Numbers 20:19
And the children of Israel said to him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of your water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing anything else, go through on my feet.
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(19) I will only, without doing anything else . . . —Literally, Onlyit is nothinglet me pass through on my feet.

20:14-21 The nearest way to Canaan from the place where Israel encamped, was through the country of Edom. The ambassadors who were sent returned with a denial. The Edomites feared to receive damage by the Israelites. And had this numerous army been under any other discipline than that of the righteous God himself, there might have been cause for this jealousy. But Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing; and now the hatred revived, when the blessing was about to be inherited. We must not think it strange, if reasonable requests be denied by unreasonable men, and if those whom God favours be affronted by men.An angel - See Genesis 12:7, note; Exodus 3:2, note. The term is to be understood as importing generally the supernatural guidance under which Israel was. 19. if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it—From the scarcity of water in the warm climates of the East, the practice of levying a tax for the use of the wells is universal; and the jealousy of the natives, in guarding the collected treasures of rain, is often so great that water cannot be procured for money. Children of Israel said unto him, i.e. their messengers replied unto them what here follows.

I will pay for it; for water was a scarce commodity in those parts. And the children of Israel said unto him,.... The messengers sent by the children of Israel made answer to the king of Edom:

we will go by the highway; we desire no other favour but that of the public road; we propose not to go through any part of the country that is enclosed and cultivated, to do any damage to it:

if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it; as it was usual, and still is, to buy water in those countries near the Red sea, where it is scarce. We are told (d), that at Suess, a city on the extremity of the Red sea, there is no water nearer than six or seven hours journey towards the north east, which is brought from thence on camels; and a small vessel of it is sold for three or four medinas, and a larger vessel for eight or ten, according to the demand for it; a medina is an Egyptian piece of money, worth about three halfpence of our English money:

I will only (without doing anything else) go through on my feet; as fast as I can, without saying anything to the inhabitants to terrify and distress them, and without doing them any injury. Some render it, I will only go "with my footmen" (e); foot soldiers, an army on foot, as Israel were.

(d) See a Journal from Cairo to Mount Sinai, p. 10, 11. Ed. 2.((e) "cum meo exercitu pedestri"; so some in Fagius & Vatablus.

And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high way: and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only, without doing anything else, go through on my feet.
19. without doing anything else] lit. ‘it is not a matter’; i.e. it is not a matter that can cause you any injury or annoyance; it is a mere nothing that we ask.Verse 19. - And the children of Israel said, i.e., probably, the messengers sent by Moses. By the highway. בַּמְסִלָּה. The Septuagint translates παρὰ τὸ ὄρος, but no doubt the word means a "high road" in the original sense of a raised causeway (cf. Isaiah 57:14). Such a road is still called Derb es Sultan - Emperor-road. I will only, without doing anything else, go through on my feet. Rather, "It is nothing;" (רַק אֵין־דָּבָר. Septuagint, ἀλλὰ τὸ πρᾶγμα οὐδέν ἐστι) "I will go through on my feet." They meant, "We do not ask for anything of value, only leave to pass through." The account closes with the words, "This is the water of strife, about which the children of Israel strove with Jehovah, and He sanctified Himself on them." This does not imply that the scene of this occurrence received the name of "strife-water," but simply that the water which God brought out of the rock for the Israelites received that name. But God sanctified Himself on them, by the fact that, on the one hand, He put their unbelief to shame by the miraculous gift of water, and on the other hand punished Moses and Aaron for the weakness of their faith.

(Note: The assumption of neological critics, that this occurrence is identical with the similar one at Rephidim (Exodus 17), and that this is only another saga based upon the same event, has no firm ground whatever. The want of water in the arid desert is a fact so constantly attested by travellers, that it would be a matter of great surprise if Israel had only experienced this want, and quarrelled with its God and its leaders, once in the course of forty years. As early as Exodus 15:22. the people murmured because of the want of drinkable water, and the bitter water was turned into sweet; and immediately after the event before us, it gave utterance to the complaint again, "We have no bread and no water" (Numbers 21:4-5). But if the want remained the same, the relief of that want would necessarily be repeated in the same or a similar manner. Moreover, the occurrences at Rephidim (or Massah-Meribah) and at Kadesh are altogether different from each other. In Rephidim, God gave the people water out of the rock, and the murmuring of the people was stayed. In Kadesh, God no doubt relieved the distress in the same way; but the mediators of His mercy, Moses and Aaron, sinned at the time, so that God sanctified Himself upon them by a judgment, because they had not sanctified Him before the congregation. (See Hengstenberg, Dissertations, vol. ii.))

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