And they said, Has the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? has he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses?—There is probably a reference in these words to the facts related in Exodus 4:10-16, where Moses speaks of his own slowness of speech (Numbers 12:10), and where it is said of Aaron, “And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people” (Numbers 12:16). Miriam also is spoken of in Exodus 15:20 as “the prophetess.” “Such is the depravity of human nature,” writes Calvin, “that they not only abuse the gifts of God towards the brother whom they despise, but by an ungodly and sacrilegious glorification extol the gifts themselves in such a manner as to hide the Author of the gifts.”Numbers 12:2. By us — Are not we prophets as well as he? So Aaron was made, (Exodus 4:15-16,) and so Miriam is called, Exodus 15:20. And Moses hath debased and mixed the holy seed, which we have not done. Why then should he take all power to himself, and make rulers as he pleaseth, without consulting us? The Lord heard — Observed their words and carriage to Moses. Exodus 4:15,16, and so Miriam is called, Exodus 15:20. See also Micah 6:4. And Moses hath debased and mixed the holy seed, which we have not done. Why then should he take all power to himself, and make rulers as he pleaseth, without consulting us in the case? The Lord heard it, i. e. observed their words and carriage to Moses.
hath he not spoken also by us? are we not prophets as well as he? the Lord spake to Aaron while he was in Egypt, and had made him a good spokesman in his name, and bore this testimony of him, that he could speak well, and Miriam is expressly called a prophetess, Exodus 4:14 Exodus 15:20; and this being the case, they stomached it that they should have no concern in the choice and appointment of the seventy elders:
and the Lord heard it; for perhaps this was said secretly between themselves; but God, that sees, and hears, and knows all things, took notice of what was spoken by them, and resented it; for it was ultimately against himself, who had ordered Moses to do what he did.And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)2. They do not deny Moses’ prophetic capacity, but they claim an equality with him. If Numbers 12:1 is not a fragment of a separate narrative, as some think, we must suppose that Moses’ marriage was the particular case which gave rise to their claim.
indeed spoken only] The Heb. is emphatic by the use (not found elsewhere) of the two synonyms—spoken only and solely.
with Moses] R.V. marg. ‘by Moses’ is a possible rendering, implying that Jehovah makes use of His prophet as a channel of communication with other men. But in Numbers 12:6 the poetic parallelism shews that ‘with him (in a dream)’ is equivalent to ‘unto him (in a vision).’ It is better, therefore, to retain that meaning here.Verse 2. - And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? This is evidently not the "speaking against Moses" mentioned in the previous verse, for that is distinctly said to have been on the score of Moses' marriage. This is their justification of themselves for daring to dispute his judgment and arraign his proceedings; a thing which clearly required justification. Moses himself, or more likely others for him, had remonstrated with them on the language they were using. They retorted that Moses had no monopoly of Divine communications; Aaron also received the revelation of God by Urim and Thummim, and Miriam was a prophetess. They were acknowledged in a general sense as sharing with him the leadership of Israel (see Micah 6:4); upon this they meant to found a claim to coordinate authority. They would have had perhaps all matters settled in a family council in which they should have had an equal voice. It was hard for them both to forget that Moses was only their younger brother: for Miriam that she had saved his life as an infant; for Aaron that he had been as prominent as Moses in the original commission from God to the people. And the Lord heard it. In one sense he hears everything; in another sense there are many things which he does not choose to hear, because he does not wish to take judicial notice of them. Thus he had not "heard" the passionate complaints of Moses himself a short time before, because his will was then to pardon, not to punish (cf. Isaiah 42:19; Malachi 3:16). Exodus 16:13) over from the sea, and threw them over the camp about a day's journey wide from here and there (i.e., on both sides), in the neighbourhood of the camp, and about two cubits above the surface." The wind was a south-east wind (Psalm 78:26), which blew from the Arabian Gulf and brought the quails - which fly northwards in the spring from the interior of Africa in very great numbers - from the sea to the Israelites. גּוּז, which only occurs here and in the Psalm of Moses (Psalm 90:10), signifies to drive over, in Arabic and Syriac to pass over, not "to cut off," as the Rabbins suppose: the wind cut off the quails from the sea. נטשׁ, to throw them scattered about (Exodus 29:5; Exodus 31:12; Exodus 32:4). The idea is not that the wind caused the flock of quails to spread itself out as much as two days' journey over the camp, and to fly about two cubits above the surface of the ground; so that, being exhausted with their flight across the sea, they fell partly into the hands of the Israelites and partly upon the ground, as Knobel follows the Vulgate (volabant in are duobus cubitis altitudine super terram) and many of the Rabbins in supposing: for המּחנה על נטשׁ does not mean to cause to fly or spread out over the camp, but to throw over or upon the camp. The words cannot therefore be understood in any other way than they are in Psalm 78:27-28, viz., that the wind threw them about over the camp, so that they fell upon the ground a day's journey on either side of it, and that in such numbers that they lay, of course not for the whole distance mentioned, but in places about the camp, as much as two cubits deep. It is only in this sense of the words, that the people could possibly gather quails the whole of that day, the whole night, and the whole of the next day, in such quantities that he who had gathered but little had collected ten homers. A homer, the largest measure of capacity among the Hebrews, which contained ten ephahs, held, according to the lower reckoning of Thenius, 10,143 Parisian inches, or about two bushels Dresden measure. By this enormous quantity, which so immensely surpassed the natural size of the flocks of quails, God purposed to show the people His power, to give them flesh not for one day or several days, but for a whole month, both to put to shame their unbelief, and also to punish their greediness. As they could not eat this quantity all at once, they spread them round the camp to dry in the sun, in the same manner in which the Egyptians are in the habit of drying fish (Herod. ii. 77).
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