« AnteriorContinuar »
recently (Numb. xi.) there had been an appointment of seventy elders, who had higher and special functions. Nothing then appeared likely to cause delay, or hinder the direct march of Israel into Canaan, and the obvious position of matters brings into a clear light the ingratitude and the self-will of the people. While halting at Kadesh a wish was expressed, perhaps originating with a few, that the land should be explored previously to their final march. This practice was common in the warfare of the East, still more necessary than in modern invasions, owing to the absence of maps, and the Oriental habits of exaggeration or misrepresentation. The accounts in Numb. xiii. 1-3 and Deut. i. 22 are not discrepant. It was amongst the people that the proposition took its rise, and it was endorsed by Moses, then submitted to Jehovah, and so sanctioned that the doing of it received the weight of a divine command.
The spies were directed to explore both the mountainous districts and the lowlands, and they were to enter Canaan by the way of the Negeb, or south country (Numb. xiii. 17.) This, the after inheritance of Judah, was not one of the richest portions of the land, still some importance was evidently attached to the investigation of that district, because the host would probably begin the invasion there. (A book on the locality by the Rev. E. Wilton, published in 1863, gives an interesting description of this Negeb.) From the statement in Numb. xiii. 22 the northern limit was Hebron, while east and west the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean are supposed to have been its boundaries. Various tribes inhabited the south country, notably the Amalekites and the Canaanites, the latter being a special name for a mixture of several tribes, banded together into a small nationality, and not here applied in the general sense to the inhabitants of Palestine (Numb. xiv. 25). Besides the Amalekites who had settled down, there were numerous nomade parties, roving throughout the desert districts, and occasionally advancing to the confines of Egypt. Three nations are mentioned as being residents in the hilly districts (Numb. xiii. 29); the Amorites, however, had also settlements in the plains. These hilly districts in this passage appear to have been those of Southern and Central Canaan, for it is unnecessary to suppose that the spies went on a tour throughout the whole land. We are not told whether they divided into small parties or travelled in a body.
The issue of such an exploration was a very natural one. In spite of the convincing and tangible proofs of the fertility of much of the land, ten of the twelve selected men presented a
THE SIN OF MOSES AT KADESH.
report which excited the fears of the people and led them into mutiny. Dr. Thomson, after careful consideration of the numerous Eastern traditions about giants, thinks it undeniable that some races in Palestine once exceeded the ordinary stature of men. The spies saw giants, it may be, but they exaggerated the proportions and also the numbers of these (Numb. xiii. 33); and they occasioned additional alarm by their report that the land was dangerous, because "it eateth up the inhabitants thereof” (Numb. xiii. 28, 32). The repeated Egyptian invasions and the constant internal wars had compelled the people to wall in all their cities. Plausible as were some of their arguments, they utterly failed to justify a hanging back, which bore as its fruits disobedience and unbelief, and had as its due recompence from Jehovah the death of the offenders in the wilderness, and thirtyeight years' delay ere Israel entered Canaan. J. R. S. C.
THE SIN OF MOSES AT KADESH.
THE Rabbins had a tradition that the rock of Horeb and that of Rephidim were one-a miraculous rock that accompanied the Israelites through all their journeyings in the desert, and supplied them with water. And even Christian readers of the Bible have sometimes been at a loss to understand Paul's words in 1 Cor. x. 4. But the apostle alluded to no such fable; still, though the incident of the rock smitten in Horeb, and that again struck at Kadesh, stand out prominently, there can be no doubt that from time to time the Israelites were miraculously supplied with water, without which special aid so large a number of persons could not have obtained what was needful in certain of the districts through which the Israelites marched, or in which they abode.
We find the host once more encamped at Kadesh, almost forty years after the Exodus, at a spot with memories that ought to have excited penitence and gratitude; yet we see no signs of these in the conduct of the people. The locale of Kadesh-barnea is much debated. Mr. Palmer places it in one district, Mr. Rowlands in another; the latter believing that he has not only beheld the very rock struck by Moses, but tasted the limpid waters which still flow therefrom, and fertilize a long oasis in the sandy wilderness. However, we are doubtless right in inferring that Kadesh is in Numb. xiii. 2, as well as in chap.
xx. 1, used in a broad sense: at first the people encamped on a plain in the wilderness of Paran, afterwards they returned to the vicinity, but then halted among the hills.
The speedily exhausted stock of water excited an outcry which, as it is remarked by a recent commentator, has the appearance of a traditional remonstrance, since but few there could from experience have known Egyptian enjoyments. In wishing that they also had died (Numb. xx. 3) the Israelites were alluding not to those destroyed in Korah's rebellion, but to those who had dropped off year after year, as Moses predicted. With the rod that had brought about the plagues of Egypt, Moses was commanded to take his stand beside a rock, and at his word a stream should issue. With unseemly and angry words he struck the rock, and the blow was as the death-knell to Aaron and himself, for it excluded them from the land of promise (Numb. xx. 10-12). It is indeed true that Moses, in Deut. i. 37, speaks to Israel as if his exclusion had some connection with the mission of the spies; but he is not then observing strictly an historical order of events, and he, like the rest of the tribe of Levi, was exempted from the sentence passed on the disobedient.
Some have been a little perplexed by the fact that a previous display of anger on Moses' part seems at first a greater transgression than the one which shut him out of Canaan. We have this recorded in Numb. xi. Disgusted with the "sweet bread of heaven," weeping-i. e., complaining-was almost universal throughout the nation, and the wrath of God was aroused. We read in ver. 10 that Moses was displeased, and, as Kurtz observes, there was a double displeasure on his part; he was angry with the people, and with God also, and in his utter loss of selfcontrol he wished himself dead (ver. 15). In this passionate outburst his sin was rather a private than a public one, and hence, I think, the distinction between the mode in which God dealt with him at Kibroth-hattaavah and at Meribah. Failing, as Moses did, to honour God, the work of leading the Israelites into Canaan was withdrawn from him. In spite of the people's sin, and that of their leaders, it is yet added that God was sanctified among them (Numb. xx. 13). His glory and His righteousness were manifested in the punishment He there inflicted. J. R. S. C.
THE THREE GREAT FEASTS.
EXODUS xxiii. 14.-"Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto Me in the year." THE three great annual feasts of Israel were intimately related to one another as parts of one religious system, and expressive of similar religious truths. The passover lies at the foundation of them all. On the passover the entire sacred year rests, and out of it spring all the services to follow. The feast of unleavened bread, the feast of harvest, and the feast of ingathering, "these are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons." The passover was not called a feast, and was not a holy convocation, but seems rather to occupy an introductory and independent place. The feast of unleavened bread has something in common with that of tabernacles, with which, however, pentecost has no share. Both derive their leading characteristics from the historical associations connected with them, and it is by the greatness of the historical truths which they commemorate that they are elevated into seven days' festivals. But there are other aspects of the three feasts, under which pentecost takes its place in the series, and constitutes the fitting middle term between the two. The feast of unleavened bread embraced a thanksgiving for the grain as grain; and the sheaf of barley, the first ripened corn, expressed the dedication, not of the barley alone, but of the whole grain crop to Jehovah. The feast of pentecost followed as a thanksgiving for the grain not only grown and reaped, but gathered in and appropriated to the use of man; and the two leavened loaves expressed the dedication of the crop as turned into food for the following year.
Finally, the feast of tabernacles embodied a thanksgiving for fruits and oil and wine, the last productions of the season; and its first fruits expressed the dedication to Him from whom they came of the joys rather than the necessaries of life. In this respect, therefore, all the three feasts were united together by a bond of similarity and of sympathy.
But in addition to this they all shadowed forth certain great truths respecting the covenant life with God. Unleavened bread was a call to repentance and a demand for holiness. Leaven, the symbol of sin, was to be put away. The "unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" was alone to be found in the heart, in the
family, and in the nation. Pentecost told of the gift and appropriation of that Spirit in whose strength we walk with God. Lastly, tabernacles spoke of the diffusion of the Spirit; that they who truly walk with God live not for themselves, but for others; that having freely received they freely give.
Translated into New Testament language, the three feasts thus gave utterance to the three great truths of all religious life :Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand; Behold, the kingdom of God is within you; "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."-Condensed from Rev. Wm. Milligan, D.D., in "Bible Educator."
THE BURNT OFFERING.
LEVITICUS Vii. 37.-"This is the law of the burnt offering."
THE original word is usually applied to the whole burnt offering, but sometimes refers to other sacrifices, since a part of them was consumed in the fire. It is here employed in the former sense. The original word is derived from a root which signifies to ascend; it was the ordinary designation of that sort of offering the whole of whose smoke ascended to heaven. It was not considered as primarily a sacrifice for sin, though this idea was not wholly excluded, but an offering, a gift. "The meaning, therefore," says the Rev. Dr. Barry, "of the whole burnt offering was the offering by the sacrificer of himself, soul and body, to God, the submission of his will to the will of the Lord."
"There were as public burnt offerings, the daily burnt offering, a lamb of the first year, sacrificed every morning and evening for the people (Exod. xxix. 38-42; Numb. xxviii. 3—8); the Sabbath burnt offering, double of that which was offered every day (Numb. xxviii. 9, 10); the offering at the new moon, the three great festivals, the great day of atonement, and the feast of trumpets generally two bullocks, a ram, and seven lambs (Numb. xxviii. 11; xxix. 39). Private burnt offerings were appointed at the consecration of priests (Exod. xxix. 15; Lev. viii. 18; ix. 12); at the purification of women (Lev. xii. 6—8); at the cleansing of lepers (Lev. xiv. 19), and the removal of other ceremonial uncleanness (Lev. xv. 15, 30); on any accidental breach of the Nazaritic vow, or at its conclusion (Numb. vi.) Free-will burnt offerings were accepted by God on any solemn occasion (Numb. vii.). But, except on such occasions, the nature, the extent, and the place of the sacrifice were expressly limited by God, so that, while all should be unblemished and pure, there should be no idea, as among the heathen, of buying His favour by costliness of sacrifice."