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Numbers 14:23-30

Context
14:23 they will by no means 1  see the land that I swore to their fathers, nor will any of them who despised me see it. 14:24 Only my servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit and has followed me fully – I will bring him into the land where he had gone, and his descendants 2  will possess it. 14:25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites were living in the valleys.) 3  Tomorrow, turn and journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.”

14:26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 14:27 “How long must I bear 4  with this evil congregation 5  that murmurs against me? I have heard the complaints of the Israelites that they murmured against me. 14:28 Say to them, ‘As I live, 6  says 7  the Lord, I will surely do to you just what you have spoken in my hearing. 8  14:29 Your dead bodies 9  will fall in this wilderness – all those of you who were numbered, according to your full number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me. 14:30 You will by no means enter into the land where 10  I swore 11  to settle 12  you. The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.

1 tn The word אִם (’im) indicates a negative oath formula: “if” means “they will not.” It is elliptical. In a human oath one would be saying: “The Lord do to me if they see…,” meaning “they will by no means see.” Here God is swearing that they will not see the land.

2 tn Heb “seed.”

3 sn The judgment on Israel is that they turn back to the desert and not attack the tribes in the land. So a parenthetical clause is inserted to state who was living there. They would surely block the entrance to the land from the south – unless God removed them. And he is not going to do that for Israel.

4 tn The figure is aposiopesis, or sudden silence. The main verb is deleted from the line, “how long…this evil community.” The intensity of the emotion is the reason for the ellipsis.

5 sn It is worth mentioning in passing that this is one of the Rabbinic proof texts for having at least ten men to form a congregation and have prayer. If God called ten men (the bad spies) a “congregation,” then a congregation must have ten men. But here the word “community/congregation” refers in this context to the people of Israel as a whole, not just to the ten spies.

6 sn Here again is the oath that God swore in his wrath, an oath he swore by himself, that they would not enter the land. “As the Lord lives,” or “by the life of the Lord,” are ways to render it.

7 tn The word נְאֻם (nÿum) is an “oracle.” It is followed by the subjective genitive: “the oracle of the Lord” is equal to saying “the Lord says.”

8 tn Heb “in my ears.”

sn They had expressed the longing to have died in the wilderness, and not in war. God will now give them that. They would not say to God “your will be done,” so he says to them, “your will be done” (to borrow from C. S. Lewis).

9 tn Or “your corpses” (also in vv. 32, 33).

10 tn The relative pronoun “which” is joined with the resumptive pronoun “in it” to form a smoother reading “where.”

11 tn The Hebrew text uses the anthropomorphic expression “I raised my hand” in taking an oath.

12 tn Heb “to cause you to dwell; to cause you to settle.”



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