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Among the exceptions was the poor man's offering; but neither leaven nor honey was allowed in any case, see Lev. ii. 11. It has been observed that leaven is the emblem of pride, malice, and hypocrisy; honey, of sensual pleasure : these are directly opposed to the graces and to the conduct required by the Divine law. Regular proportions of flour and the other articles were directed for the different sacrifices, and were kept in readiness for the offerers. In our Saviour's days, the flour being mixed properly in a gold or silver dish belonging to the temple, it was put with the frankincense into the vessel of service. The priest, then standing at the south-east horn of the altar, took a handful from the part moistened with oil, salted it, and laid it upon the fire with the frankincense. The rest was carried away for the priests' use.
The DRINK-OFFERING was a quantity of wine, differing according to the occasion, poured out, as the remainder of blood, at the base of the altar. This was offered with the morning and evening sacrifice, Exod. xxix. 40, and on other occasions.
The due performance or payment of these offerings, appears to have been enforced by conscientious feelings in the minds of the pious. Bodily punishments were inflicted on the unprincipled; the strict pharisaical observances of outward ceremonies also acted as a general stimulus in later times. They were at least to be offered on one of the three solemn festivals, when every male Israelite was required to attend and worship before the Lord in the tabernacle or temple, Exod. xxiii. 14; Deut. xvi. 16.*
It is evident that such observances are widely different from any services appointed under the gospel dispensation ; but the directions respecting sacrifices, and the accounts of their being offered, are so minute and frequent, that we cannot be at any uncertainty as to their having been not only directed, but also offered up. And, considering the immense number of sacrifices offered on some occasions, as that of the dedication of the temple by Solomon, 1 Kings viii. 62–64, and at the cleansing of the sanctuary by Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxix. 31—35, the courts of the temple
* This sketch of the principal sacrifices is sufficient to explain the manner in which they were offered, and the occasions on which they were required. A more particular account will be found in the “ COMMENTARY,” published by the RELIGIOUS Tract Society, at the close of the book of Leviticus.
would present a scene which would now appear very singular to us, as well as the priests being regularly employed in slaughtering animals. We may be thankful that a more simple way of approach to the mercy-seat is permitted to us, less repugnant to the general feelings of mankind. In later times, the number of sacrifices often was very great : at one of the last passovers celebrated in Jerusalem it is stated that 255,000 lambs were eaten, so that at least three millions of people must have been present; and that Josiah gave to the people no less than 30,000 kids or lambs for the passover, 2 Chron. xxxv. 7: all these must have been without blemish.
We are not able to ascertain the manner in which the Levites studied the law, so as to know the extent of their views as to the design and meaning of the sacrifices; but there are statements in the Prophets sufficient to show that the types were studied with reference to the Messiah ; and it is plain that some among the Jews saw and rejoiced in the day of Christ, being led to contemplate it by the typical sacrifices and figurative language of Scripture; see Heb. xi. 1, 26; John viii. 56; Luke ii. 25, 38.
Not all the blood of beasts
On Jewish altars slain,
Or wash away the stain.
Takes all our sins away;
And richer blood than they.
On that dear head of thine,
And there confess my sin.
The burdens thou didst bear,
And hopes her guilt was there.
To see the curse remove;
The three great annual festivals of the Jews brought to remembrance three most important national blessings : the bringing of the people out of Egypt, the giving the law, and the putting into their possession the land of promise. They are mentioned particularly, Lev. xxiii. Each festival continued several days, and all or most of the males were required to be present at the tabernacle, being assured that their homes should not be injured during their absence on these occasions, Exod. xxxiv. 23, 24. This positive pledge and assurance is a manifest proof that the religion requiring such an observance was from God, and upheld by his almighty power and particular providence. *For it does not
appear that the nation ever received any injury during the attendance on these occasions; though, from passages
in the historical books and Gospels, it is evident that this resort to the tabernacle, or to Jerusalem, was obligatory upon the people at large. The first instance of injury on record happened thirty years after the national rejection of Christ, when Josephus states that fifty persons were slain at Lydda, while the rest of the inhabitants were absent attending the feast of tabernacles.
At these times the Jews, from all parts of the country, met together as brethren; they often went up accompanied by their wives, 1 Sam. i. 3, 7, and in large companies, Luke ii. 44. Several of the psalms, it is supposed, were sung during these journeys to Jerusalem. Here is a remarkable instance of direct providential interposition, united with a right observance or use of means ; for these festivals occurred at the seasons best suited for travelling, and did not interfere with the ordinary labours of the field. This attendance promoted mutual love and friendship, by persons from different parts thus often meeting together. It tended to keep up attention to the services, and may be considered as typifying the gathering of all people together to Christ, and into his church, from all parts of the world, under the Christian dispensation. These assemblies appear to be alluded to, Heb. xii. 23.
The first of the great festivals was the PASSOVER, instituted to remind the Israelites of their deliverance from Egypt. A full account of this festival is given in Exod. xii. 3—28. It was called the feast of unleavened bread, because no leavened bread was to be eaten during the seven days it lasted, to remind the Jews how their fathers left Egypt in haste, Deut. xvi. 3. Even now, before the passover, the Jews examine their houses very scrupulously, to be sure that not a morsel of leavened bread remains within their walls. It used to be customary, and perhaps may be so still, to leave a few crumbs in a corner, which, when found, were cast out of the house with some ceremony ; thus the minds of the young children were impressed by the peculiar observance required. Perhaps this has succeeded to the custom of encouraging the children to ask the meaning of the sprinkling of the blood on the lintel and posts of the houses, Exod. xii. 26, 27. It has been already remarked, that leaven is spoken of as an emblem of malice, hypocrisy, and sensuality; see 1 Cor. v. 7, 8.
The passover was very strictly observed. The number of persons who resorted to Jerusalem at this time was very great, as already stated. The inhabitants gave free use of their rooms to the strangers. An instance of this is in the case of our Saviour, Mark xiv. 13, 14; many might be accommodated in temporary erections. The rabbins assert
that none ever said on this occasion, “ I have not found a bed in Jerusalem to lie on.” The beds in the east are merely small mattresses, little better than a piece of cloth.
In later times, several observances were added to the passover, beyond the simple observances directed in Exod. xii. The manner of celebrating it when our Lord was on earth appears to have been as follows, though it is not certain that all the ceremonials were universally observed:
1. The males of the family or company, consisting of not less than ten, and sometimes twenty, met together in the evening, when they washed their hands and feet, and placed themselves at table in the reclining posture then customary. In earlier times, they ate the passover standing, with their staves in their hands, as about to begin a journey, Exod. xii. 11; latterly they reclined at this, as at other meals, to indicate that they had been brought into the promised land of their rest. A cup of wine, mixed with water, was presented to each guest, over which a blessing was pronounced, “ Blessed be He that created the fruit of the vine!” The lamb, some unleavened bread, and bitter herbs, were then placed on the table as appointed by the law, also other articles of food. The principal person distributed pieces of the paschal lamb, with unleavened bread, until all the lamb had been eaten. The paschal lambs had been killed in the temple, with observances instituted for the occasion, and then being taken to the respective houses, were roasted on spits made of pomegranate wood. Every person present was bound to eat to the size of an olive at least. 2. After this first repast they again washed their feet, and replaced themselves at table, to eat the second course, or repast, consisting of bitter herbs, with a kind of sauce made of bruised palm branches, and berries or raisins, mixed with vinegar. This sauce was thick; it was called “haroseth," and was considered to represent the tempered clay from which their forefathers made bricks during their bondage in Egypt. Another cup of wine was taken. The master divided the bread into two parts, and laying one part aside, covered with a napkin, he then blessed the other and distributed it, saying, “ Blessed be thou, O Lord our God, the King of the whole world, in the eating of unleavened bread." 3. He next took the reserved part from the napkin, and divided it into as many portions as there were guests. At that time, or some think at a rather earlier period, one of the youngest of the company asked the