Psalm 106:33
Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips.
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(33) They provoked his spirit.—The natural interpretation is to take this of Moses’ spirit. So LXX. and Vulg., “they embittered his spirit.” The usage of the phrase is, however, in favour of referring the words to the temper of the people towards God,” they rebelled against His spirit.”

Spake unadvisedly.—Compare the same verb with the same addition, “with the lips,” in Leviticus 5:4. This interpretation of the fault of Moses is partial. A comparison of all the historical narratives shows that it was rather for a momentary lapse into the despairing spirit of the people, than for addressing them as rebels, that Moses was excluded from the Promised Land.

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.Because they provoked his spirit - literally, "They made his spirit bitter," or they embittered his soul. They threw him off his guard, so that instead of manifesting the meekness and gentleness which so eminently characterized him in general (see Numbers 12:3), he gave way to expressions of anger. See Numbers 20:10.

So that he spake unadvisedly with his lips - Passionately; in a severe, harsh, and threatening manner. He did not bear with them as he should have done; he did not refer to God, to his power, and to his goodness as he should have done; he spake as if the whole thing depended on him and Aaron: "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?" The word rendered "spake unadvisedly" - בטא bâṭâ' - means properly to "babble;" and then, to talk idly, or unadvisedly; to utter that which has no meaning, or an improper meaning. Let us not harshly blame Moses, until we are placed in circumstances similar to his, and see how we would ourselves act. Who is there that would not have been provoked as he was, or even to a greater degree? If there are any such, let them "cast the first stone."

32, 33. (Compare Nu 20:3-12; De 1:37; 3:26).

went ill with—literally, "was bad for"

Moses—His conduct, though under great provocation, was punished by exclusion from Canaan.

He spake unadvisedly: so this word is thought to signify, Leviticus 5:4 Proverbs 12:18. Or, he spake, as the word commonly signifies. Not that it was in itself a sin to speak, but because he spake when he should have been silent; or he spake to the people, when God commanded him only to speak to the rock, Numbers 20:8-10; or, he spake, to wit, the provocation of his spirit, or such words as were agreeable to it, and might be expected from it. He mentions not here what Moses spake, because that was fully known from the history, and because he would throw a veil over Moses’s infirmity, and rather imply than express his fault. Because they provoked his spirit;.... Though he was a very meek man, meeker than any upon the face of the earth, Numbers 12:2, yet, being greatly provoked, let fall some passionate and undue expressions: and this was not only his sin, but the fault of those also that provoked him, and with this view it is mentioned. The Targum is,

"for they rebelled against his Holy Spirit;''

the Holy Spirit of God, as in Isaiah 63:10. Jarchi interprets it of Moses and Aaron provoking the Spirit of God; which sense is mentioned, by Aben Ezra and Kimchi; though they seem to prefer the former, and which seems best. Some interpret it of the Israelites, that they caused Moses and Aaron to provoke his Spirit.

So that he spake unadvisedly with his lips; that is, Moses spake,

saying, Hear now, ye rebels, must we, or "can we",

fetch you water out of this rock? Which words were spoken in an angry passionate way, calling them rebels, and expressing diffidence about getting water out of the rock; which was the thing that was so displeasing to God, because they did not believe him to sanctify him in the eyes of the children of Israel, Numbers 25:10. Jarchi, as before, understands this of God, of his speaking, pronouncing, and declaring, that Moses and Aaron should not bring the congregation into the land of Canaan, Numbers 25:18, and so the word "unadvisedly" may be left out, and only read, "he spake with his lips"; but the other sense is to be preferred.

Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips.
33. Because they were rebellious against his spirit,

And he spake rashly with his lips.

The cause of Jehovah’s anger and Moses’ punishment was the rebellion of the Israelites against the guidance of God’s spirit, and the rash utterance of Moses which was its consequence. Moses’ speech “Hear now, ye rebels! out of this cliff must we fetch you water?” and his striking the rock when he was commanded to speak to it, indicates that his sin consisted in impatience and want of faith.

The usage of the verb and the parallel of Isaiah 63:10 are decisive in favour of taking his spirit to mean God’s spirit not Moses’ spirit: and though the term rebellion is applied to the conduct of Moses and Aaron in Numbers 20:24, they were rebellious must here refer to the Israelites and not to them, as Aaron has not been mentioned. Psalm 106:33 a will thus be parallel to Psalm 106:32 a, and 33 b to 32 b.Verse 33. - Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips. One man's sin often leads to another's, but does not necessitate it. The people "provoked Muses' spirit" by their murmurs and reproaches (Numbers 20:3-5). Moses, being provoked, made his rash utterance (Numbers 20:10). He was vexed, impatient, carried away by a gust of passion, and made the unfitting speech, "Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of the rock?" speaking as if the power were his own. The fact to which the poet refers in Psalm 106:24, viz., the rebellion in consequence of the report of the spies, which he brings forward as the fourth principal sin, is narrated in Numbers 13, Numbers 14. The appellation ארץ חמדּה is also found in Jeremiah 3:19; Zechariah 7:14. As to the rest, the expression is altogether Pentateuchal. "They despised the land," after Numbers 14:31; "they murmured in their tents," after Deuteronomy 1:27; "to lift up the land" equals to swear, after Exodus 6:8; Deuteronomy 32:40; the threat להפּיל, to make them fall down, fall away, after Numbers 14:29, Numbers 14:32. The threat of exile is founded upon the two great threatening chapters, Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28:1; cf. more particularly Leviticus 26:33 (together with the echoes in Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 12:14, etc.), Deuteronomy 28:64 (together with the echoes in Jeremiah 9:15; Ezekiel 22:15, etc.). Ezekiel 20:23 stands in a not accidental relationship to Psalm 106:26.; and according to that passage, וּלהפיל is an error of the copyist for וּלהפיץ (Hitzig).

Now follows in Psalm 106:28-31 the fifth of the principal sins, viz., the taking part in the Moabitish worship of Baal. The verb נצמד (to be bound or chained), taken from Numbers 25:3, Numbers 25:5, points to the prostitution with which Baal Per, this Moabitish Priapus, was worshipped. The sacrificial feastings in which, according to Numbers 25:2, they took part, are called eating the sacrifices of the dead, because the idols are dead beings (nekroi', Wisd. 13:10-18) as opposed to God, the living One. The catena on Revelation 2:14 correctly interprets: τὰ τοῖς εἰδώλοις τελεσθέντα κρέα.

(Note: In the second section of Aboda zara, on the words of the Mishna: "The flesh which is intended to be offered first of all to idols is allowed, but that which comes out of the temple is forbidden, because it is like sacrifices of the dead," it is observed, fol. 32b: "Whence, said R. Jehuda ben Bethra, do I know that that which is offered to idols (תקרובת לעבדה זרה) pollutes like a dead body? From Psalm 106:28. As the dead body pollutes everything that is under the same roof with it, so also does everything that is offered to idols." The Apostle Paul declares the objectivity of this pollution to be vain, cf. more particularly 1 Corinthians 10:28.)

The object of "they made angry" is omitted; the author is fond of this, cf. Psalm 106:7 and Psalm 106:32. The expression in Psalm 106:29 is like Exodus 19:24. The verb עמד is chosen with reference to Numbers 17:13. The result is expressed in Psalm 106:30 after Numbers 25:8, Numbers 25:18., Numbers 17:13. With פּלּל, to adjust, to judge adjustingly (lxx, Vulgate, correctly according to the sense, ἐξιλάσατο), the poet associates the thought of the satisfaction due to divine right, which Phinehas executed with the javelin. This act of zeal for Jahve, which compensated for Israel's unfaithfulness, was accounted unto him for righteousness, by his being rewarded for it with the priesthood unto everlasting ages, Numbers 25:10-13. This accounting of a work for righteousness is only apparently contradictory to Genesis 15:5.: it was indeed an act which sprang from a constancy in faith, and one which obtained for him the acceptation of a righteous man for the sake of this upon which it was based, by proving him to be such.

In Psalm 106:32, Psalm 106:33 follows the sixth of the principal sins, viz., the insurrection against Moses and Aaron at the waters of strife in the fortieth year, in connection with which Moses forfeited the entrance with them into the Land of Promise (Numbers 20:11., Deuteronomy 1:37; Deuteronomy 32:51), since he suffered himself to be carried away by the persevering obstinacy of the people against the Spirit of God (המרה mostly providing the future for מרה, as in Psalm 106:7, Psalm 106:43, Psalm 78:17, Psalm 78:40, Psalm 78:56, of obstinacy against God; on את־רוּחו cf. Isaiah 63:10) into uttering the words addressed to the people, Numbers 20:10, in which, as the smiting of the rock which was twice repeated shows, is expressed impatience together with a tinge of unbelief. The poet distinguishes, as does the narrative in Numbers 20, between the obstinacy of the people and the transgression of Moses, which is there designated, according to that which lay at the root of it, as unbelief. The retrospective reference to Numbers 27:14 needs adjustment accordingly.

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