14:8 milk and honey. This is the seventh of no less than seventeen references to the promised land as “a land flowing with milk and honey”–first in Exodus 3:8, last in Ezekiel 20:15. The term obviously is used symbolically to indicate a land of abundance and blessing. Evidently there were many cattle, sheep and goats in the land in those days, as well as numerous hives of wild honey, and both items were prized by the Israelites.
14:18 fourth generation. See note on Exodus 20:5. This kind of warning occurs four times in the Pentateuch (see also Exodus 34:7; Deuteronomy 5:9), and nowhere else. The word “generation,” however, does not appear in the Hebrew text in these verses, being simply understood in the context.
14:22 these ten times. There had already been at least ten times when the Israelites had provoked God by their complaints and doubts, despite all the miracles He had performed on their behalf–first at the Red Sea, then at the waters of Marah, twice in the wilderness of Sin about their hunger and then again about their thirst, then in the matter of the golden calf (Exodus 14:11,12; 15:23,24; 16:2,20,27,28; 17:2; 32:1-7). There soon followed the strange fire of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1). When they again complained, God sent fire; then the mixed multitude complained about the manna and God sent a plague with the quail. Even Miriam had rebelled, and now finally there was this full rebellion after the spies came back (Numbers 11:1,4; 12:1; 14:2). The people had observed the ten miraculous plagues on Egypt and then seen ten later marvelous miracles by God on their behalf (the Passover, the pillar of fire, the parting of the Red Sea waters, the destruction of Pharaoh’s army, the bitter water of Marah made sweet, the sending of quails, the daily provision of manna, water from the rock, the miraculous defeat of the Amalekites, and the second provision of quails), yet they had rebelled ten times, the last of which was the report of ten fearful spies. Yet they had unhesitatingly accepted God’s covenant of the ten commandments. No wonder God’s patience was stretched to the limit!
14:34 each day for a year. This verse provides essentially the only Biblical argument for the fanciful “year/day” school of prophetic interpretation, which arbitrarily converts prophetic “days” into years, especially in the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation. But this verse was spoken explicitly as a judgment on the faithless generation of Israelites, not as an arbitrary key to future prophecy. All males twenty years old or above would die during their forty years in the desert. Thus only Joshua and Caleb, who were excepted because of their faith, were more than sixty years old when the Israelites finally crossed the Jordan, even though God through Moses had indicated the normal life span at the time to be seventy or eighty years (Psalm 90:10). Joshua actually lived to age 110 and Caleb was still in full strength at age eighty-five (Joshua 14:10-11; 24:29).
14:45 the Amalekites came down. They had defeated the Amalekites once before (Exodus 17:13), but the Lord had helped them in a special way at that time. This time, He left them on their own, and they were badly defeated. Hormah means “destruction.” Note Numbers 21:3.