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and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock be. fore their eyes, and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation, and their beasts drink.
And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear, now, ye rebels: must we fetch you water out of this rock?
And Moses lift up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abun. dantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Be. cause ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel; therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
This is the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel strove with the LORD; and he was sanctified in then.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
It was now the fortieth year after the departure of the Israelites out of the land of Egypt; and they were once more drawing towards the land of promise. They abode in Kadesh, not Kadesh-Barnea, which was on the borders of Canaan; but another Kadesh on the confines of Edom; farther off from the land of Canaan, but in the way to it from the Red-sea, to which they had been hurried back.
The greatest number of those persons, who came out
of the land of Egypt, were dead; we are therefore to consider this and the succeeding part of the history, as relating to the next generation (their children), to whom the LORD had transferred the inheritance of the promised land, of which he was about to put them in possession.
It was the duty of Moses and Aaron, as the Ministers of God, to follow the Divine commands with the exactest punctuality ; but instead of speaking to the rock in the name of the LORD, Moses struck it. This action had a direct tendency to dishonour God in the eyes of the people ; for Moses did not even mention His Holy Name, but seemed desirous to take the glory to himself and his brother.-Must we fetch water out of this rock, ye rebels ? and Aaron appears to have agreed with him in sentiment. And, we find, that they not only disobeyed the commands of the LORD, but on this occasion, disbelieved His promise. Perhaps Moses and Aaron imagined they should never obtain the rest they had lived in expectation of finding in the land of Canaan: of this we may be certain, that both their thoughts and actions were very sinful, or the LORD would not have punished them so severely. Moses, who relates the transaction, does not attempt to exculpate himself, and makes no complaint of injustice done him; with his usual meekness, he yielded to the Divine will, and resolved to regulate his future conduct, by a steadfast regard to the honour of God; and we may be certain, that the Almighty recompensed him for his disappointment of an earthly Canaan, by hopes of a better rest in a world to come, or he could not have sustained himself as he did, in a variety of subsequent trials. Had the LORD passed over this of
fence, it would have shewed Him to be a respecter of persons *, which the Scripture assures us He is not. In this part of Sacred History we have a very
affecting instance of the weakness of human nature, which should teach us to have a constant guard on our own hearts. If those faithful servants, Moses and Aaron, who made the law of God the general rule of their actions, erred in some particular instances, to what a height of wickedness will those arrive, who totally disregard it!
For a number of years, the Israelites moved about from place to place in the desarts of Arabia, but chiefly about the mountains of Idumea, till almost all that generation of men, which came out of Egypt, were dead : at length the camp came to Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin; and Miriam died and was buried there.
+ While they remained in this place, Moses sent messengers unto the King of Edom, entreating that he would consider the Israelites as brethren, and permit them to pass through his land ; assuring him, that the people would do no kind of injury to the fields and vineyards, or commit any hostilities, but march quietly along the king's highway, till they had passed the borders of Edom. This message Moses sent in consequence
of a 'command which he had received from the LORD, who, having destined Mount Seir as a possession to the descendants of Esau, would not pormit the descendants of Jacob to supplant them.
* Acts x. 34.
+ Numb. xx. 14.
The King of Edom, so far from complying with the reasonable request of Moses, came out against the Israelites with a powerful army; on which the latter, agreeably to the will of God, took another route, and soon after encamped at mount Hor, not far from the borders of Edom. By thus opposing the Israelites, the Edomites shewed, that the old enmity of Esau to Jacob was transmitted to their posterity. The time was not yet come, at which the descendants of the elders were to serve the
younger *; therefore the Israelites were enjoined not to annoy the Edomites.
+ When they were settled in mount Hor, the LORD gave notice to Aaron of his approaching death, informing him, that, on account of his late disobedience, he should not enter into the land of Canaan: and soon after God commanded Moses to take Aaron and Eleazar his son to the top of the mount, and there to strip Aaron of his priestly garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son. Moses accordingly went up
the tain with Aaron and Eleazar, in the sight of the whole congregation, and did as the Lord required; and Aaron died on mount Hor. The loss of their High Priest was a great affliction to the people, and they bewailed his death, with the usual solemnities, for thirty days. Aaron was buried by Eleazar his son in some cave on mount Hor; but the place of his interment was kept from the knowledge of the Israelites; perhaps from an apprehension that, in after ages, they might pay some superstitious worship to him; or probably to prevent his ' remains from being removed by the Arabians, among whom they then dwelt. Aaron was an hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on mount Hor.
It must have been a very painful and affecting office to Moses to strip his beloved brother of the sacred vest'ments, and afterwards to witness his death, and assist at his interment; and we can scarcely suppose, that the LORD God, gracious and merciful, would have called him to such a trial, without supporting his mind under it, by assurances that he should moet
ron again in a better world ; neither could Aaron have gone through the awful solemnity of resigning the priesthood and his life, with calmness and resignation, if he had been devoid of similar expectations; for these are the only comforts that can possibly reconcile the mind to approaching death, and the loss of beloved friends : supported by these, the departing spirit looks forward to the joys of futurity; and the surviving mourner submits withou repining, to the will of Heaven.
Aaron, on the whole, acquitted himself in the holy office, to which lie was appointed by God, with great propriety ; for, excepting in the matter of the golden calf, when he suffered his inclination to be over-ruled by the idolaters through fear, and in the instance of disbelieving the Lord's promise, when Moses struck the rock, we read of no act of disobedience that he was guilty of. The author of the book Ecclesiasticus bears honourable testimony to his character; and teaches us to venerate his memory, as one who was chosen by Divine command out of all men living to offer sacrifices to the Lord, incense and a sweet savour, and to make reconciliation for his people *. How merciful was the LORD, in continuing the priesthood and sacrifices, even after the nation had so highly ofiended Him. By this means every individual, who composed the generation He in His just anger excluded from Canaan, had an op
* Ecclus. xlv.