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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 7

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-89

The dedication of the tabernacle chs. 7-9

The revelation of ordinances and instructions designed to enhance the spiritual sanctification of the Israelites as they journeyed to the Promised Land ends with chapter 6. The narrative of events that transpired just before the nation began marching resumes with chapter 7. Chronologically, chapters 7-9 precede chapters 1-6.

The offerings at the dedication ch. 7

The presentation this chapter records took place at the time the Israelites dedicated the tabernacle (Numbers 7:1-2; cf. Leviticus 8:10).

"The purpose of this section of narrative is to show that as the people had been generous in giving to the construction of the tabernacle (Exodus 35:4-29), now they showed the same generosity in its dedication." [Note: Sailhamer, p. 379.]

First, the tribes presented six wagons and 12 oxen to carry the materials of the tabernacle (Numbers 7:1-9). The Gershonites received two wagons and the Merarites four. The Kohathites needed no wagons since they carried the sanctuary furniture with poles on their shoulders (cf. 2 Samuel 6:3; 2 Samuel 6:7-8).

Day in second year [Note: Allen, p. 757, after G. Wenham, p. 91.] EventText
Day 1, first monthCompletion of tabernacleExodus 40:2; Numbers 7:1
Laws for offerings beginLeviticus 1:1
Offerings for altar beginNumbers 7:3
Ordination of priests beginsLeviticus 8:1
Day 8, first monthOrdination of priests completedLeviticus 9:1
Day 12, first monthOfferings for altar completedNumbers 7:78
Appointment of LevitesNumbers 8:5
Day 14, first monthSecond PassoverNumbers 9:2
Day 1, second monthCensus beginsNumbers 1:1
Day 14, second monthPassover for those uncleanNumbers 9:11
Day 20, second monthThe cloud moves, the camp begins its trekNumbers 10:11

This long section-this chapter is the second longest in the Bible-records the presentation of gifts for the altar (Numbers 7:10) by each tribal prince (Numbers 7:12-88). The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalms 119. The Israelites spread the presentation out over 12 days, one per day, because it took a whole day to receive and sacrifice what each tribe presented. Each tribe offered exactly the same gifts. No tribe was superior or inferior to the others in this respect. Each had equal privilege and responsibility before God to worship and serve Him. Moses faithfully recorded the presentation of each gift, even though the record is repetitious, probably because each gift had equal value before God (cf. Hebrews 6:10).

"The account may strike us as repetitious, but this sort of formula was used by people in the ancient Eastern world to reflect ever-increasing joy: look how much these many people gave for their altar!" [Note: Maarsingh, p. 29.]

"The chapter stands as a monument to the pleasure of God who took enjoyment from the repetition-for these were grand gifts in the good days of his early relationship with his people. These were the honeymoon days of the marital relationship of the Lord and Israel (see Jeremiah 2:2-3). Each of the gifts is relished, as presentations by a lover in the early days of the bliss of marriage." [Note: Allen, p. 756.]

The fact that Moses heard God’s voice speaking to him from the most holy place indicates God’s acceptance of these gifts (Numbers 7:89). Moses, as the representative of the nation, and God, enjoyed a close relationship because of this sacrifice of worship. Evidently Moses heard a voice speaking to him from above the mercy seat, and that voice was God’s.

"The offering of the princes, then, was the spontaneous response of grateful hearts to the goodness and grace of God. This sets the question of Christian liberality in its true perspective, and the scriptural principle is not difficult to see. Where people are conscious of the blessing of God in their lives, they will give spontaneously-and keep on giving. Finance in the church is directly related to faith and consecration." [Note: Philip, p. 100.]

Note the moral order evidenced in chapters 6 and 7. First there was separation (Numbers 6:1-12), then worship (Numbers 6:13-21), then blessing (Numbers 6:22-27), and then service (ch. 7; cf. Hebrews 13:12-16).

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Numbers 7". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/numbers-7.html. 2012.
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