Commentary on Numbers 29

Notes (NET Translation)

1 “‘On the first day of the seventh month, you are to hold a holy assembly. You must not do your ordinary work, for it is a day of blowing trumpets for you. 2 You must offer a burnt offering as a sweet aroma to the LORD: one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs one year old without blemish. 3 “‘Their grain offering is to be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths of an ephah for the ram, 4 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs, 5 with one male goat for a purification offering to make an atonement for you; 6 this is in addition to the monthly burnt offering and its grain offering, and the daily burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings as prescribed, as a sweet aroma, a sacrifice made by fire to the LORD.

Num 29:1-6 describes the Day of Blowing Trumpets, later to be known as Rosh Hashanah, the new year (cf. Lev 23:23-25). It marks the beginning of the agricultural year (Ex 23:16; 34:22).

The horn blowing on this day should not be confused with the prescription that horns should be blown on all festivals (10:10). These latter horns are trumpets, to be blown only by priests, and their signal is called tekiʿah, not teruʿah. Hence, the tradition that the horn used on this festival is the shofar and that it need not be blown by priests is correct.1

7 “‘On the tenth day of this seventh month you are to have a holy assembly. You must humble yourselves; you must not do any work on it. 8 But you must offer a burnt offering as a pleasing aroma to the LORD, one young bull, one ram, and seven lambs one year old, all of them without blemish. 9 Their grain offering must be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for the bull, two-tenths for the ram, 10 and one-tenth for each of the seven lambs, 11 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the purification offering for atonement and the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings.

Num 29:7-11 describe the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur (cf. Lev 16; 23:26-32). Humbling oneself (29:7) probably has to do with fasting (Ps 35:13; Isa 58:3, 5, 10). No work at all is allowed (29:7).

12 “‘On the fifteenth day of the seventh month you are to have a holy assembly; you must do no ordinary work, and you must keep a festival to the LORD for seven days.

This is the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths/Ingathering (Sukkoth) (cf. Ex 23:16; 34:22; Lev 23:33-36, 39-43; Deut 16:13-15; Neh 8:13-18). By this time of the year (September-October) the harvest was complete and the people could rest. The lavish sacrifices express gratitude for the gift of land and harvest.

13 You must offer a burnt offering, an offering made by fire as a pleasing aroma to the LORD: thirteen young bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs each one year old, all of them without blemish. 14 Their grain offering must be of finely ground flour mixed with olive oil, three-tenths of an ephah for each of the thirteen bulls, two-tenths of an ephah for each of the two rams, 15 and one-tenth for each of the fourteen lambs, 16 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering.

The number of bulls (the costliest sacrifice) offered during the feast began with thirteen and descended one per day until seven bulls are offered on the seventh day of the feast. Scholars have attempted several explanations of this phenomenon, none of them convincing. It is best simply to see the number of bulls as worked out so as to come to seven on the seventh day. The number of lambs (14) and rams (2) remains constant day to day. When all the totals are added, they are all divisible by seven. In addition to these whole burnt offerings and their appropriate meal and drink offerings, one male goat per day is to be sacrificed as a purification offering.2

17 “‘On the second day you must offer twelve young bulls, two rams, fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, 18 and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, 19 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and their drink offerings.

20 “‘On the third day you must offer eleven bulls, two rams, fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, 21 and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, 22 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering.

23 “‘On the fourth day you must offer ten bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, 24 and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, 25 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering.

26 “‘On the fifth day you must offer nine bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, 27 and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, 28 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering.

29 “‘On the sixth day you must offer eight bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, 30 and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, 31 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering.

32 “‘On the seventh day you must offer seven bulls, two rams, and fourteen lambs one year old, all without blemish, 33 and their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bulls, for the rams, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, 34 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering.*

35 “‘On the eighth day you are to have a holy assembly; you must do no ordinary work on it. 36 But you must offer a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, as a pleasing aroma to the LORD, one bull, one ram, seven lambs one year old, all of them without blemish, 37 and with their grain offering and their drink offerings for the bull, for the ram, and for the lambs, according to their number as prescribed, 38 along with one male goat for a purification offering, in addition to the continual burnt offering with its grain offering and its drink offering.

According to Jacob Milgrom, the Hebrew of verse 35 indicates that this eighth day is an unconnected celebration unconnected to the preceding festival.

39 “‘These things you must present to the LORD at your appointed times, in addition to your vows and your freewill offerings, as your burnt offerings, your grain offerings, your drink offerings, and your peace offerings.'” 40 So Moses told the Israelites everything, just as the LORD had commanded him.

Offerings from individuals would have usually been offered during the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Sukkoth. Verse 39 emphasizes that the offerings of chapters 28-29 are in addition to those offerings.

Bibliography

Ashley, Timothy R. The Book of Numbers. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1993.

Cole, R. Dennis. Numbers. Kindle Edition. The New American Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000.

Friedman, Richard Elliott. Commentary on the Torah. First Edition. San Francisco, Calif.: HarperOne, 2001.

Levine, Baruch A. Numbers 21-36. The Anchor Yale Bible. New York: Yale University Press, 2000.

Milgrom, Jacob. Numbers. The JPS Torah Commentary. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1989.

Wenham, Gordon J. Numbers. Kindle Edition. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. IVP Academic, 2015.


  1. Milgrom 1990, 246 
  2. Ashley 1993, 571 
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