Numbers 14:15
Now if you shall kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of you will speak, saying,
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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. As one man, i.e. altogether, or to a man; and suddenly as it were by one blow, as if all had but one neck. Now if thou shall kill all this people, as one man,.... Suddenly, and at once, as might be done by a pestilence; and as 185,000 were smitten at once, and as thought by the same disease, by the Angel of the Lord in the camp of the Assyrians, in later times, 2 Kings 19:35,

then the nations which have heard the fame of thee; the Egyptians, Canaanites, and others, as Aben Ezra observes; who had heard the report of the wonderful things done by him for Israel, and of the great favours he had bestowed upon them, and so of his power, and goodness, and other perfections displayed therein, which made him appear to be preferable to all the gods of the Gentiles:

will speak, saying; as follows.

Now if thou shalt kill all this people as {g} one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,

(g) So that none shall escape.

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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