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was usually remarkable for his faith and humility.
He seems to have doubted, too, whether simply speaking to the rock, as he had been directed, would cause the water to flow. He did not follow, in this respect, the command of God; but acting in direct violation of it, and as if by his own mode of agency to prevent disappointment, without uttering a word, he smote the rock twice with his rod. It is not improbable that there was an interval of some time between the strokes; the first not producing the desired effect, and the Lord thus wishing to bring him to reflection and obedience. But Moses persisted in the course which he had chosen; and God saw fit, as he struck the rock the second time, to cause the water to gush from it in great abundance, so that the people and their cattle were fully supplied.
Aaron co-operated with Moses in this transaction, and interposed not at all to check him in the course which he was taking. He gave his sanction, evidently, to what was said and done. That in this he indulged a similar spirit to that of his brother, is certain from the rebuke and punishment which they both alike received. The sentence pronounced upon them was humiliating indeed. It is left on record, to teach us that God is no respecter of per sons; and that those who are high in authority, and have great influence by their example over their fellow-men, need to be held forth, when they because ye
transgress the divine commands, or do not honor God as they ought, as striking examples of divine justice. "Because," said the Lord, addressing them,
believed me not, to sanctify me,” (to cause me to be honored and confided in,) the
eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”
In commemoration of these events, because the children of Israel strove there with the Lord, the place was afterwards called, also, Meribah-Kadesh, (Meribah signifying strife,) to distinguish it from the other Meribah.
Moses and Aaron bore their sentence, as good men ought to do. It did not excite in them any complaints of its too great severity. It did not rouse up a sullen reluctance to going forward in the discharge of duty. It did not sink them into a listless despondency. Humbled by it indeed they were ; but the penitence which it produced, was the penitence of a conscientious and ingenuous mind anxious to return to obedience, and to serve God with more willingness and cheerfulness than ever. Illustrious examples of the manner in which chastisements should be endured! May we have grace to imitate them!
Moses knew that he should not enter the promised land. But he was still the leader of the
Israelites, and was to conduct them on their way till God should remove him from the post of duty. Under the divine direction, he continued to aim at the accomplishment of the great object before them—the possession of the inheritance which had been promised to his countrymen.
He wished, if possible, in a friendly manner to procure a passage through the country of the Edomites, which comprised mount Seir, the range of mountains which lies along the eastern side of the Arabah from the Dead Sea to Akabah, and now bears the names of Jebâl (the Gebal of the He. brews) and Sherah. Several deep valleys are found to penetrate this range of mountains from east to west, of which there is one that affords
passage free from great difficulties, and in which it is probable the Israelites passed. It is called el-Ghuweir; it is of considerable width, and divides Jebâl from Sherah.
In pursuance of his design, Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, asking permission for the Israelites to pass through "the king's high way,” (probably the valley which has just been described,) and saying that they would be careful not to make the least encroachments upon the fields or vineyards, nor even to drink of the water in the wells on the way, or if they did they would pay for it. He reminded the king of the
brotherhood of their respective ancestors Jacob und Esau, (for the Edomites were the descendants of the latter,) and of the succession of trials through which the Israelites had passed; and informed him, that after dwelling in Egypt, a long time, in the most oppressive bondage, they had been delivered by the Almighty, and were now in Kadesh, a city in the remotest borders of Edom.
The return of the messengers was looked for with deep interest. All waited anxiously to know whether the reply would be a favorable one.
Let us, in the meanwhile, refer for a moment to the example of Moses in enduring the sentence which divine justice passed upon him. With ingenuous penitence he returned to obedience and duty, pressing onward in his course, although not himself, but his countrymen were to inherit the promised land. And is it with the same spirit, my young friend, that you submit to the rebukes of God for your sins? Have you not sometimes experienced them in the way of trials and sufferings, of disappointments and losses, so distinctly marked as the expressions of the divine displeasure against you, that conscience pointed with an unerring finger at your transgressions as their cause ? What has been the effect of these rebukes? Have they produced murmuring and opposition against the discipline of a just and holy God. Then they have only hardened your heart in sin, and rendered your case more sad and alarming!
Have they softened your feelings, and subdued your will, and led you back to obedience and duty ? Blessed result! Happy privilege! "My son,” saith God himself to you,
despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.” (Moses did not faint. He was, if possible, more active and faithful in the service of God than ever.) "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”
Route after leaving Kadesh. Mount Hor. Death of
The king of Edom refused utterly to grant the request of Moses; threatening that if a passage through his territories were attempted, he would resist it at the point of the sword. He even made a powerful array of his forces on the borders of the country, to deter the Israelites from making any movement that way.
Moses took a different route, and leaving Kadesh, followed the great valley El Araba, southward, to