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by a serpent, if he looked upon that brazen serpent, recovered.
The Israelites at this time were at Phanon, whither they were come from Salmona, their first camp, after they removed from about Mount Hor. From Phanon they went and encamped at Oboth, and thence to Ije-abarim, in the desert that is before Moab to the eastward. Decamping from thence they came to Zared, and afterwards encamped by the river of Arnon, which is in the desert, and runs to the frontiers of the Amorites; for it divides them from the Moabites. They held on their march, and at length came into the plains of Moab, on the banks of Jordan, opposite to Jericho, to the top of Pisgah. From hence Moses sent ambassadors to Sihon king of the Amo
of the same kind as those by which the Israelites were bitten. It appears however that serpents abound in that country.
Mr. Bruce says, that the kind of serpents called Cerastes were the most numerous in the district he travelled. He describes this serpent as found among the Balsam trees, and if we add " darting from tree to tree," as we find described by Niebuhr, we come pretty near to the idea of these poisonous flying serpents.
The remedy which God, on the submission of the people, graciously provided for their cure, was not only miraculous, but singular in its kind, and designed to be a most instructive emblem to the Church in all future ages. We ought not to forget that sin, more poisonous and destructive to the soul than the venom of the serpent to the body, has spread its baleful influence through the whole race of mankind. But the power and grace of our God are displayed in the removal of this fatal malady, and in a way similar to that whereby the wounded Israelites were restored. For so, an infallible Commentator on this history assures us, John iii. 14, 15.-"As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life."
The serpent, formed of brass on this occasion, remained among the Jews above seven hundred years, to the time of Hezekiah king of Judah; who in a holy zeal, pursuant to God's command, Ezra, xxiii. 24. Deut. vii. 5. removing the high pla ces, breaking the images, and cutting down the groves, brake also in pieces this brazen serpent among the rest; (though so valuable a piece of antiquity) because he found the people had for a long time committed idolatry, in burning incense to it. And to put a contempt upon it, he called it Nebushtan, a piece of brass only. 2 Kings xviii. 4.
rites, to demand a passage through his country, promising not to break into the fields or vineyards, nor to drink of the water, but only to march along the highway, till they were past his country. The Amorite prince, not thinking it safe to receive so numerous and unsettled a people into the heart of his kingdom, positively denied them passage and thinking it better policy to attack than be attacked, gathering what force he could, marches out to give them battle at Jahaz, where Israel routed him, and seized his country. They likewise took Heshbon, and the villages about it, which Sihon had before taken from the Moabites; and being thus possessed of the Amorites' land, they dwelt there. After this, Moses sent out forces to discover Jazar, another city of the Amorites, which they took, with all its territories, and drove out the people that dwelt there. Then turning another way, they marched towards Bashan, where the Giant* Og, another Amorite king, reigned. This monstrous prince, with his gigantic troops, drew out to give the Israelites battle. But lest they should be discouraged at the sight of this formidable army, who exceeded the common size of nature, Moses, by the command of God, bid them fear nothing, for he had delivered them into their hands, and they should obtain as easy a conquest over them, as they did over Sihon, king of the Amorites. Israel thus encouraged, joined battle, and slew king Og and his sons, and all his people. They also took all his cities, threescore in number, all fenced with high walls, gates and bars, besides open towns and villages a great number; destroying utterly the inhabitants, but keeping all the cattle and
* Giant. The description of this gigantic king, who was the last of the race of the giants, we have in Deut. iii. 11, &c. whose stature we may guess by the size of his bed, which being made of iron, for strength, was nine cubits in length, and four cubits in breadth, after the cubit of a man, which being the common cubit, containing half a yard, or one foot and a half of English measure, if reduced to yards or feet, will make four yards and a half, or thirteen feet and a half, for the length, and two yards, or six feet for the breadth of the bed.
the spoil of those cities for a prey to themselves, as they had done before in the case of Sihon, the other Amorite king.
Encouraged by these successes, the Israelites march to the plains of Moab, and encamp on this side Jordan by Jericho. The approach of these victorious strangers strikes a terror wherever they come, and the fame of their late success against the Amorites, threw the king of
* Case, &c. See Deut. iii. 4, 5, 6, 7. and so they were commanded, Deut. xx. where the laws of war are particularly laid down by which they were required upon their approach to any city, to offer peace first; which if the inhabitants accepted, and surrendered to them, they should only make them tributaries. But if they refused peace, and obliged them to beseige and storm the place, they should, when they had taken it, put all the men to the sword; but might keep the women and children, with the cattle and other spoil for themselves. These were their instructions for the cities of remoter countries; but for the cities of those neighbouring people, which the Lord had given them for an inheritance, as particularly the Hittites and Amorites, the Canaanites and Perizzites, the Hivites and Jebusites, they were to save none alive, but utterly to destroy all the men, women and children. Now as this execution was a type of the spiritual warfare against the enemies of the soul; of which none, old or young, great or small, are to be spared, or saved alive; so the political reason of this martial severity is given in the 18th verse of Deut. xx. "That they teach you not to do after their abominations, which they have done unto their gods, so should you sin against the Lord your God."
The enemies of Revelation have raised a hideous outcry against the cruelty of the Israelites in their treatment of the Amorites, &c. and have asserted that they could never have received their instructions for that purpose from God the fountain of all goodness. But we are to observe that the Israelites were in this instance merely the instruments of a righteous Sovereign, who had long been provoked with the outrageous wickedness of the nations. Four hundred years before this period, we find God saying to Abraham, (Gen. xv. 16.) "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full," but now, it is evident, that they had arrived to a dreadful pitch of wickedness. A specimen of their morals we have in the prostitution of the young women of Midian in order to reduce them to the practice of idolatry, to which abomination they were extremely devoted, even to the dedicat ing their children to Mołock and sacrificing them to him by fire. Adultery, incest, bestiality, and all kinds of abomination were avowedly practiced among them. The Israelites therefore were merely the instruments which God employed for the extirpation of a people unfit to live, and were no more to be blamed than an exècutiener who performs the sentence of the law upon a criminal justly condemned to
Moab and his people into a terrible consternation. * Balak, the king, knowing himself too weak to engage the mighty force of Israel, advised with the chiefs of Midian,† to whom he represented the common danger of these invaders. The result of their consultation was this, that King Balak should send messengers to Balaamt the son of Beor, who lived at Pethor, a city in Mesopotamia, to invite and bribe him to curse the Israelites; for they had so great an opinion of his skill and power in divination, that they thought he could curse or bless as he pleased. By general consent therefore they depute a select number of their chief men with presents, to invite him to accompany them to Balak. When they came to him, and had delivered their message from the king, he desired them to tarry
die. It is true there is something very affecting in the case of the multitude of young children, who were involved in the common calamity: but we may as well object to the providence of God in other calamities, or when a pestilence, a famine, or a deluge sweeps away, without discrimination, old and young; and it is no uncommon thing for children to be involved in the miseries of their offending parents. In a word, we are assured by sacred writ that the expulsion of the nations of Canaan was the just reward of their extreme vices, see Deut. ix. 4, 5. "Speak not thou in thine heart, saying, For my righteousness the Lord hath brought me in to possess this land; but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart dost thou possess their land, but for the wickedness of these nations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee."
Consternation. If the Moabites had known the protection they were under, they needed not to have been afraid; for, if they would have been quiet, they were particularly exempted from the sword of Israel, Deut. ii. 9.
+ Midian. The Midianites were neighbours and confederates with the Moabites; therefore Balak represents to them the danger, and asks their advice and assistance.
‡ Balaam. Several Fathers represent Balaam as a wizard, and prophet of the devil, but by the free access he had to God, particularly Numb. xxiv. 13. and xxii. 18. it appears that he was not a prophet of the devil; though it is plain from the holy text he was covetous, and St. Peter, Epist. 2. ch. ii. v. 15. says, “He loved the wages of unrighteousness."
with him that night, for he could give them no answer till he had consulted the Lord.
God, who knew the sordid mind of Balaam, to try how he would represent the matter, asked him, "What men they "were, who were with him? They are some, said he, whom "the King of Moab hath sent to me, to let me know, that "there is a people come out of Egypt, which cover the "face of the earth; and to desire me to come to him, and "curse them, in hopes that he then may be able to overMI come them, and drive them away." But God said to him, "Thou shalt not go with them, nor curse that people, for "they are blessed." Balaam, not daring to disobey the command of the Lord, arose in the morning, and dismissing the messengers said, "Return to your own country; "for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you." They return to the king, but misreport Balaam's answer; for instead of telling him, that God had refused to let him come, they tell him, that Balaam refused to come. Whereupon Balak falsely suggesting to himself, that either the number and quality of his messengers did not answer Balaam's ambition; or the value of the presents his covetousness, resolves to gratify both; and therefore he immediately dispatches messengers of more honourable rank, and with larger proposals. "Let nothing (said he)
hinder thee from coming to me; for I will promote "thee to very great honour, and give thee whatsoever "thou wilt ask, if thou wilt come and curse this people.'
Though Balaam had received an express command from the mouth of God, neither to go, nor to curse Israel; yet he did not disapprove of the offer, and only tells the messengers, "If Balak would give me his house full "of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the "Lord-my God." But to shew his wicked inclination to the promised reward, he fawningly intreats the messengers to tarry all night with him, that he might know what the Lord would say farther to him. This was tempting God; who therefore in displeasure left him to his own will. He had positively at first told him his mind, and it
Own will. Thus God dealt with the Israelites afterwards, when they, regovernment, would needs have a king, that they might be like other