Inauguration of the Tabernacle and Priests
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃ Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying: וַיַּעַשׂ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה יְהֹוָה בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה׃ And Aharon and his sons did all the things that Hashem had commanded through Moshe.
וַיְדַבֵּר יְהֹוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר׃
Hashem spoke to Moshe, saying:
וַיַּעַשׂ אַהֲרֹן וּבָנָיו אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּה יְהֹוָה בְּיַד־מֹשֶׁה׃
And Aharon and his sons did all the things that Hashem had commanded through Moshe.
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?