BIBLE STUDY SERIES #287, 288 and 289

18 May, 1997

INSTRUCTING THE PRIESTS - PART III

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies which began several years ago in Genesis 12 with God's Call to Abram has led us down the generations of his progeny. We have been working our way more or less steadily, with occasional digressions, through successive chapters of the Book of Genesis, then of Exodus, and more recently of Leviticus since that time.

On our last broadcast we had discussed the verses of Leviticus 21, a chapter which, as our studies had shown us, contained some laws which had been given concerning instructions for the preservation of holiness particularly in regard to the Priesthood. Leviticus 21:16-24 mentions "blemishes" and, from the examples listed, these are major malformations of body. I might therefore add some comments by Keil and Delitzsch pertaining to the end of that chapter which may be noteworthy regarding the requirement that the priest be physically perfectly whole. Their comment on Leviticus 21:16-24 is headed "Directions for the sons (descendants) of Aaron who were afflicted with bodily imperfections." They comment: "As the spiritual nature of a man is reflected in his bodily form, only a faultless condition of body could correspond to the holiness of the priest."

Moses had the impediment of speech described in Exodus 4:10-12, which he mentioned in the encounter with God at the burning bush on the slopes of Mount Sinai when he received his order to lead Israel out of Egypt. We may also recall that Saint Paul had a "thorn in the flesh" which might have been such an impediment; one which he had, three times, unsuccessfully petitioned The Lord to remove; a request which God had refused, saying "my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (II Cor. 12:8).

These, of course, might not actually fall within the designated physical imperfections, but they ought to be considered when evaluating the meaning of the law. The command which drew this comment, of course, would reflect in its symbolic thrust the perfection of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ. We might assume that it would not be intended to demean or to condemn those unfortunate enough to be forced to endure such imperfections of body in this present existence through no fault of their own. Leviticus 21:22 confirms this. Indeed, it has been my own observation that such imperfections of body, if accepted with grace in a holy attitude can indeed enhance that sense of holy dedication which a committed life displays before the Lord.

Today, we approach Leviticus 22, a chapter which, as we shall see, continues this set of instructions. I had not the time, at the beginning of the study of these two chapters, 21 and 22, to quote Keil and Delitzsch on the character of these chapters. They point out that chapters 21 and 22 deal with "Holiness of the priests, of the holy gifts, and of sacrifices." Their introductory words are worth considering. They say "As the whole nation was to strive after sanctification in all the duties of life, on account of its calling as a nation of God, the priests, whom Jehovah had chosen out of the whole nation to be the custodians of His sanctuary, and had sanctified to that end, were above all to prove themselves the sanctified servants of the Lord in their domestic life and the duties of their calling." Commenting on Leviticus 22:1-16, under the sub-heading: "Reverence for Things sanctified" they say: "The law on this matter was, (1) that no priest who had become unclean was to touch or eat them (vers. 29), and (2) that no one was to eat them who was not a member of a priestly family (vers. 10-16). Ver. 2. Aaron and his sons were to keep away from the holy gifts of the children of Israel, which they consecrated to Jehovah, that they might not profane the holy name of Jehovah by defiling them ... i.e. not to regard or treat them as on a par with unconsecrated things."

Introducing this section, The Companion Bible reads: "DEFILEMENTS (UNCLEANNESS)." The New Bible Commentary heads the notes on Leviticus 22 "Defilement disqualifies the priest from touching holy things (xxii. 1-16)." Let us read the first portion of Leviticus 22, beginning at verse 1:

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, that they separate themselves from the holy things of the children of Israel, and that they profane not my holy name in those things which they hallow unto me: I am the LORD.
3. Say unto them, Whosoever he be of all your seed among your generations, that goeth unto the holy things, which the children of Israel hallow unto the LORD, having his uncleanness upon him, that soul shall be cut off from my presence: I am the LORD.

The Companion Bible notes, concerning the words "cut off from My presence" that "it occurs only here in the Pentateuch; elsewhere, 'cut off from his people'. ... Accounted for here by the seriousness of the offence."

4. What man soever of the seed of Aaron is a leper, or hath a running issue; he shall not eat of the holy things, until he be clean. And whoso toucheth any thing that is unclean by the dead, or a man whose seed goeth from him;
5. Or whosoever toucheth any creeping thing, whereby he may be made unclean, or a man of whom he may take uncleanness, whatsoever uncleanness he hath;
6. The soul which hath touched any such shall be unclean until even, and shall not eat of the holy things, unless he wash his flesh with water.
7. And when the sun is down, he shall be clean, and shall afterward eat of the holy things; because it is his food.
8. That which dieth of itself, or is torn with beasts, he shall not eat to defile himself therewith: I am the LORD.
9. They shall therefore keep mine ordinance, lest they bear sin for it, and die therefore, if they profane it: I the LORD do sanctify them.
10. There shall no stranger eat of the holy thing: a sojourner of the priest, or an hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing.
11. But if the priest buy any soul with his money, he shall eat of it, and he that is born in his house: they shall eat of his meat.
12. If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.

The Companion Bible notes in verse 9 that "keep Mine ordinance" means "observe my observance." Ordinance means "charge." In verse 11, it indicates that "soul" means "any person, i.e. a heathen slave", and in verse 12, "a stranger = a man (Heb. ish...) i.e. an Israelite, but not of Aaron's seed."

13. But if the priest's daughter be a widow, or divorced, and have no child, and is returned unto her father's house, as in her youth, she shall eat of her father's meat: but there shall no stranger eat thereof.
14. And if a man eat of the holy thing unwittingly, then he shall put the fifth part thereof unto it, and shall give it unto the priest with the holy thing.
15. And they shall not profane the holy things of the children of Israel, which they offer unto the LORD;
16. Or suffer them to bear the iniquity of trespass, when they eat their holy things: for I the LORD do sanctify them.

The Companion Bible notes point out that, in verse 14 "unwittingly" means "through ignorance", in verse 15 the word "offer" means to offer up as a heave offering", and in verse 16, "iniquity" means "penalty." The Companion Bible also notes in that same verse that the words "I the LORD do sanctify" is "a Jehovah title."

Here we might quote that explanation found in The New Bible Commentary. It says: "While the priests are set apart to be holy ministers of the sanctuary, it is to be observed that they are liable to the same uncleannesses as are the laity. In addition to such abnormalities as have been mentioned above, a priest may become a leper, he may have an issue, or he may have come in contact with that which is unclean. This uncleanness makes him a source of pollution as long as it lasts and he must not touch any consecrated or holy thing lest he defile it. The principles laid down here have already been stated elsewhere. Cf. Heb. v. 2, vii. 28. A distinction is drawn between the family of the priest and his slaves on the one hand and a sojourner or hireling (10, 11). While the latter belong to the household of the priest, this does not entitle them to eat of the holy things. But a childless widow who returns to her father's house becomes once more a member of his family. A man who eats of the holy thing without being aware that he is doing so must replace it and as in the case of the trespass offering he is to add one fifth to it."

In weighing these scriptural directives in Leviticus, I cannot help but seek to evaluate the condition of our own nation today, in light of them. Have we lost the vision of what it means to be "God's peculiar people" (which means people belonging specifically to God)? Are we selecting national leaders who will uphold in very truth the Laws of The Almighty God in government, in our entertainment industry, in much of the religious area, and in the contributions made to our culture in many presentations through the mass media? I think that I could leave that question with you for meditation, in confidence that your answer will probably parallel my own!

25 May, 1997

INSTRUCTING THE PRIESTS - PART IV

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies which began several years ago in Genesis 12 with God's Call to Abram has led us down the generations of his progeny. We have been working our way more or less steadily, with occasional digressions, through successive chapters of the Book of Genesis, then of Exodus, and more recently of Leviticus since that time.

Our studies have taken us down the generations of Abraham's progeny to the situation of the children of Israel who, having been released out of Egyptian bondage through the marvellous miracles of The Exodus, are now gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses is relaying to the nation the various laws and instructions which they must follow as the national wife of Yahweh (Jehovah), The Almighty God, with Whom they have made a national agreement. They have already instituted the Commandments, and the directions for the preparation of the Tabernacle as a national focus of worship. The Aaronic Priesthood has been appointed, forms of acceptable sacrifice placed before the people, and now we find the Levitical reinforcement of the Law being set forth.

We had, on the most recent programmes been looking at Leviticus 21 and 22 which hold generally the same topical focus, namely that of concern that God's Priesthood should be directed to abstain from contaminating practices, and maintain, as would be proper in the immediate presence of a Holy God, that personal holiness which is appropriate. The instructions are designed to clarify the details of such a focus as it would have to apply in the practical aspects of normal daily existence in a tainted world. On the last programme, we had taken a look at Leviticus 22:1-16, and today we move ahead to have a look at verses 17 to 33. Let us, then, read those verses which will form today's study. To these verses, The Companion Bible applies the topic heading "OFFERINGS."

17. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18. Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them, Whatsoever he be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers in Israel, that will offer his oblation for all his vows, and for all his freewill offerings, which they will offer unto the LORD for a burnt offering;
19. Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish, of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.
20. But whatsoever hath a blemish, that shall ye not offer: for it shall not be acceptable for you.

The Companion Bible explains of the word "whatsoever" in verse 18, that this means "what man soever" and "offer" means "bring near." "Oblation" here is the Hebrew word "korban" and in verse 19, "at your own will" means "for your acceptance."

21. And whosoever offereth a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the LORD to accomplish his vow, or a freewill offering in beeves or sheep, it shall be perfect to be accepted; there shall be no blemish therein.
22. Blind, or broken, or maimed, or having a wen, or scurvy, or scabbed, ye shall not offer these unto the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them upon the altar unto the LORD.
23. Either a bullock or a lamb that hath any thing superfluous or lacking in his parts, that mayest thou offer for a freewill offering; but for a vow it shall not be accepted.
24. Ye shall not offer unto the LORD that which is bruised, or crushed, or broken, or cut; neither shall ye make any offering thereof in your land.
25. Neither from a stranger's hand shall ye offer the bread of your God of any of these; because their corruption is in them, and blemishes be in them: they shall not be accepted for you.

Here, in verse 23, The Companion Bible shows that "offer" equates to "prepare", while in verse 25, the word "bread" actually stands for "all kinds of food."

26. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
27. When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
28. And whether it be cow or ewe, ye shall not kill it and her young both in one day.
29. And when ye will offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving unto the LORD, offer it at your own will.
30. On the same day it shall be eaten up; ye shall leave none of it until the morrow: I am the LORD.

The food which had been prepared on the same day that it was to be eaten might last for a few hours without refrigeration, but it would begin to deteriorate by the following day, even if they had possessed relatively adequate means of refrigeration. There would be at least enough deterioration to warrant its exclusion from the status of functioning as a thanksgiving offering before Jehovah, because things so eaten were like a thanksgiving meal to which Yahweh, (Jehovah) was an honoured invited guest. One might, on another occasion, perhaps at home and with relative safety, use up such day-old food for one's own purpose, but the day-old food would have lost something of its perfection and the enhanced freshness of taste would have begun to deteriorate. It must not, therefore, be served for the meal which was offered before the LORD as a thanksgiving offering, for it would by that sacrificial act comprise a meal of which The Almighty God, the LORD of all, had been invited to partake. Just as the animals which had some blemish might serve as food for the people at home, but be excluded from the perfect meal at which The LORD was present, so with any food offered as a thanksgiving sacrifice.

31. Therefore shall ye keep my commandments, and do them: I am the LORD.
32. Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you,
33. That brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD.

We are reminded by the Companion Bible note that, in verse 32, words "holy" and "hallowed" and "hallow" all mean "set apart."

Under the heading: "e. Rules for the offering of sacrifices (xxii. 17-33)", The New Bible Commentary, makes these comments on this passage: "They must be without blemish (19), a law which concerns both priests and people even including the strangers (18). See Ex. xii. 5n. This is essential 'that ye may be accepted' (19, RV; cf. I. 3n.). The only exception is the freewill offering (23). Verse 24 refers to the gelding of animals. RV interprets this verse to mean that gelding was absolutely prohibited. 'Neither shall ye do this in your land.' This was the view of Josephus (Antiq. iv. 8, 40). AV understands it to apply only to animals intended for sacrifice (cf. RV mg.). The requirement that the animal be seven days under the dam (27) apparently means that not until then was it to be regarded as having an independent existence (cf. the law regarding circumcision, Gn. xvii. 12). The law forbidding the slaying of the mother and her young on the same day (28) suggests the thrice-repeated prohibition of the seething of a kid in its mother's milk (Ex. xxiii. 19, xxxiv. 26; Dt. xiv. 21). Apparently both were designed to impress upon the Israelite the fact that the strong tie which binds the members of the human family together has its counterpart in the affection which the lower animals show toward their young, protecting them even at the cost of life, and so to prohibit wanton cruelty. Such acts might be required by, and pleasing to, a Chemosh or Molech, but not to the God of Israel. See also note on Dt. xiv. 21. Verses 29, 30 stipulate that a sacrifice of thanksgiving must be eaten the same day. See vii. 15n. All of these commandments have the sanction, I am the Lord. To break them is to profane His holy name. By their very diversity they make it clear that the law of the Lord is to govern the life of Israel, priest and people, in all its aspects and in every detail.

Keil and Delitzsch make the comment under the heading "Acceptable Sacrifices" that: "Every sacrifice offered to the Lord by an Israelite or foreigner, in consequence of a vow or as a freewill-offering ... was to be faultless and a male, 'for good pleasure to the offerer' ... i.e. to secure for him the good pleasure of God. An animal with a fault would not be acceptable ... . Every peace-offering was also to be faultless, whether brought 'to fulfil a special (important) vow ... or as a freewill gift; that is to say, it was to be free from such faults as blindness, or a broken limb (from lameness ...), or cutting (i.e. mutilation ...), or an abscess ... . As a voluntary peace-offering they might indeed offer an ox or sheep that was ... 'stretched out and drawn together', i.e. with the whole body or certain limbs either too large or too small; but such an animal could not be acceptable as a votive offering ... . Castrated animals were not to be sacrificed, nor, in fact to be kept in the land at all." Keil and Delitzsch go on to explain that such is a mutilation of God's creation. They make an association of the seven days during which a young animal was considered too immature to be a sacrifice with another week, namely "that period of time sanctified by the creation."

As we contemplate all these Old Testament Laws of The Almighty God, do remember that it was to the whole nation of all the Tribes of Israel that these laws were being imparted, and that God had told them in Exodus 19:5-6 that if they would keep His covenant, then He would make them to become "a peculiar treasure unto me", and "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation."

As you consider these ancient laws, do also realise that, as we of the British-Israel-World Federation continue to assert from many evidences, the modern-day descendants of those Tribes of ancient Israel are now to be called by another name, (Hosea 2:7), and indeed are now, in fact, mainly those called the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples. May these thoughts add to your appreciation of the Holy Scriptures this week.

1 June, 1997

THE HOLY FEASTS - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Several years ago, our ongoing series of Bible Studies began in Genesis 12 with God's Call to Abram. It has led us down the generations of his progeny. We have been working our way more or less steadily, with occasional digressions, through successive chapters of the Book of Genesis, then of Exodus, and more recently of Leviticus since that time.

Our studies have shown us the lives of the Patriarchs Isaac, Jacob (Israel), and Israel's sons as their clans developed into the tribes while enduring the pharaonic bondage in Egypt from which they were extricated by The Almighty through the miracles of The Exodus. The children of Israel, having been released out of Egyptian bondage, are now gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses is relaying to the nation the various laws and instructions which they must follow as the national wife of Yahweh (Jehovah), The Almighty God, with Whom they have made a national agreement. They have already instituted the Commandments, and the directions for the preparation of the Tabernacle as a national focus of worship. The Aaronic Priesthood has been appointed, forms of acceptable sacrifice placed before the people, and now we find the Levitical reinforcement of the Law being set forth. It is always well to remind ourselves that, as our Federation asserts, the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples today are basically the direct physical descendants of the deported Israelites of the Assyrian deportations of ancient Israel. Assyria replaced the deported Israelites with the assorted and varied peoples whose descendants in later centuries were called Samaritans.

We had, on the most recent programmes been looking at Leviticus 21 and 22, two chapters which hold generally the same topical focus, namely that of concern that God's Priesthood should be directed to abstain from contaminating practices, and maintain, as would be proper in the immediate presence of a Holy God, that personal holiness which is appropriate.

We have now arrived at Leviticus 23, a Chapter in which Yahweh, The Almighty God, requires Moses to instruct the Children of Israel regarding those special occasions throughout the year on which His feast days are to be observed. Keil and Delitzsch introduce their observations on this chapter, under the heading: "Sanctification of the Sabbath and the Feasts of Jehovah", with this note: "This chapter does not contain a 'calendar of feasts,' or a summary and completion of the directions previously given in a scattered form concerning the festal times of Israel, but simply a list of those festal days and periods of the year at which holy meetings were to be held. This is most clearly stated in the heading (ver. 2): 'the festal times of Jehovah, which ye shall call out as holy meetings, these are they, My feasts,' i.e. those which are to be regarded as My feasts, sanctified to Me.'" They explain that the fixed nature of these feasts was not in relation to the periods set by observation of the moon but fixed, rather, because they are appointed by Jehovah as days or times which were to be sanctified to Him. "Hence, the expression is not only used with reference to the Sabbath, the new moon, and the other yearly feasts; but in Num. xxviii. 2 and xxix. 39 it is extended so as to include the times of the daily morning and evening sacrifice." Keil and Delitzsch devote nearly 12 pages of weighty considerations to a study of this chapter.

The title which is given to the notes on this chapter in The New Bible Commentary is "The Holy Convocations." Perhaps this might have been a suitable title for our set of studies also.

The notes on this passage in The New Bible Commentary are most apt to our needs. It states: "In this chapter we have a list of those meetings (Heb. mo'edh; the same word is used as in the phrase 'tent of meeting), or 'appointed seasons', which were to be proclaimed as holy convocations (2). This word mo'edh is rendered feast in AV, as is also another word, hag. RV renders the former by 'set feast' with margin 'appointed season', the other by 'feast', with a view to distinguishing them. The emphasis in the case of the former word is apparently on the time. Hence a literal rendering of verse 4 would be: 'These are the meetings (appointed seasons) of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their appointed seasons.' The joyousness of most of these occasions is indicated by the fact that the word feast (hag) is also used of them. They are called convocations because the people were called together by the blowing of the silver trumpets (Nu. x. 1-10)."

1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.
3. Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

Keil and Delitzsch difference the sabbath observance from the other feasts, stating "As a weekly returning day of rest, the observance of which had its foundation in the creative work of God, the Sabbath was distinguished from the yearly feasts, in which Israel commemorated the facts connected with its elevation into a people of God and which were generally called 'feasts of Jehovah' in the stricter sense... ."

Under the sub-heading "a. The sabbath (xxiii. 3), the following note is given by the New Bible Commentary. "God's resting on the seventh day is referred to in Gn. ii 3 and there are various indications of the keeping of a seven-day week (Gn. xxix. 27) and of the sacredness of the number seven (e.g. Nu. xxiii. 1). But it is in connection with the giving of the manna that the sacredness of this day as a day of rest for Israel is first made clear (Ex. xvi. 5, 22-30). The giving of a double portion on the sixth day freed Israel from all necessity to work on that day; and God's resting on the seventh day from the providing of the manna was a reminder of His resting on that day from the work of creation. The same words, though not the same phrase, are used to describe it here as in Ex. xvi. It is a 'sabbath of solemn rest' (shabbath shabbathon). Here, as in Ex. xx. 9 and Dt. v. 13, the command to work on the six days is coupled with the command to rest on the seventh. A man who works on week-days is entitled to the rest of the Lord's day. The resting on this day is much more complete than in the case of the other set feasts which prohibit only servile work, or 'work of service' (RV mg.; see verses 7, 8, 21, 25, 35, 36), which apparently prohibits only the carrying on of one's ordinary business or the performance of manual labour, but not the preparation of food. Consequently, while the sabbath is a holy convocation, it differs from the other set feasts in this most important respect. It also differs in the fact that it is observed weekly while they are annual. In this we have also a definite indication that the regular, frequently occurring, weekly sabbath was intended to be a holier day than any of the set feasts. Yet in the history of the Church there has been a strong tendency, as there is today, to stress the importance of special occasions and to minimize that of the Lord's day, the first day of the week which is the only holy day expressly sanctioned in the New Testament. See note on Dt. v. 12ff." Continuing at verse 4:

4. These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
5. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.
6. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
7. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
8. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

When we come to the note on the Passover, under the sub-heading "b. The Passover and the feast of unleavened bread (xxiii. 4-8)" we read in The New Bible Commentary the following words: "Since the sabbath differs from all the other set feasts in several important respects it is separated from them by verse 4 which serves the place of a heading to introduce the annual feasts. See Ex. xxiii 14-17; Dt. xvi. First among the annual feasts is the Passover (5). No description is given since it has been fully described already in the account of its institution. See Ex. xii and notes there. The same is true of the feast of unleavened bread which is so closely connected with it (6-8). Nu. xxviii. 16-25 goes much more into detail with regard to the ritual for this feast. The Companion Bible notes of the word "feasts" in verse 4, that it is, in Hebrew, "appointed seasons." In verse 5, "at even", Heb. "between the evenings" means "any time from sunset of one day till sunrise of the second day." It also notes that Passover is the first feast, Tabernacles the seventh, thus "First, redemption; last, rest."

We shall continue our studies of this chapter on our next programme.

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