Numbers 15

Listen to Numbers 15

Laws About Sacrifices

1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 "Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, 1When you come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving you,
3 and 2you offer to the LORD from the herd or from the flock a food offering[a] or a burnt offering or a sacrifice, 3to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering or 4at your appointed feasts, to make a 5pleasing aroma to the LORD,
4 then 6he who brings his offering shall offer to the LORD 7a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah[b] of fine flour, 8mixed with a quarter of a hin[c] of oil;
5 and you shall offer with the burnt offering, or for the sacrifice, a quarter of a hin of 9wine for the drink offering for each lamb.
6 10Or for a ram, you shall offer for a grain offering two tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a third of a hin of oil.
7 And for the drink offering you shall offer a third of a hin of wine, a 11pleasing aroma to the LORD.
8 And when you offer a bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, to 12fulfill a vow or for 13peace offerings to the LORD,
9 then one shall offer 14with the bull a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour, mixed with half a hin of oil.
10 And you shall offer for the drink offering half a hin of wine, as a food offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
11 15"Thus it shall be done for each bull or ram, or for each lamb or young goat.
12 As many as you offer, so shall you do with each one, as many as there are.
13 Every native Israelite shall do these things in this way, in offering a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD.
14 And if a stranger is sojourning with you, or anyone is living permanently among you, and he wishes to offer a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD, he shall do as you do.
15 For the assembly, 16there shall be one statute for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a statute forever throughout your generations. You and the sojourner shall be alike before the LORD.
16 One law and one rule shall be for you and for the stranger who sojourns with you."
17 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
18 17"Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you come into the land to which I bring you
19 and when you eat of 18the bread of the land, you shall present a contribution to the LORD.
20 19Of the first of your dough you shall present a loaf as a contribution; like a 20contribution from the threshing floor, so shall you present it.
21 21Some of the first of your dough you shall give to the LORD as a contribution throughout your generations.

Laws About Unintentional Sins

22 22"But if you sin unintentionally,[d] and do not observe all these commandments that the LORD has spoken to Moses,
23 all that the LORD has commanded you by Moses, from the day that the LORD gave commandment, and onward throughout your generations,
24 then if it was done unintentionally 23without the knowledge of the congregation, all the congregation shall offer one bull from the herd for a burnt offering, a pleasing aroma to the LORD, 24with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the rule, and 25one male goat for a sin offering.
25 26And the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the people of Israel, and they shall be forgiven, because it was a mistake, and they have brought their offering, a food offering to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD for their mistake.
26 And all the congregation of the people of Israel shall be forgiven, and the stranger who sojourns among them, because the whole population was involved in the mistake.
27 27"If one person sins unintentionally, he shall offer a female goat a year old for a sin offering.
28 28And the priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who makes a mistake, when he sins unintentionally, to make atonement for him, and he shall be forgiven.
29 29You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the people of Israel and for the stranger who sojourns among them.
30 30But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the LORD, and that person shall be cut off from among his people.
31 Because he has 31despised the word of the LORD and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him."

A Sabbathbreaker Executed

32 While the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man 32gathering sticks on the Sabbath day.
33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation.
34 33They put him in custody, because it had not been made clear what should be done to him.
35 And the LORD said to Moses, 34"The man shall be put to death; all the congregation shall 35stone him with stones outside the camp."
36 And all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him to death with stones, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Tassels on Garments

37 The LORD said to Moses,
38 "Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to 36make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner.
39 And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, to do them, 37not to follow[e] after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined 38to whore after.
40 So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be 39holy to your God.
41 40I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the LORD your God."

Numbers 15 Commentary

Chapter 15

The law of the meat-offering and the drink-offering The stranger under the same law. (1-21) The sacrifice for the sin of ignorance. (22-29) The punishment of presumption The sabbath-breaker stoned. (30-36) The law for fringes on garment. (37-41)

Verses 1-21 Full instructions are given about the meat-offerings and drink-offerings. The beginning of this law is very encouraging, When ye come into the land of your habitation which I give unto you. This was a plain intimation that God would secure the promised land to their seed. It was requisite, since the sacrifices of acknowledgment were intended as the food of God's table, that there should be a constant supply of bread, oil, and wine, whatever the flesh-meat was. And the intent of this law is to direct the proportions of the meat-offering and drink-offering. Natives and strangers are placed on a level in this as in other like matters. It was a happy forewarning of the calling of the Gentiles, and of their admission into the church. If the law made so little difference between Jew and Gentile, much less would the gospel, which broke down the partition-wall, and reconciled both to God.

Verses 22-29 Though ignorance will in a degree excuse, it will not justify those who might have known their Lord's will, yet did it not. David prayed to be cleansed from his secret faults, those sins which he himself was not aware of. Sins committed ignorantly, shall be forgiven through Christ the great Sacrifice, who, when he offered up himself once for all upon the cross, seemed to explain one part of the intention of his offering, in that prayer, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. It looked favourably upon the Gentiles, that this law of atoning for sins of ignorance, is expressly made to extend to those who were strangers to Israel.

Verses 30-36 Those are to be reckoned presumptuous sinners, who sin designedly against God's will and glory. Sins thus committed are exceedingly sinful. He that thus breaks the commandment reproaches the Lord. He also despises the word of the Lord. Presumptuous sinners despise it, thinking themselves too great, too good, and too wise, to be ruled by it. A particular instance of presumption in the sin of sabbath-breaking is related. The offence was gathering sticks on the sabbath day, to make a fire, whereas the people were to bake and seethe what they had occasion for, the day before, ( Exodus 16:23 ) . This was done as an affront both to the law and to the Lawgiver. God is jealous for the honour of his sabbaths, and will not hold him guiltless who profanes them, whatever men may do. God intended this punishment for a warning to all, to make conscience of keeping holy the sabbath. And we may be assured that no command was ever given for the punishment of sin, which, at the judgment day, shall not prove to have come from perfect love and justice. The right of God to a day of devotion to himself, will be disputed and denied only by such as listen to the pride and unbelief of their hearts, rather than to the teaching of the Spirit of truth and life. Wherein consists the difference between him who was detected gathering sticks in the wilderness on the day of God, and the man who turns his back upon the blessings of sabbath appointments, and the promises of sabbath mercies, to use his time, his cares, and his soul, in heaping up riches; and waste his hours, his property, and his strength in sinful pleasure? Wealth may come by the unhallowed effort, but it will not come alone; it will have its awful reward. Sinful pursuits lead to ruin.

Verses 37-41 The people are ordered by the Lord to make fringes on the borders of their garments. The Jews were distinguished from their neighbours in their dress, as well as in their diet, and thus taught not to be conformed to the way of the heathen in other things. They proclaimed themselves Jews wherever they were, as not ashamed of God and his law. The fringes were not appointed for trimming and adorning their clothes, but to stir ( 2 Peter. 3:1 ) tempted to sin, the fringe would warn them not to break God's commandments. We should use every means of refreshing our memories with the truths and precepts of God's word, to strengthen and quicken our obedience, and arm our minds against temptation. Be holy unto your God; cleansed from sin, and sincerely devoted to his service; and that great reason for all the commandments is again and again repeated, "I am the Lord your God."

Cross References 40

  • 1. ver. 18; Leviticus 23:10; Deuteronomy 26:1
  • 2. Leviticus 1:2, 3
  • 3. Leviticus 22:21; Leviticus 27:2
  • 4. Numbers 28:19, 27; Lev. 23:8, 12, 36; Deuteronomy 16:10
  • 5. Exodus 29:18; Leviticus 4:31; See Genesis 8:21
  • 6. Leviticus 2:1; Leviticus 6:14
  • 7. Exodus 29:40; Leviticus 23:13
  • 8. Numbers 28:5; Leviticus 14:10
  • 9. Numbers 28:7, 14
  • 10. Numbers 28:12, 14
  • 11. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 12. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 13. Leviticus 7:11
  • 14. Numbers 28:12, 14; See Leviticus 6:14-17
  • 15. See Numbers 28
  • 16. ver. 29, 30; Numbers 9:14; Exodus 12:49
  • 17. ver. 2
  • 18. [Joshua 5:11, 12]
  • 19. Deuteronomy 26:2, 10; Nehemiah 10:37; Ezekiel 44:30
  • 20. Leviticus 2:14; See Leviticus 23:10-17
  • 21. [See ver. 20 above]
  • 22. [Leviticus 4:2]
  • 23. [Leviticus 4:13]
  • 24. ver. 8-10
  • 25. Numbers 28:15; Leviticus 4:23
  • 26. Leviticus 4:20
  • 27. Leviticus 4:27, 28
  • 28. Leviticus 4:35
  • 29. See ver. 15
  • 30. [Deuteronomy 17:12; Psalms 19:13; Hebrews 10:26]
  • 31. 2 Samuel 12:9; 2 Chronicles 36:16; Proverbs 13:13
  • 32. Exodus 35:3; See Exodus 20:8, 9
  • 33. Leviticus 24:12
  • 34. Exodus 31:14, 15
  • 35. Leviticus 24:14-16; Joshua 7:25; 1 Kings 21:13; Acts 7:58
  • 36. Deuteronomy 22:12; [Matthew 23:5]
  • 37. [Job 31:7; Ecclesiastes 11:9; Ezekiel 6:9]
  • 38. Psalms 73:27; Psalms 106:39; [Ezekiel 6:9]
  • 39. See Leviticus 11:44
  • 40. Leviticus 22:33; See Leviticus 20:8

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Or an offering by fire; so throughout Numbers
  • [b]. An ephah was about 3/5 bushel or 22 liters
  • [c]. A hin was about 4 quarts or 3.5 liters
  • [d]. Or by mistake; also verses 24, 27, 28, 29
  • [e]. Hebrew to spy out

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the children of Israel are instructed about the meat offerings and drink offerings, and the quantities of them, which were always to go along with their burnt offerings and peace offerings they should offer when they came into the land of Canaan, Nu 15:1-12; and they are told that the same laws and ordinances would be binding equally on them that were of the country, and on the strangers in it, Nu 15:13-16; and an order is given them to offer a cake of the first dough for an heave offering, Nu 15:17-21; and they are directed what sacrifices to offer for sins of ignorance, both of the congregation and particular persons, Nu 14:22-29; but as for presumptuous sinners, they were to be cut off, Nu 14:30,31; and an instance is recorded of stoning a sabbath breaker, Nu 14:32-36; and the chapter is concluded with a law for wearing fringes on the borders of their garments, the use of which is expressed, Nu 14:35-41.

Numbers 15 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.