This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Leviticus 10:8-11

 "8 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, 9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: 10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; 11 And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses." — Leviticus 10:8-11 KJV.


9. Do not drink wine — This wine is in Hebrew יַ֣יִן (yayin), the most general term for this beverage, especially when it is intoxicating. “Yayin is a mocker.” Proverbs 20:1. In seventy-five out of a hundred and thirty-six passages it is spoken of with condemnation by reason of its disastrous effects. Unfermented, or new wine, called must, is in the Hebrew expressed by תִּירוֹשׁ (tirosh). This is never prohibited or condemned. It occurs thirty-eight times, with no indication of any intoxicating quality. The solitary apparent exception in Hosea 9:11 is explained as the gluttonous use of sweet, nutritious wine as an article of food. The meaning of the passage is, that the three great appetites — the sexual, the bibulous, and the gluttonous — “take away the heart” or understanding. There are several other terms sparingly used, some of which always involve a bad sense, as שׂבַע sobe, signifying soak and soaker, while others are doubtful. Nor strong drink — The Hebrew שֵׁכָר (shecar) is a generic term applied to all fermented liquors except wine. It includes, 1.) Beer, which was largely consumed in Egypt under the name of zythus. It was made of barley and certain herbs, such as lupin and skirrett, as a substitute for hops. 2.) Cider, or apple-wine. 3.) Honey-wine, of which there were two sorts; the first consisting of a mixture of wine, honey, and pepper, the other a decoction of the juice of the grape, termed debash (honey) by the Jews, and dibs by the modern Syrians. 4.) Date-wine, which was the fermentation of dates mashed and mixed with water. 5.) The fermented juices of various other fruits and vegetables, as figs, millet, pomegranates, and carob fruit. According to the latest researches in philology, the English word cider is a modification of shecar, through the Grecized form sikera. See Webster’s Dictionary. When ye go into the tabernacle — The service of God requires the clearest head and the purest heart. It is an intelligent exercise, and not a blind, mechanical opus operatum, or going through with the motions. If the priest even medicinally used fermented wine or strong drink in the smallest quantity, it disqualified him for his office during that day. What a rebuke is this to the usage — still prevalent in some countries — of drinking wine in the vestry before going into the pulpit and reasoning of righteousness, temperance, and a judgment to come! The enactment of this law immediately after the slaying of Nadab and Abihu affords strong grounds for the theory that they were drunken when they committed the act of sacrilege. The Targum of Palestine plainly sustains this view. “Drink no wine nor any thing that maketh drunk, as thy sons did, who have died by the burning of fire.” See Numbers 3:4.

11. That ye may teach — The priest was the earliest religious teacher of the Levitical law, “for the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth.” Malachi 2:7. The two sides of the priestly vocation, teaching and offering, are embraced in Deuteronomy 33:10. The Pentateuch knows nothing of a scholastic inculcation of the divine laws; it knows no formal religious instruction at all except the reading of the law before the assembled people, at the feast of tabernacles, in the Sabbatic year. Deuteronomy 31:10-13. All religious teachers should be τελειοι, perfect, having their senses — internal and external — exercised to discern or discriminate both good and evil. Hebrews 5:14. Wine draws a film over the spiritual eye and confounds moral distinctions. If the priests have aught to do with wine in a lawful way, it is only that it may, in the holy place,” be poured unto the Lord for a drink offering.” Numbers 28:7. Wine symbolizes joy. The joy of all believers is not the joy of earth but of heaven — of the sanctuary. “The joy of the Lord is your strength.”

Friday, September 29, 2023

Leviticus 10:1-7 - Strange Fire

" 1 And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. 2 And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 3 Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. 4 And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. 5 So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said. 6 And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. 7 And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses." — Leviticus 10:1-7 KJV.

This chapter details the sad effects of sin intruding as a marplot into the holiest scenes on earth, and casting down from the highest earthly station the anointed priests of Jehovah, and plucking a more than kingly diadem from their heads, (1-7.) It also contains a statute enforcing priestly abstinence from wine, apparently suggested by the drunken recklessness of Nadab and Abihu, (8-11,) the two eldest sons of Aaron and Elisheba, and a supplementary law respecting the eating of the most holy sacrifices, (12-15,) and records the blunder of the priests in burning the sin offering, which should have been eaten, and also Aaron’s apology for the mistake, (16-20.) Of the four sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu only were selected to accompany Moses, Aaron, and the seventy elders up Mount Sinai, where they “saw the God of Israel.” Exodus 24:9, 10. They had just been invested with their priestly robes, and they were passing through their first service as novitiates, when, by a rash act, they made a sad failure, signalized by the marked displeasure of Jehovah.


1. Offered strange fire — “These men were not at liberty to take each his own censer; there was a utensil provided for that action, and for any man to bring his own ironmongery to serve in such a cause was to insult the Spirit of the Universe. They ventured to put incense thereon, when only the pontiff of Israel was allowed to use such incense.” — Joseph Parker. The fire is called “strange” in distinction from that of celestial origin which “came out from before Jehovah and consumed the burnt offering.” Leviticus 9:24. The great difficulty in this matter is found in the absence of any previously recorded regulation touching the proper use of sacrificial fire. This regulation is found in Leviticus 16:12. The presumption is very strong that it was instituted before the events narrated in chapters 9 and 10, since the statute respecting the preservation of the altar-fire was given in Leviticus 6:9, 13.  Their sin consisted in the performance of the Lord’s service in a manner which he commanded them not. They departed in some way from the plain words of Jehovah, deeming their own reason a better guide in religious matters. Very much of that which passes among men for the worship of God is but strange fire.

2. Fire from the Lord — The sacred fire which these priests had slighted had “come out from before the Lord.” Leviticus 9:24. “Fire had just consumed the burnt-offering and the fat upon the altar in token of divine complacency and sacred nearness, and the acceptance of human worship, and that same fire went out from the Lord and devoured the audacious priests — the sacerdotal blasphemers — ate them up as if they had been common bones! The Lord has never been negligent of his own altar.” — Joseph Parker. By a species of poetical justice, fire from the same source is the instrument of their punishment. “Our God is a consuming fire.” This fearful exhibition of wrath and power indicates his real presence where his name is. “A saint, when asked, ‘What is the most dangerous doctrine?’ replied, ‘God’s own truth held carnally, and to exalt self.’ For his light may blind, his ark destroy, his sanctuary smite, his table be damnation. And a truth perverted may be the firmest chain to hold and bind and blind us for ever.” — Jukes. Devoured them — Literally, ate them up. But this strong word is used metaphorically for slew, since neither their bodies nor even their garments were consumed. The stroke was like a deadly flash of lightning issuing from the most holy place, the abode of the invisible Jehovah. Here we find another parallel between the opening of the dispensation of shadows and the beginning of the official work of the Holy Ghost. Two persons are struck dead at the inauguration of each dispensation, amid the displays of omnipotent power, and the rejoicings of the people at the tokens of Jehovah’s presence and favor. See Acts 5:1-11. In both these passages we have the double action of the same fire, which consumes the burnt offering and baptizes the believer with fire in token of acceptance, and smites the sinning priest and the lying Ananias in token of judgment. “God is love.” “God is a consuming fire.” His anger against sin burns most intensely around his own altars. “Poetical justice might have closed the book of Leviticus with chap. 9. It would have been a glorious close — Aaron moved to feeling; Moses giving way to emotion; the Lord’s fire consuming the offering upon the altar; the people singing, shouting, and falling down in adoration! Why did not the history close there? That would have been Canaan enough for any nation, paradise enough for any people. But there is another chapter.”

3. I will be sanctified — I will be regarded as high and glorious. There must be a correspondence between my majesty and the obedience and veneration of those who minister at my altars and are conspicuous examples to the whole people. In them that come nigh me — There is no verb in the Hebrew. The literal is in those near to me; that is, in the pious. Disobedience in the holy place is almost equal to the Miltonic story of a rebellion in heaven. Before all the people I will be glorified — This is a key to the apparent severity of this judgment, which fell upon the priesthood like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. Infidelity at the altar will inevitably beget irreligion in the tents. An impious priesthood cannot train up a pious people for the heritage of God. This awful outflashing of his wrath gives a perpetual emphasis to the admonition, “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.” And Aaron held his peace — The father stood dumb over the corpses of his sons. Through divine grace he was enabled to repress the grief of his heart, which sought its natural outlet in wailings and tears. He recognised the hand which had smitten him, and heard the voice of Jehovah within his heart, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The situation of the high priest was critical indeed. As the representative of Jehovah he should calmly approve his judgments; as a father, he loves his sons and is prompted by nature to yield to that perturbation of sorrow which would disqualify him for his official duties. Charles Wesley thus versifies Aaron’s mute sorrow:

“Why should a living man complain
That sinners are struck dead?
Reprieved myself, I still remain,
If punished in my seed.

Howe’er thou deal’st with mine or me,
O stop the murmuring groan,
Or let my only answer be,
Father, thy will be done!”

4. Moses called — He who had amid the quakings of Horeb and the thunderings and lightnings drawn near and entered into the cloud where God was not the man to be disconcerted by this awful catastrophe. Sons of Uzziel — The third son, Zithri, (Exodus 6:22,) was not summoned to this painful task. Being Kohathites, soon to be charged with the transportation of the sacred furniture, it was fitting that they should be employed to remove the bodies of these sacred persons. Elizaphan was chief of the Kohathites. Numbers 3:30, 31. Carry your brethren — They were kindred of the fifth degree, and loosely termed brethren. Before the sanctuary — As they fell between the great altar and the tabernacle with smoking censers in their hands, it is evident that they were going toward the holy place to burn incense at the golden altar unbidden, and possibly against a positive prohibition.

5. In their coats — Their apparel, being defiled by contact with dead bodies, could not be retained for the use of their brothers or successors in office. Aaron was not permitted to die in his pontifical robes, in order that they might be worn by Eleazar. Numbers 20:26.

6. Uncover not your heads — “It was the law that the priest should never leave the altar to go to burials, or interrupt his sacred ministry by shedding tears. He represented God as well as represented the people, and he must abide at his duty whoever died. It was military religion in its mechanical arrangement; it was spiritual obedience in the acceptation of its intention.” — Joseph Parker. They were forbidden to remove their hats, to unbind their head-bands, and dishevel their hair in token of grief. This was an act derogatory to priestly dignity. This command was generalized in the case of the high priest, who was forever prohibited to attend a funeral or to give any indication of mourning for the dead. Neither Judaism nor Christianity ignores the ties of human kindred except when they stand in the way of duty. All affections must yield to the paramount claims of God. Luke 14:26. Those who are brought nigh to God by the anointing of the Holy Spirit must move in a sphere beyond the range of nature’s influences. Priestly nearness to God gives the soul such an insight into all his ways as right and good that one is enabled joyfully to worship in his presence, even though the stroke of his hand has removed from us the object of tender affection. Neither rend… clothes — This act was an oriental symbol of grief, despair, or indignation. Lest wrath come upon all the people — Personal gratification must be subordinate to the public weal. “For even Christ,” our high priest, “pleased not himself.” Thus vicarious suffering by the priest is early foreshadowed as a requisite of the coming great High Priest. Nevertheless the erring priests are not to die unwept. The whole house of Israel are commanded to bewail the stroke of vengeance, and to soothe the wounded family of Aaron.

7. Ye shall not go out — Primarily this relates to going forth to funerals. See Leviticus 21:10-12, notes. This prohibition must not be considered as absolute. They were not to come in contact with secular affairs by abandoning the service of the tabernacle. Lest ye die — By some supernatural interposition. Many a Christian minister has suffered spiritual death by voluntarily going forth from the tabernacle to enter upon secular matters with the anointing oil of the Lord upon him. See Leviticus 8:10, 30, notes.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

The Holiness of Adam

QUESTION: What is the difference between Adam's holiness before he fell and after he was entirely sanctified?

ANSWER: The difference between the natural and the moral, or between the negative and the positive. A natural holiness is con-created and without voluntary choice, and because it lacks volition, is natural rather than moral. It is negative, because it simply denotes the absence of impurity. When Adam chose holiness it was positive. What this positive element is, theologians have found difficult to state. I would modestly suggest that it is a chosen conformity to the nature of God, called perfect love, by St. John of Ephesus and St. John of Epworth.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 12, 13.

Monday, September 25, 2023

An Uninspired Interpolation

QUESTION: Explain Deut. 14:21: "Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth of itself: (thou mayest give it unto the sojourner that is within thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto a foreigner;) for thou art a holy people unto Jehovah."

ANSWER: There is here evidently an instance of an uninspired interpolation which I have indicated by the marks of a parenthesis. This law is found in Ex. 22:31 and in Lev. 17:15 without the words in the parentheses which are out of harmony with the character of God, as revealed elsewhere in the Bible. In fact, they contradict the law about the sojourner, found in Lev. 17:15, where he is indirectly forbidden to eat carrion.

— From Steele's Answers p. 12.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Leviticus 9:23-24 - "A Fire Came Out from Before the LORD."

 "23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. 24 And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces." — Leviticus 9:23-24 KJV.

23. Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle — “Tent of meeting,” (R.V.) This is the first recorded entrance of any human being into the tabernacle after its dedication, when it was so filled with glory that Moses could not enter. The purpose of their entering is not revealed. It is probable that they drew near to Jehovah in communion and intercession for the people, to burn incense, and to trim the lamps. Exodus 30:7, 8. When the lawgiver and the high priest came out and blessed the people, the glory within flashed out and consumed… the burnt offering, signifying the divine acceptance, and impressing all the people with a sense of the goodness of Jehovah, and of his majesty, in view of which they shouted for joy, and before which they fell on their faces. The words of the threefold benediction are recorded in Numbers 6:22-27, which is probably a repetition of a former communication of the same formula which, we doubt not, was used on this solemn occasion. The shouting is the first outburst of gladness in the Old Testament worship of Jehovah. It was fitting that those who had profaned their lips in shouting the orgies of a pagan worship (Exodus 32:17) should now employ them in uttering the praises of their reconciled God. There is always joy when God makes his abode with men. Fulness of joy is the natural expression of fulness of the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18, 19. This display of the divine majesty following the consecration and first service of the Levitical priesthood has a striking parallel fifteen centuries later, after the anointing of the Holy Ghost had consecrated, as priests unto God, the one hundred and twenty in Jerusalem, and they had rendered their first service in proclaiming Jesus the Lamb that was slain but lives again, when the glory of divine grace more marvellously smote the multitude at the coming forth of the anointed from their tabernacle, the upper chamber, to minister through all ages at a more glorious altar. The parallel is so perfect as to suggest that the first may have been intended to typify the second. See Acts 2.

24. There came a fire out from before the Lord — This supernatural fire was the divine ratification of the priesthood, and acceptance of their first offering. According to the Jews, it couched upon the altar like a lion; it was bright as the sun; the flame was pure and solid, emitting no smoke, and consuming wet and dry things alike. Says Oehler, “The Shekinah shows its reality in the sanctuary by means of actions of power which go out from it.” See Leviticus 10:2, note. The command to keep this heavenly fire is recorded in Leviticus 6:13. See note for the period during which it was preserved. They shouted — This was the shout of victory — the prostration of worship. All was now complete — the sacrifice, the robed and mitred priest, the priestly family associated with their head, the priestly benediction, the appearance of the King and Priest, and the outflashing of the divine glory — a marvellously beautiful shadow of things to come. Ever since the Son of God was glorified on high as our High Priest, and his sending down the Paraclete, has the earth resounded with the shouts of souls filled with the Holy Ghost. All true service is gladdened by the divine acceptance, and glorified by the divine presence.


Much confusion will be avoided in our conception of the successive events of this day if we assume that all the offerings spoken of as made before the “fire went out from before the Lord,” were simply prepared, and not burned, till consumed by the supernatural fire. This is reasonable, if we suppose that the burnt sacrifice of the morning is mentioned proleptically. Dr. Murphy thus explains the difficulty: 

If the lamb prescribed be not the morning sacrifice, then the burnt offering is additional to the standing one of the morning. But several considerations are in favour of their identity. First, Aaron was now manifestly to act for the first time as duly constituted high priest, and it seems incongruous that he should have offered a morning sacrifice beforehand. Secondly, this was the commencement of the national worship; there cannot, therefore, have been a previous morning sacrifice distinct from this, as the latter would have been the real commencement. Thirdly, the erection of the tabernacle had to be completed on this morning, and this, though of trivial amount, would occupy time. Fourthly, the manifest propriety of the initiatory sacrifice being kindled by the fire from God points the same way. And lastly, the phrase ‘besides the burnt sacrifice of the morning,’ (verse 17,) is usually explained to mean that this oblation was in addition to the morning sacrifice on this special occasion, though it did not usually accompany it while the people were in the wilderness.

From this time the history of Aaron is almost entirely that of the priesthood.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Leviticus 9:8-22

 "8 Aaron therefore went unto the altar, and slew the calf of the sin offering, which was for himself. 9 And the sons of Aaron brought the blood unto him: and he dipped his finger in the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar, and poured out the blood at the bottom of the altar: 10 But the fat, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver of the sin offering, he burnt upon the altar; as the LORD commanded Moses. 11 And the flesh and the hide he burnt with fire without the camp. 12 And he slew the burnt offering; and Aaron’s sons presented unto him the blood, which he sprinkled round about upon the altar. 13 And they presented the burnt offering unto him, with the pieces thereof, and the head: and he burnt them upon the altar. 14 And he did wash the inwards and the legs, and burnt them upon the burnt offering on the altar. 15 And he brought the people’s offering, and took the goat, which was the sin offering for the people, and slew it, and offered it for sin, as the first. 16 And he brought the burnt offering, and offered it according to the manner. 17 And he brought the meat offering, and took an handful thereof, and burnt it upon the altar, beside the burnt sacrifice of the morning. 18 He slew also the bullock and the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings, which was for the people: and Aaron’s sons presented unto him the blood, which he sprinkled upon the altar round about, 19 And the fat of the bullock and of the ram, the rump, and that which covereth the inwards, and the kidneys, and the caul above the liver: 20 And they put the fat upon the breasts, and he burnt the fat upon the altar: 21 And the breasts and the right shoulder Aaron waved for a wave offering before the LORD; as Moses commanded. 22 And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the sin offering, and the burnt offering, and peace offerings." — Leviticus 9:8-22 KJV.


8. Aaron… slew — In person or by command.

9. The blood — See The Ceremonial Function of the Blood and Leviticus 7:2, note. Upon the horns of the altar — See Leviticus 4:7, note.

10. The fat — Suet. See notes on Leviticus 3:3, 17. Kidneys… caul — Leviticus 3:4, note.

11. Without the camp — Leviticus 4:12, note.

12. The burnt offering — After they had been brought into a state of acceptance with Jehovah the whole burnt offering, symbolizing entire consecration, was appropriate. See Leviticus 1:3, note, and The Order of the Sacrifices.

13. With the pieces — “Piece by piece,” (R.V.) See Leviticus 1:8, and Leviticus 8:18-21, notes.

14. The inwards and the legs — See Leviticus 1:9, note.


15. The people’s offering — This was offered in the proper order; first, the sin offering for the expiation of their sins, then the burnt offering, by which the people dedicated themselves to God, followed by the meat offering as a medium of communion, and the peace offering as the vehicle of their thanksgivings. Offered it for sin — Literally, as noted by various critics, He sinned it, or, He made it to sin. The sin offering was so identified with the sin for which it was to atone as to become itself the sinner, not actually but by imputation. The animal thus figuratively received upon its head the guilt of him who substituted its life for his own, and it was viewed and treated as a creature which was nothing but sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21, note.

16. The manner — “Ordinance,” (R.V.) The ritual of the altar prescribed in chaps. 1 and Leviticus 7:1-6.

17. Meat offering… burnt sacrifice — “The difference between the burnt offering and the meat offering was this: in the burnt offering the surrender of a life figured man’s duty to God; while fruits in the meat offering represented man’s duty to his neighbour.” — Jukes. For the time when the fire was actually applied to all the offerings of this chapter, see Concluding Note.

18. A sacrifice of peace offerings — This symbolized that fellowship which follows propitiation by the sin offering. The feasting of the people upon the peace offerings figures the communion of saints. Christ’s communion with the believer is thus expressed: “I will sup with him.”

19. Rump — See Leviticus 3:9, note.

21. Shoulder — “Thigh,” (R.V.) A wave offering — See Leviticus 7:30, note. As Moses commanded — The Seventy, the Samaritan, the Arabic, and the Targum of Onkelos all agree in another reading, “as Jehovah commanded Moses.” This, harmonizing as it does with verses 6, 7, and 10, is doubtless the true reading. Even in the present reading there is no danger of taking Moses for the ultimate source of authority, since he is always represented as the mouth of Jehovah. Exodus 4:12.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Leviticus 9:1-7 — Aaron's First Offering

"1 And it came to pass on the eighth day, that Moses called Aaron and his sons, and the elders of Israel; 2 And he said unto Aaron, Take thee a young calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, without blemish, and offer them before the LORD. 3 And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, both of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering; 4 Also a bullock and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD; and a meat offering mingled with oil: for to day the LORD will appear unto you. 5 And they brought that which Moses commanded before the tabernacle of the congregation: and all the congregation drew near and stood before the LORD. 6 And Moses said, This is the thing which the LORD commanded that ye should do: and the glory of the LORD shall appear unto you. 7 And Moses said unto Aaron, Go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering, and thy burnt offering, and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people: and offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; as the LORD commanded." — Leviticus 9:1-7 KJV.


Moses, the illustrious Levite who had inducted Aaron and his sons into the priestly office, now commands them to perform its functions on the very day after their consecration, because the sins of the people were in pressing need of expiation. The superintendence of Moses is still continued, in order to rectify any mistake of these novitiates. See Leviticus 10:16-20. This chapter establishes the national worship in permanent form. It comprises commands by Moses, Aaron’s offerings for himself, those for the people, the priestly benediction, the outflashing glory, the consuming fire from Jehovah, and the shouts of the joyful worshippers.

1. On the eighth day — There are three eighth-day services in the Levitical law. The other two are the cleansing of the leper (Leviticus 14:10, 23) and the purification of a defiled Nazarite. (Numbers 6:10.) There are three such scenes in the Gospels — the transfiguration, (Luke 9:28,) the resurrection and manifestation on the first or eighth day of the week, and the second manifestation to all the apostles. John 20:19-26. The elders of Israel — At what period the transition occurred when the word elder acquired an official signification it is impossible to say. The earliest notice of the elders acting in concert as an organized body is in the time of the exode. Exodus 3:16. It is highly probable that Moses availed himself of an institution known as the senate, the γερουσια of the Seventy, which had been in existence ever since Israel had become a people. From the Hebrew זקן, elder, Dean Stanley derives the term sheik. As representatives of the people, the elders are sometimes put for the congregation. See Joshua xxiii, 2. They retained their position under all political changes, through the monarchy and captivity to the time of Christ, when they are noticed as a distinct body from the Sanhedrin, but always acting in conjunction with it and the other dominant classes. Matthew 26:59.

2. Calf for a sin offering — The Hebrew for calf also signifies calf image. Exodus 32:4. Thus Moses delicately reminds Aaron of the great sin which he had committed in making the golden calf, and teaches him that the animal which was the object of idolatrous worship among the Egyptians, as a symbol of the deity, is fit only for a sin offering to Jehovah, the Creator of all things. See chap. iv, Introductory. Without blemish — See Leviticus 1:3, note. Before the Lord — This was at the door of the tabernacle. Leviticus 1:3, note.

3. A kid of the goats — See Leviticus 23:19, note. A burnt offering — Chap. 1 and Leviticus 6:9, notes.

4. Peace offerings — Chaps. 3 and Leviticus 7:11-28, notes. Meat offering — Chaps. 2, and Leviticus 6:14-23, notes. “Meal offering,” (R.V.) For to-day the Lord will appear unto you — The term for contains the reason for all the sacrifices commanded in the preceding verses. Jehovah manifests himself only to those who obediently seek him in his ordinances. (Exodus 29:42, 43.) See also especially John 14:21. God can give to the believer an indubitable demonstration of his presence and favour without the manifestation of a visible form. The invisible God no man hath seen at any time; the only-begotten Son hath declared him. John 1:18. By reference to verses 6, 23 it appears that the promised manifestation is that of “the glory of Jehovah.” This was not constantly seen either by the people or by Moses. The sincere inquirer after God, who diligently gathers up and uses all his light, and follows un-hesitatingly wherever the truth leads, will attain an experimental and satisfactory assurance of the existence and forgiving grace of God in Jesus Christ. There is really no such thing as “honest scepticism.” Sacrifice, and Jehovah will appear. Obedience must precede the divine manifestation. See John 7:17. At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus said to Martha, “If thou wilt believe, thou shalt see the glory of God.” See John 11:40. The condition is essentially the same in both instances. Faith is the root of obedience; obedience is faith unfolded in action.

7. Make an atonement for thyself — After seven days of consecration τελείωσις — making perfect — Leviticus 8:11, note,) Aaron is not absolutely holy and perfect, but only an imperfect shadow of the High Priest “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, and made higher than the heavens.” “Only as one who had been himself atoned for could the high priest make atonement for others, on the received principle, An innocent man must come and make an atonement for the guilty; but the guilty may not come and make an atonement for the innocent.” — Delitzsch, Heb, 5:3. The person of the atoner must not be offensive to the Supreme Executor of the law. The high priest accompanied his sin offering with a threefold confession — the first for himself and his own family, the second for the priesthood in general, and the third for all Israel. The first was thus: “O Jehovah, do thou expiate the misdeeds, the crimes, and the sins wherewith I have done evil, and have sinned before thee, I and my house, as it is written in the law of Moses thy servant.” “On that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you; that ye may be clean from all your sins before Jehovah.” Leviticus 16:30. For the nature of the Old Testament atonement see Leviticus 1:4; 4:20, notes.


Monday, September 18, 2023

Sin, Infirmity & Atonement

The moral sense of mankind makes a distinction not in degree, but in kind, between forging a note, and falling asleep in a prayer meeting, or forgetting to keep a promise, or disproportioning food to exercise, or indulging too long in sleep, or having an impure dream, or a wandering thought in church, or treating a neighbor coldly under a misapprehension of his worthiness. The universal conscience discriminates between a sin and a weakness or an error.

Ethical writers insist that the moral sense of mankind pronounces innocent the inadvertent doer of an act wrong in itself. They declare that there is a broad distinction between wrong and guilty, on the one hand, and right and innocent, on the other; and that guilt always involves a knowledge of the wrong, and an intention to commit it. Hence, in the light of the moral philosophies filling our libraries and taught in our colleges, a sin of inadvertence or ignorance needs no expiation. But this is a superficial view.

Notwithstanding the broad distinction between infirmities and sins, in one respect they are alike, they both need the atonement. This is shown by human laws. So great are the interests entrusted to men in certain positions that severe penalties are attached to carelessness, as in the handling of poisons by physicians and apothecaries, the involuntary sleep of a weary sentinel at his post, or in the case of the bridge-tender who through a faulty time-keeper has the draw open when the express train arrives. These are infirmities of judgment or memory which men regard and punish as crimes. Now, what the exigencies of human society require for its safety in a few cases, the perfect moral government of God demands in all cases — satisfaction for involuntary sins. But there is a difference in God's favour. He always provides an atonement for such sins, and never executes sentence till the atonement has been rejected. Where the expiation cannot be known and applied he forbears to inflict the penalty. "The time of this ignorance God overlooked." Hence the law of God is more merciful than the statutes of men, which, in the cases specified, make no provision for escaping the punishment of involuntary offences. The objection which some have raised against the Divine Government for holding errors and inadvertencies as culpable and penal, falls to the ground when we find the first announcement of this accompanied by the institution of the sin-offering. See Lev. iv.

Though a well-meant mistake does not defile the conscience and bring into condemnation, nevertheless when discovered it demands a penitent confession and a presentation of the great sin-offering unto the God of absolute holiness. The refusal to do this after the sin-offering has been provided involves positive guilt. Says John Wesley:

Not only sin, properly so-called, that is, a voluntary transgression of a known law: but sin, improperly so-called, that is, an involuntary transgression of a divine law, known or unknown, needs the atoning blood. I believe there is no such perfection in this life as excludes these involuntary transgressions, which I apprehend to be naturally consequent on the ignorances and mistakes inseparable from mortality. Therefore, sinless perfection is a phrase I never use, lest I should seem to contradict myself. I believe a person filled with the love of God is still liable to involuntary transgressions.

Hence Charles Wesley sings —

Every moment, Lord, I want
The merit of Thy death.

In view of this truth it is eminently appropriate for the holiest soul on earth to say daily. "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." 

— From “Sins, Infirmities and the Atonement” Mile-stone Papers. (This comes at the end of the chapter.)

Friday, September 15, 2023

Don't Pray for the World?

QUESTION: Explain Christ's word's "I pray not for the world." (John 17:9).

ANSWER:  They are not to be understood as an absolute refusal to pray for the world which he came to redeem. In his last prayer, in full view of the cross upon which he would die on the morrow, he focalized his prayers upon the few who believed in him, whose faith would certainly fail unless supernaturally strengthened by divine power, when the Messiah King should yield to the powers of darkness, and die as a malefactor. Verse [9] must have reference to a world that was yet in alienation from him. Says Luther, "To pray for the world, and not to pray of the world, must both be right and good. Paul certainly was of the world when he persecuted and killed the Christians. Yet Stephen prayed for him. Christ also prays in like manner at the cross, Luke 23:34." His prayer for the world is that it may cease to be what it is; his prayer for believers is that they may be perfected in the love enkindled in them when they were born from above. For this chiefly his high-priestly prayer was made.

— From Steele's Answers pp. 11, 12.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Divorced Church Members

QUESTION: Should divorced persons who remarry while the party of the first marriage still lives, be admitted to the church?

ANSWER: Yes, the innocent party to a Scriptural divorce, or the truly penitent party to an unscriptural divorce. The church is for all who desire to flee from the wrath to come, as evinced by turning away from sin, doing all the good possible and attendance upon all the means of grace. The church is broad enough to receive penitent sinners of all sorts, but the pulpit is not.

— From Steele's Answers p. 11.

Leviticus 8:31-36 & Concluding Notes

 "And Moses said unto Aaron and to his sons, Boil the flesh at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and there eat it with the bread that is in the basket of consecrations, as I commanded, saying, Aaron and his sons shall eat it. And that which remaineth of the flesh and of the bread shall ye burn with fire. And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of the congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you. As he hath done this day, so the LORD hath commanded to do, to make an atonement for you. Therefore shall ye abide at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation day and night seven days, and keep the charge of the LORD, that ye die not: for so I am commanded. So Aaron and his sons did all things which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses." — Leviticus 8:31-36 KJV.

31, 32. Boil the flesh… eat… burn — In the peace offering the offerer and his friends were permitted to eat in a sacred banquet, and to burn with fire that which remained. Leviticus 7:15, note.

33. Seven days shall he consecrate you — For the significance of the “seven” see Leviticus 4:6, note. The number was not in the Hebrew conception perfect till it had been repeated seven times. Men are not permitted to go forth into the priesthood at a step, without preparation and without thought. On each of the seven days the sin offering was made, (Exodus 29:36;) it is not said whether or not the other two offerings and the anointing were to be repeated. The rabbins assume anointing on each day. See verse 11, note.

34. Atonement — See Leviticus 1:4, note. The consecration or perfecting of Jesus for the office of high priest included suffering (Hebrews 2:10) but not expiation. Hebrews 7:26.

35. Abide at the door of the tabernacle — The candidates were charged to remain within the sacred court during this probation. They could not enter the holy place or apartment of the priests because their consecration was not complete; they could not come in contact with unsanctified things without the enclosure, because their consecration was begun. “Here we have a fine type of Christ and his people feeding together upon the results of accomplished atonement. Aaron and his sons, having been anointed together on the ground of the shed blood, are here presented to our view as shut in within the precincts of the tabernacle seven days. A striking figure of the present position of Christ and his members during the entire period of this dispensation, shut in with God, and waiting for the manifestation of his glory.” See Leviticus 9:23. The charge of the Lord — This was the exact fulfilment of the commands found in Exodus 29. That ye die not — Obedience is the best preparation for service. The omission of any of the prescribed ceremonies, or the addition thereto of any human invention, would prove fatal. This strictness was designed to keep this important service free from any heathenish mixture. It was this verse that suggested to Charles Wesley that beautiful hymn now sung throughout Christendom,

“A charge to keep I have.”

For the peril attending the handling of sacred things see Numbers 4:18.


(1.) In the Pontificale or Ceremoniale Romanum nearly all the ritualism of this chapter is found prescribed for the consecration of a modern Romish priest or bishop. The superficial observer of such a pageant in a papal cathedral might pronounce the ceremonial eminently scriptural. It would be, if Christianity had an order of priests set apart to make atonement for the sins of the people. But the Gospel has but one Priest, who, having finished his sacrifice in the outer court of this world, has entered into the holy of holies above to continue and complete the work of his office. Since “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are [being] sanctified,” there is no more priestly work to be done on the earth, unless we assent to the blasphemous dogma of the “holy sacrifice of the mass,” in which, by the touch of a possibly drunken or lecherous priest, the body and blood of Christ are created to be offered anew for the sins of those who partake thereof. An institution is not scriptural simply because it has scriptural forms if those forms be destitute of authority. Hence the mitre, the robe, the girdle, the ephod of the Aaronic priesthood, exhumed from the sepulchre of Judaism to disfigure the simplicity of the Gospel, are a stupendous anachronism in the dispensation of the Holy Spirit, and an execrable imposition upon ignorance and weak-mindedness. To wear Aaron’s mitre is not to have Aaron’s succession, but to practice a worthless and an unmeaning ceremony; it is to bid men look for the living among the dead, for our High Priest is in the holy place, and God now seeketh not this mount nor that, but true Christians to worship him in spirit and in truth.

(2.) The Targum of Palestine has a valuable suggestion respecting the anointing of the tabernacle and its furniture, and the sanctification of the priestly vestments by sprinkling oil and blood, that they might be cleansed from any fraud or violence by which the contributor obtained their material, and from any unwillingness on the part of the giver, or improper motives prompting the gift. Jehovah cannot receive the wages of iniquity. Hence, even when no sin is known to inhere in the methods by which the gift was obtained, or in the motives, the holiness of God required their sanctification from all possible impurity of this kind before they could be acceptably used. Under the Gospel, our purest charities need and receive the blood of sprinkling before they can come up as a memorial before God. Luke 17:10.

(3.) The consecrated character imparted to the family of Aaron by this imposing and seven times repeated ceremonial did not need renewing. It was a perpetual inheritance, transmitted from father to son through all the following centuries. We do not read of its repetition in the case of any individual priest of Aaronic lineage. But where the line of succession was broken by Jeroboam’s intrusion of the lowest of the people into the sacred office, we find intimation of the use of a ritual of consecration which, from the idolatrous character of that king, was probably of Egyptian origin. 2 Chronicles 13:9.

(4.) Moses, who in the dedication of the tabernacle and the consecration of the order of priests had acted as a high priest, now divests himself of this office, provisionally assumed, and transfers it to his brother and his sons forever. Once only in the language of a later period (Psalm 99:6) is the term כֹּהֵן (cohen), “priest,” applied to him, and even then it has reference to the extraordinary priestly functions discharged by him in the establishment of the Levitical ritual. The temporary priesthood of Moses was, like that of Melchizedek, απατωρ, αμητωρ, αγενεαλογητο͂ς, with no father nor mother nor genealogical record as the ground of his title. Hebrews 7:3.

(5.) According to the tradition of the Jews, the practice of anointing the high priest continued till the time of Josiah; then the holy anointing oil was hidden, and so lost. The succeeding high priests were consecrated only by investiture. See Leviticus 6:13.

(6.) “The selection and consecration of the high priest, the personal attributes and character required in the office, were all penetrated with a spiritual significance; as also were the places, instruments, robes, and offerings. As a natural and inevitable result, names, titles, figures, and symbolic phrases derived therefrom have been sown broadcast over the entire area of our religious literature. The most precious and significant names and official titles bestowed upon our blessed Lord came to us without modification from this source, as we learn from the epistle to the Hebrews.” — Bibliotheca Sacra.

(7.) Sceptics who aver that the Aaronic priesthood is a distorted copy of the Egyptian should note the following contrasts: (a) The Egyptian priests were a caste exempt from the civil law; the Hebrew priest, outside of his office, was a citizen in dress, and in all the duties of a layman he was subject to the same laws. (b) The Egyptian priests were a landed aristocracy, owning a third of the real estate of Egypt; the Hebrew priests were the tenants of a few cities, and they could never become rich in lands. (c) The Egyptian pontifex maximus was Pharaoh, the absolute monarch, and all the lower priests in some degree shared his authority; the Hebrew priests — Samuel and Eli excepted — were not allowed to exercise civil authority. (d) The Egyptian priests had an elaborate esoteric or secret theology, taught only to the initiated; the Hebrew priests were required diligently to teach the whole law to the people, any one of whom might become as learned and skilled a teacher as themselves. Chap. 10:11. (e) The Egyptians had many gods and as many orders of priests, each having a high priest; the Hebrews were monotheistic, with one order and one high priest. (f) The Egyptian priests were fed from the royal treasury; the Hebrew priests were dependent on the offerings of the people, which were precarious, and in times of religious decline, insufficient. (g) Kine, the chief sacrifice offered by the Hebrew priest, was to the Egyptian priest an object of his idolatrous worship. Leviticus 9:2.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Leviticus 8:14-30

"And he brought the bullock for the sin offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the bullock for the sin offering. And he slew it; and Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar, and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it. And he took all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and Moses burned it upon the altar. But the bullock, and his hide, his flesh, and his dung, he burnt with fire without the camp; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he brought the ram for the burnt offering: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he killed it; and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he cut the ram into pieces; and Moses burnt the head, and the pieces, and the fat. And he washed the inwards and the legs in water; and Moses burnt the whole ram upon the altar: it was a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, and an offering made by fire unto the LORD; as the LORD commanded Moses. And he brought the other ram, the ram of consecration: and Aaron and his sons laid their hands upon the head of the ram. And he slew it; and Moses took of the blood of it, and put it upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot. And he brought Aaron’s sons, and Moses put of the blood upon the tip of their right ear, and upon the thumbs of their right hands, and upon the great toes of their right feet: and Moses sprinkled the blood upon the altar round about. And he took the fat, and the rump, and all the fat that was upon the inwards, and the caul above the liver, and the two kidneys, and their fat, and the right shoulder: And out of the basket of unleavened bread, that was before the LORD, he took one unleavened cake, and a cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, and put them on the fat, and upon the right shoulder: And he put all upon Aaron’s hands, and upon his sons’ hands, and waved them for a wave offering before the LORD. And Moses took them from off their hands, and burnt them on the altar upon the burnt offering: they were consecrations for a sweet savour: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD. And Moses took the breast, and waved it for a wave offering before the LORD: for of the ram of consecration it was Moses’ part; as the LORD commanded Moses. And Moses took of the anointing oil, and of the blood which was upon the altar, and sprinkled it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon his sons’ garments with him; and sanctified Aaron, and his garments, and his sons, and his sons’ garments with him." — Leviticus 8:14-30 KJV.

14. Sin offering — See Leviticus 4:3, note, and concluding notes of chap. 4. Note the order of the sacrifices in this service of consecration; first, sin must be expiated, and, secondly, the surrender of self unto Jehovah must be set forth by the whole burnt offering; then the bread offering is presented, symbolizing joyful communion with the Lord through the fruits of holiness. See The Order of the Levitical SacrificesHands upon the head — See Leviticus 1:4, note.

15. Blood… horns — Leviticus 4:7, note. Purified the altar — The altar, the work of the hands of sinful men, is viewed as sinful. In verse 11 it is sanctified, and now it is expiated with blood. A holy life cannot be maintained on the earth without the blood of atonement being constantly sprinkled upon it. 1 John 1:7. Sanctified — The sanctification by oil is a setting apart, the blood sanctification is a thorough purgation of the very nature. To make reconciliation upon it — The Hebrew is capable of this construction. But precisely the same words in Leviticus 1:4, are rendered to make atonement for him. The personified altar needs an atonement as much as its imperfect minister.

18. Burnt offering — Leviticus 1:3, note. Laid their hands upon the head — This act cannot here signify the transmission of sin to the victim, for this had already been done in the sin offering. Verse 14. It is rather a typical ascription of glory to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world. Whether the Hebrew confessed his sins, consecrated self, or gave thanks, he laid his hand upon the head of the victim. Thus, both in prayers and praises to God the Father, the believer lays his hand upon Jesus, the great Sacrifice. He is the medium through whom all acceptable worship is offered. “He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father.” See Leviticus 1:4, note.

19. And Moses sprinkled the blood —
In this consecration Moses performs all the functions of the priesthood. The first high priest was ordained by Moses as “mediator.” “In the history of the Church of Christ priests have often corrupted it, and laymen have often purified it. It is a melancholy fact that the great introducers of errors have not generally been the laity — they have had their share — but the priests, or the ministry, so called, have introduced far more errors, and said more subtle things to defend them, in one century, than all the laity have said for eighteen. The ministry of the Gospel is so very prone to magnify itself that it needs the diluting presence of other and resistant elements to keep it in order.”

21. In the sweet savour offerings the Hebrew came to present an offering which, as a sweet feast to God, was consumed upon his altar. In the sin offerings (verse 14) he came as a sinner, and his offering, as charged with sin, was cast out and burnt, not on the altar, but on the ground without the camp. Verse 17. In the one the offerer came as an accepted worshipper; in the other as a condemned sinner. Both parties may meet in Christ.

22. Consecration — This literally signifies filling; as meeting all requirements. Verses 27, 28; Numbers 3:3.

23. Blood… upon the tip of Aaron’s right ear — The consecration was not only general, but specific. The ear must be dedicated that it may be open to the divine voice; the hand and foot, that they may be efficient in sacred services. Eminent saints have practised self consecration by the enumeration of all their faculties and capacities in detail. See the Life of Dr. Payson.

“Welcome, welcome, dear Redeemer,
Welcome to this heart of mine;
Lord, I make a full surrender;
Every power and thought be thine,
Thine entirely, through eternal ages thine.”

25. The fat — The suet, Leviticus 3:3. The rump — The tail, Leviticus 3:9, note. The two kidneys — Leviticus 3:4, note. The burnt offering is evidently an object lesson inculcating the first great commandment, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,” etc. Hence the enumeration of all the parts: the head as an emblem of the thoughts; the legs, an emblem of the walk; the kidneys and the inwards, the constant and familiar symbol of the affections. The meaning of the fat may not be quite so obvious, but it doubtless represents the energy not of one limb or faculty, but the general health and vigour of the whole. 

 26. Oiled bread — Here are all the elements of the מִנְחָה (mincha), meat offering, or meal offering, (R.V.,) except the frankincense. Leviticus 2:1.

27, 29. He put all upon Aaron’s hands — By this symbolism the priestly office was handed over to the candidates. Numbers 3:3, note. Wave offering — Leviticus 7:30, note. Moses’s part — The ram of consecration is treated as a peace offering. As Moses is acting in the capacity of a priest, the priestly portion belongs to him. This was the right shoulder. Leviticus 7:33, note.

30. The anointing oil — For its elements see Exodus 30:23, 24. These spices beautifully typify the gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, which impart no acerbity of disposition, no acid tempers, but only gentle qualities and benevolent affections. And of the blood — Since both oil and blood prefigure, the first the consecration and the second the purifying of the soul, their union typifies the blending of the office of the atoning Saviour, who hath redeemed us by his blood, with that of the Holy Spirit, who transforms and sanctifies by his cleansing power. Hence, since under the Gospel all believers are dignified as priests, we are exhorted to “draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,” by the blood of the Lamb, “and our bodies washed with pure water,” the symbol of purification by the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 10:22; see Leviticus 14:5, note. Sacrifice for sin alone does not suffice; there must be an inward cleansing by the Spirit. To pardon sin is to leave the house swept and garnished but unoccupied; to fill with the Holy Ghost is to put in a keeper. Upon Aaron, and upon his garments — The person and the garments were sprinkled to prefigure both inward and outward purification, holiness of heart and of life. When the blood and the oil could be connected together, then Aaron and his sons could be anointed and sanctified together. Thus Jesus set himself apart as a bleeding sacrifice for the purchase of the holy unction for all believers, made priests unto God. This explains John 17:19.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Consecration of the Aaronic Priest-hood: Leviticus 8:1-13

Jehovah having drawn near to his people by taking up his residence among them, now invites them to draw near unto him by the appointed sacrifices. But these must be offered in the manner which he has prescribed. This comprises a ritual so minute and elaborate that it requires for its proper performance the institution of a professional order. As sacrifices had existed before the promulgation of the Law so had priests, such as Melchizedek and Jethro, existed without the sanction of positive enactments. Now, however, for the first time, the priestly office is brought under the strict ordinance of law as a distinct order in the Hebrew commonwealth.

Since the patriarchs were accustomed to perform sacerdotal functions, Aaron, the great grandson of Levi, would naturally be the priest of his tribe. The consecration of this entire tribe to sacred duties would point out Aaron as the head of the hierarchy, the high priest of the nation. The last public act of Aaron in permitting the abomination of the golden calf, only a few days before, followed so soon by his consecration to the high priesthood, strikingly exemplifies the truth declared to Moses: “The Lord,… merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,… forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Exodus 34:6, 7. The choice, moreover, fell upon one who could “have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.” Hebrews 5:2. Fluent in speech, but, like many eloquent men, unstable, impulsive, and unfitted for the burden of administration for which his younger brother, of slow speech, was so admirably adapted, and on whom he leaned in times of fiery trial, Aaron was ever afterward earnest in his devotion to Jehovah and his people, and worthy of the high trust confided to him. This ordinance was altogether a most impressive scene. “In the background was seen Mount Sinai, silent and shrouded, as if it had never burned with fire or echoed along its gorges a solemn decalogue; around were the rich pastures of its slopes, stretching away far before their desert march. In the holy tabernacle, raised by the people’s liberality, was Aaron consecrated the first high priest, and clothed with the robes of beauty and glory in presence of all the people!”

This chapter is a record of the investment and anointing of Aaron and his sons, and the anointing of the tabernacle, (1-13,) and the consecration of the priest, (14-36,) including the sin offering, (14-17,) the whole burnt offering, (18-21,) and the ram of consecration, (22-36.)

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread; And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done. And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water. And he put upon him the coat, and girded him with the girdle, and clothed him with the robe, and put the ephod upon him, and he girded him with the curious girdle of the ephod, and bound it unto him therewith. And he put the breastplate upon him: also he put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim. And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses. And Moses took the anointing oil, and anointed the tabernacle and all that was therein, and sanctified them. And he sprinkled thereof upon the altar seven times, and anointed the altar and all his vessels, both the laver and his foot, to sanctify them. And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron’s head, and anointed him, to sanctify him. And Moses brought Aaron’s sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the LORD commanded Moses." — Leviticus 8:1-13 KJV.


2. Aaron and his sons — They had been previously designated to this office, and their official garments had been appointed, (Exodus 28,) and the anointing oil had been compounded, (Exodus 30:23,) and the consecratory service had been minutely described. Exodus 29. Sin offering — So encompassed are the best men with infirmities, and so liable to sins of ignorance (Hebrews 9:7) and inadvertence, that they need the efficacy of a perpetual expiatory sacrifice to keep them in a state of acceptance before a holy God. 1 John 1:7. Hence Aaron and his sons are treated as presumptive sinners for whom atonement must be made before their induction into the priestly office. Christ commissions only pardoned and regenerate men to preach his glorious Gospel, though they may be called, as were Aaron and his sons, before they are sprinkled with the blood of atonement. Two rams — One was for a burnt offering and the other was the ram of consecration, the flesh of which was treated as a peace offering. Verses 29-32. Unleavened bread — This was for a meat or bread offering. Thus, with the exception of the trespass offering, all the great sacrifices were combined in a prescribed order in this consecratory service. The order of the offerings is important as a key to their significance. See The Order of the Sacrifices.

3. Gather… all the congregation — The elders representing the people gathered in front of the tabernacle; behind them stood the congregation occupying all the heights around. No ordination of a minister should be in the presence of ministers only, but before the laity, who are deeply interested in the character and qualifications of those who stand before them as God’s representatives.

6. Washed them with water — Physical purity is desirable in itself. Cleanliness is next to godliness. But this washing of the outer man symbolizes the purgation of the inner man from all filthiness of the spirit, by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Nearly all pagan nations employ water as an indication of a moral cleansing, either borrowing the practice from the Hebrews or because the symbolism is naturally suggested to the mind. The Egyptian priests bathed in cold water twice each day and twice each night. Exodus 2:5. The supposition that this washing of the priests in the wilderness was by the immersion of the entire person is too violent to be entertained. Nevertheless the Hebrew word כָּבַר here used is the same as that found in 2 Kings 5:10, “Go wash in Jordan.” For its bearing on the meaning of βάπτω see Methodist Quarterly, January, 1874, and January, 1875, p. 67.

7. The coat — This is the כֻּתֹּ֗נֶת (cethoneth), corresponding to the Greek χιτών, a closely-fitting garment in form and use like our shirt, by which term it should be translated. A person wearing this alone was described as naked. 1 Samuel 19:24; Isaiah 20:2; John 21:7. The girdle — The אַבְנֵט (abhnet) was an ornamental belt or sash, worn only by priests and state officers. Aaron’s was of fine twilled linen, tri-coloured, blue, purple, and scarlet, embroidered with flowers of needlework. Exodus 39:29. It was tied in a knot, so that the ends hung down in front nearly to the feet, and were thrown over the left shoulder in time of sacrifice. The length, according to Maimonides, was thirty-two cubits, and it was wrapped several times round the body, just below the armpits; its breadth was three fingers. The robe — The מְּעִ֔יל  (me’il). This was a cloak worn over the כֻּתֹּ֗נֶת, and under the girdle, reaching down to the feet. The ephod — The term is transferred from the Hebrew אֵפֹ֔ד. This sacred vestment was originally for the high priest, but it was afterwards worn by ordinary priests, (1 Samuel 22:18,) and deemed characteristic of the office. Hosea 3:4. It was divided below the armpits into two parts, one covering the front, to which the breastplate was attached, and the other the back, the two parts being united on the shoulders by clasps of gold or precious stones. It reached down to the middle of the thighs, and was worn over the robe. Much gold was used in making it. Exodus 39:2-21. To make a new style of ephod implied the introduction of a new system of worship. The curious girdle of the ephod — “Curious” is an adjective not found in the original. What is meant is, the band for the two parts of the ephod, which was of the same material and of one piece with it. Exodus 28:8.

8. The breastplate — The חֹ֑שֶׁן (choshen) was an ornamental bag or four-cornered gorget, with twelve precious stones set in gold, arranged in four rows. The Seventy call it λογειον, or λογιον, the speaking place, and in the Vulgate it is styled rationale, in reference to its use as an oracle. As the term breastplate is descriptive of armour it is an unfortunate translation. Within this bag were deposited the Urim and the Thummim. It is evident from this verse that these things which Moses put into the חֹ֑שֶׁן at the consecration of Aaron are different from the precious stones previously set by the jeweller. Exodus 28:15-21. “The sculptures of Thebes and Beni-Hassan afford testimony to the skill of the Egyptian goldsmiths; and numerous gold and silver vases, inlaid work and jewelry, represented in common use, show the great advancement they had already made, at a remote period, in this branch. The engraving of gold, the mode of casting it, and inlaying it with stones, were evidently known at the same time; numerous specimens of this kind of work have been found in Egypt.” — Wilkinson. The Urim and Thummim — lights and perfections; in the Seventy δηλωσῖ και αληθεια, manifestation and truth; in the Vulgate, doctrina et veritas — are, in their nature and manner of use, the greatest puzzle to be found in the whole range of Jewish antiquities. Opinions are various: 1.) Some physical effect indicated the divine will; or, 2.) Their presence excited a prophetic gift in the high priest; or, 3.) They were a contrivance for casting lots.

9. The mitre — This was a turban, since its Hebrew name is from a verb signifying to wind about. This was a very splendid head-covering, worn only by pontiffs and kings, (Ezekiel 21:26,) as an emblem of dignity, styled in Ecclus. 45:12, “an ornament of honour, a costly work, the desire of the eyes.” The holy crown — It was called holy because it had the tetragrammaton — the four-lettered Hebrew word for Jehovah — inscribed upon it. Exodus 28:36. It was of fine linen, with a fillet of blue lace, symbolizing heaven, and over it a golden diadem, “on which,” says Josephus, “blossomed a golden calyx like the flower of the henbane.” The engraved golden plate was a gold band, two fingers broad, tied behind with blue lace embroidered with flowers. It bore the inscription, HOLINESS TO THE LORD.

10. Anointed… sanctified — The first verb is the act of setting apart, the second expresses the state of objects thus set apart or consecrated to a religious use. The anointing of the Holy Ghost introduces the soul into that marvellous light, full assurance, and perfect love, which constitute evangelical perfection. 1 John 2:27; 2 Corinthians 3:8-18. 11. Seven times — This number indicates perfection. See Leviticus 4:6, note. The perfect consecration of Aaron is alluded to in Hebrews 7:28, in connection with our High Priest, “who is consecrated (τετελειωμενον, perfected) forever.” In the Seventy the term “consecration” is translated τελειωσις, making perfect. Verse 33. Hence Jesus is spoken of as fully prepared for his priestly office when he is said to have been made perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10; 5:8, 9. In his personal relation to the moral law he was always perfect.

12. He poured… the… oil — This expresses a copious unction. See Psalm 133:2. The same Hebrew word is used in Isaiah 44:3, to indicate the copious effusion of the Spirit in the latter days. Aaron’s sons were only sprinkled with oil and blood, (ver. 30,) but in Leviticus 7:35, they are spoken of as anointed. The fact that Aaron alone was arrayed in his robes of office, and anointed before the blood was shed, beautifully typifies Christ in his peerless excellency and dignity anointed by the Holy Spirit before he accomplished his atoning work. Before the anointing of the sons of Aaron (verse 30) all the acts recorded in verses 13-29 were performed — the blood is shed, the breast waved before Jehovah, and the fat is consumed on the altar, its sweet odour ascending as a type of the ascension of Jesus, who was slain as a victim, and who ascended as a priest to appear in the holy place for us.

13. Bonnets — This word is still used by the Scotch to signify a cap for the head of a man. Hence Walter Scott sings, “And plaids and bonnets waving high.” But its general modern use is restricted to the head covering of a female. The Hebrew means hill shaped, suggesting the conical form of this linen cap. According to Josephus it was a helmet of linen, one wreath being plaited and folded over another, and a thin cap, suited to its shape, put over all to prevent its unfolding.