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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 12

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

And Miriam and Aaron spake. — She is set first, because chief in the transgression. Her discontent might arise from this, that, being a prophetess, she was not one of those seventy that were chosen to be helps in government. Numbers 11:24 According to her name, Miriam would be exalted: ambition rides without reins.

Because of the Ethiopian woman. — Zipporah the Midianitess, see Habakkuk 3:7 to whom he had been married many years before; but they were resolved to pick a hole in Moses’ coat. An ungodly man diggeth up evil, Proverbs 16:27 but for Moses to be thus used by his brother and sister, was some trial to his patience. To be derided by Egyptians, is threatened as a misery, Hosea 7:16 but to be reproached by professors, is very grievous. Zedekiah feared more to be mocked by the Jews, than by the Chaldees. Jeremiah 38:19

For he had married an Ethiopian. — That was an old fault, if any; and should have been buried in oblivion. Luther married a wife unseasonably, when all Germany was now embroiled, and embrewed in the blood of the Bores; and when all Saxony was in heaviness for the death of their good Prince Elector Frederick. This, his best friends disliked and bewailed. As for Melancthon, Quoniam vero, inquit, ipsum Lutherum quodammodo tristiorem esse cerno, et perturbatum ob vitae mutationem, omni studio et benevolentia consolari eum conor. Mel, Epist. ad Camerar. Because I see him somewhat cast down, saith he, at the late change of his condition, I strive all I can to comfort him.

Verse 2

And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard [it].

Hath the Lord spoken only by Moses. — Every man would be something at home; and many care not to raise themselves upon other men’s ruins. Self-love teacheth such to turn the glass, to see themselves bigger, others lesser than they are. That man hath true light that can be content to be a candle before the sun of others.

And the Lord heard it. — Without any delation of Moses. But while Moses is dumb, God speaks; while he is deaf, God hears and stirs. The more silent the patient is, the more shrill his wrong will be.

Verse 3

(Now the man Moses [was] very meek, above all the men which [were] upon the face of the earth.)

Now the man Moses was very meek. — So free from passions, if Josephus may be believed, that he knew no such thing in his own soul; he only knew the names of such things, and saw them in others, rather than in himselfi Of Beza it is said, Quod sine felle vixerit, that he was without gall or guile, and he lived to a great age as Moses did, and as Mr Dod did. Their meekness preserved them.

Above all the men. — And yet Moses could be angry enough when there was cause. Exodus 11:8 ; Exodus 16:20 Leviticus 10:16 Numbers 16:15 , … Yea, how blessedly blown up was he with a zeal for God, Exodus 32:19 and what a stomach shows he in that case! Nazianzen saith of Athanasius, that he was magnes et adamas, a loadstone in his sweet gentle drawing nature, and yet an adamant in his resolute stout carriage against those that were evil. Some Weems. are of opinion that this verse was added by Joshua or Esdras, as also those three verses. Numbers 21:14-15 ; Numbers 21:27

Verse 4

And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.

And the Lord spake suddenly. — God takes his part ever that fights not for himself. Christ that said, "I seek not mine own glory," adds, "But there is one that seeks it, and judgeth." Here he appears as "a swift witness," Malachi 3:5 , … a sharp revenger of his servant’s injuries. The rule is, Iniuria illata legato redundat in legantem, Wrong done to a messenger reflects on him that sent him.

Verse 5

And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood [in] the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.

Out of the cloud. — As from the throne of his glory.

Verse 6

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, [I] the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, [and] will speak unto him in a dream.

In a vision. — To those awake.

In a dream. — To those asleep: but dreams and visions do soon vanish and fly away. Job 20:8

Verse 7

My servant Moses [is] not so, who [is] faithful in all mine house.

My servant Moses is not so. — God had never so much magnified Moses to them, but for their envy. We cannot devise to pleasure God’s servants so much as by despiting them. Quisquis volens detrahit famae meae, nolens addit mercedi meae, saith Augustine; He that willingly detracteth from mine honour, doth, though against his will, add to my reward.

Verse 8

With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

And the similitude.See Trapp on " Exodus 33:20 "

Verse 9

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.

And he departed. — Yea, woe also to them when I depart from them; Hosea 9:12 then all evils come in as by a sluice. The final absence of God is hell itself.

Verse 10

And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam [became] leprous, [white] as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, [she was] leprous.

Miriam became leprous. — How escaped Aaron? for the dignity of the priesthood he was spared, saith Chrysostom. Dιδ το της ιεποσυνης αξιωμα - Hom. 3, ad Coloss. Rather he met God by repentance, and so disarmed his indignation, and redeemed his own sorrow.

Verse 11

And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.

And Aaron said unto Moses. — His late sin had choked him, as it were, - as David in like case felt his mouth stopped, Psalms 51:15 - and therefore he requesteth Moses to mediate for Miriam. Our own key may be rusty sometimes, and we glad to make use of another’s key, to open the cabinet of God’s grace, that therehence we may take out mercy for ourselves and others.

Verse 12

Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb.

As one dead. — As "free among the dead," free of that company.

Verse 13

And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.

And Moses cried. — Passing by all the unkindness, he prayed earnestly for her. This was a noble kind of revenge. David was much in it.

Verse 14

And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in [again].

Let her be shut out. — That her sorrow for her sin may be sound and soaking, deep and downright.

Verse 15

And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in [again].

And the people journeyed not. — But stayed for her restoration. She had once stayed for Moses, saith Jarchi, when he was cast into the river, Exodus 2:4 therefore the people stay for her. There is a memorandum set upon this leprosy of Miriam, Deuteronomy 24:9 like as afterwards was upon Lot’s wife’s transformation. Luke 17:32

Verse 16

And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.

Wilderness of Paran. — At a place called Rithmah, Numbers 33:18 and Kadeshbarnea. Numbers 13:3 ; Numbers 13:26

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 12". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/numbers-12.html. 1865-1868.
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