Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

most learned and laborious in their investigations, are not agreed on many points connected with this subject; and but a partial light is thrown upon it by the researches of travellers.

We know, indeed, the general features of the regions which the Israelites traversed, while passing from Mount Sinai to Canaan; features greatly diversified, and the grouping of which it may be interesting, for a moment, to contemplate. They consist of chains of mountains, and often single ones, interspersed with narrow and long valleys, traversing which are sometimes sandy cliffs, sixty and eighty feet in height; extensive, sandy plains, unfruitful and destitute of water, the surface of which is, in some parts, broken by innumerable undulations and low hills; here and there spots shaded by bushes, and covered with pasturage, and valleys where water is to be found, and the tamarisks and talh-trees grow; vast deserts, barren, horrid, and frightful; while the traveller not unfrequently meets with a mass of the bones of camels, horses, and asses that have perished on their way, and with heaps of stones, rudely thrown together, the tombs and of pits, a land of drought, and of the shadow of death, a land that no man passed through, and where no man dwelt."

It was to give them the moral discipline which they needed; it was to train up the children and youth in such a school of hardihood and enterprise ; it was to prepare for himself a nation suited in their habits and character to the condition in which they would be placed in the land of Canaan; it was to show forth his own power and wisdom, his justice, his goodness, and his truth; it was to leave on record, for the instruction of their descendants to the latest posterity, and of all mankind, the manner of his dealing with such a stiff-necked and rebellious people,-the history of his great long-suffering towards them, and the reasons of the deep and lasting obligations of gratitude under which they were placed to their Heavenly Guide and Protector : was for these important ends that God saw fit, in his wise and holy Providence, to lead the Israelites, during a space of forty years, through such dreary regions, and to subject them to the various difficulties and trials which we shall see they were called to endure. In noticing what transpired on their course, we should bear these things in mind, as accounting often for what might otherwise appear to us dark and mysterious.

The more we study the Bible with a right spirit, that we may become the better acquainted with the character and will of God, and our own charac. ter and duty; the more shall we find it to be, in all its parts,-in its histories and biographies, as well as its doctrines and precepts,

-a rich treasure of instruction. Its minute details of events; its very particular descriptions of what God commanded to be done, and of his conduct towards individuals and whole communities, especially the Jewish, are given by the inspired writers, not merely to fill up the narrative, or to be passed over in the perusal as of little moment, but to enlighten the mind, to affect the conscience, and to purify the heart.

Look to God, my young friend, for the influences of his Holy Spirit, that such may be the happy result in your case, while we accompany the Israelites in their subsequent journeyings to the promised land.

CHAPTER XIV.

Taberah. Murmurings. Seventy elders chosen to assist

Moses. Quails sent. Plague at Kibroth-hattavah.

It was on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year after their departure out of Egypt, that the Israelites left Sinai, and directed their course to the great desert of Paran. It lies in Arabia Petræa, south of Palestine, and northwest of the gulf of Akaba.

They had not been long on their way, before new murmurings and complaints were heard among them. Of the cause of this we are not in. formed. But it was so displeasing to God, that his anger was kindled against them, on account of their wicked perverseness and ingratitude, and he sent fire among them, which immediately consumed those who were in the uttermost parts of the camp.

The consternation was terrible. The judgments of the Lord had begun in one of their most awful forms, and might continue till the destruction of the Israelites was complete. They cried to Moses to interpose. He did so. His prayers prevailed, and the fire ceased. He called the place Taberah, that is, a burning, as commemorative of the event.

But they had scarcely recovered from the terror of this scene, before the mixed multitude, which was among them, began to long after what they conceived to be the greater comforts of the country that they had left. They broke out in lamentations of regret, and the Israelites joined them. shall give us flesh to eat ?" said they. "We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic. But now our soul is dried

9

[ocr errors]

Part 2

away; there is nothing at all, besides this manna, before our eyes.”

Moses heard these complaints, and was much displeased with them. We are told, too, that the anger

of the Lord was kindled greatly. What was to be done ? Moses feared for the people; and began, also, to feel discouraged under the heavy burden that was pressing upon him. For to him ulone, in their real, or fancied troubles, the whole assembly constantly looked for aid. He broke out in the anguish of his spirit, addressing the Lord : "Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant ? and wherefore have I not found favor in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me? Have I conceived all this people? Have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers ? Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people ? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh that we may eat. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me. And if thou deal thus with me, kill me,

nroy thee out of hand if I have found favorinthy

« EdellinenJatka »