Like I have said before, it was never my intention to actually follow the Israelites through the wilderness on their way to the land God had promised their forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But here we are camped right beside them at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin. Chapter 20 in the book of Numbers has too many important historical moments to skip over!
[I do hope and pray that you have been able to find time to read along and fill in the stories that I haven’t written about. Please let me know when I have made a mistake. For an example: in my blog, Learning Lessons the Hard Way, posted on October 24; I made the statement that “Korah and the men that had followed him (and their families) were swallowed up when God opened up the earth!”. However, I found while reading ahead that they took a census of the Israelites and it included the children of Korah! “….and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah when that company died, when the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men; and they became a sign. Nevertheless the children of Korah did not die.” (Numbers 26:10-11) So, please be sure to check facts no matter where you read or hear them!!]
Numbers chapter 20 begins with Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, has died and was buried in the Wilderness of Zin. Even though the year isn’t mentioned here; you will see in Numbers 33 the full account of Israel’s journey. In that chapter we find that it probably was the first month of their 40th year since they left Egypt.
It was while they were camped at Kadesh in the Wilderness of Zin that they found it was dry and without water this time. As was their characteristic way whenever things didn’t go exactly to suit the people; they started arguing with Moses and blaming him for bringing them out of Egypt to a place without water! And as Moses always did at these times; he and Aaron fell on their faces before the LORD for an answer.
“Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” Number 20:7-8
Now, all Moses was told to do was to ” speak” to the rock, but I think Moses must have hit the last of his patience with the Israelite children! He even called them “rebels”! In his anger, Moses struck the rock twice with this rod (staff)!! Because of God’s gracious nature, water did flow from the rock! But now it may have appeared as if Moses had caused the water to flow, when it was to be seen as another miracle from God!
Because Moses had drawn attention to himself, God now informed Moses and Aaron (who had been with Moses in calling the people together), that they would not be entering into the Promised Land. (Numbers 20:12) So, we find in the end of the chapter 20 in the book of Numbers, that God has fulfilled His punishment sentence and Aaron died. They had traveled from Kadesh to Mount Hor, which was very close to the land they had been promised. Moses took off Aaron’s priestly garments, as the LORD had told him to do, and put them on Eleazar, Aaron’s son. And the people of Israel mourned for thirty days!
“Then Aaron the priest went up to Mount Hor at the command of the Lord, and died there in the fortieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, on the first day of the fifth month. Aaron was one hundred and twenty-three years old when he died on Mount Hor.” (Numbers 33:38-39)