Inauguration of the Tabernacle and Priests

Leviticus 8:1-36

In this chapter, God tells Moses to anoint the Tabernacle, Aaron and his sons so that they may begin their service. The inauguration takes place in front of the entire Assembly of Israel. Moses immerses his brother in water and dresses him in his High Priestly garments. He then anoints the Tabernacle and everything in it.


Then Moses performs the rites for the sacrifice brought by Aaron and his sons — a sin offering of a bull.  The priests place their hands on the head of the animal as Moses slaughters it, then its blood is alternately dabbed and poured on the altar. Parts of the bull are offered on the altar, and the remains are burned to ash. Another sacrifice, this time a ram for an elevation offering, is brought, then another ram, for the inauguration. From the inauguration ram, some of the blood is dabbed on Aaron’s right ear, thumb and toe. This ritual is repeated for his sons. Part of this offering is burned on the altar, part is given to Moses, and part is given to Aaron and his sons to eat in the Tabernacle. Moses sprinkles them with a combination of anointing oil and the blood of the sacrifice. The new priests are instructed to remain in the Tabernacle for seven days to complete their inauguration.


The Israel Bible points out that Kings of Israel, like the priests, are anointed with oil. However, says Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda of Berlin, the two acts have very different purposes. Kings are anointed to give them power, while priests are anointed to sanctify them in new levels of holiness.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

The inauguration is the only time Moses performs the priestly service. Why do you think the role was given in perpetuity to his brother Aaron instead?

Comments ( 11 )

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  • Angela B

    The role was given to Aaron and his family in perpetuity because we are all members of the same family of God, it is just that we have different roles to play for the building up of the whole family.

    • Chandra Goldstein

      Aaron was the first born son. Even though Moses served as prophet, he also served as priest in some regard, but Aaron was the high priest.

  • Martin Weatherston

    Exodus 7:1 tells us that Moses’ brother Aharon was called by Adonai to be his prophet. This was, however, only for the season of deliverance from Pharoah’s Egypt. Once they enter Sinai as the chosen people, Adonai intructs Moshe to appoint Aharon and his sons to serve Him as priests (28:1). This was to become a permanent ordinance.
    Rabbi Yehuda was right when he said that, whilst the office of priest and prophet may be inter-changeable, the office of king was not. Not until Messiah combines all three offices in one person, that is. Blessed be His holy name.

  • SueJean Heinz

    I simply think that Moshe had enough on his plate. He was over-burdened in trying to provide the leadership that the people needed. His father-in-law basically taught him the importance of delegating tasks in order of importance. That was an important step for the nation to add more leadership levels.
    The role of the Priesthood falling to Aaron and the Levites was a task equal to that which Moshe carried. Both men were vital to the growth and potential of this large mass of people. Aaron was responsible for the actions of an entire tribe that was responsible for the spiritual life of the nation of Y’srael.
    Baruch Hashem.

  • Kenneth Osterman

    Thank you for your great comments.
    I appreciate all the comments below that reference the important offices of Prophet, Mediator, Priest, King and Messiah. As we look at the lives of these men we glean insights into the anticipated and great work of the Messiah which will encompass the spirit of their assigned works & purposes but will far surpass the outcomes of these anointed ones.

  • Diana Brown

    I have been taught the rabbis of old have passages that when these two positions before the Lord are found in One, that will be Messiah-Branch from David-King. Messiah was also prophesied to come to Israel (the only Nation promised a Messiah) before the Second Temple was destroyed. Do you have a drash on this Danielle?

    • Danielle Reisman

      Thanks for the comment! I looked into this a lot over the weekend and I’d be curious to hear where you heard that these two positions can be found in the same person. Judaism teaches that priests are not allowed to be kings, and vice versa; that’s why, the Sages say, the Hasmonean line of kings collapsed. I’ve also never heard of a promise for Messiah before the destruction of the Second Temple.

      • Diana Brown

        Daniel 9:26 prophecy that the Messiah of Israel would be born and die before the destruction of the 70AD Temple. Psalm 118:22 says Messiah would be rejected but would later be exalted.

      • Michael

        Danielle… Doesn’t God point to the Messiah in Genesis 3:15 ? Where he says to the serpent(Satan) and I will put enmity between thee and the woman and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.

  • Theresa

    Moses and Aaron both have a different calling and purpose. Moses calls himself a prophet in Deuteronomy 18, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” Moses is the prophet, Aaron is the priest, and later Saul and David were king. The prophet anoints the priest and king, setting them apart for service.

    • Danielle Reisman

      The Jews built the Mishkan at God’s request. G-d wanted the Mishkan so He could dwell in their midst. Moses was very much the mediator between God and the people, while Aaron and his sons helped the people fulfill their duties in serving God.

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