (compare Deuteronomy 26.14). That in itself made his position difficult. He could carry on his service, but he could not avoid what was in his heart, and the hurt and grief he felt. And Yahweh would be aware of it.

And what was more, it had been his own sons, the sons of his house, who had blasphemed Yahweh and endured His judgment and wrath. Was he then in any position to partake of the purification for sin offering of the people, and were his other sons in any better position. Was not their whole house in some sense guilty on this day? They would carry out their duty, but would the eating of the purification for sin offering by them have been pleasing in the sight of Yahweh when they were in a very real sense identified with those who had been slain? Would it not rather have made his family even more guilty? In that situation how could they profess to bear the sin of the people? Surely it were better on this day that the whole offering be offered by fire directly to Yahweh that He might absorb and neutralise through 'covering' the sin of the people, while he and his sons purged their sons/brothers' offence?

10.20 'And when Moses heard that, it was well-pleasing in his sight.'

Moses recognised the justice of what Aaron had said. He recognised their dilemma and was satisfied. This had been no rebellion against the will of Yahweh by Aaron and his remaining sons, but a recognition of their own mourning and their own indirect participation in the sin of their son and brothers. The house of Aaron had sinned that day, and were in mourning over the consequences of sin (for in Hebrew thought the sin of one in a family was in some sense the sin of all). How then could Aaron and his sons be seen as partaking of the purification for sin offering of the people, absorbing its holiness and rectifying their sin by 'covering' (atonement) and forgiveness? Would it not cause doubt in the people's minds? Surely it was better that the holiness be absorbed by the altar, and the sin be covered and atoned for by God?

'It was well-pleasing in his sight.' Moses recognised that all was well. He recognised that this had not been done lightly, but had been done with a full consideration of the factors that had resulted in the decision. But no later writer would have accepted the possibility of Moses having to be taught by Aaron in this way unless it had happened. (Although the ingenuity of some modern scholars in inventing stories which have no evidence to support them in order to explain such things away is quite incredible. It appears to be a case of any story goes as long as we do not accept them to be what they claim to be).

Clean and Unclean (11.1-15.33).

The priesthood having been informed of their responsibility to discern between what was ritually clean and what was ritually unclean (10.10), five chapters now deal with the question in order to provide them with guidance. The question of clean and unclean brings out Israel's world view, and stresses the difference between walking with God, and enjoying life and enjoying what is pure, in other words what is 'clean', and grovelling in what is 'unclean', with its connections with impurity and death, urging men to the former away from the latter.

In order to appreciate the significance of this we need first to recognise what precisely is involved. The purpose behind the idea of cleanness and uncleanness is not mainly hygiene or moral uncleanness. Rather it emphasises in a general way the holiness and perfection of God, and our need to escape from and avoid and rise above degradation and death. We have already seen that sacrifices and offerings are to be 'perfect' or 'without blemish'. This is a pointer to the concept involved. In emphasising what is clean and unclean God seeks only what is totally 'perfect', what is wholly right, for Himself and for His people. What is clean is best. What is not clean is not best.

But we must not confuse holiness and 'cleanness'. Holiness goes much further than cleanness. Things can be clean and not holy. And there are degrees of holiness within the area where all is 'clean'. For holiness is to do with what God is, and what man's attitude towards Him is, while cleanness has to do with what man is and with his attitude to his environment. This clearly impinges on holiness, but it is looking at it from a very different angle.

In order to be 'holy' enough to enter the tabernacle court men needed to be ritually 'clean', but being clean did not render them 'most holy'. Yet the constant awareness of the need to avoid what was 'unclean' in God's eyes did bring God's Law very much into the daily lives of the common man. This included both its moral and its ritual requirements. It constantly made them think of what was for their good in accordance with God's commands, what was 'clean', what was wholesome for those who were holy. But there can be no doubt that God also used these distinctions in order to keep them healthy, to let them see that in the uncleanness and decay of much of nature lay unknown dangers, to test their obedience, and to remind them constantly of His holiness.

There are also grounds for recognising that some of the living creatures which were unclean were seen as such because of their connections with various gods, although this may simply be because in their worship men regularly seek what is low. This would tie in with the general principle of perfection and wellbeing. While it is argued that in that case the bull ox would also have been unclean due to its prominence in the Baal religion, the answer to that might simply be that the bull ox had been recognised as clean for so long that it countered any other interpretation.

With, for example, the pig, which was revered and feared in religions elsewhere, the position was different. The black pig was taboo to worshippers of Horus in Egypt because Seth as a black pig had once blinded him. In certain Hittite rituals a pig was slaughtered in order to protect the sacrificers from evil curses. And pigs were associated with certain Syrian-Canaanite cults. This, even if not suggesting it, would certainly have helped to confirm the pig's uncleanness. And 'creeping things' were undoubtedly connected with idolatry in Ezekiel 8.10. But nothing of this is even hinted at in either Leviticus or Deuteronomy so that we can only see it as of subsidiary significance.

The Law depicts Yahweh as supremely holy, that is uniquely 'set apart' as One Who is wholly good, wholly righteous, uniquely powerful, and then reveals grades of descent from God's holiness and perfection into spheres of lesser and lesser holiness ('set apartness'). This is because man could not fully cope with the full holiness of God.

On the one hand therefore the Law is very much designed to bring out God's uniqueness and extreme holiness, together with the Priest's and Israel's special position before Him, but on the other it reveals intermediate levels of holiness until it comes down to where uncleanness intervenes and then goes on to the other extreme of 'uncleanness' which is to do with death and extreme impurity.

God is the living God, and, for Him, to be holy is to be supremely alive and pure. For man to become fully holy would be to become wholly alive and pure, and not only free from all the claims of death, but living positively to the full. For man to miss out on that, even by a fraction, would be to miss out on the very best. But man is far from that. He is weak and failing and that best is so far beyond him that it could only be a distant hope to be brought about by the grace of God. God therefore begins to lead him in ways that will enable him one day eventually, step by step, to understand that best, and this was indeed stated to be the purpose of the Law. It was that man might finally find true life (18.5).

This was to be revealed to him in two ways. Firstly by his coming to appreciate the full holiness of God, an awareness of God's environment, and of His righteousness and purity (see Isaiah 57.15), and secondly by being made aware of what is wholly clean, what is best and most 'perfect' in man's environment. Thus would his mind be turned towards God. With that in mind let us first consider the levels of holiness.

The Levels of Holiness.