Bible Commentaries

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Numbers 14

Verse 3

We may. The Latin manuscripts and Bibles before Sixtus V read, "in Egypt, and not in this," &c. But the present translation agrees with the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Chaldean. (Calmet) --- They obtained what they said they wished for, ver. 28; chap. xiv. 29; xxvi. 64. (Worthington) --- And that. Hebrew, &c., "and wherefore hath God brought us into this land, that we may fall," &c. In a rage they attribute a malicious design to God. (Calmet) --- Better. And who would have given them food in the wilderness? (Menochius)

Verse 4

Captain, instead of Moses, whom they could not bring over to their criminal design, no more than Aaron, Josue, Caleb, &c. (Haydock) --- Some imagine the rebels wanted to choose themselves a king, (Calmet) or even another god. (Drusius) --- Every community acknowledges the necessity of having one at the head. (Worthington)

Verse 5

Israel; begging that God would not destroy them, as he had done their brethren, chap. xi. (Menochius)

Verse 6

Garments, in testimony of their disapprobation and zeal; to make these insolent people reflect upon the evils into which they are throwing themselves. (Calmet)

Verse 9

To eat, or consume them, as easily as we devour a piece of bread. The expression is proverbial, Psalm xiii. 4. --- All aid. Hebrew, "their shadow," which is taken in the same sense. Septuagint, "their time or opportunity is gone." The Rabbins refer this to holy Job, who, they say, died at this time. (Cornelius a Lapide) --- He dwelt near the Jordan. (Pineda in Job.) (Chap. i. 1, and 27.

Verse 10

Cried out, &c. Hebrew, "said stone them."

Verse 11

Detract. Hebrew, "despise, irritate, or blaspheme." God is incapable of anger, says Origen; he only foretells what will come to pass.

Verse 13

That the. The sentence is left imperfect, to signify the agitation and distress with which Moses was oppressed, as if he had said, Thou wilt thus afford a pretext, that the Egyptians and Chanaanites may say to one another, that thou couldst not perform what thou hadst promised; and therefore, that in vexation thou hadst destroyed thy people. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "Then the Egyptians shall hear it....and will tell it to the inhabitants of this land....because the Lord could not," &c., ver. 16. (Calmet) --- Thus they will blaspheme thy holy name. (Menochius)

Verse 15

One man. All at once, (Calmet) entirely, without sparing so much as one. (Vatable)

Verse 16

Sworn. God swore to give this land to the Hebrews, but not to this particular generation. His oath would be equally fulfilled by raising posterity to Moses, ver. 13. But, at his entreaty, he spared the descendants of this people, and gave the land to their children under Josue. (Haydock)

Verse 17

Lord, in overcoming all difficulties, raised either by the enemy, or by thy rebellious people.

Verse 18

Mercy. Septuagint, "merciful and true," as Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7. On that occasion, it is not written that God swore. (Haydock) --- But equal credit is to be given to his word, as to an oath. (Menochius) --- Clear, or, as St. Jerome expresses it in Exodus, and no man of himself is innocent before thee. (Calmet) --- By these titles God will be addressed; and therefore Moses mentions them all, though some of them might seem to obstruct his petition of pardon. (Menochius) --- He knew that none of God's perfections were contrary to one another, or to his nature of consummate goodness; and he sued for the pardon of his people, with all due submission to the dictates of his justice. (Haydock)

Verse 20

Forgiven the sins to those who repent; but the punishment due to them must be undergone, though not so soon as I had threatened, ver. 12, 19. How happy is that nation, which has one like Moses to intercede for them! (Haydock)

Verse 21

Lord. I will surely punish the guilty; and all the earth shall know that their own crimes, and not my imbecility, prevented their taking possession of Chanaan. My glory shall shine both in my long-suffering, and in the effects of my justice. Let me pass for a dead god, like the idols, if I do not perform what I say.

Verse 22

The men, above twenty years of age, ver. 29. --- Majesty, manifested by the signs, &c. (Haydock) --- Ten times; very often. It is not necessary to specify the number of the rebellions, as some have done, placing the first on the other side of the Red Sea, (Exodus xiv. 11,) and the tenth here. The expression is often used to express a great but indefinite number. (Ecclesiastes vii. 20.) (Calmet)

Verse 23

It. None of those who murmured ever entered the land of promise. Origen (hom. 27,) believes that the Levites behaved with fidelity, and were not comprised in the punishment. In effect, Eleazar certainly entered Chanaan, Josue xiv. 1. Salmon also, who espoused Rahab, had seen the wonders of God, but had not joined with the rest; so that, when it is said (ver. 2,) that all murmured, we must explain it by St. Jerome's rule, of the greatest part; as, no doubt, many would abhor the conduct of the seditious. (Calmet) --- Omnia non ad totum referenda esse sed ad partem maximam. (St. Jerome, ep. 146. ad Dam.)

Verse 24

Spirit. The spirit of obedience and of courage. (Menochius) --- Followed me, as a guide, and hath fulfilled all my desires. (Vatable) --- This he was enabled to do by God's free grace. But his co-operation merited a reward. See St. Augustine, de Grat. &. Lib. iv.) (Worthington)

Verse 25

For. Hebrew, "Now," &c. The enemy is ready to attack you in the defiles, and I will not expose you at present to their fury, as you shall not enter the land for many years. Wherefore to-morrow, &c. (Haydock) --- It seems they complied reluctantly, for they probably encamped in that neighbourhood about a year. (Calmet)

Verse 30

Hand, the posture of one taking an oath, Genesis xv. 18.

Verse 33

Years. Within five days from the departure out of Egypt, (Menochius) and above 38 from this time. Hebrew, "they shall be shepherds," without any fixed dwelling, like the shepherds of that country. --- Consumed. They had complained that Chanaan consumed and devoured its inhabitants. (Calmet) --- Their children underwent a temporal, but salutary, punishment for their sin. (St. Augustine, ep. 75.) (Worthington)

Verse 34


Revenge. Hebrew, "my breach of promise, or if my threats be vain," &c. Septuagint, "you shall know the fury of my anger." (Calmet) --- I will convince you by the severity with which I shall execute this sentence, that you had no reason to distrust my former promises. St. Jerome (in Ezec. xx.) entertains hopes of the eternal salvation of many of these Hebrews, who had time to do penance for their sins.

Verse 37

Lord, by pestilence, (ver. 12; Philo,) or by the exterminating angel, 1 Corinthians x. 10. They were burnt to death before the tabernacle, or at least died suddenly. (Jansenius) The Jews have appointed a fast on the 7th of the 6th month, to bewail this event, ver. 39. (Calmet)

Verse 41

Which conduct shall not, &c. They had been ordered to return: now they will advance, and, though admonished that the Lord will not assist them, they depend upon their own efforts, being ever full of themselves, and distrustful of God, the two sources of all spiritual misfortunes. (Haydock)

Verse 44

Blinded, with presumption, as the Hebrew yahpilu, insinuates. "Their heart was puffed up with pride, and they ascended," Deuteronomy i. 43. (Calmet) --- The enemy was ready to receive them, and easily routed this rabble, abandoned by God, and by Moses, Aaron and his sons, Josue, and other men of virtue and sense. They who before lay lurking in the valleys, (ver. 25,) assume fresh courage, when they become the executioners of God's vengeance, and come pouring down from their mountains, with irresistible fury; nor do they stop till they had made a dreadful carnage of the Hebrews. The same place was again deluged with blood, (chap. xxi. 3,) and was called Horma, or "the Curse." The Samaritan and Septuagint add, and they returned into the camp, Thus, by their own woeful experience, they began to feel that God would keep his word in punishing the common people, as well as the leaders, ver. 37. (Haydock)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 14". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.