Numbers 11:1-35 Reading the Passage

The Dangerous Spirit of Self-Pity and Complaint – Numbers 11:1-35

11 Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of Jehovah, and when Jehovah heard it his anger was aroused. Then fire from Jehovah burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. (2) When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to Jehovah and the fire died out. (3) So that place was called Taberah, because of the fire from Jehovah that burned among them.

(4) The foreigners who were among them had great cravings for different foods, and also the children of Israel wept again and said, Who will give us meat to eat? (5) We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. (6) But now our spirit languishes, we never see anything except this manna. (7) Now the manna was like coriander seed and it looked like bdellium. (8) The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They boiled it in pots or made it into cakes. It tasted like cakes baked with fresh olive oil. (9) When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna would come with it. (10) Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance of his tent. The anger of Jehovah was greatly aroused and Moses was troubled. (11) Then Moses asked Jehovah, Why have you brought this trouble upon your servant? What have I done to displease you that you have put the burden of all these people upon me? (12) Did I conceive all these people? Did I give birth to them, so that you say to me, Carry them in your arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you pledged to their forefathers? (13) Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, Give us meat to eat! (14) I am not able to carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. (15) If this is how you are going to treat me, I beg you, put me to death right now—if I have found favor in your sight—and do not let me suffer in my wretchedness.

(16) Then Jehovah said to Moses, Bring before me seventy of the elders of Israel, men whom you know to be leaders and rulers over the people. Bring them to the Tent of Meeting, so that they may stand there with you. (17) I will come down and speak with you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and put him upon them; then they will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone. (18) Say to the people: Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. You have wailed in the ears of Jehovah, crying, Who will give us meat to eat? We were better off in Egypt! Therefore, Jehovah will give you meat, and you will eat it. (19) You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five days, or ten days, or twenty days, (20) but for a whole month—until it comes out of your nostrils and it becomes loathsome to you—because you have rejected Jehovah who is present with you and have wailed in his presence, saying, Why did we ever leave Egypt? (21) But Moses said, The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand in number, yet you have said, I will give them meat so that they may eat for a whole month. (22) Shall the flocks and herds be slaughtered for them in order to satisfy them? Or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered for them in order that they may have a sufficient amount of meat? (23) Jehovah answered, Has Jehovah’s ability become limited?* Now you will see whether or not my word shall be fulfilled.

(24) So Moses went out and told the people what Jehovah had said. He brought together seventy elder from the people and had them stand around the Tent. (25) Then Jehovah came down in the cloud and spoke with him; and he took of the Spirit who was upon Moses and put him upon the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested upon them, they prophesied. But they did not do so again. (26) However, two men had remained in the camp. The name of the one was Eldad and the name of the other was Medad. They were listed among the elders, but had not gone out to the Tent, yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. (27) So a young man ran and told Moses, Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp! (28) Then Joshua, the son of Nun, who ministered to Moses and was one of his chosen men, spoke up and said, Moses, my lord, forbid them from prophesying! (29) But Moses said to him, Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all Jehovah’s people were prophets, that Jehovah would put his Spirit upon all of them! (30) Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

(31) Now a wind went forth from Jehovah and brought quail from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day’s walk in any direction.  (32) All that day and night and all the next day the people went out and gathered quail. No one gathered less than ten homers.** Then they spread them out throughout the camp. (33) While the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of Jehovah was aroused against the people and he struck them with a very severe plague. (34) Therefore that place was called Kibroth Hattaavah, because there they buried the people who craved different food. (35) From Kibroth Hattaavah the people traveled to Hazeroth, and they stayed at Hazeroth.

*Literally, “Has Jehovah’s arm become short?”

**Ten homers are approximately 60 bushels or 2.2 kiloliters

Now proceed to the next section of this study, entitled, Exploring the Passage.