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monies were repeated through six days more.* The eighth and last day of the solemnities having arrived, Moses calls on Aaron, who had meanwhile kept “the charge of the Lord,” that is, retained the trust of the Tabernacle, to execute, for the first time, his pontifical functions, in the presence of the assembled magistracy and people. Under Moses' direction, the new high priest first immolated a calf and a ram, for a Sin Offering and Burnt Offering for himself, and then brought, in the people's behalf, a Sin Offering of a goat, a Burnt Offering of a yearling calf and lamb, a Meat Offering, and a bullock and ram, for Feast Offerings, presenting to the people's knowledge, in those sacrifices, and the ceremonies with which they were accompanied, a complete specimen of his future duties. The ceremonies of that momentous day, when a divinely constituted priesthood was given to Israel, being finished, “ Aaron lifted
up his hand towards the people, and blessed them, and came down from offering of the Sin Offering, and the Burnt Offering, and Peace Offerings. And Moses and Aaron went into [rather, had gone to] the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and [now they] came out and blessed the people. 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.”
It satisfies the imagination to suppose, that here was a miraculous confirmation of Aaron's investiture, by the descent of fire from heaven to kindle the flame on the
* Lev. viii. 31 - 36; compare Ex. xxix. 35 – 37. By “ all the congregation,” which was assembled on the first day, it is natural to understand, according to an exposition before given, (see p. 165,) a representation of all the tribes. One may conjecture, that on each of the six following days, a larger delegation, from two tribes on each day, was invited to witness the proceedings. — In verse 31 (compare Ex. xxix. 31) needs not to be translated “ boil”; it signifies to cook, in general. VOL. I.
altar where he was thenceforward to minister; and certainly the acceptance of the first rightly presented offering seems to us a worthy occasion for one of those miracles, by which the Mosaic system was undoubtedly established. But, when one remembers, that in the preceding chapter, and several preceding verses of this, the offerings are said to have been consumed as they were prepared, one is obliged to doubt, whether the historian designed to declare more, than that the people saw and owned “the glory of the Lord,” as manifested in these imposing ceremonies ;* and that, when, standing without the court, where they could not discern the altar itself, they saw the flame blaze up from it, from before the place where Jehovah had taken up his abode, while their prophet and priest, the former in his simplicity, the latter in his gorgeous array, presented themselves side by side to their view, the enthusiasm, which the circumstances of the occasion might well excite, made them shout, and then fall prostrate on the earth.
* Lev. ix. 23; compare 4, 6.
LEVITICUS X. 1. - XV. 33.
FATE OF NADAB AND ABIHU. JEWISH POLICE LAWS. Four PRINCIPAL OBJECTS CONTEMPLATED IN THESE Provisions, — To
FROM IDOLATROUS PRACTICES, TO PRESERVE GENERAL HEALTH, — TO PROMOTE CIVILIZATION, — TO MAKE RELIGIOUS OBLIGATIONS ALWAYS
PROHIBITED AND PERMITTED KINDS OF ANIMAL FOOD.-PROHIBITIONS OF THE USE OF BLOOD AND OF Fat.- CLEANLINESS IN RESPECT TO Vessels.- UNCLEANNESS OF PERSONS. - PRECAUTIONS AGAINST LEPROSY. — LEPROSY OF GARMENTS AND Houses.
In the first chapter of this passage, we have an account of a miraculous punishment of a sacrilegious violation of the newly-established ritual, on the part of those whose official charge it was to maintain its sacred
It needs not to be urged, that at any time this would have been a serious offence. But the special importance of protecting the ceremonial at the present juncture, when it was just going into operation, from any thing which should bring it into disesteem, fully explains to us why it was, that the occasion demanded a supernatural interposition. It would appear from what follows in close connexion, viz, a perpetual prohibition to the priests of the use of wine, when engaged in their official functions, that it was in a state of intoxication, that Nadab and Abihu, Aaron's two oldest sons, had committed this desecration of the ritual.*
* Lev. x. 9-11. — The offence of Nadab and Abihu was probably that which is forbidden in the first clause of Ex. xxx. 9; compare Ex. xxx. 34-37.
“ There went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them.” The supposition that this fire was lightning, probable in itself, is confirmed by what we presently after read, of the clothes of Nadab and Abihu remaining unconsumed.*
The occasion gave opportunity to Moses to enforce on the father and brothers of the dead the obligations of public duty, as limiting the indulgence of private feeling. Eleazar and Ithamar, consecrated as they were to the Divine service, were not to adopt the usual signs of lamentation, nor so much as to suspend the offices in which the calamity found them engaged. Lest a relaxation of the precision of the ritual on any account, at this early time, before habit had made it familiar, should be looked on as a dispensation for future negligence, they were even to go on, and finish the feast, which made a part of the present ceremonial. To the deeper feelings of the bereft father more allowance was shown. The goat of the Sin Offering, instead of being partly consumed, and part reserved for use, as was directed, had been wholly consumed, perhaps because, the grief of the distressed family not permitting them to assemble for a repast, they knew no better way to dispose of it. Moses remonstrated with Eleazar and Ithamar on the negligence; but Aaron said, that, after what had befallen, he had no heart for feasting, and he could not think that such a service would be demanded or accepted by the Lord; "and, when Moses heard that, he was content." +
Lev. x. 2, 5.- In verse 3, I understand a reference to Ex. xix. 22. † Nadab and Abihu were to be buried in their pontifical vestments (Lev. x. 5), costly as they were, because they had been defiled by the touch of dead bodies, and still more by the sinful act of the wearers. - Our translation does not convey the true sense of x. 16-18. Nadab and Abihu had been overtaken with punishment in the midst of their function, and part of what had been left undone by them is the subject of the direction in
We have now arrived at a series of directions, extending through five chapters, which present the basis of what has been denominated the Private Police Law of the Jews.* They relate to impurities of food, of other things, and of persons.
The two last-named classes of provisions, different as they are in their subjects, may yet, on account of the similar relation which they bear to the main question, be most conveniently treated together.
I have called these provisions, Police Laws. Some of them will be found to have a directly religious bearing, and all have some of those relations, more or less immediate and perceptible, with the great ultimate object of the Jewish Law, which were the subject of remark in a former Lecture.t But he who should undertake the investigation of these rules, with a view to find in them all some direct connexion with the individual's religious duty and advancement, would place himself on a track of inquiry in which he would find little satisfaction.
Four great leading objects, not now to speak of others more miscellaneous, will be owned by a careful observer to have been contemplated, and wisely pursued, in this system of minute regulations.
verse 12. Also, either through their misconduct, or, as I have suggested above, in consequence of their death, the whole of the goat of the Sin Offering, presented the day before, had been consumed on the altar. See Lev. ix. 15; compare vi. 26. It was not with this Sin Offering, says Moses, (x. 18,) as with those the blood of which ought to be brought within the holy place. (See iv. 17, 18.) Of them, indeed, no part is to be reserved for food (see p. 247); but as to this, “ Ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy place, as I commanded.” We have kept on, says Aaron, (verse 19,) with our duty as to offering, notwithstanding what has befallen. God would hardly insist that I should eat too, when I was so afflicted.
* The name is given by Michaelis. “ Commentaries” &c., Book 4, chap. 4.
† See pp. 169-171.