Verse 12. -- When they were but a few men in number. bpsm ytm. Literally, "homines numeri", men of number; so few as easily to be numbered: in opposition to what their posterity afterwards were, as the sand of the sea, without number. --Samuel Chandler.
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 12. -- One would think that all the world would have been upon them; but here was the protection, God has a negative voice, "He suffered no man to do them wrong." Many had (as we say) an aching tooth at the people of God, their finger itched to be dealing with them, and the text shows four advantages the world had against them. First, "They were few." Secondly, "very few." Thirdly, "strangers." Fourthly, unsettled. What hindered their enemies? It was the Lord's negative voice. "He reproved kings for their sakes; saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm." We see an instance of this ( Genesis 35:5 ). When Jacob and his family journeyed, "the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob." They had a mind to pursue after them, to revenge the slaughter of the Shechemites; but God said, Pursue not, and then they could not pursue, they must stay at home. And when his people the Jews were safe in Canaan he encourages them to come up freely to worship at Jerusalem, by this assurance, "No man shall desire the land, when thou shalt go up to appear before the Lord thy God, thrice in the year" ( Exodus 34:24 ). God can stop not only hands from spoiling, but hearts from desiring. --Joseph Caryl.
HINTS FOR PASTORS AND LAYPERSONS
Verse 12. -- Comfort to the few. The typical and spiritual Israel few at first. A few in the ark peopled the world. Small companies have done wonders. Christ's presence is promised to two or three. God saith not by many or by few, etc.