Deuteronomy 1

 

In these first five verses we have the inscription and general introduction to the

book, announcing the contents of the book, the author of it, the parties whom he

addressed, and the time and place of his addresses.

 

1  These be the words” – Some would render here “Such are the words,” and

understand the expression as referring to the preceding books.  But it seems more

natural to refer it to what follows — to the addresses in this book. The pronoun

these (hL,ae) may be used with a prospective reference, as well as with a

retrospective (cf. e.g. Genesis 2:4; 6:9).  The author does not by this connect

this book with the preceding, but rather distinguishes it. The subscription in

Numbers 36:13 indicates that what precedes is occupied chiefly with what

God spake to Moses; the inscription here intimates that what follows is what

Moses spake to the people. This is the characteristic of Deuteronomy - “which

Moses spake unto all Israel” - It cannot be supposed that Moses spoke to the

whole multitude of the people so as to be heard by them. Hence the Jewish

interpreters say that he spoke to the elders of the people, who carried his words

to the people at large. This is just; for what was thus immediately communicated

to the people might be fairly described as spoken to them; and we find from

other passages in the Pentateuch that the phrase, “the elders of Israel,” in

the mind of the writer, was equivalent to “the congregation of Israel

(compare Exodus 12:3 with v. 21; Leviticus 9:1 with ver. 5).  But through

whatever medium conveyed, it was to the people that these words were addressed;

this is emphatically a book for the people - “on this side Jordan” - This should be

On the other side or beyond Jordan, and so also in v. 5, as in ch. 3:20, 25. The word

here used (rb,[) means properly something beyond, over, or across, and indicates

that which, to the speaker, lies on the other side of some line or limit. When

coupled with “the Jordan,” it usually indicates the region to the east of that

river; only in one or two instances, where the speaker takes his standpoint

on the east of the river, does it designate the regions to the west of Jordan

(Ibid. v. 25); 11:30) The phrase “beyond Jordan seems to have been the established

designation of the region east of the Jordan (Ezra 4:10). It is this, unquestionably,

which is here so designated, as what follows expressly shows -  “in the

wilderness,” - This term is used of any extensive district not occupied by inhabitants

or subjected to culture; hence of vast prairies or pasturelands, as well as of places

properly desert and desolate. It here denotes the grassy plains or downs on the east

and southeast of the Jordan, in the land of Moab (v. 5) - “in the plain” - in the

Arabah. This is properly the whole of that remarkable depression which stretches

from the source of the Jordan on to Akabah, or the Ailanitic Gulf; but here it is

only that part of it which extends from the south end of the Dead Sea to Allah

(ch. 2:8). This part still bears the name of the ‘Arabah, the northern part being

known as the Ghor (Smith’s ‘Dictionary,’ vol. 1. p. 87) - “over against the Red

sea,” - The name by which the Red Sea is elsewhere designated is Yam-suph

(pWsAμy"); here only the latter word occurs, and this has led some to doubt

if the Red Sea be here intended. It is probable, however, that Suph is here merely

a breviloquence for Yam-suph, the Red Sea; and so all the ancient versions

take it. The identification of the Yam-suph of the Old Testament with the

ejruqra< qa>lassa erutha thalassa - Red Sea - of the Greeks, the mare

erythraeum, or rubrum, of the Latins, is due to the LXX., which other versions

have followed.  The identification is undoubtedly correct (compare Numbers 33:10

and I Kings 9:26). Yam-suph, indeed, means simply sea of weeds, and might be

the name of any sea in which algae are found; but these passages clearly

prove that by this the Hebrews designated the Red Sea. At what part of

this sea the Israelites crossed, and the hosts of Pharaoh were submerged, is

and must remain uncertain, because we know not what was the condition

of the Isthmus of Suez at the time of the Exodus. It is probable it was not

at any part of what is now known as the Red Sea or Gulf of Suez. (I

recommend arkdiscovery.com and look at the section on the Red Sea

Crossing for items of interest! – CY – 2012) - But this has not been

accepted by scholars generally -  It seems probable that originally only a

marshy district lay between the Gulf of Suez and the Mediterranean; and

somewhere in this probably the passage of the Israelites  and the drowning

of the Egyptians occurred – “between Paran, and Tophel,” - This serves

more fully and particularly to indicate the locality here intended; but the

details present considerable difficulty. Taken in connection with the words

over against the Red Sea,” the names here given can only be regarded as

intended more precisely to indicate the region in which the Israelites had

been during the forty years of their wandering. Paran: this is the name of

the wilderness bordering on Idumea, where the Israelites encamped

(Numbers 10:12; 12:16); the place of their encampment being Kadesh, in the

wilderness of Zin (Ibid. 13:21, 26), which was the eastern part of the

wilderness of Paran. hod. Wady Murreh. The wilderness of Paran corresponds

in general outline with the desert of Et-Tih. This is a vast plateau of irregular

surface stretching from the Et-Tih range northwards to the boundaries of the

Holy Land, and from the Gulf of Akabah and the Wady cf. Arabah on the

east to the Gulf of Suez and the Mediterranean on the west. It is described as

a chalky formation, the chalk being covered with coarse gravel, mixed with

black flints and drifting sand;” not, however, wholly sterile: in many parts

vegetation abounds, considerable portions are under cultivation, and there

are evidences that it one time water was abundant there. It is not, however,

to the wilderness of Paran that the reference is in the text, but to some definite

locality or spot in the region in which the Israelites then were, or which

they had recently passed through. It has been suggested that the place now

called Feiran, and where there are the ruins of a town, once of some

importance in the early history of Christianity, is the Paran of this passage,

as it apparently is the Paran of I Kings 11:18. But this locality at the base

of Jebel Serbail is much too far west to be the Paran here referred to. More

probable is the suggestion that it is the Faran mentioned by Eusebius and

Jerome (Onomast.,s.v. Fara>n) PharanParan - a city to the cast

(northeast) of Allah or Elath, about three days’ journey (Reland, ‘Palest.,’

p. 556; Winer, ‘Realworterbuch,’ s.v. Pharan). Tophel: this name occurs only here;

it is supposed to be the place now coiled Tufailah or Tafyleh, a large village of

six hundred inhabitants, between Bozrah and Kerak, on the eastern slope of

the mountains of Edom (Burckhardt, ‘Syria,’ p. 402; Robinson, ‘Bib.

Res.,’ 2:570). As this is a place where the Syrian caravans are supplied

with provisions, it has been conjectured that the Israelites, when at Oboth

(Numbers 21:10-11), may have resorted to it for a supply, and that it

was here that they purchased meat and drink from the children of Esau

(Deuteronomy 2:29) -  and Laban,” – Laban is generally identified with

Libnah, the second place of encampment of the Israelites on their return

from Kadesh (Numbers 33:20-21). Knobel, however, thinks it is the

place called by Ptolemy ‘Au]ara, lying between Petra and Allah; this name,

from the Arabic <ARABIC> (he was white), having the same meaning as

the Hebrew ˆb;l;.and Hazeroth,” – Hazeroth is supposed to be the place

mentioned in Numbers 11:35; 12:16, from which the Israelites entered the

wilderness of Paran; but as the other places here mentioned are on the east

side of the Arabah, it is not probable that this Hazeroth is the same as that of

Numbers, which must have been not far from Sinai, in a northerly or north-

westerly direction from that mountain, probably at or near to the fountain

now called El Hudherah (Wilson, ‘Lands of the Bible,’ 1:235; Kitto,

‘Cyclopedia,’ 2:243). There were probably several places bearing the name

of Hazeroth, i.e. villages -  “and Dizahab.”  This is generally identified with

Dhahab, a place on a tongue of land in the Gulf of Akabah. But it is

extremely improbable that the Israelites ever were at this place, the

approach to which is exceedingly difficult; and the mere resemblance of the

names Dizahab and Dhahab is not sufficient to prove the identity of the

places. There were probably more places than one which were named from

zahab (gold) in the region traversed by the Israelites. There is a Dhahab on

the east of the Jordan near the Zerka or Jabbok, a double mound, which is

said to derive its name from the yellowish color of the sandstone rock of

which it consists, and which is metalliferous. In the Arabic of the Polyglot,

Dizahab appears as Dhi-dhahab, which signifies “auro praeditum vel ab

auro dictum; nam wd vel yd, apud Arabes in compositione nominum propr.

idem est ac Hebrews l[b” (J. H. Michaelis). There is a various reading

here, Di-waheb, and this has been supposed to connect this place with the

Waheb of Numbers 21:14. But, as above noted, it is by no means

certain that Waheb is there the name of a place; it may, as Bishop Patrick

suggests, be that of a man, some hero or chief, who was conquered in

Sufah or in a storm. Waheb is a name among the Arabs. The maternal

grandfather of Mohammed had this name (Abul-Pharaj, ‘Hist. Dynast.,’ p.

161, edit. Pococke, Oxen., 1663); and the sect of the Wahabees take their

name from Abdul Wahab, a fanatic who appeared about the beginning of

last century. The words “between Paran and Tophel” have been taken to

indicate’ the termini of the wanderings; at the commencement of these the

people were at Paran, and towards the close of them they were at Tophel.

‘“Looking from the steppes of Moab over the ground that the Israelites

had traversed, Suph, where they first entered the desert of Arabia, would

lie between Paran where the congregation arrived at the borders of Canaan

toward the west, and Tophel where they first ended their desert

wanderings thirty-seven years later on the east” (Keil). But this assumes

that Paran here is the wilderness of Paran.

 

2  (There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb” - The name generally given to

Sinai in Deuteronomy. Sinai, however, occurs in ch. 33:2 of this book -  by the

way of mount Seir” -  i.e. by the way that leads to Mount Seir; just as in ch. 2:1,

the way of the Red sea is the way that leads to that sea (see also Numbers 14:25).

Mount is here, as often elsewhere, for mountain range. The mountain range here

referred to seems to have been, not that on the east of the ‘Arabah, but what is in

vs. 6 and 19 called “the mountain of the Amorites,” “the Seir by Hormah of v. 44,

i e. the southern part of what was afterwards called the mountains of Judah.

According to v. 19, the Israelites, when they left Horeb, passed through the

wilderness along the way that led to the mountains of the Amorites, and came

to Kadesh-barnea. Kadesh must, therefore, be looked for, not on the eastern

side of the ‘Arabah, but somewhere in the wilderness of Zin. It has been identified

with the place now known as ‘Ain Kudes, near the northern extremity of Jebel

Halal, and to the east of that hill; but this is far from being certain. Moses reminds

the Israelites that the distance between Horeb and Kadesh is eleven days — i.e.,

about one hundred and sixty-five miles, the day’s journey being reckoned at

fifteen miles — not to give them a piece of information, but rather to suggest to

them how, in consequence of rebellion, a journey which might have been

so easily accomplished, had been protracted through many wearisome

years. unto Kadeshbarnea.)   This brief geographical note was, no doubt,

meant to suggest the lesson  of the evil results of disobedience.  eleven days

journey” – yet the fortieth year still saw them in the wilderness.  We learn:

 

o       Sin turns short ways into long ones.

o       Sin brings on the transgressor needless trouble

and sorrow.

o       Sin fills life with fruitless regrets and

o       Sin delays fulfillment of God’s promises

 

The path of obedience is in the end the shortest, easiest, safest and happiest!

 

3  And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the

first day of the month,” – Here is intimated the time when the following

addresses were delivered to the people. It was on the first day of the eleventh

month in the fortieth year; therefore near the end of their wanderings, and

towards the close of the lawgiver’s own career. He could thus speak to them

according to all - “ that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according

unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;”

i.e. in accordance with the legislative contents of the preceding books (compare

ch. 4:5, 23; 5:28-33; 6:1). 4  After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites,

which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth

in Edrei:”  It was also after the destruction of Sihon and ‘Og (Numbers 21:21-35).

This also is significant. By the destruction of these kings, who sought to bar the

access of the Israelites to the Promised Land, God had given proof that He would

indeed fulfill His promise to His people, and had at once laid them under

obligations to obedience, and given them encouragement to go forward on

the course to which He had called them. The “he” here is Moses, who, at

the command of God, had led the Israelites against Sihon and ‘Og. Edrei,

hod Draa (Ibid. v.33) was the second capital of ‘Og; he “reigned

in Ashtaroth and in Edrei” (Joshua 13:12). Here, however, it denotes

the place where he was slain in battle, and the words “in Edrei are to be

referred to the verb “smote” and not to “dwelt” (compare ch.3:1; Numbers 21:33).

 

5  On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab,” – The locality is again described

as beyond Jordan (see on v.1),  and in the land of Moab. This designates the region

elsewhere called Arboth Moabthe Plains of Moab (Numbers 22:1; ch. 34:1), the

region on the east of the Jordan, opposite to Jericho, now known as the region of

Kerak, where is a famous castle from the days of the Crusades -  began Moses” –  

rather set himself to. The Hebrew word signifies to undertake, to betake one’s self to,

and so to begin It is variously rendered in the Authorized Version (compare

Genesis 18:27, “taken it upon me;” Exodus 2:21, “was content,” had made up his

mind; I Samuel 12:22, “it pleased;” 17:39,”assayed,”) - “ to declare

this law, saying,”  - i.e. make clear, explain, expound (Habakkuk 2:2, “make plain”).

The Hebrew word here used (ra"b;) signifies primarily to cut or dig, then to cut

into, to grave, and then to cut or dig out so as to make evident, to declare,

to make plain. What Moses set himself to do, then, was not to publish a

new law, but to make plain to the people the Law already promulgated, to

set forth clearly and pointedly what they were required by the Law to be

and to do. This explains more fully the spake (rB,di) of v. 3. This

exposition of the Law was designed specially for the sake of those who, at

the time the Law was first promulgated, either were not born or were

incapable of understanding it. The expression used by Moses plainly indicates

that this book was not intended to furnish a second code of laws different

from the former, but simply to explain and enforce what had before been

enjoined.

 

 

The Word of God Full of Hidden Treasure (vs. 1-5)

 

We cannot get very far in these preliminary verses ere we are struck with a

phrase which is a most suggestive one, and should not be lightly passed

over, viz. “On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to

declare this law,” literally, to dig it, i.e. to go deeply into it, and to turn up

again its contents, so that, to all the advantage of a generation of culture,

the people might see that there was more meaning, and also more glory in

the Law of God than they were able to discern in the first years of their

national existence. Observe:

 

 

  • THERE IS A MINE OF WEALTH IN THE LAW OF GOD. This is the

case, even if we thereby intend the Mosaic Law alone. Its theology, its

ethics, its directory of religious faith and worship, its civil and political

code for the Hebrew commonwealth, are all so pure and elevated, that no

account can be given of how any man at that age of the world could have

propounded such a system, save that he was taught of God (II Peter

1:21). (ch. 5:7-22.) If, moreover, we would see how the devout Hebrews

estimated the Law, let us turn to Psalm 19:7-14; 103:7, et seq. Our Savior

honored the Law, and maintained it in all its integrity (Matthew 5:17-18).

He removed the glosses by which it had in his time become disfigured,

but he never depreciated it. We are by no means to confound “the Law”

with the abstract idea of “law.” See how sharply the Apostle Paul

distinguishes between these two in Romans 3., especially in v. 21,

“But now there has been manifested a righteousness of God apart from

law, being witnessed by THE Law and the prophets.” The Law given by

Moses is based on the gospel (Galatians 3.; see also Homiletics,

Deuteronomy 5:6). If, however, to all that Moses gave, we add all

the grace and the truth” which came in by JESUS CHRIST how

unsearchably vast is the wealth stored up for us in the “Word of

everlasting Truth!”

 

  • THE EFFORT OF DIGGING INTO THIS MINE WILL BE WELL

REPAID. How much difference there is between a man who knows only

what men say about the Book, and one who knows the Book for himself!

The one may be easily beguiled into the belief that it is so out of date that it

is scarcely worth while to study it at all. The other will find it so far ahead

of the actual attainments of the wisest and best of men, that he will pity

those who dismiss it with but a glance from afar. The continuous, careful,

thorough student of the Law of Moses, will be ever discovering a richness

in it which will at once astonish and enrapture him. Its harmony with, its

historical preparation for, the gospel, will be continually disclosing to him

new proofs of its Divine original, that will be worth more to him than any

merelyexternal evidence.” And when the whole Word of God is made the

constant study of one whose heart is open to the truth and loyal to God,

such a one will find fuller and richer meaning in single words, such as goel,”

grace,” “righteousness,” etc., when these words are put to their highest

use in Divine revelation, than in whole tomes of merely human lore!

 

  • THE WORD SHOULD BE DUG INTO, THAT WE MAY

APPROPRIATE ITS CONTENTS, BY ENLIGHTENED REASON

AND LOWLY FAITH. These treasures are for the use of all, not merely to

gratify them with the consciousness of ever making new discoveries, but to

make them richer in the accumulating stores of holy thought. And if we, in

the right spirit, explore these sacred pages, we shall ourselves become

richer in knowledge, in gladness, in hope. If we cultivate a willingness to

do God’s will, and seek to know the truth for the purpose of doing the

right, we shall find that much that is “hidden from the wise and prudent” is,

by means of the Book, “revealed unto babes.”  (Matthew 11:25)

 

  • THE MORE WE THUS DIG INTO THE BOOK OF THE LAW,

THE MORE EXHAUSTLESS IT WILL SEEM. No one is there, who

lovingly and prayerfully studies it, who will not come to say, with a feeling

that becomes intenser year by year, “There remaineth very much land to be

possessed.” (Joshua 13:1) - “High as the heaven is above the earth, so are”

God’s “ways higher than” our “ways, and” God’s “thoughts than” our

thoughts!”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

 

  • THE ACCUMULATING STORES OF HOLY THOUGHT SHOULD

BE TRANSMUTED BY US INTO THE WEALTH OF HOLY LIFE.

It is not for naught that our GOD HAS SO ENRICHED THIS WORLD

WITH THOUGHTS FROM HEAVEN.  It is not merely that the intellect

may be furnished or the taste for research gratified. Oh no; it is for our life.

Heaven has poured forth its wealth upon earth, that earth may send

 up its love and loyalty to heaven.  Precious are the riches of truth. The riches

of holiness are more precious still. God gives us the first that we may yield Him

the second. God would win Israel’s love by unveiling his own. So now, “God

commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us” ( Romans 5:8).  How great will be our guilt, how severe

our condemnation, if we let such priceless disclosures remain unnoticed and

unused! It were better for us not to have known the way of righteousness

 than, after we have known it, to turn from the holy commandment

 delivered unto us  (II Peter 2:21).  May we, through the Spirit, so use the

truth of God as to find our joy and salvation in the God of the truth.

 

 

INTRODUCTORY ADDRESS

(ch. 1:6 to ch. 4:40)

 

With this verse begins Moses’ first address to the people, which extends to the end of

ch. 4. It is of an introductory character, and is occupied chiefly with a retrospective

survey of the events that had occurred during the forty years of their wanderings.

By this Moses reminded the people how God had fulfilled His promises to them,

and at the same time, how they had by their rebellion drawn down on them His

displeasure, which had caused their wanderings to be so much more protracted

than they would otherwise have been.

 

The Lord’s Command to Depart from Horeb, and His Promise to the People.

       (vs. 6-8)

 

6  The LORD our God” - Jehovah our God. The use of this epithet implies

the covenant union of Israel with Jehovah, and presupposes the existence of that

covenant which was entered into at Sinai.  spake unto us in Horeb,” -  This

was the starting-point, so to speak, of Israel’s being as the special people of God —

His segullah (hL;Gus], Exodus 19:5), His special treasure. There He made Himself

known to them as JEHOVAH, THE ETERNAL AND THE UNCHANGEABLE,

and entered into covenant with them; and there they received that Law, on the

keeping of which depended their retention of the privileges to which they had

been elected. At Horeb the Israelites had remained for about a year (compare

Exodus 19:1 and Numbers 10:11-12), and as the purpose for which they had been

brought thither was answered, they were enjoined to move, not indeed by express

command, but by the rising of the cloud from over the tabernacle, which was the

signal of their march (Numbers 9:15; 10:11-13), preceded by the instructions they

had received preparatory to their removal (Numbers 1:1-4:7) - “saying, Ye have

dwelt long enough in this mount:”  The Israelites remained at Sinai from the third

month of the first year to the twentieth day of the second month in the second year

after they came out of Egypt.

 

7  Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites,

and unto all the places nigh thereunto,” - literally, its dwellers or inhabitants

(wyn;kev]). The mountain range of the Amorites, afterwards called the hill

country of Judah and Ephraim, was the object which would first strike the

view of one advancing from the south; and so, it stands here for the whole

land of Canaan, with which it is in this context identified. Those “that dwell

thereon are the inhabitants of the whole of Canaan. The Amorites (Hebrew

Emori, so called from Amor, or Emor) oftener than once appear as standing

for the Canaanites generally (compare Genesis 15:16; here vs. 20-21). That all

the inhabitants of Canaan are intended here is evident from the specification of

the different districts of the land of Canaan which immediately follows.  in the

plain,” -  the ‘Arabah (see v. 1). in the hills,” - the hill country of Judah

(Numbers 13:17) -and in the vale,” - the shephelah, or lowland, the country

lying between the mountain range of Judah and the Mediterranean Sea, and

stretching northwards from the parallel of Gaza to that of Carmel - “and in the

south,” – the negeb, or southland (literally, dryness), the district which

formed the transition from the desert to the cultivated land, extending from

the south of the Dead Sea westwards to Gaza, a vast steppe or prairie, for

the most part pasture land - “and by the sea side,” - The seashore: the narrow

strip of land on the coast of the Mediterranean from Joppa to Tyre (in the

New Testament, “the coast of Tyre and Sidon,”Luke 6:17) -  to the

land of the Canaanites,” - the whole country of which these were the separate

parts -  “and unto Lebanon,” - the White Mountain, so called, probably, from the

snow which rests on its summit - “unto the great river, the river Euphrates.”

The Phrath, or Euphrates, which has its sources in the mountains of

Armenia, and in its course divides Armenia from Cappadocia, formed the

eastern limit of the territory promised by God to Abraham. The epithet

great seems to have been commonly applied to it.  As by much the most

considerable river of western Asia, the Euphrates was known as “the river”

 par excellence (compare Exodus 23:31; Isaiah 8:7; Jeremiah 2:18; Psalm 72:8).

The mention of Lebanon and the Euphrates were included in what God

promised to Abraham and his seed (Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:31; here ch.11:24).

 

8 “Behold, I have set the land before you:” – literally, have given

the land before you, i.e. have made it over to you, that you may go and

take possession of it. The Lord had placed this land in the power of the

Israelites, had given it up to them to possess and use it, according as He

had sworn to their fathers, the patriarchs, to give it to them and their seed

(compare Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 22:16-18) - “go in and possess the land

which the LORD swear unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and

Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.”  At Horeb, therefore,

they received the charter of their inheritance, and might have gone on at

once to take possession of the land. The delay that had occurred had arisen

solely from their own waywardness and perversity, not from anything on

the part of God.

 

Next, vs. 9-18, Moses reminds them that he had done all that was required

on his part to conduct the people to the enjoyment of what God had freely

given to them. The people had so increased in number that Moses found

himself unable to attend to all the matters that concerned them, or to

adjudicate in all the differences that arose among them. God had brought

to pass that which He had promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:5), that his

seed should be as the stars of heaven for multitude; in this Moses rejoiced,

nay, he would even that their numbers were, with the Divine blessing,

increased a thousandfold beyond what they were. But he found the burden,

the weight of care and trouble, especially in connection with their strifes

and suits thereby brought on him, too much for him; and, therefore, whilst

they were still at Horeb, he had, following the advice of Jethro, his fatherin-

law, counseled them to select competent men from among themselves,

who should relieve him by attending to those duties which he found it too

burdensome for him to have to attend to (compare Exodus 18:13-27). This

appointment of captains was quite distinct from that of the elders whom

God directed Moses to select that they might assist him in bearing the

burden of the people (Numbers 11:10-17). The occasion of the appointment was

the same in both cases, viz. the complaint of Moses that the task was too

onerous for him, but the time, the place, and the manner of the two transactions

were different.

 

9  And I spake unto you at that time,” - The somewhat indefinite

phrase, “at that time” (compare Genesis 38:1), does not refer to the time

after the people departed from Horeb, but to the time generally when they

were in that region (see Exodus 18:5, 13). The imperfect (dm"aow;, I

spake), with vaw rel.. expresses the order of thought and not of time.

It is not mentioned in Exodus that Moses spake to the people, as

here stated, but what Jethro said to him to this effect is recorded; and as

Moses proceeded to put in execution what his lather-in-law advised, it is

probable that in doing so he told the people what he proposed to do, with

his reasons for so doing, and obtained their assent, as here mentioned.

 saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:”

 

10 “The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this

day as the stars of heaven for multitude.”  (compare Genesis 15:5; 22:17).

God had promised to Abraham that his seed should be as the stars of heaven for

multitude; and Moses here reminds the people that this promise had been

fulfilled. This is hardly to be regarded as the utterance of hyperbole. When

God gave the premise to Abraham it was to the stars as seen by the

patriarch, not as actually existing in the immensity of space, that reference

was made; and as the number of stars which can be taken in with the naked

eye does not exceed 3000, and as Israel at this time numbered more than

600,000, counting only the adult males (Numbers 2:32), — it might be

literally said of them that they had been multiplied as the stars of heaven.

The comparison, however, imported nothing more than that their numbers

were very great.

 

11  (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so

many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)

It was not the vast increase of the people in numbers that distressed Moses,

rather was this to him a matter of rejoicing, and his desire was that their increase

might become still greater, even a thousand-fold. But he felt his own inability,

as leader, ruler, and judge, alone to cope with so vast a multitude.

 

12 “How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden,

and your strife?”  Moses appeals to the good sense of the people themselves:

Cumbrance: this is a just rendering of the Hebrew word jr}mo, from jr"f;, which,

though it occurs only in the Hiphil in Hebrew, in the sense of to cast down

(Job 17:11), probably was in use also in the Kal, in the sense of to lay upon,

to encumber, which is the meaning of the cognate Arabic <ARABIC>

followed by <ARABIC>. Burden (aV;, from ac;n;, to lift up, to carry, to bear),

something lifted up and carried, a load or burden. Strife: (byri) here, not mere

contention, but litigation, suit-at-law.  Some understand all these three, of

troubles and burdens laid upon Moses, by his being called upon to compose

differences, and adjust competing claims among the people. But other burdens

besides these came upon him as the leader of the nation; and it seems best,

therefore, to understand the first two of troubles and burdens generally.

 

13 “Take you” -  literally, give to you or for you, i.e. yourselves. The

selection was to be made by the people themselves. Jethro, in giving Moses

the advice on which he thus acted, described the men who were to be

selected as “such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness”

(Exodus 18:21) - “wise men, and understanding,  Moses here describes

 them rather by qualities, indicating  ability and fitness for such a post as

that to which they were to be called;  they were to be “wise”  (which, indeed,

may be regarded as comprehending all good moral qualities); understanding

men, men of discernment and sagacity, as well as intelligence; - “and known

among your tribes,” – men of good repute in the community -  compare Acts 6:3;

I Timothy 3:7) - “and I will make them rulers over you.”  - literally, will set them

for your heads, i.e. will appoint them to act as superintendents, managers, and judges

over you.

 

14 “And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good

for us to do.  15  So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and

made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over

hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers

among your tribes.”   The people approved of the proposal, and acted upon it;

and Moses accordingly appointed the persons selected to be chiefs over

thousands, and over hundreds, and over fifties, and ever tens (Exodus 18:21);

he appointed men also to be officers, that is, persons who should preserve order

in the tribes, keeping the registers, acting as scribes, to prescribe and to take

account of work, and perhaps also attending to fiscal arrangements (μyrif]vo,

shoterim, a word of general application; Exodus 5:6, 10, 14; Joshua 3:2;

II Chronicles 26:11, LXX. grammatei~v grammateis - and grammato

eisagwgei~v grammato eisagogeis - ). In Exodus,

Moses is said to have chosen these functionaries (18:25); but what many

do under the direction of one may be said to be done by him.

 

In installing the judges, Moses solemnly charged them to deal impartially,

fairly, and equitably with those who might come before them.

 

16 “And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes

between your brethren,” – i.e. hear impartially both parties, whether both

parties are Israelites, or one of the parties a stranger - “and judge

righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger

that is with him.”

 

17  Ye shall not respect persons in judgment;” - literally, look at or regard

faces, i.e. ye shall not deal partially, favoring the one party rather than the other

(compare Exodus 23. 2-3; Leviticus 19:15); the small as well as the great

were to be heard, and neither for favor nor from fear were they to pervert

justice“but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid

of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s:” -  appointed by God and

administered in His name, the judge acting for God and by His authority, and

being answerable to Him [many of the liberal judges in the United States

Judiciary, in the lower and High Court have violated this charge and trust –

THEY WILL ANSWER TO HIM!  unfortunately, the stability of the public

good has been compromised and undermined by these actions and today the

effects are beginning to erode our very existence as a nation, and WE ARE

STARTING TO GRIEVOUSLY, PAY THE PRICE – CY – 2012]  - (compare

II Chronicles 19:6).  Hence the phrases, “to inquire of God,” “to bring before God”

(Exodus 18:15,19;  21:6; 22:8) phrases still in use among the Arabs for a summoning

to judicial trial.  In the case of a matter coming before the judges which they found

it beyond their power to decide, they were to bring it before Moses as a superior

authority (see Exodus 18:26) - Some think there were certain causes reserved to the

cognizance of Moses; but the contrary appears by these words, that all manner of

causes were brought before the judges; and they, not the people, brought such

causes before Moses as they found too hard for them to determine. So that they, not

the person whose cause it was, judged of the difficulty of the cause - “and the

cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.  18 And I

commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.”

 

 

The Blessing of Good Government (vs. 9-18)

 

  • A WISE MAN DISAVOWS ABSOLUTE MONARCHY. Legislation,

the most difficult department of government, had been furnished for

Israel by the Supreme Mind of the universe; yet Moses found the task of

administration too much for a single arm. The aim of every ruler ought to

be, not personal power, but UNIVERSAL SERVICE — the greatest

good of the greatest number. No wise man will expose himself to the

tremendous temptation of personal aggrandizement. Beside, it is a boon

to others to exercise the faculties of discrimination and judgment.

 

  • POPULAR CHOICE OF RULERS TO BE DETERMINED BY A

SINGLE LAW, VIZ. PERSONAL MERIT. To lift the voice for an

unqualified ruler is a crime against the State — an injury, and not a benefit,

to the person elect. To allow personal qualification to dominate the choice,

is to make God the umpire. This is, in civic affairs, “to do his will on earth

as it is done in heaven.”

 

  • THERE IS ROOM, BOTH IN THE CHURCH AND IN THE

STATE, FOR VARIOUS OFFICES. If a man cannot rule five thousand,

he may be able to rule fifty. (And if not fifty, “how about one?  self!”

“He that ruleth his spirit (is better than) than he that taketh a city.”

(Proverbs 16:32). Service in a subordinate station may qualify for

higher dignity. Gradation of rank best conserves the interests of the

nation. “Order is Heaven’s first law.”

 

  • ALL HUMAN AUTHORITY IS IN THE STEAD OF GOD.

(Romans 13:1-4) - “The judgment is God’s.” Magistrates act in God’s stead.

Parents likewise.  Every man is bound to act as God would act. He represents

God always and everywhere. All talent is a trust. We are the stewards of

God’s estate.

 

  • HUMANITY IS FAR SUPERIOR TO NATIONALITY, CLASS, OR

SECT. Every man, however poor or ignorant, is to be accounted a brother.

In the commonwealth of Israel there are no strangers. Nationality is but a

pasteboard separation. “God hath made of one blood all nations.”  (Acts

17:26)  The great divider is sin. A heaven-kindled eye penetrates through

every crust of barbarism and vice, and sees a man beneath. Here is a kingly

nature, though now enslaved.

 

  • GROWTH OF NUMBERS IS A TOKEN OF DIVINE

APPROBATION. In the ratio of material abundance and contentment, is

increase of population. It was one of the presages of Messiah’s kingdom,

they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.” (Psalm 72:16)  In

heathen lands population is sparse. War and pestilence decimate the ranks.

In proportion as sound Christianity prevails, the subjects of the state

augment. Every additional man ought to be an increment of strength and

usefullness.

 

  • PRAYER HAS A RECOGNIZED PLACE IN GOD’S

GOVERNMENT. Promise always waits on prayer, as harvest waits on the

husbandman’s toil. However abundant are the promises, yet for the

fulfillment God will be inquired of to do it for us. When prayer has its root

in God’s specific promise, it must bear fruit in proportion as faith enlarges

her boughs. This is wise building, for we found our expectations upon

eternal rock.

 

  • GOOD MEN GREATLY DESIRE THEIR COUNTRY’S GOOD.

Patriotism is a goodly virtue, though not the noblest. To fence ourselves

round with selfish interests is despicable. We envy not that man’s narrow

soul who has no sympathy nor energy for his nation’s weal. The best

Christian will take some interest in everything — in municipal matters,

international treaties, literature, science, commerce, art. In the broadest

sense, he is a citizen of the world. He lives to bless others. This is Christ

like.

 

 

Here in vs. 19-23,  Moses passes from the judges to the people at large;

from charging officials to judge righteously, to reminding the people that

they also had received from him commandments which they had to obey.

The “things” referred to are either the injunctions specified in Exodus 21,

or simply the instructions mentioned in the preceding verses. God had called the

Israelites out of Egypt that they should go up at once to Canaan, and He had by

Moses done all that was needed for this. But they had been rebellious, and had

opposed God’s commands, the consequence of which was that they had been

made to experience various trials, especially to wander nearly forty years in

the wilderness, so that of those who came out of Egypt only two were privileged

to see the Promised Land. The words of Moses in this section supplement and

complete the narrative in Numbers 13.; but the words are those, not of a compiler,

but of one who had been himself a witness of all he narrates.

 

19 “And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great

and terrible wilderness,” -  the desert forming the western side of the Stony Arabia.

It bears now the name of Et-Tih, i.e. The Wandering, a name “doubtless derived

from the wanderings of the Israelites, the tradition of which has been handed down

through a period of three thousand years It is a pastoral country; unfitted as a whole for

cultivation, because of its scanty soil and scarcity of water” (Dr. Porter, in

Kitto’s ‘Biblical Cyclopedia,’ vol. 3. p. 1075). In the northern part

especially the country is rugged and bare, with vast tracts of sand, over

which the scorching simoom often sweeps (see on v. 1). This wilderness

they had seen, had known, and had experience of, and their experience had

been such that the district through which they had been doomed to wander

appeared to them dreadful. Passing by the way of the Amorites, as they had

been commanded (v. 7), they came to Kadesh-barnea (see Numbers 12:16).

Their discontent broke out oftener than once, before they reached

this place (see Numbers 11., 12.); but Moses, in this recapitulation, passes

over these earlier instances of their rebelliousness, and hastens to remind

them of the rebellion at Kadesh (Numbers 13 &14.), because it was this

which led to the nation being doomed to wander in the wilderness until the

generation that came out of Egypt had died. It was through faith in God

that Canaan was to be gained and occupied by Israel; but this faith they

lacked, and so they came short of what God had summoned them to attain

(Psalm 78:22; 106:24; Hebrews 3:18-19; compare II Chronicles 20:20;

Isaiah 7:9). Hence, when they had come to the very borders of the Promised Land,

and the hills of Canaan were before their eyes, and Moses said to them, in the name

of  God, “which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the

LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.

20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the

Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.  21  Behold, the

LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it,

as the   LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be

discouraged.  22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said,

We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring

us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.

23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one

of a tribe:  24 And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came

unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.  25 And they took of the

fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought

us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth

give us.  26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the

commandment of the LORD your God:”  They were thus rebellious against

the commandment (literally, the mouth, the express will) of Jehovah their God;

and not only so, but with signal ingratitude and impiety they murmured against

Him, and attributed their deliverance out of Egypt to God’s hatred of them,

that He might destroy them (see Numbers 13:1-33, to which the narrative here

corresponds).

 

27 “And ye murmured in your tents,” -  an allusion to what is recorded

in Numbers 14 - Moses addresses the people then with him as if they had been the

parties who so rebelled and murmured at Kadesh, though all that generation, except

himself, Joshua, and Caleb, had perished. This he does, not merely because of the

solidarity of the nation, but also that he might suggest to them the possibility that the

same evil spirit might still lurk among them, and consequently the need of being

on their guard against allowing it to get scope - “and said, Because the LORD

hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into

the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.”

 

28 “Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart,”

literally, hate melted or made to flow down our heart (WSm"he, Hiph. cf ss"m;, to

flow down or melt), have made us faint hearted - “saying, The people is greater

and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven;” - literally,

are great and fortified in the heavens. To their excited imagination, the walls and

towers of the cities seemed as if they reached the very sky; so when men cease to

have faith in God, difficulties appear insurmountable, and the power of

the adversary is exaggerated until courage is paralyzed and despair banishes

hope -  “and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.”-

elsewhere (Numbers 13:22; Joshua 15:14; Judges 1:20) children or sons of the

Anak.Anak may originally have been the proper name of an individual, but it appears

in the Bible rather as the designation of the tribe. It is the word for neck, and this race,

which were strong and powerful men, or their progenitor, may have been

remarkable for thickness of neck; this, at least, is more probable than that it

was from length of neck that they got the name, for a long neck is usually associated

with weakness rather than strength. Some have supposed the Anakim to have been

originally Cushites; but the origin of the tribe is involved in obscurity.

 

In vs. 29-40, Moses endeavors to rouse the drooping courage of the

people, and persuade them to go up by reminding them that God, who was

with them, would go before them, and fight for them as He had often done

before; but without success, so that God was angry with them, and forbade

their entrance into Canaan. This is not mentioned in Numbers, probably

because Moses’ appeal was unsuccessful. The whole of that generation

was bound to fall in the wilderness, except Caleb and Joshua; only their

children should enter the Promised Land.

 

29 “Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.

30 The LORD your God which goeth before you, He shall fight for

you, according to all that He did for you in Egypt before your eyes;”

Moses exhorts the people not to be afraid, as if they had to encounter these

terrible enemies solely in their own strength; for Jehovah their God was with

them and would go before them, as He had gone before them hitherto, to

protect them and strike down their enemies.

 

31 “And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD

thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye

went, until ye came into this place.” Not only at the Red Sea did God appear

for the defense of His people and the discomfiture of their enemies, but also in

the wilderness, which they had seen (as in v. 19), where (rc,a}, elliptically for

wOb rc,a})  Jehovah their God bore them as a man beareth his son,

 sustaining, tending, supporting, and carrying them over difficulties

(compare Numbers 11:12, where a similar figure occurs; see also Isaiah 46:3-4;

63:9; Psalm 23.).

 

32 “Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,” - literally,

With this thing [or With this word] ye were not believing in

Jehovah your God. The Hebrew rb;d;,like the Greek rh~ma raema - signifies

Either thing or word. If the former rendering be adopted here, the meaning will be,

Notwithstanding this fact of which you have had experience, viz. how

God has interposed for your protection and deliverance, ye were still

unbelieving in Him. If the latter rendering be adopted, the meaning will be,

Notwithstanding what I then said to you, ye remained unbelieving, etc.

This latter seems the more probable meaning. In the Hebrew text there is a

strong stop (athnach) after this word, AS IF A PAUSE OF

ASTONISHMENT FOLLOWED THIS UTTERANCE Notwithstanding

this word, strange to say! Ye were not believing, etc. The participle (“believing”)

is intended to indicate the continuing of this unbelief.  33 “Who went in the

way before you,” -  Here the participle form is also used — “who was going in

the way before you,” to indicate that not once and again, BUT CONTINUALLY

THE LORD WENT BEFORE THEM and this made the sin of their unbelief

all the more marked and aggravated.  (For the fact here referred to, see Exodus

13:21-22, Numbers 9:15;10:33-36.) - “to search you out a place to pitch your

tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a

cloud by day.”

 

 

34 “And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and

swear, saying,  (compare Numbers 14:21-24).

 

35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good

land, which I swear to give unto your fathers.  36  Save Caleb the  son of

Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden

upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.”

They were all, the whole generation of them, evil, and therefore not a man of

them should see the good land which God had promised to their fathers, with

the exception of Caleb, who had wholly followed the Lord — had remained

steadfast and faithful whilst the others fell away. Joshua also was exempted from

 this doom; but before mentioning him, Moses refers to himself as having also come

under the Divine displeasure.

 

37 “Also the LORD was angry with me” – This must be regarded as parenthetical,

for what he here refers to in regard to himself occurred, not at the time of

the rebellion at Kadesh, but at the time of the second arrival of the people

at that place, many years later. This parenthetical reference to himself was

probably thrown in by Moses for the purpose of preparing for what he was

about to say respecting Joshua, in whom the people were to find a leader

after he himself was gone. It may be noted also that Moses distinguishes

between the anger of the Lord against him, and the wrath which broke

forth upon the people — a distinction which is aptly preserved in the

Authorized Version by the words “was wroth” (pxq;) and “was angry”

(pn"a;) - “for your sakes,” - rather, because of you, on accent of you. The

Hebrew word (ll;g;) comes from a root meaning to roll, and signifies

primarily a turn in events, a circumstance, an occasion or reason. Moses

reminds the Israelites that the misconduct of the people was what led to

God’s being angry also with him (see Numbers 20:7-13; compare Psalm

106:32-33) – “saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.”

 

Though the rebellious generation were to perish, and Moses was not to be permitted

to enter Canaan, God would not depart from His promise, but would by another

leader bring the people to the inheritance which He had sworn to their fathers to give

them. (For the account of Joshua’s appointment and installation, see Numbers 27:15-23.)

 

38 “But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee,” -  i.e. to be

thy minister or servant (Exodus 24:13; 33:11; Numbers 11:28; compare for the

meaning of the phrase Deuteronomy 10:8; 18:7; Daniel 1:5) - “he shall go

in thither: encourage him:” - literally, strengthen him (compare ch.3:21-22; 31:7-8).

for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.” - The“it refers back to v. 35, “that good

 land.” In vs. 8 and 21, the land is spoken of as to be possessed by the Israelites; here

it is spoken of as to be inherited by them. The former has reference to their having to

wrest the land by force from the Canaanites (vr"y; - to occupy by force, to dispossess;

ch.2:12, 21-22, where the verb is, in the Authorized Version, rendered by “destroy’’);

the latter has reference to their receiving the land as a heritage (ljˆn;) from God, who,

when He divided to the nations their inheritance, assigned Canaan to the children of

Israel (Deuteronomy 32:8).

 

39 “Moreover your little ones,” - Only among the young of that generation should

the inheritance be divided, as they had no part in the rebellion of their seniors.

Your little ones; i.e. children beginning to walk (pf", from pp"f;,to trip, to

take short and quick steps) -  “which ye said should be a prey, and your

children,” -  boys and girls - “which in that day had no knowledge between good

and evil,” –  rather, of whom [ye said] they know not today good and evil. The

Hebrews were wont to express totality or universality by specifying contradictory

opposites, as, e.g. great and small (II Chronicles 34:30), master and scholar

(Malachi 2:12), free and bond (Revelation 13:16; 19:18), shut up and left (ch. 32:36,

where see note; I Kings 14:10). Accordingly, when good and evil are set over against

each other, the notion of entireness or universality is expressed. Thus, when

Laban and Bethuel said to Abraham’s servant “We cannot speak unto thee

bad or good” (Genesis 24:50), the meaning is, We can say nothing at all. Absalom

spake to Amnon “neither good nor bad” (II Samuel 13:22); that is, he did not say

anything to him. The woman of Tekoa said to David, “As an angel of God, so is my

 lord the king to discern good and bad” (II Samuel 14:17); i.e. There is nothing the

king does not know — his knowledge is universal. Hence to know good and evil came to

mean to be intelligent, and not to know good and evil to be unintelligent, as is a

babe. The children here referred to knew nothing, and consequently could not be held

as morally responsible; (compare Isaiah 7:15) - “they shall go in thither, and unto

them will I give it, and they shall possess it.”

 

40 “But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness

by the way of the Red sea.” The command to go to the mount of the Amorites

(v. 7) is recalled, and they are ordered to turn into the wilderness and go by the

way leading to the Red Sea (compare Numbers 14:25).

 

The people, appalled at the prospect of another sojourn in the wilderness, yet

still rebellious and disobedient to God’s command, though professing penitence,

determined, in spite of direct prohibition on the part of God by Moses, to go up

 and force their way into Canaan; but were punished for their presumption by

being utterly defeated and put to flight by the Amorites (compare Numbers

14:40-45).

 

41 “Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned” - in Numbers it is

simply said that “the people mourned greatly” (bemoaned themselves, WlB]a"t]yi);

but this is not incompatible with the statement here that they confessed their sins; the

one would naturally accompany the ether. Their confession, however, was in

word only; their conduct showed that it was not sincere - “against the

LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our

God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his

weapons of war,” –  In Numbers 14:44 it is said, “They presumed to go up;”

here it is said  “ye were ready to go up into the hill.’ - Rather, ye acted heedlessly

with levity, or frivolity, to go up. The verb here (WnyhiT;w") occurs only in this place,

and is of doubtful signification. The Rabbins compare it with the wnnh, lo we! here

we be! Of the people in Numbers 14:40. It is the Hiph. of ˆWh, which is supposed

to be the same as the Arabic , to be light, easy; and from, this the meaning,

ye went up heedlessly” is deduced. None of the ancient versions, however,

give this meaning. The LXX. has sunaqroisqe>ntev ajnebai>nete eijv to< o]rov;

sunathroisthentes anebainete eis to orospresumed to go up into the hill

country - the Vulgate, instructi armis pergeretis in montem; Onk., qsml

ˆwtrvw (and ye began to ascend); Syriac, <ARABIC> (and ye incited yourselves

to go up).

 

42 “And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them. Go not up, neither

fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.”

Moses, by the command of God, warned the people that, if they presumed to

go up, they should go without His protection, and so would certainly fall

before their enemies.

 

In vain were they thus warned. Moses spoke to them as God commanded,

but they would not be persuaded.

 

43 “So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against

the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously” -  rather,

acted insolently and went up; margin, Authorized Version, “Ye

were presumptuous, and went up” The verb here ((dyzije, from dWz,, to boil)

signifies tropically, to act proudly, haughtily, insolently (compare Nehemiah

9:29, Authorized Version, “dealt proudly”) -“up into the hill.”

 

44 “And the Amorites,” - for the Canaanites generally; in Numbers, the

Amalekites are specially mentioned as joining with the Amorites in

chastising the Israelites. These tribes came down from the higher mountain

range to the lower height which the Israelites had gained, and drove them

with great slaughter as far as Hormah, in Seir, chasing them as bees do,

which pursue with keen ferocity those who disturb them. Hormah (Ban-place),

the earlier name of which was Zephath (Judges 1:17), was a royal city of the

Canaanites, taken by the Israelites towards the close of their wanderings, and

placed by them under a ban (Numbers 21:1-3), which ban was fully executed only

in the time of the Judges. It is here and elsewhere called Hormah by anticipation.

The old name Zephath seems to have survived that given to it by the Israelites in

the name Sebaita or Sepata, the Arabic form of Zephath, the name of a heap of

ruins on the western slope of the rocky mountain-plateau Rakhmah, about two hours

and a half south-west of Khalasa (Ritter, ‘Geography of Palestine,’ 1:431;

Palmer, ‘Desert of Et-Tih,’ p. 289, etc.). This is a more probable

identification than that of Robinson (‘Res.,’ 2:18), who finds Hormah in

the rocky defile of Es-Sufah, an unlikely place for a city of the importance

of Zephath to be in - “which dwelt in that mountain, came out against

you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even

unto Hormah.”

 

45 “And ye returned” -  i.e. either to Kadesh, where Moses had

remained, or from their rebellious and defiant attitude to one of apparent

submission and contrition, or the whole phrase, “Ye returned and wept,”

may mean merely that they wept again, as in Numbers 11:4, where the

same words are used. and wept” - They mourned their misfortune, and

complained on account of it (compare for the meaning of the phrase, Numbers

11:4, 18, 20) -  before the LORD;” - Before Jehovah; i.e. before the

tabernacle or sanctuary (compare Judges 20:23, 26). Their mourning was not that

of true repentance, and, therefore, the Lord would not listen to them or give

heed to their wail (compare Proverbs 1:24) - “but the LORD would

not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.”

 

46 “So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye

abode there.” It was unnecessary that Moses should tell the people the

precise length of time they abode in Kadesh after this, because that was

well known to them; he, therefore, contents himself with saying that they

remained there as long as they did remain (compare for a similar expression,

Deuteronomy 9:25). How long they actually remained there cannot be

determined, for the expression, many days, is wholly indefinite.

 

 

 

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