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THE PENTATEUCH

GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS 1.1-7.38 --- 8.1-11.47 --- 12.1-16.34--- 17.1-27.34--- NUMBERS 1-10--- 11-19--- 20-36--- DEUTERONOMY 1.1-4.44 --- 4.45-11.32 --- 12.1-29.1--- 29.2-34.12 --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- PSALMS 1-17--- ECCLESIASTES --- ISAIAH 1-5 --- 6-12 --- 13-23 --- 24-27 --- 28-35 --- 36-39 --- 40-48 --- 49-55--- 56-66--- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL 1-7 ---DANIEL 8-12 ---

NAHUM--- HABAKKUK---ZEPHANIAH ---ZECHARIAH --- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW ---THE GOSPEL OF MARK--- THE GOSPEL OF LUKE --- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN --- THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES --- 1 CORINTHIANS 1-7 --- 8-16 --- 2 CORINTHIANS 1-7 --- 8-13 -- -GALATIANS --- EPHESIANS --- COLOSSIANS --- 1 THESSALONIANS --- 2 THESSALONIANS --- 1 TIMOTHY --- 2 TIMOTHY --- TITUS --- HEBREWS 1-6 --- 7-10 --- 11-13 --- JAMES --- JOHN'S LETTERS --- REVELATION

--- THE GOSPELS

COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF NUMBERS

By Dr Peter Pett BA BD (Hons-London) DD

The Book of Numbers.

Introduction.

The Book of Numbers is one of the most carefully constructed records in the Old Testament. It consists of a number of chiastic frameworks in sequence, into which have been fitted smaller sections, also composed chiastically. (A chiasmus is the inversion in the second section of the order followed in the first section). This conclusively demonstrates the unity of the narrative. Any literary analysis which ignores this fact cannot be taken seriously. For evidence of this see below.

But the title is deceptive. It is not really a book about numbers. It is rather a book written in order to prepare for Israel's entry into the land promised to them by God, and is an interesting commentary on man's constant failure and God's continuing mercy. It is a description of their advance towards living under Yahweh's Kingly Rule, towards the earthly 'Kingdom of God'. It could well have been entitled 'God Brings About His Purposes And Brings His People Into the Kingdom of God Against All Odds' or alternately 'Israel: Its Commissioning, Failure, Resultant Death, and New Beginning Ready For The Kingdom of God', for those are its central themes. While Exodus is the book which describes deliverance, Numbers is the book which describes the grace of God active and successful in spite of man's continual failure. And yet they are in a sense one book, for Numbers 1.1 deliberately takes up the theme of Exodus.

We must beware here. We must not forget that Israel were already under the Kingly Rule of God. That was evidenced at Sinai. But they were moving from the temporary phase to the theoretical final stage. That that final stage failed was due to the unbelief of the people which resulted in the prophets speaking of the coming of a future everlasting Kingdom of God, and the New Testament of that everlasting Kingdom as being heavenly and not earthly.

It may be argued that there is no mention in Numbers of the Kingdom of God. But there can really be no doubt that that is what lies behind the whole of its message. The whole aim behind it was to establish the Kingdom of God in Canaan, with Yahweh ruling from His Dwellingplace. This is made explicit in Exodus 19.5-6. Compare Numbers 23.21; Deuteronomy 33.5. Furthermore the land is always depicted as Yahweh's, and the people as responsible to Him for it as His subjects. Those who submitted to the covenant in faith (14.11; 20.12) and obedience (14.24) were to be welcomed. Those who turned away from the covenant were to be cut off from among the people (19.20) or to be barred from the land (32.11).

Thus the book commences with the mobilisation of Israel, and after revealing Yahweh's requirements for them and their subsequent experiences, ends with the triumphant description of the initial inheritance of the land by the daughters of Zelophehad as a symbol of what will be for the whole of Israel as they stand poised on the edge of the promised land. The double mention of the daughters of Zelophehad (27.1-11; 36.1-12) confirms that they were seen as conveying an important message to Israel.

From a Christian point of view it is a vivid depiction of the Christian life (1 Corinthians 10.1-13). First comes deliverance and entry under the Kingly Rule of God, then commissioning in Christ's service, then failure to trust and obey, then a recognition of the need for the 'old man' to die, then spiritual renewal, and then being brought to the borders of the heavenly Kingdom.

Numbers is also a book which indicates that even the best will die because of man's sinfulness. It stresses that no one is fully worthy of the service of God, whether it be the whole people of God, Miriam, Aaron or Moses. In the first four chapters Israel are commissioned and numbered for war ready for entry into the promised land. They are given every opportunity for success (5-10). But through unbelief, disobedience and sin they fail and the whole nation is sentenced to death in the wilderness (Numbers 14.35; 26.64-65). Only Joshua and Caleb, who remain constant in faith and obedience, are to inherit the land. Israel are then replaced by a new generation which is also commissioned for war (26). And they, through faith and obedience, and God's mercy, will inherit the land, while judgment comes on those who disobey.

Numbers takes up from Exodus where Moses is the great leader, Aaron is his 'voice' and High Priest (Exodus 4.14-16, 30; 7.1-2; 28.1-4 etc) and Miriam is the inspiration of the womenfolk (Exodus 15.20-21), but it makes clear that all in the end sin and prove their unworthiness. All die in the wilderness. All are in the end lacking in faith and obedience (20.12). For in Numbers Miriam is replaced as the inspiration of the womenfolk of Israel by the daughters of Zelophehad (27.1-7), who through faith and obedience inherit the land (36.1-12), Aaron is replaced by Eleazar, his son, and Moses is replaced by Joshua. And all is due to sin, and a new beginning resulting from God's mercy. It is firmly established that were it not for God's continuing mercy we would all be without hope, but that through all that occurs, His purposes go on, so that through continuation in faith and obedience those who trust Him may 'inherit the land'.

It must be recognised that Numbers does not deal with the question of the eternal destiny of those involved. Such a concept is outside its purpose. It is rather dealing with the question of God sovereignly bringing about His purposes regardless of the desert of the people, with the aim of establishing His people under His Kingly Rule.

The title 'Numbers' arose simply because the first four chapters deal with the numbering of Israel preparatory to going forward from Sinai with a view to advancing on Canaan. But otherwise the book describes a mixture of history and ritual requirements. The Hebrew name is 'In the wilderness', which is actually a much more suitable title as long as you include within the term 'wilderness' the semi-desert and pasture land areas on the borders of Moab and Edom, and in the plains of Moab, for it brings God's people from Sinai through the land of wandering to the borders of the land of Canaan.

But numbers, (which is the Greek name), are only in fact dealt with at the commencement and near the end of the book, when describing the mobilising of the fighting men in Israel, firstly at Sinai in the wilderness (1-3), and secondly in the Moabite plain in Transjordan (26) nearly forty years later, when a new Israel was commissioned. This last confirmed that they had left the wilderness as numerous as when they entered it, but totally renewed.

For the book as a whole is rather a skilful combination of history and ritual dealing with events prior to reaching the promised land, combined with specific teaching on aspects of religious ritual associated with Israel's future. It is carefully constructed on a chiastic pattern.

Summary of the Book.

The book continues on from where Exodus and Leviticus left off. The impression intended to be given by the first part is that having delivered His people from Egypt (Exodus 1-19), and having established His covenant with them at Sinai (Exodus 20-24; Leviticus), and having set up His permanent earthly residence among them in His Tabernacle, His Dwellingplace (Exodus 25-40), Yahweh was now ready to move forward with them from Sinai to the conquest of Canaan. And it depicts how in the face of all man's failure, God accomplishes His purpose to bring them to the borders of the land He had promised to their fathers, ready for its final conquest.

Yet while the Hebrew title 'In The Wilderness' may be seen as a fair description of the period to which its contents refer, we must recognise that relatively few actual events in the wilderness are described. For while it commences in the wilderness at Mount Sinai, moving on to their failure to enter the land in unbelief, this is then followed by thirty eight years in the wilderness, and almost nothing of what happened during that period is described. For the Book of Numbers is not so much a description of what happened during those thirty eighty years, most of which is ignored, but a theological preparation for entering the land. It is written very much with the second entry into the land under Joshua in view.

It thus begins with the mobilisation (numbering) of the army at Sinai (1-4), and a demand for purity in the camp (5.1-7.88), followed by a promise of Yahweh's watch over Israel (7.89-9.14). After that the commencement of their forward march is catered for (9.15-10.36), and is followed by indications of discontent among the people and God's answer to it (11), and the similar discontent of Moses' sister Miriam and Aaron (12), and leads up to the first abortive failure to enter Israel (13-14). The people were at that stage revealed as not yet ready to enter God's holy land!

This is then followed by the period of wandering in the Wilderness which was the result of God's judgment on them for their refusal to enter the land (15-19) during which God confirms that He has not rejected Israel completely. He promises that once the generation that sinned has died He will go before them into Canaan. The certainty of this is evidenced by briefly describing the ritual system (15.1-29), which will apply 'once they have come into the land which they are due to inhabit' (15.2), a system which, when partaken in with a genuine heart, will ensure their continuing forgiveness for their failures by God (15.22-29). In it He gives a warning against high-handed sin (15.30-36); and provides for a 'uniform' by which Israelites would in future be recognisable (15.37-41) and which would remind them of the covenant requirements. Subsequent to this God forcefully confirmed restriction of the priesthood to His chosen 'sons of Aaron' (16-17), ensured provision for those whose responsibility it was to be to maintain the continuing holiness of His Dwellingplace (18) and made further provision for the holiness of the camp, securing it against the taint of death (19 compare 5-10). Rather than be the place of death it was to be the place of life.

We should note here God's concern for the holiness of the whole camp. The sacrificial system was not just designed to ensure the purity of the Dwellingplace, but of the whole camp and its people (15.26-29). It is possibly significant that while chapters 5-9 stress the purity of the camp it is not until chapter 19 that the actual water for purification from contact with sin (8.7) and death is described (although it is probably assumed in 8.7). Make no mistake, such purification was necessary from the first (5.2; 8.7) but it was not until the first generation had died in the wilderness that such purification was actually brought to the forefront in the book. This was presumably because the first generation were seen to be a generation under sentence of death. For them there was no release. We should note that it is the impression rather than the chronology that is in mind here. All had in fact to constantly purify themselves from such impurity from the beginning (5.2). But what Yahweh offered was life, not death (Deuteronomy 5.33; 8.1; 16.20; 30.6), and only the new generation were able to purify themselves with continuing 'life' in view. The older generation had in view the fact that they must die in the wilderness.

Chapter 20 then commences the forward movement of the new generation towards the promised land, which starts appropriately enough with drought conditions which also symbolise the condition of the people, and describes the death of Miriam (20.1), who had previously revealed her unfitness to enter the land (12). This was a death which symbolised the need for the death of the first generation, and we learn further of the unfitness of Moses and Aaron to take the people into the land (20.1-13). The great lesson is being brought home that 'all have sinned and come short of the glory of God' (Romans 3.23) and that 'the wages of sin is death' (Romans 6.23) and that outside His gracious compassion, and apart from those whom He chooses, none are fit to enter the place where He dwells.

This is then followed by repudiation by their brother nation Edom (20.14-21), and further murmuring which produces judgment and repentance (21.5-10). But this then in its turn reveals God's graciousness and results in the movement on to abundant streams of water (21.11-20), ever a picture of God's blessing. This provision of abundant water significantly followed the death of Aaron and appointment of a new 'Priest' (20.22-29) and a firstfruits victory over the Canaanites (21.1-4). The consequence was the defeat of a succession of enemies and capture of large swathes of territory (21.21-24.25), some remarkable prophecies concerning their future by Balaam (23-24), and advance to the plain of Moab opposite Jericho, where again some in Israel sinned grievously and were plagued (25).

Following the encouragement given by coming across abundant streams of water, in such contrast to the dryness in the wilderness, and by the defeat of both Canaanites and Amorites, and the encouragement of Balaam's prophecies (which they probably learned about after defeating the Midianites - 31), the remaining chapters are an encouragement for the final push into Canaan. They begin with the mobilisation of the new army and provisions for allocation of the land (26.1-27.11), preparation for the death of Moses and his replacement by the new commander-in chief Joshua (27.12-23), and provisions concerning the continuing need for rededication illustrated by the feasts to be observed on entering the land (28-29) and the similar importance of keeping oaths (30), with an important reservation with regard to young unmarried women and wives (which in itself stresses the inviolability of an oath properly made to God in other cases). Proper worship and complete faithfulness to His promises are thus seen to be an essential for those who would enter the land.

This is followed by the crushing of the Midianites who had made Israel sin (31 compare 25), and the redemption of their younger womenfolk who would marry Israelites and be brought within the covenant. This remarkable example of judgment of idolaters, and of mercy shown to those who could be redeemed, brings out the future purposes of God in all He was doing. Judgment leads on to mercy.

Chapter 32 onwards cover all the things to be taken into account on entering and possessing the land, so demonstrating conclusively that it was not just a possibility but a certainty. These included the handing over of Transjordan to two and a half tribes with the proviso that their fighting men go over into the land (32), the description of the journey made to bring Israel to the place in which they now were (33.1-49), the warning to remember to drive out the Canaanites (33.50-56), the description of the land to be taken and provision for its division (34), the importance of establishing cities for the Levites to ensure that God's Instruction was known to the people, and of cities of refuge in order to maintain the purity of the land (35), and final provisions ensuring the maintenance of the God-ordained division of the land in cases where women inherited. This last was also provided as an example of how resolute faith would triumph as with the daughters of Zelophehad (36).

The whole atmosphere of the book is therefore of a people poised to enter the land, their initial failure and judgment, and God's merciful restoration and provision for the future. And that is what the book itself claims to portray. It claims to have been mainly composed in that period. There are no genuine provable grounds for seeing otherwise. All opposition to this view is in the end based on supposition, not on facts, and that includes arguments about its philology. We actually know nothing about the philology of Hebrew in the 12th century BC apart from what is found in the Old Testament texts, and they are insufficient to give us full answers one way or the other (while Ugarit has given us a new insight into it, its philology is probably well prior to the time of Moses and Joshua). That is not to say that every word was then written and cast in stone, nor to deny that minor 'updating', both geographically and philologically, may have taken place in accordance with ancient practise. But the basic book is stated to be based on the words of Moses (as recorded through his chief scribe, probably Joshua), and that is what it claims to be.

Summary.

Its main divisions are thus as follows:

Chapters 1-10 Forward To The Promised Land! Mobilising And Preparing the Army And Purification of the Camp.

Chapters 10-14 Discontent, Disobedience, Defeat and Expulsion From The Land.

Chapters 15-19 Preparation During The Period of Trial and Wandering For Entry Into Canaan So As To Be Fitted to Be in Yahweh's Land.

The expulsion from the land after the failed attempt at invasion contrary to Yahweh's command, was followed by the thirty eight year trial and wandering in the wilderness. Most people are probably under the impression that we are given a great deal of information about that period, but in fact that is not so. It is rather mainly totally ignored, in such a way as to demonstrate that during that period Israel's part in the going forward of history had come to a halt, it being described mainly in terms of ritual preparation for their future in the land. The only two historical events mentioned illustrate this. Its purpose is mainly in order to demonstrate that, in spite of all, they do have a future once the old slave mentality has been removed. To this end they were even given a 'uniform' indicating that they were still His covenant people. This was in the form of special tassels on their clothing, which were theologically to remind them of the commandments, and practically would distinguish them in warfare so that they would not kill each other.

We know little of what happened over this period except that it was a very hard period (Deuteronomy 8.15; 32.10). The only two historical events mentioned are in order to vindicate the Aaronide priesthood, and as a warning against rebellion. Otherwise we are told nothing. And then eventually they returned for the second time to Kadesh. Thirty eight blank years had been lost.

Chapter 20-25 Onwards Advance From Kadesh. Defeat of Their Enemies.

Chapters 26-36 Mobilisation and Advance on Canaan.

These remaining chapters cover the advance from Kadesh after 'the thirty eight years' have passed as they advanced towards the eastern borders of Canaan and the plains of Moab from where they would enter the land over Jordan. It was during this period in the plains of Moab that the events described in Deuteronomy took place.

A More Detailed Summary.

In Exodus the writer had told the story of the deliverance from Egypt, the giving of the Covenant from Mount Sinai and the establishment of the Tabernacle as Yahweh's Dwellingplace in the camp. Now he goes on from that into the journey from Sinai through the wilderness to the edge of the promised land, using this period to teach certain theological lessons. It divides neatly into four parts, as described above, covering briefly:

  • 1). From Sinai to Kadesh (1-14) - This includes the departure from Sinai in good order (1-4), the requirements Yahweh laid on His people and His response (5.1-9.14), guidance instructions (9.15-10.10), the experiences of the Exodus generation in the short wilderness journey to Kadesh (10.11-12.16), and their failure to enter Canaan through fear and disobedience (13-14). Kadesh was an oasis (or group of oases) in the wilderness south of Canaan in the Negeb. It should have been the last stop on the way to Canaan, and it was reached in a short time after leaving Sinai. But instead of obedience and triumph there was disobedience and lack of faith, which would result in a long period of trial.
  • 2). From Kadesh, Around the Wilderness, and Back to Kadesh (15-19). These chapters 'cover' the whole of their subsequent 'thirty eight year' wanderings, but the main matters dealt with are God's provision of, and authentification of, their means of rightness with Him; as revealed in the sacrifices, in the priesthood (as authenticated in the rebellion of Korah and the rod that budded), in the Levites and in 'the water for uncleanness' (15-19), and their subsequent arrival back at Kadesh (20.1)
  • 3). From Kadesh to the Plains of Moab (20-25). These chapters contain more history as God's purposes again begin to advance and describe Moses' failure at Meribah, the beginning of the new advance, dealings with Edom, the death of Aaron, their experience with fiery serpents, the defeat of the Amorites, dealings with Moab and Balaam, failure at Shittim, the disgrace of Simeon, and a plague on the people.
  • 4). The New Generation (26-36). From this point on we have the preparation of the new generation for entry into the land including details of a 'numbering' confirming how Yahweh has maintained the numbers of His people and is now mobilising them again ready for them to enter the land in the present (26), the treatment of the daughters of Zelophehad and the judgment with respect to women inheriting land in the future (27.1-11), the solemn appointment of Joshua in the present (27.12-23), worship in the land in the future (28-30), judgment on the Midianites in the present (31), agreement with Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh about settling in Transjordan with the promise to support the invasion in the future (32), a summary of their journeying from Egypt to the plains of Moab in the present (33.1-49), instruction concerning dividing up the land in the future (33.50-35.34), including provision of cities for the Levites and the setting up of cities of refuge (35), and finally further clarification about inheritance in the land by women, and the daughters of Zelophehad in particular, with a view to preventing tribal inheritances being diminished and demonstrating what results when His people trust Him and obey His word. The faith and obedience of the daughters of Zelophehad is the key note on which the book ends.

    It will be noted that there is in this last section a pattern whereby elements dealing with the past and present are methodically and carefully interspersed with events to occur in the future. Past, present and glorious future have been, and are, and will be in the hands of Yahweh.

    Thus the whole book is a carefully constructed mixture of preparation for advance, description of a few widely scattered major historical events which bring out lessons for the future, and a description of a good amount of religious ritual which will be central to their prosperity in the future, with its emphasis on continual forgiveness and deliverance from death, and the need for continual rededication. It reveals a mixture of the outward behaviour and the inward heart of Israel. We must not dismiss the ritual or sideline it. For the heart of a people is as much revealed by their living ritual as by anything else. In regard to that we can consider simplified examples: the bloodthirstiness and fierceness of the people of Ammon is laid bare by their rites concerning their bloodthirsty god, Molech; the carnality of the people of Canaan is laid bare by the sexual depravity of their rites in respect of Baal and Asherah. The truth is that the people shape their ritual and the ritual shapes the people. So it is from the ritual that we know the hearts of the people. Thus Yahweh's requirement for the dedication and purity of His people and His provision for their restoration from sin lies at the heart of Israelite ritual.

    In the modern day we separate theology from history. To the ancients history was theology revealed. Where Israel were distinctive was in the God-given nature of the revelation of their ritual through Moses which was to bring home to them the mind of God, so that while they truly responded to it they would be kept from evil. This is central to the ideas in the book. While it contains history, simply to read it as history is to miss its point, for it has only one theme. Preparation for entry into the land and dwelling there, the movement of His people towards the Kingdom of God. Its further lesson for us is what it teaches us both about God's ways of dealing in the past and about our own journey as forgiven sinners to the heavenly kingdom of God.

    The Authorship of the Book.

    The basis of the book is stated to be a number of revelations made to Moses by Yahweh, most of which are headed up by the words 'and Yahweh spoke to Moses saying', or similar. As covenant requirements and instruction these would, in accordance with common practise in the Ancient Near East, have been noted down in writing. Some of these were then seemingly brought together in more comprehensive written documents as in for example 1.1-3.1. We are probably to see some of this as the work of Joshua which would explain why he remained in the Tent of Meeting for such long periods (Exodus 33.11). These were then taken by the writer and incorporated into this even larger work which is carefully constructed and is clearly a unity as its chiastic framework confirms. This was also probably the work of Joshua, as Moses' secretary and deputy leader, or by a scribe acting under his supervision.

    This is especially brought out by the fact that a clear pattern is discernible reflecting the love of the ancients for writing chiastically. That is not to deny that an occasional scribal note has been added to the text, especially with a view to updating, but these are few and far between and do not disturb the essential unity of the book. The whole construction of the book further emphasises the purpose for which it was intended. To prepare the people for entry into the land. A more detailed summary revealing this unity is now provided, but for the full picture the commentary itself will have to be consulted.

    THE OVERALL PLAN OF THE BOOK.

    The overall chiastic construction is drawn attention to by the letters of the alphabet which open each line.

    • a Mobilisation For Israel's Advance On The Land (1-4).
    • b The Purifying, Dedication and Blessing of Israel Through Cleansing, Offerings and Vows (5-10).
    • c The Murmuring of Israel, Appointment of 70 Elders On Whom Came The Spirit, The Smiting of Miriam For Sin (11-12).
    • d Preparations For Advance Into The Land and Defeat By the Amorites (13-14).
    • e Promised Restoration, Hope and Life Offered Through The Cultus (15-19).
    • e Eleazar Replaces Aaron (Restoration) Resulting in Rivers of Life-giving Water (Hope and Life) (20-21.20).
    • d Forward Advance - The Defeat of the Amorites, as well as Balaam and Midianite Temptation (20.22-25.18).
    • c The Mobilisation of Israel, Appointment of Joshua on Whom Was the Spirit and the Death of Moses For Sin (26-27).
    • b The Dedication of Israel Through Feasts, Offerings and Vows - The Purifying of Transjordan Through Vengeance on the Midianites and Settlement of the Two and a Half Tribes (28-32).
    • a Description Of The Journey To The Land And Its Intended and Preliminary Occupation (33-36).

      Individual sections also then follow a chiastic construction.

      A. THE PREPARATIONS TO GO FORWARD FROM SINAI WITH YAHWEH'S PROVISIONS RELATED THERETO (1.1-10.10).

      This section emphasises the going forward of Israel, the necessity for it to be pure and the resulting response of Yahweh.

      • a Preparation for Going Forward of the Men At Arms (1-2).
      • b Preparation for Going Forward of the Sanctuary (3-4)
      • c The Responsibility Of The People Towards Yahweh (5.1-7.88).
      • c The Responsibility of Yahweh Towards the People (7.89-9.14).
      • b Guidance In Respect of Going Forward describing the movement of the cloud to guide the Sanctuary (9.15-23).
      • a Guidance In Respect of Going Forward for the men at arms (10.1-10).

        B. THE JOURNEY FROM SINAI TO KADESH (10.11-12.15).

        This section describes the relatively short journey from Sinai to borders of the land and comprises of:

        • a The setting forward from Sinai and the order of the march (10.11-33).
        • b The people complain and are smitten, Moses intervenes (11.1-3)
        • c Murmuring for meat instead of manna (11.4-15).
        • d Appointment of the seventy elders (11.16-24).
        • d Enduing of the seventy elders (11.25-30)
        • c The provision of meat instead of manna in the form of quails (11.31-35).
        • b Aaron and Miriam complain about Moses, Miriam is smitten, Moses intervenes (12.1-15).
        • a Journeying forward and arrival at the Wilderness of Paran (12.16)

          C. THE SPYING OUT OF THE LAND AND THE REFUSAL TO GO FORWARD FOLLOWED BY REJECTION AND EXPULSION FROM THE LAND (13-14).

          Following the arrival in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh, the tribes settled down while the land ahead could be spied out. This section describes the spying out of the land and the subsequent disobedience and unbelief of the people as a whole. It consists of:

          • a The spying out of the land (13.1-25).
          • b The scouts report on what lies ahead (13.26-33).
          • c The people's response (14.1-10).
          • d The anger of Yahweh (14.11-12).
          • d The intercession of Moses (14.13-25).
          • c Yahweh's response (14.26-38).
          • b The people report on their plans (14.39-43)
          • a The catastrophic aftermath in the land (14.44-45)

            This is then followed by:

            D. SUBSEQUENT RESTORATION AND HOPE: YAHWEH'S PROVISION FOR HIS ERRING PEOPLE (15-19).

            In this section, which covers the period of the 'penal' wandering in the wilderness subsequent to expulsion from the land of Canaan by the Amorites, Yahweh's provision for Israel's dealings with Him are laid bare. As a people they have been subjected to discipline and chastening, but not to rejection, and they are assured that once the first generation have died out under Yahweh's judgment they will be able to enter the land. This is made apparent by the provisions that follow.

            • a Provision is made for offerings and sacrifices so that they can walk before Him as His people once they are in the land free from the taint of sin (15).
            • b Provision is made for an authenticated priesthood (16-17).
            • b Provision is made for the Levites to serve the Sanctuary (18).
            • a Provision is made of the 'water of uncleanness' for cleansing from 'death' so they can walk before Him as His people free from the taint of death (19).

              E FROM KADESH TO THE PLAINS OF MOAB (20-25).

              There now follow a series of historical events which bring Israel to the plains of Moab. History has become important again because Yahweh's purposes are now going forward. The first section deals with the turning point in the death of Aaron and appointment of a new High Priest (for the importance of this latter compare 34.25, 28). The second with victory in the Wars of Yahweh including the Battle with Balaam.

              (I). The Turning Point of the Death of Aaron and the Change in the High Priesthood (20-21).

              • a The people suffer dire shortage of water (20.1-2a).
              • b The people grumble at lack of water and are sent deliverance by the water from the rock at Meribah, which causes the sin of Aaron and Moses (20.2b-13).
              • c Edom seek to block Israel's way forward. They must not fight their brothers (20.14-21).
              • d Aaron climbs Mount Hor to his death and is replaced by Eleazar (20.22-29).
              • c The king of Arad seeks to block Israel's way forward. The first defeat and destruction of the Canaanites (21.1-3).
              • b The people grumble at lack of food and water and are sent fiery serpents followed by deliverance by the brazen serpent (21.4-9).
              • a Yahweh provides abundance of water (21.10-20).

                (II). Victory In The Wars of Yahweh (21.21-25.18).

                Having tasted victory against the king of Arad Yahweh now provides them with more victories. These are as follows:

                • a The defeat of Sihon king of the Amorites in the land of the Moabites and they dwell there (21.21-31).
                • b The defeat in the north of Og, king of Bashan, by their armies, and they possess his land (21.32-35).
                • c The people finally arrive at the plains of Moab and pitch their tents there (21.31-22.1).
                • b The defeat of the evil influence of Balaam brought from the north by the Moabites (22.2-24.25).
                • a The defeat of the evil influence of Moab and the Midianites in the land of the Moabites (25).

                  F. FUTURE PROSPECTS IN THE LAND (26-36).

                  This is divided up into preparations for entering the land (26-32), and warning and encouragement with respect to it (33-36).

                  (i). Preparation for Entering the Land (26-32).

                  This can be divided up into:

                  • a Numbering of the tribes for entering the land (26.1-51).
                  • b Division of the land (26.52-62).
                  • c Vengeance on those who had refused to enter the land (26.63-65).
                  • d Regulation in respect of land to be inherited by women (27.1-11).
                  • e Provision of a shepherd for the people of Israel (27.12-23).
                  • e Provision for future worship in the land (28-29).
                  • d Regulation in respect of vows especially as made by women (30)
                  • c Vengeance to be obtained on Midian (31.1-24).
                  • b Division of the spoils of Midian (31.25-54).
                  • a Settlement of the Transjordan tribes (32).

                    ii) Warning and Encouragement of The Younger Generation ( 33-36).

                    Finally clear instructions are given as to what must happen once the land is possessed concluding with an example of successful inheriting of the land in the persons of the daughters of Zelophehad.

                    • a Review of the journey from Egypt to the plains of Moab (33:1-49).
                    • b Instruction concerning taking possession of and dividing up the land in the future (33.50-34.15).
                    • c The Leaders who will divide the land for them are appointed (34.16-29).
                    • d Provision of cities for the Levites. (35.1-5)
                    • d Provision of cities of refuge and prevention of defilement of the land (35.6-34).
                    • c The Leaders of the tribe of Manasseh approach Moses about the possible loss of part of their division of the land as a result of the decision about the daughters of Zelophehad (36.1-4).
                    • b Instruction concerning women who inherit land so as to maintain the correct dividing up of the land, and subsequently take possession of it (36.5-12)
                    • a Final summary of the book and colophon. The journey is over. They are in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho (36.13).

                      MORE DETAILED ANALYSIS.

                      Having seen the chiastic formation of the main parts of the whole we may now analyse the book in even more depth, demonstrating that the chiastic pattern is also applied in more detail. These detailed formations are important for if they are correct they dispel the notion that the book is made up of interwoven narratives from different centuries. For what redactor would take such and go to the trouble of putting them into a chiastic pattern? This last suggests unity of authorship, although unquestionably based on covenant documents which had already been written down. We may see the analysis as follows:

                      A. THE PREPARATIONS TO GO FORWARD FROM SINAI WITH YAHWEH'S PROVISIONS RELATED THERETO (1.1-10.10).

                      This is divided into three elements:

                      1). Preparation for Travel and Invasion of the new kingdom, describing the first military 'numbering' and the mobilising of the people for war, and the separate 'numbering' of the Levites, and mobilising of them for the service of Yahweh in carrying the things of the Sanctuary (1-4).

                      This in itself seems to follow a general chiastic pattern (indicated by the letters a to d), something continued on throughout the book, and can be divided up into:

                      • a The taking of the sum of the fighting men of the tribes and their responsibility (to war) (1.1-46).
                      • b The Levites' responsibility for the Dwellingplace (1.47-54).
                      • c Positioning and arrangements for travel of the people (2.1-32).
                      • d The consecration of the priests to Yahweh (3.1-4).
                      • d The dedication of the Levites to the priests and to Yahweh (3.5-13)
                      • c Positioning and arrangements for travel of the Levites (3.14-51).
                      • b The priests' responsibility for the Dwellingplace (4.1-14).
                      • a The taking of the sum of the Levites and their responsibilities (4.15-49).

                        2). The People's Responsibility Towards Yahweh and Yahweh's Response.

                        This second section can be divided up into two sections which are in a combined chiastic pattern.

                        i) The People's Responsibility toward Yahweh: This deals with commands and rituals which needed to be observed in respect of the responsibility of all to maintain and advance the holiness of the camp in preparation for going forward to His kingdom. These are emphasised with regard to:

                        • a The cleansing of the whole people (5).
                        • b The setting apart of dedicated ones among the people (6.1-21).
                        • c The function of the priests in bringing the light of Yahweh's countenance on the people (6.22-27).
                        • d The response of the princes - the supreme leaders (7.1-88).

                          ii) Yahweh's Responsibility to the People: The Response of the Sanctuary (7.89-9.14).

                          This deals respectively with (in the reverse order to the above):

                          • d Yahweh's voice speaking to Moses, the Supreme Leader (7.89).
                          • c Aaron and the priests directing the light of Yahweh (8.1-4).
                          • b The setting apart and dedication of the Levites (8.5-26).
                          • a The coming of the whole cleansed people to Yahweh (9.1-14).

                            (i) The Responsibility Of All To Maintain the Holiness of the Camp (5.1-7.88).

                            • a Their responsibility to keep the camp ritually clean and whole by expulsion of the unclean that would defile the camp (5.1-4), by dealing with offences that cause dissension and defile the camp (5.5-10), and by maintaining marital relationships and removal of the defilement of secret adultery (5.11-31).
                            • b The responsibility for the lay people to consider the opportunity for individual dedication of themselves as Nazirites to Yahweh (6.1-21), putting themselves on a par with the priests from a point of view of consecration to God, although not enabling them to perform priestly functions. By this they could advance the holiness of the camp and contribute to its becoming 'a kingdom of priests' (Exodus 19.6).
                            • c The responsibility for the priests to dispense Yahweh's blessing of His people with His Name (6.22-27) as His holy people thus maintaining the holiness of the camp. One of those blessings was that the light of His face might shine on them as the lampstand shone on the showbread in the Sanctuary
                            • d The responsibility for the princes to provide the gifts and offerings for the maintaining of the holiness of the Sanctuary and for the dedication of the altar (7.1-88) as they registered their submission to the King.

                              Thus it deals respectively with (1) the whole people; (2) the specially dedicated among the people (the Nazirites); (3) the priests who bring the light of His countenance to the people; and (4) those in supreme authority, the princes. These compare in the reverse order in what follows with (1) Moses the supreme authority receiving the voice of Yahweh; (2) Aaron and the priests directing the light of Yahweh; (3) the special dedication of the Levites for the performance of the service of the Sanctuary; and (4) the provision for the whole people in the Passover.

                              ii) Yahweh's Responsibility to the People: The Response of the Sanctuary (7.89-9.14). This deals respectively with Moses (7.89), Aaron and the priests (8.1-4), the Levites (8.5-26) and the people (9.1-14).

                              • d The Voice of Yahweh would speak to Moses from the Mercy Seat (7.89), the King thus making His response to the offerings of the princes.
                              • c The lighting of the lamps by Aaron in the Sanctuary symbolised the light of Yahweh among His people as it shone on the show bread which represented His people. Through the lampstand the light of Yahweh shone permanently on His people in accordance with the priestly blessing (8.1-4 compare 6.25).
                              • b The compulsory dedication of the Levites to the service of Yahweh (8.5-26). This parallels the dedication of the Nazirites among the people for the ensuring of the holiness of the camp.
                              • a The compulsory keeping of the Passover of deliverance by all who were clean (9.1-14). Having cleansed the camp (compare 5.1-7.88) they can enjoy the intimate experience of the Passover, the proof that above all they are Yahweh's chosen people. As their deliverance had begun with the Passover, so would their going forward begin with the Passover, a reminder that Yahweh was continually with them. Note the emphasis on cleanness.

                                The first part can also be analysed in more detail as follows:

                                • a Removal of ritual uncleanness by casting it from the camp (5.1-4).
                                • b Removal of moral uncleanness through the activity of the priests (5.5-10)
                                • c Removal of sexual uncleanness. The woman's hair is let down (5.11-31).
                                • c Seeking of moral and spiritual holiness. The Nazirite has to grow his hair long. Note how the long hair of the woman parallels and contrasts with the long hair of the Nazirite, because they are for a different reason (6.1-21).
                                • b Seeking moral and spiritual welfare through the blessing of the priests (6.22-27)
                                • a Seeking the people's ritual cleanness through the dedication of the altar (7.1-88).

                                  Within these patterns which have just been described come other examples of chiastic formations. Chapter 5 may be analysed briefly as follows:

                                  • a Ritual cleansing of the camp from defilement by uncleanness (5.1-4).
                                  • b Cleansing of the camp from trespasses against Yahweh and against neighbours (5.5-10).
                                  • a Cleansing of the camp from defilement caused by secret adultery (5.11-31).

                                    This then splits further into:

                                    Analysis of 5.1-4.

                                    • a Yahweh commands that the unclean be put out of the camp (5.1-2).
                                    • b Both unclean males and females to be put out of the camp (5.3a).
                                    • b The purpose is that they might not defile the camp where Yahweh dwells (5.3b).
                                    • a The children of Israel put the unclean out of the camp as Yahweh commanded (5.4).

                                      Analysis of 5.5-10.

                                      • a A man or woman sins and commits a trespass against Yahweh. This is a trespass that has defrauded another and is thus a taking from Yahweh (5.5-6).
                                      • b They must confess what they have done and give recompense to the one whom they have defrauded (5.7).
                                      • c If the man or his kinsman is not available then he must recompense it to Yahweh (5.8a).
                                      • c He must offer the ram of atonement whereby atonement is made for him to Yahweh (5.8b).
                                      • b Every offering of holy things brought to the priest is his, (this is the offerer's recompense to Yahweh) (5.9).
                                      • a Every man's 'made holy' thing shall be the priest's, a giving to Yahweh (this is the exact opposite of a trespass which takes from Yahweh) (5.10).

                                        Analysis of 5.11-31.

                                        • A man's wife goes aside and commits adultery secretly (5.11-12).
                                        • b The adultery is hidden from her husband and there is no witness (5.13).
                                        • c The spirit of jealousy comes on the man whether she is defiled or not (5.14).
                                        • d The man brings his wife to the priest with an offering of memorial (5.15).
                                        • e The woman brought near and the priest makes the water of testing (5.16-17).
                                        • f The woman is made to stand before Yahweh as prepared by the priest (5.18).
                                        • g The priest charges her with an oath to speak truly (5.19-20).
                                        • g The priest charges the woman with an oath of cursing (5.21-22).
                                        • f The woman is made to drink the water of testing before Yahweh (5.23-24).
                                        • e The priest takes the jealousy offering from the hand of the woman (5.25).
                                        • d The priest bring the man's offering of memorial before Yahweh and makes her drink the water (5.26).
                                        • c If the woman is defiled her body will swell and she shall be a curse (5.27).
                                        • b If she is innocent she will be revealed as clean and shall be free of blame for hidden adultery (5.28).
                                        • a This is the law of jealousy for when a woman goes aside and commits adultery, or is suspected of it, freeing her husband from any guilt in regard to it (5.29-31).

                                          Chapter 6 with respect to the Nazirite analyses as follows:

                                          • a The Nazirite's decision to make a vow (6.2).
                                          • b Abstinence from wine (6.3-4).
                                          • c The hair not to be cut (6.5).
                                          • d The taint of death to be avoided (6.6-8).
                                          • e Sacrifices to be offered if he sins for the dead (6.9-11).
                                          • f Consecration of the days of his separation (6.12).
                                          • f Fulfilment of the days of his separation (6.13).
                                          • e Sacrifices to be offered for his sins and dedication (6.14-15).
                                          • d The death of these victims to be brought about (6.16-17).
                                          • c The shaving of the head of the Nazirite (6.18-19).
                                          • b The Nazirite to drink wine (6.20).
                                          • a The law concerning the decision to make a vow (6.21).

                                            Analysis of 6.22-27.

                                            • a How Aaron is to bless the children of Israel (6.22-23).
                                            • b Yahweh to bless and keep them (something done to them) (6.24).
                                            • c Yahweh to make His face shine on them and be gracious to them (Yahweh's attitude to be shown towards them) (6.25).
                                            • b Yahweh to lift up His countenance on them and give them peace (something done to them) (6.26).
                                            • a Thus will Yahweh put His name on and bless the children of Israel (6.27).

                                              Note in this chiasmus that it is the central point emphasised in it that is paralleled in 8.1-4.

                                              Analysis of 7.1-88.

                                              • a Moses sets up the Dwellingplace with all its accoutrements and anoints and sanctifies them (7.1)
                                              • b The princes bring their offering of wagons to Yahweh (as an act of dedication of the Sanctuary) (7.2-3).
                                              • c The wagons are given to the Levites for the bearing of the Dwellinplace (7.4-9).
                                              • d Detailed description of the offerings of the twelve princes for the Sanctuary and the altar (7.12-83).
                                              • c The silver and golden instruments offered for the dedication of the altar (7.84-86).
                                              • b The offerings of animals brought to Yahweh for the dedication of the altar (7.87-88).
                                              • a Yahweh speaks to Moses from the Mercy Seat in the Dwellingplace (7.89).

                                                The Light from The Lampstand (8.1-4).

                                                Analysis of 8.1-4.

                                                • a The lamps on the lampstand were to be lit in order to give light in front of the lampstand in accordance with Yahweh's command (8.1-2).
                                                • b Aaron did this. He did exactly as Yahweh commanded Moses. He lighted the lamps to give light in front of the lampstand (8.3).
                                                • a The description of the lampstand which was made in accordance with the pattern shown in the Mount (8.4).

                                                  The Dedication of the Levites (8.5-26).

                                                  The Levites were to stand in for the firstborn sons of Israel for the purpose of generally looking after Yahweh's Dwellingplace. They were to be totally dedicated to Yahweh. Their careful preparation was a further reminder that Yahweh, and His holy things necessary for their approach to Yahweh, could not be dealt with lightly.

                                                  Analysis of 8.5-22.

                                                  • a The command to take and cleanse the Levites (8.5-6).
                                                  • b The purifying, washing and preparation for the making of atonement (8.7-8).
                                                  • c The whole congregation assembled to do the will of Yahweh (8.9)
                                                  • d Presentation of the Levites before Yahweh at the Tent of meeting and offered as a waveoffering, with threefold repetition to stress the completeness of the offering (8.10-15).
                                                  • e The Levites wholly given to Yahweh instead of the firstborn (8.16).
                                                  • f All the firstborn were Yahweh's because He delivered them at the Passover (8.17).
                                                  • e The Levites taken instead of all the firstborn (8.18).
                                                  • d The Levites given as a gift to Aaron, Yahweh's representative, to do the service of the Tent of meeting (8.19).
                                                  • c All the congregation do the will of Yahweh (8.20).
                                                  • b The purifying, washing and making of atonement (8.21).
                                                  • a Yahweh's command obeyed (8.22).

                                                    Central to the pattern is the fact that the firstborn belonged to Yahweh because of the deliverance from Egypt, and around that is built the fact that the Levites are being taken as substitutes and prepared accordingly. Added as a kind of postscript is the information concerning the ages of commencement and retirement.

                                                    The Major Period of Service of the Levites (8.23-26).

                                                    • a From twenty five and upwards the Levites to 'war the warfare' in the work of the Tent of meeting (8.23-24).
                                                    • b At the age of fifty they cease to work and serve no more (8.25).
                                                    • a The retired to minister with their brethren in the Tent of meeting to guard and protect it but serve no more (8.26).

                                                      The Observance of The Passover (9.1-14).

                                                      The observance of the Passover was the annual rededication of all the people of Israel and a recognition of their part in the great deliverance from Egypt. Having been made clean they were reminded through it that they were Yahweh's delivered people and under His protection.

                                                      The passage follows the usual chiastic pattern.

                                                      • a The Passover must be kept at its appointed time (9.1-2).
                                                      • b The Passover is to be kept according to all the statutes and ordinance (9.3).
                                                      • c The Passover was kept in the wilderness as commanded (9.4-5).
                                                      • d The approach of those who were unclean for the dead and could not eat the Passover (9.6-7).
                                                      • e Moses asks them to wait while he discovers Yahweh's will (9.8).
                                                      • e Yahweh speaks to Moses His will (9.9).
                                                      • d Yahweh speaks concerning those who were unclean and could not eat the Passover (9.10a).
                                                      • c They shall keep the Passover of Yahweh (9.10b).
                                                      • b The Passover was to be kept as laid down (9.11-12).
                                                      • a The Passover must be kept at its appointed time (9.13-14).

                                                        3). Guidance In Respect of Going Forward (9.15-10.10).

                                                        All having been provided for the necessary means of guidance are provided.

                                                        • a The cloud/fire rests on the tabernacle (9.15-16).
                                                        • b Movement forward regulated by the cloud (9.17-23).
                                                        • b Responses to be determined by the blowing of the silver trumpets (10.1-8).
                                                        • a The blowing of the silver trumpets as a memorial before Yahweh once they have rest in the land (10.9-10)

                                                          B. THE JOURNEY FROM SINAI TO KADESH (10.11-12.15).

                                                          This section comprises of:

                                                          • a The setting forward from Sinai and the order of the march (10.11-33).
                                                          • b The people complain and are smitten, Moses intervenes (11.1-3)
                                                          • c Murmuring for meat instead of manna (11.4-15).
                                                          • d Appointment of the seventy elders (11.16-24).
                                                          • d Enduing of the seventy elders (11.25-30)
                                                          • c The provision of meat instead of manna in the form of quails (11.31-35).
                                                          • b Personal complaint about Moses by Aaron and Miriam, Miriam is smitten, Moses intervenes (12.1-15).
                                                          • a Journeying forward and arrival at the Wilderness of Paran (12.16)

                                                            But within this pattern are three clearly distinguished chiastic patterns, (with two smaller patterns which are dealt with in the commentary), the second of which is so conclusive that it cannot reasonably be denied.

                                                            The first section divides up chiastically as follow:

                                                            • a The 'setting forth' of the children of Israel on their journeys (10.11-13).
                                                            • b The troops who are in the van (10.14-16).
                                                            • c The Levites bearing the Dwellingplace (10.17).
                                                            • d The troops who are in the centre (10.18-20).
                                                            • c The Levites bearing the holy things (10.21).
                                                            • b The troops who are in the rear (10.22-27).
                                                            • a The 'setting forth' of the children of Israel (10.28).

                                                              The second section divides up as follows:

                                                              • a The people murmur against Yahweh (11.1a).
                                                              • b The anger of Yahweh is kindled and He smites them with judgment (11.1b-3)
                                                              • c The rabble commence lusting and the people crave for the pleasures of Egypt which causes them to sin (11.4-6).
                                                              • d The people had gathered the manna (11.7-8).
                                                              • e The manna had fallen from heaven (11.9).
                                                              • f Moses was disturbed at the people and receives a reply (11.10-15).
                                                              • g The Spirit will come on the seventy elders (11.16-17).
                                                              • h The people will eat the flesh they craved (when they should have been craving spirit) (11.18a).
                                                              • i The people's craving for flesh makes them declare, 'It was well with us in Egypt' (11.18).
                                                              • i They will be satiated with flesh because they said, 'Why came we forth out of Egypt?' (11.19-20).
                                                              • h Moses puzzled how Yahweh can provide the flesh the people crave, but they will eat it (11.21-23a).
                                                              • g The Spirit comes on the seventy elders (11.24-26).
                                                              • f Joshua was disturbed at the two elders and receives a reply (11.27-30).
                                                              • e The quails fall from heaven (11.31).
                                                              • d The people gather the quails (11.32a).
                                                              • c The people's craving for the quails causes them to sin (11.32b).
                                                              • b Yahweh's anger is kindled and the plague comes from Yahweh so that the people are smitten (11.33).
                                                              • a The malcontents and lusters are buried in the Graves of craving (11.34).

                                                                The third section divides up as follows:

                                                                • a They journey from Kibroth-hattaavah to Hazeroth (11.35).
                                                                • b Miriam and Aaron turn against Moses (Miriam named first) (12.1-2).
                                                                • c Moses is the meekest man on earth (12.3).
                                                                • d Yahweh speaks to Moses, Aaron and Miriam and calls them into His presence (12.4).
                                                                • e The cloud comes down to the door of the Dwellingplace (12.5).
                                                                • f Yahweh's definition of a prophet (12.6).
                                                                • f Yahweh's declaration about Moses (12.7-8).
                                                                • e The cloud departs from the Dwellingplace leaving Miriam leprous (12.9-10).
                                                                • d Aaron pleads with Moses to go into Yahweh's presence on Aaron and Miriam's behalf (12.11-13).
                                                                • c Miriam is as one whose father spits in their face (12.14).
                                                                • b Miriam is cast out of the camp for seven days (12.15).
                                                                • a They journey from Hazeroth to the wilderness of Paran (12.16).

                                                                  C. THE SPYING OUT OF THE LAND AND THE REFUSAL TO GO FORWARD FOLLOWED BY REJECTION AND DISASTER (13-14).

                                                                  Following the arrival in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh, the tribes settled down while the land ahead could be spied out. This section consists of:

                                                                  • a The spying out of the land (13.1-25).
                                                                  • b The scouts report on what lies ahead (13.26-33).
                                                                  • c The people's response (14.1-10).
                                                                  • d The anger of Yahweh (14.11-12).
                                                                  • d The intercession of Moses (14.13-25).
                                                                  • c Yahweh's response (14.26-38).
                                                                  • b The people report on their plans (14.39-43)
                                                                  • a The catastrophic aftermath in the land (14.44-45)

                                                                    This is then divided up as follows:

                                                                    1). The Sending Out of the Scouts (13.1-16).

                                                                    The first section from 1-16 basically covers the sending out of the scouts:

                                                                    • a Yahweh's command to send out men to spy out the land (13.1-2a).
                                                                    • b The spies to be sent out one for each tribe (13.2b).
                                                                    • c Moses at Yahweh's command sends out spies (13.3).
                                                                    • b The names of those sent, one for each tribe (13.4-15).
                                                                    • a These are the names of those sent out to spy out the land (13.16).

                                                                      2). The Activity and Return of the Scouts (13.17-25).

                                                                      The scouts then went out in accordance with Moses' command, investigated the land and returned. This can be outlined as follows:

                                                                      • a The scouts sent out to spy the land (13.17).
                                                                      • b The land to be thoroughly investigated for its goodness (13.18-20a).
                                                                      • c It was the time of firstripe grapes (13.20b).
                                                                      • d They search the land up to Rehob and Labo of Hamath (13.21).
                                                                      • d They ascend by the South and come to Hebron (13.22).
                                                                      • c At Eshcol they cut down grapes, pomegranates and figs (13.23).
                                                                      • b The goodness of the land revealed in its being called Eshcol because of the wonderful grapes (13.24).
                                                                      • a They returned from spying after forty days (13.25).

                                                                        3). The Scouts Report Back (13.26--14.1).

                                                                        Once the scouts arrived back they immediately reported to Moses. What resulted can be summarised as follows:

                                                                        • a The scouts report back to Moses, Aaron and 'all the congregation' (13.26)
                                                                        • b The scouts describe the land and the awesome sons of Anak (13.27-29).
                                                                        • c Caleb stills the people (13.30a)
                                                                        • c Caleb says, 'let us go forward' (13.30b).
                                                                        • b The scouts report evil of the land and the awesome sons of Anak (13.31-33).
                                                                        • a 'All the congregation' lift up their voice and cry and weep (14.1).

                                                                          4). The People Murmur Against Moses And Are Spared At His Intercession (14.2-25).

                                                                          • a The people murmur against Moses and long to return to Egypt and decide to choose a leader to take them back to Egypt (14.2-4).
                                                                          • b Moses and Aaron fall on their faces before the assembly (14.5).
                                                                          • c Joshua and Caleb extol the good of the land (14.6-9).
                                                                          • d The congregation commands to stone them with stones (14.10a).
                                                                          • d The glory of Yahweh appears among the congregation (14.10b)
                                                                          • c He determines to disinherit them from the good land and destroy them (14.10b-12).
                                                                          • b Moses pleads with Yahweh on behalf of the people (14.13-19).
                                                                          • a Yahweh pardons the people, describes what He had done in Egypt and, swearing that they will not see the land, sends them back on the way to the Reed Sea (14.20-25).

                                                                            5). Yahweh Confirms The Future of the Current Generation of Israelites And How Their Children Must Suffer With Them (14.26-35).

                                                                            Yahweh came to Moses again and detailed out the position He was now taking up.

                                                                            • a Because of their murmuring the children of Israel will die in the wilderness (14.26-30).
                                                                            • b Their little ones will be brought in and know the land (14.32).
                                                                            • b But first they will wander in the wilderness for forty years for the sake of their fathers' behaviour (14.33-34).
                                                                            • a The evil congregation will die in the wilderness (14.35).

                                                                              6). The Aftermath (14.36-45).

                                                                              A number of things followed on Yahweh's words.

                                                                              • a The men who brought the evil report died, while Joshua and Caleb lived (14.36-38).
                                                                              • b Moses told the children of Israel of what Yahweh had said and they mourned greatly (14.39)
                                                                              • b The people declared that they would go forward after all but Moses told them not to go up, for Yahweh would not be among them (14.40-43).
                                                                              • a Those who listened to the evil report yet still went forward were smitten down and driven out of the land (14.41-45).

                                                                                This is then followed by:

                                                                                D. SUBSEQUENT RESTORATION AND HOPE: YAHWEH'S PROVISION FOR HIS ERRING PEOPLE (15-19).

                                                                                In this section, which covers the period of the 'penal' wandering in the wilderness subsequent to expulsion from the land of Canaan by the Amorites, Yahweh's provision for Israel's dealings with Him are laid bare. They have been subjected to discipline and chastening, but not to rejection, and this is made apparent by the provisions that follow. The people of the first generation are thrust aside as provision is made for the new generation.

                                                                                • a Firstly provision is made for their walk before Him as His people, once they are in the land, through offerings and sacrifices and the wearing of clothing marking them off as members of the covenant (15).
                                                                                • b Then is confirmed the provision of an authenticated priesthood, demonstrated by the attempted coup of Korah and the rod that budded (16-17).
                                                                                • b Then is confirmed the provision of the Levites to serve the Sanctuary with their presence in the land very much in mind (18).
                                                                                • a Then comes the provision of 'water of uncleanness' for cleansing from contact with death so that they might walk before Him (19).

                                                                                  Involved in this provision is a description of rebellion against the duly appointed priesthood and an attempted coup against the leadership, and how Yahweh dealt with both, again presented chiastically. However apart from this nothing of Israel's experiences in the wilderness during that time is described. The thirty eight years are otherwise blotted out. As far as God's purposes were concerned it was lost time, except as a preparation for the future.

                                                                                  The ritual situation described is basically laying out the parameters for the future, because in spite of their failure the future was yet Israel's, although belonging to their sons.

                                                                                  Provisions For Israel's Dealings with Yahweh.

                                                                                  These can be divided into four sections:

                                                                                  1). Marking Israel as His and Calling for a Commitment To Keep His Commandments (chapter 15).

                                                                                  This is accomplished by:

                                                                                  • a Offerings to Yahweh - a commitment to keeping His commandments (15.1-21).
                                                                                  • b Dealing with unwitting sin (15.22-31).
                                                                                  • b Dealing with presumptuous sin (15.32-36).
                                                                                  • a Wearing tassels on the fringes of their garments - a commitment to keeping His commandments (15.37-41).

                                                                                    2). The Service of The Priests (Answering the Question Who Has The Right To Approach Yahweh).

                                                                                    This can be looked at from two angles,
                                                                                    (a). Who has the right to offer incense fire to Yahweh?
                                                                                    (b). Who has the right to enter the Sanctuary?

                                                                                    (a). Who Has The Right To Offer Incense Fire Before Yahweh? (chapter 16)

                                                                                    This is evidenced by the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and its aftermath (chapter 16). As well as dealing with the question as to who has the right to offer incense before Yahweh we have here a further example of presumptuous sin and the cutting off of those involved, thus directly connecting with chapter 15. It is divided into two:

                                                                                    i). The Competition between Aaron and the followers of Korah (16.1-21).

                                                                                    • a Korah and his followers dispute the positions of Moses and Aaron as those uniquely approved of Yahweh (16.1-3).
                                                                                    • b The Challenge of the Censers, that they burn incense before Yahweh (16.4-7).
                                                                                    • c Moses Charge against Korah and his band of Levites that they seek to go beyond their status over against Aaron (16.8-11).
                                                                                    • d Korah's Reubenite followers refuse to respond to Moses' plea to them (16.12-14).
                                                                                    • d Moses prays that Yahweh will refute them (16.15).
                                                                                    • c Moses calls on Korah and his band of Levites to respond to his challenge and test their status in contrast with Aaron (16.16-17).
                                                                                    • b All carry out the Challenge of the Censers and burn incense at the door of the Tent of meeting, and in the presence of the congregation (16.18-19).
                                                                                    • a Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the congregation of Israel as those uniquely approved of Yahweh (16.20-21).

                                                                                      ii). God's Judgment on Korah, Dathan and Abiram, and the People (16.22-50).

                                                                                      • a Moses and Aaron pray that Yahweh will spare the congregation of Israel (16.22)
                                                                                      • b Yahweh threatens the people and commands them to depart from Korah, Dathan and Abiram (16.23-27)
                                                                                      • c The Pit swallows up Dathan and Abiram and their fellow rebels (16.28-34).
                                                                                      • d Fire consumes the offerers of the incense, Korah and his band of Levites (16.35).
                                                                                      • d The metal of the false censers of those sinners to be used to cover the altar as a testimony against false offerers of incense (16.36-40).
                                                                                      • c The congregation blame Moses and Aaron for killing the people of Yahweh (16.41-43)
                                                                                      • b Yahweh reveals His wrath on the people (16.44-45)
                                                                                      • a At Moses' word Aaron stays the plague by offering incense on his censer (16.46-50)

                                                                                        (b). Who Has The Right To Enter The Sanctuary? - Issues of Life and Death Evidenced By The Rod That Budded (chapter 17).

                                                                                        Here those with the right to enter the Sanctuary are determined once and for all as the sons of Aaron.

                                                                                        • a Yahweh commands each tribe to lay a rod before Him in the Tent of Testimony one for each head of their father's house (17.1-3).
                                                                                        • b The rods to be laid up in the Tent of meeting before the Testimony (17.4).
                                                                                        • c The rod of the chosen one will bud and murmuring will cease (17.5).
                                                                                        • d All the chieftains give rods including Aaron (17.6).
                                                                                        • d The chieftains' rods are placed in the Tent of Testimony (17.6-7).
                                                                                        • c Aaron's Rod buds and flowers in the Tent of Testimony, and the budded and unbudded rods are revealed to all the people who look on them (so that murmuring will cease) (17.8-9).
                                                                                        • b Aaron's rod is laid up 'before the Testimony' (17.10)
                                                                                        • a The people recognise that none but Aaron's house may enter the Tabernacle for they alone can enter the Sanctuary and live, and the rod which is evidence for the fact is laid up before the Testimony (17.12-13).

                                                                                          3). The Service of the Levites (chapter 18).

                                                                                          The priesthood being finally vindicated, the service of the Levites is then dealt with. They will live among the people and make His ways known to them.

                                                                                          • a Aaron and his sons to be before the Tent of the Testimony and the Levites to have the charge of the Tent (18.1-3)
                                                                                          • b The Priests to have the charge of the Sanctuary and the altar (18.4-7)
                                                                                          • c Provision for the Priests - the heave offerings and the firstfruits are their inheritance (18.8-20).
                                                                                          • c Provision for the Levites - the tithes are their inheritance (18.21-24).
                                                                                          • b The Priests to receive a tithe of the tithes for their service at the Sanctuary and the altar (18.25-29)
                                                                                          • a The Levites to receive the remainder of the tithes to eat 'in every place' (18.30-32).

                                                                                            These inner sections are themselves dealt with chiastically.

                                                                                            18.1-7 analysis.

                                                                                            • a The priests to bear the iniquity of the Sanctuary and the priesthood (18.1).
                                                                                            • b The Levites brought near to be their servants and to keep the charge of the Tent (18.2a).
                                                                                            • c The priests to be before the Tent of the testimony (18.2b).
                                                                                            • d The Levites to keep the charge of all the Tent (18.3a).
                                                                                            • e The Levites not to come near to the vessels of the Sanctuary and the altar (18.3b).
                                                                                            • d The Levites to keep the charge of the Tent of meeting, for all the service of the Tent. No stranger to come near (18.4).
                                                                                            • c The priests to keep the charge of the sanctuary and the altar (18.5).
                                                                                            • b The Levites are a gift to the priests to do service at the Tent of meeting (18.6).
                                                                                            • a The priesthood reserved entirely for the priests (18.7). No stranger to come near.

                                                                                              Note the repetition in the second half of 'no stranger to come near'. This interesting phenomenon of repetition in the last half of a chiasmus is also found in 18.23,24 and in Exodus 18.21, 22 and 25, 26.

                                                                                              18.8-20 analysis.

                                                                                              • a The holy things are given to Aaron and his sons (18.8-10).
                                                                                              • b The contribution/heave-offerings to be for their whole families (18.11).
                                                                                              • c The firstfruits of grain, oil and vintage to be for the priests and shared by their households (18.12-13).
                                                                                              • d Everything 'devoted' in Israel to be the priests (18.14).
                                                                                              • c The firstfruits among living creatures to be for the priests (18.15-18).
                                                                                              • b The contribution/heave-offerings to be for their whole families (18.19).
                                                                                              • a Yahweh Himself (the Most Holy) is the priests' portion and inheritance (18.20).

                                                                                                18.21-24 analysis.

                                                                                                • a The tithe of Israel to be the Levites' inheritance in return for their service (18.21).
                                                                                                • b The children of Israel not to come near to the Tent of meeting from now on lest they bear sin (18.22)
                                                                                                • b The Levites are to do service in the Tent of meeting, and bear their iniquity (18.23). Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
                                                                                                • a The tithe is to be their inheritance. Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance (18 24).

                                                                                                  Note within the chiastic order the 'out of harmony' double reference to 'among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance'. This parallels the same feature earlier with regard to 'no stranger coming near' in 18.4, 7; (see also Exodus 18. 21- 22, 25-26) and is clearly intended in emphasis.

                                                                                                  18.25-32 analysis.

                                                                                                  • a The Levites to set aside a tithe of their tithe for the priests (18.25-26)
                                                                                                  • b The contribution to be reckoned as though it were the corn of the threshing-floor and the fullness of the winepress as provided by the Levites (18.27).
                                                                                                  • c The contribution to be offered to Yahweh and given to Aaron the priest (18.28).
                                                                                                  • c The contribution offered to Yahweh to be from the best, the most hallowed parts (18.29).
                                                                                                  • b The remainder to be accounted to the Levites as the increase of the threshing-floor and the increase of the winepress (18.30).
                                                                                                  • a Once they have tithed it the Levites may eat their own tithe in every place which is clean (18.31-32).

                                                                                                    4). The Water of Uncleanness - Provision for Israel's Dealings With Yahweh and Removal Of Uncleanness (chapter 19).

                                                                                                    This is describing 'the water for uncleanness', the water sprinkled with the ashes of a heifer for the removal of uncleanness, the means of keeping Israel free from the taint of death (and sin - 8.7) and able to have dealings with Yahweh.

                                                                                                    • a The perpetual statute of the slaughter of the red heifer and storing of the ashes (19.1-10).
                                                                                                    • b The application of the ashes on those who have touched the dead to make them clean (19.11-12).
                                                                                                    • c Judgment on those who refuse the use of the ashes (19.13).
                                                                                                    • d The description of what is unclean (19.14-16).
                                                                                                    • d The application of the ashes to the unclean through the 'water of uncleanness' (19.17-19).
                                                                                                    • c Judgment on the one who refuses to be cleansed (19.20a).
                                                                                                    • b Those who have not had the ashes applied to them and on whom the water of uncleanness has not been sprinkled are still unclean (19.20b).
                                                                                                    • a All this is stated to be a perpetual statute. Those who touch the water of uncleanness, containing the ashes applied to the one who has touched the dead, are to purify themselves and all who have touched the unclean person to be unclean until the evening (19.21-22).

                                                                                                      Verses 1-10 can be analysed further into:

                                                                                                      The Slaughter of the Red Heifer and Storing of the Ashes (19.1-10).

                                                                                                      Firstly the procedures for the slaughter of the red heifer and the preparation of the ashes from which the water of uncleanness could be made, are described.

                                                                                                      Analysis.

                                                                                                      • a The red heifer to be selected, free from blemish and never yoked (19.1-2).
                                                                                                      • b The red heifer to be brought outside the camp by Eleazar and slain before him (19.3).
                                                                                                      • c Eleazar to apply the blood of the red heifer by sprinkling towards the front of the Tent of meeting seven times (19.4).
                                                                                                      • d The remains of the heifer to be totally burnt before his eyes (19.5).
                                                                                                      • c Eleazar to cast the cedar wood, hyssop and scarlet into the burning remains of the heifer (19.6).
                                                                                                      • b Eleazar to wash his clothes and bathe and return to camp and to be unclean until the evening (19.7).
                                                                                                      • a The one who burns the heifer to wash his clothes and bathe and to be unclean until the evening, and the one who gathers the purifying ashes to store them outside the camp and then cleanse himself (19.10)

                                                                                                        Verses 21-22 can be split into:

                                                                                                        • The one who sprinkles the water shall wash his clothes (21b).
                                                                                                        • The one who touches the water will be unclean until the evening (21c).
                                                                                                        • Whatever the unclean person touches shall be unclean (22a).
                                                                                                        • Whoever touches it will be unclean until the evening (22b).

                                                                                                          E FROM KADESH TO THE PLAINS OF MOAB (20-25).

                                                                                                          Provision for the maintenance of the holiness of Israel having been made, the move forward towards the promised land can once again commence. There now follow a series of historical events which bring Israel to the plains of Moab. History has become important again because Yahweh's purposes are now going forward.

                                                                                                          These are split into two sections. The first section deals with the turning point in the death of Aaron and appointment of a new High Priest (for the importance of this latter compare 34.25, 28). The second with victory in the Wars of Yahweh including the Battle with Balaam.

                                                                                                          (I). The Turning Point of the Death of Aaron and the Change in the High Priesthood (20-21).

                                                                                                          This section commences with shortage of water and terrible thirst, with abundance of water provided (20.1-13), and ends with even greater abundance of water (21.11-20), with the death of Aaron and appointment of Eleazar coming between (20.22-29). It is not just a coincidence that in Deuteronomy 10.6-7, when referring to the death of Aaron and appointment of Eleazar in his place, Moses in the same way preceded the incident with being at the springs of the sons of Yaakan, leading on to Moserah (chastisement), and followed it with arrival at Yotbathah, a land of 'brooks of water'. In both cases his aim is to bring out that through this change of High Priest, which was no doubt filled the people with foreboding, God was going to bring even greater blessing. It was symbolic of the renewal of the whole people as the wilderness generation died out.

                                                                                                          We may see this whole section as follows:

                                                                                                          • a The people suffer dire shortage of water (20.1-2a).
                                                                                                          • b The people grumble at lack of water and are sent deliverance by the water from the rock at Meribah, which causes the sin of Aaron and Moses (20.2b-13).
                                                                                                          • c Edom seek to block Israel's way forward (20.14-21).
                                                                                                          • d Aaron climbs Mount Hor to his death and is replaced by Eleazar (20.22-29).
                                                                                                          • c The king of Arad seeks to block Israel's way forward (21.1-3).
                                                                                                          • b The people grumble at lack of food and water and are sent fiery serpents followed by deliverance by the brazen serpent (21.4-9).
                                                                                                          • a Yahweh provides abundance of water (21.10-20).

                                                                                                            The subdivisions all follow the same pattern.

                                                                                                            1). The Waters of Meribah (20.1-13).

                                                                                                            The first incident occurs through lack of water (20.1-13). Shortage of water had been a continuing problem throughout the wilderness journey and it raises its head seemingly for the last time.

                                                                                                            Analysis.

                                                                                                            • a 'The children of Israel' come into the wilderness of Zin and dwell in Kadesh (qdsh) (20.1a).
                                                                                                            • b Miriam (mrym) dies there and the people strive (ryb) with Moses and Aaron for lack of water (20.1-3).
                                                                                                            • c The people complain because they are excluded from the pleasures of Egypt and Moses and Aaron intercede before Yahweh (20.4-6).
                                                                                                            • d Yahweh promises water from a rock at the voice of command (20.7-8).
                                                                                                            • d Water gushes out when Moses strikes the rock in anger (20.9-11)
                                                                                                            • c Yahweh complains at Moses and Aaron because they have not sanctified Him in the eyes of Israel and He punishes them by exclusion from the land (20.12).
                                                                                                            • b The place is called the waters of Meribah (mrybh) because water is provided in the face of the people's striving (ryb) (20.13a).
                                                                                                            • a 'The children of Israel' strove (ryb) there with Yahweh and He was sanctified (yqdsh) in them (20.13b).

                                                                                                              2). The Appeal to Edom (20.14-21).

                                                                                                              The incident at Meribah is followed by an appeal to Edom to be allowed right of passage to use the King's Highway through their territory, which is refused. They have to skirt the territory and are not allowed through, but must not war with their brother tribe (this principle is later emphasised in Deuteronomy 2).

                                                                                                              • a The request to be allowed through peaceably (20.14-17).
                                                                                                              • b Edom's refusal and threat (20.18).
                                                                                                              • c Terms of passage laid out (20.19).
                                                                                                              • b Edom still refuses and make clear their threat (20.20).
                                                                                                              • a The request being refused and Israel turn away peaceably (20.21).

                                                                                                                3). The Death of Aaron (20.22-29).

                                                                                                                As a result of his sins over the Cushite wife of Moses (12.11) and at Meribah (20.12) Aaron is to die and be replaced by his son. It is noteworthy that he dies on a mountain. Such a deliberate death must not take place in the holy Sanctuary or the holy camp, but must take place honourably in a clean place near to heaven (The same will be true of Moses - 27.12-13; Deuteronomy 32.48-52; 34).

                                                                                                                • a Aaron to die and not to enter the land (20.22-24).
                                                                                                                • b Aaron to be stripped of his garments on Mount Hor and Eliezer, his son, appointed (20.25-26).
                                                                                                                • c Moses obeys Yahweh's command and ascends with them into Mount Hor in the sight of the people (20.27)
                                                                                                                • b Aaron is stripped of his garments and Eliezer, his son, appointed (20.28).
                                                                                                                • a Aaron seen to be dead and mourned for (20.29)

                                                                                                                  4). The Canaanites under Arad Defeated (21.1-3).

                                                                                                                  The second attempt to obtain for Israel the right of passage now follows, but this time it is followed by glorious victory, for it is the firstfruits of the destruction of the Canaanites.

                                                                                                                  • a Arad learns through scouts of Israel's approach and defeats them and takes prisoners (21.1).
                                                                                                                  • b Israel vows that if they can defeat them they will devote them to Yahweh (21.2).
                                                                                                                  • a Arad in turn is defeated and totally destroyed and the place is called Hormah - 'devoted' (21.3).

                                                                                                                    5). The Brazen Serpent (21.4-10).

                                                                                                                    As a result of further people dissatisfaction Yahweh teaches them a further lesson.

                                                                                                                    • a The people journey by Edom (4).
                                                                                                                    • b The people murmur against God and against Moses (5).
                                                                                                                    • c Yahweh sends 'fiery serpents' among them (6).
                                                                                                                    • d The people ask Moses to plead for forgiveness for them (7a).
                                                                                                                    • d Moses pleads for forgiveness for the people (7b).
                                                                                                                    • c Yahweh says that 'a fiery serpent' is to be set up on a pole so that he who looks may live (8).
                                                                                                                    • b The brazen serpent is set up and the people who turn from their murmuring to God and look to it live (9).
                                                                                                                    • a The people journey to Oboth (10)

                                                                                                                      6). Journey from Oboth to the Pisgah Looking Towards Jeshimon (21.11-20).

                                                                                                                      • a The people journey to the southern border of Moab - the Valley of the Zered - and then pass on to their northern border, 'on the other side of the Arnon' (21.10-13), into 'the wilderness'.
                                                                                                                      • b A song from the Wars of Yahweh referring to water at Arnon (21.14-15)
                                                                                                                      • c The people come to the well where Yahweh promises water (21.16)
                                                                                                                      • b A song of the well as water is obtained (21.17-18a)
                                                                                                                      • a The people journey from 'the wilderness' to the Pisgah - north of Moab - with the land in sight from the Pisgah (21.18b-20).

                                                                                                                        (II). Victory In The Wars of Yahweh (21.21-25.18).

                                                                                                                        Having tasted victory against the king of Arad Yahweh now provides them with more victories. These are as follows:

                                                                                                                        • a The defeat of Sihon king of the Amorites in the land of the Moabites and they dwell there (21.21-31).
                                                                                                                        • b The defeat of Og, king of Bashan, who comes from the north, by their armies, and they possess his land (21.32-35).
                                                                                                                        • c The people finally arrive at the plains of Moab and pitch their tents there (21.31-22.1).
                                                                                                                        • b The defeat of the evil influence of Balaam brought from the north by the Moabites (22.2-24.25).
                                                                                                                        • a The defeat of the evil influence of Moab and Midian in the land of the Moabites (25).

                                                                                                                          These can be further divided as follows:

                                                                                                                          1). Battles with the Amorites (21.21-35).

                                                                                                                          i). The Defeat of Sihon, King of the Amorites (21.23-31).

                                                                                                                          • a Plea to Sihon to be allowed to pass through the land of the Amorites (21-22).
                                                                                                                          • b Sihon refuses and belligerently faces up to Israel (21.23).
                                                                                                                          • c Sihon is defeated and his land possessed up to the borders of Ammon (21.24).
                                                                                                                          • c The cities of Sihon which were once Moab's are possessed (21.25).
                                                                                                                          • b Sihon's belligerency against Moab (the song of Heshbon) (21.26-29).
                                                                                                                          • a Israel taunt Sidon and settle in the land of the Amorites (21.30-31).

                                                                                                                            ii). The Defeat of Og, King of Bashan (21.32-35).

                                                                                                                            • a Moses spies out Jazer (21.32a).
                                                                                                                            • b He defeats the Amorites there and captures their cities (21.32b).
                                                                                                                            • c Og, king of Bashan, comes out to face up to Israel (21.33).
                                                                                                                            • c Yahweh assures Moses of victory (21.34).
                                                                                                                            • b He defeats Og and they possess his land (21.35)
                                                                                                                            • a They journey to the plains of Moab (22.1).

                                                                                                                              2). Battles Against Evil Influence.

                                                                                                                              i). The Defeat of the Evil Influence of Balaam (22.2-24.25).

                                                                                                                              This can be summarised in terms of:

                                                                                                                              • a Balak's First Entreaty To Balaam (22.2-14).
                                                                                                                              • Yahweh's Threefold Dealing With Balaam Through His Ass (22.15-40).
                                                                                                                              • Balaam's Threefold Dealing With Yahweh Through Sevenfold Sacrifices (22.41-24.12).
                                                                                                                              • Balaam's Final Response to Balak By Prophecies Concerning The Future (24.13-25).

                                                                                                                                This now divides up into:

                                                                                                                                Balak's First Entreaty to Balaam (22.2-14).

                                                                                                                                • a Balak, king of Moab, is afraid of the children of Israel and fears that they will spoil Moab (22.2-4)
                                                                                                                                • b He sends messengers to Balaam describing 'the people who have come from Egypt' (22.5)
                                                                                                                                • c He calls for him to come and curse Israel and drive them from the land (22.6)
                                                                                                                                • d The elders leave with rewards in their hand to persuade Balaam to curse Israel (22.7)
                                                                                                                                • e Balaam tells them to wait while he obtains a word from Yahweh. (22.8)
                                                                                                                                • e The word of God comes to Balaam, 'What men are these? (22.9)
                                                                                                                                • d Balaam says that Balak sent them, and wanted Israel cursed (22.10-11)
                                                                                                                                • c God tells him not to go and not to curse Israel (22.12)
                                                                                                                                • b Balaam tells the messengers to return home (22.13)
                                                                                                                                • a The noble messengers return. Balaam will not come. (22.14)

                                                                                                                                  Balak's Second Entreaty to Balaam - The Threefold Activity of Balaam's Ass (22.15-40).

                                                                                                                                  Analysis.

                                                                                                                                  Note the threefold consecutive pattern in the middle which is also repeated in the next series. There could have been no more emphatic way than this to indicate that Balaam was behaving like his ass when he three times sought to use his powers against Israel. To retain the perfect chiastic pattern the threefold activity g h, g h, g h could be treated as one, as one large g. The threefoldness is inserted for the purposes of emphasis and in order to indicate completeness.

                                                                                                                                  • a Chieftains are sent from Balak (22.15).
                                                                                                                                  • b They bring Balak's word to Balaam (22.16).
                                                                                                                                  • c He offers great reward which Balaam is not convinced by (22.17-18).
                                                                                                                                  • d Balaam tells the men to wait while he receives Yahweh's word (22.19).
                                                                                                                                  • e Yahweh permits Balaam to go but is angry at his willingness to do so (22.20-21).
                                                                                                                                  • f Balaam meets the angel of Yahweh in the way (22.22).
                                                                                                                                  • g The ass sees the angel and refuses to move forward (22.23a).
                                                                                                                                  • h Balaam beats the ass (22.23b)
                                                                                                                                  • g The ass again sees the angel of Yahweh and cowers into a wall (22.24-25a)
                                                                                                                                  • h Balaam beats the ass again (22.25b)
                                                                                                                                  • g The ass collapses to the ground in fear before the angel of Yahweh because there is nowhere to turn (22.26-27a)
                                                                                                                                  • h Balaam berates and beats the ass for refusing to move forwards and is answered (22.28-30).
                                                                                                                                  • f Balaam's eyes are opened and he is aware of the angel of Yahweh in the way (22.31-33).
                                                                                                                                  • e Balaam admits his guilt and is permitted to go forward (22.34-35).
                                                                                                                                  • d Balaam meets Balak and receives Balak's word (22.36).
                                                                                                                                  • c Balak points out he can give Balaam great reward (22.37).
                                                                                                                                  • b Balaam says that he can only speak Yahweh's word (22.38).
                                                                                                                                  • a Balak sends provisions to Balaam and the chieftains (22.39-40).

                                                                                                                                    The Threefold Activity of Balaam (22.41-24.12).

                                                                                                                                    Here we have a triad of attempts to curse Israel which all follow the same pattern sandwiched between Balaam going with Balak and Balaam returning home.

                                                                                                                                    • a Balaam goes with Balak (22.41)
                                                                                                                                    • b Balaam builds seven altars and offers sacrifices (23.1-23.3)
                                                                                                                                    • c Yahweh speaks to Balaam and he prophesies favourably to Israel (23.4-10)
                                                                                                                                    • d Balak is angry and asks him to try again (23.11-13).
                                                                                                                                    • b Seven more altars and seven more sacrifices (23.14-15).
                                                                                                                                    • c Yahweh speaks to Balaam and he again prophesies favourably (23.16-24)
                                                                                                                                    • d Balak requests that Balaam ceases either blessing or cursing and asks that he try again (23.25-26).
                                                                                                                                    • b Seven more altars and seven more sacrifices (23.27-30)
                                                                                                                                    • c Balaam blesses Israel (24.1-9).
                                                                                                                                    • d Balak is angry with Balaam (24.10-11).
                                                                                                                                    • a Balak tells Balaam to return home (24.12)

                                                                                                                                      The Prophecies of Balaam (24.13-25)

                                                                                                                                      • a Balaam says he will return home having prophesied (24.13-14)
                                                                                                                                      • b Balaam prophesies concerning Israel (24.13-19)
                                                                                                                                      • c Balaam looks on and prophesies concerning the wandering Amalek (24.20)
                                                                                                                                      • c Balaam looks on and prophesies concerning the wandering Kenites (24.21-22)
                                                                                                                                      • b Balaam prophesies concerning Eber (including Israel) (24.23-24)
                                                                                                                                      • a Balaam returns home (24.25).

                                                                                                                                        ii). The Defeat of the Evil Influence of Moab (25).

                                                                                                                                        Israel sin at Shittim resulting in the death of a Simeonite chieftain and a plague on the people.

                                                                                                                                        • a Israel sin at Shittim in regard to Baal-peor (25.1-3a)
                                                                                                                                        • b Yahweh is angry with Israel and demands their punishment. Moses calls on the judges to slay those who worshipped Baal-peor (25.3b-5)
                                                                                                                                        • c A Midianitish woman brought into the camp by a Simeonite chief for evil purposes (25.6).
                                                                                                                                        • d Phinehas, son of Eleazar slays the chieftain and the woman (25.7-8a).
                                                                                                                                        • e As a result of his action judgment by plague is stayed (25.8b).
                                                                                                                                        • e Those who died in the plague are enumerated (25.9)
                                                                                                                                        • d Phinehas confirmed in the priesthood for his action (25.10-13).
                                                                                                                                        • c The chieftain and the woman are identified (25.14-15).
                                                                                                                                        • b Yahweh demands the punishment of Midian (25.16-17)
                                                                                                                                        • a The punishment is in respect of the sin regarding Baal-peor (25.18)

                                                                                                                                          F. FUTURE PROSPECTS IN THE LAND (26-36).

                                                                                                                                          This is divided up into preparations for entering the land (26-32), and warning and encouragement with respect to it (33-36). It commences with the renumbering of the tribes after the first generation had passed away (26.1-51 compare chapter 1 & 2)).

                                                                                                                                          (I). Preparation for Entering the Land (26-32).

                                                                                                                                          This can be divided up into:

                                                                                                                                          • a Numbering of the tribes for entering the land (26.1-51).
                                                                                                                                          • b Instructions concerning division of the land (26.52-62).
                                                                                                                                          • c Vengeance on those who had refused to enter the land (26.63-65).
                                                                                                                                          • d Regulation in respect of land to be inherited by women (27.1-11).
                                                                                                                                          • e Provision of a new dedicated shepherd for the people of Israel (27.12-23).
                                                                                                                                          • e Provision of a dedicated people and for future worship in the land (28-29).
                                                                                                                                          • d Regulation in respect of dedication by vows especially as regards women (30)
                                                                                                                                          • c Vengeance to be obtained on Midian (31.1-24).
                                                                                                                                          • b Instructions concerning division of the spoils of Midian (31.25-54).
                                                                                                                                          • a Settlement of the Transjordan tribes (32).

                                                                                                                                            This can be subdivided into:

                                                                                                                                            1) Initial Preparations for Entering the Promised Land from the East (26-27.23).

                                                                                                                                            Analysis.

                                                                                                                                            • a The second 'numbering' of the army in readiness for entry into the land (26.1-51).
                                                                                                                                            • b Provision for the possession of the land (26.52-62).
                                                                                                                                            • c The men of the previous generation not to enter the land and inherit it (26.63-65).
                                                                                                                                            • c Faithful men to be allowed to inherit in the land posthumously through their daughters and relatives (27.1-11).
                                                                                                                                            • b Moses 'possesses' the land by viewing it but is not to enter the land (27.12-14)
                                                                                                                                            • a The solemn appointment of Joshua as Commander-in-chief ready for entry into the land (27.15-23).

                                                                                                                                              Which can be further split into:

                                                                                                                                              The Numbering of Israel and Allocation of the Land (26.1-65).

                                                                                                                                              • a After the plague Yahweh commands the numbering of Israel for service (26.1-2).
                                                                                                                                              • b Moses and Eleazar command the numbering of the serving soldiers as Yahweh commanded Moses and the people who came forth from the land of Egypt 'in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho' (26.3-4).
                                                                                                                                              • c The numbering of the fighting men of Israel for warfare (26.5-51).
                                                                                                                                              • d The land to be divided up between them as an inheritance according to their number depending on whether more or fewer (26.52-54).
                                                                                                                                              • d The land to be divided by lot as an inheritance between the more and the fewer (26.55-56).
                                                                                                                                              • c The numbering of the Levites for their service (26.57-62).
                                                                                                                                              • b These are those who were numbered by Moses and Eleazar 'in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho' but among them was no one previously numbered at Sinai (i.e. of those who came forth from the land of Egypt) (26.63-65a).
                                                                                                                                              • a No one of the previous generation was left except Caleb and Joshua (the final ones dying in the plague?) (26.65b).

                                                                                                                                                The Provisions For Inheritance Where There Was No Male Heir: An Example of Trust In Yahweh (27.1-11).

                                                                                                                                                An example of trust and courage is now given in order to provide inspiration to Israel as they go forward and which confirms that the land is to be theirs.

                                                                                                                                                Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                • a The daughters of Zelophehad draw near for a judgment by Moses, Eleazar the Priest, the princes and the congregation at the door of the Tent of Meeting (27.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                • b The case is put of their father who has died having no sons before he has received his portion of land, the portion which would be granted to his family on possessing the land (27.3).
                                                                                                                                                • c The daughters request their inheritance of his portion, granted to him posthumously, among their father's brothers (27.4).
                                                                                                                                                • d The case is brought before Yahweh (27.5).
                                                                                                                                                • d Yahweh answers the case to Moses (27.6).
                                                                                                                                                • c The daughters to receive their inheritance among their brothers (27.7).
                                                                                                                                                • b Provisions concerning what is to happen when a man dies having no son (27.8-11a).
                                                                                                                                                • a The judgment is established as Yahweh commanded Moses (27.11b).

                                                                                                                                                  Moses Told To Prepare Himself For Death After First Seeing The Land. He Pleads For A New Shepherd For The People (27.12-17).

                                                                                                                                                  Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                  • a Moses to ascend a mountain to see the land after which he will be gathered to his people (27.12-13).
                                                                                                                                                  • b It was because he rebelled against Yahweh's command in the strife of the people (meribah) to sanctify Him (qdsh) in the eyes of the people at the waters (27.13a).
                                                                                                                                                  • b These waters were the waters of Meribah (strife) of Kadesh (qdsh) in the wilderness (27.13b).
                                                                                                                                                  • a Moses pleads for a man to replace him lest they be as sheep without a shepherd on his departure (27.14-17).

                                                                                                                                                    The Appointment Of A New Shepherd (27.18-23).

                                                                                                                                                    Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                    • a Moses to take Joshua and lay his hands on him (27.18).
                                                                                                                                                    • b Moses to set him before Eleazar and the congregation and give him his charge (27.19).
                                                                                                                                                    • c Moses' honour to be put on him so that all the people obey him (27.20).
                                                                                                                                                    • c Enquiry of Yahweh by Eleazar with Urim and Thummim results in all who go out and come in doing so at his word (27.21).
                                                                                                                                                    • b Joshua set by Moses before Eleazar and the congregation (27.22).
                                                                                                                                                    • a Moses lays his hands on him and gives him his charge (27.23).

                                                                                                                                                      2) Provision for Future Worship in the Land and For The Continuing Dedication of All Israel (28-30).

                                                                                                                                                      There now follow the details of the special offerings to be made at the feasts once they have entered the land in order continually to rededicate themselves to Yahweh and to express their worship and obtain atonement, and the stress on the importance on their being faithful to the expression of their dedication in their oaths, with provision made for over-enthusiasm without proper authority. Note how the offerings described are for the large part dedicatory offerings, followed by a chapter on dedicatory vows. Dedication to Yahweh must be at the centre of the new advance.

                                                                                                                                                      The whole section can be analysed as follows:

                                                                                                                                                      • a The continual daily offerings and sabbath and new moon offerings indicating the continual dedication of the people (28.1-15).
                                                                                                                                                      • b Passover and the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened bread (28.16-25).
                                                                                                                                                      • c The One Day Feast of the Firstfruits (28.26-31).
                                                                                                                                                      • d The One Day Feast of the blowing of trumpets (29.1-6).
                                                                                                                                                      • c The One Day Feast of the Day of Atonement (29.7-11).
                                                                                                                                                      • b The Seven Day Feast of the Harvest Moon - Tabernacles (29.12-40).
                                                                                                                                                      • a The continual making and confirmation of dedicatory vows (with their accompanying peace/wellbeing offerings - see 29.39) indicating continual dedication of the people (30).

                                                                                                                                                        That the making of vows is a part of this overall pattern is confirmed by 29.39. It is probable that we are to see 28.1-2a and 29.39-40 as a kind of 'envelope' containing the individual chiasmas or sequences that follow.

                                                                                                                                                        The section now splits up as follows:

                                                                                                                                                        i). The Continual Daily Offerings (28.1-8).

                                                                                                                                                        • a Command to offer an oblation as a pleasing odour to Yahweh (28.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                        • b The offering by fire to Yahweh of he-lambs of the first year, two each day, together with the grain offering (28.3-5).
                                                                                                                                                        • b The offering of the continual whole burnt offering which is an offering made by fire to Yahweh together with the drink offering (28.5-7).
                                                                                                                                                        • a The evening lamb to be offered as a pleasing odour to Yahweh (28.8).

                                                                                                                                                          ii). The Sabbath and New Moon Offerings (28.9-15).

                                                                                                                                                          • a The offering of two he-lambs on the sabbath as a whole burnt offering 'besides the continual whole burnt offering and the drink offering thereof' (28.9-10).
                                                                                                                                                          • b Every new moon a whole burnt offering to be offered to Yahweh (28.11).
                                                                                                                                                          • c The grain offering to be offered for the two ox bulls and the ram and the seven he-lambs (28.12-13).
                                                                                                                                                          • c The drink offering to be offered for ox bulls, ram and lambs (28.14a).
                                                                                                                                                          • b This is the whole burnt offering to be offered every new moon throughout the year (28.14b).
                                                                                                                                                          • a The offering of one he-goat as a purification for sin offering 'besides the continual whole burnt offering and the drink offering thereof' (28.15).

                                                                                                                                                            iii). The Special Offerings (28.16-29.40).

                                                                                                                                                            As we go through these in detail it will be noted that all follow the same general repetitive pattern within their feasts, (following the example given in the threefold Balaam incantations in 23.1-24.10), although as regards the whole burnt offerings (when all of the offering is offered up and none eaten) the number of young ox bulls offered varies. These whole burnt offerings, together with a he-goat for a purification for sin offering, are offered on top of the continual daily offering at all feasts.

                                                                                                                                                            In the regular Sabbath offerings no young ox bulls were offered as whole burnt offerings (28.9-10) only two he-lambs, nor was there then a purification for sin offering. On New Moon days, the days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the Day of the Firstfruits the whole burnt offering consists of two young ox bulls, a ram and seven he-lambs, along with the he-goat for a purification for sin offering. On the day of the feasts of Trumpets and the Day of Atonement in the seventh month it is one young ox bull, a ram and seven he-lambs, along with the purification for sin offering. And on the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles the young ox bulls offered vary downwards from thirteen to seven, along with two rams and fourteen he-lambs, along with the he-goat for the purification for sin offering. On the eighth day it is back to one young ox bull, one ram and seven he-lambs, along with the he-goat for the purification for sin offering.

                                                                                                                                                            Passover and Unleavened Bread (28.16-25).

                                                                                                                                                            It will be noted from this point on that Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Blowing of Trumpets and Day of Atonement all follow the same general pattern, while maintaining their distinctive feature.

                                                                                                                                                            • a On the fourteenth day of the month is Yahweh's Passover, from the fifteenth day unleavened bread to be eaten for seven days, on the first day a convocation, you shall do no servile work (28.16-18).
                                                                                                                                                            • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered as an offering made by fire (28.19).
                                                                                                                                                            • c Grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (28.20-21).
                                                                                                                                                            • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering to make atonement (28.22).
                                                                                                                                                            • a These to be offered as well as the continual whole burnt offering of the morning. This is the way that offerings shall be offered for seven days, on the seventh day a holy convocation, you shall do no servile work (28.23-25).

                                                                                                                                                              Feast Of The Firstfruits (28.26-31).

                                                                                                                                                              • a In the day of the firstfruits a new grain offering to be offered to Yahweh (28.26).
                                                                                                                                                              • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered to Yahweh for a pleasing odour (28.27).
                                                                                                                                                              • c The grain offerings to be offered with them (28.28-29).
                                                                                                                                                              • b One he-goat to be offered to make atonement as well as the continual whole burnt offering (28.30-31a).
                                                                                                                                                              • a They are to be offered with its grain and drink offerings, the whole to be without blemish (28.31b).

                                                                                                                                                                Feast of the Blowing of Trumpets (29.1-6).

                                                                                                                                                                • a In the seventh month the first day of the month (the new moon day) to be a holy convocation, a day of no servile work and of the blowing of trumpets (29.1).
                                                                                                                                                                • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered as a pleasing odour to Yahweh (29.2).
                                                                                                                                                                • c The varied grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.3-4).
                                                                                                                                                                • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering to make atonement (29.5).
                                                                                                                                                                • a This to be besides the new moon whole burnt offering with its grain offering, and the continual daily whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offerings, for a pleasing odour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh (29.6).

                                                                                                                                                                  The Day of Atonement (29.7-11).

                                                                                                                                                                  • a The tenth day of the seventh month to be a holy convocation for affliction of their souls and no manner of work (29.7).
                                                                                                                                                                  • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered to Yahweh as a pleasing odour (29.8).
                                                                                                                                                                  • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.9-10).
                                                                                                                                                                  • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.11a).
                                                                                                                                                                  • a This to be offered beside the purification for sin offering of atonement, and the continual whole burnt offerings, with their grain and drink offerings (29.11b).

                                                                                                                                                                    The Feast Of The Harvest Moon - Tabernacles (29.12-40).

                                                                                                                                                                    Each of the days of this Feast follow the same pattern as the other feasts.

                                                                                                                                                                    Day One.

                                                                                                                                                                    • a The fifteenth day of the seventh month to be a holy convocation with no manner of work and a feast to be kept for seven days (29.12).
                                                                                                                                                                    • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of thirteen young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh as a pleasing odour (29.13).
                                                                                                                                                                    • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.14-15).
                                                                                                                                                                    • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.16a).
                                                                                                                                                                    • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.16b).

                                                                                                                                                                      Day Two.

                                                                                                                                                                      • a On the second day (29.17a).
                                                                                                                                                                      • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of twelve young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (29.17b).
                                                                                                                                                                      • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.18).
                                                                                                                                                                      • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.19a).
                                                                                                                                                                      • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.19b).

                                                                                                                                                                        Day Three.

                                                                                                                                                                        • a On the third day (29.20a).
                                                                                                                                                                        • b Whole burnt offerings of eleven young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to be offered to Yahweh (29.20b).
                                                                                                                                                                        • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.21).
                                                                                                                                                                        • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.22a).
                                                                                                                                                                        • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.22b).

                                                                                                                                                                          Day Four.

                                                                                                                                                                          • a On the fourth day (29.23a).
                                                                                                                                                                          • b Whole burnt offerings of ten young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to be offered to Yahweh (29.23b).
                                                                                                                                                                          • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.24).
                                                                                                                                                                          • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.25a).
                                                                                                                                                                          • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.25b).

                                                                                                                                                                            Day Five.

                                                                                                                                                                            • a On the fifth day (29.26a).
                                                                                                                                                                            • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of nine young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (29.26b).
                                                                                                                                                                            • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.27).
                                                                                                                                                                            • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.28a).
                                                                                                                                                                            • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.28b).

                                                                                                                                                                              Day Six.

                                                                                                                                                                              • a On the sixth day (29.29a).
                                                                                                                                                                              • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of eight young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (29.29b).
                                                                                                                                                                              • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.30).
                                                                                                                                                                              • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.31a).
                                                                                                                                                                              • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.31b).

                                                                                                                                                                                Day Seven.

                                                                                                                                                                                • a On the seventh day (29.32a).
                                                                                                                                                                                • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of seven young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (29.32b).
                                                                                                                                                                                • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.33).
                                                                                                                                                                                • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.34a).
                                                                                                                                                                                • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.34b).

                                                                                                                                                                                  Day Eight.

                                                                                                                                                                                  • a On the eighth day, a solemn assembly, no servile work (29.35)
                                                                                                                                                                                  • b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of one young ox bull and one ram and seven he-lambs to Yahweh (29.36).
                                                                                                                                                                                  • c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (29.37).
                                                                                                                                                                                  • b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (29.38a).
                                                                                                                                                                                  • a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (29.38b).

                                                                                                                                                                                    The whole is then completed with a summary which may be paralleled with 28.1.

                                                                                                                                                                                    iv). The Continual Making and Confirmation of Dedicatory Vows (with their peace/wellbeing offerings) (30.1-16).

                                                                                                                                                                                    This follows the pattern earlier established whereby sequences can be introduced into an overall chiasma (compare 22.15-38; 23.1-24.12; 28.1-29.40). This could be seen as abcddcba or as abcdbcda. It may be analysed as follows.

                                                                                                                                                                                    • a Moses speaks to the heads of the tribes of the children of Israel issuing Yahweh's command concerning vows (30.1)
                                                                                                                                                                                    • b A man's vow to be unbreakable and to be performed (30.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                    • c A young unmarried woman's vow has to be ratified by her father, but if he says nothing when he hears of the vow it stands. If he disavows it the vow does not stand, and Yahweh will forgive her because her father disallowed it (30.3-5).
                                                                                                                                                                                    • d A woman's vows made prior to marriage have to be ratified by her husband on marriage, but if he says nothing when he hears of the vow it stands. If he disavows it the vow does not stand, and Yahweh will forgive her because her husband disallowed it (30.6-8).
                                                                                                                                                                                    • b or d The vow of a widow or a divorced woman stands (30.9).
                                                                                                                                                                                    • c A married woman's vows after marriage have to be ratified by her husband on marriage, but if he says nothing when he hears of the vow it stands. If he disavows it the vow does not stand, and Yahweh will forgive her because her husband disallowed it (30.10-12).
                                                                                                                                                                                    • d or b A husband may make any vow made by his wife void as longs as he does it immediately on hearing of it. But if he says nothing it stands. If he then disavows it he bears her iniquity. The mention of the penalty suggests that this means that the husband had delayed his disavowal (30.13-15).
                                                                                                                                                                                    • a These are the statutes which Yahweh commanded Moses (concerning disallowing or maintenance of vows) between a man and his wife, and a father and his unmarried daughter (30.16).

                                                                                                                                                                                      3). The Divine Sentence On Midian (31.1-54).

                                                                                                                                                                                      The dedication of Israel to Yahweh having been emphasised in 28-30 judgment now comes on those who had sought to interfere with that dedication. One blot still remained on the horizon. Balaam and the Midianites had deliberately plotted to bring down Israel's dedication to Yahweh by leading them astray after false gods, and as a result a goodly number of Israelites had been executed or had died in the plague. It remained therefore for justice to be brought on the murderers and idolaters responsible. The new land had to be cleansed by the death of the idolatrous murderers.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The principle here follows a similar principle to that which demanded the destruction or driving out of the Canaanites. All who could lead Israel astray from Yahweh must be removed. But it carries it a stage further, for these Midianites (not the whole of Midian but this particular clan) would clearly never cease to be a thorn in the sides of Israel. There was therefore no alternative but to destroy them. Had they left Israel alone, they would have been left alone. And the parallel below also suggests that this extirpation was to be seen as a cleansing for Israel. Blood had been spilled in the land and so the murderers had to be brought to justice.

                                                                                                                                                                                      The chapter splits into two sections, the carrying out of the sentence on Midian (31.1-24) and the division of the spoils (31.25-54).

                                                                                                                                                                                      i). The Carrying Out of The Sentence on Midian (31.1-24).

                                                                                                                                                                                      Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                      • a Israel to avenge the children of Israel who had died because of Midian (to make Israel clean) (31.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • b A proportion of the men armed and to go to war (31.3-5).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • c Phinehas goes with them with the vessels of the Sanctuary and the trumpets for alarm (31.6).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • d They warred against Midian and slew every male (31.7).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • e They slew the kings of Midian (31.8a).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • f They slew also Balaam of Peor (31.8b).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • g They took captive all their women, children, beasts and spoil (31.9).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • h All their cities and encampments were burned with fire as Yahweh's judgment (31.10).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • i They took all the spoil both of man and beast (31.10-11).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • i They brought all the captives prey and spoil to Moses and Eleazar and the congregation in the camp (31.12).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • h Moses, Eleazar and chieftains go out to meet the victorious army which had exercised Yahweh's judgment (31.13)
                                                                                                                                                                                      • g Moses was angry because all the women were spared (31.14-15).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • f These were the women who through the counsel of Balaam led Israel astray (31.16)
                                                                                                                                                                                      • e They were to slay all the male children and all the married women (who caused Israel to sin through the command of the kings) (31.17).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • d They were to keep alive all young unmarried women who could not have been involved in their seduction (31.18).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • c The men to purify themselves seven days and all garments (to make them fit to approach the Sanctuary and its vessels) (31.19-20).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • b All spoils to be purified by fire or by water of uncleanness (31.21-23).
                                                                                                                                                                                      • a The men to wash on seventh day and be clean and enter the camp (31.24).

                                                                                                                                                                                        ii). The Division of the Spoils (31.25-54).

                                                                                                                                                                                        • a The sum of the prey that was taken and the levies commanded (31.25-31).
                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Division between the men of war, Yahweh (the priests), the people and the Levites (31.32-47).
                                                                                                                                                                                        • a The sum of the men of war and their freewill gift to the Sanctuary (31.48-54)

                                                                                                                                                                                          These can then be analysed as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                          a). The Sum of The Prey That Was Taken and The Levies Commanded (31.25-31).

                                                                                                                                                                                          • a Yahweh speaks to Moses. With Eleazar he is to take the sum of the prey which has been captured (31.25-26).
                                                                                                                                                                                          • b The prey to be divided into two parts between the men who went to war and the remainder of the congregation (31.27).
                                                                                                                                                                                          • b A levy to be made on the soldiers' share for Yahweh and given to Eleazar the Priest as a contribution offering and a levy to be made on the congregation's share for the Levites who keep the charge of the Dwellingplace (31.28-30).
                                                                                                                                                                                          • a Moses and Eleazar do as Yahweh commanded (31.31).

                                                                                                                                                                                            b). The Division Between the Men of War, Yahweh (the Priests), the People and the Levites (31.32-47).

                                                                                                                                                                                            This is based on a sequential pattern rather than a chiastic pattern.

                                                                                                                                                                                            • a The sum of the prey assessed (31.32-35).
                                                                                                                                                                                            • b Sum of the half which belongs to the soldiers and to Yahweh's tribute (31.36-40).
                                                                                                                                                                                            • c Yahweh's tribute given to Eleazar the Priest (31.41).
                                                                                                                                                                                            • a The congregation's half divided from the men that warred (31.42).
                                                                                                                                                                                            • b Sum of the half which belongs to the congregation (31.43-46).
                                                                                                                                                                                            • c The Levites share given to the Levites (31.47).

                                                                                                                                                                                              c). The Sum of The Surviving Men of War and Their Freewill Gift to The Sanctuary Of Their Personal Spoil (31.48-54).

                                                                                                                                                                                              • a The assessing of the men of war, not one is missing (31.48-49).
                                                                                                                                                                                              • b They offer the gold from their personal spoils to Yahweh to make atonement for themselves before Yahweh (31.50).
                                                                                                                                                                                              • c Moses and Eleazar accept the gold and wrought jewels of their offering (31.51).
                                                                                                                                                                                              • c The sum of the offering made to Yahweh (31.52).
                                                                                                                                                                                              • b The explanation of where the personal spoils came from (31.53).
                                                                                                                                                                                              • a Moses and Eleazar take the gold into the Dwellingplace of the congregation for a memorial of the children of Israel before Yahweh (31.54).

                                                                                                                                                                                                4) The Settlement of the Transjordanian Tribes (32).

                                                                                                                                                                                                Following the destruction of the Midianites the firstfruits of settlement in the land is now described, but only when it is emphasised that all must take part in the wholesale taking of Canaan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                • a Reuben and Gad desire to settle in Transjordan (32.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • b A description of the desirable cities and desirable land for their cattle (32.3-5).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • c Moses is angry at them for discouraging the other tribes (32.6-15).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • d Moses reminds them that Yahweh will cast them from the land if they hesitate to enter it, as He did before (32.10-15)
                                                                                                                                                                                                • e They covenant that their warriors will go forward with Israel (32.16-19).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • e Their going forward is confirmed and agreed (32.20-23).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • d Moses permits settlement on the condition that they go forward and do not hesitate (32.24-27).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • c Moses confirms to the leadership of the tribes that the soldiers of Reuben and Gad will go with the other tribes (thus preventing discouragement) (32.28-32).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • b They receive the desirable cities and build folds for their sheep (32.33-28).
                                                                                                                                                                                                • a The land of the Amorites in Transjordan is given to the two tribes and the half tribe of Manasseh (32.39-42).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  II). Warning and Encouragement of The New Generation ( 33-36).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  The book comes to its conclusion by summarising their successful journey to this point and providing for their certain future in the land.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a Review of the journey from Egypt to the plains of Moab (33:1-49).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • b Instruction concerning successful possession of and dividing up of the land by lot in the future so that each man has his lot and for the purifying of the land (33.50-56).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • c Description of the land to be inherited (34.1-15).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • d The Leaders who will divide the land for them are appointed (34.16-29).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • e Provision of cities for the Levites. (35.1-8)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • e Provision of cities of refuge and prevention of defilement of the land (35.9-34).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • d The Leaders of the tribe of Manasseh approach Moses about the possible loss of part of their division of the land as a result of the decision about the daughters of Zelophehad (36.1-2a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • c Description of the problem relating to the land inherited by the daughters of Zelophehad (36.2b-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • b Instruction concerning women who inherit land so as to maintain the lot in the dividing up of the land and their successful possession (36.5-12)
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a Final summary of the book and colophon. The journey is over. They are in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho (36.13).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    This can now be analysed in more detail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1). Review of The Journey From Egypt to the Plains of Moab (33:1-49).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    By its nature this passage is a list of encampments made on the journey from Egypt to the plains of Moab. As a historical travel narrative it could not be patterned chiastically (an evidence for its genuineness). We are told that it was written down by Moses at Yahweh's command (compare Exodus 17.14). We note, however, that it divides into three.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    • a The description of these as their journeyings going forth from the land of Egypt as written down by Moses (33.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • b Details of the journeyings and where they encamped each described as 'and they journeyed -- and pitched in' (33.3-48).
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • a The final pitching of camp in the plains of Moab with the journey ended (33.49).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2). Instruction Concerning Dividing Up The Land By Lot in the Future So That Each Man Has His Lot and For the Purifying of the Land (33.50-56).

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a Introductory words of Yahweh (33.50-51).
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b When they enter the land they are to drive out the inhabitants of the land (33.50-52).
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c They are to take possession of the land (33.53).
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c They are to inherit the land by lot fairly, and each is to have his 'lot' (33.54).
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b If they do not drive out the inhabitants of the land they will be a constant pain and trouble to them (33.55).
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a Final warning of Yahweh (33.56).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        3). Description of The Land To Be Inherited (34.1-15).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a Command concerning the inheritance of the land which will fall to them (34.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Description of the south quarter (34.3-5).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Description of the western border (34.6).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Description of the northern border (34.7-9).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Description of the eastern border (34.10-12).
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a This is the land which they are to inherit by lot as Yahweh has commanded (34.13-15).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          4). The Leaders Who Will Divide the Land For Them Are Appointed (34.16-29).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • a Yahweh declares the names of those who will divide the land (34.16-18).
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • b The princes names listed (34.19-28).
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • a These are those whom Yahweh has commanded to divide the land (34.29).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            5). Provision of Cities for the Levites (35.1-8).

                                                                                                                                                                                                            • a Cities to be given to the Levites with the suburbs of the cities (the surrounding land) (35.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • b The cities are for the Levites to dwell in (35.3a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • c The suburbs are for their beasts to dwell in (35.3b).
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • c The suburbs of the cities defined (35.4-5).
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • b The cities of the Levites defined (35.6-7).
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • a How the cities to be given to the Levites are to be selected (35.8).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              6). Provision of Cities of Refuge and Prevention of Defilement of the Land (35.9-34).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              As in the case of the Balaam stories we have three threefold sequences placed within a chiastic framework.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              • a When they pass over Jordan they are to provide cities of refuge for unwitting manslayers (to prevent the shedding of innocent blood) (35.9-11).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • b The city is for a manslayer's protection until he is brought for trial (35.12).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • c Six cities to be appointed, three in Canaan and three beyond Jordan. These cities available for both Israelites and resident aliens (35.13-15),
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • d Three descriptions of slayings which deserve death (35.16-18).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • e The avenger of blood may put such to death when he meets him (35.19).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • d Three further descriptions of slayings which deserve death (35.20-21a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • e The avenger of blood may put him to death when he meets him (35.21b).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • d Three descriptions of accidental slayings which do not deserve death (35.22-23).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • e The congregation will judge them and put them in safety in a city of refuge until the death of the High Priest. (35.24-25).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • c If the manslayer leaves his appointed city of refuge before that he can be slain by the avenger of blood without him incurring guilt (35.26-28).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • b The deliberate manslayer will be slain at the mouth of witnesses (at least two) (35.29-30).
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • a No ransom to be allowed for manslaying, whether deliberate or accidental. This is because violent shedding of blood pollutes the land and there must be a death for it, for the land is not to be defiled as Yahweh dwells in it (35.31-34).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                7). The Manassite Leaders' Concern About The Land If Women Inherit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                • a The Leaders of the tribe of Manasseh approach Moses about the possible loss of part of their division of the land as a result of the decision about the daughters of Zelophehad (36.1-2a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • b Description of the problem relating to the land inherited by the daughters of Zelophehad (36.2b-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • a Instruction concerning women who inherit land so as to maintain the lot in the dividing up of the land (36.5-12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Verse 5-12 can be analysed as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Success Follows the Faithfulness of the Daughters of Zelophehad (36.5-12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a The women are to marry whom they think fit but within the family of the tribe of their father (within the clan) (36.5-6).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • b Thus no inheritance will remove from tribe to tribe for the children of Israel will cleave every one to the tribe of his fathers (36.7).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • c Every woman who inherits land from her father shall be wife to one who is of the family of the tribe of her father (36.8a)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • c This is so that the children of Israel may possess every man the inheritance of his fathers (36.8b).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • b Thus no inheritance will remove from tribe to tribe for the children of Israel will cleave every one to the tribe of his fathers (36.9).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a This what the daughters of Zelophehad did, marrying their father's brothers sons, thus they were married to Manassites and the inheritance remained in the tribe of the family of their father. The lesson is emphasised that those who are true and obedient will inherit the land (36.10-12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Final Summary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here is given a final summary of the book which may well have been a colophon. The journey is over. They are in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho (36.13).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    How The Tribes Were Divided Up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The 'congregation of Israel' were divided up into tribes. These were then divided up into sub-tribes, then clans, then 'wider families' (or often 'thousands'), then families, each section having their own 'heads' or 'fathers' or 'chiefs'. Note for example Numbers 3. 17-21 where we have the tribe of Levi, the sub-tribes of Gershon, Kohath and Merari, made up of the clans of Libni and Shimei, Amram, Izehar, Hebron and Uzziel, and Mahli and Mushi. Each clan would then be split into 'houses' or the equivalent having in mind a wider family grouping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    'House' was actually a fluid term. They could speak of 'the house of Israel' (Exodus 16.31; 40.38 and often), which meant all Israel, 'the house of Levi' (Exodus 2.1) which meant the whole tribe of Levi, the house of the Gershonites which indicated the sub-tribe (Numbers 3.24), the house of Jerubbaal or Gideon (Judges 8.35, compare 9.1), the 'house' which was the wider family of Samson (Judges 16.31) and so on. Then would come the individual families, the 'house' over which the father of the family would be head.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A number of nouns were used to describe these groupings, and they were not always used consistently. Note Joshua 7.14-18 (see also 1 Samuel 10.20-21) where we have the gradings of 'tribe', 'family' (clan), 'household' (larger family) and 'man' (family unit). They were sometimes described in terms of 'thousands', 'hundreds', 'fifties' and 'tens' (Exodus 18.21, 25; Numbers 31.48; Deuteronomy 1.15) where the idea was not of exact numbers but simply of graded levels of society (compare for example Numbers 1.16; Joshua 22.14 where 'thousands' are related to 'houses'). These words, which came to be used to indicate numbers, were originally simply 'group' indicators at various levels. A 'ten' was one step up from the 'household' (it might have consisted of anything between say five to fifteen small households, or a small platoon of soldiers) with a ruler over it. A 'hundred' was a group of 'tens', again with a ruler over it, and so on. A 'thousand' was a larger group. See Exodus 18.21, 25; Numbers 31.48; Deuteronomy 1.15. These would apply both in war and in peace. The Hebrew language was still in its early stages.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Question of the Large Census Numbers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We must stress here that the question being discussed here is not as to whether these numbers are 'correct'. We are working on the basis of the correctness of the 'numbers'. The question is as to what the Hebrew text means and indicates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At first sight, looking from the point of view of the 21st century, the interpretation of them seems clear. They provide arithmetical details of a census taken of Israel's fighting men. But that is because we are used to dealing in large and accurate numbers, and using them for such purposes, and to us the words used appear to have a specific and mathematical significance. For the initial readers of this work the situation was very different.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It would, in fact, be interesting to know how the 'numbering' of Israel described in chapters 1-4 and 26 took place, and who took on the responsibility. In our day when the use of mathematics is widespread, and even the least of us think numerically, it may appear the simplest of matters to count people, although even today counting over six hundred thousand people is not a simple matter. But in those days it would have been an horrendous undertaking. And the result, addressed to people who could mainly not count beyond their fingers, meaningless except as an overall description.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Indeed, even today we 'number' people by using techniques. Thus we are told that so many million people watched a certain TV programme. But who counted them? The answer is no one. It is all done by using samples and adjusting upwards. Yet the figures are quoted confidently and considered reliable enough for large companies to pay advertising revenue on the basis of them. We are told 'so many million watched such and such a programme on such and such a night'. But it is not an exact number, and must be taken as meaning 'within a million or so'. How much more likely then is it that techniques would be used for 'counting' in ancient days, especially when assessing large numbers. And the results would then be given in round numbers, as here.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is difficult for us to conceive of the fact that in those days 'numbering' was something limited to a few experts for we are taught it from childhood. But then it was very different. Men and women did not use numbering in their everyday lives. It was unnecessary. They did not count their herds and flocks, they knew them by name. They did not go to the shops. They bartered. They had no need for counting. They took in the scene without it. Numbers were illustrative, not mathematical.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As we can gather both from 'primitive' tribes around the world in the modern day, whose ability to count is regularly limited to three, and also from history, it is very probable that few in Israel could count beyond twenty, and suggesting that level is probably being optimistic. No one would have educated them in number counting. So, as in most societies of that day, numbers, especially large numbers, would have been a great mystery to the Israelites as a whole and would in fact mainly have been used adjectivally, in order to convey information by impression rather than by exact numerical information. An exception may have been some businessmen, who might have used experts for trading purposes, but even then there were techniques for making it unnecessary such as tally sticks. Numbers tended rather to convey to people such ideas as completeness, divine perfection, trial and testing and hugeness rather than specific quantity.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In this regard consider the following table of the figures in chapter 1 and 26.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Numbers of Males Over 20
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    TribeChapter 1 Chapter 26
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Reuben 46,500 43,730
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Simeon 59,300 22,200
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Gad 45,650 40,500
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Judah 74,600 76,500
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Issachar 54,400 64,300
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Zebulun 57,400 60,500
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ephraim 40,500 32,500
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Manasseh 32,200 52,700
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Benjamin 35,400 45,600
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Dan 62,700 64,400
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Asher 41,500 53,400
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Naphtali 53,400 45,400
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Levi (3.46) 22,000 23,000
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Total excluding Levites 603,550 601,730

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It will be noted immediately that both in chapter 1 and in chapter 26 all the numbers, with the exception of one of them in each case, are in round numbers of hundreds. If we think about it that is quite extraordinary, not as to the use of round numbers in hundreds, which is easily explicable, but as to why in each case one of the numbers in each list, and only one, is not a round number in hundreds. In one case the odd number is 'fifty' (1.25), in the other 'thirty' (26.7). They are round enough not to be seen as intended to indicate exactness, but not round enough to fit in with the other numbers. We are probably also to see it as significant that the numbers of the Levites also contain an odd 50 and an odd 30 - see 4.36, 40, 44. It is clear that in some way or another the writer is seeking to get over a message, possibly of covenant connection (5x10) and completeness (3x10), even if with our lack of knowledge of the ancient use of numbers we find it difficult to grasp what that message is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We must seriously ask ourselves why the divergence? And also why were the Levites alone expressed in exact 'thousands'? Both give a clue as to the intention of the 'numbers'. We should also further note that in no case are the 'hundreds' less than two or more than seven (and two and seven only occur once in each list as though they were unusual), which would be strange if they were the last part of large numbers resulting from random counting, especially as all the numbers from two to seven are represented, and the middle numbers in quantity. The 'numbers' are clearly not as simple as they first appear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Further we should note that in 1.16 the princes of the tribes were called 'heads of thousands ('lph)'. Now in 1.4 these princes were each said to be 'head of the house of his fathers'. This would equate 'thousands' with 'the house of his fathers', and suggest that the 'thousands' refer to the different 'sections' of the tribe making up the full tribe. As we know from elsewhere, the consonants translated 'thousand' ('lph) can also be translated 'family, clan, military unit, military officer' (e.g. in Judges 6.15) of which there would be a number in the chief's 'house of his fathers'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Some therefore suggest that we should here read 'eleph (or repoint as 'alluph. The original text only had the consonants 'lph) meaning 'family' or 'military officer/chief' all the way through, thus for example reading Reuben's count as either '46 families containing the equivalent of 5 units ('hundreds') of fighting men', or '46 military officers/chieftains and 5 units ('hundreds') of fighting men'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If followed through and taken arithmetically (something which we probably should not do) this would give a total of roughly 5,550 fighting men of over 20 (and there would be a good number under 20 eager to volunteer) excluding Levites of twenty years old and upwards, and therefore a total number of say 30-35000 tribal members, or even more, to which could be added resident aliens. In those days that would have been a considerable fighting force, certainly enough to make Egypt uneasy when existing in its midst, especially as it was concentrated mainly in one place, and Egypt would take teenagers, who would equally be slaves, into account (Exodus 1.9-10). Even Rameses II only raised a force of 20,000 men in his mass invasion to attack the Hittites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If we accept these ideas the Levites could then simply be 22 'families', or 20 chieftains with a number of 'men', in their case not being split into military units (although they are split into 'hundreds' for service to the tent of meeting - see chapter 3).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We have indications elsewhere that the tribes could be split into 'thousands', 'hundreds', 'fifties' and 'tens' (Exodus 18.21, 25; Numbers 31.48; Deuteronomy 1.15) where the numbers would not be expected to be taken literally, being the equivalent, say, of splitting into brigades, regiments, companies and platoons, but considerably downsized to fit the times. This would then explain why Gad could have six military units ('hundreds') and a specialist unit of a 'fifty'. (Compare how the Romans later used number words which had lost their original meaning in usage in order to describe their 'legions' under a general and 'centuries' under a centurion).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The problem then raised is, if we take the numbers generally to mean so many military leaders and so many fighting men, how do we explain the total given of 603,550. One explanation would be to read it as '600 military officers (or families)' as a round number (actually there are five hundred and ninety eight), who were spread over 'three large military units, five medium military units, and a specialist fifty unit', who were made up of all the 'hundreds', with the 'fifty' left over. This would certainly help to solve the problem. The 601,730 in chapter 26 could then be seen as 600 military officers covering one extra large unit (a 'thousand' seen as a regiment), a different formation being in use forty years on, combined with seven smaller units and a thirty, the thirty representing three 'tens' as indicating completeness, possibly again indicating specialist units or resident aliens who have only a minor place. The alteration from three large units to one even larger unit would be explicable in terms of the new circumstances. They were not now guarding the dwellingplace on all sides but acting in unison in the invasion. (We must remove our concept of 'a thousand' from our minds, except as a 'large grouping'. 'Eleph was not necessarily as exact as that).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    However, it is even more likely that we are to recognise that the ancients would quite probably see no inconsistency in adding together 'lphs of different types, thus making the total fit the individual figures, so as to give a large 'total' intended to express the above facts. They would see it as representing the sum total of the facts that they were presenting rather than as a mathematical figure. This would especially be true if the first 'lph indicated military leaders or mighty men, for under ancient warfare it was very often the mighty men who fought while the remainder watched (compare Goliath - 1 Samuel 17; the 'young men' in 2 Samuel 2.14). They were each seen as the equivalent of a regiment. If for example we think of 598 'military captains/mighty men' ('lph), and every ten 'hundreds' of ordinary soldiers being seen as the equivalent of a mighty man, this would give us the description of 603,550 (598 military officers/mighty men, plus five supporting groups of 'thousands', plus five separate 'hundreds' plus a 'fifty'). We can compare how an Egyptian manuscript could add a number of totally diverse elements from numbers of houses and oxen to numbers of grains of corn in order to make a heterogeneous total which simply conveyed the idea of huge quantity. The same purpose applied here. The aim was to indicate a well led powerful force combining mighty men and warriors. This would then tie in with the figures in chapter 2 indicating 598 mighty men ('lph), five large units ('lph - 'thousands, regiments'), five medium units, and a specialist unit of fifty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This would also then fit even better with the second numbering where the result would be 596 officers and five supporting groups of 'thousands' plus seven hundreds and a 'thirty'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But we may ask, why should he wish to achieve a seeming total of 603,550? Why should 603,550 ideally represent the men of Israel? The answer probably lies in Exodus 38.24-26. 'And the silver of those who were numbered of the congregation was a hundred talents and one thousand seven hundred and seventy five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary. There was a beka a head, that is, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one who passed over to those who were numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    At first sight this seems to suggest that the silver gathered was gathered by obtaining a levy of half a shekel per warrior, thus giving us the total of warriors. But further examination will reveal that that is not so. For what is being described in the chapter is not specifically a census but the total amount of gold, silver and bronze used in the Sanctuary, no matter how it was obtained, and we know from Exodus 35.5, 24 that, as with the gold and bronze, the silver actually included generous freewill offerings, as well as the levy on individual men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So what was being said there was that the silver collected from all sources for the making of the Sanctuary came to 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, which comes to 301,775 shekels, taking a talent as 3000 shekels, as it certainly was later. And therefore that the silver that went into the Dwellingplace was 301,775 shekels, which on the above basis (each half shelel representing the equivalent of the ransom of a man) represented the theoretical equivalent of 603,550 men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But we must repeat again that this silver was not all gathered at a beka a head. It was in fact gathered in two ways. Firstly by exacting a levy of half shekel of silver for each man numbered when numbering Israel (Exodus 30.12), and secondly by gathering a generous freewill offering of silver from the people (Exodus 35.5, 24). And we must note that the amount given is clearly the total amount of silver collected, not just the levy silver, just as the total amount of gold and bronze collected was also given, for its division for use is actually described as though it was all the silver that there was.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    That being so not all that was gathered was actually gathered from levy silver. Some of it, and we can assume a great deal of it in view of the other amounts collected, came from freewill offerings. So the point being made is rather that the silver gathered was so large that had it all been levy silver it would in total have been the equivalent of the half shekel levy for a theoretical 603,550 men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In that case the writer was simply saying that the total amount of silver in the sanctuary was to be seen as representing the totality of the fighting men of Israel. (He probably also saw the gold as representing the priests and Levites, and the copper as representing the remainder of Israel).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This being so we may conclude from it that the 603,550 men is not the real actual arithmetical number of fighting men but a theoretical number based on the amount of silver in the Dwellingplace, which was seen as representing a theoretical number of men. To the ancient mind that would mean that the 'ideal total' for Israel's menfolk must be 603,550 men, in order to parallel the amount of silver in the Sanctuary, for they were Yahweh's silver.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We are not told in fact when the Exodus numbering took place, nor how much was specifically gathered from that numbering, nor how many were numbered. We are only told the final sum total of silver. What we are told is that this whole sum total came from 'the silver of those who were numbered of the congregation'. However, as Exodus 35.5, 24 demonstrate, this may not have all been silver obtained by the numbering. It could have 'come from their silver' either by levy or by freewill offering, with each actually giving abundantly more than their half shekel. And then, calculated at a beka a head, what was gathered from both sources would be seen as representing an ideal figure of 603,550 men. That being so that was then seen as the 'ideal number' for Israel, as a figure that simply indicated 'all Israel as belonging to Yahweh as represented by the silver in the Dwellingplace'. This explains why the writer in Numbers 1 was so eager to achieve that figure and was prepared to 'shape his numbers' in order to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We must not think that this 'manipulation' was dishonest or inaccurate in what it signified, for it was never intended by him to signify the actual real number of fighting men in Israel. Rather it was intended to assess them in companies for fighting purposes and to link those fighting men directly with Yahweh's Dwellingplace, seeing them as His silver (with the priests and Levites as His gold) and to link them with the idea of completeness and covenant (representing three doubled (600) plus three (thousands) plus five (hundreds) plus five (tens) all intensified).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We can compare how in Genesis 46 the number of people entering Egypt was deliberately shaped in order to produce seventy. This manipulation was neither dishonest nor inaccurate. It was not trying to deceive, for it was quite openly stated how it was obtained in such a way that the truth was obvious to all, and it was not interested in actual quantity. It was concerned to convey an impression. In the case of the seventy it was declaring the intensified divine perfection (7x10) of the number going into Canaan (which including the 'households' would actually be a thousand or two), and their completeness (33+ 33), regardless of when they actually went or how they got there. Here in Exodus the writer was impressed with the number of half shekels because it came to a 'perfect' number comprising threes, intensified threes and fives, perfectly representing completeness and covenant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Again therefore we have the ancient use of numbers, with number words being made use of in order to convey a message rather than to give exact quantity. It explains why the freewill offerings of silver were not mentioned in Exodus 38 whereas those of the gold and bronze were and why the figures for 'men' in Exodus 38 and Numbers 1 agreed. It also explains why the writer in Numbers 1 ensured that he reached that figure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But, it may be asked, do we have to go into all this? Why can we not take all the figures as indicating exact quantities of troops, as suggested in the translations? Would that not be easier? The answer is that we can if we wish to, and yes, it would be easier for our pedantic minds, for there is nothing about them that is inconsistent, but that by doing so we are using the modern viewpoint. If we consider them in the light of the ancient use of numbers, we may well come to another conclusion and see the whole army as being seen as the equivalent of Yahweh's silver.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is not to raise doubts about whether God could keep two and a half to three million people alive in the wilderness. Of course He could. The wilderness was quite probably then more fertile, enjoying somewhat more rain; people like the Israelites were used to eating and drinking carefully and conserving water; and Moses knew the wilderness inside out, having dwelt in it for years, and, especially with Hobab's help, knew that there were places in the Sinai peninsula which to those who knew them could provide plenty of water. This last would then be carried in water sacks, while at other times wells could be dug in a number of places to reach down to the water table. (And even with all this they were then at times in such dire straits that they 'murmured'). Additionally manna was specifically provided by God in order to prevent starvation, and it may well have contained a liquid element which would help them to keep alive and supplement their carefully guarded water. But the question is not as to whether He could, but as to whether He did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For there are a number of Scriptural reasons which must count against over six hundred thousand men being a literal figure. The first is that it was clearly recognised that the Israelites were not of sufficient number to occupy the whole land immediately (Exodus 23.29-30; Deuteronomy 7.22) and that their numbers were not seen as huge (Deuteronomy 7.6). Indeed it was suggested that they were afraid of the large numbers of Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7.17). But that would simply not have been true on the number of Israelites suggested. And that must be seen in the light of the fact that when Canaanite cities pleaded with Pharaoh for help against their attackers in the Amarna letters they thought in terms of a minimal number of ten or so soldiers or archers. Even mighty Megiddo only asked for a hundred men. So none of them would have known how to face up to half a million men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For the fact is that most Canaanite towns only had a few hundred inhabitants at the most. Mighty Jericho itself, judging by the size of its mound, would not have had more than say 600 fighting men in its population of less than two thousand, and even the great cities like Megiddo (say 60,000 - thus less than ten thousand 'fighting men'), Hazor (say 40,000) and Lachish (say 22,000) were of relatively limited population and would have been dwarfed by half a million Israelite soldiers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Secondly we have no indications in Scripture which suggest the kind of huge logistical problems that we would expect to arise with such numbers. When the people gathered at Mount Sinai, or united together against Moses, or met to worship at the Tabernacle, or gathered to march, we do not get the impression of such huge numbers that it would have been almost unmanageable. We get the impression rather of a manageable total. Furthermore if there had been 70-80,000 Levite family members in 22,000 tents encamped around the Tabernacle it is difficult to see how there could have been gatherings around it 'before Yahweh' of the kind described. And would the Amalekites really have tangled with such huge numbers? They might certainly have attacked stragglers, but in the end the impression is given of a real attempt to do battle with Israel as a whole on almost level terms. And would Amalek have been seen as at times prevailing, and victory over them have been seen as such a wonderful answer to prayer, if Israel had been able to call on such large numbers, even granted that it was their first encounter after leaving Egypt? Besides, the size of 'the camp' would have been almost inconceivable, indeed would have been a number of camps stretched out over large areas in sometimes mountainous districts, a size which does not seem to be reflected in many of the references to 'the camp'. There would have had to be many widely spread camps. In saying this it is not a question of what God could do, but of what the facts and descriptions suggest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We are probably therefore justified in seeing the 'numbering' here in Numbers as a gathering of the fighting men into units, and then as expressing the result in terms which would have been understood at the time, rather than as an attempt to discover how many Israelites there were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Another aspect that brings problems with regard to numbering is the number of firstborn males given in 3.43 as '22,273'. This is then compared with the number of Levites of '22,000' (3.39) leaving 273 to be redeemed. How can this be seen as tying in with all this? This number has been cited against seeing the figures as read in translations as actual on other grounds, namely that the number of firstborn is too low compared with the total number of males over 20. That, however, is not necessarily so, for 'firstborn' probably means the one firstborn of the father (like Reuben) however many wives he had (see 1.20), and while polygamy was not so prominent later, it was more likely to be so in these early days if affected by shortage of males caused by earlier events in Egypt. Firstborn sons might also have been especially vulnerable there. Indeed if the firstborn sons of Israel had been subjected to discrimination in Egypt it could help to illuminate the punishment of the slaying of the firstborn sons of Egypt. Alternately these firstborn could be seen as those born after the first Passover, those born before that time already having been redeemed by the Passover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But a problem that certainly arises is that the 273 difference assumes that the 22,000 male Levites over a month old is an exact number. Now while it could be that, rarely, such a round number could be actual, it is extremely unlikely that such a rarity could occur twice (23,000 in 26.62). Thus the 22,000 would appear to be a round number, with the consequence that if the 22,273 is a head count the 273 is arrived at by false premises, for there would not be exactly 20,000 Levites. However, if the 22 in each case represents some other recognised comparison, then the 273 is legitimate as a surplus. For example if the 22,000 signified 22 'families' of Levites, the equivalent of 22 families in terms of firstborns achieved by some computation then considered reasonable could have been used.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The point behind all this is not to suggest that we can satisfactorily solve all the problems of Hebrew numbering, but rather to suggest that if we did fully understand the way in which Israel thought in those days in their use of 'number words' we could solve them, and that the problems arise from our lack of knowledge and not from what was written. The same applies to the ages of the patriarchs which are also clearly at least partly symbolic, while at the same time rightly indicating great age. See on all this our articles on 'Numbers in the ANE' at http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/4027, and our commentary on Genesis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Emphases of the Book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Along with Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, Numbers lays great emphasis on the holiness and graciousness of God. Like them it stresses that Israel are one people and that Yahweh's purpose is to bring His people into the land which He will give them if they enter it in faith, because He has promised it to their fathers (14.23). The whole purpose of the march forwards and the sending out of the spies was in order that they might possess the land, even if they did forfeit the immediate right through disobedience. And it goes on to stress that it was still His final purpose for them, for available for them, if they would receive it, was the kingdom of God on earth in a God-given land ruled by Yahweh and inhabited by an obedient people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yet it also brings out that in the process of the fulfilling of God's purposes, man constantly fails. If it were left to His people there would be no entry into the promised land. Thus their final entry can only be as a result of His mercy and grace, and His own divine purpose.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It further confirms that a holy God must be approached carefully by sinful man, and that in that regard He had instituted the Aaronic priesthood which alone had access to the inner sanctuary and the right to represent the people before Yahweh (chapter 16.1-17.13). It stresses the greater holiness of these priests, the lesser holiness of the Levites, who act to assist them, and the even lower level of holiness of the people. Thus does it emphasise that man needs a mediator between himself and God. Nevertheless all are in the last analysis to be seen as holy if they would enter the land and must therefore avoid uncleanness and death. And it stresses that an unbelieving people can have no part in the land, but must be excluded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For us all this is fully explained in our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is the One perfect mediator between God and Man (1 Timothy 2.5; Hebrews 9.15; 12.24), with the result that we can come to God as holy, if we are in Him, because He is holy. And thus as His priests we are all called to reach out to the world to bring them to belief in Him, and to glorify Him before them (1 Peter 2.5, 9).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But as the New Testament makes clear we are also soldiers of Christ, and we are called on to live as such in our lives. We are to endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2.3-4; Ephesians 6.10-18). For we too march towards a Kingdom, even though in our case it is a heavenly kingdom which has replaced the earthly. It is the 'everlasting kingdom' of the prophets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Order of Events.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For the sake of completeness we now give the probable order of events as they can be gathered from the Pentateuch. We have not included it in the text of the commentary because that would be to take away from the purpose of the writer. He was not concerned to give a chronological total picture otherwise he would have put such chronology in Exodus 40.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Order of Events
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day in second year. Event References
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day 1, first month Completion of tabernacle Ex 40.2; Num 7.1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ditto Laws for offerings possibly begin Leviticus 1.1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    do. Offerings for altar begin Numbers 7.3
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    do. Ordination of priests begins Leviticus 8.1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day 8, first month Ordination of priests completed Leviticus 9.1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day 12, first month Offerings for altar completed Numbers 7.78
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ditto Appointment of Levites Numbers 8.5
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day 14, first month Second Passover Numbers 9.2
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day 1, second month Numbering begins Numbers 1.1
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day 14, second month Passover for those unclean Numbers 9.11
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Day 20, second month Cloud moves, journey starts Num. 10:11

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We now come to the Commentary proper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    THE OVERALL PLAN OF THE BOOK.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The overall chiastic construction is drawn attention to by the letters of the alphabet which open each line.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • a Mobilisation For Israel's Advance On The Land (1-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • b The Purifying, Dedication and Blessing of Israel Through Offerings (5-10).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • c The Murmuring of Israel, Appointment of 70 Elders, Smiting of Miriam For Sin (11-12).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • d Preparations For Advance Into The Land and Defeat By the Amorites (13-14).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • e Promised Restoration, Hope and Life (15-19).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • e Eleazar Replaces Aaron Resulting in Rivers of Life-giving Water (20-21.20).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • d Forward Advance - The Defeat of the Amorites, Balaam and Midianite Temptation (20.22-25.18).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • c The Mobilisation of Israel, Appointment of Joshua and the Death of Moses For Sin (26-27).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • b The Dedication of Israel Through Feasts, Offerings and Vows - The Purifying of Transjordan Through Vengeance on the Midianites and Settlement of the Two and a Half Tribes (28-32)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • a Description Of The Journey To The Land And Its Intended and Preliminary Occupation (33-36).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      THE COMMENTARY

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      SECTION 1. THE PREPARATIONS TO GO FORWARD FROM SINAI WITH YAHWEH'S PROVISIONS RELATED THERETO (1.1-10.10).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Mobilisation of the Army of Israel, and the Preparation of the Levites For Their Work of Bearing the Ark and Dwellingplace of Yahweh (1.1-4.49).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first stage towards entry into the land had to be the mobilisation of the army of Israel, both of its fighting men, and of its 'servants of the dwellingplace of Yahweh'. That is what is in mind in the first four chapters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The description of this follows a general chiastic pattern indicated by the letters a to d and can be divided up as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a The taking of the sum of the tribes and their responsibility (to war) (1.1-46).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b The Levites' responsibility for the Dwellingplace (1.47-54).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c Positioning and arrangements for travel of the people (2.1-32).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • d The consecration of the priests to Yahweh (3.1-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • d The dedication of the Levites to the priests and to Yahweh (3.5-13)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c Positioning and arrangements for travel of the Levites (3.14-51).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b The priests' responsibility for the Dwellingplace (4.5-15).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a The taking of the sum of the Levites and their responsibilities (4.1-4, 21-49).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chapter 1 Preparation For The Journey: The Army Is Numbered For War

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The numbering of an army was always preparatory to action. Thus the numbering here of the men of war was preparation for what lay ahead. They were now to go forward to make war in order to conquer the land and possess it. The resultant total will then be used later in the book in order to demonstrate that, in spite of failure on the part of Israel, the people leave the wilderness after all their troubles as numerous as when they entered it, the old having been replaced with the new (chapter 26). Man's purposes may fail but God's never do.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But it was also a way of describing the organisation of the fighting men of Israel into military units, without too much regard for the actual literal quantity. These units were then to be set around the people on the move in fighting array. They had learned their lesson from the Amalekite attack at Rephidim (Exodus 17.8-16; Deuteronomy 25.17-18), and were determined to prevent it happening again. And they were especially to surround the Dwellingplace of Yahweh on all four sides, forming a square around it, as did the Egyptian armies of Rameses II around the Pharaoh's tent. This was a typical second millennium BC formation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this we have a picture of the 'church militant', the true people of God on earth, preparing themselves for battling with the great Enemy (e.g. Ephesians 6.10-18). They are a number which no man can number, and yet each is numbered before God (Revelation 7). Indeed the very hairs of their head are all numbered (Matthew 10.30; Luke 12.7). Not one of them is forgotten before Him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Call To Number The Tribes and To Prepare for War, excluding Levi (1.1-46).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        From the commencement the book stresses that in it we are dealing with what results from the word of Yahweh given to Moses, spoken in the Tent of Meeting. Thus this heading to the record declares whom the record is about. It then gives place and date. It is a typical heading to a written record from those days, as can be seen by comparison with other written records discovered. Note the immediate reference to the land of Egypt. This is the continuing story of deliverance from Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Taking place one month after the Dwellingplace had been consecrated, it stresses that the people of Israel are setting out from the wilderness of Sinai, where they have spent a year in their dealings with Yahweh. They had commenced their journey from Egypt in the first month of the first year, and had arrived at the wilderness of Sinai in the third month of the first year (Exodus 19.1). Now in the second month of the second year the army is to be mustered ('numbered') ready for going forward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A glance ahead to 3.1 reveals there a typical closing colophon to a document, whereas this is a typical heading. It would appear therefore that at one stage this record from 1.1-3.1 originally stood on its own as a record of the military mobilisation and organisation of the troops readied for going forward, a record made at the time. It was then later incorporated into Numbers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.2-3 'Take you (ye) the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, every male, by their heads, from twenty years old and upward, all that are able to go forth to war in Israel, you (thou) and Aaron shall number them by their hosts.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The command is given to 'take the sum' of all men of military age in the twelve tribes (excluding Levi), in 'the congregation of the children of Israel', numbering them in their different regiments ('hosts'). The intention was in order to organise the different sections of the army. This was 'the Lord's army'. What pride there probably was in its being numbered. What sad failure would result when as a result of unbelief it would flee from the Amorites. And yet God's purposes would go forward and success would come in the end, not through the size of that army but through God's power at work through weakness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This numbering was to be done 'by their families, by their father's houses', in other words 'wider family by wider family', and 'tribe by tribe'. Each section would number its men available for action and the numbering would then be accumulated to give the number for the tribe. The numbering was to be of those available to 'go forth to war'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'The congregation of Israel.' A regular description for the tribes of Israel as a whole seen as one in their submission to Yahweh, seen as a people 'gathered' to serve Him. Sometimes it can refer to the mature menfolk, or sometimes to the whole of Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'According to the number of the names.' This may refer to the names of the twelve tribes. But more probably it simply refers to the people as 'names' as it refers to them as 'heads' and 'every male' (compare verse 17). They are not just numbers, they have names. Compare 26.53.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We note that the command was given to Moses, but that Aaron was also to be involved in the matter in his new position as 'the Priest' (the High Priest). This linking is stressed in the passage 1.1-3.1 related to numbering (see 1.3, 17, 44; 2.1), although Moses alone is mentioned where Yahweh's direct command is stressed (1.19, 48, 54; 2.33, 34). This is officially 'the history of Moses and Aaron' as confirmed by the colophon (3.1).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.4 'And with you (ye) there shall be a man of every tribe, every one head of his fathers' house.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Furthermore twelve men were to be called on to assist, one from each of the twelve tribes, each to be the head of his father's house, the prince of the tribe. Each would be responsible for the 'numbering' his tribe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Of his father's house.' This is a fluid term. In this case the house of his fathers is the tribe over which he is head seen in terms of its founder. (Later it will signify the larger families which make up the clan which itself is a section of the tribe).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.5-15 'And these are the names of the men who will stand with you. Of Reuben: Elizur the son of Shedeur. Of Simeon: Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. Of Judah: Nahshon the son of Amminadab. Of Issachar: Nethanel the son of Zuar. Of Zebulun: Eliab the son of Helon. Of the children of Joseph, of Ephraim: Elishama the son of Ammihud, of Manasseh: Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. Of Benjamin: Abidan the son of Gideoni. Of Dan: Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. Of Asher: Pagiel the son of Ochran. Of Gad: Eliasaph the son of Deuel. Of Naphtali: Ahira the son of Enan.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The names of the twelve chieftains are given. The preponderance of names including 'El' or 'Shaddai' (Shedeur, Zurishaddai, Ammishaddai) should be noted. As yet the use of Yah was rare in names, although Moses' 'maternal ancestor' was named Yo-chebed (26.59; Exodus 6.20) This confirms the early date of the list. Elizur signifies 'My God (El) is a rock.' Shedeur means 'Shaddai is my light', Shelumiel means 'God is my friend'. Zurishaddai means 'Shaddai is my rock'. Nahshon probably means 'serpentlike' or 'enchanter'. Eliab means 'my God is father'. Ammishaddai means 'Shaddai is my kinsman'. And so on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.16 'These are they who were called by the congregation the princes of the tribes of their fathers, they were the heads of the thousands of Israel.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These twelve men were the recognised great chieftains of the tribes, 'the princes of the tribes of their fathers'. They were the titular heads of the fighting men of Israel, who would themselves be seen in terms of their military units, or of their 'family groupings'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Heads of the 'lph of Israel.' 'lph can signify 'thousands, families, subtribes, clans, military units, military officers, chieftains'. Here the 'lph of Israel are the sub-tribes which make up the tribe or alternatively the military units which compose their fighting force. In fact in terms of those days the two were almost synonymous. The fighting force was made up of the men of Israel, and the tribes were mainly seen in terms of the men of Israel. It is only in later times that standing armies would be set up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.17-18 'And Moses and Aaron took these men who are mentioned by name, and they assembled all the congregation together on the first day of the second month, and they declared their pedigrees (their 'begetting') after their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, by their heads.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These chieftains, these 'men who are mentioned by name' because of their prominence, then returned to their tribes and gathered them on the day in question and each of the male members of the tribe 'declared their begetting', that is, their claim to connection with the tribe, clan group by clan group, in their tribes, according to the number of names, for all those of twenty years old and upwards. In other words each tribe mobilised its fighting men, identifying them with the tribe. By now those of the mixed multitude (Exodus 12.38) who had determined to become Yahwists (Exodus 12.48) would have been incorporated into the tribes by adoption, and have become 'children of Israel', and members of a chosen tribe, 'descended' from the tribal patriarch.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'After their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number (assessment) of the names.' Note the division into clans, and then into wider families (fathers' houses), and then into smaller groupings (the 'assessment of the names').

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.19 'As Yahweh commanded Moses, so he numbered (assessed) them in the wilderness of Sinai.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thus did Moses fulfil Yahweh's command and mobilise the fighting men of Yahweh ready for moving forward. The numbering of Israel was an act of faith and obedience to Yahweh. It was a declaration that Yahweh had a purpose to fulfil through them in possessing the land, which could be to them the hoped for 'Kingdom of priests' (Exodus 19.6), the equivalent of the Kingdom of God, if only they would be faithful to Him. The army of Yahweh would move forward with Yahweh Himself among them on His earthly throne, the Ark of the covenant of Yahweh (10.33-36), accompanied by the cloud which would move under His direction and veil His presence (9.15-23; 10.11-12, 34). And if they continued faithful He would be among them as the great Deliverer, the One Whose will nothing could thwart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The same can be true for us although in our case the goal is a heavenly Kingdom. We too are called on to 'march forward' and to look to the invisible One on His throne. But the question we must ask ourselves as we read these words is, are we mobilised as true and obedient 'fighting men of Yahweh', or are we only simply excess baggage?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Numbering or Assessment of the Tribes (excluding Levi).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        (For more detail on these 'numbers' see the Introduction).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The tribes were now assessed tribe by tribe in order to give a total picture, (L=sons of Leah, R=sons of Rachel, B=sons of Bilhah, Z=sons of Zilpah), commencing with Jacob's firstborn, Reuben. The order is slightly unusual. Reuben (L), Simeon (L), Gad (Z), Judah (L), Issachar (L), Zebulun (L), Ephraim (R), Manasseh (R), Benjamin (R), Dan (B), Asher (Z), Naphtali (B). While on the whole the sons of the full wives are mentioned first, Gad (born of Zilpah) replaces Levi among the sons of Leah (L) for no obvious reason except that one of the concubine tribes had to join the Leah tribes in order to make up the 'threes' once Levi dropped out, and Gad were noted for their resilience, fierceness and righteousness for Yahweh (Genesis 49.19; Deuteronomy 33.20-21). The 'sons' of Rachel (R) then follow. After them come the other sons of the concubines Bilhah (B) and Zilpah (Z), not in sequence but seen as combined

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.20-21 'And the children of Reuben, Israel's first-born, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, by their heads, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Reuben, were forty and six thousand and five hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The 'numbering' or 'assessment', whatever it actually involved, was carried out methodically according to their family history (toledoth) commencing with the clan, then with the wider family groupings, then with the smaller groupings (the number of the names, compare verse 18), then with the individuals ('the heads'). All in the tribe of Reuben were mobilised amounting to forty six 'lph (wider families/ military officers) and five 'hundreds' (men in five military or social units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We note here that Reuben is named first, and declared to be 'the firstborn of Israel', distinguishing his status (see also 26.5). Thus the sons of Rachel and the concubines were not seen as including 'firstborns'. There was only one firstborn in the family, the firstborn of the father.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.22-23 Of the children of Simeon, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, those that were numbered of them according to the number of the names, by their heads, every male from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Simeon, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Simeon, amounting to fifty nine wider families/military officers and three 'hundreds' (men in three military or social units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Note again the grading downwards. Clans, fathers' houses, the number of the names, the 'heads' (individuals).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.24-25 'Of the children of Gad, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Gad, were forty and five thousand six hundred and fifty.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Gad, amounting to forty five wider families/military officers and six 'hundreds' (men in six military or social units) and a 'fifty' (a smaller military or social unit). The addition of the fifty may confirm that this is a serious 'numbering', that while it is not a strict head count, it is not just a rough estimate. But it may be that the people would have expected that there would be this odd unit attached to one of the tribes, possibly representing the total of non-Israelite non-absorbed resident aliens combining with the army. Or it may be intended to signify covenant connection of the whole (five intensified). The fact that the Levites also contained a fifty suggests the second is nearer to the truth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'By their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names.' We note that at this point the 'heads' are dropped out. The concern is with units not individuals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.26-27 'Of the children of Judah, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Judah, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Judah, amounting to seventy four families/military officers and six 'hundreds' (men in six military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.28-29 'Of the children of Issachar, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Issachar, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Issachar, amounting to fifty four families/military officers and four 'hundreds' (men in four military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.30-31 'Of the children of Zebulun, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Zebulun, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Zebulun, amounting to fifty seven families/military officers and four 'hundreds' (men in four military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.32-33 'Of the children of Joseph, namely, of the children of Ephraim, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Ephraim, were forty thousand and five hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Ephraim, of Joseph, amounting to forty families/military officers and five 'hundreds' (men in five military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.34-35 'Of the children of Manasseh, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Manasseh, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Manasseh (of Joseph) amounting to thirty two families/military officers and two 'hundreds' (men in two military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.36-37 'Of the children of Benjamin, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Benjamin, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Benjamin, amounting to thirty five families/military officers and four 'hundreds' (men in four military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.38-39 'Of the children of Dan, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Dan, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Dan, amounting to sixty two families/military officers and seven 'hundreds' (men in seven military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.40-41 'Of the children of Asher, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Asher, were forty and one thousand and five hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Asher, amounting to forty one families/military officers and five 'hundreds' (men in five military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.42-43 Of the children of Naphtali, their generations, by their clans, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of the names, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war, those who were numbered of them, of the tribe of Naphtali, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A similar mobilisation took place for the tribe of Naphtali, amounting to fifty three families/military officers and four 'hundreds' (men in four military units) ready for war.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.44 'These are they who were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron numbered, and the princes of Israel, being twelve men, they were each one for his fathers' house.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This then was a description of those who were mobilised for military duty, by their twelve chieftains representing their tribes, under the authority of Moses and Aaron. The Levites were omitted because they were not liable for military service

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.45-46 'So all those who were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and upward, all who were able to go forth to war in Israel, even all those who were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So all the adult males among the children of Israel, apart from the Levites, were numbered 'by their fathers' houses' in readiness for war. And their number (assessment) was 'six hundred thousand and three thousand, five hundred and fifty'. This possibly represented 598 mighty men (or families/military officers), combined with five large units, five medium units and a fifty. Compare Exodus 13.18 where marching was 'by fives'. The general numbers all convey symbolism. By combining the 598 mighty men with the five large units we get the numbers 603. Six is twice three and therefore completeness intensified, while three is emphasising that completeness. This is a perfectly complete army. The multiples of five stress their place among the covenant people. This is the essence of the number. They are the complete covenant army. Its agreement with the amount of silver used in the Sanctuary also meant that they were represented in the Sanctuary by the silver used there. They were a sacred army and ever in Yahweh's presence through the silver contained in the Dwellingplace, which among other things acted as an atonement for them once they had been numbered (see Introduction and Exodus 30.11-16).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Levites' Responsibility for the Dwellingplace (1.47-54).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.47 'But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But the Levites were not numbered among these fighting men. They were descendants of Levi who had been chosen through the calling of Moses and Aaron. It was not theirs to go forth to war. They were responsible for the protection of the Dwellingplace of Yahweh and its maintenance and its carriage, and its final defence. They were Yahweh's 'aide-de-camps'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.48 'For Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, neither shall you take the sum of them among the children of Israel," '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This was in accordance with the direct command of Yahweh. They were not intended to be mobilised for war. They were not to be added among the fighting men. They were set aside to Yahweh. (This brings out the significance of the 'numbering'. It was in order to mobilise to war).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is the first historical reference to such an actual setting aside of Levi, although they were seen as set aside in Leviticus 25.32-33. We are never given a reason why it was they who were set aside. It was most probably because they were related to Moses and Aaron, but accentuated by their faithfulness to Moses and to Yahweh in the incident of the molten calf (Exodus 32.25-29), which no doubt partly arose from that relationship, and the subsequent dedication to Yahweh that it produced. For the encamped priests would want to be among their tribal brothers, and it was necessary that their companions also be separated to Yahweh. With Moses and Aaron both from the tribe of Levi, the selection of the Levites for holy service was an almost inevitable result, given that they proved suitable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.50 'But appoint you the Levites over the tabernacle of the testimony, and over all its furniture, and over all that belongs to it. They shall bear the tabernacle, and all its furniture, and they shall minister to it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Levites were to be appointed by divine command to take responsibility for 'the Dwellingplace which bore witness to the covenant' (the tabernacle of the testimony - 'tabernacle' is mishkan which means 'dwellingplace') and its furniture and all connected with it. They were to carry it when necessary, generally look after it, and encamp around it to guard it. But the carrying was only allowable once the furniture had been covered by the priests. Only the priests could touch the furniture and cover it. The Levites simply did the carrying. By this its supreme holiness was emphasised. It was 'God's stuff'. In the same way the Levites could not enter the Sanctuary while it was functioning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.51 'And when the tabernacle sets forward, the Levites shall take it down; and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up; and the stranger who comes near shall be put to death.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When the cloud moved from the Dwellingplace, and the divinely appointed time had come to continue their journey, and 'the tabernacle set forward', it was the Levites who were responsible for dismantling the Dwellingplace, and when the cloud stopped to indicate the new campsite chosen by Yahweh, it was the Levites who would again erect the Dwellingplace in the place that He chose. No non-Levite must approach for the purpose. Should they do so they must be put to death. The Dwellingplace and all its contents were sacred, and no non-Levite must touch them. By this was indicated that while Yahweh dwelt among them they must remember His 'otherness' (His non-earthiness and heavenliness) as the invisible and holy God, present among them but not fully accessible, except once a year on the Day of Atonement through the High Priest, and by prayer at a distance. The task of the Levites was thus a sacred and awesome one, and would be carried out with great reverence, at least initially.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.52 'And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, according to their hosts.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All the Israelites were to pitch their tents in the camps of their tribes, under their tribal standard (or 'in their tribal ranks' - the meaning of the word is not certain although its significance is clear), to the north, south, east and west of the Dwellingplace, in their military units (see chapter 2). They were not to be a ragbag army, but disciplined and organised.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The word translated 'standard' may simply indicate 'tribal ranks, companies'. But any large camp would certainly require some kind of indication as to who were sited where, so it quite likely does indicate tribal standards, and clan banners.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.53 'But the Levites shall encamp round about the tabernacle of the testimony, that there be no wrath on the congregation of the children of Israel. And the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of the testimony.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Levites, on the other hand, were to encamp in an inner square around the Dwellingplace as its guardians. That was their 'standard'. And they were to keep the charge of it, preventing men from approaching it lightly without due reason, so that the wrath of Yahweh should not fall on the people with its resulting consequences. This 'wrath' signifies His aversion to sin and to all attitudes which treat Him lightly. Against such He must act in judgment. Later those who touched the Ark of the covenant casually would die (1 Samuel 6.19; 2 Samuel 6.6-7). The purpose was that men should recognise the 'otherness' and holiness of Yahweh. He was never to be taken for granted. Such an attitude would be the grossest of sins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1.54 'Thus did the children of Israel. According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so did they.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And so it is doubly stressed that the children of Israel, fully obedient at this stage, did all that Yahweh commanded Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For us the lesson of Numbers 1 is clear. We are all soldiers of Christ, set apart to His service, and must ever be ready immediately to do His will. We are called to warfare (2 Corinthians 10.4; Ephesians 6.10-18; 2 Timothy 2.4; 1 Peter 2.11), and must be disciplined. We must respond to our being 'numbered' by Him. But in the course of that we must ever remember His holiness and not approach Him lightly. Our approach must be through the blood of Christ, through the new and living way which He has prepared for us through His flesh (Hebrews 10.19-25), a constant acknowledgement of His holiness. It is because many have lost this recognition that faith is often at such a low level.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Some are also called to be 'Levites', serving in a more intimate capacity, while others still are called to serve the inner sanctuary. All take their place in the place assigned to them by God. But as we shall see later. All can become God's specially dedicated ones (6).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chapter 2 The Camp Of Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this chapter Israel are depicted as needing to be organised around the God's 'Dwellingplace', (mishkan, often translated 'the tabernacle'), in square formation in a similar way to the camp of the Egyptians around the tent of Rameses II. Encamped to the east of the Dwellingplace were to be Judah, with Issachar and Zebulun (all Leah tribes). On journeying these were seemingly to form the advance guard. To the south were to be Reuben with Simeon and Gad (two Leah tribes with Gad replacing Levi, compare Gad's similar listing with the Leah tribes earlier (1.24). These were to move off second, taking up a second line of defence. In the centre around the Dwellingplace were to be the priests and Levites. They were, as it were, the Dwellingplace's special bodyguard. They were then to be followed up by Ephraim, with Manasseh and Benjamin, who encamped to the west but followed the Dwellingplace when on the march (Rachel tribes), and finally came Dan, with Asher and Naphtali (concubine tribes along with Gad), who encamped to the north, but followed up in the rear on marching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The whole picture is of Yahweh's 'holy nation'. The people are seen as holy as they surround the Tent of Meeting. This will be followed in chapter 3 by those who are even more holy, the Levites, set apart by Yahweh in holiness to replace the firstborn sons of Israel as servants of the Sanctuary, and to come between the people and the Sanctuary. The most holy are the priests, who alone can deal with holy things, approaching the altar to make offerings, applying the blood of the offerings, entering within the inner Sanctuary, the Holy Place (but not the Holy of Holies/'Most Holy Place'). All this reflects Exodus and Leviticus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Positioning and Arrangements for Travel of the People (2.1-3.1).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, "The children of Israel shall encamp every man by his own standard, with the ensigns of their fathers' houses. Over against the tent of meeting shall they encamp round about." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All the children of Israel, man by man, were to encamp in their own ranks beneath the ensigns of their fathers' houses, at some distance from (over against) the Tent of Meeting, but surrounding it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.3-4 'And those who encamp on the east side toward the sunrising shall be they of the standard of the camp of Judah, according to their hosts: and the prince of the children of Judah shall be Nahshon the son of Amminadab. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Those who were to camp on the east side, towards the sunrising, were Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. Their chieftains' names are again mentioned, and the numbering of their tribe. This was made up in the case of Judah of 74 families or military officers/mighty men and contained in all 6 'hundreds' or military/social units.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The east was probably seen as the side from which most danger could come while they were encamped. This would come from the roving tribes of the people of the east. But when it came to journeying they would lead the way because of their strength.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We note here that while Reuben as the firstborn headed the list in chapter 1, here Judah takes the lead, as they will also in the final invasion (Judges 1.2). This may partly explain the disenchantment of the Reubenites revealed in the behaviour of Dathan and Abiram.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Towards the sunrising' probably indicates the favour with which God looked on them, the priests would also be encamped on this side. They were the blessed of Yahweh. There may also be a reminder in this of Jacob's blessing where the tribe of Judah were depicted as having a bright future, with Shiloh, the Coming One, coming from among them (Genesis 49.10 compare Numbers 24.17-19).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.5-6 'And those who encamp next to him shall be the tribe of Issachar, and the prince of the children of Issachar shall be Nethanel the son of Zuar. And his host, and those who were numbered of it, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred. And the tribe of Zebulun, and the prince of the children of Zebulun shall be Eliab the son of Helon. And his host, and those who were numbered of it, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Issachar and Zebulun, both Leah tribes, were to be joined with Judah in protecting the east, each numbered in the same way as before. And with Judah they would march ahead of the column behind the Ark (10.33-36) when journeying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.9 'All who were numbered of the camp of Judah were a hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, according to their hosts. They shall set forth first.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thus the total number of guards to the east in 'the camp of Judah' were 185 'lph (families/military leaders) and 14 military units. (185 'lph and one 'lph of troops plus a portion making 186 'lph and a portion). They were the first to set forth when the march began, and would lead the way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We might in our day cavil at adding together a number of military leaders with a regiment in the same sum, but regularly in ancient days battles were fought between 'champions' with the remainder watching. The result would often be accepted by both parties for it indicated to all whose side the gods were on. Thus a champion could actually represent a regiment on his own. Consider Goliath in 1 Samuel 17.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.10-15 'On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their hosts, and the prince of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur. And his host, and those who were numbered of it, were forty and six thousand and five hundred. And those who encamp next to him shall be the tribe of Simeon, and the prince of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred. And the tribe of Gad: and the prince of the children of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        To the south of the Dwellingplace were to encamp the tribe of Reuben, assisted by Simeon and Gad. Again the numbers are given, and the names of their chieftains, as per chapter 1. Here Eliasaph's father is named Reuel ('friend of God'), contrast Deuel ('one who knows God') in chapter 1. This may be an alternative spelling of his name (compare Paul and Saul). While it is true that in ancient Hebrew 'd' and 'r' were very similar, we must beware of too glibly just assuming a copyist's error. We must remember that the copyist would have heard it read out a hundred times and more prior to becoming a copyist. He would know which it would be. The lesson for us from this name is that it is necessary for us to know God truly if we would be His friend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.16 'All who were numbered of the camp of Reuben were a hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, according to their hosts. And they shall set forth second.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The total force in the camp of Reuben was 150 'lph (families/military leaders) with 14 'hundreds' or military units and a special force of 'fifty'. The special mention of the latter only the once may suggest that they were seen as especially valuable, or alternately that they represented the friendly aliens. They could possibly have been expert 'slingers'. But it may simply be that the 'fifty' was added as signifying 5x10, the covenant number intensified, added to the tribe of Gad in the camp of the firstborn, thus indicating that all were within the covenant (a fifty was required if the number of 603,550 was to be obtained). Compare how a 'thirty' is added in the second numbering, in that case only to Reuben, while both a 'fifty' and a 'thirty' are added to the Levites (4.36, 40). This is surely not merely coincidental.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These were to be the next to march after the camp of Judah, moving from their protective position on the south side of the Dwellingplace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.17 'Then the tent of meeting shall set forward, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camps. As they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place, by their standards (or 'in their ranks').'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once the two powerful groups had gone forward the Levites would go forward after them, carrying the Tent of Meeting and its furniture. The Ark, however, would have gone forward with the leading group (10.33-36), once the cloud had indicated that it was time to move (9.15-23). The Ark was the symbol of the God of battle, God active on their behalf, the guarantee against dangers ahead. The Tent of Meeting was Yahweh's earthly Dwellingplace while at rest, but would be folded up while on the march. Concentration would then be on the Ark in its blue (heavenly) covering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.18-23 'On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their hosts, and the prince of the children of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred. And next to him shall be the tribe of Manasseh, and the prince of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred. And the tribe of Benjamin, and the prince of the children of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When encamped the Rachel tribes, with their weaker numbers, would protect the west. This was probably seen as the least dangerous side. On the march they would follow the Dwellingplace. Once again full details are given of them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.24 'All who were numbered of the camp of Ephraim were a hundred thousand and eight thousand and a hundred, according to their hosts. And they shall set forth third.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They consisted of 107 'lph (families/military leaders) and 11 'hundreds' or military units. On the march they followed behind the Levites who were bearing the Tent of Meeting and its furniture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.25-26 'On the north side shall be the standard of the camp of Dan according to their hosts, and the prince of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred. And those who encamp next to him shall be the tribe of Asher, and the prince of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ochran. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were forty and one thousand and five hundred. And the tribe of Naphtali, and the prince of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan. And his host, and those who were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When encamped Dan, Asher and Naphtali protected the way from the north. They remained in position until the march had begun, joining on to the rear, thus guaranteeing against attack from that direction while the preparations for marching were taking place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.31 'All who were numbered of the camp of Dan were a hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall set forth hindmost by their standards.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So, on the march they were at the rear of the advance, in order to protect the rear. The powerful tribe of Dan together with Asher and Naphtali consisted of 156 'lph (families/military leaders) and 16 'hundreds' (or military units).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.32 'These are those who were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers' houses. All who were numbered of the camps according to their hosts were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once again we have repeated the result of the numbering, six hundred 'lph, three 'lph five 'hundreds' and fifty. This might then translate into 598 'lph (families/military leaders) and five 'eleph (military units) and five 'hundreds' (smaller military units), and a fifty. This would tie in with the above figures given for the tribes, and would seem to be designed to agree with the amount of the silver in the Sanctuary (Exodus 38.25-26).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.33 'But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But the Levites were not included in this mobilisation. They were exempt from general military service. This has been stressed previously (1.47-49). Here the fact is doubly emphasised. Their responsibility was to guard and serve Yahweh's Dwellingplace at all times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2.34 'Thus did the children of Israel. According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so they encamped by their standards, and so they set forward, every one by their families, according to their fathers' houses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Again it is stressed that Israel did exactly as Yahweh had commanded Moses (compare for the phrase Exodus 12.50; 16.34; 39.1, 5, 7, 21 and often; Leviticus 8.9, 13 and often; 16.34; 24.23). At this stage they were fully obedient. They encamped by their standards (or in their ranks), and that is how they set forward, every one by their 'families', and according to their clans/tribes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This emphasis reminds us that above all what God requires of us is obedience. As Jesus reminded us, it is no good saying 'Lord' Lord', if we do not do the things that He says (Matthew 7.21).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.1 'Now these are the generations (family histories, records) of Aaron and Moses in the day that Yahweh spoke with Moses in mount Sinai.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This is probably the remnants of a colophon closing off this military record. A colophon was included at the end of an ancient record in this way just as we would put a title and author's name on a book cover. It gave a quick reference to the contents of the record. As we saw earlier, in chapters 1 & 2 Moses and Aaron were seen in this section as continually acting together apart from when Moses was receiving Yahweh's direct commands (see on 1.2-3). This verse is not really suitable as a heading for what follows, for Moses does not feature there, but it does make a very suitable ending.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chapter 3 The Priests and the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this chapter more information is given about the priests and Levites, those set apart by Yahweh to watch over His Dwellingplace. Their task was to watch over the holiness of the Sanctuary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Consecration of the Priests to Yahweh (3.2-4, 10).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We are first given a summary of the priesthood as it then was, and their consecration. At this stage it can be seen why they would need assistance from the tribe of Levi. Apart from these five, soon to become three, no one apart from Moses was allowed within the Sanctuary, although the sons of these priests were no doubt already growing up. Aaron was by this time 'well matured' (Exodus 7.7) and Eleazar and Ithamar were no doubt married and would have developing sons of their own. The priests would soon multiply. But as yet they were still few.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.2-3 'And these are the names of the sons of Aaron, Nadab the first-born, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests that were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest's office.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The names of the anointed priests apart from Aaron are given, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. These were his natural born sons whom, at Yahweh's command, he had consecrated to minister with him in the priest's office. (Or the 'he' may be Yahweh).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.4 'And Nadab and Abihu died before Yahweh, when they offered strange fire before Yahweh, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children; and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest's office in the presence of Aaron their father.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But two of these four were slain 'before Yahweh', in the Sanctuary precincts, because they treated the things of God lightly, offering non-holy incense ('strange fire', that is, not in accord with God's commandments) before Him. In view of the fact that everything in chapter 4 is described as being under the control of Eleazar and Ithamar it is clear that that event had already happened by this stage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Dedication of the Levites to the Priests and to Yahweh (3.5-13).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the light of the shortage of priests the promotion of someone to act as assistants to them was inevitable. But it should be noted that the Levites had a limited main purpose. It was that of looking after the Dwellingplace and its contents on their travels. They were divine baggage boys. Such a stress could only have arisen during the wilderness period. It would otherwise have had no purpose. For once Israel were settled in the land and the Dwellingplace was permanently in one place this main task would be redundant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That this occurred at an early date is especially confirmed by the fact that they were allotted nine tenths of the tithes. This could only have happened when their numbers were considerably in excess of those of the priesthood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.5-6 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Bring the tribe of Levi near, and set them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister to him." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The tribe of Levi, Aaron's own tribe, were now called on to supply supplementary Sanctuary service. They were set before Aaron as his Sanctuary servants, to 'minister to him' in his holy office. That is, they were available to do heavy work such as carrying, doing any work which did not require to be performed by a priest, and acting in general around the Sanctuary (but not within it except when the furniture had been packed) performing non-priestly functions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Bring near.' A religious term connected with the Sanctuary denoting the bringing of an offering to Yahweh. Thus the Levites were seen here as a kind of offering. They had replaced the firstborn sons of Israel as Yahweh's servants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.7-8 "And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation, before the tent of meeting, to do the service of the tabernacle, and they shall keep all the furniture of the tent of meeting, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        They were to be looked to both by Aaron and by the congregation of Israel to fulfil their responsibilities towards the Tent of Meeting. One of those responsibilities was to guard the Tent of Meeting (compare 1.53) and to maintain the furniture of the Tent of Meeting. The guarding would involve all the furniture, for while they could not touch it (when they carried the furniture it was wrapped and borne on staves), they must guard it with their lives. The maintenance was probably only in respect of smaller items which could be brought out for the purpose. We are not told what limitations were put on this at this time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.9 'And you shall give the Levites to Aaron and to his sons. They are wholly given to him on the behalf of the children of Israel."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Levites were 'given to Aaron', that is were put entirely at the disposal of Aaron and his sons. For all their duties they looked to them. The lack of mention of wider duties is significant. At this time the major one was to be that of total responsibility for the Dwellingplace when travelling, and of guarding it from intrusion. Later their responsibilities would widen, for example with regard to the overseeing of tithes of corn, wheat and barley. They would also teach the people the general requirements of the Torah as instructed by the priests, especially as it related to such things. But that would only be fully necessary when they were finally in the land.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.10 "And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall keep their priesthood, and the stranger who comes nigh shall be put to death."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is, however, made clear that the Levites were not to act as priests. The priesthood was to be retained within the close family of Aaron. They were to 'keep their priesthood'. Only they could approach the altar, manipulate the blood of offerings and sacrifices, and enter the inner Sanctuary. They were the authoritative teachers of the covenant regulations, the discerners of what was clean and unclean (Leviticus 10.11; Deuteronomy 24.8). Any non-Aaronide who acted as a priest and drew near to the altar or the inner sanctuary for priestly service was to be put to death. How this sentence would be carried out, and by whom, is not described. Later, when priests were more numerous, it would clearly require checks on identification, and on ancestry and antecedents before such an execution took place (see Exodus 32.25-29; Numbers 25.7-12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.11-13 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the first-born who open the womb among the children of Israel, and the Levites shall be mine, for all the first-born are mine. On the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I hallowed to myself all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast. Mine they shall be. I am Yahweh." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The reason for the appointment of the Levites is given. They were to be a substitute for the firstborn sons of Israel whom Yahweh had made holy to Himself at the first Passover (Exodus 13.2). This refers to the 'bechor', the first-born of the father. Thus in polygamous households there would still only be one firstborn. The 'opening of the womb' probably signifies the opening of the 'mother womb' of the family, that is, that of the leading wife, for the 'first-born' is a title only applied to such (1.20; Genesis 27.32; 35.23; 36.15; 38.6; 43.33; 49.3, in comparison with all Jacob's sons).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When Yahweh had slain all the first-born in Egypt He had made holy to Himself all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast (Exodus 13.2, 12, 15; 22.29; 34.19-20). It was to be their duty to serve Him in the ritual requirements of the cult. In the case of clean beasts this would be by being offered as an offering or sacrifice. In the case of men they could be 'redeemed' from being 'offered' by the slaughter of a clean beast in their place (Exodus 13.13, 15), but were then for ever to be available for the service of Yahweh. Those first-born alive at the original Passover were presumably seen as redeemed by the passover lamb, and they thereby became sanctified cult servants. But now the Levites were appointed to take their place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Positioning and Arrangements for Travel of the Levites (3.14-51).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        i). The Command to Number The Levites Over One Month Old (3.14-16).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.14-15 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, saying, "Number the children of Levi by their fathers' houses, by their families, every male from a month old and upward shall you number them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        God now commanded the numbering of the male children of Levi. But the numbering was to be on a different basis to that in chapter 1. Rather than being of those who were twenty years old and upwards it was of those who were one month old and upwards. This was because the comparison was to be made with all firstborn sons, not just adult ones. We can therefore assume that the same basis applied to the firstborn. They did not need to be redeemed until they were one month old.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.16 'And Moses numbered them according to the word of Yahweh, as he was commanded.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And as Yahweh commanded, so Moses did. He numbered the sons of Levi. He was continually obedient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ii). The Descendants of Levi (3.17-20).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For the purpose of the numbering further details were given of who were involved. This brings out who were qualified to be Levites. It was those who were directly descended from Levi or his household.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.17 'And these were the sons of Levi by their names: Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        First named were naturally Levi's own sons, Gershon, Kohath and Merari. From these the Levites were outwardly descended. Of course they were not necessarily naturally so. They could have been born to others in the household of Levi thus becoming a part of the tribe of Levi. But they would be seen as 'adopted' sons of Levi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It would appear from this that Gershon was the first-born (compare 1 Chronicles 6.1). It is therefore significant that it was the sons of Kohath who obtained the highest position, that of bearing the Ark and the Sanctuary furniture. This would seem to confirm that the reason for their selection, and therefore also for the selection of the Levites as a whole, was more to do with their relationship with Moses and Aaron. All that the molten calf incident did was demonstrate that they were not to be excluded because of unbelief. But in the end they were chosen because of their connections with the chosen ones.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.18-20 'And these are the names of the sons of Gershon by their families: Libni and Shimei. And the sons of Kohath by their families: Amram, and Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. And the sons of Merari by their families: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their fathers' houses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Descent from the three sons of Levi was then described. If these were the grandsons, as they seemingly were (verse 27), then Amram was not the direct father of Moses, but his famous ancestor (see also 1 Chronicles 6.1-3). But it was quite common in those days for an ancestor to be described as a person's 'father'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        iii). The Family And Privileges of Gershon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As Gershon was the first-born details concerning his sub-tribe were given first. Information was now given about general descent, status, sacred task and 'numbers' of those in the sub-tribe over one month old expressed in terms of 'hundreds' (units of those who serve).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.21 'Of Gershon was the family (or 'clan') of the Libnites, and the family (or 'clan') of the Shimeites: these are the families (or 'clans') of the Gershonites.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Coming down to Moses' day the descendants of the sub-tribe of Gershon were the clans of the Libnites and the Shimeites. These were the 'families' of the Gershonites whose males from one month and upwards had to be 'numbered'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.22 'Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And those who were numbered amounted to seven 'lph. 'lph ('thousands) were lower levels of 'family' to the two clans mentioned above, but larger than a 'nuclear family'. Thus an 'eleph is lower down the scale from a mishpachah. There was one mishpachah divided up into seven 'eleph. And there were five 'hundreds', or service groups in those seven 'lph s.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Alternately it means that there were seven chieftains and in all five 'hundreds' or service groups. It will be noted that all is in 'hundreds' (service groups). There is no attempt to make an individual count.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.23 'The families of the Gershonites shall encamp behind the tabernacle westward.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The sub-tribes of the Gershonites were to encamp between the Rachel tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin to the west, and the Tabernacle. This was the third most prestigious position (2.18-24). The first was to the east, occupied by the priests, the second to the south, occupied by the Kohathites, because they were more directly related to Moses and Aaron (compare 2.3-9, 10-16).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.24 'And the prince of the fathers' house of the Gershonites shall be Eliasaph the son of Lael.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The person appointed to oversee the Gershonites in their sacred tasks was Eliasaph, son of Lael, probably already the chieftain of the sub-tribe rather than a special appointment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.25-26 'And the charge of the sons of Gershon in the tent of meeting shall be the tabernacle, and the Tent, its covering, and the screen for the door of the tent of meeting, and the hangings of the court, and the screen for the door of the court, which is by the tabernacle, and by the altar round about, and the cords of it for all its service.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The responsibility of the Gershonites was to be for the Dwellingplace itself, including the Tent Sanctuary, and all hangings and coverings and cords. This was the second most prestigious task of the Levites, the first being the responsibility for the sacred furniture including the Ark.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        iv). The Family and Privilege of Kohath (3.27-32).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.27 'And of Kohath was the family ('clan') of the Amramites, and the family of the Izharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites: these are the families ('clans') of the Kohathites.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of the sub-tribe of Kohath the clans were the Amramites, the Izharites, the Hebronites and the Uzzielites. These together were responsible for the carrying of the Tabernacle furniture.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.28 'According to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, there were eight thousand and six hundred, keeping the charge of the sanctuary.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the case of the Kohathites there were eight 'wider families' made up of six 'service units' who had 'the charge of the Sanctuary', that is, they had primary responsibility for looking after its principle effects while on the march. (Or alternately eight chieftains and six 'hundreds').

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.29 'The families of the sons of Kohath shall encamp on the side of the tabernacle southward.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These 'clans' were to encamp on the south side of the Tabernacle, the second most prestigious position, between the Dwellingplace and the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad. The priests themselves had the most prestigious position.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.30 'And the prince of the fathers' house of the clans of the Kohathites shall be Elizaphan the son of Uzziel.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The chieftain of the Kohathite sub-tribe was Elizaphan, the son of Uzziel. He was chief over all the clans which were a part of the sub-tribe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.31 'And their charge shall be the ark, and the table, and the lampstand, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary with which they minister, and the screen, and all its service.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The responsibility of the Kohathites was to be for the actual Dwellingplace furniture, the Ark, the Table, the Lampstand, the altars (the altar of incense and the bronze altar), the vessels used in the inner Sanctuary, the screen which separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place ('the veil') and all aspects related to them

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This was an awesome responsibility. They would, however, never see them 'uncovered'. Always the priest would have covered them and packed them adequately first so that there was no danger of their touching them directly, for that would have meant their death.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.32 'And Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be prince of the princes of the Levites, and have the oversight of them that keep the charge of the sanctuary.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The importance of the task of the Kohathites is evidenced by the mention here of Eleazar, Aaron's son, who would become High Priest on the death of Aaron. He was to be in authority over all the chieftains as 'prince of the princes'. He was especially to have oversight over the Kohathites in their task, for it was they who 'kept the charge of the Sanctuary' (verse 28).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        v). The Family and Privilege of Merari (3.33-37).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.33 'Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merari.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The two clans of the Levite sub-tribe of Merari were the Mahlites and the Mushites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.34 And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Of these there were six 'larger families' (or 'chieftains') from which were drawn the two service units or hundreds who looked after the responsibilities of the sub-tribe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.35 'And the prince of the fathers' house of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: they shall encamp on the side of the tabernacle northward.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Their chieftain was Zuriel the son of Abihail. They encamped on the north side of the Dwellingplace, between it and the tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.36-37 'And the appointed charge of the sons of Merari shall be the boards of the tabernacle, and its bars , and its pillars, and its sockets, and all its instruments, and all its service, and the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The responsibility of the sons of Merari was for the 'nuts and bolts' of the Sanctuary, all the small parts so necessary for the whole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        vi). The Positioning of the Priests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.38 'And those who encamp before the tabernacle eastward, before the tent of meeting toward the sunrising, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons, keeping the charge of the sanctuary for the charge of the children of Israel, and the stranger who comes near shall be put to death.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Levites would be encamped to the north, the west and the south, but to the east of the Dwellingplace would be encamped Moses, and Aaron and his sons, and their households. That was where the entrance to the Dwellingplace was, and it was their responsibility to ensure that no one approached to enter, unless such approach was valid in accordance with God's Instruction.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        vii). The Make-up of the Levites And Their Substitution for the Firstborn (3.39-51).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.39 'All who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of Yahweh, by their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The total 'number' of the male Levites over one month old is now given. Note that they are numbered 'in terms of (by) their families'. Their total number came to 22 'lph (families), or 21 family leaders/chieftains plus an 'lph composed of the 13 'hundreds' of people (a rounded figure). Note how 13 'hundreds' could be thought of as 'a thousand'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The adding up of the 'numbers' of the three sub-tribes would actually give us 22,300. Thus the 22 'lph is clearly under any system a rounding off. Some have suggested that the extra three hundred was taken off in order to allow for the number of first-born in Levi, for as they were already dedicated to Yahweh as first-born they could not replace others who were dedicated as first-born. This is certainly good reason and would have to be allowed for, but the numbers are still rounded and not exact. (And they still are so even if, unnecessarily, an error in the copying of the text is suggested).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.40-41 'And Yahweh said to Moses, "Number all the first-born males of the children of Israel from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. And you shall take the Levites for me (I am Yahweh) instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the children of Israel." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The overall principle here is that the Levites and their cattle were to take the place of the firstborn of Israel and the firstborn of cattle who were obligated to Yahweh because of the deliverance at the Passover when the firstborn of sons and cattle were spared. That obligation was now removed by virtue of the setting apart of the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Moses was firstly to number all the first-born males of the children of Israel taking 'the number of their names'. These were then to be released from their dedication to Yahweh by being replaced by Levites. Up to this point, since the setting up of the Dwellingplace, the firstborn sons had had to perform the duties there. That would be required no longer. While these duties would not have been onerous while in the wilderness, had they continued once in the land they would have become so. The firstborn sons would have had to leave home and would not have been fully available for work on the farms and with the flocks and herds. But now the service in the Dwellingplace was to be the privilege of the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'And the cattle of the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the cattle of the children of Israel.' The interpretation of quite what this indicates is complicated by the fact that while the Passover obligation of 'the firstborn' was being removed, the firstborn cattle of the children of Israel were still owing to Yahweh as firstfruits. That obligation was not removed. So it did not mean that the firstborn cattle were not to be offered to Yahweh. They were Yahweh's anyway under the principle of the firstfruits. The point was rather that as the firstborn cattle were now already Yahweh's as firstlings, they could not also be separately offered as firstborn. Thus they had to be substituted by the cattle of the Levites otherwise they would need to be offered twice over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Initially all firstborn of cattle were to be 'made holy to Yahweh' (Exodus 13.2) because of the deliverance from Egypt and their sparing at the Passover. They shall be Yahweh's (Exodus 13.12). They were to be 'given to Yahweh' (Exodus 22.30). They were later made holy to Yahweh as firstfruits (Deuteronomy 15.19). When they were being sacrificed the meat was to go to the priests (18.15, 17-18). Some was, however, to be made available for feasting before Yahweh as Deuteronomy reveals (Deuteronomy 12.6, 17; 14.23; 15.19). This latter 'making holy as firstfruits' is clearly not being abrogated as these future references make clear. But that is because they were firstfruits. The only obligation to be abrogated was that of the firstborn as a result of the Passover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It should be noted that the Levite cattle now became Yahweh's. All the cattle that they held in future would also be seen as Yahweh's. All that a Levite owned from now on was his own home, or anything he purchased. The fields and cattle around his city belonged to Yahweh, while being available for the use of the Levites as Yahweh's servants. Thus they could be substituted for the Passover firstborn cattle without being killed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is significant that the closer to Yahweh's service they came the less possessions they had. Their minds were not to be filled with a desire for possessions, but to the desire to have God as their possession. They were not to be dragged down by 'the deceitfulness of riches'. Their whole attention was to be on serving Him. Once this attitude was lost, they were lost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'I am Yahweh.' This brings out the great privilege that was to be theirs. They were to be YAHWEH's, servants of the One Who Is, the Creator, the Controller of History.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.42 'And Moses numbered, as Yahweh commanded him, all the first-born among the children of Israel.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So Moses did what Yahweh had commanded. He 'numbered' all the firstborn among the children of Israel, allocating them to their service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.43 'And all the first-born males according to the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The number of the firstborn males was assessed at 22 'lph and two hundred and seventy three. All this is actually saying is that the number of Levites was twenty two 'lph (whatever that meant), and that by assessment the firstborn were 273 more. This incidentally removes any difficulty from the figures. There was simply a surplus of 273 extra to be accounted for, however we interpret the 22,000.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We have already noted that 'according to the number of the names' has a specialised meaning representing a grouping. See 1.18, 20, 22, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This would also explain why there were so 'few' Levites compared with the other tribes. (22,000 Levites of one month old and upwards compared with 32,200 'above 20 years old' of even the smallest other tribe). It could partly be explained by the fact that the Levites had probably not adopted so many resident aliens. But if the 'lph simply refers to 'wider families' (or 'chieftains') then it may simply have been due to the fact that their 'family' system worked on the basis of closer ties, this resulting in larger 'families'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        EXCURSUS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Note On The 22,273 Firstborn of Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For those who take all the 'numbers' in the Pentateuch in terms of modern translations and apply them literally this number has caused considerable problems. It is asked how could there only be 22,273 firstborn of Israel if there were 600,000 men of over 20? This would indicate excessively large families. The explanation could certainly be helped by the fact that 'bechor' meant simply the firstborn of the father (1.20), but only if polygamous marriages were fairly common. Later evidence is that they were not so, but circumstances may have been very different at this stage. The situation in Egypt may well have caused a shortage of men compared with women (compare Isaiah 4.1). Furthermore it may well be that the firstborn, due to their position in the family, had suffered most in Egypt, being the first to be put to death for infractions by 'the slaves'. This could then have resulted in a small number of living firstborns, and would help to explain the judgment on the firstborn of Egypt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        However, in our view the difficulty does not arise for the reasons mentioned above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        End of EXCURSUS.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.44-45 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Take the Levites instead of all the first-born among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle. And the Levites shall be mine. I am Yahweh." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh now repeats His instruction, stressing its importance, and making it crystal clear. The Levites were to replace the firstborn sons as servants of the Sanctuary, and their cattle, now set aside as Yahweh's, were to replace the firstborn which would otherwise be due from the Israelite cattle. They would be released from their double obligation of firstling and firstborn, being now only responsible for firstlings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.46-48 "And for the redemption of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the first-born of the children of Israel, that are over and above the number of the Levites, you shall take five shekels apiece per head. After the shekel of the sanctuary you shall take them (the shekel is twenty gerahs), and you shall give the money, with which the odd number of them is redeemed, to Aaron and to his sons."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The remaining surplus of 273 were now brought into account. They were to be redeemed by their parents at a ransom of 5 shekels per person. This money was then to be given to the priests. This was the estimate of the value of a male child under five years old (Leviticus 27.6 - possibly the equivalent of the slave price for a male under five years old), the redeemed children clearly being seen as those most recently born. The ones to be paid for were probably selected by Urim and Thummim. Or it may have been paid by the more wealthy. The resulting redemption silver was to be handed over to the priests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.49-50 'And Moses took the redemption-silver from those who were over and above those who were redeemed by the Levites. From the first-born of the children of Israel took he the silver, a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So Moses collected the redemption silver which amounted to 1,365 shekels.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3.51 'And Moses gave the redemption-silver to Aaron and to his sons, according to the word of Yahweh, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Moses then passed it on to the priests, as he had been commanded by Yahweh, so that 'the word of Yahweh' was fulfilled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One important lesson for us that comes from this chapter is its lesson on substitution and redemption. In the economy of God, like could be substituted for like. Thus was our Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of the world and all that is in it (John 1.1-3; Colossians 1.14-17), a more than sufficient substitute for His creation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We may also draw the lesson of responsibility. The Levites were required to respond to Yahweh and be totally dedicated to His service. God requires that of us too. But we are not restricted by the tribe that we belong to. Our dedication is a matter of willingness on our part. The question for us is, 'Who is on the Lord's side?'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Chapter 4 The Tasks of the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this chapter the special tasks allotted to the priests and to each of the sub-tribes of Levi are described, and the number of Levites between thirty and fifty (those special numbers again) who were available for the tasks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Priests' Responsibility for the Dwellingplace (4.1-15).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is stressed that what we have are the words of Yahweh as given to Moses and Aaron. Aaron was included here (and in verse 17, contrast verse 21) because he has a special responsibility in respect of this particular section of what is being described.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.2-3 "Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, by their families, by their fathers' houses, from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter upon the service, to do the work in the tent of meeting."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The command is now given to obtain the sum of 'the sons of Kohath', which includes the priests who were 'sons of Kohath'. The sum is of those who are between thirty and fifty years old. The priests would have overall responsibility for the Dwellingplace and perform the priestly service with respect to it. The remainder of the Kohathites, and the other Levites were the ones who would do the heavy work with regard to the bearing of the Dwellingplace. Again it is by their families (clans) by their father's houses (wider families) Numbering seems always to be done in terms of these.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This in this context would seem to suggest that priesthood also began at thirty years old. That was not, however, true for the High Priesthood which began on the death of the previous High Priest and lasted until death (35.25-28).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.4 "This is the service of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting, concerning the most holy things."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The service of the sons of Kohath with respect to the holy things of the Sanctuary was now to be described. The priests were themselves sons of Kohath. Their responsibility for packing the holy things ready for going forward is described first, and then the responsibility of the remainder of the sons of Kohath.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.5-6 "When the camp sets forward, Aaron shall go in, and his sons, and they shall take down the veil of the screen, and cover the ark of the testimony with it, and shall put on it a covering of dolphin skin, and shall spread over it a cloth all of blue, and shall put in its staves."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When preparations were to be made for the camp to go forward Aaron and his sons were to go into the Sanctuary. They were to take down the screen and cover the Ark of the Testimony with it. This may suggest that the veil was taken down and laid on it in such a way that they ensured that their eyes did not fix themselves on the uncovered Ark, ever being held between them and the Ark. The High Priest would know exactly where it was. But it is not necessarily so. Then a further covering of dolphin skins was to be put on it, after which it was covered with a further cloth of blue. Its staves were then to be put through the rings so that it could be carried.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The covering with the veil was the reminder that Yahweh was always behind the veil, His throne unseeable by naked eye. The cloth of blue was a reminder that they were dealing with things which were beyond the blue heavens (compare Exodus 24.10; 1 Kings 8.27). Or it may be that the purpley blue was a representation of royalty (compare Esther 8.15). Indeed both may have been in mind, heavenly royalty. The staves were a reminder that it could not be touched, while enabling it to be carried. It should be noted that this is the only item where the blue cloth is put outside the dolphin skin. This is probably because it was intended to make a declaration of heavenliness and royalty even as it was carried forward. We can see this as confirmation of the fact that the Ark was not carried with the other items of furniture but led the way before the advancing tribes (10.33-36). It was not just carried, but carried where it would be looked on as the symbol of Yahweh's presence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.7 "And on the table of showbread they shall spread a cloth of blue, and put on it the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls and the cups with which to pour out, and the continual bread shall be on it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Next came the table of showbread. This was then covered with a blue cloth, again with heavenly or royal connections. After that all its accoutrements were placed on the cloth, including the twelve loaves of bread that represented all the tribes before Yahweh. It may be that they were wrapped up for safety in the blue cloth, but we are not told so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.8 "And they shall spread on them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of dolphin skin, and shall put in its staves."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The whole was then covered with a scarlet cloth. This may well have represented the blood of atonement. These cloths would demonstrate that God's people were both heavenly or royal and in reception of atonement. The whole was then to be covered with a (weatherproof) covering of dolphin skin, after which the staves for carrying it were to be slotted in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.9-10 "And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the lampstand of the light, and its lamps, and its snuffers, and its fireholders, and all its oil vessels, with which they minister to it, and they shall put it and all its vessels within a covering of dolphin skin, and shall put it on the frame."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The lampstand and its accoutrements came next. They were all covered with a cloth of blue, followed by a covering of dolphin skin. This was then put on a frame for carrying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.11 "And on the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of dolphin skin, and shall put in its staves."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Next came the golden altar of incense. On this was spread a cloth of blue, followed by a covering of dolphin skin. Then the carrying staves would be put in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.12 "And they shall take all the vessels of ministry, with which they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a covering of dolphin skin, and shall put them on the frame."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All the vessels used in the inner Sanctuary would then be placed on a cloth of blue, probably wrapped over, covered with a dolphin skin. They were then placed on a carrying frame.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The fact that all these were covered with a cloth of blue appears to confirm that the idea is of heavenly connections. Day by day they gazed at a blue sky 'beyond' which was the heavenly dwellingplace of Yahweh. It was natural that a blue cloth would speak to them of that heavenly dwellingplace. While the purpley blue might by itself indicate royalty, royalty is indicated by other colours, and it must be considered unlikely that all the colours pointed to the exactly the same idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.13-14 "And they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and spread a purple cloth on it, and they shall put on it all its vessels, with which they minister about it, the firepans, the flesh-hooks, and the shovels, and the basins, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread on it a covering of dolphin skin, and put in its staves."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once the whole contents of the inner Sanctuary had been dealt with attention would turn to the bronze altar. The ashes were to be taken away and properly dealt with, and then a purple cloth laid on it. After this all its accoutrements and vessels would be placed on the cloth before it was covered in dolphin skin. Then the carrying staves would be put in. If we are to see this purple cloth as indicating royalty it might confirm more strongly that the blue cloth indicated the heavens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The removal of the ashes demonstrates that it was expected that sacrifices would be carried out on the wilderness journey (there were ashes there). We are not told how the permanently lit fire was to be packed and carried (Leviticus 6.12-13). Later it was believed that it was covered with a large copper vessel. It may, however, be that it was allowed to go out while on the wilderness journey, just as the continual whole burnt offerings might sometimes not be offered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Taking of the Sum of the Levites and their Responsibilities (4.15-49).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Responsibility of the Sons of Kohath (4.15-20).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.15 'And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the furniture of the sanctuary, as the camp is set forward, after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it. But they shall not touch the sanctuary, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tent of meeting.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All the priests' work having been done, the furniture was then in a state in which the Levites of the tribe of Kohath could approach and lift it so as to carry it. But they were not to touch 'the sanctuary (or 'the holy thing')' lest they die. They could go so far but no further. By 'the holy thing' may actually be meant the Ark for this 'holy thing' is said to have been covered. Or it may be a term which refers to all the holy things which were covered seen as a whole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The furniture was the only thing carried by hand. While the remainder would be carried in ox carts, the furniture was too holy for that. All these careful provisions stressed the otherness of Yahweh, and His distinctness. While He could be approached when it was done in the right way, He was being revealed as the One Who was not easily available to man. He was the One of Whom man must beware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.16 'And the charge of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest shall be the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the continual grain offering, and the anointing oil, the charge of all the tabernacle, and of all that is in it, the sanctuary, and its furniture.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Eleazar had supreme overall control of all this and himself was responsible for the holy oil for the lamp, the sweet incense, the continual grain offering (probably the daily grain offering which would need to be in readiness) and the anointing oil. All these would be especially holy and would need to be to hand for priestly service. He also had overall control of the Sanctuary and its contents. It was a solemn responsibility.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.17-20 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "Do not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites, but thus do to them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach to the most holy things. Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden, but they shall not go in to see the sanctuary ('or 'what is holy') even for a moment, lest they die." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Indeed so seriously had all this responsibility to be taken, a responsibility which would involve danger for the Kohathites if wrongly carried out, that a special word was added by Yahweh. Aaron and the priests were carefully to supervise all that was done, giving instructions as necessary, and allocating the Levites' responsibilities. They were especially to ensure that the Kohathites did not see any of the holy things uncovered, even for a moment. So important was this that if they failed in this duty it could result in the destruction of the whole sub-tribe of Kohath. If they approached the holy things too early it could only result in death. The aim in all this was to be as a reminder that Yahweh was 'wholly other', was not of this world, and was therefore a warning that this mundane world could not have direct contact with Him in His earthly revelation of Himself. Approach to Him was only possible once His methods of approach had been carried through by means of offerings and sacrifices, incense, and the worshipful approach thus far and no further of His chosen mediators, the Aaronic priests. The way into the Holiest was not yet revealed (Hebrews 9.8).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Responsibility of the Sons of Gershon (4.21-28).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.21-23 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Take the sum of the sons of Gershon also, by their fathers' houses, by their families, from thirty years old and upward until fifty years old you shall number them, all who enter in to wait on the service, to do the work in the tent of meeting." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh's next command was to take the sum of the Gershonites. Again it was to be done by their father's houses ('thousands?') and by their families ('hundreds'?). All males who were between 30 and 50 who were fit for service were to be numbered, those who could respond to the call to work in the Tent of Meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.24 "This is the service of the families of the Gershonites, in serving and in bearing burdens."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The way in which the Gershonites were to serve was now listed. It was stressed that their service included the bearing of heavy burdens.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.25 "They shall bear the curtains of the tabernacle, and the tent of meeting, its covering, and the covering of dolphin skin that is above upon it, and the screen for the door of the tent of meeting, and the hangings of the court, and the screen for the door of the gate of the court, which is by the tabernacle and by the altar round about, and their cords, and all the instruments of their service, and whatever shall be done with them. In these things shall they serve."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It was their responsibility to carry the Dwellingplace itself with its curtains and accoutrements, its door screen and gate screen, and its dolphin skin covering. Elsewhere we learned that the Levites were to dismantle the Dwellingplace when a journey was to begin and re-erect it at the next stop (2.51). Probably all three sub-tribes assisted with this dismantling and erecting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.27 "At the commandment of Aaron and his sons shall be all the service of the sons of the Gershonites, in all their burden, and in all their service; and you shall appoint to them in charge all their burden."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All their service and work and burden bearing was to be done under the authority of Aaron and his sons who were to direct who would do what.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.28 "This is the service of the families of the sons of the Gershonites in the tent of meeting, and their charge shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So the service of the 'families' of the sons of the Gershonites has been made clear. And while about their activity, and on the march, they were under the supervision and control of Ithamar, the son of Aaron 'the Priest' (the High Priest).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Responsibility of the Sons of Merari (4.29-33).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.29-30 "As for the sons of Merari, you shall number them by their families, by their fathers' houses, from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old shall you (thou) number them, every one who enters on the service, to do the work of the tent of meeting."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The sons of Merari who were between 30 and 50 and able to serve were also to be listed by their families and by their father's houses for the work of the Tent of Meeting. The same had been true also for the other sub-tribes. In this respect they were all equal and acceptable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.31-32 "And this is the charge of their burden, according to all their service in the tent of meeting, the boards of the tabernacle, and its bars, and its pillars, and its sockets, and the pillars of the court round about, and their sockets, and their pins, and their cords, with all their instruments, and with all their service. And by name you shall appoint the instruments of the charge of their burden."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Their responsibility was to look after all the 'nuts and bolts' of the Tent of Meeting without which it could not be erected and hold together. They may not have seemed important compared with the furniture of the Dwellingplace but it could not be erected without them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'And by name you shall appoint the instruments of the charge of their burden.' The sons of Merari were the only ones who were to be allotted their charge by name. Looking after the nuts and bolts was a very important job, and none must go astray. Thus different members of the 'hundreds' would each be allotted his own area of responsibility in order to ensure that nothing went astray.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.33 "This is the service of the families of the sons of Merari, according to all their service, in the tent of meeting, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So this was their service and responsibility. Like the Gershonites they too were under the control and authority of Ithamar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This reminds us that all of us are allocated different tasks in our service for God, and while our task may seem to be small it is vital that it be done properly and in a right spirit. For if one nut or bolt is missing the whole will be blemished. Blessed indeed is the church where every member fulfils his or her responsibility prayerfully and believingly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Assessment or 'Numbering' of the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.34-37 'And Moses and Aaron and the princes of the congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites by their families, and by their fathers' houses, from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, every one who entered on the service, for work in the tent of meeting, and those who were numbered of them by their families were two thousand seven hundred and fifty. These are they who were numbered of the families of the Kohathites, all who served in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the commandment of Yahweh by Moses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This numbering was a mobilisation for service. The first to be 'numbered' were the males between 30 and 50 years old of the Kohathites. They came in at two chieftains (or 'families') and seven 'hundreds' (or fathers' houses) of men to serve and a fifty. In the light of the addition of the fifty in the listing of the tribes (1.25) the addition of this fifty is probably intended to stress the connection of all three sub-tribes with the covenant. If the significance of the 'two 'lph' is two families we may probably see a combination of clans, Amram and Izehar, together with Hebron and Uzziel (3.19). But for this reason we are probably to read 'chieftains'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The mention of them as working in the Tent of Meeting may just suggest that they were permitted to do so, but possibly only once the sacred furniture was packed up. This would enable the carrying out of much needed repairs. Note that all was in accordance with Yahweh's command to Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.38-41 'And those who were numbered of the sons of Gershon, their families, and by their fathers' houses, from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, every one who entered on the service, for work in the tent of meeting, even those who were numbered of them, by their families, by their fathers' houses, were two thousand and six hundred and thirty. These are they who were numbered of the families of the sons of Gershon, all who served in the tent of meeting, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the commandment of Yahweh.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The second to be numbered were the Gershonites. Their 30-50 year old males ready for service came to two chieftains (or 'families') and six 'hundreds' (or 'father's houses') of men to serve, and a thirty. In line with the mention of a thirty in the listing of the tribes in 26.7 this may indicate the completeness of the three sub-tribes for their task. Again we note that all was in accordance with the command to Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.42-45 'And those who were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, by their families, by their fathers' houses, from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, every one who entered on the service, for work in the tent of meeting, even those who were numbered of them by their families, were three thousand and two hundred. These are they who were numbered of the families of the sons of Merari, whom Moses and Aaron numbered according to the commandment of Yahweh by Moses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The final ones to be numbered were the sons of Merari. Their thirty to fifty year olds ready for service amounted to three chieftains (or 'families') and two 'hundreds' (fathers' houses) of men to serve. The fact that the number of 'lphs in no case tie in with the number of clans would favour translating 'lph as 'chieftain'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.46 'All those who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron and the princes of Israel numbered, by their families, and by their fathers' houses, from thirty years old and upward even to fifty years old, every one who entered in to do the work of service, and the work of bearing burdens in the tent of meeting, even those who were numbered of them, were eight thousand and five hundred and fourscore.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We note here that the princes of Israel had been involved with Moses and Aaron in the numbering. All the tribes were concerned with the efficient and faithful service of the Sanctuary, and were to have their part in their appointment. The full total of those who entered into the work of service and the work of bearing burdens in respect of the Dwellingplace came in total to eight 'lph and five 'hundreds' and eighty. The eight 'lph would be made up of the six chieftains and two 'lph of ten 'hundreds' each, making together eight 'lph. The remaining five 'hundreds' and the eighty made up the balance to achieve the sum total of the three totals of the clans. The 'eighty' was simply the necessary result of having a fifty and a thirty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4.49 'According to the commandment of Yahweh they were numbered by Moses, every one according to his service, and according to his burden. Thus were they numbered by him, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Again it is stressed (twice) that this was done at Yahweh's command to Moses., mobilising the sons of Levi for the service they had to perform and the burdens they would have to bear as they looked after the Tent of Meeting when it was on the move.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Among the lessons we learn from these chapters is the importance of organisation and planning in our service for God, and the recognition that there is a need for each of us to play our part, however small it may seem. There were three strata. The priests at the top, the most holy, to whom the Levites looked; the Levites in the middle, the next most holy, to whom the people looked; and the armies of Israel at the bottom, who were still holy while not being as holy as the other two. 'Outside' were the resident aliens who had not yet merged with a tribe. This was not a question of righteousness or lack of it, but of the position that God had placed them in. We will see shortly that if Israelites wished to improve their 'holiness' God had provided a way by which this could be done, the way of the Nazirite, which could by choice be permanent or temporary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But it should be noted that all were necessary to the ongoing of God's purposes in and for Israel. Just as the Dwellingplace furniture and coverings were nothing without the nuts and bolts, so the priesthood and the Levites would have achieved nothing without the soldiers. God had a place for all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We may see the priesthood as representing the activity of our Lord Jesus Christ on our behalf, offering Himself for us and interceding on our behalf; the Levites as those called by God to act on His behalf as His servants; and the men-at-arms as representing the whole people of God. And yet in another sense we have all been made priests that we may serve at the heavenly Sanctuary with sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        SECTION 2.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Provision For The Purity of the Camp And Yahweh's Own Provision For That Purity (5.1-9.14).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Vital if Yahweh was to dwell among His people, and speak to them, and shine His light on them, was that they be holy. The provision for the holiness of the camp can be divided between the responsibility of the people to seek holiness and purity (5.1-7.88) and the response of Yahweh in providing them (7.89-9.14).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1). The Responsibility Of The Whole People (5.1-7.88).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a First was the responsibility to keep the camp ritually clean and whole by expulsion of all that was unclean that would defile the camp (5.1-4), dealing with moral offences that caused dissension and would defile the camp (5.5-10), and the maintenance of marital relationships with the consequent removal of the defilement of secret adultery (5.11-31).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Second was the responsibility for the lay people to consider the opportunity for individual dedication of themselves as Nazirites to Yahweh (6.1-21), at least for a time, putting themselves almost on a par with the priests from a point of view of consecration to God, although not enabling them to perform priestly functions. By this they could increase the holiness of the camp and contribute to it becoming 'a kingdom of priests' (Exodus 19.6).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • c Third was for the priests to dispense Yahweh's blessing of His people with His Name (6.22-27), establishing them as His holy people and ensuring the holiness of the camp.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • d Fourth was for the princes to provide the gifts and offerings necessary for the dedication of the altar and for the maintaining of the holiness of the Sanctuary on behalf of the whole of Israel (7.1-88).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2). The Response of the Sanctuary (7.89-9.14).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • d In response the Voice of Yahweh would speak to Moses from the Mercy Seat (7.89). The King would make His response to the offerings of the princes by acting as their Guide through the supreme leader.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • c Second would come the lighting of the lamps in the Sanctuary, symbolising the light of Yahweh among His people, and as it shone on the show bread which represented His people, it indicated His blessing on them, and the light of His face shining on them. Through the lampstand, the light of His face was revealed as shining permanently on His people (8.1-4 compare 6.25; 2 Corinthians 4.1-6).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • b Third would come the compulsory dedication of the Levites to the service of Yahweh (8.5-26). This on the Godward side parallels the dedication of the Nazirites among the people, contributing to the holiness of the camp.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • a And fourthly would come the compulsory keeping of the Passover of deliverance by all who were clean (9.1-14). Having cleansed the camp (5.1-31) they were in a position to enjoy the Passover. This glad feast reminded them of how Yahweh watched over them and protected them, because they were atoned for by the shedding of blood in accordance with His commandment. And as their deliverance had begun with the Passover, so would their going forward now begin with the Passover, a reminder that the Yahweh Who had revealed His power in Egypt was still with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Note the parallels. The cleansing of the camp (5.1-31) results in their being able to celebrate the Passover of deliverance as a 'clean' people (9.1-14), The dedication of the people as Nazirites, increasing the holiness of the camp (6.1-21), is paralleled by the permanent dedication of the Levites as holy on their behalf (8.5-26). The blessing of the priests and their desire for the light of His countenance to shine on Israel (6.22-27) is paralleled by the shining of the lamp in the Dwellingplace on the showbread which represented Israel, depicting a greater reality (8.1-4). While the submission of the princes and their dedication of the altar (7.1-88) is responded to by the Voice of Yahweh from between the Cherubim speaking to their supreme leader (7.89).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chapter 5 The Necessity For the Purity and Sinlessness of the Camp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now that preparations had been made for the forces of Israel to advance in proper order on the land and establish Yahweh's rule there, and for the Priests and Levites to ensure the safety and carriage of Yahweh's Dwellingplace which they were bearing there, the next essential was to ensure the purity of the camp. For sin and uncleanness (unwholesomeness) in the camp could prevent all that Yahweh would seek to do, and would mean that He could not dwell among them, and it was important that full recognition should be given to this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            These next chapters thus focus in on this question. The first necessity was for the removal of all that was unclean and unwholesome so as to ensure the purity of the camp, the second was to deal with the question of sins against Yahweh and against neighbours so as to ensure harmony and removal of causes of offence in the camp, and the third was so as to ensure right relationships and faithfulness at the heart of families, by maintaining relationships between husband and wife, and preventing or eradicating grievous sin against Yahweh which defiled the camp. These are dealt with in this chapter. This was then to lead on to a consideration of the need for periods of 'full separation' to Yahweh so that His will might have pre-eminence in their lives, increasing the holiness of the camp (6.1-21), the need for the blessing of Yahweh that they might be holy (6.22-27) and the dedicating of the altar by the princes for the maintaining of the holiness of the people (7.1-88).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            These sections from 5.1 to 7.88 may be summarised as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • a Removal of ritual uncleanness by casting it from the camp (5.1-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • b Removal of moral uncleanness through the activity of the priests (5.5-10)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • c Removal of sexual uncleanness. The woman's hair is let down (5.11-31).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • c Seeking of moral and spiritual holiness. The Nazirite has to grow his hair long. Note how the long hair of the woman parallels the long hair of the Nazirite but for a contrasting reason (6.1-21)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • b Seeking moral and spiritual welfare through the blessing of the priests (6.22-27)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • a Seeking the people's ritual cleanness through the dedication of the altar (7.1-88).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chapter 5 may then be split as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • a Ritual cleansing of the camp from defilement by uncleanness (5.1-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • b Cleansing of the camp from trespasses against Yahweh and against neighbours (5.5-10).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • a Cleansing of the camp from defilement caused by secret adultery (5.11-31).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Ritual Cleansing of the Camp (5.1-4).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The first essential was a symbolic purifying of the camp. This symbolic act at this particular time was in order to stress the importance of keeping the camp clean and wholesome so that Yahweh might dwell in it. It went beyond what would be the norm, for once the point was established some types of uncleanness could be dealt with by exclusion within the camp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • a Yahweh commands that the unclean be put out of the camp (5.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • b Both unclean males and females to be put out of the camp (5.3a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • b The purpose is that they might not defile the camp where Yahweh dwells (5.3b).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • a The children of Israel put the unclean out of the camp as Yahweh commanded (5.4).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5.1-3 And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Command the children of Israel, that they put out of the camp every seriously skin diseased person, and every one who has an issue, and whoever is unclean by the dead. Both male and female shall you put out. Outside the camp shall you put them, so that they do not defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The first stage was to empty the camp of all those with serious skin diseases. Full details of the restrictions and requirements concerning this were to be found in Leviticus 13-14. (See 12.10-16 for a practical example). Those so afflicted would have to live in tents or caves outside the camp and would only be allowed to re-enter the camp in accordance with those regulations and with the permission of the priests when they could declare them clean. All who touched them, or certain things connected with them, would become unclean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  They would no doubt be catered for by their 'families'. They were not spiritually 'cut off'. They could offer sacrifices through the mediation of others, and could pray towards the Dwellingplace, and towards Heaven. It was still 'their camp'. Their being there was simply a recognition that only what was fully wholesome could dwell in God's presence (from which in fact all were restricted to some degree. Even the priests could not enter the Most Holy Place. It was a matter of degrees and giving the right overall impression about God)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The second stage was to empty the camp of all those with an 'issue' from the sex organs. This was in order to bring home to the whole camp that Yahweh saw such an issue as making men and women ritually unclean. All who touched them, or came in contact with certain things connected with them, would also become unclean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Behind this lay the fact that while Yahweh had created man to reproduce (Genesis 1.28), man had brought sin into the world and therefore reproduced in sin (Genesis 5.3-8 - Adam begat a son who would die). Sex itself was not looked on as sinful, it was indeed a requirement for all men (even priests. Without it the priesthood would not have continued), but it was seen as coming short of the best, of full wholesomeness. Possibly included in the idea was that by it man lost something of his own 'life source'. He gave out something of himself, thus diminishing himself. But what is made clear is that when men sought Yahweh's favour abstention from sexual activity was a pre-requirement (Exodus 19.15; 1 Samuel 21.4-5; 1 Corinthians 7.5).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However, having said that, normal sexual discharge would only result in uncleanness until the evening and may therefore well not be in mind here. The thought is probably rather of those with more permanent discharges, which were seen as more serious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In all this we have the paradox that sexual activity was seen as a requirement for man so that he might fulfil his calling, and yet was seen as tainted and not fully wholesome because of what it reproduced (although in normal cases the uncleanness was but for the remainder of the day). But the Bible never encourages asceticism, only self-control for a time for the fulfilment of greater purposes. Paul warns strongly against abstaining from sexual activity, except for a time (1 Corinthians 7.5), unless a person is made in such a way that he can 'live without sin' without it, although he does allow that because we are in the last days there may be grounds for abstention for those so gifted (1 Corinthians 7.7, 9, 26, 32). But he states firmly that husband and wife have a responsibility to each other to satisfy each other's sexual needs (1 Corinthians 7.3-5). To fail to do so deliberately is seen as gross sin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  These exclusions were to be seen as the short, sharp shock. Once the camp was purified those who could demonstrate that they were now clean would presumably be allowed back in once the problem of the issue was, if necessary, dealt with in accordance with Leviticus 15. Their issues could include venereal and other similar genital diseases. This was almost certainly only intended to cover the longer term 'issues' which did not become clean by evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Once the camp had become used to dealing with such issues and had organised themselves so as to provide places of seclusion these uncleannesses would be able to be dealt with within the camp by remaining within a separate section in their tents (see Leviticus 15 where there is no mention of exclusion, only from the company of those who were 'clean').

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The third stage was to remove from the camp all who were unclean through touching, or having other contact with, the dead. This would bring home to all the seriousness of such 'uncleanness'. Physical contact with the dead was considered to be so serious that were it not to be cleansed with the water of uncleanness it would be seen as itself requiring death (19.13, 20). All who entered a tent where there was death would be unclean. For examples of such uncleanness see 19.11, 14, 16. The point here is that death was the opposite of all that the living God was seen to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It can easily be observed that these exclusions would strongly contribute towards the physical health of society, but that is not how God explained them to the people. The maintenance of ritual cleanness would be a far greater impetus to them. And it taught the need for what was seemly and wholesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Ritual uncleanness of any kind was seen as a serious matter. Contact with someone who was unclean could render a person unclean, and so unable to approach Yahweh's Dwellingplace. Thus it was necessary that those who could make others unclean be secluded or excluded as far as the camp was concerned, otherwise uncleanness would spread though the camp. And no unclean person could approach the Sanctuary on pain of death. Fortunately, in respect of most ritual uncleanness the remedy was simply to wait on Yahweh until the evening, having first washed with water in order to remove earthiness before entering into such waiting. Time was the 'healer'. But more persistent uncleanness required more detailed treatment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In view of widespread misunderstanding we should perhaps point out that water on its own is never said to ritually cleanse. After washing the person still remains 'unclean'. The washing removes man's 'earthiness' so that he can approach God. It is the time of waiting that ritually cleanses. Apart from 'the water of uncleanness' (see chapter 19; Ezekiel 36.25 where it is 'cleansed water') water is never said to cleanse, except poetically.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  5.4 'And the children of Israel did so, and put them out outside the camp. As Yahweh spoke to Moses, so did the children of Israel.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The children of Israel did what Yahweh required. They put all who were at that time unclean with serious skin diseases or with issues or with the taint of death outside the camp so that the camp was made pure. It must be remembered in this respect that it would take time for the people to become familiar with the cult ritual with regard to uncleanness. Thus this was a necessary first lesson for them. Their very doing of it would require instruction concerning it, and the further allowing of some back into the camp eventually would also require instruction. Thus would the people learn Yahweh's requirements for the future. Until that instruction was fully absorbed, outside the camp was the only place for all such unfortunate people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The main lesson the people would learn from these exclusions was that God was holy and that nothing defiling could live where He was. They would recognise the need for a pure and holy life, a wholesome life, a life which avoided all that was imperfect, if He was to dwell among them. It would in the course of this prevent the spreading of much communicable disease, and it would encourage wholesomeness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Maintaining Harmony In The Camp: Confession and Restitution For Sin and the Need For Atonement (5.5-10).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Not only ritual uncleanness but a trespass against another would 'defile the camp' and prevent Yahweh dwelling there, and cause dissension within the camp. This was especially true when another had suffered loss by the trespass. This was to be dealt with as prescribed, and if the wronged person was dead restitution must still be made, either to a relative or to Yahweh. The camp must be kept in harmony and in a state of rightness, without dissension, or unfairness, with all in its proper place so that Yahweh could walk there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a A man or woman sins and commits a trespass against Yahweh. This is a trespass that has defrauded another and is thus a taking from Yahweh (5.5-6).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • b They must confess what they have done and give recompense to the one whom they have defrauded (5.7).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • c If the man or his kinsman is not available then he must recompense it to Yahweh (5.8a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • c He must offer the ram of atonement whereby atonement is made for him to Yahweh (5.8b).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • b Every offering of holy things brought to the priest is his, (this is the offerer's recompense to Yahweh) (5.9).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a Every man's 'made holy' thing shall be the priest's, a giving to Yahweh (this is the exact opposite of a trespass which takes from Yahweh) (5.10).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5.5-7 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel, When a man or woman shall commit any sin that men commit, so as to trespass against Yahweh, and that person shall be guilty, then he shall confess his sin which he has done. And he shall make restitution for his guilt in full, and add to it the fifth part of it, and give it to him in respect of whom he has been guilty." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    All sin separates from God but for most sin the offerings and sacrifices provided the regular solution. However, in cases where the sin had caused loss by others and/or disruption with others, thus resulting in disharmony within the camp either physically or spiritually, special requirements were in place. These are dealt with in Leviticus 6.2-3; compare Exodus 22.1. This was to be a time of making right before setting out on their journey towards the land, a provision for keeping right on their journey, and a provision for keeping all in spiritual harmony once they were settled in the land. To Yahweh harmony among His people was an essential.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The sin in mind is first seen as a trespass against Yahweh. It is an indication that when we hurt Yahweh's people, we hurt Him. It is seen as 'a sin that men commit', something which is a part of man's natural behaviour when he is not controlled by Yahweh and His Instruction. God was under no false illusions about the sinfulness of men's hearts. But the special uniqueness of this kind of trespass was that it directly affected others. It disrupted the holiness of the camp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Leviticus 6.2-3 describes such sins in terms of 'if any one sin, and commit a trespass against Yahweh, and deal falsely with his neighbour in a matter of a deposit, or of bargaining, or of robbery, or have oppressed his neighbour, or have found that which was lost, and deal falsely with regard to it, and swear to a lie.' The sins in mind are those of dishonesty with respect to a deposit not repaid when it should have been, the making of a false or unfair bargain, a deliberate theft (compare Exodus 22.1), the sin of oppressing or crowding a neighbour for financial gain, that of finding something that was lost and keeping it, or the making of a lie on oath. All had in one way or another caused loss to a neighbour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Those who had done such things were to consider their position and act accordingly. First they were to openly admit what they had done and the guilt that was theirs because of it. Then they were to make recompense to the person against whom they had 'trespassed' together with an additional one fifth for compensation. If the person was dead then recompense could be made to a kinsman (the whole family had suffered because of the trespass). The one who had sinned would also have to offer a guilt offering (Leviticus 6).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5.8 "But if the man has no kinsman to whom restitution may be made for the guilt, the restitution for guilt which is made to Yahweh shall be the priest's, besides the ram of the atonement, by which atonement shall be made for him."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And if there was no kinsman alive then the recompense and the compensation was to be paid to Yahweh, that is, to the Priest. On top of this restoration and compensation, atonement had to be made. Yahweh too had been robbed and mistreated, and His holiness had been trespassed on. Thus a ram had to be offered as a guilt offering as described in Leviticus 6.6-7. Thus would there be a death for the sin, and its consequences would be removed from the sinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The principle here is very important. What causes disharmony with man causes disharmony with God, and that is equally true when the disharmony is only known to God. Sin disrupts God's holiness and must therefore be fully dealt with so as, as far as possible, to remove all its traces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5.9 "And every heave-offering (or 'contribution offering') of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which they present to the priest, shall be his."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We may see this in terms of its contrast with verse 7. Not only was recompense to be made to the sinned against party, but it was also to be made to Yahweh Who had also been sinned against. Thus the contribution offering from the ram for atonement came to the priest as Yahweh's recompense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But it may also be seen as generally referring to any attempt to withhold the contribution offerings from the priests. The heave-offerings or contribution offerings were those parts of an offering or sacrifice which were the priest's perquisite. There was to be no withholding them from the priest in any way. It was for the priest to decide what he would do with it as long as it was something which was right before God. So when men failed to offer the right offerings and sacrifices they robbed the priest (see 18.8-19; Leviticus 6.16 and often; Deuteronomy 18.1-8).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5.10 "And every man's hallowed things shall be his. Whatever any man gives the priest, it shall be his."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This last was also true of anything that men and women had vowed to Yahweh. Whatever had been made holy to Yahweh by a vow (see 30; Leviticus 27) belonged to the priest and must be dealt with honestly (compare Psalm 15.4). Any failure in this regard would affect the whole camp. That was the negative side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But the positive is that this is in contrast to the behaviour of the man who had trespassed. He had defrauded his neighbour. But the man who sanctifies something to Yahweh and offers it as a holy gift is doing the opposite. He is demonstrating an open and generous heart. And such gifts also belong to the priests. For whatever is given to the priests is his.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jesus in the New Testament brought home something of this situation. He said to those who followed Him that if they were bringing their gift to the altar (to God) and were suddenly convicted of something by which they had offended someone else, they were first to put right the situation before they offered their gift. Reconciliation with their neighbour must take place before offering worship. The implication is that as far as God was concerned worship had little value while the position continued (Matthew 5.23-24). He further pointed out that it might also prevent the neighbour's retaliation which could be costly (verses 26-27; Galatians 5.15).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Maintaining Harmony In The Camp: The Law of Jealousy (5.11-31).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Primary with regard to trespasses against a neighbour was to trespass against his wife. This was an especially heinous trespass which deeply defiled the camp, and if proved would incur the death penalty. It was of vital importance for the holiness of the camp and the wellbeing of Israel that marriage relationships be kept strong and vibrant, and that sexual relations took place only between husband and wife. Nothing was considered to be more disruptive to society than a marriage torn by suspicions and division, and rights of inheritance had to be preserved so as to ensure that the inheritance went to the true heir. Furthermore adultery defiled the camp. If it was not dealt with Yahweh could not dwell there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    On the one hand this was one area above all where the 'trespasser' would retain a firm silence. He/she would not be likely to reveal their guilt, for to admit to such a trespass would basically be to commit suicide. It incurred the death penalty. On the other there was the problem of the disruption that could be caused in the camp by even the suspicion of adultery, and the affect it could have on Yahweh's earthly dwelling with them. Suspicion of adultery could not only cause great distress to the suspicious husband, it could cause even greater distress to an innocent wife. She may be refused the right to produce children. She may even be driven to suicide or back into her parent's home as a deserted wife. This could then cause bitterness between two families which could divide the community. It was a position fraught with danger. And it defiled the camp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The 'law of jealousy', which might at first seem unfair to the wife, catered for such a situation. In a society where women were closely guarded, and where secrecy was difficult because of the crowded lifestyle, the spirit of jealousy would usually have some foundation. But whether it had or not, once it was really raised it would not easily lie down. It would be seen as important that there be some way of resolving it. And this is provided here, under the supervision of Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    We must recognise that this law was not discriminatory against women. If there was discrimination anywhere it was in the fact that a man was not actually forbidden to have more than one wife, and therefore could not be found in this position, although if he was caught in adultery he would be put to death. This law actually demonstrated concern that an innocent woman should not go through life seen as guilty, and with the bearing of children refused to her (which in those days would have been seen as a huge punishment both by her and by others). Yahweh was as concerned to free the innocent woman from blame as He was to convict the guilty. But the whole procedure does bring out how heinous God sees sexual sin to be. It is seen as a sin which goes against the very basis of creation (Genesis 2.24). It defiles the company of the people of God. It is a high handed sin, a flaunting in the face of God, a sin against the very basis of society from the beginning, a capital crime, a crime deserving of death. It is not for nothing that the Scriptures forbid official office in the church to those who have had more than one sexual partner (repeated three times for emphasis (1 Timothy 3.2, 12; Titus 1.6)).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    However what follows is not neutral. While the possibly innocent wife is kept in mind it is the adulterous wife who is the main target of the passage. The aim is to root out the defilement caused by secret adultery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • A man's wife goes aside and commits adultery secretly (5.11-12).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • b The adultery is hidden from her husband and there is no witness (5.13).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • c The spirit of jealousy comes on the man whether she is defiled or not (5.14).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • d The man brings his wife to the priest with an offering of memorial (5.15).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • e The woman brought near and the priest makes the water of testing (5.16-17).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • f The woman is made to stand before Yahweh as prepared by the priest (5.18).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • g The priest charges her with an oath to speak truly (5.19-20).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • g The priest charges the woman with an oath of cursing (5.21-22).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • f The woman is made to drink the water of testing before Yahweh (5.23-24).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • e The priest takes the jealousy offering from the hand of the woman (5.25).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • d The priest bring the man's offering of memorial before Yahweh and makes her drink the water (5.26).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • c If the woman is defiled her body will swell and she shall be a curse (5.27).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • b If she is innocent she will be revealed as clean and shall be free of blame for hidden adultery (5.28).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • a This is the law of jealousy for when a woman goes aside and commits adultery, or is suspected of it, freeing her husband from any guilt in regard to it (5.29-31).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Case of a Man's Wife Who Goes Aside and Commits Adultery Secretly (5.11-12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.11 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Once again it is emphasised that we have here Yahweh's word to Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.12 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, and a man lie with her carnally."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The case is laid out. Adulterous women in the camp must be sought out and dealt with. The example is of a woman who has genuinely betrayed her husband. She had defrauded her husband. She had 'committed a trespass' against him for which nothing could compensate. She had lain with another man in secret. By it she had become defiled even though there was no witness against her and she was not 'caught in the act'. Furthermore through her defilement the holy camp of Israel had been defiled. A defiled person was among them. Covenant unity and purity had been spoiled. It was a serious situation. Of course, while no one had any suspicion on the matter nothing could be done. Such secret sins would have to be left in the hands of Yahweh, and the daily offerings and the Day of Atonement would atone for the defilement as far as Israel was concerned. But once there was genuine suspicion that it might be so the case must be followed up and dealt with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This provision actually enhances women's status. It was seen that under God child producing was primarily her domain. It was her God-given responsibility. It was her prime responsibility to guard all that was connected with it. While man ruled the world, the woman ruled the cradle, and in that lay the whole significance of creation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Adultery is Hidden from Her Husband and There Is No Witness (5.13).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.13 "And it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and there be no witness against her, and she be not taken in the act,"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The emphasis here is on the fact that this grave sin has been kept hidden, although Yahweh will know about it. Her husband does not know, she deliberately keeps it hidden, there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act. But she has been defiled. And because she is defiled the camp is defiled. All may suffer because of her sin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      All of us need to recognise that when we carry around secret sin we defile wherever we go. Many a church's witness is marred by the secret sin of its members.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Spirit of Jealousy Comes On the Man Whether She Is Defiled or Not (5.14)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.14 "And the spirit of jealousy come on him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be defiled, or if the spirit of jealousy come on him, and he be jealous of his wife, and she be not defiled,"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What if there were suspicion that it had happened? It must be borne in mind that this is not written just in order to cater to the suspicions of jealous husbands. The point here is that the husband has a genuine suspicion that the camp of Israel has been defiled. And he is therefore right to be concerned about it because he is aware that Yahweh dwells in the camp and will be aware of it. He is jealous not for himself but for the honour of Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is, however, fairly pointed out by this passage that his suspicions are not to be taken as proof of guilt. It is recognised that they may arise whether the woman was guilty or not. The woman is not to be prejudged. But it is also recognised that 'the spirit of jealousy', the sense that the man has that there has been a capital crime which has defiled the camp and shamed him, is something that must be dealt with for everyone's sake, not least the suspected woman whose life could become impossible. The 'spirit of jealousy' does not just refer to a man 'feeling suspicious and jealous'. It signifies a spirit of deep concern that a sin against Yahweh had been committed which was grievous to Him. It was expressing a concern for the maintenance of the purity of Yahweh's camp because of what Yahweh is. Yahweh is jealous for righteousness, it says, and we must share in His jealousy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Man is To Bring His Wife to the Priest With An Offering of Memorial (5.15).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.15 "Then shall the man bring his wife to the priest, and shall bring her oblation for her, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal. He shall pour no oil on it, nor put frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of memorial, bringing iniquity to remembrance."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The man must then bring his wife to the priest. We must see it as very likely that the priest, probably experienced in such things, would discuss the matter before acting in order to discover what grounds there were for the suspicion. He would not want to be involved in something which just arose from a family quarrel, a case that might soon be dropped. The task he was being asked to perform was a sacred one. Serious questions would be asked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But once he was convinced that there may be genuine grounds for suspicion the husband would then have to present him with a grain offering. This was not a worship offering, for no oil (signifying blessedness) or frankincense (signifying worship) was to be included. It was of a similar nature to the individual sin offering for a poor person (Leviticus 5.11). But it was even lower than that for the grain here was to be the cheapest of grains, the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal. Barley was cheap (2 Kings 7.1), the food for the poor and for animals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It was 'a grain offering of jealousy', that is a representation before Yahweh of his sense that he had been betrayed and that Yahweh had been betrayed and that his wife had sinned wickedly and had defiled the camp. But the aim was not atonement. He was seeking righteousness and the removal of the defilement on the whole of Israel. The offering was to draw Yahweh's attention to the situation, bringing the supposed sin into remembrance (aware that Yahweh would already know about it), and assuring Him that they were concerned about it too. It was a 'grain offering of memorial'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Woman Is To Be Brought Near Before Yahweh and the Priest Then Makes the Water of Testing (5.16-17)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.16 'And the priest shall bring her near, and set her before Yahweh.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The priest was then to arrange for the woman to be brought to the courtyard of the Sanctuary, and he would bring her before the door of the Tent of Meeting, 'before Yahweh'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This would be a huge moment for the woman. It would fill her with great awe. She would probably never have been so close to Yahweh's 'physical' presence as she was then. Yet if she was innocent she would probably not be afraid. Like all who were standing round she would be convinced that Yahweh would know the truth and would do the right thing. And in her view that would be to clear her name. So while awed she would not be terrified. Only the guilty would be terrified. She may well even have been pleased to have this opportunity to be able to do this, for if she was cleared her husband would have to treat her rightly. But if she was guilty she would be very much afraid. She would know that the all seeing eye of Yahweh would be looking into her. Nothing could be hidden from Him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.17 'And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel, and of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We are nowhere else told about 'holy water', unless it is water from the laver in the courtyard of the Dwellingplace with which the priests washed their hands and feet (Exodus 30.19) prior to entering the Holy Place. But it is more probable that this was 'the water (for the removal of) of uncleanness' (19.9, 17; 31.23) which was prepared from the ashes ever kept at the ready in case it was needed (19.9). In 31.23 also it was seen as removing defilement. Ezekiel calls this 'clean water' (Ezekiel 36.25) which makes men clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mixed with the holy water was 'holy' dust from the floor of the Dwellingplace, which the priest must take and put within the water, and later on there would be added to it whatever 'ink' was used in the writing of 'the book' containing the words of cursing (verse 23). Suggestions have been made that such a mixture may well have had ingredients in it which reacted on chemical secretions produced in the body by a sense of guilt. As we do not know for sure what those constituents would be it is something that cannot be tested. But in the end what came on the woman would be determined by Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The whole was put in an earthenware vessel, the cheapest and lowest level of vessels. Everything to do with this ceremony was at the lowest level. The offering was the equivalent of a poor man's sin offering; barley was offered instead of wheat; the holy water was put in an earthenware vessel. It was an indication of how God looks at sexual unfaithfulness. This was no glad act of worship. It was a deeply sad state of affairs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The whole stress is on the holiness of the mixture. The water was 'holy', set apart to the unique service of God. Dust from the floor of the Holy Place would certainly be seen as holy. It was the place where in an earthly sense God dwelt. It would be seen as bringing the holiness of the Sanctuary to confront the woman. Thus the mixture would be seen as a God-mixture. Such a mixture could be expected to react violently against defilement within.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The dust is probably not therefore to be connected with the Garden of Eden, unless as the dust of man in his innocence, the dust from which man was formed (Genesis 2.7), the dust that took man back to the dawn of creation when woman was first given her responsibility, the dust of innocence. Others have connected it with the dust that the serpent would 'eat'. But dust from the Holy Place could hardly be seen as suitable for the serpent. Still others have seen it as a deliberate reminder of the dust to which she would return if guilty, as if God were saying, 'dust you are and to dust you will return' (Genesis 3.19). But the main stress is almost certainly on the fact that it was from the Sanctuary. It was from holy ground.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Woman is Made to Stand Before Yahweh as Prepared For It By the Priest (5.18).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.18 'And the priest shall set the woman before Yahweh, and let the hair of the woman's head go loose, and put the grain offering of memorial in her hands, which is the grain offering of jealousy, and the priest shall have in his hand the water of bitterness which causes the curse.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is repeated that the woman was set 'before Yahweh'. That was the most important part of the process and was repeated so that it might be stamped on the listener's mind when the account was read out. All should know that it was Yahweh Who would judge her, not man.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The woman's hair was then let loose. This symbolically revealed to Yahweh, and more emphatically to those watching, what the charge against the woman was and why she was there. Hair hanging loose was an indication of uncleanness (Leviticus 13.45) and of the fact that she was laid bare before Yahweh. She was being seen by Him as no one ever saw her publicly, with all pretence removed. Then the grain offering of memorial, the reminder to Yahweh of what the woman had done, if she had really done it, was put into her hands. Why the grain was of barley we can only guess. But it was 'the grain offering of jealousy'. It was the indication to Yahweh of the fact of what her husband feared about her. He thought that she was cheap and low. The thought is possibly also that God was determining whether her faith was a sham. Was her life like barley, of low quality? Like the hair loosed it was the sign of a woman laid bare. If she were innocent it would not be held against her, and Yahweh would not be jealous.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Alternatively the hair loosed might have been seen as taking her back to man's primitive state for her to be judged afresh as man had been judged when accused of sinning in the Garden, with the barley seen as wild grain found in the Garden. It may have been seen as going back to the days before man's increasing sophistication caused the dressing of the hair, to the very beginning. Thus did woman stand once more to be judged by God for possible secret sin as had her ancestress Eve before her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Or the hair might have been hanging loose in readiness for it to be cut if necessary as a sign of desolation and mourning (Jeremiah 7.29).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The priest then took in his hand 'the water of bitterness which causes the curse'. It was not yet fully ready for use but the woman and all who were watching would know what it was. That water brought a curse on any guilty person who drank of it. The whole purpose of all this symbolism was to bring home to the woman, if she was guilty, how great her guilt was. She was no longer bringing her purity, or lack of it, before men, she was bringing it before God. (See Zechariah 3.1-3 for a similar idea).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Priest Now Charges Her With an Oath to Speak Truly (5.19-20).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.19-20 'And the priest shall cause her to swear, and shall say to the woman, If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone aside to uncleanness, being under your husband, be you free from this water of bitterness which causes the curse. But if you have gone aside, being under your husband, and if you are defiled, and some man has lain with you apart from your husband ---.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The procedure is now described. First the priest required her to swear, probably to her innocence. This would be the first test as to whether she was guilty or not. Standing there before Yahweh, with the priest solemnly holding the water of bitterness before her, and the barley grain offering in her hand and her hair hanging loose she would be a brazen woman indeed who could swear a false oath knowing that God would shortly bring judgment on her. This first procedure brings out that there was a genuine hope of proving her innocence. After all she had presumably either been protesting that she was innocent, or was, either through confusion, pride or guilt, saying nothing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then the priest would say, "If no man has lain with you, and if you have not gone aside to uncleanness, being under your husband, be you free from this water of bitterness which causes the curse. But if you have gone aside, being under your husband, and if you are defiled, and some man has lain with you apart from your husband ---.' Note the charge. As one who is under her husband as his helpmeet, had she been faithful to him or not? If she had she would get away scot free. The water would not bring the curse on her. But if she had not been faithful she was defiled, and was therefore defiling the camp. Note how the charge was left hanging in the air awaiting the second oath. It was to be continued once she had sworn the second oath, the oath of cursing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Priest Charges the Woman with An Oath of Cursing (5.21-22).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.21-22 'Then the priest shall cause the woman to swear with the oath of cursing, and the priest shall say to the woman, "Yahweh make you a curse and an oath among your people, when Yahweh makes your thigh to fall away, and your body to swell, and this water which causes the curse shall go into your bowels, and make your body to swell, and your thigh to fall away." And the woman shall say, "Amen, Amen." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Having previously received her oath of innocence he would now call on her to swear the oath of cursing (the parallelism confirms that there are two oaths). This probably began something like, 'If I have been unfaithful to my husband, let this water of bitterness cause the curse to come upon me.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The priest would then continue his words where he had broken off previously, "Yahweh make you a curse and an oath among your people, when Yahweh makes your thigh to fall away, and your body to swell, and this water which causes the curse shall go into your bowels, and make your body to swell, and your thigh to fall away." The reference to her 'thigh' almost certainly means her sexual organs. It was customary not to mention them by name, especially in public. The point is that if she was guilty she would by her words have called on herself the curse which would go into her bowels, and make her body swell, and her sexual organs be affected. This would then be evidence to all who heard of it that she was guilty and she would become a curse among them as unable to produce children. Furthermore her wickedness would in future be used as an oath because it was so heinous (just as someone might swear by Sodom when arguing innocence or when threatening reprisal).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The woman was then to respond fervently, 'Amen. Amen. May it be so, may it be so.' In other words, 'Let this thing surely be'. The willingness with which she said it would count for more than a thousand protestations of innocence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Woman Is To Be Made to Drink Of The Water of Testing Before Yahweh (5.23-24).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.23 'And the priest shall write these curses in a book, and he shall blot them out into the water of bitterness,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The priest was then to write the curse on papyrus or clay or stone, after which he would by some known method cause the ink of the curse to go into the water of bitterness, blotting them from the book, possibly by pouring some of the holy water on it, or by using a scraper. Thus the curse would become a part of 'the water of bitterness'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.24 'And he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness which causes the curse, and the water which causes the curse shall enter into her and be bitter."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then he was to make the woman drink 'the water of bitterness which causes the curse' in front of Yahweh and the water would be absorbed by her body and would be bitter. This may simply mean that if she was guilty it would have bitter effects. If however, the ingredients did make it bitter then the very bitterness would bring home the efficacy of the curse if she was guilty. She would feel that it was working already. Whatever else came from the ceremony it would be playing heavily on her conscience. Few guilty women would be able to go this far without confessing their guilt.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is probable that we are to see verses 17-24 as repeated from a manual containing instructions for the procedure to be followed. Thus the writer is citing the words of the manual. If so that would mean that verse 24 simply consisted of words repeated from the manual and not a description of what the priest actually did at the time. That would come in verses 25-26. Even if not, such repetition for emphasis is typical of ancient writings. The idea would then be to come quickly to the conclusion before going back and giving further detail, something which regularly happens elsewhere in Scripture (compare for example Judges 6.24-27). This standard practise for a time misled scholars into seeing evidence for different sources.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Priest Then Takes the Jealousy Offering Of barley Grain From the Hand of the Woman (5.25)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.25 'And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman's hand, and shall wave the grain offering before Yahweh, and bring it to the altar,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Then before she drank the liquid the priest was to take the grain offering for jealousy from the woman's hand and wave it before Yahweh and bring it to the altar. The waving before Yahweh demonstrated that His attention had been drawn to it, and that it was being given to Him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Priest Bring the Man's Offering of Memorial Before Yahweh and Burns It On The Altar. Then He Makes Her Drink the Water (5.26).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.26 'And the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial, and burn it on the altar, and afterwards he shall make the woman drink the water.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The priest would then offer a memorial portion of the grain offering directly to Yahweh by burning it on the altar, after which he would make the woman drink the water. The grain offering was seen as directly drawing Yahweh's attention to the situation, and its quality would indicate the decision that had to be made. Was she innocent or not? The woman would know that if she was innocent the offering would act as an atoning sacrifice. If she was guilty it would call on her the wrath of God for a false offering, caused because she had not confessed her guilt. Everything was now left in the hands of Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      'A handful of the grain offering, as its memorial.' Compare 'the grain offering for memorial' in verse 15. The handful represented a 'drawing attention to' (memorial) of the whole.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If The Woman Is Defiled Her Body Will Swell and She Will Be Accursed Among The People (5.27).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.27 'And when he has made her drink the water, then it shall come about, if she be defiled, and have committed a trespass against her husband, that the water which causes the curse shall enter into her and be bitter, and her body shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall be a curse among her people.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Having made her drink the water, the ceremony was then over and the consequences were left to God. She would leave the court of the Dwellingplace ostensibly an innocent woman, but all would know that if she was really guilty this would be revealed by what would follow. For if she was guilty and if she was defiled and was defiling the camp, the water would enter her and would be bitter, and, probably because of her deep sense of guilt, would also make her body swell and her uterus fall away and she would become a curse among the people. Being a curse among her people may simply mean that she was seen as cursed because she could produce no more children. Or it may signify her rejection by all decent people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The psychosomatic effect on a guilty woman of going through this ceremony as well as of lying before Yahweh would be horrendous and would certainly have huge effects on the responses of her body. It would probably cause what she expected to happen actually to happen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The result described could possibly signify that the woman had suffered a prolapsed uterus. In such a condition, which often occurs after multiple pregnancies, the pelvic floor collapses (in that case weakened by the pregnancies, and possibly in this case deeply affected and weakened by the trauma of her experience), and the uterus literally falls down. It may lodge in the vagina, or it may actually fall out of the body through the vagina. (It regularly happens to cattle and vets have to push it back in). If it does so, it becomes oedematous and swells up like a balloon. Conception becomes impossible, and the woman's procreative life is effectively over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Alternatively the thought may be of a cancerous growth which would distend her stomach, affect her ability to bear children and make her infertile, and finally destroy her. Such cancerous growths do sometimes result from traumatic experiences.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Others have thought in terms of a phantom pregnancy which makes the body swell up, but that does not seem dramatic enough for what is described here. Others have seen it as a serious miscarriage, or thrombophlebitis. But the point is that it would produce effects which would prevent her from further defiling sexual behaviour in the future, and would prevent her from childbirth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the parallel in the chiasmus this condition contrasts with the spirit of jealousy which had taken hold of the husband. If his jealousy was justified this will be the result.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If The Woman Is innocent She Will Be Revealed As Clean and Will Be Free of Any Blame for Hidden Adultery Before God and Men (5.28).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.28 'And if the woman be not defiled, but be clean, then she shall be free, and shall conceive seed.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But if she was innocent, if the woman was not defiled and was clean, then she would be free of the charge and free of the consequences of guilt and she would be able to have children again. Her reproductive abilities would not have been harmed. She would be without a stain on her character, and her husband would be expected to accept her back fully and bear children by her. She would be seen as having proved that there had been no hidden adultery.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This Is the Law of Jealousy For When a Woman Goes Aside and Commits Adultery, or Is Suspected of It, Freeing Her Husband From Any Guilt in Regard to It (5.29-31)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.29-30 'This is the law of jealousy, when a wife, being under her husband, goes aside, and is defiled, or when the spirit of jealousy comes on a man, and he is jealous of his wife, then shall he set the woman before Yahweh, and the priest shall execute on her all this law.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What has been said is now summarised. It has described the procedure that follows when a woman is thought to have been unfaithful to the husband. Or when the husband has good cause to think that she has been unfaithful and is 'jealous' for the holiness of Yahweh. Then she would be set before Yahweh and the priest would carry out this instruction to the full. It should be noted that this law was actually on the side of the woman. Strictly speaking no harm should come to her through it if she was innocent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      5.31 'And the man shall be free from iniquity, and that woman shall bear her iniquity.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We must stress again that the idea is not simply of a jealous husband. The idea is of a husband genuinely concerned lest the camp had been defiled and Yahweh grieved. Thus once it was over the man would be free from the iniquity of not having done anything about hidden adultery (for if she was guilty his whole house would have been defiled by her defilement and he would have done his duty). And the woman would 'bear her iniquity'. Either she would be cleared and have nothing to bear, or she would bear it by being condemned by Yahweh in the way described above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The message for us is clear. It brings home how seriously God views such behaviour. This was one sin that God would not allow to simply lie down and remain hidden. It stresses that for a Christian there can be no sex outside of marriage. Such is firmly forbidden. Nor can there be divorce, unless the other partner has already committed adultery. As with this ceremony we must remember that what we do we do in the presence of God, and God is deeply concerned about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chapter 6 The Nazirite Vow (1-21) And The Blessing of Yahweh (22-27).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It will be noted that in the introductory scheme (see introduction to chapter 5 and the Introduction in general) this vow of dedication is set in juxtaposition to the dedication of the Levites in 8.5-26. It was giving all in Israel, of whatever tribe, the opportunity to share something similar to the holiness of the priests and Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thus the camp having been cleansed from uncleanness and trespass and secret adultery, there was now a call to the people to partake in holiness positively, either temporarily or permanently, and thus contribute to the overall holiness of the camp. If people became 'jealous' in a godly way of the priests and Levites a way was made open for them to join in their lifestyle. And if they had a burning desire to please Yahweh, again a way was made open for them to become especially 'holy'. So full holiness before Yahweh was available to all, not just the Levites and priests. All could become a Nazirite. The word seems to indicate 'one separated'. The Nazirite epitomised all that Israel was meant to be.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      While the requirements given are physical; abstaining from the fruit of the vine, letting the hair grow long, and avoiding contact with the dead, we must not be deceived by this. These restrictions were with a purpose. They were to ensure that there was nothing lacking in their dedication. Wine could interfere in their service for God (compare Leviticus 10.9-10); cutting their hair would be a reducing of the fullness of their dedication (part of what they had dedicated was being removed), thus leaving it uncut stressed that there must be no diminishing of their dedication in any way; contact with the dead would mean that they were unable to approach Yahweh, that they had wandered from the way of life and wholeness. The point was that their period of separation to God had to be involved totally in worshipping and serving Him. It was the way of 'life'. Nothing was to be held back or defiled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Once again the passage appears to have been constructed chiastically.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a The decision to make a vow (6.2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b Abstinence from wine (6.3-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c The hair not to be cut (6.5).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • d The taint of death to be avoided (6.6-8).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • e Sacrifices to be offered if he sins for the dead (6.9-11).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • f Consecration of 'the days of his separation' (6.12).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • f Fulfilment of 'the days of his separation' (6.13).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • e Sacrifices to be offered for his sins and dedication (6.14-15).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • d The death of these victims to be brought about on his behalf (6.16-17).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c The head of the Nazirite to be shaved (6.18-19).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b The Nazirite to drink wine (6.20).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a The law concerning the decision to make a vow (6.21).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Apart from d which is a contrast between non-death and death the remainder is in clear balance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Dedication of Himself/Herself By A Nazirite, A 'Separated One' (6.1-8).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Again we are informed that these were the words of Moses as spoken to him by Yahweh. Even if the writer was Joshua or Eleazar, the words were the words of Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.2-4 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, "When either a man or a woman shall make a special vow, the vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to Yahweh, he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink. He shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any juice of grapes, nor eat fresh grapes or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is made of the grapevine, from the kernels even to the husk."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When any man or woman, (for Yahweh believed in equal opportunity in spiritual things), sought to become holy to Yahweh they could take a special vow, a Nazirite vow. While it would not make them priests it would give them the same standing before Yahweh as a priest, or in many ways as the High Priest. Thus like them they would have to abstain from wine and strong drink (Leviticus 10.9-10) and avoid all contact with the dead (Leviticus 21.1-4, 11-12). The priests were also forbidden to shave their heads (Leviticus 21.5), but the Nazirites went further than the priest because their action was voluntary. They did not partake of wine or strong drink at any time, and they did not cut their hair at all.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        We should note that this was not a kind of hermitry. The Nazirite continued to live normally within the camp, he would be expected to be an example to all, but he was living in order to please Yahweh as one 'separated to Yahweh', because of his love for Him. And Yahweh would treat him as having an especial 'holiness'. It is clear that these provisions were given in order that they might be carried out. Israel were being called on to recognise the need for periods when they individually fully separated themselves to Him so that they could fully seek His face without the distraction of other things. They were being called on to increase the holiness of the camp.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'He shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any juice of grapes, nor eat fresh grapes or dried. All the days of his separation he shall eat nothing that is made of the grapevine, from the kernels even to the husk.' While the priests were only forbidden wine and strong drink when serving in the Sanctuary on their sacred duties (Leviticus 10.9-10), the Nazirites were to avoid totally all the produce of the vine. They were on sacred duty all the time. At all times wine must not be allowed to interfere with their dedication. This may well have had in mind the failure of the 'perfect' man Noah (Genesis 6.9; 9.20-27) where after being so pleasing to God Noah had failed Him utterly because of the fruit of the vine. 'Grape-cakes' are also mentioned in Hosea 3.1 as an indication of sensual living. The fruit of the vine epitomised all the desires of the flesh. The total ban (like the ban on work on the Sabbath) would prevent any attempt to seek loopholes, something men have always been good at. Their joy was to be in Yahweh and not in the fruit of the vine. Their hearts were to be made glad by Him, and not to look anywhere else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Amos told how Yahweh had raised up the young men of Israel to be Nazirites, but that many of the people in their godlessness sought to make them drink wine (Amos 2.11). In other words, when those who loved God sought to please Him, the majority sought to lead them astray.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Paul stresses a similar attitude to wine as that of the Nazirites in the New Testament. 'Do not be drunk with wine in which is excess, but be filled with the Spirit' (Ephesians 5.18). Wine in itself is not condemned but dependence on it, and drunkenness, is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.5 "All the days of his vow of separation (nezer) there shall no razor come on his head. Until the days are fulfilled, in which he separates himself to Yahweh, he shall be holy, he shall let the locks of the hair of his head grow long."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The second requirement of the Nazirites was that they were not to cut their hair. Among some peoples the hair was seen as giving strength and fuller life. Soldiers would often let their hair grow long for battle. Thus Deuteronomy 32.42 declares, 'With the blood of the slain and the captives, from the head of the long haired ones of the enemy', while Judges 5.2 speaks of 'the loosing of the long locks in Israel', Both speak of those going into battle as having allowed their hair to grow long, although it is usually hidden in the translation. But the idea here is probably rather that the Nazirite must not reduce himself/herself in any way when in the direct service of Yahweh. His/her concentration must be on total service. Cutting his hair would in some way diminish his setting apart to God, his 'holiness'. It would be removing a part of what he had dedicated to God. Thus not cutting his hair is specifically connected with his period of holiness, and stressed the need for continual full dedication. It was evidence of his dedication, his separation ('nezer'). The same word 'nezer' is used of the High Priest's crown (Leviticus 8.9 compare Exodus 28.36) and of the oil of consecration (Leviticus 21.12) as 'the holy separator' which separates him off from all others as 'holiness to Yahweh'. So is the Nazirite's hair his holy separator to Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Samson was permanently dedicated to Yahweh and also was not allowed to cut his hair, but in his case his dedication was not by his choice. His path was chosen for him by his mother. However, his dedication was not as strict as that of the Nazirites here, and that fact is never criticised. He certainly drank wine, and allowed himself to have contact with the dead by killing his people's enemies. That may, however, have been permitted because he was a permanent Nazirite raised up to be a deliverer, not a man with this kind of dedication. He was evidence of how God can use us even in our weaknesses. Compare also Samuel (1 Samuel 1.11) and John the Baptiser (Luke 1.15).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.6-7 "All the days that he separates himself to Yahweh he shall not come near to a dead body. He shall not make himself unclean for his father, or for his mother, for his brother, or for his sister, when they die, because his separation to God is on his head."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This again should be compared with the High Priest who was subject to similar conditions (Leviticus 21.1-12). Clearly the Nazirite's holiness was on a par with that of the High Priest. Any contact with the dead would interfere with his dedication for it would render him unclean, and during any period of uncleanness his dedication would necessarily have to lapse. So it must be avoided, for he was to be available to Yahweh at all times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.8 "All the days of his separation he is holy to Yahweh."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        His position is here confirmed. All the days of his separation, that is for the period that he is under his vow, he is 'holy to Yahweh', set apart totally for His glory. Nothing must be allowed to interfere with that. The presence of such a holy person in the camp would have been seen as contributing greatly to the holiness of the camp, made all the greater by the fact that it was wholly voluntary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This kind of separation is one that we should all at times follow, a period when we set all else aside in order to please God (compare 1 Corinthians 7.5). It is also indicative of what the general attitude of the Christian should be towards life and its demands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What To Do In The Case of an Accidental Breach of Vow (6.9-12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.9 "And if any man die very suddenly beside him, and he defiles the head of his separation, then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing. On the seventh day shall he shave it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It may, however, be that by accident he comes in contact with the dead because of the sudden and unexpected death of someone next to him. This would defile the head of his separation, the very hair that declared him holy. In that case his hair must be cut off. It had been defiled. It was no longer the sign of his separation, which had ceased. It was unavoidable. Anyone who touched the dead body of a man was unclean for seven days (19.11).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On the third day he was to purify himself by having the 'water of uncleanness' sprinkled on him, and as a result on the seventh day he would be clean (19.12). This was 'the day of his cleansing'. Thus having carried through this procedure like any other Israelite must, the defiled Nazirite would be clean on the seventh day. That was the point at which he must cut off his hair so as to begin again. Without that he would not, in his case, be clean. The hair was defiled. It would have to be replaced by new hair. It was then too that he would wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and wait until the evening when he would be clean (19.19), and ready to renew his vow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.10-11 "And on the eighth day he shall bring two turtle-doves, or two young pigeons, to the priest, to the door of the tent of meeting, and the priest shall offer one for a purification for sin offering, and the other for a whole burnt offering ('an offering that goes up'), and make atonement for him, because he sinned by reason of the dead, and he shall hallow his head that same day."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But because he had broken his Nazirite vow atonement had to be made. So on the eighth day he was to bring two turtle-doves or two young pigeons to the priest, to 'the door of the Tent of Meeting' (that is within the courtyard where the altar was), and the priest would offer one for a purification for sin offering and one for a whole burnt offering. By this atonement would be made because he had 'sinned' by touching the dead and breaking his vow. Then he would hallow his head by renewing his vow and beginning again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.12 "And he shall separate to Yahweh the days of his separation, and shall bring a he-lamb a year old for a trespass-offering; but the former days shall be void, because his separation was defiled."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He must then once again separate himself to Yahweh for the same period as previously, separating off those days as the days of his vow, and bring a one year old lamb as a guilt offering. This sacrifice always demonstrated that Yahweh's rights had been breached. But the days that he had already served would not count, for what had happened had defiled that period of separation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One important lesson from this is that what we have promised to God we must perform. If something interferes we must begin again. We must under no circumstances just assume that as something has happened which has prevented us we are free from our obligation. Vows to God are voluntary. But once made they are binding. It is also an assurance that we need not despair. We may find that we have failed in our consecration. We meant it so genuinely, and yet we have let God down. We have here the assurance that we can begin again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        His Actions On The Completion of His Vow (6.13-21).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.13-15 "And this is the law of the Nazirite, when the days of his separation are fulfilled. He shall be brought to the door of the tent of meeting, and he shall offer his oblation to Yahweh, one he-lamb a year old without blemish for a whole burnt offering, and one ewe-lamb a year old without blemish for a purification for sin offering, and one ram without blemish for peace-offerings, and a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of milled grain mingled with oil, and unleavened wafers anointed with oil, and their grain offering, and their drink-offerings."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        From this point on there is a complete reversal of the situation, brought about by the fulfilment of the days of his separation, the arrival of the last day in his period of total and complete dedication, after which he would return to normal life, yet never to be the same again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Once the period of his separation was successfully completed the Nazirite would be brought to the door of the Tent of Meeting (i.e. be brought into the courtyard where sacrifices were made) and there he was to offer a whole burnt offering, an act of dedication and atonement which would be a pleasing odour to God; a purification for sin offering, which would remove his sin and again make atonement for him; a ram 'for peace or wellbeing offerings' which would put him at peace with Yahweh and again make atonement and be a pleasing odour to God; and a grain offering which would also be a pleasing odour to God, dedicating his life and activity to God; and drink offerings which regularly accompanied a whole burnt offering (Numbers 15). The cakes and wafers were regularly offered with peace/wellbeing offerings (Leviticus 7.12-13). For all the major offerings see our commentary on Leviticus 1-4.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Comparison with Leviticus 8 will bring out how close all this was to the offerings for the consecration of the priests, slightly reduced because only one person was involved. This might suggest that the Nazirite was being returned to being one of the people and yet was still to be seen as someone specially consecrated. He/she could no longer be the same again. Note also the requirement for the purification for sin offering. Like all men, what he was, and what he had done, was not perfect before God. Sin always reveals its ugly presence in even the best of men and interferes in the most holy of activities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.16 "And the priest shall present them before Yahweh, and shall offer his purification for sin offering, and his whole burnt offering. And he shall offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace-offerings to Yahweh, with the basket of unleavened bread. The priest shall offer also its grain offering, and its drink-offering."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So all the whole range of offerings, with all their significance, were to be duly offered by the priest in accordance with the requirements of Leviticus 1-4. Here instead of death negating his vow (as in verses 6-8), it was sealing it. The result would be purification, and forgiveness, renewed dedication, the offering of tribute and thanksgiving, and renewed reconciliation and peace with God. While his vow was over his dedication to Yahweh was to continue permanently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.18 "And the Nazirite shall shave the head of his separation at the door of the tent of meeting, and shall take the hair of the head of his separation, and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace-offerings."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The reversal continues. In contrast with allowing his hair to grow long the Nazirite will shave it. The Nazirite will then shave 'the head of his separation' there in the courtyard 'at the door of the Tent of Meeting', as close to Yahweh's physical presence as he was permitted, and take his hair and place it on the fire under the peace offerings on the altar, in order that it might be burned up. For the one and only time an 'ordinary' Israelite could approach the altar. This had two purposes. Firstly in that it was itself an offering to God of the Nazirite's period of separation, now ended, and secondly in order to ensure that the hair could never be taken and used for superstitious practises. The hair of such holy men would have been highly prized, and could have been greatly misused.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.19 "And the priest shall take the boiled shoulder of the ram, and one unleavened cake out of the basket, and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the hands of the Nazirite, after he has shaved the head of his separation,"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        One unleavened cake and one unleavened wafer would have been retained from what was in the basket (the remainder having been offered). Once the Nazirite had shaved off the indication of his separation, the priest was to take these, along with the boiled shoulder of the ram, and place them on the Nazirite's hands. This indicated that he was identifying the Nazirite with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.20 "And the priest shall wave them for a wave-offering before Yahweh. This is holy for the priest, together with the wave-breast and heave-thigh, and after that the Nazirite may drink wine."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The priest would then 'wave' or present them before Yahweh, an indication that they were an offering to Him, after which he would retain them for his own use as the servant of Yahweh. This was in addition to the wave-breast and the heave-thigh which normally went to the priests. The ram's shoulder was an addition to the priest's portion in this case. It may well be seen as confirming that the Nazirite was still leaving something of himself in the hands of Yahweh. No one who had been a Nazirite could go back totally to 'normal' life. But after that, in contrast with ceasing from wine he could once again drink wine. He would then partake of the remainder of the peace/wellbeing offering, and probably drink again of the wine from which he had previously refrained.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.21 "This is the law of the Nazirite who vows, and of his oblation to Yahweh for his separation, besides that which he is able to get. According to his vow which he vows, so he must do after the law of his separation."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As previously (see 5.29) the instruction is now summarised. In it has been described the Nazirite's oblation to Yahweh for his separation as evidenced in the offerings described. 'Besides that which he is able to get' may suggest that this was the minimum and that a Nazirite usually offered much more. But what was most important was that he had performed his vow once he had entered under the 'law of separation'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The dedication of men and women as Nazirites was a picture of what it would mean for Israel to be a 'kingdom of priests' (Exodus 19.6). The intention was probably that all should at one stage or another voluntarily take such vows. While they would not perform priestly functions they would for the period of their vows become as holy as priests. It was a foretaste of what being in the kingdom of priests meant, and as we have suggested, once having experienced such a dedication the person would be expected to still continue to be bound by the principles of the higher life, even though the outward trappings had gone. They could not fully return to their old ways. It was a call to live such a higher life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It is important to us because it reminds us that God seeks from us all a higher dedication, and especially times when we lay all else aside so as to seek Him (compare 1 Corinthians 7.5; Romans 12.1-2), a dedication that is then to continue on in our daily lives. Once we have wholly committed ourselves to Him we can never return to what we were. We are to put off the old man, and put on the new (Ephesians 4.22-24).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Priests Were Also To Play Their Part In Maintaining the Holiness of Israel: How Israel Were To Be Blessed (6.22-27).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The whole camp having played their part in maintaining the holiness of Israel (5.1-4), each individual having played his part in maintaining the holiness of Israel (5.5-10), the sinned against husband having played his part in maintaining the holiness of Israel (5.11-31), the Nazirite having played a full part in maintaining the holiness of Israel (6.1-21), it was now the turn of the priests to add to that blessing. We must not underestimate the significance of the blessing. It would be seen as helping to bring about their dedication and Yahweh's blessing on His people. It would 'put His name on them'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.22 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        These words stress that we have here the words of Moses from Yahweh and continually emphasise the beginning of a new section (see 5.1, 5, 11; 6.1)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6.23-26 'Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying, "In this way you shall bless the children of Israel. You shall say to them,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh bless you and keep you,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh make his face to shine on you, and be gracious to you,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh lift up his countenance on you, and give you peace." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        God demonstrated what His good pleasure was for His people by providing the words of the blessing. The priests were to bless them in this way. Conformity to this was probably seen as being as important as conformity to other correct ritual. It did not lay within the priests' area of choice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh's Blessing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        While being in poetic parallelism the thought of the poem reveals the common chiastic sequence of thought. Yahweh's gracious activity towards them is sandwiched between descriptions of His blessings on them of provision, protection and peace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a 'Yahweh bless you and keep you.' The blessing of Yahweh very much involved material blessings (Genesis 7.16; 22.17-18; Leviticus 26.3-13; Deuteronomy 28.2-14. Such blessing was an integral part of the covenant. It is this factor that justifies our prayer, 'Give us this day our daily bread' in the covenant prayer (Matthew 6.11). The priest was thus assuring Yahweh that they were worthy of blessing because they were being obedient, and was calling on Yahweh to provide such blessings and make their lives prosperous and wholesome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'And keep you.' For the significance of this see Psalm 121, which is a commentary on these words. On the other side of the equation to blessing they needed to be preserved and given long life. He would enable them to be strong. He would not let evil influences affect them. He would protect them from evil, preserving their going out and their coming in. This combination of blessing and keeping occurs regularly and justifies us in seeing the two as one (e.g. Deuteronomy 4.40; 5.33; 7.12-24; 30.19-20: Psalm 67.1). This was what the priest was seen as calling down on Israel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b 'Yahweh make his face to shine on you.' The shining of the face on someone indicated an attitude of love, lovingkindness and mercy. It was the message of the lampstand in His dwellingplace. This involved saving them in His covenant love (Psalm 31.16; 80.3, 7, 19), and delivering them from all their troubles. It was a prayer that the shining of His face on them would be their light and salvation (Psalm 27.1). It therefore also involved teaching them His statutes through which they would see light (Psalm 119.135; 36.9; 43.3). It is the opposite of His hiding His face from them (Psalm 44.24). By what it accomplished Israel would be a witness to the nations of God's saving power (Psalm 67.1-2). This would not be seen simply as the priest's wish, but as a means of it being brought about. As a result of the priest's words the word of Yahweh would go forth to do His will (compare Isaiah 55.11).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • c 'And be gracious to you.' This calls for Yahweh's own compassionate activity on their behalf. If Yahweh did not reveal His undeserved love towards them where would they be? Without His gracious activity all their efforts would be in vain. Here the priest is calling on the direct activity of Yahweh in unmerited grace without which they could do nothing.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b 'Yahweh lift up his countenance on you.' To lift up the countenance was to look on someone, in this case with favour. This involved putting gladness in their hearts and watching over His people and keeping them at peace ( Psalm 4.6b-8). The priest was seeking to bring them into a place where God would look on them and bring His peace on them, and was by his words calling for Yahweh's gracious response.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a 'And give you peace.' Finally the priest calls on Yahweh to give them peace, peace in their hearts, peace between each other, peace with the world outside, and above all peace with God. It signified the whole spectrum of peace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The threefoldness of the blessing in its poetic rhythm stressed its completeness, the fivefoldness in its thought ('bless and keep you' being seen as one) stressed its connection with the covenant. The whole blessing contained fifteen words stressing the combination of both.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All these prayers would be seen by Israel as being as effective as Balak would later hope that Balaam's words might be against Israel (chapters 22-24). This would indeed be seen by them as one reason why Balaam could not assail them. They were under the positive blessing of Yahweh. Balaam saw it that way too (22.12; 24.1).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          6.27 "So shall they put my name on the children of Israel, and I will bless them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By this divinely given blessing the priests would be putting Yahweh's name on the children of Israel. By this He would be stamping them as His (Revelation 3.12; 14.1; 22.4). But the name indicated more than identification. To know His name was to see Him powerfully at work (compare Exodus 6.3, 7; 7.5, 17; 8.22; 14.18). To have His name put on them was to be in a position whereby they were sealed as a holy people demonstrating that they were in enjoyment of the benefit of His activity and His blessings. Just as Yahweh would set His name in the Sanctuary, thus dwelling among them (Deuteronomy 12.5, 11;14.24; 26.2) so would He set it on His people and walk with them and be their God. That is why He would bless them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It should be noted that there is no suggestion that the Priest could withhold the blessing. It was his bounden duty to give it. It was God alone Who decided who came within the sphere of the blessing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Chapter 7 The Offerings of the Princes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Princes Offer Their Gifts and Offerings for the Maintaining of the Holiness of the Sanctuary and For The Dedication of the Altar (7.1-88).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The offerings of the princes for the carriage and maintenance of the Sanctuary and for the dedication of the altar complete the activity of Yahweh's people in making the camp pure and holy. The covered wagons would protect the holiness of the Sanctuary. The dedication of the altar would contribute to its holiness and ensure its continuation. So the people as a whole, individuals, priests and now princes will have all made their contribution to the holiness of the camp. All would now be set to receive Yahweh's response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          What is described here took place even before the numbering of Israel. But Moses was determined to ensure that it was recognised that the princes partook in the purification of the camp. Princes, priests and people all had to be seen as involved together. All God's people were at one in the work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The presentation of this information about the wagons here also helps to explain chapter 4. This was how the Levites would convey the great bulk of the Tabernacle. Thus although chronologically it is slightly 'out of order', it fits perfectly into the pattern, and leads on into the response of the King in 7.89. Chronology was usually not seen as important. What mattered was the presentation of the message in order to present its full significance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Princes Make Their Offerings Once Moses Has Anointed And Sanctified The Dwellingplace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.1 'And it came about on the day that Moses had made an end of setting up the dwellingplace (tabernacle), and had anointed it and sanctified it, and all its furniture, and the altar and all its vessels, and had anointed them and sanctified them.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This happened on the day that Moses had made an end of setting up the Dwellingplace, and had anointed and sanctified it with all its furniture (see Exodus 40.2). He had also set up the altar and all connected with it, and had anointed and sanctified them. They had all been set apart exclusively for Yahweh. That this setting apart was accepted would come out in verse 89.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The atmosphere in the camp would have been electric as they gazed at the new newly-consecrated Dwellingplace of Yahweh. Later on in that day they would see the cloud of Yahweh descend on it and the glory of Yahweh fill it. It was one month before the numbering was commanded. Before that numbering the altar had to be dedicated and the second Passover observed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.2 'That the princes of Israel, the heads of their fathers' houses, made their offerings. These were the princes of the tribes, these are they who were over those who were numbered.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And that day when the Dwellingplace was consecrated was the day when the princes of the tribes, (the ones who would mobilise the troops), being concerned for the holiness of the camp, and for the holiness of the Dwellingplace, made their offerings of wagons and oxen. That would then be followed over a period of twelve days by their offerings day by day for the dedication of the altar. Thus when the instructions for the Levites about the carrying of the Dwellingplace with all its contents was given (chapter 4), these wagons were already in place. The twelvefold dedication of the altar would demonstrate that all in Israel were involved. This was a dedication of the whole of Israel (compare chapters 28-30).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Offering of the Wagons and Oxen (7.3-9).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.3 'And they brought their oblation before Yahweh, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for every two of the princes, and for each one an ox. And they presented them before the tabernacle.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Their first concern was shown by their action in regard to the Dwellingplace. They brought before Yahweh six covered wagons, each with two oxen to draw it. The singular 'ox' denotes that each prince contributed an ox. These would enable the Dwellingplace to be carried safely and securely, and free from any danger of defilement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'They presented them before the Tabernacle.' They could not bring them into the courtyard to 'present them before Yahweh', so they did the next best thing. By these gifts they expressed their gratitude for His dwelling among them, and their desire for the maintenance of His holy status.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In the same way God looks to us all to provide for the work of God what is necessary for its continuance so that His work will prosper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.4 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yahweh responded to their gift. He came with a special word to Moses. God always takes note of what we give. Remember the widow in the Temple (Mark 12.41-44). No gift, however small, goes unnoticed, as long as the heart and motive is right. Indeed its size is irrelevant. What counts most is the proportionate cost.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.5 "Take it of them, that they may be used in doing the service of the tent of meeting; and you shall give them to the Levites, to every man according to his service."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Moses was to accept the offerings, and was instructed that they were to be used in the service of the Dwellingplace, the Tent of meeting. To this end they were to be given to the Levites, to those with overall responsibility for the conveyance of the different parts of the Dwellingplace, according to requirements for the carrying out of their 'service'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.6 'And Moses took the wagons and the oxen, and gave them to the Levites.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And Moses did what Yahweh had commanded. He took the wagons and oxen and gave them to the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.7 'Two wagons and four oxen he gave to the sons of Gershon, according to their service,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Two of them with their ox teams he gave to the sons of Gershon. They would be sufficient for the main body of the Tent of meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.8 'And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari, according to their service, under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And he gave four of them to the sons of Merari, who needed more wagons because of all the bits and pieces that they had to carry. These were all under the control of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the High Priest.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.9 'But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because the service of the sanctuary belonged to them They bore it on their shoulders.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But the sons of Kohath did not receive a wagon. They bore the sacred furniture, and that had to be carried bodily by them. The furniture was provided with staves or poles for the purpose. It must not be thrown about in a wagon as a result of the roughness of the way. It was to be given personal attention.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So God made ready for his servants all that was necessary for their service, even before He appointed them to it. We may always be sure that when God calls men into His service, His provision for them has already been made.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Offerings for the Dedication of the Altar (7.10-88).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.10 'And the princes offered for the dedication of the altar in the day that it was anointed, even the princes offered their oblation before the altar.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Then the princes offered gifts towards the dedication of the altar. These consisted both of things that would be usable in the activities related to the Dwellingplace, and offerings and sacrifices on behalf of themselves and the people. The holiness of the altar must be ensured.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          'In the day.' This may have in mind the initial 'offering' of what is to be offered as set aside on the first day but probably means 'at the time' (yom regularly means a period of time other than a day), thus covering the twelve days

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          We are now given, in order, the details of twelve days on which each prince brought his gift. Although exactly the same each is given in full detail. This was necessary so that nothing might be rushed and that each might be dealt with fully and satisfactorily. None must be made to feel that his gift had not been appreciated or properly received. He would be concerned that full weight be given to it because he was the representative of his tribe, and responsible for the honour of the tribe, and tribal equality would be seen as important at such a time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The same detail is given for each day so that as far as we are concerned once we have covered the first one we have covered all. But while we might abbreviate our dealings with the chapter Moses was too wise to do so. He knew that each must be given his due. This is a further evidence that we have here what actually was written in those days. No tribe had to be slighted. And that is brought out by the detail of the narrative. A later writer could easily have abbreviated what happened so as to avoid repetition, but that could not be done at the time for it was necessary to bolster the prestige of each tribal leader and their tribe. Nobody would want to be a 'ditto' in the record made about these events. Each tribe would pick out the part that they had played, or wait for it to come when the record was read out. Contrast how there was such abbreviation with regard to the offerings and sacrifices in Leviticus 1-7, but not here. Every tribe must feel that it was fully playing its part.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.11 'And Yahweh said to Moses, "They shall offer their oblation, each prince on his day, for the dedication of the altar."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yahweh informed Moses that the princes must be allowed to make their offerings for the dedication of the altar day by day, each on his day. Each tribe would have its part in the dedication of the altar. Each tribe would be rendered holy by the offering of their whole burnt offerings, their purification for sin offerings, and their peace offerings. Each would equally have its day. And from each would be received their gifts with due ceremony. This was done in the order of the tribes in chapter 2, depending on their placings around the Sanctuary, commencing with the east side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Each day the whole congregation would be gathered as one to honour the tribe in whose honour the particular day was set aside. And that day would be their day, a day never to be forgotten.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          7.12-17 'And he who offered his oblation the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah, and his oblation was one silver platter (or 'dish'), the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon (or 'cup') of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt-offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering, and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Nahshon the son of Amminadab.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          There were two aspects to their offerings. First brought were the gifts of instruments for the service of the priests in the Dwellingplace. These included a sliver platter or dish (the Hebrew refers to a cupped hand) and a silver bowl which were filled with milled wheat grain mingled with oil; and a golden spoon (or 'cup') full of incense. These were not just a theoretical idea. The weight of each is described. It was important that they be of the right weight. The silver bowl was sixty shekels less than the silver platter. The golden spoon or cup was sixty shekels less than the silver bowl. Ten and seventy were numbers of completeness and perfection, chosen for that reason. The one hundred and thirty simply arose from adding sixty (the difference between ten and seventy) to the seventy in order to maintain the perfect parallel. All was to be seen as balanced and perfect and complete. The threefoldness confirmed the completeness of the offerings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Note that silver was used for the offerings for the courtyard, gold for the inner sanctuary, a measure of the holiness of each place. One was 'holy', the other 'most holy'. The platter and the bowl would be brought into service immediately in the offering of the grain offerings, and incense would be added from the spoon. These were an indication of the dedication of themselves and their daily work to Yahweh, and a thanksgiving for harvests past, as well as making atonement (Leviticus 2.1-2). The remainder of the incense would be offered at some time during the day on the altar of incense. This would indicate worship and praise, and intercession for forgiveness and mercy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Then the sacrifices would be brought. These were as follows:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • For a whole burnt offering, one young ox bull, one ram, one he-lamb a year old. The ox bull would probably be for the whole congregation (compare Leviticus 4.14 although that is for a purification for sin offering), and the ram for the tribe. The he-lamb of the first year for a whole burnt offering is probably for solemn consecration, as with the Nazirite (6.14).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • For a purification for sin offering, one male of the goats. This was the offering for a ruler (Leviticus 4.23). It here probably represents the ruler and his tribe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • For peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            These would be partaken of by the tribe in question which accounts for their numbers. The two oxen stand as witnesses to the dedication. The fives represent them specifically as important covenant offerings. Three times five is complete covenant representation bringing peace, perfect peace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The making of these offerings ensured a rapport between each tribe and the altar. They would remember that at its dedication they as a tribe had themselves been dedicated to Yahweh through their whole burnt offerings, purified from sin by their purification for sin offerings, and brought at peace to eat before Yahweh with their peace offerings while at the same time the altar had been dedicated and purified by their offerings. These three aspect are important also in the Christian life. We must participate in Him Who is our altar (Hebrews 13.10) by the dedication of ourselves (Romans 12.1-2), by constantly seeking purification from sin (1 John 1.7-10) and by fellowship with Him in worship and prayer, partaking at His table (1 Corinthians 10.16).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The same procedure was carried out on each of the other days. They are given in full in order to maintain the honour of each tribe. The repetition also brings out the fullness of the offerings. It brings out that the whole congregation in all its parts contributed fully in a massive dedication. All had a full part in the dedication of the altar. The reader must read it through in full in order to take in the solemnity and completeness of the dedication. (Our repetition of 'full' is deliberate. It was fullness that this was all about). The altar was central to the approach of the people to God. It was the place of atonement and reconciliation, the only main piece of Sanctuary furniture that they ever saw openly revealed, and the only one that they could to some extent approach. It was fitting that all had their appropriate part in its dedication. It was their gateway to Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Compare how in the book of Ezekiel the heavenly Temple that came down on a high mountain some distance from Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40) was never actually required to be built. It was seen as already existing in its heavenly significance. No earthly priest could directly service that Temple. But the altar itself was required to be built (Ezekiel 43.18). That was the means, in its position in the earthly Temple, through which the heavenly Temple, with its significance of Yahweh's renewed presence, could be accessed. The altar was the earthly access point to God.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For us too there is an altar (Hebrews 13.10), the 'altar' on which our Lord Jesus Christ offered up Himself. And it is through that altar and the One Who died there that we too can make our approach to God.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.18-23 'On the second day Nethanel the son of Zuar, prince of Issachar, did offer. He offered for his oblation one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Nethanel the son of Zuar.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What has been said in the first case applies again in all these descriptions. All that changes is the date so that each might be exclusive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.24-29 'On the third day Eliab the son of Helon, prince of the children of Zebulun. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Eliab the son of Helon.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.30-35 'On the fourth day Elizur the son of Shedeur, prince of the children of Reuben. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Elizur the son of Shedeur.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.36-41 'On the fifth day Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai, prince of the children of Simeon. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.42-47 'On the sixth day Eliasaph the son of Deuel, prince of the children of Gad. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Eliasaph the son of Deuel.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.48-53 'On the seventh day Elishama the son of Ammihud, prince of the children of Ephraim. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering, and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Elishama the son of Ammihud.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.54-59 On the eighth day Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur, prince of the children of Manasseh. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.60-65 'On the ninth day Abidan the son of Gideoni, prince of the children of Benjamin. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Abidan the son of Gideoni.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.66-71 'On the tenth day Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai, prince of the children of Dan. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.72-77 'On the eleventh day Pagiel the son of Ochran, prince of the children of Asher. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred and thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a grain offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Pagiel the son of Ochran.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.78-83 'On the twelfth day Ahira the son of Enan, prince of the children of Naphtali. His oblation was one silver platter, the weight of which was a hundred a thirty shekels, one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meal-offering; one golden spoon of ten shekels, full of incense; one young bullock, one ram, one he-lamb a year old, for a whole burnt offering; one male of the goats for a purification for sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace-offerings, two oxen, five rams, five he-goats, five he-lambs a year old. This was the oblation of Ahira the son of Enan.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So did all the tribes one by one bring their gifts and their offerings and make their dedication, until after twelve days all had taken part, represented by their tribal chieftain, their tribal 'father'. The offerings having been outlined in detail, the full overall offering is now described in order to bring out its munificence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            7.84-88 'This was the dedication of the altar, in the day when it was anointed, by the princes of Israel: twelve silver platters, twelve silver bowls, twelve golden spoons; each silver platter weighing a hundred and thirty shekels, and each bowl seventy; all the silver of the vessels two thousand and four hundred shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary. The twelve golden spoons, full of incense, weighing ten shekels apiece, after the shekel of the sanctuary; all the gold of the spoons a hundred and twenty shekels. All the oxen for the whole burnt offering twelve bullocks, the rams twelve, the he-lambs a year old twelve, and their grain offering; and the males of the goats for a purification for sin offering twelve. And all the oxen for the sacrifice of peace-offerings twenty and four bullocks, the rams sixty, the he-goats sixty, the he-lambs a year old sixty. This was the dedication of the altar, after that it was anointed.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Here is described the multiplicity of the gifts to Yahweh with all the tribes represented. As the twelve loaves of showbread in the Holy Place represented the twelve tribes, so were they also represented by the golden spoons, the silver platters and the silver bowls in their use in the offering of worship and sacrifice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The multiplicity of the offerings and sacrifices confirms that not only the altar but also the people themselves were involved. They were being dedicated along with the altar. The purity of Israel was being ensured. And to this Yahweh responded.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Response of the Sanctuary (7.89-9.14).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To the dedication of the people in all the respects described from 5.1 onwards now came the response of Yahweh their King. Firstly in the speaking of His Voice, secondly in the shining of His light, thirdly in the service of the Levites on behalf of the people (having replaced their firstborn sons), and fourthly in the Passover celebration which reminded them of, and renewed to them, the wonder of their deliverance from Egypt and His watch over them ever since.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            In the first case it was with respect to Moses, in the second to the priests, in the third to the dedicated ones (the Levites), and in the fourth to the people. This is the exact reversal of the order in the previous three chapters.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thus we have:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • d The Voice of Yahweh the King speaking to Moses from the Mercy Seat (7.89). This was a response to the dedication of the altar and the tribute of the princes (7.2-88), both on behalf of the people, and its original anointing and sanctification (7.1).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • c The lighting of the lamps in the Sanctuary by Aaron and his sons symbolising the light of Yahweh shining on His people (8.1-4). This was a response to the priests' blessing (6.22-27).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • b The compulsory dedication of the Levites to the service of Yahweh as Yahweh's guarantee of the maintenance of the cult (8.5-26). This paralleled the dedication of the Nazirites (6.1-21). It was Yahweh's response to the dedication of the people.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • a The compulsory keeping of the Passover of deliverance by the people, by all who were clean (9.1-14) ensuring their continual deliverance by Yahweh. As their deliverance had begun with the Passover, so would their going forward begin with it, a reminder that Yahweh was continually with them. This was Yahweh's response to their cleansing of the camp (chapter 5). Because they were clean they could partake in His Passover with all that it signified.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Voice of Yahweh Their King From Above The Mercy Seat (7.89).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              7.89 'And when Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with him, then he heard the Voice speaking to him from above the mercy-seat that was on the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim: and he spoke to him (literally 'he said to him').'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In response to all their efforts came the Voice of Yahweh from the 'Holy of Holies' (the Most Holy Place). The shout of a king was among them (23.21). He was responding to their dedication and the dedication of their princes. Through Moses He would speak to them personally as His people, and Moses would pass on His words through the princes. Thus the Voice was closely linked with the dedicated princes. Their dedication on behalf of the people resulted in Yahweh's positive revelatory action towards His people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But it was through Moses that He would speak continually through the days to come as He had in the past, speaking to him as a man speaks with His friend. This was how 'Yahweh said to Moses'. Through Moses came all of Yahweh's revelation to His people (Exodus 33.11). For this was that voice which had declared His covenant from Mount Sinai (Exodus 20.1, 22), that terrible voice from which the people had pleaded to be spared (Exodus 20.19). They had not wanted to hear the Voice, they had only wanted Moses to hear it, and their wish was to be granted. Here was the Voice Who would one day manifest Himself more fully as the Word (John 1.1-18).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It is salutary to realise that while the fire and the cloud only symbolised what Yahweh was, His voice was essentially expressive of Himself. It was personal and real. The cloud and the fire brought home God's glory, the voice brought home the essential nature of what He was. Through that voice came His full revelation of Himself as revealed in His word.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The Voice came from the mercy seat, the propitiatory, which was between the cherubim and above the Ark in which were the covenant tablets. Here was His covenant throne. From here He dispensed mercy. When the people were fully dedicated they could be sure that they would hear His voice through His representatives the prophets, who would stand where Moses stood (Deuteronomy 18.18-19). From now on they would always have His voice if they would hear it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              All knew that there was there no representation of Yahweh. He was the invisible One, the One Who could not be portrayed by any earthly image. But from there He spoke, and it was to there that all their offerings and sacrifices were finally directed, as was brought out on the great Day of Atonement. For there finally was the point at which atonement could be made, forgiveness received, and reconciliation and peace be established.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              'He said to him.' We are left to recognise that this refers to whatever Yahweh said to Moses. We have again and again the phrase 'Yahweh spoke to Moses , saying'. This is here depicted as being spoken by the Voice from the mercy seat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Chapter 8 Yahweh's Further Response.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The One represented by the Voice now set aside three things in order to manifest Himself to His people, the lampstand, the Levites and the Passover. The lampstand would manifest His glory, a permanent reminder that while they were faithful His light would shine on them continually, the Levites would be a permanent living reminder of His activity on their behalf, the Passover a permanent annual reminder that He was the Great Deliverer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • The lamps on the lampstand were to be lit in order to give light in front of the lampstand (8.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Aaron did this. He did exactly as Yahweh commanded Moses. He lighted the lamps to give light in front of the lampstand (8.3).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • The description of the lampstand (8.4a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • The lampstand was made in accordance with the pattern shown in the Mount (8.4b).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                8.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Again we have reference to the fact that we have here the words of Yahweh spoken through Moses, but here with the added significance that it is made clear that they came through the Voice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                8.2 'Speak to Aaron, and say to him, "When you light (or 'set up') the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light in front of the lampstand." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When Aaron lit or set up the lamps in the evening (Exodus 30.7-8) he was to ensure that they gave light in front of the lampstand. This was so as to ensure that it shone on the table of showbread which represented Israel in the Dwellingplace. The light of His face was to shine on them (6.25), His glory was to rise upon them (Isaiah 60.1). They could ever be aware of His watch over them (Exodus 13.21), and His desire to bless them. As the pillar of fire had gone with them, so would His fire burn continually in the Sanctuary. Yahweh was ever their light when they would receive it, watching over them, shining on them, pouring out blessing on them, and revealing to them the truth through His prophets and through His word directly into their hearts (Psalm 119.105, 130).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The thought of Yahweh as the light of His people is a constant one in Scripture. He is the light that leads them and illuminates them (Exodus 13.21); He is the light which brings them salvation (Psalm 27.1); through that light they see light for He is the fountain of life (Psalm 36.9); it is His light and His truth that leads men (Psalm 43.3); it is the light of His countenance shining on them that will give them the land (Psalm 44.3), and illuminate them in their walk (Psalm 89.15), and reveal their secret sins (Psalm 90.8). His light will ensure their holiness. Thus His people are to walk in that light (Isaiah 2.5), and when He comes to them they will see great light (Isaiah 9.2); it will shine on them and reveal to them the glory of God (Isaiah 60.1).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But the lamp on the lampstand was a burning flame. Thus the light was a symbol of what they had seen on Mount Sinai when the mountain had appeared to be on fire as the glory of Yahweh was revealed on it (Exodus 19.18; 24.17; Deuteronomy 4.24; 5.4, 23; 9.15 etc.). It was a light that revealed the holiness and glory of Yahweh. For God is often pictured as a burning fire (Isaiah 4.5; 33.14; Ezekiel 1.27-28; 8.2; Malachi 3.2).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It is interesting that the light follows the voice here. First the voice, then the light. The same is made clear in John's Gospel. First John the Baptiser, the voice crying in the wilderness, and then the Word. Finally the Word was revealed, the creative Word Who gave life, and that life was the light of men (John 1.1-4). For He was the light coming into the world that the world might believe through Him. As His only Son He revealed God's glory, full of grace and truth (John 1.14). He came as the light of the world, God's lampstand among men, giving true light (John 8.12), that men might not walk in darkness but have the light of life (John 8.12; 12.46). He is the sevenfold lampstand, and that is why His people in whom He lives are also called on to be His sevenfold lampstands as representing Him (Revelation 1.13, 20; 2.1).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                8.3 'And Aaron did so. He lighted its lamps so as to give light in front of the lampstand, as Yahweh commanded Moses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And Aaron did as he was commanded. Daily he trimmed the lamps so as to shine in front of the lampstand illuminating what symbolised His people. Thereby they could know that the light of His face shone on them. It was the sign of the fulfilment of the priests' blessing on Israel (6.22-27). By His light shining on them He was putting His name on them and blessing them (6.27).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                For two things were to be kept burning continually, and to be fed daily by the priests, the fire from the lampstand (Leviticus 24.2-4) and the fire of the altar (Leviticus 6.8-13), for both spoke of the permanent presence of Yahweh, the one giving continual blessing and the other continual atonement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                8.4 'And this was the working of the lampstand, beaten work of gold. To its base, and to its flowers, it was beaten work, according to the pattern which Yahweh had shown Moses, so he made the lampstand.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The lamp was now described. It was made of gold, cleverly hammered out and fashioned, in accordance with God's pattern shown to Moses in the Mount (compare Exodus 25.31-40). Like a flowering tree it symbolised life and fruitfulness, the very life-giving power of Yahweh. In shape it corresponded to late bronze age lamps of 15th to 13th centuries BC

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The Dedication of the Levites (8.5-26).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The voice has spoken to Moses, Yahweh's chosen; the light, lit by Aaron and his sons, Yahweh's chosen, shines on the bread that symbolises Yahweh's people; and now Yahweh comes to the third of the trio of His chosen ones, those whom He has set apart for Himself to serve instead of the firstborn of Israel. He has provided them that the firstborn of Israel may no longer be bound to Tabernacle service. They are holy to Him, made holy through the night of the Passover which will be dealt with subsequently. In the Passover He will then welcome all who are clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In chapter 3 the Levites have been numbered, in chapter 4 they have been assigned their responsibilities, in chapter 7 they have been given the means of fulfilling those responsibilities, and now they are to be dedicated to their work.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We have here the regular chiastic pattern:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • a The command to take and cleanse the Levites (8.5-6).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • b The purifying, washing and preparation for the making of atonement (8.7-8).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • c The whole congregation assembled to do the will of Yahweh (8.9)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • d Presentation of the Levites before Yahweh at the Tent of meeting and offered as a waveoffering, with threefold repetition to stress the completeness of the offering (8.10-15).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • e The Levites wholly given to Yahweh instead of the firstborn (8.16).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • f All the firstborn were Yahweh's because He delivered them at the Passover (8.17).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • e The Levites taken instead of all the firstborn (8.18).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • d The Levites given as a gift to Aaron, Yahweh's representative, to do the service of the Tent of meeting (8.19).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • c All the congregation do the will of Yahweh (8.20).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • b The purifying, washing and making of atonement (8.21).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • a Yahweh's command obeyed (8.22).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Central to the pattern is the fact the firstborn belonged to Yahweh because of the deliverance from Egypt, and around that is built the fact that the Levites are being taken as substitutes and prepared accordingly. Added as a kind of postscript is the information concerning the ages of commencement and retirement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a From twenty five and upwards the Levites to war the warfare in the work of the Tent of meeting (8.24).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • b At the age of fifty they cease to work and serve no more (8.25).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • a The retired to minister with their brethren in the Tent of meeting to guard and protect it but serve no more (8.26).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Command to Take and Cleanse the Levites (8.5-6).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.5 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The voice had spoken to Moses, it had called on him to tell Aaron to light the lamp, now it called on him to separate out the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.6 "Take the Levites from among the children of Israel, and cleanse them."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    They were to be taken out from among the children of Israel and specially cleansed. We are not told when this happened, but it was clearly before the numbering, or they would have been numbered with Israel. This cleansing was to set them apart to the holy service of Yahweh, for they had to guard the Sanctuary, dismantle it and carry it, erect it, and repair it. This was their holy service. They would keep the Sanctuary holy, but in a subsidiary position to the priests. Only the priests could lay the sacrifices on the altar, apply the blood, enter the Holy Place, light the lamps and offer incense. But the Levites must see to the heavy duties outside the Holy Place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Method of Cleansing. The Purifying, Washing of Clothes and Preparation For The Making of Atonement (8.7-8).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.7 "And thus shall you do to them, to cleanse them. Sprinkle the water of sin on them, and let them cause a razor to pass over all their flesh, and let them wash their clothes, and cleanse themselves."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The only water ever described as sprinkled was the 'water of uncleanness' described in 19.9, 17-19. This was water which had been purified by the use of the ashes of the red heifer. It is probable therefore that we are to see this as 'the water of sin (or 'of the purification for sin offering)' which was to be sprinkled on them, for the ashes are described as a 'purification for sin offering' (same word as for 'sin' - 19.9). The water would therefore be 'the water of the purification for sin offering'. The second thing required was that they were to shave themselves all over, and the third that they washed their clothes. But there is no suggestion that they wash themselves. The sprinkled sacrificial water would make atonement, and purify them from any taint of death, the shaving was for the removal of uncleanness, and the washing of clothes was for the removal of earthiness. All symbolised a setting apart from the earth to be holy to Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The ceremony was dissimilar to all others. In the case of the priests they were washed with water by Moses, but they did not shave themselves all over, nor wash their clothes. The lack of the latter may, however, have been because they wore special garments for entry into the Sanctuary. In the case of the skin diseased they shaved themselves fully, washed their clothes and bathed themselves (Leviticus 14.4), possibly because they had been living outside the camp, and were now entering its special holiness. Those who had been in contact with the dead had only to wash their clothes and bathe themselves (19.19).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The washing of clothes was thus a regular feature for the removal of external earthiness preparatory to meeting with God or entering a holy place, but the shaving of themselves all over seems to indicate a more in depth removal of uncleanness, a moving up a stage in removing every last taint of uncleanness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.8 "Then let them take a young bull ox, and its grain offering, milled wheat grain mingled with oil; and another young bull ox shall you take for a purification for sin offering."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As always the shedding of blood was required. A bull ox was required to cover the many (Leviticus 4.13-14). One was to be a whole burnt offering (verse 12; compare Leviticus 1.3), and would be accompanied by a grain offering, the other was to be a purification for sin offering. The Levites were being both dedicated and purified.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Whole Congregation Assembled To Do the Will of Yahweh (8.9).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.9 "And you shall present the Levites before the tent of meeting. And you shall assemble the whole congregation of the children of Israel,"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is not in chronological order, but introduces the gathering of the people where it is convenient. Much would be taking place at the same time. The people would thus have already gathered first prior to the presentation. The writer's point is that they had been gathered prior to the ceremony. It is the presenting of the Levites 'before the Tent of meeting', as an official presentation, that follows chronologically after the taking of the ox bulls, the former at least following the assembling of the congregation. As always chronology is unimportant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Threefold Offering of the Levites As A Wave-offering to Yahweh (8.10-15).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.10-11 "And you shall present the Levites before Yahweh. And the children of Israel shall lay their hands on the Levites, and Aaron shall offer the Levites before Yahweh for a waveoffering, on the behalf of the children of Israel, that it may be theirs to do the service of Yahweh."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is repeated that the Levites were to be presented, but this time more directly as 'before Yahweh' (being 'presented before the Tent of meeting' usually means precisely this). Then representatives of the people would come forward, probably the princes, and on behalf of all the people lay their hands on the Levites, identifying the people with them. The Levites were being offered to perform service on their behalf. The Levites were then officially 'waved' (specially presented) before Yahweh by Aaron, clothed in all his High Priestly regalia, acting again on behalf of the people. The wave offering is offered or described three times, once by Aaron (verse 11), and twice by Moses (verses 13 & 15), emphasising its completeness. The purpose was that from then on they would 'do the service of Yahweh'. While journeying it would be an arduous service with the constant dismantling and erecting of the Dwellingplace, packing it on the carts and taking it off, and the bearing of the furniture through the wilderness, to say nothing of the constant guard duty when the camp was at rest, together with other duties.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.12 "And the Levites shall lay their hands on the heads of the bullocks, and you must offer the one for a purification for sin offering, and the other for a whole burnt offering, to Yahweh, to make atonement for the Levites."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Levites would then identify themselves with the offerings by laying their hands on them. These offerings would result in their dedication and purification, but most of all they would make them at one with God, 'covered' before God. They would be atoned for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.13 "And you shall set the Levites before Aaron, and before his sons, and offer them for a waveoffering to Yahweh."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Either this is a different waveoffering, an offering repeated threefold (ceremonies can be very repetitive in order to bring out different points) or verse 11 had simply mentioned this in a preparatory fashion, and this was now its fulfilment. But it may well be that there were three such presentations (verses 11, 13, 15). Such threefold presentations often occur in ceremonies. Then the purpose of this one would have been to present them on behalf of Aaron and his sons. Thus first they had been offered as an offering of the children of Israel (verse 11), here they are offered on behalf of Aaron and his sons, and in verse 15 they are offered wholly to Yahweh in order to replace the firstborn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.14 "Thus shall you separate the Levites from among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be mine."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And this was how the Levites would be separated off from the children of Israel and become Yahweh's. From then on they would belong to Yahweh. They would be wholly set apart to His service.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.15a "And after that shall the Levites go in to do the service of the tent of meeting."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Once that had occurred they could perform their service for the Tent of meeting. From this point on it would be their responsibility to generally maintain and care for the accoutrements for the worship of the Sanctuary as far as it was allowed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Levites Wholly Given to Yahweh Instead of the Firstborn of Israel (8.16).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.15b-16 "And you shall cleanse them, and offer them for a waveoffering, for they are wholly given to me from among the children of Israel; instead of all that opens the womb, even the first-born of all the children of Israel, have I taken them to me."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This now gives another reason why they needed to be cleansed, and offered as a waveoffering. It was because they were being offered as substitutes for the male firstborn of the children of Israel. They were being taken instead of them (compare 3.45-51). This is a further explanation of why Moses had to offer them, and may indicate a third step in the ceremony.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    All the Firstborn Were Yahweh's Because He Had Delivered Them at the Passover (8.17).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.17-18 "For all the first-born among the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This leads up to the central fact, that the firstborn among the children of Israel were Yahweh's, whether man or beast (3.13; 8.17; Exodus 13.2, 12; 22.29-30; 34.19). This specific fact is emphasised and is central to the passage (see analysis above). It was therefore no light thing that they were being replaced by the Levites. Here in the Levites were the representatives of every Israelite family, replacing their sons as representatives. That was why the people owed such a debt to the Levites, and were never to forget them (Deuteronomy 12.19).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    So the dedicated Levites represented their dedicated firstborn, as the Nazirites represented their dedication as a people. Each was to be seen as indicating their responsibility towards Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Levites Taken Instead of All the Firstborn (8.18).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    18.18 "On the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself, and I have taken the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The firstborn were Yahweh's because He had spared them when He smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt (Exodus 11-13). As a result He had sanctified them for Himself for they had been under His special protection. Theirs was to be the privilege of serving His Sanctuary. But now these firstborn sons were released from their solemn privilege because Yahweh had chosen to take the Levites in their place. This was no doubt partly because of the recognition from experience of the untrustworthiness of the firstborn at times of crisis, in contrast with the trustworthiness of the Levites. But it was still a significant exchange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Levites Given As a Gift to Aaron, Yahweh's Representative, To Do the Service of the Tent of Meeting (8.19).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    18.19 "And I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the children of Israel, to do the service of the children of Israel in the tent of meeting, and to make atonement for the children of Israel; that there be no plague among the children of Israel, when the children of Israel come nigh to the sanctuary."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And having taken the Levites He has given them as a gift to Aaron and his sons. This was done for two reasons. Firstly that they might do the service in the Tent of meeting which otherwise the firstborn of Israel would have to do. And secondly in order that, by replacing the firstborn, they might make atonement for the children of Israel so that when the people of Israel approached Yahweh, they would not have to be punished with the plague because their firstborn had not been given to the Sanctuary.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Moses, Aaron and All the Congregation Do The Will of Yahweh (8.20).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.20 'Thus did Moses, and Aaron, and all the congregation of the children of Israel, to the Levites. According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses touching the Levites, so did the children of Israel to them.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    It is now stressed that both Moses and Aaron, and the whole people, obeyed Yahweh fully. They did to the Levites what Yahweh had commanded. From now on the Levites would see to the Dwellingplace, acting on behalf of the people and instead of their sons, and in return the people would ensure the liberal support of the Levites.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In verse 8 the whole congregation had been assembled for this purpose. Now they saw to its fulfilment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The Carrying Out of the Purifying, Washing of Clothes And Making of Atonement for the Levites Is Summarised (8.21).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.21 'And the Levites purified themselves from sin, and they washed their clothes, and Aaron offered them for a waveoffering before Yahweh; and Aaron made atonement for them to cleanse them.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Compare verses 7-8. In accordance with Yahweh's requirements, the Levites purified themselves from sin by means of the water of the purification for sin offering, shaved their bodies and washed their clothes. Then Aaron offered the Levites as a 'waveoffering' before Yahweh, presenting them to Him, and through the offerings made atonement for them to cleanse them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yahweh's Original Command Obeyed (8.22).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    8.22 'And after that went the Levites in to do their service in the tent of meeting before Aaron, and before his sons, as Yahweh had commanded Moses concerning the Levites, so did they to them.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Once this was accomplished the Levites went in to do their service in the Dwellingplace. This would include 'policing' the courtyard of the Dwellingplace, assisting some who brought offerings with the slaughter of their sacrifices, generally ministering around inside the courtyard and out, general maintenance of its fabric and appurtenances, preventing those from approaching the Dwellingplace who should not, and being responsible for the Dwellingplace in all its movements.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And all this was done as Yahweh had commanded Moses (see verses 5-6).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    A number of lessons arise for us out of these verses. Firstly the need to be as concerned about minor ministries among God's people as well as the more prominent ones. Secondly a recognition that God is equally concerned about them. Thirdly the need for unity among God's people in making such appointments within the will of God. Fourthly that all, whatever their ministry, regularly need purifying by the blood of Jesus in their ministry and especially at its commencement. It is also a reminder of the need for substitutionary atonement, as the Levites took the place of the firstborn. But how we should rejoice that our substitute before the throne is not the Levites, but our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Making us sufficient to approach God without fear.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Limits on Levite Ministry (8.23-26).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The soldiers of Israel commenced their responsibilities at twenty years old, but the work of the Levites was so sacred that they had to be more mature before they entered on it, and had to have a five year apprenticeship before they could fully participate. This would bring home to them the seriousness of their responsibilities. Here the age at which they were to commence that apprenticeship is described.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Analysis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • a From twenty five and upwards the Levites were to 'war the warfare' in the work of the Tent of meeting (8.24).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • b At the age of fifty they were to cease to perform the laborious work and serve no more (8.25).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • a The retired were to minister with their brethren in the Tent of meeting to guard and protect it but were to serve no more (8.26).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8.23 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This phrase cuts this section off from the last. It indicates a new revelation, but again stresses that it was Yahweh's word through Moses. The constant stress on this brings out that Joshua, or Eleazar, or whoever was responsible wanted it known that what he recorded were the words of Moses, spoken by the Voice, and of no one else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      8.24-26 "This is what belongs to the Levites. From twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to war the warfare in the work of the tent of meeting, and from the age of fifty years they shall return from the warfare of the work, and shall serve no more, but shall minister with their brethren in the tent of meeting, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shall you do to the Levites touching their charges."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Those who were numbered for the work of dismantling, bearing and erecting the dwellingplace and looking after its contents were those Levites who were thirty years to fifty years old (3.3, 22-23, 29-30, 34-35, 38-39, 42-43, 46-47). They were the ones mobilised for the purpose. However, for such sacred work we would expect a period of preparation. To move from no involvement to such important work at one step would have prevented the building up of an awareness of the holiness of the task, and would have encouraged carelessness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A five year breaking in period was clearly recommended. Thus the Levite would commence his part in the holy service of Yahweh, being trained in lesser tasks, from the age of twenty five. The young hotheads had to be broken in before having a part in the holiest of tasks. The same was probably true for the priesthood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Note how militant terms are used for their service. It was to be recognised that their service equalled that of the trained soldiers of the other tribes, and that while their warfare was of a different kind it was nonetheless real.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But once the Levites became fifty they were to cease to be mobilised for the movement of the dwelling place, being instead given policing duties, 'keeping the charge', watching over what the Levites had been charged with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is always possible that the original charge was commencement at thirty, and that it became recognised for one reason or another more hands were needed so that Moses later dropped the age limit to twenty five. The chiastic structure might be seen as supporting that this was an additional note. But our view is that it is what we would expect, for we would actually expect a breaking in and training period for such a sacred duty, and that is what this provides. It would seem to us therefore that our interpretation presents the most likely scenario.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It should be noted what problems there would be for Levite parents, even granted their separate camp, in that in the other tribes the young men began service at twenty while the Levites had to wait until they were older. The younger Levites would no doubt feel the restraint and be eager to begin doing something. To wait ten years with little to do would have been unbearable. It is unlikely that the restraint was one of shortage of strength. It was rather one that had in mind the holiness of the task.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A lesson for the church today is the danger of men being 'called to the ministry' too young. This suggests that training for the ministry should not begin until at least twenty five years old. It would ensure that ministers had experience of life before they began their training, and that they had really had time to consider the seriousness of what they were taking on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Chapter 9 The Second Passover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Last in our series of responses by the Sanctuary to the dedication of the people comes the feast of the Passover. This was a response in which all the people who were 'clean' could take part. It follows happily on the reference to the Passover in 8.17 and parallels in the whole schemat of these chapters (see introduction before 5.1 above) the making clean of the camp. For only those who were clean could take part in the Passover. To enjoy Yahweh's best requires full cleanness of life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yahweh had responded to the people's dedication by His Voice coming to Moses through which His people would receive His word (7.89). He had responded in response to the blessing of the priest by calling on Aaron to light the lamps so that in symbolism they represented God illuminating the people of Israel (8.1-4), a symbolism which contributed to the reality. He had responded in appointing the Levites for the good of His people Israel and the maintenance of His Dwellingplace (8.5-26). Now His approach was to the people themselves through the Feast of the Passover. The importance of this event is stressed by it being dated. That it must be kept by all, even if delayed, is then also stressed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The first five verses are not to be seen as simply an introduction. They solemnly go through the call to keep the Passover, then move on to the message passed on by Moses, and finally to the full response of the people in keeping the Passover. By this they would again partake afresh in Yahweh's deliverance. One purpose of what follows is precisely to bring out what a wonderful thing those people who did not keep the Passover had been missing out on. Clearly He saw partaking in this feast as an essential part of the bond between Himself and His people and sought to make it open as widely as possible within the covenant (compare Exodus 12.43-49). It was the fourth aspect of His response to His people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another purpose for verses 6-14 is in bringing out how important Yahweh saw it to be. It was important that none should miss the Passover. It was so important that it was the only feast for which a second opportunity was given, and to miss it deliberately would therefore result in being cut off from the covenant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The passage follows the usual chiastic pattern.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a The Passover must be kept at its appointed time (9.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b The Passover is to be kept according to all the statutes and ordinance (9.3).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c The Passover was kept in the wilderness as commanded (9.4-5).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • d Those who were unclean for the dead and could not eat the Passover (9.6-7).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • e Moses asks them to wait while he discovers Yahweh's will (9.8).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • e Yahweh speaks to Moses His will (9.9).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • d Yahweh speaks concerning those who were unclean and could not eat the Passover (9.10a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • c They shall keep the Passover of Yahweh (9.10b).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • b The Passover was to be kept as laid down (9.11-12).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • a The Passover must be kept at its appointed time (9.13-14).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Keeping of the Second Passover (9.1-5).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This also took place prior to the numbering of Israel. The Passover was to be observed on 14th-15th of Abib (Nisan) which was the first month of the year at this time. Thus in that first month, one year after leaving Egypt, Yahweh called on Israel to ensure that they properly kept the Passover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Passover Must be Kept at its Appointed Time (9.1-2)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.2 "Moreover let the children of Israel keep the passover in its appointed season. In the fourteenth day of this month, between the evenings, you shall keep it in its appointed season."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh commanded that the children of Israel keep the Passover in the appointed season. That meant that on 10th day of Abib each family group was to set aside a lamb of the first year in readiness for the Passover. On the 14th day it was to be slaughtered as a sacrifice towards evening and eaten that night on what would in Israelite timing be 15th Abib (around March/April), for the Israelite's day began in the evening. Note the assumption that the statutes with regard to it were known.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        'Between the evenings.' Thus between the time when it began to grow dark and twilight. Later Jewish tradition would argue for between noon and darkness and therefore sacrificed the Passover around 15.00 hours, but it was probably intended to be later than that. Compare Deuteronomy 16.6. The original idea would probably be when the keepers of the cattle and sheep returned from their final feeding and milking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Passover Was to be Kept According to All the Statutes and Ordinance (9.3).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.3 "According to all the statutes of it, and according to all the ordinances of it, you shall keep it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Note the stress on following the laid down procedures. The existence of those statutes and ordinances is assumed. So important was it that we can assume that they were written down. For details consult Exodus 12.1-13.16.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In Accordance with Yahweh's Instruction The Passover Was Kept in the Wilderness as Commanded (9.4-5)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.4 'And Moses spoke to the children of Israel, that they should keep the passover.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So Moses gave the command to the children of Israel that they should keep the Passover, as Yahweh had laid down from the beginning (Exodus 12.14, 43-49; 13.5, 8-10). The princes would no doubt be called together and instructions clearly given.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.5 'And they kept the passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at even, in the wilderness of Sinai. According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so did the children of Israel.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The result was that they kept the Passover on the 14th day of the first month of the second year at evening, in the wilderness of Sinai. And they kept it in accordance with all that Yahweh had commanded Moses (see Exodus 12.1-13.16; Leviticus 23.5-6).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On the 1st day of the month the Dwellingplace had been erected (Exodus 40.2), and then in the next twelve days the altar had been dedicated by each of the tribes through their princes (7.1-88). Thus almost as soon as that was over the Passover would begin. It would then be followed for seven days by the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There must have been a huge feeling of exultation among those who kept this first Passover after leaving Egypt. It could hardly fail to bring home vividly to all the people a reminder of the wonder of their deliverance. At this time there must have been full confidence for the future as they remembered how Yahweh had so amazingly acted for them and had delivered them, both on that night and in subsequent events. They would really feel at that moment that they were truly the people of God. And they would emerge from it even more determined to serve Yahweh fully.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Dismay Of Those who Through No Fault of Their Own Had Missed Out (9.6-14).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There were those who were unable to take part in the Passover because they were unclean with an uncleanness that lasted seven days. In this case it was because they had had contact with the dead. They were clearly very upset that they had missed out on it and sought a remedy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Approach of Those Who Were Unclean for the Dead and Could Not Eat the Passover (9.6-7)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.6-7 'And there were certain men, who were unclean by reason of the dead body of a man, so that they could not keep the passover on that day, and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day, and those men said to him, "We are unclean by reason of the dead body of a man. What is the reason why we are kept back, that we may not offer the oblation of Yahweh in its appointed season among the children of Israel?" '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this particular case there were men who were at the time 'unclean' because they had come in contact with a dead body and were therefore unclean for seven days. Thus they had been unable to take part in the observing of the Passover. This upset them greatly and they approached Moses and Aaron about it on that very day of the offering of the Passover lambs. They wanted to know why they should be restricted so that they could not take part in the observance of the Passover over what to them did not seem a very serious matter. Why was it that something which was not their fault should prevent them partaking in the Passover?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Their attitude and their urgency emphasises the blessing that the people who were able to keep the Passover enjoyed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Moses Asks Them to Wait While He Discovers Yahweh's Will (9.8)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.8 'And Moses said to them, "Wait, that I may hear what Yahweh will command concerning you." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Moses was sympathetic to their request and asked them to wait while he consulted Yahweh through the Voice that spoke from the mercy seat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh Expresses His Will to Moses (9.9)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.9 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh's reply came in the usual way, through His word to Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He Speaks Concerning Those Who Had Been Unclean and Could Not Therefore Eat the Passover (9.10a).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.10a 'Speak to the children of Israel, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yahweh had a reply for these concerned men which He commands Moses to give them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And The Reply Was That They Would Be Enabled To Keep the Passover of Yahweh (9.10b).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.10b "If any man of you or of your generations shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be on a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover to Yahweh." '

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        He first expanded on the problem. In future men may be unclean through contact with the dead or may be on a distant journey, and thus be unable to observe the Passover. Well, they were not to be too concerned. They would certainly be privileged to still keep the Passover.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        A Second Passover Was To Be Kept In The Second Month And Was To Be Kept As Laid Down (9.11-12).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.11-12 "In the second month on the fourteenth day at even they shall keep it; they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, they shall leave none of it until the morning, nor break a bone of it. According to all the statute of the passover they shall keep it."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The way in which this would be achieved was by having a special Passover on the 14th day of the second month for all those who had missed the one on the 14th day of the first month through no fault of their own. They would observe it in the same way as the authentic Passover, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (Exodus 12.8), and of course with the Passover lamb. And in accordance with the regulations they were to leave none until the morning and were to ensure that they broke none of its bones (Exodus 12.10, 46). The first was necessary because the Passover food was especially holy. It was like a peace offering offered solely in thanksgiving (Leviticus 7.15). The second because to break the bones would render the lamb blemished and therefore imperfect. Even in death it must be kept perfect and whole, because it was holy. It was Yahweh's. And it was their great privilege that they could partake of it because they were His redeemed people.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Passover Must In General Be Kept At Its Appointed Time (9.13-14)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.13 "But the man who is clean, and is not on a journey, and forbears to keep the passover, that soul shall be cut off from his people. Because he offered not the oblation of Yahweh in its appointed season, that man shall bear his sin."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        However that was not to be made an excuse for someone who was clean not to keep the original Passover. Anyone eligible who did not keep the original Passover would be cut off from among the people. Yahweh would know and would see to it. And the reason for this would be that he had not offered a gift that he was obliged by Yahweh to make at the appointed time. He would have deliberately rebelled highhandedly against Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        9.14 "And if a resident alien shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover to Yahweh, according to the statute of the passover, and according to its ordinance, so shall he do. You shall have one statute, both for the resident alien, and for him who is born in the land."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        All this was being said in preparation for that great future when they would be in the land. Then if a resident alien lived among them he also could keep the Passover in accordance with Passover requirements, one of which was that he enter the covenant and be circumcised as a 'true' Israelite (Exodus 12.48-49). As stated in Exodus the same principles would apply to all, whether born in the land or resident alien seeking Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This emphasis on 'the land' was all part of the preparation for their moving off on what at that time Moses thought would be a short journey to the land. The expectancy was that they would soon be living there, and these references were intended to bolster that expectancy. There was no thought of the delay that would occur through their unbelief. As far as Moses was concerned it was just round the corner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For us the significance of the Passover is tied up with Jesus Christ. He is our Passover Who was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5.7 compare John 19.36). He is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1.29). We are therefore to rid ourselves of the leaven of wickedness and malice. And we must ensure that we partake of Him as the unblemished offering fully and truly, for to fail to do so will mean that we too will be 'cut off' (1 Corinthians 11.27, 30).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        SECTION 3 GUIDANCE IN RESPECT OF GOING FORWARD (9.15-10.10).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The command being made to go forward it is now made clear how they will be guided.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Guidance In Respect of Going Forward (9.15-10.10).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Godward Side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a The cloud and fire rest on the tabernacle (9.15-16).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Movement forward regulated by the cloud (9.17-23).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Manward Side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • b Responses to be determined by the blowing of the silver trumpets (10.1-8).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • a The blowing of the silver trumpets as a memorial before Yahweh once they have rest in the land (10.9-10)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The cloud and the fire had been with them from before the crossing of the Reed Sea. In Exodus 13.22 we are told that 'Yahweh went before them by day in a pillar of cloud, to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light that they might go by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day, and the pillar of fire by night, departed not from before the people.' At that stage they were fleeing and did not stop to pitch camp. When the Egyptian forces came up the cloud went behind them to hinder the Egyptian advance (Exodus 14.20), while the fire still illuminated Israel at night.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Once, however, they were encamped for a period of time at Mount Sinai in Horeb and the Dwellingplace had been erected, 'the cloud covered the Tent of meeting and the glory of Yahweh covered the Dwellingplace' (Exodus 40.34), so much so that for a time Moses was unable to enter it. As Moses was usually able to enter it, and was able to do so in 7.89, it is clear that the glory was different from the fire. Thus the glory was temporary at the initiation of the Dwellingplace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When the cloud was taken up from over the Dwellingplace the children of Israel went onwards throughout all their journeys. If the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey until the day that it was taken up (Exodus 30 35-37). 'And the cloud of Yahweh was on the Dwellingplace by day, and there was fire in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys' (Exodus 40.38).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Cloud and Fire Rest on the Dwellingplace (9.15-16).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The principles would now be laid down by which the march forward was to be regulated. Firstly would be the divine signals through the cloud and the fire. Then would come the human signals through the silver trumpets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This section can be seen as completing the previous section, or as introducing the section which is to follow. It fits in neatly between the two sections, the cloud being their reward for their obedience to His previous instruction, the trumpets the manward means by which their responses would be controlled as they journeyed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The account is again composed chiastically.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • a Introductory explanation (9.15-16).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • b When the cloud was taken up they journeyed, when the cloud abode they encamped (9.17).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • c At the commandment of Yahweh they journeyed, at the commandment of Yahweh they encamped (9.18).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • d When the cloud tarried they encamped and journeyed not (9.19).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • d The cloud was sometimes a few days on the Dwellingplace (9.20a).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • c According to the commandment of Yahweh they encamped and according to His commandment they journeyed - note the reverse order (9.20b-21).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • b When the cloud abode on the Dwellingplace they encamped, when it was taken up they journeyed - again the reverse order (9.22).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • a Final conclusion (9.23).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.15 'And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the tent of the testimony, and at even it was on the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until morning.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            From the very day that the Dwellingplace was set up the cloud covered it by day, demonstrating the earthly presence of Yahweh among His people. And when night came there appeared on it the appearance of fire. They were a continual reminder of Sinai.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            'Even the tent of the testimony.' A reminder that within the Dwellingplace lay the tablets which contained the sacred covenant with Yahweh, of which the Tent was a constant reminder.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.16 'So it was always. The cloud covered it, and the appearance of fire by night.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This was how it always was. The cloud covered it, and by night there was the appearance of fire. This cloud and fire had been with them from the original deliverance at the Reed Sea (see Exodus 13.21-22).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.17

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            'And whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then after that the children of Israel journeyed,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And in the place where the cloud abode,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            There the children of Israel encamped.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            From this point on the narrative takes on a kind of poetic prose. It may well be taken from something the people chanted when they were gathered together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            By means of the cloud Yahweh determined when they should journey. When the cloud arose from the Dwellingplace then they journeyed forward. And when the cloud again settled down there they made their camp, and set up the Dwellingplace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.18

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            'At the commandment of Yahweh the children of Israel journeyed,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And at the commandment of Yahweh they encamped.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As long as the cloud abode on the tabernacle they remained encamped.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So the cloud was under Yahweh's control, and it was at the command of Yahweh that they journeyed, and at the command of Yahweh that they camped. And as long as the cloud abode on the Dwellingplace they remained encamped.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.19

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            'And when the cloud tarried on the tabernacle many days,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then the children of Israel kept the charge of Yahweh,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And journeyed not.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            All was in obedience to Yahweh. When the cloud remained abiding on the Dwellingplace for many days, they remained there for many days. They obeyed Yahweh's charge (or 'obligation' or 'watch'). They did not journey. Thus it was always Yahweh's will that they obeyed as He kept watch over them. They responded to His 'watch'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.20

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            'And sometimes the cloud was a few days on the tabernacle.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Then according to the commandment of Yahweh they remained encamped,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And according to the commandment of Yahweh they journeyed.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Sometimes the cloud remained on the Dwellingplace for a few days. Then, as Yahweh was commanding by this, they remained encamped. But as soon as Yahweh commanded otherwise they moved forward.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.21

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            'And sometimes the cloud was from evening until morning,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And when the cloud was taken up in the morning, they journeyed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Or by day and by night (or 'a day and a night'), when the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When the cloud indicated that they should move they did so, whether it was by day or by night. Sometimes the cloud remained settled during the night, and when it was taken up in the morning they journeyed, but whether it was by day or by night, when it was taken up they journeyed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.22 'Whether it was two days, or a month, or a long time, that the cloud tarried on the tabernacle, abiding on it, the children of Israel remained encamped, and journeyed not, but when it was taken up, they journeyed.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Their journeying was completely at the behest of Yahweh. When the cloud tarried on the Dwellingplace for two days, or a moon period, or a long time, dwelling on it, they remained encamped, and when it was take up they journeyed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            9.23 'At the commandment of Yahweh they encamped, and at the commandment of Yahweh they journeyed. They kept the charge of Yahweh, at the commandment of Yahweh by Moses.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            They did all at the command of Yahweh. At His command they encamped. At His command they journeyed. They obeyed His command, they kept His charge according to His watch over them. It was all at the command of Yahweh by Moses. Note the threefold emphasis on camping and journeying 'at the commandment of Yahweh' (verses 18, 20, 23).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The overall emphasis of this passage is clear. They were aware that Yahweh kept watch over them. They journeyed only at His command. At His command they remained where they were. And it was all indicated through the cloud, through which Yahweh revealed His personal will and guardianship To some extent this would exonerate Moses. He could not be blamed if they 'went wrong' on the journey. The directions were given in the sight of all, they were not of his choosing. But note the final phrase. All recognised that Yahweh led them because of Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            For us there is no cloud to guide. But we have before us the unveiled glory of Jesus (2 Corinthians 3.1-4.6). He leads us through His Spirit (Romans 8.14; Galatians 5.18) and through His word. The cloud has been replaced by the Illuminator and the revelation of the glory of Christ, and His presence is just as surely with us as it was with them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Chapter 10 The Silver Trumpets And The Commencement of Their Journeying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The problem for any large company on the march in those days was communication. In the case of Israel this was partly resolved by the use of two silver trumpets, by the blowing of which quick messages could be rapidly imparted over a wide area.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Note again the chiastic arrangement.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • a The general purposes of the trumpets (10.1-2).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • b When they were blown the congregation would gather, one blast will call up the princes (10.3-4).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • c A blast will cause those on the east to journey (10.5).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • c A second blast will cause those on the south to journey (10.6).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • b When the assembly was to gather together they were to be blown - note the reverse order (10.7).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • a The general purpose of the trumpets (10.8-10)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.1 'And Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As ever this resulted from Yahweh's words to Moses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.2 'Make yourself two trumpets of silver; of beaten work shall you make them, and you shall use them for the calling of the congregation, and for the journeying of the camps.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Two trumpets were to be made of beaten silver. They were to be used for the calling together of all the men in the camp for worship or consultation, or just for calling the princes of the tribe, or for giving indications about moving forward. Trumpets were used in Egypt for similar purposes in 16th-11th century BC. While we do not know what these were like we do know what they were like centuries later. They were then straight pipes, about 45 centimetres (18 inches) long, and flared at the end.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.3 'And when they shall blow them, all the congregation shall gather themselves to you at the door of the tent of meeting.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The normal signal, possibly two or three blasts, would call together the whole congregation at the door of the Tent of meeting. They would gather around the Dwellingplace.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.4 'And if they blow but one, then the princes, the heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves to you.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One sharp blast would be a signal for the princes, those who were over tribes and sub tribes, to gather. Each tribe was here seen as 'an 'eleph'.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.5 'And when you blow an alarm, the camps that lie on the east side shall take their journey.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A different type of blast would be a signal to be on the move. The first such blast would be the signal for the camps that lay on the east side to commence their journey. These would be the tribes in association with Judah.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.6 'And when you blow an alarm the second time, the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey. They shall blow an alarm for their journeys.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A second similar blast would indicate that it was time for those on the south side to move forward. These were the tribes in association with Reuben. Presumably the system continued for the western and northern tribes. The northern tribes in association with Dan moved last because they guarded against any unexpected attack from the north at a time when they might be vulnerable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.7 'But when the assembly is to be gathered together, you shall blow, but you shall not sound an alarm.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              However the calling of the assembly would be by a different kind of blast. It would not be an alarm signal. 'The assembly' here might signify the whole of the people, in contrast with the men ('the congregation') or vice versa. The terms tend to be used interchangeably.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.8 'And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets; and they shall be to you for a statute for ever throughout your generations.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The blowing of the trumpets was to be by the sons of Aaron. This was to a permanently fixed practise into the distant future.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.9 'And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you shall be remembered before Yahweh your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              They were assured that the sounding of the alarm when in battle against oppressors would be heard not only by their men, but by Yahweh. He would hear, and remember them, and move to deliver them. Sounding the silver trumpets would, among other things, be like a prayer directed to Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              10.10 'Also in the day of your gladness, and in your set feasts, and in the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your whole burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings, and they shall be to you for a memorial before your God. I am Yahweh your God.'

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The trumpets would also be sounded at their feasts and at times of rejoicing and at the beginning of each moon period. This time with a glad note. They would be sounded over their whole burnt offerings, and over their sacrifices, and would be a reminder to them that they were being brought into remembrance before their God. And their God was Yahweh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Our trumpets are our prayers which bring us into remembrance before God. And for us the final trumpet will sound when we are called to be with Him at His second coming when we will 'march forward' to the heavenly land (1 Thessalonians 4.16; Matthew 24.31; 1 Corinthians 15.52). That will sound a glad note indeed.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              THE PENTATEUCH

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              GENESIS ---EXODUS--- LEVITICUS 1.1-7.38 --- 8.1-11.47 --- 12.1-16.34--- 17.1-27.34--- NUMBERS 1-10--- 11-19--- 20-36--- DEUTERONOMY 1.1-4.44 --- 4.45-11.32 --- 12.1-29.1--- 29.2-34.12 --- THE BOOK OF JOSHUA --- THE BOOK OF JUDGES --- PSALMS 1-17--- ECCLESIASTES --- ISAIAH 1-5 --- 6-12 --- 13-23 --- 24-27 --- 28-35 --- 36-39 --- 40-48 --- 49-55--- 56-66--- EZEKIEL --- DANIEL 1-7 ---DANIEL 8-12 ---

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              NAHUM--- HABAKKUK---ZEPHANIAH ---ZECHARIAH --- THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW ---THE GOSPEL OF MARK--- THE GOSPEL OF LUKE --- THE GOSPEL OF JOHN --- THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES --- 1 CORINTHIANS 1-7 --- 8-16 --- 2 CORINTHIANS 1-7 --- 8-13 -- -GALATIANS --- EPHESIANS --- COLOSSIANS --- 1 THESSALONIANS --- 2 THESSALONIANS --- 1 TIMOTHY --- 2 TIMOTHY --- TITUS --- HEBREWS 1-6 --- 7-10 --- 11-13 --- JAMES --- JOHN'S LETTERS --- REVELATION

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              --- THE GOSPELS

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gad,Gershon,Kohath,Merari,spirit,jealousy,blessing,princes,Israel,voice,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yahweh,candlestick,lampstand,gold,seven,branched,firstborn,passover,cloud,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              fire,silver,trumpet,Genesis,Canaan,Egypt,Pharaoh,Aaron,Levite,Yahweh,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              God,fathers,Sinai

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