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A figure of Speech and Numbers 13:33 & 14:9

Discussion in 'Bible Study Forum' started by charity, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. charity

    charity Well-Known Member

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    United Kingdom
    Hello there,

    I do not know where to place this entry, for it is just something I found which blessed me, and which I wanted to share.

    " Not able to sleep, in the early hours of the morning, I looked at my bookcase, and took out the two volumes of E.W. Bullinger's work on the figures of speech found in Scripture, the first of which I opened at random. It opened at page 155, to a figure of speech called, Meiosis, or, 'a be-littleing,' by which one thing is diminished in order to increase another thing: one thing is lowered in order to magnify and intensify something else by way of contrast.

    * Of the Biblical examples given my eyes rested on Numbers 13:33:-

    'And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants:
    and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.'

    * Dr Bullinger points out that this was the be-littleing of unbelief: spoken by the ten returning spies from Canaan, sent out by Moses, along with Joshua and Caleb. Whose testimony as to what they saw and heard was coloured by fear and unbelief, in contrast to the testimony of faith born by those two faithful men. They exaggerated the size of the Anakim by lessening their own stature. Thus reinforcing their words and transferring their fear and unbelief upon their hearers, which resulted in rebellion, consequently bringing disastrous consequences upon the children of Israel,

    * However, Dr Bullinger does not leave it there, for he then contrasts this figure, with another, used to emphasise the language of faith, in Numbers 14:9, spoken by Joshua and Caleb, to the children of Israel, in an attempt to prevent the rebellion:-

    'And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying,
    "The land, which we passed through to search it,
    .. is an exceeding good land.
    .... If the LORD delight in us,
    ..... then He will bring us into this land,
    ...... and give it us;
    ........ a land which floweth with milk and honey.
    Only rebel not ye against the LORD,
    .. neither fear ye the people of the land;
    .... for they are bread for us:
    ...... their defence is departed from them,
    ........ and the LORD is with us:
    .......... fear them not. ...'

    (Numbers 14:7-9)

    * Reference was then made to the figure in question, on page 37, called 'Ellipsis', or, 'to leave': so called because a gap is left in the sentence; which means that a word, or words, are left out, or omitted; necessary for the grammar, but not necessarily for the sense. This omission is by design, in order that we may not stop to think of, or lay stress on, the word omitted, but may dwell on the other words which are thus emphasised by the omission. e'g., in Matt. 14:19, where the Lord Jesus, 'gave the loaves to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.' The word, 'gave' being omitted. Emphasising that the disciples were only the instruments by which the bread was passed on to the people, the Lord Himself being the Giver. Praise God!

    * Coming now to Numbers 14:9, quoted above, and the words of Caleb and Joshua to the people to encourage them to obey the Lord, and go up into the land, thus disregarding the false report of the ten spies. 'Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.'

    * Note first, the word, 'defence', which is the Hebrew word meaning 'shadow', therefore should be rendered, 'their shadow is departed'. The literal meaning of the word is 'departed from' here, and made into a 'figure', for a purpose; as is the literal meaning of the preceding words, 'for they are bread for us'.

    * The condition of 'The Anekim', occupying the land , is likened to being as Israel's
    'bread'. What was their bread? It was manna. What was the manna like? It was so hard that it had to be ground in mills, or beaten in a mortar (Num. 11:8); yet it's consistency was so peculiar that it melted in the sun! (Exo. 16:21). If it were not gathered every morning before the sun arose and the shadows departed, 'when the sun waxed hot, it melted'!!

    * The wicked spies had just said (Num. 13:31) that Israel could not go up against the people of the land, for they are 'stronger than we': they were strong and hard. No, replies Joshua, it may be they are strong, but so is our bread the manna - so strong that it needs grinding and crushing, and yet, when the shadow goes from off it, it melts away. Even so is it with them, as the words of Rahab testify (Josh. 2:11). The two spies whom Joshua afterwards sent heard the very same truth from the lips of Rahab, which he, one of the two faithful spies whom Moses had sent, forty years before declared . She tells them : - 'As soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you.'

    * Thus, while the literal signification of the words gives no sense, they point to the true figure; and then in turn, the figure explains the literal signification of the words, and the true meaning of the passage. So that we may render it thus:- "Only rebel not ye against Jehovah, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they (are like) our bread; their shadow hath turned aside from off them, and Jehovah is with us; fear them not". ie., as when the shadow turns aside from off our bread, it melts away and disappears, so these enemies, hard and strong as they might be, would surely melt away before the Lord God, the Sun and the Shield of His people. In no sense could Jehovah be the shadow or defence of the people of the land against whom Israel was about to fight.

    * The last two paragraphs are taken largely from the text of the book. I found it so wonderful, both in regard to the way the Holy Spirit has used figures of speech to illumine and emphasise what He has to say, but also the wonder of the meaning of words used, and what they should have meant to the children of Israel who heard them.

    I hope you have made it though to the end of my entry, and that it has blessed you, as it blessed me.

    In Christ Jesus
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2019
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