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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 33

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-56

Chapter 33

Now in chapter thirty-three you have a summary of their exodus out of Egypt. Moses sort of wrote down all of the places where they had stopped as they made this journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. And for the most part it's just a lot of names that you don't recognize; some of them are new, some of them are the first time we see them, some of them we remember from our journey in the book of Exodus.

Now in verse fifty-one of chapter thirty-three the Lord commanded Moses,

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When you are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; Then ye shall drive out all of the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down their high places: And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it. ( Numbers 33:51-53 )

Now God wanted all of the artifacts destroyed because the pictures, for the most part, were extremely lewd, lascivious. The molten images, for the most part, were their gods that they worshipped, which were in many cases grotesque and exaggerated sexual features. And the high places where they offered the sacrifices unto their gods and they went through their religious rights were ordered utterly destroyed lest there remain that polluting influence in the land because, again, whatever a man sows that he also's gonna reap. And if you are planting in your mind the images of sexual lasciviousness then you're gonna be reaping to your flesh. God wanted all of those things to be obliterated, to be wiped out, and so he ordered them to utterly destroy the pictures, the molten images, and the places of worship, the high places that were in the land.

And you're to divide the land by lots for the inheritance ( Numbers 33:54 )

In other words, dividing off the land and then casting lots to see which tribes would get which area. And then the tribes were to divide up the land and to divide it up to the families. In other words, each family within the tribe was to be given its land grant. And so this is the dividing out of the land, giving a portion of the land to everybody, each family getting its own land grant and this land was to then remain in those families perpetually.

Now in verse fifty-five the Lord warns them,

But if you will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that these which you let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land where you're dwelling. Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them. ( Numbers 33:54-55 )

In other words, these people will drag you down and ultimately I will have to destroy you out of the land, even as I destroyed them out of the land.

Sin always has a polluting influence. When I was a kid my mom used to always tell me about the one rotten apple in the barrel. How it can spoil the whole barrel and how it is important to choose your friends and to select them, because you get one who's bad whose influence can be bad on the entire group. So, God ordered them to drive out the people completely lest that they would vex them.

Now, Israel failed to obey the Lord in this. A lot of times we think we know better than God. We think that we can handle it. We think that God really doesn't understand the case completely or he doesn't understand us completely. And yet that rule might apply, you know, to others but surely it doesn't apply to me. And we learn to our own dismay and shame the folly of disobedience and we discover that God knew us better than we knew ourselves and we realize how foolish it was for us to not to completely obey God.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Numbers 33". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/numbers-33.html. 2014.
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