Deuteronomy 1:41
Then you answered and said to me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when you had girded on every man his weapons of war, you were ready to go up into the hill.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(41) We have sinned . . . we will go up and fight.—The emphatic we of this verse may be compared with the “we” of Deuteronomy 1:28. In both instances it was we, without Jehovah. It was a change from cowardice to presumption, not from unbelief to faith.

Ye were ready to go up into the hill.—Some render, Ye made light of going up.

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.Ye were ready to go up into the hill - Rather, perhaps, "ye made light of going up;" i. e. "ye were ready to attempt it as a trifling undertaking." Deuteronomy 1:43 shows the issue of this spirit in action; compare marginal references. 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. Or, ye offered yourselves, or you began, or you earnestly resolved and attempted. Then ye answered, and said unto me,.... Not being willing to go into the wilderness again, though they wished they had died in it; nor to go the way of the Red sea, which was their way back again to Egypt, though they had been for appointing a captain, and returning thither; but now they repented of what they had said and done:

we have sinned against the Lord; by murmuring against his servants, and disobeying his commands:

we will go up and fight according to all that the Lord our God hath commanded us; which is more than they were bid to do; they were only ordered to go up and possess the land, and it was promised them the Lord would fight for them:

and when ye had girded on every man his weapon; his sword upon his thigh; a large number of them, for all of them were not so disposed, though many were:

ye were ready to go unto the hill; though before backward enough, when they were bid to do it. De Dieu, from the use of the word (n) in the Arabic language, renders it, "ye reckoned it easy to go up unto the hill"; before it was accounted very difficult, by reason the passes were kept and guarded by the Amorites; but now there was no difficulty, when they were bid to go another way, but were ready at once to go up, which comes to the same sense; he further observes, that the word, in another conjugation in the same language, signifies to make light of, or despise (o); and so may be rendered, "and ye despised"; that is, rejected and despised the order given them to go into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea in the preceding verse, by their attempting to go up the hill; though the word so taken will bear another sense, agreeable to the first, that they now made a light matter of it, as if it was nothing, and there was no difficulty in it to go up the hill, which before was too hard and heavy for them.

(n) "levis et facilis fuit res", Golius, col. 2593. (o) "Contempsit", ib.

Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, {x} we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.

(x) This declares man's nature, who will do that which God forbids, and will not do that which he commands.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
41. We have sinned against the Lord] Sam. and LXX add our God: cp. JE, Numbers 14:40 b, we have sinned.

we will go up and fight] we, we Will go up, etc. We ourselves, the doomed generation, and not leave the advance to our children. JE, Behold us, we will go up.

and were forward to go up] deemed it a light thing to go up (R.V. marg.). The verb (tahînu) does not occur elsewhere in the O.T. and ancient translators gave it various meanings. In Ar. the same root is ‘to be slight’ or ‘light’ (see on Deuteronomy 1:43); the causative Heb. form is best rendered made light of. This quick revulsion of popular feeling is true to life and admirably depicted. The change was too facile to be real. It is remarkable how alike Hosea and the authors of D are in their attitude to such ethical phenomena. As Hosea declares of his generation (Deuteronomy 1:15 ff.), so the generation of Moses does not appreciate how deep is its evil disposition; and, therefore, its repentance is futile. Mere enthusiasm is no atonement for guilt. Men cannot run away from their moral unworthiness on bursts of feeling. The next verse tells that God rejected the light-minded offer; and the truth underlies both verses that He did not do so arbitrarily. Lack of the sense of the seriousness of obedience, of the difficulty of doing God’s will, of the agony which Christ supremely felt, is as great a sin as the refusal to obey. Both are equally proof of unworthiness to work with God. He can do nothing with such shallow natures.Verses 41-46. - The people, appalled at the prospect of another sojourn in the wilderness, yet still rebellious and disobedient to God's command, though professing penitence, determined, in spite of direct prohibition on the part of God by Moses, to go up and force their way into Canaan; but were punished for their presumption by being utterly defeated and put to flight by the Amorites (comp. Numbers 14:40-45). Verse 41. - We have sinned; in Numbers it is simply said that "the people mourned greatly" (bemoaned themselves, יִתְאַבְּלוּ); but this is not incompatible with the statement here that they confessed their sins; the one would naturally accompany the ether. Their confession, however, was in word only; their conduct showed that it was not sincere. In Numbers (Numbers 14:44) it is said, "They presumed to go up;" here it is said (ver. Numbers 14:41), Ye were ready to go up, rather, ye acted heedlessly with levity, or rive. lonely, to go up. The verb here (וַתָּהִינוּ) occurs only in this place, and is of doubtful signification. The Rabbins compare it with the הננו, lo we! here we be! of the people in Numbers 14:40. It is the Hiph. of הוּן, which is supposed to be the same as the Arabic , to be light, easy; and from, this the meaning, "ye went up heedlessly, is deduced. None of the ancient versions, however, give this meaning. The LXX. has συναθροισθέντες ἀνεβαίνετε εἰς τὸ ὄρος; the Vulgate, instructi armis pergeretis in montem; Onk., ושׁרתון למסק (and ye began to ascend); Syriac, (and ye incited yourselves to go up). 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.

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