Deuteronomy 9:22
And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, you provoked the LORD to wrath.
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(22) At Taberah.—The first place mentioned after they left Sinai.

At Massah.—The last scene described before they reached it. Sinai is made the centre of provocation.

At Kibroth-hattaavah.—The first encampment named after Sinai. It is not certain that they halted at Taberah. (See Numbers 11)

9:7-29 That the Israelites might have no pretence to think that God brought them to Canaan for their righteousness, Moses shows what a miracle of mercy it was, that they had not been destroyed in the wilderness. It is good for us often to remember against ourselves, with sorrow and shame, our former sins; that we may see how much we are indebted to free grace, and may humbly own that we never merited any thing but wrath and the curse at God's hand. For so strong is our propensity to pride, that it will creep in under one pretence or another. We are ready to fancy that our righteousness has got for us the special favour of the Lord, though in reality our wickedness is more plain than our weakness. But when the secret history of every man's life shall be brought forth at the day of judgment, all the world will be proved guilty before God. At present, One pleads for us before the mercy-seat, who not only fasted, but died upon the cross for our sins; through whom we may approach, though self-condemned sinners, and beseech for undeserved mercy and for eternal life, as the gift of God in Him. Let us refer all the victory, all the glory, and all the praise, to Him who alone bringeth salvation.See the marginal reference. Taberah was the name of a spot in or near the station of Kibroth-hattaavah, and accordingly is not named in the list of encampments given in Numbers 33:16. The separate mention of the two is, however, appropriate here, for each place and each name was a memorial of an act of rebellion. The instances in this and the next verse are not given in order of occurrence. The speaker for his own purposes advances from the slighter to the more heinous proofs of guilt. 21. I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount—that is, "the smitten rock" (El Leja) which was probably contiguous to, or a part of, Sinai. It is too seldom borne in mind that though the Israelites were supplied with water from this rock when they were stationed at Rephidim (Wady Feiran), there is nothing in the Scripture narrative which should lead us to suppose that the rock was in the immediate neighborhood of that place (see on [123]Ex 17:5). The water on this smitten rock was probably the brook that descended from the mount. The water may have flowed at the distance of many miles from the rock, as the winter torrents do now through the wadies of Arabia-Petræa (Ps 78:15, 16). And the rock may have been smitten at such a height, and at a spot bearing such a relation to the Sinaitic valleys, as to furnish in this way supplies of water to the Israelites during the journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir and Kadesh-barnea (De 1:1, 2). On this supposition new light is, perhaps, cast on the figurative language of the apostle, when he speaks of "the rock following" the Israelites (1Co 10:4) [Wilson, Land of the Bible]. No text from Poole on this verse. And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the Lord to wrath. These places are not mentioned in the strict order in which the provocations were made at them; for they provoked the Lord at Massah by murmuring for water, before they provoked him at Taberah, by complaining as it should seem of their journeying; for Massah was before they came to Sinai, and Taberah after they departed from thence; though some, as Aben Ezra observes, say that Taberah is Massah; but it could not be the Massah in Rephidim, for that was on one side of Mount Sinai, and Taberah on another; though different places might be so called from their tempting the Lord at them; rather Taberah and Kibrothhattaavah seem to be the same; where the people died with the flesh in their mouths they lusted after, and were buried; since no mention is made of their removal at that time from the one place to the other, nor of Taberah in the account of their journeys, only Kibrothhattaavah; see Exodus 17:7. And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath.
22, 23. Other instances of Israel’s rebelliousness: Tab‘erah, ‘Burning-place,’ because fire broke out on them there, Numbers 11:1-3, E; Massah, ‘Proof,’ for there they put God to the proof, Exodus 17:7, J; Ḳibroth-hat-ta’avah, ‘Graves of Lust,’ Numbers 11:31-34, J.

ye provoked, etc.] As in Deuteronomy 9:7-8.

Kadesh-barnea] See on Deuteronomy 1:19 f.

ye rebelled, etc.] As in Deuteronomy 1:26 q.v.

Verses 22-24. - Not only at Horeb, but at other places and on other occasions, had Israel provoked the Lord to wrath by their contumacy. At Taberah, by their complaining and discontent (Numbers 11:1-3); at Massah, by their murmuring because of the want of water (Exodus 17. l, etc.); at Kibroth-hattaavah, by despising the manna, and lusting for flesh to eat (Numbers 11:4, etc.); and at Kadesh-barnea, when on the confines of the Promised Land, they distrusted God, reproached him for having brought them there to be destroyed, and sought to return to Egypt (Numbers 14:1, etc.; Deuteronomy 1:26). "The list is not arranged chronologically, but advances from the smaller to the morn serious forms of guilt: For Moses was seeking to sharpen the consciences of the people, and to impress upon them the fact that they had been rebellious against the Lord (see at ver. 7) from the very beginning, 'from the day that I knew you'" (Keil). When Moses went up the mountain, and stayed there forty days, entirely occupied with the holiest things, so that he neither ate nor drank, having gone up to receive the tables of the law, upon which the words were written with the finger of God, just as the Lord had spoken them directly to the people out of the midst of the fire, - at a time, therefore, when the Israelites should also have been meditating deeply upon the words of the Lord which they had but just heard, - they acted so corruptly, as to depart at once from the way that had been pointed out, and make themselves a molten image (comp. Exodus 31:18-32:6, with chs. Deuteronomy 24:12-31:17). "The day of the assembly," i.e., the day on which Moses gathered the people together before God (Deuteronomy 4:10), calling them out of the camp, and bringing them to the Lord to the foot of Sinai (Exodus 19:17). The construction of the sentence is this: the apodosis to "when I was gone up" commences with "the Lord delivered unto me," in Deuteronomy 9:10; and the clause, "then I abode," etc., in Deuteronomy 9:9, is a parenthesis. - The words of God in Deuteronomy 9:12-14 are taken almost word for word from Exodus 32:7-10. הרף (Deuteronomy 9:14), the imperative Hiphil of רפה, desist from me, that I may destroy them, for לּי הנּיחה, in Exodus 32:10. But notwithstanding the apostasy of the people, the Lord gave Moses the tables of the covenant, not only that they might be a testimony of His holiness before the faithless nation, but still more as a testimony that, in spite of His resolution to destroy the rebellious nation, without leaving a trace behind, He would still uphold His covenant, and make of Moses a greater people. There is nothing at all to favour the opinion, that handing over the tables (Deuteronomy 9:11) was the first beginning of the manifestations of divine wrath (Schultz); and this is also at variance with the preterite, נתן, in Deuteronomy 9:11, from which it is very evident that the Lord had already given the tables to Moses, when He commanded him to go down quickly, not only to declare to the people the holiness of God, but to stop the apostasy, and by his mediatorial intervention to avert from the people the execution of the divine purpose. It is true, that when Moses came down and saw the idolatrous conduct of the people, he threw the two tables from his hands, and broke them in pieces before the eyes of the people (Deuteronomy 9:15-17; comp. with Exodus 32:15-19), as a practical declaration that the covenant of the Lord was broken by their apostasy. But this act of Moses furnishes no proof that the Lord had given him the tables to declare His holy wrath in the sight of the people. And even if the tables of the covenant were "in a certain sense the indictments in Moses' hands, accusing them of a capital crime" (Schultz), this was not the purpose for which God had given them to him. For if it had been, Moses would not have broken them in pieces, destroying, as it were, the indictments themselves, before the people had been tried. Moses passed over the fact, that even before coming down from the mountain he endeavoured to mitigate the wrath of the Lord by his intercession (Exodus 32:11-14), and simply mentioned (in Deuteronomy 9:15-17) how, as soon as he came down, he charged the people with their great sin; and then, in Deuteronomy 9:18, Deuteronomy 9:19, how he spent another forty days upon the mountain fasting before God, on account of this sin, until he had averted the destructive wrath of the Lord from Israel, through his earnest intercession. The forty days that Moses spent upon the mountain, "as at the first," in prayer before the Lord, are the days mentioned in Exodus 34:28 as having been passed upon Sinai for the perfect restoration of the covenant, and for the purpose of procuring the second tables (cf. Deuteronomy 10:1.).
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