Regulations as to the priests‘ services. The garments of the priests are defined and various rules prescribed in the Law are repeated with some additions in order to denote additional care to avoid uncleanness.
The material of which the four vestments of the ordinary priest were made was “linen,” or, more accurately, “byssus,” the cotton stuff of Egypt. The two special qualities of the byssus - white and shining - are characteristic, and on them part of the symbolic meaning depended. Compare Revelation 19:8.
They shall not sanctify the people - They shall not touch the people with their holy garments. The word “sanctify” is used because the effect of touching was to separate as holy the persons or things so touched (Exodus 29:37; Exodus 30:29; compare Leviticus 6:18). The priests wore the distinctive dress, only while performing in the temple strictly sacrificial services.
The holy chambers; see Ezekiel 42:1 ff.
Restrictions and exceptions intended to mark the holiness of the office of a priest, imposing on him additional (compare the marginal reference) obligations to purity, and communicating it in some degree to his wife. In the Christian Church all the members are “priests” 1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 20:6. Hence, the directions for maintaining the holiness of the “priesthood” in the new order, represent the necessity for holiness in all Christians, and the exclusion of the “uncircumcised in heart and in flesh” is equivalent to the exclusion of “all that defileth” from the New Jerusalem Revelation 21:27.
There was in Herod‘s Temple a council of priests, whose special duty it was to regulate every thing connected with the sanctuary. They did not ordinarily busy themselves with criminal questions, although they took a leading part in the condemnation of Jesus Mark 15:1.
It shall be unto them - The remains of the sacrifices were a chief source of the priests‘ support. The burnt-offerings being entirely consumed, the priests had the skins, which yielded a considerable revenue; meat-offerings and drink-offerings belonged entirely to them. sin-offerings and trepass-offerings, except in particular cases, also belonged to the priests and were partaken of in the temple. Of the peace-offerings a portion dedicated to the Lord by waving was left for the priests, and the rest eaten by the officers and their friends, either in the courts of the temple, or at least within Jerusalem. The kitchen-courts (K, Plan II Ezek. Ezekiel 46:21-24), were provided in order to prepare these public meals.