Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Numbers 13

Numbers xiii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Pharan, at Rethma, chap. xxxiii. 48.; though Barradius confounds that station with that at Cades-barne. The Samaritan copy inserts here a long passage, taken probably from Deuteronomy i. 20, 21, and 22, which shews that the Hebrews first proposed the sending spies, out of timidity; which God severely punished in the sequel, though in his anger he here consents to their proposal, which seemed to originate in motives of prudence, ver. 3.

Ver. 3. Rulers of a hundred men, according to Hiscuni, inferior to those mentioned, chap. x. 14. (Calmet)

Ver. 6. Huri: Septuagint, "Souri." None of the tribe of Levi, the third son of Jacob, are sent; but two represent the different branches of the tribe of Joseph, ver. 9, 12. The tribe of Ephraim comes out of its natural order, and has been overlooked by Calmet. (Haydock)

Ver. 12. Sceptre. Hebrew matte, means also "a tribe."

Ver. 17. Josue. His former name Osee, or Hoseah, means "one saved, or salvation;" but the addition of the i, taken from the name of the Lord, intimates, "he shall save, or the Saviour of God." Some think that Moses had given him this name after the defeat of the Amalecites; but the Book of Exodus, where the name is found, might have been written after he received this commission. (Calmet) --- The Septuagint have, "Ause, the son of Nave, Jesus," as he was a striking figure of our blessed Saviour, and their names are written with the same letters, Yehoshuah. This Moses foresaw, and also that he whould be the happy instrument, in the hand of God, of saving the Israelites, by introducing them to the land of promise, and establishing them in peace therein. (Menochius) --- The changing of his name imported likewise, that he should be the chief leader. (Theodoret, q. 25.) (Worthington)

Ver. 18. South side, which is to the north of where you now dwell. Moses enters into several details for the satisfaction of the people, though they had probably a general idea of the country and of its fruitfulness already, having lived not far off. They might not know, however, but that some part of the inhabitants might dwell in tents, instead of towns, as many of the Arabians did.

Ver. 21. First ripe (prcoqu:) Hebrew literally, "the first-born." Septuagint, "the days of spring, forerunners of the grape." In Madeira, grapes ripen in March. Some suppose the messengers departed in June, others in July. In Palestine, they have fresh grapes from the end of June till Martinmas [memorial day of St. Martin of Tours, November 11?], and three vintages, in August, and in each of the two following months.

Ver. 22. Sin. The desert of Pharan was contiguous to that of Sin. They departed from Cades-barne, and went along the Jordan to Rohob, at the foot of Mount Libanus, and on the road to Emath; then they returned by the confines of the Sidonians and Philistines, through Hebron, to the camp at Cades.

Ver. 23. And came. The printed Hebrew has, "and he came:" but the Samaritan and all the versions, as well as some manuscripts, properly retain the plural, which the Massorets allow is right. (Kennicott, Diss. 1.) --- Enac, the founder of Hebron, and father of the giants of Chanaan, Josue xv. 13. The Greek word anax, "king," was perhaps derived from him, as also the famous Inachides, who settled in Greece, after they were driven out by Josue. (Grotius) --- Tanis, where the tyrants of the Hebrews resided; a city, which the Egyptians represented as the most ancient in the world. Moses represses their vain boasting, by informing them that Hebron was of greater antiquity. It was afterwards assigned to the priests, and for a city of refuge, in the tribe of Juda, Josue xx. 7.

Ver. 24. Torrent. Septuagint, "vale." --- Its. Hebrew, "one cluster." --- Two men, Josue and Caleb; (St. Maximus) though the Rabbins say they carried nothing. --- Lever, or staff, suspending it thus, in order that it might not be crushed. In that valley, Doubdan (i. 21,) was assured by the religious, that clusters, weighing twelve pounds, might still be found. Pliny (Natural History? xiv. 1,) says, there are some in Africa, larger than a male infant. Strabo (xi.) describes some in Carmania, two cubits high. Forster saw a religious man at Nuremberg, who had lived eight years in Palestine, and assured him that two men could hardly carry a bunch of grapes, such as grew in the vale of Hebron: (Calmet) but this may seem to be an hyperbole. (Haydock) --- Lucas (T. i. p. 310,) assures us, that he had seen a bunch at Damascus, weighing above forty pounds. The Fathers here contemplate Jesus Christ, suspended between the two testaments, the synagogue and the Church: the juice, or blood of the grape, (Genesis xlix. 2., and Deuteronomy xxxii. 14,) denotes his passion. (St. Jerome, ep. ad Fab.; St. Bernard in Cant. ser. xliv.) (Calmet)

Ver. 27. Cades. The desert of Pharan, or of Cades, is the same. (Haydock) --- The town is sometimes called Cades-barne, or Recem, (Chaldean) which is Petra, the capital of the stony Arabia, and lies rather nearer to the Dead Sea than to the Mediterranean. It was on the high road from the Red Sea to Hebron. In one part of the desert of Cades, the people murmured for want of water, chap. xx. 1. But there was plenty near the city. Moses continued here a long time after the return of the spies, Deuteronomy i. 19, 46. (Calmet)

Ver. 30. South. They had already routed the Amalecites; but the spies insidiously recall to their remembrance, that they would be again in arms to obstruct their passage. --- Hethites, dwelt nearest the Philistines, in the country which fell to the shares of Simeon and of Dan. The Jebusites occupied Jerusalem; and the Amorrhites, the most powerful of all those nations, held possession of most of the territory which was allotted to Juda. Nearer the Dead Sea, on the same mountains, dwelt the Cinezeans and the Cineans. Bonfrere places the Chanaanites on the banks of the Jordan, from the lake of Sodom as far as the sea of Tiberias. But they dwelt also near the Mediterranean; and the Phœnicians maintained themselves at Tyre and Sidon, against the most powerful kings of the Jews, and extended their commerce over the old world, to many parts of which they sent out colonies. (Calmet)

Ver. 31. Caleb, to whom Josue alone joined himself, to bear witness of the truth against the other ten; whom the people were, however, more inclined to believe, (chap. xiv. 6., and Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 9,) paying more attention to numbers than to authority, when it suited their humour. (Haydock)

Ver. 33. Spoke ill, &c. These men, who, by their misrepresentations of the land of promise, discouraged the Israelites from attempting the conquest of it, were a figure of worldlings, who, by decrying or misrepresenting true devotion, discourage Christians from seeking in earnest and acquiring so great a good, and thereby securing to themselves a happy eternity. (Challoner) --- Devoureth, by being exposed to continual wars from the Arabs, Idumeans, and from its own inhabitants, the monsters of the race of Enac. With this God had threatened the Hebrews, if they proved rebellious, Leviticus xxvi. 38. See Ezechiel xxxvi. 13. (Calmet)

Ver. 34. Monsters. Hebrew, "giants." --- Locusts, or grasshoppers. So much inferior in size were we to them. Hebrew insinuates that the spies entertained these sentiments when they beheld the giants, and the latter seemed to look down upon them with contempt; "and so we were in their sight." These wicked men scrupled not to exaggerate in order to fill the people with dismay. (Haydock) --- Their suggestions tended to make them distrust the goodness or the power of God; and therefore he would not suffer them to enjoy the sweets of the land, chap. xiv. 23, 29. (Worthington) See Deuteronomy i. 28., and Isaias xl. 21.