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with, for the same uses as afterwards Sólomon's molten sea, a much larger vessel, was placed in the court of the temple. Here, then, the ritual appointed the Hebrew worship to be performed; but for a better understanding of it, it will be necessary to consider it in particular where two things are of principal consideration, the ministers of the Hebrew worship, and the services they performed before the Presente.
The first thing, then, to be considered Ritual is the ritual of the persons appointed for
priests the service of the tabernacle and temple : and Lethese were the tribe of Levi, which tribe vites. was taken from among the other tribes of Israel to minister before God. They were appointed over the tabernacle of testimony, Numb. and over all the vessels thereof, and over i. 50. all things that belong to it. They were therefore to have no portion in the inheritance of the land.
God was their part; Numb. for he gave the children of Levi all the xviii. 20. tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve. The Levites were by an act of the children of Israel consecrated to this service, to perform it as for them, and in their name. So Moses is directed by the oracle: And thou shalt Numb. bring the Levites before the Lord, and the viii. 10, children of Israel shall put their hands upon the Levites, and Aaron shall offer the Levites before the Lord, for an offering of
the children of Israel, that they may execute the service of the Lord. This reason
of consecrating the Levites, is more disNum. viii. tinct : For they (the Levites) are wholly
given unto me, from among the children of Israel ; 'instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the first-born of all the children of Israel, I have taken them unto me,
For all the
first-born of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast ; on the day that I smote every first
born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified them 18. for myself. And I have taken the Levites
for all the first-born of the children of Israel. In giving the whole tribe of Levi in the room of the first-born of the children of Israel, here was a very useful memorial, besides other great reasons, of a very memorable act of God's power goodness, which laid them under peculiar engagements to the service and honour of Jehovah, as their God. This service of the Levites is however appointed a lower service, as they were a gift to Aaron and his sons, to do the service of the children of Israel: which they were to have performed, if the Levites had not been taken in their room. But Aaron and his sons were
placed in an higher degree: so the oracle Exodus, to Moses, And take thou unto thee Aaron xxvii. i.
thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister to me in the priest's office. Hence
it appears the Hebrew ritual appointed one of the tribes of Israel for the service of God at the tabernacle, and one family of that tribe to minister in the priest's office before God.
What was the general nature of the Ritual priest's office we learn from the description of the of the office of Aaron: And Aaron was se- hood, or parated, that he should sanctify the most ministers
before the holy things, he and his sons for ever, to
Presence. burn incense before the Lord, to minister 1 Chron. unto him, and to bless in his name for ever.
xxiii, 18. As there was a distinction between the Priests and Levites, there was also a distinction among themselves. Aaron and his successors, as high priests, had many peculiar privileges, above the other priests. They had a precedency in rank and dignity, were distinguished by richer garments, and by some of the more solemn acts of service, which none were privileged to perform but the high priest alone ; as to enter into the holy of holies on the day of atonement, and to consult by the Urim and Thummim. As this was the first minister of religion in the Hebrew worship, the ritual is careful to give many directions concerning his qualifications, his consecration, and performance of his office, of very good use, as will afterwards more fully appear, to preserve the knowledge of the true God and of true religion, to prevent the prevalence of idolatry, and to
way for the Messiah, who was to be a greater high priest, as well as of a better order than this of Aaron.
1. Then the ritual has prescribed some previous qualifications, before they could be admitted into their office. Whatever might have been lawful, or in use or practice, before this ritual, with respect to offering of sacrifices, the case was altered, when the ritual confined it to the family of Aaron, even with exclusion to all the other families of the same tribe of Levi. Before this constitution, as learned men have observed, it is most probable, every person was a priest, so far as to offer sacrifices for himself; so Cain and Abel offered their own sacrifices ; nor is there any reason to think they brought them to Adam, as head and prince of the family, to offer for them. But in sacrifices that were not personal, and which were offered for families, it is likely the head and father of the family acted as priest : so Noah and Job offered sacrifices, each as father and priest of their families. Moreover, when sacrifices were offered for yet larger societies, consisting
of several families, as cities or nations, Outram the custom seems to have been, as most de Sacrif. natural and rational, that the prince, or 1. I. c. 4. S.
chief of such society, offered the public sacrifices to God. So Moses, as prince of Israel, at the consecration of Aaron and his sons, not only invested him with the
priest's garments, and anointed him with the anointing oil, to sanctify him, but he slew the offering; and Moses took the blood, Levit. and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger, and purified the altar; and poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make reconciliation upon it. In like manner he had before offered the public sacrifice, in confirmation of the covenant between Jehovah and the people, Exod. xxiv. 6, &c. This easy and short remark will, I think, show what was the custom in the most ancient times, and explain the reason why different persons are represented as the priests or sacrificers.
But when Moses had invested Aaron and his sons in the priest's office, it belonged only to them to offer: They shall wait on Numb.iii. their priest's office, says the ritual, and the 10. stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death. Every one was a stranger, according to the ritual, who was not of the son's of Aaron, though they were of his tribe, the tribe of Levi. So it is explained in the case of Korah and his company, who were so exemplarily punished for seeking the priesthood. Their censers were hallowed for a sign unto the children of Israel, to be a Numb. memorial to the children of Israel, that
40. stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the Lord.
It was then a necessary qualification for Qualifithe priest's office to be of the seed of Aaron; for the