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Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 15

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-12


Verses l-12:

There is a gap of thirty-eight years in Israel’s history of wilderness wandering, beginning and ending at Kadesh. The only event of importance which occurred in this period is recorded in Nu 16. There is no specific place or time assigned to it.

The explanation of this gap may be found in the fact that the history of Israel is the history of the theocracy. During this period, Israel was in a "holding stage," caused by their refusal to follow Jehovah’s directive to enter the Land. While He did not summarily slay the rebels at the time they refused to enter Canaan, God did turn them back to live out their lives as nomads, and to raise up a generation who would follow Him to possess the Land.

Some hints are given in a few Scripture passages, from which conclusions and inferences may be drawn concerning this blank space in Israel’s history:

1. De 8:1-6; 29:5, 6; 1Co 10:4: God continued to supply manna each day for their food. He gave them water when they needed it. He provided that their clothing and shoes should not wear out. These are life’s necessities.

2. Jos 5:4-8: The ordinance of circumcision was discontinued during this period of wandering. The inference may be drawn that the Passover observance was also neglected, as well as the entire sacrificial system.

3. Eze 20:10-26: This implies that the people lapsed into idolatry during their wanderings, offering their children to Molech.

In this Nu are additional instructions regarding the sacrificial offerings, as they were to be observed when Israel occupied the Land of Promise. Verses 1-12 give the exact proportions for the Meat (food) Offering and the Drink Offering, which were to accompany the Whole Burnt Offering, see Lev. Chapters 1, 2.

The animals offered in the Burnt Offering might be-from the flock, a lamb or a kid; a ram; or a bullock. These are the proportions to be strictly observed:

1. If it was a lamb or kid, the Meat (food) Offering was to consist of .6 gallon of flour, mingled with one quart of oil. The Drink Offering was one quart of wine. ("Deal" is also translated "ephah," a measure of about six gallons. "Hin" is a measure of about one gallon.)

2. If it was a ram, the Meat Offering was to be 1.2 gallons of flour, mingled with one-third gallon of oil. The Drink Offering was one-third gallon of wine.

3. If it was a bullock, the Meat Offering was to be 1.8 gallons of flour with two quarts of oil. The Drink Offering was to be two quarts of wine.

(Note: Review Leviticus chs 2, 3, and the notes thereon.)

Verses 13-16

Verses 13-16:

The sacrificial laws applied alike to native-born Israelites and to non-Israelites.

"Stranger," gar, "sojourner;" proselutos (Septuagint) from which "proselyte" comes. The term likely applies to those who were not Israelites but who were living as residents in the Land, and not to those who were merely passing through on business.

Verses 17-21

Verses 17-21:

There is no indication of the time or occasion of this text. It may have been near the end of the wandering period, preparing the younger generation for the time when they would occupy the Land.

The younger Israelites had not tasted bread. Their diet during the wilderness wandering consisted mainly of manna, and on occasion, meat. They likely looked forward to the time when they would be able to eat bread, see Jos 5:11, 12.

The "Heave Offering" is noted in Le 7:12-14. God had already ordered the dedication of the first-fruits, Ex 22:29; 23:19.

The Bread Offering was not to be made daily. It was to be made of the new grain of the harvest, and was to be offered in the same manner as the ears of grain from the threshing-floor, Le 2:14; 23:10. This was to become a perpetual statute, throughout Israel’s generations.

Verses 22-26

Verses 22-26:

The Law was complex, and covered every aspect of Israel’s life: personal, family, social, - business, and political. It would be difficult for one to know all the many statutes and regulations. Thus it was likely that one might violate the Law through ignorance, either by omitting some provision, or violating some command. The text provides for such a sin of ignorance.

Lev ch 4 mandates the Sin Offering for sins of ignorance. Emphasis in that case is upon sins of commission. The present text places emphasis upon sins of omission.

This text deals with sins of ignorance on a national level, where the entire populace was guilty. The offering was to consist of one young bullock, with the appropriate food and drink offerings previously described, for the sin of the people. It was to be preceded by an offering of a young kid, for the cleansing and sanctification of the officiating priest.

Sin is sin, whether committed ignorantly or knowingly; or whether it be an overt act or a failure to act. God makes provision for all sin, and man is inexcusable for failing to appropriate this provision, Ro 1:18-21; Jas 4:17.

Verses 27-29

Verses 27-29:

This text prescribes the offering to be made by an individual who sinned ignorantly. The offering in this case was to be a female kid goat, after the manner prescribed in Le ch 4, and in the preceding verses.


Verses 30-31

Verses 30, 31:

"Presumptuously," beyad raman, "with a high hand," or defiantly. This refers to an act of deliberate defiance against Jehovah.

"Reproacheth," gadaph, "revile," translated "blaspheme" in 2 Kings 19:6, 22; Ps 44:16; Isa 37:6, 23; Eze 20:27.

The one who deliberately defies Jehovah and speaks against Him thus declares himself His enemy, and in effect challenges Him to combat.

The defiant rebel was to be "cut off" from among his people; i.e., he was to be destroyed from Israel, see Ex 12:15-19; Le 7:4, 10. This penalty could include:

1. Excommunication from Israel’s camp; and/or

2. Death.

Excommunication was on occasion followed by execution, Ex 31:14; Le 18:29, although death was not mandated by exclusion, Ex 12:19; Le 7:20, 21; Nu 19:9.

Verses 32-36

Verses 32-36:

This text is an example of a "presumptuous sin," and its penalty. The law of the Sabbath was such a vital part of Israel’s national life, and it was so publicized that none could claim ignorance.

The gathering of sticks was in itself no sin. It was likely for the purpose of building a cooking fire. But this was a clearly prohibited activity for the Sabbath day, Ex 20:8-11; 35:1-3.

The man who gathered sticks was arrested and brought before Moses, Aaron, and "all the congregation." God had given no specific instruction as to the penalty for violating the Sabbath law, so the accused was placed in custody until Moses could determine God’s direction in the matter.

God mandated capital punishment for the Sabbath-breaker. So, the man was taken outside the camp, where he was put to death by stoning, see Le 20:1, 2; 24:13.

"All the congregation" is a figure of speech, referring to chosen representatives who acted on behalf of the entire congregation.

"And he died," not because of what he had done, but because he had presumptuously defied God’s clear mandate. The man’s death does not imply that he lost his soul’s salvation. He lost his physical life, because of his defiance of God.

Verses 37-41

Verses 37-41:

The text is a provision regulating the design of the outer garments which the Israeli men wore.

"Fringes," tsitsith, "lock (of hair)," as in Eze 8:3. It appears in this text to denote tassels.

"Borders," kanaph, "wings," also translated "corner," Isa 11:12; Eze 7:2.

"Garments," beged, the outer garment or cloak.

"Ribband," pathil, "a thread."

"Blue," tekeleth, "violet.

A translation: "That they put a string or thread of violet-blue upon the tassel of the wing or corner." This appears to denote a prominent blue thread or ribbon in the tassel upon the four corners of the cloak worn as an outer garment.

The purpose: a constant, visible reminder of the Law and its commandments, and that the one wearing this distinctive mark was set apart as belonging exclusively to Jehovah God. When their eyes strayed toward the immoral practices of the heathen, they were to see first the ribbon of blue which would remind them of their relationship to God, and would prompt them to be faithful to Him.

This pictures the care that God’s child should take today to live a life pure and holy before Him, 1Co 9:26, 27; Ro 12:1, 2; 1Jo 2:15-17.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Numbers 15". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/numbers-15.html. 1985.
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