Exodus 29 Study Notes


29:1-3 The word unblemished applies also to the young bull (Lv 22:19-21; Dt 17:1).

29:4-9 Leviticus 8 describes the ceremony enacted in the tabernacle. Much later in Israel’s history, the prophet Zechariah looked forward to a time when the Lord would graciously restore his people and reclothe their high priest (Zch 2:10-3:5).

29:6 Holy diadem is another term for the engraved gold plate described in 28:36-37 (cp. 39:30).

29:7 Instructions for making the fragrant anointing oil appear in 30:22-25.

29:10 Aaron and his sons would associate themselves with the bull by putting their hands on it, transferring their guilt to receive atonement and forgiveness as the bull was offered up (Lv 4:4,15,24,29,33). The bull would be sacrificed as a substitute for the people; they must do likewise with two rams (Ex 29:15,19; cp. Lv 16:21; Nm 8:10; 27:18-23).

29:11-13 The use of blood reflects its significance as essential to life and to God’s provision of a substitute whose life was lost on behalf of the worshiper (Lv 17:11). Certain portions of the animal’s fat were to be burned as a way of offering what was best to the Lord. While the blood symbolized life, the fat symbolized abundance and was characteristic of an animal that had been well fed and cared for; it was considered the finest part (Gn 4:4; 45:18, “richness”; Ezk 34:3). The kidneys were associated with the inner life of a person, along with the heart (Ps 7:10; 73:21; Jr 17:10; 20:12). Perhaps separating the kidneys signified the inner examination and dedication of the offerer.

29:14 The various kinds of sin offering and their circumstances are described in Lv 4:1-5:13. Sometimes called a purification offering, its purpose was to atone for sin or ceremonial uncleanness in order to restore communion. Most of the animal had to be burned outside the camp (cp. Heb 13:11-12).

29:15-18 The first ram was given as a burnt offering. It went up in smoke as a gift in tribute to God by means of fire, making it a fire offering. That it would make a pleasing aroma signified God’s acceptance of the offering and the worshiper (Lv 1).

29:19-21 No reason is given for placing blood on the right earlobes . . . thumbs, and toes, though it may have symbolized totality (see note at Lv 8:22-30). A person who came for ceremonial cleansing after recovering from a skin disease received the same treatment with both blood and oil (Lv 14:14-18). The outcome of the marking of both priests and garments was holiness; they would be clearly set apart for service to the Lord.

29:22-25 The sacrifice of the second ram is one of the “fellowship sacrifices” (Lv 3; 7:11-21). It celebrated communion with God with ceremonies including a shared meal. The ram’s designation as a ram for ordination explains why the right thigh was to be burned rather than eaten, as was normal for fellowship sacrifices. The words ordination and ordain reflect the idiomatic Hebrew expression that reads literally, “to fill the hand of someone.” By placing items in the hands of Aaron and his sons and then presenting and burning the items, Moses would act out the filling of the hands of the new priests. It would become their work to present to the Lord the offerings that the Israelites would bring.

29:26-28 It is to be your portion specifies that this time Moses would receive the breast because he was the officiating priest. On later occasions it would go to Aaron or his sons (Lv 7:34-36).

29:29-30 Priestly garments were passed on to the next generation.

29:31-35 Instructions for eating the ordination ram are followed by a summary of the seven-day ordination (v. 35). The number seven symbolized the completeness of the process (cp. Lv 8:33-36).

29:36-37 These verses are concerned with purification of the altar. The final clause in v. 37 could be translated, “whatever touches the altar must be holy.”

29:38-42 After the instructions for the seven-day consecration of Aaron and his sons and of the altar in vv. 1-37, instructions for regular sacrifices to be offered on normal days are presented.

29:43-46 The most important consecrations would be accomplished not by the Israelites but by the Lord. Their priests and ceremonies would have significance because of the Lord’s presence. The display of his glory would then extend from victory over Pharaoh (14:4,17-18) to provision for the Israelites in the wilderness (16:7,10), to making a covenant with them (24:16-17), and then to this tent they would build.

He would be with them to act on their behalf, as when he answered Moses’s objections by promising to be with him (3:12; 4:12,15). In this place he would continue the pattern of action leading to knowledge of his identity: They will know that I am the Lord their God (cp. 6:7; 7:17; 8:10,22; 9:14,29; 10:2; 11:7; 14:4,18; 16:6,12). This is the last and climactic divine statement in Exodus of God’s revelatory purpose. But all this would be jeopardized by the Israelites’ actions in chap. 32.