Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
JOURNEYS OF THE
1. These are the journeys of the children of Israel--This chapter
may be said to form the winding up of the history of the travels of the
Israelites through the wilderness; for the three following chapters
relate to matters connected with the occupation and division of the
promised land. As several apparent discrepancies will be discovered on
comparing the records here given of the journeyings from Sinai with the
detailed accounts of the events narrated in the Book of Exodus and the
occasional notices of places that are found in that of Deuteronomy, it
is probable that this itinerary comprises a list of only the most
important stations in their journeys--those where they formed
prolonged encampments, and whence they dispersed their flocks and herds
to pasture on the adjacent plains till the surrounding herbage was
exhausted. The catalogue extends from their departure out of Egypt to
their arrival on the plains of Moab.
went forth . . . with their armies--that is, a vast multitude
marshalled in separate companies, but regular order.
2. Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the
commandment of the Lord--The wisdom of this divine order is seen in
the importance of the end to which it was subservient--namely, partly
to establish the truth of the history, partly to preserve a memorial of
God's marvellous interpositions on behalf of Israel, and partly to
confirm their faith in the prospect of the difficult enterprise on
which they were entering, the invasion of Canaan.
3. Rameses--generally identified with Heroopoils, now the modern
which was probably the capital of Goshen, and, by direction of Moses,
the place of general rendezvous previous to their departure.
4. upon their gods--used either according to Scripture phraseology
to denote their rulers (the first-born of the king and his princes) or
the idolatrous objects of Egyptian worship.
5. pitched in Succoth--that is, "booths"--a place of no note except as
a temporary halting place, at Birketel-Hadji, the Pilgrim's Pool
6. Etham--edge, or border of all that part of Arabia-Petræa which
lay contiguous to Egypt and was known by the general name of Shur.
7. Pi-hahiroth, Baal-zephon . . .
8. Marah--thought to be Ain Howarah, both from its position and
the time (three days) it would take them with their children and flocks
to march from the water of Ayun Musa to that spot.
9. Elim--supposed to be Wady Ghurundel
10. encamped by the Red Sea--The road from Wady Ghurundel leads into
the interior, in consequence of a high continuous ridge which excludes
all view of the sea. At the mouth of Wady-et-Tayibeh, after about three
days' march, it opens again on a plain along the margin of the Red Sea.
The minute accuracy of the Scripture narrative, in corresponding so
exactly with the geographical features of this region, is remarkably
shown in describing the Israelites as proceeding by the only
practicable route that could be taken. This plain, where they encamped,
was the Desert of Sin
12-14. Dophkah . . . Alush . . . Rephidim--These three stations, in
the great valleys of El Sheikh and Feiran, would be equivalent to four
days' journey for such a host. Rephidim
was in Horeb, the burnt region--a generic name for a hot, mountainous
country. [See on
15. wilderness of Sinai--the Wady Er-Raheh.
16-37. Kibroth-Hattaavah ("the graves of lust,"
--The route, on breaking up the encampment at Sinai, led down Wady
Sheikh; then crossing Jebel-et-Tih, which intersected the peninsula,
they descended into Wady Zalaka, pitching successively at two brief,
though memorable, stations
then they encamped at Hazeroth ("unwalled villages"), supposed to be at
Ain-Hadera (see on
Kadesh, or Kadesh-barnea, is supposed to be the great valley of the
Ghor, and the city Kadesh to have been situated on the border of this
valley [BURCKHARDT; ROBINSON]. But as there are no less than eighteen
stations inserted between Hazeroth and Kadesh, and only eleven days
were spent in performing that journey
it is evident that the intermediate stations here recorded belong to
another and totally different visit to Kadesh. The first was when they
left Sinai in the second month
(Nu 1:11; 13:20),
and were in Kadesh in August
and "abode many days" in it. Then, murmuring at the report of the
spies, they were commanded to return into the desert "by the way of the
Red Sea." The arrival at Kadesh, mentioned in this catalogue,
corresponds to the second sojourn at that place, being the
first month, or April
Between the two visits there intervened a period of thirty-eight years,
during which they wandered hither and thither through all the region of
El-Tih ("wanderings"), often returning to the same spots as the
pastoral necessities of their flocks required; and there is the
strongest reason for believing that the stations named between Hazeroth
belong to the long interval of wandering. No certainty has yet been
attained in ascertaining the locale of many of these stations. There
must have been more than are recorded; for it is probable that those
only are noted where they remained some time, where the tabernacle was
pitched, and where Moses and the elders encamped, the people being
scattered for pasture in various directions. From Ezion-geber, for
instance, which stood at the head of the gulf of Akaba, to Kadesh,
could not be much less than the whole length of the great valley of the
Ghor, a distance of not less than a hundred miles, whatever might be
the exact situation of Kadesh; and, of course, there must have been
several intervening stations, though none are mentioned. The incidents
and stages of the rest of the journey to the plains of Moab are
sufficiently explicit from the preceding chapters.
18. Rithmah ("the place of the broom")--a station possibly in some
wady extending westward of the Ghor.
19. Rimmon-parez, or Rimmon--a city of Judah and Simeon
Libnah, so called from its white poplars
or, as some think, a white hill between Kadesh and Gaza
Rissah (El-arish); mount Shapher (Cassius); Moseroth, adjacent to mount
Hor, in Wady Mousa. Ezion-geber, near Akaba, a seaport on the western
shore of the Elanitic gulf; Wilderness of Zin, on the east side of the
peninsula of Sinai; Punon, in the rocky ravines of mount Hor and famous
for the mines and quarries in its vicinity as well as for its fruit
trees, now Tafyle, on the border of Edom; Abarim, a ridge of rugged
hills northwest of the Arnon--the part called Nebo was one of its
highest peaks--opposite Jericho. (See on
50-53. ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before
you--not, however, by expulsion, but extermination
and destroy all their pictures--obelisks for idolatrous worship
and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their
high places--by metonymy for all their groves and altars, and
materials of worship on the tops of hills.
54. ye shall divide the land by lot--The particular locality of
each tribe was to be determined in this manner while a line was to be
used in measuring the proportion
Ps 16:5, 6).
55. But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from
before you--No associations were to be formed with the inhabitants;
otherwise, "if ye let remain, they will be pricks in your eyes, and
thorns in your sides"--that is, they would prove troublesome and
dangerous neighbors, enticing to idolatry, and consequently depriving
you of the divine favor and blessing. The neglect of the counsel
against union with the idolatrous inhabitants became fatal to them.
This earnest admonition given to the Israelites in their peculiar
circumstances conveys a salutary lesson to us to allow no lurking
habits of sin to remain in us. That spiritual enemy must be eradicated
from our nature; otherwise it will be ruinous to our present peace and