Numbers 15:38

38 "Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them that from now on they are to make tassels on the corners of their garments and to mark each corner tassel with a blue thread.

Numbers 15:38 Meaning and Commentary

Numbers 15:38

Speak unto the children of Israel
Whom it only concerned, and all of them, except women and children; for priests, Levites, Israelites, proselytes, and freed servants, were bound to wear the fringes, but not Gentiles; nor might the Gentiles make them, what were made by them were not to be used F26, since it follows:

and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their
garments, throughout their generations:
the garments on which these fringes were put were such that were made either of linen or of woollen; no other were obliged to them by the law; but according to the Rabbins other garments were also, yet only square garments, which they call the Talith; and if that had not four skirts to it, it was free from them F1: on this square garment, and the four corners or skirts of it, were the fringes put; which were a sort of pendants or tassels, which hung down from it, which consisted of eight white woollen threads, sometimes four, sometimes eight or twelve fingers broad F2; there were four of them, one at each skirt or corner of the garment: they were, as another writer says F3, made of eight threads broad, each of them being knit to the middle with five knots, and of wool spun on purpose for this use; and these were to be wore by them throughout their generations until the Messiah came, and they seem to have been worn by him, ( Matthew 9:20 ) however, it is certain they were worn by the Pharisees in his time, ( Matthew 23:5 ) ; at present this four cornered garment is not any where in common use among the Jews, instead of which they wear, under their other garments, a kind of square frock, with the fringes or tassels fastened to it, and this they call Arbah Canfot; and in their schools, and at certain times of prayer, they put on a certain square woollen vestment, with the said pendants fastened at each corner, and this they call Talith F4:

and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue;
or a blue lace, a piece of blue tape, which bound and kept the fringe tight and close, and being of a different colour, the fringe being white, made it the more conspicuous: the reason why this colour was used, the Jews say F5, was, because it was like the sea, and the like the sky, and the sky like the throne of glory: this blue, hyacinth, or purple colour, as the Jews generally take it to be, was of a peculiar dye; the manner of making which is now unknown to them, and therefore they use only the white F6.


F26 Sepher Alphes, par. 1. fol. 439. 2. & 442. 1. Schulchan Aruch, par. 1. c. 14. sect. 1.
F1 Schulchan ib. c. 9. sect. 1. & c. 10. sect. 1. & c. 24. 1.
F2 Buxtorf. Synagog. Jud. c. 9. p. 160.
F3 Leo Modena, History of the present Jews, par. 1. c. 5. sect. 7.
F4 lb. sect. 9.
F5 T. Bab. Sotah, fol. 17. 1.
F6 Maimon. in Misn. Menachot, c. 4. sect. 1.

Numbers 15:38 In-Context

36 So the whole community took him outside the camp and threw stones at him, an execution commanded by God and given through Moses.
37 God spoke to Moses:
38 "Speak to the People of Israel. Tell them that from now on they are to make tassels on the corners of their garments and to mark each corner tassel with a blue thread.
39 When you look at these tassels you'll remember and keep all the commandments of God, and not get distracted by everything you feel or see that seduces you into infidelities.
40 The tassels will signal remembrance and observance of all my commandments, to live a holy life to God.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved.