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Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at

Numbers Chapter 28

Numbers 28:1

num 28:1

When Israel was prepared for the conquest of the promised land by the fresh numbering and mustering of its men, and by the appointment of Joshua as commander, its relation to the Lord was regulated by a law which determined the sacrifices through which it was to maintain its fellowship with its God from day to day, and serve Him as His people (Num 28 and 29). Through this order of sacrifice, the object of which was to form and sanctify the whole life of the congregation into a continuous worship, the sacrificial and festal laws already given in Exo 23:14-17; Exo 29:38-42; Exo 31:12-17; Lev 23:1, and Num 25:1-12, were completed and arranged into a united and well-ordered whole. "It was very fitting that this law should be issued a short time before the advance into Canaan; for it was there first that the Israelites were in a position to carry out the sacrificial worship in all its full extent, and to observe all the sacrificial and festal laws" (Knobel). The law commences with the daily morning and evening burnt-offering (Num 28:3-8), which was instituted at Sinai at the dedication of the altar. It is not merely for the sake of completeness that it is introduced here, or for the purpose of including all the national sacrifices that were to be offered during the whole year in one general survey; but also for an internal reason, viz., that the daily sacrifice was also to be offered on the Sabbaths and feast-days, to accompany the general and special festal sacrifices, and to form the common substratum for the whole of these. Then follow in Num 28:9-15 the sacrifices to be offered on the Sabbath and at the new moon; and in Num 28:16 - Num 29:38 the general sacrifices for the different yearly feasts, which were to be added to the sacrifices that were peculiar to each particular festival, having been appointed at the time of its first institution, and being specially adapted to give expression to its specific character, so that, at the yearly feasts, the congregation had to offer their different kinds of sacrifices: (a) the daily morning and evening sacrifice; (b) the general sacrifices that were offered on every feast-day; and (c) the festal sacrifices that were peculiar to each particular feast. This cumulative arrangement is to be explained from the significance of the daily and of the festal sacrifices. In the daily burnt-offering the congregation of Israel, as a congregation of Jehovah, was to sanctify its life, body, soul, and spirit, to the Lord its God; and on the Lord's feast-days it was to give expression to this sanctification in an intensified form. This stronger practical exhibition of the sanctification of the life was embodied in the worship by the elevation and graduation of the daily sacrifice, through the addition of a second and much more considerable burnt-offering, meat-offering, and drink-offering. The graduation was regulated by the significance of the festivals. On the Sabbaths the daily sacrifice was doubled, by the presentation of a burnt-offering consisting of two lambs. On the other feast-days it was increased by a burnt-offering composed of oxen, rams, and yearling lambs, which was always preceded by a sin-offering. - As the seventh day of the week, being a Sabbath, was distinguished above the other days of the week, as a day that was sanctified to the Lord in a higher degree than the rest, by an enlarged burnt-offering, meat-offering, and drink-offering; so the seventh month, being a Sabbath-month, was raised above the other months of the year, and sanctified as a festal month, by the fact that, in addition to the ordinary new moon sacrifices of two bullocks, one ram, and seven yearling lambs, a special festal sacrifice was also offered, consisting of one bullock, one ram, and seven yearling lambs (Num 29:2), which was also repeated on the day of atonement, and at the close of the feast of Tabernacles (Num 29:8, Num 29:36); and also that the feast of Tabernacles, which fell in this month, was to be celebrated by a much larger number of burnt-offerings, as the largest and holiest feast of the congregation of Israel.

(Note: Knobel's remarks as to the difference in the sacrifices are not only erroneous, but likely to mislead, and tending to obscure and distort the actual facts. "On those feast-days," he says, "which were intended as a general festival to Jehovah, viz., the sabbatical portion of the seventh new moon, the day of atonement, and the closing day of the yearly feasts, the sacrifices consisted of one bullock, one ram, and seven yearling lambs (Num 29:2, Num 29:8, Num 29:36); whereas at the older festivals which had a reference to nature, such as the new moons, the days of unleavened bread, and the feast of Weeks, they consisted of two bullocks, one ram, and seven yearling lambs (Num 28:11, Num 28:19, Num 28:24, Num 28:27; Num 29:6), and at the feast of Tabernacles of even a larger number, especially of bullocks (Num 29:12.). In the last, Jehovah was especially honoured, as having poured out His blessing upon nature, and granted a plentiful harvest to the cultivation of the soil. The ox was the beast of agriculture." It was not the so-called "older festivals which had reference to nature" that were distinguished by a larger number of sacrificial animals, above those feast-days which were intended as general festivals to Jehovah, but the feasts of the seventh month alone. Thus the seventh new moon's day was celebrated by a double new moon's sacrifice, viz., with three bullocks, two rams, and fourteen yearling lambs; the feast of atonement, as the introductory festival of the feast of Tabernacles, by a special festal sacrifice, whilst the day of Passover, which corresponded to it in the first festal cycle, as the introductory festival of the feast of unleavened bread, had no general festal sacrifices; and, lastly, the feast of Tabernacles, not only by a very considerable increase in the number of the festal sacrifices on every one of the seven days, but also by the addition of an eighth day, as the octave of the feast, and a festal sacrifice answering to those of the first and seventh days of this month.)

All the feasts of the whole year, for example, formed a cycle of feast-days, arranged according to the number seven, which had its starting-point and centre in the Sabbath, and was regulated according to the division of time established at the creation, into weeks, months, years, and periods of years, ascending from the weekly Sabbath to the monthly Sabbath, the sabbatical year, and the year of jubilee. In this cycle of holy periods, regulated as it was by the number seven, and ever expanding into larger and larger circles, there was embodied the whole revolution of annually recurring festivals, established to commemorate the mighty works of the Lord for the preservation and inspiration of His people. And this was done in the following manner: in the first place, the number of yearly feasts amounted to exactly seven, of which the two leading feasts (Mazzoth and the feast of Tabernacles) lasted seven days; in the second place, in all the feasts, some of which were of only one day's duration, whilst others lasted seven days, there were only seven days that were to be observed with sabbatical rest and a holy meeting; and in the third place, the seven feasts were formed into two large festal circles, each of which consisted of an introductory feast, the main feast of seven days, and a closing feast of one day. The first of these festal circles was commemorative of the elevation of Israel into the nation of God, and its subsequent preservation. It commenced on the 14th Abib (Nisan) with the Passover, which was appointed to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from the destroying angel who smote the first-born of Egypt, as the introductory festival. It culminated in the seven days' feast of unleavened bread, as the feast of the deliverance of Israel from bondage, and its elevation into the nation of God; and closed with the feast of Weeks, Pentecost, or the feast of Harvest, which was kept seven weeks after the offering of the sheaf of first-fruits, on the second day of Mazzoth. This festal circle contained only three days that were to be kept with sabbatical rest and a holy meeting (viz., the first and seventh days of Mazzoth and the day of Pentecost). The second festal circle fell entirely in the seventh month, and its main object was to inspire the Israelites in their enjoyment of the blessings of their God: for this reason it was celebrated by the presentation of a large number of burnt-offerings. This festal circle opened with the day of atonement, which was appointed for the tenth day of the seventh month, as the introductory feast, culminated in the seven days' feast of Tabernacles, and closed with the eighth day, which was added to the seven feast-days as the octave of this festive circle, or the solemn close of all the feasts of the year. This also included only three days that were to be commemorated with sabbatical rest and a holy meeting (the 10th, 15th, and 22nd of the month); but to these we have to add the day of trumpets, with which the month commenced, which was also a Sabbath of rest with a holy meeting; and this completes the seven days of rest (see my Archaeologie, i. 76).

Numbers 28:2

num 28:2

Num 28:2 contains the general instruction to offer to the Lord His sacrificial gift "at the time appointed by Him." On corban, see at Lev 1:2; on "the bread of Jehovah," at Lev 3:11; on the "sacrifice made by fire," and "a sweet savour," at Lev 1:9; and on "moed," at Lev 23:2, Lev 23:4.

Numbers 28:3

num 28:3

"The daily sacrifice: as it had already been instituted at Sinai (Exo 29:38-42).

Numbers 28:7

num 28:7

"In the sanctuary," i.e., περὶ τὸν βωμόν (round about the altar), as Josephus paraphrases it (Ant. iii. 10); not "with (in) holy vessels," as Jonathan and others interpret it. "Pour out a drink-offering, as שׁכר for Jehovah." Shecar does not mean intoxicating drink here (see at Lev 10:9), but strong drink, in distinction from water as simple drink. The drink-offering consisted of wine only (see at Num 15:5.); and hence Onkelos paraphrases it, "of old wine."

Numbers 28:9

num 28:9

The Sabbath-offering, which was to be added to the daily sacrifice (על, upon it), consisted of two yearling lambs as a burnt-offering, with the corresponding meat-offering and drink-offering, according to the general rule laid down in Num 15:3., and is appointed here for the first time; whereas the sabbatical feast had already been instituted at Exo 20:8-11 and Lev 23:3. "The burnt-offering of the Sabbath on its Sabbath," i.e., as often as the Sabbath occurred, every Sabbath.

Numbers 28:11

num 28:11

At the beginnings of the month, i.e., at the new moons, a larger burnt-offering was to be added to the daily or continual burnt-offering, consisting of two bullocks (young oxen), one ram, and seven yearling lambs, with the corresponding meat and drink-offerings, as the "month's burnt-offering in its (i.e., every) month with regard to the months of the year," i.e., corresponding to them. To this there was also to be added a sin-offering of a shaggy goat (see at Lev 4:23). The custom of distinguishing the beginnings of the months of new moon's days by a peculiar festal sacrifice, without their being, strictly speaking, festal days, with sabbatical rest and a holy meeting,

(Note: In later times, however, the new moon grew more and more into a feast-day, trade was suspended (Amo 8:5), the pious Israelite sought instruction from the prophets (Kg2 4:23), many families and households presented yearly thank-offerings (Sa1 20:6, Sa1 20:29), and at a still later period the most devout abstained from fasting (Judith 8:6); consequently it is frequently referred to by the prophets as a feast resembling the Sabbath (Isa 1:13; Hos 2:13; Eze 46:1).)

arose from the relation in which the month stood to the single day. "If the congregation was to sanctify its life and labour to the Lord every day by a burnt-offering, it could not well be omitted at the commencement of the larger division of time formed by the month; on the contrary, it was only right that the commencement of a new month should be sanctified by a special sacrifice. Whilst, then, a burnt-offering, in which the idea of expiation was subordinate to that of consecrating surrender to the Lord, was sufficient for the single day; for the whole month it was necessary that, in consideration of the sins that had been committed in the course of the past month, and had remained without expiation, a special sin-offering should be offered for their expiation, in order that, upon the ground of the forgiveness and reconciliation with God which had been thereby obtained, the lives of the people might be sanctified afresh to the Lord in the burnt-offering. This significance of the new moon sacrifice was still further intensified by the fact, that during the presentation of the sacrifice the priests sounded the silver trumpets, in order that it might be to the congregation for a memorial before God (Num 10:10). The trumpet blast was intended to bring before God the prayers of the congregation embodied in the sacrifice, that God might remember them in mercy, granting them the forgiveness of their sins and power for sanctification, and quickening them again in the fellowship of His saving grace" (see my Archaeologie, i. p. 369).

Numbers 28:16

num 28:16

The same number of sacrifices as at the new moon were to be offered on every one of the seven days of the feast of unleavened bread (Mazzoth), from the 15th to the 21st of the month, whereas there was no general festal offering on the day of the Passover, or the 14th of the month (Exo 12:3-14). With regard to the feast of Mazzoth, the rule is repeated from Exo 12:15-20 and Lev 23:6-8, that on the first and seventh day there was to be a Sabbath rest and holy meeting.

Numbers 28:23

num 28:23

The festal sacrifices of the seven days were to be prepared "in addition to the morning burnt-offering, which served as the continual burnt-offering." This implies that the festal sacrifices commanded were to be prepared and offered every day after the morning sacrifice.

Numbers 28:26

num 28:26

The same number of sacrifices is appointed for the day of the first-fruits, i.e., for the feast of Weeks or Harvest feast (cf. Lev 23:15-22). The festal burnt-offering and sin-offering of this one day was independent of the supplementary burnt-offering and sin-offering of the wave-loaves appointed in Lev 23:18, and was to be offered before these and after the daily morning sacrifice.

Next: Numbers Chapter 29