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protector did not see fit to afford; or else, in their turbulent eagerness, they had devoured the quails without first divesting them of the blood, a course which had been prohibited in the most peremptory manner, and which was now punished either by its natural effect upon the systems of those, who were accustomed to the use of little animal food, or by a direct miraculous visitation of Him whose distinctly and repeatedly expressed will it violated.*

Meanwhile, as another means of winning the people to a better mind, and reviving the spirits of their leader, desponding under such repeated experience of their perversity, seventy eminent individuals of their number are summoned to the Tabernacle to witness a manifestation of the divine presence, similar to what had been made on former occasions, and receive a commission to aid Moses in his charge.f The narration, that two of

* For remarks applicable to Numb. xi, 11 - 15, see p. 105; compare Ex. xxxii. 7 - 14, 31, 32. — “Two cubits high upon the face of the earth " (31). Not that they lay in heaps of that height, but that they flew at that distance above the ground. The words admit that sense, and it is given in the Vulgate.

# Numb. xi. 16, 17, 24 – 30. It has been thought that the number of the elders, viz, seventy, had reference to the aggregate number of the twelve phylarchs, (i. 5-15,) and of the fifty-eight heads of families (xxvi. 5-50). The later Jews have supposed that here was the origin of their national Sanhedrim, or Great Council of Seventy. But there is no reason to suppose, that the institution of any permanent magistracy is here related, nor do we read of the existence of any such, previous to the captivity. Their task in “prophesying," as Moses' assistants in quieting the people, (25, 26, 30,) was that of his spokesmen, or exhorters, according to a common use of the original word in Scripture, and indeed of the word prophesy in the old English. Compare Ex. iv. 16; vii. 1, 2. The promise (17) to “take of the spirit” which was upon Moses, and “put it upon them,” is evidently to impart to them a measure of authority, and endowments for persuasion and command, like his. — With xi. 25, compare Ex. xxxiii. 9, 10. —“They prophesied and did not cease.” The word is op. Probably we should read, with the Samaritan, ox, and render, “ and two of the men had not been congregated with the rest, but remained in the camp,” &c.; compare 26. — “The Lord came down in a cloud


the persons designated to this duty of “prophesying,” that is, exhorting the people to a better conduct, entered upon their office without first repairing to the Tabernacle, and of the freedom from any jealous feeling with which Moses heard of their proceeding, is interesting to a reader of the present day, chiefly on the ground, that it was an incident, which Moses, writing at the time, would naturally record, but which a writer of any later period would scarcely have cared to invent or preserve.

The occasion or pretence of the temporary disaffection of Aaron and Miriam from their brother, which makes the subject of the twelfth chapter, is said to have been his having married an Ethiopian, or rather Cushite,

Most expositors have understood this circumstance to imply a second marriage of Moses, not related in the history; both because they have doubted whether Zipporah, who was from Midian,* could properly be called a Cushite, and because it seems to them unreasonable to suppose, that an unsuitable marriage was now made a ground of complaint, when it had been contracted so many years before. But, as to the first point, it

appears very probable that the people of Midian might properly be called Cushites; † and the alliance of Moses with a foreigner might naturally enough be seized on as a ground of factious complaint, and his obligation to divorce her be urged, now that he was raised to so peculiar an authority over his countrymen; not to say, that, at this particular juncture, his brother and sister may have been stimulated by jealousy of the apprehended influence of Hobab, the brother or uncle of Moses' wife, who had lately been prevailed upon to

(25), might equally well be translated, into the cloud ; and so in xii. 5. But both renderings appear equally inconsistent with the supposition of his perpetual, peculiar presence at the cloud over the Tabernacle. * Ex. ii. 16, 21.

† See Bochart's “ Phaleg,” lib. 4, cap. 2.

remain near his person. However this might be, the discontent of individuals of so much note and influence, and such near affinity to the leader, needed to be punished in so summary and conspicuous a manner, as to discourage similar attempts in future from the same quarter; and, to this end, an infliction of the fearful and loathsome disease of leprosy is employed to make Miriam feel the folly and hopelessness of such an enterprise, while (her punishment being sufficient to enforce the lesson) Aaron is spared, either because of his more prompt repentance,* or to avoid unnecessarily lessening the reverence, due from the people to the exalted office which he held.t

From “ the wilderness of Paran,” to which their few days' march had brought the people, on the southern border of the promised land, Moses (at their own instance, as appears from the parallel passage in Deuteronomy 8) sends out a party of twelve men, one from each tribe, to explore the country, and report their * Numb. xii. 11.

“Hath he not also spoken by us?” (2.) Compare Lev. x. 8; xi. 1 ; xiii. 1, et al. h. m.-" The man Moses was very meek.” (3.) This text has been the subject of much discussion. I find no difficulty in it. The more common meaning of the word rendered “meek,” is distressed, miserable. And so I have no doubt it should be rendered here. Moses does not laud himself, but very naturally speaks of the great trials of his situation. And this view explains the other peculiarity of expression in the same sentence; “ the man Moses." v'x, “the man,” is a word, conveying a sense of dignity. Compare Ps. xlix. 2 ; Prov. viii, 4. It is as if he had said ; Moses, exalted as was his place, was now the most wretched of men. - - In verse 4, (as in Numb. xi. 1-3,) I think we have a concise statement of what is presently related more in detail. Compare 5. — “ If there be among you a prophet,” or an announcer of my will, (as Aaron and the seventy elders had been,) I reveal myself to him in a way, which, compared with the clearness and fulness of my disclosures to Moses, is but what a dream or a vision is to a reality (6); what a similitude, a portraiture, is to the substance (8); for " and the similitude," should rather be rendered, “

nor the similitude of the Lord” alone; not the mere shadowing forth of the Lord's will shall Moses behold.

| Deut. i. 22.

observations on its attractiveness, and its capacity of defence against the proposed invasion. They traverse the region in its whole length, from Hebron to Hamath, from its southern to its northern boundary; and returning, after a forty days' search, declare, that it was as fertile as it had been described, but that its inhabitants were so warlike, and so well secured in their strong-holds, that it would be rashness to attempt to dispossess them. Two of the twelve alone, Caleb and Joshua, the representatives of the great tribes of Judah and Ephraim, brought a different report, assuring the people, that, with a proper energy on their own part, and with the blessing of their guiding God, they might presently make a successful inroad, and bring their great enterprise to the desired issue. The more timid counsels, however, prevailed. The pusillanimous multitude shrank from the hazard, deplored their folly in having left Egypt, and were near stoning Caleb and Joshua for endeavouring to excite them to a more worthy conduct.

It was now proved, that they were not yet prepared for an undertaking requiring so much vigor as the contemplated invasion. Until their cowardly, unenterprising character, not unnatural in just emancipated slaves, should be superseded by the spirit of men reared in freedom, it was fit they should be kept in such a degree of retirement and safety, as was allowed by a Nomadic life in a country not permanently occupied. They needed time to consolidate their commonwealth, to familiarize their institutions, and form a national character, before they should enter on such a task as was before them. They are accordingly told, that they must abandon the design of the projected invasion, till forty years shall have expired from the time of their emigration from the land of their bondage, and till another generation shall have succeeded, of a character more equal to


VOL. 1.

the occasions of the time. Their fickleness, under the sting of this rebuke, now displays itself in the opposite direction. Ashamed of their late fears, and hoping, perhaps, that some display of valor would cause the mandate to be recalled, they persist, against Moses' remonstrances, in attacking a party of the inhabitants of the country; but are defeated with much slaughter, and desist from any further attempt.*


* Numb. xiii. xiv. — The mention of the ripening of grapes (xiii. 20) indicates the time to have been the month of September, or Tizri of the second year. — The messengers, it is to be presumed, did not conduct their search (21) in a body, but dispersed themselves, going singly, or two or three together. A natural inference froin their going and coming without observation, is, that their language was essentially that of the Canaanites. Compare p. 5. — The proper names of men in verse 22, I take to be used collectively, as the names of descendants from one stock. Compare Judges i. 3. - The relation in verse 23 has been a subject of cavil. But, on any exposition, what kind of argument can be made out of it, to discredit the record ? Supposing the representation to be, what it has been imagined to be, that a single cluster of grapes was too heavy for one man's strength, so far from indicating a forgery, it would rather sustain an inference of the opposite character; for, in such a matter, the apparent exaggeration would be as manifest to a forger, as to a true narrator, and a forger is scrupulously studious of verisimilitude. But the truth is, that the word sows has by no means the same limitation of sense with our word cluster ; that (apart from this) what was carried was, “ a branch with one cluster," an expression naturally conveying the same meaning, as if one should say, "a branch all covered with grapes"; that one of the great clusters of grapes of that country, (which, according to well authenticated modern accounts, sometimes weigh ten pounds and more,) might be carried in the manner described, not because it was too heavy for one man's strength, but to keep it from being injured by striking against the person; and that, finally, what was carried upon a staff, between two, appears to have been some vessel, containing, besides the grapes, a quantity of pomegranates and figs. — Verse 24 I can hardly hesitate to account a gloss from some recent hand; and I make the same remark upon the latter half of verse 16, which is, unless I greatly err, an explanatory note upon verse 8, comparing it with other places where the same individual is mentioned by Moses. These observations have precisely the form, in which a modern commentator would attach a note. — “A land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof” (32); that is, a land either unhealthy, or wasted by continual wars. Compare xiv. 9; Ez. xxxvi. 13. — With Numb. xiv. 10, compare Ex. xvi. 10; and with Numb.

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