« AnteriorContinuar »
of that sacred edifice. Accordingly, Leo of Modena tells us, that the modern practice is to take a piece of dough, about the size of forty eggs, and to make it into a cake, which was formerly given to the priest, but is now cast into the fire to be consumed. This is one of the three precepts, he adds, which should be observed by the women, as they generally bake the bread of the family: and the prayer that is repeated by them when they throw it into the fire, is as follows:-“ Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, the king of the world, who hast sanctified us by thy precepts, and commanded us to separate a cake of our dough.” In Spencer's elaborate work, we have sufficient evidence given us, that the custom of presenting the first-fruits among the heathens to their divinities, originated from the annual offerings of the like kind among the Jews.
Hitherto we have attended to four of the duties of the day of Pentecost. It was to be separated from a common to a sacred use : all the males of Judea were enjoined to be present on that day at Jerusalem : two wheaten loaves were presented as the first-fruits of the wheat harvest for the whole nation; and every individual brought his first-fruits to present at the altar, as a token of gratitude for the bounties of Providence. The fifth public duty of the day was the offering of a burnt-offering, consisting of seven lambs of the first year without blemish, one young bullock, and two rams. In Numbers xxviii. 27, it is two young bullocks and one ram; but it is needless here to explain particularly how these were offered, having already described the mode under the article burnt-offerings. It may, however, be proper to repeat the general reason for the offering of
a Ceremonies of the Jews, part ii, chap. 9.
• Lev. xxii, 18.
such sacrifices, as the probable cause why God enjoined them at this time. Burnt-offerings were intended for two purposes either to expiate evil thoughts, or to atone for the breach of affirmative precepts. What was more natural, then, than that God should enjoin the of. fering of it, at a general meeting of the people? It would impressively call their sins to their remembrance; would lead them to a serious and solemn confession; and would make them pray, at least in effect, during the burning of the sacrifice. « Cleanse thou me from secret faults.
66 Keep back thy servant from presumptuous sin. Let them not any longer have dominion over me." We do not know the particular psalm that was sung on the occasion, but it would certainly be one that was appropriate to the nature and spirit of the duty.—In the same place in Leviticus,a where the burnt-offering is prescribed, we find it accompanied with its meat-offering and its drink-offering. It will therefore be proper to say somewhat concerning them.
Meat-offerings, except in two cases, viz. the consecration of the barley harvest, and the jealousy offering, always consisted of a certain quantity of fine flour, either with oil and frankincense, or without oil and frankincense, or with the one of them only. We had occasion to shew formerly, when speaking of the meat and drinkofferings, that the offering of the first-fruits (of which this certainly was a part,) was accompanied both with oil and frankincense. It will not be necessary here to repeat all that was then said, but only to state in substance, that the meat and drink-offerings to the different animals which composed the burnt-offering, if furnished according to the ordinary rule, would stand thus : Each of the seven lambs would have a tenth deal of fine
• Lev xxiii, 18.
flour mingled with oil and frankincense for a meat-offering, and a quarter of a hin of wine each for their drinkoffering. The bullock would have three tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil and frankincense for a meatoffering, and half a hin of wine for a drink-offering. And
a the two rams would each have two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil and frankincense for their meatoffering, and a third of a hin of wine each for their drink-offering. Hence it is evident that the meat and drink-offerings, mentioned as belonging to them, must have been entirely distinct from the two tenth deals that were to be made into two loaves, and waved before the Lord as a sanctification of the wheat harvest.
The sixth duty on the day of Pentecost was, the sacrificing of a kid of the goats for a sin-offering. The intention of sin-offerings, as we have already seen,' was to expiate for sins committed ignorantly against any of the commandments of God. Hence the appointment of a kid at this time, was intended to lead the minds of the Israelites to those particular sins of ignorance, which the best of them were guilty of; and, consequently, to raise their hopes to the Messiah, who was afterwards to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself. It is not necessary to dwell upon the mode of offering this sacrifice, as the special directions have already been mentioned under the head of sin-offerings.
The seventh kind of duty appointed for the feast of Pentecost, was a sacrifice of peace-offering, consisting of two lambs of the first year. These, in ordinary cases, after being waved before the Lord, were partly consumed on the altar, partly eaten by the priest, and partly by the offerer. In general, also, they were ac
• Concerning the manner in which these meat and drink-offerings were mixed and offered, see part iv. sect. iii. p. 345, supra. Lev, xxiii. 19. See part iv. sect. č. p. 329, supra.
d Lev. xxiii. 19
counted among the less holy sacrifices; and consequently were killed on the south side of the altar, and eaten either in the Temple, or in the city. But in this particular instance the case was different: for it was esteemed
among the most holy sacrifices; was killed on the north side of the altar; and was eaten by the priests before the Lord, in the Court of Israel, or in the Court of the Priests. Further we may remark, that, as it was enjoined that the peace-offerings under the law, should each have a meat-offering ; so the lambs now before us, had the occasion been an ordinary one, would naturally have been accompanied with unleavened cakes mingled with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, cakes of fine flour fried with oil, and leavened bread. But as the occasion was extraordinary, the meat-offering was dispensed with, and the two loaves of the firstfruits were substituted for it. Maimonides gives us the following account of the matter in his treatise entitled Becurim: “ The priest first waved the lambs up and down, while they were yet alive, and then slew them: when, having flayed them, he took out the breast and shoulder of each of them, and laid them beside the two cakes; and putting his hands under them, waved them together upwards and downwards, this way and that, but always towards the east, on which side the altar stood. After having done which, he burnt the inwards, and the rest was given to the priesthood.” With respect to the loaves, the same author tells us, that the high priest received one, and the other was divided among all the courses of the priesthood that were then present.
The eighth and last duty, on this day of Pentecost, was the singing of the Hallel; or the whole of the Psalms from the 113th to the 118th inclusive: a duty which
« Per. 2.
a Levit, xxiii, 20. Vol. I.
was distinct from the Psalms appointed for the morning and evening service. For the sacrifices, of which we are now speaking, were offered in the forenoon of the day, and the Hallel was sung during their slaying and offering.
Such were the duties of the day of Pentecost. They were solemn in their nature, and being the acts of a whole nation, they were calculated to impress the public mind with a deep sense, of religious obligation. But still it may be asked, what was the reason why all the males were enjoined to attend it? Had it lasted for eight days, like the passover and the feast of tabernacles, there might have been some visible cause for bringing them together; but since it only lasted a single day, was it not needless to put the whole of them to that trouble? I answer, that the duty ought not to be objected to, because it was easy, and soon at an end; and that God had a right to command his creatures how and when he pleased : but the particular reason which God had in view, besides the national and individual offering of the first-fruits, was to excite their gratitude for his giving them the law; since such condescension was unparalleled in the history of any other nation, and their sense of it accordingly should be deep and marked. The manner in which the feast of Pentecost is proved to be commemorative of the giving of the law, is briefly as follows :- The passover was enjoined to be on the 14th day of the first month. Considering that day therefore as one, and allowing the month to consist of thirty days, there remains of the first month seventeen days. Add to this all the twenty-nine days of the second month, and this brings up the amount to forty-six. In Exodus xix. 1. we are told that they came to the wilderness of Sinai in the third
a Exod. xü. 18.