Numbers 14

1 Then all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried, and the people wept that night.
2 And all the sons of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, and the whole congregation said unto them, Oh, that we might die in the land of Egypt or that we might die in this wilderness!
3 And why has the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? Would it not be better for us to return into Egypt?
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt.
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel.
6 And Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, who were of those that had spied out the land, rent their clothes;
7 and they spoke unto all the company of the sons of Israel, saying, The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceeding good land.
8 If the LORD delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land which flows with milk and honey.
9 Therefore, do not be rebels against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land, for they are our bread; their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.
10 Then all the multitude spoke of stoning them with stones. But the glory of the LORD appeared in the tabernacle of the testimony before all the sons of Israel.
11 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? How long will it be before they believe me, with all the signs which I have done among them?
12 I will smite them with the pestilence and disinherit them and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.
13 And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, for thou didst bring this people out of the midst of them with thy might;
14 and the inhabitants of this land will say, for they have already heard that thou, oh LORD, wast among this people, that thou, O LORD, art seen face to face, and that thy cloud was over them, and that thou didst go before them by day time in a pillar of a cloud and in a pillar of fire by night;
15 and that thou hast caused all this people to die as one man; and the Gentiles who have heard of thy fame will speak, saying,
16 Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore unto them; therefore, he has slain them in the wilderness.
17 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,
18 The LORD is longsuffering and of great mercy, letting go of iniquity and transgression and absolving, but by no means absolving the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons unto the third and fourth generations.
19 Pardon now the iniquity of this people according to the greatness of thy mercy and as thou hast forgiven this people from Egypt even until now.
20 Then the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word.
21 But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD.
22 Because all those men who saw my glory and my signs which I have done in Egypt and in the wilderness and have tempted me now these ten times and have not hearkened to my voice,
23 surely they shall not see the land which I swore unto their fathers, neither shall any of those that provoked me see it.
24 But my slave Caleb, because there was another spirit in him, and he proved to follow after me, I will bring him into the land that he entered into, and his seed shall receive it by inheritance,
25 and even the Amalekite and the Canaanite who dwell in the valley. Turn around tomorrow and go into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
26 And the LORD spoke unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
27 How long shall I hear this evil congregation, which murmurs against me, the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they murmur against me?
28 Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, according as ye have spoken in my ears, so will I do to you.
29 Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me;
30 doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I swore to make you dwell therein, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.
31 But your little ones, whom ye said should be a prey, I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.
32 But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness.
33 And your children shall be shepherded in the wilderness forty years and bear your fornications until your carcasses are wasted in the wilderness.
34 After the number of the days in which ye spied out the land, even forty days, each day for a year, ye shall bear your iniquities forty years, and ye shall know my reason for annulling my promise.
35 I, the LORD, have spoken, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation that are gathered together against me; in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.
36 And the men, whom Moses had sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation to murmur against him by bringing up a slander upon the land,
37 even those men that brought an evil report of the land, died by the plague before the LORD.
38 But Joshua, the son of Nun, and Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, remained alive of the men that went to spy out the land.
39 And Moses told these things unto all the sons of Israel, and the people mourned greatly.
40 And they rose up early in the morning and climbed up into the top of the mountain, saying, Here we are prepared to go up unto the place of which the LORD has spoken; for we have sinned.
41 And Moses said, Why do ye break the commandment of the LORD? This also shall not prosper.
42 Do not go up, for the LORD is not among you; do not be smitten before your enemies.
43 For the Amalekite and the Canaanite are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword; because ye are turned away from following the LORD, therefore, the LORD will not be with you.
44 But they presumed to go up unto the hill top; nevertheless, the ark of the covenant of the LORD and Moses, did not depart out of the camp.
45 Then the Amalekite came down and the Canaanite who dwelt in that hill and smote them and defeated them, pursuing them unto Hormah.

Images for Numbers 14

Numbers 14 Commentary

Chapter 14

The people murmur at the account of the spies. (1-4) Joshua and Caleb labour to still the people. (5-10) The Divine threatenings, The intercession of Moses. (11-19) The murmurers forbidden to enter the promised land. (20-35) Death of the evil spies. (36-39) Defeat of the people, who now would invade the land. (40-45)

Verses 1-4 Those who do not trust God, continually vex themselves. The sorrow of the world worketh death. The Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron, and in them reproached the Lord. They look back with causeless discontent. See the madness of unbridled passions, which makes men prodigal of what nature accounts most dear, life itself. They wish rather to die criminals under God's justice, than to live conquerors in his favour. At last they resolve, that, instead of going forward to Canaan, they would go back to Egypt. Those who walk not in God's counsels, seek their own ruin. Could they expect that God's cloud would lead them, or his manna attend them? Suppose the difficulties of conquering Canaan were as they imagined, those of returning to Egypt were much greater. We complain of our place and lot, and we would change; but is there any place or condition in this world, that has not something in it to make us uneasy, if we are disposed to be so? The way to better our condition, is to get our spirits in a better frame. See the folly of turning from the ways of God. But men run on the certain fatal consequences of a sinful course.

Verses 5-10 Moses and Aaron were astonished to see a people throw away their own mercies. Caleb and Joshua assured the people of the goodness of the land. They made nothing of the difficulties in the way of their gaining it. If men were convinced of the desirableness of the gains of religion, they would not stick at the services of it. Though the Canaanites dwell in walled cities, their defence was departed from them. The other spies took notice of their strength, but these of their wickedness. No people can be safe, when they have provoked God to leave them. Though Israel dwell in tents, they are fortified. While we have the presence of God with us, we need not fear the most powerful force against us. Sinners are ruined by their own rebellion. But those who, like Caleb and Joshua, faithfully expose themselves for God, are sure to be taken under his special protection, and shall be hid from the rage of men, either under heaven or in heaven.

Verses 11-19 Moses made humble intercession for Israel. Herein he was a type of Christ, who prayed for those that despitefully used him. The pardon of a nation's sin, is the turning away the nation's punishment; and for that Moses is here so earnest. Moses argued that, consistently with God's character, in his abundant mercies, he could forgive them.

Verses 20-35 The Lord granted the prayer of Moses so far as not at once to destroy the congregation. But disbelief of the promise forbids the benefit. Those who despise the pleasant land shall be shut out of it. The promise of God should be fulfilled to their children. They wished to die in the wilderness; God made their sin their ruin, took them at their word, and their carcases fell in the wilderness. They were made to groan under the burden of their own sin, which was too heavy for them to bear. Ye shall know my breach of promise, both the causes of it, that it is procured by your sin, for God never leaves any till they first leave him; and the consequences of it, that will produce your ruin. But your little ones, now under twenty years old, which ye, in your unbelief, said should be a prey, them will I bring in. God will let them know that he can put a difference between the guilty and the innocent, and cut them off without touching their children. Thus God would not utterly take away his loving kindness.

Verses 36-39 Here is the sudden death of the ten evil spies. They sinned in bringing a slander upon the land of promise. Those greatly provoke God, who misrepresent religion, raise dislike in men's minds toward it, or give opportunity to those to do so, who seek occasion. Justly are murmurers made mourners. If they had mourned for the sin, when they were faithfully reproved, the sentence had been prevented; but as they mourned for the judgment only, it did them no service. There is in hell such mourning as this; but tears will not quench the flames, nor cool the tongue.

Verses 40-45 Some of the Israelites were now earnest to go forward toward Canaan. But it came too late. If men would but be as earnest for heaven while their day of grace lasts, as they will be when it is over, how well would it be for them! That which has been duty in its season, when mistimed, may be turned into sin. Those who are out of the way of their duty, are not under God's protection, and go at their peril. God bade them go, and they would not; he forbade them, and they would go. Thus is the carnal mind enmity against God. They had distrusted God's strength; they now presume upon their own without his. And the expedition fails accordingly; now the sentence began to be executed, that their carcases should fall in the wilderness. That affair can never end well, which begins with sin. The way to obtain peace with our friends, and success against our enemies, is, to have God, as our Friend, and to keep in his love. Let us take warning from the fate of Israel, lest we perish after the same example of unbelief. Let us go forth, depending on God's mercy, power, promise, and truth; he will be with us, and bring our souls to everlasting rest.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 14

This chapter treats or the murmurings of the children of Israel upon the evil report of the spies, which greatly distressed Moses and Aaron, Nu 14:1-5; and of the endeavours of Joshua and Caleb to quiet the minds of the people with a good account of the land, and of the easy conquest of it, but to no purpose, Nu 14:6-10; and of the Lord's threatening to destroy the people with the pestilence, Nu 14:11,12; and of the intercession of Moses for them, which so far succeeded as to prevent their immediate destruction, Nu 14:13-20; nevertheless they are assured again and again, in the strongest terms, that none of them but Joshua and Caleb should enter into the land, but their carcasses should fall in the wilderness, even all the murmurers of twenty years old and upwards, Nu 14:21-35; and the ten men that brought the evil report of the good land died of a plague immediately, but the other two lived, Nu 14:36-38; and the body of the people that attempted to go up the mountain and enter the land were smitten and discomfited by their enemies, after they had with concern heard what the Lord threatened them with, Nu 14:39-45.

Numbers 14 Commentaries

The Jubilee Bible

(from the Scriptures of the Reformation)

edited by Russell M. Stendal

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