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Numbers 14:39-45

Context
14:39 When Moses told 1  these things to all the Israelites, the people mourned 2  greatly.

14:40 And early 3  in the morning they went up to the crest of the hill country, 4  saying, “Here we are, and we will go up to the place that the Lord commanded, 5  for we have sinned.” 6  14:41 But Moses said, “Why 7  are you now transgressing the commandment 8  of the Lord? It will not succeed! 14:42 Do not go up, for the Lord is not among you, and you will be 9  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 10  to go up to the crest of the hill, although 11  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 12  down and attacked them 13  as far as Hormah. 14 

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

2 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.).

3 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.”

4 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.

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

6 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.

7 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?”

8 tn Heb “mouth.”

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

10 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.”

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

12 tn Heb “came down.”

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

14 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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