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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 12

Hawker's Poor Man's CommentaryPoor Man's Commentary

Verse 1


This Chapter contains the relation of the further exercises of Moses. Miriam and Aaron join in speaking against Moses. GOD himself takes up the business, and Miriam is smitten with a leprosy. Moses intercedes for her. She is restored to her former health, but punished by being shut out seven days from the camp.

Numbers 12:1

If this Ethiopian woman was Zipporah, it is somewhat remarkable that the displeasure of Aaron and Miriam should begin only now. But it should seem that this was but the pretence, and not the real cause of their displeasure! Alas! what seeds of sin are in the heart even of GOD'S people! Certain it is, that both Aaron and Miriam were among the distinguished servants of the LORD. See in proof, Micah 6:4 ; Exodus 15:20 . My soul! do not overlook, in such a striking example, the evidence it carries with it of universal corruption. Dearest JESUS! there is none but thou who art holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners! Hebrews 7:26 . Aaron, though a priest, and an High Priest, corresponds to that character the apostle hath given of him, when he said, The law maketh men high priests which have infirmity. Hebrews 7:28 .

Verse 2

Reader! remark though Moses is not said to have heard or answered their accusations, the LORD heard it. Was not Moses here a type of the ever blessed JESUS, of whom it was said of him in the days of his flesh, that he was as a deaf man which heard not. Psalms 38:12-15 .

Verse 3

This is a precious testimony which the HOLY GHOST gives of Moses. But Reader, do not forget that however eminent, in the general, Moses was for meekness, yet there were times when it forsook him. See Num_11:11-15; Num_20:10-12 . Yes, Reader! none but the LAMB of GOD himself could say, Learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart. Matthew 11:29 .

Verse 4

Suddenly! that is, immediately. GOD denominates himself a swift witness: Malachi 3:5 .

Verse 5

The same Shechinah as had all along manifested the LORD'S presence. Exodus 34:5-6 .

Verse 6

Probably it was by dreams when his servants were sleeping, and by visions when they were waking, that the LORD revealed himself to the patriarchs and prophets in those early ages. But how much happier is our dispensation of grace to which we are brought, since the LORD JESUS finished redemption-work, and that promise is fulfilled, Joh_14:16-17; Joh_14:26 .

Verse 7

What a beautiful observation hath the apostle made on this passage, by way of enhancing the dignity of our adorable Redeemer. Hebrews 3:1-6 .

Verse 8

Great was the privilege of Moses, and high his dignity. But Reader! recollect what the LORD JESUS said concerning John the Baptist, and if you are really a child of GOD, learn in this place a new and additional motive to thankfulness. Matthew 11:11 .

Verse 9

Alas! what can testify the LORD'S displeasure to a child of GOD equal to that of his departing, though but for a season, from him. The soul who in his spiritual exercises knows what this is, will best know the importance of that prayer, Psalms 51:11 .

Verse 10

Reader! observe the striking nature of the punishment. Moses' face was made glorious from being much with GOD in communion. Miriam's face is leprous when GOD departs. Dearest JESUS! what am I but full of leprosy, unless thou wash me clean in thy blood? It was the office of the priest to look upon the leper, and determine the disease. Think how Aaron felt, who though not partaking in the punishment, as he might justly have done, was conscious of his partaking in the sin. Here again let us be led to behold the preciousness of him who alone taketh away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 2 Corinthians 5:21 .

Verses 11-12

Observe, the sense Aaron had of the leprosy that he thought her as one that is dead. Such, but only in an infinitely higher degree, is the leprosy of the soul. All that are under it are void of spiritual life, more than half dead, loathsome in the sight of GOD, and ripe for everlasting misery. Oh! thou dear Redeemer! what eternal praises are due to thee, who by thy precious undertaking hath quickened and cleansed the souls of thy people in thy blood, Ephesians 2:1 .

Verse 13

Who doth not, or who will not behold the LORD JESUS here represented, in his glorious character of our intercessor; Reader! behold him in an unequalled moment of the kind on the cross, when he prayed for his murderers, FATHER forgive them for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34 .

Verse 14

Though GOD pardons iniquity, yet our backslidings shall correct Jeremiah 2:19 . And it is a blessed and true token of repentance, when we accept the punishment of our iniquity. Leviticus 26:40-42 .

Verse 15

It is the most painful of all afflictions to a gracious mind to be debarred approaching the LORD'S sanctuary. See what distress of heart David felt, Psalms 63:1-2 . Read the cries of Jonah, Jonah 2:4 .

Verse 16

Paran joined to the border of Canaan on the south. And from hence it was but a stage more, had Israel gone the direct road, to the promised land. Reader! our distance from the LORD is made greater, like Israel's, by sin. Isaiah 59:2 .


WHAT an interesting character is Moses, and in how charming a light doth he appear in this Chapter! To all the unprovoked unkindness of his brother Aaron, to whom he had been so friendly, we find he made no unkind return, but recompensed the cruelty both of Aaron and Miriam with his prayers. But here again, my soul, as in a thousand other instances, pass over the contemplation of creature-excellencies, to behold the unequalled loveliness of Creator-love, and mercy, manifested to thy ingratitude in the person of the LORD JESUS. Oh! thou holy Redeemer! how dost thou unceasingly intercede at the right hand of power, for me, and for all thy unworthy ungrateful people; who in the very moment that thy blood, and righteousness, is pleading for our salvation, are causing thee to serve with our sins, and wearying thee with our iniquities. SON of GOD! compassionate the leprosy of my soul, and shut me not out from thy presence, but say to me, as thou didst to the poor creature in the gospel, who cried out, LORD! if thou wilt; thou canst make me clean; I will be thou clean; and immediately my soul will be cleansed!

Reader! do not close this Chapter without having an eye in the intercession of Moses for Aaron and Miriam, to the intercession of JESUS on the cross, for those who crucified him. Oh! what a volume is folded up in that one prayer of JESUS to comfort poor sinners, and to show the all-prevailing efficacy of JESUS'S advocacy. FATHER! forgive them for they know not what they do. Oh! LAMB of GOD! let this first cry of thine upon the cross, be the first and last of my soul-reviving consolations under all the discouragements by reason of my unworthiness and neglect of thee. Surely, dear LORD! when I sin against thee, I know not what do.

Bibliographical Information
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 12". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/pmc/numbers-12.html. 1828.
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