Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

a

The work was carried on with zeal and eagerness. The women came laden with ornaments, with their necklaces, rings, and bracelets of gold, while the men gave the skins, the fine wool, and the various other materials, such

brass and acacia wood. All who were able worked busily, and brought their textures of fine linen, spun goats' hair, and cloths of blue and crimson. Then the chiefs of Israel came forward with their treasures, their onyx-stones and their sparkling jewels, for the ephod and breast-plate of the High-priest. Nor were wanting the oil for the lamps, and the spices for the ointment and the incense. All these gifts were contributed in such large supplies that at last the workmen could find no further use for them, and Moses was compelled to restrain the ardour of the people by proclaiming throughout the camp that both men and women were to cease bringing their offerings.

At last all was finished ; and Moses looked upon the work, and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded; and Moses blessed them.'

On the first day of the first month, nearly a year after the departure from Egypt, the Tabernacle of the Lord was erected by Moses, and all the sacred implements were put in their due places in the Holy of Holies, the Sanctuary, and the Court. The tablets of the Law were deposited in the Ark, the shew-bread was placed on the golden Table, the Candlestick lighted with the holy oil, and incense burnt on the golden Altar ; while the Laver in the Court was filled with water, that Moses and Aaron and his sons might wash their hands and their feet when they went into the Tabernacle, and when they approached the Altar.' Then Moses was enjoined to anoint and thereby to consecrate the holy edifice with all its vessels, and to clothe and anoint Aaron and his sons for their appointed ministrations. Yet before these commands

were carried out, some other laws were proclaimed that were indispensable for the proper performance of the task.

So then the Tabernacle, brilliant with colour, sparkling with gold and silver, and enclosing the word of God in its innermost Sanctuary, rose before the enchanted gaze of the Israelites. But this was not all; the Tabernacle was visibly to be marked as the seat of the glory of the Lord. The people saw a cloud cover the Tent, and the heavenly radiance filled the habitation so completely that even Moses was unable to enter. 6 And when the cloud arose from the Tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys; but if the cloud did not arise, then they did not journey till the day that it arose. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the Tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.'

46. THE HEBREW SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS. (LEVT. I.–VII. XXII. 13–33; Num. V. 5–10. XV. XXVIII. XXIX.;

DEUT. XII. 11–18, 26, 27. XXVI. 1-11.] The place of worship had been duly appointed by God, the priests had been chosen, their garments prescribed, their consecration ordained. The Israelites were now not only a free, but destined to be a holy people, the people of God. The purity of their faith was to be their mark of distinction among the nations of the earth. All others worshipped a multitude of idols; the Israelites were to do homage to the One God. All others bowed down before representations of created things, or before vain productions of their own imagination; the Hebrews prostrated their hearts before the glory of the Lord, whom they pictured by no figure or image. Their faith

was indeed totally different from that of the nations around them : does the same hold true with respect to their worship? Far from it: their faith was Divine, but the form of their worship was necessarily human; and adapted as it was to the requirements of an imperfectly educated people, it inevitably consisted of ceremonies and varied rituals.

Worship is generally expressive of one of three feelings -of thanksgiving, supplication, or contrition. We either praise the Lord for the benefits He has bestowed upon us ; or we implore His help; or we confess our failings and sins. These religious impulses were naturally the same in the Hebrew and the heathen worshipper, however different their creeds may have been. The priest of the Lord and the priest of Dagon solicited blessings through their sacrifices, although the one addressed his prayers to the Eternal and Merciful King, whilst the other bowed down before an impotent idol. The earliest stage of worship was that of sacrifices and offerings. These are found among nearly every nation of antiquity, and seem, therefore, to be prompted by a common human feeling. Yet with respect to them a clear progress is discernible.

In the remotest times and among the least cultivated nations, sacrifices were offered from motives of awe and fear. The worshippers wished to propitiate their gods, and to avert their wrath. Gradually a feeling of gratitude pervaded their hearts ; successful men were proud of their flocks and herds, of their vineyards and olivegroves, and they conveyed their thanks to the deities by appropriate sacrifices. Still later, when beauty, ease, and comfort found their way into man's life, he was induced, by a sentiment of joy, to share with the gods the best parts of his property; sacrificial repasts were held, in which the worshipper appeared as a friend of his god

Thus there were successively fear-offerings, thank-offerings, and joy-offerings.

Moreover, vows were a most important form of religious service. A person about to engage in some difficult or dangerous enterprise, pledged himself, in case of success or deliverance, to a self-imposed sacrifice, that is, he offered a vow. This feeling, honourable in itself, became, however, too often a fearful evil by a narrow-minded application. A vow was deemed irrevocable, even if it was fatal and criminal in its effects, even if it demanded the life of a beloved and innocent child.

But in the lapse of ages, as religious education advanced, it was felt that man ought not only to demand benefits, or express his gratitude when he had received them, but that, before he approached the altar with his gifts and supplications, he ought to expiate the guilty deeds which weighed upon his conscience. Thus his sacrifices became sin-offerings and purifications. And then profound minds became aware that the innate frailty of man will ever make him liable to transgression, and that sin-offerings were required not merely for special offences, but for human life in general with its temptations and moral trials. Thus humility-sacrifices were introduced, the last and highest stage of offering, the one nearest allied to the sacrifice of the heart and spirit-to prayer. But to prayer as a principal mode of worship, the ancient Hebrews were not permitted to advance. Supplications are indeed to be found in the Scriptures ; but the prayers of Hannah, of David, of Solomon, and others, though beautiful and breathing piety and fervour, were only regarded as additions to sacrificial offerings; and though they were often the spontaneous outpourings of gratitude, despair, and entreaty, they were not an invariable or indispensable part of wor:ship. The sacrifices were the material expression of prayer, and the different

kinds of offering explained sufficiently what prayer they denoted.

We shall now consider the sacrifices of the Hebrews as ordained in the Pentateuch. For this purpose, we shall have recourse to a work from which we have obtained assistance before.1

The sacrifices consisted either of animal or of vegetable offerings. As a rule, the burnt-, the expiatory, and the purification-offerings were animal sacrifices, while the thank-offerings could be either animal or vegetable. The sacrifices of animals were generally accompanied by a cereal offering, and by a libation of wine or a drinkoffering

The following table comprises the chief offerings of the Hebrews :

I. Burnt-offering—exclusively an animal sacrifice.
II. Joy-offering—either animal or vegetable.

1. Praise-offering.
2. Thank-offering.
3. Paschal-offering.
4. Offering of first-born animals.
5. Offering of firstfruits.

a. Offering of the first new ears of corn.
b. Offering of the first new bread.
c. Offering of the firstfruits of other vege-

table productions. III. Expiatory Offering.

1. Sin-offering—mainly animal.
2. Trespass-offering--animal.

3. Offering of jealousy-vegetable. IV. Purification-offering--mainly animal.

1. After childbirth.
· Kalisch, Commentary on Leviticus, Part I.

« AnteriorContinuar »