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Bible Commentaries

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Leviticus 8



Verses 1-5

The assembling of the congregation8:1-5

Evidently a representative group of the Israelite congregation, likely the elders, responded to Moses" summons to witness Aaron"s ordination in the tabernacle courtyard. [Note: See my comments on the "congregation" at4:13.]

Verses 6-9

Aaron"s washing and clothing8:6-9

God specified certain garments for Aaron that distinguished him from everyone else. A uniform draws attention to a person"s office or function and plays down his or her individual personality. Physical washing ( Leviticus 8:6) was symbolic of spiritual cleansing. The reference to being washed with water may imply full immersion. [Note: See Rooker, p142; and Milgrom, Leviticus 1-16 , p501.]

"Active and ongoing sanctification is an essential part of being set apart for ministry; and the first step in sanctification is removing defilement and sin." [Note: Ross, p210. Cf. Exodus 30:17-21.]

The priest"s investiture with the garments of glory ( Leviticus 8:7-9) pictured his endowment with the qualities required for the discharge of his duties.

Verses 10-13

The anointing8:10-13

The anointing of the tabernacle and the priests with oil ( Leviticus 8:10-12) signified their sanctification whereby God set them apart to holy purposes and filled them with the power of His Spirit. Filling and indwelling are two distinct ministries of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit did not permanently indwell these priests, as He does all believer-priests today, but He did temporarily fill them (i.e, control them). [Note: See Walvoord, pp70-73.] The significance of the sevenfold sprinkling seems to have been that seven was "the covenant number," [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, 2:336.] the guarantee of the completeness of the work, as in the seven days of creation. The leaders anointed the vessels because they became the instruments of blessing to the Israelites. The Israelites may have repeated this ritual with each new generation of priests, though Moses did not state this in the text.

The procedure for consecrating consisted of two parts.

1. The priests experienced consecration to their office by washing, clothing, and anointing ( Leviticus 8:6-13).

2. Israel"s leaders then consecrated the sacrificial rites by which the priests experienced consecration ( Leviticus 8:14-36).

Verses 14-30

The ordination offerings8:14-30

Moses as the mediator of the covenant performed the sacrificial ceremony recorded in these verses. He presented three offerings.

1. He offered a young ox as a sin (purification) offering ( Leviticus 8:14-17).

2. He offered a ram as a burnt offering ( Leviticus 8:18-21).

3. Then he offered another ram as a peace (fellowship) offering ( Leviticus 8:22-30).

Moses applied blood from the peace offering to Aaron"s ear, hand, and foot ( Leviticus 8:23).

". . . the ear, because the priest was always to hearken to the word and commandment of God; the hand, because he was to discharge the priestly functions properly; and the foot, because he was to walk correctly in the sanctuary." [Note: Ibid, 2:340.]

The sprinkling of the priests and their garments with blood and oil ( Leviticus 8:30) represented endowment with the benefits of atoning blood and the Spirit of God"s power.

Verses 31-36

Further instruction to Aaron8:31-36

A meal concluded the consecration of the priests because in it the priests entered into more intimate fellowship with God. This relationship entitled them to blessings and privileges that God did not grant the other Israelites.

The consecration lasted seven days. During this time the priests were not to leave the tabernacle courtyard day or night ( Leviticus 8:35). Their role was that of worshipers rather than priests. Evidently Moses repeated the consecration ritual on each of these seven days ( Leviticus 8:33). This would have emphasized its importance to the Israelites.

"A man may defile himself in a moment, but sanctification and the removal of uncleanness is generally a slower process." [Note: Wenham, The Book . . ., p144.]

Note that it was God who consecrated the priests. This was His work. The "congregation" witnessed the consecration, but they did not initiate it. The priests were responsible to wash, but God cleansed them. Confession of sin is our responsibility, but God provides the cleansing ( 1 John 1:9).

God did not demand perfection of the priests. He even graciously appointed the man most responsible for the golden calf incident to the office of high priest. God provided the clothing (covering), the atonement, and the enablement that made the priests acceptable in their service. Likewise He provides all that we as His priests need also.

"In this section one doctrine emerges very clearly: the universality and pervasiveness of sin. The men chosen to minister to God in the tabernacle pollute the tabernacle and therefore purification offerings have to be offered. Their clothes and bodies are stained with sin and they must be smeared with blood to purify them. These sacrifices are not offered just once; they have to be repeated, because sin is deep-rooted in human nature and often recurs. There is no once-for-all cleansing known to the OT. It is the incorrigibility of the human heart that these ordination ceremonies bring into focus [cf. Psalm 14:3]." [Note: Ibid, pp144-45.]

"Those who lead the congregation in spiritual service must be fully consecrated to the LORD." [Note: Ross, p214.]


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Leviticus 8:4". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

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