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.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

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.

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