These 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.
or, Zuph. Or rather, Suph. This could not have been the Red Sea, not only because the word yam, "sea," is not joined with it as usual, but because they were now east of Jordan, and farther from the Red Sea than ever. It seems to be the same which is called Suphah in Nu 21:14; which must necessarily signify some place in or adjoining to the plains of Moab, and not far from the Jordan and Arnon. Ptolemy mentions a people called Sophonites that dwelt in Arabia PetrÊa, who may have taken their name from this place.
Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab, seem to have been either places or cities not far from the plains of Moab; for it is evident that Paran and Hazeroth could not have been those near the Red sea, and not far from Horeb.
(There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.)
by the way
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;
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:
On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying,
The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
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.
all the places
Heb. all his neighbours. in the plain.
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.
Heb. given. which.
And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:
I am not
The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.
ye are this day
This was the promise made by God to Abraham, (Ge 15:5, 6,) which Moses considers now as amply fulfilled. Many suppose the expression to be hyperbolical; and others, no friends to revelation, think it a vain, empty boast, because the stars, in their apprehension, amount to innumerable millions. But, as this refers to the number of stars that appear to the naked eye, which only amount to about 3,010 in both hemispheres, the number of the Israelites far exceeded this; for independently of women and children, at the last census, they amounted to more than 600,000.
(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!)
and bless you
How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?
Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
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.
captains over thousands
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.
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 cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
Heb. acknowledge faces. That is, let not the bold, daring countenances of the rich or mighty induce you to give an unrighteous decision; and let not the abject look of the poor man induce you either to favour him in an unrighteous cause, or to give judgment against him at the demand of the oppressor.
ye shall hear
ye shall not
And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.
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 Kadeshbarnea.
And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
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.
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.
We will send
The people proposed this measure through unbelief; Moses, mistaking their motive, approved of it; and God, being justly displeased, permitted them to follow their own counsel, which proved injurious to them only through their sin and folly.
And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:
And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
The Lord hated us
Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
That is, with very high walls, which could not be easily scaled. Harmer says, high walls are still to be seen in Arabia, and are deemed a sufficient defence against the Arabs, who scarcely ever attempt to plunder except on horseback. The monastery on Mount Sinai, and the convent of St. Anthony in Egypt, are surrounded with a very high wall, without gates; the persons and things being taken up and let down through an opening in the upper part, by means of a pulley and a basket. This kind of walling is a sufficient defence.
we have seen
The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
And in the wilderness, where thou 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.
in the wilderness
Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,
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.
And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
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.
Heb. fulfilled to go after.
Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
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.
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.
But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
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.
We have sinned
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 enemies.
Go not up
for I am not
So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.
went presumptuously up
Heb. ye were presumptuous and went up.
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.
When bees are provoked or disturbed, the whole swarm attack and pursue whatever annoys them, with great courage and fury, and sometimes are a most formidable enemy. They were so troublesome in some districts of Crete, that, according to Pliny, the inhabitants were actually compelled to forsake their homes. ∆lian reports, that some places in Scythia were formerly inaccessible on account of the numerous swarms of bees with which they were infested. Mr. Park relates, that some of his associates imprudently attempted to rob a numerous hive which they found in their way. The exasperated little animals rushed out to defend their property, and attacked them with so much fury, that they quickly compelled the whole company of men, horses, and asses, to scamper off in all directions, The horses were never recovered, and a number of the asses were so severely stung, that they died the next day.
And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.
So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.