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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 15

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The contents of the next five chapters must apparently be referred to the long period of wandering to which Numbers 14:33 the people were condemned.

Verse 2

To the Israelites of the younger generation is conveyed the hope that the nation should yet enter into the land of promise. The ordinances that follow are more likely to have been addressed to adults than to children; and we may therefore assume that at the date of their delivery the new generation was growing up, and the period of wandering drawing toward its close. During that period the meat-offerings and drink-offerings prescribed by the Law had been probably intermitted by reason of the scanty supply of grain and wine in the wilderness. The command therefore to provide such offerings was a pledge to Israel that it should possess the land which was to furnish the wherewithal for them.

Verses 4-12

The meat-offering is treated in Leviticus 2:0. The drink-offering Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13, hitherto an ordinary accessory to the former, is now prescribed forevery sacrifice.

Verse 18

The general principle which includes the ordinance of this and the three verses following is laid down in Exodus 22:29; Exodus 23:19.

Verses 20-21

Dough - “Coarse meal” Nehemiah 10:37; Ezekiel 44:30.

Verses 22-31

The heavy punishments which had already overtaken the people might naturally give rise to apprehensions for the future, especially in view of the fact that on the approaching entrance into Canaan the complete observance of the Law in all its details would become imperative on them. To meet such apprehensions a distinction is emphatically drawn between sins of ignorance (Leviticus 4:13 ff) and those of presumption Numbers 15:30-31. The passage deals separately with imperfections of obedience which would be regarded as attaching to the whole nation Numbers 15:22-26, and those of individuals Numbers 15:27-30.

Numbers 15:24

Without the knowledge of the congregation - literally, as marginal. The words point to an error of omission which escaped notice at the time: i. e. to an oversight.

Numbers 15:30

Presumptuously - The original (compare the margin, and Exodus 14:8) imports something done willfully and openly; in the case of a sin against God it implies that the act is committed ostentatiously and in bravado.

Reproacheth the Lord - Rather, revileth or blasphemeth the Lord: compare Ezekiel 20:27.

Verse 32

Moses mentions here, as is his wont (compare Leviticus 24:10-16), the first open transgression and its punishment in order to exemplify the laws which he is laying down. The offence of Sabbath-breaking was one for which there could be no excuse. This law at least might be observed even in the wilderness. Transgression of it was therefore a presumptuous sin, and was punished accordingly.

Verse 34

Death had indeed been assigned as the penalty Exodus 31:14; Exodus 35:2; but it had not been determined how that death was to be inflicted.

Verse 38

That they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue - Reader that they add to the fringes of the borders (or corners) a thread of blue (compare the marginal references). These fringes are considered to be of Egypttian origin. The ordinary outer Jewish garment was a quadrangular piece of cloth like a modern plaid, to the corners of which, in conformity with this command, a tassel was attached. Each tassel had a conspicuous thread of deep blue, this color being doubtless symbolic of the heavenly origin of the commandments of which it was to serve as a memento. Tradition determined that the other threads should be white - this color being an emblem of purity (compare Isaiah 1:18). The arrangement of the threads and knots, to which the Jews attached the greatest importance, was so adjusted as to set forth symbolically the 613 precepts of which the Law was believed to consist. In our Lord’s time the Pharisees enlarged their fringes Matthew 23:5 in order to obtain reputation for their piety. In later times howerer, the Jews have worn the fringed garment (tālı̂̄th) of a smaller size and as an under-dress. Its use is still retained, especially at morning prayer in the Synagogue.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Numbers 15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/numbers-15.html. 1870.
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