Would Moses have benefitted from a calendar app?

If Moses had an iPhone calendar app, the alarm would sound often. Today’s reading of Numbers 28-30 caused my head to spin a bit.  I can hardly imagine keeping track of all the offerings required: daily, Sabbath, monthly and special holidays.

Here’s some help from the notes section (Numbers 28-29) of the ESV Study Bible Online version:

Calendar-iconCalendar of Public Sacrifices. Although Moses’ days as mediator of revelation are numbered, he still is God’s chosen vessel to pass on law to Israel. First among his final instructions are laws about public sacrifices (cf. other calendars,Ex. 23:10–19; 34:18–26Leviticus 23Deut. 16:1–17; cf. alsoThe Hebrew Calendar). These are the sacrifices offered in the tabernacle on a daily basis by the priests on behalf of the nation. Twice a day lambs are offered as a burnt offering (see Leviticus 1): one in the morning and another in the evening. On holy days, extra sacrifices are added. These chapters explain just what is required on which day. They are summarized in the , chart. To see how many sacrifices the priests would have to offer, one must add together all the offerings that are required for each reason. For example, on a Sabbath falling on the first day of a month, the priests would have to offer: two lambs (the daily offering) plus two lambs (the Sabbath offering) plus two bulls, one ram, seven lambs, and one goat (1st-day-of-the-month offering). Most of the sacrifices were burnt offerings (see Leviticus 1), but all the goats are sin offerings (see Leviticus 4). In addition to the animals being sacrificed, a grain offering of flour and oil, and a drink offering of wine had to be made. The size of the grain offering and drink offering varied with the animal being offered. Here the same quantities are prescribed as in Num. 15:4–10: a lamb must be accompanied by about half a gallon (1.9 liters) of flour, a quart (0.95 liters) of oil, and a quart (0.95 liters) of wine. At least double quantities are needed for a bull.

These regulations make several points.

First, they show the importance of the sacrificial system in Israel (cf. note on 15:1–16). In the limited time before his death, Moses explains what sacrifices must be offered in public worship on behalf of the whole nation. These are over and above the private sacrifices that a layperson may want to bring for personal reasons. 

Second, they are a strong assurance to Joshua that the nation will indeed inherit the land and become a prosperous agricultural community, able to provide for this lavish and expensive worship. It has been calculated that, over the course of a year, these sacrifices involved a total of 113 bulls, 1,086 lambs, over a ton of flour, and 1,000 bottles of oil and wine!

Finally, this list of sacrifices underlines the importance of the sabbatical principle. Every seventh day is a Sabbath and marked by a doubling of the daily sacrifice, while the seventh month is marked by a huge number of extra sacrifices, especially during the Feast of Booths, which is clearly marked out as the biggest celebration of the year.