When they were but a few men in number
Or "men of number" F4, that might easily be numbered; see ( Genesis 34:30 ) , when this covenant, promise, and oath, were first made to Abraham, he was alone, and had no child; and when his posterity were increased in Jacob's time, and sojourned in Egypt, they were but few, though greatly enlarged when they came out of it: in comparison of other nations, they were the fewest of all people, and therefore had this grant of Canaan, not for their numbers any more than their goodness. And this circumstance is mentioned to show the unmerited goodness of God unto them; see ( Deuteronomy 7:6-8 ) ( 26:5 ) . And so the Lord's people, to whom he gives the kingdom of heaven, are a little flock; they are only a few that find the way to eternal life, ( Luke 12:32 ) ( Matthew 7:14 ) .
Yea, very few;
or "as a little thing" F5: so were the people of Israel a little contemptible body of men in the eyes of others, and in comparison of them. And such are the saints in this world; "the filth of it", and the "offscouring of all things";
yea, things that are not;
that scarce deserve, in the opinion of men, to be reckoned entities or beings. And strangers in it; as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, were, ( Hebrews 11:9 Hebrews 11:13 ) , and so are the people of God, who are the heirs of the heavenly Canaan. These are strangers to the men of the world, who know them not; and the men of the world to them; with whom they have no conversation and fellowship in things sinful and criminal; for which they late despised by the world: yet these are the fellow citizens of heaven, and of the household of God, which shows his discriminating grace.
F4 (rpom ytm) "viros numeri", Montanus; so Vatablus, Gejerus, Michaelis.
F5 (jemk) "sicut parum", Montanus; so Vatablus; "aut exile aliquid", Gejerus; so Gussetius, p. 477.