Numbers chapter 11

Complaining in the desert. The Seventy Elders. The Spirit is sent. They eat quail.

 


 

COMPLAINING IN THE DESERT

 

VERSE 1. The people were complaining in the ears of the LORD. When the LORD heard it, his anger burned; and the LORD’s fire burned among them, and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.

his anger burned. Many people see the LORD God as angry and capricious. Their perception is based on verses such as this.

the LORD’s fire burned. The anger of the LORD God did physical damage to people’s property. The outskirts of the camp were destroyed.

 

VERSE 2. The people cried to Moses; and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire abated.

 

VERSE 3. The name of that place was called Taberah, because the LORD’s fire burned among them.

that place was called Taberah. Taberah means “burning.”

 

VERSE 4. The mixed multitude that was among them lusted exceedingly; and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, “Who will give us meat to eat?

lusted exceedingly. What are they lusting for? Food …

 

VERSE 5. We remember the fish, which we ate in Egypt for nothing; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic;

How quickly they forgot! How quickly they exaggerate and deceive themselves and lie.

In Egypt, they were slaves! They were slaves, whipped to exhaustion, and fed a starvation diet.

 

VERSE 6. but now we have lost our appetite. There is nothing at all except this manna to look at.”

nothing at all except this manna. How deeply ingrained within us humans is our tendency to complain. We are great at complaining!

Yet complaining is kryptonite to the superpower of our faith. And it is offensive to the LORD God.

Some people are always complaining. Or arguing. Those are destructive habits. They harm the individual. And the community. They need to STOP. Read more »

 

VERSE 7. The manna was like coriander seed, and it looked like bdellium.

it looked like bdellium. Bdellium is a resin extracted from certain African trees.

 

VERSE 8. The people went around, gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in mortars, and boiled it in pots, and made cakes of it. Its taste was like the taste of fresh oil.

The manna could not be eaten raw. It required considerable processing: gathering, grinding or beating, and boiling.

Those processes are like what must be done with grains.

 

VERSE 9. When the dew fell on the camp in the night, the manna fell on it.

 

VERSE 10. Moses heard the people weeping throughout their families, every man at the door of his tent; and the LORD’s anger burned greatly; and Moses was displeased.

the people weeping throughout their families. This verse doesn’t tell us what they were weeping about.

But verse 18 below says they were weeping about this: “Who will give us meat to eat?”

 

VERSE 11. Moses said to the LORD, “Why have you treated your servant so badly? Why haven’t I found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?

you lay the burden of all this people on me. Moses was not a natural leader. And he didn’t crave power like narcissistic person.

For Moses, leading this vast people was a burden. A terrible burden.

 

VERSE 12. Have I conceived all this people? Have I brought them out, that you should tell me, ‘Carry them in your bosom, as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which you swore to their fathers?’

 

VERSE 13. Where could I get meat to give all these people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat, that we may eat.’

 

VERSE 14. I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.

it is too heavy for me. For Moses, the terrible burden of leading this vast people was too much.

 

VERSE 15. If you treat me this way, please kill me right now, if I have found favor in your sight; and don’t let me see my wretchedness.”

 

THE SEVENTY ELDERS

 

VERSE 16. The LORD said to Moses, “Gather to me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; and bring them to the Tent of Meeting, that they may stand there with you.

There were only two requirements for becoming one of the Seventy:

  1. be the elders of the people
  2. and officers over them

Other issues were not even considered, such as moral character, a criminal background check, a history of abuse, previous convictions of financial embezzlement, and the like.

 

VERSE 17. I will come down and talk with you there. I will take of the Spirit which is on you, and will put it on them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, that you don’t bear it yourself alone.

I will take of the Spirit which is on you. What will make them capable leaders is not themselves. Rather, it will be the Spirit.

In our day, many Christians imagine a similar thing. When their leaders are ordained, they will be given a transformative dose of the Holy Spirit. There will be an ontological change. Their leaders will be extra-godly.

However, that is absolutely not the case. Empirically, clerics are not better than non-clerics.

For example, Roman Catholic clerics commit sexual abuse of children at about twice the rate of the general population

 

VERSE 18. “Say to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, and you will eat meat; for you have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, “Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt.” Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat.

Who will give us meat to eat? This is what they were weeping about in verse 10 above.

 

VERSE 19. You will not eat just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days,

 

VERSE 20. but a whole month, until it comes out at your nostrils, and it is loathsome to you; because you have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have wept before him, saying, “Why did we come out of Egypt?” ’ ”

 

VERSE 21. Moses said, “The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand men on foot; and you have said, ‘I will give them meat, that they may eat a whole month.’

six hundred thousand men on foot. This gives us a hint about the population.

 

VERSE 22. Shall flocks and herds be slaughtered for them, to be sufficient for them? Shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to be sufficient for them?”

 

VERSE 23. The LORD said to Moses, “Has the LORD’s hand grown short? Now you will see whether my word will happen to you or not.”

 

THE SPIRIT IS SENT

 

VERSE 24. Moses went out, and told the people the LORD’s words; and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them around the Tent.

 

VERSE 25. The LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was on him, and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did so no more.

prophesied. The Hebrew word is וַיִּֽתְנַבְּא֖וּ (“naba”). It does not mean to predict the future. Rather, it means to speak with enraptured enthusiasm.

Here are the main types of prophets in the Old Testament:

נְבִיא (“nabi”). This Hebrew word means “To call.” The ministry of a Nabi is to speak for the LORD God to the people.

חֹזֶה (“hozeh”). This Hebrew word means “Seer.” The ministry of a Seer is to see in a vision.

רֹאֶה (“ro’eh”). This Hebrew word also means “Seer.” The ministry of a Seer is to see in a vision.

Here are some other prophet-like ministries:

(“ish ha – ‘elohim”). This Hebrew word means “Man of God.” It is a broad designation for a speaker for God.

שָׁמַר (“shamar”). This Hebrew word means “Watchman.” The ministry of a Watchman is to guard, observe, give heed.

חֹזֶה (“chozeh”). This Hebrew word means “Vision.” The ministry of a Chozen is to behold a vision.

נָטַף (“nataph”). This Hebrew wod means “Preach.” The ministry of a Nataph is to speak by inspiration.

 

VERSE 26. But two men remained in the camp. The name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the Spirit rested on them. They were of those who were written, but had not gone out to the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp.

they prophesied in the camp. You don’t need to be in a specific location to receive the Spirit.

 

VERSE 27. A young man ran, and told Moses, and said, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!”

 

VERSE 28. Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his chosen men, answered, “My lord Moses, forbid them!”

Joshua the son of Nun. After Moses passes away, Joshua will lead the people into the Promised Land.

 

VERSE 29. Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”

I wish that all the LORD’s people were prophets. Moses was not jealous that the LORD God gave the Spirit to the 70 Elders.

In fact, Moses wished that everyone be a prophet filled with the Spirit.

In our day, we Christians should wish for the same. We should wish for all people everywhere to enjoy the richest, fullest life possible.

 

THEY EAT QUAIL

 

VERSE 30. Moses went into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.

 

VERSE 31. A wind from the LORD went out and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, about a day’s journey on this side, and a day’s journey on the other side, around the camp, and about two cubits above the surface of the earth.

about two cubits. A cubit is the length from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow on a man’s arm, or about 18 inches or 46 centimeters.

 

VERSE 32. The people rose up all that day, and all of that night, and all the next day, and gathered the quails. He who gathered least gathered ten homers; and they spread them all out for themselves around the camp.

gathered ten homers. One homer is about 220 liters or 6 bushels.

 

VERSE 33. While the meat was still between their teeth, before it was chewed, the LORD’s anger burned against the people, and the LORD struck the people with a very great plague.

 

VERSE 34. The name of that place was called Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who lusted.

that place was called Kibroth Hattaavah. Kibroth Hattaavah means “graves of lust.”

 

VERSE 35. From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth; and they stayed at Hazeroth.

 


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