A commentary on the book of




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A COMMENTARY

ON THE BOOK OF

LEVITICUS
By
ANDREW BONAR

1852 by James Nisbet and Company


Digitally prepared and posted on the web by Ted Hildebrandt (2004)

Public Domain.

Please report any errors to: thildebrandt@gordon.edu

PREFACE
SOME years ago, while perusing the Book of Leviticus in

the course of his daily study of the Scriptures, the author

was arrested amid the shadows of a past dispensation,

and led to write short notes as he went along. Not long

after, another perusal of this inspired book--conducted

in a similar way, and with much prayer for the teaching

of the Spirit of truth--refreshed his own soul yet more,

and led him on to inquire what others had gleaned in

the same field. Some friends who, in this age of activity

and bustle, find time to delight themselves in the law of

the Lord, saw the notes, and urged their publication.

There are few critical difficulties in the book; its

chief obscurity arises from its enigmatical ceremonies.

The author fears he may not always have succeeded in

discovering the precise view of truth intended to be exhi-

bited in these symbolic rites; but he has made the

attempt, not thinking it irreverent to examine both sides

of the veil, now that it has been rent. The Holy Spirit


PREFACE
surely wishes us to inquire into what He has written; and

the unhealthy tone of many true Christians may be

accounted for by the too plain fact that they do not

meditate much on the whole counsel of God. Expe-

rience, as well as the Word itself (Ps. i. 2, 3), might lead

us to value very highly the habit of deeply pondering

the discoveries of the mind of God given in all parts of

Scripture, even the darkest.

Throughout this Commentary, the truth that saves,

and the truth that sanctifies, is set before the reader in a

variety of aspects, according as each typical rite seemed

to suggest. It may thus be useful to all classes of per-

sons. And what, if even some of the house of Israel

may have their eye attracted to the Saviour, while giving

heed to the signification of those ceremonies which to

their fathers were sign-posts (tOtOx, Ps. lxxiv. 9) in,

the way of life?

C0LLACE, May 5, 1846.



PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION

A FEW corrections have been made, and a few additional

remarks introduced, in this edition. The subjects of the

Book of Scripture briefly expounded in these pages are

all of a vital nature, though the form in which they were

presented by Moses is obsolete. A writer of the middle

ages, Hildebert, suggests much by these few lines
“Quis locus Aurora postduam Sol venit ad ortum?

Quisne locus votis teneat cum navita portum?

Leg Aurora fuit; bos et capra vota fuere;

Crux Sol, Crux portus. Haec omnia praeteriere.

Crux clausit templum, Crux solvit aenigmata legis.

Sub Cruce cessat ephod, et deficit unctio regis."
CONTENTS

The Nature of the Book . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

The Burnt Offering (Chapter 1) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

The Meat Offering (Chapter 2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

The Drink Offering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

The Peace Offerings (Chapter 3) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50

The Sin Offering (Chapter 4) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62

Sin Offering for Sins of Inadvertency (Chapter 5) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83

The Trespass Offering (Chapters 5 and 6) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96

Special Rules for Priests Who Minister at the

Altar of God (Chapters 6:8--7) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

The Priesthood Entering on Their Office (Chapter 8) . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144

Aaron's Entrance on His Office (Chapter 9) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 177

The Fencing of the Priestly Ritual (Chapter 10) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187

Remembrances of the Broken Law - the Clean and

the Unclean (Chapter 11) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203

Original Sin - What Has Been Transmitted to Us

(Chapter 12 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 228

The Leprosy. Indwelling Sin - Its Horrid Features

(Chapter 13) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 232

The Leprosy Removed (Chapter 14) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257

The Secret Flow of Sin from the Natural Heart,

Typified in the Running Issue (Chapter 15) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 278

The Day of Atonement (Chapter 16) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290

The Use of Animal Food Regulated (Chapter 17) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 311

Private and Domestic Obligations - Purity in Every

Relation of Life (Chapter 18) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 319

Duties in the Every-Day Relations of Life

(Chapter 19) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 334

Warnings Against the Sins of the Former

Inhabitants (Chapter 20) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 351

Personal Duties of the Priests (Chapter 21) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 362

Household Laws Regarding Holy Things (Chapter 22) . . . . . . . . . . . . 374

The Public Festivals, or Solemn Convocations

(Chapter 23) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 386

Duty of Priests When Out of Public View in the

Holy Place (Chapter 24) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 415

The Sabbatic Year, and the Year of Jubilee

Millennial Times (Chapter 25) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 431

Israel's Temporal Blessings, in Contract to the Curse

(Chapter 26) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 458

Entire Devotion to God, Induced by the Foregoing

Views of His Character (Chapter 27) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 479

COMMENTARY ON LEVITICUS
THE NATURE OF THE BOOK.

THERE is no book, in the whole compass of that inspired

Volume which the Holy Ghost has given us, that con-

tains more of the very words of God than Leviticus. It

is God that is the direct speaker in almost every page;

his gracious words are recorded in the form wherein they

were uttered. This consideration cannot fail to send us

to the study of it with singular interest and attention.

It has been called "Leviticus," because its typical

institutions, in all their variety, were committed to the

care of the tribe of Levi, or to the priests, who were of

that tribe. The Greek translators of the Pentateuch

devised that name. The Talmud, for similar reasons,

calls it MynihEKioha traOt, “the law of the priests.” But

Jewish writers in general are content with a simpler

title; they take the first words of the book as the name,

calling it xrAq;yiva,"Vayikra,” q. d. the book that begins

with the words, “And the Lord called.”

2 THE NATURE OF THE BOOK
It carries within itself the seal of its Divine origin.

As an internal proof of its author being Divine, some

have been content to allege the prophecy contained in

chap. xxvi., the fulfilment of which is spread before the

eyes of all the earth. But if, in addition to this, we find

every chapter throughout presenting views of doctrine

and practice that exactly dovetail into the unfigurative

statements of the New Testament, surely we shall then

acknowledge that it bears the impress of the Divine mind

from beginning to end.



The Gospel of the grace of God, with all that follows in

its train, may be found in Leviticus. This is the glorious

attraction of the book to every reader who feels himself

a sinner. The New Testament has about forty references

to its various ordinances.

The rites here detailed were typical; and every type

was designed and intended by God to bear resemblance

to some spiritual truth. The likeness between type and

antitype is never accidental. The very excellency of these

rites consists in their being chosen by God for the end of

shadowing forth "good things to come" (Heb. x. 1). As

it is not a mere accidental resemblance to the Lord's

body and blood that obtains in the bread and wine used

in the Lord's supper, but on the contrary, a likeness that

made the symbols suitable to be selected for that end; so

is it in the case of every Levitical type. Much of our

satisfaction and edification in tracing the correspondence

between type and antitype will depend on the firmness

with which we hold this principle.

If it be asked why a typical mode of shewing forth

truth was adopted to such an extent in those early days,

it may be difficult to give a precise answer. It is plain,

such a method of instruction may answer many purposes.

THE NATURE OF THE BOOK 3


It may not only meet the end of simplifying the truth,

it may also open the mind to comprehend more, while

it deepens present impressions of things known. The

existence of a type does not always argue that the thing

typified is obscurely seen, or imperfectly known. On the

contrary, there was a type in the garden of Eden--the

tree of life,--while life, in all its meaning, was fully com-

prehended by Adam. In all probability, there will be

typical objects in the millennial age; for there is to be a

river which shall flow from Jerusalem to water the valley

of Shittim (Joel iii. 18), the same of which Ezekiel

(xlvii. 1) and Zechariah (xiv. 8) speak. This river is

said to be for the healing of the Dead Sea, while on its

banks grow majestic trees, whose leaves are for the heal-

ing of the nations. No doubt a spiritual significance lies

hid in these visible signs; the visible symbol seems to be

a broad seal and sign of the peculiar truth manifested in

these days, viz. the overflowing stream of the Holy Spirit

(who shall be poured out at Jerusalem on the house of

David first), winding its course over earth to convey

saving health to all nations. Certain it is that types do

not necessarily imply that the antitype is dimly known.

The Lord may use them as he uses Gospel ordinances at

present, to convey light to us, and leave more indelible

impressions. A German writer (Hahn) has said, "Types

were institutions intended to deepen, expand, and ennoble

the circle of thoughts and desires, and thus heighten the

moral and spiritual wants, as well as the intelligence and

susceptibility of the chosen people."* And not less truly

is this point touched upon by the Reformer Tyndale, in


* Southey says of Laud: "He began his dying address in that state of calm

but deepest feeling, when the mind seeks for fancies, types, and dim similitudes,

and extracts from them consolation and strength."--(Book of the Church.)

4 THE NATURE OF THE BOOK


his Prologue into the Third Book of Moses:--"Though

sacrifices and ceremonies can be no ground or foundation.

to build upon that is, though we can prove nought with

them--yet, when we have once found out Christ and his

mysteries, then we may borrow figures, that is to say,

allegories, similitudes, and examples, to open Christ, and

the secrets of God hid in Christ, even unto the quick,

and can declare them more lively and sensibly with them

than with all the words of the world. For similitudes

have more virtue and power with them than bare words,

and lead a man's understanding further into the pith and

marrow and spiritual understanding of the thing, than all

the words that can be imagined." Again he says, "Alle-

gories prove nothing; but the very use of allegories is to

declare and open a text, that it may be better perceived

and understood . . . There is not a better, more vehement,

or mightier thing to make a man understand withal, than

an allegory. For allegories make a man quick-witted, and

print wisdom in him, and make it to abide, when bare

words go but in at the one ear and out at the other."

The Epistle to the Hebrews lays down the principles

upon which we are to interpret Leviticus. The specimens

there given of types applied furnish a model for our

guidance in other cases; and the writer's manner of

address in that Epistle leads us to suppose that it was no

new thing for an Israelite thus to understand the ritual

of Moses. No doubt old Simeon (Luke ii. 25) frequented

the temple daily in order to read in its rites the future

development of a suffering Saviour, as well as to pray

and worship. Anna the prophetess did the same; for

all these knew that they prophesied of the grace that was

to come to us, and therefore inquired and searched dili-

gently (1 Pet. i. 10). Had Aaron, or some other holy

THE NATURE OF THE BOOK 5


priest of his line, been "carried away in the spirit," and

shewn the accomplishment of all that these rites pre-

figured, how joyful ever after would have been his daily

service in the sanctuary! When shewn the great Antitype,

and that each one of these shadows pictured something

in the person or work of that Redeemer, then, ever after,

to handle the vessels of the sanctuary would be rich food

to his soul. It would be "feeding beside the still waters,

and in green pastures." For the bondage of these elements

did not consist in sprinkling the blood, washing in the

laver, waving the wave-shoulder, or the like; but in doing

all this without perceiving the truth thereby exhibited.

Probably to a true Israelite, taught of God, there would

be no more of bondage in handling these material ele-

ments, than there is at this day to a true believer in

handling the symbolic bread and wine through which he

"discerns the body and blood of the Lord." It would be

an Israelite's hope every morning, as he left the "dwell-

ings of Jacob," to see "in the gates of Zion," more of the

Lamb of God, while gazing on the morning sacrifice. "I

will compass thine altar, 0 Lord, that I may publish with

the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous

works" (Ps. xxvi. 6, 7). And, as the sun declined, he

would seek to have his soul again anointed, after a busy

day's vexations, by beholding the evening lamb.

Tyndale says, that while there is "a star-light of Christ"

in all the ceremonies, there is in some so truly "the light

of the broad day," that he cannot but believe that God

had shewed Moses the secrets of Christ and the very

manner of his death beforehand. At all events, it was

what they did see of Christ through this medium that so

endeared to them the tabernacle and temple-courts. It

was the very home of their souls. "How amiable are

6 THE NATURE OF THE BOOK


thy tabernacles, 0 Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea,

even fainteth for the courts of the Lord!" (Ps. lxxxiv. 1,

2.) And it is thus we can understand how those thou-

sands (or rather, tens of thousands) who believed were

all "zealous of the law" (Acts xxi. 20). The Christian

elders of Jerusalem, including James and other apostles,

lent their sanction to their zeal in some degree; and

Paul himself saw nothing necessarily sinful in it. For it

was all well, if they used the law only as "their school-

master to bring them to Christ" (Gal. iii. 24). It must

have been thus that Paul himself employed his thoughts

while "purifying himself" in the temple, and engaging in

the other ordinances regarding vows (Acts xxi. 26). His

thoughts would be on the Antitype; and possibly the

actual performing of these rites by a fully enlightened

soul might lead to some distinct views of truth contained

in them, which would have escaped the observation of a

mere spectator. And, if we may throw out a conjecture

on a subject where Millennarians and Anti-millennarians

are alike at sea--is it not possible that some such end as

this may be answered by the temple which Ezekiel foretells

as yet to be built? (chap. xl., &c.) Believing nations may

frequent that temple in order to get understanding in

these types and shadows. They may go up to the moun-

tain of the Lord's house, to be there taught his ways

(Isa. ii. 3). In that temple they may learn how not one

tittle of the law has failed. As they look on the sons of

Zadok ministering in that peculiar sanctuary, they may

learn portions of truth with new impressiveness and

fulness. Indeed, the very fact that the order of arrange-

ment in Ezekiel entirely differs from the order observed

in either tabernacle or temple, and that the edifice itself

is reared on a plan varying from every former sanctuary,

THE NATURE OF THE BOOK 7


is sufficient to suggest the idea that it is meant to cast

light on former types and shadows. Many Levitical rites

appear to us unmeaning; but they would not do so if

presented in a new relation. As it is said of the rigid

features of a marble statue, that they may be made to

move and vary their expression so as even to smile, when

a skilful hand knows how to move a bright light before

it; so may it be with these apparently lifeless figures, in

the light of that bright millennial day. At all events, it

is probably then that this much-neglected book of Levi-

ticus shall be fully appreciated. Israel--the good olive-

tree--shall again yield its fatness to the nations round

(Rom. xi. 17). Their ancient ritual may then be more

fully understood, and blessed truth found beaming forth

from long obscurity. When Jesus, the High Priest,

comes forth from the Holiest, there may be here fountains

of living water to which he shall lead us--Himself seen

to be the glorious Antitype, the Alpha and the Omega!

But let us proceed to the contents of this book. It

will be found that it contains a full system of truth,

exhibiting sin and the sinner, grace and the Saviour,

comprehending, also, details of duty, and openings into

the ages to come--whatever, in short, bears upon a

sinner's walk with a reconciled God, and his conversation

in this present evil world. Our heavenly Father has

condescended to teach his children by most expressive

pictures; and, even in this, much of his love appears.

The one great principle of interpretation which we

keep before us, is apostolic practice. This is the key

we have used. We find the sacred writers adduce the

likeness that exists between the thing that was typified

and the type itself, and resting satisfied there. So we

lay down this as our great rule,--there must be obvious

8 THE NATURE OF THE BOOK


resemblance. And next, we search into these types, in

the belief that Christ is the centre-truth of Revelation;

and surely no principle is more obviously true? The

body or substance of the law is Christ (Col. ii. 17), and

types are a series of shadows projected from Christ "the

body." It is this Messiah that has been, from the begin-

ning, the chief object to be unveiled to the view of men;

and in the fact that New Testament light has risen, lies

our advantage in searching what these things signify.

Mr M'Cheyne, of Dundee, thus expressed himself, on one

occasion, regarding this point, in a letter to a friend:--

"Suppose," said he, "that one to whom you were a

stranger was wrapt in a thick veil, so that you could not

discern his features; still, if the lineaments were pointed

out to you through the folds, you could form some idea

of the beauty and form of the veiled one. But suppose

that one whom you know and love--whose features you

have often studied face to face--were to be veiled up in

this way, how easily you would discern the features and

form of this beloved one! Just so, the Jews looked upon

a veiled Saviour, whom they had never seen unveiled.

We, under the New Testament, look upon an unveiled

Saviour; and, going back on the Old, we can see, far

better than the Jews could, the features and form of

Jesus the Beloved, under that veil. In Isaac offered

(Gen. xxii.), in the scape-goat (Lev. xvi.), in the shadow

of the great rock (Isa. xxxii. 2), in the apple-tree (Song

ii. 2), what exquisite pictures there are seen of Jesus!

and how much more plainly we can see the meaning than

believers of old!" To the same purpose John Bunyan

writes. He represents Mansoul, in his Holy War, as

feasting at the Prince's table, and then getting riddles set

before them. “These riddles were made upon the King

THE NATURE OF THE BOOK 9


Shaddai, and Immanuel his son, and upon his wars and

doings with Mansoul . . . And when they read in the

scheme where the riddles were writ, and looked in the

face of the Prince, things looked so like, the one to the

other, that Mansoul could not forbear but say, ‘This is



the Lamb! This is the Sacrifice! This is the Rock!

This is the Red Cow! This is the Door! and This is

the Way!”

The space of a month was occupied in delivering the

various ordinances of this book to Moses. This is proved

from Exod. xl. 17, compared with Numb. i. 1. It is the

revelations of that one memorable month that are now to

form the subject of our study. Witsius (De Mysterio



Tab.) has remarked, that God took only six days to

creation, but spent forty days with Moses in directing

him to make the tabernacle--because the work of grace

is more glorious than the work of creation. And so we

find the law from Sinai occupying three days at most,

while these rules that exhibited the love and grace of

God are spread over many weeks.

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