Psalm 106:16
They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16-18) The poet has Numbers 16, 17 in his mind.

(16) Saint.—The holy one. The complaint of the disaffected party was that Moses and Aaron usurped this title, which belonged to all the congregation (Numbers 16:3-5).

Psalm 106:16-18. They envied Moses also — His authority; in the camp — As generalissimo of the armies of Israel, and chief justice in all their courts; and Aaron — They envied him his power, as high-priest, on account of his consecration to which office he is here termed the saint of the Lord, and not on account of his inherent holiness, of which, undoubtedly, Moses had a greater share. Hereby the psalmist intimates, that their envy and rebellion were not only against Aaron, but against God himself. The earth swallowed up Dathan — With his company, Numbers 16. A fire was kindled in their company — Among their associates or confederates, those wicked men, as he calls them in the next clause, namely, Korah and his company, who were consumed by a fire from the Lord, Numbers 16:35.

106:13-33 Those that will not wait for God's counsel, shall justly be given up to their own hearts' lusts, to walk in their own counsels. An undue desire, even for lawful things, becomes sinful. God showed his displeasure for this. He filled them with uneasiness of mind, terror of conscience, and self-reproach. Many that fare deliciously every day, and whose bodies are healthful, have leanness in their souls: no love to God, no thankfulness, no appetite for the Bread of life, and then the soul must be lean. Those wretchedly forget themselves, that feast their bodies and starve their souls. Even the true believer will see abundant cause to say, It is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed. Often have we set up idols in our hearts, cleaved to some forbidden object; so that if a greater than Moses had not stood to turn away the anger of the Lord, we should have been destroyed. If God dealt severely with Moses for unadvised words, what do those deserve who speak many proud and wicked words? It is just in God to remove those relations that are blessings to us, when we are peevish and provoking to them, and grieve their spirits.They envied Moses also in the camp - They were envious of him, or rebelled against him, as assuming too much authority. See Numbers 16:1-2. The reference here is rather to the "result" of that envy in producing rebellion than to the envy itself. It is true, however, that the foundation of their opposition to him "was" envy.

And Aaron the saint of the Lord - That is, as set apart to the service of the Lord; or, as employed in holy things. The reference is to his "office," not to his personal character.

16-18. All the congregation took part with Dathan, Korah, &c., and their accomplices (Nu 16:41).

Aaron the saint—literally, "the holy one," as consecrated priest; not a moral attribute, but one designating his office as holy to the Lord. The rebellion was followed by a double punishment: (1) of the non-Levitical rebels, the Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, &c. (De 11:6; Nu 26:10); these were swallowed up by the earth.

16 They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the Lout).

17 The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.

18 And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked.

Psalm 106:16

"They envied Moses also in the camp." Though to him as the Lord's chosen instrument they owed everything they grudged him the authority which it was needful that he should exercise for their good. Some were more openly rebellious than others, and became leaders of the mutiny, but a spirit of dissatisfaction was general, and therefore the whole nation is charged with it. Who can hope to escape envy when the meekest of men was subject to it? How unreasonable was this envy, for Moses was the one man in all the camp who laboured hardest and had most to bear. They should have sympathised with him; to envy him was ridiculous. "And Aaron the saint of the Lord." By divine choice Aaron was set apart to be holiness unto the Lord, and instead of thanking God that he had favoured them with a high priest by whose intercession their prayers would be presented, they cavilled at the divine election, and quarrelled with the man who was to offer sacrifice for them. Thus neither church nor state was ordered aright for them; they would snatch from Moses his sceptre, and from Aaron his mitre. It is the mark of bad men that they are envious of the good, and spiteful against their best benefactors.

Psalm 106:17

"The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram." Korah is not mentioned, for mercy was extended to his household, though he himself perished. The earth could no longer bear up under the weight of these rebels and ingrates: God's patience was exhausted when they began to assail his servants, for his children are very dear to him, and he that toucheth them touches the apple of his eye. Moses had opened the sea for their deliverance, and now that they provoke him, the earth opens for their destruction. It was time that the nakedness of their sin was covered, and that the earth should open her mouth to devour those who opened their mouths against the Lord and his servants.

Psalm 106:18

"And a fire was kindled in their company; the flame burned up the wicked." The Levites who were with Korah perished by fire, which was a most fitting death for those who intruded into the priesthood, and so offered strange fire. God has more than one arrow in his quiver, the fire can consume those whom the earthquake spares. These terrible things in righteousness are mentioned here to show the obstinacy of the people in continuing to rebel against the Lord. Terrors were as much lost upon them as mercies had been; they could neither be drawn nor driven.

So called here, not so much for his inherent holiness, whereof Moses had a greater share, but because he was consecrated or set apart by God for that sacred office of the priesthood, in which respect all the priests are said to be holy, Leviticus 21:6-8. Hereby he intimates that their envy and rebellion was not only against Aaron, but against God himself.

They envied Moses also in the camp,.... That he should be generalissimo there, have the sole command of the people, and be their leader and chief magistrate. Gifts qualifying men for civil government are from the Lord, and these commonly draw the envy of others upon them; who, though they pretend patriotism and the good of their country, yet seek themselves; and would be in the places of those they envy and speak against; which was the case of Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Reuben, who thought themselves as fit, and had a better right, as being the sons of Jacob's firstborn, to command, than Moses.

And Aaron the saint of the Lord; who was not only a holy good man, but was separated from his brethren, sanctified, and put into the priest's office, and this drew upon him the envy of many of the Levites, at the head of whom was Korah, a Levite; these envied that he should be the high priest, and that this office should be restrained to his family; now the envy to each of these is ascribed to the whole body of the people, though discovered only in some, because it was not opposed by them; see Numbers 16:1.

They envied Moses also in the camp, and Aaron the saint of the LORD.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. the saint of the Lord] The holy one of Jehovah, specially set apart and consecrated to His service. The malcontents alleged that all the congregation were holy, and Moses answered that Jehovah would shew who were His, and who were holy (Numbers 16:3-7).

16–18. A third sin; jealousy of the authority of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16).

Verse 16. - They envied Moses also in the camp. The writer passes now to the sin of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, with their followers, which was "envy" or jealousy of the high position assigned by God himself (Exodus 3:10; Exodus 4:1-17) to Moses and Aaron (comp. Numbers 16:1-3). These "gainsayers" (Jude 1:11) maintained that they had as much right to be priests as Moses and Aaron, since "all the congregation was holy" (Numbers 16:3). And Aaron the saint of the Lord; or, the holy one. It is rather Aaron's official sanctity (Leviticus 8:2-12) than his personal holiness that is intended. (Compare the use of the phrase "man of God" in 1 Kings 13:1, 4, 6, etc.) Psalm 106:16The first of the principal sins on the other side of the Red Sea was the unthankful, impatient, unbelieving murmuring about their meat and drink, Psalm 106:13-15. For what Psalm 106:13 places foremost was the root of the whole evil, that, falling away from faith in God's promise, they forgot the works of God which had been wrought in confirmation of it, and did not wait for the carrying out of His counsel. The poet has before his eye the murmuring for water on the third day after the miraculous deliverance (Exodus 15:22-24) and in Rephidim (Exodus 17:2). Then the murmuring for flesh in the first and second years of the exodus which was followed by the sending of the quails (Exodus 16 and Numbers 11), together with the wrathful judgment by which the murmuring for the second time was punished (Kibrôth ha-Ta'avah, Numbers 11:33-35). This dispensation of wrath the poet calls רזון (lxx, Vulgate, and Syriac erroneously πλησμονήν, perhaps מזון, nourishment), inasmuch as he interprets Numbers 11:33-35 of a wasting disease, which swept away the people in consequence of eating inordinately of the flesh, and in the expression (cf. Psalm 78:31) he closely follows Isaiah 10:16. The "counsel" of God for which they would not wait, is His plan with respect to the time and manner of the help. חכּה, root Arab. ḥk, a weaker power of Arab. ḥq, whence also Arab. ḥkl, p. 111, ḥkm, p. 49 note 1, signifies prop. to make firm, e.g., a knot (cf. on Psalm 33:20), and starting from this (without the intervention of the metaphor moras nectere, as Schultens thinks) is transferred to a firm bent of mind, and the tension of long expectation. The epigrammatic expression ויּתאוּוּ תאוה (plural of ויתאו, Isaiah 45:12, for which codices, as also in Proverbs 23:3, Proverbs 23:6; Proverbs 24:1, the Complutensian, Venetian 1521, Elias Levita, and Baer have ויתאו without the tonic lengthening) is taken from Numbers 11:4.

The second principal sin was the insurrection against their superiors, Psalm 106:16-18. The poet has Numbers 16:1 in his eye. The rebellious ones were swallowed up by the earth, and their two hundred and fifty noble, non-Levite partisans consumed by fire. The fact that the poet does not mention Korah among those who were swallowed up is in perfect harmony with Numbers 16:25., Deuteronomy 11:6; cf. however Numbers 26:10. The elliptical תפתּה in Psalm 106:17 is explained from Numbers 16:32; Numbers 26:10.

The third principal sin was the worship of the calf, Psalm 106:19-23. The poet here glances back at Exodus 32, but not without at the same time having Deuteronomy 9:8-12 in his mind; for the expression "in Horeb" is Deuteronomic, e.g., Deuteronomy 4:15; Deuteronomy 5:2, and frequently. Psalm 106:20 is also based upon the Book of Deuteronomy: they exchanged their glory, i.e., the God who was their distinction before all peoples according to Deuteronomy 4:6-8; Deuteronomy 10:21 (cf. also Jeremiah 2:11), for the likeness (תּבנית) of a plough-ox (for this is pre-eminently called שׁוּר, in the dialects תּור), contrary to the prohibition in Deuteronomy 4:17. On Psalm 106:21 cf. the warning in Deuteronomy 6:12. "Land of Cham" equals Egypt, as in Psalm 78:51; Psalm 105:23, Psalm 105:27. With ויאמר in Psalm 106:23 the expression becomes again Deuteronomic: Deuteronomy 9:25, cf. Exodus 32:10. God made and also expressed the resolve to destroy Israel. Then Moses stepped into the gap (before the gap), i.e., as it were covered the breach, inasmuch as he placed himself in it and exposed his own life; cf. on the fact, besides Exodus 32, also Deuteronomy 9:18., Psalm 10:10, and on the expression, Ezekiel 22:30 and also Jeremiah 18:20.

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