39. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly.
39. Loquutus est igitur Moses verba ista omnibus filiis Israel, et luxerunt populus valde.
40. And they rose up early in the morning, and gat them up into the top of the mountain, saying, Lo, we be here, and will go up unto the place which the Lord hath promised: for we have sinned.
40. Surrexeruntque mane, et ascenderunt in verticem montis, dicendo: Ecce nos, ut ascendamus ad locum de quo loquutus est Jehova: quia peccavimus.
41. And Moses said, Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of the Lord? but it shall not prosper.
41. Et dixit Moses, Ut quid transgredimini sermonem Jehovae? Et (vel, quando) hoc non prospere cedet.
42. Go not up, for the Lord is not among you; that ye be not smitten before your enemies.
42. Ne ascendatis: quia non est Jehova in medio vestri: ne percutiamini coram inimicis vestris.
43. For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and ye shall fall by the sword: because ye are turned away from the Lord, therefore the Lord will not be with you.
43. Amalec enim et Chananaeus ibi est ante vos, et cadetis gladio. Nam propterea quod aversi estis a sequendo Jehova, neque erit Jehova vobiscum.
44. But they presumed to go up unto the hill-top: nevertheless, the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and Moses, departed not out of the camp.
44. Sumpserunt tamen animos ut ascenderent in verticem montis. Area autem foederis Jehovae et Moses non recesserunt e medio castrorum.
45. Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah.
45. Descendit itaque Amalec et Chananaeus, qui habitabant in monte illo, percusseruntque eos, et contuderunt usque Horma.
In order to restrain their temerity, Moses reminds them that they will seek in vain for success, when they depart from God's command. And this is a very useful piece of instruction, that His grace will never be wanting to us, if we simply obey His word; but when, in contempt and neglect of His precepts, we are carried away by our own feelings, the event will never be prosperous. If any should object that the wretched people had no other remedy, I have already stated, that they ought to have been contented with this consolation, viz., that banishment from the land of Canaan was not disinheritance from the hope of eternal life. Nay, if they had humbled themselves before God, they might expect that their punishment would have been a profitable help to them. By their misdirected activity they double the evil. After having pointed out their danger, Moses again impresses upon them that God is not with them, because they had deserted Him: and that His blessing was withheld, because they had refused to follow Him at the proper time.
In conclusion, Moses adds, that their foolish enterprise was punished; for they were not merely routed and put to flight by their enemies, but utterly destroyed. 2 Hence we gather, that their audacity failed them in the trial, and was deficient in true courage. At the same time he recounts another sign of their senselessness, in that they left behind the ark of God, as well as Moses, and rushed forward, like doomed persons, to be slaughtered. Hence it appears that unbelievers, when carried away by the blind impulse of their zeal, are as much destitute of reason and discretion as if they deliberately conspired for their own destruction.
1 "En laquelle les pecheurs tournent a l'entour du pot;" whereby sinners twist round the pot. -- Fr.
2 "Sed etiam contriti." -- Lat. "Discomfited them." -- A.V. The Geneva version renders the word "consumed." -- Hebr.