Numbers 12:2 MEANING

Numbers 12:2
(2) Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses?--There is probably a reference in these words to the facts related in Exodus 4:10-16, where Moses speaks of his own slowness of speech (Numbers 12:10), and where it is said of Aaron, "And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people" (Numbers 12:16). Miriam also is spoken of in Exodus 15:20 as "the prophetess." "Such is the depravity of human nature," writes Calvin, "that they not only abuse the gifts of God towards the brother whom they despise, but by an ungodly and sacrilegious glorification extol the gifts themselves in such a manner as to hide the Author of the gifts."

Verse 2. - And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? This is evidently not the "speaking against Moses" mentioned in the previous verse, for that is distinctly said to have been on the score of Moses' marriage. This is their justification of themselves for daring to dispute his judgment and arraign his proceedings; a thing which clearly required justification. Moses himself, or more likely others for him, had remonstrated with them on the language they were using. They retorted that Moses had no monopoly of Divine communications; Aaron also received the revelation of God by Urim and Thummim, and Miriam was a prophetess. They were acknowledged in a general sense as sharing with him the leadership of Israel (see Micah 6:4); upon this they meant to found a claim to coordinate authority. They would have had perhaps all matters settled in a family council in which they should have had an equal voice. It was hard for them both to forget that Moses was only their younger brother: for Miriam that she had saved his life as an infant; for Aaron that he had been as prominent as Moses in the original commission from God to the people. And the Lord heard it. In one sense he hears everything; in another sense there are many things which he does not choose to hear, because he does not wish to take judicial notice of them. Thus he had not "heard" the passionate complaints of Moses himself a short time before, because his will was then to pardon, not to punish (cf. Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 3:16).

12:1-9 The patience of Moses was tried in his own family, as well as by the people. The pretence was, that he had married a foreign wife; but probably their pride was hurt, and their envy stirred up, by his superior authority. Opposition from our near relations, and from religious friends, is most painful. But this is to be looked for, and it will be well if in such circumstances we can preserve the gentleness and meekness of Moses. Moses was thus fitted to the work he was called to. God not only cleared Moses, but praised him. Moses had the spirit of prophecy in a way which set him far above all other prophets; yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he; and our Lord Jesus infinitely excels him, Heb 3:1. Let Miriam and Aaron consider whom it was they insulted. We have reason to be afraid of saying or doing any thing against the servants of God. And those are presumptuous indeed who are not afraid to speak evil of dignities, 2Pe 2:10. The removal of God's presence is the surest and saddest token of God's displeasure. Woe to us, if he depart! he never departs, till by sin and folly we drive him from us.And they said, hath the Lord, indeed spoken only by Moses?.... They own he had spoken by him; this was so notorious that it could not be denied:

hath he not spoken also by us? are we not prophets as well as he? the Lord spake to Aaron while he was in Egypt, and had made him a good spokesman in his name, and bore this testimony of him, that he could speak well, and Miriam is expressly called a prophetess, Exodus 4:14 Exodus 15:20; and this being the case, they stomached it that they should have no concern in the choice and appointment of the seventy elders:

and the Lord heard it; for perhaps this was said secretly between themselves; but God, that sees, and hears, and knows all things, took notice of what was spoken by them, and resented it; for it was ultimately against himself, who had ordered Moses to do what he did.

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