Numbers 31:50
We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man has gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.
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Numbers 31:50. We have brought an oblation — Finding, to their great joy and surprise, that not a single man was missing of the whole twelve thousand, they unanimously resolved, out of the free plunder, to make a voluntary offering to God, for the service of religion. To make an atonement — For their error, noted Numbers 31:14-16; and withal for memorial, or by way of gratitude for such a stupendous assistance and deliverance. We should never take any thing to ourselves, in war or trade, of which we cannot in faith consecrate a part to God, who hates robbery for burnt-offerings. But when God has remarkably preserved and succeeded us, he expects we should make some particular return of gratitude to him.31:48-54 The success of the Israelites had been very remarkable, so small a company overcoming such multitudes, but it was still more wonderful that not one was slain or missing. They presented the gold they found among the spoils, as an offering to the Lord. Thus they confessed, that instead of claiming a reward for their service, they needed forgiveness of much that had been amiss, and desired to be thankful for the preservation of their lives, which might justly have been taken away.The "chains" were "armlets" 2 Samuel 1:10. The "rings" were "finger-rings," or "seal-rings;" and the "tablets" were worn suspended from the neck Exodus 35:22.

To make an atonement for our souls before the Lord - Compare Exodus 30:11-16. The atonement was not for any special offence committed (which would have called for a sacrifice of blood-shedding), but rather like the half-shekel given at the census in the Book of Exodus (loc. cite), was an acknowledgment of having received undeserved mercies. These, if unacknowledged, would have entailed guilt on the soul.

48-54. officers … said … there lacketh not one man of us—A victory so signal, and the glory of which was untarnished by the loss of a single Israelitish soldier, was an astonishing miracle. So clearly betokening the direct interposition of Heaven, it might well awaken the liveliest feelings of grateful acknowledgment to God (Ps 44:2, 3). The oblation they brought for the Lord "was partly an atonement" or reparation for their error (Nu 31:14-16), for it could not possess any expiatory virtue, and partly a tribute of gratitude for the stupendous service rendered them. It consisted of the "spoil," which, being the acquisition of individual valor, was not divided like the "prey," or livestock, each soldier retaining it in lieu of pay; it was offered by the "captains" alone, whose pious feelings were evinced by the dedication of the spoil which fell to their share. There were jewels to the amount of 16,750 shekels, equal to £87,869 16s. 5d. sterling. For their error, noted, Numbers 31:14-16, and withal

for a memorial, as it is said Numbers 31:54, or by way of gratitude for such a stupendous assistance and deliverance, as appears from the word therefore in the beginning of this verse, and from Numbers 31:49. We have therefore brought an oblation to the Lord,.... A freewill offering, out of the spoil, over and above the tribute levied out of the half that came unto them:

what every man hath gotten: or "found" (f), in the houses, and upon the bodies of the slain, or of such that were taken captives:

of jewels of gold either such as were set in gold; or rather, as the words may be rendered:

vessels of gold (g), as dishes, cups, spoons, and the like:

chains; which were wore about the neck, or upon the arm, as Aben Ezra:

and bracelets; for the hand, as the same writer, see Genesis 24:22,

rings; for the finger:

ear rings; for the ear, as we render it, the word signifies something round:

and tablets; which, according to the Targum of Jonathan, were ornaments that hung down between the breasts:

to make an atonement for our souls before the Lord; not only this offering was brought as a token of gratitude and thankfulness, for sparing of everyone of their lives, and giving them such success and victory, and so large a spoil of the enemy; but also to expiate any sins they had been guilty of in going out, and coming in, and particularly for sparing the women they should have put to death, for which Moses was wroth with them, Numbers 31:14.

(f) "invenit", Pagninus, Montanus. (g) "vas auri", Montanus; "vasa aurea", Vatablus.

{q} We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.

(q) The captains by the free offering acknowledge the great benefit of God in preserving his people.

50. jewels of gold] Golden ornaments were taken from the Midianites when Gideon won his victory (Jdg 8:24-26). They were worn by roving nomads and traders, such as the Midianites were (cf. Genesis 37:28), more than by the members of settled communities. This seems to be the meaning of the parenthesis in Jdg 8:24, where ‘Ishmaelites’ is apparently a general term for nomads.Verse 50. - What every man hath gotten. The whole, apparently, of their booty in golden ornaments was given up as a thank offering, and in addition to this was all that the soldiers had taken and kept. The abundance of costly ornaments among a race of nomads living in squalid tents and hovels may excite surprise; but it is still the case (under circumstances far less favourable to the amassing of such wealth) among the Bedawin and kindred tribes (see also on Judges 8:24-26). Chains. אֶצְעָדָה. Septuagint, χλιδῶνα. Clasps for the arm, as in 2 Samuel 1:10. Tablets. כּוּמָז. Probably golden balls or beads hung round the neck (see on Exodus 35:22). A different word is used in Isaiah 3:20. The booty, viz., "the rest of the booty, which the men of war had taken," i.e., all the persons taken prisoners that had not been put to death, and all the cattle taken as booty that had not been consumed during the march home, amounted to 675,000 head of small cattle, 72,000 oxen, 61,000 asses, and 32,000 maidens. Each half, therefore, consisted of 337,500 head of small cattle, 36,000 oxen, 30,500 asses, and 16,000 maidens (Numbers 31:36 and Numbers 31:43-46). Of the one half the priests received 675 head of small cattle, 72 oxen, 61 asses, and 32 maidens for Jehovah; and these Moses handed over to Eleazar, in all probability for the maintenance of the priests, in the same manner as the tithes (Numbers 18:26-28, and Leviticus 27:30-33), so that they might put the cattle into their own flocks (Numbers 35:3), and slay oxen or sheep as they required them, whilst they sold the asses, and made slaves of the gifts; and not in the character of a vow, in which case the clean animals would have had to be sacrificed, and the unclean animals, as well as the human beings, to be redeemed (Leviticus 27:2-13). Of the other half, the Levites received the fiftieth part (Numbers 31:43-47), that is to say, 6750 head of small cattle, 720 oxen, 610 asses, and 320 girls. The וגו מחצית ("the half," etc.), in Numbers 31:42, is resumed in Numbers 31:47, and the enumeration of the component parts of this half in Numbers 31:43-46 is to be regarded as parenthetical.
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