And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night.
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!
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?
And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.
And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:
rent their clothes
And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land.
an exceeding good land
If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.
a land which
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.
Heb. shadow. Tzillam, a metaphor highly expressive of protection and support in the sultry eastern countries. (See the Parallel Passages.) The Arabs and Persians use the same word to express the same thing; using the expressions, "May the shadow zulli of thy prosperity be extended." "May the shadow of thy prosperity be spread over the heads of thy well-wishers." And in an elegant distich, "May your protection never be removed from my head; may God extend your shadow zullikem eternally." The loftiest and most esteemed title of the sultan, says Thornton, because given him by the kings of Persia, is zil ullah, shadow of God.
fear them not
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.
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?
How long will this
I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)
And Moses said unto the Lord
From this verse to ver. 19, inclusive, we have the words of the earnest intercession of Moses: they need no explanation; they are full of simplicity and energy.
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.
Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,
Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.
And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
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.
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.
and as thou
But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice;
Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it:
Surely they shall not see
Heb. If they see.
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.
Caleb had another spirit; not only a bold, generous, courageous, noble, and heroic spirit, but the Spirit and influence of God, which thus raised him above human inquietudes and earthly fears. Therefore he followed God fully; literally, "and he filled after me:" God shewed him the way he was to take and the line of conduct he was to pursue, and he filled up this line, and in all things followed the will of his Maker.
(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.
How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.
I have heard
Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you:
as ye have
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,
all that were
Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.
Heb. lifted up my hand.
But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
Their children, by possessing Canaan, knew what a good land their fathers had despised.
But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.
And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.
shall wander in the wilderness
or, feed. This implies, that they should move from place to place in the deserts, as the Bedounin Arabs, who have no certain dwelling, but rove about seeking pasture for their flocks.
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.
shall ye bear
breach of promise
or, altering of my purpose. Tenooathi, rather, my failure, or disannulling, from noo, to fail, disannul; for as they had broken their engagements, God was no longer held by his covenant.
I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
I will surely
And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land,
Even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.
Thus ten of the twelve who searched out the land were struck dead, by the justice of God, on the spot. In commemoration of this event, the Jews, to this day, celebrate a fast, on the seventh day of the month Elul.
But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
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.
for we have sinned
We are sensible of our sin, and repent of it; and are now ready to do as Caleb and Joshua exhorted us. Or, though we have sinned, yet we hope God will make good his promise.
And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
but it shall
Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the LORD, therefore the LORD will not be with you.
But they presumed to go up unto the hill top: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
This miserable people a short time ago, thought that, though Omnipotence was with them, they could not conquer and possess the land! Now they imagine, that though God himself go not with them, yet they shall be sufficient to drive out the inhabitants, and take possession of their country! Man is ever supposing he can do all things, or do nothing: he is therefore sometimes presumptuous, and at other times in despair.
Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.