Numbers 15:39
And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
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(39) That ye seek not after your own heart.—Or, That ye go not about, or search not out, &c.

Numbers 15:39. That ye may remember — As circumcision in their persons, so this ornament in their garb was designed as a badge to distinguish them from all other nations; so that 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, and bound to the service of their Maker by peculiar laws and obligations. That ye seek not — Or, inquire not, for other rules and ways of serving me than I have prescribed you. Your own heart and eyes — Neither after the devices of your own hearts, as Nadab and Abihu did when they offered strange fire; nor after the examples of others which your eyes see, as you did when you were set upon worshipping a calf after the manner of Egypt.

15:37-41 The people are ordered by the Lord to make fringes on the borders of their garments. The Jews were distinguished from their neighbours in their dress, as well as in their diet, and thus taught not to be conformed to the way of the heathen in other things. They proclaimed themselves Jews wherever they were, as not ashamed of God and his law. The fringes were not appointed for trimming and adorning their clothes, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance, 2Pe 3:1. If they were tempted to sin, the fringe would warn them not to break God's commandments. We should use every means of refreshing our memories with the truths and precepts of God's word, to strengthen and quicken our obedience, and arm our minds against temptation. Be holy unto your God; cleansed from sin, and sincerely devoted to his service; and that great reason for all the commandments is again and again repeated, I am the Lord your God.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. 38. 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" (Mt 23:5; Lu 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. It, i.e. the riband,

shall be unto you, i.e. shall serve you

for the fringe, to wit, to render it more visible and notorious by its certain, and remarkable, and distinct colour, whereas the fringe without this was of the same piece and colour with the garment, and therefore less observable. Or, it, i.e. the riband, shall be in your fringes, or, put to your fringes, fastened to them, that by looking upon it you may remember, that your eye may affect your mind and heart.

That ye seek not, or, inquire not, for other rules or ways of serving me than I have prescribed you.

After your own heart, and your own eyes, i.e. neither after the devices and inventions of your own minds or hearts, as Nadab and Abihu did when they offered strange fire, and as you now did, when you pretended to serve and please me by going up the hill and towards Canaan without and against my command; nor after the examples or inventions of others which your eyes see, as you did when you were set upon worshipping a calf after the manner of Egypt. To go a whoring, i.e. to depart from me, and to prefer your own fancies before my commands, and to live only by present sight or sense, and not at all by faith in my promises.

And it shall be unto you for a fringe,.... The blue ribbon or lace shall be in or upon the fringe to fasten it:

that ye may look upon it; the blue lace making the whole the more conspicuous: from hence the Jews gather, that the night is not the time for wearing fringe, which lessens the sight, and it is not so easily seen; and that night garments are not obliged to have the fringe on them; and yet, they say, a blind man is bound to wear it, because, though he cannot see it, others can (g):

and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them: this is the general use, end, and design of the fringes, that upon sight of them they might be put in mind of the commandments and put upon the practice of them; these being at the four corners of their vestments, let them look which way they would downwards, before or behind, or on either side, they could not but see them: and the many threads in them might put them in mind of the many precepts they were to observe; and the white colour, the purity and holiness of them; and the blue or sky-coloured lace might lead them to observe the heavenly original of them; or being of a purple colour rather, might direct them to the blood of Christ, for the remission of the transgressions of them: the Jews have many fanciful things about the use and virtue of these fringes, not worthy of notice; and they say, that such who are careful to observe this law of the fringe, are worthy to see the face of the divine Majesty, and will be preserved from evil spirits (h):

and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes; to have and enjoy, and do those things, in matters of worship, which were of their own devising, and pleasing in their sight, as well as in moral things, what were agreeable to their carnal hearts, and make for the gratification of their senses:

after which ye use to go a whoring; which seems to restrain the sense pretty much to idolatry, to false and superstitious worship, which are often in Scripture expressed by fornication and whoredom; though other sins and lusts also are sometimes signified by the same words.

(g) Maimon. in Misn. Ediot, c. 4. sect. 10. & Hilchot Tzitzith, c. 3. sect. 7. Schulchan Aruch, p. 1. c. 17. 1. & 18. 1.((h) Baal Hatturim in loc. Schulchan Aruch, p. 1. c. 24. sect. 1, 6.

And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a {i} whoring:

(i) By leaving God's commandments and following your own fantasies.

39. it shall be unto you for a tassel] The point of this appears to lie in a play on the words ẓîẓîth (‘tassel’) and ẓîẓ1 [Note: Used in Exodus 28:36; Exodus 39:30, Leviticus 8:9 of the diadem (R.V. ‘plate’) on the high priest’s forehead.] ‘a shining thing,’ ‘an ornament.’ The tassels are not to be superstitious charms but striking ornaments, which will constantly catch the wearer’s eye, and act as a religious reminder.

after which ye go a whoring] The Heb. has a participle, not an imperfect as R.V. suggests. The words apparently mean—Ye are still prone to follow the superstitious and illegitimate practices to which your heart and your eyes lead you. It is an obscure sentence, and perhaps something has been lost from the text. But there seems little doubt that the earlier superstitions connected with the tassels are referred to.

Verse 39. - That ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments. It was indeed a minute and apparently trivial distinction, and yet such an one as would most surely strike the eye, and through the eye the mind. It was like the facings on a uniform which recall the fame and exploits of a famous regiment. The tasseled Hebrew was a marked man in other eyes, and in his own; he could not pass himself off as one of the heathen; he was perpetually reminded of the special relation in which he stood to the Lord, whose livery (so to speak) - or, to use another simile, whose colours - he wore. No doubt the sky-blue string or thread which was so prominent was meant to remind him of heaven, and of the God of heaven. And that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring. The office of the tassels was to promote a recollected spirit. As it was, their fickle minds were always ready to stray away towards any heathen follies which their restless eyes might light upon. The trivial but striking peculiarity of their dress should recall them to the thought that they were a peculiar people, holy to the Lord. Numbers 15:39"And it shall be to you for a tassel," i.e., the fastening of the tassel with the dark blue thread to the corners of your garments shall be to you a tassel, "that ye, when ye see it, may remember all the commandments of Jehovah, and do them; and ye shall not stray after your hearts and your eyes, after which ye go a whoring." The zizith on the sky-blue thread was to serve as a memorial sign to the Israelites, to remind them of the commandments of God, that they might have them constantly before their eyes and follow them, and not direct their heart and eyes to the things of this world, which turn away from the word of God, and lead astray to idolatry (cf. Proverbs 4:25-26). Another reason for these instructions, as is afterwards added in Numbers 15:40, was to remind Israel of all the commandments of the Lord, that they might do them and be holy to their God, and sanctify their daily life to Him who had brought them out of Egypt, to be their God, i.e., to show Himself as God to them.
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