on Hebrews 3 :8
Harden not your hearts - Which ye will infallibly do, if ye will not hear his voice.
Provocation - Παραπικρασμος· From παρα, signifying intensity, and πικραινω, to make bitter; the exasperation, or bitter provocation. "The Israelites provoked God first in the wilderness of Sin, (Pelusium), when they murmured for want of bread, and had the manna given them, Exodus 16:4. From the wilderness of Sin they journeyed to Rephidim, where they provoked God a second time for want of water, and insolently saying, Is the Lord God among us or not? Exodus 17:2-9, on which account the place was called Massah and Meribah. See 1 Corinthians 10:4 (note), note 1. From Rephidim they went into the wilderness of Sinai, where they received the law, in the beginning of the third year from their coming out of Egypt. Here they provoked God again, by making the golden calf, Exodus 32:10. After the law was given they were commanded to go directly to Canaan, and take possession of the promised land, Deuteronomy 1:6, Deuteronomy 1:7 : God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vales, and in the south, and by the seaside, to the land if the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, and unto the great river, the river Euphrates. The Israelites, having received this order, departed from Horeb, and went forward three days' journey, Numbers 10:33, till they came to Taberah, Numbers 11:3, where they provoked God the fourth time, by murmuring for want of flesh to eat; and for that sin were smitten with a very great plague, Numbers 11:33; this place was called Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people who lusted. From Kibroth-hattaavah they went to Hazeroth, Numbers 11:35, and from thence into the wilderness of Paran, Numbers 12:16, to a place called Kadesh, Numbers 13:26. Their journey from Horeb to Kadesh is thus described by Moses, Deuteronomy 1:19-21 : And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which you saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the Lord our God commanded us; and, we came to Kadesh-barnea. And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. Behold, the Lord thy God hath set the land before thee; go up and possess it. But the people proposed to Moses to send spies, to bring them an account of the land, and of its inhabitants, Deuteronomy 1:22. These after forty days returned to Kadesh; and, except Caleb and Joshua, they all agreed in bringing an evil report of the land, Numbers 13:25-32; whereby the people were so discouraged that they refused to go up, and proposed to make a captain, and return into Egypt, Numbers 14:4. Wherefore, having thus shown an absolute disbelief of God's promises, and an utter distrust of his power, he sware that not one of that generation should enter Canaan, except Caleb and Joshua, but should all die in the wilderness, Numbers 14:20; Deuteronomy 1:34, Deuteronomy 1:35; and ordered them to turn, and get into the wilderness, by the way of the Red Sea. In that wilderness the Israelites, as Moses informs us, sojourned thirty-eight years, Deuteronomy 2:14 : And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zereb, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the Lord sware unto them. Wherefore, although the Israelites provoked God to wrath in the wilderness, from the day they came out of the land of Egypt until their arrival in Canaan, as Moses told them, Deuteronomy 9:7, their greatest provocation, the provocation in which they showed the greatest degree of evil disposition, undoubtedly was their refusing to go into Canaan from Kadesh. It was therefore very properly termed the bitter provocation and the day of temptation, by way of eminence; and justly brought on them the oath of God, excluding them from his rest in Canaan. To distinguish this from the provocation at Rephidim, it is called Meribah-Kadesh," Deuteronomy 32:51. See Dr. Macknight.
on Hebrews 3 :8
Harden not your hearts - Do not render the heart insensible to the divine voice and admonition. A hard heart is that where the conscience is seared and insensible; where truth makes no impression; where no religious effect is produced by afflictions; where preaching is listened to without interest; and where the mind is unaffected by the appeals of friends. The idea here is, that a refusal to listen to the voice of God is connected with a hardening of the heart. It is in two ways:
(1) The very refusal to do this tends to harden it. And,
(2) in order to resist the appeals of God, people must resort to the means of "voluntarily" hardening the heart. This they do by setting themselves against the truth; by the excuses which they offer for not becoming Christians: by plunging into sin in order to avoid serious impressions; and by direct resistance of the Holy Spirit. No inconsiderable part of the efforts of sinners consists in endeavoring to produce insensibility in their minds to the truth and the appeals of God.
As in the provocation - Literally, "in the embittering" - ἐν τῶ παραπικρασμῶ en tō parapikrasmō. Then it means what embitters or provokes the mind - as disobedience. Here it refers to what they did to "embitter" the mind of God against them; that is to the course of conduct which was adopted to provoke him to wrath.
In the day of temptation - In the time of temptation - the word "day" being used here, as it is often, to denote an indefinite period, or "time" in general. The word "temptation" here refers to the various provocations by which they "tried" the patience of God. They rebelled against him; they did what put the divine patience and forbearance to a trial. It does not mean that they tempted God to do evil, but that his long-suffering was "tried" by their sins.
In the wilderness - The desert through which they passed. The word "wilderness" in the Scriptures commonly means a "desert;" see the notes at Matthew 3:1. "One provocation was in demanding bread at Sin; a second for want of water at Massah or Meribah; a third time at Sinai with the golden calf; a fourth time at Taberah for want of flesh; a fifth time at Kadesh when they refused to go up into Canaan, and the oath came that they should die in the wilderness. A like refusal may prevent us from entering into rest." - Dr. John P. Wilson, Manuscript Notes.
on Hebrews 3 :8
3:8 As in the provocation - When Israel provoked me by their strife and murmurings. In the day of temptation - When at the same time they tempted me, by distrusting my power and goodness. Exod 17:7.