Numbers 33:56
(56) Moreover it shall come to pass . . . --Better, And it shall come to pass that, as I have thought (or, determined) to do unto them, so will I do unto you. It must be borne in mind that the idolatrous inhabitants of Canaan were never wholly exterminated, and the pernicious influence which they exercised was felt throughout the whole of the history of the Israelites until the judgments threatened against them were finally executed in the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities.

Verse 56. - I shaft do unto you as I thought to do unto them, i.e., I shall execute by other hands upon you the sentence of dispossession which ye shall have refused to execute upon the Canaanites. The threat (although in fact fulfilled) does not necessarily involve any prophecy, since to settle down among the remnants of the heathen was a course of action which would obviously and for many reasons commend itself to the Israelites. Indolence and cowardice were consulted by such a policy as much as the natural feelings of pity towards vanquished and apparently harmless foes. The command to extirpate was certainly justified in this case (if it could be in any) by the unhappy consequences of its neglect. Israel being what he was, and so little severed in anything but religion from the ancient heathen, his only chance of future happiness lay in keeping himself from any contact with them. On the morality of the command itself, see on the passages referred to, and on the slaughter of the Midianites. As a fact, the extirpation of the conquered did not offend the moral sense of the Jews then any more than it did that of our heathen Saxon ancestors. Where both races could not dwell in security, it was a matter of course that the weaker was destroyed. Such a command was therefore justified at that time by the end to be attained, because it was not contrary to the moral law as then revealed, or to the moral sense as then educated. Being in itself a lawful proceeding, it was made a religious proceeding, and taken out of the category of selfish violence by being made a direct command of God.

33:50-56 Now that they were to pass over Jordan, they were entering again into temptation to follow idols; and they are threatened that, if they spared either the idols or the idolaters, their sin would certainly be their punishment. They would foster vipers in their own bosoms. The remnant of the Canaanites, if they made any peace with them, though but for a time, would be pricks in their eyes, and thorns in their sides. We must expect trouble and affliction from whatever sin we indulge; that which we are willing should tempt us, will vex us. It was intended that the Canaanites should be put out of the land; but if the Israelites learned their wicked ways, they also would be put out. Let us hear this and fear. If we do not drive out sin, sin will drive us out. If we are not the death of our lusts, our lusts will be the death of our souls.Moreover, it shall come to pass,.... This being the case, they suffering the Canaanites to dwell among them, and they mingling with them, learning their works, and serving their gods: that

I shall do unto you as I thought I should do unto them; deliver them up into the hands of their enemies, who should carry them captive into other lands.

Numbers 33:55
Top of Page
Top of Page