But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
1:19-46 Moses reminds the Israelites of their march from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, through that great and terrible wilderness. He shows how near they were to a happy settlement in Canaan. It will aggravate the eternal ruin of hypocrites, that they were not far from the kingdom of God. As if it were not enough that they were sure of their God before them, they would send men before them. Never any looked into the Holy Land, but they must own it to be a good land. And was there any cause to distrust this God? An unbelieving heart was at the bottom of all this. All disobedience to God's laws, and distrust of his power and goodness, flow from disbelief of his word, as all true obedience springs from faith. It is profitable for us to divide our past lives into distinct periods; to give thanks to God for the mercies we have received in each, to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember; and thus to renew our acceptance of God's salvation, and our surrender of ourselves to his service. Our own plans seldom avail to good purpose; while courage in the exercise of faith, and in the path of duty, enables the believer to follow the Lord fully, to disregard all that opposes, to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings.
The sentence on Moses was not passed when the people rebelled during their first encampment at Kadesh, but some 37 years later, when they had re-assembled in the same neighborhood at Meribah (see the Numbers 20:13
note). He alludes to it here as having happened not many months previously, bearing on the facts which were for his purpose in pricking the conscience of the people.
But as for you, turn ye,.... From the mountain of the Amorites, the border of the land of Canaan:
and take your journey into the wilderness, by the way of the Red sea: see Numbers 14:25. Jarchi says this wilderness was by the side of the Red sea, to the south of Mount Seir, and divided between the Red sea and the mount; so that now they drew to the side of the sea, and compassed Mount Seir, all the south of it, from west to east. But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
Jehovah was angry, therefore, when He heard these loud words, and swore that He would not let any one of those men, that evil generation, enter the promised land, with the exception of Caleb, because he had followed the Lord faithfully (cf. Numbers 14:21-24
). The hod in זוּלתי is the antiquated connecting vowel of the construct state.
But in order that he might impress upon the people the judgment of the holy God in all its stern severity, Moses added in Deuteronomy 1:37 : "also Jehovah was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither;" and he did this before mentioning Joshua, who was excepted from the judgment as well as Caleb, because his ultimate intention was to impress also upon the minds of the people the fact, that even in wrath the Lord had been mindful of His covenant, and when pronouncing the sentence upon His servant Moses, had given the people a leader in the person of Joshua, who was to bring them into the promised inheritance. We are not to infer from the close connection in which this event, which did not take place according to Numbers 20:1-13 till the second arrival of the congregation at Kadesh, is placed with the earlier judgment of God at Kadesh, that the two were contemporaneous, and so supply, after "the Lord as angry with me," the words "on that occasion." For Moses did not intend to teach the people history and chronology, but to set before them the holiness of the judgments of the Lord. By using the expression "for your sakes," Moses did not wish to free himself from guilt. Even in this book his sin at the water of strife is not passed over in silence (cf. Deuteronomy 32:51). But on the present occasion, if he had given prominence to his own fault, he would have weakened the object for which he referred to this event, viz., to stimulate the consciences of the people, and instil into them a wholesome dread of sin, by holding up before them the magnitude of their guilt. But in order that he might give no encouragement to false security respecting their own sin, on the ground that even highly gifted men of God fall into sin as well, Moses simply pointed out the fact, that the quarrelling of the people with him occasioned the wrath of God to fall upon him also.
40-45. turn you, and take your journey into the … Red Sea—This command they disregarded, and, determined to force an onward passage in spite of the earnest remonstrances of Moses, they attempted to cross the heights then occupied by the combined forces of the Amorites and Amalekites (compare Nu 14:43), but were repulsed with great loss. People often experience distress even while in the way of duty. But how different their condition who suffer in situations where God is with them from the feelings of those who are conscious that they are in a position directly opposed to the divine will! The Israelites were grieved when they found themselves involved in difficulties and perils; but their sorrow arose not from a sense of the guilt so much as the sad effects of their perverse conduct; and "though they wept," they were not true penitents. So the Lord would not hearken to their voice, nor give ear unto them.
The Lord was angry with me - See on Numbers 20:12
(note), etc., where a particular account is given of the sin of Moses.