Deuteronomy 1:44 MEANING

Deuteronomy 1:44
(44) As bees do.--This should be observed as illustrating what is said of the hornet in Exodus 23:28-30, and further on in Deuteronomy 7:20; Joshua 24:12. The incidental mention of the bees in this place shows that the writer of Deuteronomy was familiar with the spectacle of a company of men pursued by bees.

In Seir, even unto Hormah.--Conder (Bible Handbook, p. 250) understands this Seir as the range of hills round Petra. There is another Seir in the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:10). As to Hormah, the Jewish commentator Aben Ezra says, "the name of a place or the verb," i.e., either unto Hormah, or unto utter destruction. But in our version the word Hormah is always taken as a proper name. The situation of Hormah is unknown.

Verse 44. - The Amorites, for the Canaanites generally; in Numbers, the Amalekites are specially mentioned as joining with the Amorites in chastising the Israelites. These tribes came down from the higher mountain range to the lower height which the Israelites had gained, and drove them with great slaughter as far as Hormah, in Seir, chasing them as bees do, which pursue with keen ferocity those who disturb them. Hormah (Ban-place), the earlier name of which was Zephath (Judges 1:17), was a royal city of the Canaanites, taken by the Israelites towards the close of their wanderings, and placed by them under a ban (Numbers 21:1, etc.), which ban was fully executed only in the time of the Judges. It is here and elsewhere called Hormah by anticipation. The old name Zephath seems to have survived that given to it by the Israelites in the name Sebaita or Sepata, the Arabic form of Zephath, the name of a heap of ruins on the western slope of the rocky mountain-plateau Rakhmah, about two hours and a half south-west of Khalasa (Ritter, 'Geography of Palestine,' 1:431; Palmer, 'Desert of Et-Tih,' p. 289, etc.). This is a more probable identification than that of Robinson ('Res.,' 2:18), who finds Hormah in the rocky defile of Es-Sufah, an unlikely place for a city of the importance of Zephath to be in.

1:19-46 Moses reminds the Israelites of their march from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, through that great and terrible wilderness. He shows how near they were to a happy settlement in Canaan. It will aggravate the eternal ruin of hypocrites, that they were not far from the kingdom of God. As if it were not enough that they were sure of their God before them, they would send men before them. Never any looked into the Holy Land, but they must own it to be a good land. And was there any cause to distrust this God? An unbelieving heart was at the bottom of all this. All disobedience to God's laws, and distrust of his power and goodness, flow from disbelief of his word, as all true obedience springs from faith. It is profitable for us to divide our past lives into distinct periods; to give thanks to God for the mercies we have received in each, to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember; and thus to renew our acceptance of God's salvation, and our surrender of ourselves to his service. Our own plans seldom avail to good purpose; while courage in the exercise of faith, and in the path of duty, enables the believer to follow the Lord fully, to disregard all that opposes, to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings.And the Amorites which dwelt in the mountain,.... Elsewhere called Canaanites, being one, and a principal one of the seven nations of Canaan, and who were joined and assisted in the attack by the Amalekites, Numbers 14:45.

came out against you, and chased you, as bees do; which being disturbed in their hives come out in great numbers, and with great fury and ardour (for, though a small creature, it has a great deal of spirit); and pursue the aggressor, and leave him not till they have stung him, though thereby they lose their stings, and quickly their lives, at least their usefulness; so these Amorites, being irritated at the approach of the Israelites on their borders, came out in great numbers and with great wrath, and fell upon them and smote them, and pursued them a long way, as is after expressed, though these in the issue were destroyed themselves. The Syriac version renders it, "as bees that are smoked": or irritated by smoke; which is a method that has been used, and was anciently: to dispossess them of their hives, and get their honey, as Bochart (p) from various writers has shown, as from Virgil (q), Ovid (r), and others; and when they are too much smoked become exceeding angry as Aristotle (s) and Pliny (t) observe; and which same writers take notice of the strength and force of their stings, as that they will kill with them the largest animals, even horses have been killed by them; and, though such small feeble creatures, are not afraid to attack men and beasts; yea, sometimes people have been obliged to leave their habitations, and have been driven out of their country by them, of which Aelianus (u) gives an instance; all which shows the aptness and propriety of this simile; see Psalm 118:12 and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah; pursued them as far as Mount Seir, even to another place on the borders of Edom, which was called Hormah, either from the destruction now or afterwards made here; See Gill on Numbers 14:45, though some take it not to be the proper name of a place, but an appellative, and render it, "even unto destruction"; so the Jerusalem Targum; that is, destroyed them with an utter destruction.

(p) Hierozoic, par. 2. l. 4. c. 10. col. 507. (q) "-----Fumosque manu", &c. Virgil. Georgic. l. 4. v. 230. (r) "Quid, cum suppositos", &c. Ovid. de Remed. Amor. l. 1. v. 185. (s) Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 40. (t) Nat Hist. l. 11. c. 16, 18. (u) De Animal. l. 17. c. 35.

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