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This chapter treats of the day of atonement, and of the rites, sacrifices, and services of it, directs when Aaron should come into the holy of holies, ( Leviticus 16:1,2); and in what habit he should then appear, and with what offerings both for himself, and for the people, ( Leviticus 16:3-10); and that having slain his own sin offering, and that for the people, he should offer incense before the mercy seat, and sprinkle that with the blood of both, ( Leviticus 16:11-15); and by these offerings make atonement for the holy place, the tabernacle of the congregation, and the altar, ( Leviticus 16:16-19); and having done this, he was to take the live goat, lay his hands on it, confess over it, and put upon it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and then send it away by a fit man into the wilderness, ( Leviticus 16:20-22); upon which he was to put off his linen garments, wash his flesh, and put them on again, and offer the burnt offering for himself, and for the people, ( Leviticus 16:23-25); also he that let go the goat, and he that carried and burnt the sin offerings without the camp, were to wash themselves and clothes also, ( Leviticus 16:26-28); the observance of this day, once a year, which was on the tenth of the seventh month, as a day of affliction and atonement, was to be a statute for ever to the children of Israel, ( Leviticus 16:29-34).
Ver. 1 . And the Lord spake unto Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron , etc.] That is, either immediately after their death, and so this chapter would have stood in its natural order next to the tenth; or else after the above laws concerning uncleanness on various accounts were delivered out, designed to prevent the people entering into the tabernacle defiled, whereby they would have incurred the penalty of death; wherefore, as Aben Ezra observes, after the Lord had given cautions to the Israelites, that they might not die, he bid Moses to caution Aaron also, that he might not die as his sons died; these were Nadab and Abihu: when they offered before the Lord, and died ; offered strange fire, and died by flaming fire, as the Targum of Jonathan; or fire sent down from heaven, as Gersom, by lightning; (see Leviticus 10:1,2).
Ver. 2 . And the Lord said unto Moses, speak unto Aaron thy brother , etc.] Who was the high priest; and what is here said to him was binding on all high priests in succession from him: that he come not at all times into the holy [place] ; or “holiness” f540 , which was holiness itself, or the most holy place, as distinguished from that which was sometimes called the holy place, where stood the incense altar, the showbread table, and the candlestick, into which Aaron went every day, morning and evening, to do the service there enjoined him; but into the holy of holies here described, as appears by the after description of it, he might not go at all times, or every day, or when he pleased, only once a year, on the day of atonement; though, according to the Jewish writers, he went in four times on that day, first to offer incense, a second time to sprinkle the blood of the bullock, a third time to sprinkle the blood of the goat, and a fourth time to fetch out the censer; and if he entered a fifth time, he was worthy of death f541 . Some have observed f542 , that this respected Aaron only, and not Moses; that though Aaron might not go in when he pleased, and only at a time fixed, yet Moses might at any time, and consult the Lord upon the mercy seat, (see Exodus 25:22).
Pausanias makes mention of several Heathen temples which were opened but once a year, as the temples of Hades Dindymene, and Eurymone f543 , and particularly the temple of Minerva, into which only a priest entered once a year f544 ; which perhaps was in imitation of the Jewish high priest: within the vail, before the mercy seat, which [is] upon the ark ; this is a description of the holy place, into which the high priest might not go at any time, or at pleasure; it was within the vail that divided between the holy place, and the most holy, where stood the mercy seat, which was a lid or covering to the ark, at the two ends of which were the cherubim, the seat of the divine Majesty; which was a type of heaven for its holiness, being the habitation of the holy God, Father, Son, and Spirit, and of holy angels, and holy men, and where only holy services are performed; and for its invisibility, where dwells the invisible God, where Christ in our nature is at present unseen by us, and the glories of which are not as yet to be beheld; only faith, hope, and love, enter within the vail, and have to do with unseen objects there; and also for what are in it, as the ark and mercy seat, types of Christ, through whom mercy is communicated in a way of justice, he being the propitiation and the fulfilling end of the law for righteousness. And this caution was given to Aaron, that he die not ; by appearing in the presence of God without his leave and order: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat ; this one would think should be a reason why he should not die, when he came into the most holy place, because there was the mercy seat, and Jehovah on it: and besides the cloud of incense on it, he went in with, for so many understand by the cloud, the cloud of incense: thus Aben Ezra says, the sense is, that he should not enter but with incense, which would make a cloud, and so the glory not be seen, lest he should die: and Jarchi observes, that the Midrash, or the more mystical and subtle sense is, he shall not go in but with the cloud of incense on the day of atonement; but the more simple meaning, or plain sense of the words is, as the same writer notes, that whereas he did continually appear there in the pillar of cloud; and because his Shechinah or glorious Majesty is revealed there, he is cautioned not to use himself to go in, i.e. at any time; with which agrees the Targum of Jonathan, “for in my cloud the glory of my Shechinah, or divine Majesty, shall be revealed upon the mercy seat.”
Ver. 3 . Thus shall Aaron come into the holy [place] , etc.] The most holy place; and this was after he had offered the daily sacrifice of the morning, and had performed the rest of the service then done, as Gersom observes; such as burning the incense and trimming the lamps, for no offering preceded the daily sacrifice: with a young bullock for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering ; which were both for himself and his family; and such were the weakness, imperfection, and insufficiency of the Levitical priesthood, and priests, that they were obliged first to offer for their own sins, and then for the sins of the people: the meaning is not, as Aben Ezra says, that he should bring the bullock into the holy place, only that he should first give of his own a bullock for a sin offering, to atone for himself, and for the priests; nor could it be the body of the bullock he brought, only the blood of it into the most holy place, where he entered not without blood, first with the blood of the bullock, and then with the blood of the goat; for the body of the bullock for a sin offering was burnt without the camp, and the body of the ram for the burnt offering was burnt upon the altar of burnt offering; (see Hebrews 9:7,12).
Ver. 4 . He shall put on the holy linen coat , etc.] Which he wore in common with other priests: and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh ; upon those parts of his body which are more secret, and less honourable flesh, meaning the same, as in ( Leviticus 15:2): and shall be girded with a linen girdle and with the linen mitre shall he be attired , as the other priests were; which were an emblem of the purity and holiness of Christ, whereby he became a proper and suitable high priest, to make atonement for sin, he having none in himself; and of his mean estate of humiliation afflictions, and sufferings, whereby he expiated sin, and made reconciliation for iniquity; the high priest on the day of atonement not appearing in his golden garments, as the Jews call others worn by him, because there were some gold in them, as being unsuitable to a day of affliction and humiliation, but in garments of flax, a meaner dress; and which also were an emblem of the righteousness of Christ, and his saints, called fine linen, clean and white; which is wrought out by him, as the author of it, is in him as the subject of it, and worn by him as the Lord our righteousness, and in which, as the instilled head and representative of his people, he entered into heaven to show it to his Father, and plead it with him: these [are] holy garments ; and to be used only in sacred service: there were four more holy garments besides these worn by the high priest, as the breastplate, the ephod, the robe, and the plate of gold, and which also were put on at certain times on this day, as at the offering of the morning and evening sacrifice, and at the slaying and offering of the several creatures on this day f545 , (see Leviticus 16:23,24): therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and [so] put them on ; by dipping, and that in forty seahs of water, as the Targum of Jonathan; and this he did as often as he changed his garments, which were no less than five times on this day. The tradition is f546 , no man goes into the court for service, even though clean, until he has dipped himself: the high priest dips five times, and sanctifies, i.e. washes his hands and feet ten times on that day, and all are done in the holy place, over the house of Parvah, excepting this only, that is, first here: Jarchi on the text observes, on this day, he (the high priest) is bound to dipping at every change, and five times he changes, and to two washings of his hands and feet at the laver: this washing may be either an emblem of Christ’s baptism, which he submitted to before he entered on his public ministry, and was, by dipping; or rather of his being cleared, acquitted, and justified from all sin, upon his resurrection from the dead, after he had made atonement for it, and before his entrance into heaven; as he had no sin of his own he needed not the washing of regeneration, or the water of sanctifying grace to be sprinkled on him, to cleanse him from it but inasmuch as he had sin imputed to him, and which he took upon him to make atonement for, it was proper and necessary, when he had made it, that he should be justified in the Spirit, that so he might enter into heaven without sin imputed, as he will appear without it when he comes a second time.
Ver. 5 . And he shall take of the congregation of the children of Israel , etc.] With whom only the high priest had to do on the day of atonement; as Christ our high priest has only with the Israel of God, the elect, given him by the Father, for whom he offered up himself, and for whose sins he made reconciliation: two kids of the goats for a sin offering ; the one of which was killed, and the other let go alive, and both were but one offering, typical of Christ in both his natures, divine and human, united in one person; and who was made sin, and became a sin offering for his people: and one ram for a burnt offering ; a type of Christ, mighty to save, this creature being a strong one; and of his dolorous sufferings, this offering being burnt; and of God’s gracious acceptance of his sacrifice, which was of a sweet smelling savour to him; the burnt offering following by way of thanksgiving for atonement made by the sin offering graciously accepted by the Lord.
Ver. 6 . And Aaron shall offer his bullock of the sin offering, which [is] for himself , etc.] That is, bring it into the court, and present it before the Lord in order to its being slain and sacrificed; for as yet it was not killed, and so could not be offered on the altar, (see Leviticus 16:11); the place where the bullock was set was between the porch and the altar, his head in the south, and his face to the west, and the priest stood in the east, and his face to the west, and laid both his hands upon him, and confessed his sins, and his family’s f547 : and this is said to be “for himself”; not to atone for him, which is afterwards expressed, but which should come of him or from him, and not from the congregation, as Jarchi explains it; or as the Targum of Jonathan more clearly, which is of his own money, wholly at his own expense, and not the people’s: and make atonement for himself, and for his house ; for himself, for his own personal sins and for his family’s sins, those of his wife and children; and it may be extended to all the priests of the house of Aaron; and some say to the Levites also, as Aben Ezra notes, though he disapproves of it: by this it appears, that Christ, the antitype of Aaron, is a more perfect and excellent priest than he, who needed not to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for his people’s, for this he did once, when he offered up himself, ( Hebrews 7:27); and which was for his whole family, and them only, the elect of God, consisting of Jews and Gentiles; part of which is in heaven, and part on earth, and both were reconciled, or atonement made for them, by the blood of Christ; whose house and family men appear to be, when they believe and hope in him, and hold fast their faith and hope; and who are made by him priests as well as kings to God; (see Ephesians 3:15 Hebrews 3:6) ( Revelation 1:6).
Ver. 7 . And he shall take the two goats , etc.] The sin offering for the people, a proper emblem of Christ, this creature being clean and fit for food, denoting the purity of Christ, and his being suitable and wholesome food, as his flesh is to the faith of his people; and because comely in its going, as Christ was in his going from everlasting, and in his coming, into this world, travelling in the greatness of his strength; and even by reason of its having something in it unsavoury and offensive, and which made it the fitter emblem of Christ, as a surety of his people; for though he had no sin inherent in him and natural to him, yet he appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, and had sin imputed to him, which rendered him obnoxious to divine justice: the number of these goats was two, typical either of the two natures in Christ; his divine nature, in which he is impassable, and lives for ever, which may be signified by the goat presented alive and let go; and his human nature, in which he suffered and died, and may be fitly represented by the goat that was slain; or else of the two estates of Christ before and after his resurrection, his being put to death in the flesh and quickened in the Spirit; or rather this may signify the twofold consideration of Christ as Mediator, one with respect to his divine Father, to whom he made satisfaction by his death; and the other with respect to Satan, with whom he conflicted in life, and to whose power he was so far delivered up, as not only to be tempted, and harassed by him, but through his instigation to be brought to the dust of death; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:10”); and these two goats, according to the Jewish writers f548 , were to be alike in sight or colour, in stature and in value, and to be taken together: Christ, the antitype of them, is the same dying and rising; the same that died, rose again from the dead; the same that suffered, is glorified; and the same that went up to heaven, will come again in like manner: and present them before the Lord, [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation ; at the east of the court, and the north of the altar, as the Misnah f549 ; so that their faces were towards the west, where the holy of holies, the seat of the divine Majesty, was, and so said to be before the Lord, or over against where he dwelt: this presentation may have respect to the death of Christ, when he presented himself to God as an offering and a sacrifice; and which was done publicly in the sight of great multitudes, and on the behalf of the whole congregation of the Lord’s people, and before him against whom sin is committed, and to whom satisfaction is given.
Ver. 8 . And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats , etc.] Which should be slain, and which should be kept alive, and let go: the manner of casting lots, according to the Misnah f550 , was this; the high priest went to the east of the court, to the north of the altar, the Sagan (or deputy priest) at his right hand, and Rosh Beth Ab (or the chief of the house of the fathers) on his left hand, and the two goats were there; and there was a vessel (box or urn, called Calphi), and in it were two lots of box tree: the high priest shook the Calphi (or urn) and took out the two lots; one, on which was written, “for the Lord”, and the other, on which was written, “for Azazel”; if that came up on the right hand, the Sagan said to him, my lord high priest, lift up thy right hand on high; and if that on the left hand came up, Rosh Beth Ab said to him, my lord high priest, lift up thy left hand on high: he put them upon the two goats and said, a sin offering for the Lord; and they answered after him, blessed be the Lord, may the glory of his kingdom be for ever and ever: now these lots, as Ben Gersom observes, were alike, not one greater than another; and they were of the same matter, for if one had been of stone and the other of wood, they might, have been known by feeling, and so the lots would not have been legal: and the same is observed by Maimonides f551 , that though they might be of any matter, of wood, or stone, or metal, yet one might not be great, and the other small, and the one of silver, and the other of gold, but both alike, for the reason before given: one lot for the Lord, and the other lot for the scapegoat : one had written upon it, as in the above account, “for the Lord”; and the other had written upon it, “for Azazel”; directing that the goat on which the lot for the Lord fell was to be slain and offered up for a sin offering to him; and the other, on which the lot for Azazel fell, was to be kept alive and let go: now, however casual and contingent the casting of a lot may seem to men, it is certain to God, the disposal of it is of him, and according to his determination, ( Proverbs 16:33); and this, in the mystical sense, here denotes, that the sufferings and death of Christ were according to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and so were foretold in the Scriptures, and came to pass according to his appointment, will, and command, as was also his resurrection from the dead, ( John 10:18); (see Acts 1:23 4:28 1 Corinthians 15:3,4); and likewise his conflict with Satan, ( John 14:30,31).
Ver. 9 . And Aaron shall bring the goat on which the Lord’s lot fell , etc.] Alluding to the manner of taking out the lot by the high priest, who, when he took it out, lifted it up with his hand, and then let it down, and put it on the head of the goat; after which he brought it to the altar to be sacrificed: and offer him [for] a sin offering ; an offering for the sins of the people, as a type of Christ, who made his soul an offering for sin for his people; but this was not done by Aaron until he had brought and killed the sin offering for himself; after which we read of killing this sin offering for the people, ( Leviticus 16:11,15); wherefore some take this offering here to be no other than a setting apart or devoting the goat for this service.
Ver. 10 . But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat , etc.] Or for Azazel, of which more hereafter in the latter part of the verse: shall be presented alive before the Lord ; this seems to be a second presentation; both the goats were presented before the Lord before the lots were cast, ( Leviticus 16:7); but this was afterwards, when one of the goats, according to the lot, being presented, was ordered to be killed for a sin offering, and the other according to the lot being presented alive, was ordered to remain so: to make an atonement with him ; to make an atonement for the sins of the people of Israel along with the other, for they both made one sin offering, ( Leviticus 16:6); and this, though spared alive for a while, yet at length was killed; and how, the Jewish writers relate, as will be after observed: [and] to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness ; or, unto Azazel into the wilderness; which, some understand of a mountain in the wilderness called Azazel, to which the Targum of Jonathan has respect, which paraphrases the word, “to send him to die in a place strong and hard, which is in the wilderness of Zuck;” and so Saadiah Gaon, Jarchi, Kimchi, and others; and one in Aben Ezra says, it was near Mount Sinai; but as it is rightly observed by some, was this the name of a mountain, Moses would have called it the mountain Azazel, as he does other mountains by their names: nor is there any account of any such mountain in those parts, by such who have travelled in it, and if near Sinai, it was a long way to send it from Jerusalem; and for which there seems to be no reason, since there were many deserts between those two places: Aben Ezra suggests, there is a secret or mystery in the word Azazel, and says, you may know it and the mystery of his name, for he has companions in Scripture; and I will reveal to you, says he, part of it by a hint, when you are the son of thirty three, you may know its meaning, that is, by reckoning thirty three verses from ( Leviticus 16:8); where this word is first mentioned, which will fall on ( Leviticus 17:7); “they shall no more offer unto devils”; and so R. Menachem interprets Azazel of Samael, the angel of death, the devil, the prince that hath power over desolate places: there are several Christian writers of great note, that understand this of the devil, as Origen f552 , among the ancients; and of the moderns, Cocceius f553 , Witsius f554 , and Spencer f555 , who think that by these two goats is signified the twofold respect of Christ our Mediator; one to God, as a Judge, to whom he made satisfaction by his death; the other to the devil, the enemy with whom he conflicted in life; who, according to prophecy, was to be delivered up to Satan, and have his heel bruised by him; and who was to come, and did come into the wilderness of this world, and when Jerusalem was a desert, and became a Roman province; and who was led by the Spirit into wilderness of Judea, in a literal sense, to be tempted of the devil, and had a sore conflict with him in the garden, when he sweat, as it were, drops of blood; and upon the cross, when he submitted to the death of it; during which time he had the sins of all his people on him, and made an end of them, so as to be seen no more; all which agrees with ( Leviticus 16:21,22); of which see more there; and it must be owned, that no other sense seems so well to agree with the type as this; since the living goat had all the sins of the people on him, and was reckoned so impure, that he that led him into the wilderness stood in need of washing and cleansing, ( Leviticus 16:21,26); whereas, when Christ was raised from the dead, he was clear of all sin, being justified in the Spirit; and in his resurrection there was no impurity, nor could any be reckoned or supposed to belong to him, as Witsius well observes, no, not as the surety of his people; nor in his resurrection was he a sin offering, as this goat was; nor could his ascension to heaven, with any propriety, be represented by this goat being let go into the wilderness: as for the notion of Barabbas, as Origen f556 , being meant by Azazel, or the rebellious people of the Jews, carried into the wilderness, or into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar, and which is the sense of Abarbinel, and in which he is followed by many Christian writers, they need no confutation.
Ver. 11 . And Aaron shall bring the bullock of the sin offering which [is] for himself , etc.] In the same manner, and is to be understood in the same sense as in ( Leviticus 16:6); and shall make atonement for himself and for his house : by a confession of words, as the Targum of Jonathan adds, and which Jarchi calls the second confession; for the same was made, and in the same words as before, (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:6”); and shall kill the bullock of the sin offering which [is] for himself ; which was a type of Christ; the creature itself was, being strong for labour, and patient in bearing the yoke; Christ had a laborious service to perform, the work of man’s redemption, and he was strong for it, able to go through it, and did not only readily take upon him the yoke of the law, and became obedient to every command of his divine Father, but even to death itself, the death of the cross; the kind of sacrifice was a sin offering, and such Christ in soul and body was made for his people; in order to which, as this sacrifice, he was put to death, the use of which was, to atone for all the sins of his mystical self, his body, the church; for all his family, his children, the priests of the Lord.
Ver. 12 . And he shall take a censer , etc.] A fire pan, a sort of chafing dish or perfuming pot; this was a golden one, as appears from ( Hebrews 9:4); hence Christ, the Angel of God’s presence, our interceding High Priest, is said to have such an one, ( Revelation 8:3); and so Josephus says f557 , it was a golden one the high priest used on the day of atonement; with which agree the Misnic doctors f558 , who say, on other days he took off the coals with a silver one, and poured them into a golden one, but on this day he took them off with a golden one: full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the Lord ; these were bright lively coals, not smoking and half extinct; and they were taken from off the altar of burnt offering, from the western side of it, as Jarchi says, which was towards the holy of holies, where the Lord had his dwelling: these burning coals denoted the sufferings of Christ, which were properly punishments for the sins he bore, flowed from the wrath of God comparable to fire, were the curses of a fiery law, and equal to the sufferings of the wicked, often expressed by fire; they were many, and very painful and excruciating, though no ways inconsistent with the love of God to him as his Son, for they were endured by him as the surety of his people, and by which he expressed his flaming love and affection for them: he himself is altar, sacrifice, and priest, the altar which sanctifies the gift; and the coals as on the altar, denote the sufferings of Christ as upon him, which he was able to bear; and the taking off the coals signifies the cessation of his sufferings; and the altar, coals, and taking of them off, being before the Lord and in his sight, show that Christ, as a divine Person, is, and always was before him; that his sufferings were ever in view, being appointed and foretold by him, and when endured were grateful to him, a sacrifice of a sweet smelling savour; and that the cessation of them was in his presence, and according to his will; and Christ now is the Lamb in the midst of the throne, as though he had been slain, where, as such, he is always beheld with pleasure and acceptance by the Lord: and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small ; both his hands, as Aben Ezra, two handfuls of this he took and put into a cup: of this sweet incense and its composition, (see Exodus 30:34-37); this was small itself, but on the evening of the day of atonement it was put into the mortar again, as Jarchi says, and beaten very small, and so was, as expressed in the Misnah f559 , “small of small”: this may represent the intercession of Christ our high priest for his people; for as the prayers of the saints are set before the Lord as incense, ( <19E102> Psalm 141:2); so the intercession and mediation of Christ in favour of the acceptance of their prayers is signified by “much incense”, ( Revelation 8:3); and which is always acceptable to God, and may well be expressed by sweet incense: handfuls of it may denote the largeness of his intercession, being for all the elect of God, and for all things for them they stand in need of; and the infinite perfection and virtue of his person, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, to make his intercession effectual: and being “beaten small” may signify his intercession made for particular persons, and those the meanest, and for particular things of every sort they want; as well as it may point at the fragrance and acceptance of Christ’s mediation on such accounts, the incense being more fragrant the smaller it is beaten: and bring [it] within the vail : not the incense only, but the burning coals of fire also, the one in one hand, and the other in the other hand; so the Misnah f560 ; they brought out to him (the high priest) the cup and the censer; he took his handful and put it into the cup, a large one according to its largeness, and a small one according to its smallness, and so was its measure; he took the censer in his right hand, and the cup in his left, and went into the sanctuary, until he came between the two rails which divide between the holy and holy of holies: this was typical of Christ our high priest, who is entered within the vail into the holiest of all, with his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, where he ever lives to make intercession for us; not that Christ is considered in heaven as in a suffering state, for he is in a most exalted one; but the virtue and efficacy of his sufferings and death always continue, and which he ever improves on the behalf of his people, by interceding for them; and their faith and hope enter within the vail, and deal with him as having suffered for them.
Ver. 13 . And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord , etc.] Both the incense and burning coals of fire being carried within the vail, the incense was put upon the coals, and so it burned before the Lord, whose seat was between the cherubim; and from whence it appears, that this was done, not without but within the vail: the Sadducees under the second temple would have it, that the incense was put upon the fire without the vail, wherefore the high priest, on the evening of this day, was sworn by the messengers of the sanhedrim not to make any alteration in what they should say to him; and this oath was given him in the house of Abtines, where the incense was made, with a special respect to that, since it being within the vail, they could not see it performed: the manner of his performance of this part of his service is thus related; he went in between the rails, till he came to the north; when he was come to the north, he turned his face to the south; he went on his left hand near the vail, till he came to the ark; he put the censer between the two bars, and heaped the incense upon the top of the coals, and the whole house was filled with the smoke; he then went out backwards, and prayed a short prayer in the outward house (the holy place), and he did not continue long in prayer, lest the people of Israel should be frightened f561 : the prayer he made is given us by the Jews f562 : now the incense being put upon the coals may denote the fervour and ardency of Christ’s intercession, and that his sufferings are the foundation of it, on which it proceeds, and are what give it a grateful odour, or make it acceptable to the Lord: and this was done, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that [is] upon the testimony ; where was the Shechinah, or glorious majesty of God, and which was not to be seen, and therefore to be covered after this manner; which shows, that there is no access to God but as upon a seat of mercy and a throne of grace; and even that there is no coming to him upon that, but through the mediation and intercession of Christ: that he die not ; as his sons did, boldly intruding where, and doing what they should not: there is no approaching to God as an absolute God, and live; but through Christ the Mediator, and his intercession, believers may draw nigh and see the face of God in Christ, and live, as Jacob did, ( Genesis 32:30).
Ver. 14 . And he shall take of the blood of the bullock , etc.] When the high priest slew the bullock, the blood was received in a basin, and given to another priest, that he might keep stirring it on a foursquare bench in the temple, that so it might not thicken and congeal f563 , but by a continual motion might become thin and liquid, and fit for sprinkling; and this was doing, while the high priest was gone into the most holy place to offer the incense; which being done, he came out again and took the basin of blood out of the hand of the priest, and went in a second time, and did with it as follows: and sprinkle [it] with his finger upon the mercy seat, eastward ; with his right finger, or forefinger, as the Targum of Jonathan; and the blood sprinkled with it did not fall upon the mercy seat, as our version seems to intimate, but it was sprinkled over against it, towards the upper part of it.
Aben Ezra says, that according to their interpreters, “upon the face of the mercy seat”, as the words may be literally rendered, signifies above, between the two bars, and here it was the high priest stood; for, according to the Misnah f564 , he went in to the place where he had gone in, and stood in the place where he had stood, and then sprinkled, that is, in the same place where he had been and offered the incense; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:13”); and here he stood, not with his face to the east, for then his back must have been to the mercy seat, but he stood with his face to the eastern part of the mercy seat, and there sprinkled the blood upwards: and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times ; besides the first sprinkling that was upward, and those downward; so says the Misnah f565 , he sprinkled of it (the blood) once above, and seven times below; the same Jarchi observes; and the tradition adds, and he did not look in sprinkling neither above nor below; that is, he did not look to the mercy seat, nor was there any need of it, since the blood did not reach the mercy seat, but fell upon the ground; it was enough that it was done before it, and over against it, and with a respect unto it; or otherwise, had it, fallen on it, it would have been besmeared with it, and would not have been so comely and decent: the mystery of this was to represent the blood of Christ, and perfect purification and atonement by it, and that mercy and justice are reconciled to each other, and agree together in the forgiveness of sinners; and that there is no mercy but in a way of justice, no remission of sin, no justification of persons, no salvation for any of the sons of men, but through the blood of Christ, and the complete atonement made thereby.
Ver. 15 . Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering that [is] for the people , etc.] That upon which the lot came for the Lord, ( Leviticus 16:9); the high priest having sprinkled the blood of the bullock, came out of the most holy place, and went into the court of the tabernacle to the altar of burnt offering, and on the north side of that slew the goat for the sin offering, the place where all such were killed; (see Leviticus 1:11 6:25). This was a type of Christ, of his being slain, and made an offering for the sins of his people: and bring his blood within the vail : it being received into a basin, as before the blood of the bullock was, he took it, and with it went in a third time into the most holy place: and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat ; it should be rendered “toward the mercy seat” it is by Noldius f566 ; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:14”).
Ver. 16 . And he shall make an atonement for the holy [place] , etc.] Even the holy of holies, as Aben Ezra interprets it, into which the high priest entered with blood for that purpose; the Targum of Jonathan adds, by a verbal confession, that is, of sin; but atonement was not made in that way, but by the blood of the bullock and goat, which was sprinkled towards the mercy seat, above and below: and this was made because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions in all their sins ; which heap of words shows how many and heinous the sins of the people of Israel were, being defections from God, rebellions against him, transgressions of his law, and which brought pollution and guilt upon them, which could only be expiated by blood; and though the people of Israel did not enter so much as into the holy place, where the priests at times went, and much less into the holiest of all, yet their sins in some sense entered there, and came before the Lord that dwelt there; as the sins of men do even reach up to heaven itself, and cry for wrath and vengeance: and so made the Israelites unworthy of such a favour as for the Lord to dwell among them in that most holy place, in so solemn a manner; and for their high priest to enter there, and consult the oracle of God for them, and make intercession on their account, to which atonement was necessary; even as men by their sins render themselves unworthy of entering into the heavenly state, nor can they, without the atonement and sacrifice of Christ; and to this purification of the patterns of heavenly things; and of the heavenly things or places themselves, the apostle refers, ( Hebrews 9:23,24): and shall he do for the tabernacle of the congregation that remaineth among them, in the midst of their uncleanness ; that is, the court of the tabernacle where the Israelites were admitted, and where they often came in their uncleanness, either ignorantly or presumptuously, and yet notwithstanding the tabernacle remained among them; but, it was necessary that atonement should be made for the uncleanness in it, and around it, that it might continue, and they might have the privilege of coming into it, and worshipping in it. This shows that there are sins of holy things, and which attend the most solemn service, which are committed in the sanctuary of the Lord, and while waiting upon him in his house and ordinances; which must be expiated and removed. The same rites were observed, in making the atonement for this part of the sanctuary, as for the most holy place, particularly by sprinkling the blood in like manner, only, elsewhere; so says Jarchi, as he sprinkled of them both within, that is, of the blood of the bullock, and of the goat, within the vail, once above, and seven times below; so he sprinkled, by the vail without, of both of them, once above, and seven times below.
Ver. 17 . And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation , etc.] Not any of the priests, as Aben Ezra, no, not in the holy place where they ministered, nor in the court of the tabernacle, nor in any of the courts, nor indeed any of the people: all places were cleared when he , the high priest, goeth in to make an atonement in the holy [place] until he come out ; this in the mystery of it was to signify, that atonement for sin is made only by Christ our high priest; he himself, and no other, bore our sins, and he himself purged them away, or by his sacrifice alone expiated them; his own arm wrought salvation, and of the people there were none with him to help and assist him; when he the Shepherd was smitten by the sword of justice, the sheep were scattered, all his disciples forsook him and fled; there were none to appear for him, or stand by him, or in the least to lend an assisting hand in the great work in which he was engaged; he is the only Mediator, between God and man, both of redemption and of intercession; he is the alone Saviour, to him only are sinners to look for salvation, and he is to have all the glory; he had no partner in the work, and he will have no rival in the honour of it: and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household ; his whole family, and all the priests, by the bullock of his sin offering, as Aben Ezra observes, and by carrying in the blood of it within the vail, and sprinkling it there: and for all the congregation of Israel ; by the goat of their sin offering, as the same writer notes, and doing with the blood of that as with the blood of the bullock; all typical of the atonement of Christ for his mystical self the church; for the whole family and household of God; for the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.
Ver. 18 . And he shall go out unto the altar that [is] before the Lord , etc.] The golden altar, the altar of incense, which stood in the holy place without the vail, over against the most holy place, where Jehovah dwelt, and so is said to be before him; of this altar the Misnah understands it, and so do Jarchi and Ben Gersom; and, according to ( Exodus 30:10); once a year Aaron was to make an atonement on the horns of it, with the blood of the sin offering, which plainly refers to this time, the day of atonement; but Aben Ezra is of opinion, that the altar of burnt offering is meant; and Bishop Patrick is inclined to think so too, because he supposes the high priest’s going out signifies his coming from the sanctuary, where the golden altar was, and which had been cleansed, ( Leviticus 16:16); and because, if the altar of burnt offering is not here meant, no care seems to be taken of its cleansing; but it should be observed, that the holy place, ( Leviticus 16:16), means the holy of holies, and not the holy place where the altar of incense stood; and that the altar of burnt offering was atoned for and cleansed, when the tabernacle of the congregation was, in which it stood, and from which, this altar is manifestly distinguished, ( Leviticus 16:20); wherefore the reason given for the altar of burnt offering holds good for the altar of incense, since if that is not intended, no care is taken about it; add to this, that the last account of the high priest was, that he was in the most holy place, and not the holy place, ( Leviticus 16:17); out of which he now came into the holy place, where the altar of incense was: and make an atonement for it ; where incense was daily offered up, signifying the prayers of the saints, which having many failings and imperfections in them, yea, many sins and transgressions attending them, need atonement by the blood of Christ, of which this was a type: and shall take of the blood of the bullock, and of the blood of the goat ; mixed, as the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it; and so Jarchi asks, what is the atonement of it? he takes the blood of the bullock, and the blood of the goat, and mixes them together: the account given of this affair in the Misnah is; he poured the blood of the bullock into the blood of the goat, and then put a full basin into an empty one, that it might be well mixed together: and having so done, he did as follows, and put [it] upon the horns of the altar round about ; upon the four horns which were around it; and it is asked in the Misnah f569 , where did he begin? at the northeast horn, and so to the northwest, and then to the southwest, and (ended) at the southeast; at the place where he began with the sin offering on the outward altar, there he finished on the inward altar, and as he went along he put the blood on each horn, which was the atonement for the altar.
Ver. 19 . And he shall sprinkle of the blood upon it with his finger seven times , etc.] This was done with his right finger, or forefinger, as the Targum of Jonathan, and seven times, to denote the perfect cleansing of the altar with it. Jarchi observes, that after he, the high priest, had put the puttings (of blood) upon the horns of it, he sprinkled of it seven sprinklings on the top of it: the Misnah says f570 , upon the pure place of it, that is, upon a place of it, from whence the coals and ashes were removed, and where the gold appeared: and cleanse it, and hallow it from the uncleanness of the children of Israel ; by sprinkling the blood upon it; Jarchi’s note is, “and cleanse it” from what was past, “and hallow it” for time to come.
Ver. 20 . And when he hath made an end of reconciling the holy [place] , etc.] That is, the holy of holies, by carrying in the blood of the bullock, and of the goat there, and sprinkling them as before observed: and the tabernacle of the congregation ; the great court where the people met, and where the altar of burnt offering stood: and the altar ; the altar of incense in the holy place; and so all the parts of the tabernacle were reconciled and atoned for, even the holy of holies, the holy place, and the court of the people: all the work the day of atonement, we are told f571 , was done according to the order prescribed, and that if anything was done before another, it was doing nothing: thus, for instance, if the blood of the goat went before (or was sprinkled before) the blood of the bullock, he must return and sprinkle of the blood of the goat after the blood of the bullock; and if before he has finished the puttings (of the blood) within, the blood is poured out, (that is, at the bottom of the altar of burnt offering,) he shall bring other blood, and return and sprinkle anew within, and so in the temple, and at the golden altar, for every atonement is by itself: he shall bring the live goat ; that which remained alive after the other was slain, as it was to do, according to the lot that fell upon it, ( Leviticus 16:10); this was brought to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, whither the high priest went, and performed the following rites.
Ver. 21 . And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat , etc.] In this order as the Targum of Jonathan says, his right hand upon his left hand on the head of the live goat; this was done in the name of the people, hereby transferring their sins, and the punishment of them, to it: and confess him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins ; which takes in their sins, greater or lesser, sins of ignorance and presumption, known or not known f572 , even all sorts of and all of them: the form of confession used in after times was this f573 ; O Lord, thy people, the house of Israel, have done perversely, have transgressed sinned berate thee, O Lord, expiate now the iniquities, transgressions, and sins, in which thy people, the house of Israel, have done perversely, transgressed, and sinned before thee, as it is written in the law of Moses thy servant ( Leviticus 16:30); and it is added, and the priests and people that stood in the court, when they heard the name Jehovah go out of the mouth of the high priest, they bowed, and worshipped, and fell upon their faces, and said, blessed be God, let the glory of his kingdom be for ever and ever: putting them upon the head of the goat ; that is, the iniquities, transgressions, and sins of the people of Israel before confessed, and that by confession of them, with imposition of hands; and which was typical of the imputation of the sins of the people of God to Christ, of the Lord laying, or causing to meet on him the iniquities of them all, and of his being made sin by imputation for them: and shall send [him] away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness ; whether the wilderness of Judea, or what other is intended, is not certain.
The Targum of Jonathan calls it the wilderness of Zuck; which, according to the Misnah f574 , was three miles from Jerusalem, at the entrance of the wilderness; and whereas in another Misnah f575 , instead of Bethchadudo, Bethhoron is mentioned, which is said also to be three miles from Jerusalem: it is not an improbable conjecture of Dr. Lightfoot f576 , that the goat was sent in the way to Bethhoron, which was the same distance from Jerusalem as the other place was, in the northern coast of Judea, and had very rough hills about it, and a narrow passage to it. The man, by whom he was sent, was one fit for the purpose, that knew the way to the wilderness, and was acquainted with it; a man of years and understanding, and of a disposition suitable for such a service; the Septuagint version renders it one that was “ready”; and the Targums, one that was “prepared” to go, or “appointed”, and got ready; Jarchi says, the day before; but the Targum of Jonathan a year ago: perhaps it designs one, that being once appointed, was continued, and so was used to it from time to time, and constantly did it: the phrase properly signifies “a man of time” or “opportunity” f577 ; Aben Ezra finds fault with those who render it a wise man, but observes, that some of their Rabbins say it was a priest that led the goat to the wilderness, which he approves of; according to the Misnah f578 , all were fit for this service (formerly common and unclean), but what the high priest did (afterwards) was fixed, and they did not suffer an Israelite to lead him (i.e. a common Israelite, one that was not a priest); according to the Talmud f579 , even a stranger, and an unclean person, was fit for this service. In the mystical sense, by this fit man, or man of opportunity, is not meant, according to Abarbinel, Nebuchadnezzar, who led the children of Israel into the wilderness of the people, into the Babylonish captivity; but rather, if it could be understood of Christ being sent, and carried into the wilderness of the Gentile world, upon his resurrection and ascension to heaven, the Apostle Paul might be thought of; who was a chosen vessel to carry his name there, and was eminently the apostle of the Gentiles: but seeing by Azazel, to whom this goat was let go, Satan seems to be meant; if, as some think f580 , Christ was baptized on the day of atonement, and on that day was led by the Spirit to the wilderness of Judea, there to be tempted of the devil, that might be considered as a very singular accomplishment of the type; and the Jews seem to expect the Messiah on the day of atonement f581 : or rather, as Witsius observes, the hand of the fit man may denote the power that rose up against Christ, namely, the Gentiles and the people of Israel, and particularly Pilate, who took care that Christ, burdened with the cross, an emblem of the curse, should be led without the gate, where he had his last conflict with the devil; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:10”). This is applied to Pilate by Origen f583 .
Ver. 22 . And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited , etc.] Where it would never be seen, and from whence it would never return more; and so was a proper type of Christ, who has borne all the sins of all his people in his own body on the cross, and all the punishment due unto them; and so has made full satisfaction for them, and has removed them from them, as far as the east is from the west, and out of the sight of avenging justice; so that when they are sought they shall not be found, nor shall they ever return unto them, or be brought against them any more; (see Isaiah 53:12 1 Peter 2:24 Zechariah 3:9) ( <19A312> Psalm 103:12 Jeremiah 50:20): and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness ; that is, the man that was appointed to have him thither; and so the Targum of Jonathan, “and the man shall let go the goat into the wilderness of Zuck; and the goat shall go upon the mountains of Beth Chadure (or Chadudo), and a tempestuous wind from the Lord shall drive him down, and he shall die.”
The manner of conducting this whole affair was this; they made for him a causeway (i.e. for the man that had the goat committed to his care, to have it out of the court, and out of the city), because of the Babylonians, who would pluck him by the hair, and say, Get out, begone, get out, begone.
The nobles of Jerusalem accompanied him to the first booth, for there were ten booths from Jerusalem to Zuck, which were ninety furlongs, seven and a half to every mile; at every (i.e. twelve miles) at every booth they said to him, Lo food, lo water, and they accompanied him from booth to booth, excepting the last of them; for there was not one went with him to Zuck, but stood afar off, and observed what he did: what did he do? he parted a scarlet line, half of it he bound to the rock, and half of it he bound between his horns (the goat’s), and pushed him backwards, and he rolled and went down, but before he came half way down the mountain he was dashed to pieces; then he (the man) went and sat under the last booth until it was dark--they said to the high priest, the goat is got to the wilderness; but from whence did they know that the goat was got to the wilderness? they made watchtowers or beacons, and they waved linen cloths, and so knew when the goat was come to the Wilderness f584 . But the Scripture is entirely silent about the death of this goat, though it no doubt died in the wilderness, only says that it was let go, and was at liberty to go where it would; intimating that the people of Israel were free from all their sins, and they should be no more seen nor remembered; typical of the deliverance and freedom of the people of God from all their sins by Christ. This affair was imitated by Satan among the Heathens, particularly the Egyptians, as has been observed by many out of Herodotus f585 ; who relates, that they used to imprecate many things upon the head of a beast slain for sacrifice, and then carried it to market, where were Grecian merchants, to whom they sold it; but if there were none, they cast it into the river, execrating the head after this manner, that if any evil was to befall either themselves that sacrificed, or all Egypt, it might be turned upon that head. And on account of this custom, which obtained among all the Egyptians, no one among them would ever taste the head of any animal; which Plutarch also affirms, who says, that having made an execration upon the head of the sacrifice, and cut it off, formerly they cast it into the river, but now they give it to strangers. And a like custom obtained among other nations, as the Massilians and Grecians f587 .
Ver. 23 . And Aaron shall come into the tabernacle of the congregation , etc.] Having been into the most holy place a fourth time, as the Jews say, to fetch out the censer and the incense cup; wherefore the Jewish writers observe, that this verse is not in its proper place; so Jarchi from the Rabbins says, the whole section is in its order, excepting this, which was after the sacrifice of his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people; and the burning the inwards of the bullock and the goat, which were done without in the golden garments; and then he dipped himself, and washed his hands and feet, and stripped and put on the white garments, and went in to fetch the incense cup and the censer, with which he offered in the inmost place (the holy of holies): and shall put off the linen garments which he put on when he went into the holy [place] ; the holy of holies, that is, as Jarchi interprets it, after he had brought it (the censer) out, then he clothed himself with the golden garments for the daily evening sacrifice; and this was the order of the services (on the day of atonement); the daily morning sacrifice (was performed) in the golden garments; the service of the bullock and of the goat, and the incense of the censer, in the white garments; and his ram, and the ram of the people, and some of the additions, in the golden garments; and the bringing out of the incense cup and the censer in the white garments; and the rest of the additions, and the daily evening sacrifice, and the incense of the temple, on the inward altar, in golden garments; and the order of the Scripture, according to the services, so it was: and shall leave them there ; in one of the chambers of the tabernacle, as afterwards, in the temple, where they were laid up, never to be used more, as say the Jewish writers, Ben Gersom, and others; hence we learn, says Jarchi, that they were obliged to be laid up, and he, the high priest, might not minister in these four garments on another day of atonement.
Ver. 24 . And he shall wash his flesh with water in the holy place , etc.] In the court of the tabernacle of the congregation, where, as Aben Ezra says, they spread fine linen for him; Jarchi says, it was a place on the roof of the house of Parvah, where all the dippings and washings were made, except the first; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:4”); and this washing was no other than the dipping of his whole body in water; and if our Lord was baptized on this day, as some have thought, before observed, whose baptism was by dipping, ( Matthew 3:16,17); there will appear in this a great likeness between the type and the antitype: and put on his garments and come forth ; put on his golden garments, and come out of the place where he had washed himself, to the court, where was the altar of burnt offering: all which may be an emblem of Christ’s putting off the pure and spotless garment of the flesh, in which he appeared in a low estate, and made atonement for sin; and of his burial, which the washing of the flesh may point at, being what was used of the dead, and which washing in baptism is a figure of; and of his resurrection from the dead, when God gave him glory, and he appeared in a glorious body, signified by his golden garments put on again: and offer his burnt offering, and the burnt offering of the people ; his ram, and the people’s ram, and the bullock of the people, and their seven lambs, as it is written, ( Numbers 29:8); so Aben Ezra, first his own, and then the people’s, which order was before observed in the sin offerings: and make an atonement for himself, and for the people ; which though properly made by the sin offerings, and the carrying the blood of them into the most holy place, yet these were the completing of it, being the last of the services peculiar to the day of atonement: the service performed by the high priest after the sending away the goat into the wilderness was this; he read this “sixteenth” chapter of Leviticus, and ( Leviticus 23:27-32), if he read in linen garments, he washed his hands and his feet, he stripped himself, went down and dipped himself, and came up and wiped himself; then they brought him the golden garments, and he put them on, and washed his hands and his feet, and went out and offered his ram, and the people’s ram, and the seven perfect lambs of a year old; then he washed his hands and his feet, and stripped and went down and dipped, and came up and wiped himself; then they brought him the white garments, and he put them on, and washed his hands and his feet, and went into the holy of holies to fetch out the incense cup and the censer; then he washed his hands and his feet, and stripped, and went down and dipped, and came up and wiped himself; then they brought him the golden garments, and he put them on, and he washed his hands and his feet, and went in (to the holy place) to offer the evening incense, and to him the lamps; and then he washed his hands and his feet, and stripped; and they brought him his own garments (what he usually wore when out of service), and he put them on; and they accompanied him to his house, where he made a feast for his friends, because he was come out of the sanctuary in safety f588 : where, it seems, sometimes some died, and others became sick by getting cold through frequent shifting of their clothes and washing, and wearing thin linen garments.
Ver. 25 . And the fat of the sin offering shall he burn upon the altar .] The brazen altar of burnt offering, and so says Jarchi, on the outward altar; for of the inward (i.e. the altar of incense) it is written, ye shall not offer upon it strange incense, nor a burnt offering, nor a meat offering; and this fat he explains to be what was on the inwards of both the bullock and the goat; and so says Aben Ezra, the fat of the bullock for the sin offering, and the fat of the goat for a sin offering, and also the fat of the kid of the goat, which, was a sin offering for the priest, ( Numbers 29:11); this fat was burnt at the same time the burnt offerings were offered in ( Leviticus 16:24).
Ver. 26 . And he that let go the goat for the scapegoat , etc.] Or unto Azazel; who or what Azazel is, (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:10”) and (see Gill on “ Leviticus 16:21”); for the goat and Azazel are different, not the same, nor to be confounded as they are in our version: shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water ; in forty seahs of water, according to the Targum of Jonathan; so unclean was this person reckoned by what he had to do with the goat sent away by him; which, in a typical and ceremonial sense, had all the sins of the people of Israel on it: and he and his garments were defiled as soon as he could be said to be letting go; and that was, as Gersom says, as soon as he was out of the city; for as long as he was in the city he was in the place from whence the motion was made, but as soon as he was out of it he was in the way, and then he began to be in that motion, and might be then called, “he that let him go”: and from that time the clothes he had on were defiled; according to the Misnah f589 , from the time he was got without the walls of Jerusalem: and afterwards come into the camp ; of Israel, while in the wilderness, and into the city in later times, and so into the sanctuary, and enjoyed all civil and religious privileges as another man: and something like this obtained among the Heathens, as has been observed by many learned men, particularly out of Porphyry f590 ; who says, all divines agree in this, that such sacrifices as were offered for averting evils were not to be touched, but such needed purifications; nor might any such an one go into the city; nor into his own house, before he had washed his clothes and his body in a river or in a fountain: all this may be an emblem of those who were concerned in having Christ without the gates of Jerusalem to be crucified, and who afterwards, being sensible of their sin, not only had forgiveness of it and were washed from it in the blood of Christ, but, being baptized in water, were admitted into the church of God, ( Acts 2:37,38); and in general may show the nature of sin, that such who have anything to do with any who have it on them, though only in a ceremonial way, are defiled by it, and need washing; and also the imperfection of ceremonial rites and sacrifices to take away sin.
Ver. 27 . And the bullock [for] the sin offering, and the goat [for] the sin offering , etc.] The one for Aaron and his family, the other for the people of Israel, of which (see Leviticus 16:5,6,9,11,15); whose blood was brought in to make an atonement in the holy [place] ; the holy of holies, where it was brought and sprinkled, as directed in ( Leviticus 16:14,15); shall [one] carry forth without the camp ; by command, as Aben Ezra observes; by the order of the high priest; and, perhaps, more than one was employed to carry out those carcasses, they being too large for one man, and as it seems from a following clause; and the Targum of Jonathan is, “they shall be carried out on staves by the hands of the junior priests;” so Jarchi says f591 , four men carried two staves, two before and two behind, and they went staff by staff, and the bullock and the goat were upon them, and they carried them one upon another: this was done after the high priest had done to them what was necessary; for so it is said, he went to the bullock and to the goat that were to be burnt; he ripped them up and took out their inwards, and put them in a bowl, and offered them on the top of the altar; and cut them with cuttings (made incisions into the flesh of them, but did not part it), and ordered them to be carried out to the place of burning, which was without the camp of Israel, and afterwards without the city of Jerusalem: the mystery of this, and the application of it to Christ, setting forth the nature and place of Christs sufferings, are fully and largely expressed by the apostle in ( Hebrews 13:11-13); and they shall burn in the fire their skins, and their flesh, and their dung ; the priests, as Aben Ezra; for there were more than one concerned, as in carrying them out, so in the burning of them: the high priest was not concerned in it, for while these were burning he was reading, as observed on ( Leviticus 16:24); so that he that saw, the high priest when he was reading, saw not the bullock and the goat when they were burnt; and he that saw the bullock and the goat burnt, saw not the high priest when he read; not because it was not lawful, but because the way was distant, and the business of both was done together f592 : this was done in a place called the place of ashes f593 , where the ashes of the altar of burnt offering were carried; (see Gill on “ Leviticus 4:11-12”).
Ver. 28 . And he that burneth them shall wash his clothes, and bathe his flesh in water , etc.] In forty seahs of water, as the Targum of Jonathan; that is, everyone of those that burnt them, as Aben Ezra observes; for these being sin offerings, and had a connection with the sins of men, for whom they were offered, the persons concerned in the carrying and burning of them were equally defiled, and needed washing, as the man that led and let go the goat into the wilderness: and afterwards he shall come into the camp ; and have the liberty of conversation with men in civil and religious things, but not till evening; so long he was defiled; and according to the Misnah from the time they got without the walls of the court; and after washing and bathing, and when the evening was come, they were clean; and might go where they pleased.
Ver. 29 . And [this] shall be a statute for ever unto you , etc.] As long as the Aaronic priesthood was in being, and the Levitical dispensation lasted, until: the true Messiah came and put an end to all these rites and ceremonies; until that time this service was to be performed by the high priest in succession every year: [that] in the seventh month ; the month Tisri, as the Targum of Jonathan explains it, which answers to part of our September, and was the seventh month from the month Abib or Nisan, answering to part of our March; which was appointed the first month, upon the Israelites coming out of Egypt in that month, and for that reason; otherwise this seventh month, or Tisri, was the first month of the year before, and, indeed, continued to be so notwithstanding, with respect to things civil: on the tenth [day] of the month ; on which day, the Jews say f595 , Moses descended from the mount the second time, with the tables of the law, and the tidings of forgiveness of the sin of the calf; wherefore this day is thought to be appointed a day of affliction and humiliation for that and all other sins, and for the atonement of them, and on this day the jubilee trumpet was blown, ( Leviticus 25:9); ye shall afflict your souls ; not only by humiliation of the heart for sin, and by repentance of it, and by turning from their evil ways, but by corporeal fasting, which is chiefly meant by the affliction of their souls; so the Targum of Jonathan explains it, by abstaining from eating and from drinking, and from the use of baths, and from anointing, and from the use of shoes, and of the marriage bed; and so it is said in the Misnah f596 , on the day of atonement, eating and drinking, and washing, and anointing, and putting on of the shoes, and the use of the bed, are forbidden; whoever eats the quantity of a gross date with its kernels, or drinks a mouthful (as much as he can hold in his jaws), is guilty: they do not afflict children on the day of atonement, but they train them up a year or two before, that they may be inured to the command; hence this day, in ( Acts 27:9) is called “the fast”: and do no work at all ; no bodily work, for it was in that respect a sabbath, as it is afterwards called; the Jewish canon is, he that ate and did any work was guilty of two sins, or was obliged to two sin offerings f597 : [whether it be] one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you ; whether a native of the land of Israel, that was born there, and of parents who were Israelites, or one that was a proselyte to the Jewish religion, a proselyte of righteousness, as Ben Gersom interprets it; this law concerning fasting and abstinence from all servile work on the day of atonement was binding on the one as on the other.
Ver. 30 . For on that day shall [the priest] make an atonement for you to cleanse you , etc.] By offering the sin offering for them; typical of the sacrifice of Christ, whose soul was made an offering for sin whereby atonement is made for it, and whose blood cleanses from all sin. Though the word “priest” is not in the text, it is rightly supplied, as it is by Aben Ezra, for by no other could, a sacrifice be offered, or atonement made; and on the day of atonement only by the high priest, who was a type of Christ our high priest, who has by his sacrifice made reconciliation for sin, and by himself has purged from it: [that] ye may be clean from all your sins before the Lord ; which is a general phrase, as Aben Ezra observes, and may be understood of sins of ignorance and presumption; as Christ by his blood and sacrifice has cleansed all his people from all their sins of every sort, so that they stand pure and clean, unblamable and unreproveable, before the throne of God, and in his sight; (see Colossians 1:22 Revelation 14:5).
Ver. 31 . It [shall be] a sabbath of rest unto you , etc.] From all servile work, as before observed; typical of a cessation from the performance of sinful works, at least from a sinful course of life, and from a dependence on works of righteousness, when a man is brought to believe in Christ, and in the atonement which he has made, (see Hebrews 4:3,10): and ye shall afflict your souls by a statute for ever : as long as the ceremonial law, and its statutes and ordinances lasted, which were to be until the time of reformation; and till that time came, once a year, on the day of atonement, they were to keep a severe fast, here called an afflicting of their souls; and in this respect this day differed from the seventh day sabbath, which was rather a festival than a fast, and is what led some of the Heathen writers into that this take, that the Jews fasted on the sabbath day. The time of Christ’s sufferings, and of his being a sacrifice for the sins of his people, was a time of great affliction to his disciples; then it was the children of the bridegroom fasted, he being taken from them; and true humiliation for sin, and repentance of it, are occasioned and influenced by a view of a suffering Saviour, and atonement by him; and this may denote also, that such that believe in Christ, and in his atonement, must expect afflictions and troubles in this world.
Ver. 32 . And the priest whom he shall anoint , etc.] Whom God shall anoint, or shall be anointed, that shall succeed in the high priesthood, as Aaron’s sons did, the eldest of them, and none but such were anointed: and whom he shall consecrate ; or fill his hands, by putting the sacrifices into them; (see Gill on “ Exodus 28:41”) and (see Gill on “ Exodus 29:9”) (see Gill on “ Exodus 29:24”); by which, and by anointing him, and clothing him with the priestly garments, he was consecrated and installed into his office, in order to minister in the priest’s office, in his father’s stead : a son of an high priest was always preferred to any other, and to him it of right belonged to succeed his father in his office: and such an one, thus consecrated, shall make the atonement ; on this day of atonement; not a common priest, but the high priest only; so Jarchi observes, this expiation of the day of atonement was not right but by an high priest; for the whole section is said concerning Aaron, and therefore it must needs be said of an high priest that comes after him, that should be as he was: and shall put on the linen clothes, [even] the holy garments : that is, on the day of atonement; in which clothes all the service peculiar to that day, as it was done by Aaron, so it was to be done by all his successors.
Ver. 33 . And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary , etc.] The holy of holies, just in the same manner as Aaron had done, ( Leviticus 16:16,20); and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation ; the court of the tabernacle, and the holy place, and all in them, as Aaron did, in the places referred and for the altar ; (see Leviticus 16:18,20): and he shall make an atonement for the priests ; for himself and for his family, and for all the priests, as Aaron did by his bullock of the sin offering, ( Leviticus 16:6,11,17): and for all the people of the congregation of Israel ; the whole body of the Israelites, and with them the Levites, as Aben Ezra observes, for they are not called priests; indeed every priest was a Levite, but not every Levite a priest; wherefore these were included not among the priests, but in the congregation of Israel. These several atonements, according to Ben Gersom, were separate and distinct, and did not hinder one another, or interfere with one another.
Ver. 34 . And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you , etc.] Which is the third time of its being observed, (see Leviticus 16:29,31), to show that this was a law of considerable moment, and to be taken notice of, and strictly and closely kept by the priests, to whom these words are directed, and on whom the chief service of the day lay: to make atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year ; namely, on the tenth day of the seventh month, or Tisri, as before directed: and he did as the Lord commanded Moses ; that is, Aaron did, as the Targum of Jonathan, Aben Ezra, and Ben Gersom supply it; when the day of atonement came, as Jarchi expresses it, he did according to this order, to fulfil the decree of the king, even the King of kings; whose will it was that such a day should be yearly observed, and such and such rules performed in it; so very significant of Christ, and of the atonement to be made by him, and which has been made.