Numbers 21:7
Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against you; pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
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21:4-9 The children of Israel were wearied by a long march round the land of Edom. They speak discontentedly of what God had done for them, and distrustfully of what he would do. What will they be pleased with, whom manna will not please? Let not the contempt which some cast on the word of God, make us value it less. It is the bread of life, substantial bread, and will nourish those who by faith feed upon it, to eternal life, whoever may call it light bread. We see the righteous judgment God brought upon them for murmuring. He sent fiery serpents among them, which bit or stung many to death. It is to be feared that they would not have owned the sin, if they had not felt the smart; but they relent under the rod. And God made a wonderful provision for their relief. The Jews themselves say it was not the sight of the brazen serpent that cured; but in looking up to it, they looked up to God as the Lord that healed them. There was much gospel in this. Our Saviour declared, Joh 3:14,15, that as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that whatsoever believeth in him, should not perish. Compare their disease and ours. Sin bites like a serpent, and stings like an adder. Compare the application of their remedy and ours. They looked and lived, and we, if we believe, shall not perish. It is by faith that we look unto Jesus, Heb 12:2. Whosoever looked, however desperate his case, or feeble his sight, or distant his place, was certainly and perfectly cured. The Lord can relieve us from dangers and distresses, by means which human reason never would have devised. Oh that the venom of the old serpent, inflaming men's passions, and causing them to commit sins which end in their eternal destruction, were as sensibly felt, and the danger as plainly seen, as the Israelites felt pain from the bite of the fiery serpents, and feared the death which followed! Then none would shut their eyes to Christ, or turn from his gospel. Then a crucified Saviour would be so valued, that all things else would be accounted loss for him; then, without delay, and with earnestness and simplicity, all would apply to him in the appointed way, crying, Lord, save us; we perish! Nor would any abuse the freeness of Christ's salvation, while they reckoned the price which it cost him.Fiery serpents - The epithet Deuteronomy 8:15; Isaiah 14:29; Isaiah 30:6 denotes the inflammatory effect of their bite. The peninsula of Sinai, and not least, the Arabah, abounds in mottled snakes of large size, marked with fiery red spots and wavy stripes, which belong to the most poisonous species, as the formation of the teeth clearly show. 7-9. the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned—The severity of the scourge and the appalling extent of mortality brought them to a sense of sin, and through the intercessions of Moses, which they implored, they were miraculously healed. He was directed to make the figure of a serpent in brass, to be elevated on a pole or standard, that it might be seen at the extremities of the camp and that every bitten Israelite who looked to it might be healed. This peculiar method of cure was designed, in the first instance, to show that it was the efficacy of God's power and grace, not the effect of nature or art, and also that it might be a type of the power of faith in Christ to heal all who look to Him because of their sins (Joh 3:14, 15; see also on [86]2Ki 18:4). No text from Poole on this verse. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, we have sinned,.... Being bitten with serpents, and some having died, the rest were frightened, and came and made an humble acknowledgment of their sins to Moses:

for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; murmuring at their being brought out of Egypt, and because they had no better provision in the wilderness; concluding they should die there for want, and never enter into the land of Canaan, of which evils they were now sensible, and confessed them:

pray unto the Lord that he take away the serpents from us; or "the serpent" (c), in the singular, which is put for the plural, as it often is; or the plague of the serpent, as the Targum of Jonathan, that it might cease, and they be no more distressed by them: they were sensible they came from God, and that none could remove them but him; and knowing that Moses was powerful in prayer, and had interest with God, they entreat him to be their intercessor, though they had spoken against him and used him ill:

and Moses prayed for the people; which proves him to be of a meek and forgiving spirit; who, though he had been so sadly reflected on, yet readily undertakes to pray to God for them.

(c) "serpentem", Montanus; "hunc serpentem", Piscator,

Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.
Verse 7. - Pray unto the Lord. This is the first and only (recorded) occasion on which the people directly asked for the intercession of Moses (cf., however, chapter Numbers 11:2), although Pharaoh had done so several times, and never in vain. Victory of Israel over the Canaanitish King of Arad. - When this Canaanitish king, who dwelt in the Negeb, i.e., the south of Palestine (vid., Numbers 13:17), heard that Israel was coming the way of the spies, he made war upon the Israelites, and took some of them prisoners. Arad is mentioned both here and in the parallel passage, Numbers 33:40, and also by the side of Hormah, in Joshua 12:14, as the seat of a Canaanitish king (cf. Judges 1:16-17). According to Eusebius and Jerome in the Onomast., it was twenty Roman miles to the south of Hebron, and has been preserved in the ruins of Tell Arad, which v. Schubert (ii. pp. 457ff.) and Robinson (ii. pp. 473, 620, and 624) saw in the distance; and, according to Roth in Petermann's geographische Mittheilungen (1858, p. 269), it was situated to the south-east of Kurmul (Carmel), in an undulating plain, without trees or shrubs, with isolated hills and ranges of hills in all directions, among which was Tell Arad. The meaning of האתרים שדרך is uncertain. The lxx, Saad., and others, take the word Atharim as the proper name of a place not mentioned again; but the Chaldee, Samar., and Syr. render it with much greater probability as an appellative noun formed from תּוּר with א prosthet., and synonymous with התּרים, the spies (Numbers 14:6). The way of the spies was the way through the desert of Zin, which the Israelitish spies had previously taken to Canaan (Numbers 13:21). The territory of the king of Arad extended to the southern frontier of Canaan, to the desert of Zin, through which the Israelites went from Kadesh to Mount Hor. The Canaanites attacked them when upon their march, and made some of them prisoners.
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