16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.
17 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
18 Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.
19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:
20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord:
21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.
K.J.V. Bible Text
Just as I anticipated in yesterday’s reading, today’s reading tells us that the atonement money (the ransom for the souls) of the children of Israel shall be appointed for the service of the tabernacle.
The chapter continues with the Lord describing a laver of brass that is to be between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar where water will be kept for Aaron and his sons to wash their hands and feet. Verse 20 says, “When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord:
Again in verse 21 is the warning that they must wash their hands and feet that they die not.
What does this mean to me? Well I immediately think of the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness.” It would seem in the first place that it would be disrespectful to the Lord for a priest to approach him if he were not “clean as a whistle.” Also, however, I immediately see that the priests are to wash before they go to the altar to burn the offering. We know that with clean hands the meat offering would not be polluted with bacteria. While a portion of the offering is always for the Lord, portions of the sacrificial animals will also serve as food for Aaron and his sons and for succeeding members of the Jewish Priesthood so cleanliness will help assure good health for the priests.
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