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and of deliverance from the power of sin, through
still resist them all ? Does sin, unrepented of and unforsaken, still retain its ascendancy in your breast ? If so, will not the Israelites who journeyed in the wilderness, obstinate and rebellious as they were, rise up in the day of judgment and condemn you ?
The Israelites arrive again at Kadesh. Death of Miriam.
Sin of Moses and Aaron. Its punishment.
We have no record of any other events, until the children of Israel came once more, through the route which has been described as the probable one, to their former station at Kadesh. This was in the desert of Zin, the north-east part of the great desert of Paran ; and they reached it in the first month of the fortieth year after their departure out of Egypt.
For more than thirty-seven years they had been
wandering from one encampment to another, under the discipline of an offended though still merciful Sovereign. We infer from several passages of Scripture that, during this period, besides the instances which have been mentioned, they abandoned themselves at times to the commission of the most grievous sins, and especially to the practice of idolatry. What punishments they endured in consequence of this we are not informed. Doubtless their sufferings were often very great, and deservedly so; while vast numbers of them died, and were buried on the
before they arrived again at Kadesh.
And here, too, a death took place of no common interest. It was that of Miriam, the sister of Moses, distinguished alike for the force of her personal character, and for the high rank which she held among her countrywomen. She died at the advanced age probably of one hundred and thirty years ; while her epitaph is contained in this short and simple sentence :
Miriam died there, and was buried there." We have reason to believe that she was one who, like her brothers, loved and obeyed God. But like them, also, she had remaining sins to struggle with ; and, on account of some peculiar offences, among which her treatment of Moses at Hazeroth was conspicuous, she was not permitted to enter the promised land.
Another event took place at Kadesh, affecting deeply the prospects of Moses and Aaron, and subjecting them to a severe expression of the divine displeasure. It deserves, on this account, a particular notice.
There was an entire want of water. The last remains of it had been exhausted; nor could any fresh supplies be found. Thirst made the people impatient; and like their fathers at Rephidim, they exercised no faith in the providence of God, nor raised the voice of their supplications to him for relief. They assembled with strong feelings of discontent against Moses and Aaron, whom they affected to regard as the authors of their sufferings, and uttered their complaints in the most reproachful language. "Would God," said they, addressing Moses, that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord! And why have ye brought up congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there ? And wherefore have
ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates ; neither is there any water to drink.”
On hearing this, Moses and Aaron immediately left the asse mbly, and went to the door of the ta
tical emergency, and it was afforded them. " Take the rod," said the voice that proceeded from the glory, "and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock : so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink."
Moses took the rod, as he was commanded, from the tabernacle, (where it seems to have been deposited,) and bearing it in his hand, as the symbol of the divine power which would be manifested through his instrumentality, he and Aaron convened the people.
They all stood in anxious expectation before the rock; when Moses, instead of that reverential awe which he should have felt while being about to perform a miracle in the name of Jehovah, gave way to a sudden burst of passion. The people
provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadrisedly with his lips."
." "Hear now, ye rebels ;" said he, must we fetch you water out of this rock ?" as if they were demanding an impossibility; or if it could be done, that to himself and Auron would belong the honor of doing it.
What disrespect to God, and want of confidence in him, was thus manifested in the presence of the people. Unbelief and pride appear strangely to have got possession, for a season, of one who
was usually remarkable for his faith and humility.
He seems to have doubted, too, whether simply speaking to the rock, as he had been directed, would cause the water to flow. He did not follow, in this respect, the command of God; but acting in direct violation of it, and as if by his own mode of agency to prevent disappointment, without uttering u word, he smote the rock twice with his rod. It is not improbable that there was an interval of some time between the strokes; the first not pro. ducing the desired effect, and the Lord thus wishing to bring him to reflection and obedience. But Moses persisted in the course which he had chosen; and God saw fit, as he struck the rock the second time, to cause the water to gush from it in great abundance, so that the people and their cattle were fully supplied.
Aaron co-operated with Moses in this transaction, and interposed not at all to check him in the course which he was taking. He gave his sanction, evidently, to what was said and done. That in this he indulged a similar spirit to that of his brother, is certain from the rebuke and punishment which