Numbers 20:17
Let us pass, I pray you, through your country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king's high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed your borders.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) We will go by the king’s highway.—It is supposed that this military road led through the broad Wady el Ghuweir, which is celebrated for its excellent pasture and its numerous springs. (See Keil in loc.)

Numbers 20:17. The wells — Or pits, which any of you have digged for your private use, not without paying for it, Numbers 20:19; but only of the water of common rivers, which are free to all passengers. No man’s property ought to be invaded, under colour of religion. Dominion is founded in providence, not in grace.20:14-21 The nearest way to Canaan from the place where Israel encamped, was through the country of Edom. The ambassadors who were sent returned with a denial. The Edomites feared to receive damage by the Israelites. And had this numerous army been under any other discipline than that of the righteous God himself, there might have been cause for this jealousy. But Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing; and now the hatred revived, when the blessing was about to be inherited. We must not think it strange, if reasonable requests be denied by unreasonable men, and if those whom God favours be affronted by men.An angel - See Genesis 12:7, note; Exodus 3:2, note. The term is to be understood as importing generally the supernatural guidance under which Israel was. 17. we will go by the king's highway—probably Wady-el-Ghuweir [Roberts], through which ran one of the great lines of road, constructed for commercial caravans, as well as for the progress of armies. The engineering necessary for carrying them over marshes or mountains, and the care requisite for protecting them from the shifting sands, led to their being under the special care of the state. Hence the expression, "the king's highway," which is of great antiquity. Wells, or pits, which any of you have digged for your private use, to wit, without paying for it, Numbers 20:19 Deu 2:6; but only of the waters of common rivers, which are free to all passengers, and will not be prejudicial to thee. Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country,.... That being the nearest and shortest way to the land of Canaan, from the place where they now were:

we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards; to harm them, and injure any man in his private property, by gathering the fruit of them, if the season of the year for it, or by trampling them down:

neither will we drink of the water of the wells; which private persons had dug, for the watering of their fields and vineyards, and for other uses, at least without paying for it; or only of the waters of the rivers, common to all passengers; from hence it appears, that the country of Edom was not then such a barren country as in later times, and as travellers (c) now report it is; See Gill on Malachi 1:3.

we will go by the king's highway; not the way in which the king used to walk, or which he should order them to walk in, as Aben Ezra; but the public roads, common to all his subjects, and travellers to walk in by his allowance; and such roads are now called by us the king's highway:

we will not turn to the right hand, or to the left; to do any injury to any person's property, but go straight forward:

until we have passed thy borders; from one to another, and got quite through the country.

(c) See Shaw's Travels, 4. 438. Ed. 2.

Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king's high way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. the king’s way] A main trade-route through the country. In modern Palestine such a route is known by the name of darb es-sulṭân or ‘Sultan’s way.’Verse 17. - Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country. Moses desired to march through Seir eastwards and northeastwards, so as to reach the country beyond Jordan. If the northern portion of the wilderness of Paran was at this time held by the king of Edom, it would be through this region that Israel would first seek to make their way from Kadesh to the Arabah; thence the broad and easy pass of the Wady Ghuweir would lead them through Mount Seir (properly so called) to the plains of Moab. Through the fields, or through the vineyards. These words attest the change for the worse in the condition of these regions. Even in the Wady Ghuweir, although springs and pasturage are abundant, fields and vineyards hardly exist. Neither will we drink, i.e., as appears from verse 19, without obtaining leave and making payment. By the king's highway. דֶּרֶך הַמֶּלֶך. The state road used for military purposes. Moses then took the rod "from before Jehovah," - i.e., the rod with which he had performed miracles in Egypt (Exodus 17:5), and which was laid up in the sanctuary, not Aaron's rod which blossomed (Numbers 17:10), - and collected the congregation together before the rock, and said to them, "Hear, ye rebels, shall we fetch you water out of this rock?" He then smote the rock twice with his rod, whereupon much water came out, so that the congregation and their cattle had water to drink.
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