Feb. 14 Reading: Numbers 7 Commentary

Below is our Numbers 7 commentary from our Beginning to End Bible reading program. You can find an email link at the end of this page to share your thoughts or comments with us.

Key Verse(s):

“When Moses finished setting up the tabernacle, he anointed and consecrated it and all its furnishings. He also anointed and consecrated the altar and all its utensils. Then the leaders of Israel, the heads of families who were the tribal leaders in charge of those who were counted, made offerings.” (Num. 7:1-2)

Numbers 7

commentaryNumbers 7, the fourth longest chapter in the Bible (1,939 words), provides a summary of the offerings brought from the various tribes at the completion of the tabernacle construction. This occurred in Exodus 40 on the first day of the first month of the second year after their departure from Egypt. For reference, the census of the people conducted by Moses (Num. 1:1) occurred on the first day of the second month of that same year.

God gave Moses instructions on what the leaders of the various tribes should bring. These offerings came in two waves after Moses had consecrated the tabernacle along with all its items (v. 1).

The first one seems to be a group offering of all the tribe leaders combined. They presented the Lord with six covered carts and twelve oxen. These were distributed to the Levite families of Gershon and Merari to be used for the transportation of the tabernacle items. (vv. 2-3)

Gershon received two carts and four oxen so that they could transport the tabernacle curtains. Merari received four carts and eight oxen so that they could transport the heavier items which included all the frames and supporting elements. The third Levite family Kohath received none of these items because they transported all the holy things by carrying them with poles on their shoulders (vv. 4-9).

Once the one time offerings were given, the second wave of offerings occurred over a twelve day period. Each tribal leader presented their offering to the Lord for the altar (v. 11).

Specific Tribal Offerings

Every tribe presented the same items so as to have an equal share in the offerings. So each paragraph reads exactly the same, except for the day of presentation, the name of the leader and the tribe. It seems the succession of presentation was based on their grouping for encampment around the tabernacle (Group 1 to the east – Judah, Issachar and Zebulun; Group 2 to the south – Reuben, Simeon and Gad; Group 3 to the west – Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin; Group 4 to the north – Dan, Asher and Naphtali; see commentary for Num. 1-2).

The first to go was Nahshon the son of Amminadab from the tribe of Judah. The offering included:

“…one silver plate weighing a hundred and thirty shekels and one silver sprinkling bowl weighing seventy shekels, both according to the sanctuary shekel, each filled with the finest flour mixed with olive oil as a grain offering; one gold dish weighing ten shekels, filled with incense; one young bull, one ram and one male lamb a year old for a burnt offering; one male goat for a sin offering; and two oxen, five rams, five male goats and five male lambs a year old to be sacrificed as a fellowship offering.” (vv. 12-17)

The rest of the tribal leaders would follow in this order:

1. Day 2 – Nethanel, leader of Issachar

2. Day 3 – Eliab, leader of Zebulun

3. Day 4 – Elizur, leader of Reuben

4. Day 5 – Shelumiel, leader of Simeon

5. Day 6 – Eliasaph, leader of Gad

6. Day 7 – Elishama, leader of Ephraim

7. Day 8 – Gamaliel, leader of Manasseh

8. Day 9 – Abidan, leader of Benjamin

9. Day 10 – Ahiezer, leader of Dan

10. Day 11 – Pagiel, leader of Asher

11. Day 12 – Ahira, leader of Naphtali

The Final Tally

In the end, the total offerings amounted to these:

1. twelve silver plates, each weighing 130 shekels (1 shekel equaled around 9.6 grams)

2. twelve silver sprinkling bowls, each weighing 70 shekels

3. twelve gold dishes, weighing 10 shekels each

4. twelve young bulls, twelve rams, twelve male lambs a year old (all for the burnt offering)

5. twelve male goats (for the sin offering)

6. twenty-four oxen, sixty rams, sixty male goats and sixty male lambs a year old (for the fellowship offering)

After the offerings were presented, a stunning thing happened in the the last verse of the chapter. Moses went into the tabernacle and heard “the voice of One” speaking to him from above the Ark of the Covenant. This signified God’s stamp of approval on the entire process. The people’s offerings had been done properly and with the right heart attitude and God had accepted them.

Questions to Consider:

All believers are called to give to the work of the Lord. The amounts may vary, but each should give with a cheerful heart and a sense of gratitude for all God has done in their life. Do you regularly give tithes and/or offerings to the Lord? 

In Numbers 7, all the tribes of Israel gave offerings on Tabernacle dedication day. Through these gifts, all 12 tribes showed their thankfulness to God. In what ways are you showing God thankfulness today?

What other points would you want to know about in our Numbers 7 commentary? Email us here with questions or comments.