Skip to content ↓

Best Commentaries on Numbers

I am quite sure I have never had the privilege of hearing a verse-by-verse treatment of Numbers. My guess is that very few preachers ever get to the book and that it may well be among the least-preached books of the Pentateuch and possibly of the whole Bible. Nevertheless, if a preacher does choose to preach through it, it appears that there are some good commentaries to help guide him.

Gordon Wenham – Numbers (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries). Once again, as with both Genesis and Leviticus, Gordon Wenham finds himself right at the top of the list. Keith Mathison says Wenham is “among the best contemporary writers of commentaries,” a judgment that seems to fit the evidence. The experts agree that his commentary is theologically sound and that, though limited by the constraints of the TOTC series, it is a must-have for anyone who intends to study or preach Numbers. At $10 is seems quite the bargain (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos).

R. Dennis Cole — Numbers (The New American Commentary). As with several previous books of the Bible, the first choice is quite clear while others are a little more difficult to figure out. Still, the experts regard Cole as an excellent option after Wenham. It is one of the few volumes that receives Tremper Longman’s 5-star rating. He calls it a “substantial, well-written commentary that navigates the scholarly literature well, incorporating what is good and rejecting what is bad, while still keeping its individual contribution.” He says its greatest strength is “in its sensitive theological reading.” That is high praise! (Amazon, Logos)

Timothy R. Ashley – The Book of Numbers (The New International Commentary on the Old Testament). Timothy Ashley’s volume receives accolades from most of the experts. Keith Mathison compares Wenham with Ashley and says, “For those seeking a more thorough evangelical commentary on Numbers than the Tyndale format will allow, Ashley’s work is a great place to turn. He very helpfully explores the important theological themes within the book.” Depending on who you consult, you could go with either this or Cole as the volume to follow Wenham (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos).

Raymond Brown – The Message of Numbers: Journey to the Promised Land (Bible Speaks Today). Longman gets to the heart of this one in his brief comments. He says, “A readable and informed study of this often-neglected book. In keeping with the series, Brown emphasizes the theological meaning and the contemporary significance of the book.” I assume this means it would be a suitable choice (along with Wenham) for the more casual reader as opposed to the preacher or scholar (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos).

Jacob Milgrom – Numbers (The JPS Torah Commentary). This is this series’ first exposure to the JPS Torah Commentary series which is written by Jewish scholars. Nevertheless, it receives high commendation from most of the experts with Tremper Longman saying that it is “a masterpiece of erudition.” Of course I wouldn’t expect this volume to help with references to New Testament fulfillments of Old Covenant shadows and types (Amazon, Westminster Books, Logos).

While I could find few reviews of Iain Duguid’s contribution to the Preaching the Word series, I greatly enjoy both the series and Duguid’s work (whether in that series or others) so expect it would provide an excellent sermon-based volume (Amazon). Likewise, I did not find reviews of Currid’s volume on Numbers but at the very least would expect it to be helpful and theologically-sound (Amazon, Westminster Books).

Let me close with a few questions: Have you ever preached through Numbers? What are your preferred commentaries on the book? Are there some you’ve found particularly helpful?


  • The Deconstruction of Christianity

    The Deconstruction of Christianity

    There is nothing new and nothing particularly unusual about apostasy—about people who once professed the Christian faith coming to deny it. From the early church to the present day, we have witnessed a long and sad succession of people walking away from Christianity and often doing so with expressions of anger, animosity, and personal superiority.…

  • A La Carte Friday 2

    A La Carte (February 2)

    A La Carte: When your spouse won’t join a solid church / The gospel gives us courage / The beautiful burden of caregiving / At work in his Word / Do I have a hard heart? / Surrendering rights for the sake of the gospel / and more.

  • A La Carte Thursday 1

    A La Carte (February 1)

    A La Carte: Vetting kids’ entertainment isn’t a one-and-done / Joni Eareckson Tada’s resilient joy in pain / Honor marriage / How can the church remain faithful in this current cultural climate? / What senior pastors should know about the younger generations / and more.

  • When God Gives Us a Platform

    When God Gives Us a Platform

    There are many ways we may respond to the sudden onrush of some new pain or the sudden onset of some fresh sorrow. There are many options set before us when health fails and uncertainty draws near, when wealth collapses and bankruptcy looms, when a loved one is taken and we are left alone. There…

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (January 31)

    A La Carte: What are demons and how should we think about them? / It’s time to stop bagging out the “average church member” / Alistair Begg and the loving thing / The internal contradiction in transgender theories / Seeing in color / The sad relief / and more.

  • A La Carte Collection cover image

    A La Carte (January 30)

    A La Carte: Evangelicals need a constructive vision / He’s with you, no matter what / Keeping singing the (whole) gospel / Abundant life in room 129 / On pastors and professors / Was Jesus confused by the cross? / and more.