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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 6: Harmony of the Law, Part IV, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Numbers 20

Numbers 20:14-22

14. And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the king of Edom, Thus saith thy brother Israel, Thou knowest all the travel that hath befallen us;

14. Misit autem Moses nuntium e Cades ad regem Edom, Sic dicit frater tuns Israel, Tu nosti omnem laborem qui apprehendit nos.

15. How our fathers went down into Egypt, and we have dwelt in Egypt a long time; and the Egyptians vexed us and our fathers:

15. Quia descenderunt patres nostri in AEgyptum, et mansimus in AEgypto diebus multis, afflixeruntque nos AEgyptii, et patres nostros.

16. And when we cried unto the Lord, he heard our voice, and sent an angel, and hath brought us forth out of Egypt; and, behold, we are in Kadesh, a city in the uttermost of thy border.

16. Et clamavimus ad Jehovam, qui exaudivit vocem nostram, et misit angelum qui nos eduxit ex AEgypto. Et ecce, sumus in Cades, urbe in extremitate termini tui.

17. Let us pass, I pray thee, through thy country: we will not pass through the fields, or through the vineyards, neither will we drink of the water of the wells: we will go by the king’s high-way, we will not turn to the right hand nor to the left, until we have passed thy borders.

17. Transeamus, agedum, per terram tuam, non transibimus per agros aut per vineas, neque bibemus aquam putei, via regia gradiemur: neque declinabimus ad dexteram aut ad sinistram, donec transierimus terminum tuum.

18. And Edom said unto him, Thou shalt not pass by me, lest I come out against thee with the sword.

18. Cui respondit Edom, Non transibis per me, ne forte cum gladio egrediar in occursum tui.

19. And the children of Israel said unto him, We will go by the high-way; and if I and my cattle drink of thy water, then I will pay for it: I will only (without doing any thing else) go through on my feet.

19. Et dixerunt ei filii Israel, Per viam ascendemus: quod si aquas tuas biberimus ego et animalia mea, dabo pretium illarum. Tantummodo sine negotio transeam pedibus meis.

20. And he said, Thou shalt not go through. And Edom came out against him with much people, and with a strong hand.

20. Verum dixit, Non transibis. Et egressus est in occursum ejus cum populo multo, et manu forti.

21. Thus Edom refused to give Israel passage through his border: wherefore Israel turned away from him.

21. Renuit igitur Edom permittere Israeli, ut transiret per terminum suum: tunc Israel declinavit ab eo.

22. And the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, journeyed from Kadesh, and came unto mount Hor.

22. Et profecti sunt e Cades, veneruntque filii Israel, tota congregatio ad montem Hor.


14. And Moses sent messengers from Kadesh. His first narrative does not explain the cause of the embassy, but from the account in Deuteronomy it is plain float peace  113 was sought for from the Edomites as brethren by the command of God. God, therefore, prescribes the conditions of peace and war; lest the Israelites should rashly attack ally, who were not to be reckoned enemies, although they might act towards them with little humanity. Undoubtedly this would seem hard to His people that they were to leave a country, which was close to them, untouched, and to seek a more distant place of abode. But God restrains their impatience for a twofold reason; first, because it was unjust and by no means humane to assail their kindred; and both these nations were descended from Isaac, and their original ancestors were twin brothers. Circumcision, too, was common to them both, a mark of their being’ of the same origin, and a bond of fraternal connection. But the other reason ought to have had more weight in restraining them, because it was unlawful to cast the children of Esau out of the possession, which they had obtained by a similar right as that whereby the land of Canaan had been promised to the posterity of Jacob. If, therefore, they desired to enjoy their own inheritance, the decree was not to be violated which God had pronounced by the mouth of Isaac, (Ge 27:39;) especially since Esau the founder of the race (of the Edomites) had fixed his home in Mount Seir by the secret inspiration of God, and to that place had his posterity beck confined. God, therefore, now admonishes them that it would have been an act of sacrilegious audacity, if the Israelites should attempt to overthrow the prophecy of Isaac, by which Esau had been declared the possessor of a rich and fertile soil.



“Sauf conduit, et amitie;” safe conduct and friendship. — Fr.

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