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Numbers 14:3-5 New English Translation (NET Bible)

Why has the Lord brought us into this land only to be killed by the sword, that our wives and our children should become plunder? Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another,[a] “Let’s appoint[b] a leader[c] and return[d] to Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron fell down with their faces to the ground[e] before the whole assembled community[f] of the Israelites.


  1. Numbers 14:4 tn Heb “a man to his brother.”
  2. Numbers 14:4 tn The verb is נָתַן (natan, “to give”), but this verb has quite a wide range of meanings in the Bible. Here it must mean “to make,” “to choose,” “to designate” or the like.
  3. Numbers 14:4 tn The word “head” (רֹאשׁ, roʾsh) probably refers to a tribal chief who was capable to judge and to lead to war (see J. R. Bartlett, “The Use of the Word רֹאשׁ as a Title in the Old Testament,” VT 19 [1969]: 1-10).
  4. Numbers 14:4 tn The form is a cohortative with a vav (ו) prefixed. After the preceding cohortative this could also be interpreted as a purpose or result clause—in order that we may return.
  5. Numbers 14:5 sn This action of Moses and Aaron is typical of them in the wilderness with the Israelites. The act shows self-abasement and deference before the sovereign Lord. They are not bowing before the people here, but in front of the people they bow before God. According to Num 16:41-50 this prostration is for the purpose of intercessory prayer. Here it prevents immediate wrath from God.
  6. Numbers 14:5 tn Heb “before all the assembly of the congregation.”
New English Translation (NET)

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