Commentaries on Numbers:

Brian Hoch

For most of us, the majority of what we need from commentaries can be found if we follow a simple 3-fold plan for using commentaries (though teaching more difficult books of the Bible may require wider reading than just 3 commentaries). 

First, look for an exceptional, usable critical commentary on the book. Critical here means one that deals with the details of the text and language, not one that has a negative view. But be thoughtful, if it’s too detailed, it may not be usable without knowing biblical languages. Second, research out an exceptional popular commentary. Popular here means one that focuses on the themes, concepts and ideas, with the intent to apply the ancient text to our world. Finally, locate a suitable homiletic commentary (one that is a compilation of either lectures or sermons given about the text).

Following that plan, here are my recommendations for the book of Numbers:

 

Critical:

R. Dennis Cole—New American Commentary. Cole brings a high view of God’s word to his work (i.e. he believes strongly in the Bible’s inspiration). He is very thorough and has read widely. He interacts with the Hebrew, but not to the point that his commentary is of little value to one who doesn’t know that language. Best of all, he can write so that one can read and understand!

Popular:

G. Wenham—Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. There are several books that could fit very comfortably in this category, but Wenham is still the best option. He is a master of compaction and, though short, his commentary would be my recommendation as the first one you buy, and the one you acquire if you can only get one.

Homiletic:

I. Duguid—Preaching the Word Commentaries

Consistently, the sermons transcribed in this book are spot-on and will challenge your heart at the same time they inform your head. Occasionally, Duguid’s theological framework overpowers the text. Always, he is worth reading about a passage in Numbers.