Numbers 14

1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice and cried; and the people wept all that night.
2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron; and all the congregation said to them,
3 Would we had died in the land of Egypt! or in this wilderness, would we had died! and why does the Lord bring us into this land to fall in war? our wives and our children shall be for a prey: now then it is better to return into Egypt.
4 And they said one to another, Let us make a ruler, and return into Egypt.
5 And Moses and Aaron fell upon their face before all the congregation of the children of Israel.
6 But Joshua the of Naue, and Chaleb the of Jephonne, of them that spied out the land, rent their garments,
7 and spoke to all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, The land which we surveyed is indeed extremely good.
8 If the Lord choose us, he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which flows with milk and honey.
9 Only depart not from the Lord; and fear ye not the people of the land, for they are meat for us; for the season is departed from them, but the Lord among us: fear them not.
10 And all the congregation bade stone them with stones; and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud on the tabernacle of witness to all the children of Israel.
11 And the Lord said to Moses, How long does this people provoke me? and how long do they refuse to believe me for all the signs which I have wrought among them?
12 I will smite them with death, and destroy them; and I will make of thee and of thy father's house a great nation, and much greater than this.
13 And Moses said to the Lord, So Egypt shall hear, for thou hast brought up this people from them by thy might.
14 Moreover all the dwellers upon this land have heard that thou art Lord in the midst of this people, who, O Lord, art seen face to face, and thy cloud rests upon them, and thou goest before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire.
15 And thou shalt destroy this nation as one man; then all the nations that have heard thy name shall speak, saying,
16 Because the Lord could not bring this people into the land which he sware to them, he has overthrown them in the wilderness.
17 And now, O Lord, let thy strength be exalted, as thou spakest, saying,
18 The Lord long-suffering and merciful, and true, removing transgressions and iniquities and sins, and he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation.
19 Forgive this people their sin according to thy great mercy, as thou wast favourable to them from Egypt until now.
20 And the Lord said to Moses, I am gracious to them according to thy word.
21 But I live and my name is living, so the glory of the Lord shall fill all the earth.
22 For all the men who see my glory, and the signs which I wrought in Egypt, and in the wilderness, and have tempted me this tenth time, and have not hearkened to my voice,
23 surely they shall not see the land, which I sware to their fathers; but their children which are with me here, as many as know not good or evil, every inexperienced youth, to them will I give the land; but none who have provoked me shall see it.
24 But my servant Chaleb, because there was another spirit in him, and he followed me, I will bring him into the land into which he entered, and his seed shall inherit it.
25 But Amalec and the Chananite dwell in the valley: to-morrow turn and depart for the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.
26 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
27 How long this wicked congregation? I have heard their murmurings against me, the murmuring of the children of Israel, which they have murmured concerning you.
28 Say to them, I live, saith the Lord: surely as ye spoke into my ears, so will I do to you.
29 Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all those of you that were reviewed, and those of you that were numbered from twenty years old and upward, all that murmured against me,
30 ye shall not enter into the land for which I stretched out my hand to establish you upon it; except only Chaleb the son of Jephonne, and Joshua the of Naue.
31 And your little ones, who ye said should be a prey, them will I bring into the land; and they shall inherit the land, which ye rejected.
32 And your carcases shall fall in this wilderness.
33 And your sons shall be fed in the wilderness forty years, and they shall bear your fornication, until your carcases be consumed in the wilderness.
34 According to the number of the days during which ye spied the land, forty days, a day for a year, ye shall bear your sins forty years, and ye shall know my fierce anger.
35 I the Lord have spoken, Surely will I do thus to this evil congregation that has risen up together against me: in this wilderness they shall be utterly consumed, and there they shall die.
36 And the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, and who came and murmured against it to the assembly so as to bring out evil words concerning the land, —
37 the men that spoke evil reports against the land, even died of the plague before the Lord.
38 And Joshua the son of Naue and Chaleb the son of Jephonne lived of those men that went to spy out the land.
39 And Moses spoke these words to all the children of Israel; and the people mourned exceedingly.
40 And they rose early in the morning and went up to the top of the mountain, saying, Behold, we that are here will go up to the place of which the Lord has spoken, because we have sinned.
41 And Moses said, Why do ye transgress the word of the Lord? ye shall not prosper.
42 Go not up, for the Lord is not with you; so shall ye fall before the face of your enemies.
43 For Amalec and the Chananite there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword; because ye have disobeyed the Lord and turned aside, and the Lord will not be among you.
44 And having forced their passage, they went up to the top of the mountain; but the ark of the covenant of the Lord and Moses stirred not out of the camp.
45 And Amalec and the Chananite that dwelt in that mountain came down, and routed them, and destroyed them unto Herman; and they returned to the camp.

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.

Footnotes 4

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