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This chapter gives an account of the directions given for making two silver trumpets, and of the use of them, the ends and purposes for which they were to be made, ( Numbers 10:1-10); and of the time of taking up of the cloud from the tabernacle, and of the removal of the camp of Israel from the wilderness of Sinai, and of the order of their march, ( Numbers 10:11-28); when Moses most earnestly passed Hobab, his brother in law, to continue with him, ( Numbers 10:29-32); and the chapter is closed with the prayer of Moses at the setting forward of the ark, and the resting of it, ( Numbers 10:33-36).
Ver. 1 . And the Lord spake unto Moses , etc.] When the following directions concerning the trumpets were given is not certain; it may he at the time when the order of the camps of Israel was fixed, and is here recorded before the journeying of them, which was one use they were to be put unto, ( Numbers 10:2); saying ; as follows.
Ver. 2 . Make thee two trumpets of silver , etc.] A metal very valuable and precious, durable, and fit for sound; only two are ordered, Aaron having but two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, who were to blow with them, ( Numbers 10:8); for though Moses’s order is, “make thee”, or for thee, yet not for his own use, but for the priests to use when he should order them: the Targum of Jonathan adds, of what is thine own, as if they were to be made at his own expense; but others say, and which is more probable, that they were to be made at the public expense: Josephus gives a description of them, and says, that they were little less than a cubit long, the pipe of them narrow, but broader about the mouth to receive the breath, and ended like a bell; they seem to be much of the shape of our trumpets: these trumpets were an emblem of the ministry of the Gospel, called the great trumpet, and in the ministration of which, the preachers of it are to lift up their voice like a trumpet, to show men their perishing condition through sin, and to encourage them, as such who are ready to perish, to come to Christ for salvation, ( Isaiah 27:13 58:1); the Gospel is comparable to silver, being fetched out of the mines of the sacred Scriptures, pure and free from the dross of errors and human inventions, will bear to be tried by the standard of the word, and is lasting and durable, yea, the everlasting Gospel; as well as valuable and precious, containing the unsearchable riches of Christ, etc. treasures of divine truths, comparable to gold, silver, and precious stones; yea, it is more valuable and precious than silver, not to be obtained by that, more profitable and useful, more satisfying and lasting: the number two may be applicable to the two dispensations, under which the Gospel has been ministered, directing to the same Saviour, and to the same way of salvation, by his grace, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and to the two Testaments, which agree in the same truths respecting his person, offices, obedience, sufferings, and death; and to the prophets and apostles of both dispensations and testaments, who have united in laying Christ as the foundation; and also to the two witnesses that are still to prophecy in sackcloth, that is, preach the Gospel and blow the trumpet of it: ( Revelation 11:3) of an whole piece shall thou make them ; of one solid mass of silver, beaten with an hammer, as Jarchi, such a piece as the candlestick was made of in ( Exodus 25:31), where the same word is used as here, and rendered “beaten work”: this may denote the pure and unmixed Gospel of Christ, having no dross, nor bad nor base metal of human corruptions in it; no jar, discord, or contradiction in it, but all in perfect harmony and agreement; and the whole of it, no part of it dropped or concealed; and the ministry of it, laboured by those employed in it, who study to show themselves workmen that need not be ashamed: that thou mayest use them for the calling the assembly ; the body of the people of Israel, either on civil or sacred accounts, (see Joel 1:15,16); the ministry of the Gospel is for the calling and gathering of souls to Christ, and to his churches; even the remnant of Israel, all that are given to Christ and redeemed by his blood, whether Jews or Gentiles; these are gathered out of the world, which is an act of distinguishing grace; it is by means of the Gospel trumpet that they are awakened, and quickened, and directed to Christ: and for the journeying of the camps : both of the four camps of the Israelites, and the camp of the Levites, to direct them when they should set forward on a journey: and of like use is the ministry of the Gospel; saints are pilgrims and travellers here; they are passing through a wilderness, their way is attended with many difficulties; Canaan is the place they are travelling to, and the Gospel is of singular use to them by the way, both to refresh them with its joyful sound, and to direct them in the path in which they should go.
Ver. 3 . And when they shall blow with them , etc.] With both the trumpets, in an even and continued sound, that is, the sons of Aaron: all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation ; to hear what was to be said unto them: blowing both the trumpets together was a token that the whole congregation was called to meet together at the tabernacle, the door of which was the usual place of assembling, especially on religious counts, for there also the Lord met them, ( Exodus 29:42,43).
Ver. 4 . And if they blow [but] with one [trumpet] , etc.] With only one of them, or but once, with one sounding, and that an even one as before: then the princes, [which are] the heads of the thousands of Israel , shall gather themselves unto thee : and they only or alone, as Aben Ezra: by this token, or by this difference of blowing both trumpets, or only one, it was, easily known when the whole congregation or when the princes only were to meet Moses at the same place, the door of the tabernacle of the congregation; and all are to attend divine service, and the ministry of the word, even the whole church of God, and all the members of it, high and low, rich and poor, princes and people.
Ver. 5 . When ye blow an alarm , etc.] Making a broken, uneven, and quavering sound, which is called a “tara-tan-tara”: then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward ; the camps of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, which lay to the east of the tabernacle, at the front of it; (see Numbers 1:3,5,7); this was to be the token for their march, which was first of all; ( Numbers 10:14).
Ver. 6 . When ye blow an alarm the second time , etc.] Another “tara-tantara”: then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey ; the camps of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, which were encamped on the south side of the tabernacle, ( Numbers 2:10,12,14); and, as Josephus says, at the third sounding of the alarm, that part of the camp which lay to the west moved, which were the camps of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, ( Numbers 2:18,20,22); and at the fourth sounding, as he says, those which were at the north, the camps of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, ( Numbers 2:25,27,29); which, though not expressed in the Hebrew text, are added in the Septuagint version, as they are to be understood: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys ; for the journeys of the said camps, as a signal or token when they should begin to march.
Ver. 7 . But when the congregation is to be gathered together , etc.] At the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and not to move in separate camps or bodies one after another: you shall blow, but you shall not sound an alarm ; blow with an even and uninterrupted sound, and not with a broken and quavering one; by which the congregation and camps were distinguished from one another, the same certain sound being given to each constantly, whereby they knew which were called to motion: (see 1 Corinthians 14:8); according to Ben Gersom blowing was a voice drawn out, and joined or continued; an alarm, a voice not joined, but broken.
Ver. 8 . And the sons of Aaron the priests shall blow with the trumpets , etc.] Eleazar and Ithamar, the one with the one and the other with the other, there being at first but two, as there were but two priests; but in Solomon’s time there were an hundred twenty priests, and as many trumpets, ( 2 Chronicles 5:12); hence Maimonides says f102 , there were never fewer than two trumpets, nor more than an hundred twenty; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations : for they were not only for present use, for the journeying of the camps in the wilderness, but for calling together the assembly in later times, as well as for other uses next mentioned; which would obtain in future ages till the coming of Christ, and even under the Gospel dispensation the mystical use of them continues, the preaching of the everlasting Gospel.
Ver. 9 . And when ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you , etc.] That enters in to invade it, to besiege cities, and distress the inhabitants of it: then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets : a “tara-tan-tara” with both of them, to call the several tribes together to join against the enemy; or to call them to fasting and humiliation, to repentance and prayer, to seek the Lord in the exercise of these, and cry for help and assistance, for victory and salvation; for, as Ben Gersom observes, by this alarm their hearts would be broken and become contrite, and they would return to the Lord, and he would have mercy on them when they pray unto him; for such a sound makes a man’s heart shake and tremble, according to ( Amos 3:6); (see Jeremiah 4:19); this is a third use of the trumpets, and in a mystical sense it may be observed, that saints are in a militant state, and have many enemies that come in to them to oppress them, sin, Satan, and the world; and the Gospel calls and encourages them to fight, furnishes them with armour, and assures them of victory, and directs them where to fight and with whom, and bids them endure hardness as good soldiers of Christ: and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God ; for a book of remembrance is written for them that fear God, humble themselves before him, and pray unto him: and ye shall be saved from your enemies ; as Israel from their temporal, so the people of God from their spiritual enemies, being made more than conquerors through him that loved them.
Ver. 10 . Also in the day of your gladness , etc.] When they should return from the enemy’s country conquerors, or have vanquished the enemy that came against them into their own land, and so would fix a day of rejoicing, like the days of Purim, and the seven days when Hezekiah rejoiced, as Aben Ezra observes; and so any time of rejoicing on account of any extraordinary deliverance and salvation: and in your solemn days ; or festivals, as the passover, pentecost, and tabernacles, which were proclaimed by sound of trumpet, ( Leviticus 23:2); and in the beginnings of your months ; their new moons, especially on the first day of the seventh month, which was a feast of blowing of trumpets, ( Leviticus 23:24); ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over your peace offerings ; expressing joy for the acceptance of them, and especially when they had, by faith, a view of the great sacrifice of Christ typified by them: this is a fourth use of the trumpets, and may denote the spiritual joy had by believers, through the ministration of the Gospel, and ordinances of it on the Lord’s day, and other seasons, and particularly at the feast of the Lord’s supper, in the view of peace and reconciliation, and atonement made by the sacrifice of Christ: that they may be to you for a memorial before your God ; as it were, to put him in mind of the promises he has made, and the blessings he has laid up as a covenant God for his people: I [am] the Lord your God ; who had a right to appoint such things to be observed by them, and by whom, as their covenant God, they were laid under obligation to regard them.
Ver. 11 . And it came to pass, on the twentieth [day] of the second month, in the second year , etc.] Which was the twentieth of the month Ijar, in the second year of the coming of the Israelites out of Egypt; who, as it appears from hence, compared with ( Exodus 19:1); had been in the wilderness of Sinai twelve months wanting ten days; so Jarchi and other Jewish writers f103 , with whom Aben Ezra agrees, who says it was near a year: that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony ; that part of the tabernacle where the ark of the testimony stood, even the most holy place, over which the cloud was, the token of the divine Presence, and which it covered; but now was taken up from it, and went up higher above it, and was a signal for the motion of the camps of Israel to set forward in their journey towards Canaan’s land.
Ver. 12 . And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai , etc.] Each of their camps removed from thence, and so everyone took their journey; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran ; which was a signal for the camps to rest and pitch their tents; this was after they had gone three days journey, and were come to Taberah, which, it is probable, was in the wilderness of Paran; otherwise we read of their pitching in the wilderness of Paran, after they had been a month at Kibrothhattaavah, ( Numbers 11:34,35), and seven days at Hazeroth, ( Numbers 12:16); so they went from one wilderness to another; of this wilderness, (see Gill on “ Genesis 21:21”).
Ver. 13 . And they first took their journey, according to the commandment of the Lord , etc.] Which was virtually contained in and signified by the taking up of the cloud, (see Numbers 9:18); by the hand of Moses ; by his means and ministry, who had informed them, that it was the will of God, that when they saw the cloud taken up to set forward in their journey, and they were obedient thereunto.
Ver. 14 . In the first [place] went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah , etc.] Which tribe had the honour to go foremost and lead the van, the chief ruler, the Messiah being to come of it, as he did; who is King of Israel, and has gone forth at the head of them, fighting their battles for them: according to their armies : having, besides the army of the tribe of Judah, the armies of the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun under his standard: and over his host [was] Nahshon the son of Amminadab ; he was captain general of the army of the tribe of Judah, as Nethaneel was over the host of the tribe of Issachar, ( Numbers 10:15); and Eliab over the host of the tribe of Zebulun, ( Numbers 10:16); the same commanders as were fixed at the time of settling the order of their encampment, ( Numbers 2:3,5,7).
Ver. 17 . And the tabernacle was taken down , etc.] By the Levites, as Aben Ezra, and which appears to be their work, from ( Numbers 1:51); this began to be done by them as soon as the cloud was perceived to move upwards, and the camp of Judah was preparing to march; and after Aaron and his sons had taken the holy vessels out of the holy and most holy place, and had packed up and covered them as directed, ( Numbers 4:5-15); this was an emblem of the taking down of the Jewish church state, the abolition of the service of the sanctuary, as well as of the changeable condition of the Gospel church in the wilderness, which is not always in one and the same place, but is moved from place to place, and that by the ministers of the word, signified by the Levites, who are sent and carry the Gospel here and there: and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle ; the former, the hangings and vail, and the latter the boards, pillars, sockets, etc. each of them having wagons for their assistance: these followed immediately after the camp of Judah.
Ver. 18 . And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their armies , etc.] Next proceeded the standard of Reuben, having under it the tribes of Simeon and Gad, ( Numbers 10:19,20); as “Reuben” signifies, “behold the son”, and he had the tabernacle borne before him and the holy things behind him, which way soever this camp looked, it had in view what was a type of Christ the Son of God, the object of faith, the ark. and over his host [was] Elizur the son of Shedeur ; over which respective armies were the same captains as in ( Numbers 2:10,12,14); Ver. 19 . And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon [was] Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai . (See Gill on “ Numbers 10:18”).
Ver. 21 . And the Kohathites set forward , etc.] After the standard of the camps of Reuben, and between that and the standard of the camp of Ephraim, to, which there is an allusion in ( Psalm 80:2); bearing the sanctuary , or the holy things, as Jarchi; the ark, as Aben Ezra; though not that only, which indeed might be eminently called so, it standing in the most holy place, over which were the mercy seat and cherubim, the residence of the divine Majesty; but all the holy things in the holy place, the candlestick, shewbread table, and the two altars, the altar of incense in the holy place, and the altar of burnt offerings in the court these they bore on their shoulders, and had no wagons allowed for their assistance: and [the other] did set up the tabernacle against they came ; that is, the sons of Gershon and Merari, who went before between the standard of Judah and the standard of Reuben, carrying the heavier and more cumbersome parts of the tabernacle; which, when Judah pitched their tents, at the signal of the cloud, they immediately put together, and erected, and got it ready, by such time as the Kohathites came up to them, that so the ark and other holy things might be at once put into it, and set in their proper places.
Ver. 22 . And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their armies , etc.] Next followed the standard of the camp of Ephraim, under which were Manasseh and Benjamin, ( Numbers 10:23,24); and over his host [was] Elishama the son of Ammihud ; over whom were the same captains, as in ( Numbers 2:18,20,22).
Ver. 25 . And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward , etc.] Next after that of Ephraim, the last of all: which was the rearward of all the camps throughout their host; which brought up the rear, and was fittest for that purpose, being the most numerous, next to that of Judah, which led the van; or, the gatherer up of all the camps f104 , under which were collected and brought on all that belonged to the other tribes; as all under twenty years of age, which were not taken into the camps, and the women and children, and weak and sickly persons, the mixed multitude, and all stragglers: these were all under the care and charge of this camp, and under the standard of which were Asher and Naphtali, ( Numbers 10:26,27); over whom were the same captains as in ( Numbers 2:25,27,29).
Ver. 28 . Thus [were] the journeyings of the children of Israel , etc.] Or this was the order of them, as Jarchi; in this form and manner they marched, and a most wise, beautiful, and regular order it was; first the standard of Judah, a camp consisting of 186,400 able men fit for war, then followed the Gershonites and Merarites with six wagons carrying the heavier parts of the tabernacle; next to them the standard of the camp of Reuben, having in it 151,450 warlike men; next to them were the Kohathites, bearing the holy things of the sanctuary on their shoulders, who were followed by the standard of the camp of Ephraim, which was formed of 108,100 men fit for military service; and last of all the standard of the camp of Dan, which consisted of 157,600 men, able to bear arms, and which had under their care all that were not able which belonged to the other tribes; an emblem of the church of God in its militant state, walking according to the order of the Gospel, and in all the ordinances of it, which is a lovely sight to behold, ( Song of Solomon 6:4 Isaiah 58:8 Colossians 2:5); thus they marched according to their armies ; ranged under their several standards: when they set forward ; in their journey through the wilderness; as now, so at all other times, this order was carefully observed by them.
Ver. 29 . And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite , Moses’s father in law , etc.] Some think this Hobab was the same with Jethro, whose father’s name was Raguel or Reuel; so Jarchi and Ben Gersom; but rather Raguel or Reuel, and Jethro, seem to be the same, and was Moses’s father-in-law, and this Hobab was the son of him, and brother of Zipporah, Moses’s wife; and the same relation is designed whether the word is rendered his “father-in-law” or his “wife’s brother”, so Aben Ezra; as it may be either; if the former, then it may be joined to Raguel, if the latter, then to Hobab: Jethro or Raguel, Moses’s father-in-law, came to see him as soon as he came to Horeb, and after some short stay with him returned to Midian, and left this his son Hobab, who remained with Moses unto this time; but now, as Israel was about to remove from the wilderness of Sinai, he showed a disposition to return to his own country, when Moses addressed him in order to persuade him to continue with them: we are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you ; that is, the land of Canaan, which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their posterity: Moses puts himself among the children of Israel as journeying towards Canaan, with an expectation to possess it; for as yet the decree, as Jarchi observes, was not made, or made manifest, that he should not enter it; or he said this, as others think, because he would not discourage the Israelites nor Hobab, who might argue from thence, that if he, by whom God had brought Israel out of Egypt, and had done such wonders by him, should not enter into the good! and, how should they? but as yet Moses himself knew not that he should not enter into it; however, he speaks of it as a certain thing, that God had promised to give it to Israel, and it might be depended upon; and now they were just going to set forward in their journey, in order to take possession of it, he entreats that Hobab would go with them: come thou with us, and we will do thee good ; by giving him a part of the spoils of their enemies, and a settlement in the land: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel ; and he is faithful, who has promised and will perform.
Ver. 30 . And he said unto him, I will not go , etc.] Which was a very peremptory answer, he seemed determined, and at a point about it for the present, though it is, probable he afterwards changed his mind, like the young man in the parable, ( Matthew 21:29); but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred ; which were prevailing motives with him, his native country, his relations, and father’s house; to this resolution he came, both because of his substance, and because of his family, as Jarchi.
Ver. 31 . And he said , etc.] That is, Moses, he replied to Hobab, unwilling to take him at his word and go without him: leave us not, I pray thee ; or “not now”; as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; at this present time, under our present difficulties, while we are in the wilderness; though Jarchi says the particle an signifies beseeching or supplication: forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness ; that this will be our case, that we shall be obliged, before we get to the promised land, to pitch our tents in the wilderness, in our passage through it; and thou knowest which are the best and most convenient places for that purpose, and therefore must entreat thee to go with us: and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes ; not to show the way, as Aben Ezra notes, or guide and direct them in the road through the wilderness; for the cloud by day and the fire by night were of that use to them, as well as when it rested, it directed them when and where to pitch their tents; rather to assist with his advice in difficult matters, when they should be in pressing circumstances: the Targum of Jonathan is, “thou hast been dear unto us, as the apple of our eyes, and therefore we cannot part with thee.”
Ver. 32 . And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be , etc.] This repetition is for the confirmation of it, more strongly assuring him of what follows: that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee ; signifying that whatsoever they enjoyed in the land of Canaan he should have his share with them: the Targum of Jonathan adds, “in the division of the land;” Jarchi says, when the land was divided, the fatness of Jericho was given to the sons of Jethro, to Jonadab, the son of Rechab, (see Judges 1:16); from whence, however, as well as from other places, ( Judges 4:11,17 1 Samuel 15:6); it appears that the posterity of this man had a settlement in the land of Canaan, and from his silence it may be thought that he was prevailed upon to go along with Moses; or if he departed into his own country, as he said he would, he returned again; at least some of his children did.
Ver. 33 . And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey , etc.], From Mount Sinai, so called, because the Lord descended upon it, and gave the law from it; so the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, “from the mount on which the glory of the Lord (or of his Shechinah or divine Majesty) was revealed.”
This they left, after they had been nearly twelve months about it, and travelled three days’ journey from it before the cloud rested, so as to abide, otherwise is stopped no doubt to give them time to eat their food, and take sleep and rest. The Targum of Jonathan expressly says, they went thirty six miles on that day; but, according to Bunting f105 , Taberah or Kibrothhattaavah, to which the children of Israel first came, and where they abode a month, was but eight miles from Sinai; wherefore the three days’ journey were not successively one after another, but the first day’s journey was to Taberah, where they continued a month; the second day’s journey was to Hazeroth, where they stayed seven days; and the third day’s journey was to the wilderness of Paran, and there the cloud rested, ( Numbers 10:12); and there was their resting place, for there they continued long, from whence the spies were sent to the good land, and whither they returned after forty days, ( Numbers 13:1-3,25); and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them ; the ark being carried by the Kohathites, must proceed in the middle of the camps, after the camps of Judah and Reuben, and before the camps of Ephraim and Dan, according to the order of the marches of the children of Israel, ( Numbers 10:21); wherefore Aben Ezra thinks, that this three days’ journey was different from all their other journeys; and that in this the ark went before them, which in other journeys was carried in the midst of them; yet others think it may be said to go before, though in the middle; just as a general of an army may be said to go before, and lead his army, though he is not directly in the front of it; so the cloud being always over the ark, directing the march, it may be said to go before and point out a convenient place to rest in; for searching cannot be properly ascribed to the ark, nor even to the Lord himself, and can only signify pointing out or discovering a proper place to take up their abode in: this ark of the covenant, so called because the covenant or law was laid up in it, was a type of Christ the end of the law for righteousness, and who is the forerunner of his people, is gone before them to prepare a place for them; and the three days’ journey may have respect to his resurrection from the dead on the third day for their justification, which is the foundation of their rest, peace, and joy.
Ver. 34 . And the cloud of the Lord [was] upon them by day , etc.] Not only upon the tabernacle, and upon the ark particularly, but it spread itself in journeying over the whole body of the people, and therefore said to be a covering to them from the heat of the sun, ( <19A539> Psalm 105:39); as well as it was a guide unto them, and a token of the divine Presence with them, (see Isaiah 4:5); when they went out of the camp ; or out of the place of their encampment, when they removed from Sinai; and appears from, hence that it was in the daytime.
Ver. 35 . And it came to pass, when the ark set forward , etc.] Carried by the Kohathites, ( Numbers 10:21); that Moses said ; in prayer, as both the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem express it; and it was a prayer of faith, and prophetic of what would be done, and might serve greatly to encourage and animate the children of Israel in their journeys; for the following prayer was put up not only at this time, but at all times when the ark set forward; and so Ben Gersom says, it was the custom of Moses, at whatsoever time the ark was moved, to pray as follows: rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered ; the Jerusalem Targum is, “rise up now, O Word of the Lord;” and the Targum of Jonathan, “be revealed now, O Word of the Lord;” the essential Word of God, the Messiah, to whom these words may be applied; either to his incarnation and manifestation in the flesh, his end in, which was to destroy all his and his people’s enemies, particularly the devil and his works, ( Hebrews 2:14,15 1 John 3:8); or to his resurrection from the dead, these words standing at the head of a prophecy of his ascension to heaven, which supposes his resurrection from the dead, ( Psalm 68:1,18); at the death of Christ all the spiritual enemies of his people were defeated, scattered, confounded, and conquered; Satan and his principalities were spoiled, sin was made an end of, death was abolished, and the world overcome; at his resurrection the keepers of the sepulchre fled; and after his ascension wrath came upon the Jewish nation, those enemies of his, that would not have him to rule over them, and they were scattered about on the face of the whole earth, as they are to this day: and let them that hate thee flee before thee ; the same petition expressed in different words, but to the same sense; enemies, and those that hate the Lord, are the same, as their defeat, conclusion, and destruction, are signified by their flight and dispersion; and it may be observed, that those who were the enemies and haters of Israel were reckoned the enemies and haters of God himself; as the enemies of Christ’s people, and those that hate them, are accounted Christ’s enemies, and such that hate him. Perhaps Moses may have a special respect to the Canaanites, whose land was promised unto Israel, and they were going to dispossess them of it, in order to inherit it, and Moses might expect it would be quickly done, at the end of these three days; which brought them to the wilderness of Paran, so near the good land that they sent from thence spies into it, and in all probability they would have then entered the possession of it, had it not been for their complaints and murmurs, and the ill report brought on the good land, on which account they were stopped thirty eight years in the wilderness.
Ver. 36 . And when it passed , etc.] The ark, and the cloud over it: he said ; Moses stood and prayed, as before, according to the above Targums, in the following manner: return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel ; who were six hundred thousand footmen, besides women and children, ( Numbers 11:21); the import of this petition is, that upon the resting of the ark God would take up his abode with them, grant them his presence, and manifest his love, grace, mercy, and goodness unto them; or, as it may be rendered, that he would “return the many thousands of Israel”; that is, to the land which he had sworn to their fathers, as Ben Gersom interprets it; and who observes that the word “return” is used, because of the holy fathers who dwelt in the land of Israel; or else, as the same writer further observes, the sense of the petition is, that it might be the will of God to turn the thousands of Israel into myriads, or increase and multiply them ten times more than they were; and so the Targum of Jerusalem is, “bless the myriads, and multiply the thousands of the children of Israel.”
Perhaps Moses, under a spirit of prophecy, might have a further view, even to the conversion of the Jews in the latter day, when they shall return and seek the true Messiah, and be turned to him, and when all Israel shall be saved.