And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock,
&c.] As he was a shepherd, his flock consisted of sheep; and of the firstlings of these, the lambs that were first brought forth, he presented as an offering to the Lord; and which were afterwards frequently used in sacrifice, and were a proper type of Christ, Jehovah's firstborn, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, a Lamb without spot and blemish; fitly signified by one for his innocence, harmlessness, and meekness: and of the fat thereof;
which is to be understood either of the fat properly, which in later time was claimed by the Lord as his own, ( Leviticus 3:16 ) or of the fattest of his flock, the best lambs he had; the fattest and plumpest, and which were most free from defects and blemishes; not the torn, nor lame, nor sick, but that which was perfect and without spot; for God is to be served with the best we have. Josephus F6 says it was milk, and the firstlings of his flock; and a word of the same letters, differently pointed, signifies milk; and some learned men, as Grotius and others, have given into this sense, observing it to be a custom with the Egyptians to sacrifice milk to their gods: but the word, as here pointed, is never used for milk; nor were such sacrifices ever used by the people of God; and Abel's sacrifice is called by the apostle (yusik) , a "slain" sacrifice, as Heidegger F7 observes: and the Lord had respect to Abel, and to his offering;
as being what he had designed and appointed to be used for sacrifice in future time, and as being a suitable type and emblem of the Messiah, and his sacrifice; and especially as being offered up by faith, in a view to the sacrifice of Christ, which is of a sweet smelling savour to God, and by which sin only is atoned and satisfied for, see ( Hebrews 11:4 ) . God looked at his sacrifice with a smiling countenance, took, and expressed delight, well pleasedness, and satisfaction in it; and he first accepted of his person, as considered in Christ his well beloved Son, and then his offering in virtue of his sacrifice: and this respect and acceptance might be signified by some visible sign or token, and particularly by the descent of fire from heaven upon it, as was the token of acceptance in later times, ( Leviticus 9:24 ) and Theodotion here renders it, he "fired" it, or "set" it on "fire"; and Jarchi paraphrases it,
``fire descended and licked up his offering;''and Aben Ezra,
``and fire descended and reduced the offering of Abel to ashes;''so Abraham Seba F8.
F6 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 2. sect. 1.
F7 Hist. Patriarch. Exercit. 5. sect. 20.
F8 In Tzeror Hammor, fol. 8. 2.