Numbers 33:3
(3-5) And they departed . . . --In these verses the departure from Rameses, at which place the Israelites seem to have been gathered together previously to the exodus, is related as in Exodus 12:37. The places of encampment from Succoth to the wilderness of Sinai (Numbers 33:6-15) agree with those which are recorded in Exodus 13:20 (Succoth and Etham), 14:2 (Pi-hahiroth and Migdol), 15:22 (the wilderness, i.e., of Shur), 15:23-27 (Marah and Elim), 16:1 (wilderness of Sin), 17:1 (Rephidim), except that there is no mention in Exodus of the station at the Red Sea (Numbers 33:10), and of the stations at Dophkah and Alush (Numbers 33:12-13). The first two stations named after the departure from Sinai, viz., Kibroth-hattaavah, or the graves of lust, and Hazeroth, enclosures, agree with those which are found in Numbers 11:34-35. The next station named in this list is Rithmah. Now, according to Numbers 12:16, the next encampment after Hazeroth was in the wilderness of Paran, from whence Moses, in obedience to the Divine command, sent the spies to search out the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:3). If, then, we compare these two accounts, and take into further consideration the fact that the Wady Abu Retemat is not far distant from Kadesh, and that, according to Robinson (I., p. 279), it abounds with the retem, or broom, and that near it there is a copious spring of water called Ain el Kudeirat, it seems reasonable to infer that the encampment at Rithmah which is recorded in this chapter is the same as that at Kadesh, "in the wilderness of Paran," as recorded in Numbers 12:16. If this inference be admitted, it is reasonable to conclude further that the seventeen places of encampment which are mentioned in Numbers 33:19-36 between Rithmah and Kadesh are those at which the Israelites pitched their camps during the thirty-eight years of wandering in the wilderness. An apparent difficulty, however, arises on this supposition out of a comparison of Numbers 33:30-33 of this chapter with Deuteronomy 10:6-7, where we find mention made of four places which appear to be identical with those named in this chapter, viz., Beeroth of the children of Jaakan, Mosera, Gudgodah, and Jotbath, which correspond to Bene-jaakan, i.e., the children of Jaakan (an abbreviation, probably, of Beeroth-bene-Jaakan, i.e., the wells of the sons of Jaakan), Moseroth, the plural form of Mosera, Hor-hagidgad, i.e., the cave of Gidgad or Gudgodah, and Jotbathah, an alternative form of Jotbath. The apparent difficulty, however, of the identification arises out of the fact that whereas in this chapter the Israelites are said to have journeyed from Moseroth to Bene-jaakan, they are represented in Deuteronomy 10:6 to have journeyed "from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera." It is evident, however, that in Deuteronomy 10, where the account is manifestly parenthetical, the reference is to the journeys of the Israelites after the final breaking up of the encampment at Kadesh, at the expiration of the thirty-eight years of wandering in the wilderness; whereas, if the supposition stated above is correct, the reference in this chapter is to the period of the wanderings in the wilderness after the first departure from Kadesh. In this case a change in the order of encampments presents no difficulty, inasmuch as whilst the Israelites, at the later period, must, in all probability, have taken the most direct course open to them from Kadesh to Ezion-geber, there is no improbability involved in the supposition that at the earlier period, whilst wandering about in the wilderness, their places of encampment should have been determined not so much by geographical considerations as by the particular advantages which each spot presented in regard to pasturage and water. It may be observed, further that if the supposition above stated is correct, it will account for the fact that, whereas seventeen places of encampment between Rithmah and Ezion-geber are named in Numbers 33:19-35, no intermediate stations between Ezion-geber and Kadesh are mentioned in Numbers 33:36, the same places of encampment, as may reasonably be inferred, being selected (if, indeed, any formal encampments were made during so hasty a journey) on the return to Kadesh as had been previously occupied on the journey from Kadesh to Ezion-geber, which is at the northern extremity of the Elanitic Gulf.

Verse 3. - They departed from Rameses. Hebrew, Raemses. See on Exodus 1:11; 12:37. The brief description here given of the departure from Egypt touches upon every material circumstance as related at large in Exodus 11:41. In the sight of all the Egyptians. The journey was begun by night (Exodus 12:42), but was of course con-tinned on the following day.

33:1-49 This is a brief review of the travels of the children of Israel through the wilderness. It is a memorable history. In their travels towards Canaan they were continually on the remove. Such is our state in this world; we have here no continuing city, and all our removes in this world are but from one part a desert to another. They were led to and fro, forward and backward, yet were all the while under the direction of the pillar of cloud and fire. God led them about, yet led them the right way. The way God takes in bringing his people to himself is always the best way, though it does not always seem to us the nearest way. Former events are mentioned. Thus we ought to keep in mind the providences of God concerning us and families, us and our land, and the many instances of that Divine care which has led us, and fed us, and kept us all our days hitherto. Few periods of our lives can be thought upon, without reminding us of the Lord's goodness, and our own ingratitude and disobedience: his kindness leaves us without excuse for our sins. We could not wish to travel over again the stages we have passed, unless we could hope, by the grace of God, to shun the sins we then committed, and to embrace such opportunities of doing good as we have let slip. Soon will our wanderings end, and our eternal state be fixed beyond recall; how important then is the present moment! Happy are those whom the Lord now guides with his counsel, and will at length receive to his glory. To this happiness the gospel calls us. Behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. Let sinners seize the opportunity, and flee for refuge to the hope set before them. Let us redeem our time, to glorify God and serve our generation; and he will carry us safely through all, to his eternal kingdom.And they departed from Rameses,.... A city in Egypt, where the children of Israel, a little before their departure, seem to have been gathered together in a body, in order to march out all together, as they did. This place the Targum of Jonathan calls Pelusium. Dr. Shaw (a) thinks it might be Cairo, from whence they set forward; see Exodus 12:37 and it was

in the first month; in the month Nisan, as the same Targum, or Abib, which was appointed the first month on this account, and answers to part of our March and April:

on the fifteenth of the first month, on the morrow after the passover; that was kept on the fourteenth, when the Lord passed over the houses of the Israelites, and slew all the firstborn in Egypt, which made way for their departure the next morning; the Egyptians being urgent upon them to be gone:

the children of Israel went out with an high hand in the sight of all the Egyptians; openly and publicly, with great courage and boldness, without any fear of their enemies; who seeing them march out, had no power to stop them, or to move their lips at them, nay, were willing to be rid of them; see Exodus 11:7.

(a) Travels, p. 307. Ed. 2.

Numbers 33:2
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