Numbers 20:22
And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came to mount Hor.
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(22) And the children of Israel . . . —Better, And they journeyed from Kadesh; and the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, came unto Mount Hor. The insertion of the words “the whole congregation,” as in Numbers 20:1, probably denotes that the people were broken up and dispersed during a considerable portion of their wilderness life, and that it was only on particular occasions that they were gathered together.

And came unto Mount Hor.—It cannot be inferred from this statement that Mount Hor, near Petra, the modern Hârûn (see Stanley’s “Sinai and Palestine,” p. 86), was only one day’s journey from Kadesh. It is evident from Numbers 10:33 that the places of encampment may have been distant from each other several days’ journey. The name Hor is thought by some to be another form of the Hebrew har, a mountain. The same name is given in Numbers 34:7 to a mountain which is supposed by some to be a branch of Lebanon. (See Note in loc.)

20:22-29 God bids Aaron prepare to die. There is something of displeasure in these orders. Aaron must not enter Canaan, because he had failed in his duty at the waters of strife. There is much of mercy in them. Aaron, though he dies for his transgression, dies with ease, and in honour. He is gathered to his people, as one who dies in the arms of Divine grace. There is much significancy in these orders. Aaron must not enter Canaan, to show that the Levitical priesthood could make nothing perfect; that must be done by bringing in a better hope. Aaron submits, and dies in the method and manner appointed; and, for aught that appears, with as much cheerfulness as if he had been going to bed. It was a great satisfaction to Aaron to see his son, who was dear to him, preferred; and his office preserved and secured: especially, to see in this a figure of Christ's everlasting priesthood. A good man would desire, if it were the will of God, not to outlive his usefulness. Why should we covet to continue any longer in this world, than while we may do some service in it for God and our generation?Mount Hor - The modern Jebel Harun, situated on the eastern side of the Arabah, and clause to Petra. This striking mountain, rising on a dark red bare rock, to a height of near 5,000 feet above the Mediterranean, is remarkable far and near for its two summits, on one of which is still shown a small square building, crowned with a dome, called the Tomb of Aaron. 22. the children of Israel … came unto mount Hor—now Gebel Haroun, the most striking and lofty elevation in the Seir range, called emphatically "the mount" [Nu 20:28]. It is conspicuous by its double top. Whose inhabitants were then called Horims, Deu 2:12, and Esau the Horite, Genesis 36:20. And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh,.... Not directly, but after they had continued there some time, and had furnished themselves with provisions for their journey, which they bought of the Edomites, see Judges 11:17, "the whole congregation" is observed to Journey from hence, not one of them being lost by the king of Edom's coming out against them; these went out complete and perfect, safe and sound:

and came unto Mount Hor; which, according to Bunting (f), was forty eight miles from Kadesh; this had not its name from the Horim or Horites, nor they from that, their name being written with a different letter, but from Harar, a mountain, for the word itself signifies a mountain; wherefore it may be rendered, "a mountain of the mountain", which Jarchi interprets a mountain on the top of a mountain. Josephus (g) says, that here stood a city, formerly called Arce, since Petra, surrounded with an high mountain, where Aaron went and died; and Pliny says (h) of Petra, that it is encompassed with inaccessible mountains.

(f) Travels of the Patriarchs, &c. p. 83. (g) Antiqu. l. 4. c. 4. sect. 7. (h) Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 28.

And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor.
22. mount Hor] The site is unknown: but it is stated to be ‘by the border of the land of Edom’ (Numbers 20:23), and ‘on the edge’ of it (Numbers 33:37). In spite of this, tradition (found as early as Josephus and repeated by Jerome and Eusebius) places it near Petra; and this view is represented in the modern Jebel Nebi Hârûn, a mountain near Petra. But Petra lay some distance within the Edomite border, which stretched westward of the Arabah. Jebel Madurah, a mountain N.E. of Kadesh and a short distance south of the Dead Sea, suits the data in the text and is the best conjecture which has yet been made (Trumbull, Kadesh-Barnea, 127–139). If, however, the Israelites moved north-east from Kadesh, they did not move south-east towards the Red Sea (Numbers 21:4). See on Numbers 21:10-11.

In Deuteronomy 10:6 Aaron is related to have died not at Mt Hor but at Môsçrâh (Numbers 33:30 f. Môsçrôth), of which nothing is known. It may perhaps have been situated in the neighbourhood of Mt Hor.

22–29. The death of Aaron.Verse 22. - And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation (see note on verse 1), journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto Mount Her. If the narrative follows the order of time, we must suppose that the Edomites at once blocked the passes near to Kadesh, and thus compelled the Israelites to journey southwards for some distance until they were clear of the Azazimat; they would then turn eastwards again and make their way across the plateau of Paran to the Arabah at a point opposite Mount Hen It is supposed by many, although it finds no support in the narrative itself, that the armed resistance offered by Edom is out of chronological order in verse 20, and only occurred in fact when the Israelites had reached the neighbourhood of Mount Her, and were preparing to ascend the Wady Ghuweir. On the name of Mount Her (הֹר הָהָר) see on Numbers 34:7, 8. There can be no doubt that tradition is right in identifying it with the Jebel Harun (mount of Aaron), a lofty and precipitous mountain rising between the Arabah and the site of Petra. On one of its two summits the tomb of Aaron is still shown, and although this is itself worthless as evidence, yet the character and position of the mountain are altogether in agreement with the legend. Message of the Israelites to the King of Edom. - As Israel was about to start from Kadesh upon its march to Canaan, but wished to enter it from the east across the Jordan, and not from the south, where the steep and lofty mountain ranges presented obstacles which would have been difficult to overcome, if not quite insuperable, Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, to solicit from the kindred nation a friendly and unimpeded passage through their land. He reminded the king of the relationship of Israel, of their being brought down to Egypt, of the oppression they had endured there, and their deliverance out of the land, and promised him that they would not pass through fields and vineyards, nor drink the water of their wells, but keep to the king's way, without turning to the right hand or the left, and thus would do no injury whatever to the land (Numbers 20:14-16).

(Note: We learn from Judges 11:17, that Israel sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Moab also, and with a similar commission, and that he also refused to grant the request for an unimpeded passage through his land. This message is passed over in silence here, because the refusal of the Moabites had no influence upon the further progress of the Israelites. "For if they could not pass through Edom, the permission of the Moabites would not help them at all. It was only eventualiter that they sought this permission." - Hengstenberg, Diss.)

By the "angel" who led Israel out of Egypt we are naturally to understand not the pillar of cloud and fire (Knobel), but the angel of the Lord, the visible revealer of the invisible God, whom the messengers describe indefinitely as "an angel," when addressing the Edomites. Kadesh is represented in Numbers 20:16 as a city on the border of the Edomitish territory. The reference is to Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 32:8; Numbers 34:4; Deuteronomy 1:2, Deuteronomy 1:19; Deuteronomy 2:14; Deuteronomy 9:23; Joshua 10:41; Joshua 14:6-7; Joshua 15:3). This city was no doubt situated quite in the neighbourhood of Ain Kudes, the well of Kadesh, discovered by Rowland. This well was called En-mishpat, the fountain of judgment, in Abraham's time (Genesis 14:7); and the name Kadesh occurs first of all on the first arrival of the Israelites in that region, in the account of the events which took place there, as being the central point of the place of encampment, the "desert of Paran," or "desert of Zin" (cf. Numbers 13:26 with Numbers 13:21, and Numbers 12:16). And even on the second arrival of the congregation in that locality, it is not mentioned till after the desert of Zin (Numbers 20:1); whilst the full name Kadesh-Barnea is used by Moses for the first time in Numbers 32:8, when reminding the people of those mournful occurrences in Kadesh in Numbers 13 and 14. The conjecture is therefore a very natural one, that the place in question received the name of Kadesh first of all from that tragical occurrence (Numbers 14), or possibly from the murmuring of the congregation on account of the want of water, which led Moses and Aaron to sin, so that the Lord sanctified (יקדּשׁ) Himself upon them by a judgment, because they had not sanctified Him before the children of Israel (Numbers 20:12 and Numbers 20:13); that Barnea was the older or original name of the town, which was situated in the neighbourhood of the "water of strife," and that this name was afterwards united with Kadesh, and formed into a composite noun. If this conjecture is a correct one, the name Kadesh is used proleptically, not only in Genesis 14:7, as a more precise definition of En-Mishpat, but also in Genesis 16:14; Genesis 20:1; and Numbers 13:26, and Numbers 20:1; and there is no lack of analogies for this. It is in this too that we are probably to seek for an explanation of the fact, that in the list of stations in Numbers 33 the name Kadesh does not occur in connection with the first arrival of the congregation in the desert of Zin, but only in connection with their second arrival (v. 36), and that the place of encampment on their first arrival is called Rithmah, and not Barnea, because the headquarters of the camp were in the Wady Retemath, not at the town of Barnea, which was farther on in the desert of Zin. The expression "town of the end of thy territory" is not to be understood as signifying that the town belonged to the Edomites, but simply affirms that it was situated on the border of the Edomitish territory. The supposition that Barnea was an Edomitish town is opposed by the circumstance that, in Numbers 34:4, and Joshua 15:3, it is reckoned as part of the land of Canaan; that in Joshua 10:41 it is mentioned as the southernmost town, where Joshua smote the Canaanites and conquered their land; and lastly, that in Joshua 15:23 it is probably classed among the towns allotted to the tribe of Judah, from which it seems to follow that it must have belonged to the Amorites. "The end of the territory" of the king of Edom is to be distinguished from "the territory of the land of Edom" in Numbers 20:23. The land of Edom extended westwards only as far as the Arabah, the low-lying plain, which runs from the southern point of the Dead Sea to the head of the Elanitic Gulf. At that time, however, the Edomites had spread out beyond the Arabah, and taken possession of a portion of the desert of Paran belonging to the peninsula of Sinai, which was bounded on the north by the desert of Zin (see at Numbers 34:3). By their not drinking of the water of the wells (Numbers 20:17), we are to understand, according to Numbers 20:19, their not making use of the wells of the Edomites either by violence or without compensation. The "king's way" is the public high road, which was probably made at the cost of the state, and kept up for the king and his armies to travel upon, and is synonymous with the "sultan-road" (Derb es Sultan) or "emperor road," as the open, broad, old military roads are still called in the East (cf. Robinson, Pal. ii. 340; Seetzen, i. pp. 61, 132, ii. pp. 336, etc.).

This military road led, no doubt, as Leake has conjectured (Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 21, 22), through the broad Wady el Ghuweir, which not only forms a direct and easy passage to the level country through the very steep mountains that fall down into the Arabah, but also a convenient road through the land of Edom (Robinson, ii. pp. 552, 583, 610), and is celebrated for its splendid meadows, which are traceable to its many springs (Burckhardt, pp. 688, 689); for the broad Wady Murreh runs from the northern border of the mountain-land of Azazimeh, not only as far as the mountain of Moddera (Madurah), where it is divided, but in its southern half as far as the Arabah. This is very likely the "great route through broad wadys," which the Bedouins who accompanied Rowland assured him "was very good, and led direct to Mount Hor, but with which no European traveller was acquainted" (Ritter's Erdk. xiv. p. 1088). It probably opens into the Arabah at the Wady el Weibeh, opposite to the Wady Ghuweir.

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