Numbers 15:33
And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
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Numbers 15:33-34. To all the congregation — That is, to the rulers of the congregation. They (Moses and Aaron, and the other rulers) put him in ward — Till the will of the Lord concerning him should be declared. What should be done — That is, in what manner, or by what kind of death he was to die, which, therefore, God here particularly determines: otherwise it was known in general that sabbath-breakers were to be put to death.

15:30-36 Those are to be reckoned presumptuous sinners, who sin designedly against God's will and glory. Sins thus committed are exceedingly sinful. He that thus breaks the commandment reproaches the Lord. He also despises the word of the Lord. Presumptuous sinners despise it, thinking themselves too great, too good, and too wise, to be ruled by it. A particular instance of presumption in the sin of sabbath-breaking is related. The offence was gathering sticks on the sabbath day, to make a fire, whereas the people were to bake and seethe what they had occasion for, the day before, Ex 16:23. This was done as an affront both to the law and to the Lawgiver. God is jealous for the honour of his sabbaths, and will not hold him guiltless who profanes them, whatever men may do. God intended this punishment for a warning to all, to make conscience of keeping holy the sabbath. And we may be assured that no command was ever given for the punishment of sin, which, at the judgment day, shall not prove to have come from perfect love and justice. The right of God to a day of devotion to himself, will be disputed and denied only by such as listen to the pride and unbelief of their hearts, rather than to the teaching of the Spirit of truth and life. Wherein consists the difference between him who was detected gathering sticks in the wilderness on the day of God, and the man who turns his back upon the blessings of sabbath appointments, and the promises of sabbath mercies, to use his time, his cares, and his soul, in heaping up riches; and waste his hours, his property, and his strength in sinful pleasure? Wealth may come by the unhallowed effort, but it will not come alone; it will have its awful reward. Sinful pursuits lead to ruin.Moses mentions here, as is his wont (compare Leviticus 24:10-16), the first open transgression and its punishment in order to exemplify the laws which he is laying down. The offence of Sabbath-breaking was one for which there could be no excuse. This law at least might be observed even in the wilderness. Transgression of it was therefore a presumptuous sin, and was punished accordingly. 32-34. a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day—This incident is evidently narrated as an instance of presumptuous sin. The mere gathering of sticks was not a sinful act and might be necessary for fuel to warm him or to make ready his food. But its being done on the Sabbath altered the entire character of the action. The law of the Sabbath being a plain and positive commandment, this transgression of it was a known and wilful sin, and it was marked by several aggravations. For the deed was done with unblushing boldness in broad daylight, in open defiance of the divine authority—in flagrant inconsistency with His religious connection with Israel, as the covenant-people of God; and it was an application to improper purposes of time, which God had consecrated to Himself and the solemn duties of religion. The offender was brought before the rulers, who, on hearing the painful report, were at a loss to determine what ought to be done. That they should have felt any embarrassment in such a case may seem surprising, in the face of the sabbath law (Ex 31:14). Their difficulty probably arose from this being the first public offense of the kind which had occurred; and the appeal might be made to remove all ground of complaint—to produce a more striking effect, so that the fate of this criminal might be a beacon to warn all Israelites in the future. i.e. To the rulers of the congregation, who, as they represented and governed the congregation, are called by the name of the congregation.

And they that found him gathering sticks,.... Admonished him, as say the Targum of Jonathan and Jarchi, but he would not desist; wherefore they

brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation; to Moses and Aaron, and to the seventy elders, who might be at this time met together, to hear, try, and judge causes; for it cannot be thought that the whole body of the people are meant; and it is most likely that it was not on the sabbath day, but the day following, that they brought the man to them, who were then sitting in the court; though Aben Ezra observes, that some say they brought him to them the first night.

And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
Verse 33. - Unto all the congregation, i.e., unto the council of elders, who were the congregation by representation (see on Exodus 18:25, 26). Numbers 15:33The History of the Sabbath-Breaker is no doubt inserted here as a practical illustration of sinning "with a high hand." It shows, too, at the same time, how the nation, as a whole, was impressed with the inviolable sanctity of the Lord's day. From the words with which it is introduced, "and the children of Israel were in the wilderness," all that can be gathered is, that the occurrence took place at the time when Israel was condemned to wander about in the wilderness for forty years. They found a man gathering sticks in the desert on the Sabbath, and brought him as an open transgressor of the law of the Sabbath before Moses and Aaron and the whole congregation, i.e., the college of elders, as the judicial authorities of the congregation (Exodus 18:25.). They kept him in custody, like the blasphemer in Leviticus 24:12, because it had not yet been determined what was to be done to him. It is true that it had already been laid down in Exodus 31:14-15, and Exodus 35:2, that any breach of the law of the Sabbath should be punished by death and extermination, but the mode had not yet been prescribed. This was done now, and Jehovah commanded stoning (see Leviticus 20:2), which was executed upon the criminal without delay.
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