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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Numbers 14

Verse 5

Already Caleb had endeavored to still the people before Moses Numbers 13:30; already Moses himself (Deuteronomy 1:29 ff) had endeavored to recall the people to obedience. After the failure of these efforts Moses and Aaron cast themselves down in solemn prayer before God (compare Numbers 16:22); and the appearance of the glory of the Lord in the “tabernacle of the congregation” Numbers 14:10 was the immediate answer.

Verse 9

Their defense - literally, “their shadow,” i. e. their shelter as from the scorching sun: an Oriental figure. Compare the marginal references.

Verse 12

And disinherit them - By the proposed extinction of Israel the blessings of the covenant would revert to their original donor.

Verses 13-17

The syntax of these verses is singularly broken. As did Paul when deeply moved, so Moses presses his arguments one on the other without pausing to ascertain the grammatical finish of his expressions. He speaks here as if in momentary apprehension of an outbreak of God’s wrath, unless he could perhaps arrest it by crowding in every topic of deprecation and intercession that he could mention on the instant.

Verses 21-23

Render: But as truly as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord; Numbers 14:22 all those men, etc.; Numbers 14:23 shall not see, etc.

Numbers 14:22

These ten times - Ten is the number which imports completeness. Compare Genesis 31:7. The sense is that the measure of their provocation was now full: the day of grace was at last over. However, some enumerate 10 different occasions on which the people had tempted God since the exodus.

Psalms 90:0, which is entitled “a Prayer of Moses,” has been most appropriately regarded as a kind of dirge upon those sentenced thus awfully by God to waste away in the wilderness.

Verse 24

My servant Caleb - Caleb only is mentioned here as also in Numbers 13:30 ff. Both passages probably form part of the matter introduced at a later period into the narrative of Moses, and either by Joshua or under his superintendence. Hence, the name of Joshua is omitted, and his faithfulness together with its reward are taken for granted. In Numbers 14:30, Numbers 14:38, both names are mentioned together; and these verses in all likelihood belong to the same original composition as Numbers 14:6-10.

Verse 25

Render: And now the Amalekites and the Canaanites are dwelling (or abiding) in the valley: wherefore turn you, etc. (that so ye be not smitten before them). The Amalekites were the nomad bands that roved through the open pastures of the plain Numbers 14:45 : the Canaanites, a term here taken in its wider sense, were the Amorites of the neighboring cities (compare Numbers 14:45 with Deuteronomy 1:44), who probably lived in league with the Amalekites.

Tomorrow - Not necessarily the next day, but an idiom for “hereafter,” “henceforward” (compare the marginal reading in Exodus 13:14; Joshua 4:6).

By the way of the Red sea - That is, apparently, by the eastern or Elanitic gulf.

Verse 33

Your whoredoms - Their several rebellions had been so many acts of faithless departure from the Lord who had taken them unto Himself. And as the children of the unchaste have generally to bear in their earthly careers much of the disgrace and the misery which forms the natural penalty of their parents’ transgression; so here the children of the Israelites, although suffered to hope for an eventual entry into Canaan, were yet to endure, through many long years’ wandering, the appropriate punishment of their fathers’ willfulness.

Verse 34

My breach of promise - In the original, a word, found elsewhere only in Job 30:10, and meaning “my withdrawals” “my turning away.” See the margin.

Verse 45

Unto Hormah - literally, “the Hormah:” i. e. “the banning,” or “ban-place.” Compare Numbers 21:3; Joshua 12:14. According to the view taken of Kadesh (see Numbers 13:26), Hormah is identified, through its earlier name, Zephath Judges 1:17, with es-Safah on the southeastern frontier of Canaan, by which the Israelites quitted the Arabah for the higher ground, (or with Sebaita, which lies further to the west, about 25 miles north of Ain Gadis).

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Numbers 14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/numbers-14.html. 1870.