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In consequence of this, Moses and Aaron immediately prostrated themselves on the ground, and earnestly implored of God to spare the people; but, early as they were in their supplication, the divine vengeance was before them, for the Almighty, provoked by the repeated rebellions of the people, had already sent a pestilence among them.

As soon as Moses observed this, he ordered Aaron to take a censer, put fire and incense in it from the altar, and hasten to the congregation to make atonement for The sins of the people. Aaron did as Moses commanded, and standing between the dead and the living, he prayed for some time, and the plague ceased. But notwithstanding the very short time this calamity lasted, yet with such violence did it rage. ehat the number carried off by it amounted to fourteen thousand and seven hundred persons.

Though God had thus iu two instances punished the people for their wickedness, yet, knowing that the minds of many of them were, by the insinuations of Korah and his accomplices, still prejudiced against Aaron and his family, on account of their being invested with the priesthood, he was pleased to put an end to all controversy on this head by the following miracle. He commanded Moses to take a rod from each tribe, and to write upon it the name of the prince of that tribe to whom it belonged, and to write Aaron's name on that of the tribe of Levi; that, when this was done, he should lay up the twelve rods in the tabernacle, before the ark of the testimony, until the next morning, when some miraculous change should be seen that would determine in whose family the priesthood should be established.

Moses, who never failed paying an immediate obedience to the divine command, did as he was ordered ; and going next morning to the tabernacle, brought out the twelve rods in the presence of all the people. Eleven of the rods were in the same state as when he put them into the tabernacle, but the twelfth (which belonged to Aaron) had a very different appearance, for it had not only budded, but likewise blossomed, and bore ripe almonds. A convincing proof to the people that God had singled out Aarou and his family to the priestly office.

In memory of this remarkable decision, God ordered Aaron's rod to be laid up in the ark of the covenant, that, by the people's seeing it, they might not again rebel but remain satisfied with those whom he had been pleased, in so distinguished a manner, to appoint to the priestly office.

After the establishment of the high-priesi's office in Aaron and his family, the Israelites moved about, from one place to another, in the wilderness, but chiefly about the mountains of Idumæa, until God, by shortening the period of human life, had taken away almost all that generation, “ of whom he had sworn in his wrath," as the Psalmist expresses it, xcv. 2., “ that they should not enter into his rest.” And, indeed, great reason lead he to be angry with them, since, during the remainder of their peregrination, they were guilty of many more murmurings than Moses has thought proper to record, which, nevertheless, are mentioned, with no small severity, by other inspired writers. See Amos v. 26; Acts vii. 43.

As the time, however, of their entrance into the land of Canaan drew near, they advanced into the wilderness of Sin, and pitched their camp at Kadesh,* where Miriarn,t sister to Moses and Aaron, died, and was buried.

The Israelites had not been long at Kadesh, before they were greatly distressed for water, upon which (as they had before done on similar occasions) they exclaimed, with great vehemence, against Moses and Aaron, saying, “Why have ye brought the Lord's people into the wilderness to kill them and iheir cattle? Why did you persuade us to leave the fertile land of Egypt to bring us into this barren place, which affords neither water to quench our thirst, nor fruits to satisfy our hunger ? Would to God we had perished with our brethren before the Lord.”

The impatience and dissatisfaction of the Israelites greatly perplexed Moses and Aaron, who, as was their usual custom on such occasions, addressed themselves 10 God, beseeching him to remove the present distresses of the people. The Almighty

* This was not Kadesh-Barnea, the station or encampment of the Israelites on the confines of the northern part of Canaan ; but another Kadesh, situated on the confines of Idumea, and not far from the Red sea.

Miriam was the eldest of the three, and was nearly a hundred and thirty years old. Eusebius assures us, that in his time her tomb was found at Kadesh, a small distance from Petrea, the capital of Arabia Petrea Several of the ancients are of opinion that she died a virgin, and that she was the legislatrix and govemess of the Israelitish women, as Moses was the legislator of ihe men.

water.

was pleased to listen to their request: he ordered Moses to take his rod, and, with the assistance of Aaron, assemble the people together; which having done, he should speak to the rock in their sight, and it should immediately produce abundance of

Agreeably to these orders, Moses and Aaron assembled the people before the rock, who, no doubt, readily attended in expectation of having those grievances removed of which they had so greatly complained. Hitherto Moses had paid an eaact and absolute obedience to all the commands God had enjoined him; bui now (however it happened) he made some deviation from his instructions, and thereby committed the greatest miscarriage of his whole life. He was ordered to speak to the rock before the people; but, instead of so doing, he spoke to the people, saying, “ Hear now, ye rebels ; must we fetch you water oui of this rock ?” In doing this, he expressed inpatience and heat of spirit, which were in direct opposition to that humility be had hitherto possessed.

This conduct of Moses was highly offensive to God, as appeared from his first striking the rock without iis having the least effect. However, on striking it a second time, the water issued from it in great abundance, and not only the people, but likewise the cattle, were plentifully supplied with that necessary article they had so much wanted.

Though this was the first time that Moses had made the least deviation from the divine injunctions, yet it pleased the Almighty to make hiin sensible of his fault, and to inflict a punishinent on him for his disobedience. Considering Aaron also as concerned with him in the transgression, he denounced this sentence against them conjunctively. “Because,” said he, “ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land, which I have given them.” From this unhappy accident, the place was called Meribah, which, in the Hebrew language, signifies, chiding or strife.

Though Moses had committed this offence, and received the divine chastisement, yet he still preserved the command and government of the people. Intending to de. camp from Kadesh, as a necessary precaution in order to secure the safety of the people, he sent messengers to the king of Edom (upon whose borders they then were) requesting permission to pass through his territories, assuring him that they would noi commit any hostilities, nor give the least molestation to any of his subjecis.

But the haughty Edomite was so far from granting his request, that he came out with a powerful army to oppose him; upon which Moses, after decamping from Kadesh, took another way, and marched to Mount Hor, near the borders of Edom, where they pitched their tents, and for some time encamped.

The time now drawing near, that the Israelites were to penetrate the promised land (into which the Lord bad told Aaron he should not enter because of his transgression at Meribah), God gave Aaron notice that his dissolution was near at hand, that he might the more properly prepare himself for so awful an event. As a necessary introduction, the Almighty commanded Moses to take Aaron, and Eleazar his son (who was to succeed him in the office of high-priest), and conduct them to the top of the mount, where he should strip Aarun of his priestly garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son.

Moses having obeyed these commands, Aaron, in a very short time after, gave up the ghost ;* and when the people heard that he was dead, ihey mourned for him thirty days.

CHAPTER XI.

While the Israelites lay encamped near Mount Hort Arad, one of the kings of Canaan, who dwelt in the south, being inforined of their situation, and that they in

* He was buried on the spot where he died, it bring the ancient custom to bury persons of eminence in high places. See Joshua xxiv. 30, Judges 11. 9. This event happened in the fortieth year after the Israel. ites left Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month, which answers to our July, at which time Aaron was one hundred and twenty-threo years of age. See Numb. XXX111. 38, 39.

This name seems to have been anciently borne by the whole range of Mount Seir, and, when supersoded by the latter denomination, continues to be preserved in the name of the particular summit on which Aaron died. Topographical probabilities concur with local traditions in identifying this Mount Ilor

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tended visiting his dominions, went out with a considerable army to interrupt their progress. Accordingly, coming up with them, an engagement took place, in which the Israelites were worsted, and some of them made prisoners.

In consequence of this repulse, the Israelites made a vow to God, promising, if he would deliver these people into their hands, they would utterly destroy their cities. Their divine protector was pleased to listen to their request; for, upon their engaging the Canaanites a second time, they obtained a complete victory, took possession of their cities, and put all the inhabitants to the sword.

Elated with this success the Israelites decamped from Mount Hor, and took their route by the Red sea, marching round Edom, through which they had been refused a passage by the king of the country. As the way was long, the passes difficult, and the country barren, they, forgetting their late success, and reflecting only on the present inconveniences, relapsed into their old humor of murmuring, and heavily complained both against God and Moses. “Wherefore,” said they," have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness ? for there is no bread, neither is there any water, and our soul loatheth this light bread."

As a punishment to the Israelites for this fresh instance of their impiety and distrust, God sent among them prodigious numbers of fiery serpents, whose stings were so venomous, that those who were bit by them died; and by this plague, great numbers of the Israelites, in a very short space of time, were carried off

. This dreadful calamity so alarmed the people, that they flew to Moses for protection, acknowledging the offence they had committed, and beseeching him to intercede with God in their behalf. Moses, pitying their distress, readily complied with their request; upon which the Almighty was pleased to order him to make a serpent of brass resembling those by which they were afflicted, and to set it up on a high pole; telling him, at the same time, that such as were bitten, if they looked up to this serpent, should be healed.

Moses obeyed the divine command, and though the serpents did not cease biting, that the people might be more sensible of their transgression, yet, on looking up to the brazen serpent, the force of the sting lost its effect, and the person afflicted soon recovered.

The Israelites, after making various marches and encampments, between the countries of Moab and Ammon, without committing the least hostility, at length came to the borders of that part of the country inhabited by the Amorites. Hence Moses sent ambassadors to Sihon their king, requesting permission to pass through his country, and promising, at the same time, not to commit any depredation, or give him the least disturbance.

The Amorite prince, fearful of admitting so formidable a body into the heart of his with the high mountain which rises conspicuously above the surrounding rocks in the vicinity of Petrca, the ancient capital of the Edomites or Nabath.rans, which is in a valley (Wady-Mousa) that cuts the range of Seir about halfway between the Gulf of Akaba and the Dead sea, but rather nearer to the former than to the latter. This mountain, whose rugged pinnacle forms a very striking feature in one of the inost interesting scenes in the world, is of very difficult and steep ascent, which is partly artiicial, rude steps or niches being in some places formed in the rock. Dr. Macmichael, who visited the spot in 1818, in coinpany with Mr. Bankes and Captains Irby and Mangles, says that it took his party one hour and a half to ascend its almost perpendicular sides. If this were really Mount Hor, as there seems little reason to doubt, the high-priest, before he lay down and died on that mountain, must have been able to mark out with his eye much of that wild region in which the Israelites had, for so many long years, wandered to and fro. Froin its suminit, Mount Sinai might clearly be distinguished in the south ; while the boundless desert, marked by so many wonderful transactions, in which he had borne a conspicuous part, spread its wide expanse before him on the west. The supposed tomb of Aaron is enclosed by a small modern building, crowned with a cupola, such as usually cover the remains of Moslem saints. At the time of the above visit, this spot formed the residence of an old Arab hermit, eighty years of age, the one half of which he had lived upon the mountain, from which he seldom descended, and where he chiefly subsisted through the charity of the native shepherds. He conducted the travellers into the building, and showed them the tomb, which lay at the further end of the building, behind two folding leaves of an iron grating. This monument, which is about three feet high, is patched together with fragments of stone and marble, and covered with a ragged pall On the walls near the tomb are suspended beads, blts of cloth, leather, and yam, with paras and siinilar articles, left as votive offerings by the Arabs. The old Arab lighted a lamp of butter, and conducted the travellers to a grotto or vault underneath, which is excavated in the rock, but contains nothing remarkable. The Arabs are in the habit of offering sacrifices to Haroun Aaron), Zenerally of a goat. When, however, they make a vow to slaughter a victim to him, they do not go in the top of the mountain, but think it sufficient to complete their sacrifice at a spot from which the inpola of the tomb is visible in the distance, where, after killing the animal, they throw a heap of stones over the blood that flows to the ground, and then feast on the carcase. The services thus rendered to the toinb of Aaron afford a striking picture of the debasing superstitions into which the Arabs have fallen, Burckhardt, who, in his Moslem character, sacrificed a goat, says, that while he did so his guide gave utterance to such exclamations as the following: "0, Haroun; look upon us! it is for you we slaughter this victini. 0, Haroun, protect us and forgive us! 0, llaroun, be content with our good intentions, for it is but a lean goat! O, Haroun, smooth our paths : and praise be to the Lord of all creatures ***

kingdom, positively denied the Israelites a passage; and thinking it better policy to attack ihan be attac:ed, gathered what force he could, and marched out to give them barile. They met near a place called Jahaz, when a desperate engageineni ensued, in which the Amories were totally defeated, and the whole body put to the sword. The Israelites pursuing iheir conquests made themselves masters of the most considerable places belonging to the Amorites, particularly lieshbon, which, with the vil. lages about ii, Sihon had before taken froin the Moabites.

From Heslben the Israeli:es marched toward Bashan (taking several other places in their way belonging to the Amories, particularly a large city called Jaazer) where the giani (g, another king of the Amorites, resided, and who, on the approach of the Israeli:es, drew out his gigantic troops in order to give them batıle. Fearful lest the Israeliies should be discouraged at the sight of this formidable army, Moses, by the command of God, bade them be of good spirits, and not entertain the least apprehensions of danger, for that God would deliver them into their hands, and they should make as easy a conquest over then as they had done over King Sihon.

Animated a: this intelligence, the Israelites marched with all expedition against the Aniori:es, whom they attacked with such success as to obtain a compleie victory, and not only the whole of ihe people, but likewise King Og and his sons, were put io the sword. They then seized on the principal parts of the country, and utierly destroyed the inhabitants, reserving only the cattle and spoil of the cities, as they had done before in the case of Sihon.

Encouraged by these successes, the Israelites marched to the plains of Moab, and encamped on the bank of the river Jordan, nearly opposite to Jericho. The approach of these victorious strangers struck a terror among the people wherever they went, and the fame of their late success against the Amorites threw Balak, the king of Moab, and all his people, into the most dreadful consternation.

Balak, knowing himself 100 weak to engage the mighty force of Israel himself, formed a strong alliance with his neighbors the Midianites, and a consultation was held between the heads of each, what steps should be taken to avoid the common danger, and to secure themselves against these bold invaders.

The result of this consultation was, that messengers should be sent to Balaam, a nored magician, who lived at Pethor, a city of Mesopotamia, to jnvite him by bribes to come to Moab, and, by cursiog the Israelites, prevent their proving successful in that part of the country. In consequence of this determination, a select number of the principal people, both of Moab and Midian, were despatched to Balaam with many valuable presents, and with orders that they should, it possible, bring him with them to Moab, ihat, by his enchantments and curses, he might destroy the power of the Israelites, and thereby secure them from every kind of danger.

As soon as these depuiies arrived at Pethor ihey delivered their message to Balaam, who desired them io tarry with him that night, for that he could not give them any answer till he had consulted the Lord. The Almighty, knowing the secrets of Balaam's heart, asked what men they were that were with him. To which he replied, “ They are some whom the king of Moab hath sent to me, to let me know thai there is a people come out of Egypt which cover the face of the earth ; and to desire me to come to him and curse ihem, in hopes that he may then be able to overcome them and drive them away.” To this God made answer, “ Thou shalt not go wiih them; thou shalt not curse the people, for ihey are blessed."

Not daring to disobey the divine command, Balaam arose early in the morning, and going to the deputies, dismissed them, saying, “ Be gone to your own country, for the Lord refuseth to give me leave to go with you."

The deputies, on their reiurn to Moab, misrepresented Balaam's answer to the king; for, insiead of telling him that God had refused 10 let him come, they told him that Balaam himself had refused to come. In consequence of this, Balak, suggesting that either the number and quality of his messengers did not answer balaam's ambition, or the value of the presents his covciousness, resolved, if possible, to remove this obstacle by gratifying bo:h. lle accordingly despatched the chiefs of liis nobility 10 Balaam, sending by them much more considerable presents than before, and at the same time this message: “Lei nothing," said he, “ hinder thee from coming to me; for I will promote thee to very great honor, and give thee whatsoever thou shalt ask, if thou will but come and curse this people.'

Balaam, being naturally of a very avaricious disposition, accepted the presents

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