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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 33

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2552. B.C. 1452.

An account of the marches and encampments of the Israelites, from Egypt to Canaan, Numbers 33:1-49 . A strict command to drive out all the Canaanites, Numbers 33:51-56 .

Verses 1-2

Numbers 33:1-2. These are the journeys of Israel As the peculiar providence of God remarkably appeared in the protection and miraculous preservation of the Israelites, from the time they left Egypt till they came to the borders of Canaan, so Moses was particularly commissioned to preserve a history of them for the benefit of posterity. In execution of this commission, he wrote their goings out Kept an account of their journeys, and of all the remarkable occurrences in the way, for his own satisfaction and the instruction of others. And he here recapitulates the principal stages of their long journey, and sets them all before the reader in one view, that those who would take the pains to examine might be satisfied that it was only by a train of unprecedented miracles that such a multitude of people had been fed and preserved every day, for forty years together, in a barren and unhospitable desert, Jeremiah 2:6; Deuteronomy 29:6. These are their journeys It is to be observed that Moses only mentions those places where they encamped for some time, passing by others where they only halted for a little refreshment.

Verses 3-4

Numbers 33:3-4. They departed from Rameses Whither they repaired, by order of Moses, from all parts of the land. Upon their gods Either their princes and rulers, who are sometimes called gods in Scripture; for God slew the firstborn, not only of the meaner sort, but even of their king and princes: or, their false gods, those beasts which the Egyptians worshipped as gods; for the firstborn of men and beasts were then killed. Probably their images also were thrown down, as Dagon afterward before the ark.

Verses 10-11

Numbers 33:10-11. By the Red sea Not by that part of it where they had lately passed over, but more southerly, toward the Arabian desert. This station is omitted in Exodus. The wilderness of Sin Where the manna first began to fall, Exodus 16:1.

Verses 12-14

Numbers 33:12-14. Dophkah Alush Neither of these stations is mentioned in Exodus, nothing remarkable, it seems, having fallen out in those places. But several remarkable things happened in Rephidim, recorded Exodus 17:0.

Verses 15-16

Numbers 33:15-16. The wilderness of Sinai Here they arrived about forty- seven days after they left Egypt, and stayed almost a year, receiving the laws contained in Exodus and Leviticus, and the first twelve chapters of this book. Kibroth-hattaavah Where such numbers were destroyed for despising the manna, and lusting after flesh, Numbers 11:33.

Verse 18

Numbers 33:18. They pitched in Rithmah A place not mentioned in Exodus, but which appears, from Numbers 12:16, to have been in the wilderness of Paran, not far from Kadesh-barnea.

Verse 35

Numbers 33:35. Ezion-gaber A seaport town situated on the Red sea, in the land of Edom, near Arabia Felix, Deuteronomy 2:8; 2 Chronicles 8:17. All the encampments, from Num 33:16 to this place, were wanderings backward again toward the Red sea, for thirty-eight years together. They were led to and fro, backward and forward, as in a maze or labyrinth, and yet were all the while under the direction of the pillar of cloud and fire. He led them about, (Deuteronomy 32:10,) and yet led them the right way, Psalms 107:7. The way God takes in bringing his people to himself is always the best way, all circumstances considered, although it does not always appear to us the nearest way, and is often a way in which the Lord would not have led us, unless to chastise us for our sins, and save us from the love of them.

Verse 38

Numbers 33:38. Aaron went up at the commandment of the Lord, and died Good men’s goings are ordered of the Lord, and a peculiar providence, watching over all their concerns, appoints the time and place of their death. Let us go on in the way of duty, and leave it to him to call us hence, when, and where, and how he pleases.

Verse 49

Numbers 33:49. Abel-shittim The place where the people sinned in the matter of Peor, called simply Shittim, Numbers 25:1; but here Abel-shittim, for the grievous mourning ( Abel signifying mourning) which was there, both for the heinous crimes committed, and the severe judgments inflicted. This was their forty-second and last station, before their entrance into Canaan, and here we left them in the last transactions of this history.

Verses 50-52

Numbers 33:50-52. Ye shall drive out all the inhabitants They were to be entirely rooted out, that the Israelites might not be seduced by their abominable idolatries, Exodus 23:33; Deuteronomy 20:16-18. And destroy all their pictures Which seem to have been stones curiously engraven and set up for worship, Deuteronomy 16:22. Destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places The chapels, altars, groves, or other means of worship here set up.

Verse 54

Numbers 33:54. Ye shall divide the land by lot As they gradually conquered the country, they were to divide it among the tribes, according to the rules and proportions before prescribed them, Numbers 26:54-55.

Verse 55

Numbers 33:55. If ye will not drive out the inhabitants Those of them whom ye suffer to remain in the land through your cowardice, slothfulness, or friendship toward them, shall be a great plague to you, and bring sore calamities upon you; see Ezekiel 28:24. Joshua intimates the same to them before he died, Numbers 23:13. Of this also an angel puts them in mind, Judges 2:3. And so it came to pass, as we read there, (Numbers 33:14,) and throughout that whole book. Shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides Both vexatious and pernicious. Whosoever, by neglecting, through the Spirit, (to be sought by prayer,) to mortify the deeds of the body, and to crucify the flesh, with its sinful lusts, shall permit sinful tempers and desires to remain in his heart, will one day find by experience that these evil dispositions will be to his soul what the ancient inhabitants of Canaan were to the Israelites; they will be as pricks in his eyes, and thorns in his flesh A continual source of trouble and vexation, depriving him of true peace and comfort. But is it our privilege to be delivered from these corrupt passions and inclinations? Certainly it is, as much as it was the privilege of the Israelites to be delivered from the Canaanites. For Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, (Titus 2:14,) might sanctify and cleanse his church, and render it without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, Ephesians 5:26-27. And God promises, by Ezekiel, (Ezekiel 36:25,) From all your filthiness and idols will I cleanse you. And faithful is he that hath promised, who also will do it for all those that earnestly call upon, firmly confide in, and perseveringly seek him in the way he has appointed.

Verse 56

Numbers 33:56. I shall do unto you as I thought to do unto them Make you their slaves; or rather, you shall flee before them, and be expelled the land, as they should have been.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 33". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/numbers-33.html. 1857.
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