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nacle being ready to be put together, and the ark and altar completely finished, fit for their respective places, all this may very well be conceived to be done in the space of time allotted to it, an hour or two before night. Now when Moses had thus raised the tabernacle, God was pleased to give the people a visible and miraculous dcmonslration, tliat it was erected according to his directions; for a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled <lie tabernacle.' And this visible evidence of the divine presence continued from this time, until tho Israelites had finished their journeys through the wilderness; for the cloud of the Lord zoas upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys; and when the clotid was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel vent onward in all their journeys. But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not, till the day that it was taken up.' Thus God was pleased to appoint himself, as it were, a visible dwelling amongst men; for the tabernacle was built, that he might dwell amongst his people,8 that there might be a known and determined place, where he would at all
not now done; but at such times as they went into the tent of the congregation, or approached the altar, and is here »et down only to tell the use of the laver.
. Exod. xl. 34. f Exod. xl. 36, 37, 38.
9te Numb. ix. 15—?3. * Exod. Xxt. «.
times vouchsafe to meet them and commune -with them,11 and give them a sensible evidence of his being nigh unto them in all things, that they might have occasion to call upon him for;1 and this was the first structure which was erected in the world for the purposes of religion.k The Israelites had a most strict charge to destroy utterly all the places, wherein the nations of Canaan had served their gods, whether they were upon the high mountains, or upon the hills, or under green trees.1 But we do not find, that they had any buildings to erase; rather all they had to do, was to overthrow their altars, to break their pillars, to cut down, end to burn their groves with fire, to hew down the graven images of their gods, and to destroy the names of them out of the place where they had erected them." In after-times, when houses were built for the idolatrous worship, we find express mention of the demolishing them, by the persons who engaged in reforming the people. Thus Jehu brake down the house of Baal," as did Jehoiada in like manner;0 and the Israelites would unquestionably have been as expressly commanded to demolish such structures, had there been any, when they entered Canaan; the heathen nations had no thought of building houses to their gods, until after the Israelites had their tabernacle.
:» ■ ' , i i ■
j, Exod. xxv. 22, xxix. 43—45- • Deut. iv. 7.
k See vol. ii. book viii. 'Deut. xii. 2.
* Vcr. 3. vii. 5. Exod. xxxiv. 13, xxiii. 24. » 2 Kings x. 27.
* 2 Kings xi. 18. 2 Chron. xxiii. 17.
When the glory first covered the tabernacle, Moses. could not enter into it, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled it;* and it continued to do so most probably for some days, during which the Loud called unto Moses, and spake tint* him out of the tabernacle of the congregation^ and delivered to him, in an audible voice, the several laws recorded in the first eight chapters of Leviticus; after receiving which, Moses proceeded to anoint the tabernacle, the altar, and all its vessels, and to consecrate Aaron and his sons to the priests' offices.' Aaron first officiated as high priest on the eighth day after the be* pinning of his consecration,' and his consecration might be begun on the fifth day of the month; so that he might enter upon his ministry on the twelfth. We cannot suppose his consecration sooner, allowing a due space of time for the giving and receiving and recording the laws above-mentioned; nor can we ima» gine it later upon account of celebrating the passover, which was to be on the fourteenth, and which was not celebrated until after the deaths of Nadab and Abihu; for we find at the passovcr, that there were certain men, nho xeere. defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passovcr.1 These I think must have been Mishacl and Elzaphan, who had carried Nadab and A bill u, from before the sanctuary out of the camp;* 10 that their deaths happened just before the passover,
aea , , , m
* Exodus xl. 34, 35. « Lcvit. i. 1. '»jij.
'ix. 1—8. * Numbws ix, 0.
■ Lcrit. T. 4.
on the very first day of Aaron's ministration; for whilst he was ordering the bullock and the ram for the peace-offering," when the fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt-offering and fat upon the altar," Nadab and Abihu two of Aaron's sons, look each of them a censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not, and there went out fire from before the Lord and struck them dead.* This unhappy accident must have occasioned some interruption in the ministration ;_ Aaron and his two other sons were undoubtedly affected with it, but Moses applied to them, and required them to suppress their grief for the calamity, and not to accompany the dead bodies out of the tabernacle, lest the displeasure of God should arise against them." Aaron's heart seems here to have almost sunk within him; and I imagine, he would have taken some refreshment to support his spirits against the load of sorrow which now pressed heavy upon him; and that this occasioned the command now given him, Do not drink wine, nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons zcith thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations* Moses ordered the dead bodies of Nadab and Abihu to be carried out of the tabernacle and out of the camp;c and then called upon Aaron, and his sons who were left, to finish the day's service;'1 but upon enquiry lie found, that the sin-offering, which ought to have been eaten by the priests in the holy place,* was burnt and consumed/ He represented to the sons of Aaron their mistake in this matter;" but Aaron made excuse for it, and alleged, that such judgments bad been inflicted that day, as to give him reason to doubt, whether it might be proper for him to finish the atonement. Aaron . said unto Moses: Behold, this day have they offered their sin-offering, and their burnt, offering before the fionu, and such things have befallen me; and if I had eaten the sin-offering to /A///, should it have been accepted in the sight of the i/O/io.1"' Some of die commentators represent, that Aaron thought him.i-ll', \ipou account of the grief and concern he was then under, not to be in a fit disposition to cat the tin-offering;' others, that it would have been indecorous for him to have done it;k but they do not consider the charge which Moses had given him: the Hebrew text suggests what I have hinted to be Aaron's apology. Aaron said unto Moses, Behold this day have '- - ,,.,.. . ,^
a Levit. Tor. 12—15. , vl. 20. t x. 16.
i ver. 17. b x. 19.
1 They comment upon the words thus; Agnosco quidem comodendum fuissii at cum l.iiiii.i, sed qui potui lustari? Malui igitur coiivivium ncgligcrc, quam ma-stus inire. fid. J'n.il. Synods, in loc;
k Indecorum fuissct patrom couvivari rarne victims;, In qui ofTercudu duos fillos subito amiserat. Cleric. Com. ■tent, in loc.
TOL. 111. F