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were the ordinary ministers of religion, and their duty was to offer the daily and other sacrifices, under the direction of the high priest; to conduct all the various services of the tabernacle; to manage all the religious ceremonies of the people, and to instruct them in the law of God. They were divided into twenty-four ranks, each rank serving weekly in the temple.
The high priest prefigured our Lord Jesus Christ, in his mediation with God by atonement and intercession. The ministers of the gospel were represented by the ordinary priests.
4. The Levites were the descendants of Levi, but not of the family of Aaron : they were a lower order of ecclesiastical persons, inferior to the priests, and their
assistants in the inferior part of the sacred service. The Levites correspond to deacons under the gospel. In this subordinate capacity were all the posterity of Moses ; affording a proof that he was not influenced by ambition, but acted by the Divine direction. The Levites applied themselves to the study of the law, and they were dispersed through the country as the ordinary teachers, magistrates, and judges of the people. They had no landed property except forty-eight cities; for God was their inheritance, and he appointed the tithes of the produce of the land, as a reward for their services among the people, Num. xviii. 20—32; xxxv. 148.
5. The Nethinims, from the Hebrew word. Nathan, “ to give” were servants, who had been given up to the service of the tabernacle and temple, at which they officiated in the more laborious duties of carrying wood and water. They were the Canaanites whose lives were spared, Joshua ix. Ezra viii. 20.
6. Nazarites were persons devoted to the peculiar service of God, for a week, a month, a year, or for life. Samson and John the baptist were Nazarites by birth; others were voluntary, Num. vi. Acts xviii. 18; xxi. 21 -26. The Rechabites were of this class of persons,
7. The Scribes among the Israelites were writers of the law; persons who addicted themselves to literary pursuits. They were a class of lawyers by profession : at first they were only the copiers of the law, or secretaries to the government; but from transcribers of the sacred writings, they assumed the office of its expounders, till in the time of our Saviour, their commentaries had, in many things, superseded the Word of God.
CHAPTER XII.—HEBREW FESTIVALS, TIMES, AND
SEASONS. To a serious reader of the Bible, a general acquaintance with the Hebrew times and seasons is important. The Israelites had two differeni periods, from which they began the computation of their year ;-one for civil purposes, the other for the regulation of their religious festivals. The sacred year commenced in the month Abib, which corresponds with our March; because in that month the Israelites were emancipated from their slavery in Egypt: the civil year began in the month Tisri, answering to our September. The Hebrew mode of reckoning months was not as ours, but strictly lunar: they, therefore, cannot be reduced to correspond exactly with ours, as they consisted of 29 and 30 days alternately. To make their year equal to the solar, the Jews took care every three years to add a month to Adar, and called it Ve-Adar or second Adar.
The natural day the Israelites distinguished from the civil: the civil day was from the rising to the setting of the sun; and the natural day was of 24 hours, reckoning from one sun setting to another. The night was divided into four watches, each watch containing the space of about three hours.
The following Table of Hebrew Time may serve to explain more clearly the periods of the several sacred festivals.
TABLE OF HEBREW TIMES AND FESTIVALS.
Correspond Months of the Hebrew Months. ing with the Sacred Civil
Months of Year. Year
Abib, or Nisan, Exod, xii. 2, 18.
xiii. 4. Esth. iii. 7.
Tiar, or Zif, 1 Kings vi. 1.
Sivan, Esth. viii. 9.
Winter. Cold Season.
14. PaschalLamb killed. 15. Passover. 16. First fruits of barley
harvest presented to
6. Pentecost. First
fruits of wheat presented to the Lord.
19. Temple taken on this day by the Chaldeans, and afterwards by the Romans
1. Feast of Trumpets. 10. Day of Atonement. 15. Feastof Tabernacles. 22. Last day of it.
25. Feast of the Dedica. tion oithe Temple.
14 and 15. Feast of
1. The Sabbath was first and most important of the sacred festivals. The seventh day was so denominated from a Hebrew word signifying rest, because in it God had rested from his works of creation. From the beginning of the world it had been set apart for religious services; and by a special injunction it was afterwards observed by the Hebrews as a holy day. They were commanded to sanctify it for sacred purposes, in honour of God as their Creator, and likewise as a memorial of their redemption from slavery in Egypt.
2. The Daily Sacrifice. The sacrifices of the Hebrews were exceedingly numerous : bullocks, sheep, goats, pigeons, and turtle-doves, were the animals used by appointment of God for this purpose.
66 There were four sorts of sacrifices, as one alone was not sufficient to represent the adorable sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”. Abbé Fleury. The sacrifices were of two general kinds; 1. Such as were offered in the way of atonement for sin; 2. Such as were designed to express gratitude to God for his mercies and blessings.
The daily sacrifice was very remarkable: it was a lamb without blemish, offered to God by fire, as an atonement for sin ; one in the morning daily throughout the year, for the sins of the nation during the night, and another in the evening for their sins during the day, Before the act of sacrificing, the devoted victim had the sins of the whole nation confessed over it, by the officiating priest, and the guilt ceremonially transferred to the animal, by the representatives of the people lay, ing their hands upon its head. It was then slain, and offered as a burnt-offering for them : meanwhile the congregation worshipped in the court, and the priests burnt incense on the golden altars, making supplication for the people. On the sabbath the sacrifice was double, two lambs being offered at each service, Exod. xxix. 38–42. Lev. vi. 9. Num. xxviii. 3–9.
3. The Day of Atonement was distinguished with the most solemn annual sacrifice; at which, after the priest had offered a bullock, as an atonement for the sins of himself and his family, two goats were offered as an atonement for the nation. The manner of the sacrifice was affecting and instructive. After the sins of the nation had been confessed over their heads by the high priest, one was slain and offered by fire, after the manner of the daily sacrifice: the other was taken, bearing the sins of the people, into the wilderness, to be seen no more, Lev. xvi. "The form of confession, according to the Hebrew doctors, was, on the Day of Atonement, as follows: “O Lord, thy people, the house of Israel, have done wickedly; they have transgressed before thee; I beseech thee now, O Lord, pardon the sins, iniquities, and transgressions with which the people, the house of Israel, have sinned, done wickedly, and transgressed before thee, as it is written in the law of thy servant Moses: that in that day he shall make atonement for you, that he might becleanse you, and that you might be clean from all your iniquities before the Lord.”—Godwyn.
A form of confession at private sacrifices, is said to have been as follows: “Now, O Lord, I have sinned, I have committed iniquity, I have rebelled; but I return in repentance to thy presence, and be this my expiation." -Dr. Outram.
4. The New Moons were observed with much solemn festivity; for which sacrifices were appointed, and the rejoicings were attended with the sounding of the silver trumpets by the priests, Num. x. 10; xxviii. 11–15.
The annual festivals were three, at which all the males of the nation, above twelve years of age, were required to present themselves before the Lord at his sanctuary, Deut. xvi. 16.
5. The Passover was the first of the annual Jewish festivals; it was instituted to commemorate the wonderful preservation of the Hebrews, on the night of their deliverance from slavery, when the destroying angel slew the first born of every Egyptian family, passing