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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 7

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary



This historical item would naturally have been recorded in Leviticus at the beginning of chap. vii, before the account of the consecration of the tabernacle and its furniture. But it was deferred in order to preserve the continuity of the Sinaitic laws. Moreover, there is a logical consistency in the mention of these offerings immediately before the departure from Sinai, because they comprised the facilities necessary for the transportation of the tabernacle to Canaan. The presentation of the gifts could not have occupied the entire time of these twelve days, so that the publication of the laws was probably carried on during a portion of each day. The whole book of Leviticus occupied only a month. Hence we infer that a great economy of time was practised by Moses.

Verse 1

1. On the day Yom is here used indefinitely for the whole period of twelve days occupied in presenting the gifts.

Anointed it Because the sanctuary and altar were the principal things and sanctified the oblations. Matthew 23:17; Matthew 23:19; see Genesis 28:18; Leviticus 8:10-11, notes.

Verse 2

2. Princes of Israel See Numbers 1:5-10, notes.

Verse 3


3. Six covered wagons We cannot defend “litters” as the vehicles here intended, as argued by Gesenius and De Wette. The word עגלה etymologically signifies a rolling thing. This meaning is confirmed by its mention in connexion with yokes of oxen. Six times it is translated wagons, fifteen times cart, and once chariot. These covered wagons were probably constructed on Egyptian models. Herodotus mentions a four-wheeled Egyptian vehicle used for sacred purposes. Every two princes gave a wagon and each gave an ox. There is no record of any invitation given by Moses for the presentation of these, as there was in the case of the materials for the tabernacle. We have only a part of his sayings. See closing note on Leviticus 25:0.

Verse 5

5. To every man These gifts were to be distributed among the Levites as they needed them, giving the most to those families which were required to bear the heaviest burdens. See Numbers 4:21-28, notes.

Verse 7

7. The sons of Gershon, having the smallest number competent to serve, and having only the curtains, coverings, and hangings, received only two wagons and four oxen. See census of competent Levites, Numbers 4:34-49, notes.

Verse 8

8. The sons of Merari, though the most numerous, were required to transport the framework and boards of the tabernacle, the heaviest burden. Hence they received more wagons and oxen. Ithamar superintended both the Gershonites and the Merarites. Numbers 4:28; Numbers 4:33.

Verse 9

9. The sons of Kohath received no vehicles, because the sacred furniture might not be drawn by beasts. Only with the greatest precaution could it be approached and borne by its appointed Levitical guardians. Numbers 4:4-20, notes.

Verses 10-11

10, 11. In the day This “anointing” of the altar extended over a period of twelve days; so Knobel supposes that one day was allowed to each prince for the purpose of a greater display. But Mosaism makes no provision for ostentatious giving and worship, any more than does Christianity, which explicitly forbids it. Matthew 6:2-7, notes. A better reason is found in the nature and number of a portion of the gifts which were for immediate offering. Two hundred and fifty-two animals could not be slain and offered in one day by three priests, even if the altar had been sufficiently large, nor was it convenient to keep so large a drove at the door of the tabernacle till they could all be offered. Hence the extended time required for the presentation of these gifts, a few each day. Another reason is assigned in the following words, for the dedicating of the altar. By this protracted service and twelvefold offering the dedication of the altar was rendered impressive. See 1 Kings 8:63, note. The order in which the princes came with their offerings is that of the tribes in the camp. Numbers 2:0. Their names are the same as those of the census board associated with Moses in the enumeration of Israel. Numbers 1:5-15, note.

Verses 10-88

GIFTS FOR THE ALTAR, Numbers 7:10-88.

Each prince gave silver, gold, incense, fine flour, oil, specimens of all the sacrificial animals excepting birds, all the requisites, salt excepted, for all the kinds of offerings except the trespass offering. The aggregate was: silver, twenty-four hundred shekels; gold, one hundred and twenty shekels; twelve spoonfuls of incense; twenty-four vessels full of fine flour and oil; thirty-six bullocks and oxen; one hundred and forty-four sheep, and seventy-two goats. Considering the circumstances of the donors, these were truly princely offerings. Thus the princes testified their joy and faith in the coming Messiah, whom the altar prefigured, by whom they should offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. Hebrews 13:10-15.

Verse 13

13. Charger Rather, a dish or bowl for receiving water or blood. Throughout this chapter, and nowhere else, it is incorrectly translated charger; but in Numbers 4:7; Exodus 25:29; Exodus 37:16, it is rendered dish. The Arabic indicates that it was a deep dish. It is not probable that a mixture of flour and oil would have been brought in a platter.

Bowl Or basin, as in Numbers 4:14; Exodus 27:3; Exodus 38:3. Between the various vessels bearing the name of basin, bowl, charger, cup, and dish, it is impossible now to ascertain the precise distinction, as very few, if any, remains of early Jewish metal-ware are known to exist. The tabernacle must have been well supplied with basins or bowls of large capacity for receiving the blood of the sacrifices. Leviticus 1:5.

Shekel of the sanctuary See Numbers 3:47, note.

Meat offering See Leviticus ii, notes.

Verse 14

14. One spoon… of gold, full of incense Since incense symbolizes prayer, there is here strikingly typified the duty of accompanying our gifts to the Lord with earnest supplication. He cannot receive a prayerless offering such as the worldling sometimes brings to God’s altar.

Verse 15

15. Burnt offering See Leviticus 1:0, notes.

Verse 16

16. Sin offering See Leviticus 4:0, notes.

Verse 17

17. Peace offerings See Leviticus 3:0, and Leviticus 7:11-21, notes.

Verse 89

89. To speak with him With Jehovah. “Whilst the tribe-princes had thus given to the altar the consecration of a sanctuary of their God, through their sacrificial gifts, Jehovah acknowledged it as his sanctuary by causing Moses, when he went into the tabernacle to speak to him and to present his own entreaties and those of the people, to hear the voice of Him that spake to him from between the two cherubim upon the ark of the covenant.” Keil and Delitzsch. The voice of one speaking This is a proof that Jehovah sometimes communicated his will by words addressed to the ear. “This voice from the inmost sanctuary to Moses, the representative of Israel, was Jehovah’s reply to the gladness and promptness with which the princes of Israel responded to him, and made the tabernacle, on their part, a place of holy meeting.” Baumgarten. Hence the pertinence of this verse to the account of the dedicatory gifts.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 7". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/numbers-7.html. 1874-1909.
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