Chapter 15

NUMBERS CHAPTER 15

Laws About Offerings

    • The Lord told Moses to give the Israelites the following instructions:

      • When you finally enter the land that I have promised to give you and you make an offering to the Lord from either your herd or your flock (an offering to fulfill a vow, a voluntary offering, or an offering at one of the appointed festivals), this offering must be accompanied by a grain offering and a drink offering.”

      • Here are the instructions for the grain and drink offerings depending on the type of animal offered:

        • For each lamb that is offered as a burnt offering or other special sacrifice you must also give a grain offering consisting of two quarts of fine flour mixed with a quart of oil accompanied by a drink offering consisting of a quart of wine.

        • If you are sacrificing a ram, the grain offering should consist of four quarts of fine four mixed with one third of a gallon of olive oil accompanied by a drink offering of a third of a gallon of wine.

        • If you are offering a young bull as a burnt offering, to fulfill a vow, or as a peace offering to the Lord, the grain offering should consist of six quarts of fine flour mixed with two quarts of oil accompanied by a drink offering of two quarts of wine.

      • Follow these instructions to prepare each of your sacrifices. These rules also apply to foreigners living among you that wish to offer sacrifices. Both Israelites and the foreigners who are living among you are equal before the Lord and the same rules apply to both of you. These are permanent laws to be followed throughout your generations.”

      • After you have entered the promised land and you eat the crops that grow there, you are to set some aside as a special (heave) offering to the Lord. Just as you set aside the first grain from the threshing floor, also set aside the first loaf of bread from your first batch of dough. This is a permanent law throughout your generations.”

      • If you or the generations after you accidentally fail to obey all the commands that the Lord gave you through Moses and the entire community is unaware of it, the community as a whole must present a young bull as burnt offering to the Lord accompanied by the appropriate grain and drink offering. In addition to this, you must also present a male goat as a sin offering. With these, the priest will make atonement for the entire community and all of you will be forgiven because your sin was committed on accident and you have rectified it through your sacrifices. Everyone involved in the sin- both native Israelites and the foreigners who live among you will be forgiven.”

      • If an individual accidentally commits a sin, the person must bring a female goat for a sin offering and the priest will sacrifice it to the Lord to make atonement and the person will be forgiven. This applies to both Israelites and foreigners living among you.”

        • Guzik writes, “Significantly, the Bible talks about sins unintentionally committed. Many today think and live as if an action is unintentional, it cannot be sin. But many of the worst sins are committed with the best of intentions. Intentions matter nothing when the result is sin…Especially in the 20th century, all sorts of horrific atrocities and terror have been committed by those dedicated to honorable causes; Communism sought to establish a just, fair economy where each worked according to his ability and received according to his need – and became the instrument of the genocide of tens of millions of people…Today, in the church, many a gossip, many a talebearer, many a divisive person will claim the best of intentions. Even if we agree they have the right intentions, they still may be in grievous sin. The same applies for a myriad of other sins we are often ready to ignore or think lightly of, all on the basis of “after all, they had good intentions.”

      • But, if an individual (either an Israelite or foreigner living among you) intentionally and defiantly sins, it is considered blasphemy and this person must be cut off from the community. The person is not forgiven- their guilt remains on them.”

Penalty for Breaking the Sabbath

    • During the time that the Israelites were still in the wilderness, they found a young man who was gathering wood on the Sabbath. They brought him to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community and held him in custody because they didn’t know what to do with him. Then, the Lord told Moses, “This man must be killed. The entire community must stone him outside the camp.” The Israelites obeyed these instructions.

      • Wenham notes that this story is likely illustrative of what sinning intentionally means.

      • HCSB commentary notes, “The Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. Violation of its sanctity was an especially heinous offense, punishable by execution at the hand of the members of the community of faith.”

Tassels on Clothing

    • The Lord told Moses to tell the Israelites that throughout their generations they must make and wear tassels on the hems of their clothes attached by blue cord in order to remind them to obey all of the Lord’s commands instead of following their own desires, because the Lord is their God who brought them out of Egypt.”

      • HCSB commentary writes, “This practice was followed in the time of Jesus and continues among orthodox Jews today.”

      • The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “Tassels were attached to the outer garment used by Israelite men. Both men and women wore an outer cloak and wrapped it around their bodies or draped it over the shoulder. A belt secured it to protect a person from inclement weather. It functioned as a cover during the night and was considered valuable enough to secure a debt (Exodus 22:26-27; Deuteronomy 24:10-13). The Black Obelisk (c. 820 BC) contains a picture of King Jehu of Israel with a fringed outer garment lad over his left shoulder.”

Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III in the British Museum. Image via Wikipedia.
Jehu, or Jehu’s ambassador, bows before Shalmaneser III. By Stephen G. Johnson (own work) CC BY-CA 3.0 httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=11326786