King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Numbers 15

The law of the meat-offering and the drink-offering The stranger under the same law. (1-21) The sacrifice for the sin of ignorance. (22-29) The punishment of presumption The sabbath-breaker stoned. (30-36) The law for fringes on garment. (37-41)

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The law of the meat-offering and the drink-offering The stranger under the same law

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land of your habitations, which I give unto you,

3 And will make an offering by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, or a sacrifice in performing a vow, or in a freewill offering, or in your solemn feasts, to make a sweet savour unto the LORD, of the herd or of the flock:

4 Then shall he that offereth his offering unto the LORD bring a meat offering of a tenth deal of flour mingled with the fourth part of an hin of oil.

5 And the fourth part of an hin of wine for a drink offering shalt thou prepare with the burnt offering or sacrifice, for one lamb.

6 Or for a ram, thou shalt prepare for a meat offering two tenth deals of flour mingled with the third part of an hin of oil.

7 And for a drink offering thou shalt offer the third part of an hin of wine, for a sweet savour unto the LORD.

8 And when thou preparest a bullock for a burnt offering, or for a sacrifice in performing a vow, or peace offerings unto the LORD:

9 Then shall he bring with a bullock a meat offering of three tenth deals of flour mingled with half an hin of oil.

10 And thou shalt bring for a drink offering half an hin of wine, for an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.

11 Thus shall it be done for one bullock, or for one ram, or for a lamb, or a kid.

12 According to the number that ye shall prepare, so shall ye do to every one according to their number.

13 All that are born of the country shall do these things after this manner, in offering an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD.

14 And if a stranger sojourn with you, or whosoever be among you in your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the LORD; as ye do, so he shall do.

15 One ordinance shall be both for you of the congregation, and also for the stranger that sojourneth with you, an ordinance for ever in your generations: as ye are, so shall the stranger be before the LORD.

16 One law and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.

17 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

18 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land whither I bring you,

19 Then it shall be, that, when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the LORD.

20 Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering: as ye do the heave offering of the threshingfloor, so shall ye heave it.

21 Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the LORD an heave offering in your generations.

The sacrifice for the sin of ignorance

22 And if ye have erred, and not observed all these commandments, which the LORD hath spoken unto Moses,

23 Even all that the LORD hath commanded you by the hand of Moses, from the day that the LORD commanded Moses, and henceforward among your generations;

24 Then it shall be, if ought be committed by ignorance without the knowledge of the congregation, that all the congregation shall offer one young bullock for a burnt offering, for a sweet savour unto the LORD, with his meat offering, and his drink offering, according to the manner, and one kid of the goats for a sin offering.

25 And the priest shall make an atonement for all the congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them; for it is ignorance: and they shall bring their offering, a sacrifice made by fire unto the LORD, and their sin offering before the LORD, for their ignorance:

26 And it shall be forgiven all the congregation of the children of Israel, and the stranger that sojourneth among them; seeing all the people were in ignorance.

27 And if any soul sin through ignorance, then he shall bring a she goat of the first year for a sin offering.

28 And the priest shall make an atonement for the soul that sinneth ignorantly, when he sinneth by ignorance before the LORD, to make an atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him.

29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.

The punishment of presumption The sabbath-breaker stoned

30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.

31 Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.

32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.

33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.

34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.

35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.

36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.

The law for fringes on garment

37 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them ; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.

41 I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Speak. This law was probably given towards the end of the 40 years, v. 23.

Ver. 3. Victim “of peace,” as some Latin copies read, including all the different sorts, v. 28. C.

Ver. 4. Ephi. Heb. “a tenth of flour,” or one gomer. D.

Ver. 6. Oil. Greater libations are required for a ram, as it is larger than the former victim, which was accompanied with only half the quantity of fine flour. H. — Part of the wine and oil was poured on the flour, and burnt on the altar; the rest was given to the priests.

Ver. 11—15. Thus, &c. — Land. In this last verse, the Sam. copy observes a more correct manner of punctuation than the Heb. which is commonly rendered “O congregation.” Houbig. — The author of the Vulgate has preserved the sense, but not all the words of the original. The strangers here spoken of are the proselytes of justice, who kept all the law. Those of the gate, who lived in the land, uncircumcised, could only present holocausts, without libations. Lev. xxii. 25. C. — “The many sacrifices (of the old law) prefigured this one sacrifice” of the new. S. Aug. de C. x. 20. Christ, represented by the oil, offers himself the victim, under the forms of bread and wine. D.

Ver. 20. Eat. Heb. and Sept. “of your dough.” They elevated a part towards heaven, and gave it to the priest or Levite, who lived nearest them; and, in case none could be found, as at the present day, they were to burn it in honour of God. Tradition determines the quantity to be between a 40th and a 60th part. S. Jer. in Ezec. xlv. This they do every time they bake, according to Philo, and Leo of Modena, (2. 9,) though the law be not clear, and some might think it sufficient to give a part, the first time they baked with new flour.

Ver. 22. Ignorance. Other victims are prescribed; (Lev. iv. 13,) so that the ignorance here mentioned must be of a different nature. The former was perhaps a sin of commission, and this a sin of omission; such as if the whole people should neglect to eat the paschal lamb. The Rabbins think that the law alludes here to idolatry, committed for want of knowledge. But that is next to impossible in a whole nation. Outram believes, that the Book of Leviticus speaks of those who transgress the negative precepts, without abandoning the true religion; but the present law alludes to those who forget the laws of their fathers, and embrace a false worship. Thus Ezechias offered the victims here prescribed, though more in number, to expiate the idolatry of the people under Achaz, 1 Par. xxix. 21. See also 1 Esdr. viii. 35. Some think Moses has supplied in this place what was left deficient before. But it is more probable, that he supposes here only some of the tribes have sinned ignorantly, while in Leviticus he speaks of the whole nation. C. — No one sins for the sake of the offence, but for some advantage which we falsely persuade ourselves we shall derive from doing so. S. Aug. q. 24.

Ver. 25. And for. Heb. “and their sin (offering) in the presence of the Lord, for their ignorance.” C.

Ver. 30. Pride. Heb. and Sept. “with hand, or with head (Chald.) uplifted,” without shame or control. The Rabbins say, he must deny that God is the author of the law, and sin deliberately, after being admonished, &c. before he will incur this penalty. But why all these restrictions? — Rebellious. Heb. “he hath blasphemed, or irritated the Lord.” Such crimes imply a contempt of the law. — Cut off by God, if the judges neglect to do it. The Hebrews maintain, that each individual has a right to kill such scandalous offenders, as Phinees did Zambri. C. xxv. 7. 1 Mac. ii. 23. It is not clear whether all strangers, living in the country, were subjected to this law. Seld. Jur. ii. 11. Though such crimes were not pardoned by the law, true repentance will free us from them. S. Aug. q. 25. W.

Ver. 32. Wilderness of Pharan, if this crime were committed soon after the murmuring of the people, or in some other part of the desert. This example tends to show the severity and extent of the former precept. The law had condemned the breaker of the sabbath to be put to death. But Moses consulted the Lord, to know in what manner; or perhaps there were some circumstances attending the offender, which extenuated or enhanced his crime. Some of the Rabbins have unjustly aspersed the character of Salphaad, as if he were the person, because it is said that he died in the desert in his own sin. C. xxii. 3. C. — Those who transgress with full knowledge, deserve to be severely chastised; (Lu. xii. 47,) and this is the more necessary, when the law has been lately promulgated, to restrain the insolent. H. — God generally makes an example of those who first transgress his laws, as he did our first parents, Cain, the Sodomites, the worshippers of the golden calf, &c. He punished thus the sacrilege of Nadab, the disobedience of Saul, the lie of Ananias and Saphira. Cajetan. D.

Ver. 38. Fringes. The Pharisees enlarged these fringes through hypocrisy, (Matt. xxiii. 5,) to appear more zealous than other men for the law of God. Ch. — Our Saviour conformed to this law. Luke viii. 44. Moses shews that these fringes were to be made for the cloak, which was square, and not for the tunic. Deut. xxii. 12. The colour, in S. Justin’s time, was purple. Dial. It seems that the Phœnicians were accustomed to wear such fringes. Sidoniam picto chlamidem circumdata limbo. Æneid, iv. C. — God ordained that his people should be thus distinguished from other nations. T.

Ver. 39. Astray, (fornicantes). The eyes being left without restraint, easily fix upon dangerous objects, which captivate the heart, and lead to idolatry and the contempt of God’s law. C. — We are also admonished to meditate on the law, and not follow our own thoughts or interpretations, so as to render it of no effect, in the regulation of our morals. H.