Numbers 33:36
And they removed from Eziongaber, and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.
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33:1-49 This is a brief review of the travels of the children of Israel through the wilderness. It is a memorable history. In their travels towards Canaan they were continually on the remove. Such is our state in this world; we have here no continuing city, and all our removes in this world are but from one part a desert to another. They were led to and fro, forward and backward, yet were all the while under the direction of the pillar of cloud and fire. God led them about, yet led them the right way. The way God takes in bringing his people to himself is always the best way, though it does not always seem to us the nearest way. Former events are mentioned. Thus we ought to keep in mind the providences of God concerning us and families, us and our land, and the many instances of that Divine care which has led us, and fed us, and kept us all our days hitherto. Few periods of our lives can be thought upon, without reminding us of the Lord's goodness, and our own ingratitude and disobedience: his kindness leaves us without excuse for our sins. We could not wish to travel over again the stages we have passed, unless we could hope, by the grace of God, to shun the sins we then committed, and to embrace such opportunities of doing good as we have let slip. Soon will our wanderings end, and our eternal state be fixed beyond recall; how important then is the present moment! Happy are those whom the Lord now guides with his counsel, and will at length receive to his glory. To this happiness the gospel calls us. Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. Let sinners seize the opportunity, and flee for refuge to the hope set before them. Let us redeem our time, to glorify God and serve our generation; and he will carry us safely through all, to his eternal kingdom.Ezion-gaber - "Giant's backbone." The Wady Ghadhyan, a valley running eastward into the Arabah some miles north of the present head of the Elanitic gulf. A salt marsh which here overspreads a portion of the Arabah may be taken as indicating the limit to which the sea anciently reached; and we may thus infer the existence here in former times of an extensive tidal haven, at the head of which the city of Ezion-geber stood. Here it was that from the time of Solomon onward the Jewish navy was constructed 1 Kings 9:26; 1 Kings 22:49.19. Rimmon-parez, or Rimmon—a city of Judah and Simeon (Jos 15:32); Libnah, so called from its white poplars (Jos 10:29), or, as some think, a white hill between Kadesh and Gaza (Jos 10:29); Rissah (El-arish); mount Shapher (Cassius); Moseroth, adjacent to mount Hor, in Wady Mousa. Ezion-geber, near Akaba, a seaport on the western shore of the Elanitic gulf; Wilderness of Zin, on the east side of the peninsula of Sinai; Punon, in the rocky ravines of mount Hor and famous for the mines and quarries in its vicinity as well as for its fruit trees, now Tafyle, on the border of Edom; Abarim, a ridge of rugged hills northwest of the Arnon—the part called Nebo was one of its highest peaks—opposite Jericho. (See on [105]De 10:6). No text from Poole on this verse.

And they removed from Benejaakan, and encamped at Horhagidgad. In the Targum Jonathan called Gudgod, as it is Gudgodah in Deuteronomy 10:7, where the remove to this place is said to be from Mosera; it was twenty miles from Benejaaken; from thence they went to Jotbathah, twenty four miles from Horhagidgad; and from thence to Ebronah, twenty miles more; and so to Eziongeber, of which see 1 Kings 9:26 which was twenty eight miles from Ebrorah; and their next remove was to the wilderness of Zin, which was Kadesh, forty eight miles from Eziongeber; and from Kadesh they went to Mount Hor, forty eight miles more: which was

in the edge of the land of Edom; as Kadesh also was; see Numbers 20:16.

And they removed from Eziongaber, and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.
Verse 36. - The wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh. See on chapter Numbers 20:1. Numbers 33:36"And they removed from Eziongeber, and encamped in the desert of Zin, that is Kadesh:" the return to Kadesh towards the end of the thirty-ninth year is referred to here. The fact that no places of encampment are given between Eziongeber and Kadesh, is not to be attributed to the "plan of the author, to avoid mentioning the same places of encampment a second time," for any such plan is a mere conjecture; but it may be simply and perfectly explained from the fact, that on this return route-which the whole of the people, with their wives, children, and flocks, could accomplish without any very great exertion in ten or fourteen days, as the distance from Aila to Kadesh through the desert of Paran is only about a forty hours' journey upon camels, and Robinson travelled from Akabah to the Wady Retemath, near Kadesh, in four days and a half-no formal camp was pitched at all, probably because the time of penal wandering came to an end at Eziongeber, and the time had arrived when the congregation was to assemble again at Kadesh, and set out thence upon its journey to Canaan. - Hence the eleven names given in Numbers 33:19-30, between Rithmah and Moseroth, can only refer to those stations at which the congregation pitched their camp for a longer or shorter period during the thirty-seven years of punishment, on their slow return from Kadesh to the Red Sea, and previous to their entering the Arabah and encamping at Moseroth.

This number of stations, which is very small for thirty-seven years (only seventeen from Rithmah or Kadesh to Eziongeber), is a sufficient proof that the congregation of Israel was not constantly wandering about during the whole of that time, but may have remained in many of the places of encampment, probably those which furnished an abundant supply of water and pasturage, not only for weeks and months, but even for years, the people scattering themselves in all directions round about the place where the tabernacle was set up, and making use of such means of support as the desert afforded, and assembling together again when this was all gone, for the purpose of travelling farther and seeking somewhere else a suitable spot for a fresh encampment. Moreover, the words of Deuteronomy 1:46, "ye abode in Kadesh many days," when compared with Numbers 2:1, "then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness of the way to the Red Sea," show most distinctly, that after the sentence passed upon the people in Kadesh (Numbers 14), they did not begin to travel back at once, but remained for a considerable time in Kadesh before going southwards into the desert.

With regard to the direction which they took, all that can be said, so long as none of the places of encampment mentioned in Numbers 33:19-29 are discovered, is that they made their way by a very circuitous route, and with many a wide detour, to Eziongeber, on the Red Sea.

(Note: We agree so far, therefore, with the vie adopted by Fries, and followed by Kurtz (History of Old Covenant, iii.-306-7) and Schultz (Deut. pp. 153-4), that we regard the stations given in vv. 19-35, between Rithmah and Eziongeber, as referring to the journeys of Israel, after its condemnation in Kadesh, during the thirty-seven years of its wandering about in the desert. But we do not regard the view which these writers have formed of the marches themselves as being well founded, or in accordance with the text, - namely, that the people of Israel did not really come a second time in full procession from the south to Kadesh, but that they had never left Kadesh entirely, inasmuch as then the nation was rejected in Kadesh, the people divided themselves into larger and smaller groups, and that portion which was estranged from Moses, or rather from the Lord, remained in Kadesh even after the rest were scattered about; so that, in a certain sense, Kadesh formed the standing encampment and meeting-place of the congregation even during the thirty-seven years. According to this view, the removals and encampments mentioned in vv. 9-36 do not describe the marches of the whole nation, but are to be understood as the circuit made by the headquarters during the thirty-seven years, with Moses at the head and the sanctuary in the midst (Kurtz), or else as showing "that Moses and Aaron, with the sanctuary and the tribe of Levi, altered their resting-place, say from year to year, thus securing to every part of the nation in turn the nearness of the sanctuary, in accordance with the signals appointed by God (Numbers 10:11-12), and thus passed over the space between Kadesh and Eziongeber within the first eighteen years, and then, by a similar change of place, gradually drew near to Kadesh during the remaining eighteen or nineteen years, and at length in the last year summoned the whole nation (all the congregation) to assemble together at this meeting-place." Now we cannot admit that in this view "we find all the different and scattered statements of the Pentateuch explained and rendered intelligible." In the first place, it does not do justice even to the list of stations; for if the constantly repeated expression, "and they (the children of Israel, Numbers 33:1) removed...and encamped," denotes the removal and encamping of the whole congregation in vv. 3-18 and Numbers 33:37-49, it is certainly at variance with the text to explain the same words in vv. 19-36 as signifying the removal and encamping of the headquarters only, or of Moses, with Aaron and the Levites, and the tabernacle. Again, in all the laws that were given and the events that are described as occurring between the first halt of the congregation in Kadesh (Numbers 13 and 14) and their return thither at the commencement of the fortieth year (Numbers 20), the presence of the whole congregation is taken for granted. The sacrificial laws in Numbers 15, which Moses was to address to the children of Israel (Numbers 15:1), were given to "the whole congregation" (cf. Numbers 33:24, Numbers 33:25, Numbers 33:26). The man who gathered wood on the Sabbath was taken out of the camp and stoned by "all the congregation" (Numbers 15:36). "All the congregation" took part in the rebellion of the company of Korah (Numbers 16:19; Numbers 17:6, Numbers 18:8.). It is true this occurrence is supposed by Kurtz to have taken place "during the halt in Kadesh," but the reasons given are by no means conclusive (p. 105). Besides, if we assign everything that is related in Numbers 15-19 to the time when the whole congregation abode in Kadesh, this deprives the hypothesis of its chief support in Deuteronomy 1:46, "and ye abode in Kadesh a long time, according to the days that he abode." For in that case the long abode in Kadesh would include the period of the laws and incidents recorded in Numbers 15-19, and yet, after all, "the whole congregation" went away. In no case, in fact, can the words be understood as signifying that a portion of the nation remained there during the thirty-seven years. Nor can this be inferred in any way from the fact that their departure is not expressly mentioned; for, at all events, the statement in Numbers 20:1, "and the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the desert of Zin," presupposes that they had gone away. And the "inconceivable idea, that in the last year of their wanderings, when it was their express intention to cross the Jordan and enter Canaan from the east, they should have gone up from Eziongeber to the southern boundary of Canaan, which they had left thirty-seven years before, merely to come back again to the neighbourhood of Eziongeber, after failing in their negotiations with the king of Edom, which they might have carried on from some place much farther south, and to take the road from that point to the country on the east of the Jordan after all" (Fries), loses all the surprising character which it apparently has, if we only give up the assumption upon which it is founded, but which has no support whatever in the biblical history, viz., that during the thirty-seven years of their wandering in the desert, Moses was acquainted with the fact that the Israelites were to enter Canaan from the east, or at any rate that he had formed this plan for some time. If, on the contrary, when the Lord rejected the murmuring nation (Numbers 14:26), He decided nothing with reference to the way by which the generation that would grow up in the desert was to enter Canaan, - and it was not till after the return to Kadesh that Moses was informed by God that they were to advance into Canaan from the east and not from the south, - it was perfectly natural that when the time of punishment had expired, the Israelites should assemble in Kadesh again, and start from that point upon their journey onward.)

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