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Exodus 15:22-27

22. So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea; and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.

22. Et eduxit Moses Israelem e mari Suph: et egressi sunt in desertum Sur: ac quum perrexissent tribus diebus per desertum, non reperiebant aquas.

23. And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.

23. Post venerunt in Marah, nec poterant bibere aquas e Marah: quia amarae erant: ideo vocatum est nomen ejus Marah.

24. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?

24. Et populus murmurantes contra Mosen, dixerunt, Quid bibemus?

25. And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,

25. Tunc clamavit ad Jehovam: et indicavit illi Jehova lignum, quod projecit in aquas: et dulces redditae sunt aquae. Ibi posuit ei statutum et judicium, ibique tentavit eum.

26. And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.

26. Et dixit, Si obediendo obedieris voci Jehovae Dei tui, et quod rectum est in oculis ejus feceris et auscultaveris praeceptis ejus, custodierisque omnia statuta ejus, universum languorem quem posui in AEgypto non ponam super te: quia ego Jehova sanans te.

27. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm-trees: and they encamped there by the waters.

27. Venerunt autem in Elim, ubi erant duodecim fontes aquarum, et; septuaginta palmae: et manserunt ibi juxta aquas.

22. So Moses brought. Moses now relates that, from the time, of their passage through the sea, they had been suffering for three days from the want of water, that the first they discovered was bitter, and that thence the name was given to the place. This was indeed no light temptation, to suffer thirst for three days in a dry land, and nowhere to meet with relief or remedy. No wonder, then, that they should have groaned with anxiety; but grief, when it is full of contumacy, deserves no pardon. In such an emergency, they should have directed their prayers to God; whereas they not only neglected to pray, but violently assailed Moses, and demanded of him the drink which they knew could only be given them by God. But because they had not yet learnt to trust in Him, they fly not to Him for aid, except by imperiously commanding Him, in the person of His servant, to obey their wishes; for this interrogation, “What shall we drink?” is as much as to say, “Arrange with God to supply us with drink.” But they do not directly address God, of whose assistance they feel that they have need, because unbelief is ever proud.

25. And he cried. Hence we gather that Moses alone duly prayed when the people tumultuously rose against him, and that they who were not worthy of the common air itself were abundantly supplied with sweet water. Herein shone forth the inestimable mercy of God, who deigned to change the nature of the water for the purpose of supplying such wicked, and rebellious, and ungrateful men. He might have given them sweet water to drink at first, but He wished by the bitter to make prominent the bitterness which lurked in their hearts. He might, too, have corrected by His mere will the evil in the waters, so that they should have grown sweet spontaneously. It is not certain why He preferred to apply the tree, except to reprove their foolish impiety by showing that He has many remedies in His power for every evil. A question also arises as to the tree, whether it inherently possessed the property which it there exercised. But although probable arguments may be adduced on both sides, I rather incline to the opinion that there was indeed a natural power concealed in the tree, and yet that the taste of the water was miraculously corrected; because it would have been difficult so speedily to collect a sufficient quantity of the tree for purifying a river; for 600,000 men, together with their wives and children and cattle, would not have been contented with a little streamlet. But I am led by no trifling reason to think that this property was previously existing in the tree; because it is plain that a particular species was pointed out to Moses, yet does not that prevent us from believing that a greater efficacy than usual was imparted to it, so that the waters should be immediately sweetened by its being put into them. What follows in the second part of the verse admits of a double signification, viz., either that, whereas God had there ordained a statute, yet that He was tempted by the people; or, because God was tempted by the people, therefore He had ordained the statute. If the first sense be preferred, their crime will be augmented by the comparison; for the impiety of the people was all the worse because, being taught by the voice of God, yet in the very same place they gave the reins to their rebellious spirit. But I rather embrace the latter sense, viz., that God chastised the sin of the people by whom He had been tempted. It was in fact a kind of tempting of God, because they not only doubtingly inquired who should give them water, but in these words manifested their despair. But because in the same context it is said, “there he made for them a statute, and there he tempted (or proved) them,” the name of God appears to be the subject in both clauses, and it is predicated of the people that they received the ordinance and were proved. Thus the meaning will be, that after God had tried His people, by the want of water, He at the same time admonished them by His word, that hereafter they should submit themselves more teachably and obediently to His commands.

26. If thou wilt diligently hearken. Moses now unfolds what was the statute or ordinance which God promulgated. For here the reference is not to the whole law which was afterwards given on mount Sinai, but to the special admonition which served to chastise the wickedness of the people. The sum of it is, that if the Israelites were tractable and, obedient to God, He on the other hand would be kind and. bountiful to them. And it is an implied rebuke, that they might know whatever troubles they experienced, to be brought upon them by their sins. He proposes the Egyptians to them as an example, whose rebellion they had seen punished by God with such severe and heavy calamities. “I am the Lord that healeth thee,” is immediately added in confirmation, as if he had said, that the Israelites were liable to the same plagues which had been inflicted on the Egyptians, and were only exempt from them because God performed the office of a healer. And truly whatsoever diseases afflict the human race, we may see in them, as in so many mirrors, our own miseries, that we may perceive that there is no health in us, except in so far as God spares us. We are also taught in this verse that this is the rule of a good life, when we obey God’s voice and study to please Him. But because the will of God was soon after to be proclaimed in the law, He expressly commands them to “give ear to His commandments, and to keep His statutes.”170170     “Je ne m’arreste point aux mots Hebrieux, pource que je ne voy pas qu’il en soit besoin pour les gens de nostre langue;” I do not stay to speak of the Hebrew words, because I do not see that it is necessary for those of our language. — Fr. I know not whether there is any force in the opinion of some who distinguish the word חקים, chokim, (which it is usual to translate “statutes,”) from precepts, as if they were mere declarations of His pleasure to which no reason is attached. Let it suffice that God’s law is commended under many names, to take away all pretext of ignorance.

27. And they came to Elim. Moses here relates that a more pleasant station was granted to the people, when they were led to a well-watered spot, even planted with palm-trees, which do not usually grow in a dry soil. But we learn from what precedes, that this was a concession to their infirmity, because they had borne their thirst so impatiently.


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