Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Numbers
Book: Numbers
Chapter: 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.

1-21 Full instructions are given about the meat-offerings and
Drink-offerings. The beginning of this Law is very encouraging,
When ye come into the land of your Habitation which I give unto
you. This was a Plain intimation that God would secure the
promised land to their seed. It was requisite, since the
sacrifices of acknowledgment were intended as the Food of God's
table, that there should be a constant supply of Bread, Oil, and
Wine, whatever the Flesh-meat was. And the intent of this Law is
to direct the proportions of the meat-Offering and
Drink-Offering. Natives and strangers are placed On a level in
this as in other like matters. It was a happy forewarning of the
Calling of the Gentiles, and of their admission into the Church.
If the Law made So little difference between Jew and Gentile,
much less would the Gospel, which broke down the partition-Wall,
and reconciled both to God.

22-29 Though ignorance will in a degree excuse, it will not
justify those who might have known their Lord's will, yet did it
not. David prayed to be cleansed from his secret faults, those
sins which he himself was not aware of. Sins committed
ignorantly, shall be forgiven through Christ the great
Sacrifice, who, when he offered up himself once for all upon the
Cross, seemed to explain one part of the intention of his
Offering, in that Prayer, Father, forgive them, for they know
not what they do. It looked favourably upon the Gentiles, that
this Law of atoning for sins of ignorance, is expressly made to
extend to those who were strangers to Israel.

30-36 Those are to be reckoned presumptuous sinners, who Sin
designedly against God's will and Glory. Sins thus committed are
exceedingly sinful. He that thus breaks the commandment
reproaches the Lord. He also despises the Word of the Lord.
Presumptuous sinners despise it, thinking themselves too great,
too good, and too Wise, to be ruled By it. A particular instance
of presumption in the Sin of Sabbath-breaking is related. The
Offence was gathering sticks On the Sabbath Day, to make a Fire,
whereas the people were to Bake and Seethe what they had
occasion for, the Day before, Ex 16:23. This was done as an
affront both to the Law and to the Lawgiver. God is jealous for
the honour of his sabbaths, and will not Hold him guiltless who
profanes them, whatever men may do. God intended this Punishment
for a warning to all, to make Conscience of keeping holy the
Sabbath. And we may be assured that No command was ever given
for the Punishment of Sin, which, at the Judgment Day, shall not
prove to have come from perfect Love and Justice. The right of
God to a Day of devotion to himself, will be disputed and denied
only By such as listen to the pride and unbelief of their
hearts, rather than to the teaching of the Spirit of Truth and
Life. Wherein consists the difference between him who was
detected gathering sticks in the Wilderness On the Day of God,
and the Man who turns his back upon the blessings of Sabbath
appointments, and the promises of Sabbath mercies, to use his
time, his cares, and his soul, in heaping up riches; and waste
his hours, his property, and his strength in sinful pleasure?
Wealth may come By the unhallowed effort, but it will not come
alone; it will have its awful reward. Sinful pursuits lead to

37-41 The people are ordered By the Lord to make fringes On the
borders of their garments. The Jews were distinguished from
their neighbours in their Dress, as Well as in their diet, and
thus taught not to be conformed to the way of the Heathen in
other things. They proclaimed themselves Jews wherever they
were, as not ashamed of God and his Law. The fringes were not
appointed for trimming and adorning their clothes, but to stir
up their minds By way of remembrance, 2Pe 3:1. If they were
tempted to Sin, the fringe would warn them not to break God's
Commandments. We should use every means of refreshing our
memories with the truths and precepts of God's Word, to
strengthen and quicken our obedience, and Arm our minds against
Temptation. Be holy unto your God; cleansed from Sin, and
sincerely devoted to his service; and that great reason for all
the Commandments is again and again repeated, "I am the Lord
your God."