THE works of the wicked are darkness (Isa. 29. 15), and their retribution is darkness (Ezkl. 31.): like a pot of earthenware whose cover is of the same material.--Numb. Rabba 1.
The tribe of Levi took no part in the making of the golden calf, and moreover punished the offence of the others (Exod. 32.). They were therefore set apart for the service of God, and were not to be numbered in common with the rest of the people.--Numb. Rabba 1.
The tribe of Levi then was not to be numbered with the people. A great king had many legions, a census of which was necessary, but amongst them was one legion known as the king's body-guard. His mandate therefore was to separate his own bodyguard from the ordinary legions and not to count them together, since these were exclusively for the service of the king. Thus the people were counted by themselves (Numb. 2. 33) and the Levites by themselves (Numb. 3. 14).--Numb. Rabba 1.
If the Gentiles would only consider how beneficial the Temple of Jerusalem was to them they would have ornamented and guarded it. At the consecration of that Temple we find the following prayer offered by King Solomon: 'Moreover, a stranger that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake, when he shall come and pray towards this house, hear Thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to Thee for,
that all the people of the earth may know thy name, and fear Thee, as do thy people Israel' (1 Kings 8. 41, 42).
Mark then that to the Israelites' prayer there is a condition attached for the granting thereof. For the prayer of Solomon proceeds: 'Then hear Thou from heaven thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and render unto every one, according unto all his ways, whose heart Thou knowest' (2 Chr. 6. 30). There is a condition or the fulfilment of the Israelites' prayer, but to the prayer of the stranger or non-Jew no condition is attached, and Solomon prays that the Lord may grant his prayer unconditionally.--Numb. Rabba 1.
Potiphar, frequently observing Joseph moving his lips (in prayer), demanded one day an explanation of this (to him) strange conduct. When told by Joseph that he was praying to his God, he asked him to let him see that God. Joseph invited him outside, and told him to look up at the glaring sun, which, of course, Potiphar was unable to do. 'This,' said Joseph, 'is one of my God's messengers. How can you then hope to look at the great Master when you are unable to look at one of his servants?'--Numb. Rabba 1.
The world was like a wilderness before the Exodus and the giving of God's behests on Sinai.--Numb. Rabba 2.
The Israelites were the first to introduce national flags.--Numb. Rabba 2.
Since Israel was consecrated to the service of God and the Divine Glory was to dwell in the Mishkan which they erected, it was but proper that they should have also their banners. Each tribe had to have colours on its banner corresponding to the colours of the precious stones which were on Aaron's breastplate.
The banner of Reuben was red, and in the centre painted mandrake. That of Simeon was green, and in its centre it had the picture of Shechem. That of Levi had a tricolour, one stripe of white, one of black, and one
of red, and in the centre it carried the picture of the Urim and Tumim. Judah's banner had the colour of the sky, and in the centre the picture of a lion.
Issachar's banner was blackish, and had in the centre the picture of the sun and the moon. Zebulun had a whitish banner which carried the picture of a ship in the centre. Dan's banner had the colour of sapphire, and an image of a serpent in its centre. Gad's was a mixture of black and white, and carried the picture of a camp. Naphtali's had the peculiar colour of a pale reddish wine, and the picture in its centre was that of a hind. Asher's banner bore the colour of a precious stone, the ornament of a woman, and the picture of an olive-tree in the centre. The colour of Joseph's banner was of a deep black, and had the following pictures: Egypt, then an ox representing Ephraim, and a unicorn to represent Manasseh. Benjamin's banner had some of the colours of each tribe, i.e. twelve different colours, and the picture of a wolf in the centre.--Numb. Rabba 2.
Moses was much perplexed in trying to arrange the positions which the tribes should take up with their banners, as he was anxious to avoid jealousy amongst them. If, thought he, I tell Reuben, for instance, to take his position in the east, he might say the south would suit him better, and so on. But he was spared the ordeal, for the tribes had it clearly arranged at their father's deathbed how they should take up their respective positions when they should go out to bury him.
When Jacob was dying, says Rabbi Chuma, son of Chananiah, he assembled his sons (Gen. 49.) and charged them to live a godly life and to take upon themselves the kingdom of heaven. Having finished this charge, he made arrangements with them concerning his burial. He would not have any of their children (who had Canaanite mothers) nor any of the Egyptians concern themselves with his funeral, but the sons should prepare everything and follow
him to his grave in manner following: Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun should take up their position on the east, Reuben, Simeon and Gad on the south, Asher and Naphtali on the north. Joseph should not carry the corpse (therefore his sons were permitted to do so), for he was a king and they must pay him deference. Levi should not carry the coffin, for he was destined to carry the Ark of God and to be separated for holiness. 'And,' said Jacob, 'as I now arrange with you as to your respective positions at my burial, so shall it be arranged when the Lord causes his Shechinah to dwell in the midst of you in your journey with your flags.'--Numb. Rabba 2.
Regarding the four winds of heaven, from the east cometh out light for the world, therefore Judah who represents sovereignty, Issachar the pattern of learning, and Zebulun who represents navigation and commerce, dwelt with their flags on the east side, and were the leaders in the journey. The west sends forth snow, hail, heat and cold. From the south come beneficent dew and beneficent rains; and from the north comes darkness. On the south therefore was Reuben, who represents repentance, bringing forth God's mercy and compassion: he was accompanied by Gad, the type of a troop which he shall overcome; and Simeon was in their centre, because Simeon requires strength and mercy to be his shelter, and that is obtained by repentance. They -those three mentioned-were second in the journey, showing that repentance is second to the Torah only. When those two parties with their banners were arranged, the Levites came forth carrying the Mishkan. On the west thereof were placed Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh, being able to weather the snow and hail. Dan, the followers of Jeroboam, who darkened Israel with two golden calves which he erected, took his place on the north, and was joined by Asher who was to bear light to Dan's darkness, and by Naphtali who was blessed
with plenty. These were the last in the journey with the banners.--Numb. Rabba 2.
'Thus shall be thy seed' (Gen. 15. 5) was the blessing of God unto Abraham. A traveller being a long time on his journey without finding any shelter, or any wholesome water, or a shady tree under which to take his rest, all at once beheld, at a short distance, a large tree. On nearing it he found, to his delight, that not only had the tree extensive branches, affording him shade against the scorching sun, but the ground around it was very clean and fit for him to lie down to rest; its fruit was sweet and exceedingly palatable, and near it there flowed a brook of pure wholesome water, of which he partook to his delight. Having appeased his hunger with the delicious fruit, quenched his thirst with the beautiful water, and rested his aching limbs, he now rose to proceed on his journey. Gazing up at the noble tree, he exclaimed, 'What shall I bless thee with? That thy branches shall be extensive? Such is already the case. That thy fruit shall be good and the water round about thee sweet and pure? That is already thy portion. I can only bless thee with this, that all the trees planted from thy seed may be as noble in every respect as thou art.' Thus God said to Abraham: 'I cannot bless thee with faith, for that thou already hast, nor with peace, charity, or goodwill to man, for these virtues are already thine. 'Thus shall be thy seed' is the only blessing I can bestow on thee.'--Numb. Rabba 2.
Israel is compared to sand (Gen. 22.). just as sand, if it gets into food, destroys the teeth, so if you touch Israel you will bring down calamity upon you (Jer. 2.). Just as sand going through fire becomes converted from a dull substance to a clear glass, so Israel going through the fire of persecution comes out brighter and clearer. Moreover, other nations are compared to lime (Isa. 33. 12.) and Israel to sand. As one cannot build with lime unless it
is mixed with sand, so the nations cannot exist or flourish without Israel in the midst of them.--Numb. Rabba 2.
The Israelites are compared to stars, to dust, and to sand. There was a man who was efficient in three different handicrafts, a goldsmith, a potter, and a glassblower. Those who respected him alluded to him as the goldsmith; those who were indifferent to him called him the glassblower; and those who had contempt for him named him 'the potter.' Thus Moses who loved his flock calls them (Deut. 1.) 'the stars of heaven'; Hosea, who was indifferent to them, speaks of them as 'the sand on the seashore'; and Balaam who was their enemy calls them 'the dust of Jacob.'--Numb. Rabba 2.
The Israelites are declared to be holy unto the Lord (Jer. 2. 3). It is forbidden to touch holiness, therefore those who persecute them will not escape retribution.--Numb. Rabba 2.
Nisson was the most suitable month, neither too hot nor too cold, nor a rainy month; therefore it was selected for the Exodus.--Numb. Rabba 3.
No one under thirty years of age was eligible for the office of priest.--Numb. Rabba 3.
A child born after seven months of pregnancy can live, but not one of eight months.--Numb. Rabba 4.
The Ark was the most precious of all that the Mishkan contained.--Numb. Rabba 4.
People might have had some misconception as to the holiness of incense and the Ark, were they not specially mentioned as very holy.
Though incense is connected with the death of Nadab and Abihu and with the perishing of Korah and his associates, one must not conclude that its power was only for punishment, for it is mentioned also as having stayed the plague (Numb. 17.). The holy Ark too was the means through which a host of Philistines and the men of Beth-Shemesh were killed; but one must not
forget the blessings which it also brought (2 Saml. 6. 11, 12).--Numb. Rabba 4-
Hungation (a heathen sage) called the attention of Rabbi Jochanan b. Zakkai to a discrepancy in the number of the Levites (Numb. 3.). Moses declares them to be 22,000, but when you count their number separately you find as follows: 7,500, 8,600, and 6,200, making a total of 22,300. 'Hence,' he said, 'it is clear that your Moses was dishonest, or he was ignorant of elementary arithmetic. God said,' he proceeded, 'that the firstborn who outnumber the Levites (and consequently cannot find Levites to redeem them) should redeem themselves by giving each five shekels, and the whole amount received was to be given to Aaron and his sons. In reality there were more than sufficient Levites to redeem the whole of the firstborn, and there was no call for the latter to pay their shekels for redemption; but Moses, if be was able to count correctly, purposely gives the number of Levites as less than they actually were, in order that the (presumed) deficiency should cause a certain number of the firstborn to pay five shekels each, which were to find their way into the pockets of Moses' brother and nephews.'
The reply of R. Jochanan was: 'Moses was neither dishonest nor ignorant of elementary arithmetic, but you, though you are able to read, are unable to think or to understand. When he counted the Levites simply to ascertain their number, there certainly were 22,300, but when he ascertained how many there were for the purpose of redeeming or replacing the firstborn, 300 out of that number of Levites had to be excluded, inasmuch as they were (in addition to being Levites) also firstborn and could not redeem themselves, and could not be counted, in that capacity, as Levites.' The answer satisfied Hungation.--Numb. Rabba 4.
He that serves on God's altar must be free from haughtiness and false pride. Eleazar, the son of Aaron,
styled 'the chief over the chief of the Levites' (Numb. 3. 32) did not disdain to carry a vessel with oil in his right hand, one with incense in his left, and the daily meat offerings hanging down from his girdle, and he would not allow any one else to carry them for him.--Numb. Rabba 4.
The infliction of stripes, given in the Torah, was not a severe punishment, and was moreover given in many instances in lieu of capital punishment, which the delinquent might have deserved besides. When the punishment had been inflicted, there was to be no further reproach attached to the punished individual, but he was to be received in the community as a brother (Deut. 25).--Numb. Rabba 5.
Pedigrees are reckoned after the father's, not after the mother's side.--Numb. Rabba 6.
Unless one makes marked progress in his study and acquires very considerable knowledge within five years, he had better give up further attempts.--Numb. Rabba 6.
The badger, the תחש, mentioned in Exod. 35. 23, was a unique creature with one horn in its forehead, and it was unknown whether it belonged to the clean animals or the beasts of the field until Moses used its skin for the Mishkan, when it was known to belong to the clean kind of animals. It ceased to exist after its use for the Mishkan.--Numb. Rabba 6.
The word דוכן used for the priestly benediction has its origin in the word Dux, frequently found in the Midrash, meaning 'man of distinction'; and as this service was the function of the Priests--Duche--it took its name from the men performing it.--Numb. Rabba 7.
David in saying (Ps. 33.) 'The eyes of the Lord are over those who fear Him, who hope for his lovingkindness,' alludes to the tribe of Levi, who had no share in the division of the seven nations and no earthly heritage, but are servants on the altar of God.--Numb. Rabba 5.
The malady of leprosy was incurred by those who were guilty of either adultery, idolatry, murder, profaning God's name, profane language, haughtiness, robbery, lying, perjury, slander, or unduly intruding in another man's sphere.--Numb. Rabba 6.
When the king dies, long live the king. When the wise man dies it is not always an easy matter to replace him.--Numb. Rabba 6.
The nature of the work which the Israelites had to perform in Egypt maimed many of them, but when they stood at the foot of Sinai to receive the Decalogue all were cured; there was not one of them either blind, deaf, lame, or with any other defect.--Numb. Rabba 7.
At the giving of the Ten Commandments the whole house of Israel, without distinction of tribes, were alike willing and ready to take upon themselves the burden of the Law. 'All the people together answered and said,' etc. (Exod. 19.); but the whole of Israel soon after became unfaithful, and the one tribe only, that of Levi, kept steadfast to God's behests and proved themselves worthy of his service.--Numb. Rabba 7.
God bestowed three virtues on Israelites by which they may always be known. An Israelite is to be compassionate, merciful, and modest-Numb. Rabba 8.
'God loveth the righteous' (Ps. 146.). This expression has special reference to those of the righteous who are not priests or Levites. Priests and Levites inherit their dignity, and are spoken of as 'a house,' e.g. 'the house of Aaron' or 'the house of Levi' 'but righteousness is not hereditary there is no 'house of righteousness '; it comes spontaneously to good and worthy men.--Numb. Rabba 8.
'The Lord preserveth the strangers.' The גרים, the proselytes who embrace Judaism, are kept steadfast in their faith by God Himself, and are in every respect like a Jew born. Love is granted to Israel (Obad. 1.): the same gift is bestowed on them (Deut. 10.). Songs
are given to Israel (Isa. 61.), and also given to them (Isa. 56.). Preservation is promised to Israel (Ps. 121.), and preservation is promised to them.--Numb. Rabba 8.
Sincere converts to Judaism, who seek shelter under the wings of the Shechinah, and worship only the one Holy God, and Jews of a blameless character, pay by their lives a tribute of honour to God.--Numb. Rabba 8.
When the Gibeonites asked for Joshua's help (Josh. 10) he was disinclined to inconvenience his own people to afford assistance to what he termed 'these strangers,' but he was reminded that he himself was the offspring of one who was an alien in Egypt, Joshua being a descendant of Joseph.--Numb. Rabba 8.
An Arabian prince complained to Rabbi Akiba against his wife, who being an Arabian woman gave birth to a perfectly white child. The Rabbi, who was always anxious to establish good and friendly relations amongst men, especially amongst those who should live in peace and in harmony, knowing the beams on the ceiling in the Arabian's house to be dazzling white, mentioned Jacob's contrivance of obtaining speckled sheep, and pointed out that the phenomenon of his child might be due to the extreme whiteness of his ceiling at which the princess gazed.--Numb. Rabba 9.
Of the many that go to sea most return, only a small percentage are lost. Also of those who plunge into the sea of matrimony most are happy, and only a small number are misalliances.--Numb. Rabba 9.
Most of the many misdeeds which man is liable to commit he can to some extent redeem--such as theft, fraud, etc.; but adultery never. The man who seduces another man's wife is beyond redemption.--Numb. Rabba 9.
'Thy camp shall be holy' (Deut. 23.). This is Moses' warning against adultery when going to war, as God would remove his presence from their midst if there were adulterers in their camp.--Numb. Rabba 9.
However the Israelites in Egypt may, by reason of their slavery, have gone astray, they kept themselves pure from sexual vice.--Numb. Rabba 9.
It is not judicious to lodge in the same house with any woman--even with wife, daughter, or sister--if the relationship is not known to the people of the place; for the world is slanderously inclined.--Numb. Rabba 10.
He that sanctifies himself here will receive sanctification from on high.--Numb. Rabba 10.
In man's intellect there seem to be four degrees, and thus we find him losing his wits by four several degrees when indulging in strong drink. When a man drinks one-fourth more than is good for him, he loses one-fourth of his intellect; when he indulges in as much again, half of his faculties are for the time paralysed; after the third cup over and above what is good for him, he begins to speak incoherently, indeed he knows not what he says; and when he has indulged in the full four parts he is intellectually wrecked.--Numb. Rabba 10.
Where wine goes in, intellect comes out, as well as .secrets.--Numb. Rabba 10.
Israel will have her kingdom restored to her.--Numb. Rabba 10.
See what an excess of wine did in the world. Noah came out of the ark with his three sons, his wife and their wives, who composed the human family of the world; and a fourth of this he cursed in consequence of his indulgence.--Numb. Rabba 10.
Intoxicants lead to fornication.--Numb. Rabba 10.
Wine was given to a criminal sentenced to death, before the execution, to mitigate his sorrow.--Numb. Rabba 10.
'And I have separated you from other nations that you shall be mine' (Levit. 20. 26). The Jew is indeed unique in many respects. In his ploughing, sowing, reaping, shearing and threshing, in his firstfruits and
liquids he has laws which teach him charity and unselfishness. And in his very appearance, as to his hair, etc., and in his reckoning of time, in all this he is separated.--Numb. Rabba 10.
There is a different proceeding in picking out the bad from the good or vice versâ. If one wishes to separate the bad from the good, one usually does it in one attempt; whilst if the good are picked out from the bad one is, as a rule, not satisfied with one attempt, for one is eager to find more and more of the good, and so reverts to seeking out more, in the hope of finding what is worth selecting. Thus the Holy One, blessed be He! in selecting Israel from the heathen, is continually looking forward for more of other nations to be brought under the wings of the Shechinah.--Numb. Rabba 10.
Intemperance of the Ten Tribes was the cause of their captivity.--Numb. Rabba 10.
When the prophets went forth on their mission the Holy Spirit rested upon them, and awed their audience, and inspired them with respect for the prophets.--Numb. Rabba 10.
The laws concerning the Nazirite are placed near the priestly blessings because he who debars himself from partaking of strong drink may look forward for the blessings of grace and peace which the priests pronounce.--Numb. Rabba 11.
It would seem strange that although God told Abraham, 'In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed' (Gen. 12. 8), yet we do not find Abraham blessing his own sons. But in his pure and simple faith Abraham left this to God himself, arguing that one son of his (Ishmael) might perhaps be unworthy of God's blessings. 'I am but flesh and blood'--or dust and ashes--as he was wont to say, 'and cannot decide so weighty a matter; when I am gone hence let the Lord do what seemeth good in his eyes.' And after the death of Abraham we find that the Lord blessed his son Isaac (Gen. 25. 11),
and this blessing Isaac bestowed on Jacob, and the latter on his sons.--Numb. Rabba 11.
It is the priest's function to bless the people in the name of the Lord, and the Lord blesses the priests.--Numb. Rabba 11.
Consider the great value of peace. Peace was the reward Abraham received for his faith and righteousness (Gen. 15). It was all that Jacob prayed for (Gen. 28). The reward of Aaron was a covenant of peace (Mal. 2.); the same was the reward of Phineas (Numb. 25. 12). The Torah could receive no higher dignity than that all its paths are peace (Prov. 3.). Jerusalem is comforted with peace (Isa. 32.). On the other hand, when Ammon and Moab incurred retribution they were to be deprived of peace (Deut. 23.). When Israel receives the priestly benediction, it is that of peace.--Numb. Rabba 11.
In pronouncing the priestly benediction, the Cohanim are to place themselves before the Ark with the whole congregation fronting them. The blessing can have no effect on any one behind them. The Cohanim. are to form their hands in the shape of a window. The first part of the benediction, 'The Lord bless and keep thee' refers to childhood, which requires keeping (care). The second portion, 'Give thee grace,' refers to manhood, to intercourse with the world, and the last part, 'Grant thee peace,' to declining years.--Numb. Rabba 11.
The truth of the Torah is a weapon to its possessor.--Numb. Rabba 12.
The ninety-first Psalm was composed by Moses.--Numb. Rabba 12.
If any one tells you that there is no such thing as resurrection, refer him to what one of God's servants (Elijah) did (1 Kings 17.). If one says God does not receive the penitent, show him the case of Manasseh (2 Chr. 33.). If a man asserts that one who is known as a barren woman will never bear children, remind him of Hannah (1 Saml. 2.). If you are told God does not
deliver from the waters, cite Moses (Exod. 2.); if that He does not save from fire or wild beasts, mention Daniel (Dan. 3. and 6.); if that He does not heal leprosy, remind him of Naaman.--Numb. Rabba 14.
It is prohibited to add to the canon of the Bible, consisting of עשרים וארבע twenty-four books.--.Numb. Rabba 14.
There were many features in the life of Joseph remarkably similar to those of his father. Jacob's mother was for a time barren; so was Joseph's. Jacob's mother had two sons only; so had Joseph's mother. Jacob's brother sought his life; so did Joseph's brothers. Again, each went from Palestine to a foreign land, each had children born in a foreign country, the fathers-in-law of each were blessed for the sake of their sons-in-law; both Jacob and Joseph went to Egypt; each made his brothers swear to keep the promise made to him, each was embalmed, the bones of each were taken away from Egypt, etc. Hence the Scripture has it, 'These are the generations of Jacob,' and follows at once with Joseph instead of with Reuben, who was the eldest.--Numb. Rabba 14.
'I have made thee a god to Pharaoh,' said the Lord to Moses: a god to Pharaoh, but not a god.--Numb. Rabba 14.
'No man shall see me and live,' said God (Exod. 33.). Not in this earthly life, but in the higher life.--Numb. Rabba 14.
God, notwithstanding the various injunctions concerning light (Exod. 27., Levit. 24., and Numb. 15.), requires no light from man. There is no darkness with Him (Ps. 139. and Danl. 2.).--Numb. Rabba 15.
Man's eyes have white and black in them; but the power of sight, the lens supplying light, is the black.--Numb. Rabba 15.
The respect and honour due to one's teacher, and indeed to learned men in general, includes the following:
not to stand or sit in the place he has temporarily vacated, not to contradict anything he says, not to interrupt him whilst he speaks; to put any question you may have to put to him with marked respect, and to reply to anything he asks of you without frivolity.--Numb. Rabba 15.
Man's eyes and his heart prompt him to sin.--Numb. Rabba 17.
Four sorts of men may be termed wicked men: one who threatens personal violence, one who borrows and refuses to pay, he who is abusive to another and has no remorse when his temper has cooled down, and he who causes strife and ill-feeling amongst his fellows.--Numb. Rabba 18.
Aaron's staff (Numb. 17. 23) was the one Judah had (Gen. 38. 18), and this same staff was afterwards in possession of every king of Israel until the destruction of the Temple, when it was lost; but it will be restored to the hands of King Messiah.--Numb. Rabba 18.
When the Jews in the wilderness were bitten by the serpent, and they confessed their sin, they were at once forgiven. This illustrates the efficacy of repentance, and teaches us moreover the wholesome lesson not to tyrannize over one who has offended but expressed regret for it.--Numb. Rabba 19.
So great was King Solomon's wisdom that by merely looking at any one he could tell whether that person had a fatal disease. When he once sent to the king of Egypt for skilful masons to build the Temple, Pharaoh selected a number of sick men and sent them to Solomon. When Solomon saw them he detected a fatal disease in every one of them. He supplied the men with shrouds and sent them back to Pharaoh with a letter stating that he concluded that there were no shrouds in Egypt for the men Pharaoh sent, so he had furnished them with the necessary apparel and sent them back. They died shortly after.--Numb. Rabba 19.
If you have not acquired knowledge, what can you
claim to be possessed of? If you have knowledge, what do you lack?--Numb. Rabba 19.
He who refuses to accept an apology from one who has offended him is wicked.--Numb. Rabba 19.
Let not the nations of the earth say that God has favoured Israel and neglected them, for whatever benefit He bestowed on Israel was given also to other nations. Solomon was a great king of Israel; so was Nebuchadnezzar a great king. David was wealthy; so was Haman. Moses was very great, and so was Balaam. But let us see what use the men of Israel made of their gifts, and how those of the other nations abused their gifts.
Solomon employed his wisdom to build that great Temple which was the admiration of mankind, to compose hymns of praise to God, to write books of moral lessons and instruction for the world; Nebuchadnezzar used his gifts for debauchery, revelry, and oppression. David used his wealth to the glory of the Giver; Haman offered his wealth to have a nation destroyed. Moses, the meek and the good, only lived for the good of others, and stood always in the breach between a sinning people and an offended God; Balaam was in feverish haste and anxiety to curse a people without having received the slightest provocation.
Further, all Hebrew prophets were concerned about the welfare of other nations as well as of Israel. Jeremiah bewailed the calamity of Moab (Jer. 48.); Ezekiel laments the sorrows of Tyrus (Ezkl. 27.); and Isaiah is full of grief for the reverses of other nations. God had granted his Holy Spirit to non-Israelites, but they were found wanting.--Numb. Rabba 20.
The angel who stood in the way of Balaam with a sword in his hands could have effected his purpose without a drawn sword. Do we not find that the angel of the Lord slew in one night Sennacherib and his army without any weapon? (Isa. 37.). But he showed Balaam how perverse he was, in that he sought to reverse the order of
things. Isaac's blessing to Jacob was that his power should be with his mouth (prayer), and to Esau he gave the power of the sword; whereas now Balaam was going to assume the power of Jacob: so the angel showed him his legal and rightful weapon, the sword; he showed him also the weapon by which he was to lose his life.--Numb. Rabba 20.
In the matter of Zelophehad's daughters, there arises first the question why, out of all the difficult matters that Moses had to decide and adjust, this one should have so perplexed him that he submitted it to God. Again, as soon as he received the judgment which he was to pronounce, we find him praying for the appointment of his successor, whilst he was yet, so to say, in the midst of his work. The fact is that Zelophehad's daughters had, as was the custom, in the first instance put the matter of complaint before the princes of ten, then before those of fifty; and when they hesitated to pronounce judgment it was referred to those of a hundred, who referred them to Moses. Moses, in his meekness, seeing that it had been before the several courts, none of which would give its decision, thought it would be arrogance on his part to consent tacitly to be a higher authority than the several princes who had had the matter before them, and so he submitted it to God. Seeing by the decision of the Most High that children, including daughters in the absence of sons, had to inherit their fathers' estates, and knowing that his sons were unqualified for his estate, viz. the leadership of the Israelites, he prayed now for a successor to himself, and the Lord told him that his mantle would fall on Joshua, his faithful disciple.--Numb. Rabba 21.
He who causes his fellow-man to sin is worse than he who seeks a man's life. The Egyptians pursued the Israelites with the sword (Exod. 15.), Edom threatened them with the sword (Numb. 20.): yet the Israelites were told not to despise an Egyptian or an Edomite (Deut . 23.).
But Ammon and Moab, who prompted the Israelites to sin, were excluded from coming into the fold of Israel, even unto the tenth generation (Deut. 26.). Further, the Israelites were told, when going out to war, to offer peace first when approaching a town; but not so with the Midianites, whom they were commanded to attack and smite.--Numb. Rabba 21.