and called it Nobah, after his name; but it seems that in later times its ancient name was restored to it; for Jerom (w), says there was a village in Arabia, called Cannatha, which is supposed to be this place; though he also tells us (x), that eight miles from Heshbon; to the south, is shown a desert place called Naba. Pliny (y) places Cannatha in the Decapolis.
(u) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 9. p. 27. (w) Ut supra. (De loc. Heb. fol. 89. M.) (x) De loc. Heb. fol. 93. H. (y) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 18.
INTRODUCTION TO Numbers 33
This chapter gives an account of the journeys of the people of Israel, from their first coming out of Egypt, to their arrival in the plains of Moab by Jordan, and the names of the various stations where they rested are given, Numbers 33:1 and they are ordered, when they passed over Jordan, to drive out the Canaanites, destroy their idols, and divide the land among their families in their several tribes, Numbers 33:50 or otherwise it is threatened the Canaanites should be troublesome and vexatious to them, even those that remained; and it might be expected God would do to the Israelites as he thought to do to those nations, Numbers 33:55.
which went forth out of the land of Egypt: whither their fathers went and stayed, and were kept in hard bondage, but in due time were delivered from it, and came out from thence:
with their armies; in great numbers, and in an orderly manner, in rank and file, and like so many squadrons, see Exodus 7:4, under the hand of Moses and Aaron: who were sent to the king of Egypt to require their dismission, and who were the instruments under God of their deliverance, and were the leaders of them; as of them out of Egypt, so through the wilderness, in their, several journeys here recorded.
and these are their journeys according to their goings out; from place to place; some of the ancients, as Jerom (z) particularly, and some modern writers, have allegorized these journeys of the children of Israel, and have fancied that there is something in the signification of the names of the places they came to, and abode in, suitable to the cases and circumstances of the people of God in their passage through this world; but though the travels of the children of Israel in the wilderness may in general be an emblem of the case and condition of the people of God in this world, and there are many things in them, and which they met with, and befell them, that may be accommodated to them; yet the particulars will never hold good of individual saints, since they are not all led exactly in the same path of difficulties and troubles, but each have something peculiar to themselves; and it will be difficult to apply these things to the church of God in general, in the several stages and periods of time, and which I do not know that any have attempted; and yet, if there is anything pointed out by the travels, one would think it should be that.
(z) "De 42 mansionibus", Fabiolae, "inter opera ejus", T. 3. fol. 13.
in the first month; in the month Nisan, as the same Targum, or Abib, which was appointed the first month on this account, and answers to part of our March and April:
on the fifteenth of the first month, on the morrow after the passover; that was kept on the fourteenth, when the Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites, and slew all the firstborn in Egypt, which made way for their departure the next morning; the Egyptians being urgent upon them to be gone:
the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians; openly and publicly, with great courage and boldness, without any fear of their enemies; who seeing them march out, had no power to stop them, or to move their lips at them, nay, were willing to be rid of them; see Exodus 11:7.
(a) Travels, p. 307. Ed. 2.
upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments; they were moved at the presence, and by the power of God, and fell and were dashed to pieces, as the idols of the same land were in later times, see Isaiah 19:1 and this still the more intimidated and frightened the Egyptians, that they dared not attempt to hinder the departure of the Israelites from them. The Targum of Jonathan says, the Word of the Lord did this; and adds, their molten idols became soft, their strong idols were mutilated, their earthen idols were diminished, their wooden idols became ashes, and those of beasts died.
and pitched in Succoth: where, as the same paraphrase says, they were covered with the clouds of glory, suggesting that to be the reason of its name; but that was rather because of the booths or tents the Israelites erected, pitched, and dwelt in, during their abode there: this, according to Bunting (b), was eight miles from Rameses; according to whose computation, for want of a better guide, the distances of the several stations from each other will be given.
(b) Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 81.
which is in the edge of the wilderness; of the name, see Exodus 13:20 but Dr. Shaw (c) makes this particular portion of the wilderness to be fifty miles from Cairo or Rameses.
(c) Travels, p. 308.
which is before Baalzephon; the name of an idol, as the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, supposed to be placed here, to watch and guard the passage, as Zephon signifies:
and they pitched before Migdol: which was either the name of a city, the same with Migdol, Jeremiah 44:1 or it was a tower, as the word signifies, placed here on the borders of the land, for the defence of it.
and passed through the midst of the sea; from shore to shore, as on dry laud:
into the wilderness: that part of it which lay on the other side, for still it was the wilderness of Etham they went into, as follows:
and went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah; so called from the bitterness of the waters there, and which is computed to be forty miles from Pihahiroth.
and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and three score and ten palm trees, and they pitched there; being a convenient place of water for them,
and encamped at Dophkah; twelve miles from the wilderness of Sin; and of this, and the next encampment, no mention is made in Exodus.
and the people rested on the seventh day, Exodus 16:30.
(d) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 5. p. 17.
where was no water for the people to drink; and they murmured, and a rock here was smitten by Moses at the command of God, and waters gushed out sufficient for them and their flocks, Exodus 17:1.
(e) Egmont and Heyman's Travels, vol. 2. p. 154. (f) Dr. Lightfoot, vol. 1. p. 35. Dr. Clayton's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 382, 383. (g) Antiqu. l. 12. c. 8. sect. 4.
in the edge of the land of Edom; as Kadesh also was; see Numbers 20:16.
and died there in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of Egypt; not being suffered to go with them into the land of Canaan, because of his sin of unbelief at Kadesh, the last place from whence they came: in Mount Hor he died:
on the first day of the fifth month; the month Ab, answering to part of July and part of August; so that he lived but four months after his sister Miriam; see Numbers 20:1.
which dwelt in the land of Canaan, he heard of the coming of the children of Israel; towards the land of Canaan, in order to possess it, and he came out and fought with them, and was vanquished; see Numbers 21:1, this was when Israel was at Mount Hor; from whence they departed to Zalmonah, twenty eight miles from the mount; and from thence to Punon, which was twenty more; and so to Oboth, which was twenty four miles from Punon: and thence
to Ijeabarim, in the border of Moab, which was sixteen miles, see Numbers 21:9.
Numbers 33:45.and we went over the brook Zered; which was fordable, or perhaps at this time dried up.
before Nebo; one of those mountains, whither Moses went up and died.
saying; as follows.
when ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan; near to which they now were, and Moses was about to leave them; and therefore it was the more necessary to give them some instructions and directions what they should do, when they were come into it.
and destroy all their pictures; their idolatrous ones; the pictures of their gods, or the statues and figured stones of them: the Targum of Jonathan interprets it,"all the temples of their worship;''and the Jerusalem Targum,"all their idols;''so called, as Jarchi notes, because they covered the floor with a pavement of marble stones, to worship upon them by the stretching out of their hands and feet, according to Leviticus 26:1,
and destroy all their molten images; of gold, silver, &c.
and quite pluck down all their high places; their temples, groves, and altars built upon them.
for I have given you the land to possess it; who had a right to dispose of it, and a better title they needed not desire than the Lord could and did make them.
then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them; sparing their lives, and permitting them to dwell among them:
shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides; which figurative expressions show that they should be very troublesome and distressing to them, even in their most tender and nearest concerns, and dearest relations, and which are explained and more properly expressed as follows:
and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell; among other things by their wicked conversation, and by drawing them into sin through their ill examples, and so bring the displeasure of God upon them, and punishment for their evil doings.