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Numbers 14:4-12

Context
14:4 So they said to one another, 1  “Let’s appoint 2  a leader 3  and return 4  to Egypt.”

14:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces to the ground 5  before the whole assembled community 6  of the Israelites. 14:6 And Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, two of those who had investigated the land, tore their garments. 14:7 They said to the whole community of the Israelites, “The land we passed through to investigate is an exceedingly 7  good land. 14:8 If the Lord delights in us, then he will bring us into this land and give it to us – a land that is flowing with milk and honey. 8  14:9 Only do not rebel against the Lord, and do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. 9  Their protection 10  has turned aside from them, but the Lord is with us. Do not fear them!”

14:10 However, the whole community threatened to stone them. 11  But 12  the glory 13  of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the tent 14  of meeting.

The Punishment from God

14:11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people despise 15  me, and how long will they not believe 16  in me, in spite of the signs that I have done among them? 14:12 I will strike them with the pestilence, 17  and I will disinherit them; I will make you into a nation that is greater and mightier than they!”

1 tn Heb “a man to his brother.”

2 tn The verb is נָתַן (natan, “to give”), but this verb has quite a wide range of meanings in the Bible. Here it must mean “to make,” “to choose,” “to designate” or the like.

3 tn The word “head” (רֹאשׁ, rosh) probably refers to a tribal chief who was capable to judge and to lead to war (see J. R. Bartlett, “The Use of the Word רֹאשׁ as a Title in the Old Testament,” VT 19 [1969]: 1-10).

4 tn The form is a cohortative with a vav (ו) prefixed. After the preceding cohortative this could also be interpreted as a purpose or result clause – in order that we may return.

5 sn This action of Moses and Aaron is typical of them in the wilderness with the Israelites. The act shows self-abasement and deference before the sovereign Lord. They are not bowing before the people here, but in front of the people they bow before God. According to Num 17:6-15 this prostration is for the purpose of intercessory prayer. Here it prevents immediate wrath from God.

6 tn Heb “before all the assembly of the congregation.”

7 tn The repetition of the adverb מְאֹד (mÿod) is used to express this: “very, very [good].”

8 tn The subjective genitives “milk and honey” are symbols of the wealth of the land, second only to bread. Milk was a sign of such abundance (Gen 49:12; Isa 7:21,22). Because of the climate the milk would thicken quickly and become curds, eaten with bread or turned into butter. The honey mentioned here is the wild honey (see Deut 32:13; Judg 14:8-9). It signified sweetness, or the finer things of life (Ezek 3:3).

9 sn The expression must indicate that they could destroy the enemies as easily as they could eat bread.

10 tn Heb “their shade.” The figure compares the shade from the sun with the protection from the enemy. It is also possible that the text is alluding to their deities here.

11 tn Heb “said to stone them with stones.” The verb and the object are not from the same root, but the combination nonetheless forms an emphasis equal to the cognate accusative.

12 tn The vav (ו) on the noun “glory” indicates a strong contrast, one that interrupts their threatened attack.

13 sn The glory of the Lord refers to the reality of the Lord’s presence in a manifestation of his power and splendor. It showed to all that God was a living God. The appearance of the glory indicated blessing for the obedient, but disaster for the disobedient.

14 tc The Greek, Syriac, and Tg. Ps.-J. have “in the cloud over the tent.”

15 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.

16 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.

17 tc The Greek version has “death.”



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