Numbers 20:12

12 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because 1you did not believe in me, 2to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them."

Numbers 20:12 Meaning and Commentary

Numbers 20:12

And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron
Out of the cloud, where his glory appeared, and still continued:

because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children
of Israel;
that Moses and Aaron committed an evil which was displeasing to the Lord is certain, but what that was is variously represented. Some say their sin was, that the order was to speak to the rock, whereas it was smitten, and not spoken to; but why then was Moses bid to take the rod with him, if it was not to smite with it, as he had done before at Horeb? and besides, this would only have been the sin of Moses, and not of Aaron; others think, that what provoked the Lord was, that the Israelites were called "rebels"; but this is a name the Lord himself gave them, ( Numbers 17:10 ) , and was what they justly deserved; and what after this Moses says of them, which, had this been the case, he would have been careful to have abstained from, ( Deuteronomy 9:24 ) . Others are of opinion, that what was displeasing to the Lord was, that the bringing the water out of the rock was ascribed to themselves, and not to him; "must we fetch you water" Others suppose the sin was in smiting the rock twice, and in anger; but this could only be the fault of Moses at most. Dr. Lightfoot F2 thinks the particular fault was this, that Moses expressed his displeasure and resentment to the Israelites, that on their murmuring a new rock was opening, which portended a new and long stay in the wilderness, as the opening of the first rock at Horeb did when he and Aaron were in expectation of being soon out of the wilderness, and now they feared they were beginning anew their abode in it; but it is certain from the text that unbelief was their sin; they were diffident about the will of God to bring water out of the rock for such a rebellious people, and they did not put them in mind of the miracles God had wrought in former time, to encourage their faith; and so the Lord was not sanctified by them before the people, as he ought to have been:

therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I
have given them;
the land of Canaan, a grant of which was made to their fathers, and particularly to this generation, and into which they would certainly be brought; but not by Moses and Aaron, who were excluded because of their unbelief, and accordingly both died before the entrance of the people into the land. This, according to the Targum of Jonathan, and Jarchi, was said with an oath; see ( Hebrews 3:18 Hebrews 3:19 ) .


F2 See his Works, vol. 1. p. 36.

Numbers 20:12 In-Context

10 Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?"
11 And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.
12 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them."
13 These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.
14 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom: "Thus says your brother Israel: You know all the hardship that we have met:

Cross References 2

  • 1. Numbers 27:14; Deuteronomy 1:37; Deuteronomy 3:26; Deuteronomy 32:51
  • 2. Ezekiel 20:41; Ezekiel 36:23; Ezekiel 38:16