|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-7 Only a short account of the long stay of Israel in the wilderness is given. God not only chastised them for their murmuring and unbelief, but prepared them for Canaan; by humbling them for sin, teaching them to mortify their lusts, to follow God, and to comfort themselves in him. Though Israel may be long kept waiting for deliverance and enlargement, it will come at last. Before God brought Israel to destroy their enemies in Canaan, he taught them to forgive their enemies in Edom. They must not, under pretence of God's covenant and conduct, think to seize all they could lay hands on. Dominion is not founded in grace. God's Israel shall be well placed, but must not expect to be placed alone in the midst of the earth. Religion must never be made a cloak for injustice. Scorn to be beholden to Edomites, when thou hast an all-sufficient God to depend upon. Use what thou hast, use it cheerfully. Thou hast experienced the care of the Divine providence, never use any crooked methods for thy supply. All this is equally to be applied to the experience of the believer.
Verse 5. - Meddle not with them; literally, Excite not yourself against them, i.e. so as to strive in battle with them; comp. the use of the verb in Jeremiah 50:24, "hast striven" (Authorized Version); Daniel 11:25 (where מִלְחָמָה, war, is added), "shall be stirred up to battle" (Authorized Version). Accordingly, they were enjoined to buy from them for money food and water as they required. Two different words in the Hebrew are rendered here by "buy" in the Authorized Version; the former, שָׁבר, a denominative from שֶׁבֶר, grain, properly means to deal in grain, whether as buyer or seller, and so to buy food; the latter, שָׁרָה, means primarily to dig (a well, e.g., Genesis 26:25), and, as used here, probably conveys the idea that the Israelites were to pay for permission to dig wells in the country of the Edomites to supply themselves with water as they passed along; this, however, does not necessarily follow from the use of this word, for it has also the meaning to buy (comp. Hosea 3:2, and the corresponding Arabic verb, kara, which in certain conjugations has the meaning to borrow or hire).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Contend not with them in battle, nor provoke them to it:
for I will not give you of their land, no not so much as a foot breadth; or as the sole of a man's foot can tread on, signifying that they should not have the least part of it, not any at all. Jarchi makes mention of an exposition of theirs, that he would give them nothing of it until should come the day of the treading of the sole of the foot in the mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4, meaning not till the days of the Messiah, when Edom should be a possession of Israel; see Numbers 24:18, Obadiah 1:19.
because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession; and therefore not to be taken away from them; they have a right of inheritance of it; see Genesis 36:8.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5-7. Meddle not with them—that is, "which dwell in Seir" (De 2:4)—for there was another branch of Esau's posterity, namely, the Amalekites, who were to be fought against and destroyed (Ge 36:12; Ex 17:14; De 25:17). But the people of Edom were not to be injured, either in their persons or property. And although the approach of so vast a nomadic horde as the Israelites naturally created apprehension, they were to take no advantage of the prevailing terror to compel the Edomites to accept whatever terms they imposed. They were merely to pass "through" or along their border, and to buy meat and water of them for money (De 2:6). The people, kinder than their king, did sell them bread, meat, fruits, and water in their passage along their border (De 2:29), in the same manner as the Syrian caravan of Mecca is now supplied by the people of the same mountains, who meet the pilgrims as at a fair or market on the hadji route [Robinson]. Although the Israelites still enjoyed a daily supply of the manna, there was no prohibition against their eating other food when opportunity afforded. Only they were not to cherish an inordinate desire for it. Water is a scarce commodity and is often paid for by travellers in those parts. It was the more incumbent on the Israelites to do so, as, by the blessing of God, they possessed plenty of means to purchase, and the long-continued experience of the extraordinary goodness of God to them, should inspire such confidence in Him as would suppress the smallest thought of resorting to fraud or violence in supplying their wants.
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