When Moses had spoken every precept - The place to which the apostle alludes is Exodus 24:4-8, where the reader is requested to consult the notes.
And sprinkled both the book - The sprinkling of the book is not mentioned in the place to which the apostle refers, (see above), nor did it in fact take place. The words αυτο τε το βιβλιον, and the book itself, should be referred to λαβων, having taken, and not to ερῥαντισε, he sprinkled; the verse should therefore be read thus: For after every commandment of the law had been recited by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of the calves, and of the goats, with water and scarlet wool, and the book itself, and sprinkled all the people. The rite was performed thus: Having received the blood of the calves and goats into basins, and mingled it with water to prevent it from coagulating, he then took a bunch of hyssop, and having bound it together with thread made of scarlet wool, he dipped this in the basin, and sprinkled the blood and water upon the people who were nearest to him, and who might be considered on this occasion the representatives of all the rest; for it is impossible that he should have had blood enough to have sprinkled the whole of the congregation.
Some think that the blood was actually sprinkled upon the book itself, which contained the written covenant, to signify that the covenant itself was ratified by the blood.
For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people - When he had recited all the Law, and had given all the commandments entrusted him to deliver; Exodus 24:3.
He took the blood of calves and of goats - This passage has given great perplexity to commentators from the fact that Moses in his account of the transactions connected with the ratification of the covenant with the people, Matthew 15:2), yet they doubtless had many that were true;
(4)in referring to those traditions, there is no impropriety in supposing that Paul may have been guided by the Spirit of inspiration in selecting only those which were true; and,
(5)nothing is more probable than what is here stated. If Moses sprinkled “the people;” if he read “the book of the law” then Exodus 24:7, and if this was regarded as a solemn act of ratifying a covenant with God, nothing would be more natural than that he should sprinkle the book of the covenant, and even the tabernacle and its various sacred utensils.
We are to remember also, that it was common among the Hebrews to sprinkle blood for the purpose of consecrating, or as an emblem of purifying. Thus, Aaron and his sons and their garments were sprinkled with blood when they were consecrated to the office of priests, Exodus 29:19-21; the blood of sacrifices was sprinkled on the altar, Leviticus 1:5, Leviticus 1:11; Leviticus 3:2, Leviticus 3:13; and blood was sprinkled before the veil of the sanctuary, Leviticus 4:10, Leviticus 4:17; compare Leviticus 6:27; Leviticus 7:14. So Josephus speaks of the garments of Aaron and of his sons being sprinkled with “the blood of the slain beasts, and with spring water.” “Having consecrated them and their garments,” he says, “for seven days together, he did the same to the tabernacle, and the vessels thereto belonging, both with oil and with the blood of bulls and of rams.” Ant. book iii, chapter 8, section 6. These circumstances show the strong “probability” of the truth of what is here affirmed by Paul, while it is impossible to prove that Moses did not sprinkle the book and the tabernacle in the manner stated. The mere omission by Moses cannot demonstrate that it was not done. On the phrase “the blood of calves and of goats,” see note on Hebrews 9:12.
With water - Agreeably to the declaration of Josephus that “spring water was used.” In Leviticus 14:49-51, it is expressly mentioned that the blood of the bird that was killed to cleanse a house from the plague of leprosy should be shed over running water, and that the blood and the water should be sprinkled on the walls. It has been suggested also (see Bloomfield), that the use of water was necessary in order to prevent the blood from coagulating, or so as to make it possible to sprinkle it.
And scarlet wool - Margin, “Purple.” The word used here denotes crimson, or deep-scarlet. The colour was obtained from a small insect which was found adhering to the shoots of a species of oak in Spain and in Western Asia, of about the size of a pea. It was regarded as the most valuable of the colours for dyeing, and was very expensive. Why the wool used by Moses was of this colour is not known, unless it be because it was the most expensive of colours, and thus accorded with everything employed in the construction of the tabernacle and its utensils. Wool appears to have been used in order to absorb and retain the blood.
And hyssop - That is, a bunch of hyssop intermingled with the wool, or so connected with it as to constitute a convenient instrument for sprinkling; compare Leviticus 14:51. Hyssop is a low shrub, regarded as one of the smallest of the plants, and hence, put in contrast with the cedar of Lebanon. It sprung out of the rocks or walls, 1 Kings 4:33, and was used for purposes of purification. The term seems to have comprised not only the common hyssop, but also lavender and other aromatic plants. Its fragrance, as well as its size, may have suggested the idea of using it in the sacred services of the tabernacle.
And sprinkled both the book - This circumstance is not mentioned by Moses, but it has been shown above not to be improbable. Some expositors, however, in order to avoid the difficulty in the passage, have taken this in connection with the word λαβὼν labōn- rendered “he took” - meaning “taking the blood, and the book itself;” but the more natural and proper construction is, that the book was sprinkled with the blood.
And all the people - Moses says, “and sprinkled it on the people;” Exodus 24:8. We are not to suppose that either Moses or Paul designs to say that the blood was actually sprinkled on each one of the three millions of people in the wilderness, but the meaning doubtless is that the blood was sprinkled over the people, though in fact it might have fallen on a few. So a man now standing on an elevated place, and surrounded by a large assembly, if he should sprinkle water over them from the place where he stood, might be said to sprinkle it on the people, though in fact but few might have been touched by it. The act would be equally significant whether the emblem fell on few or many.
Thus by a most solemn service the children of Israel were once more set apart as a peculiar people. The sprinkling of the blood represented the shedding of the blood of Jesus, by which human beings are cleansed from sin. FE 507.1
Once more the Lord has special words to speak to His people. In the thirty-first chapter of Exodus we read: FE 507.2
“The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily My Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am the Lord that doth sanctify you.... Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day He rested, and was refreshed. And He gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.” FE 507.3Read in context »
Then followed the ratification of the covenant. An altar was built at the foot of the mountain, and beside it twelve pillars were set up, “according to the twelve tribes of Israel,” as a testimony to their acceptance of the covenant. Sacrifices were then presented by young men chosen for the service. PP 312.1
Having sprinkled the altar with the blood of the offerings, Moses “took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people.” Thus the conditions of the covenant were solemnly repeated, and all were at liberty to choose whether or not they would comply with them. They had at the first promised to obey the voice of God; but they had since heard His law proclaimed; and its principles had been particularized, that they might know how much this covenant involved. Again the people answered with one accord, “All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient.” “When Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood, ... and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.” Hebrews 9:19, 20. PP 312.2
Arrangements were now to be made for the full establishment of the chosen nation under Jehovah as their king. Moses had received the command, “Come up unto the Lord, thou, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel; and worship ye afar off. And Moses alone shall come near the Lord.” While the people worshiped at its foot, these chosen men were called up into the mount. The seventy elders were to assist Moses in the government of Israel, and God put upon them His Spirit, and honored them with a view of His power and greatness. “And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” They did not behold the Deity, but they saw the glory of His presence. Before this they could not have endured such a scene; but the exhibition of God's power had awed them to repentance; they had been contemplating His glory, purity, and mercy, until they could approach nearer to Him who was the subject of their meditations. PP 312.3Read in context »
16 (John 7). Christ's Sacrifice Provides Bounties—The rivers of blood that flowed at the harvest thanksgiving, when the sacrifices were offered in such large numbers, were meant to teach a great truth. For even the productions of the earth, the bounties provided for man's sustenance, we are indebted to the offering of Christ upon the cross of Calvary. God teaches us that all we receive from Him is the gift of redeeming love (The Review and Herald, November 10, 1896). 1BC 1107.1Read in context »
Again, consider the judgment that fell upon Uzzah. As in David's reign, the ark was being carried to Jerusalem, Uzzah put forth his hand to keep it steady. For presuming to touch the symbol of God's presence, he was smitten with instant death. 8T 284.1
At the burning bush, when Moses, not recognizing God's presence, turned aside to behold the wonderful sight, the command was given: 8T 284.2
“Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.... And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.” Exodus 3:5, 6. 8T 284.3
“And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a Man over against him with His sword drawn in His hand: and Joshua went unto Him, and said unto Him, Art Thou for us, or for our adversaries? And He said, Nay; but as Captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto Him, What saith my Lord unto His servant? And the Captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.” Joshua 5:13-15. 8T 284.4
In the sanctuary and the temple, that were the earthly symbols of God's dwelling place, one apartment was sacred to His presence. The veil inwrought with cherubim at its entrance was not to be lifted by any hand save one. To lift that veil and intrude unbidden into the sacred mystery of the most holy place was death. For above the mercy seat and the bowed, worshiping angels dwelt the glory of the Holiest, glory upon which no man might look and live. On the one day of the year appointed for ministry in the most holy place, the high priest with trembling entered God's presence, while clouds of incense veiled the glory from his sight. Throughout the courts of the temple every sound was hushed. No priests ministered at the altars. The hosts of worshipers, bowed in silent awe, sent up their petitions for God's mercy. 8T 284.5Read in context »