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offended God, by his anger and haughtiness, when he smote the rock at Meribah. It was, however, a favour to see the land, and though he was shut out of that, as he had been a faithful servant of God, he would not be shut out for ever from the presence and favour of God, which was a better portion than the earthly Canaan. .
Moses, still concerned for Israel, now prayed God to appoint another captain, who should still lead them in safety; and God put his spirit in Joshua, and Moses at his command appointed him to be leader before all the people.
As the people were now a new generation, Moses was commanded to repeat to them all the laws about making offerings and feasts; and these are therefore given again, in the twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth chapters; and in the thirtieth chapter are laws to be observed in making vows or promises of anything to be given to God.
In the chapter following, Moses, at God's command, makes war upon the Midianites, by sending out a thousand men of every tribe against them, that is to say, twelve thousand men; and Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the priest, went to the war with the holy instruments, and the trumpets to blow, in his hand.
And they slew all the men, and five kings of Midian, and Balaam the conjuror, who was there. And they took the women and children prisoners, and also all their cattle and goods.
And Moses, and Eleazar the priest, and all the princes of the congregation of Israel, went out to meet the conquerors on their return; but when Moses saw they had brought the women with them, “ he was wroth with the officers of the host," for through the counsel of Balaam, the women had before caused Israel to sin, and drawn them aside to idolatry.
So Moses ordered every boy and every woman to be put to death, but the female children, and the metals, with everything that passes through fire to be purified, were preserved.
This seemed very severe; but God commanded Moses, and “shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The women, had they lived, would have made Israel to sin; and the boys, had they grown up to be men, would have avenged the deaths of their wicked fathers and mothers; and so God had them slain.
Then God commanded a tribute to be paid to him, out of the prey taken by the conquerors. And well might they make him an offering of thanksgiving; for on mustering the men, not one man was lacking, or had been lost, though a whole nation had been so completely beaten, and all their cities destroyed.
And the officers collected jewels and gold, to the amount of nearly eight thousand ounces; and Moses and Eleazar laid them up in the Tabernacle, as a memorial, “ or remembrance, for the children of Israel before the Lord.” So ought we always to bear in mind God's kindness towards us, and our merciful escapes from danger.
In the thirty-second chapter we have an account of the first settlement made by the Israelites, after their long journey through the wilderness. The tents of Israel were now pitched in the plains of Moab, where they had been for some months. The land of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and of Og, king of Bashan, remained unoccupied, though conquered by Israel. These lands were fine pasture lands for cattle, and as the children of Reuben and Gad had a very great multitude of cattle, they asked leave of Moses to possess them, instead of having any share in Canaan, or the other side of Jordan.
Moses suspected that they were indolent and cowardly, and wanted to escape any danger in conquering Canaan, so he reproved them, and told them how God had punished their fathers for such a spirit. But they assured him that he had mistaken their intentions, for all they wanted was to leave their little ones, and their wives, and their flocks, and their cattle, and they were ready to go themselves and assist their brethren in getting their possessions. So when Moses saw that their designs were fair, he gave them what they wished, on their promising to do as they had said.
“ And Moses gave unto them, even to the children of Gad, and to the children of Reuben, and unto half the tribe of Manasseh the son of Joseph, the kingdom of Sihon, king of the Amorites, and the kingdom of Og, king of Bashan, the land with the cities thereof, in the coasts, even the cities of the country round about.” And they built sheep-folds for their cattle, and they rebuilt the cities which were in a ruinous state from the wars; and in this way it happened that a part of Israel lived out of Canaan, on the other side Jordan.
In the thirty-third chapter is a history of the removals and encampments of the children of Israel, from the time they left Egypt till they entered into Canaan, forty-two in all, and the chapter ends with a command from God to Moses, to tell the children of Israel to destroy all the idolatrous people of Canaan, and take possession of their land.
In the thirty-fourth chapter, God marks out the limits of the promised land.
In the thirty-fifth the children are commanded not to forget to give a possession to the Levites, who were their ministers to perform religious service. These were to have forty-eight cities, six of which were to be cities of refuge, where any person who had accidentally killed another might flee, to escape being slain, and to have a fair trial of his guilt or innocence.
For if any man killed another, the nearest relation of the person who was killed, pursued the murderer and put him to death. If, then, a man knew that upon trial he could prove that he had not wilfully killed the person whose life he had unfortunately happened to take away, he could hasten to the City of Refuge; but if he did not, and the avenger of blood overtook him, his blood was upon his own head, because he had neglected to save himself as God had appointed. The meaning of this I shall soon explain to you.
The thirty-sixth chapter settles something more about the daughters of Zelophehad, that they should marry only in the tribe of Manasseh, to which they belonged, so that their inheritance should not go from their father's family into any other tribe.
Thus ends the book of Numbers, containing some most interesting accounts of the perverseness of the Israelites, and the faithfulness and goodness of God towards that wonderful nation.
EV EN this book Moses repeats the laws which God had before given ;
for the old Israelites, to whom they were first spoken, were all
dead in the wilderness, and as the young Israelites were now NSG about to have Canaan, they were to be taught what God expected from them if they were allowed to possess it.
Laws for the Israelites, about Cities of Refuge—Holy Scriptures —The cruel Idol Moloch-Conjurors—Landmarks.
DEUT 1.—XXVIII. In the first chapters of this book Moses told the Israelites, what I dare say you will now remember, how that God had told them to go and possess the land of Canaan, and how they had murmured when the ten, out of the twelve spies, brought them a bad report of the land, and how that God said, “ Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware (or promised) to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.” And how the Amorites chased them as bees, and destroyed them for being disobedient to God. And then he told them the story of the Edomites, and of Og, the king of Bashan ; and of Sihon, the king of the Amorites; and about their first conquests, and their being given to the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. And also, how God had chosen Joshua to be their leader in Canaan. You can read all
these things in the first three chapters of Deateronomy; they are very interesting, and will refresh your memory; they may properly be called An Abridgment of the Travels of the Israelites in the Wilderness.
There is one thing which Moses mentions, and which is not before noticed. It is the bedstead of Og, the king of Bashan, from which it is guessed what a big man he must have been. You read of it in the third chapter. “For only Og, king of Bashan, remained of the remnant of the giants; behold, his bedstead was & bedstead of iron : is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon?” Rabbath was a city in which the kings of the Ammonites lived. “Nine cubits was the length thereof,” that is, about four yards and a half long, or more than twice as long as one of our tallest soldiers ; "and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man," or the measurement of a cubit from a man's elbow to the end of his little finger, which would make the bedstead about two yards broad, or about the length of a tall man. From the length of his bedstead it is supposed that he must have been eleven feet high, which is as tall again as a common-sized man. This was a frightful foe to meet in battle, for warriors did not then fight at a distance with powder and ball, as they do now, but only with spears, and bows and arrows: yet the Israelites, encouraged by their God, slew him, and though he had sixty strong walled cities, and perhaps many tall men in them, as the people seem to have been of large stature,—they easily took their cities too, for God was with them.
In the fourth chapter Moses strongly exhorts the people to serve God and keep from idolatry. And then we learn that he “ severed three cities on this side of Jordan, toward the sun-rising, that the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in time past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live. Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites."
The roads to these cities of refuge were always kept in good repair, that the man-slayer might easily get to them, if he had killed anyone by accident; and there were posts, like our-hand posts at the corner of our roads, to show the way, that no one might lose a moment by being at a stand to know which road to take; and on these posts were the words, in large letters, REFUGE, REFUGE. The man that fled thither was tried, and if a murderer, he was executed; but if guilty of manslaughter, or killing a man by accident, he lived in the city till the high priest died, when he was allowed to go home again.