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Numbers 14:11-25

Context
The Punishment from God

14:11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise 1  me, and how long will they not believe 2  in me, in spite of the signs that I have done among them? 14:12 I will strike them with the pestilence, 3  and I will disinherit them; I will make you into a nation that is greater and mightier than they!”

14:13 Moses said to the Lord, “When the Egyptians hear 4  it – for you brought up this people by your power from among them – 14:14 then they will tell it to the inhabitants 5  of this land. They have heard that you, Lord, are among this people, that you, Lord, are seen face to face, 6  that your cloud stands over them, and that you go before them by day in a pillar of cloud and in a pillar of fire by night. 14:15 If you kill 7  this entire people at once, 8  then the nations that have heard of your fame will say, 14:16 ‘Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to them, he killed them in the wilderness.’ 14:17 So now, let the power of my Lord 9  be great, just as you have said, 14:18 ‘The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in loyal love, 10  forgiving iniquity and transgression, 11  but by no means clearing 12  the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children until the third and fourth generations.’ 13  14:19 Please forgive 14  the iniquity of this people according to your great loyal love, 15  just as you have forgiven this people from Egypt even until now.”

14:20 Then the Lord said, “I have forgiven them as you asked. 16  14:21 But truly, as I live, 17  all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord. 14:22 For all the people have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have tempted 18  me now these ten times, 19  and have not obeyed me, 20  14:23 they will by no means 21  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 22  will possess it. 14:25 (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites were living in the valleys.) 23  Tomorrow, turn and journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea.”

1 tn The verb נָאַץ (naats) means “to condemn, spurn” (BDB 610 s.v.). Coats suggests that in some contexts the word means actual rejection or renunciation (Rebellion in the Wilderness, 146, 7). This would include the idea of distaste.

2 tn The verb “to believe” (root אָמַן, ’aman) has the basic idea of support, dependability for the root. The Hiphil has a declarative sense, namely, to consider something reliable or dependable and to act on it. The people did not trust what the Lord said.

3 tc The Greek version has “death.”

4 tn The construction is unusual in that we have here a perfect tense with a vav (ו) consecutive with no verb before it to establish the time sequence. The context requires that this be taken as a vav (ו) consecutive. It actually forms the protasis for the next verse, and would best be rendered “whenthen they will say.”

5 tn The singular participle is to be taken here as a collective, representing all the inhabitants of the land.

6 tn “Face to face” is literally “eye to eye.” It only occurs elsewhere in Isa 52:8. This expresses the closest communication possible.

7 tn The verb is the Hiphil perfect of מוּת (mut), וְהֵמַתָּה (vÿhemattah). The vav (ו) consecutive makes this also a future time sequence verb, but again in a conditional clause.

8 tn Heb “as one man.”

9 tc The form in the text is אֲדֹנָי (’adonay), the word that is usually used in place of the tetragrammaton. It is the plural form with the pronominal suffix, and so must refer to God.

10 tn The expression is רַב־חֶסֶד (rav khesed) means “much of loyal love,” or “faithful love.” Some have it “totally faithful,” but that omits the aspect of his love.

11 tn Or “rebellion.”

12 tn The infinitive absolute emphasizes the verbal activity of the imperfect tense, which here serves as a habitual imperfect. Negated it states what God does not do; and the infinitive makes that certain.

13 sn The Decalogue adds “to those who hate me.” The point of the line is that the effects of sin, if not the sinful traits themselves, are passed on to the next generation.

14 tn The verb סְלַח־נָא (selakh-na’), the imperative form, means “forgive” (see Ps 130:4), “pardon,” “excuse.” The imperative is of course a prayer, a desire, and not a command.

15 tn The construct unit is “the greatness of your loyal love.” This is the genitive of specification, the first word being the modifier.

16 tn Heb “forgiven according to your word.” The direct object, “them,” is implied.

17 sn This is the oath formula, but in the Pentateuch it occurs here and in v. 28.

18 tn The verb נָסָה (nasah) means “to test, to tempt, to prove.” It can be used to indicate things are tried or proven, or for testing in a good sense, or tempting in the bad sense, i.e., putting God to the test. In all uses there is uncertainty or doubt about the outcome. Some uses of the verb are positive: If God tests Abraham in Genesis 22:1, it is because there is uncertainty whether he fears the Lord or not; if people like Gideon put out the fleece and test the Lord, it is done by faith but in order to be certain of the Lord’s presence. But here, when these people put God to the test ten times, it was because they doubted the goodness and ability of God, and this was a major weakness. They had proof to the contrary, but chose to challenge God.

19 tn “Ten” is here a round figure, emphasizing the complete testing. But see F. V. Winnett, The Mosaic Tradition, 121-54.

20 tn Heb “listened to my voice.”

21 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.

22 tn Heb “seed.”

23 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.



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