Summary of passage: Moses sent a message to the King of Edom, requesting to pass through his territory. The Israelites promised to not drink nor eat nor take anything from them–merely to stay on the road through their country onto the Promised Land. Edom refused. Moses asked again, this time offering to pay for any water used. Again, they were refused. Edom marched their army against the Israelites and the Israelites backed down.
At Mount Hor, near Edom’s border, the Lord told Moses and Aaron that it was Aaron’s time to die. Aaron and his son, Eleazar, were to go up on Mount Hor, where Eleazar would put on Aaron’s garments and take over as High Priest. Moses did as commanded and when Aaron died he was mourned 30 days.
9a) Possibly because the Israelites were related to the Edomites as descendants of Jacob’s brother, Esau, and they didn’t want to fight their relatives. Also because the Lord had not told Moses to go that way. I’m assuming the Israelites are still being led by the cloud.
b) Take a long, hard detour and go around through more desert .
c) When God tells you to resist. When God tells you to yield. There are no hard, fast rules here and every situation is different. It’s all on what God wants, not the individual.
10) Aaron knew he was dying so he had time to say good-bye to his family and friends. To make amends if he had to. Presumably to offer sacrifices and die a cleansed man. And he was honored by being taken away to Mount Hor ceremoniously. Furthermore, Aaron was mourned by the people for 30 days. Although we can’t say for certain Miriam didn’t have any of this, we know Aaron did. And that is full of grace.
11a) Aaron died a physical death. Jesus’ priesthood is forever and perfect and ever-lasting. Only through him can we have eternal life. And on a chronological note: Aaron’s passing tells us where we are at in history and just how much time has passed. Important in the march towards Jesus.
b) Personal question. My answer: The power of the cross and what happens next sustains me when this life becomes seemingly impossible. My home is not here. I need not depend on man. Only Jesus.
Conclusions: Great chapter in the Bible. I love how we see the death of Miriam, the condemnation of Moses and Aaron, the hard hearts of the Edomites, and the death of Aaron all together. For here we see God’s amazing grace and mercy and will. And I believe most of us would say it’s not our will but God’s for I’m not for sure any of us would have condemned Moses nor rejected Moses at the footsteps of Edom. God’s ways, not ours.
Despite my belief that Aaron is nothing but a follower, God honors him here. God honors followers as well as leaders. Everyone matters to Him despite his or her sins. Not everyone has the strength of character to be a leader. And that’s okay. Look at Aaron. He was second in command to Moses, a man above all men in terms of closeness to God. He was second in command to God. God spoke to Aaron and appeared to him. That’s something I can’t say about me. Even in sadness there is God’s mercy.
End Notes: We are in the final leg now of the approach to the Promised Land. Scholars break the journey down into five stages:
Stage One: The Exodus from Egypt and the journey to Mount Sinai (Exodus 12:31 to 18:27).
Stage Two: The time at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1 to Numbers 10:10).
Stage Three: The first attempt to enter the Promised Land, beginning at Mount Sinai, which failed as the people rebelled and refused to enter (Numbers 10:11 to 14:45).
Stage Four: The 38 years of wandering in the wilderness, waiting for the generation of unbelief to die (Numbers 15:1 to Numbers 20:13).
Stage Five: The Israelites succeed in their second attempt to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:14 to Joshua 2:24).
Why the Edomites refused such a simple request is not recorded (and seemingly unwarranted). Perhaps out of fear or just because they didn’t want 2 million people traipsing through their backyard. But there is no retribution on the part of the Israelites and Moses in fact commands the Israelites not to hate them (Deuteronomy 23:7). Yet for the rest of Biblical history, there is war and strife between the two nations.
Note how 38 years is boiled down to a mere 5 1/2 chapters while the year at Mount Sinai is 50 chapters! Presumably, nothing of note happened in 38 years. The people lived out their lives normally, sadly waiting for God’s judgment time to pass.
Lesson to us: we can exist, but not live. We can wander around for years and find ourselves right back where we started.
Note how Moses who represented the law, Miriam who represented prophets, and Aaron who represented priests all died before the Promised Land. Only Joshua (whose name means Jesus) led the way! How cool is that!
Aaron as the first high priest of Israel deserved to be honored. His position alone demands it. The man may fail but the priesthood (and the path to God through our High Priest, Jesus) will not.
Map of Mount Hor: http://bibleatlas.org/full/mount_hor.htm
Another Map of Mount Hor showing entire Exodus Route: http://www.keyway.ca/gif/wildjour.gif