« PreviousContinue »
THE FIFTH BOOK OF MOSES,
1 Moses' speech in the end of the fortieth year, briefly rehearsing the story 6 of God's promise, 13 of giving them officers, 19 of sending the spies to search the land, 34 of God's anger for their incredulity, 41 and disobedience.
2 Num. 21. 24. 8 John 7. 24.
HESE be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.
2 (There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount
Seir unto Ka
3 And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;
4 After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei:
5 On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying, 6 The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
1 Or, Zuph.
7 Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
8 Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, 'Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)
12 How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?
13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
15 So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.
16 And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
17 'Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the
3 Heb. all his neighbours.
5 Gen. 15. 18, and 17. 7, 8. 6 Heb. give. 7 Heb. gave. Prov. 24. 23. 10 Heb, acknowledge faces.
cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
18 And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.
19¶ And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea.
20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
32 Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,
33 15 Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
34 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
36 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.
37 18 Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
38 But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
13 Heb. melted. 14 Num. 13. 28. Chap. 3, 26, and 4. 21, and 34. 4.
40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
41 Then ye answered and said unto me, "We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.
42 And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your
43 So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and 20went presumptuously up into the hill.
44 And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
DEUTERONOMY.-This name, like that of the Vulgate (Deuteronomium), is from the Septuagint, which calls it AETTEPONOMION; meaning "the repetition of the law," or "the second law"-ATipos Nouos-because it contains a connected recapitulation, for the instruction of the new generation, of the laws and ordinances which had formerly been delivered occasionally, and at various intervals. This, however, is not exclusively its character, as we find in it various important particulars which do not occur in the preceding books. The Hebrews themselves give the book several names. The first is, as usual, from the first words of the text, 77 (elleh ha-debarim), "these are the words." Some of the Rabbins call it (sepher tokechoth), "the book of reproofs," on account of the frequent and severe reprehensions of the Israelites which it contains; while others call it (mishneh torah)," the repetition of the law," which was the title preferred by the Septuagint. The end of the book contains some new and important circumstances, which are not contained in Numbers; and although the book is in its substance no other than a compendium of what has preceded, yet the frequently new matter, the additional details which are often given, and even the varied form in which the same thing is expressed, concur to render this book not only of the greatest importance in itself, but of the utmost value as a commentary on the three preceding books, furnishing the best elucidation which it is possible to obtain of the difficulties which occasionally occur in them.
Verse 1. "The Red sea."-The word "sea" (D) does not occur in the original, as the Italics denote, and the word D(suph) does not mean red. Unquestionably, when the two words come together they denote what we call the Red Sea; but when one of them only occurs, it is rather too much to conclude that the Red Sea is intended. Besides the Israelites are not at present near the Red Sea, but in the plains of Moab, not far from the eastern banks of the Jordan. Suph is, therefore, probably the proper name of some place in this neighbourhood. This is the opinion of Houbigant, Waterland, and Boothroyd, who concur in reading it-" in the plain over against Suph."
"Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab."-Two of these names, Paran and Hazeroth, occur also in the list of stations in the wilderness, and the whole are therefore thought by many, very inconsiderately, to have been such stations; the other names, which do not occur, being assigned, without the least authority-Tophel to Kibroth-Hattaavah, Laban to Libnah, and Dizahab to Ezion-gaber. It is clear, however, that Paran is not the wilderness of Paran, but, like the others, a place somewhere on the frontiers of the country in which the Israelites now were, which was "in the plains of Moab," near the southern extremity of the Dead Sea. Those Rabbins who adopt the above opinion, exhibit its untenable character by throwing in a clause between each name, in order to convey the sense, that Moses spoke, on the other side of Jordan, of what had happened at the several places mentioned: and indeed this is
the only way of overcoming the difficulty which these names occasion in this place, if we suppose them to be the same that have already been under our notice.
2. "There are eleven days journey," &c.-Boothroyd follows Dr. Wall, in transposing this verse to between the 19th and 20th verses. It is clearly connected with what is there related, and seems quite out of its proper place as verse 2. We have already made an observation on its subject, in Numbers, in the note to chap. xxxiii. 1.
10." As the stars of heaven for multitude."-This has been objected to, or at least ridiculed. At the most it would be but an Oriental hyperbole, similar to that comparing the number of the Hebrews to the sands of the sea-shore. But it is not even a hyperbole. In Gen. xv. 5, we read, "He (the Lord) brought him (Abraham) forth abroad, and said, Look now towards heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be." From this it is clear that the visible stars are intended. Their number doubtless seemed both to Abraham and Moses, as to every one else, immensely greater than it really is: but it is now well known that the number of the stars visible to the naked eye, in both hemispheres, does not exceed three thousand. The original promise to Abraham, to which Moses here alludes, had therefore been far more than fulfilled-the number of the Israelites, counting only the adult males, having been more than 600,000 at the recent census.
44. "Chased you, as bees do."-Although the power of these courageous insects is too well known to render any persons willing to expose themselves to the effects of their resentment, strong demonstrations of that power are so rare in this country as to render this comparison apparently undignified. But it is not really so. The ancient writers always speak of the bee as a very formidable adversary. Aristotle and Pliny, in particular, dwell on its courageous character, and the great power of its sting, by which the largest animals, even horses, may be and have been destroyed. The latter writer mentions that, in some districts of Crete, they were so troublesome as to expel the inhabitants; and Ælian mentions, that some places in Sythia, beyond the Ister, were formerly inaccessible on account of the swarms of bees by which they were infested. Other ancient writers mention sieges, in which the assailants were repelled by the besiegers opposing their assaults with swarms of bees. The text, however, seems in a particular manner to allude to the fury of bees when disturbed in their hive. The Israelites went up into the hill of the Amorites, purposing to dispossess them; but, like bees disturbed in their hive, the Amorites rushed upon them and chased them off, pursuing them afar. This will appear the more strongly if we adopt the addition which is found in the ancient Syriac version, in the Targum of Onkelos, and in some Arabic manuscripts, which read, "Chased you as bees that are smoked," or irritated
by smoke-allusive to the very ancient, and still subsisting, process of applying smoke to expel bees from their hives, and when their rage is terrible to those who are exposed to its effects. We may cite one or two "modern instances to illustrate these old statements. Loyer, the French superintendent of missions on the coast of Guinea, describes an attack made by the Dutch, with a squadron of four vessels, upon a fort which the French had erected on the Gold Coast. After some vigorous firing on both sides, the besieged were obliged to discontinue the use of their cannon, having but a little powder remaining, which they thought it prudent to reserve for their small arms. In this state of affairs, the fort being still vigorously plied with shot from the ships, an accident occurred, which threatened the ruin of the besieged, but which was instrumental in delivering them from the very alarming situation in which they were placed. There was in the fort a large hive of bees, which being suddenly upset by a cannon-shot from the ships, the enraged insects assailed the garrison with such fury that the soldiers fled in all haste from the fort. The Dutch, supposing the defence abandoned, landed fifty men to take possession; but these were so warmly received by the negro allies of the French, and by the French themselves, who had by this time recovered from their panic and reentered the fort in another place, that, out of the fifty, thirty-nine were killed, and the rest taken prisoners. This so discouraged the besiegers, that they immediately weighed anchor and abandoned the undertaking. (See 'Histoire Générale des Voyages," tome ii. p. 411.) Mungo Park also relates an incident of a similar description, which occurred at a place very appropriately called Bees' Creek, where his party one day halted. Some of the people went in search of wild honey, and unfortunately disturbed a large swarm near their resting-place. "The bees came out in immense numbers," continues Park, "and attacked men and beasts at the same time. Luckily most of the asses were loose, and galloped up the valley; but the horses and people were very much stung, and obliged to scamper in all directions. The fire, which had been kindled for cooking, spread, and set fire to the bamboos; and our luggage had like to have been burnt. In fact, for half an hour, the bees seemed to have completely put an end to our journey. In the evening, when the bees became less troublesome, and we could venture to collect our cattle, we found that many of them were very much stung and swelled about the head. Three asses were missing; one died in the evening, and one the next morning, and we were forced to leave one at Sibikillin-in all, six; besides which, our guide lost his horse, and many of our people were much stung about the face and hands." (Travels,' ii. 37, 38.) That which the text affords is not the only instance in the Bible of comparisons drawn from the power and other qualities of insects. Such may also be found in the most famed ancient writers. Homer, in one instance, does not even think it undignified to compare the persevering energy which Pallas infused into Menelaus to that of the common fly:
“Destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.”—The Septuagint, the Syriac and Vulgate render it "from Seir," which the sense obviously requires; for even as it stands, with "in Seir," it necessarily bears the sense of "from Seir"the distance between Seir and Hormah being that to which the destruction and pursuit extended. Now it is certain that Kadesh was near this mountain of the Amorites; and this mountain being near or perhaps connected with the range of Mount Seir, we are furnished with another incidental corroboration of the position which, in a former note, we have assigned to Kadesh.
5 Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, 'no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession.
6 Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy
1 Heb. even to the treading of the sole of the foot.
10 The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims;
11 Which also were accounted giants, as
2 Gen. 36. 8. * Or, Use no hostility against Moab.