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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Numbers Chapter 15

Numbers 15:1

num 15:1

The contents of the next five chapters must apparently be referred to the long period of wandering to which Num 14:33 the people were condemned.

Numbers 15:2

num 15:2

To the Israelites of the younger generation is conveyed the hope that the nation should yet enter into the land of promise. The ordinances that follow are more likely to have been addressed to adults than to children; and we may therefore assume that at the date of their delivery the new generation was growing up, and the period of wandering drawing toward its close. During that period the meat-offerings and drink-offerings prescribed by the Law had been probably intermitted by reason of the scanty supply of grain and wine in the wilderness. The command therefore to provide such offerings was a pledge to Israel that it should possess the land which was to furnish the wherewithal for them.

Numbers 15:4

num 15:4

The meat-offering is treated in Lev. 2. The drink-offering Exo 29:40; Lev 23:13, hitherto an ordinary accessory to the former, is now prescribed forevery sacrifice.

Numbers 15:18

num 15:18

The general principle which includes the ordinance of this and the three verses following is laid down in Exo 22:29; Exo 23:19.

Numbers 15:20

num 15:20

Dough - "Coarse meal" Neh 10:37; Eze 44:30.

Numbers 15:22

num 15:22

The heavy punishments which had already overtaken the people might naturally give rise to apprehensions for the future, especially in view of the fact that on the approaching entrance into Canaan the complete observance of the Law in all its details would become imperative on them. To meet such apprehensions a distinction is emphatically drawn between sins of ignorance (Lev 4:13 ff) and those of presumption Num 15:30-31. The passage deals separately with imperfections of obedience which would be regarded as attaching to the whole nation Num 15:22-26, and those of individuals Num 15:27-30.

Num 15:24

Without the knowledge of the congregation - literally, as marginal. The words point to an error of omission which escaped notice at the time: i. e. to an oversight.

Num 15:30

Presumptuously - The original (compare the margin, and Exo 14:8) imports something done willfully and openly; in the case of a sin against God it implies that the act is committed ostentatiously and in bravado.

Reproacheth the Lord - Rather, revileth or blasphemeth the Lord: compare Eze 20:27.

Numbers 15:32

num 15:32

Moses mentions here, as is his wont (compare Lev 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.

Numbers 15:34

num 15:34

Death had indeed been assigned as the penalty Exo 31:14; Exo 35:2; but it had not been determined how that death was to be inflicted.

Numbers 15:38

num 15:38

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 Isa 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 Mat 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.

Next: Numbers Chapter 16