Numbers 25:1
And Israel stayed in Shittim, and the people began to commit prostitution with the daughters of Moab.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
XXV.

(1) Abode in Shittim—i.e., Abel-Shittim (Numbers 33:49). (See Note on Numbers 22:1.)

Numbers 25:1. Israel abode in Shittim — And this was their last station, from whence they passed immediately into Canaan. This is noted as a great aggravation of their sin, that they committed it when God was going to put them into the possession of their long-expected land. The people — Many of them. Whoredom — Either because these women prostituted themselves to them upon condition of worshipping their god, or because their filthy god was worshipped by such filthy acts as Priapus and Venus were. The daughters of Moab — And of Midian too; for both these people being confederated in this wicked design, the one is put for the other, and the daughters of Moab may be named, either because they began the transgression, or because they were the chief persons, probably the relations, or courtiers of Balak.25:1-5 The friendship of the wicked is more dangerous than their enmity; for none can prevail against God's people if they are not overcome by their inbred lusts; nor can any enchantment hurt them, but the enticements of worldly interests and pleasures. Here is the sin of Israel, to which they are enticed by the daughters of Moab and Midian. Those are our worst enemies who draw us to sin, for that is the greatest mischief any man can do us. Israel's sin did that which all Balaam's enchantments could not do; it set God against them. Diseases are the fruits of God's anger, and the just punishments of prevailing sins; one infection follows the other. Ringleaders in sin ought to be made examples of justice.The records of the neighboring cities of the plain, and the circumstances of the origin of Moab (Genesis 19:30 ff) suggest that the people among whom Israel was now thrown were more than ordinarily licentious. CHAPTER 25

Nu 25:1-18. The Israelites' Whoredom and Idolatry with Moab.

1. Israel abode in Shittim—a verdant meadow, so called from a grove of acacia trees which lined the eastern side of the Jordan. (See Nu 33:49).The Israelites’ whoredom and idolatry: God commands the guilty to be put to death, Numbers 25:1-5. A plague: Phinehas’s zeal; for which God promises him the priesthood, Numbers 25:6-15. God commands the Midianites to be slain for this their treachery in drawing the people to sin, Numbers 25:16-18.

Shittim; a place called more largely Abel-shittim, Numbers 33:49, it being usual with the Hebrews to abbreviate long proper names, as Hermon is put for Baal-hermon, Judges 3:3, Tholad for El-tholad, Joshua 19:4, Nimrim, Isaiah 15:6 for Beth-nimrim, Numbers 32:36. And this was their last station, from whence they passed immediately into Canaan. So this is here noted as a great aggravation of their sin, that they committed it when God was going to put them into the possession of their long-expected and much-desired land.

The people; not all, but many of them, as appears from Deu 4:3,4 1 Corinthians 10:8.

To commit whoredom, both corporally and spiritually, either because they prostituted themselves to them upon condition of worshipping their god; or because their filthy god was worshipped by such filthy acts, as Priapus and Venus were.

Of Moab, and of Midian too, as is evident from Numbers 25:6,17,18 Num 31:16; for both these people being confederated in this wicked design, the one is put for the other; and the daughters of Moab may be named, either because they began fine transgression, or because they were the chief persons, possibly, the relations or courtiers of Balak king of Moab.

And Israel abode in Shittim,.... A place in the plains of Moab, so called from the shittim wood, which grew here in great abundance, so often mentioned in the building of the tabernacle; which was a sort of white thorn, or rather the acacia tree, since there was scarcely any thing else grew in the deserts of Arabia; see Gill on Exodus 25:5 its full name was Abelshittim, Numbers 33:49, here the Israelites abode even to the death of Moses, for this was their last station in the wilderness; they were now on the borders of the land of Canaan, and just ready to enter into it, which is an aggravation of the sins they here fell into, and are next observed:

and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab; and of Midian also, as appears from Numbers 25:6 by the advice of Balaam, the Moabites and Midianites found ways and means to become familiar with the Israelites, and to introduce their daughters into their company and conversation, and being ensnared and enamoured with them, they were drawn to commit lewdness with them, and hereby were led on to commit other abominations, which brought the divine displeasure upon them; so that what they dared not attempt by war, and could not effect by sorceries and divinations, they accomplished by those iniquitous arts, namely, bringing the wrath, the curse, and plague of God upon them.

And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the {a} daughters of Moab.

(a) With the women.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. abode in Shittim] The name has the definite article, and means ‘the Acacias.’ The site is uncertain, but it lay somewhere in the steppes of Moab. The full form Abel-Shittim occurs in Numbers 33:49. It is perhaps to be identified with Abila, which Josephus locates 60 stadia from the Jordan. This verse may be considered the J E parallel to Numbers 22:1 (P ). Notice that the possession of the territory by the Amorites is, as before (see on Numbers 22:41), disregarded, for the Israelites here come into contact not with Amorites but with Moabites.

1–5. The Israelites sinned with the women of Moab, and were invited by them to the sacrificial feasts of the local god (J E ). 6–15. An Israelite brought a Midianite woman into the camp, and Phinehas, for his zeal in killing them both, received the promise that his descendants should perpetually possess the priesthood (P ). The narratives are quite distinct, but both express condemnation of the immorality of the Israelites in consorting with foreign women. The interest of the former is prophetic, and is concerned with the struggle between the pure worship of Jehovah and the native local cults. The interest of the latter is ecclesiastical, and is concerned with the succession of the Aaronite priesthood.Verse 1. - Abode in Shittim. For a considerable time; from their first arrival in the Arboth Moab until the crossing of the Jordan. Shittim is the shortened form of Abel-Shittim, "Field of Acacias" (Numbers 33:49). It seems to have been the northernmost part of the last encampment of Israel on that side Jordan, and the head-quarters of the host (Joshua 2:1; Joshua 3:1). Began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. This commencement of sin seems to have been made by Israel without special provocation. The very victories won, and the comparative ease and affluence now enjoyed, after long marches and hardships, may well have predisposed them to this sin, for which they now for the first time found abundant opportunity. The second saying in this prophecy relates to the Amalekites. Balaam sees them, not with the eyes of his body, but in a state of ecstasy, like the star out of Jacob. "Beginning of the heathen is Amalek, and its end is destruction." Amalek is called the beginning of the nations, not "as belonging to the most distinguished and foremost of the nations in age, power, and celebrity" (Knobel), - for in all these respects this Bedouin tribe, which descended from a grandson of Esau, was surpassed by many other nations, - but as the first heathen nation which opened the conflict of the heathen nations against Israel as the people of God (see at Exodus 17:8.). As its beginning had been enmity against Israel, its end would be "even to the perishing" (אבד עדי), i.e., reaching the position of one who was perishing, falling into destruction, which commenced under Saul and was completed under Hezekiah.
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