Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 15

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verses 1-2

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

Speak unto the children of Israel. Some infer from Numbers 15:23 that the date of this communication must be fixed toward the close of the wanderings in the wilderness, and also that all the sacrifices prescribed in the law were to be offered only after the settlement in Canaan. At all events, after the great change which had taken place in the prospects of the people, the legislation henceforth recorded, as might have been expected, is prospective, having respect to what should be done when the next generation should enter Canaan.

Verse 3

And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:

A burnt offering. It is evident that a peace offering is referred to, because this term is frequently used in such a sense (Exodus 18:12; Leviticus 17:5).

Verse 4

Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the LORD bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil.

Tenth deal - i:e., an omer, the tenth part of an ephah (Exodus 16:36). fourth part of an hin of oil. This element shows it to have been different from such meat offerings as were made by themselves, and not merely accompaniments of other sacrifices.

Verse 5

And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 6-12

Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil.

Two tenth deals. The quantity of flour was increased, because the sacrifice was of superior value to the former. The accessory sacrifices were always increased in proportion to the greater worth and magnitude of its principal.

Verse 13

All that are born of the country shall do these things after this manner, in offering an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD. No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 14-16

And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whosoever be among you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD; as ye do, so he shall do.

A stranger - one who had become a proselyte. There was not any of the national privileges of the Israelites, with hardly an exception, in which the Gentile stranger might not, on conforming to certain conditions, fully participate.

Verses 17-18

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 19

Then it shall be, that, when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the LORD.

When ye eat of the bread of the land. The offering prescribed was to precede the act of eating.

Unto the Lord - i:e., the priests of the Lord (Ezekiel 44:30).

Verse 20

Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.

A cake of the first of your dough, [ chalaah (H2471)] - a cake (2 Samuel 6:19) especially as offered in sacrifices (Leviticus 8:26; Leviticus 24:5). This law respecting chalaah was scrupulously obeyed; and it is still one of the only three mazowt duties which, according to rabbinical law, a woman has to perform. 'Though the Jews have neither temple nor priest, yet they strictly observe the offering of the first of their dough of the special loaves which they take for the Sabbath. These loaves are therefore commonly called and known by the name of chalaah. Since the mother of the family kneads the dough for the Sabbath loaves always herself, she breaks off a piece as soon as it is ready, and says the following benediction: "Blessed art thou, O Lord, King of the universe, who hast sanctified with thy commands, and hast commanded us to separate the chalaah." The, piece so separated is then thrown into the fire.' The apostle Paul doubtless refers to this observance, Romans 11:16.

Heave offering of the threshing-floor - meaning the grain on the threshing-floor, i:e., after harvest.

So shall ye heave it - to the priests, accompanying the ceremony with the same rites.

Verse 21

Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the LORD an heave offering in your generations.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 22

And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the LORD hath spoken unto Moses,

If ye have erred ... - respecting the performance of divine worship, and the rites and ceremonies that constitute the holy service. This law relates only to any omission, and consequently is quite different from that laid down, Leviticus 4:13, which implies a transgression or positive neglect of some observances required. This law relates to private parties, or individual tribes; that to the whole congregation of Israel.

Verse 23

Even all that the LORD hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the LORD commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations;

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 24-26

Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.

If ought be committed by ignorance. The Mosaic ritual was complicated, and the ceremonies to be gone through in the various instances of purification which are specified, would expose a worshipper, through ignorance, to the risk of omitting or neglecting some of them. This law included the stranger in the number of those for whom the sacrifice was offered for the sin of general ignorance.

Verse 27

And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.

If any soul sin through ignorance - not only in common with the general body of the people, but this personal sins were to be expiated in the same manner.

Verses 28-29

And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 30

But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Doeth ought presumptuously, [ bªyaad (H3027) raamaah (H7411), with a high or uplifted hand] - i:e., knowingly, willfully, obstinately. In this sense the phraseology occurs, Exodus 14:8; Leviticus 26:21; Psalms 19:13.

The same reproacheth the Lord - sets him at open defiance, and dishonours His majesty.

Verse 31

Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.

His iniquity shall be upon him - i:e., the punishment of his sins shall fall on himself individually; no guilt shall be incurred by the nation, unless there is a criminal carelessness in overlooking the offence.

Verses 32-34

And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

A man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day. This incident is evidently, narrated as an instance of presumptuous sin. The mere gathering of sticks was not a sinful act, and might be necessary for fuel to warm him, or to make ready his food. But its being done on the Sabbath altered the entire character of the action. The law of the Sabbath being a plain and positive commandment, this transgression of it was a known and willful sin, and it was marked by several aggravations: for the deed was done with unblushing boldness in broad daylight, in open defiance of the divine authority-in flagrant inconsistency with the man's religious connection with Israel, as the covenant people of God; and it was an application to improper purposes of time which God had consecrated to Himself and the solemn duties of religion.

The offender was brought before the rulers, who, on hearing the painful report, were at a loss to determine what ought to be done. That they should have felt any embarrassment in such a case may seem surprising, in the face of the Sabbath law (Exodus 31:14). Their difficulty probably arose from this being the first public offence of the kind which had occurred; and the appeal might be made to remove all ground of complaint-to produce a more striking effect, and that the fate of this criminal might be a beacon to warn all Israelites in future.

Infidels have invariably fixed on this incident as stamping upon the Mosaic legislation the brand of odious cruelty, and awarding a punishment altogether disproportionate to the offence. It is impertinent to view it with modern notions of liberty about the rights of conscience and the claims of religious toleration. Such principles are totally inapplicable to the special constitution under which the Hebrews lived, and the sensible evidence they daily enjoyed, in the presence of the cloudy column, that a living Deity protected and ruled over them. To Him they owed not only submission as the object of their worship, but the duty of faithful allegiance as Head of the state to which they belonged. The violation of the Sabbath law, therefore, was a political as well as a religious offence. Colenso infers, from the tenor of Numbers 15:32, that this record of the incident was made after the Israelites had emerged from the wilderness. Very probably; it was not until they had departed from Hazeroth that they entered into the wilderness of Paran (Numbers 12:16; Numbers 14:16: cf. Numbers 33:18 with verse 37), and they left when they approached the border of the Edomite territory.

Verses 35-36

And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

The Lord said ... The man ... to death. The Lord was King, as well as God of Israel, and the offence being a violation of the law of the realm, the Sovereign Judge gave orders that this man should be put to death, and, moreover, required the whole congregation to unite in executing the fatal sentence.

Verse 37

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 38

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: Bid them that they make them fringes. These were narrow strips, in a wing-like form, wrapped over the shoulders, and on various parts of the attire. 'Fringe,' however, is the English rendering of two distinct Hebrew words-the one meaning a narrow lappet or edging, called the 'hem or border' (Matthew 23:5; Luke 8:44) which, in order to make it more attractive to the eye, and consequently more serviceable to the purpose described, was covered with a ribbon of a blue, or rather purple colour; the other term signifies strings with tassels at the end, fastened to the corners of the garment. Both of these are seen on the Egyptian (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' b. 2:, ch. 81:; Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt.,' vol. 3:, ch. 9:, p. 141) and Assyrian frocks; and as the Jewish people were commanded by express and repeated ordinances to have them, the fashion was rendered subservient, in their case, to awaken high and religious associations-to keep them in habitual remembrance of the divine commandments.

Verses 39-40

And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 41

I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.

I am the Lord your God. The import of this solemn conclusion is, that though He was displeased with them for their frequent rebellions, for which they would be doomed to 40 years' wandering, He would not abandon them, but continue His divine protection and care of them, until they were brought into the land of promise.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 15". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/numbers-15.html. 1871-8.
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