Numbers 14:3
And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?
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(3) And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land . . .?—Better, And wherefore doth the Lord bring us into this land?i.e., the land of Canaan, as clearly appears from the words which follow (comp. Numbers 15:18, where the same Hiphil participle is used). The destruction which the Israelites apprehended at this time was not a destruction by famine or drought, but by the sword of the Amorites and of the children of the Anakim. (Comp. Deuteronomy 1:27-28.)

That our wives and our children should be a prey—i.e., should fall into the hands of the enemy after their entrance into the land of Canaan. (Comp. Exodus 15:14-17.) It is possible, however, that the land through which the Israelites were passing may be included here and in Numbers 14:14.

14:1-4 Those who do not trust God, continually vex themselves. The sorrow of the world worketh death. The Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron, and in them reproached the Lord. They look back with causeless discontent. See the madness of unbridled passions, which makes men prodigal of what nature accounts most dear, life itself. They wish rather to die criminals under God's justice, than to live conquerors in his favour. At last they resolve, that, instead of going forward to Canaan, they would go back to Egypt. Those who walk not in God's counsels, seek their own ruin. Could they expect that God's cloud would lead them, or his manna attend them? Suppose the difficulties of conquering Canaan were as they imagined, those of returning to Egypt were much greater. We complain of our place and lot, and we would change; but is there any place or condition in this world, that has not something in it to make us uneasy, if we are disposed to be so? The way to better our condition, is to get our spirits in a better frame. See the folly of turning from the ways of God. But men run on the certain fatal consequences of a sinful course.A land that eateth up ... - i. e. it is a land which from its position is exposed to incessant attacks from one quarter and another, and so its occupants must be always armed and watchful. 2-4. Would God that we had died in Egypt—Such insolence to their generous leaders, and such base ingratitude to God, show the deep degradation of the Israelites, and the absolute necessity of the decree that debarred that generation from entering the promised land [Nu 14:29-35]. They were punished by their wishes being granted to die in that wilderness [Heb 3:17; Jude 5]. A leader to reconduct them to Egypt is spoken of (Ne 9:17) as actually nominated. The sinfulness and insane folly of their conduct are almost incredible. Their conduct, however, is paralleled by too many among us, who shrink from the smallest difficulties and rather remain slaves to sin than resolutely try to surmount the obstacles that lie in their way to the Canaan above. From the instruments they rise higher, and strike at God the chief cause and author of their journey; by which we see the prodigious growth and progress of sin when it is not resisted. Should be a prey to the Canaanites, whose land we were made to believe we should possess.

Wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land,.... Unto the borders of it: their murmuring did not cease at Moses and Aaron, the instruments, but proceeded against God himself, who had done such wonderful things for them, not only in bringing them out of Egypt, but since they had been in the wilderness; and yet so ungrateful to complain of him and argue with him about favours bestowed on them, as if they were injuries done to them; and particularly as if God had no other intention in bringing them out of Egypt to the place where they were, but

to fall by the sword: the sword of the Canaanites, as the Targum of Jonathan adds:

that our wives and our children shall be a prey? to the same people; they supposed they should be killed, their wives abused, and their children made slaves of:

were it not better for us to return into Egypt? and so escape the hands of the inhabitants of Canaan, of whom they had terrible apprehensions from the report made of them.

And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be {b} a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

(b) To our enemies the Canaanites.

3. wherefore is Jehovah about to bring us] The rebellious spirit is more flagrantly expressed in Deuteronomy 1:27.

Verse 3. - Wherefore hath the Lord brought us. Rather, "wherefore doth the Lord bring us." מֵבִיא. Septuagint, εἰσάγει. They were not actually in the land yet, but only on the threshold. Numbers 14:3Uproar among the People. - Numbers 14:1-4. This appalling description of Canaan had so depressing an influence upon the whole congregation (cf. Deuteronomy 1:28 : they "made their heart melt," i.e., threw them into utter despair), that they raised a loud cry, and wept in the night in consequence. The whole nation murmured against Moses and Aaron their two leaders, saying "Would that we had died in Egypt or in this wilderness! Why will Jehovah bring us into this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should become a prey (be made slaves by the enemy; cf. Deuteronomy 1:27-28)? Let us rather return into Egypt! We will appoint a captain, they said one to another, and go back to Egypt."
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