Now we are going to discuss the consecration of a priest from Exo 29. It begins with the Lord saying, “This is the word (davar) you shall do to them” and goes on to give what is needed for this ceremony in verses 1-9. They will need one young bull, two rams with unleavened bread (lechem matzot), unleavened cakes (challot matzot), oil, unleavened wafers (mishuchim matzot) with oil, made with wheat flour (solet). These are placed in one basket and was presented with the bull and the two rams.
Then Aaron and his sons were brought to the doorway of the tent of meeting (Ohel Moed) and immersed in water. Then Aaron was clothed with the high priestly garments, and anointing oil was poured on his head and anointed. Then his sons were clothed in their priestly garments. So, let’s develop this.
The Mishkan had two rooms, one was called the Ha Kodesh (Holy Place) and the other was called the Kodesh Ha Kodeshim (Holy of Holies). Another name for this room was the “Devir” (1 Kings 6.16, 20, 21) which means “word.” It is because that is where the Lord would speak, between the wings of the Cheruvim on the Ark (Exo 25.22). The Ha Kodesh is the Ohel Moed. The expression “to bring near” to the doorway of the tent of meeting means the entry gate to the inner courts, the main door where the common people could enter.
We are told that on the southeast corner the Kior was placed, outside of the court area, in a tent. Josephus mentions it and we can assume there were other tents on the other corners where they cooked the most holy (korbanot (kodshai kodeshim). They could not cook these meats in the courtyard, so there had to be an area to do this. The Kior was also in a tent on the southeastern corner because the priests had to wash themselves before entering the courts. They also had to get dressed there.
Remember, these would have had gates opening to the inner courts. Now, we know that if a gate opened up to the inner courts in a building (tent), the tent had the kedusha of the inner court. In the Temple building, the Nicanor Gate is where they would have stood to be near the Ohel Moed. The Sanhedrin met in the chamber called “Beit Avtinas” and it opened up to the inner courts so they were “before the tent of meeting” or Ohel Moed (before the Lord). That building had the kedusha of the courts. This is why it is so important to know the words that are being communicated in the Scriptures. The words are going to define what is trying to be said.
In Exo 29.1, we mentioned that in Hebrew “the thing” (KJV) is the word “ha davar.” It is a very powerful word. It alludes to John 1.1 where it says, “In the beginning was the Word.” It has the definite article “the” before it meaning the Davar was the expression of God, or in other words, Yeshua had to be as divine as the Father, the exact expression (John 1.18) and in the “bosom” of the Father. Yeshua is the personification of the Davar (like words are the “logos” of thought). He is introducing to the readers of John someone whom he first names in verse 17 by using Divine conceptual pictures and paints an incredible picture of Yeshua by introducing titles and concepts from the Torah, including our verse in Exo 29.1. Notice that “davar” is used there in conjunction with the introduction and consecration of a priest! The priests are getting ready for spiritual warfare. Num 4.3 says, “From thirty years and upward, even to fifty years old, all who enter the service (Hebrew “Tza’va” meaning warfare-4.23, 4.30) to do the work (melakah) in the tent of meeting (Ohel Moed).”
Exo 29.10 says the bull is going to be brought to the doorway before the tent of meeting and they will do “semicha” or the laying on of hands. Now, the semicha, or laying on of hands, is not what is practiced today in some areas of Christianity. It is not a magical gesture establishing contact between man and God, or to symbolically imply that the bull was a substitute for Aaron and his sons. Instead, it is a solemn attestation that the bull has come from Aaron and his sons who are performing the semicha on the animal’s head.
In Exo 29.11-14 the bull is slaughtered and some of the blood was put on the horns of the altar with the finger. Then the rest of the blood was poured out at the base (yesod) of the altar. The flesh of the bull, its hide, shall be burned outside the camp because it is a sin offering (Korban Chata’at). We want to make sure that we know that this first offering was a sin offering. Nobody was going to eat the bull. The fat (chelev) and the inner organs will be burned on the altar. Everything that is left will be taken outside of the camp.
Now, what do we know about that? North of the altar and the camp is where they would have gone, outside of the place where anyone has camped. It is the most holy of the kornanot. It is slaughtered north of the altar (Lev 1.1-12). When one came to Jerusalem, there was a place called the “Beit Seraph” meaning “House of Burning.” It is also called the “Beit Ha Deshen” or “House of Ashes.” Why is this important? Everything in Scripture means something. If the Lord gives us a detail it is for a reason. We may not know why a detail is important at first,but it is important because he put it there and eventually we will know why.
In the Scriptures we are going to have the House of Burning mentioned many times. Most people are totally unaware of it. In the Mishnah, it is mentioned hundreds of times. In the Talmud, even more times. We have something mentioned over and over again, and most people are unaware of it. So, when we think about it, we have to ask questions. Is it possible that this is an important concept?
Exo 29.15-35 tells us about the rest of the ceremony. The blood of the bull is put on the horns of the altar with his finger, and the remaining blood poured out at the base of the altar, as we have mentioned. Now, who is doing all this? It can’t be Aaron or his sons, they are the ones being consecrated. It is Moses doing all this. It will be the only time he was allowed to perform this function because from now on, Aaron and his sons will be doing the offerings.
We also know that the blood is put all around the altar, but how was this done. It will be put on all four sides of the altar. Moses took the blood which was in a vessel and he hits the corner of the altar, hitting two sides at once. Then he goes to the opposite side and does it there, hitting the two other sides. The first ram is cut into its pieces (called “rightly dividing”), and washes the entrails and the legs, and puts it with its pieces, with the head. The entire ram is then offered up on the altar as a Korban Olah (burnt offering) and it is treated differently than the bull (only the innards were burnt). So, so far, we have had a Korban Chata’at and a Korban Olah.
Now the other ram is brought, and Aaron and his sons lay their hands on its head (semicha). The ram is slaughtered, and some of its blood is put on the right ear, the right thumb and the right big toe. The rest of the blood is put on the four sides of the altar like we described before, hitting the four corners. Remember, the priests are standing at the doorway (entrance) to the Mishkan. Each priest will stick his head, hand and foot inside the door, facing the Mishkan, but not entering the court. This ceremony is similar to the cleansing of a Metzora (leper) in Lev 14. So, what is being communicated here?
The right side is the side of strength. The ear symbolizes what we hear coming into our head, and it is going to be blessed of God. We should be governed by what we hear from God. That is why the Shema (“hear”) is so important and said daily in prayer. Hearing is one thing, but doing is another. That is where the right thumb comes into focus. What are we putting our hand to? It should be directed by the Lord. Where we go and what we participate in is where the right big toe comes into play. Where are we walking, and what are we walking in? All that we hear, do and walk should be in line with the Word (Davar) of God.
Then some of the blood and the anointing oil is sprinkled on the garments of Aaron and his sons. As a result, the garments are consecrated and have a kedusha. Then the fat of the ram and the fat tail, and the fat that covers the entrails, the fat that covers the lobe of the liver and the two kidneys, plus the right thigh are put in the hands of Aaron and his sons.
So, we have the bull as a Korban Chata’at, the first ram as a Korban Olah, and the second ram is called the Korban Miluim, or “consecration offering.” Then , one cake of bread (lechem), one cake of bread mixed with oil, and one wafer (rekik) from the basket of unleavened bread (matzah) is also put into the hands of Aaron and his sons, and it is waved (tenufah) before the Lord. All of this will be together. After it is waved, it is taken from his palms, and offered up on the altar of burnt offering, an offering by fire.
The waving (tenufa) is done by waving three times toward the Holy of Holies, three times to the north, three times to the south, three times to heaven and three times to the earth. The breast of the Korban Miluim (second ram) is waved before the Lord in like manner, along with the right thigh. These portions will belong to Aaron and his sons. So, when someone brings an offering, unless it is an Olah, the breast and the right thigh belong to the priests.
The garments of sanctity (beged kodesh) shall be for distinction, that in them they may be consecrated and anointed. For seven days in a row the priests will put these garments on when they enter the Ohel Moed to minister. The ram of consecration is boiled in a place with a kedusha. They will eat the flesh of the ram and the bread that is in the basket at the doorway of the Mishkan. A layman cannot eat them because of kedusha. It is set aside for the priests. If any of the flesh or bread is left over in the morning, they are burned with fire because of kedusha. Each of the seven days a bull is brought for a Korban Chata’at and the altar is purified. Whoever touches the altar will have a kedusha already (Hag 2.11; Matt 23.19; 1 Tim 4.1-4).
In Part 36, we will pick up here and talk about the consecration of the altar in Exo 29.36-46.