Numbers 14:41
And Moses said, Why now do you transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
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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.

The commandment of the Lord; either that command, Go not up, &c., which, though in this place mentioned after, yet may seem to have gone before their transgression, by comparing this place with Deu 1:42,43; or that command above, Numbers 14:25, Turn ye, and get ye into the wilderness, &c., which was a course directly contrary to that which they took. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord?.... Which was to turn back into the wilderness, and go the way that leads to the Red sea, Numbers 14:25; instead of which now they were for going forward into the land of Canaan, though averse to it just before:

but it shall not prosper; their attempt to enter into it.

And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the LORD? but it shall not prosper.
Verse 41. - And Moses said, i.e., had said, before they left the camp (cf. verse 44, and Deuteronomy 1:42). As surely as Jehovah had spoken this, would He do it to that evil congregation, to those who had allied themselves against Him (נועד, to bind themselves together, to conspire; Numbers 16:11; Numbers 27:3). There is no ground whatever for questioning the correctness of the statement, that the spies had travelled through Canaan for forty days, or regarding this as a so-called round number - that is to say, as unhistorical. And if this number is firmly established, there is also no ground for disputing the forty years' sojourn of the people in the wilderness, although the period during which the rebellious generation, consisting of those who were numbered at Sinai, died out, was actually thirty-eight years, reaching from the autumn of the second year after their departure from Egypt to the middle of the fortieth year of their wanderings, and terminating with the fresh numbering (ch. 26) that was undertaken after the death of Aaron, and took place on the first of the fifth month of the fortieth year (Numbers 20:23., compared with Numbers 33:38). Instead of these thirty-eight years, the forty years of the sojourn in the desert are placed in connection with the forty days of the spies, because the people had frequently fallen away from God, and been punished in consequence, even during the year and a half before their rejection; and in this respect the year and a half could be combined with the thirty-eight years which followed into one continuous period, during which they bore their iniquity, to set distinctly before the minds of the disobedient people the contrast between that peaceful dwelling in the promised land which they had forfeited, and the restless wandering in the desert, which had been imposed upon them as a punishment, and to impress upon them the causal connection between sin and suffering. "Every year that passed, and was deducted from the forty years of punishment, was a new and solemn exhortation to repent, as it called to mind the occasion of their rejection" (Kurtz). When Knobel observes, on the other hand, that "it is utterly improbable that all who came out of Egypt (that is to say, all who were twenty years old and upward when they came out) should have fallen in the desert, with the exception of two, and that there should have been no men found among the Israelites when they entered Canaan who were more than sixty years of age," the express statement, that on the second numbering there was not a man among those that were numbered who had been included in the numbering at Sinai, except Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 26:64.), is amply sufficient to overthrow this "improbability" as an unfounded fancy. Nor is this statement rendered at all questionable by the fact, that "Aaron's son Eleazar, who entered Canaan with Joshua" (Joshua 14:1, etc.), was most likely more than twenty years old at the time of his consecration at Sinai, as the Levites were not qualified for service till their thirtieth or twenty-fifth year. For, in the first place, the regulation concerning the Levites' age of service is not to be applied without reserve to the priests also, so that we could infer from this that the sons of Aaron must have been at least twenty-five or thirty years old when they were consecrated; and besides this, the priests do not enter into the question at all, for the tribe of Levi was excepted from the numbering in ch. 1, and therefore Aaron's sons were not included among the persons numbered, who were sentenced to die in the wilderness. Still less does it follow from Joshua 24:7 and Judges 2:7, where it is stated that, after the conquest of Canaan, there were many still alive who had been eye-witnesses of the wonders of God in Egypt, that they must have been more than twenty years old when they came out of Egypt; for youths from ten to nineteen years of age would certainly have been able to remember such miracles as these, even after the lapse of forty or fifty years.
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