Exodus 3:8
And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good land and a large, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.
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(8) I am come down.—By condescension to human infirmity, which conceives of all things under the limitations of time and space, God is spoken of as dwelling ordinarily in heaven, or “the heaven of heavens,” whence sometimes He “comes down” to manifest Himself to men. That this was not understood literally, even by the Jews, appears from such passages as 1Kings 8:27; Psalm 137:7-9; Proverbs 15:3, &c.

A good land and a large.—The land promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18) well deserves this description. Besides Philistia, and Palestine on both sides of the Jordan, it included almost the whole of Syria from Galilee on the south, to Amanus, Taurus, and the Euphrates on the north and north-east. This tract of country is 450 miles long, and from sixty to a hundred and twenty miles broad. Its area is not much less than 50,000 square miles. Although some parts are unproductive, it is, on the whole, a region of great fertility, quite capable of forming the seat of a powerful empire.

A land flowing with milk and honey.—This expression, here used for the first time, was already, it is probable, a proverbial one, denoting generally, richness and fertility. (See Numbers 13:27.)

The Canaanites. . . . —See the comment on Gen. (Exodus 10:15-17; Exodus 13:7).

Exodus 3:8. I am come down to deliver them — When God doth something very extraordinary, he is said to come down to do it, as Isaiah 64:1. This deliverance was typical of our redemption by Christ, and in that the eternal Word did indeed come down from heaven to deliver us. A large land — So it was, according to its true and ancient bounds, as they are described, (Genesis 15:18,) and not according to those narrow limits, to which they were afterward confined for their unbelief and impiety. A land flowing with milk and honey — A proverbial expression: abounding with the choicest fruits, both for necessity and delight.3:7-10 God notices the afflictions of Israel. Their sorrows; even the secret sorrows of God's people are known to him. Their cry; God hears the cries of his afflicted people. The oppression they endured; the highest and greatest of their oppressors are not above him. God promises speedy deliverance by methods out of the common ways of providence. Those whom God, by his grace, delivers out of a spiritual Egypt, he will bring to a heavenly Canaan.The natural richness of Palestine, the variety and excellence of its productions, are attested by sacred (compare Jeremiah 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6) and ancient writers, whose descriptions are strongly in contrast with those of later travelers. The expression "flowing with milk and honey" is used proverbially by Greek poets.

The Canaanites ... - This is the first passage in this book where the enumeration, so often repeated, of the nations then in possession of Palestine, is given. Moses was to learn at once the extent of the promise, and the greatness of the enterprise. In Egypt, the forces, situation, and character of these nations were then well known. Aahmes I had invaded the south of Palestine in his pursuit of the Shasous; Tothmosis I had traversed the whole land on his campaign in Syria and Mesopotamia; representations of Canaanites, and of the Cheta, identified by most Egyptologers with the Hittites, are common on monuments of the 18th and 19th Dynasties, and give a strong impression of their civilization, riches, and especially of their knowledge of the arts of war. In this passage, the more general designations come first - Canaanites probably includes all the races; the Hittites, who had great numbers of chariots (892 were taken from them by Tothmosis III in one battle), occupied the plains; the Amorites were chiefly mountaineers, and, in Egyptian inscriptions, gave their name to the whole country; the name Perizzites probably denotes the dwellers in scattered villages, the half-nomad population; the Hivites, a comparatively unwarlike but influential people, held 4 cities in Palestine proper, but their main body dwelt in the northwestern district, from Hermon to Hamath (see Joshua 11:3; Judges 3:3); the Jebusites at that time appear to have occupied Jerusalem and the adjoining district. Soon after their expulsion by Joshua, they seem to have recovered possession of part of Jerusalem, probably Mount Zion, and to have retained it until the time of David.

6-8. I am the God … come down to deliver—The reverential awe of Moses must have been relieved by the divine Speaker (see Mt 22:32), announcing Himself in His covenant character, and by the welcome intelligence communicated. Moreover, the time, as well as all the circumstances of this miraculous appearance, were such as to give him an illustrious display of God's faithfulness to His promises. The period of Israel's journey and affliction in Egypt had been predicted (Ge 15:13), and it was during the last year of the term which had still to run that the Lord appeared in the burning bush. I am come down: this word notes God’s manifestation of himself and his favour, and giving help from heaven. See Genesis 18:21.

It was

a good land and a large, not only comparatively to Goshen, where they now dwelt, and to the number of the Israelites at that time; but absolutely, if you take the Land of Promise according to its true, and first, and ancient bounds of it, as you have them described, Genesis 15:18 Deu 1:7 11:24, and not according to those narrow limits to which they were afterwards confined for their unbelief, sloth, cowardice, and impiety.

Flowing with milk and honey, i.e. abounding with the choicest fruits, both for necessity and for delight. The excellency and singular fruitfulness of.this land, howsoever denied or disputed by some ill-minded persons, is sufficiently evident,

1. From express testimony, not only of Moses, Deu 8:7-9, but also of the spies who were sent to view it, and, though prejudiced against it, yet acknowledged it, Numbers 13:27; and of the holy prophets that lived long in it, as David, Psalm 106:24 Joel 2:3; and Ezekiel, who calls it the glory of all lands, Ezekiel 20:15. Which if it had not been true, it is ridiculous to think that they durst have said and writ so, when the people with whom they contested, and thousands of other persons there and then living, were able to confute them. After them Josephus, and St. Hierom, and others since, who lived long in that land, have highly commended it. And whereas Strabo speaks of the barrenness of the soil about Jerusalem, that is true, but by himself it is limited to the compass of sixty furlongs from Jerusalem. And if at this day the land be now grown barren in a great measure, it is not strange, considering both the great neglect and sloth of the people as to the improvement of it, and the great wickedness of its inhabitants, for which God hath threatened to turn a fruitful land into barrenness, Psalm 107:34.

These people are diversely numbered, there are ten sorts reckoned, Genesis 15:19-21, and seven, Deu 7:1, and here but six, because some of them were either destroyed or driven out of their land by others; or did by choice and design remove to some other place, as many in those times did, though it be not mentioned in Scripture; or by cohabitation and marriage with some of the other people, did make a coalition, and were incorporated with them, and so their name was swallowed up in the other; or because the names of some of these people, as particularly the Canaanites and the Amorites, were used sometimes more strictly, and sometimes more largely, so as to comprehend under them the other people, as the Girgashites, &c., whence it comes to pass that all the rest go under the names of the Canaanites, Genesis 13:7, and of the Amorites in some places of Scripture, as hath been showed. And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians,.... Which must be understood consistent with the omnipresence of God, who is everywhere, and strictly speaking cannot be said to remove from place to place, or to descend; but such a way of speaking is used, when he gives some eminent display of his power or goodness, as here in a wonderful manner he appeared in a burning bush, and manifested himself in a way of grace and kindness to his people, signifying that he would shortly save them: so Christ in our nature came down from heaven to earth, to save his spiritual Israel out of the hands of all their enemies:

and to bring them out of that land; the land of Egypt, where they were in bondage, and greatly oppressed:

unto a good land, and a large; the land of Canaan, which was not only a good land, but a large one in comparison of Goshen, where the Israelites were pent up and straitened for room through their great increase; and though it was but a small country in itself, and when compared with some others, being but one hundred and sixty miles from Dan to Beersheba, and but forty six from Joppa to Bethlehem, and but sixty from Joppa to Jordan, yet, for so small a country, it had a great deal of good land in it; for Hecataeus (t) an Heathen writer, says it had in it three hundred myriads of acres of the best and most fruitful land:

unto a land flowing with milk and honey; which is not to be restrained merely to the abundance of cattle fed he

And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land {i} flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.

(i) Most plentiful of all things.

8. am come down] from heaven. A frequent anthropomorphism in J: cf. Genesis 11:5; Genesis 11:7; also Exodus 19:11; Exodus 19:18; Exodus 19:20; Exodus 34:5.

a land flowing with milk and honey] a frequent designation of Canaan in the Pent.: in J (here, v. 17, Exodus 13:5, Exodus 33:3, Numbers 13:27; Numbers 14:8; Numbers 16:13 [of Egypt], 14): the compiler of H (Leviticus 20:24); Deuteronomy 6:3; Deuteronomy 11:9; Deuteronomy 26:9; Deuteronomy 26:15; Deuteronomy 27:3; Deuteronomy 31:20; also Joshua 5:6 (D2[103]); Jeremiah 11:5; Jeremiah 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6; Ezekiel 20:15†. Milk is an essential article of diet in the East, especially among an agricultural people: ‘honey’ includes probably not only the honey of bees, but also what is now called by the corresponding name in Arabic dibs, i.e. grape juice, boiled down to a dark golden-brown syrup, intensely sweet, and much used in Palestine as a condiment to food (cf. DB. ii. 32b; EB. ii. 2015).

[103] Deuteronomic passages in Josh., Jud., Kings.

of the Canaanite, &c.] Such rhetorical lists of the nations of Canaan whom the Israelites were to dispossess are frequent, esp. in the Hexateuch, in JE and Deuteronomic writers; see (in JE) Genesis 15:19-21 (where ten are named); Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 23:23; Exodus 23:28; Exodus 33:2; Exodus 34:11; Deuteronomy 7:1 (seven), Exodus 20:17; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 9:1; Joshua 11:3; Joshua 12:8; Joshua 24:11 (all D2[104]); Jdg 3:5; 1 Kings 9:20.

[104] Deuteronomic passages in Josh., Jud., Kings.

the Canaanite] more particularly, it seems (see Numbers 13:29), the inhabitants of the sea-coast, and of the Jordan-valley: but the term is often used, esp. by J (e.g. Genesis 12:6), in a wider sense, of the pre-Israelitish population of Canaan generally (see further the writer’s note on Deuteronomy 1:6, p. 11 f., and Canaan in EB.).

the Hittite] The ‘Hittites,’1[105] as inscriptions now abundantly shew, were a great nation, whose home was N. of Phoenicia and Lebanon, Kadesh on the Orontes being one of their principal cities (see Hittites in EB. and DB.; or, more briefly, the writer’s note on Genesis 10:15; and cf. 1 Kings 10:29; 1 Kings 11:1, 2 Kings 7:6): but these Hittites were never conquered by the Israelites, and so cannot be referred to here. The reference may be to an offshoot settled in the far N. of Canaan (Jdg 1:26; Jdg 3:3 [read Hittite for Hivite]; Joshua 11:3 [interchange, with LXX., Hittite and Hivite]); but a belief appears gradually to have sprung up,—though how far it is grounded on fact is difficult to say (see the writer’s Book of Genesis, pp. 228–30),—that there were once Hittites in the more southerly hill-country of Canaan (Numbers 13:29 in JE), and even in Hebron (Genesis 23 [P]); and it is possible that this is the view expressed in these enumerations.

[105] See now most fully Garstang’s Land of the Hittites (1910).

the Amorite] in the Tel el-Amarna letters (c. 1400 b.c.), the ‘land of Amurri’ is mentioned in such a way as to shew that it was the name of a canton, or district, N. of Canaan, behind Phoenicia2[106]. By the time of the Hebrew occupation, the Amorites appear to have extended themselves southwards; and so, in the OT., the term is used in two connexions: (1) Numbers 21:13 and often, of the people ruled by Sihon on the E. and NE. of the Dead Sea; (2) as a general designation of the pre-Israelitish population of the country W. of Jordan (so esp. in E and Dt., as Genesis 15:6, Deuteronomy 1:7, cf. Amos 2:9-10),—in Numbers 13:29 said specially to have inhabited the hill-country.

[106] See Hogarth’s Authority and Archaeology, p. 73 f.; or the writer’s Genesis, p. 125. It appears now that the Amurri extended eastwards much further than was once supposed: see the writer’s Schweich Lectures (1909), p. 36.

the Perizzite] named alone in Joshua 17:15; by the side of the ‘Canaanite’ only, Genesis 13:7; Genesis 34:30, Jdg 1:4-5; and found also in many of the lists cited above. To judge from the first-cited passages, apparently a people of Central Palestine; but more is not definitely known of them. It is thought by some that the word is not a proper name at all, but that it is connected with perâzî, ‘country-folk,’ ‘peasantry’ (Deuteronomy 3:5 ‘besides the towns of the peasantry’; 1 Samuel 6:18 ‘the villages of the peasantry’), and denoted the village population of Canaan, the fellaḥin (or ‘labourers’ of the soil), as they are now called.

the Hivite] a petty people of Central Palestine: Genesis 34:2 (in Shechem); Joshua 9:7; Joshua 11:19 (in Gibeon).

the Jebusite] the tribe which occupied the stronghold of Jerusalem, and maintained themselves there until expelled by David (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 15:63, 2 Samuel 5:6-9).Verse 8. - I am come down. Another anthropomorphism, and one very common in Scripture (Genesis 11:5, 7; Genesis 18:21; Psalm 18:9; Psalm 144:5, etc.), connected of course with the idea that God has a special dwellingplace, which is above the earth. To bring them up. Literally correct. Palestine is at a much higher level than Egypt. (Compare Genesis 12:10; Genesis 13:1; Genesis 37:25; Genesis 39:1; Genesis 42:2; Genesis 46:3, 4; Genesis 50:25.) A good land and a large. The fertility of Palestine, though not equal to that of Egypt, was still very great. Eastward of Jordan, the soil is rich and productive, the country in places wooded with fine trees, and the herbage luxuriant. Vast tracts in the spring produce enormous crops of grain, and throughout the year pasturage of every kind is abundant. "Still the countless flocks and herds may be seen, droves of cattle moving on like troops of soldiers, descending at sunset to drink of the springs-literally, in the language of; the prophet, "rams, and lambs, and goats, and bullocks, all of them fatlings of Bashan (Stanley, Jewish Church, pp. 217, 218). The western region is less productive, but by careful cultivation in terraces may be made to bear excellent crops of corn, olives, and figs. Palestine proper to a modern European seems small, being about the size of Belgium, less than Holland or Hanover, and not much larger than Wales. It contains about 11,000 square miles. To an Israelite of the age of Moses such a land would appear sufficiently "large;" for it was considerably larger than the entire Delta of Egypt, whereof his nation occupied the smaller half; and it fell but little short of the entire cultivable area of the whole land of Egypt, which was the greatest and most powerful country known to him. It may be added that the land included in the covenant which God made with Abraham (Genesis 15:18-21), and actually possessed by David and Solomon (1 Kings 4:21), was a "good land and a large," according even to modern notions, including (as it did) besides Palestine the whole of Syria, and thus containing an area of from 50,000 to 60,000 square miles. The phrase flowing with milk and honey, first used here, and so common in the later books (Numbers 13:27; Deuteronomy 26:9, 15; Deuteronomy 31:20; Jeremiah 11:5; Jeremiah 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6, etc.) was probably a proverbial expression for "a land of plenty," and not intended literally. See what the spies say, Numbers 13:27 The enumeration of the nations of Palestine here made is incomplete, five only of the ten whose land was promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:19-21) being expressly mentioned. One, however, that of the Hivites, is added. We may suppose that they had succeeded to the Kenizzites or the Kadmonites of Abraham's time. The only important omission is that of the Girgashites, who hold their place in most other enumerations (Genesis 10:16; Genesis 15:21; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 3:10; Joshua 24:11, etc.), but seem to have been the least important of the "seven nations,"and are omitted in Judges 3:5. ("Girgashites" is introduced in the Samaritan version and the Sept.) Here, at Horeb, God appeared to Moses as the Angel of the Lord "in a flame of fire out of the midst of the thorn-bush" (סנה, βάτος, rubus), which burned in the fire and was not consumed. אכּל, in combination with איננּוּ, must be a participle for מאכּל. When Moses turned aside from the road or spot where he was standing, "to look at this great sight" (מראה), i.e., the miraculous vision of the bush that was burning and yet not burned up, Jehovah called to him out of the midst of the thorn-bush, "Moses, Moses (the reduplication as in Genesis 22:11), draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground" (אדמה). The symbolical meaning of this miraculous vision, - that is to say, the fact that it was a figurative representation of the nature and contents of the ensuing message from God, - has long been admitted. The thorn-bush in contrast with the more noble and lofty trees (Judges 9:15) represented the people of Israel in their humiliation, as a people despised by the world. Fire and the flame of fire were not "symbols of the holiness of God;" for, as the Holy One, "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5), He "dwells in the light which no man can approach unto" (1 Timothy 6:16); and that not merely according to the New Testament, but according to the Old Testament view as well, as is evident from Isaiah 10:17, where "the Light of Israel" and "the Holy One of Israel" are synonymous. But "the Light of Israel became fire, and the Holy One a flame, and burned and consumed its thorns and thistles." Nor is "fire, from its very nature, the source of light," according to the scriptural view. On the contrary, light, the condition of all life, is also the source of fire. The sun enlightens, warms, and burns (Job 30:28; Sol. Sol 1:6); the rays of the sun produce warmth, heat, and fire; and light was created before the sun. Fire, therefore, regarded as burning and consuming, is a figurative representation of refining affliction and destroying punishment (1 Corinthians 3:11.), or a symbol of the chastening and punitive justice of the indignation and wrath of God. It is in fire that the Lord comes to judgment (Daniel 7:9-10; Ezekiel 1:13-14, Ezekiel 1:27-28; Revelation 1:14-15). Fire sets forth the fiery indignation which devours the adversaries (Hebrews 10:27). He who "judges and makes war in righteousness' has eyes as a flame of fire (Revelation 19:11-12). Accordingly, the burning thorn-bush represented the people of Israel as they were burning in the fire of affliction, the iron furnace of Egypt (Deuteronomy 4:20). Yet, though the thorn-bush was burning in the fire, it was not consumed; for in the flame was Jehovah, who chastens His people, but does not give them over unto death (Psalm 118:18). The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had come down to deliver His people out of the hand of the Egyptians (Exodus 3:8). Although the affliction of Israel in Egypt proceeded from Pharaoh, yet was it also a fire which the Lord had kindled to purify His people and prepare it for its calling. In the flame of the burning bush the Lord manifested Himself as the "jealous God, who visits the sins of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate Him, and showeth mercy unto thousands of them that love Him and keep His commandments" (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9-10), who cannot tolerate the worship of another god (Exodus 34:14), and whose anger burns against idolaters, to destroy them (Deuteronomy 6:15). The "jealous God" was a "consuming fire" in the midst of Israel (Deuteronomy 4:24). These passages show that the great sight which Moses saw not only had reference to the circumstances of Israel in Egypt, but was a prelude to the manifestation of God on Sinai for the establishment of the covenant (Exodus 19 and 20), and also a representation of the relation in which Jehovah would stand to Israel through the establishment of the covenant made with the fathers. For this reason it occurred upon the spot where Jehovah intended to set up His covenant with Israel. But, as a jealous God, He also "takes vengeance upon His adversaries" (Nahum 1:2.). Pharaoh, who would not let Israel go, He was about to smite with all His wonders (Exodus 3:20), whilst He redeemed Israel with outstretched arm and great judgments (Exodus 6:6). - The transition from the Angel of Jehovah (Exodus 3:2) to Jehovah (Exodus 3:4) proves the identity of the two; and the interchange of Jehovah and Elohim, in Exodus 3:4, precludes the idea of Jehovah being merely a national God. The command of God to Moses to put off his shoes, may be accounted for from the custom in the East of wearing shoes or sandals merely as a protection from dirt. No Brahmin enters a pagoda, no Moslem a mosque, without first taking off at least his overshoes (Rosenm. Morgenl. i. 261; Robinson, Pal. ii. p. 373); and even in the Grecian temples the priests and priestesses performed the service barefooted (Justin, Apol. i. c. 62; Bhr, Symbol. ii. 96). when entering other holy places also, the Arabs and Samaritans, and even the Yezidis of Mesopotamia, take off their shoes, that the places may not be defiled by the dirt or dust upon them (vid., Robinson, Pal. iii. 100, and Layard's Nineveh and its Remains). The place of the burning bush was holy because of the presence of the holy God, and putting off the shoes was intended to express not merely respect for the place itself, but that reverence which the inward man (Ephesians 3:16) owes to the holy God.
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