Leviticus 9

CHAPTER IX

Aaron is commanded to offer, on the eighth day, a sin-offering

and a burnt-offering, 1, 2.

The people are commanded also to offer a sin-offering, a

burnt-offering, peace-offerings, and a meat-offering, 3, 4.

They do as they were commanded; and Moses promises that God

shall appear among them, 5, 6.

Aaron is commanded to make an atonement for the people, 7.

He and his sons prepare and offer the different sacrifices, 8-21.

Aaron and Moses bless the congregation, 22, 23.

And the fire of the Lord consumes the sacrifice, 24.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX

Verse 1. On the eighth day] This was the first day after

their consecration, before which they were deemed unfit to

minister in holy things, being considered as in a state of

imperfection. "All creatures," says Ainsworth, "for the most

part were in their uncleanness and imperfection seven days, and

perfected on the eighth; as children by circumcision,

Le 12:2,3; young beasts for sacrifice, Le 22:27; persons

that were unclean by leprosies, issues, and the like, Le 14:8-10;

Le 15:13,14; Nu 6:9,10. So here, the priests, until the

eighth day, were not admitted to minister in their office."

Verse 2. Take thee a young calf, &c.] As these sacrifices

were for Aaron himself, they are furnished by himself and not by

the people, for they were designed to make atonement for his own

sin. See Le 4:3. And this is supposed by the Jews to have

been intended to make an atonement for his sin in the matter of

the golden calf. This is very probable, as no formal atonement

for that transgression had yet been made.

Verse 3. Take ye a kid] In Le 4:14 a young bullock is

commanded to be offered for the sin of the people; but here the

offering is a kid, which was the sacrifice appointed for the sin

of the ruler, Le 4:22,23, and hence some think that the

reading of the Samaritan and the Septuagint is to be preferred.

Speak unto the ELDERS of Israel, these being the only princes or

rulers of Israel at that time; and for them it is possible this

sacrifice was designed. It is however supposed that the

sacrifice appointed Le 4:14

was for a particular sin, but this for sin in general; and that

it is on this account that the sacrifices differ.

Verse 6. And the glory of the Lord shall appear] God shall

give the most sensible signs of his presence among you; this he

did in general by the cloud on the tabernacle, but in this case

the particular proof was the fire that came out from before the

Lord, and consumed the burnt-offering; see Le 9:23, 24.

Verse 7. Make an atonement for thyself] This showed the

imperfection of the Levitical law; the high priest was obliged to

make an expiation for his own sins before he could make one for

the sins of the people. See the use made of this by the apostle,

Heb 5:3; 7:27; 9:7.

Verse 22. And Aaron lifted up his hand toward the people, and

blessed them] On lifting up the hands in prayer, see Ex 9:29.

The form of the blessing we have in Nu 6:23, &c.: "The LORD

bless thee and keep thee! The LORD make his face shine upon

thee, and be gracious unto thee! The LORD lift up his

countenance upon thee, and give thee peace!" See the notes on

these passages. See Clarke on Nu 6:23.

And came down from offering of the sin-offering, &c.] A

sin-offering, a burnt-offering, a meat-offering, and

peace-offerings, were made to God that his glory might appear to

the whole congregation. This was the end of all sacrifice and

religious service; not to confer any obligation on God, but to

make an atonement for sin, and to engage him to dwell among and

influence his worshippers.

Verse 23. Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle] It is

supposed that Moses accompanied Aaron into the tabernacle to show

him how to offer the incense, prepare the lamps and the perfume,

adjust the shew-bread, &c., &c.

And the glory of the Lord appeared] To show that every thing

was done according to the Divine mind, 1. The glory of Jehovah

appears unto all the people; 2. A fire came out from before the

Lord, and consumed the burnt-offering. This was the proof which

God gave upon extraordinary occasions of his acceptance of the

sacrifice. This was done probably, 1. In the case of Abel,

Ge 4:4. 2. In the case of Aaron; see above, Le 9:24.

3. In the case of Gideon, Jud 6:21. 4. In the case of Manoah

and his wife. Compare Jud 13:19-23. 5. In the case of David

dedicating the threshing-floor of Ornan, 1Ch 21:28. 6. In the

case of Solomon dedicating the temple, 2Ch 7:1. 7. In the case

of Elijah, 1Ki 18:38.

Hence to express the accepting of an offering, sacrifice, &c.,

the verb dishshen is used, which signifies to reduce to

ashes, i. e., by fire from heaven. See Ps 20:3. In such a

case as this, it was necessary that the fire should appear to be

divinely sent, and should come in such a way as to preclude the

supposition that any art or deceit had been practised on the

occasion. Hence it is not intimated that Moses and Aaron brought

it out of the tabernacle, professing that God had kindled it

there for them, but the fire CAME OUT from BEFORE the Lord,

and ALL the PEOPLE SAW it. The victims were consumed by a fire

evidently of no human kindling. Josephus says that "a fire

proceeded from the victims themselves of its own accord, which

had the appearance of a flash of lightning;" εξαυτωνπυρανηφθη

αυτοματονκαιομοιοναστραπηςλαμπηδονιορωμενοντηφλογι. "and

consumed, all that was upon the altar."-Antiq., lib. iii., c. 8,

s. 6, edit. Haverc. And it is very likely that by the agency of

the ethereal or electric spark, sent immediately from the Divine

presence, the victims were consumed. The heathens, in order to

give credit to their worship, imitated this miracle, and pretended

that Jupiter testified his approbation of the sacrifices offered

to him by thunder and lightning: to this VIRGIL seems to allude,

though the words have been understood differently.

Audiat haec genitor, qui foedera fulmine sancit.

AEn. xii., ver. 200.

"Let Jupiter hear, who sanctions covenants by his thunder."

On which words Servius makes this remarkable comment: Quia cum

fiunt foedera, si coruscatio fuerit, confirmantur. Vel certe

quia apud majores arae non incendebantur, sed ignem divinum

precibus eliciebant qui incendebant altaria. "To sanction the

covenant signifies to confirm it; for when a covenant was made,

if there were a flash of lightning, it was considered to be

thereby confirmed: or rather because our ANCESTORS lighted no

fire upon the altars, but obtained by their supplications divine

fire," &c. The expression apud majores, "among our ancestors,"

shows that they could boast of no such divine fire then; nor

could they ever before, as the whole account was borrowed from

the Jews. Solinus Polyhistor gives us an account to the same

effect; for, speaking of the hill of Vulcan in Sicily, he says:

In quo, qui divinte rei operantur, ligna vitea super aras

struunt, nec ignis apponitur in hanc congerlem: cum prosicias

intulerunt, si adest deus, si sacrum probatur, sarmenta licet

viridia sponte concipiunt, et nullo inflagrante halitu, ab ipso

numine fit accendium, cap. v. in fine. "They who perform sacred

rites in this place, put a bundle of vine-tree wood upon the

altar, but put no fire to it; for when they lay the pieces of the

victim upon it, if the deity be present, and he approve the

sacrifice, the bundle, although of green wood, takes fire of

itself, and without any other means the deity himself kindles the

flame." These are remarkable instances, and show how exactly the

heathen writers have borrowed from the sacred records. And in

farther imitation of this miracle, they had their perpetual fire

in the temple of Vesta, which they feigned to have descended at

first from heaven, and which they kept with the most religious

veneration.

Verse 24. When all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on

their faces.] 1. The miracle was done in such a way as gave the

fullest conviction to the people of its reality. 2. They exulted

in the thought that the God of almighty power and energy had

taken up his abode among them. 3. They prostrated themselves in

his presence, thereby intimating the deep sense they had of HIS

goodness, of their unworthiness, and of the obligation they were

under to live in subjection to his authority, and obedience to

his will.-This celestial fire was carefully preserved among the

Israelites till the time of Solomon, when it was renewed, and

continued among them till the Babylonish captivity. This Divine

fire was the emblem of the Holy Spirit. And as no sacrifice

could be acceptable to God which was not salted, i. e., seasoned

and rendered pleasing, by this fire, as our Lord says, Mr 9:49,

so no soul can offer acceptable sacrifices to God, but through

the influences of the Divine Spirit. Hence the promise of the

Spirit under the emblem of fire, Mt 3:11, and its actual descent

in this similitude on the day of pentecost, Ac 2:3,4.

THE most remarkable circumstance in this chapter is the

manifestation of the presence of God, and the consuming of the

victims by the miraculous fire. We have already seen that the

chief design of these sacrificial rites was to obtain

reconciliation to God, that the Divine Presence might dwell and

be manifested among them. To encourage the people to make the

necessary preparations, to offer the sacrifices in a proper

spirit, and to expect especial mercies from the hand of God,

Moses promises, Le 9:4,

that the Lord would appear unto them on the morrow, and that

his glory should appear, Le 9:6. In hope or expectation of

this, the priest, the elders, and the people purified

themselves by offering the different sacrifices which God had

appointed; and when this was done God did appear, and gave the

fullest proofs of his approbation, by miraculously consuming the

sacrifices which were prepared on the occasion. Does not St. John

evidently refer to these circumstances, 1Jo 3:2,3: "Beloved, now

are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall

be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him,

for we shall see him as he is; and every man that hath this hope

in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure." This

manifestation of God in the tabernacle was a type of his

presence, first, in the Church militant on earth; and secondly,

in the Church triumphant in heaven. They who expect to have the

presence of God here, must propitiate his throne of justice by

the only available sacrifice; they who wish to enjoy everlasting

felicity, must be purified from all unrighteousness, for without

holiness none can see the Lord. If we hope to see him as he is,

we must resemble him. How vain is the expectation of glory,

where there is no meetness for the place! And how can we enter

into the holiest but by the blood of Jesus? Heb 10:19.

And of what use can this sacrifice be to those who do not

properly believe in it? And can any faith, even in that

sacrifice, be effectual to salvation, that does not purify the

heart? Reader! earnestly pray to God that thou hold not the

truth in unrighteousness.

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