Numbers 33


The journeyings of the Israelites written out by Moses,

according to the commandment of the Lord, 1, 2.

They depart from Rameses on the fifteenth day of the first

month, on the day after the passover, the first-born of the

Egyptians having been slain, 3, 4.

Their forty-two stations enumerated, 5-49.

They are authorized to expel all the former inhabitants, and

destroy all remnants of idolatry, 50-53.

The land is to be divided by lot, 54.

Should they not drive out the former inhabitants, they shall be

to them as pricks in their eyes and thorns in their sides, 55.

And if not obedient, God will deal with them as he has purposed

to do with the Canaanites, 56.


Verse 2. And Moses wrote their goings out according to their

journeys] We may consider the whole book of Numbers as a diary,

and indeed the first book of travels ever published. Dr. Shaw, Dr.

Pococke, and several others, have endeavoured to mark out the

route of the Israelites, through this great, dreary, and trackless

desert, and have ascertained many of the stages here described.

Indeed there are sufficient evidences of this important journey

still remaining, for the descriptions of many are so particular

that the places are readily ascertained by them; but this is not

the case with all. Israel was the Church of God in the

wilderness, and its unsettled, wandering state under Moses may

point out the unsettled state of religion under the law. Their

being brought, after the death of Moses, into the promised rest by

Joshua, may point out the establishment, fixedness, and certainty

of that salvation provided by Jesus Christ, of whom Joshua, in

name and conduct, was a remarkable type. Mr. Ainsworth imagines

that the forty-two stations here enumerated, through which the

Israelites were brought to the verge of the promised land, and

afterwards taken over Jordan into the rest which God had promised,

point out the forty-two generations from Abraham unto Christ,

through whom the Saviour of the world came, by whose blood we have

an entrance into the holiest, and enjoy the inheritance among the

saints in light. And Mr. Bromley, in his Way to the Sabbath of

Rest, considers each name and place as descriptive of the

spiritual state through which a soul passes in its way to the

kingdom of God. But in cases of this kind fancy has much more to

do than judgment.

Verse 3. From Rameses] This appears to have been the

metropolis of the land of Goshen, and the place of rendezvous

whence the whole Israelitish nation set out on their journey to

the promised land; and is supposed to be the same as Cairo.

See Clarke on Ex 12:37.



Verse 5. And pitched in SUCCOTH.] This name signifies booths

or tents, and probably refers to no town or village, but simply

designates the place where they pitched their tents for the first

time after their departure from Rameses.


Verse 6. ETHAM, which is in the edge of the wilderness.] This

place is not well known; Dr. Shaw supposes it to have been one

mile from Cairo. Calmet thinks it is the city of Buthum mentioned

by Herodotus, which he places in Arabia, on the frontiers of



Verse 7. PI-HAHIROTH] See on Ex 14:1,2.

Baal-zephon Calmet supposes to be the Clysma of the Greeks, and the

Kolzum of the Arabians.


Verse 8. And went three days' journey in the wilderness of

Etham] Called the wilderness of Shur, Ex 15:22.

And pitched in MARAH.] Dr. Shaw supposes this place to be at

Sedur, over against the valley of Baideah, on the opposite side of

the Red Sea.


Verse 9. And came unto ELIM] A place on the skirts of the

deserts of Sin, two leagues from Tor, and nearly thirty from

Corondel, a large bay on the east side of the Red Sea. Dr. Shaw,

when he visited this place, found but nine of the twelve wells

mentioned in the text, and instead of 70 palm trees, he found

upwards of 2,000. See Clarke on Ex 15:27.


Verse 10. Encamped by the RED SEA.] It is difficult to assign

the place of this encampment, as the Israelites were now on their

way to Mount Sinai, which lay considerably to the east of Elim,

and consequently farther from the sea than the former station. It

might be called by the Red Sea, as the Israelites had it, as the

principal object, still in view. This station however is

mentioned nowhere else. By the Red Sea we are not to understand a

sea, the waters of which are red, or the sand red, or any thing

else about or in it red; for nothing of this kind appears. It is

called in Hebrew yam suph, which signifies the weedy sea.

The Septuagint rendered the original by θαλασσαεραθρα, and the

Vulgate after it by mare rubrum, and the European versions

followed these, and, in opposition to etymology and reason,

translated it the Red Sea. See Clarke on Ex 10:19.


Verse 11. The wilderness of SIN.] This lies between Elim and

Mount Sinai. Dr. Shaw and his companions traversed these plains

in nine hours.


Verse 12. DOPHKAH.] This place is not mentioned in Exodus and

its situation is not known.


Verse 13. ALUSH.] Neither is this mentioned in Exodus and its

situation is equally unknown.


Verse 14. REPHIDIM.] Remarkable for the rebellion of the

Israelites against Moses, because of the want of water, Ex 17:1-3.


Verse 15. The WILDERNESS of SINAI.] Somewhere northward of

Mount Sinai, on the straight road to the promised land, to which

they now directed their course.


Verse 16. KIBROTH-HATTAAVAH.] No city, village, &c., but a

place in the open desert, which had its name from the plague that

fell upon the Israelites, through their murmuring against God, and

their inordinate desire of flesh. See Clarke on Nu 6:1 &c. But it

appears that the Israelites had travelled three days' journey in

order to reach this place, Nu 10:33, and commentators suppose

there must have been other stations which are not laid down here,

probably because the places were not remarkable.


Verse 17. HAZEROTH.] This place Dr. Shaw computes to have been

about thirty miles distant from Mount Sinai.


Verse 18. RITHMAH.] This place lay somewhere in the wilderness

of Paran, through which the Israelites were now passing. See

Nu 13:1,3. The name signifies the juniper tree; and the place

probably had its name from the great number of those trees growing

in that district.


Verse 19. RIMMON-PAREZ.] Unknown.


Verse 20. LIBNAH.] The situation of this place is uncertain.

A city of this name is mentioned Jos 10:29, as situated between

Kadesh-barnea and Gaza.


Verse 21. RISSAH.] A place mentioned nowhere else in the

sacred writings. Its situation utterly uncertain.


Verse 22. KEHELATHAH.] Utterly unknown; though some conjecture

that it might have been the place called Keilah, 1Sa 23:1, &c.,

but this is unlikely.


Verse 23. SHAPHER.] Where this mountain lay cannot be



Verse 24. HARADAH.] Unknown, Calmet supposes that it may be

the place called Bered, Ge 16:14, which was in the vicinity of



Verse 25. MAKHELOTH.] A name found nowhere else in Scripture.


Verse 26. TAHATH.] Unknown.


Verse 27. TARAH.] Also unknown.


Verse 28. MITHCAH.] Calmet conjectures that this may be Mocha,

a city in Arabia Petraea.


Verse 29. HASHMONAH.] Supposed by some to be the same as

Azmon, Nu 34:4.


Verse 30. MOSEROTH.] Situation unknown. In De 10:6 it is

said that the Israelites took their journey from Beeroth, the

wells of the children of Jaakan, to Mosera, and there Aaron died.

If so, Mosera, Moseroth, and Hor, must be different names of the

same place; or Moseroth, or Mosera, must have been some town or

village near Mount Hor, for there Aaron died. See Nu 33:38.


Verse 31. BENE-JAAKAN.] Unknown. The sons of Jaakan.

See the preceding verse, Clarke "Nu 33:30".


Verse 32. HOR-HAGIDGAD.] The hole or pit of Gidgad. Unknown.

It was a place perhaps remarkable for some vast pit or cavern,

from which it took its name.


Verse 33. JOTRATHAH.] Situation unknown. It is said in

De 10:7 to be a

land of rivers of waters.


Verse 34. EBRONAH.] Nowhere else mentioned.


Verse 35. EZION-GABER.] Dr. Shaw places this port on the

western coast of the Elantic gulf of the Red Sea. It is now

called Meenah el Dsahab, or the golden port, by the Arabs; because

it was from this place that Solomon sent his ships for gold to

Ophir, 1Ki 9:26. He supposes it to be about sixty miles distant

from Mount Sinai.-Travels, p. 322, 4to. edition.


Verse 36. ZIN, which is KADESH.] A place remarkable for the

death of Miriam the prophetess, and bringing water out of the

rock. As this place was on the borders of Edom, the Israelites,

being denied permission to pass through their land, which lay on

the direct road to the promised land, were obliged to turn to the

right to Mount Hor, now called Accaba by the Arabs.


Verse 37. HOR.] Famous for the death of Aaron. See on Nu 20:25-28.

Perhaps Moseroth or Mosera, Nu 33:30, was a village near this

mountain. See Clarke on Nu 33:30.


Verse 41. ZALMONAH.] Probably in the neighborhood of the land

of Edom. As tselem signifies an image, this place probably

had its name from the brazen serpent set up by Moses.

See Clarke on Nu 21:9, &c.

From the same root the word telesm, corruptly called talisman,

which signifies a consecrated image, is derived.


Verse 42. PUNON.] A place in Idumea. Nowhere else mentioned.


Verse 43. OBOTH.] Mentioned before, Nu 21:10.


Verse 44. IJE-ABARIM.] The heaps of Abarim.

See Nu 21:11. Situation uncertain. It is called

Iim in the following verse. As the word signifies heaps or

protuberances, it probably means tumuil or small hills near some

of the fords of Jordan.


Verse 45. DIBON-GAD.] Supposed to be the same as Dibon,

Nu 32:34,

and to be situated on the brook Arnon.


Verse 46. ALMON-DIBLATHAIM.] Situation not known. It belonged

to the Moabites in the time of the prophet Jeremiah. Jer 48:22.


Verse 47. Mountains of ABARIM, before NEBO.] The mountain on

which Moses died. They came to this place after the overthrow of

the Amorites. See Nu 21:34, 35.


Verse 48. The PLAINS of MOAB.] This was the scene of the

transactions between Balaam and Balak; see chapters xxiii., xxiv.,



Verse 49. From BETH-JESIMOTH even unto ABEL-SHITTIM] The

former of these places fell to the Reubenites, Jos 13:15-20. The

Israelites were now come to the edge of Jordan, over against

Jericho, where they afterwards passed.

For farther information on the subject of these different

encampments, the reader is requested to refer to the extracts from

Dr. Shaw at the end of the book of Exodus. See Clarke on Ex 40:38.

Verse 52. Ye shall-destroy all their pictures]

maskiyotham, from sachah, to be like, or resemble,

either pictures, carved work, or embroidery, as far as these

things were employed to exhibit the abominations of idolatry.

Molten images tsalmey massechotham, metallic

talismanical figures, made under certain constellations, and

supposed in consequence to be possessed of some extraordinary

influences and virtues.

Verse 55. Shall be pricks in your eyes] Under these

metaphors, the continual mischief that should be done to them,

both in soul and body, by these idolaters, is set forth in a very

expressive manner. What can be more vexatious than a continual

goading of each side, so that the attempt to avoid the one throws

the body more forcibly on the other? And what can be more

distressing than a continual pricking in the eye, harassing the

mind, tormenting the body, and extinguishing the sight?

1. IT has been usual among pious men to consider these Canaanites

remaining in the land, as emblems of indwelling sin; and it must

be granted that what those remaining Canaanites were to the people

of Israel, who were disobedient to God, such is indwelling sin to

all those who will not have the blood of the covenant to cleanse

them from all unrighteousness. For a time, while conscience is

tender, such persons feel themselves straitened in all their

goings, hindered in all their religious services, and distressed

beyond measure because of the law-the authority and power of sin,

which they find warring in their members: by and by the eye of

their mind becomes obscured by the constant piercings of sin, till

at last, fatally persuaded that sin must dwell in them as long as

they live, they accommodate their minds to their situation, their

consciences cease to be tender, and they content themselves with

expecting redemption where and when it has never been promised,

viz., beyond the grave! On the subject of the journeyings of the

Israelites, the following observations from old Mr. Ainsworth

cannot fail to interest the reader.

2. "The TRAVELS of Israel through that great and terrible

wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and

drought, where there was no water, De 8:15, which was

a land of deserts, 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, Jer 2:6,

signified the many troubles and afflictions through which we must

enter into the kingdom of God, Ac 14:22.

The helps, comforts, and deliverances which God gave unto his

people in their distresses, are examples of his love and mercy

towards his followers; for he comforts them in all their

tribulation, that as the sufferings of Christ abound in them, so

their consolation also abounds in Christ, 2Co 1:5. The

punishments which God inflicted upon the disobedient, who perished

in the wilderness for their sins, happened unto them for ensamples,

and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the

world are come, 1Co 10:1, 11; Heb 3:17, 18, 19; Heb 4:1, 2.

By the names of their encamping places, and histories adjoined, it

appears how Israel came sometimes into straits and troublesome

ways, as at Pihahiroth, Ex 14:2, 3, 10, &c.;

and at Zalmonah, Nu 2:1, 4, &c.;

sometimes into large and ample room, as at the plains of Moab;

sometimes to places of hunger and thirst, as at Rephidim and

Kadesh, Ex 16:1-3; Ex 17:1-3; Nu 20:2-5; sometimes to

places of refreshing, as at Elim and Beer, Ex 15:27;

Nu 21:16; sometimes where they had

wars, as at Rephidim, Kadesh, Edrei, Ex 17:8; Nu 21:1, 33;

sometimes where they had rest, as at Mount Sinai: sometimes they

went right forward, as from Sinai to Kadesh-barnea; sometimes

they turned backward, as from Kadesh-barnea to the Red Sea:

sometimes they came to mountains, as Sinai, Shapher, Hor-Gidgad;

sometimes to valleys, as Tahath, &c.; sometimes to places of

bitterness, as Marah; sometimes, of sweetness, as Mithcah.

3. "The SINS which they committed in the wilderness were many and

great; as open IDOLATRY by the calf, at Horeb, Ex 32:3, 4, and

with Baal-peor, Nu 25:16-18. UNBELIEF, at Kadesh,

Nu 14:11; and

afterwards PRESUMPTUOUS BOLDNESS in the same place; MURMURING

against God sundry times, with tempting of Christ, (as the apostle

speaks, 1Co 10:9) CONTENTION and REBELLION against their governors

often; lusting for flesh to fill their appetites, and loathing

manna, the heavenly food; WHOREDOM with the daughters of Moab, and

many other provocations; so that this complaint is after made of

them, How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, and grieve

him in the desert! Ps 78:40. All sorts of persons sinned against

God; the multitude of people very often; the mixed multitude of

strangers among them, Nu 11:4-6. The princes, as the ten spies,

Dathan, Abiram, &c. The Levites, as Korah and his company;

Miriam the prophetess, Nu 12:1, 2;

Aaron the priest with her, besides his sin at Horeb, Ex 32:1-4;

and at the water of Meribah, Nu 20:24. Moses also himself at the

same place, for which he was excluded from the land of Canaan.

4. "The PUNISHMENTS laid on them by the Lord for their

disobedience were many. They died by the sword of the enemy, as of the

Amalekites, Ex 17:9-11, and of the

Canaanites, Nu 14:45;

and some by the sword of their brethren, Ex 32:25-29 Some were

burned with fire, Nu 11:1; 16:35; some

died with surfeit, Nu 11:34; some were

swallowed up alive in the earth, Nu 16:31-34; some were

killed with serpents, Nu 21:6; many

died of the pestilence, Nu 16:46, and Nu 5:25; and generally

all that generation which were first mustered, after their coming out of

Egypt, perished, Nu 26:64, 65. God consumed their days in vanity,

and their years in terror, Ps 78:33.

5. "Nevertheless, for his name's sake, he magnified his MERCIES

unto them and their posterity. He had divided the sea, and led

them through on dry land, drowning their enemies, Ex 14:27, 28. He

led them with a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night,

continually. He gave them manna from heaven daily. He clave the

rock, and gave them water for their thirst. He fed them with

quails, when they longed for flesh. He sweetened the bitter

waters. He saved them from the sword of their enemies. He

delivered them from the fiery serpents and scorpions. Their

raiment waxed not old upon them, neither did their foot swell for

forty years, De 8:4. He delivered them from the intended curse

of Balaam, and turned it into a blessing, because he loved them,

Nu 22:13, 38; De 23:5. He came down from Mount Sinai, and spake

with them from heaven, and gave them right judgments and true

laws, good statutes and commandments, and gave also his good

Spirit to instruct them, Ne 9:13, 20. In the times of his wrath

he remembered mercy; his eye spared them from destroying them,

neither did he make an end of them in the wilderness,

Eze 20:17, 22. He gave them kingdoms and nations, and they

possessed the lands of their enemies; and he multiplied their

children as the stars of heaven, and brought them into the land

promised unto their forefathers. Ne 9:22, 23. Now whatsoever

things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that

we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might have

hope, Ro 15:4." Let him that readeth understand."

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