Numbers 21:17
Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; sing you to it:
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Numbers 21:17-18. Spring up — Hebrew, ascend; that is, let thy waters, which now lie hid below in the earth, ascend for our use. It is either a prediction that it should spring up, or a prayer that it might. With their staves — Probably as Moses smote the rock with his rod, so they struck the earth with their staves, as a sign that God would cause the water to flow out of the earth where they smote it, as he did before out of the rock. Or, perhaps, they made holes with their staves in the sandy ground, and God caused the water immediately to spring up.21:10-20 We have here the removes of the children of Israel, till they came to the plains of Moab, from whence they passed over Jordan into Canaan. The end of their pilgrimage was near. They set forward. It were well if we did thus; and the nearer we come to heaven, were so much the more active and abundant in the work of the Lord. The wonderful success God granted to his people, is here spoken of, and, among the rest, their actions on the river Arnon, at Vaheb in Suphah, and other places on that river. In every stage of our lives, nay, in every step, we should notice what God has wrought for us; what he did at such a time, and what in such a place, ought to be distinctly remembered. God blessed his people with a supply of water. When we come to heaven, we shall remove to the well of life, the fountain of living waters. They received it with joy and thankfulness, which made the mercy doubly sweet. With joy must we draw water out of the wells of salvation, Isa 12:3. As the brazen serpent was a figure of Christ, who is lifted up for our cure, so is this well a figure of the Spirit, who is poured forth for our comfort, and from whom flow to us rivers of living waters, Joh 7:38,39. Does this well spring up in our souls? If so, we should take the comfort to ourselves, and give the glory to God. God promised to give water, but they must open the ground. God's favours must be expected in the use of such means as are within our power, but still the power is only of God.This song, recognized by all authorities as dating from the earliest times, and suggested apparently by the fact that God in this place gave the people water not from the rock, but by commanding Moses to cause a well to be dug, bespeaks the glad zeal, the joyful faith, and the hearty cooperation among all ranks, which possessed the people. In after time it may well have been the water-drawing song of the maidens of Israel.17, 18. Then Israel sang—This beautiful little song was in accordance with the wants and feelings of travelling caravans in the East, where water is an occasion both of prayer and thanksgiving. From the princes using their official rods only, and not spades, it seems probable that this well was concealed by the brushwood or the sand, as is the case with many wells in Idumea still. The discovery of it was seasonable, and owing to the special interposition of God. Israel sang this song, to praise God for giving them such a seasonable blessing, before they asked it, or complained for the want of it.

Spring up; give forth thy waters that we may drink. Heb. Ascend, i.e. let thy waters, which now lie hid below in the earth, ascend for thy use. It is either a prediction that it should spring up, or a prayer that it might, or a command in the name of God directed to the well, by a usual prosopopaeia, as when God bids the heavens hear, and the earth give ear, Isaiah 1:2. Any of these ways it shows their faith. Sing ye unto it; or, sing ye of it; or, answer to it or concerning it; it being the manner of the Jewish singers that one should answer to another, of which see Exodus 15:21 1 Samuel 18:7. Then Israel sang this song,.... Being affected with the free favour and good will of God towards them:

spring up, O well; for the springing up of which they prayed in faith, believing in the promise of God, that it would spring up; and so encouraged one another not only to believe it, but even to sing on account of it before it actually did:

sing ye unto it; or on account of it praise the Lord for it; or "answer to it" (m), it being their manner to sing their songs by responses, or alternately.

(m) "respondete ei", Montanus; "alternis canite ei", Tigurine version, Piscator.

Then Israel sang this song, Spring up, O well; {f} sing ye unto it:

(f) You that receive the convenience of it, give praise for it.

Verse 17. - Then Israel sang this song. This song of the well may be taken from the same collection of odes, but more probably is quoted from memory. It is remarkable for the spirit of joyousness which breathes in it, so different from the complaining, desponding tone of the past. The next encampment was "Ije-Abarim in the desert, which lies before Moab towards the sun-rising," i.e., on the eastern border of Moabitis (Numbers 33:44). As the Wady el Ahsy, which runs into the Dead Sea, in a deep and narrow rocky bed, from the south-east, and is called el Kerahy in its lower part (Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 673-4), separates Idumaea from Moabitis; Ije-Abarim (i.e., ruins of the crossings over) must be sought for on the border of Moab to the north of this wady, but is hardly to be found, as Knobel supposes, on the range of hills called el Tarfuye, which is known by the name of Orokaraye, still farther to the south, and terminates on the south-west of Kerek, whilst towards the north it is continued in the range of hills called el Ghoweithe and the mountain range of el Zoble; even supposing that the term Abarim, "the passages or sides," is to be understood as referring to these ranges of hills and mountains which skirt the land of the Amorites and Moabites, and form the enclosing sides. For the boundary line between the hills of el-Tarfuye and those of el-Ghoweithe is so near to the Arnon, that there is not the necessary space between it and the Arnon for the encampment at the brook Zared (Numbers 21:12). Ije-Abarim or Jim cannot have been far from the northern shore of the el Ahsy, and was probably in the neighbourhood of Kalaat el Hassa (Ahsa), the source of the Ahsy, and a station for the pilgrim caravans (Burckhardt, p. 1035). As the Moabites were also not to be attacked by the Israelites (Deuteronomy 2:9.), they passed along the eastern border of Moabitis as far as the brook Zared (Numbers 21:12). This can hardly have been the Wady el-Ahsy (Robinson, ii. p. 555; Ewald, Gesch. ii. p. 259; Ritter, Erdk. xv. p. 689); for that must already have been crossed when they came to the border of Moab (Numbers 21:11). Nor can it well have been "the brook Zaide, which runs from the south-east, passes between the mountain ranges of Ghoweithe and Tarfuye, and enters the Arnon, of which it forms the leading source," - the view adopted by Knobel, on the very questionable ground that the name is a corruption of Zared. In all probability it was the Wady Kerek, in the upper part of its course, not far from Katrane, on the pilgrim road (v. Raumer, Zug, p. 47: Kurtz, and others).
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