Commentaries on the Last Four Books of Moses Arranged in the Form of a Harmony - Volume 4
John Calvin, 1509-1564
Bingham, Charles William
Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library
THE FOUR LAST BOOKS OF MOSES
IN THE FORM OF A HARMONY BY JOHN CALVIN
TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL LATIN, AND COMPARED WITH THE FRENCH EDITION, WITH ANNOTATIONS, ETC.
BY THE REV. CHARLES WILLIAM BINGHAM, M.A.,
RECTOR OF MELCOMBE-HORSEY, DORSET, AND FORMERLY FELLOW OF NEW COLLEGE, OXFORD
CHRISTIAN CLASSICS ETHEREAL LIBRARY GRAND RAPIDS, MI
6. The Lord our God spoke unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
6. Jehova Deus noster loquutus est nobis in Horeb, dicendo: Sat vobis est habitasse in monte isto.
7. Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Arnorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea-side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
7. Vertite vos, et proficiscimini, et ite ad montem Amorrhmorum, et ad omnes vicinos ejus, in solitudine, in monte, et planitie, et rueridle, et in littore marls, terrain Chenanaei a Lebanon usque ad flumen magnum flumen Euphraten.
8. Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord. swore unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them, and to their seed after them.
8. Vide, dedi coram vobis terram, ingredimini, et possidete terram illam quam juravit Jehova patribus vestris, Abraham, Isaac et Jacob, se daturum eis, et semini eorum post ipsos.
6. The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb. In this Second Narration, Moses expressly declares that God not only gave them a visible sign, by uplifting the cloud, but that He also verbally commanded the people to leave Mount Sinai, and to set about the performance of the rest of their journey. God says, then, that enough time had been spent in one place; f1 for, before they left it, an entire year had passed away there. Although there were eleven days’ journey before them before they would arrive at Kadesh-barnea, nevertheless, lest anything should delay the people, who were naturally but too indolent, tie stimulates them by setting before them the ease with which it might be accomplished, telling them that they had but to lift up their feet and advance, in order to attain the promised rest.
17. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
17. Quum discederet nubes a tabernaculo, postea proficiscebantur filii Israel: atque in loco ubi manebat nubes, illic castrametabantur filii Israel.
18. At the commandment of the Lord the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the Lord they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.
18. Ad os Jehovae proficiscebantur filii Israel, et ad os Jehovae castrametabantur: cunctis diebus quibus stabat nubes supra tabernaculum, manebant.
19. And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not.
20. And so it was, when the cloud was a few days upon the tabernacle; according to the commandment of the Lord they abode in their tents, and according to the commandment of the Lord they journeyed.
20. Quando autem nubes paucis diebus erat super tabernaculum, ad os Jehovae manebant, et ad os Jehovae proficiscebantur.
21. And so it was, when the cloud abode from even unto the morning, and that the cloud was taken up in the morning, then they journeyed: whether it was by day or by night that the cloud was taken up, they journeyed.
21. Quando igitur erat nubes a vespera usque mane, ascendebat autem nubes mane, tunc proficiscebantur: aut si nocte et die, et postea ascendebat nubes, tunc proficiscebantur.
22. Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed.
22. Aut duobus diebus, aut mense, aut anno, quando moram trahebat nubes super tabernaculum, manendo super illud, in castris manebant filii Israel, nec proficiscebantur: si autem illa ascendebat, tunc proficiscebantur.
23. At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed: they kept the charge of the Lord, at the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
23. Ad os Jehovae castrametabantur, et ad os Jehovae proficiscebantur: custodiam Jehovae servabant ad os Jehovae per manum Mosis.
17. And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle. Moses before informed us that the tabernacle was so distinguished by a visible miracle, that God made it manifest that He dwelt there: not that He left heaven and removed to that earthly house, but in order to be nigh to His people by the presence of His power and grace, whenever He was invoked by them. He now reports another miracle, that God, by uplifting the cloud, gave a sign, as it were, by which He commanded them to strike the camp; and when the cloud rested on the tabernacle, it was a sign that they should abide where they were. Here, however, a question arises; since it has been already said that, immediately after their departure from Egypt, the cloud was like a banner to direct the march of the people, it follows that they were not now for the first time admonished by its being lifted up to collect their baggage, and ordered as it were to advance. The answer is easy, that the people were indeed previously directed by the sight of the cloud, as we have seen; but that here a new fact is related, viz., that since the tabernacle was set up, the cloud, which hitherto was suspended in the air and went before the camp, now settled on the sanctuary: for a fresh acquisition of grace is here proclaimed by the more certain and conspicuous sign, as if God showed himself more closely and familiarly as the leader of the people. Although, therefore, the cloud had been the director of their march from its very commencement, yet it more fully illustrated the glory of the tabernacle when it proceeded from thence.
18.At the commandment of the Lord.f2The mouth is here used by metonymy for the speech; nor does there appear to me to be so much harshness in the Hebraism, but that it may be appropriately retained. But it is asked whether God actually spoke or not; for the word mouth is often repeated. It is indeed likely that Moses was instructed but once what was meant by the removal or remaining of the cloud; yet I doubt not but that the name of word, or commandment, was given to the sign, inasmuch as God speaks as much to the eyes by outward signs as He does to the ears by His voice. Still, from this mode of expression we may gather that the use of signs f3 is perverted and nullified, unless they are taken to be visible doctrine, as Augustin writes. The repetition, which certainly has no little force, shows how worthy this is of observation.
19.Then the children kept the charge of the Lord. Some, f4 in my opinion, extend this too far, thinking that when the cloud tarried, the children of Israel, being as it were at leisure, employed themselves in the worship of God; but I restrict it rather to that heedfulness which is then praised at some length. To keep the charge (custodiam,) then, is equivalent to regarding the will of God with the greatest earnestness and care. For, when the cloud had begun to rest in any place, the people knew that they were to remain there; but if on the next day they were not attentive, the cloud might vanish, and thus their neglect and carelessness might deprive them of this incomparable advantage.
To this end it is said immediately afterwards that, If for one day, or more, or even for a month, or a year, the cloud stood still, the people was, as it were, tied to the spot. The old interpreter f5 has not badly rendered it, “The children of Israel were upon the watch;” since day and night they anxiously expected the time when God would command them to move forward. The last verse of the chapter confirms this sense, where it is again added, that “they kept the charge of the Lord at His mouth by the hand of Moses:” whence it appears that Moses was God’s interpreter, so that they might set forth on their march whenever the cloud being lifted up pointed out to them the way. Nor can it be doubted but that it preceded them; so that they might know in what direction God would have them proceed, and whither they were to go. Moreover, it must be observed that in both respects it is counted worthy of praise in the people, that they should either journey, or continue where they were, at God’s command. Thus is that absurd activity condemned which engages itself in endless work; as if men could only obey God by turmoil. Whereas it is sometimes no less a virtue to rest, when it so pleases God. f6
36. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys:
36. Quum recederet nubes a tabernaculo, proficiscebantur filii Israel in cunctis profectionibus suis:
37. But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.
37. Quod si non recederet nubes, non proficiscebantur usque ad diem qua recedebat.
38. For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.
38. Quia nubes Jehovae erat super tabernaculum interdiu, ignis vero noctu in eo, coram oculis totius domus Israel, in cunctis profectionibus eorum.
38.For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle. Moses more distinctly explains what he had said generally respecting the cloud, viz., that by night a fiery column appeared, because the cloud would not have been visible amidst the darkness. A second explanation is also added, that this did not happen once or twice only, but “in all their journeys;” so that they were never without a sight of the cloud, which might be a witness of God’s presence, whether, being settled on the tabernacle, it commanded them to rest, or, by its ascension, gave them the sign for removing the camp. Now, the equability of this proceeding, in all the variety of times and marches, did not a little conduce to certainty; for, if the cloud had daily accomplished the same course, this very regularity would have obscured the power’ of God; but when for a whole year it did not move, and then frequently proceeded to a new place, and now by its. guidance pointed out a longer journey, now a shorter one, by this very diversity the paternal care of God, who was never unmindful of His people, more conspicuously manifested itself.