Numbers 32:23
But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 32:23. Your sin will find you out — The punishment of your sin. Sin will certainly find out the sinner, sooner or later. It concerns us therefore to find our sins out, that we may repent of them, lest our sins find us out to our confusion and destruction.32:16-27 Here is the good effect of plain dealing. Moses, by showing their sin, and the danger of it, brought them to their duty, without murmuring or disputing. All men ought to consider the interests of others as well as their own; the law of love requires us to labour, venture, or suffer for each other as there may be occasion. They propose that their men of war should go ready armed before the children of Israel into the land of Canaan, and that they should not return till the conquest of Canaan was ended. Moses grants their request, but he warns them of the danger of breaking their word. If you fail, you sin against the Lord, and not against your brethren only; God will certainly reckon with you for it. Be sure your sin will find you out. Sin will surely find out the sinner sooner or later. It concerns us now to find our sins out, that we may repent of them, and forsake them, lest they find us out to our ruin.Be sure your sin will find you out - literally, "know ye your sin that it will find you out." Moses implies that their sin would eventually bring its own punishment along with it. 20-33. Moses said unto them, If ye will do this thing—with sincerity and zeal.

go before the Lord to war—The phrase was used in allusion to the order of march in which the tribes of Reuben and Gad immediately preceded the ark (see on [96]Nu 2:10-31), or to the passage over the Jordan, in which the ark stood in mid-channel, while all the tribes marched by in succession (Jos 3:4), of course including those of Reuben and Gad, so that, literally, they passed over before the Lord and before the rest of Israel (Jos 4:13). Perhaps, however, the phrase is used merely in a general sense to denote their marching on an expedition, the purpose of which was blessed with the presence, and destined to promote the glory, of God. The displeasure which Moses had felt on the first mention of their proposal had disappeared on the strength of their solemn assurances. But a lurking suspicion of their motives seems still to have been lingering in his mind—he continued to speak to them in an admonitory strain; and he concluded by warning them that in case of their failing to redeem their pledge, the judgments of an offended God would assuredly fall upon them. This emphatic caution against such an eventuality throws a strong doubt on the honesty of their first intentions; and yet, whether through the opposing attitude or the strong invectives of Moses they had been brought to a better state of mind, their final reply showed that now all was right.

i.e. The punishment of your sin; as that word is very oft used. But if ye will not do so,.... As they promised they would, and Moses insisted on it that they should:

behold, ye have sinned against the Lord making such a request, and not fulfilling the conditions on which it was granted:

and be sure your sin will find you out; fly in their faces, accuse them in their consciences, charge and load them with guilt, and bring deserved punishment upon them: sin may be put, as it often is, for the punishment of sin, which sooner or later will find out and come upon the impenitent and unpardoned sinner.

But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin {i} will find you out.

(i) You shall assuredly be punished for your sin.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. be sure your sin will find you out] lit. ‘know your sin, that it will find you.’ The rendering of the E.V., which has passed, as a proverbial expression, into our current language, is based upon an ancient notion that sin, like a curse, has so to speak an individual existence. The sinner cannot escape its consequences; it will search and find him wherever he may hide himself. Cf. Genesis 4:7 ‘sin coucheth at the door.’Verse 23. - Be sure your sin will find you out. Or rather, "ye will know your sin" (וּדְעוּ חַטַּאתְכֶם) "which shall find you out" (for מָצָא cf. Genesis 44:16). So in effect the Septuagint: γνώσεσθε τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ὑῶν, ὅταν ὑμᾶς καταλάβῃ τὰ κακά. When they had cause to rue their folly, then they would recognize their sin. The persons thus reproved came near to Moses, and replied, "We will build sheep-folds here for our flocks, and towns for our children; but we will equip ourselves hastily (חשׁים, part. pass. hasting) before the children of Israel, till we bring them to their place" (i.e., to Canaan). צאן גּדרת, folds or pens for flocks, that were built of stones piled up one upon another (1 Samuel 24:4).

(Note: According to Wetstein (Reiseber. p. 29), it is a regular custom with the nomads in Leja, to surround every place, where they pitch their tents, with a Sira, i.e., with an enclosure of stones about the height of a man, that the flocks may not be scattered in the night, and that they may know at once, from the noise made by the falling of the smaller stones which are laid at the top, if a wolf attempts to enter the enclosure during the night.)

By the building of towns, we are to understand the rebuilding and fortification of them. טף, the children, including the women, and such other defenceless members of the family as were in need of protection (see at Exodus 12:37). When their families were secured in fortified towns against the inhabitants of the land, the men who could bear arms would not return to their houses till the children of Israel, i.e., the rest of the tribes, had all received their inheritance: for they did not wish for an inheritance on the other side of Jordan and farther on, if (כּי) their inheritance was assigned them on this side Jordan towards the east. The application of the expression היּרדּן מעבר to the land on the east of the Jordan, as well as to that on the west, points to a time when the Israelites had not yet obtained a firm footing in Canaan. At that time the land to the west of the river could very naturally be spoken of as "beyond the Jordan," from the subjective stand-point of the historian, who was then on the east of the river; whereas, according to the objective and geographical usage, the land "beyond Jordan" signifies the country to the east of the river. But in order to prevent misunderstanding, in this particular instance the expression היּרדּן עבר is defined more precisely as מזרחה, "towards the east," when it is intended to apply to the land on the east of the Jordan.

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