Supplementary Offerings, 1-21

Num 15:1 The LORD said to Moses,

Num 15:2 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘After you enter the land I am giving you as a home

Num 15:3 and you present to the LORD offerings made by fire, from the herd or the flock, as an aroma pleasing to the LORD—whether burnt offerings or sacrifices, for special vows or freewill offerings or festival offerings—

Num 15:4 then the one who brings his offering shall present to the LORD a grain offering of a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil.

Num 15:5 With each lamb for the burnt offering or the sacrifice, prepare a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering.

Num 15:6 “’With a ram prepare a grain offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a third of a hin of oil,

Num 15:7 and a third of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Offer it as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

Num 15:8 “’When you prepare a young bull as a burnt offering or sacrifice, for a special vow or a fellowship offering to the LORD,

Num 15:9 bring with the bull a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with half a hin of oil.

Num 15:10 Also bring half a hin of wine as a drink offering. It will be an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

Num 15:11 Each bull or ram, each lamb or young goat, is to be prepared in this manner.

Num 15:12 Do this for each one, for as many as you prepare.

Num 15:13 “’Everyone who is native-born must do these things in this way when he brings an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD.

Num 15:14 For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do.

Num 15:15 The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD:

Num 15:16 The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you.’”

Num 15:17 The LORD said to Moses,

Num 15:18 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land to which I am taking you

Num 15:19 and you eat the food of the land, present a portion as an offering to the LORD.

Num 15:20 Present a cake from the first of your ground meal and present it as an offering from the threshing floor.

Num 15:21 Throughout the generations to come you are to give this offering to the LORD from the first of your ground meal.

Offerings for Unintentional Sins, 22-31

Num 15:22 “’Now if you unintentionally fail to keep any of these commands the LORD gave Moses—

Num 15:23 any of the Lord’s commands to you through him, from the day the LORD gave them and continuing through the generations to come—

Num 15:24 and if this is done unintentionally without the community being aware of it, then the whole community is to offer a young bull for a burnt offering as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, along with its prescribed grain offering and drink offering, and a male goat for a sin offering.

Num 15:25 The priest is to make atonement for the whole Israelite community, and they will be forgiven, for it was not intentional and they have brought to the LORD for their wrong an offering made by fire and a sin offering.

Num 15:26 The whole Israelite community and the aliens living among them will be forgiven, because all the people were involved in the unintentional wrong.

Num 15:27 “’But if just one person sins unintentionally, he must bring a year-old female goat for a sin offering.

Num 15:28 The priest is to make atonement before the LORD for the one who erred by sinning unintentionally, and when atonement has been made for him, he will be forgiven.

Num 15:29 One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien.

Num 15:30 “’But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people.

Num 15:31 Because he has despised the Lord’s word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.’”

The Sabbath-Breaker Put to Death, 32-26

Num 15:32 While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day.

Num 15:33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly,

Num 15:34 and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him.

Num 15:35 Then the LORD said to Moses, “The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp.”

Num 15:36 So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses.

Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion, p248) asks:- ‘Did this harmless gatherer of firewood have a wife and children to grieve for him?  Did he whimper with fear as the first stones flew, and scream with pain as the fusillade crashed into his head?  What shocks me today about such stories is not that they really happened.  They probably didn’t.  What makes my jaw drop is that people today should base their lives on such an appalling role model as Yahweh – and, even worse, that they should bossily try to force the same evil monster (whether fact or fiction) on the rest of us.’

Wenham (TOTC) comments:- ‘The death penalty was exacted for several religious offences in the Old Testament, including idolatry, blasphemy, false prophecy as well as murder, some cases of incest and adultery.’  He quotes Heb 10:28f – ‘Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.  How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?’

‘The Sabbath was a sign of the covenant between God and Israel. Violation of its sanctity was an especially heinous offense, punishable by execution at the hand of members of the community of faith. The penalty may seem inordinately severe by modern standards, especially in light of Jesus’ teaching about the Sabbath in relationship to human well-being (Mk 2:27). But this is a pivotal occasion in Israel’s history, during which the Lord is laying a foundation for Israel’s understanding of itself as His faithful people. He could permit no doubt about the seriousness of His purpose.’ (Apologetics Study Bible)

Raymond Brown (BST) makes a number of points:-

  1. This is an example of sinning intentionally and ‘with a high hand’, v30f.
  2. It violates a clear commandment – the fourth.
  3. It was carried out in defiance of explicit warning re. consequences, Exod. 20:8–10; 31:14-17
  4. Although it is the only example of such punishment mentioned in the OT, Ezekiel makes it clear that the wilderness generation repeatedly flouted this commandment, Eze 20:12-24.  In this regard, we might compare it with the Ananias and Sapphira incident records in Acts.

Num 15:37 The LORD said to Moses,

Num 15:38 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel.

Num 15:39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes.

Num 15:40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God.

Num 15:41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’