Numbers 15:1
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
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Numbers 15:1-2. When the following laws were delivered, is uncertain. But it would seem, from Numbers 15:23, to have been toward the end of their peregrinations, and not long before their settlement in Canaan, consequently at a time when part of that mutinous generation, mentioned in the former chapter, were cut off by death. If this remark be just, these laws were enjoined only to the children of the murmurers, who had not forfeited a right to the inheritance in the promised land, as their fathers had done. Le Clerc, however, is of opinion that the laws here recorded were delivered before the rebellion recorded in the former chapter.15:1-21 Full instructions are given about the meat-offerings and drink-offerings. The beginning of this law is very encouraging, When ye come into the land of your habitation which I give unto you. This was a plain intimation that God would secure the promised land to their seed. It was requisite, since the sacrifices of acknowledgment were intended as the food of God's table, that there should be a constant supply of bread, oil, and wine, whatever the flesh-meat was. And the intent of this law is to direct the proportions of the meat-offering and drink-offering. Natives and strangers are placed on a level in this as in other like matters. It was a happy forewarning of the calling of the Gentiles, and of their admission into the church. If the law made so little difference between Jew and Gentile, much less would the gospel, which broke down the partition-wall, and reconciled both to God.The contents of the next five chapters must apparently be referred to the long period of wandering to which Numbers 14:33 the people were condemned. CHAPTER 15

Nu 15:1-41. The Law of Sundry Offerings.

1, 2. The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel—Some infer from Nu 15:23 that the date of this communication must be fixed towards the close of the wanderings in the wilderness; and, also, that all the sacrifices prescribed in the law were to be offered only after the settlement in Canaan.Of meat and drink offerings, Numbers 15:1-16. The law of the first of the dough for a peace-offering, Numbers 15:17-21. The sacrifice for sins of ignorance of the whole congregation, Numbers 15:22-26; or when a single soul is guilty, Numbers 15:27-29. Punishments for presumptuous sinners, Numbers 15:30,31. Of the man that gathered sticks on the sabbath day, and his death, Numbers 15:32-36. God commandeth them to wear fringes on their garments, Numbers 15:37,38. The use thereof, Numbers 15:39-41.

No text from Poole on this verse.

The Lord spake unto Moses,.... After the murmurings of the Israelites by reason of the spies, Numbers 14:2; and their being threatened with a consumption of them in the wilderness on that account, Numbers 14:12; and their defeat at Hormah, Numbers 14:45, and lest their posterity should be discouraged, and despair of ever enjoying the good land:

saying; as follows.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
1–16. Meal-offerings and Libations. These are to accompany both private and public sacrifices, and are arranged according to a fixed scale as follows (ephah = c. 1 bushel; hin = c. 1½ gallon):

  Meal.  Oil.  Wine.

With every lamb  1/10 ephah.  ¼ hin.  ¼ hin.

With every ram  2/10 ephah  ⅓ hin.  ⅓ hin.

With every bullock  3/10 ephah.  ½ hin.  ½ hin.

It will be seen that the amount in each case varies according to the size of the animal. Ezekiel, in his ideal arrangements for worship in the restored Jerusalem, has a similar scale (Ezekiel 46:5-7; Ezekiel 46:11; Ezekiel 46:14), but the amounts are larger, they are not graduated so carefully with respect to the size of the animal, and the libation of wine is not included. The present scale appears to be a later modification of Ezekiel’s.

But while the fixing of definite amounts was probably a late development, the practice of offering meal, oil and wine as an accompaniment of sacrifice was ancient. Men offered to their God the same food which they enjoyed at their own table; cf. Jdg 9:9; Jdg 9:13 (oil and wine), 1 Samuel 1:24; 1 Samuel 10:3 (meal and wine), Hosea 9:4 (wine), Micah 6:7 (oil). Leviticus 2 (P ) contains regulations for meal-offerings, without fixed amounts, but with the addition of salt and frankincense.Verse 1. - The Lord spake unto Moses. It must have been during the years of wandering, but within those limits it is impossible even to conjecture the probable date. There is no external evidence, and the internal evidence is wholly indecisive. Neither can it be reasonably maintained that these regulations were designed to revive the hope and sustain the faith of the rising generation. Incidentally they may have had some effect in that way, but it is evident that the primary object of their promulgation was simply to supply certain defects and omissions in the Levitical legislation. Why that legislation should have had the fragmentary and unfinished character which it so evidently bears, requiring to be supplemented, here by an isolated commandment, and there by oral tradition, is an interesting and difficult question; but there can be no doubt as to the fact, and it is superfluous to look any further for the reason of the enactments here following. (cf. Deuteronomy 1:41-44). The announcement of the sentence plunged the people into deep mourning. But instead of bending penitentially under the judgment of God, they resolved to atone for their error, by preparing the next morning to go to the top of the mountain and press forward into Canaan. And they would not even suffer themselves to be dissuaded from their enterprise by the entreaties of Moses, who denounced it as a transgression of the word of God which could not succeed, and predicted their overthrow before their enemies, but went presumptuously (לעלות יעפּלוּ) up without the ark of the covenant and without Moses, who did not depart out of the midst of the camp, and were smitten by the Amalekites and Canaanites, who drove them back as far as Hormah. Whereas at first they had refused to enter upon the conflict with the Canaanites, through their unbelief in the might of the promise of God, now, through unbelief in the severity of the judgment of God, they resolved to engage in this conflict by their own power, and without the help of God, and to cancel the old sin of unbelieving despair through the new sin of presumptuous self-confidence, - an attempt which could never succeed, but was sure to plunge deeper and deeper into misery. Where "the top (or height) of the mountain" to which the Israelites advanced was, cannot be precisely determined, as we have no minute information concerning the nature of the ground in the neighbourhood of Kadesh. No doubt the allusion is to some plateau on the northern border of the valley mentioned in Numbers 14:25, viz., the Wady Murreh, which formed the southernmost spur of the mountains of the Amorites, from which the Canaanites and Amalekites came against them, and drove them back. In Deuteronomy 1:44, Moses mentions the Amorites instead of the Amalekites and Canaanites, using the name in a broader sense for all the Canaanites, and contenting himself with naming the leading foes with whom the Amalekites who wandered about in the Negeb had allied themselves, as Bedouins thirsting for booty. These tribes came down (Numbers 14:45) from the height of the mountain to the lower plateau or saddle, which the Israelites had ascended, and smote them and יכּתוּם (from כּתת, with the reduplication of the second radical anticipated in the first: see Ewald, 193, c.), "discomfited them, as far as Hormah," or as Moses expressed it in Deuteronomy 1:44, They "chased you, as bees do" (which pursue with great ferocity any one who attacks or disturbs them), "and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah." There is not sufficient ground for altering "in Seir" into "from Seir," as the lxx, Syriac, and Vulgate have done. But בּשׂעיר might signify "into Seir, as far as Hormah." As the Edomites had extended their territory at that time across the Arabah towards the west, and taken possession of a portion of the mountainous country which bounded the desert of Paran towards the north (see at Numbers 34:3), the Israelites, when driven back by them, might easily be chased into the territory of the Edomites. Hormah (i.e., the ban-place) is used here proleptically (see at Numbers 21:3).
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