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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
Numbers 7

 

 

Introduction

CHAP. VII.

The offering of the princes of the twelve tribes: the Lord speaketh to Moses from the mercy-seat.

Before Christ 1490.


Verse 7

Numbers 7:7. Two waggons and four oxen—unto the sons of Gershon By referring to chap. Numbers 4:5 and the following verses, it will appear, that to those of the Levites who had the heaviest burdens to carry, the most carriages were allowed; while the Kohathites (Numbers 7:9.) were allowed none, as they, for the greater dignity, were to bear the ark upon their shoulders.


Verse 10

Numbers 7:10. Offered for dedicating of the altar The altar had been before consecrated or set apart for a holy and separate use by solemn ceremonies, which lasted seven days; Exodus 29:37. Leviticus 8:11 so that this dedicating here spoken of, signifies the first application of it to its proper use. Thus, Deuteronomy 20:5 to dedicate a house, signifies to begin to use and enjoy it; which, it seems, was done with certain solemn words and actions. See Selden de Synedriis, lib. 3: cap. 13.

REFLECTIONS.—As the tabernacle was to be subject to frequent removes, the princes of Israel are careful to provide the necessary carriages for it. Though no injunction had been given on this head, it seemed a needful and reasonable thing. God has left in the government of his church many unessential matters to the prudence of the chief men in it, who are to see that all things be done decently and in order. The princes were both able and willing to assist the Levites; and happy days are they, when princes shew such respect to God's ministers, and seek to forward them in their labours. The waggons were distributed according to their burdens. Note; (1.) Where God calls to greater labour, he will supply proportionable strength. (2.) As our present tabernacle of the body is so unsettled here, it becomes us to think seriously and frequently about its removal, that, when the hour comes, we may be prepared and ready.


Verse 11

Numbers 7:11. They shall offer—each prince on his day Thus the dedication or handseling of the altar continued no less than twelve days; which made it very solemn, and gave every tribe an opportunity, by its representative, to express its devotion and reverence to God, and to find a gracious acceptance from him. It is not easy to determine when these twelve days began. The computation, however, which Bishop Patrick produces from Schachi, seems as reasonable as any other. According to him, the tabernacle being erected on the first day of the first month of the second year after the Exodus, (Exodus 40:17.) seven days were spent in the consecration of it and the altar, &c. Exodus 29:37. On the eighth day, the consecration of the priests began, which lasted seven days longer; Leviticus 8:33 then, on the fourteenth day, they kept the passover, and the feast of unleavened bread, (chap. Numbers 9:1; Numbers 9:3.) which lasted till the twenty-second. The rest of the month we may suppose to have been spent in delivering the laws mentioned in the Book of Leviticus; after which, on the first day of the second month, began the numbering of the people, (Numbers 1.) which may be supposed to have lasted three days; and then, on the fourth, the Levites were numbered, chap. Numbers 3:14-15. On the next day, we may suppose they were offered unto God, and given unto the priests. On the sixth day followed their consecration, mentioned chap. Numbers 8:7. On the seventh, their several charges were parted among them; chap. 4: after which we may suppose the princes to have begun to offer on the eighth day of the second month, which offering lasted twelve days, i.e. till the nineteenth day inclusive; and on the twentieth of this second month, they removed from Sinai to the wilderness of Paran, chap. Numbers 10:11-12.


Verse 12

Numbers 7:12. He that offered—the first day, was Nahshon, &c.— Bishop Kidder judiciously observes, that though Nahshon offered first, according to the order fixed in chap. 2: and might upon that account be envied for the conspicuous place he held, yet is he so far from being therefore magnified, that he is the only person among these officers who is not called prince of his tribe; which might possibly be intended to prevent envy and emulation among the leaders. As the offering consisted of so many particulars, it is probable that the rest of the great men of the tribe of Judah joined with Nahshon in their contributions towards it. The same may be observed respecting the offering of the other chiefs; each of whom, doubtless, offered in the name of the whole tribe. We may note too, once for all, that there is no difference in their offerings; which might be so ordered to prevent all occasion of vanity and emulation among men of equal place and authority. A Greek or Roman historian would have said in one word, they all offered alike, without repeating the same words twelve times over; but such repetitions are agreeable to the simplicity of the primitive times: hence they are found so frequent in Homer.


Verse 13-14

Numbers 7:13-14. One silver charger This charger, or broad, deep dish, appears to have been for the use of the altar of burnt-offerings in the court of the tabernacle; for all the vessels of the sanctuary were of gold: the use of it seems to have been for receiving the flesh which was offered at the altar, or the fine flour for the meat-offerings; its weight was 130 shekels, or about sixty-five ounces. See Castel. Lex. Heptaglot. upon קערה. The bowl was for receiving the blood: the spoon, Numbers 7:14 was for the use of the golden altar; as appears from the metal whereof it was made, and from the incense which it contained. The Hebrew word ףּכ kap, signifies any hollow or concave vessel. See Calmet.


Verse 84

Numbers 7:84. In the day i.e. At the time: for the dedication lasted twelve days.


Verse 88

Numbers 7:88. All the oxen for the—peace-offerings were twenty and four The peace-offerings were for the offerers to feast upon, together with the priests, and as many of their friends as they chose to invite; and therefore they are double the number of the burnt-offerings. Hence Le Clerc justly infers, that all the wilderness could not be quite a desart, but there must have been tolerable pasture in some places of it, since the Israelites had still so many cattle as to be able to supply the offerings here mentioned, as well as for celebrating the passover, chap, Numbers 9:5 which required a very large quantity of lambs and kids.

This was the dedication of the altar Though the altar of burnt-offerings only is here mentioned, there is no doubt, from the great quantity of incense now presented, that the golden altar was also dedicated at this time. Moses makes no mention of the prayers addressed to the Deity at the time of offering; but though sacrifices themselves were in the nature of supplications, it is most probable, that they who offered them accompanied them at the same time with suitable petitions.


Verse 89

Numbers 7:89. When Moses was gone—to speak with him i.e. with God. The whole may be considered as in a parenthesis from the eleventh verse. The present verse is added, most probably, to shew that God, being well pleased with the voluntary offerings of the princes of the people, declared that pleasure, by continuing to give his oracles to their conductor in the most distinguishing manner; for he communicated his will to Moses, not by any impression upon his mind in a vision, nor by representing things to him in a dream, but by a clear and distinct voice; speaking to him from between the cherubims as he stood in the outward part of the sanctuary, though at the same time he saw no image or similitude. Thus we are to understand those expressions of God's speaking from the mercy-seat, Exodus 25:22. Leviticus 1:1 and his calling to particular persons; chap. Numbers 12:4-5 and hence it is that the most holy place, where was the ark and mercy-seat, from whence the divine voice proceeded, is called דבר debir, the oracle, 1 Kings 6:23. We just add, that this articulate voice which Moses heard, without seeing any person, was an intimation of the spirituality of the Great Being, and a prelude of the grand mystery of godliness; God manifest in the flesh: a mystery which was accomplished in the fulness of time, when the Word which was God was made flesh, and conversed familiarly with the Jews. From a review of this chapter, and from these free donations of the princes of the people,—sovereigns and great men should learn, as Pellicanus well remarks, to be devoutly religious; to possess the fear and reverence of the Lord God in their breasts; to be unanimous in their endeavours to do honour to God; to give a good example to others of faith, holiness, and virtue; to seek the happiness of their subjects; to assist the servants of God; to tend their helping hand toward the advancement of true piety; and to take care so to honour religion in themselves, that it may not be dishonoured and despised by others. While all may hence learn, that though evangelical holiness requires not such expensive oblations as the present, yet Christians are bound to dedicate their substance with great zeal to promote the cause of true religion, and to relieve those who are in necessity, and want their aid.

REFLECTIONS.—The dedication of the altar began the same day it was set up. When Moses had consecrated it with the anointing oil, then appeared the generous piety of the princes, each hastening with his offering, to pay his grateful tribute to that gracious God, who thus condescended to manifest his presence in the midst of them. 1. They were the princes of Israel; a rare example! Happy, were every nobleman like them, thus zealous for the glory of God. Since they are blessed with greater affluence than others, their obligations to works of piety and charity are surely proportionably stronger. 2. Their presents were truly princely: they thought their best thus best employed. Note; We shall never regret what we have given to God. 3. They offered separately; and each, among his other gifts, presented his sin-offering. We must never forget, that, in every state of Christian experience, we stand in need of the atoning blood. 4. Their peace-offerings were eaten each day: thus the holy feast for themselves, as well as the sacrifice to God, was prepared; for God will have those rejoice before him, who heartily devote their all unto him. 5. The order of their offerings was according to their encampments. The station God allots is to be submitted to with delight. 6. Their offerings were the same; they were approaching the same altar, and expecting the same blessings. 7. Each has his name and offering recorded. God will put a mark of honour upon services done for him: no work or labour of love shall be forgotten or unrewarded. 8. God accepts graciously their oblations, and from the mercy-seat declares his approbation of them. Whenever we are speaking to God in sacrifices of prayer and praise, he will assuredly answer us in a voice of mercy. We have not the Shechinah, it is true, in the midst of us: but we have better, the incarnate Word, who promises to be with us always; and that whatsoever in his name we ask, believing, we shall receive.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 7:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/numbers-7.html. 1801-1803.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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