페이지 이미지

relating to the annual fast, the feast of trumpets, and the three great annual festivals, are here all brought together in one view, in their chronological order, along with the law of the Sabbath; and additions to the ceremonial, as before prescribed, are interspersed. It is now ordained, that each day of the passover week shall be solemnized by a Burnt Offering, and a peculiar service is appointed for the second day of the feast.* Every Israelite, after the settlement in Canaan, is to bring to the priest a single sheaf of the first-fruits of his harvest; and until he has made this dedication, he may appropriate no part of his produce to his own use. Again ; the manner of determining the day of Pentecost, which before had only been hinted at t is explained, and the appropriate ceremonies of that festival are prescribed in much fuller detail. The offering of the citizen is then to be two leavened loaves of fine flour.Ş The Burnt Offering of a lamb, with its Meat and Drink Offering on the first of these occasions, and the Burnt Offering of seven yearling lambs, a bullock and two rams, with the same accompaniment, the Sin Offering of a kid, and the Peace Offering of two yearling lambs, at the Pentecost, were to be presen by the priest, at the public expense, to give greater solemnity to the occasion, and not required of each citizen.||


* Lev. xxiii. 3 - 14. The “Sabbath,” mentioned in verse 11, is the first day of the Passover, which was to be kept like a Sabbath, (compare verses 7, 32,) with one only exception. (Compare Ex. xii. 16; xxxv. The sheaf (10) would be of barley, that being the grain which ripens first in Palestine. Compare Ex. xxxiv. 26.

† Ex. xxiii. 16; xxxiv. 22.

| Lev. xxiii. 15–21. — Verse 22, a repetition of xix. 9, 10, seems very properly placed here, to give the citizen an annual admonition, at the season when his harvest labor was beginning.

§ That is, made from the first-fruits of the wheat-harvest, xxiii. 20. Compare Ex. xxxiv. 22.

|| I do not know that the opposite opinion has ever been entertained. VOL. I.


— The Feast of Trumpets, commonly so called, was now for the first time instituted, being merely a holiday commemoration of the beginning of the civil year, sanctified by the offering of a holocaust.* — The ceremonies of the Day of Atonement, before enlarged upon, are now more briefly described, with a specification of the hour when it was to begin and end, and of the punishment which was to follow on a violation of its sacredness.f — And finally, the purpose and the solemnities of the Feast of Tabernacles, which, as well as that of Pentecost, had before been no more than mentioned, I are described at length. Towards the end of every year, the Israelites, for one week, the third week of the month Tisri, corresponding to our September, were to dwell in booths, in memory of the migration from Egypt; while every day Burnt Offerings were to be presented at the place of the national worship. The picturesque accompaniments of this festival, independently of its historical associations, must have rendered it an occasion of the strongest interest. The reason of the commemoration being placed at the close of the fruitage and vintage would appear to be, that this was a time of general leisure, and would naturally be a time of prevailing disposition for festivity, which it was on all accounts fit that the national religion should regulate, and turn to its own uses.

The beginning of the twenty-fourth chapter is occu

The enormous cost, and unmanageable number of victims, which it would imply, alone present a consideration sufficient to refute it. Also; if each citizen was bound to render such an expensive tribute, the arrangement which places his gifts of a single sheaf, in the one case (10), and two loaves in the other (17), before his richer presents, would be altogether unnatural. — Once more ; it is said of the priest (11), “he shall wave," &c., and to him (12), " ye shall offer, wlien ye wave," &c. * Lev. xxiii. 23-25.

† xxiii. 26-32. Compare xvi. | Ex. xxiii. 16; xxxiv. 22.

Lev. xxii. 33-43.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

pied with directions respecting the keeping up of the flame of the lamp, which, as the Tabernacle had no window, afforded its only light, and the weekly exhibition of the shew-bread in the holy place. From the sacredness of the place, the former (and I think also the latter, though this is not so clear) was now ordained to be the high-priest's own charge;* whether by personal service, or by responsible supervision merely, does not appear; the latter may be thought most probable. The particulars of the use of the table of shewbread, are now first mentioned.It is probably called “ the pure table,” in distinction from the altar of incense standing near, which was also covered with pure gold, but was spotted, according to the ritual, with the blood of victims.

In the next passage, we have one of the very few portions of history, which are found in the book of Leviticus, being the first which has occurred, since the relation, in the tenth chapter, of the sin and punishment of Nadab and Abihu. The son of an Israelitish woman, but of an Egyptian father, had, in his passion, blasphemed Jehovah's name. For a person, to all intents a foreigner, to blaspheme the God and King of the nation, whose hospitality he was enjoying, would have been an act of the boldest outrage, and of the most pernicious example; and, even had it been otherwise, the individual in question, being descended from the Israelitish race,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

* Lev. xxiv. 1-4. Compare Ex. xxvii. 20, 21.

# Lev. xxiv. 5 -9. They have been already described; see pp. 207, 208. Compare Ex. xxv. 30. The bread, when stale, was to be eaten by the priests, the servants of the place, as being too sacred to be thrown away, or put to any common use. It is probable, that the burning of the frankincense (7) took place when the pile of bread on which it stood was removed, in order to a weekly purification of the air.

| Lev. xxiv. 10 - 16. It will not escape remark, that the occurrence of such historical passages, in the midst of a code of laws, is a fact according with the journal character which I have ascribed to these books.

and, as such, living among them, was manifestly enough subject to all obligations under which that people lay. I cannot, therefore, think that the reason of the delay in the proceedings against him was the existence of any doubt respecting the aggravated character of his offence. The points upon which Moses desired still to ascertain “the mind of the Lord,” were, in what manner he should be put to death, and with what formalities his execution should be attended, in order to give it the most effect as an example; and respecting these, accordingly, he received instructions.* The first punishment, as far as we know, which had occurred for this offence, naturally brought up the question, how a foreigner should be dealt with, if he were guilty of it; and thereupon the law was promulgated, that, while a person not an Israelite, who should curse his God, should bear his own sin, that is, incur whatever responsibility his own conscience or his associates might enforce, (the Mosaic Law having no concern with him,) the person, stranger as well as Israelite, who should speak irreverently of Jehovah, should be stoned to death by the assembled nation. The connexion, with this incident, of the following passage, I a connexion which is not altogether obvious at first view, I take to be this; that in other particulars of criminal law, as well as that lately brought into question, the relations of a foreigner and a native were to be the same. The penalties prescribed for the protection and the restraint of the citizen, were to affect equally a stranger within the Israelitish borders. The assertion of that principle naturally leads to a brief recital of some of those penalties; but they belong to a subject which is to come before us in another connexion.

• Lev. xxiv. 14.

# xxiv. 16. | xxiv. 17 – 22. The connexion which I suggest, is indicated in verse 22,

Two remarkable institutions, the latter, especially, having large relations to the whole frame of the Jewish social state, make the subject of the twenty-fifth chapter; viz. the Sabbatical Year, and the Year of Jubilee, occurring at the close of every half-century. In respect to the first, it has probably been the common opinion, that, as long as the Israelites should be faithful in the observance of the institution, it was designed and promised by God, that through their whole national existence, every year preceding the sabbatical should be distinguished by a miraculous fertility. A different view, adopted by several modern commentators, has been, that the sabbatical year was chiefly designed for an economical arrangement, to guard against any possible pressure of famine, in a period when commerce could do little by way of providing supplies in an unexpected emergency, and among a people for whom it was further designed that commerce should do nothing. Even in these modern times, when commercial interchanges do so much towards averting any such calamity, communities are in danger of a scarcity of provisions, the consequence of an unfavorable year. In most well-organized societies of a dense population, provision is carefully made against such a disaster at the public cost. In the great capitals of Europe, granaries are to be seen, where the superfluity of one season is laid up against the possible exigencies of another. That which modern governments do very inadequately, with great cost in the provision, and great waste of the thing provided, in consequence of its exposure to injury in large accumulations, the Mosaic law, it is thought, did, by a simple provision, economically, effectually, and universally. Looking forward to a year never distant, when his religion would forbid him to continue the labors of tillage, the Jewish farmer would be always practising a certain

« 이전계속 »