Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New TestamentNUMBERS 28
These two chapters are being treated together because they actually constitute a summary of the offerings Israel was commanded to make throughout the whole year. Every one of the requirements laid down in Num. 28 and Num. 29 has already been discussed at length in this series of commentaries under those verses where they were first mentioned in the Pentateuch. The last syllable of the material here is Mosaic, both as to authorship and from the standpoint of the time when the instructions were given. Our text states (Numbers 28:1) that God commanded Moses to give this summary, and we have discovered no good reason for assigning it to any other.F1
Neither is there very much mystery as to just why the summary appears at this particular place in the Books of Moses. God's people had certainly not been able, for many reasons, to observe all of the sacrifices and ordinances commanded at Sinai. In fact, "The whole Mosaic system presupposed an almost immediate entry into Canaan."F2 But then, through human rebellion, there resulted the forty-year delay, and during that forty years it is clear enough that all of those ordinances so clearly designed for a people settled in Canaan were in fact neglected and disobeyed, but now that entry into the Promised Land was immediately to be an accomplished fact, it was appropriate indeed that God should again have given a summary of what their duties in Canaan would be.
When Joshua brought the people into their inheritance, the thrill and joy of having a homeland could have led to a sense of having arrived or of having concluded their purpose.F3
Such a danger was averted by this divine summary of the strict and continual duties of worship and sacrifices which God expected of them. Israel in no sense had arrived! It was not the end of God's purpose with them, but only the beginning.
Verses 1, 2
And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My oblation, my food for my offerings made by fire, of a sweet savor unto me, shall ye observe to offer unto me in their due season.
The use of the possessive personal pronoun "my" is impressive here. The conception is that of God's food, God's pleasing odor, and God's oblations. As Owens noted, "All of these expressions stem from a time when people thought of God as eating and drinking with his worshippers in the sacrificial meals."F4 However, it is important to remember that this same concept has been brought over into the New Covenant particularly in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper during which Jesus "drinks the fruit of the vine new with his disciples in the kingdom of heaven!" (Matthew 26:29). See Lev. 3:11.
THE DAILY OFFERINGS
And thou shalt say unto them, This is the offering made by fire which ye shall offer unto Jehovah: he-lambs a year old without blemish, two day by day, for a continual burnt-offering. The one lamb shalt thou offer in the morning, and the other lamb shalt thou offer at even; and the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil. It is a continual burnt-offering, which was ordained in mount Sinai for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. And the drink-offering thereof shall be the fourth part of a hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou pour out a drink-offering of strong drink unto Jehovah. And the other lamb shalt thou offer at even: as the meal-offering of the morning, and as the drink-offering thereof, thou shalt offer it, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto Jehovah.
The rugged simplicity of all these sacrifices should be particularly noted. As Whitelaw said, "A great variety of observances which were zealously followed by the Jews of later ages find no place here."F5 This offering of the lamb morning and evening was called the "daily sacrifice" and was continued right up until the destruction of Jerusalem. "This offering was basic to all the others,"F6 and was not to be omitted, no matter what other sacrifices were to be made on any given day or days. All such sacrifices were offered additionally. (See under Exo. 29:38f.)
THE SABBATH OFFERINGS
Verses 9, 10
And on the sabbath day two he-lambs a year old without blemish, and two tenth parts [of an ephah] of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, and the drink-offering thereof: this is the burnt-offering of every sabbath, besides the continual burnt-offering, and the drink-offering thereof.
The key words here are: "besides the continual burnt-offering." It was not enough merely to double the offering of sabbath days; it was to be doubled and added to the continual burnt-offering.
THE MONTHLY OFFERINGS
And in the beginnings of your months ye shall offer a burnt-offering unto Jehovah: two young bullocks, and one ram, seven he-lambs a year old without blemish; and three tenth parts [of an ephah] of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, for each bullock; and two tenth parts of fine flour for a meal-offering, mingled with oil, for the one ram; and a tenth part of fine flour mingled with oil for a meal-offering unto every lamb; for a burnt-offering of a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto Jehovah. And their drink-offerings shall be half a hin of wine for a bullock, and the third part of a hin for the ram, and the fourth part of a hin for a lamb: this is the burnt-offering of every month throughout the months of the year. And one he-goat for a sin-offering unto Jehovah; it shall be offered besides the continual burnt-offering, and the drink-offering thereof.
Although it is true that the Jewish lunar months called special attention to "feasts of the new moons" which were prevalent among the pagans, they were specifically commanded not to worship the moon (Deuteronomy 17:3), but it would seem from Paul's words in Col. 2:16 that the Jews continued to participate in "new moon" festivals, whether or not this was the original intention. Under Judaism they served a different purpose from the customs of pagans.
PASSOVER AND UNLEAVENED BREAD
And in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, is Jehovah's passover. And on the fifteenth day of this month shall be a feast: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten. In the first day shall be a holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work; but ye shall offer an offering made by fire, a burnt-offering unto Jehovah: two young bullocks, and one ram, and 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 shall ye offer for a bullock, and two tenth parts for the ram; a tenth part shalt thou offer for every lamb of the seven lambs; and one he-goat for a sin-offering, to make atonement for you. Ye shall offer these besides the burnt-offering of the morning, which is for a continual burnt-offering. After this manner ye shall offer daily, for seven days, the food of the offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto Jehovah: it shall be offered besides the continual burnt-offering, and the drink-offering thereof. And on the seventh day ye shall have a holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work.
It is clear that all of these sacrifices were supplementary to the ones already prescribed for Passover in Exo. 12 and Lev. 23:4-8. Of particular interest is the fact that the seven days feast of Unleavened Bread that always began on the day after Passover required the observance of "a holy convocation" with abstinence from all "servile" work. In fact, these were simply additional sabbaths (rests), and were different from the weekly sabbaths in that they could come on any day of the week. This phenomenon resulted in the back-to-back sabbaths on Friday and Saturday the week our Lord was crucified. The Greek text of Matt. 28:1 refers to these back-to-back "sabbaths" (plural). Servile work here prohibited primarily meant that all "occupational" work, or work done for making a living was prohibited.F7
Also in the day of the first-fruits, when ye offer a new meal-offering unto Jehovah in your [feast of] weeks, ye shall have a holy convocation; ye shall do no servile work; but ye shall offer a burnt-offering for a sweet savor unto Jehovah: two young bullocks, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old; and their meal-offering, fine flour mingled with oil, three tenth parts for each bullock, two tenth parts for the one ram, a tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs; one he-goat, to make atonement for you. Besides the continual burnt-offering, and the meal-offering thereof, ye shall offer them (they shall be unto you without blemish), and their drink-offerings.
This great feast day was honored by God in the sending of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Church of Christ on earth. (See the extensive comments on the Pentecost in Acts 2 in this series.) Through the ages several names have attached to this festival: First-fruits, Feast of Weeks, Pentecost, Whitsunday, etc. (See under Lev. 23:9-23.)
Footnotes for Numbers 28
1: Thomas Whitelaw, The Pulpit Commentary, Vol. 2, Numbers (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1950), p. 379.
3: John Joseph Owens, Broadman Bible Commentary, Numbers (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1970), p. 155.
5: Thomas Whitelaw, op. cit., p. 379.
6: Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Commentary on the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1981), p. 224.
7: Harry M. Orlinsky, Notes on the New Translation of the Torah (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1969), p. 239.