Numbers 14:14
And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that you LORD are among this people, that you LORD are seen face to face, and that your cloud stands over them, and that you go before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
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14:11-19 Moses made humble intercession for Israel. Herein he was a type of Christ, who prayed for those that despitefully used him. The pardon of a nation's sin, is the turning away the nation's punishment; and for that Moses is here so earnest. Moses argued that, consistently with God's character, in his abundant mercies, he could forgive them.The syntax of these verses is singularly broken. As did Paul when deeply moved, so Moses presses his arguments one on the other without pausing to ascertain the grammatical finish of his expressions. He speaks here as if in momentary apprehension of an outbreak of God's wrath, unless he could perhaps arrest it by crowding in every topic of deprecation and intercession that he could mention on the instant. 12. the Lord said, … I will smite them with the pestilence—not a final decree, but a threatening, suspended, as appeared from the issue, on the intercession of Moses and the repentance of Israel. To the inhabitants of this land, for there was much intercourse between these two nations. And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land,.... The land of Canaan, between which and Egypt there was an intercourse, though not by the way of the wilderness, being neighbours, and their original ancestors brethren, as Mizraim and Canaan were; or "they will say" (t), and that with joy, as the Targum of Jonathan adds; but what they would say does not appear so plain; either it was that the Israelites were killed in the wilderness, a tale they would tell with pleasure; but that the Canaanites would hear of doubtless before them, and not need their information, since the Israelites were upon their borders; or that the Lord had brought them out of Egypt indeed, but could carry them no further, could not introduce them into the land he had promised them; or rather they would say to them what follows, for the preposition "for" is not in the text, and may be omitted; and so the sense is, they will tell them:

they have heard that thou Lord art among this people; in the tabernacle that was in the midst of them, in the most holy place of it:

that thou Lord art seen face to face: as he was by Moses, who was at the head of them:

and that thy cloud standeth over them; and sheltered and protected them from the heat of the sun in the daytime, when it rested upon them in their encampment:

and that thou goest before them, by daytime in a pillar of a cloud,

and in a pillar of fire by night; in their journeys; they will tell of those favours thou hast shown Israel; and yet, after all, will observe that thou hast destroyed them, which will not redound to thine honour and glory.

(t) "et dicent", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius, &c.

And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.
14. and they will tell it] and they will say. What they will say is not related till Numbers 14:16, which is introduced by the last words of Numbers 14:15 : ‘will speak, saying.’ Numbers 14:13-14 appear to be composed of a series of glosses; and Numbers 14:14 seems to be corrupt; the LXX. , Syr. and Vulg. each presupposes a different reading. It is probable that Moses’ words originally began at Numbers 14:15.

this land] i.e. Canaan, which the people have just refused to enter.

and thy cloud standeth over them] A conception of the cloud different from that in the following clauses; ‘standeth over them’ implies that the cloud stood over the Tabernacle which was in their midst. The words are probably a priestly gloss, based upon Numbers 10:34.

and thou goest before them &c.] This is the conception of the cloud found in J . See note on Numbers 9:15-23.At this murmuring, which was growing into open rebellion, Moses and Aaron fell upon their faces before the whole of the assembled congregation, namely, to pour out their distress before the Lord, and move Him to interpose; that is to say, after they had made an unsuccessful attempt, as we may supply from Deuteronomy 1:29-31, to cheer up the people, by pointing them to the help they had thus far received from God. "In such distress, nothing remained but to pour out their desires before God; offering their prayer in public, however, and in the sight of all the people, in the hope of turning their minds" (Calvin). Joshua and Caleb, who had gone with the others to explore the land, also rent their clothes, as a sign of their deep distress at the rebellious attitude of the people (see at Leviticus 10:6), and tried to convince them of the goodness and glory of the land they had travelled through, and to incite them to trust in the Lord. "If Jehovah take pleasure in us,"; they said, "He will bring us into this land. Only rebel not ye against Jehovah, neither fear ye that people of the land; for they are our food;" i.e., we can and shall swallow them up, or easily destroy them (cf. Numbers 22:4; Numbers 24:8; Deuteronomy 7:16; Psalm 14:4). "Their shadow is departed from them, and Jehovah is with us: fear them not!" "Their shadow" is the shelter and protection of God (cf. Psalm 91; Psalm 121:5). The shadow, which defends from the burning heat of the sun, was a very natural figure in the sultry East, to describe defence from injury, a refuge from danger and destruction (Isaiah 30:2). The protection of God had departed from the Canaanites, because God had determined to destroy them when the measure of their iniquity was full (Genesis 15:16; cf. Exodus 34:24; Leviticus 18:25; Leviticus 20:23). But the excited people resolved to stone them, when Jehovah interposed with His judgment, and His glory appeared in the tabernacle to all the Israelites; that is to say, the majesty of God flashed out before the eyes of the people in a light which suddenly burst forth from the tabernacle (see at Exodus 16:10).
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