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Num 14:1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
Ver. 1. And the people wept that night. ] As being too light of belief: the lies of the spies they took for oracles.
Num 14:2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
Ver. 2. Would God that we had died. ] Words of deep discontent, despair, and unthanklulness.
Num 14:3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
Ver. 3. Were it not better for us to return into Egypt. ] How could that be better? It is our wisest way, to crush the very first insurrections of unruly passions (do not great storms rise out of little gusts?); to smother the smoke thereof, which else will fume up into the head, and gather into so thick a cloud, as we shall soon lose the sight of ourselves, and what is best to be done.
Num 14:4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
Ver. 4. Let us make a captain. ] Thus they proceeded from bad to worse. Passions, like heavy bodies down steep hills, once in motion move themselves, and know no ground but the bottom. Whether this people did make them such a captain, for such a purpose, is uncertain; but howsoever their very intention of doing it, is charged upon them, as if they had done it. Neh 9:16-17
Num 14:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
Ver. 5. Before all the assembly. ] What they said unto them see Deuteronomy 1:29-30 . See also on Numbers 16:15 .
Num 14:6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, [which were] of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
Ver. 6. Rent their clothes. ] And wept, saith Sulpitius.
Num 14:9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they [are] bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD [is] with us: fear them not.
Ver. 9. They are bread for us, ] q.d., We shall make but a breakfast of them. So that valiant Prince of Orange told his soldiers at the battle of Newport, when they had the sea on the one side, and the Spaniards on the other, that they must either eat up those Spaniards, or drink up that sea.
Num 14:10 But all the congregation bade stone them with stones. And the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel.
Ver. 10. But all the congregation bade stone them. ] This is merces mundi, this is the fruit of ochlocratie, that rule of rascality, as one calls it.
Num 14:11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?
Ver. 11. Ere they believe me. ] Unbelief is the root of rebellion and apostasy. Heb 3:12
Num 14:12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
Ver. 12. And I will make of thee a greater nation. ] Here God offered Moses a private fortune, which he prudently refuseth, because God should be a loser by it. And surely, saith a divine, as God was displeased with Balsam for going, though he bade him go: so the Lord would not have taken it so kindly of Moses if he had taken him upon the offer he made in a time of his heat, against his people.
Num 14:13 And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear [it], (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
Ver. 13. Then the Egyptians shall hear it. ] And they will soon make comedies out of the Church’s tragedies.
Num 14:14 And they will tell [it] to the inhabitants of this land: [for] they have heard that thou LORD [art] among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and [that] thy cloud standeth over them, and [that] thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
Ver. 14. And they will tell it. ] The proverb is, Oculus et fama non patiuntur iocos, A man’s eye and his good name can bear no jests. And he a was no fool that said, Negligere quid de se quisque dicat, non solum arrogantis est, sed et dissolati, He shall pass for a proud fool that makes no matter what men say of him. God is most tender of his glory; and we must take heed how we cast any slur upon it; for we quarter arms, as it were, with God.
Num 14:15 Now [if] thou shalt kill [all] this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
Ver. 15. Kill all this people as one man. ] As he can quickly do, with a turn of his hand, with a nod of his head, Psa 80:16 with a breath of his nostrils. Job 4:9 He can as soon do it, as bid it be done, "whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only." Job 34:29
Num 14:17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
Ver. 17. Let the power of my Lord be great. ] In multiplying pardons, Isa 55:8 in passing by the many and bony, or "mighty sins of" a this people, such sins as none else could or would pardon: "For who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth such iniquity?" &c. Mic 7:18 Hebricians have observed, that in the word jidgal here used in the original text, there is a great jod, which in numbering is ten, to show, that if the people should murmur ten times more against God than they had done, yet out of tender respect to his own great name, which would otherwise be basely blasphemed, he should pardon and spare them. Hebrew Text Note
a Amos 5:12 . Heb., Bony sins, fortia peccata.
Num 14:18 The LORD [is] longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing [the guilty], visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth [generation].
Ver. 18. And by no means clearing the guilty. ] This last letter in God’s dreadful name ought much to be marked. God may pardon men’s sins, and yet lay it on their skin, to humble themselves, and to warn others. "Thou forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions." Psa 99:8
Num 14:19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.
Ver. 19. According to the greatness of thy mercy. ] God’s power pleaded, Num 14:17 and his mercy here are the Jachin and the Boaz whereon faith resteth.
Num 14:20 And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
Ver. 20. I have pardoned them, ] viz., So as not utterly, and at once, to extirpate them. I will be "as a moth" unto them, and not as a devouring lion. Hosea 5:12 ; Hos 5:14
Num 14:21 But [as] truly [as] I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
Ver. 21. But as truly as I live. ] This is an oath, as appears by comparing herewith Psalms 95:11 . To blame therefore are they that use it so often.
All the earth shall be filled. ] I will make me a great name abroad; and even of those maidservants, the heathens, which thou hast spoken of, shall I be had in honour, as he said in another case. 2Sa 6:22
Num 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
Ver. 24. Because he had another spirit. ] Let us go up and possess it, saith he. Num 13:30 As if it were no more than to go and see and conquer. a A free spirit is enkindled with that which quencheth others: as when a bowl runs downhill, every bounce quickens it, whereas if uphill, it would slug it.
And hath followed me fully. ] Heb., Hath fulfilled after me. b A metaphor from a ship under sail, carried strongly with the wind, as fearing neither rocks nor sands.
And his seed. ] Personal goodness is profitable to posterity. Who would not serve such a Lord?
a Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw, I conquered!
a Implevit post me.
Numbers 14:25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
Ver. 25. Now the Amalekites. ] There was but a mountain between: so they were close by the Promised Land, and yet could not enter because of unbelief. Thou art not far from God’s kingdom? the greater is thine unhappiness, that fallest from so high hopes.
By the way of the Red Sea. ] Since you have such a mind to it, you shall have enough of it. "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways." Pro 14:14
Num 14:28 Say unto them, [As truly as] I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
Ver. 28. So will I do to you. ] God took them at their words: so he may well do our desperate swearers, since the mercy they desire God to show is to damn them. This self-cursing seldom escapeth God’s visible vengeance: witness those Jews of old, who cried, "His blood be on us," &c., besides many others of late that might be instanced. Mr Perkins tells of certain English soldiers in King Edward VI’s time, who were cast upon the French shore by a storm, in which stress they went to prayer, that they might be delivered; but one soldier among the rest, instead of praying, cried out, Gallows take thy right, or claim thy due: when he came home he was hanged indeed. So was Sir Gervaise Ellowayes, Lieutenant of the Tower in King James’ time, whose usual word at his playing at cards and dice had been, as he sorrowfully confessed at the gallows, I would I might be hanged if it be not so or so. a
a Looking glass for Malignants.
Num 14:29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,
Ver. 29. Your carcasses shall fall. ] Cadaver a cadendo; πρωμα παρα το πιπτειν . Who knows whether God purpose not to wear out this generation, that hath been defiled with the superstitions of the land we live in, that we may not see the good that he will bring upon this Church!
Num 14:34 After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, [even] forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, [even] forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.
Ver. 34. My breach of promise, ] i.e., Ye shall find to your cost, what it is to charge me with breach of promise, through unbelief.
Num 14:39 And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
Ver. 39. Mourned greatly. ] God gave them somewhat to cry for.
Num 14:40 And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we [be here], and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have sinned.
Ver. 40. We have sinned. ] Here was confession of sin, without confusion for sin. So was that of Saul. 1Sa 15:30
Num 14:45 Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, [even] unto Hormah.
Ver. 45. And smote them. ] To be out of God’s precincts, is to be out of his protection.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 14". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29