Read Numbers 3:14-51 and chapter 4

There is no commentary for today’s reading, so I wanted to throw my two-cents in…

Have you noticed all the repetition?

Uff, especially in Numbers 7… wow, really?  Do we have to read over and over again about each of the silver dishes weighing 130 shekels, the silver bowls weighing 70 shekels filled with fine flour mixed with oil, the gold pans weighing ten shekels filled with incense and 1 bull, 1 ram, 1 male lamb a year old, 1 male goat and 2 oxen, 5 rams, 5male goats and 5 – 1 year old male lambs that each tribe offered??

It seemed a little redundant.  It became quite humorous actually as I read it aloud to the kids… we all practically started chanting it together after the 5th or 6th time the offerings were listed.

And so it got me thinking.  Why did God intentionally repeat these offerings?  I mean, they were the EXACT SAME ITEMS!  He could’ve totally shortened the Bible by like 1000 words had he just said “and each tribe offered the same.”  Or something y’know, more spiritual that than.  But you catch my drift.

But He didn’t.  He listed each offering and each tribe for a reason.

I tried to search commentaries and study Bibles for any answer…and most remained silent, but what I did find was a great article which asked the same question and found this answer from another source:

The purpose he says is “to emphasize as strongly as possible that every tribe had an equal stake in the worship of God, and that each was fully committed to the support of the tabernacle and its priesthood.” (Numbers, p. 93)

and then the writer, John Piper, also added:

Yes. But let the method of emphasis sink in. Moses could have used Wenham’s words and saved time, space, and tedium. He could have said, “Every tribe has an equal stake in worship and all are to be fully committed to the tabernacle.” That’s 18 words. But he used 12 x 93 = 1,116 words.

Here are some lessons:

– There are times when you look into every child’s eyes and say the same important thing. You don’t say the precious thing to one and then sweep over the others: “That applies to all of you.”

– These tribes are not equal. Some are larger. Some have sordid legacies. But everyone heard every word of God’s plan for their approach to God. Every one. Every word. Identical.

– Efficiency is not always the highest value. Slow, long, repetitions are sometimes the best way to make an impact.

– Patience in reading God’s word may be a test of the frenzy of our pace and our demanding attitude toward the Bible that it be the way we want, not the way God made it.

Interesting.

 

Related Articles:
Theological Reasons for Wordiness   (desiringgod.org)

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