Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, September 23rd, 2023
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
Take our poll

Bible Commentaries
Numbers 9

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-14


What command is given Moses in Numbers 5:1-31 .

What is the next command, and where has this previously been treated (Numbers 5:5-10 )? It must not be supposed that such repetitions are merely such.

There is always a reason for the repetition which the context will commonly disclose.

THE TRIAL OF JEALOUSY (Numbers 5:11-31 )

The trial of jealousy contains some new features to which attention should be called. As usual, get the facts in mind by a process of questioning, before attempting to generalize upon them.

The law provides for jealousy in a husband whether he has good ground for it or not (Numbers 5:12-14 ). What is he to do under the circumstances (Numbers 5:15 )? What preparations shall the priest make (Numbers 5:16-18 )? Then follows the adjuration of the woman and her assent to it (Numbers 5:22 ), and after this the actual test of her conduct (Numbers 5:27-28 ).

The law was given as a discouragement to conjugal unfaithfulness on the part of a wife, and as a protection from the consequences of a wrong suspicion on the part of her husband. From the earliest times, the jealousy of Eastern people has established ordeals for the detection and punishment of suspected unchastity in wives. And it has been thought that the Israelites being biased in favor of such usages, this law was incorporated to free it from the idolatrous rites which the heathens had blended with it. Viewed in this light, its sanction by Divine authority in a corrected form exhibits a proof at once of the wisdom and condescension of God.


This chapter is new in some respects. It concerns the vow of the Nazarite, from a Hebrew word which means to separate. This was a voluntary consecration of the person such as we studied about under “vows” in a former lesson. He has a strong impulse towards a holy life, and renounces certain worldly occupations and pleasures to that end, for a given period.

What is the first thing marking his separation (Numbers 6:3-4 )? The second (Numbers 6:5 )? Third (Numbers 6:6-8 )? Suppose the vow in this last respect were accidentally violated (Numbers 6:9-12 )? After the period of the vow is terminated, what is the procedure (Numbers 6:13-20 )?

The reasons for these restrictions are obvious. Wine inflames the passions and creates a taste for undue indulgences. As a shaven head was a sign of uncleanness (Leviticus 14:8-9 ), so the long hair symbolized the purity he professed. It kept him in remembrance of his vow also, and acted as a stimulus for others to imitate his piety. Contact with a dead body, as we have seen, disqualified for God’s service, hence his avoidance of it.


Observe the doctrine of the Trinity foreshadowed in the three-fold repetition of the Name “ LORD ” or Jehovah three Persons and yet but one God. Observe their respective offices. The Father will bless and keep us; the Son will be gracious unto us; the Spirit will give us peace. Observe the last verse. It is not the name of man that is put upon them, not even Moses’ name nor Aaron’s, but God’s own Name, “I will bless them.”


Who were these princes (Numbers 7:2 )? What was the first offering they brought (Numbers 7:3 )? Why were none given the Kohathites (Numbers 7:9 )? (Compare 2 Samuel 6:6-13 for a violation of this rule.) What other offerings did they present and for what purpose (Numbers 7:84-88 )? What shows the voluntary nature of these offerings (Numbers 7:5 )?

There are two or three practical lessons here. In the first place, an example to wealthy Christians to generously support and further the work of the Lord. Secondly, an encouragement to believe that while in the great matters of worship and church government we should adhere faithfully to what God has revealed, yet in minor details liberty may be left to the means and convenience of the people. Moses would not have accepted and used these gifts, but God relieved his embarrassment, from which we infer that other things may be done without a special warrant if they are in the right direction, and in general harmony with God’s will.

Where were the wagons obtained? Did they bring them from Egypt, or did Hebrew artisans construct them in the wilderness? The latter inquiry suggests that some of the offerings in this chapter may not have come entirely from the individual “prince,” but have represented the general contributions of the tribe.


The last verse of the preceding chapter seems to belong to the present one. What great honor was accorded Moses? Though standing outside the veil

he could hear the voice of God within (Exodus 25:22 ). Compare John 14:21 .

What is now communicated to Moses (Numbers 8:1-4 )? It was Aaron’s duty, as the servant of God, to light His house, which, being without windows, required lights. (2 Peter 1:19 .) And the course he was ordered to follow was first to light the middle lamp from the altar fire, and then the other lamps from each other a course symbolical of all the light of heavenly truth derived from Christ, and diffused by his ministers throughout the world.


What cleansing process was ordained (Numbers 8:6-7 )? What offerings required (Numbers 8:8 )? Who were to lay their hands on the Levites (Numbers 8:10 )? Perhaps some of the firstborn did this, thus indicating the substitution of the Levites in their place.

What was the next step in their consecration (Numbers 8:11 )? The word for offer in this verse is “wave,” and the probability is that some such motion was made by the Levites in token of their giving themselves to God and then being given back again to the nation for His service. (Compare Numbers 8:14-19 .) What seeming contradiction is there between Numbers 8:24 and Numbers 4:3 ? The probably explanation is that at the earlier age they entered on their work as probationers and at the later as fully equipped servitors. At the age of fifty were they to entirely cease labor, or is there an intimation in Numbers 8:26 that lighter tasks were assigned them?

A NEW PASSOVER LAW (Numbers 9:1-14 )

What is the command in Numbers 9:1-23 It may seem strange that any command should be given in this case, till we recall that Israel was still in the wilderness, and the institution of the Passover only implied its being observed in Canaan (Exodus 12:25 ). To have it observed under present conditions required a special command.

But the circumstance is spoken of here to introduce the case next referred to (Numbers 9:1-14 ). What is the case (Numbers 9:6-8 )? What special provision is made for it (Numbers 9:9-11 )?


1. What reasons can you give for the law of jealousy?

2. How are Divine wisdom and condescension shown in that law?

3. Give your conception of a Nazarite.

4. Explain the restraints he was to observe.

5. Learn by heart the Aaronic benediction.

6. What precious doctrine does it unfold?

7. What practical lessons are taught by chapter 7?

8. What is symbolized by the lighting of the lamps?

Verses 15-23


The people had been at Sinai for about a year (compare Exodus 19:1 ). They were refreshed after their Egyptian servitude. The law had been given, the tabernacle erected, and the means and method of approach to God had been revealed. Thus had they entered on a course of moral and religious training which inspired them with a conviction of their high destiny, and prepared them to begin their journey to the promised land.

The events of this lesson revolve around the initial step of this journey, and include the following:

1. directions about the guiding cloud (Numbers 9:15-23 ) 2. directions about the trumpets (Numbers 10:1-10 ) 3. record of the first three days (Numbers 10:11-28 ) 4. Moses’ request to Hobab (Numbers 10:29-32 ) 5. Moses’ prayer (Numbers 10:33-36 ).


We have sufficiently considered the subject of the cloud (Exodus 13:0 ). Of what was it the signal (Numbers 10:17 )? To what was its action equivalent (Numbers 10:18 )? What indicates their strict obedience to this signal (Numbers 10:22-23 )?


The Egyptian trumpets which called their votaries to the temples were short and curved like ram’s horns, but these of Moses, to judge by those represented on the arch of Titus, were long and straight, much like our own. Of what, and how were they to be made (Numbers 10:2 )? What was their purpose (Numbers 10:2-3 )? How many different calls were described (Numbers 10:4-7 )? Who could use the trumpets (Numbers 10:8 )? Observe verse 9, and compare Numbers 31:6 and 2 Chronicles 13:12 . Sounding the trumpets on the eve of battle was a solemn and religious act, animating the hearts of those engaged in a righteous cause. It was a promise that God would be aroused to aid with his presence in the battle.


Probably this relative of Moses remained during a part of their encampment at Sinai, but it was natural that as they started north, he should like to remain in his own neighborhood and with his own people.

But why Moses should have importuned him to remain with them as a guide when they had the “cloud” for that purpose is a question. The answer seems to be that the cloud showed the general route, but did not point out minutely where pasture, shade and water were to be obtained, and which were often hid in obscure spots by the shifting sand. Then too, detachments of the Israelites may have been sent off from the main body. Hobab meant more to them than a single individual, for he was doubtless, prince of a clan, and hence could render considerable service.

Notice the motive Moses places before him (Numbers 10:29 ), and the reward he promises him (Numbers 10:32 ), and yet, it does not influence him favorably, if we may so interpret Judges 1:16 and 1 Samuel 15:6 .

Preachers will find a text for a gospel sermon in these words of Moses. They are:

A confession: “We are journeying”; An invitation: “Come thou with us”; A promise: “We will do thee good”; A testimony: “The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.”


1. About how long had Israel remained at Sinai?

2. What five events are included in this lesson?

3. How would you interpret the trumpets on the eve of battle?

4. How explain Moses’ request of Hobab?

5. Can you give a homiletic outline of Numbers 10:29 ?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Numbers 9". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/numbers-9.html. 1897-1910.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile