The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Numbers 15

Num 15:1

Num 15-20: The wilderness wanderings: This delay period marks transition from the old (Num 1-14) to the new generation (Num 21-36). A historic suspension: no progress toward the Promised Land is made here.

Num 15:15

THE COMMUNITY IS TO HAVE THE SAME RULE FOR YOU AND FOR THE ALIEN LIVING AMONG YOU; THIS IS A LASTING ORDINANCE FOR THE GENERATIONS TO COME. YOU AND THE ALIEN SHALL BE THE SAME BEFORE THE LORD: Even this early in Israel's history, there is the suggestion that the stranger might have the right to God's mercy as well as the Jew, as long as he is in the camp, and has performed the rites required to be part of the camp in circumcision and the acceptance of God's laws (cp Gen 17:12, Exo 12:48). This law (cp also v 29) extended right through. The stranger, in order to be accepted within the flock of God, had to abide by every rule and ordinance of God -- just as it is now.

Num 15:38

CORNERS: Heb "kanaph" = sw "wings" in Mal 4:2: The sun of righteousness with healing in his "wings".

WITH A BLUE CORD ON EACH TASSEL: The fringe itself represented a law, because it encircled the wearer and restricted him within it. Its blue color reminded him of the sky above and the heavenly origin of the law. He could not go anywhere without seeing the heavens, God's dwelling place, stretched out above. His clothes were all blue; his laws were all divine; and his only hope was to remember and meditate upon them always. Blue therefore represents the Divine, or heavenly, element in our garments. We are to manifest God's love and mercy always. We must try to follow Christ's footsteps. Christ so perfectly imitated God's character that those who saw him, saw God. God told the Israelites that they were to be His witnesses to the heathen. The same holds true for us. The blue is a color which should increase in our garments.

"What nation under heaven can show a feature of civilisation like this? Talk of the fashions for the month. Here is a fashion for ever! whose sole object was to keep before the mind the one thing most odious of all others to the taste of the followers of Parisian models. It shows more eloquently than anything else the place which God should have in human life, according to God's view of the matter, and His view alone is the one which will prevail with the children of wisdom. All other views are bound to become as extinct as the vegetation of the carboniferous era" (LM 81).

God here shows his awareness of human weakness and our need for constant reminder. The Israelites had to sew fringes to their garments that they might remember what God had done for them, and so that they did not go astray. There may well be ways we too could do this for ourselves, to make an association with some physical aspect of our lives which we see many times a day, and use that to remind us, so that each time we see it we think of the wonderful redemption wrought in Jesus.

It was the fringe of such a garment that the woman with the issue of blood touched: Mat 9:20.

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