This chapter, which is mostly concerning sacrifice and offering, comes
in between the story of two rebellions (one
to signify that these legal institutions were typical of the gifts
which Christ was to receive even for the rebellious,
In the foregoing chapter, upon Israel's provocation, God had determined
to destroy them, and in token of his wrath had sentenced them to perish
in the wilderness. But, upon Moses' intercession, he said, "I have
pardoned;" and, in token of that mercy, in this chapter he repeats and
explains some of the laws concerning offerings, to show that he was
reconciled to them, notwithstanding the severe dispensation they wee
under, and would not unchurch them. Here is,
I. The law concerning the meat-offerings and drink-offerings
both for Israelites and for strangers
and a law concerning the heave-offerings of the first of their dough,
II. The law concerning sacrifices for sins of ignorance,
III. The punishment of presumptuous sins
and an instance given in the sabbath-breaker,
IV. A law concerning fringes, for memorandums, upon the borders of
Numbers 15:37-41, &c.
|Laws Concerning Sacrifices.
||B. C. 1490.|
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye
be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you,
3 And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt
offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill
offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto
the LORD, of the herd, or of the flock:
4 Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the LORD bring
a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth
part of an hin of oil.
5 And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering
shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one
6 Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two
tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of
7 And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of
an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD.
8 And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or
for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto
9 Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three
tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil.
10 And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half an hin of
wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the
11 Thus shall it be done for one bullock, or for one ram, or
for a lamb, or a kid.
12 According to the number that ye shall prepare, so shall ye
do to every one according to their number.
13 All that are born of the country shall do these things after
this manner, in offering an offering made by fire, of a sweet
savour unto the LORD.
14 And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whosoever be among
you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire,
of a sweet savour unto the LORD; as ye do, so he shall do.
15 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation,
and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an
ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the
stranger be before the LORD.
16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the
stranger that sojourneth with you.
17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When
ye come into the land whither I bring you,
19 Then it shall be, that, when ye eat of the bread of the
land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the LORD.
20 Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an
heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the
threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.
21 Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the LORD an
heave offering in your generations.
Here we have,
I. Full instructions given concerning the meat-offerings and
drink-offerings, which were appendages to all the sacrifices of
animals. The beginning of this law is very encouraging: When you
come into the land of your habitation which I give unto you, they
you shall do so and so,
This was a plain intimation, not only that God was reconciled to them
notwithstanding the sentence he had passed upon them, but that he would
secure the promised land to their seed notwithstanding their proneness
to rebel against him. They might think some time or other they should
be guilty of a misdemeanour that would be fatal to them, and would
exclude them for ever, as the last had done for one generation; but
this intimates an assurance that they should be kept from provoking God
to such a degree as would amount to a forfeiture; for this statute
takes it for granted that there were some of them that should in due
time come into Canaan. The meat-offerings were of two sorts; some were
offered alone, and we have the law concerning those,
&c. Others were added to the burnt-offerings and peace-offerings, and
constantly attended them, and about these direction is here given. It
was requisite, since the sacrifices of acknowledgment (specified in
were intended as the food of God's table, that there should be a
constant provision of bread, oil, and wine, whatever the flesh-meat
was. The caterers or purveyors for Solomon's temple provided fine
1 Kings 4:22.
And it was fit that God should keep a good house, that his table should
be furnished with bread as well as flesh, and that his cup should run
over. In my Father's house there is bread enough. Now the intent of
this law is to direct what proportion the meat-offering and
drink-offering should bear to several sacrifices to which they were
annexed. If the sacrifice was a lamb or a kid, then the meat-offering
must be a tenth-deal of flour, that is, an omer, which contained about
five pints; this must be mingled with oil, the fourth part of a hin (a
hin contained about five quarts), and the drink-offering must be the
same quantity of wine, about a quart and half a pint,
If it was a ram, the meat-offering was doubled, two tenth-deals of
flour, about five quarts, and a third part of a hin of oil (which was
to them as butter is to us) mingled with it; and the same quantity of
wine for a drink-offering,
If the sacrifice was a bullock, the meat-offering was to be trebled,
three omers, with five pints of oil, and the same quantity of wine for
And thus for each sacrifice, whether offered by a particular person or
at the common charge. Note, Our religious services should be governed,
as by other rules, so by the rule of proportion.
II. Natives and strangers are here set upon a level, in this as in
"One law shall be for you and for the stranger that is
proselyted to the Jewish religion." Now,
1. This was an invitation to the Gentiles to become proselytes, and to
embrace the faith and worship of the true God. In civil things there
was a difference between strangers and true-born Israelites, but not in
the things of God; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the
Lord, for with him there is no respect of persons. See
2. This was an obligation upon the Jews to be kind to strangers, and
not to oppress them, because they saw them owned and accepted of God.
Communion in religion is a great engagement to mutual affection, and
should slay all enmities.
3. It was a mortification to the pride of the Jews, who are apt to be
puffed up with their birthright privileges. "We are Abraham's seed."
God let them know that the sons of the stranger were as welcome to him
as the sons of Jacob; no man's birth or parentage shall turn either to
his advantage or his prejudice in his acceptance with God. This
likewise intimated that, as believing strangers should be accounted
Israelites, so unbelieving Israelites should be accounted strangers.
4. It was a happy presage of the calling of the Gentiles, and of their
admission into the church. If the law made so little difference between
Jew and Gentile, much less would the gospel make, which broke down the
partition-wall, and reconciled both to God in one sacrifice, without
the observance of the legal ceremonies.
III. A law for the offering of the first of their dough unto the Lord.
This, as the former, goes upon the comfortable supposition of their
having come into the promised land,
Now that they lived upon manna they needed not such an express
acknowledgment of God's title to their daily bread, and their
dependence upon him for it, the thing spoke for itself; but in Canaan,
where they should eat the fruit of their own industry, God required
that he should be owned as their landlord and their great benefactor.
They must not only offer him the first-fruits and tenths of the corn in
their fields (these had already been reserved); but when they had it in
their houses, in their kneading trough, when it was almost ready to be
set upon their tables, God must have a further tribute of
acknowledgment, part of their dough (the Jews say a fortieth part, at
least, of the whole lump) must be heaved or offered up to God
and the priest must have it for the use of his family. Thus they must
own their dependence upon God for their daily bread, even when they had
it in the house with them; they must then wait on God for the
comfortable use of it; for we read of that which was brought home, and
yet God did blow upon it, and it came to little,
Christ has taught us to pray not, Give us this year our yearly
harvest, but Give us this day our daily bread. God by this
law said to the people, as the prophet long afterwards said to the
widow of Sarepta
(1 Kings 17:13),
Only make me thereof a little cake first. This offering was
expressly kept up by the laws of Ezekiel's visionary temple, and it is
a commandment with promise of family-mercies
You shall give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may
cause the blessing to rest in thy house; for, when God has had his
dues out of our estates, we may expect the comfort of what falls to our
|Sacrifices for Sins of Ignorance.
||B. C. 1490.|
22 And if ye have erred, and not observed all these
commandments, which the LORD hath spoken unto Moses,
23 Even all that the LORD hath commanded you by the hand of
Moses, from the day that the LORD commanded Moses, and
henceforward among your generations;
24 Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance
without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the
congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering,
for a sweet savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his
drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats
for a sin offering.
25 And the priest shall make an atonement for all the
congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven
them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering,
a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD, and their sin offering
before the LORD, for their ignorance:
26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the
children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them;
seeing all the people were in ignorance.
27 And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a
she goat of the first year for a sin offering.
28 And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that
sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD,
to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.
29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through
ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of
Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.
We have here the laws concerning sacrifices for sins of ignorance; the
Jews understand it of idolatry, or false worship, through the error of
their teachers. The case here supposed is that they had not observed
all these commandments,
If they had failed in the offerings of their acknowledgment, and had
not brought them according to the law, then they must bring an offering
of atonement, yea, though the omission had been through forgetfulness
or mistake. If they failed in one part of the ceremony, they must make
it up by the observance of another part, which was in the nature of a
1. The case is put of a national sin, committed through ignorance, and
become customary through a vulgar error
congregation, that is, the body of the people, for so it is
All the congregation of the children of Israel. The ceremonial
observances were so numerous, and so various, that, it might easily be
supposed, some of them by degrees would be forgotten and disused, as
particularly that immediately before concerning the heave-offering of
their dough: now if, in process of time, upon consulting the law, there
should appear to have been a general neglect of that or any other
appointment, then a sacrifice must be offered for the whole
congregation, and the oversight shall be forgiven
and not punished, as it deserved, with some national judgment. The
offering of the sacrifice according to the manner, or
ordinance, plainly refers to a former statute, of which this is
the repetition; and the same bullock which is there called a
is here called a burnt-offering
because it was wholly burnt, though not upon the altar, yet without the
camp. And here is the addition of a kid of the goats for a
sin-offering. According to this law, we find that Hezekiah made
atonement for the errors of his father's reign, by seven bullocks,
seven rams, seven lambs, and seven he-goats, which he offered as a
sin-offering for the kingdom, and for the sanctuary, and for
(2 Chronicles 29:21),
and for all Israel,
And we find the like done after the return out of captivity,
2. It is likewise supposed to be the case of a particular person: If
any soul sin through ignorance
neglecting any part of his duty, he must bring his offering, as was
&c. Thus atonement shall be made for the soul that sins, when he
sins through ignorance,
(1.) Sins committed ignorantly need to have atonement made for them;
for, though ignorance will in a degree excuse, it will not justify
those that might have known their Lord's will and did it not. David
prayed to be cleansed from his secret faults, that is, those
sins which he himself was not aware of, the errors he did not
(2.) Sins committed ignorantly shall be forgiven, through Christ the
great sacrifice, who, when he offered up himself once for all upon the
cross, seemed to explain the intention of his offering in that prayer,
Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. And Paul
seems to allude to this law concerning sins of ignorance
(1 Timothy 1:13),
I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly and in unbelief.
And it looked favourable upon the Gentiles that this law of atoning for
sins of ignorance is expressly made to extend to those who were
strangers to the commonwealth of Israel
but supposed to be proselytes of righteousness. Thus the
blessing of Abraham comes upon the Gentiles.
|Doom of Presumptuous Sinners.
||B. C. 1490.|
30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he
be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the
LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
31 Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath
broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his
iniquity shall be upon him.
32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness,
they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto
Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what
should be done to him.
35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to
death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without
36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and
stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
I. The general doom passed upon presumptuous sinners.
1. Those are to be reckoned presumptuous sinners that sin with a
high hand, as the original phrase is
that is, that avowedly confront God's authority, and set up their own
lust in competition with it, that sin for sinning-sake, in
contradiction to the precept of the law, and in defiance of the
penalty, that fight against God, and dare him to do his worst; see
It is not only to sin against knowledge, but to sin designedly against
God's will and glory.
2. Sins thus committed are exceedingly sinful. He that thus breaks the
(1.) Reproaches the Lord
he says the worst he can of him, and most unjustly. The language of
presumptuous sin is, "Eternal truth is not fit to be believed, the Lord
of all not fit to be obeyed, and almighty power not fit to be either
feared or trusted." It imputes folly to Infinite Wisdom, and iniquity
to the righteous Judge of heaven and earth; such is the malignity of
(2.) He despises the word of the Lord,
There are those who, in many instances, come short of fulfilling the
word, and yet have a great value for it, and count the law honourable;
but presumptuous sinners despise it, thinking themselves too great, too
good, and too wise, to be ruled by it. What is the Almighty that we
should serve him? Whatever the sin itself is, it is contumacy that
incurs the anathema. It is rebellion added to the sin that is as
witch-craft, and stubbornness as idolatry.
3. The sentence passed on such is dreadful. There remains no sacrifice
for those sins; the law provided none: That soul shall be cut off
from among his people
utterly cut off
and that God may be for ever justified, and the sinner for ever
confounded, his iniquity shall be upon him, and there needs no
more to sink him to the lowest hell. Thus the Jewish doctors understand
it, that the iniquity shall cleave to the soul, after it is cut off,
and that man shall give an account of his sin at the great day of
judgment. Perhaps the kind of offence might be such as did not
expose the offender to the censure of the civil magistrate, but, if it
was done presumptuously, God himself would take the punishment of it
into his own hands, and into them it is a fearful thing to fall. In the
New Testament we find the like sentence of exclusion from all benefit
by the great sacrifice passed upon the blasphemy against the Holy
Ghost, and a total apostasy from Christianity.
II. A particular instance of presumption in the sin of
1. The offence was the gathering of sticks on the sabbath day
which, it is probable, were designed to make a fire of, whereas they
were commanded to bake and seeth what they had occasion for the day
This seemed but a small offence, but it was a violation of the law of
the sabbath, and so was a tacit contempt of the Creator, to whose
honour the sabbath was dedicated, and an incursion upon the whole law,
which the sabbath was intended as a hedge about. And it appears by the
context to have been done presumptuously, and in affront both of the
law and to the Law-maker.
2. The offender was secured,
Those that found him gathering sticks, in their zeal for the
honour of the sabbath, brought him to Moses and Aaron, and all the
congregation, which intimates that being the sabbath day the
congregation was at that time gathered to Moses and Aaron, to receive
instruction from them, and to join with them in religious worship. It
seems, even common Israelites, though there was much amiss among them,
yet would not contentedly see the sabbath profaned, which was a good
sign that they had not quite forsaken God, nor were utterly forsaken of
3. God was consulted, because it was not declared what should be
done to him. The law had already made the profanation of the
sabbath a capital crime
but they were in doubt, either concerning the offence (whether this
that he had done should be deemed a profanation or no) or concerning
the punishment, which death he should die. God was the Judge, and
before him they brought this cause.
4. Sentence was passed; the prisoner was adjudged a sabbath-breaker,
according to the intent of that law, and as such he must be put to
death; and to show how great the crime was, and how displeasing to God,
and that others might hear and fear and not do in like manner
presumptuously, that death is appointed him which was looked upon as
most terrible: He must be stoned with stones,
Note, God is jealous for the honour of his sabbaths, and will not hold
those guiltless, whatever men do, that profane them.
5. Execution was done pursuant to the sentence,
He was stoned to death by the congregation. As many as
could were employed in the execution, that those, at least, might be
afraid of breaking the sabbath, who had thrown a stone at this
sabbath-breaker. This intimates that the open profanation of the
sabbath is a sin which ought to be punished and restrained by the civil
magistrate, who, as far as overt acts go, is keeper of both tables. See
One would think there could be no great harm in gathering a few sticks,
on what day soever it was, but God intended the exemplary punishment of
him that did so for a standing warning to us all, to make conscience of
keeping holy the sabbath.
|The Law Concerning Fringes.
||B. C. 1490.|
37 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they
make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout
their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the
borders a ribband of blue:
39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon
it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them;
and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes,
after which ye use to go a whoring:
40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be
holy unto your God.
41 I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land
of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.
Provision had been just now made by the law for the pardon of sins of
ignorance and infirmity; now here is an expedient provided for the
preventing of such sins. They are ordered to make fringes upon the
borders of their garments, which were to be memorandums to them of
their duty, that they might not sin through forgetfulness.
1. The sign appointed is a fringe of silk, or thread, or worsted, or
the garment itself ravelled at the bottom, and a blue riband bound on
the top of it to keep it tight,
The Jews being a peculiar people, they were thus distinguished from
their neighbours in their dress, as well as in their diet, and taught
by such little instances of singularity not to be conformed to the way
of the heathen in greater things. Thus likewise they proclaimed
themselves Jews wherever they were, as those that were not ashamed of
God and his law. Our Saviour, being made under the law, wore these
fringes; hence we read of the hem or border, of his garment,
These borders the Pharisees enlarged, that they might be thought more
holy and devout than other people. The phylacteries were different
things; these were their own invention, the fringes were a divine
institution. The Jews at this day wear them, saying, when they put them
on, Blessed be he who has sanctified us unto himself, and commanded
us to wear fringes.
2. The intention of it was to remind them that they were a peculiar
people. They were not appointed for the trimming and adorning of their
clothes, but to stir up their pure minds by way of remembrance
(2 Peter 3:1),
that they might look upon the fringe and remember the
commandments. Many look upon their ornaments to feed their pride,
but they must look upon these ornaments to awaken their consciences to
a sense of their duty, that their religion might constantly beset them,
and that they might carry it about with them, as they did their
clothes, wherever they went. If they were tempted to sin, the fringe
would be a monitor to them not to break God's commandments: If a duty
was forgotten to be done in its season, the fringe would remind them of
it. This institution, though it is not an imposition upon us, is an
instruction to us, always to remember the commandments of the Lord
our God, that we may do them, to treasure them up in our
memories, and to apply them to particular cases as there is occasion to
use them. It was intended particularly to be a preservative from
idolatry: that you seek not after your own heart, and your own
eyes, in your religious worship. Yet it may extend also to the
whole conversation, for nothing is more contrary to God's honour, and
our own true interest, than to walk in the way of our heart and
in the sight of our eyes; for the imagination of the heart is
evil, and so is the lust of the eyes.
After the repetition of some ceremonial appointments, the chapter
closes with that great and fundamental law of religion, Be holy unto
your God, purged from sin, and sincerely devoted to his service;
and that great reason for all the commandments is again and again
inculcated, I am the Lord your God. Did we more firmly believe,
and more frequently and seriously consider, that God is the Lord, and
our God and Redeemer, we should see ourselves bound in duty, interest,
and gratitude, to keep all his commandments.