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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 long-suffering, 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
And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy' word : 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; 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.
To-morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness, by the way of the Red Sea.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, and unto Aaron, saying, 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.
Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD,
ye have spoken in mint ears, so will I do to you: Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upwards, which have murmured against me.
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, But your little ones,
prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
But as for you, your carcasses they shall fall in this wilderness.
And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years.
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.
And the men which Moses sent to search the land, died by the plague before the LORD, but Joshua and Caleb 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.
And Moses said, Wherefore now do you transgress the commandment of the LORD! but it shall not prosper.
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.
Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS,
There is great reason to suppose, that when the Glory of the Lord appeared, Moses approached the Tabernacle, to learn the Divine will.
The offence, which the people had committed, in resolving to quit the guidance of the Lord, and elect a captain for themselves, that they might return to Egyptian bondage, instead of taking possession of the land he had designed for them, was an open act of re. bellion against their Heavenly King: the men, who were guilty of it, forfeited every privilege, which, as His people, they might have claimed, and Divine justice was provoked to cut them off. An utter end would now have been put to the whole nation, had not the LORD in his infinite mercy resolved, that the inter-' cession of their mediator should prevail. That Moses might have an opportunity of pleading for Israel, the Lord informed him of the impending judgments. Mo. ses, knowing the way of the LORD, and that, though
He would not clear the guilty without atonement and intercession, He would pardon iniquity and sin *; and that he was merciful and gracious, had recourse to the argument he used once before, and entreated the LORD, for the honour of His own great name, not to extirpate His people. The Lord, according to the greatness of His mercy, spared the nation, as Moses requested; but pronounced a just sentence on that generation, which had offended His Divine Majesty. They were exclude ed from the land they had despised, and condemned to die in the wilderness; and the spies, who had been the first instigators of the sedition, were killed by the pestilence, to strike terror into the rest, and shew from what a fate they were delivered. But the LORD, mindful of His Covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, transferred the blessing to the younger part of their posterity.
The people now began to think of the value of the land they had lost ; but their repentance came too late; and though they were eager to obtain it, their utmost efforts could not succeed, for the Lord refused His aid.
The royal Psalmist taught his subjects how to apply this portion of Scripture to themselves t.
“ To-day (says he) if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work; unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into
my -And the Apostle to the Hebrews shews, that it is equally applicable to Christians f.
The Israelites turned their backs on the land of Ca. naan, and undervalued the blessings of Providence; on which account they were deservedly excluded from the
* Exod, xxxiv, 7.
+ F'salm xcv.
Heb. iii. 7.
possession of them. If their case was deplorable, who forfeited an earthly inheritance, what will that of Christians be, if they lose an eternal one? The Lord, it is true, is gracious and merciful, long-suffering, and of great goodness; but He will withdraw His favour at last from us also, if we despise it ; and, without His assisting Grace, our spiritual enemies will conquer us, as the Amalekites conquered the disobedient Israelites; let us therefore, as the Apostle advises, -Take
heed that there be not in any of us an evil heart of • unbelief, in departing from the living God; but let us exhort one another daily, while it is called to day,
any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness + of sin.'
THE SABBATH-BREAKER STONED-THE DEATH OF
KORAH, DATHAN, AND ABIRAM.
Moses has not transmitted to us any account of a number of events, which must have happened during the Israelites wandering in the wilderness; for they were not to be recorded, as the generation they related to were blotted out from the inheritance of Canaan; but there were some very striking incidents, which afford lessons of general instruction, these he has preserved, and we will not pass them
The Israelites had been repeatedly commanded to keep the Sabbath-day holy; and we have reason to believe, that they complied, at least outwardly, with the ordinances of God, while they wandered in the wilderness; for, we read, that, during that period, a man was
* Heb. iii. 12, 13.