Recounting Israel’s Journey
33 These are the stages of the people of Israel, when they went out of the land of Egypt by their companies under the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Moses wrote down their starting places, stage by stage, by command of the LORD, and these are their stages according to their starting places. They set out from Rameses in the first month, on the fifteenth day of the first month. On the day after the Passover, the people of Israel went out triumphantly in the sight of all the Egyptians, while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the LORD had struck down among them. On their gods also the LORD executed judgments.
So the people of Israel set out from Rameses and camped at Succoth. And they set out from Succoth and camped at Etham, which is on the edge of the wilderness. And they set out from Etham and turned back to Pi-hahiroth, which is east of Baal-zephon, and they camped before Migdol. And they set out from before Hahiroth and passed through the midst of the sea into the wilderness, and they went a three days’ journey in the wilderness of Etham and camped at Marah. And they set out from Marah and came to Elim; at Elim there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there. And they set out from Elim and camped by the Red Sea. And they set out from the Red Sea and camped in the wilderness of Sin. And they set out from the wilderness of Sin and camped at Dophkah. And they set out from Dophkah and camped at Alush. And they set out from Alush and camped at Rephidim, where there was no water for the people to drink. And they set out from Rephidim and camped in the wilderness of Sinai. And they set out from the wilderness of Sinai and camped at Kibroth-hattaavah. And they set out from Kibroth-hattaavah and camped at Hazeroth. And they set out from Hazeroth and camped at Rithmah. And they set out from Rithmah and camped at Rimmon-perez. And they set out from Rimmon-perez and camped at Libnah. And they set out from Libnah and camped at Rissah. And they set out from Rissah and camped at Kehelathah. And they set out from Kehelathah and camped at Mount Shepher. And they set out from Mount Shepher and camped at Haradah. And they set out from Haradah and camped at Makheloth. And they set out from Makheloth and camped at Tahath. And they set out from Tahath and camped at Terah. And they set out from Terah and camped at Mithkah. And they set out from Mithkah and camped at Hashmonah. And they set out from Hashmonah and camped at Moseroth. And they set out from Moseroth and camped at Bene-jaakan. And they set out from Bene-jaakan and camped at Hor-haggidgad. And they set out from Hor-haggidgad and camped at Jotbathah. And they set out from Jotbathah and camped at Abronah. And they set out from Abronah and camped at Ezion-geber. And they set out from Ezion-geber and camped in the wilderness of Zin (that is, Kadesh). And they set out from Kadesh and camped at Mount Hor, on the edge of the land of Edom.
And Aaron the priest went up Mount Hor at the command of the LORD and died there, in the fortieth year after the people of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. And Aaron was 123 years old when he died on Mount Hor.
And the Canaanite, the king of Arad, who lived in the Negeb in the land of Canaan, heard of the coming of the people of Israel.
And they set out from Mount Hor and camped at Zalmonah. And they set out from Zalmonah and camped at Punon. And they set out from Punon and camped at Oboth. And they set out from Oboth and camped at Iye-abarim, in the territory of Moab. And they set out from Iyim and camped at Dibon-gad. And they set out from Dibon-gad and camped at Almon-diblathaim. And they set out from Almon-diblathaim and camped in the mountains of Abarim, before Nebo. And they set out from the mountains of Abarim and camped in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho; they camped by the Jordan from Beth-jeshimoth as far as Abel-shittim in the plains of Moab.
Drive Out the Inhabitants
And the LORD spoke to Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, When you pass over the Jordan into the land of Canaan, then you shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you and destroy all their figured stones and destroy all their metal images and demolish all their high places. And you shall take possession of the land and settle in it, for I have given the land to you to possess it. You shall inherit the land by lot according to your clans. 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 for anyone, that shall be his. According to the tribes of your fathers you shall inherit. But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you, then those of them whom you let remain shall be as barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall trouble you in the land where you dwell. And I will do to you as I thought to do to them.”
Numbers 33 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Moses wrote an account of the journey of Israel thus far. Beginning in Egypt and leaving their slavery, they marched out with boldness and not just leaving as runaway slaves. From Egypt, they went to Mount Sinai. It would be there they received the law of God. This is the largest portion of their journey listing camp after camp of which they set for a period of time. From Mount Sinai, they finally arrived at the shores of the Jordan River. It is then the people were directed ahead – the Promised Land for which their goal was.
Although this seems like a lot of succession of stopping points before they got finally to the shores, the list marks one thing. It was a journey for the people of Israel. Yes, they spent all those years wandering in the desert due to the generation of unbelief that had caused it but they had finally arrived at what was next for the people.
We too have been on a journey and thus far we can look back at all the aspects of where we’ve been and where we’ve traveled with our God. We were bought out of slavery by Jesus who led us without fear and boldness toward where He was directing. On that journey, His words, His instruction through not just Him but His ‘commanders’ like Paul and Peter, James and John, the book of Acts recording so much, have given us much to live by. But in time we too arrive at the shores of what’s next. The promises of which He’s given and driven us toward. What always shows is the faithfulness of our God.
It is good to look back and remind ourselves of the faithfulness of God. It shows as well our own spiritual progress and lessons we’ve learned through the hard times and difficult ones where we were stubborn just like the Israelite’s. But this is a valuable thing for each of us and see where we’ve come so far and turn then toward what we’re called to beyond.
Numbers 33 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
At the end of this chapter, there are six verses that give the Israelites specific instructions on how to take the land.
- Cross the Jordan into Canaan and drive out all the inhabitants.
- Destroy their figured stones. These would have been stones carved with pagan religious symbols.
- Destroy all their molten images. These were most likely cast metal images of a pagan idol.
- Demolish all their high places. These were “hill shrines” which were most likely altars and places of worship. The Hebrew word that describes these high places can also be used to describe a place of worship to God, however, in this context, it is referring to pagan worship shrines.
These were the primary commandments of the Lord. It’s interesting to me that the other details of their journey are not mentioned. The major stumbling block for these people would be their love for idols and their willingness to abandon God for these weak stones and images. Do we have the same problem today? In his book, Gods At War, Kyle Idleman writes of our current struggle with the “high places” that cause us to stumble into idolatry.
“Where Is Your Sanctuary? Where do you go when you’re hurting? Let’s say it’s been a terrible day at the office. You come home and go – where? To the refrigerator for comfort food like ice cream? To the phone to vent with your most trusted friend? Do you seek escape in novels or movies or video games or pornography? Where do you look for emotional rescue?
The Bible tells us that God is our refuge and strength, our help in times of trouble – so much so that we will not fear though the mountains fall into the heart of the sea (Ps. 46:1 – 2). That strikes me as a good place to run. But it’s so easy to forget, so easy for us to run in other directions. Where we go says a lot about who we are. The ‘high ground’ we seek reveals the geography of our values.”Kyle Idleman
The “high ground” we seek reveals the geography of our values. So, where are your values currently? Where are you seeking to find rest and comfort in places or things that will never deliver?