And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Numbers 20:23. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron — So these two dear brothers must part! Aaron must die first; but Moses is not likely to be long after him. So that it is only for a while, a little while, that they are separated.
by the coast of the land of Edom; which they were still upon the borders of, and were going round it, not being permitted to go through it:And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 23. - By the coast of the land of Edom. Mount Her was on the eastern side of the Arabah, which at this point certainly formed the frontier of Edom; but it was no doubt untenanted, owing to its bare and precipitous character, and therefore was not reckoned as the property of Edom. We may suppose that at this time the encampment stretched along the Arabah in front of the mountain (see on Numbers 33:30; Deuteronomy 10:6). Numbers 20:14-16).
(Note: We learn from Judges 11:17, that Israel sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Moab also, and with a similar commission, and that he also refused to grant the request for an unimpeded passage through his land. This message is passed over in silence here, because the refusal of the Moabites had no influence upon the further progress of the Israelites. "For if they could not pass through Edom, the permission of the Moabites would not help them at all. It was only eventualiter that they sought this permission." - Hengstenberg, Diss.)
By the "angel" who led Israel out of Egypt we are naturally to understand not the pillar of cloud and fire (Knobel), but the angel of the Lord, the visible revealer of the invisible God, whom the messengers describe indefinitely as "an angel," when addressing the Edomites. Kadesh is represented in Numbers 20:16 as a city on the border of the Edomitish territory. The reference is to Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 32:8; Numbers 34:4; Deuteronomy 1:2, Deuteronomy 1:19; Deuteronomy 2:14; Deuteronomy 9:23; Joshua 10:41; Joshua 14:6-7; Joshua 15:3). This city was no doubt situated quite in the neighbourhood of Ain Kudes, the well of Kadesh, discovered by Rowland. This well was called En-mishpat, the fountain of judgment, in Abraham's time (Genesis 14:7); and the name Kadesh occurs first of all on the first arrival of the Israelites in that region, in the account of the events which took place there, as being the central point of the place of encampment, the "desert of Paran," or "desert of Zin" (cf. Numbers 13:26 with Numbers 13:21, and Numbers 12:16). And even on the second arrival of the congregation in that locality, it is not mentioned till after the desert of Zin (Numbers 20:1); whilst the full name Kadesh-Barnea is used by Moses for the first time in Numbers 32:8, when reminding the people of those mournful occurrences in Kadesh in Numbers 13 and 14. The conjecture is therefore a very natural one, that the place in question received the name of Kadesh first of all from that tragical occurrence (Numbers 14), or possibly from the murmuring of the congregation on account of the want of water, which led Moses and Aaron to sin, so that the Lord sanctified (יקדּשׁ) Himself upon them by a judgment, because they had not sanctified Him before the children of Israel (Numbers 20:12 and Numbers 20:13); that Barnea was the older or original name of the town, which was situated in the neighbourhood of the "water of strife," and that this name was afterwards united with Kadesh, and formed into a composite noun. If this conjecture is a correct one, the name Kadesh is used proleptically, not only in Genesis 14:7, as a more precise definition of En-Mishpat, but also in Genesis 16:14; Genesis 20:1; and Numbers 13:26, and Numbers 20:1; and there is no lack of analogies for this. It is in this too that we are probably to seek for an explanation of the fact, that in the list of stations in Numbers 33 the name Kadesh does not occur in connection with the first arrival of the congregation in the desert of Zin, but only in connection with their second arrival (v. 36), and that the place of encampment on their first arrival is called Rithmah, and not Barnea, because the headquarters of the camp were in the Wady Retemath, not at the town of Barnea, which was farther on in the desert of Zin. The expression "town of the end of thy territory" is not to be understood as signifying that the town belonged to the Edomites, but simply affirms that it was situated on the border of the Edomitish territory. The supposition that Barnea was an Edomitish town is opposed by the circumstance that, in Numbers 34:4, and Joshua 15:3, it is reckoned as part of the land of Canaan; that in Joshua 10:41 it is mentioned as the southernmost town, where Joshua smote the Canaanites and conquered their land; and lastly, that in Joshua 15:23 it is probably classed among the towns allotted to the tribe of Judah, from which it seems to follow that it must have belonged to the Amorites. "The end of the territory" of the king of Edom is to be distinguished from "the territory of the land of Edom" in Numbers 20:23. The land of Edom extended westwards only as far as the Arabah, the low-lying plain, which runs from the southern point of the Dead Sea to the head of the Elanitic Gulf. At that time, however, the Edomites had spread out beyond the Arabah, and taken possession of a portion of the desert of Paran belonging to the peninsula of Sinai, which was bounded on the north by the desert of Zin (see at Numbers 34:3). By their not drinking of the water of the wells (Numbers 20:17), we are to understand, according to Numbers 20:19, their not making use of the wells of the Edomites either by violence or without compensation. The "king's way" is the public high road, which was probably made at the cost of the state, and kept up for the king and his armies to travel upon, and is synonymous with the "sultan-road" (Derb es Sultan) or "emperor road," as the open, broad, old military roads are still called in the East (cf. Robinson, Pal. ii. 340; Seetzen, i. pp. 61, 132, ii. pp. 336, etc.).
This military road led, no doubt, as Leake has conjectured (Burckhardt, Syr. pp. 21, 22), through the broad Wady el Ghuweir, which not only forms a direct and easy passage to the level country through the very steep mountains that fall down into the Arabah, but also a convenient road through the land of Edom (Robinson, ii. pp. 552, 583, 610), and is celebrated for its splendid meadows, which are traceable to its many springs (Burckhardt, pp. 688, 689); for the broad Wady Murreh runs from the northern border of the mountain-land of Azazimeh, not only as far as the mountain of Moddera (Madurah), where it is divided, but in its southern half as far as the Arabah. This is very likely the "great route through broad wadys," which the Bedouins who accompanied Rowland assured him "was very good, and led direct to Mount Hor, but with which no European traveller was acquainted" (Ritter's Erdk. xiv. p. 1088). It probably opens into the Arabah at the Wady el Weibeh, opposite to the Wady Ghuweir.
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