Journey In The Wilderness Pt.4 (Numbers 27-31)

Part 4 of the Numbers overview with commentary featuring chapters 27-31.

Numbers Chapter 27:
The daughters of Zelophehad, Mahlah, Noah, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah, came to Moses because their father died and he had no male heirs. So Moses consulted with God and he said if there were no sons to inherit property then it will go to the daughters. If the deceased man has no offspring then it will go to his brothers, if he has no siblings, then it will go to his uncles and other male relatives.

God had Moses climb a mountain in the Abarim range in order to look over the land. God reminded Moses that he could not go into the land because of how he and Aaron handled the situation at the last Meribah by striking the rock for water instead of speaking to it as God said. Moses asked God to appoint an heir to take Moses’s place and God told him to anoint Joshua son of Nun. This dedication will take place in front of the Tabernacle for all to see and will be facilitated by Eleazar the high priest. Moses will transfer his authority to Joshua for all to see so that no one will question him. Eleazar will use the urim (one of the sacred lots) to determine God’s will for Joshua and he will lead the people in everything. Then Moses anointed Joshua to be his successor before of all Israel.

Number Chapter 28:
God gave Moses instructions for the various offerings.
[All measurements are estimates from the NLT translation]|

Daily Offering
The daily burnt offering will be two male lambs in their first year, one offered in the morning and one in the evening. With each lamb must come a grain offering of 2.2 liters of flour mixed with one liter of olive oil, and a drink offering of one liter of wine to be poured out in a holy place.

Sabbath Offering
For the weekly sabbath, the Israelites will give two one-year-old male lambs and 4.4 liters of flour mixed with olive oil and a drink offering. This will be in addition to the normal daily offering. 

Monthly Offering
On the first day of each month (Rosh-Hodesh), the Israelites must give extra burnt offerings of two young bulls, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs. Along with 6.6 liters of flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering for each bull, 4.4 liters of flour with olive oil for the one ram, and 2.2 liters of fine flour with olive oil for each of the seven lambs. In addition, for the drink offerings, 2.2 liters of wine for each bull, 1.3 liters for each ram, and one liter for each lamb. Lastly, a male goat should be offered as a sin offering on the first of the month along with the monthly offerings and the normal daily burnt offerings.

Passover (Pesach) Offering
The 14th day of the first month of the year will be the beginning of Passover. The 15th day will be the beginning of the Festival of Unleavened bread and they can’t eat any leaven for seven days. The first and seventh days of this holy week are the sabbath and no one can do any work other than preparing for the festival. On these holy days, their burnt offerings will be two young bulls, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs. With each comes a grain offering of flour and olive oil, 6.6 liters for each bull, 4.4 liters for the ram, and 2.2 liters for each of the seven lambs, plus a male goat as a sin offering. Just like the new monthly offering, except this will be for each of the seven days of the Festival of Unleavened Bread. All of this is in addition to the daily burnt offerings and these festival offerings will be given in the mornings with the morning burnt offerings.

Festival of the Harvest (Shavuot) Offering
These are the offerings for the Festival of the Harvest which is 50 days after the first fruits are offered during the beginning of Passover. It is a sabbath so everyone must rest from ordinary work. The burnt offerings for this day are two young bulls, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs. Along with grain offerings of fine flour mixed with olive oil, 6.6 liters for each bull, 4.4 liters for the ram, and 2.2 liters for each lamb, plus a male goat for atonement. This is all in addition to the regular daily offerings.

Numbers Chapter 29:
Mores instructions on various offerings.

[All measurements are estimates from the NLT translation]

Festival of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah)
On the first day of the seventh month, it is a holiday so it is a sabbath for rest from ordinary work. For offerings, the Israelites must bring one bull, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs. Along with grain offerings of flour and olive oil, 6.6 liters for the bull, 4.4 liters for the ram, and 2.2 liters for each lamb, plus a male goat for a sin offering. This is all in addition to the normal monthly and daily offerings.

Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
On the 10th day of the seventh month, it will be the Day of Atonement. This day will be a sabbath day for rest. In addition, it is a day of consecration so they must fast as well. The offering for this day is the same as the Festival of Trumpets, one bull, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs with flour and olive oil grain offerings at 6.6 liters for the bull, 4.4 liters for the ram, and 2.2 liters for each lamb. Along with a male goat as a sin offering and the daily offerings.

Festival of Shelters (Sukkot)
On the 15th day of the seventh month is the Festival of Shelters which last seven days and the first and eighth days are sabbaths.

These are the offerings for those days: The first day will require burnt offerings of thirteen young bulls, two rams, fourteen male lambs, and grain offerings of flour and olive oil at 6.6 liters for each of the 13 bulls, 4.4 liters for each of the two rams, and 2.2 liters for each of the 14 lambs. In addition to a male goat for the sin offering, and the regular daily burnt, grain, and drink offering.

Over the next seven days, the offerings are the same except the number of bulls decreases by one each day. For example, the second day will require 12 bulls, the third day will require 11 bulls, the fourth day will require 10 bulls, etc. All other burnt and grain offerings are the same as well as the goat sin offering and the daily offerings. This means on the seventh day there will be only seven bulls. On the eighth day when the festival is at its end, it is a sabbath day and a call for celebration. The required burnt offerings will be one young bull, one ram, and seven one-year-old male lambs. The grain offering will be the same as the previous day’s, 6.6 liters for the bull, 4.4 liters for the ram, and 2.2 liters for each of the seven lambs, along with a goat for a sin offering. Of course, the daily burnt, grain, and drink offerings are included.

These daily and holiday offerings are in addition to the voluntary or vow offerings, as well as peace, burnt, grain, and liquid offerings.

Comment: There are 71 bulls sacrificed during Sukkot week. With a different number of bulls on each day of the 8 days. 13 bulls on the first day then 12, 11, etc for 8 days, which looks like this mathematically: 13+12+11+10+9+8+7=70. Then on the eighth day, there is one last bull.

Numbers Chapter 30:
Moses gives instructions on making vows for the leaders of Israel to pass on. When a man makes a vow, he must do everything he said he would do. When a single woman makes a vow she is only obligated to commit it if her father approves, otherwise, if her father objects the obligation to her vow is canceled. For married women the same is true with her husband, he can support her vow or cancel it. If the woman is supported by her father or husband, then she is obligated to complete it just like any man. Likewise, if a woman is a widow or divorcee her obligation will stand since there is no head over her who can object to it. A man who is head of a vowing woman’s life cannot approve of it at first and then change his mind, otherwise, he will be guilty of breaking it.

Numbers Chapter 31:
God ordered Moses to get back at the Midianites for their role in seducing the Israelite men into worshipping Baal of Peor. God told Moses to send out 1000 men from each tribe (not including Levi obviously), so 12,000 in all. Pinchas son of Eleazar went with them taking a shofar (trumpet) and the holy objects. They fought Midian as God instructed, and they killed every male including all five Midianite Kings, Evi, Rekem, Zur, Hur, and Reba. They also killed the prophet Balaam son of Beor. The Israelite army captured the Midianite women along with their children along with their livestock and burned down all of their cities. They brought the spoils of war to Moses, Eleazar, and the leaders of Israel. Moses was furious with them because they let the Midianite women live. He said that these women are the same women that followed Balaam’s advice to seduce the Israelites, which broke the covenant and got 24,000 Israelites killed by the plague. So Moses ordered them to kill the women and children, only sparring the virgin women.

Then Moses told them to live outside the camp for seven days because they were unclean from all of the blood-shed. They have to use the holy water (with the ashes of the red heifer), to purify themselves and their captives on the third and seventh days. They must purify all of the clothing both goat hair and leather, as well as anything made of wood. Eleazar also added that all of the metal loot they have can be purified by fire, and then purified by holy water. Anything made of materials that can’t handle fire will only be purified with water. On the seventh day, the soldiers and their captives will wash their clothes and bathe and will be considered clean.

The spoils of war were divided into two parts, one for the soldiers that fought in battle and the rest for the people of Israel. For the army’s share, one out of 500 (.002%) of the captives and livestock was to be set apart for the priest. For the share that went to the community one out of every 50 (.02%) of the captives and livestock went to the Levites. The plunder added up to 675,000 sheep, 72,000 cattle, 61,000 donkeys, and 32,000 virgin women. The two halves divided each into 337,500 sheep, 36,000 cattle, 30,500 donkeys, and 16,000 virgin women. From the soldier’s portion, 675 sheep, 72 cattle, 61 donkeys, and 32 virgin women went to the priest. The community’s portion for the Levites was 6,750 sheep, 720 cattle, 610 donkeys, and 320 virgin women.

The soldiers reported to Moses that there were no casualties. So they brought gold jewelry taken from the plunder as gifts to God. Things like armbands, bracelets, rings, earrings, and necklaces. This is so that they could give thanks to God and be purified in his sight. There was 191 kg of gold in all and the priest accepted this gift from the military leaders and brought it into the Tabernacle.

Comment: In verses 8 and 16 of this chapter, it mentions the Israelites killed Balaam, the prophet that failed to curse them back in Numbers 22-24. In Numbers 22-24 Balaam was hired to curse Israel the Moabite King Balak. Balaam cannot curse or bless without God’s permission and God made it so that he could only bless the Israelites. No one can curse whom God has already blessed. However, it seems Balaam had second thoughts and came up with a way around it. He knew that God’s covenant was conditional, so if they committed a sin like idolatry they would break the covenant and be vulnerable. So Balaam has the Moabites use the Midianite women to seduce the Israelite men as shrine prostitutes which cause them to worship pagan sex gods. This caused a plague that killed 24,000 Israelites. This is why God had Moses go after Midian again to prevent it again and take out Balaam for his rebellion against God. In Numbers 31:9-20 Moses scolds the Israelites for letting all of the women live after defeating the Midianites and then he told them to take out the children and only leave virgins alive as captives. The virgin women were most likely little girls who had not learned the pagan sex practices of the other women yet. God showed some mercy to the Midianite virgins likely because Midian is one of the sons of Abraham (Gen 25:1-4), and even Moses’ first wife Zipporah was actually a Midianite. Moses took refuge in Midian for 40 years when he fled Egypt as a fugitive. However, the Midianites (along with the prophet Balaam) are being judged in this chapter for what happened in Numbers 25.

In Deuteronomy 20:17 seven specific groups are named, the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. In Deut 20:10-18, they were told not to make peace with these specific local Canaanite nations and wipe them out in order to avoid copying their practices. For faraway nations, they could offer peace and subjection and only were to fight if they refused. When fighting faraway nations, they were told to kill only the men and they could keep the plunder and livestock, as well as the women and children as captives. However, they were to kill everyone among the local Canaanites (that didn’t flee and leave the land), both humans and livestock (the livestock was likely defiled because they were dedicated to false gods). The Canaanites were explicitly being judged by God through Israel’s actions and those that didn’t flee from the land would have been executed. The Midianites are descendants of Abraham, so they were not Canaanites. This meant the virgin women were likely allowed to live and be taken captive just like most non-Canaanite nations (Deut 20:10-18), in order to preserve God’s blessing on Midian as one of Abraham’s descendants despite their punishment. The virgin captives became wives for the Israelite men, so they ended up being a part of the Abrahamic covenant. Just like Rahab, and Ruth who married Salmon and Boaz and are in the lineage of David and even Jesus according to Matthew chapter 1. Meanwhile, the non-virgin women would die along with their children for their part to play in causing idolatry in Israel, if they hadn’t done this then they would have lived like any other non-Canaanite nation. Not all Midianites were exterminated since we see the descendants of the surviving remnant attack Israel in Judges 6 and 7. This means either some escaped or this judgment only apple to Midianites living in that specific territory.

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