John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

13 (Numbers 16:13)

Verse 13

13.Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us. It is not enough for these wicked men, when they are invited to discussion, contumaciously to repudiate the superiority of Moses, unless they also assail him with counter-accusations. The crime they allege against him must be observed. They reproach him for having led them up out of the land of Egypt: though they cunningly suppress its name, whilst they magniloquently extol its fruitfulness, in order to throw into the shade all that God had promised with respect to the land of Canaan. Nay, they seem to transfer slyly to Egypt the very phrase which Moses had often used, so that thus God’s blessing may be, as it were buried. But what gross ingratitude it showed, to allege as a crime against Moses, God’s minister, that deliverance, which was so extraordinary an act of His kindness! In the next place, they reproach him with having brought them into the desert, to die: and this they enlarge upon in the next verse, and maliciously inquire, Where is the truth of the promises? At length they conclude that Moses is impudent in his deceptions, inasmuch as it plainly appears that the people had been imposed upon by him: as if it were his fault that they had deprived themselves of the possession of the promised land. Moses had exhorted them, by God’s command, to enter upon the inheritance promised to them: what dishonesty and petulance, therefore, was it, when they had shut the door against themselves, to complain of Moses, upon whom it had not depended that they were not in the enjoyment of fields and vineyards! In the third place, they taunt Moses with seeking to domineer over a free people. He did indeed preside over them; but how far short of dominion was that moderate control, which was as onerous to Moses, as it was advantageous to the whole people! But this is the condition of God’s servants, that their course is through reproaches, (92) though they are conducting themselves aright.

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible