And he shall take of the blood of the bullock
When the high priest slew the bullock, the blood was received in a basin, and given to another priest, that he might keep stirring it on a foursquare bench in the temple, that so it might not thicken and congeal F14, but by a continual motion might become thin and liquid, and fit for sprinkling; and this was doing, while the high priest was gone into the most holy place to offer the incense; which being done, he came out again and took the basin of blood out of the hand of the priest, and went in a second time, and did with it as follows:
and sprinkle [it] with his finger upon the mercy seat, eastward;
with his right finger, or forefinger, as the Targum of Jonathan; and the blood sprinkled with it did not fall upon the mercy seat, as our version seems to intimate, but it was sprinkled over against it, towards the upper part of it. Aben Ezra says, that according to their interpreters, "upon the face of the mercy seat", as the words may be literally rendered, signifies above, between the two bars, and here it was the high priest stood; for, according to the Misnah F15, he went in to the place where he had gone in, and stood in the place where he had stood, and then sprinkled, that is, in the same place where he had been and offered the incense; (See Gill on Leviticus 16:13); and here he stood, not with his face to the east, for then his back must have been to the mercy seat, but he stood with his face to the eastern part of the mercy seat, and there sprinkled the blood upwards:
and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his
finger seven times;
besides the first sprinkling that was upward, and those downward; so says the Misnah F16, he sprinkled of it (the blood) once above, and seven times below; the same Jarchi observes; and the tradition adds, and he did not look in sprinkling neither above nor below; that is, he did not look to the mercy seat, nor was there any need of it, since the blood did not reach the mercy seat, but fell upon the ground; it was enough that it was done before it, and over against it, and with a respect unto it; or otherwise, had it, fallen on it, it would have been besmeared with it, and would not have been so comely and decent: the mystery of this was to represent the blood of Christ, and perfect purification and atonement by it, and that mercy and justice are reconciled to each other, and agree together in the forgiveness of sinners; and that there is no mercy but in a way of justice, no remission of sin, no justification of persons, no salvation for any of the sons of men, but through the blood of Christ, and the complete atonement made thereby.
F14 Misn. Yoma, c. 4. sect. 3.
F15 Ibid. c. 5. sect. 3.
F16 Misn. Yoma, c. 5. sect. 3.