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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 15:38

"Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Bid them - make them fringes - We learn from Numbers 15:39; that these fringes were emblematical of the various commands of God. That there was any analogy between a fringe and a precept, it would be bold to assert; but when a thing is appointed to represent another, no matter how different, that first object be comes the regular representative or sign of the other. There is no analogy between the term bread and the farinaceous nutritive substance thereby signified; but because this term is used to express and represent that thing, every person thus understands it; and when the word bread is seen or heard, a perfect knowledge, not of the letters which compose that word, but of the thing signified by it, is conveyed to the mind. So the fringes, being appointed by God to represent and bring to mind the commandments of God, Numbers 15:39, the mention or sight of them conveyed the intelligence intended. All the Jews wore these, and so probably did our Lord; see Matthew 9:20, where the word κρασπε ον is rather to be understood of the fringe than of the hem of his garment.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-15.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

That they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue - Reader that they add to the fringes of the borders (or corners) a thread of blue (compare the marginal references). These fringes are considered to be of Egypttian origin. The ordinary outer Jewish garment was a quadrangular piece of cloth like a modern plaid, to the corners of which, in conformity with this command, a tassel was attached. Each tassel had a conspicuous thread of deep blue, this color being doubtless symbolic of the heavenly origin of the commandments of which it was to serve as a memento. Tradition determined that the other threads should be white - this color being an emblem of purity (compare Isaiah 1:18). The arrangement of the threads and knots, to which the Jews attached the greatest importance, was so adjusted as to set forth symbolically the 613 precepts of which the Law was believed to consist. In our Lord‘s time the Pharisees enlarged their fringes Matthew 23:5 in order to obtain reputation for their piety. In later times howerer, the Jews have worn the fringed garment (tālı̂̄th ) of a smaller size and as an under-dress. Its use is still retained, especially at morning prayer in the Synagogue.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/numbers-15.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Speak unto the children of Israel,.... Whom it only concerned, and all of them, except women and children; for priests, Levites, Israelites, proselytes, and freed servants, were bound to wear the fringes, but not Gentiles; nor might the Gentiles make them, what were made by them were not to be usedF26Sepher Alphes, par. 1. fol. 439. 2. & 442. 1. Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 14. sect. 1. , since it follows:

and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments, throughout their generations: the garments on which these fringes were put were such that were made either of linen or of woollen; no other were obliged to them by the law; but according to the Rabbins other garments were also, yet only square garments, which they call the Talith; and if that had not four skirts to it, it was free from themF1Schulchan ib. c. 9. sect. 1. & c. 10. sect. 1. & c. 24. 1. : on this square garment, and the four corners or skirts of it, were the fringes put; which were a sort of pendants or tassels, which hung down from it, which consisted of eight white woollen threads, sometimes four, sometimes eight or twelve fingers broadF2Buxtorf. Synagog. Jud. c. 9. p. 160. ; there were four of them, one at each skirt or corner of the garment: they were, as another writer saysF3Leo Modena, History of the present Jews, par. 1. c. 5. sect. 7. , made of eight threads broad, each of them being knit to the middle with five knots, and of wool spun on purpose for this use; and these were to be wore by them throughout their generations until the Messiah came, and they seem to have been worn by him, Matthew 9:20 however, it is certain they were worn by the Pharisees in his time, Matthew 23:5; at present this four cornered garment is not any where in common use among the Jews, instead of which they wear, under their other garments, a kind of square frock, with the fringes or tassels fastened to it, and this they call Arbah Canfot; and in their schools, and at certain times of prayer, they put on a certain square woollen vestment, with the said pendants fastened at each corner, and this they call TalithF4lb. sect. 9. :

and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue; or a blue lace, a piece of blue tape, which bound and kept the fringe tight and close, and being of a different colour, the fringe being white, made it the more conspicuous: the reason why this colour was used, the Jews sayF5T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 17. 1. , was, because it was like the sea, and the like the sky, and the sky like the throne of glory: this blue, hyacinth, or purple colour, as the Jews generally take it to be, was of a peculiar dye; the manner of making which is now unknown to them, and therefore they use only the whiteF6Maimon. in Misn. Menachot, c. 4. sect. 1. .


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-15.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments — These were narrow strips, in a wing-like form, wrapped over the shoulders and on various parts of the attire. “Fringe,” however, is the English rendering of two distinct Hebrew words - the one meaning a narrow lappet or edging, called the “hem” or “border” (Matthew 23:5; Luke 8:44), which, in order to make it more attractive to the eye and consequently more serviceable to the purpose described, was covered with a riband of blue or rather purple color; the other term signifies strings with tassels at the end, fastened to the corners of the garment. Both of these are seen on the Egyptian and Assyrian frocks; and as the Jewish people were commanded by express and repeated ordinances to have them, the fashion was rendered subservient, in their case, to awaken high and religious associations - to keep them in habitual remembrance of the divine commandments.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/numbers-15.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

Fringes — These were certain threads or ends, standing out a little further than the rest of their garments, lest there for this use.

In the borders — That is, in the four borders or quarters, as it is, Deuteronomy 22:12.

Of their garments — Of their upper garments. This was practiced by the Pharisees in Christ's time, who are noted for making their borders larger than ordinary.

A ribband — To make it more obvious to the sight, and consequently more serviceable to the use here mentioned.

Of blue — Or, purple.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-15.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

38Speak unto the children of Israel. A little farther on I will explain the object of this precept more fully: although it is plain from the next verse that God had no other object but to exercise the Jews in constant meditation upon the Law. For there was no religion contained in the fringes themselves, nor had that material texture any value in itself; but since men are lazy and forgetful in the cultivation of piety, God would by this aid make a provision for their infirmity. For when He says that they should “look upon it and remember,” He hints that they have need of these coarse rudiments, which may strike even their outward senses; and again, that, unless their memory was kept awake, nothing was more likely than that forgetfulness should steal upon them. But he presently adds, that God has no satisfaction in mere empty knowledge, but that He demands serious affections and practical performance. In the latter part of the verse he points out another requirement, viz., not only that their sluggishness should be stimulated, but also their wantonness restrained; for when he says “that ye seek not after your own heart,” he intimates that, unless God should restrain their wandering senses, they would be too much inclined to all kinds of superstitions and errors. And, first of all, by contrasting “the hearts and eyes” of men with His Law, he shews that He would have His people contented with that one rule which He prescribes, without the admixture of any of their own imaginations; and again, He denounces the vanity of whatever men invent for themselves, and however pleasing any human scheme may appear to them, He still repudiates and condemns it. And this is still more clearly expressed in the last word, when he says that men “go a whoring” whenever they are governed by their own counsels. This declaration is deserving of our especial observation, for whilst they have much self-satisfaction who worship God according to their own will, and whilst they account their zeal to be very good and very right, they do nothing else but pollute themselves by spiritual adultery. For what by the world is considered to be the holiest devotion, God with his own mouth pronounces to be fornication. By the word “eyes” he unquestionably means man’s power of discernment.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-15.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

ribband of blue

The ribband of blue. Blue, the heavenly colour, used upon the borders of the priests' garments signified that the servants of God were to be heavenly in obedience and character, and separate from earthly ambitions and desires.


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These files are considered public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available in the Online Bible Software Library.

Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on Numbers 15:38". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/numbers-15.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 15:38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

Ver. 38. That they may make them fringes.] {See Trapp on "Matthew 23:5"}

A ribband of blue.] This sky coloured ribbon taught them, that though their commoration was on earth, their conversation should be in heaven. [Philippians 3:20]


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-15.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 15:38. Bid them that they make them fringes Another remarkable command is given, that every Israelite should wear, at the four comers of the skirts of his outward garment, (Deuteronomy 22:12.) fringes, fastened with blue ribband, fillet, or binding. These fringes or borders were formed with indentations or rays, like those of a flower. See Pole, Synops. The blue colour Le Clerc conjectures to have been chosen, rather than any other, in conformity to the high priest's robe of blue, that so they might be put in mind that they were a kingdom of priests, all of them consecrated to God; Exodus 19:6. The use of this ornament is signified in the 39th verse, that we may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, &c. Thus, as circumcision in their persons, so this ornament in their garb, was designed a badge to distinguish them from other nations; that so, as often as they looked upon this mark, they might be put in mind of their being the worshippers of the true God: a holy people, bound to the service of their Maker by peculiar laws and obligations, and by no means permitted to follow their own fancies and corrupt imaginations; Numbers 15:40. But, though these ornaments were thus well intended, and could not be considered as conveying any real sanctity, many of the Jews were found afterwards too apt to pride themselves in the bare wearing of them, and among other mean devices of hypocrisy, to which the Pharisees in our Saviour's time had recourse, the enlarging the fringes was one, in order to make themselves more observable, and gain them the reputation of greater sanctity than others. See Matthew 23:5. It appears from Virgil, AEneid iv. ver. 137 that the custom of wearing garments, with a blue or purple border or fringe, was not unknown to the Phoenicians:

Sidoniam picto chlamyden circumdata limbo.

We may just observe, that what we render in the 39th verse, for a fringe, Houbigant, after the Arabic signification of the word ציצ tzitz, renders for admonition. See his note.

REFLECTIONS.—The Jews were God's peculiar people; their very dress must be different from that of the nations around them. Note; (1.) When the manners of the world in dress are extravagant or indecent, it becomes the people of God to be singular. (2.) Our clothes, instead of ministering to pride, should ever awaken our thankfulness, and lead us to God.

The conclusion of the chapter furnishes the strongest argument for their exact obedience and conformity to every injunction. Note; When God is our God, we shall not only account all his commandments right and good, but obedience to them will be as much our delight as our duty.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/numbers-15.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Fringes were certain threads or ends of their garments, standing out a little further than the rest of their garments, left there for this use.

In the borders, i.e. in the four borders or quarters, as it is Deuteronomy 22:12. Heb. wings, which is oft used for borders or ends, as Ruth 3:9 1 Samuel 15:27 24:5, &c.

Of their garments, i.e. of their upper garment, or that wherewith they covered themselves, as is expressed Deuteronomy 22:12. This was practised by the Pharisees in Christ’s time, who are noted for making their borders larger than ordinary, Matthew 23:5; and by Christ himself, as may gathered from Luke 8:44.

A riband, to make it more obvious to the sight, and consequently more serviceable to the use here mentioned.

Of blue, or, of a purple colour, as the Jewish writers agree, whose opinion is the more considerable, because it was matter of constant practice among them.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-15.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

38. Fringes — The Hebrew tzeetzeeth, fringe or tassel, is used only in this statute and in Ezekiel 8:3, where it is rendered “a lock of mine head.” The fringe was not originated by this law, but it existed before as the ordinary mode of finishing the robe, the ends of the woof being left to preserve the cloth from raveling, the riband of blue, (or cord, improperly lace, Exodus 28:28; Exodus 28:37thread, Judges 16:9bracelets, (cord, R.V.,) Genesis 38:18; Genesis 38:25 — and wire, (of gold,) Exodus 39:3 — or rather dark violet, being added to strengthen the border. The outer robe, a quadrangular piece of cloth, was so worn that two of the corners hung down in front ornamented with this dark violet thread. To this fringe the Jews subsequently attached great sanctity, and the Pharisees enlarged it and the thread to an undue width, (Matthew 23:5, note,) as an indication of their greater respect for the precepts of the law of Moses. The impress of consecration to the holy God was stamped on the life of the Israelite in ordinances extending to the most minute things, that he might always realize the voice of Jehovah, saying, “Be ye holy, for I am holy.” These tassels were to remind him every moment to think on all his commands, and not to be guided by the imaginations of his heart and the lust of his eyes. Stier, in his comment on Christ’s summary of the law, as comprised in love, (Matthew 22:40,) interprets the riband of blue as a type of love, and the fringes as the separate precepts scattered through the law and the prophets.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-15.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Numbers 15:38. Fringes — These were certain threads, or ends, standing out a little farther than the rest of their garments, left there for this use. In the borders — That is, in the four borders or quarters, as it is, Deuteronomy 22:12. Of their garments — Of their upper garments. This was practised by the Pharisees in Christ’s time, who are noted for making their borders larger than ordinary. A riband — To make it more obvious to the sight, and consequently more serviceable to the use here mentioned. Of blue — Or, purple.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-15.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Fringes. The Pharisees enlarged these fringes through hypocrisy, (Matthew xxiii. 5,) to appear more zealous than other men for the law of God. (Challoner) --- Our Saviour conformed to this law, Luke viii. 44. Moses shews that these fringes were to be made for the cloak, which was square, and not for the tunic, Deuteronomy xxii. 12. The colour, in St. Justin Martyr's time, was purple. (Dialogue with Trypho) It seems that the Phœnicians were accustomed to wear such fringes. Sidoniam picto chlamidem circumdata limbo. (Virgil, Æneid iv.) (Calmet) --- God ordained that his people should be thus distinguished from other nations. (Tirinus)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-15.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

fringes. Hebrew. zizith, a fringe, as in Deuteronomy 22:12. Occurs only four times: here, verses: Numbers 15:38, Numbers 15:39, and Ezekiel 8:3 (lock [of hair]) = a fringe where the threads hang down, like a lock of hair.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-15.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: Bid them that they make them fringes. These were narrow strips, in a wing-like form, wrapped over the shoulders, and on various parts of the attire. 'Fringe,' however, is the English rendering of two distinct Hebrew words-the one meaning a narrow lappet or edging, called the 'hem or border' (Matthew 23:5; Luke 8:44) which, in order to make it more attractive to the eye, and consequently more serviceable to the purpose described, was covered with a ribbon of a blue, or rather purple colour; the other term signifies strings with tassels at the end, fastened to the corners of the garment. Both of these are seen on the Egyptian (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' b. 2:, ch. 81:; Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egypt.,' vol. 3:, ch. 9:, p. 141) and Assyrian frocks; and as the Jewish people were commanded by express and repeated ordinances to have them, the fashion was rendered subservient, in their case, to awaken high and religious associations-to keep them in habitual remembrance of the divine commandments.


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/numbers-15.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(38) That they make them fringes . . . —Better, That they make them tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the tassel of the corner (i.e., on each tassel) a thread (or cord) of blue. The tassels (zirith) appear to be the same as the gedilim (fringes) of Deuteronomy 22:12. The outer garment of the Jews was a fourcornered cloth, which was also used by the poor as a counterpane (Exodus 22:26-27). It appears to have been commonly used with a hole in the centre, through which the head was put, so that one-half covered the front and the other the back of the body. These tassels, or fringes (LXX. κράσπεδα—craspeda), were enlarged by the Pharisees to exhibit their punctilious fulfilment of the Law (Matt. xiii 5). Great sanctity was attached to these fringes or tassels, and for this cause the woman with the issue of blood desired to touch a kraspedon of our Saviour’s garment (Matthew 9:20).


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-15.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
fringes in the borders
The word tzitzith properly denotes an ornament resembling a flower. From ver. 39, we learn that these were emblematical of the commands of God. That there is any analogy between a fringe and a precept, it would be bold to assert; but when a thing is appointed to represent another, no matter how different, that first object becomes the legitimate representative or sign of the other.
Deuteronomy 22:12; Matthew 9:20; 23:5; Luke 8:44

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 15:38". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-15.html.

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