Numbers 12:6
And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) If there be a prophet . . . —Better, If there be to (or, among) ycu a prophet of Jehovah, I will make myself known unto him in a vision, and speak unto him. The LXX. and Vulgate connect the word “Jehovah” with the former, not with the latter part of the clause. The mode of communication between God and Moses differed in the respects which are enumerated in Numbers 12:8 from the mode of communication by visions or dreams, in which God communicated His will to others.

Numbers 12:6. If there be a prophet among you — If you be prophets, yet know there is a difference among prophets, nor do I put equal honour upon all of them. In a vision — To some the divine will was communicated by strong impressions upon their imaginations when they were awake, but in an ecstasy, as in the case of Abraham, Genesis 15:1; Jacob, Genesis 46:2; and Daniel 8:1-15. Now we never read that Moses was thus entranced in a prophetic vision. He was always awake and quite master of himself when conversing with God, or receiving communications from him. In a dream — To others God revealed his mind by figurative, enigmatical representations, exhibited to them in their sleep; as the ladder which was represented to Jacob in a dream, Genesis 28:12.

12:1-9 The patience of Moses was tried in his own family, as well as by the people. The pretence was, that he had married a foreign wife; but probably their pride was hurt, and their envy stirred up, by his superior authority. Opposition from our near relations, and from religious friends, is most painful. But this is to be looked for, and it will be well if in such circumstances we can preserve the gentleness and meekness of Moses. Moses was thus fitted to the work he was called to. God not only cleared Moses, but praised him. Moses had the spirit of prophecy in a way which set him far above all other prophets; yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he; and our Lord Jesus infinitely excels him, Heb 3:1. Let Miriam and Aaron consider whom it was they insulted. We have reason to be afraid of saying or doing any thing against the servants of God. And those are presumptuous indeed who are not afraid to speak evil of dignities, 2Pe 2:10. The removal of God's presence is the surest and saddest token of God's displeasure. Woe to us, if he depart! he never departs, till by sin and folly we drive him from us.The man Moses was very meek - In this and in other passages in which Moses no less unequivocally records his own faults (compare Numbers 20:12 ff; Exodus 4:24 ff; Deuteronomy 1:37), there is the simplicity of one who bare witness of himself, but not to himself (compare Matthew 11:28-29). The words are inserted to explain how it was that Moses took no steps to vindicate himself, and why consequently the Lord so promptly intervened.6, 7. Hear now my words—A difference of degree is here distinctly expressed in the gifts and authority even of divinely commissioned prophets. Moses, having been set over all God's house, (that is, His church and people), was consequently invested with supremacy over Miriam and Aaron also and privileged beyond all others by direct and clear manifestations of the presence and will of God. If you be prophets, as you pretend, yet know there is a difference among prophets, nor do I put equal authority and honour upon all of them. By a vision God represents things to the mind of a prophet when he is awake, as Genesis 15:1 46:2 Daniel 8:18 10:8. By a dream God manifests his mind to them when asleep, as Genesis 20:3 28:12.

And he said, hear now my words,.... The Targum of Jonathan reads, "I beseech you"; and Jarchi says, this particle always so signifies; but it is not so agreeable to the language of the divine Being:

if there be a prophet among you; not as making a doubt of it, but rather allowing that there was, and that there were others besides Moses, as even they themselves, Aaron and Miriam, and the seventy elders, and perhaps others; or at least there had been, and would be again, as there were in later times:

I the Lord will make myself known to him; that is, declare my mind and will concerning things present, or things to come:

in a vision; when awake, either by day or by night, representing objects to the bodily sight; as the almond tree rod, and the boiling pot, to Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:11; the visions of the chariots, Ezekiel 23:24, and dry bones, Ezekiel 37:1, to Ezekiel, and such as were shown to Amos, Amos 7:1, or to the mind by night, as if really discerned by the senses; as the visions of the man riding on a red horse, Zechariah 1:8, and of the four horns, Zechariah 1:18, and four carpenters, Zechariah 1:20, with several others shown to Zechariah:

and will speak unto him in a dream; as he had done to Jacob, Genesis 31:11, and as he did afterwards to Daniel, Daniel 7:1, and many others.

And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a {c} vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.

(c) These were the two ordinary means.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. if there be a prophet among you, I Jehovah &c.] The Heb. text is corrupt. The true reading is probably ‘a prophet among you’ (נָבִיא בָכֶם for נְבִיְאַכֶם, and ‘Jehovah’ must be omitted. Its position in the Heb. forbids the rendering of the R.V. Possibly it has been accidentally transposed, and the verse should begin ‘And Jehovah said,’ as Syr. and LXX. Luc. [Note: uc. The Lucianic recension of the Septuagint.] have it.

6–8. The words of Jehovah (from ‘If there be a prophet’) are couched in rhythmical form, as was the common practice in the utterance of oracles. As they stand in the Heb. text they fall into ten short lines.

Verse 6. - If there boa prophet among you I the Lord will make myself known. More probably "the Lord" belongs to the first clause: "If there be to you a prophet of the Lord, I will make myself known." So the Septuagint, ἐὰν γένηται προφήτης ὑμῶν Κυρίῳ... . γνωσθήσομαι. In a vision. Ἐν ὀράματι. An internal vision, in which the eyes (even if open) saw nothing, but the effects of vision' were produced upon the sensorium by other and supernatural means (see, e.g., Amos 7:7, 8; Acts 10:11). Speak unto him in a dream. Rather, speak "in him" - בּו. The voice that spake to the prophet was an internal voice, causing no vibration of the outer air, but affecting only the inner and hidden seat of consciousness. It is not necessary to restrict the prophetic dream to the time of sleep; a waking state, resembling what we call day-dream, in which the external senses arc quiescent, and the imagination is freed from its usual restraints, was perhaps the more usual mental condition at the time. Indeed the Divine communications made to Joseph (Matthew 1:20; Matthew 2:13) and to the Magi (ibid. Numbers 2:12) are almost the only ones we read of as made during actual sleep, unless we include the case of Pilate's wife (ibid. Numbers 27:19); and none of these were prophets in the ordinary sense. Compare, however, Acts 2:17 b. Numbers 12:6Jehovah summoned the opponents of His servant to come at once before His judgment-seat. He commanded Moses, Aaron, and Miriam suddenly to come out of the camp (see at 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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