Though God graciously gives us leave to complain to Him when there is cause,
yet He is justly provoked if we are fretful when there is no cause
and especially when we have been surrounded with His special favors.
1 And when the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them, and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.
2 And the people cried unto Moses; and when Moses prayed unto the LORD, the fire was quenched.
3 And he called the name of the place Taberah: because the fire of the LORD burnt among them.
4 ¶ And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?
5 We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:
6 But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
7 And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof as the colour of bdellium.
8 And the people went about, and gathered it, and ground it in mills, or beat it in a mortar, and baked it in pans, and made cakes of it: and the taste of it was as the taste of fresh oil.
9 And when the dew fell upon the camp in the night, the manna fell upon it.
10 ¶ Then Moses heard the people weep throughout their families, every man in the door of his tent: and the anger of the LORD was kindled greatly; Moses also was displeased.
11 And Moses said unto the LORD, Wherefore hast thou afflicted thy servant? and wherefore have I not found favour in thy sight, that thou layest the burden of all this people upon me?
12 Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them, that thou shouldest say unto me, Carry them in thy bosom, as a nursing father beareth the sucking child, unto the land which thou swarest unto their fathers?
13 Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? for they weep unto me, saying, Give us flesh, that we may eat.
14 I am not able to bear all this people alone, because it is too heavy for me.
15 And if thou deal thus with me, kill me, I pray thee, out of hand, if I have found favour in thy sight; and let me not see my wretchedness.
16 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Gather unto me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom thou knowest to be the elders of the people, and officers over them; and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee.
17 And I will come down and talk with thee there: and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee, that thou bear it not thyself alone.
18 And say thou unto the people, Sanctify yourselves against to morrow, and ye shall eat flesh: for ye have wept in the ears of the LORD, saying, Who shall give us flesh to eat? for it was well with us in Egypt: therefore the LORD will give you flesh, and ye shall eat.
19 Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
20 But even a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you: because that ye have despised the LORD which is among you, and have wept before him, saying, Why came we forth out of Egypt?
21 And Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand footmen; and thou hast said, I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month.
22 Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them?
23 And the LORD said unto Moses, Is the LORD’S hand waxed short? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not.
24 ¶ And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.
27 And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp.
28 And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them.
29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets, and that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!
30 And Moses gat him into the camp, he and the elders of Israel.
31 ¶ And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, as it were a day’s journey on this side, and as it were a day’s journey on the other side, round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth.
32 And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails: he that gathered least gathered ten homers: and they spread them all abroad for themselves round about the camp.
33 And while the flesh was yet between their teeth, ere it was chewed, the wrath of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD smote the people with a very great plague.
34 And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah: because there they buried the people that lusted.
35 And the people journeyed from Kibroth-hattaavah unto Hazeroth; and abode at Hazeroth.
Numbers 1 – J. Vernon McGee
Numbers 11:1-15 – The Murmuring Flesh-lovers
We cannot wonder at the people’s murmuring. They were unaccustomed to the fatigues of the desert, and had not realized the length of the journey. Let us beware of querulous complaints. See I Corinthians 10:10. Let us also guard against familiarity with those who have never known God’s regenerating grace. “The mixed multitude” was largely composed of Egyptians, whose evil example spread to the chosen people, Exodus 12:38. When our religious life is low, we tire of angels’ food, and our hearts turn back to the world we have left.
Moses’ outcry is hardly to be wondered at. He was thoroughly overstrained by the immense demands of his life. But he ought not to have spoken as though the entire weight of the pilgrimage rested on him. His Almighty Friend was bearing and carrying them during “all the days of old.” See Isaiah 63:9. We must never look at our responsibilities apart from Him who makes all grace abound, II Corinthians 9:8. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Numbers 11:16-25 – God’s Spirit upon the Seventy
God’s considerateness for His overwrought servant was very tender. He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust. He does not chide, nor keep His anger forever. The remedy for the situation was provided in the appointment and enduement of the seventy elders, who became the germ of the Sanhedrin.
Moses’ depression led to unbelief. It seemed impossible to suppose that God could provide a table in the wilderness of such magnitude that in it the whole host could participate. Unbelief says, Can God? Faith answers, God can! See Psalm 78:19. Child of God! God’s hand is not waxed short, that it cannot reach to you. Even if we believe not, He remains faithful, II Timothy 2:13. This equipment of the elders, Numbers 11:25, reminds us that we, too, need to receive the Holy Spirit, first for our sanctification in character, and then for our service and office. This is the special characteristic of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Numbers 11:26-35 – “The Graves of Lust”
It is delightful to note the proof of the nobility of Moses’ nature in the answer he gave to the tidings concerning Eldad and Medad. They might not be of the designated group of elders, and might not have gone out to the Tabernacle, as in Numbers 11:16. They remind us of the unordained and simple disciples of Acts 11:19, etc. But there was no envy in Moses’ nature. He would have been only thankful if all had reached a degree of grace even beyond his own attainment.
The quails came. They flew in prodigious flocks, which darkened the air. Exhausted by their long flight, they hovered within three feet of the ground, and so were easily captured. But the passionate haste in eating brought its own terrible nemesis to the Israelites. The story became engraved in the very name given to their halting place, Psalm 106:15. My soul, beware lest thou also be precipitated by thy passionate desires into that gravel Galatians 5:17. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Numbers 11:29 – Would God that all the LORD’S people were prophets!
This one saying proves the incomparable greatness of Moses’ character. Little souls are monopolists. They like to be good and gifted, because it gives them a kind of superiority to others; but they dislike to see a leveling-up process at work by which the Eldads and Medads are lifted to stand by their side.
This was the mistake of Joshua.—When he heard that Eldad and Medad prophesied in the camp, he said, “My lord Moses, forbid them.” But he was immature, a saint in the process of manufacture, and smitten with jealousy, for the sake of his master and friend.
This was the complaint of John’s disciples, when they saw the crowds ebbing away from their great teacher.
This was the quarrel of the Pharisees, that Jesus made religion so cheap and accessible to all, that even the publicans and sinners received His priceless wares.
But when a man is really great and good, he longs that all should be as he is, and better; he takes a deep delight in the spread of vital godliness; he is glad when others are endowed with greater gifts than himself, that they may make the Gospel better known than he could ever do; he is content to decrease, if Christ may only increase; he is willing that affliction should be added to his bonds, if only Christ may be magnified; he prays that the Lord would put His Spirit on all His people. This is very unnatural to any of us; but God, the Holy Spirit, waits to baptize us even into this, and to make the glory of God the object of our life. Make haste, O blessed Paraclete, and do this for me! —Our Daily Homily