A Prayer
of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

The Promise

Chapter 2

By Edgar Jones


Chapter 1 introduced the Patriarchs of Israel and the Covenant, with its integral Promise, which God made to them beginning with Abraham. Then Isaac and Jacob successively inherited the Promise by which God granted Israel the Land of Canaan for an inheritance.  Continual blessings on Israel were also assured, but from a very early time we learned that not only was Israel to be blessed, but that the Promise was, through Israel, to extend to all the nations of the earth.

In a later announcement of the Promise to Jacob, God expanded it to include this brief phrase, and kings shall spring from you.  Finally, the aged Jacob transferred this aspect of the promise, not to all twelve sons, but to Judah alone when he spoke to Judah and blessed him and said, in the course of the blessing, "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples." ( Gen. 49:10)  It was a long story, as we are seeing, but we will learn, as we go, that this portion of the Promise points directly to Jesus of Nazareth, who has become King of kings and Lord of lords, and, as Jacob told Judah, "to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (nations)."

Now we continue the Promise trail, leaving Genesis, and tracing it through Exodus and the other books of the Pentateuch, where the person of Moses dominates every page.  Like a golden chain, the Promise links and binds together, as a single story, the history of God's faithfulness to his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in spite of the often faithlessness of the People of the Promise.  Also please be reminded that we have highlighted references to the Promise in purple.

There is a long hiatus in the record of the Promise following Jacob.  I want to give you dates corresponding to the reiterations of the Promise, but we do not know with certainty the date of any of the events related to the Promise, including the time of the Exodus and the ascendancy of Moses.  A Bible Time Line can be drawn because Genesis is faithful to tell us the ages of each of the ancient Israelites when his first son was born, and so on.  The later books of history gives precise duration of the reigns of each of the kings of Israel.  By adding up the ages given, together with the duration of the reigns of the kings, one can back track through the centuries.  By relating this to the most ancient known dates of events at the boundary between history and pre history, it is possible to estimate the times.

This process is fraught with uncertainty, inaccuracies, and contradictions in the Bible.  To give an example of the contradictions, we can easily determine the time from Abraham's entry into Canaan until the entry into Egypt of Jacob and his entourage from the ages of the patriarchs, which is 215 years.  Then we read (Exodus 12:40) that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt.  But by reference to Paul (Gal. 3:17), we are told that the time from Abraham to the giving of the Law (Moses) is also 430 years!  There is other textual evidence (Septuagint) that the 430 years stretches back to Abraham.  If so, of course, there was only 215 years from the entry into Egypt to Moses and the Exodus.  There being no way to ascertain which, if either, is correct, we are left only to say that we do not know.  That 215 years is exactly one half of 430 years suggests that the figures are suspect.  Another suspect feature of Old Testament chronology is the abnormally long life spans of the patriarchs and their predecessors.  Noah is said to have lived 950 years (Gen. 9:29).  Such figures are surely mythical.

Thus we find Abraham placed as far back as 2200 BC, the migration of Jacob and his sons to Egypt at about 1800 BC; then by allowing for the 430 years specified for the Egyptian sojourn, we come to Moses and the Exodus at about the mid Fourteenth Century BC.  Others estimate the date of Moses later, at about 1250 BC.  You can see the problem, and so we must not assign dates until we come to later periods when we can cross reference them to the reliable dates of extra biblical events from Greek and Persian secular history. 

There is one reliable feature of the Old Testament, which is the Promise that we are tracing here.  One of the best reasons for doing this is to demonstrate the great value of the Old Testament documents, not as inerrrant or historically accurate, but as faithful witnesses to the Christ.  The scriptures, Jesus said, "testify of me."  That is their value and their function, and that is what we are learning.


The Israelites in Egypt were prolific. They multiplied in numbers during their sojourn, such that, although enslaved, they became a threat to the Pharoah and the Egyptian population.  Pharoah undertook measures to check the population growth and this part of the story opens up in Exodus, Chapter 1.  Pharoah finally decreed that all Hebrew male infants must be destroyed at birth, after which Moses was born to parents of the priestly house of Levi.  You surely know the story of how Moses' mother and sister saved him by floating him in a basket on the Nile, where he was found by Pharaoh's daughter in the company of her ladies in waiting, which just happened to include the sister of Moses.  The princess of Egypt was smitten by the infant Moses and rescued him, after which Moses' sister offered to find a nurse for the babe.  The Princess agreed, and the mother of Moses became his nurse!  With sharp ancestors like this, it is not difficult to see how their line produced Albert Einstein. It was the Princess, however, who named him Moses, which is an Egyptian name.

Moses matured, then became a fugitive from Egypt at about age 40 after killing an Egyptian who was beating one of the Hebrew slaves.  He fled into the land of Midian, where he met Jethro, a priest of Midian, and married his daughter, Zipporah.  Zipporah bore him two sons, Gershom and Eliezer.  In the course of time, Pharoah died, and the people of Egypt "groaned under their bondage." (Genesis 2:23)  They cried out for help, and God heard them.  Then we come to the first reminder of the Promise in the life of Moses, for the writer of Exodus sees fit to remind us of it with these words:

[24] And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
[25] And God saw the people of Israel, and God knew their condition.

We have no record of the Promise during the period of the exile, but the fact that the Hebrews came out of Egypt yet aware of it reveals that, during the exile, they continued to remember it and to depend upon it.  They were slaves, and the encouragement that the Promise must have given them was immense.  It was a bright light in the future of a sorely depressed people.

One day, while Moses was keeping Jethro's flock, he came to Mt. Horeb, where God appeared to him in the midst of a burning bush and commissioned him to return to Egypt and deliver his people from bondage.  This commission came to a most reluctant person.  Moses uses every excuse he can conceive but the Lord God does not accept any of them.  After many convincing signs from the Lord, Moses finally pled his inarticulate speech; again, the Lord rejects this and as a last pitiful plea, Moses says,

[13] Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person.
But the Lord is not by any means going to excuse Moses.  He does, however, bring Aaron, the brother of Moses, into the picture to be his spokes person, so that Moses does not have to proceed alone. 

Shortly thereafter, the Lord informed Moses that those who had sought his life in Egypt were dead, for the king of Egypt had died.  So Moses took his wife and sons and, with the blessing of his father-in-law, Jethro, returned to Egypt to undertake his assigned task of delivering his people from bondage.  He met his brother, Aaron, coming to meet him, and the two of them went to Pharoah with the request:

[1] Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, `Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.

That was only the beginning of a long series of struggles between Moses, Aaron and Pharoah as they sought to convince Pharoah to let the people of Israel go from the Land.  All failed, until Moses, in despair, turned again piteously to the Lord and cried out,

[22] O LORD, why hast thou done evil to this people? Why didst thou ever send me?
[23] For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in thy name, he has done evil to this people, and thou hast not delivered thy people at all.

Poor Moses!  But the Lord insists, and this finally brings him to announce the Promise directly to Moses, as he had done to the Patriarchs:

[2] And God said to Moses, "I am the LORD.
[3] I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them.
[4] I also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they dwelt as sojourners.
[5] Moreover I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold in bondage and I have remembered my covenant.
[6] Say therefore to the people of Israel, `I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment,
[7] and I will take you for my people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
[8] And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; I will give it to you for a possession. I am the LORD.'

Moses returned to his assignment, but only to have Pharoah deny him every request.  There followed the many plagues, each one more deadly than the last, but still Pharaoh's heart remained hard and obstinate.  Then came the last -- a plague so terrible that even Pharoah was convinced.  It was the night of the death angel, when the life of the first born son of every family of Egypt was taken, from the household of Pharoah to that of the least among the Egyptians.  The households of the Israelites were spared because of the blood of lambs that they had applied to the lintel and the two door posts of their homes.  It was so that the death angel, seeing the blood, would pass over those homes and leave them untouched.  This was followed by instructions from the Lord to preserve this event in the memory of the people for all time by the institution of the rite of the Passover. 

Pharoah relented and released the Israelites.  Exodus informs us of their astonishing numbers, six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children!
By conservative estimate, there must have been at least two million souls in the vast entourage (Exod. 12:37)  We are at liberty to question this number of millions of persons who entered the wilderness that day.

But Pharoah relented when he saw such a vast quantity of his slaves marching out from the land.  Not only so, but the private Egyptians, seeing the favor of the Lord to the children of Israel during the plagues, gave them many of their possessions, including gold and silver.  It was too much for Pharoah, who then relented and sent his army in hot pursuit.  The Israelites found themselves trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea, but God parted the waters so that they passed across dry shod.  The army of Pharoah, pressing hard on their heels, also attempted to cross.  Bad move; the moment the last of the Israelites passed through, God released the waters, which rushed together and drowned the entire army!

You can read of their continuing adventures during the beginning of their forty year journey through the wilderness, always seeking to return to Canaan and claim the Promised Land.  On the third new moon after the people had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, they came into the wilderness of Sinai and encamped before the mountain.  Then the Lord spoke to Moses and said,

3] And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel:
    [4] You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself.
    [5] Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine,
    [6] and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."
Here is one more link in the golden chain of the Promise.  This time, God raises the Promise from one of simply inheriting the Land of Canaan and adds that the nation will become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.  This reminds us again of the prospect of a king and a kingdom, and most specifically it is to be a kingdom of God, for it carries with it the promise that this kingdom is to be a holy nation.  Holy means hallowed and reserved exclusively for God.

There is one other element that has slipped in here, easy to overlook but nevertheless absolutely vital to understanding the subsequent history of this people.  Here, for the first time, the Promise becomes conditional.  In all the prior expressions, it is stated so as to be seen as absolutely sure and without conditions.  But now, God has attached a condition:

. . . if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant . . ..

You can read, in the Book of Exodus, of the many adventures that came to them in the wilderness, of the delivery of the Ten Commandments and other ordinances to Moses, of his meeting with the Lord on the holy mountain to receive the tables of stone and where he also received much more detailed instructions for many things.  These  include the building of the Ark of the Covenant, a tabernacle, an altar and mercy seat and many other wonderful things, with instructions of the ordination of a priesthood and sacrifices.

But trouble was brewing; the encamped peoples, waiting for Moses to come down from the mountain, became impatient and convinced Aaron to make them a golden calf for a god, because they despaired of again seeing Moses and hearing more from his God.  This so provoked the Lord that he threatened to consume them.  But Moses besought the Lord for them and reminded Him of the Promise:

[11] "O LORD, why does thy wrath burn hot against thy people, whom thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? [12] Why should the Egyptians say, `With evil intent did he bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou didst swear by thine own self, and didst say to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'"
[14] And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do to his people.

When Moses came down from he mountain and saw what had transpired, he threw down the tablets of the Law and broke them, ground the golden calf to dust, mixed it with water, and forced the people to drink it.  But there had to be more consequences and there were.  These include the slaughter of three thousand of the sons and brothers of the sons of Levi and a plague on the people.  Then the Lord commanded Moses:

[1] "Depart, go up hence, you and the people whom you have brought up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, `To your descendants I will give it.'
[2] And I will send an angel before you, and I will drive out the Canaanites, the Amorites, the Hittites, the Per'izzites, the Hivites, and the Jeb'usites.
[3] Go up to a land flowing with milk and honey; but I will not go up among you, lest I consume you in the way, for you are a stiff-necked people."

At the command of the Lord, Moses cut two tablets of stone like the first, and returned to the top of Sinai.  The Lord there renewed his covenant with Israel, and instructed Moses to inscribe the Ten Commandments again on the tablets. Moses then came down from the mountain a second time, assembled the people, and repeated in their hearing all the commandments that the Lord had given him.  This included instructions for many other things, including offerings and instruction for making a tabernacle and equipping it.  He gave instructions for the priestly garments and all the things essential for the sacrifices. All these things the people made according to the commands of the Lord.  There are many more details which you can read from the concluding chapters of the Book of Exodus.


This document is very light on narrative and heavy on laws and ordinances, consisting of the things God commanded Moses to do while he was on the mountain.  These include the laws to regulate the many different kinds of offerings -- peace, burnt, sin, cereal and guilt offerings.  It tells of the death by fire of Aaron's sons, Nadab and Abihu for offending the Lord through offering "unholy fire" contrary to his commandments (10:1-3)  This left Aaron with but two sons, Eleazar and Ithamar, who continued to serve with Aaron in the Tabernacle and in other priestly duties.  There followed laws on the eating of holy things, of the purification of women, laws concerning lepers and leprosy and purification therefrom, including tainted houses.

It is in the context of laws of the purification of tainted houses that we read again a brief reference to the Promise, the Lord reminding Moses of the Land of Promise:

[33] The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
[34] "When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession,
[35] then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, `There seems to me to be some sort of disease in my house.'

Very brief but there it is.  Moses and the people know where they are bound, and why -- to the Promised Land!

Then follows regulations for dealing with ceremonial uncleanness, for conducting the ritual of atonement, and forbidding incest and the eating of blood.  Then the Lord commanded Moses to say this to the people:

[2]  "I am the LORD your God.
[3] You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes.
[4] You shall do my ordinances and keep my statutes and walk in them. I am the LORD your God.
[5] You shall therefore keep my statutes and my ordinances, by doing which a man shall live: I am the LORD

Again, very brief, yet a subtle reminder, to us, of the Promise that they are seeking to claim.

The subsequent chapters find the Lord delivering to Moses more detailed laws, ordinances, and regulations, with chapters often beginning with the phrase, The Lord said to Moses. . ..  These are all things Moses received from the Lord on Mt. Sinai.  These further instructions concern feasts, punishments, Sabbaths and Jubilee years, and the redemption of slaves.  Finally, we come to Chapter 26, a fascinating text that does focus on the Promise (covenant).  I copy it in full here because every word is relevant.

[1] You shall make for yourselves no idols and erect no graven image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land, to bow down to them; for I am the LORD your God.
[2] You shall keep my sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.
[3] "If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,
[4] then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
[5] And your threshing shall last to the time of vintage, and the vintage shall last to the time for sowing; and you shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land securely.
[6] And I will give peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid; and I will remove evil beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.
[7] And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
[8] Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
[9] And I will have regard for you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and will confirm my covenant with you.
[10] And you shall eat old store long kept, and you shall clear out the old to make way for the new.
[11] And I will make my abode among you, and my soul shall not abhor you.
[12] And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.
[13] I am the LORD your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; and I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.
[14] "But if you will not hearken to me, and will not do all these commandments,
[15] if you spurn my statutes, and if your soul abhors my ordinances, so that you will not do all my commandments, but break my covenant,
[16] I will do this to you: I will appoint over you sudden terror, consumption, and fever that waste the eyes and cause life to pine away. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it;
[17] I will set my face against you, and you shall be smitten before your enemies; those who hate you shall rule over you, and you shall flee when none pursues you.
[18] And if in spite of this you will not hearken to me, then I will chastise you again sevenfold for your sins,
[19] and I will break the pride of your power, and I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like brass;
[20] and your strength shall be spent in vain, for your land shall not yield its increase, and the trees of the land shall not yield their fruit.
[21] "Then if you walk contrary to me, and will not hearken to me, I will bring more plagues upon you, sevenfold as many as your sins.
[22] And I will let loose the wild beasts among you, which shall rob you of your children, and destroy your cattle, and make you few in number, so that your ways shall become desolate.
[23] "And if by this discipline you are not turned to me, but walk contrary to me,
[24] then I also will walk contrary to you, and I myself will smite you sevenfold for your sins.
[25] And I will bring a sword upon you, that shall execute vengeance for the covenant; and if you gather within your cities I will send pestilence among you, and you shall be delivered into the hand of the enemy.
[26] When I break your staff of bread, ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and shall deliver your bread again by weight; and you shall eat, and not be satisfied.
[27] "And if in spite of this you will not hearken to me, but walk contrary to me,
[28] then I will walk contrary to you in fury, and chastise you myself sevenfold for your sins.
[29] You shall eat the flesh of your sons, and you shall eat the flesh of your daughters.
[30] And I will destroy your high places, and cut down your incense altars, and cast your dead bodies upon the dead bodies of your idols; and my soul will abhor you.
[31] And I will lay your cities waste, and will make your sanctuaries desolate, and I will not smell your pleasing odors.
[32] And I will devastate the land, so that your enemies who settle in it shall be astonished at it.
[33] And I will scatter you among the nations, and I will unsheathe the sword after you; and your land shall be a desolation, and your cities shall be a waste.
[34] "Then the land shall enjoy its sabbaths as long as it lies desolate, while you are in your enemies' land; then the land shall rest, and enjoy its sabbaths.
[35] As long as it lies desolate it shall have rest, the rest which it had not in your sabbaths when you dwelt upon it.
[36] And as for those of you that are left, I will send faintness into their hearts in the lands of their enemies; the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall when none pursues.
[37] They shall stumble over one another, as if to escape a sword, though none pursues; and you shall have no power to stand before your enemies.
[38] And you shall perish among the nations, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.
[39] And those of you that are left shall pine away in your enemies' lands because of their iniquity; and also because of the iniquities of their fathers they shall pine away like them.
[40] "But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery which they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me,
[41] so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity;
[42] then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
[43] But the land shall be left by them, and enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; and they shall make amends for their iniquity, because they spurned my ordinances, and their soul abhorred my statutes.
[44] Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God;
[45] but I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD."
[46] These are the statutes and ordinances and laws which the LORD made between him and the people of Israel on Mount Sinai by Moses.

What more can one say?  It is no matter how wayward these chosen people become; it is clear that, one way or another, the Lord is determined to preserve his covenant with them and to restore them to the land. Yet we should observe and note the many conditional statements.  Chapter 27 then closes Leviticus with some additional laws concerning vows, things dedicated to the Lord, and tithes.


Two years and one month have passed since the Exodus began and the children of Israel remain encamped in the wilderness of Sinai.  Numbers starts with the phrase that has become very familiar, "The Lord spoke to Moses."  This expression appears five times through pages of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, but the similar phrase, "The Lord said to Moses" appears in Exodus 54 times, in Leviticus, 34 times, in Numbers, 64 times, and in Deuteronomy, 3 times.  It is easy to understand why these documents have long been classified as the Word of God!

Twenty more days passed before they at last broke camp and set out from the Sinai.  During those days, at the command of the Lord, a census was taken.  All the tribes except Levi were included, than later, a separate census was conducted for this tribe.  The census determined that the number of the people of Israel, from twenty years and upward, every man able to go forth to war in Israel
was six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty (Num. 1:46, 2:32).  They proceeded then to number the tribe of Levi, in this case including all males from a month old and upward.  This count gave a total of twenty-two thousand (Num. 3:39). 

At the command of the Lord they then numbered the first-born males of the children of Israel and counted twenty-two thousand, two hundred and seventy-three (Num. 3:43).  The purpose of this complex numbering becomes clear at Num. 3:44, where the Lord informs Moses that he will trade the first-born of Israel for the males of the tribe of Levi.  Then the surplus, two hundred, seventy-three, of the first-born of the children of Israel, were compensated by a monetary contribution of the children of Israel to the Levites.  At the rate of five shekels apiece, one thousand, three hundred and sixty-five shekels were give to Aaron and his sons of the tribe of Levi. All of these numbers explains how this document acquired its name!

There follows a census of the Levites, by houses, from thirty years old to fifty years old, for the purpose of assigning specific duties as required to fulfill the Levitical tasks of service and carrying burdens.  These numbered eight thousand, five hundred and eighty (Num. 4:48).  We also learn that the retirement age for a Levite was fifty.

Several more laws and instructions were given to Moses.  They put all lepers outside the camp after which laws concerning unfaithful wives, jealous lovers and the special Nazarite vows were delivered.  Then, having set up the tabernacle, they anointed and consecrated it and its furnishings.  They purified the Levites for sacred service and Moses received instructions for the keeping of the passover.  The Lord gave instructions concerning the cloud that covered the tabernacle.  For as long as the cloud covered the tabernacle, they were to remain encamped; when the cloud was taken up, they were to set out again on their journey.

The Lord gave instructions for making two silver trumpets to serve as alarms, especially on the occasion of going to and returning from war, and for sounding over various offerings.  Then they set out and journeyed as far as the Wilderness of Paran.  Moses asked Hobab (Jethro?) his father-in-law to go with them, but he declined.  Moses said to him,

[29] We are setting out for the place of which the LORD said, `I will give it to you'; come with us, and we will do you good; for the LORD has promised good to Israel.

This reminds us that Moses has not forgotten the goal of their journey -- to possess the land of Promise.  They went forth three days journey to Paran.  Along the way the people complained much, and griped because they had only the manna to eat.  They wanted meat!  The Lord was angry with them, but he sent them the meat -- a wind blew in quails from the sea and they settled round about the camp for for the distance of a day's journey and two cubits (35 inches) deep!  While they were still eating it, the Lord smote the people with a great plague. The name of the place was called Kib'roth-hatta'avah, because there they buried the people who had the craving for meat (Num. 11:35).  Then they journeyed to Haze'roth and remained. 

Miriam and Aaron complained to the Lord against Moses, because he had married a Cushite woman (Num. 12:1f).  This stirred the Lord to such great anger that he came down in a pillar of cloud and stood before the tent of meeting in which were Moses, Miriam and Aaron.  He commanded the latter two to come out and gave this remarkable assessment of Moses:

[6] "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream.
[7] Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house.
[8] With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?"

Miriam was stricken with leprosy, and shut up outside the camp seven days, after which she was brought back into the camp and they set out from there and encamped in the wilderness of Paran.

The Lord instructed Moses to send spies from there to spy out the Land of Canaan, the Promised Land, and to assess their prospects of entering and taking possession. They went and returned after forty days with grim news of a lush land flowing with milk and honey, but peopled by fierce tribes.  Intimidated, only Caleb, of all the spies, recommended going up at once and occupying the land but everyone else brought back an evil report (Num. 13:32,33). 

All the congregation, in despair, raised a loud cry, murmuring against Moses and wanting to choose another captain who would lead them back to Egypt.  In anger the Lord resolved to disinherit them and replace them with another nation derived from Moses.  Moses vigorously entreated the Lord, after which the Lord relented and said,

[20] "I have pardoned, according to your word;
[21] but truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD,
[22] none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs which I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the proof these ten times and have not hearkened to my voice,
[23] shall see the land which I swore to give to their fathers; and none of those who despised me shall see it.
[24] But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.

The upshot of this was that all of the spies who brought back an evil report died promptly of a plague. The people who murmured against the Lord were sentenced to wander forty years in the wilderness until they every one had fallen in the wilderness who were then twenty years old and older. The only exceptions were Caleb and Joshua.

The Lord commanded, and on the morrow they set out from there by way of the Red Sea to journey into the wilderness (Num. 14:25).  They continued on to Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin, where Miriam died.  There was continued murmuring and rebelling.  This included the rebellion of Koreh.  Additional laws were also delivered.  We read of the rod of Aaron that budded.  At Kadesh there was no water for them.  This resulted in another rebellion that was quieted only after Moses struck a rock with the rod to bring forth water.  Then the Lord said this to Moses and Aaron:

[12] And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into
the land which I have given them.
[13] These are the waters of Mer'ibah, where the people of Israel contended with the LORD, and he showed himself holy among them.

This was a great blow to Moses, to learn that after enduring so much for the sake of the Lord and his people, neither he nor Aaron were to enter the Promised Land. But as any good servant, he plodded on, enduring the murmurings of a rebellious people and the scolding of the Lord!

Next, Moses sent messengers to the king of Edom seeking safe passage through his dominion.  It was refused, so the people turned away from Edom and came to Mt. Hor, on the border of Edom. There Aaron died after transferring his office to his son, Eleazar, and the house of Israel mourned for him thirty days.

They repelled an attack by a Canaanite king and set out by the Red Sea to go around Edom.  Again the people rebelled and were again suppressed by the plague of fiery serpents in which many people died.  The people repented, and the Lord then instructed Moses to make a fiery serpent of bronze and set it upon a pole.  Thereafter, if a serpent bit a man, he could look on the fiery serpent and live
(Num. 21:9). 

Then began their wanderings in earnest.  They set out, then encamped at Oboth.  From there they set out and encamped at Iyeabarim.  Successive encampments were at Zered, Arnon, Beer, Mat'tanah, Nahal'iel, then from Bamoth "to the valley lying in the region of Moab by the top of Pisgah, which looks down upon the desert." (Num. 21:20)

After refusing passage through the land of the Amorites, these attacked Israel and were defeated.  Then Og, king of Bashan, came out against them, and was also defeated and slain.  From thence the people set out and encamped in the plains of Moab "beyond the Jordan at Jericho" (Num. 22:1).  This brief sketch covers the passage of many years; indeed, they are nearing the end of their forty year sentence.

We are now introduced to another of the mysterious figures in the Pentateuch.  He is Balaam, of Pethor, which is "near the river" (Jordan?).  Balaam was a notorious diviner with spiritual gifts and to him Balak, king of Moab sent.  Doubtless Balak had learned of the defeat of his neighbor kings and was not eager to tangle with Israel, but he sought out Balaam with the request that he "come and put a curse" on Israel for a fee, so that he might defeat them (Num. 22:6).  We read of this episode in the wilderness journey in the following chapters, 22,23, and 24.  Balaam was reluctant, but finally was persuaded and went with Balak and attempted to curse Israel, but each time there came out of his mouth a blessing instead!  His third and last attempted curse, that also came out a blessing, was this remarkable oracle containing a veiled prophecy of the Messiah, the one who was to come.  You may recall the incident of the blessing of Jacob on his son, Judah, where he said,

The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler's staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

This time, the words came from the mouth of Balaam as follows:

[17] I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not nigh:
a star shall come forth out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab,
and break down all the sons of Sheth.
[18] Edom shall be dispossessed,
Se'ir also, his enemies, shall be dispossessed,
while Israel does valiantly.
[19] By Jacob shall dominion be exercised,
and the survivors of cities be destroyed!"

The people then proceeded to do wickedly by mingling with the daughters of Moab.  This resulted in another great plague that took twenty four thousand lives (Num.25:9).  Thereafter the Israelites smote the Moabites.

The Lord commanded another census in preparation for war -- the invasion of Canaan that was now within reach, just across the river.  They counted all the fighting men from twenty years old and up (Num. 26).  The total of fighting men came to six hundred and one thousand, seven hundred and thirty (Num. 26:51).  We read then,

[64] But among these there was not a man of those numbered by Moses and Aaron the priest, who had numbered the people of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai. [65] For the LORD had said of them, "They shall die in the wilderness." There was not left a man of them, except Caleb the son of Jephun'neh and Joshua the son of Nun.

Joshua was then chosen to succeed Moses and was invested with his authority in preparation for Moses' death.  Moses gave further instructions to the people and led them in a campaign against the Midianites.  They conquered and slew the five kings of Midian and every male of their peoples.  Then, strangely, they slew also Balaam the son of Be'or, who had blessed them! 

It displeased the Lord that they had allowed all the women of Midian to live, and He commanded that they kill every male among the babies and every woman who was not a virgin.  They were to keep only the young girls for themselves.  They counted and divided the booty of the Midianites.

Then the Lord gave instructions to Moses concerning the division of the Promised Land after they had crossed over the Jordan to possess it.  He said to him,

51] Say to the people of Israel, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan,
52] then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their figured stones, and destroy all their molten images, and demolish all their high places;
[53] and you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it.
[54] You shall
inherit the land by lot according to your families; to a large tribe you shall give a large inheritance, and to a small tribe you shall give a small inheritance; wherever the lot falls to any man, that shall be his; according to the tribes of your fathers you shall inherit.
At long last, a new generation of the people of Israel are about to receive the Promise given first to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!  The Lord then gave Moses instructions as to the division of the land, the portions of the Levites, and the setting up of cities of refuge.


This is the last of the five books of the Pentateuch and is the record of a single day, which was the last day of the life of Moses when he gave a final speech to the people before he died.  It is a very long speech that terminates only in Chapter 31, where he commissioned Joshua to replace him as leader of the people.  He then recited "The Song of Moses" in the hearing of the people (Deut. 32:44), received his final command from the Lord to ascend Mount Nebo to die there.  He also blessed each of the tribes with a final blessing, much as Jacob had blessed his sons on the day of his death.  So Moses ascended the Mount, saw the Promised Land stretched out across the River Jordan, and died.

The speech is heavy with allusions to the Promise, so many that I would but bore you to gather all of them.  Some of the words concerning the Promise are, however, very significant for they expand the Promise of God to point more directly to Jesus as the last prophet of Israel -- the prophet like unto Moses.  We also have a new element in the speech, not seen before.  It is during this long speech that Moses alludes to the people as the children of God and to God as their Father, further opening the window of revelation on the ultimate purpose of God, which is to call to himself many children that are like unto himself and who have the high privilege of calling him, and only him, Father.  So we proceed here with a very brief survey of the speech during which we will bring forth only selected allusions and repetitions to the Promise.

It was in the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month that he spoke to the people, and he moved immediately to remind the people of the Promise, saying to them the Words of God:

[8] Behold, I have set the land before you; go in and take possession of the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their descendants after them.

He reviewed many of the things that had taken place during their wandering and explained why the Lord was angry with him and would not permit him to go over to possess the Promised Land with the people.  He reminded them of the Ten Commandments, and delivered to them the Great Commandment (Deut. 6:4).  He gave instructions what they were to do after they had gone in to possess the Promised Land.  He explained why they were the chosen of the Lord:

[6] "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.
[7] It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love upon you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples; [8] but it is because the LORD loves you, and is keeping the oath which he swore to your fathers, that the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
[9] Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,
[10] and requites to their face those who hate him, by destroying them; he will not be slack with him who hates him, he will requite him to his face.
[11] You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command you this day.

To this he added:

[4] "Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, `It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land'; whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you.
[5] Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.

Moses berated them for their stubbornness and told how he had prayed earnestly to the Lord and said to HIm:

[27] Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness, or their sin,
[28] lest the land from which thou didst bring us say, "Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness."
[29] For they are thy people and thy heritage, whom thou didst bring out by thy great power and by thy outstretched arm.'

He delivered again many laws and regulations, including the law of the tithe, the ministry to the poor, the appointed feasts and the administration of justice.  Then he brings up a matter that will become very prominent as we continue tracing the golden chain of the Promise through the scriptures -- that of a king and a kingdom:

[14] "When you come to the land which the LORD your God gives you, and you possess it and dwell in it, and then say, `I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me';
[15] you may indeed set as king over you him whom the LORD your God will choose. One from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.

Without giving any indication that this kingdom would eventually issue in an eternal king who would also be a prophet like unto Moses, he proceeded to give this wonderful prophecy that points directly to Jesus of Nazareth:

[15] "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren -- him you shall heed --
[16] just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, `Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.'
[17] And the LORD said to me, `They have rightly said all that they have spoken.
[18] I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. [19] And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

It is this prophecy of Moses that was in the mind of Jesus when he said of Moses and of himself:

[46] If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me.
[40] but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God;

This Book of Deuteronomy is believed to have been added to the Pentateuch by a scribe of the Sixth Century BC, who was careful at that time to remind the people that this prophecy had not yet been fulfilled since the day it was delivered to Moses:

[10] And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,

Subsequent chapters continue the speech.  He speaks to them of cities of refuge, of landmarks, and of the testimony of witnesses and gives many laws.  He gives permission for certain persons to refrain from going to battle, such as the newly wed (Deut. 20:7).  They are told how to deal with the inhabitants of conquered cities in the Promised Land.  The verses of 20:10-18 give instructions, as from God, to slay all the men of the cities they conquer that are "very far from you" while keeping the women and children for themselves as booty.  But for the cities that are in the midst of their inheritance, "you shall save alive nothing that breathes."  Ethnic cleansing!

Twelve curses are enumerated in 27:15-26.  These are the curses that are to come upon those who violate specified statutes, and the Levites were to declare all these curses to the people at Mount Ebal after they entered the Promised Land.  Then Moses listed the blessings of those who "keep the commands of the Lord your God, and walk in his ways (Deut. 28:9).  He lists the blessings of obedience and the results of disobedience.  It appears, in the case of disobedience, that this will be the end of the Promise:

[58] "If you are not careful to do all the words of this law which are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awful name, the LORD your God,
[59] then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting.
[60] And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, which you were afraid of; and they shall cleave to you.
[61] Every sickness also, and every affliction which is not recorded in the book of this law, the LORD will bring upon you, until you are destroyed.
[62] Whereas you were as the stars of heaven for multitude, you shall be left few in number; because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God.
[63] And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you; and you shall be plucked off the land which you are entering to take possession of it.
[64] And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.

Yet the promise remains in spite of everything, for Moses shortly restores the Promise with these words:

[1] "And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you,
[2] and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you this day, with all your heart and with all your soul;
[3] then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes, and have compassion upon you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you.
[4] If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will fetch you;
[5] and the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, that you may possess it; and he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.

This portion of the speech was concluded with this return to the Promise as delivered to the patriarchs:

[19] I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,
[20] loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."

Moses proceeded to instruct Joshua.  The Lord then instructed Moses to write a song, which he spoke to the assembly of Israel.  It was to warn the people, for the Lord knew that they would break his covenant (Deut. 31:20).  Moses then spoke the words of the song in the hearing of the people.  The Lord then turned his attention to Joshua and commissioned him to succeed Moses at the head of the people (Exod. 31:23).  After finally blessing each tribe, he went up to the top of Mount Pisgah, opposite Jericho, and saw the fair land that the Israelites were about to go over the Jordan to possess.  As he gazed on that fair land, the Lord said to him:

[4]"This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, `I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there."

Moses died there, at the age of a hundred and twenty years and the people remained there and mourned for him for thirty days.

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