And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, you provoked the LORD to wrath.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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)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. Exodus 17:7. And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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). 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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