Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 11

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-35

Moses’ heavy burden (11:1-35)

The people had travelled only a short time when they began to complain against God, with the result that God punished them (11:1-3). Among those who journeyed with the Israelites from Egypt were some foreigners who had mixed with the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 12:38). These people complained that they were tired of having the same food every day, even though it was miraculously supplied by God. They wanted some of the food they had been used to in Egypt (4-9). (For the origin of manna see Exodus 16:1-36.)

Soon the discontent spread throughout the camp. Moses complained to God that the responsibility of looking after this complaining multitude was a burden greater than he could bear. In addition he knew of no way to provide such a crowd of people with the food they wanted (10-15).
God did not rebuke Moses for his outburst. He understood Moses’ troubles and helped him through them. God commanded Moses to bring seventy of the leading elders of Israel to the tabernacle, where he gave them a share of the same spirit as he had given Moses, so that they could help Moses in the government of the people. God responded to Moses’ second complaint by promising a supply of meat that would give the people more than they asked for. In their greed for meat they would eat so much that they would become sick (16-23).
When the seventy leaders received this spirit from God they prophesied. Two of their number for some reason had not attended the ceremony at the tabernacle, but the spirit came upon them where they were in the camp and they prophesied there. Joshua, one of Moses’ assistants, was concerned about this and asked Moses to silence the men. He apparently felt that if the people saw these men doing what previously only Moses did, they might give them the sort of respect that previously they gave solely to Moses. Moses rebuked Joshua. He was not jealous if others became more honoured in the eyes of the people; in fact, he wished that all the people might have God’s Spirit upon them (24-30).
God gave the people the meat they wanted, but it brought an outbreak of disease that caused many deaths. The meat came from countless birds which, being tired after a long flight where they battled heavy winds, were easily caught only a few feet above the ground (31-35).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Numbers 11". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/numbers-11.html. 2005.
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