15:32 When the Israelites were 1 in the wilderness they found a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. 2 15:33 Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and to the whole community. 15:34 They put him in custody, because there was no clear instruction about what should be done to him.
1 tn The preterite of the verb “to be” is here subordinated to the next, parallel verb form, to form a temporal clause.
2 sn For this brief passage, see A. Phillips, “The Case of the Woodgatherer Reconsidered,” VT 19 (1969): 125-28; J. Weingreen, “The Case of the Woodgatherer (Numbers XV 32-36),” VT 16 (1966): 361-64; and B. J. Bamberger, “Revelations of Torah after Sinai,” HUCA 16 (1941): 97-113. Weingreen argues that there is something of the Rabbinic method of setting a fence around the Law here; in other words, if this sin were not punished, the Law would have been violated in greater ways. Gathering of wood, although seemingly harmless, is done with intent to kindle fire, and so reveals a culpable intent.