Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The rock of flint.—The rock in Horeb is called tsûr; the rock smitten in Kadesh, selagh. The first word conveys the idea of “hardness”; the other is rather a “cliff,” or “height,” and suggests the idea of inaccessibility. In Numbers 20:10, the words of Moses to the rebels, “Must we fetch you water out of this rock?” seem to help the distinction, whatever its purpose may be. On the associations of the word tsûr with flint, see Note on Joshua 5:2. The word challâmîsh, here used for flint, occurs in Deuteronomy 32:13, Job 28:9, Psalm 114:8 (an allusion to this passage), and Isaiah 1:7.Numbers 21:6 note.
who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint—(See on De 9:21).Deuteronomy 1:19, and especially for what follows: wherein were fiery serpents and scorpions; fiery serpents, such as bit the Israelites, of which see Numbers 21:6 and scorpions, a kind of serpents, venomous and mischievous, which have stings in their tails they are continually thrusting out and striking with, as Pliny says (u); and have their name from their great sting; for Aristotle (w) says, this alone of insects has a large sting:
and drought where there was no water; a dry and barren place where no water was to be had; see Psalm 63:1 or it may be rather another kind of serpents may be meant, which is called "dipsas"; and so the Vulgate Latin, Septuagint, and Samaritan versions render it; the biting of which produces such a thirst as proves mortal, and which must be intolerable in a wilderness where no water is; and from whence it has its name, which signifies thirsty, as does the Hebrew word here used:
who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; which was done both at Horeb and Kadesh, Exodus 17:6 and was very extraordinary; by striking flint, fire is ordinarily produced, and not water. Dr. Shaw observes (x), that it may be more properly named, with other sorts of graphite marble here to be met with, "the rock of amethyst", from their reddish or purple colour and complexion.Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)15. great and terrible wilderness] Deuteronomy 1:19 : cp. Deuteronomy 7:21.
fiery serpents and scorpions] The former, in the collective singular naḥash sarapḥ, are described in the plural in Numbers 21:6 E: cp. Isaiah 30:6 : the flying saraph. If saraph really means burning and is not a foreign word (for dragon or the like), it refers to the inflammation produced by the serpent’s bite. Scorpions is added characteristically by D.
out of the rock of flint] Exodus 17:6 (E): Numbers 20:8; Numbers 20:11 (JE): in both cases only the rock. D’s characteristic rhetoric adds of flint. The word does not occur before D, and elsewhere only in Deuteronomy 32:13; Psalm 114:8; Job 28:9; Isaiah 50:7.Verse 15. - Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, etc. "The fiery serpent" and "the scorpion" (sing.) are in apposition to the "wilderness," and illustrate its terribleness. Fiery serpents - ὔφεις τοὺς θανατοῦνσας LXX. - or burning serpents, so called from the burning pain caused by their bite; probably the cerastes, or one of the naja species (cf. Numbers 21:6). Deuteronomy 8:8, Deuteronomy 8:9, in contrast with the dry unfruitful desert, as a well-watered and very fruitful land, which yielded abundance of support to its inhabitants; a land of water-brooks, fountains, and floods (תּהומות, see Genesis 1:2), which had their source (took their rise) in valleys and on mountains; a land of wheat and barley, of the vine, fig, and pomegranate, and full of oil and honey (see at Exodus 3:8); lastly, a land "in which thou shalt not eat (support thyself) in scarcity, and shalt not be in want of anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose mountains thou hewest brass." The stones are iron, i.e., ferruginous. This statement is confirmed by modern travellers, although the Israelites did not carry on mining, and do not appear to have obtained either iron or brass from their own land. The iron and brass of which David collected such quantities for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 22:3, 1 Chronicles 22:14), he procured from Betach and Berotai (2 Samuel 8:8), or Tibchat and Kun (1 Chronicles 18:8), towns of Hadadezer, that is to say, from Syria. According to Ezekiel 27:19, however, the Danites brought iron-work to the market of Tyre. Not only do the springs near Tiberias contain iron (v. Schubert, R. iii. p. 239), whilst the soil at Hasbeya and the springs in the neighbourhood are also strongly impregnated with iron (Burckhardt, Syrien, p. 83), but in the southern mountains as well there are probably strata of iron between Jerusalem and Jericho (Russegger, R. iii. p. 250). But Lebanon especially abounds in iron-stone; iron mines and smelting furnaces being found there in many places (Volney, Travels; Burckhardt, p. 73; Seetzen, i. pp. 145, 187ff., 237ff.). The basalt also, which occurs in great masses in northern Canaan by the side of the limestone, from the plain of Jezreel onwards (Robinson, iii. p. 313), and is very predominant in Bashan, is a ferruginous stone. Traces of extinct copper-works are also found upon Lebanon (Volney, Travels; Ritter's Erdkunde, xvii. p. 1063).
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