Leviticus 8

CHAPTER VIII

Moses is commanded to consecrate Aaron and his sons, 1-3.

Moses convenes the congregation; washes, clothes, and anoints

Aaron, 4-12.

He also clothes Aaron's sons, 13.

Offers a bullock for them as a sin-offering, 14-17.

And a ram for a burnt-offering, 18-21.

And another ram for a consecration-offering, 22-24.

The fat, with cakes of unleavened bread, and the right shoulder

of the ram, he offers as a wave-offering, and afterwards burns,

25-28.

The breast, which was the part of Moses, he also waves, 29.

And sprinkles oil and blood upon Aaron and his sons, 30.

The flesh of the consecration ram is to be boiled and eaten at

the door of the tabernacle, 31, 32.

Moses commands Aaron and his sons to abide seven days at the

door of the tabernacle of the congregation, which they do

accordingly, 33-36.

NOTES ON CHAP VIII

Verse 2. Take Aaron and his sons] The whole subject of this

chapter has been anticipated in the notes, See "Ex 28:1", &c., and

See "Ex 29:1", &c., in which all the sacrifices, rites, and

ceremonies have been explained in considerable detail; and to those

notes the reader is referred. It is only necessary to observe that

Aaron and his sons were not anointed until now. Before, the thing

was commanded; now, first performed.

Verse 8. He put in the breastplate the Urim and the Thummim.]

The Urim and Thummim are here supposed to be something different

from the breastplate itself.

See Clarke on Ex 28:15; "Ex 28:16"; "Ex 28:30".

Verse 9. And he put the mitre] See Clarke on Ex 28:36.

Verse 14. The bullock for the sin-offering] This was offered

each day during the seven days of consecration. See Ex 29:36.

Verse 23. Put it upon the tip of Aaron's right ear, &c.] See

this significant ceremony explained in the note on Ex 29:20.

See Clarke on Ex 29:20.

Calmet remarks that the consecration of the high priest among the

Romans bore a considerable resemblance to the consecration of the

Jewish high priest. "The Roman priest, clothed with a garment of

silk, his head covered with a crown of gold adorned with sacred

ribbons, was conducted into a subterranean place, over which

there was a floor of planks pierced through with many holes. On

this floor they sacrificed a bullock, whose blood was freely

poured out on the planks or floor, which running through the

holes fell upon the priest, who stood under to receive this

sacred aspersion, and who, in order to be completely covered with

the blood, took care to present the whole of his body, his

clothes, face, eyes, nose, lips, and even his tongue, to receive

the drops of blood falling through the pierced floor above. Being

completely covered with this sanguineous shower, he ascended from

his subterranean place, and was acknowledged and adored by the

people as Pontifex Maximus, or supreme high priest." These

rites, which bear a striking allusion to those used in the

consecration of Aaron, and from which they were probably

borrowed, and disguised by the introduction of their own

superstitions, are particularly described by Aurelius Prudentius,

in his poem entitled Romani Martyris Supplicium, from which I

shall select those verses, the subject of which is given above,

as the passage is curious, and the work not common.

"Summus sacerdos nempe sub terram scrobe

Acta in profundum consecrandus mergitur,

Mire infulatus, festa vittis tempora

Nectens, corona tum repexus aurea,

Cinctu Gabino sericam fultus togam.

Tabulis superne strata texunt pulpita,

Rimosa rari pegmatis compagibus,

Scindunt subinde vel terebrant aream,

Crebroque lignum perforant acumine,

Pateat minutis ut frequens hiatibus.-

Hic ut statuta est immolanda bellua,

Pectus sacrata dividunt venabulo,

Eructat amplum volnus undam sanguinis-&c.

Tum per frequentes mille rimarum vias

Illapsus imber, tabidum rorem pluit,

Defossus intus quem sacerdos excipit,

Guttas ad omnes turpe subjectans caput,

Et veste et omni putrefactus corpore:

Quin os supinat, obvias offert genas

Supponit aures, labra, nares objicit,

Oculos et ipsos perluit liquoribus,

Nec jam palato parcit, et linguam rigat,

Donec cruorem totus atrum combibat.-

Procedit inde pontifex vlsu horridus-&c.

Omnes salutant atque adorant eminus,

Vilis quod illum sanguls, et bos mortuus

Foedis latentem sub cavernis laverint."

Of these lines the reader will not be displeased to find the

following poetical version:-

"For when, with sacred pomp and solemn state,

Their great high priest the Romans consecrate,

His silken vest in Gabine cincture bound,

A festal fillet twines his temples round:

And, while aloft the gorgeous mitre shines,

His awful brow a golden crown confines.

In a deep dyke, for mystic ritual made,

He stands, surrounded with terrific shade.

High o'er his holy head a stage they place,

Adorn with paintings, and with statues grace;

Then with keen piercers perforate the floor,

Till thronging apertures admit no more.

Thither the victim ox is now convey'd,

To glut the vengeance of the thirsty blade.

The sacred spear his sturdy throat divides,

Down, instant streaming, gush the gory tides,

Through countless crevices the gaping wood

Distils corrupted dew and smoking blood;

Drop after drop, in swift succession shed,

Falls on the holy pontiff's mitred head;

While, to imbibe the sanctifying power,

His outspread garments drink the crimson shower;

Then on his back in reeking streams he lies,

And laves in livid blood his lips and eyes;

Bares every limb, exposes every pore,

To catch the virtue of the streaming gore;

With open mouth expects the falling flood,

Moistens his palate and his tongue with blood;

Extends his ears to meet the sanguine rain,

Nor lets a single drop descend in vain.

Then from the gloomy cave comes forth to light,

Bathed in black blood, and horrible to sight!-

By the vile torrent, and the victim slain,

In the dark cavern cleansed from mortal stain,

Their priest, enveloped in atoning gore,

With trembling awe surrounding throngs adore."

Prudentius was born about the middle of the fourth century,

and was no doubt intimately acquainted with the circumstances he

describes.

Verse 27. And waved them for a wave-offering] See the nature

of this and the heave-offering in the note on Ex 29:27.

See Clarke on Ex 29:27.

Verse 30. And Moses took-the blood-and sprinkled it upon

Aaron, &c.] Thus we find that the high priest himself must be

sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice; and our blessed Lord,

of whom Aaron was a type, was sprinkled with his own blood. 1.

In his agony in the garden. 2. In his being crowned with thorns.

3. In the piercing of his hands and his feet. And, 4. In his

side being pierced with the spear. All these were so many acts

of atonement performed by the high priest.

Verse 33. For seven days shall he consecrate you.] This

number was the number of perfection among the Hebrews; and the

seven days' consecration implied a perfect and full consecration

to the sacerdotal office. See Clarke on Ex 29:30.

Verse 36. So Aaron and his sons did] This chapter shows the

exact fulfillment of the commands delivered to Moses, Ex xxix.;

and consequently the complete preparation of Aaron and his sons

to fill the awfully important office of priests and mediators

between God and Israel, to offer sacrifices and make atonement

for the sins of the people.

"Thus," says Mr. Ainsworth, "the covenant of the priesthood was

confirmed unto the tribe of Levi in Aaron and his sons, which

covenant was life and peace, Mal 2:5. But these are made

priests without an oath; also, there were many priests, because

they were not suffered to continue by reason of death; and they

served unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, offering

gifts and sacrifices which could not make him who did the service

perfect as pertaining to the conscience; for they were carnal

ordinances imposed upon them till the time of reformation, that

is, until the time of Christ, who was made a priest of God with

an oath, and made surety of a better covenant established on

better promises. And because he continueth for ever, he hath a

priesthood which passeth not from one to another, and is a

minister of the true tabernacle, which God pitched and not man.

Not by the blood of bulls and of goats, but by his own blood, he

entered once into the holy place, having found everlasting

redemption for us; and is therefore able to save to the uttermost

them who come unto God through him, as he ever liveth to make

intercession for them." Taken in reference to his priesthood and

sacrifice, all these rites and ceremonies are significant and

edifying, but taken out of his relation, they would be as absurd

and nugatory as the consecration of the Roman Pontifex Maximus,

mentioned above by Prudentius.

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