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This chapter gives an account of the presents brought, by the princes of the twelve tribes at the setting up of the tabernacle, for the use of it, ( Numbers 7:1-9); and at the dedication of the altar, and the service of that, ( Numbers 7:10,11); first of the prince of the tribe of Judah, ( Numbers 7:12-17); then of the prince of Issachar, ( Numbers 7:18-23); of the prince of Zebulun, ( Numbers 7:24-29); of the prince of Reuben, ( Numbers 7:30-35); of the prince of Simeon, ( Numbers 7:36-41); of the prince of Gad, ( Numbers 7:42-47); of the prince of Ephraim, ( Numbers 7:48-53); of the prince of Manasseh, ( Numbers 7:54-59); of the prince of Benjamin, ( Numbers 7:60-65); of the prince of Dan, ( Numbers 7:66-71); of the prince of Asher, ( Numbers 7:72- 77); of the prince of Naphtali, ( Numbers 7:78-83); the sum of all which follows, ( Numbers 7:84-88); and the chapter is concluded with a token of Gods approbation and acceptance of the whole, ( Numbers 7:89).
Ver. 1 . And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle , etc.] Not on the very exact day on which it was first reared up, for that was on the first day of the first month of the second year from the coming up of Israel out of Egypt, ( Exodus 40:17); whereas the following offerings of the princes were not offered, and many other things previous to them, recorded in the preceding chapters, were not done, until after the first day of the second month of that year, ( Numbers 1:1); though the Jews say the first of Nisan, or of the first month, was the first for various things, and the first on which the princes offered; but no one particular day can be intended, because the princes were twelve days successively offering their offerings; wherefore the day here only denotes the time about which it was when this service was performed; when the tabernacle was not only set up, but fully set up, when everything relating to it was in its proper place and order; when not only it was put together, and all the vessels and instruments of it in their due place, but also when the people of Israel, for whose sake it was erected, that the Lord God might dwell among them, were numbered, and their camps formed and pitched around the tabernacle; and the Levites were taken and numbered also, who were to serve at it, and their place and service were appointed unto them about it; for then, and not till then, was the service of it completed, and its proper place and situation fixed and settled: and had anointed it ; with the holy oil Moses was directed to make and anoint it with, ( Exodus 30:23-28 Leviticus 8:10); and sanctified it : set it apart for holy use and service, to be an habitation for God, and the place of his worship: and all the instruments thereof ; the ark, table, candlestick, etc. both the altars, and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them , and sanctified them ; the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering, and all appertaining: thereunto; according to Ben Gersom, this finishing of the whole was at the end of the seven days of consecration of Aaron and his sons, ( Exodus 29:35).
Ver. 2 . That the princes of Israel , etc.] The princes of the twelve tribes of Israel: heads of the house of their fathers ; of the each of the houses and families the tribes were divided into, and took their name from each of their ancestors, as is next explained: who were princes of the tribes ; the twelve tribes, as before observed, ( Numbers 1:4-16); and were over them that were numbered ; over the children of Israel that were numbered, ( Numbers 1:19-46); by which it that these princes are the very same persons that are mentioned by name there, as they are here afterwards; and were with Moses and Aaron, and assisting to them when they took the number of them; but according to the Targum of Jonathan, and Jarchi, these were appointed over them in Egypt; but the former is right: these now offered not sacrifices but gifts; they brought their presents to the Lord for the service of his sanctuary, and set them before him, as follows.
Ver. 3 . And they brought their offering before the Lord , etc.] Before the tabernacle, as it is afterwards explained, where he had now taken up his habitation: six covered wagons, and twelve oxen ; according to the number of the twelve tribes, of which they were princes, two oxen for each wagon, which were to carry the tabernacle, and its vessels, from place to place; and which wagons were covered, not only to hide the things to be put into them from the sight of the people, being sacred, but to preserve them from the rain and dust, and the like; and no doubt, but as they were made of the best materials, So they were covered with rich coverings for the honour of the vessels put into them, being the presents of princes, and in which they joined, and could not be ordinary carriages. The word is rendered litters in ( Isaiah 66:20); and by some, coaches; the Targum of Jonathan is, six wagons yoked, or drawn with a yoke of oxen; and Aben Ezra says, it signifies a kind of oxen which drew wagons; but the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, and Ben Gersom interpret it covered, as we do: a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox ; two princes joined in the present of one wagon, which shows it could not be a common wagon, but rich carriage, and ornamented, as the Targum of Jonathan adds; and each prince presented an ox, so that there was a yoke of them for each wagon: and they brought them before the tabernacle ; the Targum of Jonathan says, Moses would not receive them, and therefore they brought them before the tabernacle; and so, says Jarchi, Moses received them not at their hands, until it was declared to him by the mouth of the Lord what he should do, as follows.
Ver. 4 . And the Lord spake unto Moses , etc.] Out of the tabernacle, before which the wagons and oxen were brought: saying : as follows.
Ver. 5 . Take [it] of them , etc.] The present of the wagons and oxen, by which it appears that this freewill offering of the princes was according to his mind and will, and what they were influenced and guided to by his Spirit, and was well pleasing in his sight, and acceptable to him: that they may be to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation ; be made use of, and employed in carrying the tabernacle, and the things of it, from place to place, when the Israelites journeyed: and thou shalt give them to the Levites ; to ease them, whose business it was to bear and carry the several parts of the tabernacle, and the vessels of it: to every man according to his service ; whether lighter or heavier, for such difference there was in the three divisions of the Levites; and according as their work was, they had more or fewer wagons and oxen given them, as it follows, ( Numbers 7:7,8).
Ver. 6 . And Moses took the wagons and the oxen , etc.] Of the princes, as he was directed: and gave them unto the Levites ; the Gershonites and Merarites; for, as for the Kohathites, they had no part of them, for a reason after given, ( Numbers 7:9).
Ver. 7 . Two wagons and four oxen he gave unto the sons of Gershon , etc.] The eldest son of Levi: according to their service ; which was to bear and take care of the curtains, coverings, hangings and rails of the tabernacle; and which, when carrying from place to place, it was proper they should be covered from being exposed to rain and dust; and being so many as they were, must be heavy, burdensome, and cumbersome, and therefore two wagons, with two yoke of oxen, were given them, to ease them.
Ver. 8 . And four wagons and eight oxen he gave to the sons of Merari , etc.] All the remaining wagons and oxen, which were double the number given to the Gershonites: according unto their service ; being much heavier than theirs, having all the boards, pillars, sockets, pins; cords, etc. to bear and carry: thus Moses was directed of God wisely to dispose of those carriages, in proportion to the services each was employed in; and in a spiritual way, as the day, duty, and service of the people of God be, he proportions grace and strength to them to answer thereunto: under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest ; under whose care, inspection, and direction, were both the Gershonites and Merarites, ( Numbers 4:28,33); and by whom were delivered, according to the instruction of Moses, the several wagons and oxen, to them.
Ver. 9 . But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none , etc.] Being all disposed of to the sons of Gershon and Merari: the reason of which follows, because the service of the sanctuary belonging unto them [was that] they should bear upon their shoulders ; as the ark with the mercy seat, and cherubim, the shewbread table, the candlestick, and the two altars; though in later times we find the ark was sometimes not only carried by the priests, but upon a cart, ( Joshua 3:17 4:10 2 Samuel 6:3).
Ver. 10 . And the princes offered for dedicating of the altar , etc.] For setting it apart to sacred use and service, even the altar of burnt offering; or rather after it had bean sanctified and set apart, when it began to be made use of for sacrifice: in the day that it was anointed ; with the anointing oil, whereby it was devoted to sacred service; even the princes offered their offering before the altar ; the altar of burnt offering; they brought their vessels for the service of it, and the creatures for sacrifice, and set them before it; signifying what they meant, thereby, that the silver and golden vessels were for the use of it, and the beasts for sacrifice to be offered up on it: and here Jarchi also observes, that Moses would not receive their offering until he knew the mind of God about it, and it was declared to him from himself.
Ver. 11 . And the Lord said unto Moses , etc.] For before this was said to him, even what follows, Moses knew not, as the same writer observes, how they should offer, in what order, whether according to their birth, or whether according to the journeying of their camps, or whether they should offer together, or one after another, one day after another f75 ; this affair is set in a clear light: they shall offer their offering each prince on his day ; one on one day, and the other on the next, and so on successively for twelve days running; and this was ordered for the greater solemnity of the service, and that it might be taken notice of, and each have the honour and credit of it; and this was done, not according to the order of their birth, but as their standards were fixed, first Judah, and those under him, and so the rest in course: for the dedicating of the altar ; (see Numbers 7:10).
Ver. 12 . And he that offered his offering on the first day , etc.] Was he whose standard was pitched first, at the east, to the rising sun: and this was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah ; who was the prince and captain of that tribe, though the title is not here given him, as to the rest of the princes, this being left to be concluded from his offering first; for if they that offered after him were princes, he must needs be one; or it may be this title is omitted, because the chief prince, of the prince of the tribe of Judah, most peculiarly belongs to a greater Personage, even the Messiah, who was to spring, and did spring from that tribe, ( Chronicles 5:2); and, as Baal Hatturim says, from Nahshon; and who also observes, that Ben Nahshon is the Messiah.
Ver. 13 . And his offering [was] one silver charger , etc.] Or dish, like one of those used in the shewbread table to hold the bread in, only they were of gold, this of silver, and belonged to the altar of burnt offering; the use of which might be to hold the meat offering in, as it may seem from the latter part of the verse, or the wave breast or heave shoulder, which belonged to the priest: the weight thereof [was] an hundred and thirty [shekels] ; which were sixty one ounces, four drachms, one scruple, and seventeen grains f76 , worth about sixteen pounds and five shillings of our money; one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary ; the standard that was kept in the sanctuary; this was a lesser vessel, and was either for holding the drink offering, or receiving the blood of the sacrifices; its weight was thirty three ounces, five drachms, and three grains, and was worth about eight pounds and fifteen shillings of our money: both of them [were] full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering ; which always attended other sacrifices after mentioned, part of which was burnt on the altar of burnt offering, and the rest were the perquisites of the priests.
Ver. 14 . One spoon of ten [shekels] of gold, etc .] Its weight was according to the shekels, its matter of gold; it weighed four ounces, one drachm, and nine grains, and was worth about seven pounds and ten shillings of our money: full of incense ; this looks as if this spoon was designed for the golden altar of incense, which might be at this time also dedicated; but Jarchi understands it as for the altar of burnt offering, and observes, we never find incense belonging to a private person, nor to the outward altar (the altar of burnt offering), but this only, and which was temporary.
Ver. 15 . One young bullock , etc.] Of three years old, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem: one ram ; of two years old, as the same Targums: one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering ; of which (see Leviticus 1:3,10).
Ver. 16 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] Though these offerings of the princes were by way of thanksgiving, and to express their joy and gladness at the erection of the tabernacle, its altars, and the service thereof; yet as this might not be without sin, which attends the best and purest performances of men, a sin offering was required, teaching us to look to Christ, who was made an offering for sin, for the taking away the sins of our holy things.
Ver. 17 . And for a sacrifice of peace offerings , etc.] So that here were all sorts of offerings on this occasion, meat and drink offerings, burnt offerings, sin offerings, and peace offerings: and for the latter were brought two oxen, five rams, five he goats, five lambs of the first year ; the reason why so many were brought and used for this sort of sacrifice was, because with these a feast was made, of which not only the priests partook, but the princes, and as many of their friends and acquaintance as they thought fit to invite: this [was] the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab : which he offered out of his own substance, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem paraphrase it; though some have thought, that the presents and offerings were so large, and the princes not so very rich, or so much above the common people, as may be thought, that therefore they were assisted by the several tribes they were princes of: and as was this princes offering, so were all the rest that follow in the order, according to their encampment under the several standards where they were fixed; and which were offered successively every day, the sabbath day or days not excepted, these being religious services, until the whole twelve were finished; and their presents and their offerings were exactly the same, and the account of them is given in the same words; they either agreeing together to make the same presents and offerings, or else they were directed to do so by the Spirit of God; whereby might be signified the common and equal right that they, and the tribes they represented, had in the altars, and the benefits arising from thence; as those that believe in Christ have an altar which is himself, they have a joint right to partake of, and have an equal share in the benefits of righteousness, peace, pardon, and atonement by him; (see Hebrews 13:10); wherefore there is nothing more particularly to be observed in ( Numbers 7:17-83); only that in the several accounts of the presents and offerings of each prince, the vowel points in the Hebrew text are omitted, excepting in the names of persons that offer; which does not at all militate against the antiquity of the points, or their being coeval with the consonants, since, both in manuscripts and printed copies, these may be left out for brevitys sake, and quicker dispatch, and without any detriment, since they may be easily supplied from the first instance given; and they may be omitted on purpose, that these accounts might be the more taken notice of as a very wonderful thing, that their presents and offerings should be exactly alike; since the vowels being wanting, the naked letters may the more strike the eye, and lead the mind to notice them; and whereas the accents are all along continued, the reason of which may be, because the vowels once put, and read, might be more easily known, especially by one skilful in the Hebrew language, than the stops, distinctions, and divisions of the text, as a learned man has observed f77 .
Ver. 21 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 22 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 27 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 28 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 33 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 34 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 39 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 40 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 45 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 46 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 51 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 52 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 57 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 58 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 63 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 64 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 69 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 70 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 75 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 76 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 81 . One young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:15).
Ver. 82 . One kid of the goats for a sin offering .] (See Gill on Numbers 7:16).
Ver. 84 . This [was] the dedication of the altar by the princes , etc.] These the presents they made, and the offerings they offered when the altar first began to be made use of, after it had been anointed and sanctified for sacred service: in the day when it was anointed : this shows that it was not the precise and exact day of the setting up of the tabernacle, and the anointing of the altar, that the above presents and offerings were brought, since they were twelve successive days in bringing; but that the sense is, that about that time, or quickly after it was anointed, the princes dedicated it in the manner before described: twelve chargers of silver, twelve silver bowls, twelve spoons of gold ; according to the number of the princes, and the tribes they were princes of; a noble instance both of devotion and piety, and of liberality and generosity; and is a standing example on record to all princes and great personages in all successive ages, to promote religion and godliness, by their own personal conduct and behaviour, and to encourage and support it by their generous benefactions and donations: the sum total of what they contributed is in this and the following verses given.
Ver. 85 . Each charger of silver [weighing] an hundred and thirty [shekels], each bowl seventy , etc.] (See Gill on Numbers 7:13); all the silver vessels [weighed] two thousand and four hundred [shekels], after the shekel of the sanctuary ; which amounted to 1,139 ounces and four drachms f78 , which were worth about three hundred pounds of our money.
Ver. 86 . The golden spoons [were] twelve, full of incense , etc.] Which points at the use those spoons or cups were of, namely, to carry incense in them, such as were used on the day of atonement f79 : [weighing] ten [shekels] apiece, after the shekel of the sanctuary ; (see Gill on Numbers 7:14); all the gold of the spoons [was] twenty [shekels] ; which amounted to forty nine ounces, five drachms, scruples, and eight gains, worth about seventy five pounds of our money.
Ver. 87 . All the oxen for the burnt offering [were] twelve bullocks , etc.] According to the number of the princes and their tribes, and so, the rams twelve, the lambs of the first year twelve ; which were also for the burnt offering: with their meat offering ; which always went along with the burnt offering: and the kids of the goats, for a sin offering, twelve ; thus the twelve princes, and by them the twelve tribes, expressed their faith in Christ, the antitype of those sacrifices, and their hope of his coming into the world to be a sacrifice for sin, and of their atonement, reconciliation, peace, pardon, and salvation by him; (see Acts 26:6,7).
Ver. 88 . And all the oxen for the sacrifice of the peace offerings [were] twenty and four bullocks , etc.] Each prince bringing two: the rams sixty, the he goats sixty, the lambs of the first year sixty ; five of each being brought by every prince; so that the whole number of beasts for peace offerings only, which were to feast with, were two hundred four; this [was] the dedication of the altar after that it was anointed ; this clearly shows, that it was not the precise day the altar was anointed the dedication was made, but some little time after; even that the first prince brought his presents and offerings for the dedication of it.
Ver. 89 . And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation, to speak with him , etc.] With God, to consult him on some affair or another, or to learn whether he had anything else to communicate to him, to be delivered to the children of Israel; or whether he had any directions and instructions to give him about the presents and gifts of the princes, since this seems to be immediately after their offerings: then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him ; the Targum of Jonathan paraphrases it, the voice of the Spirit; but rather the voice of the Shechinah, or Word of God, the eternal Logos, is what was heard; who in the fulness of time was to be made flesh, and dwell among men, and be heard, and seen, and handled by them; for as for the voice of the Father, the was not heard at any time, ( John 5:37); from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubim ; upon the ark in which the law was, called the testimony, was the mercy seat; over that were placed two cherubim shadowing it, and between these was the seat of the divine Majesty, which he had now taken, and from hence the voice of him speaking, was heard; which, as it follows upon the presents and offerings of the princes, may be interpreted, of the divine approbation and acceptance of them, since it was promised by the Lord to Moses, that upon their building a tabernacle for him he would dwell in it; and upon the making a mercy seat with the cherubim over the ark, he would there meet with Moses, and commune with him; all which being done to his mind he fulfils his promise: though it seems that at this time Moses did not go into the most holy place, only into the tabernacle of the congregation, the outward sanctuary, the court of the tabernacle; and there he heard the voice, as Jarchi observes, coming out of the most holy place, and from the mercy seat there, which was so loud, clear, and distinct, as to be well heard and understood by him; he supposes the voice went out from heaven to between the two cherubim, and from thence to the tabernacle of the congregation: and he spake unto him; what he spoke is not said, unless it is what follows in the next chapter.