Challoner commentary

Numbers 11 : 34

The graves of lust

Or, the sepulchres of concupiscenceso called from their irregular desire of flesh. In Hebrew, Kibroth. Hattaavah.

Numbers 12 : 1


Sephora the wife of Moses was of Madian, which bordered upon the land of Chus or Ethiopiawhere note, that the Ethiopia here spoken of is not that of Africa but that of Arabia.

Numbers 12 : 3

Exceeding meek

Moses being the meekest of men, would not contend for himself; therefore, God inspired him to write here his own defenceand the Holy Spirit, whose dictate he wrote, obliged him to declare the truth, though it was so much to his own praise.

Numbers 13 : 33

Spoke ill

These men, who by their misrepresentations of the land of promise, discouraged the Israelites from attempting the conquest of it, were a figure of worldlings, who, by decrying or misrepresenting true devotion, discourage Christians from seeking in earnest and acquiring so great a good, and thereby securing to themselves a happy eternity.

Numbers 14 : 18


i. e., who deserves punishment.

Numbers 14 : 33

Shall bear your fornication

That is, shall bear the punishment of your disloyalty to God, which in the scripture language is here called a fornication, in a spiritual sense.

Numbers 15 : 38


The Pharisees enlarged these fringes through hypocrisy, Matt. 23. 5, to appear more zealous than other men for the law of God.

Numbers 16 : 2

Rose up

The crime of these men, which was punished in so remarkable a manner, was that of schism, and of rebellion against the authority established by God in the church; and their pretending to the priesthood without being lawfully called and sentthe same is the case of all modern sectaries.

Numbers 16 : 15

Very angry

This anger was a zeal against sin; and an indignation at the affront offered to God; like that which the same holy prophet conceived upon the sight of the golden calf, Ex. 32. 19.

Numbers 17 : 8

The rod of Aaron for the house of Levi, was budded

This rod of Aaron which thus miraculously brought forth fruit, was a figure of the blessed Virgin conceiving and bringing forth her Son without any prejudice to her virginity.

Numbers 18 : 1

And thy father's house with thee, shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary

That is, you shall be punished if, through negligence or want of due attention, you err in the discharge of the sacred functions for which you were ordained.

Numbers 18 : 19

A covenant of salt

It is a proverbial expression, signifying a covenant not to be altered or corrupted; as salt is used to keep things from corruption; a covenant perpetual, like that by which it was appointed, that salt should be used in every sacrifice. Lev. 2.

Numbers 18 : 22

Deadly sin

That is, sin which will bring death after it.

Numbers 19 : 2

A red cow

This red cow, offered in sacrifice for sin, and consumed with fire without the camp, with the ashes of which, mingled with water, the unclean were to be expiated and purified; was a figure of the passion of Christ, by whose precious blood applied to our souls in the holy sacraments, we are cleansed from our sins.

Numbers 20 : 11

The rock

This rock was a figure of Christ, and the water that issued out from the rock, of his precious blood, the source of all our good.

Numbers 20 : 12

You have not believed

The fault of Moses and Aaron, on this occasion, was a certain diffidence and weakness of faith; not doubting of God's power or veracity; but apprehending the unworthiness of that rebellious and incredulous people, and therefore speaking with some ambiguity.

Numbers 20 : 13

The Water of contradiction

Or strife. Hebrew, Meribah.

Numbers 21 : 3


That is, a thing devoted to utter destruction.

Numbers 21 : 5

Very light food

So they call the heavenly mannathus worldlings loathe the things of heaven, for which they have no relish.

Numbers 21 : 6

Fiery serpents

They are so called, because they that were bitten by them were burnt with a violent heat.