on Exodus 3 :8
And I am come down to deliver them - This is the very purpose for which I am now come down upon this mountain, and for which I manifest myself to thee.
Large - land - Canaan, when compared with the small tract of Goshen, in which they were now situated, and where, we learn, from Exodus 1:7, they were straitened for room, might be well called a large land. See a fine description of this land Deuteronomy 8:7.
A land flowing with milk and honey - Excellent for pasturage, because abounding in the most wholesome herbage and flowers; and from the latter an abundance of wild honey was collected by the bees. Though cultivation is now almost entirely neglected in this land, because of the badness of the government and the scantiness of the inhabitants, yet it is still good for pasturage, and yields an abundance of honey. The terms used in the text to express the fertility of this land, are commonly used by ancient authors on similar subjects. It is a metaphor taken from a breast producing copious streams of milk. Homer calls Argos ουθαρ αρουρης, the breast of the country, as affording streams of milk and honey, Il. ix., ver. 141. So Virgil:
Prima tulit tellus, eadem vos ubere laeto Accipiet.
Aen., lib. iii., ver. 95.
"The land that first produced you shall receive you again into its joyous bosom." The poets feign that Bacchus, the fable of whom they have taken from the history of Moses, produced rivers of milk and honey, of water and wine: -
Ῥει δε γαλακτι πεδον,
Ῥει δ' οινῳ, ῥει δε μελισσαν
Eurip. Bacch., Εποδ., ver. 8.
"The land flows with milk; it flows also with wine; it flows also with the nectar of bees, (honey)." This seems to be a mere poetical copy from the Pentateuch, where the sameness of the metaphor and the correspondence of the descriptions are obvious.
Place of the Canaanites, etc. - See Genesis 15:18, etc.
on Exodus 3 :8
The natural richness of Palestine, the variety and excellence of its productions, are attested by sacred (compare Jeremiah 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6) and ancient writers, whose descriptions are strongly in contrast with those of later travelers. The expression "flowing with milk and honey" is used proverbially by Greek poets.
The Canaanites ... - This is the first passage in this book where the enumeration, so often repeated, of the nations then in possession of Palestine, is given. Moses was to learn at once the extent of the promise, and the greatness of the enterprise. In Egypt, the forces, situation, and character of these nations were then well known. Aahmes I had invaded the south of Palestine in his pursuit of the Shasous; Tothmosis I had traversed the whole land on his campaign in Syria and Mesopotamia; representations of Canaanites, and of the Cheta, identified by most Egyptologers with the Hittites, are common on monuments of the 18th and 19th Dynasties, and give a strong impression of their civilization, riches, and especially of their knowledge of the arts of war. In this passage, the more general designations come first - Canaanites probably includes all the races; the Hittites, who had great numbers of chariots (892 were taken from them by Tothmosis III in one battle), occupied the plains; the Amorites were chiefly mountaineers, and, in Egyptian inscriptions, gave their name to the whole country; the name Perizzites probably denotes the dwellers in scattered villages, the half-nomad population; the Hivites, a comparatively unwarlike but influential people, held 4 cities in Palestine proper, but their main body dwelt in the northwestern district, from Hermon to Hamath (see Joshua 11:3; Judges 3:3); the Jebusites at that time appear to have occupied Jerusalem and the adjoining district. Soon after their expulsion by Joshua, they seem to have recovered possession of part of Jerusalem, probably Mount Zion, and to have retained it until the time of David.
on Exodus 3 :8
3:8 I am come down to deliver them - When God doth something very extraordinary, he is said to come down to do it, as Isa 64:1. This deliverance was typical of our redemption by Christ, and in that the eternal Word did indeed come down from heaven to deliver us. A large land - So it was, according to its true and ancient bounds, as they are described, Gen 15:18, and not according to those narrow limits, to which they were afterwards confined for their unbelief and impiety. A land flowing with milk and honey - A proverbial expression, abounding with the choicest fruits, both for necessity and delight.