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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Numbers 28

 

 

Introduction

F. FUTURE PROSPECTS IN THE LAND (chapters 26-36).

We now come to the final main section of the book. It will commence with the numbering of Israel, a sign that they were making ready for the final push, and is divided up into rededication and preparations for entering the land (chapters 26-32), and warning and encouragement with respect to it (chapters 33-36). The first section concentrates on the mobilisation and dedication of the people of Yahweh, and the punishment of those who by their behaviour hinder that mobilisation and dedication.

In terms of the overall pattern of the book the first section covers the mobilisation of Israel, the appointment of Joshua on whom was the Spirit and the death of Moses For Sin (chapters 26-27), which compares with the earlier murmuring of Israel, the appointment of elders on whom came the Spirit, and the plague on Miriam because of sin (chapters 11-12). This then followed by the dedication of Israel through Feasts, Offerings and Vows and the purifying of Transjordan through vengeance on the Midianites and settlement of the two and a half Tribes (chapters 28-32) which compares with the purification and dedication of Israel in chapters 5-10.

Analysis of the section.

(I). Preparation for Entering the Land (chapters 26-32).

This can be divided up into:

a Numbering of the tribes for possessing the land (Numbers 26:1-51).

b Instructions concerning division of the land (Numbers 26:52-62).

c Vengeance had been brought on those who had refused to enter the land (Numbers 26:63-65).

d Regulation in respect of land to be inherited by women and others (Numbers 27:1-11).

e Provision of a dedicated shepherd for the people of Israel (Numbers 27:12-23).

e Provision of a dedicated people and future worship in the land (Numbers 28-29).

d Regulation in respect of dedicatory vows made by women and others (Numbers 30)

c Vengeance to be obtained on Midian (Numbers 31:1-24).

b Instructions concerning division of the spoils of Midian (Numbers 31:25-54).

a Settlement of the Transjordanian tribes in possessing land (Numbers 32).

(II) Warning and Encouragement of The Younger Generation (chapters 33-36).

a Review of the journey from Egypt to the plains of Moab (Numbers 33:1-49).

b Instruction concerning the successful possession of and dividing up of the land in the future (Numbers 33:50 to Numbers 34:15).

c The Leaders who will divide the land for them are appointed (Numbers 34:16-29).

d Provision of cities for the Levites. (Numbers 35:1-5)

d Provision of cities of refuge and prevention of defilement of the land (Numbers 35:6-34).

c The Leaders of the tribe of Manasseh approach Moses about the possible loss of part of their division of the land as a result of the decision about the daughters of Zelophehad (Numbers 36:1-4).

b Instruction concerning women who inherit land so as to maintain the dividing up of the land which they successfully possess (Numbers 36:5-12)

a Final summary of the book and colophon. The journey is over. They are in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho (Numbers 36:13).

In this section stress is laid on preparation for entering the land.

(I). Overall Preparation for Entering the Land (chapters 26-32).

The preparations include the mobilisation of Israel, instructions as to what to do on entering the land, appointment of a new commander-in-chief in whom is the Spirit, instructions concerning the worship to be offered to Yahweh, a description of the ‘atonement’ for the sin of Baal-peor and purification of the land by the slaughter of the Midianites, and the settling in of the tribes in their land on the east of Jordan, preparatory to their soldiers joining the offensive on Canaan.

2). Provision for Future Worship in the Land And The Continuing Dedication of All Israel (chapters 28-30).

There could have been no better place for these chapters on Israel’s response to Yahweh than here. It follows the sin at Baal Peor, the death of Zelophehad through sin, and the death of Moses through a failure in his dedication to Yahweh, and it follows them with a call to continually renew their dedication, and with a promise of continual forgiveness and purification.

This purifying and dedication of the new Israel parallels the call for the purification and dedication of the old Israel in chapters 5-10. There it was necessary if they were to consider entering into Yahweh’s land, here it is seen to be gloriously fulfilled in the new Israel.

But above all this call for such offerings is a proclamation of the prosperous future that would be theirs on possession of the land. It follows the capture of huge amounts of cattle from Gilead and Bashan (Deuteronomy 2:35; Deuteronomy 3:7), together with land which would be settled on, in which they would already have found vineyards, cereal crops and olive trees, so that firstfruits would be produced as never before. From now on these ceremonies were to be conducted in their full glory, because at least some tribes were already prospering. This would have begun to happen very rapidly. Having taken the land of Sihon and the Amorites Reuben and Gad had decided that they wanted it, an event which probably preceded the defeat of Bashan (note how Manasseh come in later). The process of at first temporary possession and settlement was no doubt initially quite complicated, but we can be sure that it happened quickly. Yahweh had indicated from the very beginning that this was land to be possessed (Deuteronomy 2:31). Then part of the overcoming of Bashan resulted from Machir’s recognition of the potential of the land (Numbers 32:40-42).

But it also underlines the certainty of the prosperity that would be theirs once all were in the land, for it reveals the offerings that they were to continually make once they were settled there. It is only the prosperous who could bring their offerings in such abundance as this. It was thus very much a message of hope and encouragement.

Note that the primary emphasis is on the whole burnt offering, the offering that ‘goes up’, in these cases offered on behalf of the whole people (contrast Leviticus 1-2), the offering indicating wholehearted dedication, and thanksgiving and tribute, while also being underlaid by a recognition of the need for atonement. And it is continually accompanied by the necessary offering for the purification of sin. While therefore sin would trouble even the best of them, even a Moses, it was pointing out that it could be dealt with for the nation as a whole and put behind their backs because of the gracious provision God had made for them, as they continually rededicated themselves to Him at all their feasts. That is the message of what now follows. As in the stories of the numbering of Israel, of the daughters of Zelophehad and of the appointment of Joshua, these chapters are filled with hope and expectancy as they look to the future.

Thus what is mentioned here concentrates on Israel’s dedication, tribute, worship and atonement as a people. In its quantities it magnifies all of these in readiness for the grand assault.

To us these feasts of Israel may appear a little boring, but they were not so to Israel. If we think so let us consider our own feast as we gather at the Lord’s Table. Do we find that boring? If we do little more needs to be said. To the people of Israel, to whom every one of their feasts had a meaning and a significance, they spoke with a loud voice (and they blew their trumpets at them - Numbers 10:10). And the depth of offerings now required spoke even louder of a renewed and deeper dedication and a glorious future of prosperity and blessing.

We should note that these offerings described here were not the personal offerings described elsewhere (e.g. Leviticus 1-7). They were very much a part of the continual activity of the priests on behalf of the people. They were the backbone of the nations offerings. Apart from in Numbers 30 dealing with oaths (where they are assumed rather than mentioned) there is no thought here of the myriad of personal offerings that would be offered to Yahweh. Those have been dealt with in detail in Numbers 15 and in Leviticus 1-7. Here concentration is on the nation as a whole making their regular offerings through their representatives. This permanent determination to be dedicated to Yahweh as expressed in these chapters was equally as important to their moving forward as the numbering on the mobilisation of the army and the Levites in chapter 26. Without it the invasion could not take place.

These offerings are now dealt with as follows:

a The regular offerings; continual daily offerings and sabbath and new moon offerings (Numbers 28:1-15).

b Passover and the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened bread (Numbers 28:16-25).

c The One Day Feast of the Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26-31).

d The One Day Feast of the blowing of trumpets (Numbers 29:1-6).

c The One Day Feast of the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7-11).

b The Seven Day Feast of the Harvest Moon - Tabernacles and the final Solemn Sabbath (Numbers 29:12-40).

a The continual making and confirmation of vows (with their accompanying peace/wellbeing offerings - see Numbers 29:39) (30).

That the making of vows is a part of this overall pattern is confirmed by Numbers 29:39. The continual making of oaths was as much a sign of Israel’s ongoing dedication as the continual daily offering (compare the Nazirite vows in Numbers 6:1-21). It is probable overall that we are to see Numbers 28:1-2 a and Numbers 29:39-40 as a kind of ‘envelope’ containing the individual chiasma or sequences that follow. Thus while the making of oaths is a part of this series of dedicatory activity, it lies outside the envelope as a distinctive feature.

We should note in this respect how Deuteronomy 12:10-11 closely links offerings with vows. They went closely together in the Israelite mind.

A Total View Of The Special Offerings (Numbers 28:9 to Numbers 29:40).

Apart from the continual daily offerings were the special offerings. As we go through these in detail it will be noted that all follow the same general repetitive pattern within their feasts, (following the repetitive patterns given in the threefold Balaam incantations in Numbers 23:1 to Numbers 24:12), although as regards the whole burnt offerings (when all of the offering is offered up and none eaten) the number of young ox bulls offered varies. These whole burnt offerings, together with a he-goat for a purification for sin offering, were to be offered on top of the continual daily offering at all feasts, although in the regular Sabbath offerings no young ox bulls were to be offered as whole burnt offerings (Numbers 28:9-10) only two he-lambs, nor was there then a purification for sin offering. For the Sabbath offerings were also a reminder of the Passover.

But sin was not to be overlooked. A regular purification for sin offering was offered on the new moon day of each moon period, continuing throughout the year. On new moon days, each of the days of the Feast of unleavened bread, and the day of the firstfruits (the feast of sevens) the whole burnt offering was to consist of two young ox bulls, a ram and seven he-lambs, along with the he-goat for a purification for sin offering. Note that they were offered in proportion to the possessions of the whole of Israel.

Then on the day of the feasts of trumpets and the Day of Atonement in the seventh month it was to be of one young ox bull, a ram and seven he-lambs, along with the purification for sin offering. But in the case of the feast of trumpets, which was a new moon day, this would effectively mean three young ox bulls, two rams and fourteen he-lambs. In the case of the Day of Atonement the slight relaxation would serve to lay more emphasise on the purification for sin offerings and the scapegoat, while at the same time stressing that their rededication was also fully required. It was not primarily a rededication festival, even though rededication was still clearly important. And on the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles the young ox bulls offered were to vary downwards from thirteen to seven (seventy in all), along each day with two rams and fourteen he-lambs, and the he-goat for the purification for sin offering. Then on the eighth day it was to be back to one young ox bull, one ram and seven he-lambs, along with the he-goat for the purification for sin offering.

But all these were to be offered additionally to the continual daily offerings, and to the special offerings related to specific feasts, such as the he-lamb offered on the first day of unleavened bread when the sheaf of firstfruits was waved before Yahweh (Leviticus 23:12), and the special goat offerings on the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:11; Leviticus 16:5).

Prior to this chapter in Numbers the descriptions of offerings at the feast have been limited. There was no idea of such munificence. Before this it was only at the feast of Sevens (a one day feast celebrating harvest) that mention had been made of a multiplicity of offerings, one young ox bull, two rams, seven lambs for a whole burnt offering, one goat as a purification for sin offering and two lambs as peace offerings (Leviticus 23:18). Thus it would seem probable that what was here mentioned in such abundance, mainly based on that one series offering in the year, may not have described previous practise, but have been a huge expansion, demonstrating that because through their conquests they were now to be blessed with so much more in the way of herds and flocks, more would be expected of their offerings. It was one more encouragement on the way to possessing the land and drew their attention to that blessing. Those who had freely received should now be able freely to give and note the even greater abundance that was in store for them in the land of milk and honey.

The Set Feasts of Israel (Numbers 28:16 to Numbers 29:39).

Information is now given about the offerings at the set feasts of Israel. There were three major feasts to which all the men of Israel of over twenty (the congregation of Israel) were expected to come: the feast of Passover and unleavened bread, the feast of firstfruits or sevens or harvest, and the feast of tabernacles or ingathering (see Exodus 23:14-17; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16). Two of these, the first and the last, were seven day feasts, (to each of which was connected an extra day which was different from the seven). And then there were two extra one day feasts in the sacred seventh month. On every day of those feasts munificent offerings were to be made to Yahweh. These were over and above the continual daily whole burnt offerings, the Sabbath whole burnt offerings and the new moon whole burnt offerings. The day of the full moon (the fifteenth day, fourteen days after the new moon day) was also a solemn sabbath in the first and seventh months. The seven day feasts commenced and ended the cycle of feasts, occurring on the first and the seventh months, except that the day for sacrificing the Passover preceded the first seven day feast and the eighth day of Tabernacles came the day after the second seven day feast.

Note the divine pattern. Three one day feasts (the threeness signifying completeness) sandwiched between the two seven day feasts indication divine perfection.

Seven was especially significant. It was a number recognised as sacred by all surrounding nations. And the whole system of time in Israel was in fact mainly based on sevens, demonstrating that their time was in His hands. The Sabbath occurred every seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11), there was a sabbath year every seven years (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7), the year of Yubile occurred after seven sevens of years, and did not interrupt the cycle, for the Yubile year was made up of the last six moon periods of the forty ninth year and the first six moon periods of the first year of the new cycle (see Leviticus 25:9). And while it was the new moon that determined the beginning of each moon period, the main feasts were fixed by sevens dating from that beginning. Thus unleavened bread began twice seven days after the first day of the first moon period, and tabernacles began twice seven days after the first day of the seventh moon period, while the feast of firstfruits was seven times seven days after the first day of unleavened bread. There were seven special holy days, the first and seventh of Unleavened Bread, the Firstfruits, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the first and eighth days of Tabernacles. Furthermore the seventh month was seen as especially holy and was crowded with feasts; Trumpets, Day of Atonement, seven days of Tabernacles, and the solemn sabbath following those seven days. So were the people made aware that the advance of time, both short and long, was under His hand, something which had to be recognised once each ‘seven’ arrived.

The main feasts in the first half of the cycle began on the tenth day of the first month with the setting aside of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:3). The main feast in the second half of the cycle began with the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. Each was a day of preparation. So the whole was carefully balanced.

It will be noted from this point on that Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits (with their offerings of two young ox bulls, a ram and seven he-lambs per day of each), and Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement (although with only one young ox bull, a ram and seven he-lambs at each) all follow the same general pattern, while maintaining their distinctive features. While at the feast of Tabernacles seventy young bulls, fourteen (seven times two) rams and ninety eight (seven times seven times two) he-lambs were offered during the feast. These were all extra to the continual daily offerings, the Sabbath offerings and the new moon offerings.

From the eighth to the twelfth month there were no feasts, although some were added in later centuries, for in these months there were no significant harvests. But it will be noted that the two seven day feasts, and passover or atonement, occurred six ‘monthly’, and while the former were agricultural feasts, neither of the latter are ever said to be so. Yet even the former were given a new significance, along with the other feasts, in terms of Israel’s salvation history, with Passover and Unleavened Bread celebrating the deliverance from Egypt, and Tabernacles celebrating that deliverance in terms of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness period (Leviticus 23:42-43).


Verses 1-8

2). Provision for Future Worship in the Land And The Continuing Dedication of All Israel (chapters 28-30).

There could have been no better place for these chapters on Israel’s response to Yahweh than here. It follows the sin at Baal Peor, the death of Zelophehad through sin, and the death of Moses through a failure in his dedication to Yahweh, and it follows them with a call to continually renew their dedication, and with a promise of continual forgiveness and purification.

This purifying and dedication of the new Israel parallels the call for the purification and dedication of the old Israel in chapters 5-10. There it was necessary if they were to consider entering into Yahweh’s land, here it is seen to be gloriously fulfilled in the new Israel.

But above all this call for such offerings is a proclamation of the prosperous future that would be theirs on possession of the land. It follows the capture of huge amounts of cattle from Gilead and Bashan (Deuteronomy 2:35; Deuteronomy 3:7), together with land which would be settled on, in which they would already have found vineyards, cereal crops and olive trees, so that firstfruits would be produced as never before. From now on these ceremonies were to be conducted in their full glory, because at least some tribes were already prospering. This would have begun to happen very rapidly. Having taken the land of Sihon and the Amorites Reuben and Gad had decided that they wanted it, an event which probably preceded the defeat of Bashan (note how Manasseh come in later). The process of at first temporary possession and settlement was no doubt initially quite complicated, but we can be sure that it happened quickly. Yahweh had indicated from the very beginning that this was land to be possessed (Deuteronomy 2:31). Then part of the overcoming of Bashan resulted from Machir’s recognition of the potential of the land (Numbers 32:40-42).

But it also underlines the certainty of the prosperity that would be theirs once all were in the land, for it reveals the offerings that they were to continually make once they were settled there. It is only the prosperous who could bring their offerings in such abundance as this. It was thus very much a message of hope and encouragement.

Note that the primary emphasis is on the whole burnt offering, the offering that ‘goes up’, in these cases offered on behalf of the whole people (contrast Leviticus 1-2), the offering indicating wholehearted dedication, and thanksgiving and tribute, while also being underlaid by a recognition of the need for atonement. And it is continually accompanied by the necessary offering for the purification of sin. While therefore sin would trouble even the best of them, even a Moses, it was pointing out that it could be dealt with for the nation as a whole and put behind their backs because of the gracious provision God had made for them, as they continually rededicated themselves to Him at all their feasts. That is the message of what now follows. As in the stories of the numbering of Israel, of the daughters of Zelophehad and of the appointment of Joshua, these chapters are filled with hope and expectancy as they look to the future.

Thus what is mentioned here concentrates on Israel’s dedication, tribute, worship and atonement as a people. In its quantities it magnifies all of these in readiness for the grand assault.

To us these feasts of Israel may appear a little boring, but they were not so to Israel. If we think so let us consider our own feast as we gather at the Lord’s Table. Do we find that boring? If we do little more needs to be said. To the people of Israel, to whom every one of their feasts had a meaning and a significance, they spoke with a loud voice (and they blew their trumpets at them - Numbers 10:10). And the depth of offerings now required spoke even louder of a renewed and deeper dedication and a glorious future of prosperity and blessing.

We should note that these offerings described here were not the personal offerings described elsewhere (e.g. Leviticus 1-7). They were very much a part of the continual activity of the priests on behalf of the people. They were the backbone of the nations offerings. Apart from in Numbers 30 dealing with oaths (where they are assumed rather than mentioned) there is no thought here of the myriad of personal offerings that would be offered to Yahweh. Those have been dealt with in detail in Numbers 15 and in Leviticus 1-7. Here concentration is on the nation as a whole making their regular offerings through their representatives. This permanent determination to be dedicated to Yahweh as expressed in these chapters was equally as important to their moving forward as the numbering on the mobilisation of the army and the Levites in chapter 26. Without it the invasion could not take place.

These offerings are now dealt with as follows:

a The regular offerings; continual daily offerings and sabbath and new moon offerings (Numbers 28:1-15).

b Passover and the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened bread (Numbers 28:16-25).

c The One Day Feast of the Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26-31).

d The One Day Feast of the blowing of trumpets (Numbers 29:1-6).

c The One Day Feast of the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7-11).

b The Seven Day Feast of the Harvest Moon - Tabernacles and the final Solemn Sabbath (Numbers 29:12-40).

a The continual making and confirmation of vows (with their accompanying peace/wellbeing offerings - see Numbers 29:39) (30).

That the making of vows is a part of this overall pattern is confirmed by Numbers 29:39. The continual making of oaths was as much a sign of Israel’s ongoing dedication as the continual daily offering (compare the Nazirite vows in Numbers 6:1-21). It is probable overall that we are to see Numbers 28:1-2 a and Numbers 29:39-40 as a kind of ‘envelope’ containing the individual chiasma or sequences that follow. Thus while the making of oaths is a part of this series of dedicatory activity, it lies outside the envelope as a distinctive feature.

We should note in this respect how Deuteronomy 12:10-11 closely links offerings with vows. They went closely together in the Israelite mind.

Chapter 28 The Continual Daily Offerings, The Sabbath Offerings, The New Moon Offerings, The Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread, The Feast of Firstfruits (of Sevens).

There now follow information concerning the various feasts with emphasis on the regular priestly offerings.

The Continual Daily Offerings (Numbers 28:1-8).

The first offerings described, the continual daily offerings, underpin all the others. It is emphasised that all the others will be offered as well as these. Every day, both morning and late-afternoon (‘between the evenings’), the continual whole burnt offerings were to be offered to Yahweh. These each consisted of the offering of a he-lamb of the first year, accompanied by grain and drink offerings. They were an offering by fire to Yahweh, and would rise to Him, when offered on behalf of an obedient people, as a pleasing odour.

And it will be emphasised throughout what follows, that the festal offerings were additional to this daily offering, which had precedence. They were also additional to the special offerings which related to each particular feast.

a A command to offer an oblation as a pleasing odour to Yahweh (Numbers 28:1-2).

b The offering by fire to Yahweh of he-lambs of the first year, one each morning and one each late-afternoon each day, together with the grain offering (Numbers 28:3-4).

b The offering of the continual whole burnt offering which is an offering made by fire to Yahweh together with the drink offering (Numbers 28:5-7).

a The evening lamb to be offered as a pleasing odour to Yahweh (Numbers 28:8).

Numbers 28:1

‘And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,’

As ever we are reminded that these things were spoken by Yahweh to Moses.

Numbers 28:2

Command the children of Israel, and say to them, My oblation, my food for my offerings made by fire, of a pleasing odour to me, shall you observe to offer to me in their due season.”

This verse introduces the next two chapters which describe the pleasing offerings made to Yahweh, each in its due season, whether daily, weekly, monthly or at the particular feasts. The offerings made by fire were probably to be seen as ascending to Yahweh in the smoke of the offering which contained within it the essence of the offering. And it arose as something pleasing to Yahweh.

“My oblation, my food for my offerings made by fire, of a pleasing odour to me.” Compare Leviticus 3:11 ‘It is the food of the offering made by fire to Yahweh.’ Note there the change from ‘a pleasing odour to Yahweh’. Here the two are combined. The sacrifice offered in loving obedience is all that He needs to satisfy Him as He joins in fellowship with His own. But the offering is consumed in the flames. God is not seen as feeding on it directly. His ‘food’ is the pleasing odour, His spiritual satisfaction in the offering as He partakes of their obedience, love and gratitude. Parts of most of the other offerings apart from the whole burnt offerings were eaten, but they were eaten by the priests (and in some cases by the people). There was never any suggestion that God ate them.

Numbers 28:3-4

And you shall say to them, This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer to Yahweh, he-lambs a year old without blemish, two day by day, for a continual whole burnt offering. The one lamb shall you offer in the morning, and the other lamb shall you offer between the evenings,”

Each daily offering, morning and late afternoon/early evening, would be of a he-lamb, a year old and without blemish, together with its accompanying offerings. It was to be seen as a continual whole burnt offering, a constant renewal of Israel’s dedication and gratitude to Yahweh, and means of atonement. And it was to be a year old and without blemish. It was day by day a continual reminder both to God and His people of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:5) which had revealed Yahweh as their Deliverer, and themselves as in need of mercy and protection. But the Passover lambs had also been a sign of faith as their blood was smeared on the doorposts and lintel. So every day these offerings, when offered in true faith on behalf of a believing people, said that in His judgments Yahweh would pass over them and they would be protected from all harm through the shed blood applied to the sides of the altar. But they were not to be partaken of, for their emphasis was on wholehearted response to God.

We too should look to Christ our Passover, offered for us once for all, and claim protection under His shed blood daily. Though He was offered once for all, we must come continually day by day to receive the continuing benefits of His death. If we walk in His light then the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, will go on cleansing us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

Numbers 28:5

And the tenth part of an ephah of milled grain for a grain offering, mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil.”

With it would be offered a measure of milled grain mingled with olive oil, as described. This grain offering, offered with the whole burnt offering, was an offering to Yahweh of what they had produced in response to His goodness in sending rain. It was a dedication of their labours and a thanksgiving offering, and a reminder to Him of their continuing need for rain in its season. For this offering continued throughout the year, summer and winter alike,

Numbers 28:6

It is a continual whole burnt offering, which was ordained in mount Sinai for a pleasing odour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.”

And here it is confirmed that this offering of he-lambs and grain was one that was ordained on Mount Sinai (compare Exodus 29:38-42), to represent a continual dedication of Israel before God.

Numbers 28:7

And its drink-offering shall be the fourth part of a hin for the one lamb. In the holy place you shall pour out a drink-offering of strong drink to Yahweh.”

It was also to be offered with a drink offering of strong drink (old matured wine?) which was to be poured out in the Holy Place. Thus within this offering were all the major benefits which they received from God. It represented their flocks and herds, their grain and fruit and the fruit of the vineyards that would be theirs once they were in the land.

Numbers 28:8

And the other lamb shall you offer in the evening, as the grain offering of the morning, and as its drink-offering, you shall offer it, an offering made by fire, of a pleasing odour to Yahweh.”

The ‘evening’ offering was to be offered in the same way as the morning offering. So each part of each day in the life of Israel was dedicated to Yahweh, and atoned for, as they offered their thanksgiving for all His provision.

This continual offering is a reminder to us that we too should come daily to God, morning and evening, yielding ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2) and offering our continual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving (Hebrews 13:15; 1 Peter 2:5).

As a comparison to all the offerings which will be described here the daily offering regularly presented at either of the two Ramesside temples in western Thebes in the thirteenth century BC amounted to 5,500 loaves, 54 cakes, 204 vessels of beer, up to 50 geese, and an ox, as well as a variety of other items. So the multitude of offerings described in Numbers 28-29 cannot be looked on as excessive.


Verse 9-10

A Total View Of The Special Offerings (Numbers 28:9 to Numbers 29:40).

Apart from the continual daily offerings were the special offerings. As we go through these in detail it will be noted that all follow the same general repetitive pattern within their feasts, (following the repetitive patterns given in the threefold Balaam incantations in Numbers 23:1 to Numbers 24:12), although as regards the whole burnt offerings (when all of the offering is offered up and none eaten) the number of young ox bulls offered varies. These whole burnt offerings, together with a he-goat for a purification for sin offering, were to be offered on top of the continual daily offering at all feasts, although in the regular Sabbath offerings no young ox bulls were to be offered as whole burnt offerings (Numbers 28:9-10) only two he-lambs, nor was there then a purification for sin offering. For the Sabbath offerings were also a reminder of the Passover.

But sin was not to be overlooked. A regular purification for sin offering was offered on the new moon day of each moon period, continuing throughout the year. On new moon days, each of the days of the Feast of unleavened bread, and the day of the firstfruits (the feast of sevens) the whole burnt offering was to consist of two young ox bulls, a ram and seven he-lambs, along with the he-goat for a purification for sin offering. Note that they were offered in proportion to the possessions of the whole of Israel.

Then on the day of the feasts of trumpets and the Day of Atonement in the seventh month it was to be of one young ox bull, a ram and seven he-lambs, along with the purification for sin offering. But in the case of the feast of trumpets, which was a new moon day, this would effectively mean three young ox bulls, two rams and fourteen he-lambs. In the case of the Day of Atonement the slight relaxation would serve to lay more emphasise on the purification for sin offerings and the scapegoat, while at the same time stressing that their rededication was also fully required. It was not primarily a rededication festival, even though rededication was still clearly important. And on the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles the young ox bulls offered were to vary downwards from thirteen to seven (seventy in all), along each day with two rams and fourteen he-lambs, and the he-goat for the purification for sin offering. Then on the eighth day it was to be back to one young ox bull, one ram and seven he-lambs, along with the he-goat for the purification for sin offering.

But all these were to be offered additionally to the continual daily offerings, and to the special offerings related to specific feasts, such as the he-lamb offered on the first day of unleavened bread when the sheaf of firstfruits was waved before Yahweh (Leviticus 23:12), and the special goat offerings on the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:11; Leviticus 16:5).

Prior to this chapter in Numbers the descriptions of offerings at the feast have been limited. There was no idea of such munificence. Before this it was only at the feast of Sevens (a one day feast celebrating harvest) that mention had been made of a multiplicity of offerings, one young ox bull, two rams, seven lambs for a whole burnt offering, one goat as a purification for sin offering and two lambs as peace offerings (Leviticus 23:18). Thus it would seem probable that what was here mentioned in such abundance, mainly based on that one series offering in the year, may not have described previous practise, but have been a huge expansion, demonstrating that because through their conquests they were now to be blessed with so much more in the way of herds and flocks, more would be expected of their offerings. It was one more encouragement on the way to possessing the land and drew their attention to that blessing. Those who had freely received should now be able freely to give and note the even greater abundance that was in store for them in the land of milk and honey.

The Sabbath and New Moon Day Offerings (Numbers 28:9-15).

After the continual daily offerings we have mention of the Sabbath offerings and the new moon offerings, which were additional to the daily offerings. Two further he-lambs, together with grain and drink offerings, were to be offered on the Sabbath, further reminder of their great deliverance and their protecting God, and on every new moon day were to be offered two young ox bulls, a ram and seven he-lambs together with a goat for a purification for sin offering. Thus each seven day Sabbath and each new moon day were marked by special offerings, for each was a mark of God’s goodness in bringing them safely through those periods, and in each they were to offer themselves in renewed dedication to Yahweh and His covenant.

No mention has previously been made of new moon days, and possibly this was a new celebration in view of the fact that wilderness journeying was now behind them, but it seems more probable that even prior to this new moon days were celebrated with offerings (see Numbers 10:10). The truth is that it was probably only the munificence of the offering that was new.

We may not today make offerings such as these, but we too on each seventh day, and at the beginning of each month (as well as daily), should recognise that all our time belongs to God, and that we should rededicate ourselves and make the best use of our time for His glory (Ephesians 5:16). For one day time will cease and then what will matter will be what we accomplished for Him with what we had.

Analysis of Numbers 28:9-15.

a The offering of two he-lambs on the sabbath as a whole burnt offering ‘besides the continual whole burnt offering and the drink offering thereof’ (Numbers 28:9-10).

b Every new moon day a whole burnt offering of two ox bulls and a ram and seven he-lambs to be offered to Yahweh (Numbers 28:11).

c The grain offering to be offered for the two young ox bulls and the ram and the seven he-lambs (Numbers 28:12-13).

c The drink offering to be offered for ox bulls, ram and lambs (Numbers 28:14 a).

b This is the whole burnt offering to be offered every new moon throughout the year (Numbers 28:14 b).

a The offering of one he-goat as a purification for sin offering ‘besides the continual whole burnt offering and the drink offering thereof’ (Numbers 28:15).

The Special Sabbath Day Offerings (Numbers 28:9-10).

Numbers 28:9

And on the sabbath day two he-lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenth parts of an ephah of fine flour for a grain offering, mingled with oil, and its drink-offering,”

Every seventh day was a Sabbath. Each such seventh day was a holy day, for it had been appointed by Yahweh as a day of rest on which no work must be done, both as a reminder of His work in creation (Exodus 20:11) and in His work of deliverance from servitude in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15). It is doubtful if they thought in terms of ‘weeks’ as we do. That would be an idea which would gradually arise. But it was still very significant. For this seven day period was the only time period not fixed by the sun and the moon. It went on in its familiar pattern regardless of the activities of the heavens. It was ordained by Yahweh from heaven itself. And it represented to them the divine perfection of the passing of their time, and was a continual reminder that in contrast to the nations, they were subject to Yahweh in their daily lives, and not dependent on sun, moon and stars. It was a reminder also that in the end all were finally equal in His sight, for all rested equally on His day. It evidenced the fact that all time was in His hands.

So on this holy day two extra year old he-lambs without blemish were to be offered, together with their grain and drink offerings, an act of double dedication because of the holiness of the day. And on this day all who lived in the camp, and all who would later live in the land must abstain from all work on the Sabbath day, from the highest to the lowest, as they contemplated the wonder of His ways, and His constant provision, and rededicated themselves to Him (compare Isaiah 58:13-14). We may sometimes see the Sabbath restrictions as tiresome. To the weary slaves and servants it would be seen as heaven sent. In Israel none could compel them to work on that day.

Numbers 28:10

This is the whole burnt offering of every sabbath, besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its drink-offering.”

This was the whole burnt offering of the Sabbath, the offering that ‘went up’ to Yahweh every Sabbath, and was additional to the normal daily offering.

The lesson for us is that every seventh day (it does not finally matter which day we choose as long as we are consistent - Romans 14:5-6), it can be helpful for us too to make our renewed dedication to God and bring Him our sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, although Paul stresses that some prefer to do this every day (Romans 14:5).


Verses 11-15

The Special New Moon Offerings (Numbers 28:11-15).

And at the commencement of every moon cycle, on the day of the new moon, additional offerings would be made to Yahweh. These expressed gratitude to Yahweh for the continual maintenance of the times and the seasons (see Genesis 8:22), and the unchangeableness of creation. And they were a dedication to Yahweh on that day of their labour and service to Yahweh in the moon period ahead, and a making of atonement for their failures in the moon period that had passed. They had grown used to watching the moon and seeing it as being almost on the point of disappearing, and then as beginning to grow until it became full again, but they never forgot that it was due to Yahweh’s control and power (Genesis 1:16-18). And they were thankful. And in their offerings on the new moon day was the heart cry, ‘let the moon flourish again’.

The new moon day was a day for feasting (1 Samuel 20:5-6), a day for those who had special concerns to visit prophets (2 Kings 4:23) and became a day when all trading was to cease (Amos 8:5), even though it was not usually a seven day Sabbath. Its special importance comes out in that the trumpets were to be blown when its offerings were offered (Numbers 10:10), similarly to at set feasts. It was one step below the Sabbath.

Numbers 28:11-13

And in the beginnings of your moon periods you shall offer a whole burnt offering to Yahweh, two young ox bulls, and one ram, seven he-lambs a year old without blemish, and three tenth parts of an ephah of milled grain for a grain offering, mingled with oil, for each ox bull, and two tenth parts of milled grain for a grain offering, mingled with oil, for the one ram, and a tenth part of milled grain mingled with oil for a grain offering to every lamb; for a whole burnt offering of a pleasing odour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh,”

The offering was to have a new munificence. Two young ox bulls, one ram and seven he-lambs were to be offered up as whole burnt offerings, offerings that ‘went up’, together with suitable grain offerings depending on the level of offering. (Three tenths for an ox bull, two tenths for a ram, and one tenth for each he-lamb). These male animals and grain offerings represented the source of their herds and flocks and the abundance of grain as provided to them by Yahweh. And they rose as a pleasing odour to Yahweh, an offering made to Him by fire. They would celebrate the possessions that would be theirs once Yahweh had given them the land (and the possessions that they had already received as a result of their present victories).

Numbers 28:14

And their drink-offerings shall be half a hin of wine for an ox bull, and the third part of a hin for the ram, and the fourth part of a hin for a lamb. This is the whole burnt offering of every moon period throughout the moon periods of the year.”

With them were offered their drink offerings, again graded according to the level of the offerings. All these offerings were made, new moon day by new moon day, throughout the year, as each introduced the moon cycle that was to follow. And they offered thanksgiving for the certainty that although the moon might wane, Yahweh would revive it again.

Numbers 28:15

And one he-goat for a purification for sin offering to Yahweh, it shall be offered besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its drink offering.”

And as well as these offerings of dedication, tribute, thanksgiving and atonement, a he-goat was to be offered as a purification for sin offering. For it was necessary that the people be purified, and the camp be purified, continually if Yahweh was to dwell among them (Numbers 15:24-26). All this was offered over and above the continual daily whole burnt offering with its drink offering.


Verses 16-25

The Set Feasts of Israel (Numbers 28:16 to Numbers 29:39).

Information is now given about the offerings at the set feasts of Israel. There were three major feasts to which all the men of Israel of over twenty (the congregation of Israel) were expected to come: the feast of Passover and unleavened bread, the feast of firstfruits or sevens or harvest, and the feast of tabernacles or ingathering (see Exodus 23:14-17; Exodus 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16). Two of these, the first and the last, were seven day feasts, (to each of which was connected an extra day which was different from the seven). And then there were two extra one day feasts in the sacred seventh month. On every day of those feasts munificent offerings were to be made to Yahweh. These were over and above the continual daily whole burnt offerings, the Sabbath whole burnt offerings and the new moon whole burnt offerings. The day of the full moon (the fifteenth day, fourteen days after the new moon day) was also a solemn sabbath in the first and seventh months. The seven day feasts commenced and ended the cycle of feasts, occurring on the first and the seventh months, except that the day for sacrificing the Passover preceded the first seven day feast and the eighth day of Tabernacles came the day after the second seven day feast.

Note the divine pattern. Three one day feasts (the threeness signifying completeness) sandwiched between the two seven day feasts indication divine perfection.

Seven was especially significant. It was a number recognised as sacred by all surrounding nations. And the whole system of time in Israel was in fact mainly based on sevens, demonstrating that their time was in His hands. The Sabbath occurred every seventh day (Exodus 20:8-11), there was a sabbath year every seven years (Exodus 23:10-11; Leviticus 25:1-7), the year of Yubile occurred after seven sevens of years, and did not interrupt the cycle, for the Yubile year was made up of the last six moon periods of the forty ninth year and the first six moon periods of the first year of the new cycle (see Leviticus 25:9). And while it was the new moon that determined the beginning of each moon period, the main feasts were fixed by sevens dating from that beginning. Thus unleavened bread began twice seven days after the first day of the first moon period, and tabernacles began twice seven days after the first day of the seventh moon period, while the feast of firstfruits was seven times seven days after the first day of unleavened bread. There were seven special holy days, the first and seventh of Unleavened Bread, the Firstfruits, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the first and eighth days of Tabernacles. Furthermore the seventh month was seen as especially holy and was crowded with feasts; Trumpets, Day of Atonement, seven days of Tabernacles, and the solemn sabbath following those seven days. So were the people made aware that the advance of time, both short and long, was under His hand, something which had to be recognised once each ‘seven’ arrived.

The main feasts in the first half of the cycle began on the tenth day of the first month with the setting aside of the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:3). The main feast in the second half of the cycle began with the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. Each was a day of preparation. So the whole was carefully balanced.

It will be noted from this point on that Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits (with their offerings of two young ox bulls, a ram and seven he-lambs per day of each), and Blowing of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement (although with only one young ox bull, a ram and seven he-lambs at each) all follow the same general pattern, while maintaining their distinctive features. While at the feast of Tabernacles seventy young bulls, fourteen (seven times two) rams and ninety eight (seven times seven times two) he-lambs were offered during the feast. These were all extra to the continual daily offerings, the Sabbath offerings and the new moon offerings.

From the eighth to the twelfth month there were no feasts, although some were added in later centuries, for in these months there were no significant harvests. But it will be noted that the two seven day feasts, and passover or atonement, occurred six ‘monthly’, and while the former were agricultural feasts, neither of the latter are ever said to be so. Yet even the former were given a new significance, along with the other feasts, in terms of Israel’s salvation history, with Passover and Unleavened Bread celebrating the deliverance from Egypt, and Tabernacles celebrating that deliverance in terms of their dwelling in tents in the wilderness period (Leviticus 23:42-43).

Passover and The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Numbers 28:16-25).

Here the assumption is made that the details of the Passover sacrifices are known. But the Passover sacrifices were not whole burnt offerings. They could be partaken of. The concern is therefore with the priestly offerings on behalf of Israel for the whole nation throughout the feast of Unleavened Bread. Other offerings are dealt with elsewhere. In the future the term Passover would come to include the Feast of Unleavened Bread (e.g. Ezekiel 45:21) so that in the New Testament ‘the Feast of the Passover’ could mean the whole eight days of the feast, but at this stage the two, while conjoined, were seen separately.

a On the fourteenth day of the month is Yahweh’s Passover, from the fifteenth day unleavened bread to be eaten for seven days, on the first day, a convocation, ‘you shall do no servile work’ (Numbers 28:16-18).

b Whole burnt offerings of two young ox bulls and a ram and seven he-lambs to be offered as an offering made by fire (Numbers 28:19).

c Grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 28:20-21).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering to make atonement (Numbers 28:22).

a These to be offered as well as the continual whole burnt offering of the morning. This is the way that offerings shall be offered for seven days, on the seventh day a holy convocation, ‘you shall do no servile work’ (Numbers 28:23-25).

Numbers 28:16

And in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, is Yahweh’s passover.”

The actual Passover was sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the first month. This was everywhere stated (Numbers 9:5; Exodus 12:2; Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5). It was the month of Abib (Exodus 13:4; Deuteronomy 16:1), which later became Nisan (around March/April). On that day the Passover lamb (or goat - Exodus 12:5 - although the lamb seems to have been preferred) was sacrificed ready for the feast that night after sunset which would be on the fifteenth day of the month.

This feast was a yearly reminder of their great deliverance from Egypt, and of how when Yahweh had exacted His vengeance on the firstborn sons of Egypt, their sons had been spared because of the protecting hand of Yahweh, and the shed blood of the Passover lambs sprinkled on their doorposts (see Exodus 12).

For us it is a reminder of Christ our Passover Who was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7), the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

Numbers 28:17

And on the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast. Seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.”

This was then followed by the feast of unleavened bread commencing on the morning of the fifteenth day, and lasting for seven days. During this period many offerings would be offered, including peace offerings of various kinds. But this passage deals only with the central offerings made by the priests on behalf of the people. During the feast only unleavened bread could be eaten.

At these great feasts all the men of Israel (at least) were to be present, and as daily they assembled around the Sanctuary they would see the smoke of the offerings rising to the heavens again and again, and their hearts were to respond and also go upwards in loving dedication to Yahweh and His covenant and recognition of His mercy.

The fact that only unleavened bread was to be found in all their tents in the camp, and, when they arrived and were settled in the land, in all their houses throughout the land, was to be a reminder of the haste with which they had fled from Egypt (Exodus 13:8; Deuteronomy 16:3), and a permanent reminder that nothing corrupt must be allowed in their lives. Not all would be at the feasts, but all must put away unleavened bread.

Numbers 28:18

In the first day shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no servile work,”

The first day of the feast (the fifteenth day) was a ‘holy convocation (calling together)’. It was a kind of sabbath although without the full restrictions of the seven day Sabbath. But on it no servile work must be performed. Work necessary for the feast would, however, be allowed (Exodus 12:16).

Numbers 28:19

But you shall offer an offering made by fire, a whole burnt offering to Yahweh, two young ox bulls, and one ram, and seven he-lambs a year old. They shall be to you without blemish,”

Each day of the seven day feast whole burnt offerings would be made of two young ox bulls, one ram and seven he-lambs. Thus during the seven days fourteen young ox bulls, seven rams, and seven times seven he-lambs. This gave thanks for the mighty ox, the productive rams and the he-lambs that were the result of that productivity. But with that thanksgiving was to be a wholehearted dedication to Yahweh as they recognised what they owed Him.

Numbers 28:20

And their grain offering, milled grain mingled with oil, three tenth parts shall you offer for an ox bull, and two tenth parts for the ram, a tenth part shall you offer for every lamb of the seven lambs.”

With each of those offerings came the offerings of grain mingled with oil, the two products which were the basic stuff of life, proportioned according to the level of the sacrifice. Yahweh had given it to them through their labours and they brought a portion back to Him.

Numbers 28:22

And one he-goat for a purification for sin offering, to make atonement for you.”

But it could never be forgotten that in all their enthusiasm expressed in other offerings they were also a sinful nation, and so there had to be offered moon period by moon period, and on every feast day, the goat of the purification for sin offering, a reminder of those goats offered yearly on the great Day of Atonement. Its blood would be applied to the horns of the altar, with the remainder thrown at its base. The whole aim was to draw Yahweh’s attention to it, and to call on Him to accept it for atonement and forgiveness (Numbers 15:25-28), in order to purify them and to maintain the purity of that holy place (compare the original purification of the altar (Numbers 7:84)).

Numbers 28:23

You shall offer these besides the whole burnt offering of the morning, which is for a continual whole burnt offering.”

And all these were to be offered as well as the continual daily offerings which were for a continual daily offering up to God in dedication and worship.

Numbers 28:24

After this manner you shall offer daily, for seven days, the food of the offering made by fire, of a pleasing odour to Yahweh. It shall be offered besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its drink offerings.”

So this was the way that for seven days throughout the feast of unleavened bread they should make their offerings as a pleasing odour to Yahweh, offering the food of their offering made by fire and consumed in the flames, as a pleasing odour to Yahweh. Yahweh was fed, not literally, but by the flames of their dedication. And again it is emphasised that they were additional to the continual daily offering, with its drink offerings.

Numbers 28:25

And on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no servile work.”

And like the first day, the seventh also would be a holy convocation, and no servile work of any kind was to be done on it. Thus in this period of seven days there would regularly be three days of rest, the first, the seventh and the seven day Sabbath. Peace and rest and contemplation of Him was at the heart of all that Yahweh had come to bring. For the servants among them this would be a double blessing.

We note in all this that unleavened bread is not mentioned except in the name of the feast. The concentration here is not on the Feast, but on the dedication that it represents.


Verses 26-31

The Feast Of The Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26-31).

Even here, where there were already munificent offerings, we note that there is an increase in the level of the offerings as compared with Leviticus 23:18. Previously, while they were still in the wilderness, the requirement was of one ox bull, two rams and seven he-lambs, and the munificence was particular to that feast. But now that they had accumulated all the bulls of Bashan, to say nothing of those of Gilead, ox bulls were in plentiful supply, and so the level of the offering was increased, a subtle change that reflected that even this day, with its already munificent offerings, had to see a token increase in offering. All Israel would notice this and recognise the significance of the change. Gilead and Bashan were themselves firstruits to Yahweh.

a In the day of the firstfruits a new grain offering to be offered to Yahweh (Numbers 28:26).

b Whole burnt offerings to be offered to Yahweh of two young ox bulls and a ram and seven he-lambs for a pleasing odour (Numbers 28:27).

c The grain offerings to be offered with them (Numbers 28:28-29).

b One he-goat to be offered to make atonement as well as the continual whole burnt offering (Numbers 28:30-31 a).

a They are to be offered with its grain and drink offerings, the whole to be without blemish (Numbers 28:31 b).

Numbers 28:26

Also in the day of the first-fruits, when you offer a new grain offering to Yahweh in your feast of sevens, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no servile work,”

The feast of firstfruits, or sevens, or harvest, was a day when a new grain offering was offered to Yahweh, the firstfruits of their labours (Exodus 23:16) and of the wheat harvest (Exodus 34:22), a contribution offering of two loaves of milled grain baked with leaven ( a rare case of leaven being allowed) and presented with the listed offerings (Leviticus 23:11). No leaven could be offered by fire to Yahweh, but leaven was permitted as a part of the offering from their labours in a contribution offering which could be partaken of by the priests. And this too was a day of holy convocation (calling together) in which no servile work could be done. This feast especially celebrated the gathering in of the wheat harvest.

Numbers 28:27-30

But you shall offer a whole burnt offering for a pleasing odour to Yahweh, two young ox bulls, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old; and their grain offering, milled grain mingled with oil, three tenth parts for each ox bull, two tenth parts for the one ram, a tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs; one he-goat, to make atonement for you.”

And during that day the priests would offer their two young ox bulls, their ram and their seven he-lambs, representing the gratitude, dedication and worship of the whole of Israel. And again the men of Israel, gathered with any who had come with them round the Sanctuary, would see the smoke of the offerings rising again and again, and their hearts were to be full of praise and worship as they rededicated themselves to Yahweh and the covenant.

Numbers 28:31

Besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its grain offering, you shall offer them (they shall be to you without blemish), and their drink-offerings.”

And this was as well as the continual daily whole burnt offerings with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, offered without blemish.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Numbers 28:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/numbers-28.html. 2013.

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