Numbers 7

Good morning! I get to be the bearer of happy news—we have only one chapter today, and you can mostly scan it because it’s almost all identical.

Numbers 7 describes the offerings that each of the twelve tribes give to the tabernacle in celebration of its anointing: silver plates and basins, golden incense dishes, and a set number of animals. The gifts are given one day at a time to emphasize the pageantry and splendor of the gifts. The order of the tribes is that which was set in Numbers 2, their position around the tabernacle. Each tribe’s offering is the same, so read the first one and you’ll know what comes over each subsequent day. The summary of all the gifts is given near the bottom, and it tallies up in perfect order (as you would expect from the Priestly author). I got the sense of this as the “family dishes”, and their identical nature emphasizes the unity of all the tribes. The very last verse of the chapter seems like it doesn’t fit at all—a reference to Moses hearing the voice of God over the ark of the covenant between the cherubim there. I have no idea of its connection with the rest of the chapter, though situated as it is, perhaps one should get the impression that once each tribe’s gift is offered and they’re all complete, the voice of God can truly be heard by Moses. I could imagine a writer not wanting to say that directly, but suggesting as much by placing the verse here. That’s just my speculation, and I’d love to hear yours if you have a theory to share. Happy reading!

Read Numbers 7.

Please join discussion of this passage at the Daily Bible Facebook group, or comment below. Tomorrow’s passage is Numbers 8-10. Thanks for reading!

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