Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Numbers 33:1-49The journey from Egypt to the steppes of Moab
This itinerary includes some places mentioned elsewhere only in J E and others mentioned only in P ; and it is probable that it was compiled by someone who had both P and J E before him. It must therefore belong to a late stage of P .
The itinerary may be divided into three sections. The first section (Numbers 33:5-15) contains the journey from Raamses in Egypt to the Wilderness of Sinai, which is related in Exodus 12:37 to Exodus 19:2; two of the names, however, Dophkah and Alush, are not mentioned in Exod. The route appears to have run not to the south of the Sinaitic peninsula, according to the ordinary view which is represented on most modern maps, but straight across the desert (the route still followed by pilgrims to Mecca) from the frontier of Egypt at the north of the western arm of the Red Sea to Elim (Numbers 33:9) at the northern point of the eastern arm, the Gulf of Aḳaba; and thence to the Wilderness of Sinai in the region of Ḳadesh. See note on Numbers 10:30.
The second section (Numbers 33:16-36) consists of places visited between the Wilderness of Sinai and the Wilderness of Ẓin (= Ḳadesh), via Ezion-geber which was close to Elim or Eloth on the Gulf of Aḳaba (1 Kings 9:26). This is probably a summary of the forty years’ wanderings. The Wilderness of Sinai, if not the same as the Wilderness of Ẓin, is a closely adjacent region; and the names do not represent successive stages of one day’s march each, but are the names of places, all comparatively near to one another, at which the Israelites encamped for a longer or shorter time. At some of them they must have settled for years. (See prelim. note on ch. 20.)
The third section (Numbers 33:37-49) contains the march, after the forty years were expired, straight to the borders of Moab, nothing being said of the circuit via the Gulf of Aḳaba to avoid the Edomites. (See note on Numbers 21:10-11.)
Very few of the names have been identified with any certainty, but the general route is clear from the mention of a few well-known places, such as Ezion-geber, at the northern extremity of the eastern arm of the Red Sea, Ḳadesh, in the desert to the S. of Judah, Dibon-Gad, the same as Dibon (see on Numbers 21:30), Nebo, a few miles S. of Heshbon, the mountains of the Abarim (see on Numbers 21:11), and the steppes of Moab.
These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.
And Moses wrote their goings out according to their journeys by the commandment of the LORD: and these are their journeys according to their goings out.
And they departed from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month; on the morrow after the passover the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians.
For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.
And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth.
And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness.
And they removed from Etham, and turned again unto Pihahiroth, which is before Baalzephon: and they pitched before Migdol.
And they departed from before Pihahiroth, and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, and went three days' journey in the wilderness of Etham, and pitched in Marah.
And they removed from Marah, and came unto Elim: and in Elim were twelve fountains of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they pitched there.
And they removed from Elim, and encamped by the Red sea.
And they removed from the Red sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin.
And they took their journey out of the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah.
And they departed from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush.
And they removed from Alush, and encamped at Rephidim, where was no water for the people to drink.
And they departed from Rephidim, and pitched in the wilderness of Sinai.
And they removed from the desert of Sinai, and pitched at Kibrothhattaavah.
And they departed from Kibrothhattaavah, and encamped at Hazeroth.
And they departed from Hazeroth, and pitched in Rithmah.
And they departed from Rithmah, and pitched at Rimmonparez.
And they departed from Rimmonparez, and pitched in Libnah.
And they removed from Libnah, and pitched at Rissah.
And they journeyed from Rissah, and pitched in Kehelathah.
And they went from Kehelathah, and pitched in mount Shapher.
And they removed from mount Shapher, and encamped in Haradah.
And they removed from Haradah, and pitched in Makheloth.
And they removed from Makheloth, and encamped at Tahath.
And they departed from Tahath, and pitched at Tarah.
And they removed from Tarah, and pitched in Mithcah.
And they went from Mithcah, and pitched in Hashmonah.
And they departed from Hashmonah, and encamped at Moseroth.
And they departed from Moseroth, and pitched in Benejaakan.
And they removed from Benejaakan, and encamped at Horhagidgad.
And they went from Horhagidgad, and pitched in Jotbathah.
And they removed from Jotbathah, and encamped at Ebronah.
And they departed from Ebronah, and encamped at Eziongaber.
And they removed from Eziongaber, and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.
And they removed from Kadesh, and pitched in mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom.
And Aaron the priest went up into mount Hor at the commandment of the LORD, and died there, in the fortieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first day of the fifth month.38. See on Numbers 20:22.
And Aaron was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor.39. Aaron’s age is calculated by adding forty years to his age at the Exodus (Exodus 7:7).
And king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel.40. A fragmentary statement strangely inserted, perhaps originally as a marginal note by a scribe. See on Numbers 21:1-3.
And they departed from mount Hor, and pitched in Zalmonah.
And they departed from Zalmonah, and pitched in Punon.
And they departed from Punon, and pitched in Oboth.
And they departed from Oboth, and pitched in Ijeabarim, in the border of Moab.
And they departed from Iim, and pitched in Dibongad.
And they removed from Dibongad, and encamped in Almondiblathaim.
And they removed from Almondiblathaim, and pitched in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo.
And they departed from the mountains of Abarim, and pitched in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.
And they pitched by Jordan, from Bethjesimoth even unto Abelshittim in the plains of Moab.
And the LORD spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,50–56. Commands with regard to the settlement in Canaan. With the exception of Numbers 33:54 the passage is derived from D . In it is enjoined the destruction of the Canaanite objects of worship, a command which is peculiarly characteristic of Deuteronomic portions of the Pentateuch; cf. Exodus 23:24; Exodus 23:31-33; Exodus 34:11-16, Deuteronomy 7:1-6; Deuteronomy 12:2 f. On the other hand Numbers 33:54 is an insertion by a writer of the P school. It deals with the division of the land by lot, and is expressed in the language and redundant style of P . It should be compared with Numbers 26:52-56.
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:52. ye shall drive out] ye shall dispossess. The word הוֹריש in this sense is very frequent in Deut.
their figured stones] The literal meaning of the word seems to be ‘something to be looked at.’ It denotes the carved figures and symbols used in Canaanite idolatrous worship. Cf. Leviticus 26:1, Ezekiel 8:12.
their high places] The Hebrews learnt from the Canaanites the practice of erecting altars and sanctuaries on hills and natural mounds, to which the technical term bâmôth was applied. But the word seems to have acquired a more general force, and to have been used for any sanctuaries, even in valleys and by the gates of cities (cf. Jeremiah 7:31, 2 Kings 23:8). In the present passage the word cannot refer to hills, for the Israelites are bidden to ‘demolish them.’ Some think that the bâmôth of later times may have been small artificial mounds, to represent the hills of the ancient worship; but there is no certain evidence of this.
And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.
And ye shall divide the land by lot for an inheritance among your families: and to the more ye shall give the more inheritance, and to the fewer ye shall give the less inheritance: every man's inheritance shall be in the place where his lot falleth; according to the tribes of your fathers ye shall inherit.54. falleth to any man] The lots would not be cast for individuals, but, as the last sentence of the verse shews, for whole tribes, or at most for clans. The Heb. is obscurely expressed, but it may be rendered wheresoever the lot goeth forth for each, to that one shall it belong.
But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.55. as pricks in your eyes, and as thorns in your sides] Cf. Joshua 23:13, Ezekiel 28:24, and perhaps Jdg 2:3.
Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.