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Numbers 14:26-39

Context

14:26 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 14:27 “How long must I bear 1  with this evil congregation 2  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, 3  says 4  the Lord, I will surely do to you just what you have spoken in my hearing. 5  14:29 Your dead bodies 6  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 7  I swore 8  to settle 9  you. The only exceptions are Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun. 14:31 But I will bring in your little ones, whom you said would become victims of war, 10  and they will enjoy 11  the land that you have despised. 14:32 But as for you, your dead bodies will fall in this wilderness, 14:33 and your children will wander 12  in the wilderness forty years and suffer for your unfaithfulness, 13  until your dead bodies lie finished 14  in the wilderness. 14:34 According to the number of the days you have investigated this land, forty days – one day for a year – you will suffer for 15  your iniquities, forty years, and you will know what it means to thwart me. 16  14:35 I, the Lord, have said, “I will surely do so to all this evil congregation that has gathered together against me. In this wilderness they will be finished, and there they will die!”’”

14:36 The men whom Moses sent to investigate the land, who returned and made the whole community murmur against him by producing 17  an evil report about the land, 14:37 those men who produced the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the Lord. 14:38 But Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among 18  the men who went to investigate the land, lived. 14:39 When Moses told 19  these things to all the Israelites, the people mourned 20  greatly.

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

4 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.”

5 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).

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

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

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

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

10 tn Or “plunder.”

11 tn Heb “know.”

12 tn The word is “shepherds.” It means that the people would be wilderness nomads, grazing their flock on available land.

13 tn Heb “you shall bear your whoredoms.” The imagery of prostitution is used throughout the Bible to reflect spiritual unfaithfulness, leaving the covenant relationship and following after false gods. Here it is used generally for their rebellion in the wilderness, but not for following other gods.

14 tn The infinitive is from תָּמַם (tamam), which means “to be complete.” The word is often used to express completeness in a good sense – whole, blameless, or the like. Here and in v. 35 it seems to mean “until your deaths have been completed.” See also Gen 47:15; Deut 2:15.

15 tn Heb “you shall bear.”

16 tn The phrase refers to the consequences of open hostility to God, or perhaps abandonment of God. The noun תְּנוּאָה (tÿnuah) occurs in Job 33:10 (perhaps). The related verb occurs in Num 30:6 HT (30:5 ET) and 32:7 with the sense of “disallow, discourage.” The sense of the expression adopted in this translation comes from the meticulous study of R. Loewe, “Divine Frustration Exegetically Frustrated,” Words and Meanings, 137-58.

17 tn The verb is the Hiphil infinitive construct with a lamed (ל) preposition from the root יָצָא (yatsa’, “to bring out”). The use of the infinitive here is epexegetical, that is, explaining how they caused the people to murmur.

18 tn The Hebrew text uses the preposition “from,” “some of” – “from those men.” The relative pronoun is added to make a smoother reading.

19 tn The preterite here is subordinated to the next preterite to form a temporal clause.

20 tn The word אָבַל (’aval) is rare, used mostly for mourning over deaths, but it is used here of mourning over bad news (see also Exod 33:4; 1 Sam 15:35; 16:1; etc.).



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