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Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament

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NUMBERS 29

THE SEVENTH MONTH OF RELIGIOUS YEAR


 
Verses 1-6
And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work: it is a day of blowing of trumpets unto you. And ye shall offer a burnt-offering for a sweet savor unto Jehovah: one young bullock, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their meal-offering, fine flour mingled with oil, three tenth parts for the bullock, two tenth parts for the ram, and one tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs; and one he-goat for a sin-offering, to make atonement for you; besides the burnt-offering of the new moon, and the meal-offering thereof, and the continual burnt-offering and the meal-offering thereof, and their drink-offerings, according unto their ordinance, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto Jehovah.

The Jews had a dual system of years; there was the religious year which began with the month Abib (Nisan), the first part of which was honored by the Passover ceremonies and the feast of Unleavened Bread; and then there was the civil year which began on the first of Tisri, this being the occasion of the blowing of the trumpets (Numbers 10:10) and the celebration of Rosh Hoshannah, the Jewish New Year. Also, during this seventh month (religious), there came the great Day of Atonement and all of the ritual performed by the high priest on that day (Exo. 16). This was marked by the Jews as Yom Kippur, or, more accurately, "Yom ha-Kippurim."F1 Our comments on this are found in Exo. 16 and Lev. 23. All of these offerings mentioned here are additional to the bullocks, rams, and goats offered by the high priest on the Day of Atonement.

THE DAY OF ATONEMENT


 
Verses 7-11
And on the tenth day of this seventh month ye shall have a holy convocation; and ye shall afflict your souls: ye shall do no manner of work; but ye shall offer a burnt-offering unto Jehovah for a sweet savor: one young bullock, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old; they shall be unto you without blemish; and their meal-offering, fine flour mingled with oil, three tenth parts for the bullock, two tenth parts for the one ram, a tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs: one he-goat for a sin-offering; besides the sin-offering of atonement, and the continual burnt-offering, and the meal-offering thereof, and their drink-offerings.

Note that this whole series of offerings follows a pattern in the number and kind of animals to be offered, in the amount of the meal-offerings in each case, and the inclusion of the drink-offerings. All of these are supplementary and additional to the regular sacrifices and ceremonies already prescribed in Exodus and Leviticus. Day of Atonement was the tenth day of the seventh month. Another great Jewish festival occurred in this month, namely, the Feast of Tabernacles which took place on the fifteenth day of this same month. The offerings for this day were extensive, more than for any other day, as appears at once in the text.

FEAST OF TABERNACLES

And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work, and ye shall keep a feast unto Jehovah seven days: and ye shall offer a burnt-offering, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto Jehovah; thirteen young bullocks, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old; they shall be without blemish; and their meal-offering, fine flour mingled with oil, three tenth parts for every bullock of the thirteen bullocks, two tenth parts for each ram of the two rams, and a tenth part for every lamb of the fourteen lambs; and one he-goat for a sin-offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof.

And on the second day ye shall offer twelve young bullocks, two rams fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their meal-offering and their drink-offerings for the bullocks, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a sin-offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, and the meal-offering thereof, and their drink-offerings.

And on the third day eleven bullocks, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their meal-offering and their drink-offerings for the bullocks, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a sin-offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, and the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof.

And on the fourth day ten bullocks, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; their meal-offering and their drink-offerings for the bullocks, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a sin-offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, and the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof.

And on the fifth day nine bullocks, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their meal-offering and their drink-offerings for the bullocks, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a sin offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, and the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof.

And on the sixth day eight bullocks, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their meal-offering and their drink-offerings for the bullocks, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a sin offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof.

And on the seventh day seven bullocks, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their meal-offering and their drink-offerings for the bullocks, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a sin-offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, and the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof.

On the eighth day ye shall have a solemn assembly: ye shall do no servile work; but ye shall offer a burnt-offering, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto Jehovah: one bullock, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old without blemish; their meal-offering and their drink-offerings for the bullock, for the ram, and for the lambs, shall be according to their number, after the ordinance: and one he-goat for a sin-offering; besides the continual burnt-offering, the meal-offering thereof, and the drink-offering thereof."

The ancient style of the language here indicates a mid-fifteenth century B.C. period of history. All of the repetitions here can be telescoped into a very few words. As for example in the following: "The offerings for this eight-day festival were thirteen young bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs, and a he-goat to be offered each day, all sacrifices without blemish, and each including the appropriate meal-offering and the drink-offering, with this exception, that the number of bulls was diminished each day by one: thirteen for the first day, twelve for the second, etc."

In the aggregate, the total sacrifices for this Feast of Tabernacles were larger than any other of the special assignments made for Israel in these chapters. This feast, coming in the fall of the year, was also called the feast of Harvest Home, the Feast of Ingathering, etc. During the feast, the Jews constructed primitive shelters, or "booths" made of the branches of trees and dwelt in these for a whole week, a custom that was continued for centuries after the Jews came into the land of Canaan. It symbolized their poverty and homelessness during the days of the wanderings after God delivered them from Egypt. (See further comment in Lev. 23.)

In later centuries, the Jews established other special feasts: the Feast of Purim, celebrating God's deliverance through Esther and Mordecai, and centuries later following the triumph over Antiochus Epiphanes which permitted the reopening of the Temple and the reading of the Torah, they established the Feast of Lights (circa 164 B.C.)

CERTIFICATION AS GOD'S WORD


 
Verses 39, 40
These ye shall offer unto Jehovah in your set feasts, besides your vows, and your freewill-offerings, for your burnt-offerings, and for your meal-offerings, and for your drink-offerings, and for your peace-offerings. And Moses told the children of Israel according to all that Jehovah commanded Moses.

The Bible is utterly unlike any other book in that God is emphatically and continually declared to be the author of "all of it." That Jesus Christ our holy Savior who is God come in the flesh did indeed accept these books as the writings of Moses and at the same time as what "God said" must continue to be honored. Sir Isaac Newton pointed out that Jesus flatly declared that if a person will not believe Moses and the Prophets, "he would not believe if one rose from the dead." In a practical sense, that means that it is a lost cause to try to convince professional "unbelievers" of the truth of these magnificent chapters. Believers in Christ have no trouble whatever with believing what is written here. Some scholars for reasons apparent to believers would like to remove the attestation in Num. 29:40 to some other location, but we accept its present place as appropriate.


Footnotes for Numbers 29
1: W. Gunther Plaut, Torah, A Modern Commentary (Philadelphia: The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1979), p. 282.

Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Numbers 29". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=nu&chapter=029>. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.  

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