3. The priest that is anointed. All priests were anointed, but the high priest only was anointed on the head; hence, by way of pre-eminence, he is here called “the priest that is anointed” (see Ex. 29:7-9; Lev. 8:12, 13). He is designated as “the high priest among his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil was poured” (Lev. 21:10). Ordinarily he is called simply “the priest.” Only four times in the books of Moses is he called “high priest,” and in each case a literal translation would be “great priest” or “chief priest” (see Lev. 21:10; Num. 35:25, 28).
According to the sin of the people. Rather, “thus bringing guilt on the people” (). The high priest stood for and represented the people (see Lev. 16:15, 16; Zech. 3:1-4). In harmony with this principle the prophets always identified themselves with the sins of the people. Although as God’s messengers they rebuked the people for their transgressions, when they prayed to God they approached Him as if they were one with the people in the sins rebuked. So we find them repeatedly saying, “We have sinned,” not merely “they have sinned”; “we have sinned against the Lord”; “we have sinned against him”; “we have sinned, we have done wickedly” (Neh. 1:6; Isa. 64:5, 7; Jer. 3:25; 8:14; 14:7; Dan. 9:5, 8, 11, 15).
The representative character of the high priest needs to be stressed. He was the representative man, the one who acted for the people in all things pertaining to the sanctuary. And in the high priest the whole priesthood was summed up.
When Adam sinned, “death passed upon all men” (Rom. 5:12), for “by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners” (Rom. 5:19). Adam was the representative man. Christ was likewise the representative man. Adam, the “first man,” was the head of humanity; Christ, the “second man,” the “last Adam,” “the Lord from heaven,” is the head of the new humanity (1 Cor. 15:45-47). “As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life” and “by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:18, 19). “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
The high priest, being in a special sense a figure of Christ, was the representative man. He stood for all Israel. He carried their burdens and sins. He bore the iniquity of the holy things. He bore the judgment of Israel. When he sinned, Israel sinned. When he entered the sanctuary, he went in on behalf of the people. And when he appeared before God, they appeared. He represented the people; he was the people. When he sinned, the people sinned, and he was required to bring the same sacrifice for his sin as when the whole nation sinned.
A young bullock without blemish. Both male and female animals could be used in sin offerings; but they must be “without blemish.” It was a young bullock the high priest offered for his sin, as for the sin of all the people (Lev. 4:14).