Numbers 15 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Numbers 15)

Verse 2

[2] Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you,

I give you — Will certainly give you, not withstanding this great provocation. And for their better assurance hereof he repeats and amplifies the laws of sacrifices, whereby through Christ he would be reconciled to them and theirs upon their repentance.

Verse 3

[3] And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:

A sacrifice — A peace-offering.

Verse 4

[4] Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the LORD bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil.

A tenth deal — The tenth part of an Ephah, that is, about five pints. An hin contained about five quarts.

Verse 6

[6] Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil.

Two tenth-deals — Because this belonged to a better sacrifice than the former; and therefore in the next sacrifice of a bullock, there are three tenth deals. So the accessory sacrifice grows proportionably with the principal.

Verse 8

[8] And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the LORD:

Peace-offerings — Such as were offered either freely or by command, which may be called peace-offerings or thank-offerings, by way of eminency, because such are offered purely by way of gratitude to God, and with single respect to his honour, whereas the peace-offerings made in performance of a vow were made and offered, with design of getting some advantage by them.

Verse 12

[12] According to the number that ye shall prepare, so shall ye do to every one according to their number.

Their number — As many cattle as ye sacrifice, so many meal and drink-offerings ye shall offer.

Verse 15

[15] One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD.

Before the Lord — As to the worship of God: his sacrifices shall be offered in the same manner and accepted by God upon the same terms, as yours: which was a presage of the future calling of the Gentiles. And this is added by way of caution, to shew that strangers were not upon this pretence to partake of their civil privileges.

Verse 19

[19] Then it shall be, that, when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the LORD.

When ye eat — When you are about to eat it: for before they eat it, they were to offer this offering to God.

The bread — That is, the bread-corn.

Verse 20

[20] Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.

The threshing floor — That is, of the corn in the threshing floor, when you have gathered in your corn.

Verse 22

[22] And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the LORD hath spoken unto Moses,

All these commandments — Those now spoken of, which concern the outward service of God, or the rites or ceremonies belonging to it. And herein principally this law may seem to differ from that Leviticus 4:13, which speaks of some positive miscarriage, or doing that which ought not to have been done, about the holy things of God; whereas this speaks only of an omission of something which ought to have been done about holy ceremonies.

Verse 30

[30] But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

Reproacheth the Lord — He sets God at defiance, and exposeth him to contempt, as if he were unable to punish transgressors.

Verse 32

[32] And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

On the sabbath-day — This seems to be added as an example of a presumptuous sin: for as the law of the sabbath was plain and positive, so this transgression of it must needs be a known and wilful sin.

Verse 33

[33] And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

To all the congregation — That is, to the rulers of the congregation.

Verse 34

[34] And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

They — That is, Moses and Aaron, and the seventy rulers.

What should be done — That is, in what manner he was to be cut off, or by what kind of death he was to die, which therefore God here particularly determines: otherwise it was known in general that sabbath-breakers were to be put to death.

Verse 38

[38] Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

Fringes — These were certain threads or ends, standing out a little further than the rest of their garments, lest there for this use.

In the borders — That is, in the four borders or quarters, as it is, Deuteronomy 22:12.

Of their garments — Of their upper garments. This was practiced by the Pharisees in Christ's time, who are noted for making their borders larger than ordinary.

A ribband — To make it more obvious to the sight, and consequently more serviceable to the use here mentioned.

Of blue — Or, purple.

Verse 39

[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:

For a fringe — That is, the ribband, shall be unto you, shall serve you for a fringe, to render it more visible by its distinct colour, whereas the fringe without this was of the same piece and colour with the garment, and therefore less observeable.

That ye seek not — Or, enquire 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. The phylacteries worn by the Pharisees in our Lord's time, were a different thing from these. Those were of their own invention: these were a divine institution.

Verse 40

[40] That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

Be ye holy — Purged from sin and sincerely devoted to God.

Verse 41

[41] I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.

I am the Lord your God — Though I am justly displeased with you for your frequent rebellions, for which also I will keep you forty years in the wilderness, yet I will not utterly cast you off, but will continue to be your God.