Numbers 11:17
And I will come down and talk with you there: and I will take of the spirit which is on you, and will put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you bear it not yourself alone.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) And I will come down . . . —The cloud which hovered over the Tabernacle appears to have descended to the entrance of it (Numbers 11:25). (Comp. Exodus 33:9; Numbers 12:5; Deuteronomy 31:15).

I will take of the spirit which is upon thee . . . —These words do not imply that there was any diminution of the gifts bestowed upon Moses, but that a portion of those spiritual gifts was bestowed upon the seventy. Rashi compares the mode of bestowal with the manner in which the other lamps of the Sanctuary were lighted at the golden candlestick without diminishing the light from which theirs was taken.

Numbers 11:17. I will come down — By my powerful presence and operation. I will put it on them — That is, I will give the same spirit to them which I have given to thee. The spirit is here put for the gifts of the Spirit, and particularly for the spirit of prophecy, whereby they were enabled, as Moses had been and still was, to discern hidden and future things, and resolve doubtful and difficult cases, which made them fit for government. It is observable that God would not, and therefore men should not, call any persons to any office for which they were not sufficiently qualified.11:16-23 Moses is to choose such as he knew to be elders, that is, wise and experienced men. God promises to qualify them. If they were not found fit for the employ, they should be made fit. Even the discontented people shall be gratified too, that every mouth may be stopped. See here, I. The vanity of all the delights of sense; they will cloy, but they will not satisfy. Spiritual pleasures alone will satisfy and last. As the world passes away, so do the lusts of it. 2. What brutish sins gluttony and drunkenness are! they make that to hurt the body which should be its health. Moses objects. Even true and great believers sometimes find it hard to trust God under the discouragements of second causes, and against hope to believe in hope. God here brings Moses to this point, The Lord God is Almighty; and puts the proof upon the issue, Thou shalt see whether my word shall come to pass or not. If he speaks, it is done.I will take of the spirit which is upon thee - Render rather separate from the spirit, etc.; i. e. they shall have their portion in the same divine gift which thou hast.17. I will come down—that is, not in a visible manner or by local descent, but by the tokens of the divine presence and operations.

and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee—"The spirit" means the gifts and influences of the Spirit (Nu 27:18; Joe 2:28; Joh 7:39; 1Co 14:12), and by "taking the spirit of Moses, and putting it upon them," is not to be understood that the qualities of the great leader were to be in any degree impaired but that the elders would be endowed with a portion of the same gifts, especially of prophecy (Nu 11:25)—that is, an extraordinary penetration in discovering hidden and settling difficult things.

I will come down, not by local motion, but by my powerful presence and operation. See Genesis 11:5 Exodus 34:5.

Will put it upon them, i.e. I will give the same Spirit to them which I have given to thee. But as the Spirit was not conveyed to them from or through Moses, but immediately from God, so the Spirit or its gifts were not by this means impaired in Moses. The Spirit is here put for the gifts of the Spirit, as it is Numbers 27:18 Joel 2:28 John 7:39 Acts 19:2,6 1 Corinthians 14:12,32; and particularly for the Spirit of prophecy, Numbers 11:25, whereby they were enabled, as Moses had been and still was, to discern hidden and future things, and resolve doubtful and difficult cases, which made them fit for government. It is observable, that God would not, and therefore men should not, call any persons to any office for which they were not sufficiently fit and qualified. And I will come down and talk with thee there,.... Descend from heaven, by some visible token of his power and presence, and in a friendly manner converse with him face to face; which was an instance of great condescension and grace, and especially when Moses had showed a very froward peevish spirit; yet all is overlooked, and the Lord vouchsafes the most intimate communion with him, and does him honour before the people:

and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee; the spirit of government, and the spirit of prophecy, the gifts of the spirit qualifying for these things, of which Moses had a large measure:

and will put it upon them; that is, gifts of the same kind with his; not that his gifts were diminished, or that properly speaking anything was taken from Moses and given to the seventy elders; but from the same fountain and fulness of the spirit Moses partook of, they were furnished with like gifts and qualifications, he having not at all the less for what was communicated to them; see 1 Corinthians 12:4; several of the Jewish writers, and particularly Jarchi, illustrate it by the lamp in the golden candlestick in the sanctuary, which was always burning, and at which all the rest were lighted, without any diminution of its light at all:

and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone: assist in the government of them, take part in all weighty and difficult matters, hear the complaints of the people, and bear a share of the blame and reproach they at any time should cast upon their rulers.

And I will come down and talk with thee there: {k} and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.

(k) I will distribute my spirit among them, as I have done to you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 17 - I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them. The Holy Spirit is one and indivisible. But in the language of Scripture "the Spirit" often stands for the charismata, or gifts of the Spirit, and in this sense is freely spoken of as belonging to this or that man. So the "spirit of Elijah" (2 Kings 2:9, 15), which was transferred to Elisha, as it were, by bequest. It was not, therefore, the personal indwelling presence of the Holy Ghost in Moses which God caused him to share with the seventy elders, for that can in no ease be a matter of transfer or of arrangement, but simply those charismata or extraordinary gifts of the Spirit which Moses had hitherto enjoyed alone as the prophet of Israel. It is strange that in the face of the clear teaching of St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and in view of such cases as those of Saul (1 Samuel 10:10; 19:93) and David (1 Samuel 16:13), any difficulty should have been felt about this passage. They shall bear the burden of the people with thee. It does not appear how they were to do this, nor is there any record of their work. Their gifts, however, were spiritual, and we may probably assume that their usefulness lay in producing and maintaining a proper religious tone among the people. The real difficulty which stood in the way of Moses was not one of outward organization or of government, for that had been amply provided for; it lay in the bad tone which prevailed among the people, and threatened to destroy at any moment the very foundations of their national hope and safety. We may see in these seventy not indeed a Sanhedrim to exercise authority and discipline, but the first commencement of that prophetic order which afterwards played so large a part in the religious history of Israel and of the early Christian Church - an order designed kern the first to supplement by the freedom and originality of their ministry the more formal and unvarying offices of the priesthood. If this was the nature of their usefulness, it is not surprising that they are never mentioned again; and it is observable that a similar obscurity hangs over the activity of the prophets of the New Testament, who yet formed a most important part of the gospel regime (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:29-32; Ephesians 2:20). In Moses' complaint there is an unmistakeable discontent arising from the excessive burden of his office. "Why hast Thou done evil to Thy servant? and why have I not found favour in Thy sight, to lay upon me the burden of all this people?" The "burden of all this people" is the expression which he uses to denote "the care of governing the people, and providing everything for it" (C. a. Lap.). This burden, which God imposed upon him in connection with his office, appeared to him a bad and ungracious treatment on the part of God. This is the language of the discontent of despair, which differs from the murmuring of unbelief, in the fact that it is addressed to God, for the purpose of entreating help and deliverance from Him; whereas unbelief complains of the ways of God, but while complaining of its troubles, does not pray to the Lord its God. "Have I conceived all this people," Moses continues, "or have I brought it forth, that Thou requirest me to carry it in my bosom, as a nursing father carries the suckling, into the promised land?" He does not intend by these words to throw off entirely all care for the people, but simply to plead with God that the duty of carrying and providing for Israel rests with Him, the Creator and Father of Israel (Exodus 4:22; Isaiah 63:16). Moses, a weak man, was wanting in the omnipotent power which alone could satisfy the crying of the people for flesh. עלי יבכּוּ, "they weep unto me," i.e., they come weeping to ask me to relieve their distress. "I am not able to carry this burden alone; it is too heavy for me."
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