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1 And all the Congregation lifted vp their voyce and cried; and the people wept that night.

2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses, and against Aaron: and the whole Congregation said vnto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt, or would God we had died in this wildernesse.

3 And wherefore hath the Lord brought vs vnto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wiues, and our children should be a pray? Were it not better for vs to returne into Egypt?

4 And they saide one to another, Let vs make a captaine, and let vs returne into Egypt.

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the Congregation of the children of Israel.

6 And Ioshua the sonne of Nun, and Caleb the sonne of Iephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes.

7 And they spake vnto all the company of the children of Israel, saying. The land which wee passed thorow to search it, is an exceeding good land.

8 If the Lord delight in vs, then he will bring vs into this land, and giue it vs, a land which floweth with milke and hony.

9 Onely rebell not yee against the Lord, neither feare yee the people of the land, for they are bread for vs: their defence is departed from them, and the Lord is with vs: feare them not.

10 But all the Congregation bade stone them with stones: and the glory of the Lord appeared in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, before all the children of Israel.

11 And the Lord said vnto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it bee, yer they beleeue me, for all the signes which I haue shewed among them?

12 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherite them, and will make of thee a greater nation, and mightier then they.

13 And Moses said vnto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall heare it, (for thou broughtest vp this people in thy might from among them:)

14 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they haue heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seene face to face, and that thy cloud standeth ouer them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

15 Now if thou shalt kill all this people, as one man, then the nations which haue heard the fame of thee, will speake, saying,

16 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the lande which he sware vnto them, therefore he hath slaine them in the wildernesse.

17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,

18 The Lord is long suffering, and of great mercie, forgiuing iniquitie and transgression, and by no meanes clearing the guiltie, visiting the iniquity of the fathers vpon the chldren, vnto the third and fourth generation.

19 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquitie of this people, according vnto the greatnesse of thy mercie, and as thou hast forgiuen this people, from Egypt, euen vntill now.

20 And the Lord said, I haue pardoned, according to thy word.

21 But as truly as I liue, all the earth shalbe filled with the glory of the Lord.

22 Because all those men which haue seene my glory, and my miracles which I did in Egypt, and in the wildernesse, and haue tempted mee now these ten times, and haue not hearkened to my voice,

23 Surely they shall not see the land which I sware vnto their fathers, neither shall any of them that prouoked me, see it.

24 But my seruant Caleb, because hee had another spirit with him, (and hath followed mee fully) him will I bring into the land, whereinto he went, and his seed shall possesse it.

25 (Now the Amalekites, and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley) to morrow turne you and get you into the wildernesse, by the way of the Red sea.

26 And the Lord spake vnto Moses, and vnto Aaron, saying,

27 How long shall I beare with this euil congregation which murmure against mee? I haue heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmure against mee.

28 Say vnto them, As truly as I liue, saith the Lord, as ye haue spoken in mine eares, so will I doe to you:

29 Your carcases shall fall in this wildernesse, and all that were numbred of you, according to your whole number from twentie yeeres old and vpward, which haue murmured against mee,

30 Doubtlesse ye shall not come into the land concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, saue Caleb the sonne of Iephunneh, and Ioshua the sonne of Nun.

31 But your little ones, which yee said should be a pray, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye haue despised.

32 But as for you, your carkases, they shall fall in this wildernesse.

33 And your children shall wander in the wildernes forty yeres, and beare your whoredomes, vntill your carkases be wasted in the wildernesse.

34 After the number of the dayes in which ye searched the land, euen fortie dayes (each day for a yeere) shall yee beare your iniquities, euen forty yeeres, and yee shall know my breach of promise.

35 I the Lord haue said, I will surely doe it vnto all this euill Congregation, that are gathered together against mee: in this wildernesse they shalbe consumed, & there they shall die.

36 And the men which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the Congregation to murmure against him, by bringing vp a slander vpon the land,

37 Euen those men that did bring vp the euill report vpon the land, died by the plague, before the Lord.

38 But Ioshua the sonne of Nun, and Caleb the sonne of Iephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, liued still.

39 And Moses told these sayings vnto all the children of Israel, and the people mourned greatly.

40 And they rose vp early in the morning, and gate them vp into the top of the mountaine, saying, Loe, we be here, and will goe vp vnto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we haue sinned.

41 And Moses said, Wherefore now doe you transgresse the commaundement of the Lord ? but it shall not prosper.

42 Goe not vp, for the Lord is not among you, that ye be not smitten before your enemies.

43 For the Amalekites, and the Canaanites are there before you, and yee shall fall by the sword, because yee are turned away from the Lord; therefore the Lord will not bee with you.

44 But they presumed to go vp vnto the hill top: neuertheles the Arke of the Couenant of the Lord, and Moses departed not out of the campe.

45 Then the Amalekites came downe, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, euen vnto Hormah.

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Commentary for Numbers 14

The people murmur at the account of the spies. (1-4) Joshua and Caleb labour to still the people. (5-10) The Divine threatenings, The intercession of Moses. (11-19) The murmurers forbidden to enter the promised land. (20-35) Death of the evil spies. (36-39) Defeat of the people, who now would invade the land. (40-45)1-4 Those who do not trust God, continually vex themselves. The sorrow of the world worketh death. The Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron, and in them reproached the Lord. They look back with causeless discontent. See the madness of unbridled passions, which makes men prodigal of what nature accounts most dear, life itself. They wish rather to die criminals under God's justice, than to live conquerors in his favour. At last they resolve, that, instead of going forward to Canaan, they would go back to Egypt. Those who walk not in God's counsels, seek their own ruin. Could they expect that God's cloud would lead them, or his manna attend them? Suppose the difficulties of conquering Canaan were as they imagined, those of returning to Egypt were much greater. We complain of our place and lot, and we would change; but is there any place or condition in this world, that has not something in it to make us uneasy, if we are disposed to be so? The way to better our condition, is to get our spirits in a better frame. See the folly of turning from the ways of God. But men run on the certain fatal consequences of a sinful course.

5-10 Moses and Aaron were astonished to see a people throw away their own mercies. Caleb and Joshua assured the people of the goodness of the land. They made nothing of the difficulties in the way of their gaining it. If men were convinced of the desirableness of the gains of religion, they would not stick at the services of it. Though the Canaanites dwell in walled cities, their defence was departed from them. The other spies took notice of their strength, but these of their wickedness. No people can be safe, when they have provoked God to leave them. Though Israel dwell in tents, they are fortified. While we have the presence of God with us, we need not fear the most powerful force against us. Sinners are ruined by their own rebellion. But those who, like Caleb and Joshua, faithfully expose themselves for God, are sure to be taken under his special protection, and shall be hid from the rage of men, either under heaven or in heaven.

11-19 Moses made humble intercession for Israel. Herein he was a type of Christ, who prayed for those that despitefully used him. The pardon of a nation's sin, is the turning away the nation's punishment; and for that Moses is here so earnest. Moses argued that, consistently with God's character, in his abundant mercies, he could forgive them.

20-35 The Lord granted the prayer of Moses so far as not at once to destroy the congregation. But disbelief of the promise forbids the benefit. Those who despise the pleasant land shall be shut out of it. The promise of God should be fulfilled to their children. They wished to die in the wilderness; God made their sin their ruin, took them at their word, and their carcases fell in the wilderness. They were made to groan under the burden of their own sin, which was too heavy for them to bear. Ye shall know my breach of promise, both the causes of it, that it is procured by your sin, for God never leaves any till they first leave him; and the consequences of it, that will produce your ruin. But your little ones, now under twenty years old, which ye, in your unbelief, said should be a prey, them will I bring in. God will let them know that he can put a difference between the guilty and the innocent, and cut them off without touching their children. Thus God would not utterly take away his loving kindness.

36-39 Here is the sudden death of the ten evil spies. They sinned in bringing a slander upon the land of promise. Those greatly provoke God, who misrepresent religion, raise dislike in men's minds toward it, or give opportunity to those to do so, who seek occasion. Justly are murmurers made mourners. If they had mourned for the sin, when they were faithfully reproved, the sentence had been prevented; but as they mourned for the judgment only, it did them no service. There is in hell such mourning as this; but tears will not quench the flames, nor cool the tongue.

40-45 Some of the Israelites were now earnest to go forward toward Canaan. But it came too late. If men would but be as earnest for heaven while their day of grace lasts, as they will be when it is over, how well would it be for them! That which has been duty in its season, when mistimed, may be turned into sin. Those who are out of the way of their duty, are not under God's protection, and go at their peril. God bade them go, and they would not; he forbade them, and they would go. Thus is the carnal mind enmity against God. They had distrusted God's strength; they now presume upon their own without his. And the expedition fails accordingly; now the sentence began to be executed, that their carcases should fall in the wilderness. That affair can never end well, which begins with sin. The way to obtain peace with our friends, and success against our enemies, is, to have God, as our Friend, and to keep in his love. Let us take warning from the fate of Israel, lest we perish after the same example of unbelief. Let us go forth, depending on God's mercy, power, promise, and truth; he will be with us, and bring our souls to everlasting rest.

Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.

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