Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 3. We
may. The Latin manuscripts and Bibles before Sixtus V read, "in Egypt, and not in this," &c. But the present translation
agrees with the Hebrew, Septuagint, and Chaldean. (Calmet) --- They obtained what they said they wished for, ver. 28; chap.
xiv. 29; xxvi. 64. (Worthington) --- And that. Hebrew, &c., "and wherefore hath God brought us into this land,
that we may fall," &c. In a rage they attribute a malicious design to God. (Calmet) --- Better. And who would have
given them food in the wilderness? (Menochius)
Ver. 4. Captain,
instead of Moses, whom they could not bring over to their criminal design, no more than Aaron, Josue, Caleb, &c. (Haydock)
--- Some imagine the rebels wanted to choose themselves a king, (Calmet) or even another god. (Drusius) --- Every community
acknowledges the necessity of having one at the head. (Worthington)
Ver. 5. Israel;
begging that God would not destroy them, as he had done their brethren, chap. xi. (Menochius)
Ver. 6. Garments,
in testimony of their disapprobation and zeal; to make these insolent people reflect upon the evils into which they are throwing
Ver. 9. To
eat, or consume them, as easily as we devour a piece of bread. The expression is proverbial, Psalm xiii. 4. --- All
aid. Hebrew, "their shadow," which is taken in the same sense. Septuagint, "their time or opportunity is gone."
The Rabbins refer this to holy Job, who, they say, died at this time. (Cornelius a Lapide) --- He dwelt near the Jordan. (Pineda
in Job.) (Chap. i. 1, and 27.
Ver. 10. Cried
out, &c. Hebrew, "said stone them."
Ver. 11. Detract.
Hebrew, "despise, irritate, or blaspheme." God is incapable of anger, says Origen; he only foretells what will come
Ver. 13. That
the. The sentence is left imperfect, to signify the agitation and distress with which Moses was oppressed, as if he had
said, Thou wilt thus afford a pretext, that the Egyptians and Chanaanites may say to one another, that thou couldst not perform
what thou hadst promised; and therefore, that in vexation thou hadst destroyed thy people. (Haydock) --- Hebrew, "Then the
Egyptians shall hear it....and will tell it to the inhabitants of this land....because the Lord could not," &c., ver.
16. (Calmet) --- Thus they will blaspheme thy holy name. (Menochius)
Ver. 15. One
man. All at once, (Calmet) entirely, without sparing so much as one. (Vatable)
Ver. 16. Sworn.
God swore to give this land to the Hebrews, but not to this particular generation. His oath would be equally fulfilled by
raising posterity to Moses, ver. 13. But, at his entreaty, he spared the descendants of this people, and gave the land to
their children under Josue. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Lord,
in overcoming all difficulties, raised either by the enemy, or by thy rebellious people.
Ver. 18. Mercy.
Septuagint, "merciful and true," as Exodus xxxiv. 6, 7. On that occasion, it is not written that God swore. (Haydock)
--- But equal credit is to be given to his word, as to an oath. (Menochius) --- Clear, or, as St. Jerome expresses
it in Exodus, and no man of himself is innocent before thee. (Calmet) --- By these titles God will be addressed; and
therefore Moses mentions them all, though some of them might seem to obstruct his petition of pardon. (Menochius) --- He knew
that none of God's perfections were contrary to one another, or to his nature of consummate goodness; and he sued for the
pardon of his people, with all due submission to the dictates of his justice. (Haydock)
Ver. 20. Forgiven
the sins to those who repent; but the punishment due to them must be undergone, though not so soon as I had threatened, ver.
12, 19. How happy is that nation, which has one like Moses to intercede for them! (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Lord.
I will surely punish the guilty; and all the earth shall know that their own crimes, and not my imbecility, prevented their
taking possession of Chanaan. My glory shall shine both in my long-suffering, and in the effects of my justice. Let
me pass for a dead god, like the idols, if I do not perform what I say.
Ver. 22. The
men, above 20 years of age, ver. 29. --- Majesty, manifested by the signs, &c. (Haydock) --- Ten
times; very often. It is not necessary to specify the number of the rebellions, as some have done, placing the first on
the other side of the Red Sea, (Exodus xiv. 11,) and the tenth here. The expression is often used to express a great but indefinite
number. (Ecclesiastes vii. 20.) (Calmet)
Ver. 23. It.
None of those who murmured ever entered the land of promise. Origen (hom. 27,) believes that the Levites behaved with fidelity,
and were not comprised in the punishment. In effect, Eleazar certainly entered Chanaan, Josue xiv. 1. Salmon also, who espoused
Rahab, had seen the wonders of God, but had not joined with the rest; so that, when it is said (ver. 2,) that all murmured,
we must explain it by St. Jerome's rule, of the greatest part; as, no doubt, many would abhor the conduct of the seditious.
(Calmet) --- Omnia non ad totum referenda esse sed ad partem maximam. (St. Jerome, ep. 146. ad Dam.)
Ver. 24. Spirit.
The spirit of obedience and of courage. (Menochius) --- Followed me, as a guide, and hath fulfilled all my desires.
(Vatable) --- This he was enabled to do by God's free grace. But his co-operation merited a reward. See St. Augustine, de
Grat. &. Lib. vi.) (Worthington)
Ver. 25. For.
Hebrew, "Now," &c. The enemy is ready to attack you in the defiles, and I will not expose you at present to their fury,
as you shall not enter the land for many years. Wherefore to-morrow, &c. (Haydock) --- It seems they complied reluctantly,
for they probably encamped in that neighbourhood about a year. (Calmet)
Ver. 30. Hand,
the posture of one taking an oath, Genesis xv. 18.
Ver. 33. Years.
Within five days from the departure out of Egypt, (Menochius) and above 38 from this time. Hebrew, "they shall be shepherds,"
without any fixed dwelling, like the shepherds of that country. --- Consumed. They had complained that Chanaan consumed
or devoured its inhabitants. (Calmet) --- Their children underwent a temporal, but salutary, punishment for their sin. (St.
Augustine, ep. 75.) (Worthington)
Ver. 34. Revenge.
Hebrew, "my breach of promise, or if my threats be vain," &c. Septuagint, "you shall know the fury of my anger."
(Calmet) --- I will convince you by the severity with which I shall execute this sentence, that you had no reason to distrust
my former promises. St. Jerome (in Ezec. xx.) entertains hopes of the eternal salvation of many of these Hebrews, who had
time to do penance for their sins.
Ver. 37. Lord,
by pestilence, (ver. 12; Philo,) or by the exterminating angel, 1 Corinthians x. 10. They were burnt to death before the tabernacle,
or at least died suddenly. (Jansenius) The Jews have appointed a fast on the 7th of the 6th month, to bewail this event, ver.
Ver. 41. Which
conduct shall not, &c. They had been ordered to return: now they will advance, and, though admonished that the
Lord will not assist them, they depend upon their own efforts, being ever full of themselves, and distrustful of God, the
two sources of all spiritual misfortunes. (Haydock)
Ver. 44. Blinded,
with presumption, as the Hebrew yahpilu, insinuates. "Their heart was puffed up with pride, and they ascended," Deuteronomy
i. 43. (Calmet) --- The enemy was ready to receive them, and easily routed this rabble, abandoned by God, and by Moses, Aaron
and his sons, Josue, and other men of virtue and sense. They who before lay lurking in the valleys, (ver. 25,) assume fresh
courage, when they become the executioners of God's vengeance, and come pouring down from their mountains, with irresistible
fury; nor do they stop till they had made a dreadful carnage of the Hebrews. The same place was again deluged with blood,
(chap. xxi. 3,) and was called Horma, or "the Curse." The Samaritan and Septuagint add, and they returned into the
camp. Thus, by their own woeful experience, they began to feel that God would keep his word in punishing the common people,
as well as the leaders, ver. 37. (Haydock)