Numbers 14:40
And they rose up early in the morning, and got them up into the top of the mountain, saying, See, we be here, and will go up to the place which the LORD has promised: for we have sinned.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(40) Into the top of the mountain.—Or, towards the top of the mountain. This appears to have been the same route as that by which the spies had gone into the south country of Judæa. (See Numbers 13:17.) It seems to be implied in w. 44, 45 that the people did not actually ascend the top of the adjoining mountain.

14:40-45 Some of the Israelites were now earnest to go forward toward Canaan. But it came too late. If men would but be as earnest for heaven while their day of grace lasts, as they will be when it is over, how well would it be for them! That which has been duty in its season, when mistimed, may be turned into sin. Those who are out of the way of their duty, are not under God's protection, and go at their peril. God bade them go, and they would not; he forbade them, and they would go. Thus is the carnal mind enmity against God. They had distrusted God's strength; they now presume upon their own without his. And the expedition fails accordingly; now the sentence began to be executed, that their carcases should fall in the wilderness. That affair can never end well, which begins with sin. The way to obtain peace with our friends, and success against our enemies, is, to have God, as our Friend, and to keep in his love. Let us take warning from the fate of Israel, lest we perish after the same example of unbelief. Let us go forth, depending on God's mercy, power, promise, and truth; he will be with us, and bring our souls to everlasting rest.My breach of promise - In the original, a word, found elsewhere only in Job 30:10, and meaning "my withdrawals" "my turning away." See the margin. 40-45. they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain—Notwithstanding the tidings that Moses communicated and which diffused a general feeling of melancholy and grief throughout the camp, the impression was of very brief continuance. They rushed from one extreme of rashness and perversity to another, and the obstinacy of their rebellious spirit was evinced by their active preparations to ascend the hill, notwithstanding the divine warning they had received not to undertake that enterprise.

for we have sinned—that is, realizing our sin, we now repent of it, and are eager to do as Caleb and Joshua exhorted us—or, as some render it, though we have sinned, we trust God will yet give us the land of promise. The entreaties of their prudent and pious leader, who represented to them that their enemies, scaling the other side of the valley, would post themselves on the top of the hill before them, were disregarded. How strangely perverse the conduct of the Israelites, who, shortly before, were afraid that, though their Almighty King was with them, they could not get possession of the land; and yet now they act still more foolishly in supposing that, though God were not with them, they could expel the inhabitants by their unaided efforts. The consequences were such as might have been anticipated. The Amalekites and Canaanites, who had been lying in ambuscade expecting their movement, rushed down upon them from the heights and became the instruments of punishing their guilty rebellion.

Gat them up, i.e. designed, or attempted, or prepared themselves to go up; for that they were not yet actually gone up, plainly appears from Numbers 14:42,44, and from Deu 1:41. Things designed or endeavoured in Scripture phrase are oft said to be done. See on Genesis 37:21,22 Exo 8:18. And they rose up early in the morning,.... The next morning after they had heard the bad news of their consumption in the wilderness; not being able, perhaps, to sleep that night with the thoughts of it, and being now in a great haste to go up and possess the land of Canaan, as they were before to return to Egypt:

and gat them up into the top of the mountain; which was the way the spies went into the land of Canaan, Numbers 13:17; this they did not actually ascend, as appears from Numbers 14:44; but they determined upon it, and got themselves ready for it:

saying, lo, we be here; this they said either to one another, animating each other to engage in the enterprise; or to Moses and Joshua, signifying that they were ready to go up and possess the land, if they would put themselves at the head of them, and take the command and direction of them:

and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: the land of Canaan:

for we have sinned; in not going up to possess it, when they were bid to go, and in listening to the spies that brought an ill report of it, and by murmuring against Moses and Aaron, and the Lord himself, and proposing to make them a captain and return to Egypt, Numbers 14:2, but this acknowledgment and repentance were not very sincere, by what follows.

And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the LORD hath promised: for we have {q} sinned.

(q) They confessed their sin in rebelling against God, but did not consider their offence in going up without God's commandment.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
40. the top of the mountain] Perhaps a particular hill in the south of the Negeb, close to Kadesh: but it may denote more generally ‘the high ground of the hill country.’Verse 40. - Early in the morning. Wishing to anticipate the retrograde movement commanded by God (verse 25). Into the top of the mountain. What summit is here spoken of as the object of their enterprise is quite uncertain. Probably it was some ridge not far distant which seemed to them from below to be the height of land, but was itself commanded by loftier heights beyond. For we have sinned. The prospect of being taken at their own word, and being excluded from the land which lay so near, brought home to them a sense of their folly; but their repentance merely consisted in a frantic effort to avoid the punishment which their sin had incurred. "After the number of the forty days that he have searched the land, shall ye bear your iniquity, (reckoning) a day for a year, and know My turning away from you," or תּנוּאה, abalienatio, from נוא (Numbers 32:7).
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