Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1, 2. The Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of
Israel--Some infer from
that the date of this communication must be fixed towards the close of
the wanderings in the wilderness; and, also, that all the sacrifices
prescribed in the law were to be offered only after the settlement in
3. make an offering by fire unto the Lord, a burnt offering--It is
evident that a peace offering is referred to because this term is
frequently used in such a sense
4. tenth deal--that is, an omer, the tenth part of an ephah
fourth part of an hin of oil--This element shows it to have been
different from such meat offerings as were made by themselves, and not
merely accompaniments of other sacrifices.
6-12. two tenth deals--The quantity of flour was increased because
the sacrifice was of superior value to the former. The accessory
sacrifices were always increased in proportion to the greater worth and
magnitude of its principal.
13-16. a stranger--one who had become a proselyte. There were scarcely
any of the national privileges of the Israelites, in which the Gentile
stranger might not, on conforming to certain conditions, fully
19. when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave
offering--The offering prescribed was to precede the act of eating.
unto the Lord--that is, the priests of the Lord
20. heave offering of the threshing-floor--meaning the corn on the
threshing-floor; that is, after harvest.
so shall ye heave it--to the priests accompanying the ceremony with
the same rites.
22. if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments,
&c.--respecting the performance of divine worship, and the rites and
ceremonies that constitute the holy service. The law relates only to
any omission and consequently is quite different from that laid down
which implies a transgression or positive neglect of some observances
required. This law relates to private parties or individual
tribes; that to the whole congregation of Israel.
24-26. if aught be committed by ignorance--The Mosaic ritual was
complicated, and the ceremonies to be gone through in the various
instances of purification which are specified, would expose a
worshipper, through ignorance, to the risk of omitting or neglecting
some of them. This law includes the stranger in the number of those for
whom the sacrifice was offered for the sin of general ignorance.
27-29. if any soul sin through ignorance--not only in common with the
general body of the people, but his personal sins were to be expiated
in the same manner.
30. the soul that doeth aught presumptuously--Hebrew, "with an
high" or "uplifted hand"--that is, knowingly, wilfully, obstinately.
In this sense the phraseology occurs
the same reproacheth the Lord--sets Him at open defiance and dishonors
31. his iniquity shall be upon him--The punishment of his sins shall
fall on himself individually; no guilt shall be incurred by the nation,
unless there be a criminal carelessness in overlooking the offense.
32-34. a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day--This incident
is evidently narrated as an instance of presumptuous sin. The mere
gathering of sticks was not a sinful act and might be necessary for
fuel to warm him or to make ready his food. But its being done on the
Sabbath altered the entire character of the action. The law of the
Sabbath being a plain and positive commandment, this transgression of
it was a known and wilful sin, and it was marked by several
aggravations. For the deed was done with unblushing boldness in broad
daylight, in open defiance of the divine authority--in flagrant
inconsistency with His religious connection with Israel, as the
covenant-people of God; and it was an application to improper purposes
of time, which God had consecrated to Himself and the solemn duties of
religion. The offender was brought before the rulers, who, on hearing
the painful report, were at a loss to determine what ought to be done.
That they should have felt any embarrassment in such a case may seem
surprising, in the face of the sabbath law
Their difficulty probably arose from this being the first public
offense of the kind which had occurred; and the appeal might be made to
remove all ground of complaint--to produce a more striking effect, so
that the fate of this criminal might be a beacon to warn all Israelites
in the future.
35, 36. The Lord said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to
death--The Lord was King, as well as God of Israel, and the offense
being a violation of the law of the realm, the Sovereign Judge gave
orders that this man should be put to death; and, moreover, He required
the whole congregation unite in executing the fatal sentence.
38. bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their
garments--These were narrow strips, in a wing-like form, wrapped
over the shoulders and on various parts of the attire. "Fringe,"
however, is the English rendering of two distinct Hebrew words--the
one meaning a narrow lappet or edging, called the "hem" or "border"
which, in order to make it more attractive to the eye and consequently
more serviceable to the purpose described, was covered with a riband of
blue or rather purple color; the other term signifies strings with
tassels at the end, fastened to the corners of the garment. Both of
these are seen on the Egyptian and Assyrian frocks; and as the Jewish
people were commanded by express and repeated ordinances to have them,
the fashion was rendered subservient, in their case, to awaken high and
religious associations--to keep them in habitual remembrance of the
41. I am the Lord your God--The import of this solemn conclusion is,
that though He was displeased with them for their frequent rebellions,
for which they would be doomed to forty years' wanderings, He would not
abandon them but continue His divine protection and care of them till
they were brought into the land of promise.