Sermon by Pastor Bruce Fischer.  Click "continue reading" to view sermon notes.

Exodus 29

 “The ancient Israelite sacrificial system is quite complex.  The biblical texts describe the mode of bringing various sacrifices, but seldom interpret their meaning.  As with all ritual, the meaning resides in the doing rather than in a verbalized theory (Janzen 359).”  “This was the usual procedure for a priest’s sin offering (Gordon 179).”  “There were 3 kinds of sacrifices, spread out over 7 days.  The first was the most important because it made atonement for sin.  It was also the biggest (Ryken 903).”  “While the details of the ritual are prescribed here, the record of this being carried out is to be found in Lv 8:14-17 (Mackay 491).”  Vv.10-14 followed closely the instructions given later in Lv 4:3-12 concerning the unintentional sin of an anointed priest (Alexander 114).”

10. Then you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting.  Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull.

“The ritual of the investiture includes sacrifices.  The bull that was selected in v.1 is not brought to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting, to the spot where Aaron and his sons have just been washed and clothed (Currid 218).”

“As each sacrificial animal is brought to the altar, it is necessary for the priests to examine it to make sure it is suitable.  Once that is done, a symbolic certification ritual is performed in which the priests lay their hands on the animal, taking responsibility for its death and the purpose for which it is sacrificed.  Some would suggest that this constitutes an affirmation of ownership (Walton 129).”  “The entire ceremony marked the solemn act of a few people being set apart for specific ministry (Dunnam 342).”

No one can “stand as mediator between man and God without being compelled to acknowledge that he too is in need of a mediator (Ellison 158).”

“you shall bring the bull before the tent of meeting” “The bull is to be offered as a ‘sin offering (v.14),’ which is described as having the function of purifying the altar and making atonement for it (v.36; Lv 4:1-12; Harris 192).”

            Vv.10-14 are best understood as describing “a purification offering (Alexander 114).”

“you” This pronoun refers to Moses.

“bull” Many commentators prefer “bullock” (e.g., Davis 289).

“Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on the head of the bull”  “Laying hands on the head of a sacrificial animal (with the exception of birds) was to become part of the standard routine in making an offering (Lv 1:4; 3:2; Mackay 491).”  By laying hands on the bull Aaron and his sons marked “it formally as their sacrifice (Lv 1:4; Driver 316).”  “The hands of Aaron and his sons on the head of the young bull were a sign of participation (Bruckner 264).”  “By laying their hands upon its head Aaron and his sons identified with the animal (Gordon 179).”  By laying their hands on the bull’s head Aaron and his sons were imputing their sin to the sacrifice (Ryken 904).”  The priest layed “their own sinful hands” on the bull.  “They realized they were the ones who deserved to die.  God was executing His death penalty against their sin.  But in His mercy He allowed the bull to serve as their substitute, dying in their place (Ryken 904).”  “With this symbolic gesture they transferred the sins, or the desire for atonement for their sins, to the bull; the sacrificial animal became their sacrifice, their substitute (Gispen 275).”  “They could not actually do this transferring but rather were symbolically acceding to the basic principle of sacrifice: something must die in my place if I am to live – here specifically focused on ‘living’ in the manner of a holy priest acceptable to God (Stuart 622).”  “Whenever this verbal form is used it indicates ‘the pouring of one’s personality into another being, the creation of a representative of substitute.’  In other words, what we see is a case of transference, in which the unholiness and impure nature of the priesthood are transferred to the animal.  The animal is then sacrificed, thus making atonement for those men.  It is all part and parcel of the ritual of consecration (Currid 219).”  “The death of the animal is accepted as the equivalent of the death of the individual (Cole 203).”  “The priests identified with the animals who died in their places.  In this way the priests acknowledged their own sinfulness and need of blood cleansing (Lv 17:11; Hb 9:22; Hannah 152).”  Aaron and his sons’ action was “a symbol of the animal’s becoming their substitute and transferring their sins to the sinbearer (Lv 16:20-22; Youngblood 119).”  “Even the sins that would make a person unworthy to assume spiritual leadership are placed” on the sacrifice (Gispen 275).”This gesture symbolized “the transfer of their own sins and guilt to the sacrificial animal, for, indeed, it was necessary that their own sins be expiated before they could offer sacrifice for the sins of the people (Kretzmann 165).”

            “It has been argued that it would be incongruous to put on the altar what had been identified with sin.  It is thus felt to be implausible that the act of leaning on the head of the sacrificial victim was understood as transferring sin and guilt to it.  However, it is unsatisfactory to treat this action as signifying little more that an act of identification = ‘The gift presented is one that I make.’  That was quite obvious from the fact that the worshipper had already brought the animal.  What is involved is rather substitution = ‘This animal represents me.  What happens to it is what should happen to me’ (Mackay 492).”

            “It has also been argued by some scholars that the placing of hands on the head of the sacrificial transferred ownership, i.e., from the worshipper to Yahweh.  Even if this were in part the connotation, it could hot have been the full connotation because the worshiper’s sin would still not have been transferred.  But if one argues that the transfer of ownership takes with it the sin, so that God ‘receives’ the sin and then annihilates it, that would at least preserve the atoning value of the transfer.  The simpler and more comprehensive outlook is that laying hands on the animal signified that the worshiper’s sin was what transferred to the animal to be put to death.  In general, laying on hands is a symbol of the transfer of something (Stuart 622).”

“lay” “‘Lay’ indicates not merely a touch, but ‘leaning’ with the hand on the animal’s head (Mackay 491).”

“their hands” “The presence of the compound subject ‘their hands’ in this passage makes it unclear how many hands were used, but analogy with other offerings would suggest that each person used only one (Mackay 492).”

11. Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting,

“The bull for the sin offering in the courtyard outside the tabernacle (Ryken 903).”  “The provision that the bullock be killed ‘at the door of the tent of meeting (RSV)’ is synonymous with ‘before the Lord (Lv 1:5; 3:7; 4:4,15) and also, it seems, with the specific direction that the slaying shall take place to the north of the great altar (Lv 4:26,35; Rylaarsdam 1047).”  “The bull having been slaughtered ‘in the Lord’s presence’ – inside the tabernacle enclosure, at least generally before the front curtain of the tabernacle, so as to be ‘at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (Stuart 622-623).”

“you shall kill the bull” What “does the death of the animal signify?  The perfect animal was the substitute for the offerer, and the death of the animal indicated that the worshipper was Himself justly liable to death for His sin, but a substitute has now suffered that death for Him (Mackay 492).”

            “That the priest required the sacrifice of a ‘bull’ is probably intended to link the priesthood further with the incident of the golden calf (Ex 32; Sailhamer 307).”  “The bull was … slaughtered in the presence of the Lord as an act of appeasement (Kaiser 470).”

“before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting” “The place in which this ritual and the entire ceremony of atonement was carried out, the opening of the Tabernacle, is significant.  Here, where Yahweh’s Presence met them by appointment, Yahweh would come to grant them authority.  Without the authority, they could go no further and do nothing more (Durham 395).”

“the entrance of the tent of meeting” “The Tent of Meeting refers to the Tabernacle proper, so this action was to take place inside the courtyard (Mackay 491).”

12. and shall take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar.

            “Moses continues to act as the priest in the ceremony (Mackay 492).”  “Normally, the priest would take the sacrifice from the hand of its bringer and perform the rites.  Here Moses is the one who acts under God’s direct command, for Aaron and his sons have not yet been consecrated to the priesthood (Janzen 360).”  

“The blood of the animal, thus offered to the Lord, [took], in a symbolic manner, the place of the sinner’s blood (Kretzmann 165).” 

            The bull’s “blood was used to ‘cleanse’ the altar’s horns and otherwise poured out at the altar’s base, but not with a sense of inclusion – as if applying the blood to the tope and the bottom of the entire altar would ‘cleanse’ the whole.  Rather, the rest of the altar would be cleansed by the blood of the 1st ram, yet to be sacrificed (v.16; Stuart 623).”  “Applying blood to the horns of the altar and the base of the altar sanctified the offering place as well as the offering (Kaiser 470).”  Putting blood on the altar’s horns and pouring it at the altar’s base “sanctified the altar, making it holy unto God (Lv 8:15).  It also showed that God would receive whatever sacrifices were offered there as payment for sin (Ryken 903).”

            “The blood could not be disposed of in any other way than to the Lord (Mackay 493).”

“take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger” They were to smear the blood on “these peculiar projections of the large altar before the Holy Place (Kretzmann 165).”  “It is the altar of burnt offering which is intended (Gordon 179).”  In this instance, “the blood was probably placed on the horns of the large bronze altar in the courtyard and not on the gold incense altar within the tabernacle (Lv 4:7; Alexander 114).”  This took place “exactly as in the cases of the sin-offering for laymen (Lv 4:25,30,34): the priests, before their consecration is completed are treated as laity (Driver 317).”

In Lv 4:7 this is in reference “to sins committed by a priest in office, the blood of the sin offering is put on the horns of the altar of incense (Gordon 179).”

The purpose of this action “is not stated in this text, but elsewhere the act appears to signify 2 things: firstly, it is for atonement (30:10; Lv 16:18) and, secondly, it is to purify the altar (Lv 8:15; Currid 219).”  “The blood purified the altar which had become defiled through contact with individuals who were considered unclean (Alexander 114).”

“We note that the blood of the animal, generally understood to be the purifying agent, is not applied to the candidates for the high priesthood, but to the altar (29:12,36).  Yet, since the need to purify the altar must be associated with contamination by human sinfulness, an atoning dimension for the priests-to-be does seem to be present (Janzen 360).”  “Blood on the horns of the altar was a visible sign of giving the sins to the Lord for cleansing (Bruckner 264).”

“The blood smeared probably with the right forefinger (Lv 14:16,27) served as a permanent reminder of what had taken place (Mackay 493).”  “The blood is smeared on the horns of the altar as a visible lasting sign (Cole 203-204).”

By applying the blood “to the horns of the altar (Lv 4:25,30,34),’ – as in other cases to those of the altar of incense, or to the mercy-seat (Lv 4:7,18; 16:14-15), – it was brought near to Jehovah (Driver 317).”

“The officiating priest must dip his finger in the blood, not only to anoint ‘the horns of the altar’ with it but to sprinkle the blood 7 times before the veil that separates the holy place from the most holy (Lv 4:5,17; Rylaarsdam 1047).”

“take part of the blood of the bull and put it on the horns of the altar” “The horns of the altar are specifically symbolic of the presence of God in any sacrificial act.  By placing the blood of the sacrificed bull on the horns, the priests are acknowledging that presence, the power of the God who gives life, and purifying themselves of their sin (Walton 129).”

“the horns of the altar” The Altar-horns “symbolized especially the Presence of Yahweh at the Altar (Durham 395).”

“the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar” “The rest of the blood was to be poured at its’ base, so that it touched the altar, and was thereby consecrated to the Lord, albeit not in such a special way as the part that was applied to the horns of the altar.  The blood was too precious to be discarded in any other way (Rv 6:9; Gispen 275).”

            “The altar is the focal point of animal sacrifice.  It is the pattern associated with giving God His due.  For it to be fully consecrated to this service its very roots (base) must be purified with the blood of the sin offering (Walton 129).”

“the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar” This is what took place at an “ordinary sin-offering (Lv 4:7,18,25,30,34; 8:15; 9:9; Driver 317).”

the blood” “‘Blood’ played a significant role in OT ritual because it was through it that atonement was effected.  ‘For the Life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life (Lv 17:11).  The shed blood indicated life surrendered as the extreme penalty for sin (Mackay 493).”  “The blood is a ‘covering’ for the sin for which the sacrifice is brought, whether this sin is specifiable or not (Lv 4:26,35).  It is the sign of forgiveness (Rylaarsdam 1047).”  “The Hebrew regarded the blood as the seat of the ‘soul,’ or principle of life; and it was in virtue of the ‘soul’ that was in it, that it made atonement (Lv 17:11; Driver 316).”

13. And you shall take all the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver, and the 2 kidneys with the fat that is on them, and burn them on the altar.

“Of a sin offering nothing is eaten (Rylaarsdam 1048).”  “The most select parts of the bull were burned on the altar as a sacrifice to the Lord (Lv 3:3-5,16; Youngblood 119).”  “The choicest parts were burned on the altar, the enveloping fat adding fuel to the fire (Lv 3:4-5,16; 7:23-25; Kaiser 470).”  “The verb ‘burn’ does not convey the idea of set alight to and so destroy, but rather than of ‘making smoke’ or producing a more refined substance which would rise up to God and so these choicest parts of the animal would be offered to Him (Mackay 493).”  “This gift was to propitiate the Lord (Gispen 275).”

“In a manner typical of most sacrifices, the fatty parts of various internal organs were offered symbolically to Yahweh as His portion (v.13; Stuart 623).”  “When one of the people made a sin offering, parts of the animal were given to the priests to eat (Lv 5:13), but that was not the case when the offence was more serious, involving the whole community of its leaders.  So here in the ordination of the priests the bull was totally destroyed (v.15; 493).”

“No portion of the bull was to be saved, since this was a sin offering.  Thus the fatty parts as well as the kidneys and liver, which might have been used for divination – as was the practice in Mesopotamia – or given to the participants, were instead to be burned on the altar (Walton 129).”  “All these parts were used in the divination practices of the pagan cultures of the ANE.  The Hebrews were to burn those parts of the animal so that they would not be tempted to act like their neighbors, and to perform divination (Currid 219).” 

“all the fat that covers the entrails, and the long lobe of the liver, and the 2 kidneys with the fat that is on them” These were “the parts of the sin-offering which were regularly consumed upon the altar (Lv 4:8ff; Driver 317).”

“the fat that covers the entrails” This is “probably what is called technically the ‘great omentum,’ a highly fatty membrane, which in ruminants covers the whole of the paunch, and extends partially over the intestines (Driver 317).”

“the fat” “The fat is not what we normally mean by the term, but rather the choicest, best parts of the animal (Currid 219).”

“the long lobe of the liver” This has convincingly been shown to be “what is called technically the lobus candatus, or tail-shaped lobe, a small finger-shaped appendix – in the Mishna, Tamid 4:3, it is actually called ‘the finger of the liver’ – projecting from the liver close to the right kidney (Lv 3:4; Driver 317).”  This appendix “was specially important in ancient divination (Driver 317).”  “It is no doubt this ancient significance of the lobus cnadatus which led to its being specially selected for consumption on the altar (Driver 317).”

“burn” The NASU translates this: “offered as smoke” as does Durham and Driver. 

14. But the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn with fire outside the camp; it is a sin offering.

“It was a sin offering and therefore unclean (Meyer 374).”  “There are various kinds of sacrifices and offerings performed by the Israelites: generally for thanksgiving or expiation.  A sin offering was designed to purify a person who had become unclean through contact with impurity – physical or spiritual – or because of some event (nocturnal emission; Dt 23:10).  It was also used in consecrating priests, since they were required to maintain an even higher standard of purity than ordinary Israelites.  The animals which were used in these rituals received the sin and impurity of the persons for whom they were sacrificed.  Thus their entire substance was contaminated and could not be consumed or used to produce anything.  Every portion of the sacrificed animal must be disposed of, with the organs and fat burnt on the altar and the flesh, hide and bones burned to ash outside the camp.  This latter act prevented the people’s habitation from becoming polluted (Lv 4:1-3; Walton 130).”

“The sin offering indicated that the priest, too, was a sinner; the burnt offering suggested that the priest, too, must offer that ‘sweet aroma’ of offering pleasing to God (Dunnam 342).”

“When a sin-offering was offered for priests, or for the whole community, including the priests, its flesh was burnt (Lv 4:11f.,21; 9:11); when it was offered for laymen, the flesh was eaten by the priests (Lv 5:13; 6:26).  Though the priests are here treated as laity, (v.12), the flesh is to be burned, because no proper priest is present to eat it (Driver 318).”

“The complete destruction probably represented the sinner’s complete break with his past life (Kretzmann 165).”

“the flesh of the bull and its skin and its dung you shall burn with fire outside the camp” “The useless parts (flesh, hide, offal) were burned outside the camp, completely away from the tabernacle or even any Israelite buildings (Stuart 623).”  The flesh, hide and offal were “‘useless’ for this ceremony, though not always useless.  Indeed, the meat of bulls was rarely ‘wasted’ in the unusual manner called for her (Stuart 623).”  “Thus only the blood was used for cleansing the area at the top of and around the base of the altar and a small part of the animal for an offering to God – the vast majority of the bull being disposed of by burning.  Why?  Because no one was to ‘enjoy’ eating this bull.  Its death was an atoning, sin-cleansing death rather than any sort of basis for a fellowship meal (Stuart 623).”

            “Generally a ‘sin offering’ (khatta’t) was made when the people confessed sin and received forgiveness.  The offering provided cleansing from defilement, or ‘covering’ of specific unintentional sin.  The priests cooked and ate the meat of regular sin offerings (Lv 4:27-35; 6:24-29).  The burning of the blood and fat of the animal signified that the fire had consumed the sins.  Sin offerings for the whole congregation or the sins of a priest were not eaten or even turned to smoke inside the tabernacle.  The priests offered the fat and blood on the altar, but they took the meat outside the camp and burned it where the altar ashes were usually dumped, as a sign of the disposal of the more serious sins (Lv 4:3-21).  This ‘removed’ the sin.  The offering at Aaron’s consecration (vv.10-14) was just such a sin offering (Bruckner 264).”  “The meat and other remaining parts were taken outside the camp, thereby removing any trace of Aaron’s or his son’s sins (Bruckner 264).”

‘“Impurities and waste were to be disposed of outside of the camp (Dt 23:12-14).  Since this bull had been used for a sin offering, its’ meat, hide and offal had become contaminated and thus could not be consumed or used in any way (Lv 4:12; Walton 129-130).”  The flesh, hide and refuse were “thought of as bearing sin, and thus burned outside the camp (Hb 13:11-13; Youngblood 119).”  “The bull-calf had become polluted (Durham 395).”  “The bull’s flesh, hide, and offal were entirely permeated by the transferred sin, and was therefore to be burned outside the camp (Hb 13:11-13; Gispen 275).”

            “The act of burning the carcass of the animal sacrificed as a sin offering outside the camp of Israel provides an interesting backdrop for a statement made by the author of Hebrews.  He says, ‘For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach’ (Hb 13:11-13; Currid 220).”

“dung” The NIV is: “waste parts.”  The “waste parts” “are the less valuable parts, i.e., the viscera and trimmings, what Brown, Drive and Briggs call the ‘offal’ (Currid 219).”  A better word use, “for distinction” would be “offal – viz. that removed from the animals offered in sacrifice (Lv 4:11; 8:17; 16:27; Nb 19:5; Ml 2:3; Driver 318).”

“outside the camp” “This is the 1st time this expression is employed in the Bible, and it becomes an idiomatic way of referring to the place of the undefiled and the unclean (Lv 13:46; 24:14; Nb 15:35; Currid 219-220).”  “Outside the camp” “is the place where refuse is to be thrown.  It is the cursed place (Currid 220).”

“it is a sin offering” “Sin offerings were made on certain high occasions, both for individuals and for the entire community (Park 1047).”  “The sacrifice of the bull in this instance appears to have constituted a sort of preparatory ‘sin offering,’ designed to atone for any unforgiven sin the priests may have previously committed and , as it were, brought with them into their ordination ceremony, as well as any uncleanness or holiness that might have somehow defiled the altar of the tabernacle (Stuart 622).”  “Significantly, this is the 1st time that the term ‘sin offering’ is used in the Bible, which shows that the priests needed their sins to be forgiven as much as anyone else (Ryken 904).”  “The priests looked good, and they smelled nice.  However, they were still sinners.  There was a gap between their outward appearance and their inward spiritual condition (Ryken 903).”  “Something had to be done about their guilt, and the priests were not fully consecrated until sacrifices were made for their sins (Ryken 903).”  “The bullock was the prescribed sin offering for the priest (Lv 4:1-12; Park 1047).”  The bull was “a sin offering to atone for the past sins of Aaron and his sons (Lv 4:3; Youngblood 119).”

“Sin offering” “is the traditional term for one of the 4 main types of sacrifices (Lv 4:1-5:3; Nb 15:22-31).  The others are the burnt or whole offering (holocaust), the peace offering, and the guilt offering (Janzen 359).” 

“The sacrifices are of 3 types: a bull for a sin offering, a ram for a burnt offering, and another ram for a wave offering.  This sequence is significant.  The sin offering cleanses the priests of sin; it is understandable why the ordination process begins this way.  Next the burnt offering is an expression of devotion and commitment on the part of the worshiper.  The 2nd ram, along with a loaf of bread, a cake made with oil, and a wafer, are to be a wave offering.  It is not clear what a wave offering is (Enns 535).”  The “wave offering (v.24) [is] more generally called a peace or fellowship offering (Motyer 275).”  “The order in Ex 29 us the order of individual need of being forgiven, wholly dedicating oneself in gratitude to the Lord, and rejoicing in fellowship with Him and each other (Motyer 275).”

 

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