Sivut kuvina

not check her, but joined with her against his brother. There is no time of trouble or difficulty during the wanderings when Aaron is any support or strength to Moses, with the one exception of the fight with Amalek, when he assists in upholding Moses' hands. As for Miriam, after the Thanksgiving song on the passage of the Red Sea, she disappears from sight, and only emerges on the occasion above referred to, when she heads the opposition to Moses, ventures to “speak against him” and is punished by being smitten with leprosy, which it requires the prayer of Moses to remove (Numb. xii. 1-13). Hur, the chief of the elders, is, like Aaron, of use on one occasion only, when he joins in upholding the heavy hands of the aged prophet (Exod. xvii. 12). To only two persons in the entire host can Moses be said to have been indebted for real valuable help and assistance in his office of ruler. Joshua, the son of Nun, who was “his minister," was faithful to him from first to last. Appointed to the command against Amalek, he gained the great victory of Rephidim. He went up with his master into the mount (Exod. xxiv. 13), and waited for him, it would seem in solitude, during the weary “forty days,” returning with him when he came down (Exod. xxxii. 17). He attended on Moses in all his visits to the Tabernacle (Exod. xxxiii. 11). He bore back a true report of the land and people of Canaan, and interposed to check the revolt of the people against Moses, thereby endangering his own life (Numb. xiv. 6-10). He was with Moses when he sang his last song (Deut. xxxii. 44). What part he took in the wars whereby the Trans-Jordanic region passed into the possession of Israel is uncertain ; but it can scarcely be doubted that he gave Moses important aid in effecting that conquest.

The other Israelite from whom Moses derived some real help was Phinehas, his great-nephew. The only son, so far as we know, of Eleazar, Aaron's son and successor, Phinehas was, during the lifetime of his father, “the ruler or commander of the Levite guard,"s and a man of indomitable zeal and energy. When Israel in Shittim “began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab,"he distinguished himself by thrusting through with a javelin two of those whose guilt was the most flagrant, without waiting to receive any direct command so to act (Numb. xxv. 6–8), thereby stopping the plague which had already begun among the people (Ps. cvi. 30). When a priest was wanted to

* Stanley, “Lectures on the Jewish Church," vol. i. p. 227.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

accompany the expedition against the Midianites, no one seemed so fit as Phinehas for the purpose (Numb. xxxi. 1-6). Moses must have felt that he had in Phinehas a subordinate thoroughly to be depended on, one who might be trusted to undertake any task that he might be set, and to act boldly on his own responsibility at a crisis.

But though scantly aided by man in the execution of his difficult task, Moses had one unfailing resource. He could, and he did continually, throughout all his troubles, turn to God. The " theocracy” of Israel in the time of Moses was no mere nominal and unmeaning thing, but a most important reality. It was not a government by priests as opposed to kings; it was a government by God Himself as opposed to man. Moses could and did confer directly with God on all matters of high importance, and received instructions from Him how to act. It was in his power, whenever he pleased, to enter into the Tabernacle, and there converse with God face to face, as a man speaks with his friend (Exod. xxxiii. 11; Deut. xxxiv. 10). When the daughters of Zelophehad came to him, and desired an inheritance among their brethren, Moses “brought their cause before the Lord” (Numb. xxvii. 5), and received distinct directions how to decide it. And there is ample reason to believe that in so doing he was only following his usual practice. In the chief troubles—the murmurings and rebellions—there was, however, scarcely time for this formal method of consultation, and a shorter one appears to have been pursued. Moses “cried to God” from the spot where he happened to be standing at the time (Exod. xvii. 4; Numb. xiv. 5, &c.), and God interposed, and in some way or other made His will known both to him and to the people. Or God took the matter entirely into His own hand, and brought the people back to their obedience by a judgment, which proceeded suddenly and without warning from Himself (Numb. xvi. 46). What is most remarkable in the conduct of Moses as ruler is his extreme mildness and forgivingness. Twice only does he himself execute judgment, each time to vindicate God's honour-once when the idolatrous orgy is going on before the golden calf, and once again when the people have

joined themselves to Baal-Peor” (Numb. xxv. 3). On all other occasions the punishment comes straight from God, and Moses in almost every instance deprecates it, intercedes with God on behalf of the objects of it, and generally obtains a remission




He is the least exacting and the most unselfish of rulers. He requires nothing for his own glory, no crown, no throne, no title, no prostration, no honour. God gives him an honour, in the radiance of his face, and for the most part he veils it. He asks nothing for his children. Gershom and Eliezer do not emerge from the rank of ordinary Israelites, or obtain the slightest privilege or precedence because they are his

The priestly functions are assigned, not to them, but to the offspring of his brother, Aaron, while his own descendants scarcely obtain any mention in the later history. The leadership passes, with the full consent of Moses, to Joshua. The aspirations of Moses are after the spiritual, not after the temporal ; and it is in accordance with the general tenor of his desires, that he has descended to later ages, not as the Great Sheikh, not as the Ruler or Judge, not even as the Law-giver, but as “ Moses, the man of God” (Deut. xxxiii. 1; Ps. xc. title), “ Moses, the servant of the Lord” (Numb. xii. 8; Deut. xxxiv. 5 ; Josh. i. 1, &c.), “ Moses, the Prophet, whom the Lord knew face to face" (Deut. Xxxiv. 10).



Departure of the Israelites from Sinai–Route to Kadesh-Barnea-Kibroth

battaavah and the troubles there-Hazeroth and the sin of Miriam, First arrival at Kadesh—The spies and their report—The sin of the people and the sentence on it—Israel smitten by Amalek—The thirtyeight years of penal wandering—Israel hardened and braced by themRebellion of Korah and its consequences-Return to Kadesh-Death of Miriam-Sin of Moses and Aaron, and death of Aaron-War with Arad—War with the Amorites—Sihon-Og-Conquest of the Transjordanic region—War with Midian and Moab- Part taken in it by Balaam-Moses at Abel-Shittim-He exhorts the people-His appointment of Joshua as his successor–His injunctions respecting the Book of the Law-His last words—The Song of Warning—The Song of Blessing—Extracts.

WHEN the legislation of Sinai was complete, Moses, by the Divine command, proceeded to conduct the Israelites from the plain Er-Rahah, at the foot of Ras-Sufsâfeh, to the Holy Land. The journey was directed, in the first instance, upon KadeshBarnea (or Kadesh), the exact location of which is uncertain. It is not intended in the present sketch of Moses' Life and Times to discuss geographical problems, much less to propound new theories in connection with any of them. It will be enough to point out the general direction of the route which Israel fol. lowed, and to indicate the most probable position of the chief resting-places. Kadesh-Barnea then was clearly in the region north-east of the wilderness of El-Tij, the tract commonly known to the Hebrews as the “Negeb” or “ South country,' because it bordered Palestine upon the south. All the Biblical notices tend to place it in the more eastern portion of this region, not far from the great valley of the Arabah. To reach it Moses had to take his journey towards the north-east, and his earlier route would thus have lain along the valleys which lie outside the Tij, between it and the Elanitic Gulf or eastern arm of the Red Sea.

The first important resting-place was Kibroth-hattaavah, either Erweis-el-Ebeirig, thirty miles north-east of Sinai, or some spot not very distant from it. Here began the troubles of the journey. First, complaints broke out among the people, probably at the heat, the toil, and the privations of the march, and these God at once punished by lightning, which fell on the hinder part of the camp, and killed many persons; but ceased at the intercession of Moses (Numb. xi. 1, 2). Then, a disgust fell on the multitude at having nothing to eat but the manna day after day-no change, no flesh, no fish, no high-flavoured vegetables, no luscious fruits, no cucumbers or melons, no onions, or garlic, or leeks. The people loathed the “light food,” and cried out to Moses, “ Give us flesh, give us flesh, that we may eat !” Here for once the heroic leader seems to have despaired. What should he do to content the cry? Should he order the slaughter of all the flocks and herds, and thus leave the people without offerings for sacrifice, or milk for daily use, or curds, or butter, or cheese? Or should he take them to the shore of the neighbouring sea, and set them to catch, or to purchase from the Arab fishermen, all the fish with which the Elanitic Gulf abounded, and so feast them on the sort of food which they required? Or what other course should he take? In his perplexity he felt that the burden imposed on him was too great"I am not able to bear all this people alone,” he said, “because it is too heavy for me "—and he prayed that God would kill him, that he might no longer experience such wretchedness (Numb. xi. f-15). The despairing cry elicited a double response. First the seventy elders were given a portion of Moses' spirit, and appointed to bear the burden of the people with him (ver. 17); and secondly, a prodigious flight of quails was sent, on which the people satiated their gluttonous appetite for a full month. Then punishment fell on them; they loathed the food which they had desired ; it bred disease in them ; the Divine anger aggravated the disease into a plague, and a heavy mortality was the consequence. The dead were buried without the camp; and in memory of man's sin and of the Divine wrath, the name

« EdellinenJatka »