Ordination of the Priests
1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses:#sn Lev 8 is the fulfillment account of the ordination legislation recorded in Exod 29, and is directly connected to the command to ordain the tabernacle and priesthood in Exod 40:1-16 as well as the partial record of its fulfillment in Exod 40:17-38. 2 “Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, the anointing oil, the sin offering bull, the two rams, and the basket of unleavened bread, 3 and assemble the whole congregation at the entrance of the Meeting Tent.”#sn For “tent of meeting” see the note on Lev 1:1 above. 4 So Moses did just as the Lord commanded him, and the congregation assembled at the entrance of the Meeting Tent. 5 Then Moses said to the congregation: “This is what the Lord has commanded to be done.”
6 So Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water. 7 Then he#sn Here Moses actually clothes Aaron (cf. v. 13 below for Aaron’s sons). Regarding the various articles of clothing see J. E. Hartley, Leviticus (WBC), 111-12 and esp. J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:501-13. put the tunic#sn The term “tunic” refers to a shirt-like garment worn next to the skin and, therefore, put on first (cf. Exod 28:4, 39-40; 29:5, 8; 39:27). Traditionally this has been translated “coat” (so KJV, ASV), but that English word designates an outer garment. on Aaron,#tn Heb “on him”; the referent (Aaron) has been specified in the translation for clarity. wrapped the sash around him,#tn Heb “girded him with the sash” (so NASB); NCV “tied the cloth belt around him.”sn The sash fastened the tunic around the waist (Exod 28:4, 39; 29:9; 39:29). and clothed him with the robe.#sn The robe was a long shirt-like over-garment that reached down below the knees. Its hem was embroidered with pomegranates and golden bells around the bottom (Exod 28:4, 31-35; 29:5; 39:22-26). Next he put the ephod on him#sn The ephod was an apron like garment suspended from shoulder straps. It draped over the robe and extended from the chest down to the thighs (Exod 28:4, 6-14, 25-28; 29:5; 39:2-7). and placed on him#tn Heb “girded him with.” the decorated band of the ephod, and fastened the ephod closely to him with the band.#sn The decorated band of the ephod served as a sort of belt around Aaron’s body that would hold the ephod closely to him rather than allowing it to hang loosely across his front (Exod 28:8, 27; 29:5; 39:5, 20). 8 He then set the breastpiece#sn The breastpiece was made of the same material as the ephod and was attached to it by means of gold rings and chains on its four corners (Exod 28:15-30; 29:5; 39:8-21). It had twelve stones attached to it (representing the twelve tribes of Israel), and a pocket in which the Urim and Thummim were kept (see following). on him and put the Urim and Thummim#sn The Urim and Thummim were two small objects used in the casting of lots to discern the will of God (see Exod 28:30; Num 27:21; Deut 33:8; 1 Sam 14:41 in the LXX and 28:6; Ezra 2:63 and Neh 7:65). It appears that by casting them one could obtain a yes or no answer, or no answer at all (1 Sam 28:6; J. E. Hartley, Leviticus [WBC], 111-12). See the extensive discussion in J. Milgrom, Leviticus (AB), 1:507-11. into the breastpiece. 9 Finally, he set the turban#tn Although usually thought to be a “turban” (and so translated by the majority of English versions) this object might be only a “turban-like headband” wound around the forehead area (HALOT 624 s.v. מִצְנֶפֶת).sn The turban consisted of wound-up linen (cf. Exod 28:4, 37, 39; 29:6; 39:31; Lev 16:4). on his head and attached the gold plate, the holy diadem,#sn The gold plate was attached as a holy diadem to the front of the turban by means of a blue cord, and had written on it “Holy to the Lord” (Exod 28:36-37; 39:30-31). This was a particularly important article of high priestly clothing in that it served as the main emblem indicating Aaron’s acceptable representation of Israel before the Lord (Exod 28:38). to the front of the turban just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Anointing the Tabernacle and Aaron, and Clothing Aaron’s Sons
10 Then Moses took the anointing oil and anointed the tabernacle and everything in it, and so consecrated them.#sn The expression “and consecrated it” refers to the effect of the anointing earlier in the verse (cf. “to consecrate them/him” in vv. 11 and 12). “To consecrate” means “to make holy” or “make sacred”; i.e., put something into the category of holy/sacred as opposed to common/profane (see Lev 10:10 below). Thus, the person or thing consecrated is put into the realm of God’s holy things. 11 Next he sprinkled some of it on the altar seven times and so anointed the altar, all its vessels, and the wash basin and its stand to consecrate them. 12 He then poured some of the anointing oil on the head of Aaron and anointed him to consecrate him. 13 Moses also brought forward Aaron’s sons, clothed them with tunics, wrapped sashes around them,#tc The MT has here “sash” (singular), but the context is clearly plural and Smr has it in the plural.tn Heb “girded them with sashes” (so NAB, NASB); NRSV “fastened sashes around them.” and wrapped headbands on them#tn Heb “wrapped headdresses to them”; cf. KJV “bonnets”; NASB, TEV “caps”; NIV, NCV “headbands”; NAB, NLT “turbans.”sn Notice that the priestly garments of Aaron’s sons are quite limited compared to those of Aaron himself, the high priest (cf. vv. 7-9 above). The terms for “tunic” and “sash” are the same but not the headgear (cf. Exod 28:40; 29:8-9; 39:27-29). just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
14 Then he brought near the sin offering bull#sn See Lev 4:3-12 above for the sin offering of the priests. In this case, however, the blood manipulation is different because Moses, not Aaron (and his sons), is functioning as the priest. On the one hand, Aaron and his sons are, in a sense, treated as if they were commoners so that the blood manipulation took place at the burnt offering altar in the court of the tabernacle (see v. 15 below), not at the incense altar inside the tabernacle tent itself (contrast Lev 4:5-7 and compare 4:30). On the other hand, since it was a sin offering for the priests, therefore, the priests themselves could not eat its flesh (Lev 4:11-12; 6:30 [23 HT]), which was the normal priestly practice for sin offerings of commoners (Lev 6:26, 29). and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the sin offering bull, 15 and he slaughtered it.#sn Contrary to some English versions (e.g., NAB, NASB, NIV, NLT), Aaron (not Moses) most likely slaughtered the bull, possibly with the help of his sons, although the verb is singular, not plural. Moses then performed the ritual procedures that involved direct contact with the altar. Compare the pattern in Lev 1:5-9, where the offerer does the slaughtering and the priests perform the procedures that involve direct contact with the altar. In Lev 8 Moses is functioning as the priest in order to consecrate the priesthood. The explicit reintroduction of the name of Moses as the subject of the next verb seems to reinforce this understanding of the passage (cf. also vv. 19 and 23 below). Moses then took the blood and put it all around on the horns of the altar with his finger and decontaminated the altar,#tn The verb is the Piel of חָטָא (khata’, “to sin”) and means “to de-sin” the altar. This verse is important for confirming the main purpose of the sin offering, which was to decontaminate the tabernacle and its furniture from any impurities. See the note on Lev 4:3. and he poured out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar and so consecrated it to make atonement on it.#tn Similar to v. 10 above, “and consecrated it” refers to the effect of the blood manipulation earlier in the verse. The goal here was to consecrate the altar in order that it might become a place on which it would be appropriate “to make atonement” before the Lord. 16 Then he#tn Again, Aaron probably performed the slaughter and collected the fat parts (v. 16a), but Moses presented it all on the altar (v. 16b; cf. the note on v. 15 above). took all the fat on the entrails, the protruding lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and their fat,#sn See Lev 3:3-4 for the terminology of fat and kidneys here. and Moses offered it all up in smoke on the altar,#tn Heb “toward the altar” (see the note on Lev 1:9). 17 but the rest of the bull – its hide, its flesh, and its dung – he completely burned up#tn Heb “he burned with fire,” an expression which is sometimes redundant in English, but here means “burned up,” “burned up entirely.” outside the camp just as the Lord had commanded Moses.#sn See Lev 4:11-12, 21; 6:30 [23 HT].
18 Then he presented the burnt offering ram and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram, 19 and he slaughtered it.#tn Aaron probably did the slaughtering (cf. the notes on Lev 8:15-16 above). Moses then splashed the blood against the altar’s sides. 20 Then he#tn Again, Aaron probably cut the ram up into parts (v. 20a), but Moses presented them on the altar (v. 20b; cf. the note on v. 15 above). cut the ram into parts,#tn Heb “cut it into its parts.” One could translate here, “quartered it” (J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:133; cf. Lev 1:6, 12 above). and Moses offered the head, the parts, and the suet up in smoke, 21 but the entrails and the legs he washed with water,#tn Again, Aaron probably did the washing (v. 21a), but Moses presented the portions on the altar (v. 21b; cf. the note on v. 15 above). and Moses offered the whole ram up in smoke on the altar – it was a burnt offering for a soothing aroma, a gift to the Lord, just as the Lord had commanded Moses.#tn See Lev 1:9, 13.
22 Then he presented the second ram, the ram of ordination,#tn For “ordination offering” see Lev 7:37 and Aaron and his sons laid their hands on the head of the ram 23 and he slaughtered it.#tn Again, Aaron probably did the slaughtering (cf. the notes on Lev 8:15-16 above). Moses then took some of its blood and put it on Aaron’s right earlobe,#tn Heb “on the lobe of the ear of Aaron, the right one.” on the thumb of his right hand, and on the big toe#tn The term for “big toe” (בֹּהֶן, bohen) is the same as that for “thumb.” It refers to the larger appendage on either the hand or the foot. of his right foot. 24 Next he brought Aaron’s sons forward, and Moses put some of the blood on their right earlobes, on their right thumbs, and on the big toes of their right feet, and Moses splashed the rest of the blood against the altar’s sides.
25 Then he took the fat (the fatty tail,#tn See Lev 3:9. all the fat on the entrails, the protruding lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys and their fat#tn See Lev 8:16.) and the right thigh,#tn See Lev 7:32-34. 26 and from the basket of unleavened bread that was before the Lord he took one unleavened loaf, one loaf of bread mixed with olive oil, and one wafer,#tn See Lev 2:4. and placed them on the fat parts and on the right thigh. 27 He then put all of them on the palms#sn The “palms” refer to the up-turned hands, positioned in such a way that the articles of the offering could be placed on them. of Aaron and his sons, who waved#tn Heb “and he waved.” The subject of the verb “he waved” is Aaron, but Aaron’s sons also performed the action (see “Aaron and his sons” just previously). See the similar shifts from Moses to Aaron as the subject of the action above (vv. 15, 16, 19, 20, 23), and esp. the note on Lev 8:15. In the present translation this is rendered as an adjectival clause (“who waved”) to indicate that the referent is not Moses but Aaron and his sons. Cf. CEV “who lifted it up”; NAB “whom he had wave” (with “he” referring to Moses here). them as a wave offering before the Lord.#sn See Lev 7:30-31, 34. 28 Moses then took them from their palms and offered them up in smoke on the altar#tn Heb “toward the altar” (see the note on Lev 1:9). on top of the burnt offering – they were an ordination offering for a soothing aroma; it was a gift to the Lord. 29 Finally, Moses took the breast and waved it as a wave offering before the Lord from the ram of ordination. It was Moses’ share just as the Lord had commanded Moses.
Anointing Aaron, his Sons, and their Garments
30 Then Moses took some of the anointing oil and some of the blood which was on the altar and sprinkled it on Aaron and his garments, and on his sons and his sons’ garments with him. So he consecrated Aaron, his garments, and his sons and his sons’ garments with him. 31 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons, “Boil the meat at the entrance of the Meeting Tent, and there you are to eat it and the bread which is in the ordination offering basket, just as I have commanded,#tn Several major ancient versions have the passive form of the verb (see BHS v. 31 note c; cf. Lev 8:35; 10:13). In that case we would translate, “just as I was commanded.” saying, ‘Aaron and his sons are to eat it,’ 32 but the remainder of the meat and the bread#tn Heb “but the remainder in the flesh and in the bread”; NAB, CEV “what is left over”; NRSV “what remains.” you must burn with fire. 33 And you must not go out from the entrance of the Meeting Tent for seven days, until the day when your days of ordination are completed, because you must be ordained over a seven-day period.#tn Heb “because seven days he shall fill your hands”; KJV “for seven days shall he consecrate you”; CEV “ends seven days from now.” sn It is apparent that the term for “ordination offering” (מִלֻּאִים, millu’im; cf. Lev 7:37 and the note there) is closely related to the expression “he shall fill (Piel מִלֵּא, mille’) your hands” in this verse. Some derive the terminology from the procedure in Lev 8:27-28, but the term for “hands” there is actually “palms.” It seems more likely that it derives from the notion of putting the priestly responsibilities (or possibly its associated prebends) under their control (i.e., “filling their hands” with authority; see J. Milgrom, Leviticus [AB], 1:538-39). The command “to keep the charge of the Lord” in v. 35 and the expression “by the hand of Moses” (i.e., under the authoritative hand of Moses, v. 36) may also support this interpretation. 34 What has been done#tn Heb “just as he has done” (cf. the note on v. 33). on this day the Lord has commanded to be done#tn Heb “the Lord has commanded to do” (cf. the note on v. 33). to make atonement for you. 35 You must reside at the entrance of the Meeting Tent day and night for seven days and keep the charge of the Lord so that you will not die, for this is what I have been commanded.” 36 So Aaron and his sons did all the things the Lord had commanded through#tn Heb “by the hand of” (so KJV). Moses.