Pure oil-olive beaten for the light.
I. THE LAMPS MUST ALWAYS BE KEPT BURNING. The law for this we had before (Exodus 27:20, 21). It is here repeated, probably because now it began to be put in execution when other things were settled.
1. The people were to provide oil (ver. 2); and this, as everything else that was to be used in God's service, must be of the best, pure oil-olive beaten — probably it was double-strained. This was to cause the lamps to burn. All our English copies read it "lamps"; but in the original it is singular (ver. 2), "To cause the 'lamp' to burn"; but plural (ver. 4), "He shall order the 'lamps.'" The seven lamps made all one lamp. In allusion to which the blessed Spirit of grace is represented by seven lamps of fire before the throne (Revelation 4:5); for there are diversities of gifts, but one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4). Ministers are as burning and shining lights in Christ's Church; but it is the duty of people to provide comfortably for them, as Israel for the lamps. Scandalous maintenance makes a scandalous ministry.
2. The priests were to tend the lamps; they-must snuff them, clean the candlestick, supply them with oil morning and evening (vers. 3, 4). Thus it is the work of the ministers of the gospel to hold forth that Word of life — not to set up new lights, but by expounding and preaching the Word to make the light of it more clear and extensive.
II. THE TABLE MUST ALWAYS BE KEPT SPREAD. This was appointed before (Exodus 25:30). And here also:
1. The table was furnished with bread; not dainties or varieties to gratify a luxurious palate, but twelve loaves or cakes of bread (vers. 5, 6). Where there is plenty of bread there is no famine; and where bread is not there is no feast. There was a loaf for every tribe; for in our Father's house there is bread enough. They were all provided for by the Divine bounty, and were all welcome to the Divine grace.
2. A handful of frankincense was put in a golden saucer upon or by each row (ver. 7). When the bread was removed and given to the priests this frankincense was burnt upon the golden altar (I suppose) over and above the daily incense. And this was for a memorial instead Of the bread, an offering made by fire, as the handful of the meat-offering which was burnt upon the altar is called the memorial thereof (Leviticus 2:2). Thus a little was accepted as an humble acknowledgment, and all the loaves were consigned to the priests. All God's spiritual Israel, typified by the twelve loaves, are made through Christ a sweet savour to Him, and their prayers are said to come up before God for a memorial (Acts 10:4). The word is borrowed from the ceremonial law.
3. Every Sabbath it was renewed. When the loaves had stood there a week the priests had them, to eat with other holy things that were to be eaten in the Holy Place (ver. 9); and new ones were provided at the public charge, and put in the room of them (ver. 8). The Jews say, "The hands of those priests that put on were mixed with theirs that took off, that the table might be never empty, but the bread might be before the Lord continually." God is never unprovided for the entertainment of those that visit Him, as men often are (Luke 11:5).
( Matthew Henry, D. D..)
locale so long as we are only beginning to believe on Christ and to cleanse ourselves from our filthy ways. The third and most interior apartment represents the heavenly, post-resurrection, or glorified estate of man. There was the visible presence of the Lord. It was the hidden and guarded place into which vulgar eyes could not look, or unholy ones at all enter. But between the outside court and this inmost chamber of the Tabernacle was the sanctuary, or that department with which the text is directly concerned, and of which I propose more particularly to treat. Its position shows that it refers to a condition of things this side of the heavenly estate, and yet in advance of those rudimental experiences by which we come to be Christians. It was a picture of the Christian Church estate, that is, of the immunities and relations in which we stand as the accepted followers and servants of Jesus while yet we remain in this world. With this idea, then, let us take our station in the holy sanctuary, and simply look around us upon the objects to which the text directs attention. The chapter before us speaks of lamps. These were the burners upon the famous seven-armed candlestick of gold, which God directed Moses to make for the holy Tabernacle. The central and all-supporting shaft represented Christ, or rather "the right hand" of Christ, on which everything Christian depends. As the seven candlesticks and their lamps were sustained by that massive golden stem, so Christ sustains every member, branch, institution, and minister of His universal Church. It is He alone "that is able to keep us from falling." You will observe that the number of lamps and branches of this peculiar fabric was seven — the complete number — indicating that the whole Church was thereby represented. All rested upon the one central shaft; indicating that there is no true Church, and no branch of the true Church, which does not repose in Christ as its great and only foundation and dependence. The whole fabric was of one piece. The parts were all solidly joined together as one continuous mass of solid gold. And so the Holy Catholic Church is one. All the branches are compactly joined together in one central support and stay, which is Christ Jesus. And yet in that unity there was multiplicity and diversity. There were seven branches, and these seven were not all exactly alike. Some were shorter and lighter, and some were longer and heavier; some looked towards the east and some towards the west; some seemed to diverge very far from the central shaft, others rose immediately by its sides. There was multiplicity and diversity, and yet perfect, unbroken, graceful unity. Beautiful picture of the Church of Jesus! It is not confined to one nation, one dispensation, one denomination, but takes in all who are really united to Christ, and built upon Him, as their only dependence, no matter how diverse or remote from each other they may be in other respects. The object of these candlesticks and lamps was to furnish light to the sanctuary. The place had no windows, no other modes of illumination. The light which characterises Christendom as such is not from nature — not from human reason and philosophy — but from Christ and that pure Spirit which flowed and shone through Him and His inspired ministers. Without Christ, and the light which comes from the golden candlesticks of His glory, and the pure olive-oil of His Spirit, mankind are in darkness on all sacred things. "But he that doeth truth cometh to the light," and thus is made a son of light, whose path shall ever shine more and more unto the perfect day. But the chapter before us speaks of bread as well as lamps and light. Twelve loaves, baked of fine flour, arranged in piles on a table of gold, ever stood in the holy sanctuary. These loaves were to be renewed every Sabbath, and were to be eaten by the priests in the Holy Place. This golden table, the same as the supporting shaft of the golden candlesticks, represented Christ, and these unleavened loaves upon it, that pure bread from heaven which He giveth for the sustenance of them that are His. "Man liveth not by bread alone." There are wants and cravings in our nature which cannot be satisfied with the produce of the fields. There is in us a spiritual man, which must be fed and nourished with spiritual food, or it languishes and dies. We need higher supplies than this world can furnish, and which can be found only in the holy sanctuary. Jesus furnishes those supplies. It has been touchingly remarked that "every sigh of Jesus was a crumb of imperishable bread to us." The breaking of His body on the Cross has furnished the sublimest feast of time. There "they that hunger and thirst after righteousness" are for ever filled. There wisdom hath furnished her table, saying, "Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled." Here love hath poured out all her lavish fulness for the famishing children of men. There were to be twelve loaves ever on the golden table — a loaf for every name upon the jewelled breastplate of the priest. And they were ample loaves. One omer of manna was enough to serve a man for a day; but each of these loaves contained two omers. The bounties provided for our souls in Christ Jesus are superabundant — far more than enough for all that will ever come to partake. Neither did these loaves ever wax old or become stale. Every Sabbath they were carefully renewed, and thus kept always fresh and sweet. The bread which Jesus gives never moulds, never spoils, and never loses its relish on the tongues of His priests. Having thus looked at the beautiful provisions for light and sustenance which characterised the holy sanctuary, there is yet a thought or two respecting its relation to the Holy of Holies, to which I will direct your attention. I have said that the Holy of Holies was meant to represent heaven, or that invisible and glorious state into which Christ has entered as our Priest and Forerunner, and into which all His saints shall enter in time to come. Now, the way into this most Holy Place was through the sanctuary. There was no other way of entering it. May not this be meant to signify that the way to heaven is through the Church? If there is any way of salvation outside of this holy Catholic Church I cannot find it revealed in the Scriptures, and fearful is the risk of him who ventures to trust in it. But connected with this is another and more sunny thought. If the sanctuary is the way to heaven, those who are in that way are very near heaven. Every true member of the Church has but a veil between him and the glorious presence of God and angels.
(J. A. Seiss, D. D.)
(J. Cumming, D. D.)
The priest setting the lamps in order daily represents Christ causing His people daily to receive and give forth light and lifePhilippians 2:15; Matthew 5:16). They should be as the Baptist, "burning and shining lights." They should be representatives of Christ Himself, who "shone as the light in darkness." And they must shine —
1. Not by natural gifts, but by grace. There must be the beaten oil, pressed out of Israel's olive-trees; not merely talent or natural fervour and benevolence.
2. Clearly. There were golden snuffers for these lamps, and the use of them was committed to the priest who went in to set things in order. Believers must have their gifts and graces stirred up, so that there be no dulness, indecision, languor.
3. Constantly. Every day in succession shine as before; never hide the light. If there be a place where it is not duty to speak, yet there is no place where it is not duty to think and feel for God.
4. Calmly; for the light of these lamps did not sputter as it burned. The oil was pure. Believers must have the lamb-like spirit of Jesus, putting away all admixture of human temper; not reproving with the heat of human passion, not harshly upbraiding the obstinate sinner, not impatient or hasty or fierce even when enormous wickedness and deceit appear. A calm light generally shines full.
5. In the face of the world. Cast your light fair on the world's sins, that they may see them. Point out their ungodliness, their lawlessness, their unbelief. Bear your testimony where the truth is denied in your presence. Never be afraid of dazzling the world with too much light, but plainly show them that they are wholly sinful, wholly ruined, wholly helpless; and speak of a present, immediate, free, full pardon in the Saviour.
6. So as to show the golden table and the golden altar. The lights of the candlestick did so. Was not this pointing the eye to Christ, who died and who is risen? The bread on the table is Christ, who gave His life for us; the golden altar and its incense is Jesus exalted and accepted. Here is full salvation.
7. As if you alone were responsible for the enlightening of the dark world. The candlestick was the only light; so is the Church. And let every member feel responsibility. Perhaps if you shine not, some soul shall be left for ever in darkness. If one lighthouse on the sea-shore were obscured, how many ships might be lost in consequence, especially if formerly that lighthouse used to direct to the haven! Oh, then, how many may perish if you backslide and shine not as before! This is our time for shining. When Jesus comes His light will dim ours; we shall shine with Him, but our privilege of bringing others shall be ended. When the sun rises the vessel needs no more the help of the beacon-light.
(A. A. Bonar.)
(Richard Newton, D. D.)
Isaiah 33:16). This table of shewbread pointed to Jesus. He is "the living bread that came down from heaven; if any man eat of this bread he shall live for ever" (John 6:51). And we know how bread strengthens, or comforts, men's hearts. And then the golden altar of incense taught the same thing. As the priest burnt the incense on this altar, the perfume rose in clouds of fragrant smoke that filled the Tabernacle. This fragrance was most pleasing and refreshing. And the meaning of it was, that when we love and serve Jesus, the prayers that we offer to God, and the work that we do for Him, are just as pleasant to Him as the fragrance of this incense is to us. How much comfort there is in this thought! And then all the things in the Tabernacle-.the brazen altar of burnt-offering, the laver, the candlestick, the table of shewbread, and the golden altar of incense — were intended to lead the thoughts of those who worshipped there to what was on the other side of the veil that hung down in the Holy Place. There, beyond that veil, was the most Holy Place. In it was the ark, with the glory of God shining brightly upon it. That place represented heaven. And so, when we see the Tabernacle showing us how Jesus was to be with His people, to pardon them, and to purify them, and to enlighten them, and strengthen them, we see it teaching us how all that Jesus does for His people now is to make them ready for heaven. And if this is so, we may well say that the presence of Jesus with His people is a comforting presence. We have just had an illustration of one point of our subject from a little blind boy. We have another illustration here from an old blind woman. She lived in North Wales, and was known all through that part of the country as "Blind Mary." Wales is a grand old country. Mountains, and rocks, and lakes, and waterfalls in every variety of form are found there. Mary's cottage was in one of the wildest parts of this country. Great rocks lay scattered around on every side. Ferns and wild flowers peeped out from under them. There was no more charming view in all that country than was to be seen in front of Mary's cottage. One beautiful summer evening she was sitting there, with her large Bible on her knee. She was spelling out its meaning as her fingers went slowly over the raised letters. Just then a traveller who had been climbing the mountain came near. With the usual quickness of the blind Mary heard his footsteps, and asked him to take a seat. As he did so she pointed out to him the most interesting views in the landscape before them. He looked at her with surprise, and said, "They told me that blind Mary lived up here; but I can hardly believe that you are blind. You seem to see the mountains and lakes as well as I do." "I used to look at them with so much pleasure when I could see, that I know all about them, although I have been blind for years." "Doesn't it make you unhappy, Mary, to think that you can never look at them again?" The blind woman's eyes filled with tears, as she answered, "Don't ask me that, sir. At first I felt almost angry with God for afflicting me so; but now I can bless His holy name. I see something better, sir, than rocks and mountains. I see Jesus, my Saviour, and the thought that He loves me makes me happy. Forgive an old woman's boldness, sir. You tell me you have good eyesight, and that you can see yonder lakes, and the blue mountains beyond; but, oh I sir, did you ever see that wonderful sight, Jesus Christ laying down His life for you?" The traveller looked at blind Mary with great interest, and said, "Mary, I am afraid I have not thought about these things as I ought; but I promise you that I will do so; I shall never forget my evening's climb up these mountains, and what you have said to me." "God bless you, sir I But what should I, a poor old blind woman, do without my Saviour? I'm never alone, for He is with me. I'm not afraid to die, either, because He has washed away my sins in His blood; and when I leave these mountains and lakes I shall go, I know, to a better country. 'Mine eyes shall see the King in His beauty; they shall behold the land that is very far off.' And I believe I shall meet you there, because I shall ask my Saviour to open your eyes, that you may see yourself first as a sinner, and then see Jesus as your Redeemer." Certainly the presence of Jesus was a comforting presence to poor blind Mary.
(Richard Newton, D. D.)
Take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes thereof
(J. H. Holford, M. A.)
1. Here remark,(1) Bread is the staple of life. The manna is called "bread from heaven." In the present case the bread is made of fine flour, ground between the millstones.(2) It is most likely unleavened, though the book nowhere affirms this expressly. The Passover bread, and most, if not all else offered unto the Lord, was unleavened (Leviticus 2:5-11; Leviticus 6:14-17).(3) It remained on the table from one Sabbath until the next; even on their journeys it was not omitted (see Numbers 4:7). Therefore is it called shewbread-bread of faces — bread continually before faces of the Lord. This renders it the more likely to be unleavened; for in that climate where the manna remaining overnight spoiled, leavened bread a week old would be sour.(4) The frankincense was probably placed in some of the dishes provided, and was removed and burnt in the censers or on the incense altar on the Sabbath.
2. Let us inquire into the typical meaning of the table, its furniture, and its contents. In general it exhibits Messiah as the Bread of God, that comes down from heaven and sustains the life of the Church (John 6:35-39). But particularly,(1) The wood and the gold, as throughout, symbolise the human and the Divine natures in the person of Christ.(2) The sufferings of the Saviour may be alluded to in the grinding of the flour and the action of the fire in baking.(3) The twelve cakes or loaves are the twelve tribes of Israel, for each and all of whom bread was provided.(4) The frankincense, when offered, expresses prayers and thanksgivings of the Church.(5) The continual presence of the bread is a guarantee that spiritual food shall never fail, but a store is perpetually on hand.(6) The exchange of the bread and the priests eating it in the Holy Place on the Sabbath sets forth clearly and forcibly that abundant provision of spiritual food and nourishment which the Lord's day always brings with it to the people of His love.(7) Its exclusive appropriation to the priests intimates the limited privileges of the people, and prepares for the contrast of a later day, when they become elevated as kings and priests unto God.(8) The unleavened bread indicates the absence of any process of decay. Leaven is the first step towards dissolution, and its prohibition assuredly intimates the absence of all tendency to corruption in the Redeemer, who, even in a physical sense, saw no corruption. Does not this teach that in the sacramental supper we ought not to use leavened bread, bread in the first stage toward utter putrefaction? Moreover, the other idea, suggested by the unleavened bread of the Passover as an indication of being hastily driven out on a pilgrimage journey, is still applicable: we are travelling through a strange land toward the heavenly Canaan.
(George Junkin, D. D.)
Matthew 12:4). Under the new covenant the priesthood includes every believer. All, who by faith are born unto the Israel of God, may eat of the True Shewbread. God has spread a table in the wilderness of which all His people are called to be partakers. He Himself invites them to feast upon its rich provison. He says, "Eat, O My friends, yea, drink abundantly."
(F. H. White).
I. The mystery or THE GOSPEL OF THE TABLE, upon which this bread was set every Sabbath, and there continued all the week, until a fresh set of loaves were placed in their room. This table was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of communion with Him, in the administration of the Word and ordinances. It was typical of the person of Christ, in both His natures: for there are two natures in Him, human and Divine. The human nature of Christ may be signified by the wood of which this table was made, and His Divine nature by the gold it was overlaid with. And this shewbread table was not only typical of Christ, as to the matter of it; being made of such excellent, incorruptible wood, and that overlaid with pure gold; but also with respect to the decorations of it. It had a crown of gold upon it, which may be expressive of that honour and glory which is due to Christ, and is given unto Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords. The border of gold, with the crown upon it, about this table of shewbread, is also significant of what may be observed in Christ. For as this phrase, when applied to the Church of Christ, where it is said, "We will make thee borders of gold, with studs of silver" (Song of Solomon 3:11), may denote the graces of the Spirit of God bestowed upon His people, which is as ornamental to them as borders of gold and studs of silver; so this, being applied to Christ, may denote that fulness of grace that there is in Him. He is full of grace and truth. He hath received the Spirit, and the gifts and graces thereof without measure. Thus this table was typical of the person of Christ. It may also be considered as typical of communion with Him. A table among men is an emblem of communion and fellowship. Here men sit, eat, drink, and converse together: and this shewbread table is an emblem of the saints' communion with Christ, in the present state more especially. There is the table of the Lord, to which His people are now admitted, where He sits down with them, and they with Him, to have fellowship with Him in the ministration of the Word and ordinances, cf which He is the sum and substance. Before I dismiss this head, give me leave to observe unto you that there were rings upon the shewbread table, and staves to be put in there rings, which were for the removing and carrying it from place to place, and which was done by the Levites, when it was necessary; as while they were in the wilderness, and before the Tabernacle had a fixed place for it. For wherever the Tabernacle was carried, the ark and the table were also.
II. I proceed in the second place to give you some account of the gospel, and the mystery of THE SHEWBREAD SET UPON HIS TABLE. This may be considered as typical of the Church of God, who are called bread. "We being many, are one bread, and one body" (1 Corinthians 10:17). They are all one bread; and they may be fitly signified by the shewbread, by these twelve cakes of unleavened bread, set continually upon the table every Sabbath-day. As they were made of fine flour, and into unleavened cakes, so they may denote those that are upright in heart and conversation. Israelites, indeed, who have the truth of grace in them; who are such as keep the feast, not with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. The twelve cakes had reference to the twelve tribes of Israel; so these may signify the whole of the spiritual Israel of God, whether consisting of Jews or Gentiles; even that general assembly and Church of the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. In the original text it is "the bread of faces"; because this bread was always before the face or faces of God, before all the Three Divine Persons in the Trinity; before God the Father, Son, and Spirit; before Jehovah, before the Divine Shechinah, which dwelt between the cherubim, over the mercy-seat of the ark, a symbol of the Divine presence. It was continually before the Lord, as our text expresses it; and this may denote the people of God's constant and continual presentation of themselves before the Lord in acts of public and religious worship. But it may still have a higher sense than this; it may have respect unto these persons, being always under the eye and care of God. Not only are the eyes of His providence upon them which run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong in the behalf of those whose hearts are upright towards Him, to see that no hurt comes to them, that they stand in need of nothing, and to protect, preserve, and defend them; but His eyes of love, grace and mercy are always upon them. He never withdraws His eyes from them. Again, this shewbread, and the twelve loaves thereof, were placed upon the table, where they stood firm and safe. This may denote the standing and security of the saints and people of God upon our Lord Jesus Christ, that sure foundation God has laid in Sion: that foundation of the apostles and prophets. Here they have a sure and safe standing, as on a rock — the Rock of Ages — against which the powers of hell and earth can never prevail. And as about this shewbread table there was a border of gold, to keep everything put upon it from falling off, this may still further point out unto us the safety of the people of God, who are set upon the shewbread table, our Lord Jesus Christ. And then you may further observe, this shewbread was placed upon the table every Sabbath-day; there was a constant succession; the table was never empty. This may denote the constancy of true believers, that have the interest of Christ at heart, in assembling continually before the Lord. Not forsaking the assembling of themselves together, but, like the primitive Christians, continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, and in fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Or, rather, it may denote the constant succession of the children and people of God in the world. This shewbread, set upon the table, may also be emblematical of Christ Himself; and that as He is the spiritual food of His people. And there being twelve of these loaves upon the table, may denote the fulness and sufficiency of Christ. Here is bread enough and to spare. And as this bread was continual bread, was always upon the table, so it may denote the permanency of Christ. He is always the same — the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. And as this was set upon the table by the priests, and only by them, and none ate of this bread but the priests only, Aaron and his sons (who may be significant of the ministers of the Word, or of Christians in common under the gospel dispensation); if we understand it of the ministers of the Word, it points out that they set before the people the shewbread, even the wholesome and salutary words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and feed the people with knowledge and understanding. But if we understand it (as I rather do) as expressive of the people of God in common, who under the gospel dispensation are all made kings and priests to God, it denotes that these, and these only, eat of this spiritual food. None but they do it; none but they can do it.
(John Gill, D. D.)
Blasphemed the name of the Lord.
I. THE HISTORIC INTEREST OF THIS INCIDENT. This act of blasphemy, and the judgment which it called forth on the sinner —
1. Brought out clearly that the name of the Lord was Israel's most solemn trust.
2. Introduced the significant custom of avoiding the very use of the name of the Lord. Certainly this may admonish us against an undue freeness in the use of the august name either in pious speech or effusive prayer.
II. THE HEINOUS QUALITY OF THE CRIME.
1. The crime defined. Blasphemy is calumny and insult against the holy God, uttered with the intention to defame Him. It not only expresses the hatred of Him in the speaker's own heart, but aims at awakening in his hearer's mind an equal loathing of Jehovah and all His claims. It is held up in Scripture as an assault upon the dignity and sanctity of God's name (Psalm 74:18; Isaiah 52:5; Romans 2:24).
2. The root of the sin. This must be traced to the vileness of the human heart, and its natural enmity to God (cf. Matthew 15:19). It should be noticed also as being the outgrowth of folly and pride (see 2 Kings 19:22; Psalm 74:18). Of all sins, blasphemy is an indication of a mind mad with impiety.
3. Its great offensiveness to God and man. How hateful to God is evident from the penalties inflicted (see v. 16 and cf. Isaiah 65:7; Ezekiel 20:27-32; Ezekiel 35:11, 12; Matthew 12:31, 32), how hurtful to man is manifest from Psalm 44:15, 16; Psalm 74:10, 18, 22. They who revere "this glorious and fearful name, The Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 28:58) are distressed at its profanation. Louis IX. of France branded swearers' lips with a hot iron for this offence, and when some complained that the punishment was too severe, he replied, "I could wish that by searing my own lips I could banish all profanity from my realm."
III. FACTS EXPLANATORY OF SUCH BLASPHEMOUS SPEECH. The sin of profanity points to —
1. An ungoverned tongue.
2. Passionate contention and strife.
3. An unsanctified heart.
(W. H. Jellie.)
I. THE EVIL RESULTING FROM CONNECTION WITH THE UNGODLY, "whose father was an Egyptian" — said by the Rabbins to be the man whom Moses killed.
II. The danger ARISING FROM INDULGENCE IN PASSIONATE ANGER: "strove"; the blasphemy was uttered in a quarrelsome passion.
III. THE BLASPHEMY which, in this case, RESULTED FROM SUCH INDULGENCE. "Cursed" the holy name of Jehovah; which, the Israelites claimed, belonged to none but Israelites.
IV. THE PUNISHMENT WHICH ALL LIKE SIN MERITS.
(W. Wayland, B. A.)
I. His PERSON. He is said to be the son of an Egyptian by an Israelitish woman. His father was one of that mixed multitude which came out of Egypt with Israel (Exodus 12:38), whom this woman married as many other women then married Egyptian men, to decline their rage and fury. For at that time the law prohibiting marriages with the heathen was not given them, and some charitably say he was a seeming proselyte; it is more probable that as his mother taught him to speak his father taught this his son to blaspheme.
II. THE OCCASION. He was of a quarrelsome, boisterous, and passionate temper, which demonstrates the danger of mixed marriages. For children, like the conclusion of a syllogism, follow the worst part.
III. His HEINOUS ACTION. He both blasphemed and cursed. In the heat and height of contention, what will not graceless persons both say and do? If this man was drunk, it was with frenzy, which made him belch forth blasphemies and horrid execrations out of his black mouth, and blacker gipsy heart.
1. He blasphemed ("Nakab," Hebrew signifies "perforate," to bore through). Thus blasphemers do pierce and strike through the sacred and tremendous name of God. Such diabolical wretches would both "bore" His name and" gore " His person if they could.
2. He cursed ("Kalal," Hebrew signifies "leviter de aliquo loqui,"to vilify and scoff at). Thus he set at naught the God of Israel, against whom, it seems, his quarrel was (saith )more than against that Israelite he quarrelled with. Thus he (like those three unnatural sons, that tried their archery which could shoot nearest their father's heart) shot his arrows at God and cursed himself. Cursing men are cursed men; such dogs come not into heaven by barking (1 Corinthians 6:9, &c.; Revelation 22:15).
IV. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF HIS SUFFERING. AS —
1. He was apprehended as a grand malefactor, even against God Himself; impeaching the Divine honour by blasphemy and cursing out of a deep intestine malignity.
2. This capital offender is carried away to Moses, the chief magistrate, who soon committed him to custody, and probably confined him with chains and fetters; for it is improbable there could properly be any strong prisons in the wilderness, where they lived only in tents. Though Moses might have put him to death by virtue of that law against cursing father, &c. (Exodus 21:17), but the crime being very heinous against God Himself, as he used to do in other arduous cases, so in this he consults with God for a condign punishment.
3. God, the judge of all the earth, denounces his doom, "He shall be stoned": a punishment answerable to his stony heart. Let those that teach their tongues to lie, swear, curse, and blaspheme by a daily custom, consider this severe sentence of God, and what danger hangeth over their heads every day.
4. The people stone him, for —
1. It was a common quarrel to vindicate the contempt cast upon their common Benefactor, from whom they had their being and well-being.
2. That by executing this severity, they might be cautioned from committing the like abominable crime. Thus the reason is rendered, "That all Israel may fear" (Deuteronomy 13:11). And —
3. This was a means to pacify God, by putting away that evil (both person and thing) from among them; whereas His anger would have been incensed against them, had they permitted the blasphemer to pass unpunished. And whereas God had not as yet made a particular law against blasphemy; now upon this particular occasion a general law is here superadded for punishing blasphemers in all succeeding ages (vers. 15, 16).And God ordained also, that the witnesses who heard him blaspheme should lay their hands upon his head when he was to be stoned.
1. To confirm their testimony and the truth of it, that they did not, by slander, take away his innocency, nor, by murder, his life.
2. That his blood might be upon his own head, and that they were not guilty of his sin. If so —
4. This sacrifice of justice expiates wrath from the survivors.
Exodus 23. 21), and the Temple was to be built for "the name" (2 Samuel 7:13), but in neither case is it given. Such reverence, just in itself, early led, however, to many superstitions. The knowledge of the secret name of any god or angel was thought to convey, to him who knew it, the control of their supernatural powers. He who discovered the hidden name of the god Ea, of the Accadians, became invested with attributes higher than those of the gods. The name, in fact, was regarded as a personification of its owner, with which was indissolubly connected the possession of his essential characteristics. Thus the Romans used the word "numen" for a divinity, by a mere play on the word "nomen," "a name." Among the Egyptians there was a god whose name it was unlawful to utter; and it was forbidden to name or to speak of the supreme guardian divinity of Rome. Even to mention a god's name in taking an oath was deemed irreverent. In the book of Henock a secret magic power is ascribed to the Divine name, and "it upholds all things which are." Men learned it through the craft of the evil angel, Kesbeel, who in heaven, before he was cast out, gained it by craft from Michael, its original guardian. Nor did the ancient world, alone, regard a name as thus potent. The Scandinavians firmly believed that if that of a fighting warrior were spoken out loud, his strength would immediately depart from him, for his name was his very essence. At this day, moreover, the true name of the Emperor of China is kept a profound secret, never to be uttered — perhaps to impress his subjects with his unapproachable elevation above common mortals.
(C. Geikie, D. D.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.).