Numbers 11:25
And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
Jump to: BarnesBensonBICalvinCambridgeClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsJFBKDKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWParkerPoolePulpitSermonSCOTTBWESTSK
EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(25) In a cloud.—Hebrew, In the cloud.

And gave it unto . . . —Better, and put it upon, as in Leviticus 2:15.

They prophesied, and did not cease.—Better, they prophesied, but did so no more. Comp. Genesis 8:12; Exodus 11:6; 2Samuel 2:28; so the LXX. The word prophesy does not necessarily denote the prediction of future events. It is elsewhere employed to denote the celebration of the praises of God, either with the voice or with instruments of music. (Comp. 1Samuel 10:6; 1Kings 18:29; 1Chronicles 25:1-3; Jeremiah 29:26.)

Numbers 11:25. Rested on them — Not only moved them for a time, but took up his settled abode with them, because the use and end of this gift were perpetual. They prophesied — Discoursed of the word and works of God in a marvellous manner, as the prophets did. So this word is used, 1 Samuel 10:5-6; Joel 2:28; 1 Corinthians 14:3. Yet were they not hereby constituted teachers, but civil magistrates, who, together with the spirit of government, received also the spirit of prophecy, as a sign and seal, both to themselves and to the people, that God had called them to that employment. They did not cease — Either for that day, continuing in that exercise all that day, and, it may be, all the night too, as it is said of Saul, 1 Samuel 19:24; or, afterward also. For this was a continued gift, conferred upon them to enable them the better to discharge their magistracy; which was more expedient for them than for the rulers of other people, because the Jews were under a theocracy, or the government of God, and even their civil controversies were decided out of that word of God which the prophets expounded.

11:24-30 We have here the fulfilment of God's word to Moses, that he should have help in the government of Israel. He gave of his Spirit to the seventy elders. They discoursed to the people of the things of God, so that all who heard them might say, that God was with them of a truth. Two of the elders, Eldad and Medad, went not out unto the tabernacle, as the rest, being sensible of their own weakness and unworthiness. But the Spirit of God found them in the camp, and there they exercised their gift of praying, preaching, and praising God; they spake as moved by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God is not confined to the tabernacle, but, like the wind, blows where He listeth. And they that humble themselves shall be exalted; and those who are most fit for government, are least ambitious of it. Joshua does not desire that they should be punished, but only restrained for the future. This motion he made out of zeal for what he thought to be the unity of the church. He would have them silenced, lest they should occasion a schism, or should rival Moses; but Moses was not afraid of any such effects from that Spirit which God had put upon them. Shall we reject those whom Christ has owned, or restrain any from doing good, because they are not in every thing of our mind? Moses wishes all the Lord's people were prophets, that he would put his Spirit upon all of them. Let the testimony of Moses be believed by those who desire to be in power; that government is a burden. It is a burden of care and trouble to those who make conscience of the duty of it; and to those who do not, it will prove a heavier burden in the day of account. Let the example of Moses be followed by those in power; let them not despise the advice and assistance of others, but desire it, and be thankful for it. If all the present number of the Lord's people were rendered prophets, or ministers, by the Spirit of Christ, though not all agreed in outward matters, there is work enough for all, in calling sinners to repentance, and faith in our Lord Jesus.They prophesied - i. e. under the extraordinary impulse of the Holy Spirit they uttered forth the praises of God, or declared His will. Compare the marginal references.

And did not cease - Rather, and added not, i. e. they prophesied at this time only and not afterward. The sign was granted on the occasion of their appointment to accredit them in their office; it was not continued, because their proper function was to be that of governing not prophesying.

25. when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease—As those elders were constituted civil governors, their "prophesying" must be understood as meaning the performance of their civil and sacred duties by the help of those extraordinary endowments they had received; and by their not "ceasing" we understand, either that they continued to exercise their gifts uninterruptedly the first day (see 1Sa 19:24), or that these were permanent gifts, which qualified them in an eminent degree for discharging the duty of public magistrates. Rested upon them, i.e. not only moved them for a time, but took up his settled abode with them, because the use and end of this gift was not temporary, but perpetual; they prophesied, i.e. discoursed of the word and works of God in a singular and marvellous manner, as the prophets did. So this word is used 1 Samuel 10:5,6 Joe 2:28 Acts 2:17 1 Corinthians 14:3. Yet were they not hereby constituted prophets or teachers, but civil magistrates and rulers, who together with the Spirit of government, which is here sufficiently implied, received also the Spirit of prophecy, as a sign and seal, both to themselves and to the people, that God had called them to that employment, and would be with them in it, as it was with Saul upon the same occasion, 1 Samuel 10:10.

Did not cease, either for that day; they continued in that exercise all that day, and, it may be, all the night too, as it is said of Saul, 1 Samuel 19:24; or afterwards also, to note that this was a continued gift conferred upon them, to enable them the better to discharge their magistracy; which was more expedient for them than for the rulers of other people, because the Jews were under a theocracy, or the government of God, and even their civil controversies were decided out of that word of God which the prophets expounded; and in their wilderness condition they had frequent occasions of seeking counsel from God, which was the work of prophets, and they were to determine all things agreeably to the mind and will of God, which therefore they were obliged to study. Others translate the words, and they added not; so the sense is, They prophesied only this day for an assurance of vocation to and due qualification for their work, but afterwards they prophesied no more; the gift of prophecy ceased in them, and only the Spirit of government rested upon them.

And the Lord came down in a cloud,.... In a cloud of glory, or a glorious one, as the Targums; either in the same that went before the people in the wilderness, or in one distinct from it, and only used on this occasion, as a visible token of the presence of God:

and spake unto him; to Moses, talked with him, as he said he would, Numbers 11:17,

and took of the Spirit which was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders; See Gill on Numbers 11:17,

and it came to pass that when the Spirit rested upon them they prophesied; either they sung the praises of God, which is sometimes the sense of prophesying, 1 Chronicles 25:1; blessing God for the honour done them, and the gift bestowed on them; or they opened and explained the laws of God, in virtue of the gifts they had received, according to which they were to assist Moses in the government of the people, or they foretold things come: the Jews say they prophesied of the quails, but that is not very likely:

and did not cease; from prophesying; the spirit of prophecy continued with them, which, in some cases, might be necessary: or, they ceased not to prophesy all that day, though they afterwards did: and in the Hebrew text it is, "they added not" (q), that is, to prophesy, and Jarchi says they only prophesied that day, as it is interpreted in an ancient book of theirs, called Siphre: wherefore this spirit of prophecy is thought only to be given them as a temporary thing, for the confirmation of their having received the spirit of government, or gifts qualifying them for that, and to make them respectable among the people, and to show that they were appointed it by divine authority, and that this was not a device of Moses to ease himself.

(q) "et non addiderunt", Pagninus, Montanus, Drusius; "et non am lin", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not {p} cease.

(p) From that day the spirit of prophecy did not settle them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
25. in the cloud] See on Numbers 9:15-23.

they prophesied] They were flung into an ecstatic condition of frenzy. Other instances are recorded in the case of Saul (1 Samuel 10:10-12; 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:23 f.) and his messengers with the prophets at Naioth (id. Numbers 19:20 f.). Probably also in the case of Elisha (2 Kings 3:15). At an early stage of thought in Israel such sudden and mysterious attacks were reverently ascribed to divine action; but in process of time they were considered rather as madness, Hosea 9:7, 2 Kings 9:11, Jeremiah 29:26. The true prophet was realised to be one who, by a deep spiritual insight and conversance with God, was able to declare the divine will with regard to matters both present and future.

but they did so no more] The effect was purely temporary. It was not an imparting of wisdom and influence for the purpose of permanently helping Moses.

Verse 25. - The Lord came down in a cloud, i.e., in the cloud which was the symbol of his perpetual presence with. them. At other times this cloud dwelt (שָׁכַן) above the tabernacle, soaring steadily above it in the clear air; but on certain occasions, for greater impressiveness, the cloud came down and filled the tabernacle, or at any rate the entrance of it, while Moses stood without (cf. Numbers 12:5 and Exodus 33:9; Exodus 40:35). Took of the spirit which was upon him. Not certainly in anger, or by way of diminishing the fullness of the spirit which was in Moses, but in order that the seventy might participate, and be known to participate, in a gift originally and specially given to Moses. The whole intention of the ceremonial was to declare in the most unmistakable way that the gifts of the seventy were to be exercised only in union with and in subordination to the mediator of Israel. The Targums are substantially correct in their paraphrase: "The Lord made enlargement of the spirit that was upon him, and imparted to the seventy men, the eiders." Theodoret very happily observes on this passage, "Just as a man who kindles a thousand flames from one does not lessen the first in communicating light to the others, so God did not diminish the grace imparted to Moses by the fact that he communicated of it to the seventy." They prophesied. The phenomenon here mentioned for the first time was no doubt an ecstatic utterance, not exactly beyond the control, but certainly beyond the origination, of those who prophesied. It must not be confounded with that state of calm, spiritual exaltation in which such men as Isaac and Jacob spake concerning things to come (Hebrews 11:20; cf. Genesis 27:29; Genesis 49:28). The Hebrew יִתְנַבְּאוּ means literally "were caused to pour forth," and the fundamental idea is that those affected became for the time being vents for the audible utterance of thoughts and expressions which were not theirs, but the Holy Ghost's. Compare the thought in Job 32:18-20, and the case of Saul and his messengers, as above. As to the matter of these prophesyings, we may probably conclude that they were of the same nature as the ecstatic utterances of the tongues on the day of Pentecost and afterwards; not "prophecy" in the ordinary sense, but inspired glorification of God, and declaration of his wonderful works (Acts 2:4, 11). And did not cease. Rather, "did not add," or "repeat." וְלֹא יָסְפוּ. Septuagint, καὶ οὐκ ἔτι προσέθεντο. The ecstatic utterance did not continue or reappear. The New Testament history no doubt supplies us with the explanation of this. The supernatural sign thus accorded was of little use in itself, and was of much danger, because it attracted to its exhibition an attention which was rather due to more inward and spiritual things. As a sign it was sufficient that it should be once unmistakably manifested before all the people. (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:22; 1 Corinthians 13:8). The permanent charisma of the Holy Spirit which the seventy received and retained from this time forth was no doubt the ἀντιλήψις or κυβερνήσις of 1 Corinthians 12:28; the gift of "help" or "governance," not in temporal matters, but in the religious education and direction of the people. Numbers 11:25Jehovah then came down in the cloud, which soared on high above the tabernacle, and now came down to the door of it (Numbers 12:5; Exodus 33:9; Deuteronomy 31:15). The statement in ch. Numbers 9:18., and Exodus 40:37-38, that the cloud dwelt (שׁכן) above the dwelling of the tabernacle during the time of encampment, can be reconciled with this without any difficulty; since the only idea that we can form of this "dwelling upon it" is, that the cloud stood still, soaring in quietness above the tabernacle, without moving to and fro like a cloud driven by the wind. There is no such discrepancy, therefore, as Knobel finds in these statements. When Jehovah had come down, He spoke to Moses, sc., to explain to him and to the elders what was about to be done, and then laid upon the seventy elders of the Spirit which was upon him. We are not to understand this as implying, that the fulness of the Spirit possessed by Moses was diminished in consequence; still less to regard it, with Calvin, as signum indignationis, or nota ignominiae, which God intended to stamp upon him. For the Spirit of God is not something material, which is diminished by being divided, but resembles a flame of fire, which does not decrease in intensity, but increases rather by extension. As Theodoret observed, "Just as a person who kindles a thousand flames from one, does not lessen the first, whilst he communicates light to the others, so God did not diminish the grace imparted to Moses by the fact that He communicated of it to the seventy." God did this to show to Moses, as well as to the whole nation, that the Spirit which Moses had received was perfectly sufficient for the performance of the duties of his office, and that no supernatural increase of that Spirit was needed, but simply a strengthening of the natural powers of Moses by the support of men who, when endowed with the power of the Spirit that was taken from him, would help him to bear the burden of his office. We have no description of the way in which this transference took place; it is therefore impossible to determine whether it was effected by a sign which would strike the outward senses, or passed altogether within the sphere of the Spirit's life, in a manner which corresponded to the nature of the Spirit itself. In any case, however, it must have been effected in such a way, that Moses and the elders received a convincing proof of the reality of the affair. When the Spirit descended upon the elders, "they prophesied, and did not add;" i.e., they did not repeat the prophesyings any further. יספוּ ולא is rendered correctly by the lxx, καὶ οὐκ ἔτι προσέθεντο; the rendering supported by the Vulgate and Onkelos, nec ultro cessaverunt ("and ceased not"), is incorrect. התנבּא, "to prophesy," is to be understood generally, and especially here, not as the foretelling of future things, but as speaking in an ecstatic and elevated state of mind, under the impulse and inspiration of the Spirit of God, just like the "speaking with tongues," which frequently followed the gift of the Holy Ghost in the days of the apostles. But we are not to infer from the fact, that the prophesying was not repeated, that the Spirit therefore departed from them after this one extraordinary manifestation. This miraculous manifestation of the Spirit was intended simply to give to the whole nation the visible proof that God had endowed them with His Spirit, as helpers of Moses, and had given them the authority required for the exercise of their calling.
Links
Numbers 11:25 Interlinear
Numbers 11:25 Parallel Texts


Numbers 11:25 NIV
Numbers 11:25 NLT
Numbers 11:25 ESV
Numbers 11:25 NASB
Numbers 11:25 KJV

Numbers 11:25 Bible Apps
Numbers 11:25 Parallel
Numbers 11:25 Biblia Paralela
Numbers 11:25 Chinese Bible
Numbers 11:25 French Bible
Numbers 11:25 German Bible

Bible Hub








Numbers 11:24
Top of Page
Top of Page