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PERIOD III.] THE ARK. ELDERS APPOINTED.
27. MIRIAM'S DEATH. THE FIERY SERPENTS. Numbers xx. xxi.
Then came the whole congregation of Israel to Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Zin; here Miriam died and was buried. At this place there was no water for the congregation, and they gathered themselves together, against Moses and against Aaron. God commanded Moses to speak to the rock, and water should come forth. Moses smote the rock twice, saying unto the people, "Hear now, ye rebels, shall we fetch water out of the rock." Moses thus displeased God; and God told him he should not take the Israelites into Canaan.
Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom, to ask him to allow the Israelites to pass through his land; saying, "We will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells; we will go by the king's highway, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders." And Edom said, "Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword." The people then journeyed to Mount Hor. Here Aaron died, and his son, Eleazar, was appointed high priest. Aaron was not permitted to enter Canaan, because he and Moses had disobeyed God. Aaron's age was one-hundredand-twenty-two years.
The Israelites again rebelled against God and against Moses. God punished them by sending fiery serpents among them. The people acknowledged that they had sinned and asked Moses to pray unto the Lord to take the serpents away. And Moses prayed for the people. Moses was then directed to make a brazen serpent and to put it on a pole, that all those who had been bitten by the fiery serpents, when they looked up to the brazen serpent might be healed.
The Israelites sent messengers to Sihon, king of the Amorites, asking leave to pass through his land; but he and Og, the king of Bashan, came against Israel, with their armies. They were defeated, and themselves, with their armies, slain. The Israelites took possession of their countries, and cities, from the River Arnon to Mount Gilead, and all Bashan.
NOTES AND EXPLANATIONS. [1635-1451 B.C.
displeased-God will have his commands strictly observed; Moses was desired to speak to the rock, instead of which he struck it twice in a presumptuous spirit. God said, "the water shall come forth;" "Shall we fetch water," was the reprehensible language of Moses.
should not, &c.—God is no respecter of persons; the multitude who came out of Egypt were denied entrance into Canaan for their rebellion; and for one act of disobedience the honor of leading Israel into their long-promised possession was denied to Moses.
then journeyed, &c.—they did not fear the threatened assault of the warlike Edomites, but God had forbidden warfare with their brethren, the children of Esau, saying, "meddle not with them, for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot-breadth; because I have given Mount Seir unto Esau for a possession." Lesson 13.
fiery serpents-it is generally supposed that these serpents are called fiery on account of their burning bites; some commentators suppose they winged serpents; and we are informed by ancient writers that this wilderness was formerly infested with serpents having wings.
brazen-the brazen serpent became the cause of idolatry in the time of Hezekiah. Lesson 107. Christ refers to it as a type of his own death and of the efficacy of faith in him. John iii. 14.
looked God appointed the simplest means of cure that his gracious interference might be acknowledged, and that all who chose might avail themselves of it.
healed several ancient writers assert, that the bite of the serpents, which abounded in this wilderness, was so venomous and deadly as to be beyond
the reach of art to cure it.
possession-though Moses was not permitted to go over Jordan, he had
the gratification of seeing the first fruits of God's promise, which was to put Israel in possession of a part of their inheritance.
KADESH-not Kadesh-barnea, from which place the Israelites were commanded to turn back again into the wilderness; but Kadesh, near Eziongeber, on the western border of the territory of Edom.
EDOM-the country to the south of Canaan, called also Idumea; it extends into Arabia Petrea and to the borders of the Red Sea; it was peopled by the descendants of Esau who are called Edomites.
Petrea on the borders of Edom, where MOUNT HOR-a mountain of Arabia Aaron died and was buried. It is said to be the highest of the mountains of
AMORITES-the descendants of Emer, or Amor, the fourth son of Canaan they inhabited the mountainous tracts After the to the east of the Dead Sea. kings of the Amorites were slain, their territory on the east of the Dead Sea was occupied by the tribes of Reuben and Gad; and on the west by the tribe of Judah. The Gibeonites were Amorites.
BASHAN-a fertile district of Canaan, east of Jordan and the sea of Galilee ; it was celebrated for its oaks, its pastures, and its cattle. Its king was a man of gigantic stature, hence his name Og, which means ‘giant'.
ARNON-a river which rises in the mountains of Gilead and falls into the Dead Sea; it divided the country of the Amorites from that of the Moabites.
mony; the mountains of Gilead lie MOUNT GILEAD heap of testieast of the Jordan, and extend from Anti-libanus southward into Arabia Petrea.
BALAK SENDS FOR BALAAM.
GRACE AND SIN.
"THEY PROVOKED HIS SPIRIT SO THAT HE SPAKE UNADVISEDLY WITH HIS LIPS.”
Moses, the patriot fierce, became
The meekest man on earth,
To shew us how love's quickening flame,
Moses, the man of meekest heart,
Lost Canaan by self-will,
To shew, where grace has done its part,
Thou who hast brought me in thy fear,
O grant me loss with Moses here,
To gain his future rest!
CHILD'S CHRISTIAN YEAR.
28. BALAK AND BALAAM. IDOLATRY IN MOAB. Numbers xxii.-xxxi.
When the people of Moab saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites, they were sore afraid. Balak, the king of Moab, sent for Balaam to 'curse the Israelites. At first God would not permit Balaam to go. Balak sent again, and Balaam was permitted to go, but he was to speak only that which God told him. On his way to Moab, the angel of the Lord met him, and he was again told not to curse the Israelites. Balak took Balaam to the top of Mount Peor; there instead of cursing the Israelites, he was forced to bless them and to foretell their greatness. He desired to die the death of the righteous, which was a good prayer from a wicked man. Balak said to Balaam, "What hast thou done unto me? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and behold, thou hast blessed them altogether." And Balaam answered, "Must I not take heed to speak that which the Lord hath put in my mouth? God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it, or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold I have received commandment to bless; and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it." When Balaam had further foretold the prosperity of Israel, Balak's anger was kindled, and he smote his hands together,
IDOLATRY IN MOAB.
and said, "Flee thee to thy place; I thought to promote thee to great honour, but the Lord hath kept thee back from honour." Balaam replied to Balak, "If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold I cannot go beyond the commandment of the Lord."
At Shittim, in Moab, the Israelites were ensnared into idolatry with the Midianites. This was done by the advice of the wicked prophet, Balaam. For this sin God sent a plague on them and 24,000 of the people died. During the plague, Zimri, an Israelite, sinned greatly in taking a Midianitish woman named Cozbi, into his tent. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the high priest, slew them both. Then the plague stopped, and God promised great blessings to Phinehas. The Israelites were numbered at Shittim. Many directions were given them about dividing the land, its inheritance, their offerings, feasts, &c. To punish the Midianites, God commanded Moses to take 12,000 men, and make war against them. The Israelites slew all the men of Midian, with their kings, but spared the women. Balaam was slain in this battle.
"BALAK AND BALAAM."
to his posterity.
cannot-notwithstanding his fame as a diviner, he confessed his utter inability to influence the will of the Most High.
MOAB-father's progeny;' the part of Arabia Petrea on the east of the Dead Sea; it was inhabited, after the gigantic race of the Emim were conquered, by the descendants of Moab, one of the sons of Lot. The territory of Sihon had belonged to the Moabites,
smote-from a feeling of bitter dis- but they were dispossessed of it by that appointment and rage.
warrior chief, who in his turn was subdued by the Israelites under Moses.
MOUNT PEOR-one of the heights of the Abarim mountains.
SHITTIM-the place in the plains of Moab where the Israelites were ensnared into idolatry by the Midianites, and the idolaters were slain.
MIDIAN-a country of Arabia Petrea, of Midian, the fourth son of Abraham the people of which were descendants and Keturah. The Moabites & Midianites were neighbours and appear to have lived on terms of friendship. The Midianites were an unsettled race, and like the Ishmaelites lived a wandering life; sometimes living by plunder, merchants. Lesson 14. They joined sometimes following the avocation of with the Moabites to obtain the services of Balaam to curse Israel; and their looser morals, arising from their unsettled habits, rendered them better agents for ensnaring the Israelites into idolatry and other sins.
BALAK AND BALAAM.
"HOW GOODLY ARE THY TENTS, O JACOB, AND THY TABERNACLES, O ISRAEL!"
Upon the hill the Prophet stood,
King Balak in the rocky vale,
'Twas morn ;-'twas noon;-the sacrifice
'Twas eve; the flame was feeble now,