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seem to have taken place near the beginning and the end of this period. The
date of the events mentioned about the middle of the book cannot now be ascer-
tained. Up to ch. 10:11, we find the people remaining at Sinai, and it is then
stated that on the twentieth day of the second month of the second year they
were directed to remove and advance towards the Promised Land. They pro-
ceed as far as Kadesh on its borders, where we find them in ch. 13:46, and
where, on account of gross rebellion, the nation was condemned to wander in
the desert for forty years, till the then existing generation should have died
away (ch. 14). From this time onward to ch. 20, it is next to impossible to fix
with accuracy the order and date of the various transactions, laws, etc. recorded,
but at that time we find the Israelites again at Kadesh taking measures to enter
Canaan. The book closes with the people resting on the borders of the Promised
Land on the east of the Jordan.
As to the time of its being written, the evidence adduced in the Introduction
to the "Notes on Leviticus," § 1, relative to the date of the composition of that
book, leads obviously to the conclusion, that while the former was written during
the encampment at Mount Sinai, the latter, or the present book, was written at
the station on the plains of Moab. The authority for this statement is found
in Num. 36:13, "These are the commandments and the judgments which the
LORD commanded by the hand of Moses unto the children of Israel in the plains
of Moab by Jordan near Jericho." We can glean nothing more definite than
this relative to the date of the writing.
§ 2. General Contents.
The history presents us with an account of the census-taking of the tribes,
the consecration of the Tabernacle, and the offering of the princes at its dedi-
cation. It describes the journeys and encampments of Israel under the miracu-
lous guidance of the cloudy pillar, the punishment at Taberah, and the signal
vengeance with which, on several occasions, the Most High visited the distrust-
ful murmurs of the people, and that rebellious spirit which so often broke out in
sedition against his appointed ministers. The promptitude and severity with
which these rebellious outbreaks were rebuked are relieved by the signal mercy
and forbearance of Heaven in listening to the prayers of Moses in behalf of the
offending people. The narrative is interspersed with various incidents collateral
to the main thread of the history, which are full of interest and instruction.
Conspicuous among these is the account of the rebellion of Korah and his com-
pany, the visitation of the fiery flying serpents, the story of Balaam and his con-
strained predictions, and the miraculous budding of Aaron's rod. Henry remarks
in his usual pithy way that "an abstract of much of this book we have in a few
words, Ps. 95: 10, "Forty years long was I grieved with this generation," and
an application of it to ourselves, Heb. 4: 1, "Let us fear lest we seem to come
short." It is worthy also of reflection that while the annals of many distin-
guished and powerful nations who were cotemporaries of the Israelites at this
period, are all utterly lost, here we have preserved to us the records of a handful
of people that dwelt in tents, and wandered strangely in a wilderness, but who
were thus favored because they were the children of the covenant, and the germ
of the Church for countless generations.
§3. Synoptical View.
PART I.-Preparation for Departure from Sinai.
3. The appointment and ministrations of the Levites,
4. Various laws respecting the unclean, the woman suspected, and
5. The offerings of the princes, and the consecration of the Levites, VII, VIII
6. Regulations respecting the celebration of the Passover, the sig-
nals and order of marching, and the calling of assemblies,
PART II.-The Departure from Sinai and the Journeying to the Land of
Moab, with the Murmurings on the Way.
11. Murmuring for want of Water, unbelief of Moses, perfidy of Edom,
and death of Aaron,
PART III.-Preparation for occupying the Promised Land, and Directions
respecting the Occupancy.
1. The summoning of Balaam by Balak, and his compliance,
2. Balaam's sacrifice, and his prophetic benedictions,
3. The sin of the people with the Midianitish women and
4. A new census taken of the people,
5. Law concerning inheritance, and the inauguration of
6. Various laws respecting offerings,
7 Law respecting vows,
9. Occupation of part of the promised inheritance by reason
of the slaughter of the Midianites,
10. Allotment of the two tribes and a half in the east of the
11. List of the stations in the wilderness,
12. The appointed boundaries of the land, and the names of the
13. Law concerning the cities of refuge,
14. Laws respecting inheritances for preserving the succession of estates and the distinction of families,
We are obliged to repeat here the remark made in the Introduction to Leviticus, that the commentators on this book are few apart from those who have expounded the several books of the Pentateuch, or the Old Testament at large. Yet we cannot say but our apparatus is sufficiently ample, although every year is adding to its extent. No attempt at unfolding the genuine scope of the Mosaic books can do justice to the theme, which overlooks the resources accumulated by critics and travellers within the last twenty years. In the preparation of the following Notes, the author has pursued the same general plan, and been governed by the same principles which characterize his former volumes on the books of Moses. He is happy to acknowledge his indebtedness to the labors of his predecessors, while at the same time he has thought and spoken for himself, and ventures to claim something more for his work than the mere culling out and remoulding of the best critical or practical remarks of others. Having the inspired original, with its collateral ancient versions, continually before him, he could scarcely fail to reach some results which are peculiar to himself, although in a work intended for plain Bible readers as well as teachers, he has been guarded as to launching forth into veins of mere curious or speculative research. He is admonished by the lessons of advancing years that he has no time for any but useful inquiries, and that even in this department his labors henceforth must be bounded by inevitably narrow limits. He has endeavored, therefore, so to conduct his studies, and so to shape the results, as to subserve the highest interest of the greatest number of his readers.
In the way of critical and ethical helps in his undertaking, the most important have been the following, for the use of several of which he has been indebted to the private and public collections which have been kindly placed at his service.
Barrett's Synopsis of Criticism.
Geddes' Translation and Notes.
Michaelis' Laws of Moses.
Germ. Translation of Scriptures.
Babington's Comfortable Notes.
Drusius ad Loca Difficilia.
Parker's Bibliotheca Biblica.
De Wette's German Translation.
Dathius' Latin Translation.
Jurieu's Critical History.
Bishop Hall's Contemplations.
Outram on Sacrifices.
Kitto's Daily Bible Illustrations.
In respect to these various versions and Targums, the reader will find ample information in the Introduction to the Notes on Genesis. They are not all of equal value, but all of them will occasionally throw important light upon passages occurring in the sacred text. The Vulg. and the Gr. are generally quoted in the words of the English translation-the former of the Douay, and the latter of Thomson or Brenton. In quoting from the Targums and the Jewish Expositors, the author has usually availed himself of the version given in Ainsworth's very valuable Notes, to which he has had frequent recourse throughout.