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The last act of preparation for the intended movement, is the fabrication of two trumpets of silver, to be used henceforward in giving signals on various important occasions, civil, ecclesiastical, and military.* These trumpets were to be blown by the priests; another favorable distinction of their order, and another office connecting them with the responsible parts of national administration. The blowing of both trumpets was to call together “all the assembly," that is, as I understand, a full representation of the tribes,t to the door of the convention-tent. The blowing of one only was to convene the phylarchs. Four successive blasts, in a particular air, called in our version “an alarm,” were to set in motion the several camps. In all coming times, this “ alarm” in the perils of war, was to be an appeal to Jehovah's protection; and the sound of these same trumpets was to usher in the days of religious festivity.
was Moses who regulated the appointed signal. “At the commandment of the Lord they rested in their tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed; they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord, by the hand of Moses."
* Numb. x. 1-10. — In this passage (10) we have the first mention of what are commonly called the “new moons"; viz. the holiday celebrations of the first day of each lunar month. Probably the practice was ancient. The ritual is described further on, at Numb. xxviii. 11 - 15. The occasion was festive (Numb. x. 10; 1 Sam. xx. 5, 24), though the prohibition of labor on one new moon, viz. the Feast of Trumpets, (Lev. xxiii. 24, 25,) implies that, on other such days, labor was allowable.
† See p. 165.
NUMBERS X, 11.- XIX. 22.
DECAMPMENT FROM "THE WILDERNESS OF Sinal." PLACE OF THE LEVITES, AND OF THE EPHRAIMITES, ON THE MARCH. — Discon
THE PEOPLE. COMMISSION OF SEVENTY ELDERS. MIRACULOUS SUPPLY OF Quails. MORTALITY AT KIBROTIHATTAAVAH. INSUBORDINATION OF AARON AND MIRIAM, AND PUNISHMENT OF THE LATTER. — SPIES SENT TO EXPLORE CANAAX. - DISCOURAGEMENT OF THE PEOPLE AT THEIR REPORT. - PostPONEMENT OF THE INVASION FOR Forty YEARS, dexotNCED. BATTLE WITH THE AMALEKITES, AND DEFEAT. — RITUAL OF CERTAIN OFFERINGS. STONING OF A SABBATH-BREAKER. — REGULATION FOR A UNIFORM DRESS. — REBELLION AND PUNISHMENT OF KORAH, DATHAN, ABIRAM, AND ON.- MIRACULOUS TESTIMONY TO Aaron's AUTHORITY, BY THE BUDDING OF His STAFF. - ARRANGEMENT OF THE SACERDOTAL AND LEVITICAL REVENUES. – RITUAL
“ WATER OF SEPARATION." QUESTION RESPECTING THE DATE OF OCCURRENCES RELATED IN THE LAST FIVE CHAPTERS. - RECAPITULATION OF EARLIER EVENTS.
The people had now been eleven months encamped by Mount Sinai. At the end of one month after leaving Egypt, they had come “unto the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai.” * From Sin they had come to Rephidim, and from Rephidim, “in the third month,” † to Sinai. Here the first elementary law had been given, and the directions respecting the Tabernacle, the execution of which occupied the rest of the year.
“In the first month, in the second year, on the first day of the month, the Tabernacle was reared up.” I During this first month, the Law in the book of Leviticus was delivered; and in the early part of the second, the organization was completed. All was now ready for the intended movement.
* Ex. xvi. 1.
+ Ex. xvii. 1; xix. 1.
| Ex, xl. 17.
« And it came to pass, on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from the Tabernacle of the testimony, and the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.* And they first took their journey, according to the commandment of the Lord, by the hand of Moses.”
In part of the arrangement of the march, we seem to see an alteration from what had been originally proposed, to secure what was obviously a more convenient course of procedure. In the original plan, before the Levitical families had been set apart for separate tasks, it had been directed, that, after two divisions of the tribes had proceeded on the march, then “the Tabernacle of the congregation” should “set forward, with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp." + When the host actually made its first movement, the Levitical families having received meanwhile each its separate charge, we find that after the first division of three tribes had gone forward, “the Tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the Tabernacle;” while, after the second division of three tribes, “the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary, and the other did set up the Tabernacle against they came." I
* This mention of Paran, (Numb. x. 12,) as the place where the ark rested, appears to indicate that the tenth chapter, and, if so, then probably the latter part of the ninth, as well as the eleventh and twelfth, were written at once, after the encampment at that place. For there were at least two stopping-places between Sinai and Paran. See xi. 34, 35; xii. 16. Compare xxxiii. 16-18.
† ii. 17.
† x. 17, 21. — I cannot dwell on each one, so numerous are they, of the unobtrusive arguments, of the nature of that which this passage supplies, for the authenticity of the writing. But who can believe that a composi
Another part of the arrangement deserves remark. It is, that, while the tribe of Ephraim was the rearguard of the whole army while in camp, it was not so on the march, but retained, probably as a post of honor, its position immediately after the Ark of the Covenant.*
The urgency, which Moses used to induce Hobab to remain with him as his guide, has been the subject of remark in another place.f The few words recorded as having been used by Moses when the ark removed and rested, are probably to be understood as constituting respectively the first verses of hymns which were used on these occasions.I
The fire, which is said at the beginning of the eleventh chapter to have “consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp,” has been differently understood as denoting the Simoom, lightning, or a burning of the dry shrubbery of the desert, which had extended to some tents on the outskirts of the encampment. In preference, however, to either of these interpretations, I would adopt a suggestion which has been made, that “the fire of the Lord” here denotes the divine displeasure, which is often said to “ burn," and to “consume," and is spoken of as being “kindled," in the same verse.Ş So understood, the first three
tion of a comparatively modern period would have been made to contain the record of an alteration like this? * Numb. x. 21, 22.
+ x 29 - 32. See p. 150. | x. 35, 36. What I suggest is, that the meaning is the same as if we should
say, The congregation sang “ Before Jehovah's awful throne"; that is, the psalm beginning with that line.—“ The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting-place for them” (verse 33); not in the van, which would contradict verse 21, but in their presence ; 07205, in their company, in their midst.
§ xi. 1-3. Compare 10, 33. See Drusius, “ Commentarius ad Dif. Loc. Num.," cap. 43. Compare Ps. lxxviii. 21, where this incident is referred to, as the context will show. – On the exposition which I propose, the first half of verse 1, is a compendions statement of what is related in the
verses present but a concise statement of the occurrence, which is narrated in detail through the rest of the chapter. We there read, that, some of the meaner sort of the people * having broken out into mutinous expressions of discontent, on account of their limited supply of food, so different from the luxurious variety, to which they had been accustomed in Egypt, Moses was directed to promise them a miraculous provision, abundant beyond their utmost wishes. Flocks of quails were accordingly seen pouring into the camp, which the people greedily collected and devoured.
But hardly had they done so, —“ the flesh was yet between their teeth,” — when a pestilence broke out, to which numbers (we are not told how many) fell victims. It is, I suppose, commonly understood, that the divine displeasure, thus expressed, was what had been occasioned by the people's discontented language. I incline to think, however, that the writer's intention was rather to represent the mortality as consequent upon the avidity with which they fed upon the unusual food miraculously furnished. Either the game of the desert was at that season unwholesome,t and the design was to admonish them, by severe experience of this, not to murmur henceforward on account of wanting what their divine
first part of the chapter; the second half, of what is related in the latter part. No objection arises from two significant names being given to the same place (Numb. xi. 3, 31). Compare Ex. xvii. 7.
* The “mixed multitude," spoken of here, and in Ex. xii. 38, have been understood to be other than Israelites. I know not why. Moses'
is of a composition which would be not ill represented by our ruff-scuff, or riff-raff. I understand him to be speaking of the meaner sort, who had not, like others, flocks and herds, to which they could have recourse for animal food; and he applies to them a disparaging expression, on account of their disorderly conduct. “ They lusted, even those children of Israel wept again,” &c. (4.)
† Respecting the unwholesomeness of this food, at certain times, see Bochart, “ Hierozoicon,” pars 2, pp. 97 - 100.