Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Numbers 7

Numbers 7: The dedication of the Tabernacle

Synopsis

This chapter outlines the offerings that the Israelite tribes brought for the dedication of the Tabernacle. It starts with Moses anointing and consecrating it, and its furnishings, and all of the other articles concerned with the Tabernacle. The twelve tribe leaders then bring twelve oxen, and six covered carts. (Each leader brought an ox, and every two leaders brought a cart. It’s not specified how they decided which leaders of which tribes would bring carts, but verse 3 says “a cart from every two,” so maybe they just each paid half for a cart.)

Moses then takes these oxen and carts, and gives them to the Levites, who are to use them for their work at the Tabernacle. He doesn’t give any to the Kohathites, however, because their job is to carry the “most holy things” (see Chapter 4), and they were to carry them on their shoulders—not on ox-drawn carts.

Once this is done, the twelve leaders bring offerings for the Tabernacle. This happens over twelve days; the first leader brings his offerings on the first day, and each day after that another leader brings his offerings.

Each leader’s offering is outlined in detail; for each day, it mentions which leader brought his offering, and what he brought. However, unless I’m reading the passage incorrectly, each leader brought the exact same offering. (I scanned it, and they seem to have brought the same things, but I didn’t compare each passage word for word.)

This is what each leader brought:
  • One silver plate, weighing 1.5 kilograms, and one silver sprinkling bowl, weighing 800 grams
    • These were both filled with fine flour, mixed with oil, as a grain offering
  • One gold dish, weighing 110 grams, filled with incense
  • One young bull, one ram, and one male lamb a year old, for burnt offerings
  • One male goat, for a sin offering
  • Two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old, for fellowship offerings.
After each leader’s offering is outlined, there is a summary in verses 84–88, reiterating what had been brought by all of the leaders.

The chapter ends with a note that when Moses entered the Tent of Meeting, and spoke with the LORD, the voice he heard came from between the two cherubim which were part of the cover of the Ark. I can’t remember if this was mentioned in earlier chapters, or if this is a new detail.

Thoughts

I don’t have much to say about this chapter. I find it interesting, however, that so much care is given to outlining what each leader brought—even though they all brought the same thing. Instead of simply doing what I have done, and saying “each leader brought the same thing, and this is what he brought,” the chapter specifically details the offerings, over and over, for each leader. And then goes over it again, in a summary.

Modern-day Christians might be surprised how much detail is given to the Tabernacle, in the Old Testament. Whatever our thoughts about worship in the Old Testament, it was obviously important to the LORD, or He wouldn’t have devoted so much detail to it!

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