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To understand this chapter, the map must be carefully consulted; reference must also be made by the margin to the principal places. Some of them were no more than a rock, or a well; others were small towns. The Septuagint, and especially in the 10th of Deuteronomy, varies in the orthography from the Hebrew.
Numbers 33:1 . The journeys; the mansions, or resting places. Some divines have spiritualized these names very curiously, to illustrate our journey to heaven.
Numbers 33:2 . Moses wrote; for writing was then in common use. It is ridiculous to see every art approaching perfection, and to suppose that writing was unknown till Moses entered the desert.
Numbers 33:4 . Upon their gods. Upon their temples, as well as upon their great men, whose firstborn and cattle were destroyed.
Numbers 33:11 . Sin; afterwards called Sinai, the final i being added, which signifies ten, from the decalogue or ten commandments. They stayed here eleven months.
Numbers 33:18 . Rithmah. Kadesh-barnea was nigh to this place, from which Moses sent the twelve spies. Here the men of war received their sentence to die in the wilderness; and many are the calamities of sin. From this time they seem to have rested thirty eight years, and little is said of their history.
Numbers 33:31 . Bene-Jaakan. From this place, having turned their backs of God, they turned their backs of Canaan, and took a southern course on the west of Edom, to Ezion-gaber near the Red sea.
The wanderings and windings of the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land, are allowed by all christian writers to be a figure of our pilgrimage through this world to heaven. The Lord began by taking vengeance on the Egyptian gods, and power. So on the cross he commenced our redemption by vanquishing death, and all his power.
In the revolts, the murmurings, the guidance of the cloud, the kind supplies of heaven in the manna and the water, we see a portrait of our own stubbornness, and of God’s gracious indulgence and care, as has already been illustrated under the several heads of this history. Happy at last to have come in sight of the land.
In Numbers 33:50 we have a new revelation to drive out all the inhabitants, and consequently neither to spare the parents nor the children, who did not flee from the sword. Children are benefited by the covenant made to their fathers, and it seems inseparable from a mysterious providence that they should suffer temporally, in many views, when their fathers forfeit the covenant protection of God. Heaven had waited four hundred years for their repentance, and they still grew worse. Their iniquities were now full. Hence they were doomed to die, that justice might be glorified; that Israel might not be corrupted with their doings; and that their land might, according to promise, be given to Abraham’s seed.
If Israel spared the guilty Canaanites, it was said, they would be pricks in their eyes and thorns in their sides; and so the event proved. Strike then, oh my soul, a fatal blow at the risings of anger, pride, and low desire. Crucify the flesh, with all its affections and lusts. Pray God to create in thee a clean heart, lest he do unto thee as he thought to do unto those old inhabitants whom he destroyed. The man who basely spares his sin, in the issue, shall neither be spared by his sin, nor by his God.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 33". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent