Deuteronomy 1:44
And the Amorites, which dwelled in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even to Hormah.
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(44) As bees do.—This should be observed as illustrating what is said of the hornet in Exodus 23:28-30, and further on in Deuteronomy 7:20; Joshua 24:12. The incidental mention of the bees in this place shows that the writer of Deuteronomy was familiar with the spectacle of a company of men pursued by bees.

In Seir, even unto Hormah.—Conder (Bible Handbook, p. 250) understands this Seir as the range of hills round Petra. There is another Seir in the territory of Judah (Joshua 15:10). As to Hormah, the Jewish commentator Aben Ezra says, “the name of a place or the verb,” i.e., either unto Hormah, or unto utter destruction. But in our version the word Hormah is always taken as a proper name. The situation of Hormah is unknown.

Deuteronomy 1:44. As bees — As bees, which, being provoked, come out of their hives in great numbers, and with great fury pursue their adversary and disturber.1:19-46 Moses reminds the Israelites of their march from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, through that great and terrible wilderness. He shows how near they were to a happy settlement in Canaan. It will aggravate the eternal ruin of hypocrites, that they were not far from the kingdom of God. As if it were not enough that they were sure of their God before them, they would send men before them. Never any looked into the Holy Land, but they must own it to be a good land. And was there any cause to distrust this God? An unbelieving heart was at the bottom of all this. All disobedience to God's laws, and distrust of his power and goodness, flow from disbelief of his word, as all true obedience springs from faith. It is profitable for us to divide our past lives into distinct periods; to give thanks to God for the mercies we have received in each, to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember; and thus to renew our acceptance of God's salvation, and our surrender of ourselves to his service. Our own plans seldom avail to good purpose; while courage in the exercise of faith, and in the path of duty, enables the believer to follow the Lord fully, to disregard all that opposes, to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings.The Amorites - In Numbers 14:45, it is "the Amalekites and the Canaanites" who are said to have discomfited them. The Amorites, as the most powerful nation of Canaan, lend their name here, as in other passages (eg. Deuteronomy 1:7) to the Canaanite tribes generally. 40-45. turn you, and take your journey into the … Red Sea—This command they disregarded, and, determined to force an onward passage in spite of the earnest remonstrances of Moses, they attempted to cross the heights then occupied by the combined forces of the Amorites and Amalekites (compare Nu 14:43), but were repulsed with great loss. People often experience distress even while in the way of duty. But how different their condition who suffer in situations where God is with them from the feelings of those who are conscious that they are in a position directly opposed to the divine will! The Israelites were grieved when they found themselves involved in difficulties and perils; but their sorrow arose not from a sense of the guilt so much as the sad effects of their perverse conduct; and "though they wept," they were not true penitents. So the Lord would not hearken to their voice, nor give ear unto them. As bees do; as bees which being provoked come out of their hives in great numbers, and with great fury pursue and sting their adversary and disturber, Psalm 118:12. And the Amorites which dwelt in the mountain,.... Elsewhere called Canaanites, being one, and a principal one of the seven nations of Canaan, and who were joined and assisted in the attack by the Amalekites, Numbers 14:45.

came out against you, and chased you, as bees do; which being disturbed in their hives come out in great numbers, and with great fury and ardour (for, though a small creature, it has a great deal of spirit); and pursue the aggressor, and leave him not till they have stung him, though thereby they lose their stings, and quickly their lives, at least their usefulness; so these Amorites, being irritated at the approach of the Israelites on their borders, came out in great numbers and with great wrath, and fell upon them and smote them, and pursued them a long way, as is after expressed, though these in the issue were destroyed themselves. The Syriac version renders it, "as bees that are smoked": or irritated by smoke; which is a method that has been used, and was anciently: to dispossess them of their hives, and get their honey, as Bochart (p) from various writers has shown, as from Virgil (q), Ovid (r), and others; and when they are too much smoked become exceeding angry as Aristotle (s) and Pliny (t) observe; and which same writers take notice of the strength and force of their stings, as that they will kill with them the largest animals, even horses have been killed by them; and, though such small feeble creatures, are not afraid to attack men and beasts; yea, sometimes people have been obliged to leave their habitations, and have been driven out of their country by them, of which Aelianus (u) gives an instance; all which shows the aptness and propriety of this simile; see Psalm 118:12 and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah; pursued them as far as Mount Seir, even to another place on the borders of Edom, which was called Hormah, either from the destruction now or afterwards made here; See Gill on Numbers 14:45, though some take it not to be the proper name of a place, but an appellative, and render it, "even unto destruction"; so the Jerusalem Targum; that is, destroyed them with an utter destruction.

(p) Hierozoic, par. 2. l. 4. c. 10. col. 507. (q) "-----Fumosque manu", &c. Virgil. Georgic. l. 4. v. 230. (r) "Quid, cum suppositos", &c. Ovid. de Remed. Amor. l. 1. v. 185. (s) Hist. Animal. l. 9. c. 40. (t) Nat Hist. l. 11. c. 16, 18. (u) De Animal. l. 17. c. 35.

And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
44. the Amorites] So D characteristically (see above on Deuteronomy 1:7) names the peoples whom J, Numbers 14:45, calls Amalekites and Canaanites.

as bees do] Swarming in their multitudes; cp. Isaiah 7:18; Psalm 118:12; Iliad, ii. 87 ff., ‘As when the tribes of thronging bees issue from some hollow rock.’

in Seir] Se‘îr, the frequent name of the territory of Edom, extended to the W. as well as to the E. of the ‘Arabah; and if that be here intended Israel’s defeat took place on Edomite soil; Sam. ‘in Gebala’ (Gebal being a late post-exilic name for the N. part of Edom’s territory on the E. of the ‘Arabah, Psalm 83:8 : see ‘Land of Edom’ by the present writer in Expositor, seventh series, vol. vi. pp. 331, 515). LXX and other versions read from Se‘îr, which on such a reading would be a definite district in the N. whence Israel were driven southward to Ḥormah. And as Se‘îr, rough or shaggy, appears as the name of other localities than the land of Edom (cp. Joshua 15:10; Jdg 3:26; Tell-el-Amarna Letters, Winckler’s ed. No. 181, line 26) it is possible that this is but another application of it to some place on the S. border of Palestine. But in that case one must not think of it as the plain of Seer, S.E. of Be’er-sheba‘, which Trumbull (K. B. 93) identifies with the Edomite Se‘îr (cf. Driver); for the spelling of that, first correctly given by J. Wilson (Lands of the Bible, i. 345) and. confirmed by Palmer (Des. of the Exod. ii. 404) and Musil (Edom, i. 9, etc.), as Sirr, is radically different from Se‘îr.

unto Hormah] Not now to be identified. Musil’s lists and maps discover no such place-name. The tradition of the origin of the name is double. According to JE, Numbers 21:3, it was so called because Israel devoted to the ḥerem or ban the Canaanites whom they defeated there; but in Jdg 1:17 because Judah and Simeon did the same upon their victory. The place lay in Judah in the Negeb on the border of Edom, Joshua 12:14; Joshua 15:30; cp. 1 Samuel 30:30; but it was Simeon’s according to Joshua 19:4, 1 Chronicles 4:30. In Jdg 1:17 the ancient name is given as Ṣephath; and es-Sbaita (Musil, Edom, ii. 37 ff.) has been suggested as its mod. equivalent, but the radicals of the name are not the same. The situation, however, is suitable; some 25 miles N.N.E. of ‘Ain-Ḳudeis.Verse 44. - The Amorites, for the Canaanites generally; in Numbers, the Amalekites are specially mentioned as joining with the Amorites in chastising the Israelites. These tribes came down from the higher mountain range to the lower height which the Israelites had gained, and drove them with great slaughter as far as Hormah, in Seir, chasing them as bees do, which pursue with keen ferocity those who disturb them. Hormah (Ban-place), the earlier name of which was Zephath (Judges 1:17), was a royal city of the Canaanites, taken by the Israelites towards the close of their wanderings, and placed by them under a ban (Numbers 21:1, etc.), which ban was fully executed only in the time of the Judges. It is here and elsewhere called Hormah by anticipation. The old name Zephath seems to have survived that given to it by the Israelites in the name Sebaita or Sepata, the Arabic form of Zephath, the name of a heap of ruins on the western slope of the rocky mountain-plateau Rakhmah, about two hours and a half south-west of Khalasa (Ritter, 'Geography of Palestine,' 1:431; Palmer, 'Desert of Et-Tih,' p. 289, etc.). This is a more probable identification than that of Robinson ('Res.,' 2:18), who finds Hormah in the rocky defile of Es-Sufah, an unlikely place for a city of the importance of Zephath to be in. "Who standeth before thee," equivalent to "in thy service" (Exodus 24:13; Exodus 33:11 : for this meaning, see Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 18:7; 1 Kings 1:28). "Strengthen him:" comp. Deuteronomy 31:7; and with regard to the installation of Joshua as the leader of Israel, see Numbers 27:18-19. The suffix in ינחילנּה points back to הארץ in Deuteronomy 1:35. Joshua would divide the land among the Israelites for an inheritance, viz., (v. 39) among the young Israelites, the children of the condemned generation, whom Moses, when making a further communication of the judicial sentence of God (Numbers 14:31), had described as having no share in the sins of their parents, by adding, "who know not to-day what is good and evil." This expression is used to denote a condition of spiritual infancy and moral responsibility (Isaiah 7:15-16). It is different in 2 Samuel 19:36. - In Deuteronomy 1:40-45 he proceeds to describe still further, according to Numbers 14:39-45, how the people, by resisting the command of God to go back into the desert (Deuteronomy 1:41, compared with Numbers 14:25), had simply brought still greater calamities upon themselves, and had had to atone for the presumptuous attempt to force a way into Canaan, in opposition to the express will of the Lord, by enduring a miserable defeat. Instead of "they acted presumptuously to go up" (Numbers 14:44), Moses says here, in Deuteronomy 1:41, "ye acted frivolously to go up;" and in Deuteronomy 1:43, "ye acted rashly, and went up." הזיד from זוּד, to boil, or boil over (Genesis 25:29), signifies to act thoughtlessly, haughtily, or rashly. On the particular fact mentioned in Deuteronomy 1:44, see at Numbers 14:45.
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