|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:21-29 Moses encouraged Joshua, who was to succeed him. Thus the aged and experienced in the service of God, should do all they can to strengthen the hands of those who are young, and setting out in religion. Consider what God has done, what God has promised. If God be for us, who can be against us, so as to prevail? We reproach our Leader if we follow him trembling. Moses prayed, that, if it were God's will, he might go before Israel, over Jordan into Canaan. We should never allow any desires in our hearts, which we cannot in faith offer up to God by prayer. God's answer to this prayer had a mixture of mercy and judgment. God sees it good to deny many things we desire. He may accept our prayers, yet not grant us the very things we pray for. It God does not by his providence give us what we desire, yet if by his grace he makes us content without, it comes to much the same. Let it suffice thee to have God for thy Father, and heaven for thy portion, though thou hast not every thing thou wouldst have in the world. God promised Moses a sight of Canaan from the top of Pisgah. Though he should not have the possession of it, he should have the prospect of it. Even great believers, in this present state, see heaven but at a distance. God provided him a successor. It is a comfort to the friends of the church of Christ, to see God's work likely to be carried on by others, when they are silent in the dust. And if we have the earnest and prospect of heaven, let these suffice us; let us submit to the Lord's will, and speak no more to Him of matters which he sees good to refuse us.
Verse 25. - That goodly mountain; not any mountain specially, but the whole mountain elevation of Canaan, culminating in the distant Lebanon, as it appeared to the eye of Moses from the lower level of the 'Arabah. This was "goodly," especially in contrast with the arid and sunburnt desert through which the Israelites had passed; the hills gave promise of streams that should cool the air and refresh and fertilize the land (see Deuteronomy 8:7, etc.). Moses longed to go over if but to see this land, and to plant his foot on it; but his request was not granted.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I pray thee, let me go over and see the good land that is beyond Jordan,.... The land of Canaan, the land flowing with milk and honey; a land which he describes as a most excellent one, Deuteronomy 8:7. To see this land, he was very desirous of going over the river Jordan, beyond which it lay with respect to the place where he now was:
that goodly mountain, and Lebanon; or, "that goodly mountain, even Lebanon"; which lay to the north of the land of Canaan, and was famous for cedar and odoriferous trees. But if two distinct mountains are meant, the goodly mountain may design Mount Moriah, on which the temple was afterwards built, and of which Moses might have a foresight; and some by Lebanon think that is meant, which was built of the cedars of Lebanon, and therefore goes by that name, Zechariah 11:1 and a foreview of this made the mountain so precious to Moses, and desirable to be seen by him. So the Targum of Jonathan;"that goodly mountain in which is built the city of Jerusalem, and Mount Lebanon, in which the Shechinah shall dwell''to which agrees the note of Aben Ezra, who interprets the goodly mountain of Jerusalem, and Lebanon of the house of the sanctuary. In the Septuagint it is called Antilibanus. Mount Libanus had its name not from frankincense growing upon it, as some have thought; for it does not appear that any did grow upon it, for that came from Seba in Arabia Felix; but from the whiteness of it, through the continual snows that were on it, just as the Alps have their name for the same reason; and so Jerom says (b) of Lebanon, that the snow never leaves from the tops of it, or is ever so overcome by the heat of the sun as wholly to melt; to the same purpose also Tacitus (c) says, and Mr. Maundrell (d), who was there in May, speaks of deep snow on it, and represents the cedars as standing in snow.
(b) In Hieremiam, c. 18. 14. (c) Hist. l. 5. c. 6. (d) Journey from Aleppo, p. 139, 140.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
25. I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon—The natural and very earnest wish of Moses to be allowed to cross the Jordan was founded on the idea that the divine threatening might be conditional and revertible. "That goodly mountain" is supposed by Jewish writers to have pointed to the hill on which the temple was to be built (De 12:5; Ex 15:2). But biblical scholars now, generally, render the words—"that goodly mountain, even Lebanon," and consider it to be mentioned as typifying the beauty of Palestine, of which hills and mountains were so prominent a feature.
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