|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-8 Moses spake to the people all the Lord had given him in commandment. Horeb was but eleven days distant from Kadesh-barnea. This was to remind them that their own bad conduct had occasioned their tedious wanderings; that they might the more readily understand the advantages of obedience. They must now go forward. Though God brings his people into trouble and affliction, he knows when they have been tried long enough. When God commands us to go forward in our Christian course, he sets the heavenly Canaan before us for our encouragement.
Verse 2. - Horeb. The name generally given to Sinai in Deuteronomy (see introduction, § 4). Sinai, however, occurs in Deuteronomy 33:2 of this book. By the way of mount Seir, i.e. by the way that leads to Mount Seir; just as in Deuteronomy 2:1, "the way of the Red sea" is the way that leads to that sea (see also Numbers 14:25). Mount is here, as often elsewhere, for mountain range. The mountain range here referred to seems to have been, not that on the east of the 'Arabah, but what is in vers. 6 and 19 called "the mountain of the Amorites," "the Seir by Hormah" of ver. 44, i e. the southern part of what was afterwards called the mountains of Judah. According to ver. 19, the Israelites, when they left Horeb, passed through the wilderness along the way that led to the mountains of the Amorites, and came to Kadesh-barnea. Kadesh must, therefore, be looked for, not on the eastern side of the 'Arabah, but somewhere in the wilderness of Zin. It has been identified with the place now known as 'Ain Kudes, near the northern extremity of Jebel Halal, and to the east of that hill; but this is far from being certain. Moses reminds the Israelites that the distance between Horeb and Kadesh is eleven days - i.e., about one hundred and sixty-five miles, the day's journey being reckoned at fifteen miles - not to give them a piece of information, but rather to suggest to them how, in consequence of rebellion, a journey which might have been so easily accomplished, had been protracted through many wearisome years.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
There are eleven days' journey from Horeb, by the way of Mount Seir, to Kadeshbarnea. Not that the Israelites came thither in eleven days from Horeb, for they stayed by the way at Kibrothhattaavah, a whole month at least, and seven days at Hazeroth; but the sense is, that this was the computed distance between the two places; it was what was reckoned a man might walk in eleven days; and if we reckon a day's journey twenty miles, of which See Gill on Jonah 3:3, the distance must be two hundred and twenty miles. But Dr. Shaw (e) allows but ten miles for a day's journey, and then it was no more than one hundred and ten, and indeed a camp cannot be thought to move faster; but not the day's journey of a camp, but of a man, seems to be intended, who may very well walk twenty miles a day for eleven days running; but it seems more strange that another learned traveller (f) should place Kadeshbarnea at eight hours, or ninety miles distance only from Mount Sinai. Moses computes not the time that elapsed between those two places, including their stations, but only the time of travelling; and yet Jarchi says, though it was eleven days' journey according to common computation, the Israelites performed it in three days; for he observes that they set out from Horeb on the twentieth of Ijar, and on the twenty ninth of Sivan the spies were sent out from Kadeshbarnea; and if you take from hence the whole month they were at one place, and the seven days at another, there will be but three days left for them to travel in. And he adds, that the Shechinah, or divine Majesty, pushed them forward, to hasten their going into the land; but they corrupting themselves, he turned them about Mount Seir forty years. It is not easy to say for what reason these words are expressed, unless it be to show in how short a time the Israelites might have been in the land of Canaan, in a few days' journey from Horeb, had it not been for their murmurings and unbelief, for which they were turned into the wilderness again, and travelled about for the space of thirty eight years afterwards. Aben Ezra is of opinion, that the eleven days, for the word "journey" is not in the text, are to be connected with the preceding words; and that the sense is, that Moses spake these words in the above places, in the eleven days they went from Horeb to Kadesh.
(e) De loc. Heb. fol. 92. I.((f) Pococke's Description of the East, vol. 1. p. 157.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
2. There are eleven days' journey from Horeb—Distances are computed in the East still by the hours or days occupiesd by the journey. A day's journey on foot is about twenty miles—on camels, at the rate of three miles an hour, thirty miles—and by caravans, about twenty-five miles. But the Israelites, with children and flocks, would move at a slow rate. The length of the Ghor from Ezion-geber to Kadesh is a hundred miles. The days here mentioned were not necessarily successive days [Robinson], for the journey can be made in a much shorter period. But this mention of the time was made to show that the great number of years spent in travelling from Horeb to the plain of Moab was not owing to the length of the way, but to a very different cause; namely, banishment for their apostasy and frequent rebellions.
mount Seir—the mountainous country of Edom.
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