|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
25:1-5 The friendship of the wicked is more dangerous than their enmity; for none can prevail against God's people if they are not overcome by their inbred lusts; nor can any enchantment hurt them, but the enticements of worldly interests and pleasures. Here is the sin of Israel, to which they are enticed by the daughters of Moab and Midian. Those are our worst enemies who draw us to sin, for that is the greatest mischief any man can do us. Israel's sin did that which all Balaam's enchantments could not do; it set God against them. Diseases are the fruits of God's anger, and the just punishments of prevailing sins; one infection follows the other. Ringleaders in sin ought to be made examples of justice.
Verse 1. - Abode in Shittim. For a considerable time; from their first arrival in the Arboth Moab until the crossing of the Jordan. Shittim is the shortened form of Abel-Shittim, "Field of Acacias" (Numbers 33:49). It seems to have been the northernmost part of the last encampment of Israel on that side Jordan, and the head-quarters of the host (Joshua 2:1; Joshua 3:1). Began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. This commencement of sin seems to have been made by Israel without special provocation. The very victories won, and the comparative ease and affluence now enjoyed, after long marches and hardships, may well have predisposed them to this sin, for which they now for the first time found abundant opportunity.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Israel abode in Shittim,.... A place in the plains of Moab, so called from the shittim wood, which grew here in great abundance, so often mentioned in the building of the tabernacle; which was a sort of white thorn, or rather the acacia tree, since there was scarcely any thing else grew in the deserts of Arabia; see Gill on Exodus 25:5 its full name was Abelshittim, Numbers 33:49, here the Israelites abode even to the death of Moses, for this was their last station in the wilderness; they were now on the borders of the land of Canaan, and just ready to enter into it, which is an aggravation of the sins they here fell into, and are next observed:
and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab; and of Midian also, as appears from Numbers 25:6 by the advice of Balaam, the Moabites and Midianites found ways and means to become familiar with the Israelites, and to introduce their daughters into their company and conversation, and being ensnared and enamoured with them, they were drawn to commit lewdness with them, and hereby were led on to commit other abominations, which brought the divine displeasure upon them; so that what they dared not attempt by war, and could not effect by sorceries and divinations, they accomplished by those iniquitous arts, namely, bringing the wrath, the curse, and plague of God upon them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Nu 25:1-18. The Israelites' Whoredom and Idolatry with Moab.
1. Israel abode in Shittim—a verdant meadow, so called from a grove of acacia trees which lined the eastern side of the Jordan. (See Nu 33:49).
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