214 – Numbers 20 – Mount Hor

In our trek through the book of Numbers, we come upon a seemingly “normal” set of events that is pretty easy to just read. This part doesn’t have any really difficult concepts or confusing notions. And yet, it is the word of God and worthy of our notice. I want to point out just a few observations you may have missed in a casual reading of the text.


The first thing I want us to notice is not something that is in the text, but rather something that isn’t in the text. Look at Numbers 20:21-22 with me.


Numbers 20:21-22

           21       So Edom refused to give Israel passage through his territory, and Israel turned aside from him. 

           22       And they set out from Kadesh. The Israelites, the whole community, came to Mount Hor


Last time we talked about the nation of Edom not allowing the nation of Israel to pass through their land as summarized in verse twenty-one above. Also in verse twenty-one, we see that Israel turned aside from him [the Edomites]. So far so good? Then verse twenty-two tells us, and they set out from Kadesh. So the missing part, which is not really missing, just not written about, could fit between verses twenty-one and twenty-two. It could also fit between the two halves of verse twenty-one as delineated by the comma.


Have I given you enough clues to guess what it is, or have I just frustrated you? What am I talking about? For the answer, we consult a different Old Testament book.


Exodus 13:21-22

      21       And Yahweh was going before them by day in a column of cloud to lead them on the way and by night in a column of fire to give light to them to go by day and night. 

           22       The column of cloud by day and the column of fire by night did not depart from before the people. 


There you have it! The part that wasn’t written about in Numbers twenty, but was there nonetheless. How do we know? Because the last part of Exodus 13:22 says the cloud or fire, “did not depart from before the people.


We need to be constantly comparing scripture with scripture and correlating the texts whenever we can. We don’t want to read into the text something that isn’t there, but we also need to be aware of what we’ve previously been told. It really is all about keeping what we read in context.


You may think I’m reaching here. But think with me a moment. Isn’t it important for us to remember that YHWH God led them through the wilderness? Why specifically is it important to remember here?


I submit there is a reason it’s important for us to remember that God was leading them. YHWH brought them to a specific place for a specific reason. This event would prove to be significant in their lives and should have been comforting for them, and us, to know that God was at the helm. God was and is in control, always.


YHWH directed them to mount Hor, why? The answer will be obvious in the next few verses.


Numbers 20:23-24

           23       Yahweh said to Moses and to Aaron on Mount Hor, on the boundary of the land of Edom, saying, 

           24       “Let Aaron be gathered to his people; he will not come into the land that I have given to the Israelites because you rebelled against my word at the waters of Meribah. 


YHWH announces to Moses and Aaron that Aaron is going to die. He reminds them that it’s because Aaron took part in the “striking the rock instead of speaking to it” incident. Do you notice that God refers to it as “you rebelled against my word at the waters of Meribah”?


YHWH is about to bring the Israelites into the promised land, but Moses and Aaron can’t go in. YHWH is taking care of business and putting things in order. 


YHWH tells Moses to take Aaron and Eleazar his son up to Mount Hor where there will be a succession ceremony – a passing of the mantle. Eleazar will be made high priest in his father Aaron’s place. Verse twenty-seven indicates Moses acts in perfect obedience doing exactly what YHWH commanded him in verses twenty-five and twenty-six.


Let’s pick up the account in verse twenty-eight.


Numbers 20:28-29

          28       And Moses stripped off Aaron’s garments and put them on Eleazar his son. Aaron died there on the top of the mountain; and Moses and Eleazar went down from the mountain. 

           29       All the community saw that Aaron died; so all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days. 


We are quite familiar with Moses and Aaron, but most of us don’t think much about Eleazar. I get the sense that he was truly a godly man and worthy of our notice. In any case, this passage tells us that YHWH selected him as Aaron’s replacement for the all-important job of high priest.


Do you see why I mentioned the Shekinah Glory of God as represented by the cloud/pillar?


God led them away from Edom. God led them to Mount Hor. God instructed Moses to replace Aaron with Eleazar and told Him exactly how to do it.


There are so many more observations that could be made in this chapter. I hope you will spend some time noticing them for yourself.


Final observation. This is just one more scriptural example confirming that YHWH leads, YHWH directs, YHWH is faithful.


Do you trust Him to lead you through the wilderness of life?


All Scripture quotations from Harris, W. Hall, III et al., eds. The Lexham English Bible. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.

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