Numbers Chapter 33

The children of Israel were led by the hand of the Lord from Egypt towards Canaan, which was the promised land of their fathers. It took them the better part of 50 years to make this journey, mostly due to their rebellious and disobedient nature. This chapter begins with a review of the journey they took.

Israel’s Exodus from Egypt and Entry into Canaan (Bible Map 2)

1 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.
2 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.
3 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.
4 For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the Lord had smitten among them: upon their gods also the Lord executed judgments.
5 And the children of Israel removed from Rameses, and pitched in Succoth.
6 And they departed from Succoth, and pitched in Etham, which is in the edge of the wilderness.
7 And they removed from Etham, and turned again unto Pi-hahiroth, which is before Baal-zephon: and they pitched before Migdol.
8 And they departed from before Pi-hahiroth, 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.
9 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.
10 And they removed from Elim, and encamped by the Red sea.
11 And they removed from the Red sea, and encamped in the wilderness of Sin.
12 And they took their journey out of the wilderness of Sin, and encamped in Dophkah.
13 And they departed from Dophkah, and encamped in Alush.
14 And they removed from Alush, and encamped at Rephidim, where was no water for the people to drink.
15 And they departed from Rephidim, and pitched in the wilderness of Sinai.
16 And they removed from the desert of Sinai, and pitched at Kibroth-hattaavah.
17 And they departed from Kibroth-hattaavah, and encamped at Hazeroth.
18 And they departed from Hazeroth, and pitched in Rithmah.
19 And they departed from Rithmah, and pitched at Rimmon-parez.
20 And they departed from Rimmon-parez, and pitched in Libnah.
21 And they removed from Libnah, and pitched at Rissah.
22 And they journeyed from Rissah, and pitched in Kehelathah.
23 And they went from Kehelathah, and pitched in mount Shapher.
24 And they removed from mount Shapher, and encamped in Haradah.
25 And they removed from Haradah, and pitched in Makheloth.
26 And they removed from Makheloth, and encamped at Tahath.
27 And they departed from Tahath, and pitched at Tarah.
28 And they removed from Tarah, and pitched in Mithcah.
29 And they went from Mithcah, and pitched in Hashmonah.
30 And they departed from Hashmonah, and encamped at Moseroth.
31 And they departed from Moseroth, and pitched in Bene-jaakan.
32 And they removed from Bene-jaakan, and encamped at Hor-hagidgad.
33 And they went from Hor-hagidgad, and pitched in Jotbathah.
34 And they removed from Jotbathah, and encamped at Ebronah.
35 And they departed from Ebronah, and encamped at Ezion-gaber.
36 And they removed from Ezion-gaber, and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh.
37 And they removed from Kadesh, and pitched in mount Hor, in the edge of the land of Edom.
38 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.
39 And Aaron was an hundred and twenty and three years old when he died in mount Hor.
40 And king Arad the Canaanite, which dwelt in the south in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the children of Israel.
41 And they departed from mount Hor, and pitched in Zalmonah.
42 And they departed from Zalmonah, and pitched in Punon.
43 And they departed from Punon, and pitched in Oboth.
44 And they departed from Oboth, and pitched in Ije-abarim, in the border of Moab.
45 And they departed from Iim, and pitched in Dibon-gad.
46 And they removed from Dibon-gad, and encamped in Almon-diblathaim.
47 And they removed from Almon-diblathaim, and pitched in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo.
48 And they departed from the mountains of Abarim, and pitched in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.
49 And they pitched by Jordan, from Beth-jesimoth even unto Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.

I can’t help but add some additional things to this review. The Israelites left Egypt, more specifically the land of Rameses, the day following the first passover, and camped in a place called Succoth. They followed the cloud of the Lord, which led them each day, and camped in Etham, Migdol, and then escaped Pharoah’s army by crossing over the dry land of the Red Sea. They traveled to Marah, where the waters were bitter and they could not drink anything. There Moses showed them the power of the Lord when he turned the water sweet and they were able to drink. They traveled next to Elim, and then they left the area of the Red Sea and went on to the wilderness of Sin. Here they complained about the lack of food and the Lord began to give them manna from heaven. From there, they traveled to Dophkah, Alush, and Rephidim, where there was no water, so the Lord opened the rock in Horeb and provided water for the people. They also fought and won against Amalek, because the Lord provided His strength through Moses holding his arms up to heaven. From there, they took their journey into the wilderness of Sinai. This is where the Lord revealed the commandments and many other great and wonderful things to Moses, such as the instructions for the building of the tabernacle. The people made covenants with the Lord, but then returned to idolatry in the Moses’ absence.

When the children of Israel left Sinai, they headed into the wilderness of Paran, camping in Kibroth-hattaavah. This is where they complained for want of something else to eat and they were given quail and a plague, which brought death to those who lusted after the meat. Next, they encamped in Hazeroth, where Miriam and Aaron desired to have the same power that Moses had been given. Miriam was cursed with leprosy for seven days and afterward, the Israelites journeyed to Rithmah. At Rithmah, Moses sent spies into Hebron in Canaan, and of those who went, only Caleb brought back a report and desire to go in and take the land. All the people murmured, except for Caleb and Joshua, and for this, the rest of the adults were promised that they would not enter the land of promise. The rebels among them were destroyed and this is where the forty years of wandering begins.

The Israelites headed back into the wilderness and camped in Rimmon-parez, Libnah, Rissah, Kehelathah, mount Shapher, Haradah, Makheloth, Tahath, Tarah, Mithcah, Hashmonah, Moseroth, Bene-jaakan, Hor-hagidgad, Jotbathah, Ebronah, Ezion-gaber, and then Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin. As they wandered, there was more rebellion against Moses and the Lord, the rebels were destroyed, and many miracles were performed by the power of God. Kadesh (Meribah) was where Miriam died and where Moses and Aaron sinned against the Lord in taking claim to bringing forth water from the rock. The Israelites tried to go through the land of Edom, but were refused by it’s leader. Instead, they left Kadesh and traveled around the land, headed for mount Hor, where Aaron died, a little more than forty years after they left Egypt. Eleazar, his son, became the high priest in his stead. At this point, Arad, the Canaanite king, became aware of the Israelites heading their way. When the Israelites left mount Hor, they passed through Arad’s land and after he fought them and took some of the Israelites captive, they were blessed with the Lord’s hand in battle against the people of Arad in Hormah. As they traveled from mount Hor, they had the experience with the plague of fiery serpents, because they complained about the manna of the Lord again. They continued on camping in Zalmonah, Punon, Oboth, Ije-abarim (Iim), Dibon-gad, and Almon-diblathaim. Amid these places, the Israelites had to fight some of the inhabitants of the land. With the Lord on their side, they were able to destroy their enemies and take the lands. Next, they camped in the Abarim mountains near mount Nebo.

The final stop on the Israelite journey so far, was in the plains of Moab on the eastern side of the Jordan, across the river from the city of Jericho. Here some returned to idolatry, were tempted by the Midianite women, and experienced a plaque among them. By this time, those who had been promised not to see the promised land, had died. Only Moses, who would see the promised land, but not enter it, was remaining. Moses was called into mount Nebo, where the Lord told him, he was to be taken from the people, and Joshua was called to be his successor in leading the Israelites. Before he was to leave them, the people were commanded to destroy the Midianites. Then, the tribes of Reuben, Gad and part of Manasseh, took their inheritance in the land where they were camped.

50 And the Lord spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying,
51 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
52 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:
53 And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.
54 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.
55 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.
56 Moreover it shall come to pass, that I shall do unto you, as I thought to do unto them.

Moses was told to command the people that when they crossed the Jordan, they were to drive the inhabitants out of the land. They were to destroy all of their idols, temples or shrines, and other things the people in the land worshipped. This was to be the land of their possession, the promised land which was given to their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were to divide the land as their inheritances with larger portions going to the larger tribes or families. The Lord told them that, if they were to leave any of the inhabitants, they would vex the Israelites and the Lord would treat the children of Israel as the other people would be treated. This is something the Lord does with the willingly rebellious. He removes His hand of protection and guidance and allows the world to do what it will, which usually means some kind of affliction or torment. Then, if they return and repent, he draws them into his protecting arms and blesses them for righteousness.

I think of how much the children of Israel had to experience in order to escape bondage and inherit the promised land. They were tested by the Lord and tempted sorely by the adversary and his angels. Even greater still, they experienced mighty miracles beyond what I can even imagine. Many witnessed the glory of the Lord in some way or another. They watched as the power of God was used to do marvelous wonders, such as dividing the waters of the Red Sea. More than of few of them died from their choices to turn from the Lord, to choose rebellion and wickedness, to murmur against their leaders and against the Lord, and from their lack of faith in God. Still, hundreds of thousands lived to this point of the book of Numbers, when they were just about to gain the home they hoped for. I can’t quite fathom this amount of trial and hardship in life. I know that enduring each day with faith and hope in the blessings, would have been very difficult for even those with the strongest testimonies in the Lord. They must have spent a lot of time pleading for strength from the Lord. I know that if I had lived through that, as I am now, I would have been on my knees a lot.

One of the things that this chapter teaches me, is the importance of reviewing the trials of life that I’ve experienced, in order to see the hand of the Lord in my life. I wonder just how often these people thought about the daily blessing that the Lord was to them. I can say that life can draw my attention away from that very thing, and I know that it is so important. This is possibly part of the reason we should pray at the end of our days. So that we can look back, remember what we have experienced, and be grateful for the things that the Lord has done for us. I know that through this, we can gain greater strength to endure the next day. I am so grateful for the path that I am traveling on, to my own hoped for Home. I know that the Lord will be our guide each day, if we allow Him to be. He will bless us for our faithfulness and also allow us to learn from our choices of disobedience and rebellion. I know that He loves us and truly desires for us to return Home to His presence.

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