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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Numbers 6

 

 

Verses 1-21

FIFTH SECTION

The Nazirite in God’s Army

Numbers 6:1-21

1And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman [FN1][FN2]shall separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves unto the Lord; 3He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any [FN3]liquor of grapes, nor eat [FN4]moist grapes, or dried 4 All the days of his [FN5]separation shall he eat nothing that is made of the [FN6]vine tree, from the kernels even to the husk 5 All the days of the vow of his 2 separation there shall no razor come upon his head: until the days be fulfilled, in the which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow 6 All the days that he separateth himself unto the Lord he shall come at no dead body 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die: because the [FN7]consecration of his God is upon his head 8 All the days of his separation he is holy unto the Lord 9 And if any man die very suddenly by him, and he hath defiled the head of his 4 consecration; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it 10 And on the eighth day he shall bring two [FN8]turtles, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the [FN9]tabernacle of the congregation: 11And the priest shall offer the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and make an atonement for him, for that he sinned [FN10]by the dead, and shall hallow his head that same day 12 And he shall [FN11]consecrate unto the Lord the days of his 2 separation, and shall bring a lamb of the first year for a [FN12]trespass offering: but the days that were before shall be [FN13]lost, because his separation was defiled.

13And this is the law of the Nazarite: when the days of his separation are fulfilled, he shall be brought unto the door of the etabernacle of the congregation: 14And he shall offer his [FN14]offering unto the Lord, one he lamb of the first year without blemish for a burnt offering, and one ewe lamb of the first year without blemish for a sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace offerings 15 And a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and their [FN15]meat offering, and their drink offerings 16 And the priest shall bring them before the Lord, and shall offer his sin offering, and his burnt offering: 17And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings unto the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread: the priest shall offer also his kmeat offering, and his drink offering 18 And the Nazarite shall shave the head of his 2 separation at the door of the etabernacle of the congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his 2 separation, and put it in the fire which is under the sacrifice of the peace offerings 19 And the priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them upon the hands of the Nazarite, after the hair of his 2 separation is shaven: 20And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave [FN16]shoulder: and after 21 that the Nazarite may drink wine. This is the law of the Nazarite who hath vowed, and of his ioffering unto the Lord for his separation, besides that that his hand shall get: according to the vow which he [FN17]vowed, so he must do after the law of his 2 separation.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. [Nazarite should in strictness be written Nãzirite. The accepted spelling has no doubt prevailed amongst Christians from its being supposed that this vow is referred to in Matthew 2:23. The Bib. Comm.—Tr.]. The Nazirite, too, only attains his full significance by his relation to the army of God, to the affairs of Jehovah’s kingdom. He is in this relation the counterpart of the emulous warrior; he has submitted himself to a special consecration to God, and therewith to death. Such consecrations occur among all considerable nations as heroism of spontaneous growth, especially among the Greeks and Romans, among Germans and Swiss, and not only in the shape of heroes, but also of heroines. To this class belong Kodrus, Leonidas, the two Decii Mus and many others of later date, not to speak of heroic army corps, both ancient and modern. Hence the Naziriteship, may not be regarded as an original, theocratic institution, any more than the institutions of divorce, of the oath, and similar things. But it is to be regarded as a theocratic arrangement which consecrated and sanctified a natural disposition and tendency to heroic self-sacrifice.

The Nazirite Isaiah, of course, related to the priest, more nearly approached to the priest, as also the monk in Christian times, perhaps also in respect to particular priestly rights. Indeed, in certain respects, he submits to a stricter law. To the priest indulgence in wine was only prohibited before his entering on a sacred ceremony; to the Nazirite it was altogether prohibited. With respect to avoiding uncleanness from contact with the dead, he was even raised above the priest and put on an equality with the high-priest. Yet he must not be identified with the ascetic in his contemplative tendency, as is done by Philo, Oehler, Keil and others. It is true that the idea of universal priesthood appears in a stronger light in the Naziriteship, possessing as it did equal rank with the priesthood in many things, yet mainly in a practical direction; although on the other hand the former with their vows remind us of the Nazirites. Again the Nazirite has some of the characteristic traits of the prophet, with whom, also, he is classed by Amos 2:11. And that leads to the inference that the Nazirite is always raised up by God for a special concern of the kingdom of God. His aim is not spiritual contemplation, or it would not be made so prominent that he consecrates himself to Jehovah in a special sense for a definite time. In this sense also we understand the יַפְלִא Numbers 6:2. Hence the prophetic spirit, under the direction of the spirit of Revelation, might also call forth life-long Naziriteships, pronouncing a special consecration to God over children not yet born. But such cases were, then, no arbitrary determinations of the future of the child on the part of the parents, such as occurred often in the middle ages, and made miserable the monks Gottschalk and Ulrich von Hutten. They were prophetic prognostications which the event justified, e. g. the times of Samson, Samuel and John Baptist. Every one of these proves that the Naziriteship had ever a great theocratic purpose; and the same may be said of the Naziriteship of James the Little. It only needs to be mentioned that in the Christian world the idea of the Nazirite was changed into a morally depraved caricature by the fourth monastic vow, but which as such also revealed beside a demoniacal power, and throws great shadows into our time.

The union of the Naziriteship with practical purposes appears in a great variety of ways. Samson was little disposed to contemplativeness; he was called to arouse in the children of Israel the consciousness of superiority with respect to the character of the Philistines. Thus, too, the Naziriteship of Paul, to which he was moved to submit himself by the counsel of the Nazirite James ( Acts 21:26), had a definite object, also the union with four other Nazirites, whose expenses Paul paid. From the last mentioned fact it appears, that the expenses of Nazirites, which consisted especially in the appropriate offerings, might for poor persons be paid by those having means. In the history of Paul there appears already a very dark caricature of Naziriteship in the forty men that had taken a vow to kill him ( Acts 23:21). The appearance of a disposition to Naziriteship appears plainly also in the history of Daniel and of his three companions ( Daniel 1:8), and not less in the history of Judith (chap9). In the times of the Maccabees, when Israel was contending with heathenism, Naziriteship again made itself felt ( 1 Maccabees 3:49). “Under Jannæus there appeared once a baud of three hundred Nazirites,” Oehler. [See on all the points treated above Smith’s Bib. Dict., Art. Nazarite.—Tr.].

According to Knobel, this law of the Naziriteship did not belong to the fundamental laws of the theocracy. But why not? “Especially because the Naziriteship was not enjoined, and not even recommended, but only permitted, yet, of course, when once undertaken it must conform to definite rules.” According to that criterion, how many ordinances must be dropped out of the fundamental laws of the theocracy! Even of the sacrifices, as has been remarked already, it is said that they were not originally commanded by Jehovah, but were only taken under control and care, theocratically sanctified ( Jeremiah 7:22; Amos 5:25). The literature relating to this matter is given by Knobel, p25; Keil, p213. Compare also Oehler’s article Naziräat in Herzog’s R-Enc. The notices of the deliverances of the Talmud, and also the divergence of theological interpretations in regard to this subject, give undeniable indications of how the fundamental idea of the Naziriteship has become obscured. Here is to be considered, too, the view that would derive the Naziriteship from foreign parts, especially from Egypt (Spencer, Michaelis, S. Oehler, p206). The general, human substratum of the Naziriteship is heroism. The culminating points are: 1) the absolute prohibition to use wine, as the negative side of Naziriteship2) The entire preservation of and keeping pure the hair of the head, to which belongs also the injunction strictly to avoid contamination from a dead body, or atonement in case such contamination be incurred3) The extraordinary festive sacrifice to be offered at the expiration of the period of Naziriteship.

1. The Nazirite, Numbers 6:2. Man or woman might voluntarily determine to be such. Only the vow of a woman, that was dependent on her father or on her husband, was conditioned on the acquiescence of the masculine head. [For the statement concerning woman’s vows there is the authority of chap30. But there is only probable inference for the statement concerning servants. See Smith’s Bib. Dict., art Vows.—Tr.]. The same obtained in the case of vows of servants. The theocratic vow of parents regarding a child was occasioned by the spirit of Revelation, as in Samson’s case, whose mother was commanded to practise abstinence even until his birth ( Judges 13); or at least it was sanctioned by this spirit, as in the case of Samuel, and thus rested on prophetic prognosis. Such a vow, therefore, abrogated the law of voluntariness as little as does infant baptism.

2. He shall separate himself from wine, etc., Numbers 6:3-4. The primary object of this prohibition is already intimated in the history of Aaron’s sons who were destroyed. Theocratic enthusiasm must as strictly as possible be preserved pure from all disturbance by the spirit of drunkenness. Hence the prohibition not only of wine and of all spirituous, strong drink, not only of flat wine, wine or other vinegar, but even of grape juice just expressed (מִשְׁרַת). The prohibition is symbolically intensified and completed by forbidding the enjoyment of fresh and even of dried grapes (raisins). Keil’s notion only obscures the simple, fundamental thought, when he says that the prohibition to use grapes looks to abstinence from all deliciæ carnis so damaging to sanctification. The grape confections of Hosea 3:1 hardly serve to prove this.

The prince of the Mohamedan secret sect, called The Old Man of the Mountain, sent forth his assassins to the terror of the princes and statesmen whom he would rob. These assassins had also consecrated themselves to death, and fortified themselves for their undertaking by indulging in the fearfully intoxicating hashish. From this word, Sylvester de Sacy derives the designation Assassins. [See Chambers’Encycl. articles Hashish and Assassin.—Tr.]. Song of Solomon, too, a modern conqueror sought to render his brave soldiers still braver by intoxication.

The mere abstinence from the use of wine did not of itself alone make a Nazirite. This is proved by the family of the Rechabites who formed a sort of hereditary abstinence society in the midst of Israel ( Jeremiah 35:6-7), according to a command of their patriarch Jonadab. The same thing occurred now and then in the Orient, and finally in Mohammedanism became a law of world-wide influence. On the completion of his Naziriteship the Nazirite might again drink wine; a proof that the abstinence was sanctioned only for a special object.

3). Then shall no razor come upon his head, etc., Numbers 6:5. The enthusiasm of the Nazirite was not to be made fanatic by the use of wine. On the other hand the consecrated growth of the hair was to serve as a symbol and animating sign (seal) of the strength of that enthusiasm. On the various misconceptions of this symbol, see Keil, p215. A sign of mourning, Michaelis. A sign of separation, of renouncing the world (monkishness), Hengstenberg. A sign of more perfect freedom, Vitringa. On the contrary, a sign of dependence, with reference to 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 11:16, Baumgarten. “ Leviticus 25:5; Leviticus 25:11 gives a clue to the proper signification, according to which, during the Sabbatic and Jubilee years, the grape-vines were not pruned, but suffered to grow luxuriant, and their fruit was not gathered, and which as such were called Nazirites. That Isaiah, the consecration of the vine is accomplished by letting its whole productive force develop unmolested, and by exempting what it produced from profane (?) interference and use. In like manner, the free growth of the Nazirite’s hair is the symbol of strength and fulness of life,” etc. The affair, however, seems to be somewhat different. Not every bush in its strength and fulness of life could be called a Nazirite. But the vine could be Song of Solomon -called, because from its very nature it was the symbol of inspiration and joy ( John 15:11). Thus the hair-growth of the Nazirite would be the symbol of a higher power of life, of an inspiration dedicated to God. And this complete divine dedication of this heroic vigor might be contaminated and deprived of its vigor ever so easily. It was not noxious either to vigor, or to fulness of life, or even to the symbol of it, the long growing hair. when they came into the contaminating region of a dead person; but with this divinely consecrated growth of hair it was different. Its gleam, its validity vanished in the neighborhood of the dead. For the consecrated one becomes absorbed in his consecration as if he were nothing but life itself, and knew nothing but life. The sight of a corpse and contemplation of it can translate him into the sentiment of vulgar reality, and the beautiful faith of being invincible vanishes. Thus the undesecrated hair of the Nazirite’s head, the pledge of his consecration to God, which is at the same time a wreath, a diadem (נֵצֶר) of God, that God has placed on his head, a wreath of victory put on him in advance,—that Isaiah, the proper signature of the Nazirite. The divine consecration to God must be regarded by the theocrat above all else as a consecration from God (as justification underlies sanctification). It cannot be said that this symbolism is merely conventional. When, for example, Paul says ( 1 Corinthians 11) that the woman ought, beside her uncut hair, to have also a covering on her head, it does not denote merely her dependence on the Prayer of Manasseh, but also her womanly dignity, which she has through the man; she is the δόξα of the man. But the man must neither have long hair, nor cover his head while he prays, because a direct, spiritual ray of God rests on his head, that makes him appear an image to God’s honor. Because in the New Testament this is absolutely fulfilled, the symbol of the Naziriteship is laid aside for him (whereas the woman in the church must still be in dependence on the man for the sake of order). On the other hand the symbol still obtains in the Old Testament, hence the Jews remain covered during worship, and hence for the Nazirite also the symbol of letting the hair grow, also, under conditions, for the Israelites generally (see Jeremiah 7:29; compare, in reference to the priests, Leviticus 21:5). This significance of the hair of the head obtains also among Gentile nations, see Knobel, p29. Perhaps Absalom, with his long hair, meant to play the part of a Nazirite along with his other demagogical contrivances, and the Jews have regarded him as a Nazirite (see Oehler, p206).

4. The period of the vow. According to Numbers 6:6, this is entirely indefinite. It depends on the self-determination of the Nazirite. The later Rabbinical limitation: the shortest time is thirty days, springs from their ignoring the original idea.

5. He shall come at no dead body, and he shall not defile himself by funeral usages. On this point the conditions are stricter for the Nazirite than for the priest, and, as has been already remarked, he stands on a par with the high priest (see Leviticus 27:11). But it may happen that in an unlooked for way some one may die beside him, in his immediate proximity, so that according to Levitical law, he becomes unclean. Then he is unclean for seven days ( Numbers 19:11; Numbers 19:14; Numbers 19:16; Numbers 31:19), and moreover the consecration of his head is nullified. “The defiled hair must be removed,” says Knobel, “since it especially takes (!) and retains (!) such uncleanness (see Leviticus 14:8), indeed, at the expiration of the Naziriteship, it could not be offered to God.” See the same author with reference to a similar custom among the Syrians. On the eighth day the purification of the Nazirite is accomplished by a sacrifice, as in the case of other acts of purification (see Leviticus 15), by a pair of doves as a sin-offering and burnt-offering, to which is added a lamb of a year old as a guilt-offering. Knobel explains the guilt-offering in an extraordinary way p27); by his heedlessness the time is protracted in which he has withdrawn himself from his duty to his family by his idle life. Then he would have had to bring a capital guilt-offering at the expiration of his Naziriteship. The fellowship of death, into which he was inadvertently brought, was a communion of guilt; for guilt is the communion of the consequence of sin. Since, however, the Naziriteship was not a thing to be carried out piece-meal, as the reading of a breviary, the days so far accomplished were lost (Heb. fall). He must begin over again. Hence on the seventh day he must shear his head; the hair, as something desecrated, was simply cast away; according to tradition, it was buried.

In the case of a lifelong Naziriteship, the notion of the defilement of the hair seems to have been disregarded, e. g., in Samson’s case (Oehler, p206). We will not enter here on the question, whether Samson’s long hair was properly the “vehicle” of his strength. Anyway the growth of the hair was the usual symbol of a Nazirite; but the symbol in conjunction with the heart, is never mere symbol, but a vehicle, though an ethical and not a magical one.

6. The festival offering at the close. It is twice called the law of the Nazirite, Numbers 6:13; Numbers 6:21, and it is assumed that something great has been performed. One he lamb for a burnt-offering; one ewe lamb for a sin offering; one ram for a peace offering ( Numbers 6:14). This recalls the great peace offering at the priest’s consecration ( Leviticus 9). The sin-offering allows us to infer, that even a Naziriteship is not carried out Without shortcomings. But it is a small offering, and only follows the burnt-offering. But the ram of the Nazirite is more or less like the most superior sacrifices. “And he must bring a basket of unleavened bread of wave flour, i. e., with unleavened pastry of fine wheat flour, expressly cakes mixed with oil, and wafers anointed with oil (see Leviticus 2:4), and their meal offering and drink offering, i. e., according to Numbers 15:3 sqq, the oblations of meal, cakes and wine belonging to the burnt-offering and thank offering,” Numbers 6:15.

The construction of Numbers 6:15 is not quite clear, but is likely to be construed according to Numbers 6:16 (both meal-offering and drink-offering). The most mysterious, and likely, too, the most important offering Isaiah, in this case, the hair of the Nazirite’s head ( Numbers 6:18). He must shear or cut it himself, and then cast it into the fire that burns under the peace-offering. Thus he offers his hero-ornament to Jehovah as a whole sacrifice; he gives the Lord the glory for the beautiful work accomplished.

His consecrated hair was the counterpart of the diadem of the high-priest. It is reflected in the most various forms; in waving helmet plumes, iron crosses, horse-tails, eagle feathers. But these adumbrations of heroism are seldom offered quite pure to Jehovah. But the Nazirite gives glory to God, as the elders of the Church triumphant cast down their crowns before the Lamb ( Revelation 4:10).

The repast of the peace-offering ( Numbers 6:19) concludes all, of which the priest, beside the wave breast and the heave thigh and two cakes out of the basket, receives the shoulder (the upper part of the fore quarter). According to Keil, this signified that the table communion with the Lord, shadowed forth in the repast of the peace-offering, took place in an eminent degree. But the peace-offering meal, as has already been remarked, is a meal of the one making the offering, in which Jehovah takes part, represented by His priest. Thus, then, the allowance of the shoulder says that the Nazirite can give more of what he enjoys to Jehovah than common sacrificers.

After the conclusion of the vow, the Nazirite could drink wine again, Numbers 6:20.

On offerings of hair, besides those mentioned in the Bible, see Oehler, and especially Knobel, p29. The conventional ingredient in the meaning of the hair appears prominently in a war of the Argives with the Lacedæmonians. The former made a vow to cut their hair, the latter to let their hair grow (Weber, Lehrbuch der Weltgesch, I, p145).

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. [The Nazirite would be an extraordinary servant of Jehovah, a devoted hero in the sphere of divine things, i. e. of religion. The scriptural examples of Naziriteship do not give an instance of devotion to a particular deed. They were rather with reference to a general aim. The inspiration to special deeds in harmony with their consecration came to them in the course of their separation, and might be expected so to come. The rules of abstinence, the long hair, etc., marked them as consecrated and ready for extraordinary duty. The service was noble, whether it fell to the lot of the Nazirite actually to do a heroic deed or not, provided only the condition of the vow were strictly adhered to. During the wanderings, men or women might become Nazirites of special devotion to the hope of entering the promised land, and thus of the earnest, uncomplaining pilgrimage, following hard after God in all his leadings.

The notion of something extraordinary, doing something more than others, is more than implied; it is expressed in the verb יַפְלִא, Numbers 6:2. For it does not appear why the verb should not have the meaning actually ascribed to it elsewhere, excepting where used in connection with vows. Yet in Leviticus 27:2 this universal sense is allowed. The noun פֶּלֶא is always rendered “wonderful thing.” The meaning of Numbers 6:2 would then be: When a man or woman would do something extraordinary by vowing a Nazirite vow, “Si mirandum aliquis facerit.” Munster vers. Facius.

The Lord Jesus sets before all that would follow Him the ideal of the Nazarite when He says: “What do ye more than others!” Matthew 5:47. (Que faites-vous d’extraordinaire? French version. See Vinet’s sermon on this text in his Nouveaux Discours, etc., p128.)

2. Numbers 6:9-12. “More was required for the purifying of the Nazirite than of any other person that had touched a dead body. This teaches us, that sins of infirmity, and the faults we are overtaken in by surprise, must be seriously repented of, and that an application must be made of the virtue of Christ’s sacrifice to our souls for the forgiveness of them every day, 1 John 2:1-2. It teaches us, also, that if those who make an eminent profession of religion do anything to sully the reputation of their profession, more is expected from them than others, for the retrieving both of their peace and of their credit.” M. Henry.

3. Numbers 6:13-21. “And when the Christian is finishing his course of faith and holiness, of self-denial and bearing the cross, and is about to close his eyes in death, and open them in the realms of uninterrupted joy; he will still acknowledge that he has nothing to trust to but the blood of Christ, since the best which he hath done is mixed with sin, and needs forgiveness; he will give glory to the Lord of all that he hath done in any measure well, and depart, perhaps, with joyful, at least with peaceful expectations for the future, to go and drink the new wine of the kingdom with his beloved Redeemer in the realms of bliss.” Scott.—Tr.]

HOMILETICAL HINTS

Numbers 6:1-21. The Nazirite a type of Christian self-denial. The theocratic hero a type of Christian heroism. Difference between the free Naziriteship and the unfree monasticism. The former a holy form related to a holy object. The sombre counterfeit of the Naziriteship (unholy objects, unholy means).

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Or, make themselves Nazarites.

FN#2 - will do something special (great).

FN#3 - must.

FN#4 - fresh.

FN#5 - Or, Nazariteship.

FN#6 - Heb. vine of the wine.

FN#7 - Heb. separation.

FN#8 - turtle-doves.

FN#9 - Tent of Meeting.

FN#10 - on.

FN#11 - separate again.

FN#12 - guilt-offering.

FN#13 - Heb. fall.

FN#14 - oblation.

FN#15 - meal-offering.

FN#16 - thigh.

FN#17 - voweth.


Verses 22-27

SIXTH SECTION

The Blessing on God’s Army

Numbers 6:22-27

22And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 23Speak unto Aaron and unto his sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel, [FN18]saying unto them, 24, 25The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, 26and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace 27 And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Now that the army of God is established in every respect, the next thing is to declare its signature and destiny. The name of Jehovah shall be shed over it as the brightness of the sun: on Jehovah’s part this name shall rest on it; on its part it shall bear this name. To bear the name of Jehovah, the revelation of the covenant God in its universal historical significance, and bear it forth into the world, and especially itself to be blessed and become great in this name, as this destination was already intimated in the germ in the name of Shem, such is its great, concentric, exclusive vocation, toward which all its wars and victories should point. See Genesis 12sqq.; Isaiah 42sqq. Aaron and his sons were to be continuously the organs of the blessings into which this benediction would develop.

The one benediction subdivides into three chief blessings, and each blessing again into two members. It is a number six, that becomes in the unity of the name Jehovah the number seven.

2. The first blessing forms not only the general foundation of the whole benediction, of the entire salvation of Revelation, but is at the same time the first special blessing, Jehovah bless thee, i. e. direct upon thee all prosperity in immeasurable progression; and keep thee, i. e. ward off every curse, all adversity from thee. That is the peace of the gracious providence of God, according to its two aspects, His positive and negative governance.

3. In the second blessing, the light of Jehovah’s countenance rises on Israel. On the meaning of His countenance see the Bible-work on Genesis 12:1-20, § 5, and the related passages in Exodus. The effect of the shining of the countenance of God, which Israel was the first to experience, is the experience of His redemption that blots out guilt, His grace.

4. The third blessing might appear to be identical with the second were one to take the נָשָׂא פָּנָיו only in its current sense, and the recurring אֵלֶיךָ just as in the second blessing. But, according to the progress of the thought, the countenance of Jehovah rises up over Israel in kindness, and thence sinks deep down on it; it operates penetratingly as the sun in the zenith. Hence its operation manifests itself as peace, and if one take the שׂוּם in its full significance, then the second clause says: establish peace for thee, peace par excellence.

Thus if the name of God is laid on Israel from above, Song of Solomon, too, Israel is therewith in this name raised high aloft.

On the reference of this wonderful benediction to the mystery of the Trinity, see Keil. It is not to be ignored, that the number three may be regarded as an Old Testament form of emphasis, and the six members as a three-fold parallelism of members. But just as little should one ignore that the three economies of divine revelation are very plainly reflected in this benediction. And thus it forms one of the most glorious of the typical germs of New Testament revelation in the Old Testament.

Knobel is of the opinion that the Elohist cited the Aaronic blessing already in Leviticus 9:22. But he overlooks the distinction between blessing in general and this blessing.

[And they shall put my name, etc. Numbers 6:27. “Hence we gather that whatsoever the ministers of the Church do by God’s command is ratified by Him with a real and solid result; since He declares nothing by His ministers which He will not Himself fulfil and perform by the efficacy of His Spirit. But we must observe that He does not so transfer the office of blessing to His priests as to resign His rights to them; for after having entrusted this ministry to them, He claims the accomplishment of the thing for Himself alone.” Calvin.—Tr.]

HOMILETICAL HINTS

Numbers 6:22-27. The Aaronic Blessing. A blessing of unity (einheitlicher Segen) for the people of God in their unity. For its departure into the world. The three-foldness of the Aaronic blessing no system, but a germ of the doctrine of the Trinity. The three blessings singly. Their gradation. The Aaronic blessing in the light of the New Testament. The six parts of the three parts of the blessing (bless, keep—making the face shine, be gracious—letting down the countenance on thee [by the Spirit] and the peace). Thus Jehovah blesses His own Himself by His servants. All blessing of God is included in His name, in His revelation of salvation. The name of God is to be distinguished from His being, but is the impress of His being in religious contemplation. The priest is to bless; the congregation pronounces the curse.

Footnotes:

FN#18 - say.

 


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.

Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Numbers 6:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/numbers-6.html. 1857-84.

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Tuesday, June 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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