In this chapter we have,
I. A repetition of the laws concerning the lamps and the show-bread,
II. A violation of the law against blasphemy, with the imprisonment,
trial, condemnation, and execution, of the blasphemer,
III. The law against blasphemy reinforced
with sundry other laws,
Leviticus 24:17-23, &c.
|Laws Concerning the Lamps.
||B. C. 1490.|
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee
pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn
3 Without the vail of the testimony, in the tabernacle of the
congregation, shall Aaron order it from the evening unto the
morning before the LORD continually: it shall be a statute for
ever in your generations.
4 He shall order the lamps upon the pure candlestick before the
5 And thou shalt take fine flour, and bake twelve cakes
thereof: two tenth deals shall be in one cake.
6 And thou shalt set them in two rows, six on a row, upon the
pure table before the LORD.
7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it
may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by
fire unto the LORD.
8 Every sabbath he shall set it in order before the LORD
continually, being taken from the children of Israel by an
9 And it shall be Aaron's and his sons'; and they shall eat it
in the holy place: for it is most holy unto him of the
offerings of the LORD made by fire by a perpetual statute.
Care is here taken, and orders are given, for the decent furnishing of
the candlestick and table in God's house.
I. The lamps must always be kept burning. The law for this we had
It is here repeated, probably because it now began to be put in
execution, when other things were settled.
1. The people were to provide oil
and this, as every thing else that was to be used in God's service,
must be of the best, pure olive-oil, beaten, probably it was
double-strained. This was to cause the lamps to burn; all our
English copies read it lamps, but in the original it is singular
cause the lamp to burn; but plural in
shall order the lamps. The seven lamps made all one lamp, in
allusion to which the blessed Spirit of grace is represented by
seven lamps of fire before the throne
for there are diversities of gifts, but one Spirit,
1 Corinthians 12:4.
Ministers are as burning and shining lights in Christ's church, but it
is the duty of people to provide comfortably for them, as Israel for
the lamps. Scandalous maintenance makes a scandalous ministry.
2. The priests were to tend the lamps; they must snuff them, clean the
candlestick, and supply them with oil, morning and evening,
Thus it is the work of the ministers of the gospel to hold forth
that word of life, not to set up new lights, but, by expounding and
preaching the word, to make the light of it more clear and extensive.
This was the ordinary way of keeping the lamps burning; but, when the
church was poor and in distress, we find its lamps fed constantly with
oil from the good olives immediately, without the ministry of
priest or people
for, though God has tied us to means, he has not tied himself to them,
but will take effectual care that his lamp never go out in the world
for want of oil.
II. The table must always be kept spread. This was appointed before,
And here also,
1. The table was furnished with bread; not dainties nor varieties to
gratify a luxurious palate, but twelve loaves or cakes of bread,
Where there is plenty of bread there is no famine; and where bread is
not there is no feast. There was a loaf for every tribe, for in our
Father's house there is bread enough. They were all provided for by
the divine bounty, and were all welcome to the divine grace. Even
after the revolt of the ten tribes this number of loaves was continued
(2 Chronicles 13:11),
for the sake of those few of each tribe that retained their affection
to the temple and continued their attendance on it.
2. A handful of frankincense was put in a golden saucer, upon or by
When the bread was removed, and given to the priests, this frankincense
was burnt upon the golden altar (I suppose) over and above the daily
incense: and this was for a memorial instead of the bread, an offering
made by fire, as the handful of the meat-offering which was burnt upon
the altar is called the memorial thereof,
Thus a little was accepted as a humble acknowledgment, and all the
loaves were consigned to the priests. All God's spiritual Israel,
typified by the twelve loaves, are made through Christ a sweet savour
to him, and their prayers are said to come up before God for a
The word is borrowed from the ceremonial law.
3. Every sabbath it was renewed. When the loaves had stood there a
week, the priests had them to eat with other holy things that were to
be eaten in the holy place
and new ones were provided at the public charge, and put in the room of
The Jews say, "The hands of those priests that put on were mixed with
theirs that took off, that the table might be never empty, but the
bread might be before the Lord continually." God is never
unprovided for the entertainment of those that visit him, as men often
Every one of those cakes contained two tenth-deals, that is, two omers
of fine flour; just so much manna every Israelite gathered on the sixth
day for the sabbath,
Hence some infer that this show-bread, which was set on the table on
the sabbath, was intended as a memorial of the manna wherewith they
were fed in the wilderness. Christ's ministers should provide new
bread for his house every sabbath day, the production of their fresh
studies in the scripture, that their proficiency may appear to
1 Timothy 4:1,5.
|The Blasphemy of Shelomith's Son; The Punishment of Shelomith's Son.
||B. C. 1490.|
10 And the son of an Israelitish woman, whose father was an
Egyptian, went out among the children of Israel: and this son of
the Israelitish woman and a man of Israel strove together in
11 And the Israelitish woman's son blasphemed the name of the
LORD, and cursed. And they brought him unto Moses: (and his
mother's name was Shelomith, the daughter of Dibri, of the
tribe of Dan:)
12 And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be
13 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
14 Bring forth him that hath cursed without the camp; and let
all that heard him lay their hands upon his head, and let all
the congregation stone him.
15 And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying,
Whosoever curseth his God shall bear his sin.
16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall
surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall
certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in
the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be
put to death.
17 And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.
18 And he that killeth a beast shall make it good; beast for
19 And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath
done, so shall it be done to him;
20 Breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath
caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.
21 And he that killeth a beast, he shall restore it: and he
that killeth a man, he shall be put to death.
22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger,
as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.
23 And Moses spake to the children of Israel, that they should
bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him
with stones. And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded
Evil manners, we say, beget good laws. We have here an account of the
evil manners of a certain nameless mongrel Israelite, and the good laws
I. The offender was the son of an Egyptian father and an Israelitish
his mother was of the tribe of Dan,
Neither he nor his father is named, but his mother only, who was an
Israelite. This notice is taken of his parentage either,
1. To intimate what occasioned the quarrel he was engaged in. The Jews
say, "He offered to set up his tent among the Danites in the right of
his mother, but was justly opposed by some or other of that tribe, and
informed that his father being an Egyptian he had no part nor lot in
the matter, but must look upon himself as a stranger." Or,
2. To show the common ill effect of such mixed marriages. When a
daughter of Israel would marry an idolatrous malignant Egyptian, what
could be the fruit of such a marriage but a blasphemer? For the
children will be apt to take after the worse side, whichsoever it is,
and will sooner learn of an Egyptian father to blaspheme than of an
Israelitish mother to pray and praise.
II. The occasion of the offence was contention: He strove with a man
of Israel. The mixed multitude of Egyptians that came up with
were in many ways hurtful to them, and this was one, they were often
the authors of strife. The way to preserve the peace of the church is
to preserve the purity of it. In this strife he broke out into ill
language. Note, When quarrels begin we know not what mischief they will
make before they end, nor how treat a matter a little fire may kindle.
When men's passion is up they are apt to forget both their reason and
their religion, which is a good reason why we should not be apt either
to give or to resent provocation, but leave off strife before it be
meddled with, because the beginning of it is as the letting forth of
III. The offence itself was blasphemy and cursing,
It is supposed that his cause came to be heard before the judges, who
determined that he had no right to the privileges of an Israelite, his
father being an Egyptian, and that, being enraged at the sentence,
1. He blasphemed the name of the Lord. He blasphemed the
name, that is, he blasphemed God, who is known by his name only,
not by his nature, or any similitude. Not as if God were a mere name,
but his is a name above every name. The translators add of the
Lord, which is implied, but not expressed, in the original, for the
greater reverence of the divine Majesty: it is a shame that it should
be found on record that the very name of Jehovah should be blasphemed;
tell it not in Gath. It is a fond conceit of the superstitious
Jews that his blasphemy was in pronouncing the name of Jehovah,
which they call ineffable: he that made himself known by that name
never forbade the calling of him by that name. It is probable that
finding himself aggrieved by the divine appointment, which separated
between the Israelites and strangers, he impudently reproached both the
law and the Law-maker, and set him at defiance.
2. He cursed either God himself (and then his cursing was the same with
blaspheming) or the person with whom he strove. Imprecations of
mischief are the hellish language of hasty passion, as well as of
rooted malice. Or perhaps he cursed the judges that gave sentence
against him; he flew in the face of the court, and ridiculed the
processes of it; thus he added sin to sin.
IV. The caution with which he was proceeded against for this sin. The
witnesses or inferior judges brought him and his case (which was
somewhat extraordinary) unto Moses
according to the order settled
and Moses himself would not give judgment hastily, but committed the
offender into custody, till he had consulted the oracle in this case.
Note, Judges must deliberate; both those that give the verdict and
those that give the sentence must consider diligently what they do, and
do nothing rashly, for the judgment is God's
and before him there will be a rehearing of the cause. They waited to
know what was the mind of the Lord, whether he was to be put to
death by the hand of the magistrate or to be left to the judgment of
God: or, rather, they wanted to know whether he should be stoned, as
those were to be that only cursed their parents
or whether, the crime being so much greater, some sorer punishment
should be inflicted on him. Note, Those that sit in judgment should
sincerely desire, and by prayer and the use of all good means should
endeavour to know the mind of the Lord, because they judge
(2 Chronicles 19:6)
and to him they are accountable.
V. Sentence passed upon this offender by the righteous Judge of heaven
and earth himself: Let all the congregation stone him,
God could have cut him off by an immediate stroke from heaven, but he
would put this honour upon the institution of magistracy to make use of
it for the supporting and vindicating of his own glory in the world.
1. The place of execution appointed: Bring him forth without the
camp. To signify their detestation of the crime, they must thus
cast out the criminal as an abominable branch, and separate him from
them as an unclean thing and unworthy a place in the camp of Israel.
2. The executioners: Let all the congregation do it, to show
their zeal for the honour of God's name. Every man should have a stone
to throw at him that blasphemes God, reckoning himself nearly concerned
in the reproaches cast on God,
Thus also the greater terror would be cast upon the congregation; those
that once helped to stone a blasphemer would ever after dread every
thing that bordered upon blasphemy, that looked like it or looked
3. The solemnity of the execution; before the congregation stoned him,
the witnesses were to lay their hands upon his head. The Jews
say that this was used in the execution of no criminals but
blasphemers; and that it was done with words to this purport, "Thy
blood be upon thy own head, for thou thyself hast occasioned it.
Let no blame be laid on the law, judges, juries, or witnesses; if
thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it."
VI. A standing law made upon this occasion for the stoning of
Magistrates are the guardians of both tables, and ought to be as
jealous for the honour of God against those that speak contemptuously
of his being and government as for the public peace and safety against
the disturbers of them.
1. A great stress is laid upon this law, as in no case to be dispensed
with: He shall surely be put to death; they shall certainly stone
him. Those that lightly esteemed God's honour might think it hard
to make a man an offender for a word (words are but wind); but God
would let them know that they must not make light of such words as
these, which come from malice against God in the heart of him that
speaks, and must occasion either great guilt or great grief to those
2. It is made to extend to the strangers that sojourned among them, as
well as those that were born in the land. God never made any law to
compel strangers to be circumcised and embrace the Jewish religion
(proselytes made by force would be no honour to the God of Israel), but
he made a law to restrain strangers from speaking evil of the God of
3. He that was put to death for blasphemy is said to bear his
sin, in the punishment of it; no sacrifice being appointed, on the
head of which the sin might be transferred, he himself was to bear it
upon his own head, as a sacrifice to divine justice. So his own
tongue fell upon him
and the tongue of a blasphemer will fall heavily.
VII. A repetition of some other laws annexed to this new law.
1. That murder should be punished with death
according to an ancient law in Noah's time
and the very law of nature,
2. That maimers should in like manner be punished by the law of
Not that men might in these cases be their own avengers, but they might
appeal to the civil magistrate, who should award suffering to the
injurious and satisfaction to the injured as should be thought fit in
proportion to the hurt done. This law we had before,
And it was more agreeable to that dispensation, in which were revealed
the rigour of the law and what sin deserved, than to the dispensation
we are under, in which are revealed the grace of the gospel and the
remission of sins: and therefore our Saviour has set aside this law
not to restrain magistrates from executing public justice, but to
restrain us all from returning personal injuries and to oblige us to
forgive as we are and hope to be forgiven.
3. That hurt done wilfully to a neighbour's cattle should be punished
by making good the damage,
Thus the divine law took not only their lives, but their goods also
under its protection. Those beasts which belonged to no particular
person, but were, as our law speaks, ferae naturae--of a wild
nature, it was lawful for them to kill; but not those which any man
had a property in. Does God take care for oxen? Yes; for our sakes he
4. That strangers, as well as native Israelites, should be both
entitled to the benefit of this law, so as not to suffer wrong, and
liable to the penalty of this law in case they did wrong. And, it
should seem, this is it that brings in these laws here, to show how
equitable it was that strangers as well as Israelites should be
punished for blasphemy, because strangers as well as Israelites were
punishable for other crimes. And there may be this further reason for
the recognition of these laws here, God would hereby show what
provision he had made for man's safety, in punishing those that were
injurious to him, which should be an argument with magistrates to be
jealous for his honour, and to punish those that blasphemed his name.
If God took care for their comfort, they ought to take care for his
VIII. The execution of the blasphemer. Moses did, as it were, sign the
warrant or it: He spoke unto the children of Israel to do it,
and they did as the Lord commanded Moses,
This teaches that death is the wages of sin, and that blasphemy in
particular is an iniquity to be punished by the judges. But, if
those who thus profane the name of God escape punishment from men, yet
the Lord our God will not suffer them to escape his righteous
judgments. This blasphemer was the first that died by the law of Moses.
Stephen, the first that died for the gospel, died by the abuse of this
law; the martyr and the malefactor suffered the same death: but how
vast the difference between them!