Commentaries on Numbers

There are not a lot of good commentaries on Numbers. But there are a few.

The best ones are Ashley, Olson, Duguid, Milgrom (Jewish), Budd, Levine (Jewish), and Wenham.

Dozemann’s entry in the NIB is not spectacular, but still worth considering. Several are bound with Leviticus, including Bailey and Gane (see entry below on Leviticus). Gray is still important. Harrison is also good. Knierim/Coats is in the Forms of OT Literature series (just came out).

There are several forthcoming volumes: Weinfeld in Hermeneia (Jewish), Sailhamer (WBC), and Gosling in the Historical Commentary on the OT.

Reflections on question 1 of WSC

Question one of the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q: What is the chief end of man?
A. To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.

If there is a chief end, then there is also an inferior end, which is to be a good vice-regent here on earth, being a good steward of earthly resources, and exercising proper dominion over all the earth.

Those who forget and/or neglect the chief end are dead even if they are alive.

A man can still give glory to God (even if God is perfectly glorious in Himself), not by adding any glory to God, but by reflecting that glory of His. The enjoyment of God does not primarily come in this life, but is explicitly eschatological (“forever”). But there are two parts to enjoyment: seeing God in heaven; and conformity to God here on earth. There is no room here for so-called “Christian hedonism.”

None can enjoy God in the hereafter without giving Him glory in this life.

These thoughts are not mine: they are John Flavel’s in his commentary on the WSC, from volume VI of his works, pp. 141-142.

Acts 10 and pork

Recently, I have heard of some interpretations that take Acts 10 as only saying that now, Gentiles are no longer unclean. The rubber hits the road when it is further claimed that pork is still on the taboo list, via the OT. There are several problems with this interpretation. The first is that if Peter was now to eat with Gentiles (if Gentiles were now included in the Kingdom of God, that would necessitate table fellowship), then Peter would be required to eat Gentile food, which included pork.

Second, would the Lord really tell Peter to “rise, kill and eat” (vs. 13), if the symbol had no significance at all? In order to believe the above interpretation, one has to empty the symbol of its meaning entirely in order to throw the weight of it completely on the metaphor. This is not hermeneutically sound, especially because of the

Third reason. Israel’s dietary laws were part of the holiness system of the OT that was part of the civil law of Israel, which law is now abrogated, since there is now “neither Jew nor Greek” (Gal. 3:28). The way in which we are holy now is to be in Christ Jesus, the Holy One of Israel.

Besides, in Matthew 15:10, Jesus states categorically that what goes into a person’s mouth does not make that person unclean, but what comes out of the heart makes a person unclean, if the heart is unclean. This statement is a change of law from the Lawgiver. This statement is impossible on the part of Jesus, if the Jewish dietary laws are still in effect, even though Jesus is talking about unwashed hands here.

Furthermore, the Acts 15 council commanded people not to eat food…sacrificed to idols. They said *nothing* about not eating pork. It would surely have been addressed there, especially when the whole point of the council was how Jewish Gentiles needed to be to be saved. These reasons forbid us to make the avoidance of pork an issue. It is an issue of Christian freedom.

Commentaries on Leviticus

This one is fairly easy.

The best ones are Milgrom (Jewish), Hartley, Currid, Wenham, and Bonar. On the second rank are Harrison, Levine, Kaiser (New Interpreter’s Bible), Balentine, Bailey, Gane, Rooker, and Ross. Forthcoming is Watts in the Historical Commentary OT. Very liberal and on the third rank is Gerstenberger (his take on the homosexual passage is very twisted indeed). Also on the third rank is Noth (out of print). Very helpful is Mary Douglas’ book Purity and Danger.

Commentaries on Exodus

You could go broke on this one:

The best commentaries are as follows: Currid, Enns, Houtman, and Ryken. Houtman is very expensive, and very worth it (a three volume set). You can only buy it at Dove Booksellers, to which I have a link. It is part of the Historical Commentary on the OT. Less important, but still very important are Propp, Durham, Cole, Childs, Cassuto, Fretheim, Brueggemann (in the New Interpreter’s Bible), Pink, Sarna, Motyer, and Gowan. Forthcoming are Alexander (Apollos), Stuart (NAC), and McBride (Herm). Sorry for the abbreviations. I hope they don’t confuse those people whom this post is meant to help! Again, you should have Calvin, Keil and Delitzsch, and Matthew Henry.

Commentaries on Genesis

Here is a recommended list of commentaries on Genesis:

Bruce Waltke, Meredith Kline ( Kingdom Prologue ), Umberto Cassuto, Nahum Sarna, Kenneth Mathews, Gordon Wenham, Claus Westermann, Victor Hamilton, John Currid, Walter Brueggemann, Allen Ross, John Sailhamer, John Walton, Robert Candlish, R. Kent Hughes, Derek Kidner, Aalders, Coats, Pink, Cotter, John Calvin, Keil and Delitzsch, Terence Fretheim (in the New Interpreter’s Bible), and Matthew Henry. I might also mention Robert Alter, Gerhard Von Rad, E.A. Speiser, and Skinner. Forthcoming titles include Blum (Historical Commentary on the OT), and Baker (Apollos OT Commentary). And I do hope that they will replace Speiser’s commentary in the Anchor Bible soon. Of those mentioned, the highest priority (imo) are Hamilton, Currid, Kline, Waltke, Mathews, Wenham, and Hughes. Of second rank, though still important enought to consider are Westermann, Walton, Candlish, Brueggemann, Fretheim, Kidner, Alter, Ross, and Sailhamer. Of course, one must have Calvin, and I do not teach without reading Matthew Henry. Sarna is very interesting for the Jewish perspective (as is Cassuto, but he only goes to chapter 11). Westermann is exceedingly liberal, as is Speiser, Skinner, Cotter, Coats, and Von Rad. Slightly less liberal are Brueggemann and Fretheim.

Calvin Quotation

I really liked this quotation from John Calvin’s commentary on Genesis (volume 1, pg. 550-1):

BOQ: It is worthy of special notice, that when God leaves us destitute of his superintendence, and takes away his grace from us, we are as much deprived of all the aids which are close at hand, as if they were removed to the greatest distance. Therefore we must ask, not only that he would bestow upon us such things as will be useful to us, but that he will also impart prudence, to enable us to use them; otherwise, it will be our lot to faint, with closed eyes, in the midst of fountains. EOQ

This quotation is from his commentary on Genesis 21:18-19, which reads (ESV):
“Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water…”

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