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Go not up, for the LORD is not among you; that
ye be not smitten before your enemies. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there be
shall fall by the sword : because ye are turned away from the LORD ; therefore the LORD will not be with you.
But they presumed to go up unto the hill-top: nevertheless, the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses departed not out of the camp.
Then the. Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.
ANNOTATIONS AND REFLECTIONS.
There is great reason to suppose, that when the Glory of the LORD appeared, Moses approached the Tabernacle, to learn the Divine will,
The offence, which the people had committed, in resolving to quit the guidance of the LORD, and elect a captain for themselves, that they might return to Egyptian bondage, instead of taking possession of the land he had designed for then, was an open act of rebellion against their Heavenly King: the men, who were guilty of it, forfeited every privilege, which, as His people, they might have claimed, and Divine justice was provoked to cut them off. An utter end would now have been put to the whole nation, had not the Lord in his infinite mercy resolved, that the intercession of their mediator should prevail. That Moses might have an opportunity of pleading for Israel, the Lord) informed him of the impending judgments. Moses, knowing the way of the LORD, and that, though
He would not clear the guilty without atonement and ntercession, He would pardon ioiquity and sin* and that He was merciful and gracious, had récourse to the argument he used once before, and entreated the LORD, for the honour of His own great name, not to extirpate His people. The LORD, according to the greatness of His mercy, spared the nation, as Moses requested ; but pronounced a just sentence on that generation, which had offended His Divine Majesty. They were excluded from the land they had despised, and condemned to die in the wilderness; and the spies, who had been the first instigators of the sedition, were killed by the pestilence, to strike terror into the rest, and shew from what a fate they were delivered. But the LORD, mindful of His Covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, transferred the blessing to the younger part of their poşterity.
The people now began to think of the value of the land they had lost; but their repentance came too late ; and though they were eager to obtain it, their utmost efforts could not succeed, for the LORD refused His aid.
. The royal Psalmist taught bis subjects how to apply this portion of Scripture to themselvest. “To day (says he , if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work ; unto whom I sware in my wrath, that they should not enter into my rest.”
-And the Apostle to the Hebrews shews, that it is .cqually applicable to Christianst.
The Israelites turned their backs on the land of Canaan, and undervalued the blessings of Providence ; on which account they were deservedly excluded from the
* Exod. xxxiv, 7.
+ Psalm xcv.
Heb. iii. 7.
possession of them. If their case was deplorable, who forfeited an earthly inheritance, what will that of Christians be, if they lose an eternal one? The LORD, it is true, is gracious and merciful, long suffering, and of great goodness ; but He will withdraw His favour' at last from us also, if we despise it; and, without His assisting Grace, our spiritual enemies will conquer us, as the Amalekites conquered the disobedient Israelites ; let us therefore, as the Apostle advises—* Take s heed that there be inot in any of us an evil heart of «'unbelief, in departing from the living God; but let
us exhort one another daily, while it is called tò day, • lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness c of sin.'
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THE SABBATH-BREAKER STONED-THE DEATH OF
KORAH, DATHAN, AND ABIRAM.
Moses has not transmitted to us any account of youmber of events, which must have happened during the Israelites wandering in the wilderness ; for they were not to be recorded, as the generation they related to were blotted out from the inheritance of Canaan; but there were some very striking incidents, which afford lessons of general instruction, these he has preserved, and we will not pass them over. : The Israelites had been repeatedly commanded to keep the Sabbath-day holy; and we have reason to believe, that they complied, at least outwardly, with the ordinances of God, while they wandered in the wilderness ; for, we read, that, during that period, a man was * Heb. iii. 12, 13.
found gathering sticks on the Sabbath-day * ; those who caught him in the fact, knew not what course to take, they therefore brought him before Moses and Aaron and all the congregation; as this was the first offence of the kind, it was thought proper to commit him to prison, till the will of the LORD, was enquired ; the result of the enquiry was, that the offender should be put to death: he was accordingly carried without the camp, and stoned with stones till he died t. A young man, who blasphemed the name of the Lord, and cursed, was punished in the same manner.
The distinguishing honour which it had pleased God, for the good of the people in general, to confer on Moses and Aaron, occasioned envy in the minds of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram : the first was a near relation to Moses I. These seditious persons aspired to those holy offices to which the Lord had appointed Moses and Aaron; and were desirous to overturn the government, in order to assume equal power with God's ordained ministers ; by their artful insinuations, they inflamed the minds of many others, who are said to have been men of renown, who ought therefore to have entertained nobler sentiments. Their number amounted to two hundred and fifty princes, who assembled together and severely reproached Moses and Aaron, for exalting themselves above the rest of the congregation, accusing them of arrogance and injustice.
Moses was so greatly affected with their impiety to God, and unkindness to those who had laboured, with unremitting care, for their welfare, that he fell on his face before them ; expressing by this action both sorrow and humility; he calmly remonstrated with them, and desired that they would leave the proof to God; requiring them to attend on the morrow, each man with his censer in bis hand. They readily acceded to his proposal, and departed. One would naturally suppose, that as Moses had given them so many hours for reffection, they would have recollected how improper their behaviour was, and declined the trial ; but instead of doing so, they employed the intermediate time in persuading all the congregation to support their claim, and at the appointed hour appeared with censers in their hands, attended by those ungrateful Israelites, who seem to have gladly seized every opportunity of expressing their murmurs and discontent.
* Numb. xv. 32.
+ Lev. xxiv. 10.
Numb. xvi. 1.
As soon as they were come to the door of the taber. pacle, and the princes had "laid incense on their censers, the GLORY OF THE LORD appeared, and God command Moses and Aaron to separate themselves, that he might in a moment destroy the impious multitude but these good men fell on their faces, and intreated the Lord to spare the nation. The LORD graciously heard their prayer, but caused the earth to open, and swallow
up alive Korah, Dathan, and Abiram : and fire came out of the ground, which destroyed those , men who dared to appear before the Almighty in such a cause, and all who belonged to them.
The people were struck with the utmost consternation, expecting to share their fate ; but the Divine compassion interposed in their behalf, and they were only commanded to preserve the censers ; which were,
a memorial of this wonderful event, afterwards made a covering for the altar.
The behaviour of Moses and Aaron, on this trying occasion, was truly amiable, for they did not suffer private resentment to operate in the least: without