Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 11:1

Now the people became like those who complain of adversity in the hearing of the Lord ; and when the Lord heard it, His anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Anger;   Intercession;   Judgments;   Miracles;   Murmuring;   Scofield Reference Index - Miracles;   Thompson Chain Reference - Anger;   Content-Discontent;   Displeasure, Divine;   Divine;   Favour-Disfavour;   Fire;   God;   God's;   Israel;   Murmuring;   Wrath-Anger;   The Topic Concordance - Complaining;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Anger of God, the;   Desert, Journey of Israel through the;   Fire;   Murmuring;   Prayer, Intercessory;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Manna;   Taberah;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Fire;   Israel;   Moses;   Prayer;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Discontent;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Fire;   Kibroth-Hattaavah;   Sinai;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Insects;   Numbers, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Taberah ;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Ear;   Exodus, the Book of;   Fire;   Moses;   Unchangeable;   Wrath (Anger);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Anger;   Dan;   Fire;   Wilderness, Wanderings in the;   Zelophehad;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

And when the people complained - What the cause of this complaining was, we know not. The conjecture of St. Jerome is probable; they complained because of the length of the way. But surely no people had ever less cause for murmuring; they had God among them, and miracles of goodness were continually wrought in their behalf.

It displeased the Lord - For his extraordinary kindness was lost on such an ungrateful and rebellious people. And his anger was kindled - Divine justice was necessarily incensed against such inexcusable conduct.

And the fire of the Lord burnt among them - Either a supernatural fire was sent for this occasion, or the lightning was commissioned against them, or God smote them with one of those hot suffocating winds which are very common in those countries.

And consumed - in the uttermost parts of the camp - It pervaded the whole camp, from the center to the circumference, carrying death with it to all the murmurers; for we are not to suppose that it was confined to the uttermost parts of the camp, unless we could imagine that there were none culpable any where else. If this were the same with the case mentioned Numbers 11:4, then, as it is possible that the mixed multitude occupied the outermost parts of the camp, consequently the burning might have been confined to them.

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/numbers-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

See the marginal rendering. They murmured against the privations of the march.

The fire of the Lord - Probably lightning; compare Psalm 78:21.

In the uttermost parts - Rather, in the end. The fire did not reach far into the camp. It was quickly quenched at the intercession of Moses.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/numbers-11.html. 1870.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

This, and the next three chapters, deal with some of the numerous disaffections, rebellions, and murmurings of the children of Israel, not with any view of recording all that they did, but with the purpose of setting forth for the benefit of all people afterward several of their deeds as "examples" and for "the admonition" of those upon whom the ends of the ages have come (1 Corinthians 10:11). The account here gives the incident at Taberah (Numbers 11:1-3), the lusting for flesh (Numbers 11:4-9), Moses' appeal to God in desperation (Numbers 11:10-15), the appointment of seventy to aid Moses (Numbers 11:16-23), the endowment of the seventy (Numbers 11:24,25), the case of Eldad and Medad (Numbers 11:16-29), and the sending of the quails, ending in the plague upon Israel at Kibroth-hattaavah, where many of them were buried (Numbers 11:30-35).

"And the people were as murmurers, speaking evil in the ears of Jehovah: and when Jehovah heard it, his anger was kindled; and the fire of Jehovah burned among them, and devoured in the uttermost part of the camp. And the people cried unto Moses; and Moses prayed unto Jehovah, and the fire abated. And the name of the place was called Taberah, because the fire of Jehovah burnt among them."

"The people were as murmurers ..." (Numbers 11:1). There is hardly any other word that more effectively describes Israel during their wilderness sojourn than this one. The people appeared to be totally unwilling to accept any kind of inconvenience or hardship in order to achieve their liberty and independence, overlooking completely the fundamental truth that freedom, prosperity, and power simply cannot appear automatically as a bestowed privilege, but must be won by suffering, diligent work and faithfulness. The spirit that came out in this chapter finally resulted in God's rejection of that whole generation and His condemnation of them to death in the wilderness.

"And the fire of Jehovah burned among them ..." (Numbers 11:2). Speculations as to the possibility that this fire was the result of lightning or some other natural cause are futile. The event was of sufficient dimensions to warrant the naming of the place as Taberah in commemoration of it, and, without any doubt, it was a visitation of God upon rebellious men, however produced. This place was on the outskirts of the immense camp of Israel and pertains only to the place of the burning. This is not the name of one of the forty-two stations of Israel in the wilderness (Numbers 33).

Keil discerned the reason for this burning thus: "By thus demonstrating his power that was more than sufficient to destroy the murmurers, He sought to infuse into the whole nation a wholesome dread of His holy majesty."[1] Since this burning was an extremely local incident, "It must not be regarded as a different station from Kibroth-hattaavah."[2] Some, of course, have concocted all kinds of theories about "different sources," various "traditions," and "conflicting accounts" being "woven together" here; but again, as Keil said, "All such efforts are founded upon misinterpretations and arbitrary assumptions."[3] We might also add that such destructive allegations are grounded in a prior bias against the Bible. That Taberah was not a separate encampment is proved by its omission in Numbers 33, and by the fact there is no mention of leaving Taberah, an event covered in the statement that they left Kibroth-hattaavah, the true name of the whole area, of which Taberah was a very minor outpost. This encampment was the scene of two judgments against Israel, the minor one at Taberah, and the greater one in the matter of the quails; and the station deserved to be named from the greater event. As for where, exactly, this was, "The site is unknown."[4] "The name Taberah is from the Hebrew word, meaning to burn."[5]

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/numbers-11.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when the people complained,.... Or "were as complainers"F16כמתאננים "ut conquerentes injuste", Montanus, Fagius, Vatablus; "ut qui vaba moliuntur", Drusius. ; not merely like to such, but were truly and really complainers, the כ, "caph", here being not a note of similitude, but of truth and reality, as in Hosea 5:10. This Hebraism is frequent in the New Testament, Matthew 14:5. What they complained of is not said, it being that for which there was no foundation; it is generally supposed to be of their journey; but if they were come but eight miles, as observed on Numbers 10:33; they could not be very weary; and especially as they were marching towards the land of Canaan, it might be thought they would be fond and eager of their journey. Some think it was for want of flesh, being weary of manna, and that this was only the beginning of their complaints on that head, which opened more afterwards; but if that is the case, one would think that the fire, which consumed many of them, would have put a stop to that. Jarchi says, the word signifies taking an occasion, and that the sense is, that these men sought an occasion how to separate from the Lord; they wanted to return to Egypt again, that was what they were meditating and contriving; so the Targum of Jonathan,"and the ungodly of the people were in distress, and intended and meditated evil before the Lord:"

it displeased the Lord: a murmuring complaining spirit is always displeasing to him, when a thankful heart for mercies received is an acceptable sacrifice; murmurers and complainers God will judge at the great day, Judges 1:14,

and the Lord heard it: though it was an inward secret complaint, or an evil scheme formed in their minds; at most but a muttering, and what Moses had not heard, or had any knowledge of; but God, that knows the secrets of all hearts, and every word in the tongue before it is well formed or pronounced, he heard what they complained of, and what they whispered and muttered to one another about:

and his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burnt among them; from the pillar of fire, or from heaven, such as destroyed Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10:1; the two hundred fifty men that had censers in Korah's company, Numbers 16:35; and the captains of fifties that came to take Elijah, 2 Kings 1:14; and might be lightning from heaven, or a burning wind sent by the Lord, such as is frequent in the eastern countries. ThevenotF17Travels, par. 1. l. 2. c. 34. speaks of one in 1658, which destroyed at once twenty thousand men:

and consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp; who very likely were the principal aggressors; or it began to arouse and terrify the body of the people, and bring them to repentance, who might fear it would proceed and go through the whole camp, the hinder part or rearward of which was the camp of Dan; and so the Targum of Jonathan.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-11.html. 1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Numbers 11:1-35. Manna loathed.

When the people complained it displeased the Lord, etc. — Unaccustomed to the fatigues of travel and wandering into the depths of a desert, less mountainous but far more gloomy and desolate than that of Sinai, without any near prospect of the rich country that had been promised, they fell into a state of vehement discontent, which was vented at these irksome and fruitless journeyings. The displeasure of God was manifested against the ungrateful complainers by fire sent in an extraordinary manner. It is worthy of notice, however, that the discontent seems to have been confined to the extremities of the camp, where, in all likelihood, “the mixed multitude” [see on Exodus 12:38 ] had their station. At the intercession of Moses, the appalling judgment ceased [Numbers 11:2 ], and the name given to the place, “Taberah” (a burning), remained ever after a monument of national sin and punishment. (See on Numbers 11:34).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/numbers-11.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This Chapter contains a melancholy relation of Israel's disobedience, and the LORD'S displeasure. The people murmur. Moses' meekness forsakes him; and in his fretfulness he ventures to expostulate with GOD. The lust of Israel is gratified, but the LORD'S judgment follows.

Numbers 11:1

What could the people find occasion to murmur at? A people so fed, so led, so protected! Reader! if the LORD'S dispensations towards you are at anytime trying, pray for grace to be kept from murmuring. But search the cause. If sin be found heavy, depend upon it afflictions will be light, There is a needs be for every trial. That is a sweet prayer of Job's, Job 34:31-32. The LORD'S displeasure at the people plainly proves the transgression. Reader! do you remark the mighty difference between complaining to GOD and complaining against GOD! We have a beautiful instance of the former, Ps 77. And an awful example of the latter, Psalms 78:19-20, etc.

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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/numbers-11.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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.

Complained — Or, murmured, the occasion whereof seems to be their last three days journey in a vast howling wilderness, and thereupon the remembrance of their long abode in the wilderness, and the fear of many other tedious journeys, whereby they were like to be long delayed from coming to the land of milk and honey, which they thirsted after.

The fire of the Lord — A fire sent from God in an extraordinary manner, possibly from the pillar of cloud and fire, or from heaven.

The uttermost parts — Either because the sin began there among the mixed multitude, or in mercy to the people, whom he would rather awaken to repentance than destroy; and therefore he sent it into the skirts and not the midst of the camp.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-11.html. 1765.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

THE SIN OF DISCONTENT

‘The people complained.’

Numbers 11:1

I. We cannot wonder at the people murmuring, as they were unaccustomed to the fatigues of the desert, and it seemed so far to the land of rest; but, perhaps, we have never realised how great a sin is querulous complaining in the sight of God. Let us beware of it! Let us also guard against mingling ourselves with those who are not like-minded with ourselves: ‘the mixed multitude’ was largely composed of Egyptians from whom the evil example spread to Israel. When our religious life is low, we tire of angels’ food, and our hearts turn back to the world we had left.

II. Moses’ complaint.—How marvellously accurate is the Bible in its delineation of the character and failure of its noblest men! What an evidence of its truthfulness! The eye of Moses had turned from God to self; or he would not have spoken as if the duty of providing flesh were his. God never imposes a burden for which He does not give sufficient strength; but we must not look at the burden apart from Him. As the day, so the strength. He can make all grace abound.

III. Divine relief came in the appointment temporarily of seventy men to help him.—But what a pity it was that he did not claim strength enough for his needs! And yet how tender was God’s considerateness of His overwearied servant! (Cf. 1 Kings 19:4-5.) The Jews say this body of elders afterwards constituted the Sanhedrim.

Illustration

(1) ‘What was the special sin of the Israelites while in the wilderness? It was the sin of discontent. Is that a great sin? Yes, it is, because it shows that we do not trust in God as we should. We can always find something to grumble at, if we look for it. The people of Israel were always murmuring and grumbling about something or other.’

(2) ‘This was ingratitude of the basest and meanest sort. These Israelites had short memories. They forgot all about God’s deliverances in Egypt; all about His wonderful intervention at the Red Sea; all about the way in which He had brought water from the rock and given them angels’ food to eat. A little physical discomfort obliterated the memory of God’s goodness.’

(3) ‘Surely it is a terrible picture, and yet I cannot but believe, alas! that it is a picture of the great majority of professing Christians, who, after conversion, and after a certain study of God’s holy Word, by which they learn His will concerning His people; after a charge from God to go forward into the land of blessing and victory; and after the opening out, as it were, of the way into a life of privilege and power, and the possibility of glorifying God in the sight of the heathen, and bringing Him great honour and praise—begin to complain, begin again to lust after the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, and the onions which they had in Egypt, and which they find a pleasure to the flesh. And back goes the heart of the people of God into the old life, and all they care for is the appetites of the body, the indulgence of the flesh, the satisfaction of the natural tastes and appetites engendered by the flesh, and which are not really Divine.’

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Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/numbers-11.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 11:1 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.

Ver. 1. And when the people complained.] Or, Were as it were complainers: they did inwardly and secretly repine and mutter at their three days’ march, without intermission; like those horses that digest their choler by biting their bridle.

Consumed them that were in the uttermost parts.] There, it seems, the sin began amongst those that were faint and weary with travel, as Deuteronomy 25:18.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 11:1. And when the people complained The when inserted here much flattens the sense, and leads the mind to wrong ideas respecting this event. Read it thus, exactly conformable to the Hebrew, and the spirit of the passage will appear. Now the people greatly murmured: it was evil in the ears of the Lord: He heard it, and his anger was kindled, &c. Houbigant renders it, In the mean time the people murmured wickedly in the ears of the Lord, &c. following the Greek, which has it, γογγυζων πονηρα . We are not told what was the cause of these murmurs; but it is evident from Numbers 11:3 compared with Numbers 11:34 that it was something different from that mentioned in the 4th and following verses. The fire of the Lord means lightning. See 2 Kings 1:12. Job 1:16. As the mixed multitude were in the uttermost parts of the camp, it is probable that this murmuring began with them, and that they were the persons now punished.

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/numbers-11.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

NUMBERS CHAPTER 11

The murmuring of the people, for which the fire breaketh in upon them, Numbers 11:1. Moses prayeth to God; the fire is quenched, Numbers 11:2. The name of the place, and why called, Numbers 11:3. The people murmur again, and lust after flesh, Numbers 11:4-6. Manna described, Numbers 11:7-9. Moses’s complaint and prayer, Numbers 11:10-15. God commandeth him to gather seventy of the elders of Israel to help him, Numbers 11:16,17; promising them flesh to eat, Numbers 11:18-20. Moses’ unbelief, Numbers 11:21,22. God is angry with him, Numbers 11:23. Moses having gathered seventy of the elders of Israel together, rehearseth the words of the Lord to them, Numbers 11:24. God coming down in a cloud, taketh of Moses’s spirit and giveth to the seventy; the effects thereof, Numbers 11:25. Eldad and Medad prophesy in the camp, Numbers 11:26-29. God giveth them quails to eat, Numbers 11:30-32; and smiteth the people with a very great plague, Numbers 11:33,34.

Complained, or, murmured; the occasion whereof seems to be their last three days’ journey in a vast howling wilderness, without any benefit; and thereupon the remembrance of their long abode in the wilderness, and the prospect and fear of many other tedious, and fruitless, and dangerous journeys, whereby they were like to be long delayed from coming to that rest, that land of milk and honey, which God had promised them, and which they thirsted after.

The fire of the Lord, i.e. a fire sent from God in an extraordinary manner, possibly from the pillar of cloud and fire, or from heaven, as 2 Kings 1:12.

In the uttermost parts of the camp; either because the sin began there among the mixt multitude, who probably had their place there; or amongst those who were feeble and weary with their last journey, and therefore hindmost in the march; or in mercy to the people, whom he would rather awaken to repentance than utterly destroy, and therefore he sent it into the skirts, and not the heart and midst of the camp.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/numbers-11.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

THE COMPLAINING AND THE BURNING, Numbers 11:1-3.

1.Complained — Hebrew, were as those who made themselves sad; R.V., “were as murmurers speaking evil in the ears of the Lord.” The whole clause is thus rendered by Keil: “The people were like those who complain in the ears of Jehovah of something bad.” No cause is assigned, but we infer that it was because of the privations and hardships of the journey, aggravated in this instance by its continuance through three days. Such murmuring was a reflection upon their divine Leader.

Fire of the Lord — Supernaturally kindled, either by lightning or in some other way. It did not, as Knobel and Rosenmuller suppose, merely burn the bushes around the camp and the tents, but persons also.

The uttermost parts of the camp — Probably one end, where most of the grumblers were.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-11.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Numbers 11:1. The people complained — Hebrew, as it were, complained; that is, they began to mutter some complaints, and for a while, it seems, kept their discontent from coming to Moses’s ear. The chief cause of their murmuring is represented (Numbers 11:5) to be their growing weary of the manna, upon which they had now lived for a year. But, besides this, it is probable that their last three days’ journey in that vast howling wilderness, the remembrance of their long abode in it, and the fear of many more tedious journeys, and much delay before they should arrive at the land of milk and honey, which they longed for, had greatly contributed to their dissatisfaction. It displeased the Lord — Though their discontent did not at first break forth into open murmurings against Moses, yet God saw the mutinous and rebellious disposition of their minds, and testified his displeasure on account of it. The fire of the Lord — A fire sent from God in an extraordinary manner, perhaps from the pillar of cloud and fire, or lightning from heaven, which is called the fire of God, 2 Kings 1:12; Job 1:16. Le Clerc thinks it might be one of those fiery blasting winds which are incident to those countries, See Ezekiel 17:10; Ezekiel 19:12. It was, however, sent in a supernatural and miraculous way. The uttermost part of the camp — Either because the sin began there among the mixed multitude, or in mercy to the people, whom he would rather awaken to repentance than destroy; and therefore he sent it into the skirts, and not the midst of the camp.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/numbers-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Fatigue. Hebrew simply, "and the people were like those who complain of evil, or who seek pretexts, inwardly, in the ears of the Lord." St. Jerome explains this evil to mean the fatigue of the journey, which lasted for three days together. (Calmet) --- Hence, some who were ready to lay hold of every pretext, took occasion to murmur, and to contrast their present wearisome life with the false pleasures of Egypt. The people of that country were now desirous of returning, and prevailed upon many of the Hebrews to join with them, ver. 4. (Haydock) --- They were chiefly those who were farthest from the ark, the dregs of the people; though some pretend that the uttermost part means the principal men of the camp. See Genesis xlviii. 2. "The fire devoured one part of the camp," Septuagint.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

complained. Hebrew were as complainers, Psalms 78:19. In this word another inverted nun (, n), to mark the fact of the People"s turning back in their hearts. See note on Numbers 10:35.

it displeased the LORD. Hebrew "was evil in the ears of Jehovah". Some codices, with Targum of Onkelos, The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel Septuagint, and Syriac, read "eyes" instead of "ears".

the LORD. Hebrew. Jehovah. App-4.

the fire. Those before the Law not punished, Exodus 14:11-15; Exodus 15:24-26; Exodus 16:2-4, Exodus 16:9, Exodus 16:20, Exodus 16:27, Exodus 16:28; Exodus 17:2-4. Punished after Law given. Exodus 32:27-35. Compare Romans 4:15.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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.

When the people complained ... Unaccustomed to the fatigues of travel, and wandering into the depths of a desert, less mountainous but far more gloomy and desolate than that of Sinai, without any near prospect of the rich country that had been promised, they fell into a state of vehement discontent, which was vented at these, irksome and apparently fruitless journeyings. 'There is considerable difficulty in tracing the course of their matchings on their departure from Sinai. But comparing the account in Numbers 33:1-56 of "their goings out, which Moses wrote by the commandment of Yahweh," with the details elsewhere given, it can be very nearly, if not exactly, ascertained. And taking the result of this comparison, and following them by means of it to the end of their "wanderings," we find a coincidence, which is absolutely perfect between the details of the narrative and the respective localities in the peninsula to which they are assigned. Those stages of their journey where the people are represented as suffering and exhausted in their enterprise, and consequently as desirous to abandon it, are even now recognized as just the distressing stages in a route which, through a considerable part of it, would not entail upon them excessive fatigue, or involve them in unbearable privations. When the history alludes to supernatural help, it represents the people being then in a position where such help would evidently be required for such a multitude. With the sacred narrative in constant view at each stage through which the people are conducted in it, I have traversed the whole of the peninsula, and my praise requires me to ask for attention at this point to the results of this detailed comparison of the history itself with the nature and peculiarities of the ground on which it was transacted' (Drew's 'Examination of Colenso,' pp. 47, 48).

The displeasure of God was manifested against the ungrateful complainers by fire sent in an extraordinary manner. Commentators generally consider that by "fire" is meant lightning. Harmer ('Observ.,' vol. 4:, p. 15) supposes that the reference is rather to the Samiel or sirocco, the fiery deadly wind which sometimes prevails in the Eastern deserts, particularly in the desert lying between Egypt and Mecca, which was in part the scene of Israel's wanderings. The appearance of this wind is, according to Chardin, 'red and fiery, and kills those it strikes by a kind of stifling heat, especially when it happens in the daytime.' 'If,' continues Harmer, 'a wind of this description killed any member of the Israelites, would it be any wonder that it should have been called the fire of the Lord? And would not the account that this sort of fire was quenched [ tishqeea` (Hebrew #8257)], sank down, subsided, better agree with such a wind than with lightning?'

It is worthy of notice, however, that the discontent seems to have been confined to the extremities of the camp, where, in all likelihood, "the mixed multitude" had their station. At the intercession of Moses the appalling judgment ceased, and the name given to the place, "Taberah" (a burning), remained ever after a monument of national sin and punishment (see the notes at Numbers 11:34-35). The site of Taberah has not yet been identified; but it seems to have been the first stopping place on their leaving Sinai, and lay in a northeasterly direction, near the western side of the Tih range.

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/numbers-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

XI.

(1) And when the people complained . . . —Better, And the people were as those who complained (or murmured), (which was) evil in the ears of the Lord. The LXX. has, “And the people murmured sinfully before the Lord.” Comp. 1 Corinthians 10:10 : “Neither murmur ye as some of them also murmured.”

And consumed them that were in the uttermost parts of the camp.-Better, and devoured at the extremity of the camp. Most commentators have remarked, and justly, upon the great severity of the Divine judgments which were inflicted after the giving of the Law, as compared with those which were inflicted before it. Reference may be made in illustration of this point to Exodus 14:11-14; Exodus 15:24-25; Exodus 16:2-8; Exodus 17:3-7. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews argues from the just recompense of reward which every transgression and disobedience received under the Law, the impossibility of the escape of those who neglect the great salvation of the Gospel. See Hebrews 2:2-3. Comp. also Hebrews 10:28-29; Hebrews 12:25.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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.
And when
10:33; 20:2-5; 21:5; Exodus 15:23,24; 16:2,3,7,9; 17:2,3; Deuteronomy 9:22; Lamentations 3:39; 1 Corinthians 10:10; Jude 1:16
complained
or, were as it were complainers. it displeased the Lord. Heb. it was evil in the ears of the Lord.
Genesis 38:10; 2 Samuel 11:27; *marg:; James 5:4
and the fire
16:35; Leviticus 10:2; Deuteronomy 32:22; 2 Kings 1:12; Job 1:16; Psalms 78:21; 106:18; Isaiah 30:33; 33:14; Nahum 1:5; Mark 9:43-49; Hebrews 12:29
the uttermost
Deuteronomy 25:18
Reciprocal: Genesis 48:17 - displeased him;  Exodus 14:11 - Because;  Numbers 11:10 - the anger;  Numbers 11:18 - ye have wept;  Numbers 12:2 - And the;  Numbers 12:9 - GeneralNumbers 14:1 - GeneralNumbers 20:3 - when;  Numbers 22:34 - if it displease thee;  1 Samuel 18:8 - displeased him;  2 Kings 1:10 - let fire;  Job 38:35 - Canst;  Psalm 18:8 - went;  Isaiah 9:18 - wickedness;  Isaiah 10:17 - for a flame;  Ezekiel 20:36 - GeneralActs 7:36 - and in the wilderness;  Revelation 20:9 - and fire

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These files are public domain.
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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-11.html.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.And when the people complained, it displeased the Lord. (11) The ambiguous signification of the participle (12) causes the translators to twist this passage into a variety of meanings. Since the Hebrew root און,aven, is sometimes trouble and labor, sometimes fatigue, sometimes iniquity, sometimes falsehood, some translate it, “The people were, as it were, complaining or murmuring.” Others (though this seems to be more beside the mark) insert the adverb unjustly; as if Moses said, that their complaint was unjust, when they expostulated with God. Others render it, “being sick, (nauseantes, ”) but this savors too much of affectation; others, “lying, or dealing treacherously.” Some derive it from the root תואנה, thonah, and thus explain it, “seeking occasion,” which I reject as far fetched. To me the word fainting (fatiscendi) seems to suit best; for they failed, as if broken down with weariness. It is probable that no other crime is alleged against them than that, abandoning the desire to proceed, they fell into supineness and inactivity, which was to turn their back upon God, and repudiate the promised inheritance. This sense will suit very well, and thus the proper meaning of the word will be retained. Thus, Ezekiel calls by the name תאנים, theunim, those fatigues, whereby men destroy and overwhelm themselves through undertaking too much work. Still, I do not deny that, when they lay in a state of despondency, they uttered words of reproach against God; especially since Moses says that this displeased the ears of God, and not His eyes; yet the origin of the evil was, as I have stated, that they fainted with weariness, so as to refuse to follow God any further.

And the Lord heard it. He more plainly declares that the people broke forth into open complaints; and it is probable that they even east reproaches upon God, as we infer from the heaviness of this punishment. Although some understand the word fire metaphorically for vengeance, it is more correct to take it simply according to the natural meaning of the word, i.e., that a part of the camp burnt with a conflagration sent from God. Still a question arises, what was that part or extremity of the camp which the fire seized upon? for some think that the punishment began with the leaders themselves, whose crime was the more atrocious. Others suppose that the fire raged among the common people, from the midst of whom the murmuring arose. But I rather conjecture, as in a matter of uncertainty, that God kindled the fire in some extreme part, so as to awaken their terror, in order that there might be room for pardon; since it is presently added, that tie was content with the punishment of a few. It must, however, be remarked, that because the people were conscious of their sin, the door was shut against their prayers. Hence it is, that they cry to Moses rather than to God; and we may infer that, being devoid of repentance and faith, they dreaded to look upon God. This is the reward of a bad conscience, to seek for rest in our disquietude, and still to fly from God, who alone can allay our trouble and alarm. From the fact that God is appeased at the intercession of Moses, we gather that temporal punishment is often remitted to the wicked, although they still remain exposed to the judgment of God. When he says that the fire of the Lord was sunk down, (13) for this is the proper signification of the word שקע, shakang, he designates the way in which it was put out, and in which God’s mercy openly manifested itself; as also, on the other hand. it is called the fire of God, as having been plainly kindled by Him, lest any should suppose that it was an accidental conflagration. A name also was imposed on the place, which might be a memorial to posterity both of the crime and its punishment; for Tabera is a burning, or combustion.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/numbers-11.html. 1840-57.