Moses as the mediator of the covenant of the Law Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 8:6 was called to perform the priestly functions, in consecrating those on whom henceforth those functions were to devolve, and in inaugurating the legal order of sacrifices. See Exodus 40:23 note. The sin-offering was now offered for the first time. The succession in which the sacrifices followed each other on this occasion, first the sin-offering, then the burnt-offering, and lastly the peace-offering, has its ground in the meaning of each sacrifice, and became the established custom in later ages. The worshipper passed through a spiritual process. He had transgressed the Law, and he needed the atonement signified by the sin-offering: if his offering had been made in truth and sincerity, he could then offer himself as an accepted person, as a sweet savour, in the burnt-offering; and in consequence, he could enjoy communion with the Lord and with his brethren in the peace-offering.
See the marginal references. The flesh of the sin-offering could not be eaten by any but a legally consecrated priest (Leviticus 6:25 note). Moses therefore could not eat of it himself, though he was, for the occasion, performing the duties of a priest. Those whom he was consecrating could not eat it, not only because they were not yet duly installed, but because the sacrifice was offered on their behalf, and the body of the victim stood to them in the same relation as that of the regular sin-offering afterward stood to the high priest.
Purified the altar sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it - The altar had been sanctified by the anointing oil Leviticus 8:11 like the priests who were to officiate at it; it was now, like them, sanctified by blood, in acknowledgment of the alienation of all nature, in itself, from God, and the need of a reconciliation to Him of all things by blood. Colossians 1:20; Hebrews 9:21-22. See Leviticus 17:11; Exodus 28:38.
Atonement having been made, Aaron and his sons were now permitted, by the laying on of their hands, to make themselves one with the victim, which was to be sent up to Yahweh as “a burnt sacrifice for a sweet savour, an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” All was done strictly according to the ritual Leviticus 1:3-9, except that Moses performed the duties of the priest.
The ram of consecration - The sacrifice of this ram was by far the most unique part of the whole ceremony. The words may be literally rendered “the ram of the fillings”, and the name has been supposed to have reference to the ceremony in which Moses filled the hands of the priests; see Leviticus 8:27. The offering was in the highest sense “the sacrifice of completion or fulfilling”, as being the central point of the consecrating rite. The final perfection of the creature is consecration to the Lord.
Leviticus 8:23, Leviticus 8:24
Before casting forth the blood round the altar in the usual manner, Moses took a portion of the blood and put some of it on the right extremities of each of the priests. This, being performed with the blood of the peace-offering, has been supposed to figure the readiness of the priest who is at peace with Yahweh to hear with the ear and obey the divine word, to perform with the hand the sacred duties of his office, and to walk with the feet in the way of holiness.
In the rite of filling the hands of the priests, Moses took the portions of the victim which usually belonged to the altar, with the right shoulder (or leg); he placed upon them one cake of each of the three kinds of unleavened bread contained in the basket (see Leviticus 8:2 note), and then put the whole first upon the hands of Aaron and in succession upon the hands of his sons: in each case, according to Jewish tradition, he put his own hands under the hands of the priest, moving them backwards and forwards, so as to wave the mass to and fro.
In this remarkable ceremony the gifts of the people appear to have been made over to the priests, as if in trust, for the service of the altar. The articles were presented to Yahweh and solemnly waved in the hands of the priests, but not by their own act and deed. The mediator of the Law, who was expressly commissioned on this occasion, was the agent in the process.
The rump - See Leviticus 3:9 note.
The heave-shoulder was the ordinary perquisite of the officiating priest, but the wave-breast appears to have been awarded to Moses as the servant of Yahweh now especially appointed for the priestly service.
The sprinkling was on their garments as well as their persons, because it belonged to them in reference to the office with which they had been formally invested by putting on the garments. (See Exodus 28:3 note). The union of the two symbols of the atoning blood and the inspiring unction appears to be a fit conclusion of the entire rite.
The rites of consecration were to last a whole week, and thus, like the longer of the annual festivals, were connected in an emphatic manner with the sabbatical number of the covenant. During this period the priests were not to leave the holy precinct for the sake of any worldly business; and the whole series of ceremonies, including the sacrifice of the Ram of consecration, was to be gone through on each day. Compare the marginal references.
Rather, ye shall not go away from the entrance of the tent. With this agree Cranmer, the Geneva Bible, etc. The meaning is evidently that they were not to go out of the court, as is more clearly expressed in Leviticus 8:35.
That ye die not - See Exodus 28:35 note.