Numbers 33:52
Then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
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(52) And destroy all their pictures.—The word which is here rendered “pictures” denotes “imagery,” or “engraved figures.” In Leviticus 26:1 the material named is stone—“a stone of imagery,” i.e., a stone which has been formed into an idol. (Comp. Exodus 34:13, where, however, a different word is used for “ images.”)

All their high places.—Hebrew, bamoth. The reference here is probably to the altars which were frequently erected on the high places. (Comp. Numbers 22:41, where Balaam is brought by Balak “up into the high places of Baal.”)

33:50-56 Now that they were to pass over Jordan, they were entering again into temptation to follow idols; and they are threatened that, if they spared either the idols or the idolaters, their sin would certainly be their punishment. They would foster vipers in their own bosoms. The remnant of the Canaanites, if they made any peace with them, though but for a time, would be pricks in their eyes, and thorns in their sides. We must expect trouble and affliction from whatever sin we indulge; that which we are willing should tempt us, will vex us. It was intended that the Canaanites should be put out of the land; but if the Israelites learned their wicked ways, they also would be put out. Let us hear this and fear. If we do not drive out sin, sin will drive us out. If we are not the death of our lusts, our lusts will be the death of our souls.The expulsion of the Canaanites and the destruction of their monuments of idolatry had been already enjoined (see the marginal references); and Numbers 33:54 is substantially a repetition from Exodus 26:53-55. But the solemn warning of Numbers 33:55-56 is new. A call for it had been furnished by their past transgressions in the matter of Baal-peor, and by their imperfect fulfillment, at the first, of Moses' orders in the Midianite war. 50-53. ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you—not, however, by expulsion, but extermination (De 7:1).

and destroy all their pictures—obelisks for idolatrous worship (see on [106]Le 26:1).

and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places—by metonymy for all their groves and altars, and materials of worship on the tops of hills.

Ye shall drive out; not by banishing, but by destroying them, as it is explained, Deu 7:1,2, and elsewhere. Their pictures seem to have been stones curiously engraven, and set up for worship. See Deu 16:22.

Molten images. See Exodus 23:24,32 Deu 7:5.

High places, i.e. by a metonymy, the chapels, altars, groves, or other means of worship there set up, for the hills themselves could not be destroyed by them. See Poole "Deu 12:2". Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you,.... Not at once, but gradually; and the sense is, that they should use their utmost endeavours wholly to extirpate them:

and destroy all their pictures; their idolatrous ones; the pictures of their gods, or the statues and figured stones of them: the Targum of Jonathan interprets it,"all the temples of their worship;''and the Jerusalem Targum,"all their idols;''so called, as Jarchi notes, because they covered the floor with a pavement of marble stones, to worship upon them by the stretching out of their hands and feet, according to Leviticus 26:1,

and destroy all their molten images; of gold, silver, &c.

and quite pluck down all their high places; their temples, groves, and altars built upon them.

Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their {e} pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:

(e) Which were set up in their high places to worship.

52. ye shall drive out] ye shall dispossess. The word הוֹריש in this sense is very frequent in Deut.

their figured stones] The literal meaning of the word seems to be ‘something to be looked at.’ It denotes the carved figures and symbols used in Canaanite idolatrous worship. Cf. Leviticus 26:1, Ezekiel 8:12.

their high places] The Hebrews learnt from the Canaanites the practice of erecting altars and sanctuaries on hills and natural mounds, to which the technical term bâmôth was applied. But the word seems to have acquired a more general force, and to have been used for any sanctuaries, even in valleys and by the gates of cities (cf. Jeremiah 7:31, 2 Kings 23:8). In the present passage the word cannot refer to hills, for the Israelites are bidden to ‘demolish them.’ Some think that the bâmôth of later times may have been small artificial mounds, to represent the hills of the ancient worship; but there is no certain evidence of this.Verse 52. - Ye shall drive out. The Hebrew word (from יָרַשׁ) is the same which is translated "dispossess" in the next verse. The Septuagint has in both cases ἀπολεῖτε, supplying (like the A.V.) the word "inhabitants" in verse 53. The Hebrew word, however, seems to have much the same sense as the English phrase "clear out," and is, therefore, equally applied to the land and the occupants of it. No doubt it implies extermination as a necessary condition of the clearance. Their pictures. מַשְׂכִּלֺיּתָם. Septuagint, τὰς σκοπιὰς αὐτῶν, (their outlooks, or high places). The Targums of Onkelos and Palestine have "the houses of their worship;" the Targum of Jerusalem has "their idols." The same word occurs in Leviticus 26:1, in the phrase אֵבֶן מַשְׂכִּית, which is usually rendered "a stone image," i.e., a stone shaped into some likeness of man. If so, מַשְׂכִּית by itself has probably the same meaning; at any rate it can hardly be "a picture," nor is there the least evidence that the art of painting was at all practiced among the rude tribes of' Canaan. The same word, maskith, is indeed found in Ezekiel 8:12 in connection with "gravings" (from חָקַק; cf. Isaiah 22:16; Isaiah 49:18 with Ezekiel 4:1; Ezekiel 23:14) on a wall; but even this belonged to a very different age. Their molten images, צַלְמֵי מַסֵּכֹתָם, "images cast of brass." Septuagint, τὰ εἰδωλα τὰ χονευτά The word tselem is only elsewhere used in the Pentateuch for that "likeness" which is reproduced in Divine creation (Genesis 1:26, 27; Genesis 9:6) or in human generation (Genesis 5:3); in the later books, however (especially in Daniel), it is freely used for idols. On "massakah," see on Exodus 32:4; Isaiah 30:22. Their high places. בָמוֹתָם. See on Leviticus 26:30. The Septuagint translates Bamoth in both places by στῆλαι, and of course it was not the high places themselves, which were simply certain prominent elevations, but the monuments (of whatever kind) which superstition had erected upon them, which were to be plucked down. As a fact, it would seem that the Jews, instead of obeying this command, appropriated the Bamoth to their own religious uses (cf. 1 Samuel 9:12; 1 Kings 3:2; Psalm 78:58, &c.). The natural result was, as in all similar cases, that not only the Bamoth, but very many of the superstitions and idolatries connected with them, were taken over into the service of the Lord. The places of encampment on the journey of the fortieth year from Kadesh to Mount Hor, and round Edom and Moab into the steppes of Moab, have been discussed at Numbers 20 and 21. On Mount Hor, and Aaron's death there, see at Numbers 20:22. For the remark in Numbers 33:40 concerning the Canaanites of Arad, see at Numbers 21:1. On Zalmonah, Phunon, and Oboth, see at Numbers 21:10; on Ijje Abarim, at Numbers 21:11; on Dibon Gad, Almon Diblathaim, and the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo, Numbers 21:16-20. On Arboth Moab, see Numbers 22:1.
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