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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Numbers 7

 

 

Verses 1-89

SEVENTH SECTION

Chaps7, 8

The Endowment of the Tabernacle as the Future Centre of the Army of God, the Dwelling of Jehovah, by the Offering of the Princes

Numbers 7:1-89

1And it came to pass on the day that Moses had [FN1]fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the [FN2]instruments thereof, [FN3]both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them; 2That the princes of Israel, heads of [FN4]the house of their fathers, [FN5]who were the princes of the tribes, [FN6]eand were over them that were [FN7]numbered, offered: 3And they brought their [FN8]offering before the Lord, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle4, 5And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take it of them, that they may be to do the service of the [FN9]tabernacle of the congregation; and thou shalt 6 give them unto the Levites, to every man according [FN10]to his service. And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them unto the Levites 7 Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon, according hto their service: 8And four wagons and eight oxen he gave unto the sons of Merari, according hunto their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest 9 But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none: because the service of the sanctuary [FN11]belonging unto them [FN12] was that they should bear upon their shoulders.

10And the princes offered [FN13]for dedicating of the altar in the day that it was 11 anointed, even the princes offered their offering before the altar. And the Lord said unto Moses, They shall offer their foffering, each prince on his day, for the dedicating of the altar.

12And he that offered his foffering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, 13of the tribe of Judah: And his foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them were full of fine flour mingled with oil14, 15for a [FN14]meat offering: One [FN15]spoon of ten shekels of gold, full of incense: One 16 young bullock, one ram, one lamb [FN16]of the first year, for a burnt offering: One [FN17]kid of the goats for a sin offering: 17And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

18On the second day Nethaneel the son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, did offer: 19He offered for his foffering one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; 20both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One nspoon of gold of ten shekels, full of incense: 21One young bullock, one ram, one 22 lamb oof the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 23And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Nethaneel the son of Zuar.

24On the third day Eliab the son of Helon, prince of the children of Zebulun, did 25offer: His foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; 26both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 27One young bullock, one ram, one lamb oof 28 the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 29And for a sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Eliab the son of Helon.

30On the fourth day Elizur the son of Shedeur, prince of the children of Reuben, 31did offer; His foffering was one silver charger of the weight of a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both 32 of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 33One young bullock, one ram, one lamb oof the first 34 year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 35And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Elizur the son of Shedeur.

36On the fifth day Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, prince of the children of 37 Simeon, did offer: His foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: 38One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 39One young bullock, one ram, 40one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 41And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.

42On the sixth day Eliasaph the son of Deuel, prince of the children of Gad, 43offered: His foffering was one silver charger of the weight of a hundred and thirty shekels, a silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: both 44 of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 45One young bullock, one ram, one lamb oof the first 46 year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 47And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Eliasaph the son of Deuel.

48On the seventh day Elishama the son of Ammihud, prince of the children of 49 Ephraim, offered: His foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: 50One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 51One young bullock, one ram, 52one lamb oof the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 53And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Elishama the son of Ammihud.

54On the eighth day offered Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, prince of the children 55 of Manasseh: His foffering was one silver charger of the weight of a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 56both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One golden nspoon of ten shekels full of incense: 57One young bullock, one ram, one lamb oof 58 the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 59And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five Hebrews -goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.

60On the ninth day Abidan the son of Gideoni, prince of the children of Benjamin, 61offered: His foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 62both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 63One young bullock, one ram, one lamb oof 64 the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 65And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Abidan the son of Gideoni.

66On the tenth day Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, prince of the children of 67 Dan, offered: His foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: 68One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 69One young bullock, one ram, 70one lambo of the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 71And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.

72On the eleventh day Pagiel the son of Ocran, prince of the children of Asher, 73offered: His foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; 74both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 75One young bullock, one ram, one 76 lamb oof the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 77And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Pagiel the son of Ocran.

78On the twelfth day Ahira the son of Enan, prince of the children of Naphtali, 79offered: His foffering was one silver charger, the weight whereof was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary: 80both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a mmeat offering: One golden nspoon of ten shekels, full of incense: 81One young bullock, one ram, one 82 lamb oof the first year, for a burnt offering: One pkid of the goats for a sin offering: 83And for a sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs oof the first year: this was the foffering of Ahira the son of Enan.

84This was the 1 dedication of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the princes of Israel: twelve chargers of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve nspoons of gold: 85Each charger of silver weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, each bowl seventy: all the silver vessels weighed two thousand and four hundred shekels, 86after the shekel of the sanctuary: The golden nspoons were twelve, full of incense, weighing ten shekels apiece, after the shekel of the sanctuary: all the gold of the nspoons was a hundred and twenty shekels. 87All the oxen for the burnt offering were twelve bullocks, the rams twelve, the lambs oof the first year twelve, with their mmeat offering: and the pkids of the goats for sin-offering twelve 88 And all the oxen for the sacrifice of the peace-offerings were twenty and four bullocks, the rams sixty, the Hebrews -goats sixty, the lambs of the first year sixty. This was the 1 dedication of the altar, after that it was anointed 89 And when Moses was gone into the gtabernacle of the congregation to speak with [FN18]him, then he heard the voice [FN19]of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubim: and he spake unto him.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. In this section, also, we have not to do with scattered elements, but solely with the furnishing of the Tabernacle for leading the campaign, viz., so far as this is affected by the offering of the princes of the tribe, and (in chap8) by the office of Moses, the functions of Aaron and the service of the Levites.

The expression on the day that Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, Numbers 7:1, must not be pressed, as if the gifts of the princes began immediately after the erection of the Tabernacle and the anointing of the Sanctuary [see the view of Keil and others at i1—Tr.]. The actual order, according to which the gifts of the princes follow here, must also have its foundation in the order of time. Between the erection of the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month ( Exodus 40:17) and the beginning of the march from Sinai on the twentieth day of the second month ( Numbers 10:11) there intervened about fifty days. Of these, say, ten were used for the anointings and consecration of the priests, at the end, say, twenty for the preparations (8–10:10), then there remain still twenty days for the outline of legislation that lies between, especially as the numbering of the people fell in this period only in respect to its formal conclusion. Beside this, there is no necessity to force a literal redaction into this period.

2. The significance of this whole section [including chap8] appears at once from the offering first made by the princes in common: six wagons (see more particularly in Knobel and Keil) and twelve oxen. Of these, Moses gave two wagons [with the four accompanying oxen] to the Gersonites, because they had in charge the transportation of the lighter articles, the coverings. To the Merarites he gave four wagons [and eight oxen] because they must transport the heavy planks and pillars. The Kohathites got no wagons, because they were to carry the holy vessels, the actual Sanctuary, on bearing-poles. עֶגְלֹת צָב is rendered “state carriages by the LXX.; “freight wagons” by the Vulgate. Knobel says: wagons that went gently or softly, which could be true only of four-wheeled wagons, whereas Keil says two-wheeled wagons.

3. Numbers 7:10-88. Following the preceding gift, the princes give singly their offerings for the requirements of the Tabernacle itself, but all of them the same quota, and that in the order in which they were named at the numbering of the people. The particularization of the gifts is made prominent by each one having his particular day for making his offering. The offerings are as follows:

1) A silver charger of130 shekels weight; 2) a silver bowl (both filled with sacrificial flour and oil for a meal-offering); 3) a golden paten full of incense; 4) a bullock, a ram, a male sheep of a year old for a burnt-offering; 5) a mature Hebrews -goat for a sin-offering; 6) two oxen, five rams, five young Hebrews -goats, and five male sheep a year old for a thank-offering. The adding up of all the offerings follows in Numbers 7:84-88. The sum of all the silver is reckoned at2,400 shekels; the sum of all the gold at120 shekels.

[“If a silver shekel be taken, roughly, as weighing25 of a shilling, and a golden shekel115 of a sovereign, the intrinsic worth, by weight, of each silver charger will be325s., of each bowl175s., of each golden spoon230s. Consequently the aggregate worth, by weight, of the whole of the offerings will be £438. But the real worth of such a sum, when measured by the prices of clothing and food at that time, must have been vastly greater. It must not be forgotten, too, that the Tabernacle itself had been recently constructed at a vast cost.” The Bib. Comm.–Tr.].

The gradual presentation of these offerings, with festive pauses, before the eyes of the nation, served not merely to awaken universal sacrificial rejoicing; the nation must also have a view of the glittering treasures which, as the army of God, it was for the future to protect, and which were so much the more valuable to it because they served as a symbol of the spiritual treasures of Israel, and for the mediation of those treasures. [It is natural to inquire, why this prolixity in narrating the principal transactions of this chapter? For substance the whole is told in Numbers 7:10-11; Numbers 7:84-88. Why then this great repetition? The suggestions of Dr. Lange above may be some explanation of the immediate effect intended by these transactions, which it is conjectured, and no doubt correctly, took place in a public and solemn way. But that does not account for the manner of recording the transactions. That was written, not for their sakes alone, but for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope ( Romans 4:23; Romans 15:4). On this point the comment of M. Henry represents the proper view. “God appointed that it should thus be done on several days: that an equal honor might thereby be put on each several tribe; in Aaron’s breast-plate each had his precious stone, so in this offering each had his day. All their offerings were exactly the same, without any variation, though it is probable that neither the princes nor the tribes were all alike rich. But thus it was intimated that all the tribes of Israel had an equal share in the altar, and an equal interest in the sacrifices that were offered upon it. Though one tribe was posted more honorably in the camp than another, yet they and their services were all alike acceptable to God. Nor must we have the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect to persons, James 2:1. Though the offerings were all the same, yet the account of them is repeated at large for each tribe, in the same words. We are sure there are no vain repetitions in scripture; what then shall we make of these repetitions? Might it not have served, to say of this noble jury, that the same offering which their foreman brought, each on his day brought likewise? No, God would have it specified for each tribe. And why so? (1) It was for the encouragement of these princes, and of their respective tribes, that, each of their offerings being recorded at large, no slight might seem to be put upon them; for rich and poor meet together before God. (2) It was for the encouragement of all generous acts of piety and charity, by letting us know that what is given is lent to the Lord, and He carefully records it, with every one�s name prefixed to his gift, because what is so given He will pay again. He is not unrighteous to forget either the cost or the labor of love ( Hebrews 6:10). We find Christ taking particular notice of what was cast into the treasury ( Mark 12:41).”

We have thus a sample of sacred, divine book-keeping, whose separate lesson is that God is careful in all dealings with His people down to details and minutiæ .And this revelation is so comforting that we must not grudge the large apace allowed to these entries, and wish that they were replaced by records that would clear up many things in this part of Scripture that are now very obscure.

Moreover this chapter may be appealed to in proof of the genuineness of this book. A later author would never have dreamed of composing such a record as this.—Tr.].

According to Keil, all these sacrificial beasts were immediately sacrificed day by day as they were presented. “And, indeed, not as provision for the future, but for immediate consumption according to usage.” Keil seems to distinguish too little between offering and killing. The expression וַיַּקְרִיִבוּ applies equally well to the offerings of wagons and of metallic vessels. Such an aimless consumption of so valuable a stock of animals close on the departure of the expedition is not intimated by any mention of sacrificial ceremony in the narrower sense. Moreover the complete consecration of the altar took place, according to Leviticus 9, directly after the erection of the Tabernacle. The expression הֲנֻכָּה [“dedication-gift,” Numbers 7:10; Numbers 7:84; Numbers 7:88], according to the verb and Psalm 30:1, does not so much designate the first, solemn consecration, but the consecration by the first continuous use. Were the one hundred oxen, etc., that, according to Ezra 6:17, served for the consecration of the new temple, slaughtered on one day or feast? This, says Numbers 7:88, is the dedication of the altar after it had been anointed.

4. And when Moses was gone into the Tent of Meeting. Numbers 7:89. The proper soul of the Tabernacle was God’s spirit of revelation as it conversed with Moses, and through him made itself known to the people. When Moses went into the Tent of Meeting (it was primarily a tent of the meeting of Jehovah with Moses) to speak with Him (i. e., of course with Jehovah who was there enthroned). The discourse of Jehovah alternated with the inquiries and petitions, with the prayer-life of the prophet. Then he heard the voice of Him that made Himself speak (מִדַּבֵּר Hithp. the one condescending to converse) with him from off the mercy seat.—There came to him the voice of revelation from off the mercy-seat that was on the ark between the cherubim. Keil seems to assume that only one occurrence is spoken of here. But obviously what is spoken of is the form of revelation that obtained continually during the expedition of the army.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

[The following edifying reflections are from M. Henry, whose comments often most sparkle with wit and wisdom from above where others find the record dry as a ledger.

On Numbers 7:2. “Those that are above others in power and dignity, ought to go before others, and endeavor to go beyond them, in everything that is good. The more any are advanced, the more is expected from them, for the greater opportunity they have of serving God and their generation. What are wealth and authority good for, but as they enable a man to do so much more good in the world.”

“No sooner is the Tabernacle fully set up, than this provision is made for the removal of it. Note. Even when we are but just settled in the world, and think we are beginning to take root, we must be preparing for changes and removes, especially for the great change. When we are here in this world, everything must be accommodated to a militant and moveable state.”

On Numbers 7:7-9. “Observe here, how God wisely and graciously ordered the most strength to those that had the most work. Each had wagons according to their service. Whatever burden God in His providence lays upon us, He will, by His sufficient grace, proportion the strength to it ( 1 Corinthians 10:13).”

On Numbers 7:10-88. “They brought some things to remain for standing service; twelve large silver dishes and as many large silver cups or bowls; the former to be used for the meat-offerings, the latter for the drink-offerings; the former for the flesh of the sacrifice, the latter for the blood. The latter was God’s table, (as it were), and it was fit that so great a King should be served in plate.—Note. In works of piety and charity, we ought to be generous according as our ability is. The Israelites indeed might well afford to part with their gold and silver in abundance to the services of the sanctuary, for they needed it not to buy meat, and victual their camp, who were, daily fed with bread from heaven; nor did they need it to buy bread, or pay their army, who were shortly to be put in possession of Canaan.”

“They brought their offerings each on a several day, in the order that they had lately been put into, so that the solemnity lasted twelve days.—Thus it would be done more decently and in order; God’s work should not be done confusedly, and in a hurry; take time, and we shall have done the sooner, or, at least, we shall have done the better.—God hereby signified how much pleased He Isaiah, and how much pleased we should be with the exercises of piety and devotion. The repetition of them should be a continual pleasure to us, and we must not be weary of well-doing. If extraordinary services come to be done for twelve days together, we must not shrink from it, nor call it a task and burden.”

“Nahshon, the prince of the tribe of Judah, offered first, because God had given that tribe the first post of honor in the camp. Judah, of which tribe Christ came, first, and then the rest. Thus, in the dedication of souls to God, every man is presented in his own order, Christ the First-Fruits ( 1 Corinthians 15:23).”—Tr.].

HOMILETICAL HINTS

Numbers 7. The gifts (temple tax) of the princes. The duty of the princes that of all magnates generally. The slow procession of the princes with their gifts—a festal contemplation for the nation. An example for all. Silver and gold are the Lord’s ( Haggai 2:9). The external treasures of the Temple commended to the protection of the congregation. An image of the spiritual treasure of the Temple that is entrusted to the congregation, and for which it must pledge its life (word, sacrament and confession).

Footnotes:

FN#1 - finished setting up.

FN#2 - vessels.

FN#3 - and.

FN#4 - their fathers houses.

FN#5 - these.

FN#6 - Heb. who stood.

FN#7 - mustered.

FN#8 - oblation.

FN#9 - Tent of Meeting.

FN#10 - to the proportion of.

FN#11 - belonged.

FN#12 - they bare.

FN#13 - a dedication-gift.

FN#14 - meal-offering.

FN#15 - bowl; saucer, Bunsen, Zunz.

FN#16 - a year old.

FN#17 - Hebrews -goat.

FN#18 - That Isaiah, God.

FN#19 - omit of one.

 


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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 7:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/numbers-7.html. 1857-84.

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