Sacerdotal Consecration Among the Israelites

Sacerdotal Consecration Among The Israelites.

Priests and high priests were consecrated to their offices with a variety of ceremonies, which are described at great length in the sacred books (Ex 29:1-37; Le 8:1-30; Ex 40:12-15; comp. Bahr, Symbolik, 2, 166 sq.). The service consisted chiefly of two parts (comp. Ex 29:29).

1. The proper consecration consisted of washing the whole body, investment, and anointing with the sacred oil. SEE UNGUENT. The latter, indeed, in Ex 29:7; Le 8:12, is mentioned only of the high priests; but that the common priests were also anointed is clear from Ex 40:15 (comp. 28:41); and the peculiarity of the anointing of the high priest seems to have been simply that the ointment was poured upon his head (29:7; Le 8:10), while the common priests were, perhaps, simply touched with the ointment on the hands, or, as the rabbins say, on the brow.

2. A sacrifice then followed. Three beasts were led to the altar, and the hands of the new made priest were laid upon them. First a young bull was presented as a sin offering, and essentially treated as a sin offering of the first class. SEE SIN-OFFIERING. A ram was slain as a burned offering, according to the usual ceremonial; and finally the Ram of Consecration. Blood from this ram was placed on the ear laps, on the right thumb, and on the great toe of the right foot, and was sprinkled about the altar. The parts of the body touched with blood point out the members chiefly used in sacerdotal service. (On the foot, comp. Ex 28:35. See Bahr, op. cit. p. 425. Comp. the five places touched by the Catholics in extreme unction. Their priests at consecration have only the hands anointed.) Now the bodies and the clothing of the candidates were again sprinkled, this time with a mixture of the blood of the sacrifice and oil. The final ceremony was this: those parts of the ram of consecration which in the case of a thank-offering were raised and waved were placed, with some unleavened bread, upon the hands of the persons consecrated, and waved, and finally burned upon the altar, the "breast of the wave-offering" and the "shoulder of the heave-offering" alone excepted. On the symbolic meaning of this ceremony, SEE CONSECRATION OFFERING.

The ceremony of consecration, perhaps only the sacrifices of it, was to be repeated seven days (Ex 29:35), and the priests were forbidden during this time to leave the sanctuary. It is not very probable that this minute ceremonial was carried out at the ordination of all Jewish priests. According to the rabbins, it was only necessary at the first institution of the priesthood, and afterwards each common priest, on entering upon his office, was only required to present the meat-offering (Le 6:12,14 sq.). SEE CONSECRATION; SEE PRIEST.

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