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sparingly used by the Egyptian priests ; of whom Porphyry says: “Some drank no wine at all, and others drank very little, assigning as the rea
sons, that it injured the nerves, caused the head*ach, obstructed invention, and excited libidinous desires. *
10. Every priest was likewise commanded never to engage in the divine services, without being clothed in his proper vestments. For, as we have already stated, there were proper vestments appointed for each order of the priesthood, and death was denounced against those who should officiate without being clothed with them.t In reference to this point Maimonides observes, respecting the priests : ‘When * invested with the proper robes, they were also in* vested with the priesthood; but when divested of ' their robes, they were also divested of the priesthood, ‘ and accounted as strangers. And as it is declared, “ the stranger that cometh nigh” to minister “shall be put to death.” I
11. It was equally provided, that the priests, when about to officiate, should not put on more garments than those which were appointed for them; for, as a certain number of vestments was appointed for the priesthood, every priest was to adhere to the number which God had commanded.Ş
12. It was also deemed irregular for those priests to officiate whose garments were torn. To rend the garments was the custom of mourners.|| Hence the Jews conclude, that those whose garments were torn were equally interdicted the sacred ministrations with such as were in mourning. * De Abstinen. L. ii. s. 6.
+ Exod. xxviii. 41-43. In Chele Hamikdash, c. x, Num. iii. 10. $ Maimon, ibid. . M Levit. x, 6.
13. To these must be added another class, de scribed in terms which are understood by Christians to signify one whose head was uncovered, and by Jews, one whose hair had been suffered to grow long. * But every one was considered as letting his hair grow long, who kept it uncut, like a Nazarite, for thirty days ;t which the high priest, who was required to attend daily in the sanctuary, was never permitted to do. I This was not unlawful for the other priests, except when it was their turn to officiate in the sanctuary. But as the high priest was forbidden to let his hair grow, so all the other priests were prohibited from shaving their heads.9 On the contrary, this was generally practised by some of the heathen priests. Such is the representation of Minucius Felix: 'Isis mourns laments and seeks after ' her lost son with Cynocephalus and bald priests. 'll So Lampridius: 'He observed the rites of Isis, so that he both shaved his head, and carried about
Anubis.' Thus Herodotus : 'The priests of the gods in other countries wear long hair, but in · Egypt they are shaved :** neither of which was permitted to the high priest of the Hebrews.
14. Nor was it lawful for any one to officiate with unwashed hands or feet. The priests were directed to wash their hands and feet with water when entering on the sacred services ; and death was denounced against all who should disobey this injunction.ft Thus also it was the custom among other nations to wash before the celebration of their sacred rites.
See the rabbinical commentators on Levit. x, 6. xxi. 10. + Maimon. in Biath Hamikdash, c. i. I Levit. xxi. 10.
Ezek. xliv. 20. Il In Octavio. | De Commodo. ** In Euterpe. Vide etiam Plutarch. de Isid, et Osirid.
# Exod. xxx. 20,
Hence the observation of Hector in Homer: 'I dread to pour out generous wine in libations to Jupiter
with unwashed hands :* and the following direction of Hesiod : 'Never in the morning with un.
washed hands make libations of generous wine to Jupiter or the other immortals :'t and the advice of a character in Plautus : 'If any persons offer sacri. fices, let them always fetch water from this place.' I
15. It was likewise deemed a profanation of the sacred rites, for any one to officiate at them sitting; which would be paying less reverence to the immor, tal God, than even among mortals a master of a family is accustomed to receive from his servants. Hence the observation of Maimonides : 'There is no • service performed without standing : because it is said, “ to stand to minister.” Whoever therefore
officiates 'sitting, is profane, and his ministry is * vain. The same observation is made by Rabbi Solomon Jarchi.! And not only the priests, but all other persons, used to stand at the performance of all the services in the sanctuary. Hence also another remark of Maimonides: “No one prays aright unless ' he stands :'T and hence the appellation of stationary men, given by the Jews to those who attended the public services as représentatives of the whole nation, and of station or standing, used to designate the duty which such persons performed.
16. There was also believed to be a defect in the ministrations of every priest, who had any thing placed between his feet and the pavement of the court. Whoever officiated in this manner, it was deemed the same as if he had officiated with shoes on * Iliad. vi. 266. + Oper. et Dier. L. ii. 342. # In Rudenté.
Deut. xviii. 5. Maimon, in Biath Hamik dash, C. y. Vide etiam Chry sost. ad Heb. X. 11. 1 Ad Deut. xviü. 5, 9 Tephilla Ubircath Coben. c. x,
his feet. But that it was not lawful to enter the sanctuary with shoes on the feet, not even to minister, is concluded by all the Jews from the command given to Moses and to Joshua, when they stood on holy ground, to put off their shoes.* This custom was imitated by Pythagoras, whose third maxim is :
Sacrifice and adore without shoes' on your feet.'t This was designed to teach that God was to be invariably worshipped with reverence.
17. The holy things were also considered as improperly handled by those who had any thing placed between their hands and the sacred utensils. The services were to be performed with washed hands and feet: but it would have been altogether useless to wash the hands, unless they were also used naked.
18. Finally, it was deemed by the Jews highly unbecoming the sacred services, to employ the left hand instead of the right. For the right hand of Aaron and the right hands of his sons were consecrated with sacrificial blood on their initiation into the priesthood. I The labour of the right hand has also been accounted more auspicious, and therefore preferable for the offices of religion.
III. But on this point every one may form his own opinion. It is evident, that of those rites which were used by the priests of other nations, some were enjoined on the priests of the Hebrews, and others were expressly forbidden to them; and that in these things God adopted such a selection as (not to say any more in this place) would add some peculiar honour to his ceremonies and priests. But these observations may suffice on this subject. Let us now proceed to the Levites, who were given to the Hebrew priests as their assistants. * Exod, iii, 5. Josh. v. 15. † Apud Jamblick. Levit, viii. 23, 94.
The Levites. IN the assistants of the priests, who, after the ancestor from whom they descended, are denominated Levites, we are principally to consider the three following things; their consecration, their office, and the age at which that office was to be undertaken.
The consecration commenced with lustral water, with which they were sprinkled in a solemn manner, that they might enter on the sacred office in a purified
The same mode of purification was also appointed for persons defiled by a dead body.t With this water were mingled cedar wood, hyssop, scarlet, and ashes of the red heifer. The effect of this water was at once to purify the persons so defiled, and to defile such as were pure :f the former, because the red heifer whose ashes were mingled with it was an expiatory victim slain for the purpose of purifying the people; the latter, perhaps, because such victims as were burned without the camp, being considered as contaminated by the sins of the guilty transferred to them, defiled all who touched them by communication of that impurity. For the red heifer which we have mentioned, belonged to that class of victims; and, being burned without the camp, defiled even the persons employed in burning it. |
After having been sprinkled with lustral water, the Levites were commanded, in the next place, as an emblem of further purification, to shave their bodies with
+ Num. xix. 13. # Num. xix. 6. 9. $ Num xix, 17, 18, 19, 21. ll Levit. xvi. 27, 28. Num. xix. 2-8.
Num. viii. 7.