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Numbers 14:26-45

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.

14:40 And early 21  in the morning they went up to the crest of the hill country, 22  saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place that the Lord commanded, 23  for we have sinned.” 24  14:41 But Moses said, “Why 25  are you now transgressing the commandment 26  of the Lord? It will not succeed! 14:42 Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, and you will be 27  defeated before your enemies. 14:43 For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you will fall by the sword. Because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you.”

14:44 But they dared 28  to go up to the crest of the hill, although 29  neither the ark of the covenant of the Lord nor Moses departed from the camp. 14:45 So the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country swooped 30  down and attacked them 31  as far as Hormah. 32 

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.).

21 tn The verb וַיַּשְׁכִּמוּ (vayyashkimu) is often found in a verbal hendiadys construction: “They rose early…and they went up” means “they went up early.”

22 tn The Hebrew text says literally “the top of the hill,” but judging from the location and the terrain it probably means the heights of the hill country.

23 tn The verb is simply “said,” but it means the place that the Lord said to go up to in order to fight.

24 sn Their sin was unbelief. They could have gone and conquered the area if they had trusted the Lord for their victory. They did not, and so they were condemned to perish in the wilderness. Now, thinking that by going they can undo all that, they plan to go. But this is also disobedience, for the Lord said they would not now take the land, and yet they think they can. Here is their second sin, presumption.

25 tn The line literally has, “Why is this [that] you are transgressing….” The demonstrative pronoun is enclitic; it brings the force of “why in the world are you doing this now?”

26 tn Heb “mouth.”

27 tn This verb could also be subordinated to the preceding: “that you be not smitten.”

28 tn N. H. Snaith compares Arabic ’afala (“to swell”) and gafala (“reckless, headstrong”; Leviticus and Numbers [NCB], 248). The wordעֹפֶל (’ofel) means a “rounded hill” or a “tumor.” The idea behind the verb may be that of “swelling,” and so “act presumptuously.”

29 tn The disjunctive vav (ו) here introduces a circumstantial clause; the most appropriate one here would be the concessive “although.”

30 tn Heb “came down.”

31 tn The verb used here means “crush by beating,” or “pounded” them. The Greek text used “cut them in pieces.”

32 tn The name “Hormah” means “destruction”; it is from the word that means “ban, devote” for either destruction or temple use.



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