Numbers 16:13
Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?
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(13) A land that floweth with milk and honey.—The description of the land of promise is here applied perversely and ironically to the land of Egypt.

16:12-15 Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram to bring their complaints; but they would not obey. They bring very false charges against Moses. Those often fall under the heaviest censures, who in truth deserve the highest praise. Moses, though the meekest man, yet, finding God reproached in him, was very wroth; he could not bear to see the people ruining themselves. He appeals to God as to his own integrity. He bade them appear with Aaron next morning, at the time of offering the morning incense. Korah undertook thus to appear. Proud ambitious men, while projecting their own advancement, often hurry on their own shameful fall.With perverse contempt for the promises, Dathan and Abiram designate Egypt by the terms appropriated elsewhere to the land of Canaan. 12-14. Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram—in a separate interview, the ground of their mutiny being different; for while Korah murmured against the exclusive appropriation of the priesthood to Aaron and his family, they were opposed to the supremacy of Moses in civil power. They refused to obey the summons; and their refusal was grounded on the plausible pretext that their stay in the desert was prolonged for some secret and selfish purposes of the leader, who was conducting them like blind men wherever it suited him. i.e. Out of Egypt, a place indeed of great plenty, but to them a place of torment and intolerable slavery. They invidiously and scoffmgly use the same words wherewith God by Moses commended the land of Canaan.

Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey?.... Meaning Egypt, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it; which, though a plentiful country, never had, nor deserved to have this epithet given it, which is peculiar to the land of Canaan, and is here given, in opposition to the description of that land, which the Lord himself had so described; and argues great impudence and want of reverence of the divine Being, as well as great ingratitude to Moses, the instrument of their being brought out of Egypt, where they laboured under bondage and servitude intolerable; and yet here represent it as an injury done to them, and as if the intent and design of it was purely to destroy them: for they add:

to kill us in the wilderness; with want of food, of which they had plenty in Egypt, they suggest; referring, it may be, to what the Lord by Moses had said to them, that their carcasses should fall in the wilderness; but that would not be for want of provisions, but because of their sins. It was bad enough, they intimate, to be brought out of such a plentiful country, into a barren wilderness; but what was still worse, the despotic and tyrannical government of Moses, as they represent it, they were brought under:

except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? ruling in an arbitrary way, making laws, and setting up offices and officers at pleasure, so that it is more eligible to be in bondage in Egypt than under thy government. Aben Ezra takes their meaning to be, as if the end of bringing them out of Egypt was to assume and exercise such rule and authority over them. His words are,"hast thou brought us up out of Egypt, that thou mayest exercise dominion over us as a prince, yea, many dominions, thou and thy brother?''and who also observes, that Egypt lay to the south of the land of Israel, so that one that came from Egypt to the land of Canaan may be truly said to come up, that part of Canaan lying higher than Egypt.

Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up {f} out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?

(f) Thus they spoke contemptuously, preferring Egypt to Canaan.

13. out of a land flowing with milk and honey] The expression which Moses had applied to Canaan in persuading the people to escape from slavery (Exodus 3:17) is applied by the rebels ironically to Egypt.

Verse 13. - Is it a small thing. Rather, "is it too little," as in verse 9. A land that floweth with milk and honey. A description applying by right to the land of promise (Exodus 3:8; Numbers 13:27), which they in their studied insolence applied to Egypt. Except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us. Literally, "that (כִּי) thou altogether lord it over us." The expression is strengthened in the original by the reduplication of the verb in the inf. abs., גַּם־הִשְׂתְּרֶר Numbers 16:13To leave the decision of this to the Lord, Korah and his company, who laid claim to this prerogative, were to take censers, and bring lighted incense before Jehovah. He whom the Lord should choose was to be the sanctified one. This was to satisfy them. With the expression רב־לכם in Numbers 16:7, Moses gives the rebels back their own words in Numbers 16:3. The divine decision was connected with the offering of incense, because this was the holiest function of the priestly service, which brought the priest into the immediate presence of God, and in connection with which Jehovah had already shown to the whole congregation how He sanctified Himself, by a penal judgment on those who took this office upon themselves without a divine call (Leviticus 10:1-3). Numbers 16:8. He then set before them the wickedness of their enterprise, to lead them to search themselves, and avert the judgment which threatened them. In doing this, he made a distinction between Korah the Levite, and Dathan and Abiram the Reubenites, according to the difference in the motives which prompted their rebellion, and the claims which they asserted. He first of all (Numbers 16:8-11) reminded Korah the Levite of the way in which God had distinguished his tribe, by separating the Levites from the rest of the congregation, to attend to the service of the sanctuary (Numbers 3:5., Numbers 8:6.), and asked him, "Is this too little for you? The God of Israel (this epithet is used emphatically for Jehovah) has brought thee near to Himself, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee, and ye strive after the priesthood also. Therefore...thou and thy company, who have leagued themselves against Jehovah:...and Aaron, what is he, that he murmur against him?" These last words, as an expression of wrath, are elliptical, or rather an aposiopesis, and are to be filled up in the following manner: "Therefore, Jehovah has distinguished you in this manner,...what do ye want? Ye rebel against Jehovah! why do ye murmur against Aaron? He has not seized upon the priesthood of his own accord, but Jehovah has called him to it, and he is only a feeble servant of God" (cf. Exodus 16:7). Moses then (Numbers 16:12-14) sent for Dathan and Abiram, who, as is tacitly assumed, had gone back to their tents during the warning given to Korah. But they replied, "We shall not come up." עלה, to go up, is used either with reference to the tabernacle, as being in a spiritual sense the culminating point of the entire camp, or with reference to appearance before Moses, the head and ruler of the nation. "Is it too little that thou hast brought us out of a land flowing with milk and honey (they apply this expression in bitter irony to Egypt), to kill us in the wilderness (deliver us up to death), that thou wilt be always playing the lord over us?" The idea of continuance, which is implied in the inf. abs., השׂתּרר, from שׂרר, to exalt one's self as ruler (Ges. 131, 36), is here still further intensified by גּם. "Moreover, thou hast not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, or given us fields and vineyards for an inheritance (i.e., thou hast not kept thy promise, Exodus 4:30 compared with Numbers 3:7.). Wilt thou put out the eyes of these people?" i.e., wilt thou blind them as to thy doings and designs?
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