Verse 22. "With threescore and ten persons" - And now, from so small a beginning, they were multiplied to more than 600, 000 souls; and this indeed in the space of forty years, for the 603, 000 which came out of Egypt were at this time all dead but Moses, Joshua, and Caleb. How easily can God increase and multiply, and how easily diminish and bring low! In all things, because of his unlimited power, he can do whatsoever he will; and he will do whatsoever is right.
ON a very important subject in this chapter Dr. Kennicott has the following judicious observations:- "The book of Deuteronomy contains the several speeches made to the Israelites by Moses just before his death, recapitulating the chief circumstances of their history, from their deliverance out of Egypt to their arrival on the banks of Jordan. What in this book he has recorded as spoken will be best understood by comparing it with what he has recorded as done in the previous history; and this, which is very useful as to the other parts of this book, is absolutely necessary as to the part of the tenth chapter here to be considered.
"The previous circumstances of the history necessary to be here attended to are these: In Exodus, chap. 20., God speaks the Ten Commandments; in chap. 24. Moses, on Mount Sinai, receives the two tables, and is there forty days and nights; in chap. 25,, xxvi. , 27, God appoints the service of the tabernacle; in chap. 28. separates Aaron and his sons for the priest's office, by a statute for ever, to him and his seed after him; in chap. 30.
Moses, incensed at the golden calf, breaks the tables; yet he prays for the people, and God orders him to lead them towards Canaan; in chap. 34.
Moses carries up two other tables, and stays again forty days and nights.
In Numbers, chap. 3., the tribe of Levi is selected; chap. viii., consecrated; chap. 10. and 11. the Israelites march from Sinai on the twentieth day of the second month in the second year; in chap. 13. spies sent; in chap. 14. the men are sentenced to die in the wilderness during the forty years; in chap. 18. the Levites are to have no lot nor large district in Canaan, but to be the Lord's inheritance; in chap. 20. Aaron dies on Mount Hor; lastly, in the complete catalogue of the whole march (chap. 33.) we are told that they went from Moseroth to Bene-jaakan, thence to Hor- hagidgad, to Jotbathah, to Ebronah, to Ezion-gaber, to Zin, (which is Kadesh,) and thence to Mount Hor, where Aaron died in the fortieth and last year. In Deuteronomy, chap. 9., Moses tells the Israelites, ( ix. 7,) that they had been rebels, from Egypt even to Jordan, particularly at Horeb, ( ix. 8-29,) whilst he was with God, and received the tables at the end of forty days and nights; and that, after breaking the tables, he fasted and interceded for his brethren during a second period of forty days and nights; and this ninth chapter ends with the prayer which he then made. Chapter 10. begins thus: 'At that time the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up,' &c. And from x. 1 to the end of x. 5 he describes the second copy of the ten commandments, as written also by God, and deposited by himself in the ark.
"After this we have now four verses, (x. 6, 7,8, and 9,) which not only have no kind of connection with the verses before and after them, but also, as they stand in the present Hebrew text, directly contradict that very text; and the two first of these verses have not, in our Hebrew text, the least connection with the two last of them. Our Hebrew text, (x. 6,) says that Israel journeyed from Bene-jaakan to Mosera. Whereas that very text in the complete catalogue, (Num. xxxiii. 31,) says they journeyed from Moseroth to Bene- jaakan. Again: Aaron is here said to have died at Mosera, whereas he died on Mount Hor, the seventh station afterwards; see Num. xxxiii. 38. And again: they are here said to go from Bene-jaakan to Mosera, thence to Gudgodah, and thence to Jotbath; whereas the complete catalogue says, Moseroth to Bene-jaakan, thence to Hor-hagidgad, and thence to Jotbathah. But if the marches could possibly be true as they now stand in these two verses, yet what connection can there be between JOTBATH and the SEPARATION OF THE TRIBE OF LEVI? It is very happy that these several difficulties in the Hebrew text are removed by the SAMARITAN Pentateuch: for that text tells us here rightly that the march was from Moseroth to Bene-jaakan; to Hagidgad, to Jotbathah, to Ebronah, to Ezion-gaber, to Zin, (which is Kadesh,) and thence to Mount Hor, where Aaron died. Again: as the regular deduction of these stations ends with Mount Hor and Aaron's death, we have then what we had not before, a regular connection with the two next verses, and the connection is this: That when Aaron, the son of Amram, the son of Kohath, the son of LEVI, died, neither the tribe of Levi nor the priesthood was deserted, but God still supported the latter by maintaining the former; and this, not by allotting that tribe any one large part of Canaan, but separate cities among the other tribes, and by allowing them to live upon those offerings which were made by the other tribes to God himself. These four verses therefore, (x. 6, 7,8, and 9,) in the same text, stand thus: (x. 6,) WHEN the children of Israel journeyed from Moseroth, and encamped in Bene-jaakan; from thence they journeyed and encamped at Hagidgad; from thence they journeyed and encamped in Jotbathah, a land of rivers of water: (7) From thence they journeyed and encamped in Ebronah; in Ezion-gaber; in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh; and then at Mount Hor; And AARON DIED THERE, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his stead. (8) At that time the Lord HAD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord, to minister unto him, and to bless in his name unto this day. (9) Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, according as the Lord thy God promised him.
"But however consistent these four verses are now with themselves, it will be still demanded, What connection have they with the fifth verse before them, and with the tenth verse after them? I confess I cannot discover their least pertinency here, because AARON'S DEATH and LEVI'S SEPARATION seem totally foreign to the speech of Moses in this place. And this speech without these four verses is a regularly connected admonition from Moses to this purpose: that his brethren were for ever to consider themselves as indebted to him, under God, for the renewal of the two tables, and also to his intercession for rescuing them from destruction. The words are these: (ver. 4,) 'The Lord wrote again the ten commandments, and gave them unto me. (5) And I came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark, which I HAD made:- (10) Thus I stayed in the mount according to the first time, forty days and forty nights: and the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also; the Lord would not destroy thee. (11) And the Lord said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land,' &c. But then, if these four verses were not at first a part of this chapter, but are evidently interpolated, there arises another inquiry, Whether they are an insertion entirely spurious, or a genuine part of the sacred text, though removed hither out of some other chapter? As they contain nothing singular or peculiar, are of no particular importance, and relate to no subject of disputation, they are not likely to have arisen from fraud or design; but, perfectly coinciding in sense with other passages, they may safely be considered as another instance of a large transposition [86 words] in the present text, arising from accident and want of care. And the only remaining question therefore is, Whether we can discover, though not to demonstration, yet with any considerable degree of probability, the original place of these four verses, that so they may be at last restored to that neighbourhood and connection from which they have been, for so many ages, separated? "It was natural for Moses, in the course of these several speeches to his brethren in Deuteronomy, to embrace the first opportunity of impressing on their memories a matter of such particular importance as the continuation of the priesthood among the Levites after Aaron's death. And the first proper place seems to be in the second chapter, after the first verse. At chap. i. 19, he speaks of their march from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, whence they sent the spies into Canaan. He then sets forth their murmurings, and God's sentence that they should die in the wilderness, and he ends the first chapter with their being defeated by the Amorites, their weeping before the Lord, and abiding many days in KADESH, which is KADESH-BARNEA, near Canaan.
"Chap. 2. begins thus: Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spake unto me: and WE COMPASSED MOUNT SEIR MANY DAYS. Now, the many days, or long time, which they spent in compassing Mount Seir, that is, going round on the south-west coasts of Edom in order to proceed north-east from Edom through Moab to Arnon, must include several of their stations, besides that eminent one at Mount Hor, where Aaron died. And as part of their road, during this long compass, lay through Ezion- gaber, (which was on the eastern tongue of the Red Sea, and the south boundary of Edom,) thence to Zin, (which is KADESH, that is, MERIBAH KADESH,) and thence to Mount Hor, as they marched to the north-east; so it is probable that the five stations preceding that of Ezion-gaber were on the extremity of Mount Seir, to the south-west. And if their first station at entering the south-west borders of Edom, and beginning to compass Mount Seir, was Moseroth, this gives the reason wanted why Moses begins this passage at Moseroth, and ends it with Aaron's death at Mount Hor. And this will discover a proper connection between the four dislocated verses and the context here. - chap. i. xl6: 'So ye abode in Kadesh (Barnea) many days.' Chap. ii. 1: 'Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spake unto me; and WE COMPASSED MOUNT SEIR MANY DAYS.' "'For the children of Israel journeyed from Moseroth, and pitched in Bene-jaakan: from thence they journeyed and pitched in Hagidgad: from thence they journeyed and pitched in Jotbathah, a land of rivers of water: from thence they journeyed and pitched in Ebronah: from thence they journeyed and pitched in Ezion-gaber: from thence they journeyed and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh: from thence they journeyed and pitched in Mount Hor, and Aaron died there, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered as priest in his stead. At that time the Lord had separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto him, and to bless in his name unto this day. Wherefore, Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, according as the Lord thy God promised him.' "And this paragraph being thus inserted at the end of the first verse, the second begins a new paragraph, thus: And the Lord spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough; turn you northward-through the east side of Seir (or Edom) towards Moab on the north. See ver. 4-8." - Kennicott's Remarks, p. 74.
These remarks should not be hastily rejected.