Obrazy na stronie

ments, and put them upon Eliezer his son; and Aaron died in the top of Mount Hor; and the congregation mourned for him thirty days. From the border of Edom they journeyed towards the East, compassing the country of Moab, until they came to “the brooks of Arnon,” which are “the border of Moab between Moab and the Amorites.” The chief city of Moab, as before noticed, was Ar, (sometimes written Aroer,) at the stream of the brooks of Arnon, and it lay upon the border of Moab.—Numb. xxi. 13–15. Hence they moved onward to the adjoining territory of Sihon, King of the Amorites, and requested permission to pass quietly through his land; but Sihon refused, “and gathered all his people together—and fought against Israel,” but could not prevail, for Israel smote him with the edge of the sword, and possessed his land, even unto the border of the children of Ammon. “And Israel dwelt in all the cities of the Amorites, in Heshbon and the villages thereof.”—“And Moses sent to spy out Jaazer, and they took the villages thereof.”—“And they turned and went up by the way of Bashan, and Og the King of Bashan, (of the remnant of the giants) went out against them, he and all his people, to the battle of Edrei;” and Israel “smote him, and his sons, and all his people,” and “possessed his land.”—“And the children of Israel set forward and pitched in the plains of Moab, on this side Jordan, by Jericho.” They had received an injunction from the Lord, not to distress Moab; for their ancestor Lot was graciously remembered—doubtless

for Abraham's sake, -but as they approached that that district, Moab became “sore afraid, and distressed, because of the children of Israel.”—“Balak, the son of Zippor, was king of the Moabites at that time;” and he conferred with the chief men of the adjoining territory of Midian, and “sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, saying, Come now, I pray thee, curse me this people; for I wot that he whom thou blessest is blessed, and he whom thou cursest is cursed.”—“And the elders of Moab, and the elders of Midian, departed with the rewards of divination in their hand, and they came unto Balaam, and spake unto him the words of Balak.” But God commanded Balaam, “Thou shalt not curse the people, for they are blessed.”—“And the princes of Moab rose up, and they went unto Balak, and said unto him, Balaam refuseth to come with us. And Balak sent yet again princes more honourable than they,” promising to promote Balaam “unto very great honour,” on condition that he would curse Israel. Balaam professed much deference to the will of God, but his heart was deceitful and covetous, and he was permitted to proceed to his own destruction. As he went on the way to meet Balak, riding on an ass, “the angel of Jehovah stood in the path”—“with a sword drawn in His hand”—“for an adversary against him,” but Balaam perceived him not. The ass on which he rode turned aside to avoid the Angel, “and Balaam's anger was kindled, and he smote her with a staff: ” —“And the Lord opened the mouth of the ass,” and she expostulated with her master, who, as says the Apostle Peter, “loved the wages of unrighteousness, and was rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb ass, speaking with man's voice, forbad the madness of the prophet:” yet, so infatuated was Balaam, that he appears to have been unconscious of the miracle, for he answered her as though her speaking to him was only a natural circumstance; and, instead of being awed by this manifestation of Jehovah's power, Balaam deliberately argued with the poor beast in a spirit of obdurate cruelty; but, when at length he beheld the Angel, he was afraid:—and although Balak “went out to meet him, unto a city of Moab which is in the border of Arnon,” he did not venture to curse the Israelites; and he said, “I have received commandment to bless, and He hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it.” In several sublime figures, Balaam apostrophized on the future greatness and glory of Israel, particularly on the “Star” that should “come out of Jacob,” and the “Sceptre” that should “rise out of Israel,” which had doubtless an immediate reference to the external throne of David; but, as many of the predictions in the Psalms and prophetical writings, which allude to the government and the conquests of the son of Jesse, have also a mystical application to the Messiah who was to come, so, this parable of Balaam, may be understood to denote the power of Him who destroys the enemies of His spiritual Israel: whose advent, as the Redeemer, was marked by the appearance of a “Star,” before unseen by the Eastern Magi, who, guided by a supernatural intelligence, followed its course, until they found the infant Jesus, to whose “Sceptre” they declared their allegiance, worshipping Him, and dedicating their offerings to Him, as the divine Person who was “born King of the Jews.”

CHAP. LII.—The Moabites induced the people of Israel to join them in worshipping their idol, Baal-peor. The Midianites also, instigated by the wicked counsel of the apostate prophet Balaam, beguiled them into a course of gross iniquity. The idolaters were slain, and a plague swept away great numbers of the people. “And the Lord commanded Moses, saying, Wex the Midianites, and smite them, for they vex you with their wiles.”—“And they warred against the Midianites;” and slew the kings of Midian; “Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword.” After these events, Moses, in a strain of solemn exhortation, rehearsed to the people, and in the ears of his servant Joshua, the mighty acts of Jehovah for the deliverance of Israel; together with the statutes which had been given unto them: and He set before them, in most striking contrast, the blessings which would be abundantly showered down upon them from above, on condition of their fulfilling the divine law; and, on the other hand, the dreadful curses which would desolate and destroy them, if they forsook the Lord their God, and rebelled against His holy commandments. The obedience which Jehovah enjoined upon them, (and which He requires of all His people to the end of time,) was not a mere outward conformity to the ordinances of a ritual covenant, but that devotion of mind, which alone is acceptable to a God of perfect purity and love: as Moses declared, “The Lord will rejoice over thee for good, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul: for this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it afar of . . . . But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayst do it.” Moses directed the attention and hopes of the Israelites to a prophet like unto himself, who was to come; and the Apostle Peter applies the prediction directly to our blessed Redeemer, who, as the Leader of the spiritual Israel, and the Lawgiver of the New Covenant, which is “established upon better promises” than that of Moses, is the glorious antitype of this servant of God. “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you, of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you; and it shall come to pass that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”—Acts iii. 22, 23. And we may understand this prophecy, as well as the typical sacrifices ordained by the law, as amongst the instructions graciously vouchsafed by Christ, when, after His resurrection, “He expounded” to the two disciples journeying to Emmaus, “the things concerning Himself,” which were to be found in “Moses and all the prophets.” In sublimely prophetical language “Moses, the man

of God, blessed the children of Israel before his death: ”

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