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This is the next historical chapter to Exodus xxxiv. After the tab.
ernacle was raised, and Aaron and his sons consecrated, he offered a sin offering and a burnt offering for himself and the people : when this was finished, he blessed the people in the name of God, and fire came down in token of God's acceptance of the priesthood and the sacrifices. Upon this, the people shouted with astonishment and joy, and fell on their faces to worship God. Then follows the melancholy story before us. 1 ND Nadab and Abihu, the two eldest sons of Aaron, who
had been with him in the mount, and seen the glory of the Lord, took either of them his censer, or chafing dish, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, other than what was on the altar, which was
sent from heaven, (ch. ix. 24.) which he commanded them not.* 2 And there went out fire from the Lord, from the sanctuary, or
altar of burnt offering, and devoured them, struck them with sudden death, for neither their bodies nor clothes were consumed, and
they died before the LORD ; an awful providence, designed as 3 a warning to others. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is
it] that the Lord spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, be reverenced, and not mocked, or trifled with, ( see Exodus xix. 22.) and before all the people I will be glorified, have the glory of my sovereignty acknowledged, by an exact conformity to my laws. And Aaron held his peace, in humble submission to this awful providence. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from be
fore the sanctuary out of the camp, to the usual place of bury5 ing. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out
of the camp ; as Moses had said ; in their consecrated gar. ments, but which, being now polluted, by touching a dead body,
must be worn no more. A sad, instructive, and affecting sight to 6 the whole camp! And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Elea
zar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes ; put not off your priestly dress, nor put on the habit of mourning ; let not the public service he inter. rupted by your private aflictions ; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people : but let your brethren the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the Lord hath kin
dled ; let them lament the dishonour done to God, and be con7 vinced, that with him is terrible majesty. And ye shall not go
• There might be some particular prohibition of this, though it is not come down to us. But probably this was not all, for it is generally supposed that the young men were intoxicated with pride or liquor, or both, and ventured into the holy place at a cime not apg pointed, and both together; whereas one priest alone was to burn incense on the golden altar,
out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die : for the anbinting oil of the LORD [is] upon you : you are persons fieculiarly consecrated to God's service ; which therefore you must prefer before all funeral solemnities. And they did according to the word of Moses ; which was an emi
nent act of obedience, in these mournful circumstances. 89 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink
wine nor strong drink, thou nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die : [it
shall be) a statute for ever throughout your generations :* 10 And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, 11 and between unclean and clean, which they did not ; And that
ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses, which persons inflamed with strong drink are unfit to do.
And Moses spake unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons that were left, Take the meat offering that remaineth of the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and eat
it without leaven beside the altar : for it [is] most holy : 13 And ye shall eat it in the holy place, because it [is] thy due,
and thy sons' due, of the sacrifices of the LORD made by fire ; 14 for so I am commanded,t And the wave breast and heave
shoulder shall ye eat in a clean place, in any place within the camp, 80 that it be free from ceremonial pollution ; thou, and thy sons, and thy daughters with thee : for (they be) thy due, and
thy sons' due, (which) are given out of the sacrifices of peace 15 offerings of the children of Israel. The heave shoulder and
the wave breast shall they bring with the offerings made by fire of the fat, to wave (it for) a wave offering before the LORD; and it shall be thine, and thy sons' with thee, by a statute for ever ; as the LORD hath commanded.
And Moses, notwithstanding his grief on this occasion, and his sympathy with Aaron and his son's, was very exact in the observance of every positive precept, and diligently sought the goat of the sin offering, and, behold, it was burnt; those parts of the goat were burnt upon the altar which they should have eaten themselves, (see ch. vi. 26.) and he was angry with Elea
zar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron (which were) left [alive,] 17 saying, Wherefore have ye not eaten the sin offering in the
holy place, seeing it [is] most holy, and (God) hath given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the LORD; as a reward for your services in bearing, that is, expiating, the sin of the people ?
• This seems to intimate that Nadab and Abihu had done so, v. I.
+ Moses reminds them of their duty. Jest this affair should have put it out of their thoughts : this judgment was not so to affect them, as to make them forget their meal, or neglect their duty.
The priest's eating the sin offering of the people, signified, that their sin was in some sort laid upon him hence we may see in what sense Christ is said to bear our sins.
18 Behold, the blood of it was not brought in within the lioly
[place :) ye should indeed have eaten it in the holy [place :] as I commanded. Thus Moses reproved the sin of Aaron gently,
knowing how much he was already afflicted, and not being willing 19 to increase it. And Aaron said unto Moses, as an excuse for
his conduct, Behold, this day have they offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the LORD; they have done the substance of the command, though one circumstance has been omitted : and such things have befallen me, such a dreadful calamity, that my mind is overwhelmed with grief : and [if] I had eaten the sin offering today, should it have been accepted in the sight of the Lord, when I could not rejoice before him, as I am commanded in this case to do? I chose therefore to give
it wholly to God, rather than eat it in these melancholy circum20 stances. And when Moses heard [that,] he was content ;
because was not a wilful contempt of God, and lest he should add affliction to the afflicted.
1. E here learn with what reverence we should worship
God. This is what the Lord teaches us in this chapter, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorifed, v. 3. It is a lesson to Israel, to all its tribes, and to the church in all ages and generations. We see here that God is greatly to be feared, and to be had in reverence by all that draw nigh unto him. God is a spirit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth. Let us sanctify him in our hearts ; considering him as the most holy being, who is of furer eyes than to behold iniquity. Let us glorify him before all the people, by making a public profession of our faith, and encouraging others to do so. God requires this of us ; and if not done, he may justly punish us. Let us be careful that our worship be such as he requires of us ; and not add to it any of our own inventions. It is a just and important remark of Bishop Hall, that . It is a dangerous thing in the worship of God, to decline from his own institutions : we have to do with a Being who is wise to prescribe his own worship, just to require what he hath prescribed, and powerful to revenge what he hath not required.' Let us keep close therefore to what the Lord hath said ; and learn from this instructive story, as the apostle exhorts, Heb. xii. 29. (where he seems to allude to it) to serve God accefitably, with reverence and godly fear, for our God is a consuming fire.
2. How cautious should christian ministers be in the whole of their conduct! They are peculiarly obliged, by their relation to God, to glorify him ; to display his glory before men ; to be defenders of the divine honour ; to be careful not to err through rashness or fancy; if they do, they are very unfit to separate
between the precious and the vile, and to teach men God's statutes. May they all be sober and temperate, serious and considerate, in every thing ; have always clear heads and clean hearts; for holiness becomes God's house and ministers, and his worshippers, for ever.
3. Let us adore the patience of God, which bears with the many imperfections of our services. We are too ready to offer strange fire. The heart is often far from him, and we are too frequently rash in entering into his presence, without due thought and attention. Yet he mercifully overlooks our unallowed imperfections, and pardons what is amiss. Let us adore his long suffering and compassion toward us, but not take encouragement from thence to sin.
4. Let us humbly resign ourselves to the will of God, maintain a respectful silence before him : and prosecute his service amidst the heaviest affliction : so Aaron did. Let us be still, and know that he is God. He hath wise ends in those dispensations that seem most severe. We should be dumb and not open our mouths before him, when he hath bereaved us of our children, or our friends, or when he removes his ministers and servants. We have still reason to say, It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good ; especially as his glory will be promoted thereby, as Moses here suggests. And let the same principles of faith in God's providences and promises, which promote submission, excite us to the vigorous discharge of our duty : Moses directs Aaron and his sons to go on with their work. Let us not sink under our losses, for this is no proper token of regard to our departed friends ; it is ungrateful to God, and unfits us for duty. Let us therefore guard against excess of sorrow. Weeping must not hinder sowing.
5. Let us learn to be content with reasonable excuses from our inferiors, and be glad to find them less to blame than we imagined. Moses was willing to make favourable allowances : as he knew God would. Let us not bear hard on those who we think have done ilł. Perhaps they may have something to say that will satisfy us, or lessen their guilt. We should be willing to believe and hope the best of every one.
6. Let us rejoice in the perfect priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ. This unhappy circumstance at the opening of the Jews ish priesthood, showed its imperfection. The law made men priests, that had infirmities ; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son who is consecrated for evermore, Heb. vii. 28. In him we may rejoice ; and cheerfully present our sacrifices through his pure hands, and in humble réliance on his prevailing atonement ; knowing that he always appears before the presence of God, and ever lives to make interces. sion for us.
• See Henry on Psal. cxxvi. 6. VOL. I.
This, and the four following chapters, relate only to ceremonial oba
cause it belonged both to the magistrates and priests to 2 see these lazus executed,) saying unto them, Speak unto the
children of Israel, saying, These [are] the beasts which ye
shall eat among all the beasts which (are] on the earth.* 3 Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is cloven footed, [and] 4' cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nev
ertheless, these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof : [as] the camel, because he
cheveth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he [is] unclean Ś unto you.t And the coney, I because he cheweth the cud, 6 but divideth not the hoof; he [is] imclean unto you. And
the harė, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the 7 hoof; he [is] unclean unto you. And the swine, though he
divide the hoof and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the 8 cud; he [is] unclean to you.ll Of their flesh shall ye not
eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch ; they [are] unclean
9 These shall ye eat of all that [are) in the waters : what
soever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the ponds and 10 lakes, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shallye eat. And
all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which
[is] in the waters, they [shall be) an abomination unto you : 11 They shall be even an abomination unto you ; ye shall not
eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcasses in abomina12 tion. Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that
[shall be] an abomination unto you. This is refeated, as being
the only rule they had to judge by in this case. 13 And these [are they which] ye shall have in abomination
among the fowls ; they shall not be eaten, they [are) an abomination : the eagle, and the ossifrage, the bone breaker,
a species of the eagle with a strong bill, and the ospray, or sea 14 eagle, And the vulture, and the kite, after his kind ; Every 15 raven after his kind ; And the owl, and the night hawk, and 16 the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind, And the little owl,
Considering that all beasts were given for food to Noah, it may be asked. How came there to be these restrictions afterward? Perhaps it was to discourage luxury, but principally to keep them a distinct people ; because those beasts were forbidden, which were in the highestesteem among the heathen, and were offered in sacrifices to their gods.
+ The camel divides the hoof at the top, but not at the bottom.
1 Or, mountain mouse, for common rabbits do not chew the cud, nor make their house in the rock, as Prov. XXX. 26.
# This beast, though most respected among the heathen, was held in the highest de. testation by the Jews.