Numbers 28 Study Notes


28:1-2 The Lord spoke to Moses introduces the divine instruction about the special fire offering to be presented to the Lord on the various holy days of the Israelite calendar. God would bless the faithful Israelites with abundance in their fields and flocks in the promised land, so they in turn might celebrate his greatness and goodness in rendering the fruits of their labors.

28:3-8 Every day was holy and thus was to be dedicated to the Lord at the entrance of the tabernacle through the rendering of a burnt offering, a sacrifice for consecration of the day. Both in the morning and in the evening a lamb was sacrificed on behalf of the nation in a substitutionary identification ritual accomplished by the priest placing his hands on the head of the lamb. As the priest recited special blessings, the life blood of the animal was extracted as the animal was slaughtered. Then the blood was poured out to the Lord around the altar. The sacrifice would be accompanied by its appropriate portion of grain and oil, plus a prescribed amount of beer for the drink offering—a libation poured over the animal and grain elements as they were roasting on the fire of the sacrificial altar. For “beer” see note at 6:3-4.

28:6 The burnt offering legislation was established at Mount Sinai for a pleasing aroma (savory smell) to the Lord (Ex 20:24; 29:38-43). The vapors that rose up from the altar depicted God’s acceptance of the offering. Only the highest quality, unblemished animals could be presented to the Lord.

28:9-10 The daily burnt offerings of lamb, grain, and liquid libation were doubled on the Sabbath.

28:11-15 At the beginning of each of your months additional burnt offerings of consecration were made, constituting a grand rite through which the nation paid homage to God as its Creator and Sustainer.

28:16-25 According to Ex 12:8, the foundational Passover foods were the Passover lamb, unleavened bread, and bitter herbs. These helped the people remember the events that brought about the redemption of Israel from Egypt. Passover lambs were offered as communal sacrifices, with portions consumed by both the priests and the offerers in the presence of God in the Israelite camp, or later in Jerusalem after the temple was built. Unleavened bread, which Deuteronomy calls the “bread of hardship,” was consumed in imitation of the original setting. The bitter herbs were a reminder of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. In this passage some elements are added to the celebration: Sabbath designation (meaning no work) for the first and final days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, complete with a sacred assembly at the sanctuary; and additional sacrifices equivalent to those offered on the New Moon (two bulls, one ram, and seven lambs, each accompanied by their appropriate grain/oil and libation offerings). The sacrificial list was completed with the offering of a goat for a sin offering on behalf of the people.

28:26-31 The first day of the Festival of Weeks (Hb shavuoth) was called the day of firstfruits. It was considered a Sabbath, with burnt and sin offerings essentially the same as the New Moon sacrifices. The firstfruits offering of the new grain harvest was included in the ritual practices for the day when the seven weeks after the first sheaf (Lv 23:10) were completed. Sheaves of new barley and wheat were elevated and waved before the Lord in celebration of the gift of the harvest. These were in addition to the prescribed offering of two loaves of leavened bread (Lv 23:15-22; Dt 16:3) given in thanksgiving for the abundance of God’s blessing. In the NT, the Festival of Weeks is called Pentecost, based on the Greek pentekoste (fiftieth), since the day is the fiftieth day after the first sheaf.