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Bible Commentaries

Adam Clarke Commentary
Numbers 15




Directions concerning the different offerings they should bring unto the Lord when they should come to the land of Canaan, Numbers 15:1-3. Directions relative to the meat-offering, Numbers 15:4; to the drink-offering, Numbers 15:5. Of the burnt-offering, vow-offering, peace-offering, drink-offering, etc., Numbers 15:6-12. All born in the country must perform these rites, Numbers 15:13, and the strangers also, Numbers 15:14-16. They shall offer unto the Lord a heave-offering of the first-fruits of the land, Numbers 15:17-21. Concerning omissions through ignorance, and the sacrifices to be offered on such occasions, Numbers 15:22-29. He who sins presumptuously shall be cut off, Numbers 15:30, Numbers 15:31. History of the person who gathered sticks on the Sabbath, Numbers 15:32. He is brought to Moses and Aaron, Numbers 15:33. They put him in confinement till the mind of the Lord should be known on the case, Numbers 15:34. The Lord commands him to be stoned, Numbers 15:35. He is stoned to death, Numbers 15:36. The Israelites are commanded to make fringes to the borders of their garments, Numbers 15:37, Numbers 15:38. The end for which these fringes were to be made, that they might remember the commandments of the Lord, that they might be holy, Numbers 15:39-41.

Verse 2

When ye be come into the land - Some learned men are of opinion that several offerings prescribed by the law were not intended to be made in the wilderness, but in the promised land; the former not affording those conveniences which were necessary to the complete observance of the Divine worship in this and several other respects.

Verse 3

And will make an offering - For the different kinds of offerings, sacrifices, etc., see Leviticus 1:2, Leviticus 1:7.

Verse 5

The fourth part of a hin - The quantity of meal and flour was augmented in proportion to the size of the sacrifice with which it was offered. With a Lamb or a Kid were offered one tenth deal of flour, (the tenth part of an ephah, see on Exodus 29:40; (note)), the fourth part of a hin of oil, and the fourth part of a hin of wine. With a Ram, two tenth deals of flour, a third part of a hin of oil, and a third part of a hin of wine. With a Bullock, three tenth deals of flour, half a hin of oil, and half a hin of wine. See Numbers 15:4-11.

Verse 14

If a stranger sojourn - See the notes on Leviticus 19:33; Leviticus 22:9. When the case of the Jewish people is fairly considered, and their situation with respect to the surrounding idolatrous nations, we shall see the absolute necessity of having but one form of worship in the land. That alone was genuine which was prescribed by the Almighty, and no others could be tolerated, because they were idolatrous. All strangers - all that came to sojourn in the land, were required to conform to it; and it was right that those who did conform to it should have equal rights and privileges with the Hebrews themselves, which we find was the case. But under the Christian dispensation, as no particular form of worship is prescribed, the types and ceremonies of the Mosaic institution being all fulfilled, unlimited toleration should be allowed; and while the sacred writings are made the basis of the worship offered to God, every man should be allowed to worship according to his own conscience, for in this respect every one is

"Lord of himself, accountable to none

But to his conscience and his God alone."

Verse 20

Ye shall offer - the first of your dough - Concerning the offerings of first-fruits, see the notes on Exodus 22:29.

Verse 24

If aught be committed by ignorance - See the notes on Leviticus 4:2, and Leviticus 5:17. The case here probably refers to the whole congregation; the cases above, to the sin of an individual.

Verse 25

The priest shall make an atonement - Even sins committed through ignorance required an atonement; and God in his mercy has provided one for them.

Verse 30

But the soul that doeth aught presumptuously - Bold daring acts of transgression against the fullest evidence, and in despite of the Divine authority, admitted of no atonement; the person was to be cut off - to be excluded from God's people, and from all their privileges and blessings.

Probably the presumption mentioned here implied an utter contempt of the word and authority of God, springing from an idolatrous or atheistical mind. In such a case all repentance was precluded, because of the denial of the word and being of God. It is probably a case similar to that mentioned Hebrews 6:4-8; (note); Hebrews 10:26-31; (note); on which passages see the notes.

Verse 32

They found a man that gathered sticks upon the Sabbath - This was in all likelihood a case of that kind supposed above: the man despised the word of the Lord, and therefore broke his commandment; see Numbers 15:31. On this ground he was punished with the utmost rigor of the law.

Verse 36

Stoned him - See the note on Leviticus 24:23.

Verse 38

Bid them - make them fringes - We learn from Numbers 15:39; that these fringes were emblematical of the various commands of God. That there was any analogy between a fringe and a precept, it would be bold to assert; but when a thing is appointed to represent another, no matter how different, that first object be comes the regular representative or sign of the other. There is no analogy between the term bread and the farinaceous nutritive substance thereby signified; but because this term is used to express and represent that thing, every person thus understands it; and when the word bread is seen or heard, a perfect knowledge, not of the letters which compose that word, but of the thing signified by it, is conveyed to the mind. So the fringes, being appointed by God to represent and bring to mind the commandments of God, Numbers 15:39, the mention or sight of them conveyed the intelligence intended. All the Jews wore these, and so probably did our Lord; see Matthew 9:20, where the word κρασπε ον is rather to be understood of the fringe than of the hem of his garment.


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 15:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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