Moses said unto Hobab - For a circumstantial account of this person see the notes on Exodus 2:15, Exodus 2:16; (note), Exodus 2:18; (note); Exodus 3:1; Exodus 4:20; (note), Exodus 4:24; (note); and for the transaction recorded here, and which is probably out of its place, see Exodus 18:5; (note), where the subject is discussed at large.
We are journeying - God has brought us out of thraldom, and we are thus far on our way through the wilderness, travelling towards the place of rest which he has appointed us, trusting in his promise, guided by his presence, and supported by his power. Come thou with us, and we will do thee good. Those who wish to enjoy the heavenly inheritance must walk in the way towards it, and associate with the people who are going in that way. True religion is ever benevolent. They who know most of the goodness of God are the most forward to invite others to partake of that goodness. That religion which excludes all others from salvation, unless they believe a particular creed, and worship in a particular way, is not of God. Even Hobab, the Arab, according to the opinion of Moses, might receive the same blessings which God had promised to Israel, provided he accompanied them in the same way.
The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel - The name Israel is taken in a general sense to signify the followers of God, and to them all the promises in the Bible are made. God has spoken good of them, and he has spoken good to them; and not one word that he hath spoken shall fail. Reader, hast thou left thy unhallowed connections in life? Hast thou got into the camp of the Most High? Then continue to follow God with Israel, and thou shalt be incorporated in the heavenly family, and share in Israel's benedictions.
Hobab, the son of Raguel - Or Reuel Exodus 2:18. Reuel was probably not identical with Jethro: and Hobab was the brother-in-law, not the father-in-law, of Moses; the Hebrew word translated in the King James Version “father-in-law,” signifying simply any relation by marriage (Exodus 3:1 note). Hobab Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11 eventually accompanied the Israelites and obtained a settlement with them in the land of Canaan. Hobab and Jethro may have been brethren and sons of Reuel.
To the Levites was committed the charge of the tabernacle and all that pertained thereto, both in the camp and on the journey. When the camp set forward they were to strike the sacred tent; when a halting place was reached they were to set it up. No person of another tribe was allowed to come near, on pain of death. The Levites were separated into three divisions, the descendants of the three sons of Levi, and each was assigned its special position and work. In front of the tabernacle, and nearest to it, were the tents of Moses and Aaron. On the south were the Kohathites, whose duty it was to care for the ark and the other furniture; on the north Merarites, who were placed in charge of the pillars, sockets, boards, etc.; in the rear the Gershonites, to whom the care of the curtains and hangings was committed. PP 375.1
The position of each tribe also was specified. Each was to march and to encamp beside its own standard, as the Lord had commanded: “Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.” “As they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.” Numbers 2:2, 17. The mixed multitude that had accompanied Israel from Egypt were not permitted to occupy the same quarters with the tribes, but were to abide upon the outskirts of the camp; and their offspring were to be excluded from the community until the third generation. Deuteronomy 23:7, 8. PP 375.2
Scrupulous cleanliness as well as strict order throughout the encampment and its environs was enjoined. Thorough sanitary regulations were enforced. Every person who was unclean from any cause was forbidden to enter the camp. These measures were indispensable to the preservation of health among so vast a multitude; and it was necessary also that perfect order and purity be maintained, that Israel might enjoy the presence of a holy God. Thus He declared: “The Lord thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy.” PP 375.3
In all the journeyings of Israel, “the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them, ... to search out a resting place for them.” Numbers 10:33. Borne by the sons of Kohath, the sacred chest containing God's holy law was to lead the van. Before it went Moses and Aaron; and the priests, bearing silver trumpets, were stationed near. These priests received directions from Moses, which they communicated to the people by the trumpets. It was the duty of the leaders of each company to give definite directions concerning all the movements to be made, as indicated by the trumpets. Whoever neglected to comply with the directions given was punished with death. PP 375.4Read in context »
The forbearance that God has exercised toward the wicked, emboldens men in transgression; but their punishment will be none the less certain and terrible for being long delayed. “The Lord shall rise up as in Mount Perazim, He shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that He may do His work, His strange work; and bring to pass His act, His strange act.” Isaiah 28:21. To our merciful God the act of punishment is a strange act. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Ezekiel 33:11. The Lord is “merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, ... forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” Yet He will “by no means clear the guilty.” Exodus 34:6, 7. While He does not delight in vengeance, He will execute judgment upon the transgressors of His law. He is forced to do this, to preserve the inhabitants of the earth from utter depravity and ruin. In order to save some He must cut off those who have become hardened in sin. “The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.” Nahum 1:3. By terrible things in righteousness He will vindicate the authority of His downtrodden law. And the very fact of His reluctance to execute justice testifies to the enormity of the sins that call forth His judgments and to the severity of the retribution awaiting the transgressor. PP 628.1
But while inflicting judgment, God remembered mercy. The Amalekites were to be destroyed, but the Kenites, who dwelt among them, were spared. This people, though not wholly free from idolatry, were worshipers of God and were friendly to Israel. Of this tribe was the brother-in-law of Moses, Hobab, who had accompanied the Israelites in their travels through the wilderness, and by his knowledge of the country had rendered them valuable assistance. PP 628.2
Since the defeat of the Philistines at Michmash, Saul had made war against Moab, Ammon, and Edom, and against the Amalekites and the Philistines; and wherever he turned his arms, he gained fresh victories. On receiving the commission against the Amalekites, he at once proclaimed war. To his own authority was added that of the prophet, and at the call to battle the men of Israel flocked to his standard. The expedition was not to be entered upon for the purpose of self-aggrandizement; the Israelites were not to receive either the honor of the conquest or the spoils of their enemies. They were to engage in the war solely as an act of obedience to God, for the purpose of executing His judgment upon the Amalekites. God intended that all nations should behold the doom of that people that had defied His sovereignty, and should mark that they were destroyed by the very people whom they had despised. PP 628.3Read in context »