Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Numbers 11:12

Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers'?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Moses;   Murmuring;   Prayer;   Presumption;   Trouble;   Thompson Chain Reference - Childhood, Marks of;   Marks;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Desert, Journey of Israel through the;   Manna;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Manna;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Grace;   Moses;   Prayer;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Discontent;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Children;   Nurse;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Meat;   Numbers, Book of;   Prayer;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Moses;   Numbers, Book of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Bosom ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Nurse;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Elder;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Nurse,;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Bosom;   Fire;   Nurse;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - On to Canaan;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bosom;   Faithful;   Nurse;   Prayer;   Relationships, Family;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Sanhedrin;  

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Have I conceived all this people? have I begotten them?.... Conceived them as a mother, or begotten them as a father? am I a parent of either sort to them, in a literal sense, that I should have the like care of them as parents of their children? but though this was not the case, yet, in a civil and political sense, he was their parent, as every king and governor of a country is, or should be, the father of it, and should have a paternal affection for his subjects, and a tender care of them, and a hearty concern for their good and welfare: this, in a spiritual sense, may denote the weakness of the law of Moses, as Ainsworth observes, which has no concern in the regeneration of the spiritual Israel of God; who are born not of blood, nor of the will of men, nor of the will of the flesh, but of God; he only does and can regenerate men by his Spirit and grace; and though ministers of the word are instruments, yet it is not through the law, but through the Gospel that they beget souls to Christ, even by the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation, by that word which lives and abides for ever; it is not through the doctrine of the law, but through the doctrine of faith, that the Spirit, as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, is received; faith, hope, and love, and every other grace, come the same way; see 1 Corinthians 4:15,

that thou shouldest say unto me; as in Exodus 32:34; "go, lead the people unto the place", &c. which words, Jarchi thinks, are here referred to:

carry them in thy bosom as a nursing father beareth the sucking child,

unto the land which thou swarest to their fathers? the land of Canaan: kings should be nursing fathers; civil governors should rule with gentleness and mildness; such are most beloved, and most cheerfully obeyed by their people: the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem interpret the word for "nursing father", by "pedagogue", which is the same word the apostle uses of the law, Galatians 3:24; that indeed was a severe schoolmaster, that menaced, whipped, and scourged for every fault, and not a tender nursing father; there is not one kind tender word in the law; it accuses of sin, pronounces guilty of it, curses and condemns for it; but the Gospel ministry, and ministers of it, use men gently; the apostles of Christ were gentle, as a nurse cherisheth her children, 1 Thessalonians 2:7; fed men as they were able to bear it; and when they delivered out their charges, it was in a kind manner, and even their reproofs were in love; and especially Christ himself was so, by whose meekness and gentleness the Apostle Paul beseeches men, 1 Corinthians 10:1; who gathers the lambs in his arms, carries them in his bosom, and gently leads those that are with young; and supplies them with food, and brings them all safely to Canaan's land, the heavenly glory, where the law and the deeds of it will never bring men, Isaiah 40:11.

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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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/numbers-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Have I g 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 h land which thou swarest unto their fathers?

(g) Am I their father, that no one may have charge of them but I?

(h) Of Canaan promised by another to our fathers.

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Bibliographical Information
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/numbers-11.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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?

Have I begotten them? — Are they my children, that I should be obliged to provide food and all things for their necessity and desire?

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/numbers-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Numbers 11:12 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?

Ver. 12. As a nursing father beareth, &c.] Lovingly, mildly, gently. A magistrate should carry himself as a pater patriae. Queen Elizabeth would many times say, That she could believe nothing of her people that parents would not believe of their children. (a)

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Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/numbers-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Numbers 11:12. As a nursing-father beareth the sucking child This is a very lively expression to denote that tenderness and fatherly affection which princes ought to have for their people; and, on the other side, as expressive an emblem of the perverseness of the Israelites, wayward as an infant, which rises up with fury against the very nurse who gives it milk, and carries it in her bosom. Happy the people, whose sovereigns are nurses! Isaiah 49:23. Wretched the sovereigns, whose ungrateful and seditious subjects so ill requite their benefits!

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". 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

Have I begotten them; are they my children, that I should be obliged to provide food and all things for their necessity and desire?

As a nursing-father beareth the sucking-child; which expression shows the tender care and affection that governors by the command of God ought to have towards their people.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". 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

12.Have I conceived all this people — Moses does not throw off all care for the people, but he rather devolves on Jehovah that burden as the Creator and Father of Israel, (Exodus 4:22,) more in despair than in unbelief. For unbelief complains, but does not pray. The Holy Ghost has declared that “Moses was faithful in all his house.” Hebrews 3:2. He was, in the language of the New Testament, a perfect man, inasmuch as the bent of his will, the outgoing of his affections, the drift of his whole being was toward God; yet this verse unveils the infirmities which were still marring his character. The holiest man, in times of great distress, may momentarily lose heart through forgetfulness of the fact that God is a great burden-bearer, as Moses forgot that Israel was but a feather’s weight upon the divine shoulders. How honestly does Moses draw aside the veil which might have concealed his own weakness, and which an uninspired historian would have left undrawn!

Carry them in thy bosom — Moses here seems to disclose some past charge given to him by the Lord. It is in striking consonance with the character of the great Shepherd of Israel: “He shall gather the lambs in his arms, and carry them in his bosom.” Isaiah 40:11; John 10:11-14, notes.

As a nursing father — Moses’s ideal of a ruler is here beautifully expressed: not a stern despot wielding a sceptre, but a kind and loving father bearing his infant babe in his arms. St. Paul, as a spiritual ruler of the Church of Christ, realized this ideal. 1 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:11. The Palestinian Targum, instead of “nursing father” has “pedagogue” — child leader — the term which describes the office of the law in Galatians 3:24.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/numbers-11.html. 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Nurse. We often read of men nursing or watching over others. (4 Kings x. 5; Esther ii. 11.) Thus kings shall nurse the Church, Isaias xlix. 23. (Calmet) --- All who have authority should treat their subjects with love. (Menochius)

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Bibliographical Information
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/numbers-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

bosom. Figure of speech Anthropopatheia. App-6.

as = even as.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/numbers-11.html. 1909-1922.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(12) Have I conceived . .?—The personal pronoun is emphatic in this and the following clause: Is it I who have conceived all this people? Is it I who have brought them forth? (or, begotten them), as in Genesis 4:18; Genesis 10:8.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/numbers-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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?
Carry them
Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:23; John 10:11
as a nursing
Isaiah 49:15,23; Galatians 4:19; 1 Thessalonians 2:7
the land
Genesis 13:15; 22:16,17; 26:3; 50:24; Exodus 13:5
Reciprocal: Genesis 24:59 - nurse;  Deuteronomy 1:31 - bare thee;  Psalm 103:13 - Like;  Hosea 11:3 - taught;  1 Corinthians 13:7 - Beareth;  Galatians 6:2 - Bear

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Bibliographical Information
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Numbers 11:12". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/numbers-11.html.