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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 29

 

 

Introduction

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

We now come to the final main section of the book. It will commence with the numbering of Israel, a sign that they were making ready for the final push, and is divided up into rededication and preparations for entering the land (chapters 26-32), and warning and encouragement with respect to it (chapters 33-36). The first section concentrates on the mobilisation and dedication of the people of Yahweh, and the punishment of those who by their behaviour hinder that mobilisation and dedication.

In terms of the overall pattern of the book the first section covers the mobilisation of Israel, the appointment of Joshua on whom was the Spirit and the death of Moses For Sin (chapters 26-27), which compares with the earlier murmuring of Israel, the appointment of elders on whom came the Spirit, and the plague on Miriam because of sin (chapters 11-12). This then followed by the dedication of Israel through Feasts, Offerings and Vows and the purifying of Transjordan through vengeance on the Midianites and settlement of the two and a half Tribes (chapters 28-32) which compares with the purification and dedication of Israel in chapters 5-10.

Analysis of the section.

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

This can be divided up into:

a Numbering of the tribes for possessing the land (Numbers 26:1-51).

b Instructions concerning division of the land (Numbers 26:52-62).

c Vengeance had been brought on those who had refused to enter the land (Numbers 26:63-65).

d Regulation in respect of land to be inherited by women and others (Numbers 27:1-11).

e Provision of a dedicated shepherd for the people of Israel (Numbers 27:12-23).

e Provision of a dedicated people and future worship in the land (Numbers 28-29).

d Regulation in respect of dedicatory vows made by women and others (Numbers 30)

c Vengeance to be obtained on Midian (Numbers 31:1-24).

b Instructions concerning division of the spoils of Midian (Numbers 31:25-54).

a Settlement of the Transjordanian tribes in possessing land (Numbers 32).

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

a Review of the journey from Egypt to the plains of Moab (Numbers 33:1-49).

b Instruction concerning the successful possession of and dividing up of the land in the future (Numbers 33:50 to Numbers 34:15).

c The Leaders who will divide the land for them are appointed (Numbers 34:16-29).

d Provision of cities for the Levites. (Numbers 35:1-5)

d Provision of cities of refuge and prevention of defilement of the land (Numbers 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 (Numbers 36:1-4).

b Instruction concerning women who inherit land so as to maintain the dividing up of the land which they successfully possess (Numbers 36:5-12)

a Final summary of the book and colophon. The journey is over. They are in the plains of Moab opposite Jericho (Numbers 36:13).

In this section stress is laid on preparation for entering the land.

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

The preparations include the mobilisation of Israel, instructions as to what to do on entering the land, appointment of a new commander-in-chief in whom is the Spirit, instructions concerning the worship to be offered to Yahweh, a description of the ‘atonement’ for the sin of Baal-peor and purification of the land by the slaughter of the Midianites, and the settling in of the tribes in their land on the east of Jordan, preparatory to their soldiers joining the offensive on Canaan.

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

There could have been no better place for these chapters on Israel’s response to Yahweh than here. It follows the sin at Baal Peor, the death of Zelophehad through sin, and the death of Moses through a failure in his dedication to Yahweh, and it follows them with a call to continually renew their dedication, and with a promise of continual forgiveness and purification.

This purifying and dedication of the new Israel parallels the call for the purification and dedication of the old Israel in chapters 5-10. There it was necessary if they were to consider entering into Yahweh’s land, here it is seen to be gloriously fulfilled in the new Israel.

But above all this call for such offerings is a proclamation of the prosperous future that would be theirs on possession of the land. It follows the capture of huge amounts of cattle from Gilead and Bashan (Deuteronomy 2:35; Deuteronomy 3:7), together with land which would be settled on, in which they would already have found vineyards, cereal crops and olive trees, so that firstfruits would be produced as never before. From now on these ceremonies were to be conducted in their full glory, because at least some tribes were already prospering. This would have begun to happen very rapidly. Having taken the land of Sihon and the Amorites Reuben and Gad had decided that they wanted it, an event which probably preceded the defeat of Bashan (note how Manasseh come in later). The process of at first temporary possession and settlement was no doubt initially quite complicated, but we can be sure that it happened quickly. Yahweh had indicated from the very beginning that this was land to be possessed (Deuteronomy 2:31). Then part of the overcoming of Bashan resulted from Machir’s recognition of the potential of the land (Numbers 32:40-42).

But it also underlines the certainty of the prosperity that would be theirs once all were in the land, for it reveals the offerings that they were to continually make once they were settled there. It is only the prosperous who could bring their offerings in such abundance as this. It was thus very much a message of hope and encouragement.

Note that the primary emphasis is on the whole burnt offering, the offering that ‘goes up’, in these cases offered on behalf of the whole people (contrast Leviticus 1-2), the offering indicating wholehearted dedication, and thanksgiving and tribute, while also being underlaid by a recognition of the need for atonement. And it is continually accompanied by the necessary offering for the purification of sin. While therefore sin would trouble even the best of them, even a Moses, it was pointing out that it could be dealt with for the nation as a whole and put behind their backs because of the gracious provision God had made for them, as they continually rededicated themselves to Him at all their feasts. That is the message of what now follows. As in the stories of the numbering of Israel, of the daughters of Zelophehad and of the appointment of Joshua, these chapters are filled with hope and expectancy as they look to the future.

Thus what is mentioned here concentrates on Israel’s dedication, tribute, worship and atonement as a people. In its quantities it magnifies all of these in readiness for the grand assault.

To us these feasts of Israel may appear a little boring, but they were not so to Israel. If we think so let us consider our own feast as we gather at the Lord’s Table. Do we find that boring? If we do little more needs to be said. To the people of Israel, to whom every one of their feasts had a meaning and a significance, they spoke with a loud voice (and they blew their trumpets at them - Numbers 10:10). And the depth of offerings now required spoke even louder of a renewed and deeper dedication and a glorious future of prosperity and blessing.

We should note that these offerings described here were not the personal offerings described elsewhere (e.g. Leviticus 1-7). They were very much a part of the continual activity of the priests on behalf of the people. They were the backbone of the nations offerings. Apart from in Numbers 30 dealing with oaths (where they are assumed rather than mentioned) there is no thought here of the myriad of personal offerings that would be offered to Yahweh. Those have been dealt with in detail in Numbers 15 and in Leviticus 1-7. Here concentration is on the nation as a whole making their regular offerings through their representatives. This permanent determination to be dedicated to Yahweh as expressed in these chapters was equally as important to their moving forward as the numbering on the mobilisation of the army and the Levites in chapter 26. Without it the invasion could not take place.

These offerings are now dealt with as follows:

a The regular offerings; continual daily offerings and sabbath and new moon offerings (Numbers 28:1-15).

b Passover and the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened bread (Numbers 28:16-25).

c The One Day Feast of the Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26-31).

d The One Day Feast of the blowing of trumpets (Numbers 29:1-6).

c The One Day Feast of the Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7-11).

b The Seven Day Feast of the Harvest Moon - Tabernacles and the final Solemn Sabbath (Numbers 29:12-40).

a The continual making and confirmation of vows (with their accompanying peace/wellbeing offerings - see Numbers 29:39) (30).

That the making of vows is a part of this overall pattern is confirmed by Numbers 29:39. The continual making of oaths was as much a sign of Israel’s ongoing dedication as the continual daily offering (compare the Nazirite vows in Numbers 6:1-21). It is probable overall that we are to see Numbers 28:1-2 a and Numbers 29:39-40 as a kind of ‘envelope’ containing the individual chiasma or sequences that follow. Thus while the making of oaths is a part of this series of dedicatory activity, it lies outside the envelope as a distinctive feature.

We should note in this respect how Deuteronomy 12:10-11 closely links offerings with vows. They went closely together in the Israelite mind.

Chapter 29 The Feasts of the Seventh Month.

The seventh moon period contained within itself parallel ceremonies to those which took place in the first three moon periods. Each began with a special day, Passover and Atonement, these were then followed by a seven day feast, Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles, and both concluded with a special one day feast, Firstfruits and the Eighth Day. This confirms how special the seventh month was. Once in the land (and already in Gilead and Bashan) it would be a time when the harvesting for the year was all completed and they awaited the hoped for coming rains. This last may well have been part of the reason for this concentration of feasts. If Israel was to be blessed with rain they must be fully right with Yahweh. Certainly Tabernacles later became a festival associated with the cry for rain.

The sacred seventh month would commence with the feast of the blowing of trumpets. This was the audible celebration of the introduction of this sacred month, the month in which on its tenth day yearly atonement would be made before the very Ark itself on the Day of Atonement, and on its fifteenth day the final celebration of the agricultural year, the celebration of the ingathering of summerfruits and grapes, and of all the harvests, at the Feast of Tabernacles, would be entered into and enjoyed (see Deuteronomy 16:13-15 which stresses the rejoicing). The day of trumpets announced the holiness of the month and called on Yahweh to recognise the wholehearted response of His people. It would then be followed by the annual atonement ceremony and the concluding ceremony over eight days of full rejoicing for the abundance of harvests received, both of flocks and herds, and grain and fruits.

When later, long after entry into the land, this became the first month of the year, the trumpets would celebrate the entry of the new year. But in these early days of recognition of the wonder of Yahweh’s coming provision the celebration was of the sacred seventh month of atonement and blessing.


Verses 1-6

Chapter 29 The Feasts of the Seventh Month.

The seventh moon period contained within itself parallel ceremonies to those which took place in the first three moon periods. Each began with a special day, Passover and Atonement, these were then followed by a seven day feast, Unleavened Bread and Tabernacles, and both concluded with a special one day feast, Firstfruits and the Eighth Day. This confirms how special the seventh month was. Once in the land (and already in Gilead and Bashan) it would be a time when the harvesting for the year was all completed and they awaited the hoped for coming rains. This last may well have been part of the reason for this concentration of feasts. If Israel was to be blessed with rain they must be fully right with Yahweh. Certainly Tabernacles later became a festival associated with the cry for rain.

The sacred seventh month would commence with the feast of the blowing of trumpets. This was the audible celebration of the introduction of this sacred month, the month in which on its tenth day yearly atonement would be made before the very Ark itself on the Day of Atonement, and on its fifteenth day the final celebration of the agricultural year, the celebration of the ingathering of summerfruits and grapes, and of all the harvests, at the Feast of Tabernacles, would be entered into and enjoyed (see Deuteronomy 16:13-15 which stresses the rejoicing). The day of trumpets announced the holiness of the month and called on Yahweh to recognise the wholehearted response of His people. It would then be followed by the annual atonement ceremony and the concluding ceremony over eight days of full rejoicing for the abundance of harvests received, both of flocks and herds, and grain and fruits.

When later, long after entry into the land, this became the first month of the year, the trumpets would celebrate the entry of the new year. But in these early days of recognition of the wonder of Yahweh’s coming provision the celebration was of the sacred seventh month of atonement and blessing.

Feast of the Blowing of Trumpets (Numbers 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 (Numbers 29:1).

b Whole burnt offerings of one young ox bull and a ram and seven he-lambs to be offered as a pleasing odour to Yahweh (Numbers 29:2).

c The varied grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:3-4).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering to make atonement (Numbers 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 (Numbers 29:6).

Numbers 29:1

‘And in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no servile work. It is a day of blowing of trumpets to you.’

So on the first day of the seventh month the trumpets would be blown by the sons of Aaron the Priest (Numbers 10:8). Yet it was not the only time the trumpets were blown. They were to be blown on this ‘day of gladness’, but they were also to be blown over the offerings offered at their set feasts, and on new moon days and over their peace offerings as a memorial to Yahweh their God (Numbers 10:10). The trumpets drew everyone’s attention, and especially Yahweh’s attention (looking from the people’s point of view) to the fact that this sacred month had now dawned at the end of another hopefully successful agricultural round, when atonement would be made for all Israel for another year.

Numbers 29:2-5

‘And you shall offer a whole burnt offering for a pleasing odour to Yahweh, one young ox bull, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their grain offering, milled grain mingled with oil, three tenth parts for the ox bull, two tenth parts for the ram, and one tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs; and one he-goat for a purification for sin offering, to make atonement for you,’

Again we have a munificent offering. And it was even more munificent because on it would also be offered the continual daily offerings and the new moon offerings. Thus were offered three young ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs, together with their accompanying offerings, and the two he-lambs of the daily offering. And if it was also a Sabbath, the Sabbath offerings would be offered as well.

Numbers 29:6

‘Besides the whole burnt offering of the new moon, and its grain offering, and the continual whole burnt offering and its grain offering, and their drink-offerings, according to their ordinance, for a pleasing odour, an offering made by fire to Yahweh.’

On this day offerings were multiplied. The special day offerings, the new moon offerings and the continual daily offerings. And all this was a pleasing odour to Yahweh and an offering made by fire to Him.


Verses 7-11

The Day of Atonement (Numbers 29:7-11).

Sacred in the Israelite calendar was the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month. It was a day of affliction of the person (compare Leviticus 16:29), although we are never told in what way. On this day they were to ‘afflict themselves’. This probably represented some form of indicating penitence, although we are not told what it was. It may have been the loosening of the hair, the ritual tearing of clothes, and the covering of the upper lip (Leviticus 13:45). (Compare Numbers 10:6; Numbers 21:10; Ezekiel 24:17; Ezekiel 24:22; Genesis 37:34; Numbers 14:6; 2 Samuel 1:11; 2 Kings 11:14; 2 Kings 19:1; 2 Kings 22:11; 2 Kings 22:19; Ezra 9:5; Micah 3:7). It would later be related to fasting, but there is no hint of that here. In Isaiah 58:3-5 it is related to fasting but rather as something done while fasting, possibly ‘bowing down his head as a rush, and spreading sackcloth and ashes under him’.

But it was not specifically spelled out, probably so that men could choose how they expressed themselves without it becoming just a formal response. This day yearly was the day when Israel specially remembered their sins. It was a sorrowful day for that reason, but behind it lay joy, for on that day the High Priest discreetly and reverently entered behind the veil in the Holy Place into the Holy of Holies itself, and there presented before Yahweh at the very Mercy Seat (the Ark), the blood, first of his own purification for sin offering (a bull ox), and then of their purification for sin offering (a he-goat). And on that day also a further he-goat, the ‘scapegoat’, was driven into the wilderness, having had the sins of the people confessed over it, never to return, in one way or another bearing on it as their representative the sins of Israel (see Leviticus 16 for details).

a The tenth day of the seventh month to be a holy convocation for affliction of their souls and no manner of work (Numbers 29:7).

b Whole burnt offerings of one young ox bull and a ram and seven he-lambs to be offered to Yahweh as a pleasing odour (Numbers 29:8).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:9-10).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:11 a).

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 (Numbers 29:11 b).

Numbers 29:7

‘And on the tenth day of this seventh month you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall afflict your souls. You shall do no manner of work,’

That day was a day of affliction of the person, and a holy convocation (gathering together) on which no work must be done. All must be allowed to fully participate in that day.

Numbers 29:8-11

‘But you shall offer a whole burnt offering to Yahweh, for a pleasing odour; one young ox bull, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old; they shall be to you without blemish; and their grain offering, milled grain mingled with oil, three tenth parts for the ox bull, two tenth parts for the one ram, a tenth part for every lamb of the seven lambs: one he-goat for a purification for sin offering of atonement, and the continual whole burnt offering, and its grain offering, and their drink-offerings.’

On that day special offerings would be offered as here described, but these would be additional to the whole burnt offerings of a ram for the priest (Leviticus 16:3) and a ram for the people (Leviticus 16:5), and the purification for sin offerings of an ox bull for the priest and a he-goat for the people (Leviticus 16:3; Leviticus 16:5) and the scapegoat. Thus would atonement be made followed by the offerings of worship, dedication, praise and thanksgiving, which also included an element of atonement.

Each year this solemn day would be seen as allowing a new beginning. The past was behind them and the future before them. Whatever had been they could begin again, being fully reconciled to Yahweh. Although this did depend on the attitude of heart with which they had come (see Isaiah 1:11-20). Their offerings had to be genuine. They did not work automatically.


Verses 12-40

The Feast Of The Harvest Moon - Tabernacles (Numbers 29:12-40).

The climax of the festival year was the Feast of Tabernacles. It was at that feast that every seven years the whole of Israel were to gather for the reading of the full covenant (Deuteronomy 31:10-13). It was to include men, women, children and resident aliens. But every year it was to be special. The multiplicity of offerings including seventy young ox bulls, fourteen rams and ninety eight (seven times seven times 2) he-lambs brings this out. It was to be the climax to the agricultural year. All the harvests would have been gathered in, and the next thing would be the ploughing and preparation of the ground once the rains came.

Thus it was a time for relaxation and rejoicing (Leviticus 23:40; Deuteronomy 16:13-15)). But again the emphasis here is on the depth of dedication and tribute.

The gradual decrease of ox bulls from thirteen to seven might have been seen as a diminution in importance had it not ended on the sacred number seven, but as it did that makes it appear as though the sequence leads up to it! On the last of the seven days was the divinely perfect ox bull offering. (Incidentally this completely destroys any belief that the number thirteen was unlucky! Thirteen began the divine sequence).

It was called ‘Tabernacles’ (dwellingplaces) because at that time every one had to live in booths made of boughs of trees and palm branches (Leviticus 23:42). This was to be a reminder of how Israel had had to live in booths once they left Egypt (Leviticus 23:43). Its recognition of rain as a gift from God is implied in Zechariah 14:16-17.

Each of the days of this Feast follow the same pattern as the other feasts, but with an increase in the offerings.

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 (Numbers 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 (Numbers 29:13).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:14-15).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:16 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:16 b).

Day Two.

a On the second day (Numbers 29:17 a).

b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of twelve young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (Numbers 29:17 b).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:18).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:19 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:19 b).

Day Three.

a On the third day (Numbers 29:20 a).

b Whole burnt offerings of eleven young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to be offered to Yahweh (Numbers 29:20 b).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:21).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:22 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:22 b).

Day Four.

a On the fourth day (Numbers 29:23 a).

b Whole burnt offerings of ten young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to be offered to Yahweh (Numbers 29:23 b).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:24).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:25 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:25 b).

Day Five.

a On the fifth day (Numbers 29:26 a).

b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of nine young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (Numbers 29:26 b).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:27).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:28 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:28 b).

Day Six.

a On the sixth day (Numbers 29:29 a).

b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of eight young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (Numbers 29:29 b).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:30).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:31 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:31 b).

Day Seven.

a On the seventh day (Numbers 29:32 a).

b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of seven young ox bulls and two rams and fourteen he-lambs to Yahweh (Numbers 29:32 b).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:33).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:34 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:34 b).

Day Eight.

a On the eighth day, a solemn assembly, no servile work (Numbers 29:35)

b Whole burnt offerings to be offered of one young ox bull and one ram and seven he-lambs to Yahweh (Numbers 29:36).

c The grain offerings to be offered with the whole burnt offerings (Numbers 29:37).

b A he-goat to be offered as a purification for sin offering (Numbers 29:38 a).

a This to be offered beside the continual whole burnt offering with its grain and drink offering (Numbers 29:38 b).

The whole is then completed with a summary which may be paralleled with Numbers 28:1.

The First Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.

Numbers 29:12

‘And on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation. You shall do no servile work, and you shall keep a feast to Yahweh seven days,’

On the first day, fourteen days after the new moon day, it was to be a solemn convocation, a day on which no servile work should be done, ready for keeping a feast to Yahweh for seven days (a divinely perfect time).

Numbers 29:13-15

‘And you shall offer a whole burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasing odour to Yahweh; thirteen young ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old; they shall be without blemish; and their grain offering, milled grain mingled with oil, three tenth parts for every ox bull of the thirteen ox bulls, two tenth parts for each ram of the two rams, and a tenth part for every lamb of the fourteen lambs.’

And on that first day thirteen young ox bulls, two rams, and fourteen he-lambs a year old, all without blemish, were to be offered as whole burnt offerings with their smoke and pleasing odour going up to Yahweh together with their accompanying grain offerings.

Numbers 29:16

‘And one he-goat for a purification for sin offering, besides the continual whole burnt offering, its grain offering, and its drink offering.’

And as regularly on a feast day a he-goat for a purification for sin offering was also to be offered on behalf of the whole of Israel, as on the Day of Atonement. Each offering of such a he-goat looked off to that day and what was accomplished there, and brought up to date its effectiveness.

The same procedure would apply each day through the seven days, with the number of ox bulls offered falling by one until on the seventh day it had become ‘seven’. This sequence is now given.

The Following Six Days of the Feast (Numbers 29:17-34).

Numbers 29:17-19

‘And on the second day you shall offer twelve young ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their grain offering and their drink-offerings for the ox bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a purification for sin offering; besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its grain offering, and their drink-offerings.’

Numbers 29:20-22

‘And on the third day eleven ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their grain offering and their drink-offerings for the ox bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a purification for sin offering; besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its grain offering, and its drink-offering.’

Numbers 29:23-25

‘And on the fourth day ten ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; their grain offering and their drink-offerings for the ox bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a purification for sin offering; besides the continual whole burnt offering, its grain offering, and its drink-offering.’

Numbers 29:26-28

‘And on the fifth day nine ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their grain offering and their drink-offerings for the ox bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a purification for sin offering, besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its grain offering, and its drink-offering.’

Numbers 29:29-31

‘And on the sixth day eight ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their grain offering and their drink-offerings for the ox bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a purification for sin offering; besides the continual whole burnt offering, its grain offering, and the its drink-offerings.’

Numbers 29:32-33

‘And on the seventh day seven ox bulls, two rams, fourteen he-lambs a year old without blemish; and their grain offering and their drink-offerings for the ox bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number, after the ordinance; and one he-goat for a purification for sin offering; besides the continual whole burnt offering, its grain offering, and its drink-offering.’

Thus on the seventh day the ox bull offerings have reached the divinely perfect seven. This was where such a count had to stop. It was not possible to go beyond ‘seven’. It indicated divine perfection. Quantity has been replaced by quality. Now the feast could end, followed by a special day which was not part of the sequence.

The Eighth Day of the Feast (Numbers 29:35-40).

This was the end of the festal season. Ahead lay the coming of rain (possibly in October onwards for the early rains, softening up the ground, a sprinkling of rain through the winter, and around March/April for the later rains) and the hard work of preparing the ground for the following year’s harvests. It is not therefore surprising that the feast later became a part plea for rain, and that the eighth day especially had that in mind and was called ‘the great day of the feast’ (John 7:37).

Numbers 29:35-37

‘On the eighth day you shall have a solemn assembly: you shall do no servile work, but you shall offer a whole burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasing odour to Yahweh: one ox bull, one ram, seven he-lambs a year old without blemish; their grain offering and their drink-offerings for the ox bull, for the ram, and for the lambs, shall be according to their number, after the ordinance,’

Like the first day the eight day was to be a day of no servile work, the last of the seven special such days. It was to be a day of solemn assembly. The offerings on the eighth day parallel the offerings at the feast of trumpets and on the Day of Atonement. It was not therefore just a continuation on from the seventh day. The sudden fall in offerings (although still munificent) would remind them of the first ten days of the month when sin had been mourned for and atonement obtained. Now they could go forward ready for what lay ahead.

Numbers 29:38

‘And one he-goat for a purification for sin offering, besides the continual whole burnt offering, and its grain offering, and its drink-offering.’

As on all special days when the whole burnt offerings were offered there was a purification for sin offering of a he-goat. Sin was always present and required to be forgiven and purified. Also was offered the continual whole burnt offering, and its grain offering, and its drink-offering, which would go on throughout the year (as would the new moon and Sabbath offerings).

This description of the dedication and tribute offerings at the feasts, deliberately ignoring all other offerings and sacrifices apart from the accompanying purification for sin offerings and continual daily whole burnt offerings, is in order to stress the fullness of Israel’s dedication to Yahweh at this point in time. It is because they are so dedicated that they are ready to enter the land.

Numbers 29:39

‘These you shall offer to Yahweh in your set feasts, besides your vows, and your freewill-offerings, for your whole burnt offerings, and for your grain offerings, and for your drink-offerings, and for your peace-offerings.’

Summing up the writer now points out that personal dedication offerings have not been mentioned. This was ‘besides your vows and your freewill offerings’. Those two types of dedication would have been common throughout the feasts, and on those freewill offerings much of the feasting would depend, for the large part of the meat from those offerings could be eaten by all who were clean. Mention is also made of all peace/wellbeing offerings, of which votary offerings and freewill offerings would be a part (see Leviticus 7:11-21). All backed up these special dedication offerings of the whole of Israel.

This therefore now leads on to the question of vows in the next chapter, for those were a necessary part of Israel’s dedication. Such vows have already been touched on in terms of the Nazirite vows (Numbers 6:1-21). But there were also lesser vows, both in respect to wealth and in respect to personal living, and they too had to be controlled.

Numbers 29:40

‘And Moses told the children of Israel according to all that Yahweh commanded Moses.’

So Moses passed on Yahweh’s words and informed them of all that He had commanded them.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Numbers 29:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/numbers-29.html. 2013.

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