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Numbers 15:37-41

Context
Rules for Tassels

15:37 The Lord spoke to Moses: 15:38 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them to make 1  tassels 2  for themselves on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and put a blue thread 3  on the tassel of the corners. 15:39 You must have this tassel so that you may look at it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and obey them and so that you do not follow 4  after your own heart and your own eyes that lead you to unfaithfulness. 5  15:40 Thus 6  you will remember and obey all my commandments and be holy to your God. 15:41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God. I am the Lord your God.”

1 tn The construction uses the imperative followed by perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives. The first perfect tense may be translated as the imperative, but the second, being a third common plural form, has to be subordinated as a purpose clause, or as the object of the preceding verb: “speak…and say…that they make.”

2 sn This is a reference to the צִיצִת (tsitsit), the fringes on the borders of the robes. They were meant to hang from the corners of the upper garment (Deut 22:12), which was worn on top of the clothing. The tassel was probably made by twisting the overhanging threads of the garment into a knot that would hang down. This was a reminder of the covenant. The tassels were retained down through history, and today more elaborate prayer shawls with tassels are worn during prayer. For more information, see F. J. Stephens, “The Ancient Significance of Sisith,” JBL 50 (1931): 59-70; and S. Bertman, “Tasselled Garments in the Ancient East Mediterranean,” BA 24 (1961): 119-28.

3 sn The blue color may represent the heavenly origin of the Law, or perhaps, since it is a royal color, the majesty of the Lord.

4 tn Heb “seek out, look into.”

5 tn This last clause is a relative clause explaining the influence of the human heart and physical sight. It literally says, “which you go whoring after them.” The verb for “whoring” may be interpreted to mean “act unfaithfully.” So, the idea is these influences lead to unfaithful activity: “after which you act unfaithfully.”

6 tn This clause also serves as a purpose/result clause of the preceding – “in order that you may remember….” But because the line is so long, it is simpler to make this a separate sentence in the translation.



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