Numbers 15

Laws for Canaan

1 Now the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
2 "1Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land where you are to live, which I am giving you,
3 then make 2an offering by fire to the LORD, a burnt offering or a sacrifice to 3fulfill a special vow, or as a freewill offering or in your 4appointed times, to make a 5soothing aroma to the LORD, from the herd or from the flock.
4 '6The one who presents his offering shall present to the LORD a grain offering of one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-fourth of a hin of oil,
5 and you shall prepare wine for the drink offering, one-fourth of a hin, with the burnt offering or for the sacrifice, for 7each lamb.
6 'Or for a ram you shall prepare as a grain offering two-tenths * of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-third of a hin of oil;
7 and for the drink offering you shall offer one-third of a hin of wine as a soothing aroma to the LORD.
8 'When you prepare 8a bull * as a burnt offering or a sacrifice, to fulfill a special vow, or for peace offerings to the LORD,
9 then you shall offer with the bull * a grain offering of three-tenths * of an ephah of fine flour mixed with one-half a hin of oil;
10 and you shall offer as the drink offering one-half a hin of wine as an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD.
11 'Thus it shall be done for each ox, or for each ram, or for each of the male lambs, or of the goats.
12 'According to the number that you prepare, so you shall do for everyone according to their number.
13 'All who are native shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD.

Law of the Sojourner

14 'If an alien sojourns with you, or one who may be among you throughout your generations, and he wishes to make an offering by fire, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, just as you do so he shall do.
15 'As for the assembly, there shall be 9one statute for you and for the alien who sojourns with you, a perpetual statute throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the alien be before the LORD.
16 'There is to be 10one law and one ordinance for you and for the alien who sojourns with you.' "
17 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
18 "Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, 'When you enter the land where * I bring you,
19 then it shall be, that when you eat of the 11food of the land, you shall lift up an offering to the LORD.
20 '12Of the first of your dough you shall lift up a cake as an offering; as 13the offering of the threshing floor, so you shall lift it up.
21 'From the first of your dough you shall give to the LORD an offering throughout your generations.
22 'But when you 14unwittingly fail and do not observe all these commandments, which the LORD has spoken to Moses,
23 even all that the LORD has commanded you through Moses, from the day when the LORD gave commandment and onward throughout your generations,
24 then it shall be, if it is done 15unintentionally, without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one bull * * for a burnt offering, as a soothing aroma to the LORD, 16with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinance, and one male goat for a sin offering.
25 'Then 17the priest shall make atonement for all the congregation of the sons of Israel, and they will be forgiven; for it was an error, and they have brought their offering, an offering by fire to the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their error.
26 'So all the congregation of the sons of Israel will be forgiven, with the alien who sojourns among them, for it happened to all the people through 18error.
27 'Also if one person sins 19unintentionally, then he shall offer a one year old female goat for a sin offering.
28 '20The priest shall make atonement before the LORD for the person who goes astray when he sins unintentionally, making atonement for him that he may be forgiven.
29 'You shall have one law for him who does anything unintentionally, for him who is native among the sons of Israel and for the alien who sojourns among them.
30 'But the person who does anything 21defiantly *, whether he is native or an alien, that one is blaspheming the LORD; and that person shall be cut off from among his people.
31 'Because he has 22despised the word of the LORD and has broken His commandment, that person shall be completely cut off; 23his guilt will be on him.' "

Sabbath-breaking Punished

32 Now while the sons of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man 24gathering wood on the sabbath day.
33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation;
34 and they put him in custody 25because it had not been declared what should be done to him.
35 Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man shall surely be put to death; 26all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside * the camp."
36 So all the congregation brought him outside * * the camp and stoned him to death with stones, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
37 The LORD also spoke to Moses, saying,
38 "Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves 27tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue.
39 "It shall be a tassel for you to look at and 28remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot,
40 so that you may remember to do all My commandments and 29be holy to your God.
41 "I am the LORD your God who brought you out from 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 29

  • 1. Leviticus 23:10
  • 2. Leviticus 1:2, 3
  • 3. Leviticus 22:21
  • 4. Leviticus 23:1-44
  • 5. Genesis 8:21; 2 Corinthians 2:15, 16; Philippians 4:18
  • 6. Num 28:1-29:40
  • 7. Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 3:6; Numbers 15:11
  • 8. Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 3:1
  • 9. Numbers 9:14; Numbers 15:29
  • 10. Leviticus 24:22
  • 11. Joshua 5:11, 12
  • 12. Exodus 34:26; Leviticus 23:14
  • 13. Deuteronomy 14:22, 23; Deuteronomy 16:13
  • 14. Leviticus 4:2
  • 15. Lev 4:2, 22, 27; Leviticus 5:15, 18
  • 16. Numbers 15:8-10
  • 17. Leviticus 4:20; Hebrews 2:17
  • 18. Numbers 15:24
  • 19. Leviticus 4:27-31; Luke 12:48
  • 20. Leviticus 4:35
  • 21. Numbers 14:40-44; Deuteronomy 1:43; Deuteronomy 17:12, 13
  • 22. 2 Samuel 12:9; Proverbs 13:13
  • 23. Ezekiel 18:20
  • 24. Exodus 31:14, 15; Exodus 35:2, 3
  • 25. Numbers 9:8
  • 26. Leviticus 20:2, 27; Leviticus 24:14-23; Deuteronomy 21:21
  • 27. Deuteronomy 22:12; Matthew 23:5
  • 28. Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11, 14, 19
  • 29. Leviticus 11:44, 45

Footnotes 20

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

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