And Aaron said to Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech you, lay not the sin on us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Alas, my lord.—The word rendered alas! is an exclamation of entreaty rather than of lamentation. It is used towards superiors in conjunction with adoni (my lord) in Genesis 40:20; 1Kings 3:17.
Lay not the sin upon us . . . —Better, lay not sin (i.e., the punishment which is due to it) upon us, for that (or, inasmuch as) we have done foolishly, &c. Aaron does not seek to shift the guilt which had been incurred from himself and Miriam to any others, but prays that they may not be constrained to bear the punishment which their sin had justly deserved. In Zechariah 14:19 the same word hattath is rendered punishment.Numbers 12:11-12. Lay not the sin — Let not the guilt and punishment of this sin rest upon us, upon her in this kind, upon me in any other kind, but pray to God for the pardon and removal of it. As one dead — Because part of her flesh was putrefied and dead, and not to be restored but by the mighty power of God. Like a still-born child, that hath been for some time dead in the womb, which, when it comes forth, is putrefied, and part of it consumed.
Even apparently - Moses received the word of God direct from Him and plainly, not through the medium of dream, vision, parable, dark saying, or such like; compare the marginal references.
The similitude of the Lord shall he behold - But, "No man hath seen God at any time," says John (John 1:18 : compare 1 Timothy 6:16, and especially Exodus 33:20 ff). It was not therefore the Beatific Vision, the unveiled essence of the Deity, which Moses saw on the one hand. Nor was it, on the other hand, a mere emblematic representation (as in Ezekiel 1:26 ff, Daniel 7:9), or an Angel sent as a messenger. It was the Deity Himself manifesting Himself so as to be cognizable to mortal eye. The special footing on which Moses stood as regards God is here laid down in detail, because it at once demonstrates that the supremacy of Moses rested on the distinct appointment of God, and also that Miriam in contravening that supremacy had incurred the penalty proper to sins against the theocracy.
I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us; the punishment of it, bear not hard upon us, or suffer us to be punished in a rigorous manner, without interceding to the Lord for us, for the abatement of removal of it; such a powerful and prevailing interest he knew he had with God, that by his prayers their punishment would be mitigated, or not laid, or, if laid, removed:
wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned; he owns they had sinned, but suggests, and so he would have it understood, that it was not through malice, and purposely and presumptuously, but through and ignorance, inadvertency and weakness, and hoped it would be forgiven.And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 11. - Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee. Septuagint, δέομαι Κύριε. In thus addressing his brother Aaron acknowledged his superior position, and tacitly abandoned all pretension to equality. Lay not the sin upon us. Aaron speaks to Moses almost as if he were praying to God, so completely does. he recognize in his brother the representative of God (in a far higher sense than himself), who had power to bind and loose in the name and power of God. What Aaron really prays for is that the sin, which he frankly confesses, may not be imputed to them. The Levitical law had taught them to look upon sin as a burden, which in the nature of things the sinner must carry, but which by the goodness of God might be got rid of, or transferred to some one else (cf. Leviticus 4:4; Leviticus 16:21; John 1:29). Numbers 11:30) to the tabernacle. Then He Himself came down in a pillar of cloud to the door of the tabernacle, i.e., to the entrance to the court, not to the dwelling itself, and called Aaron and Miriam out, i.e., commanded them to come out of the court,
(Note: The discrepancy discovered by Knobel, in the fact that, according to the so-called Elohist, no one but Moses, Aaron, and the sons of Aaron were allowed to enter the sanctuary, whereas, according to the Jehovist, others did so, - e.g., Miriam here, and Joshua in Exodus 33:11, - rests entirely upon a groundless fancy, arising from a misinterpretation, as there is not a word about entering the sanctuary, i.e., the dwelling itself, either in the verse before us or in Exodus 33:11.)
and said to them (Numbers 12:6.): "If there is a prophet of Jehovah to you (i.e., if you have one), I make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream (בּו, lit., "in him," inasmuch as a revelation in a dream fell within the inner sphere of the soul-life). Not so My servant Moses: he is approved in My whole house; mouth to mouth I speak to him, and as an appearance, and that not in enigmas; and he sees the form of Jehovah. Why are ye not afraid to speak against My servant, against Moses?" נביאכם equals לכם נביא, the suffix used with the noun instead of the separate pronoun in the dative, as in Genesis 39:21; Leviticus 15:3, etc. The noun Jehovah is in all probability to be taken as a genitive, in connection with the word נביאכם ("a prophet to you"), as it is in the lxx and Vulg., and not to be construed with the words which follow ("I Jehovah will make Myself known"). The position of Jehovah at the head of the clause without a preceding אנכי (I) would be much more remarkable than the separation of the dependent noun from the governing noun by the suffix, which occurs in other cases also (e.g., Leviticus 6:3; Leviticus 26:42, etc.); moreover, it would be by no means suited to the sense, as no such emphasis is laid upon the fact that it was Jehovah who made Himself known, as to require or even justify such a construction. The "whole house of Jehovah" (Numbers 12:7) is not "primarily His dwelling, the holy tent" (Baumgarten), - for, in that case, the word "whole" would be quite superfluous, - but the whole house of Israel, or the covenant nation regarded as a kingdom, to the administration and government of which Moses had been called: as a matter of fact, therefore, the whole economy of the Old Testament, having its central point in the holy tent, which Jehovah had caused to be built as the dwelling-place of His name. It did not terminate, however, in the service of the sanctuary, as we may see from the fact that god did not make the priests who were entrusted with the duties of the sanctuary the organs of His saving revelation, but raised up and called prophets after Moses for that purpose. Compare the expression in Hebrews 3:6, "Whose house we are." נאמן with בּ does not mean to be, or become, entrusted with anything (Baumgarten, Knobel), but simply to be lasting, firm, constant, in a local or temporal sense (Deuteronomy 28:59; 1 Samuel 2:35; 2 Samuel 7:16, etc.); in a historical sense, to prove or attest one's self (Genesis 42:20); and in an ethical sense, to be found proof, trustworthy, true (Psalm 78:8; 1 Samuel 3:20; 1 Samuel 22:14 : see Delitzsch on Hebrews 3:2). In the participle, therefore, it signifies proved, faithful, πιστός (lxx). "Mouth to mouth" answers to the "face to face" in Exodus 33:11 (cf. Deuteronomy 34:10), i.e., without any mediation or reserve, but with the same closeness and freedom with which friends converse together (Exodus 33:11). This is still further strengthened and elucidated by the words in apposition, "in the form of seeing (appearance), and not in riddles," i.e., visibly, and not in a dark, hidden, enigmatical way. מראה is an accusative defining the mode, and signifies here not vision, as in Numbers 12:6, but adspectus, view, sight; for it forms an antithesis to בּמּראה in Numbers 12:6. "The form (Eng. similitude) of Jehovah" was not the essential nature of God, His unveiled glory, - for this no mortal man can see (vid., Exodus 33:18.), - but a form which manifested the invisible God to the eye of man in a clearly discernible mode, and which was essentially different, not only from the visionary sight of God in the form of a man (Ezekiel 1:26; Daniel 7:9 and Daniel 7:13), but also from the appearances of God in the outward world of the senses, in the person and form of the angel of Jehovah, and stood in the same relation to these two forms of revelation, so far as directness and clearness were concerned, as the sight of a person in a dream to that of the actual figure of the person himself. God talked with Moses without figure, in the clear distinctness of a spiritual communication, whereas to the prophets He only revealed Himself through the medium of ecstasy or dream.
Through this utterance on the part of Jehovah, Moses is placed above all the prophets, in relation to God and also to the whole nation. The divine revelation to the prophets is thereby restricted to the two forms of inward intuition (vision and dream). It follows from this, that it had always a visionary character, though it might vary in intensity; and therefore that it had always more or less obscurity about it, because the clearness of self-consciousness and the distinct perception of an external world, both receded before the inward intuition, in a dream as well as in a vision. The prophets were consequently simply organs, through whom Jehovah made known His counsel and will at certain times, and in relation to special circumstances and features in the development of His kingdom. It was not so with Moses. Jehovah had placed him over all His house, had called him to be the founder and organizer of the kingdom established in Israel through his mediatorial service, and had found him faithful in His service. With this servant (θεράπων, lxx) of His, He spake mouth to mouth, without a figure or figurative cloak, with the distinctness of a human interchange of thought; so that at any time he could inquire of God and wait for the divine reply. Hence Moses was not a prophet of Jehovah, like many others, not even merely the first and highest prophet, primus inter pares, but stood above all the prophets, as the founder of the theocracy, and mediator of the Old Covenant. Upon this unparalleled relation of Moses to God and the theocracy, so clearly expressed in the verses before us, the Rabbins have justly founded their view as to the higher grade of inspiration in the Thorah. This view is fully confirmed through the history of the Old Testament kingdom of God, and the relation in which the writings of the prophets stand to those of Moses. The prophets subsequent to Moses simply continued to build upon the foundation which Moses laid. And if Moses stood in this unparalleled relation to the Lord, Miriam and Aaron sinned grievously against him, when speaking as they did. Numbers 12:9. After this address, "the wrath of Jehovah burned against them, and He went." As a judge, withdrawing from the judgment-seat when he has pronounced his sentence, so Jehovah went, by the cloud in which He had come down withdrawing from the tabernacle, and ascending up on high. And at the same moment, Miriam, the instigator of the rebellion against her brother Moses, was covered with leprosy, and became white as snow.
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